Thursday, December 23, 2004

Let it Snow . . . just let it stop too!

We here in the Midwest are enjoying what looks to be the whitest Christmas we have had in years. Unfortunately the snow which looks so beautiful out the windows has drifted into mountains on our driveway and even with the snow blade on the tractor we (ha ha, mrangelmeg is out plowing, when I asked if I could be any help he laughed and said you can chear me on from the house, does this man know me well? I ask you?) mrangelmeg is having much trouble clearing the driveway of snow so that we can venture out.

I guess it was a good thing that we did all of our Christmas shopping early. Tonight we will celebrate our long-standing tradition of wrapping gifts for the kids. mrangelmeg will sit at the computer and surf the web while I wrap all of the gifts myself. I guess the tradition has been updated with the times, he used to sit and read the paper. No really, he does wrap one or two.

I do love the snow, especially for Christmas time. But, I am one of those snow lovers who would just as soon prefer that everything got nice and warm around January 2nd, and stayed in the mid to upper forties with periods of light rain for the rest of the winter. I don't think that will be the case this winter. We have already received more snow in the past two days than we received most of last winter. I expect snow covered roads and hillsides will be the rule rather than the exception this winter.

We did manage to get out on Wednesday evening for a few hours, and got some milk but the two stores we tried had no eggs. I guess we won't be doing much baking or having a traditional biscuits and gravy and scrambled eggs breakfast on Christmas morning.

It just occurred to me that we had planned on going to someone else's house for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so I didn't bother to buy anything to make traditional Christmas meals. "Woo hoo," I thought, "I don't have to cook anything this Christmas, what a gift for me."

I guess I had better see if I might be able to scrounge up a few meals from what we have in the freezer. I guess it will be potluck this Christmas. I suppose I can add Paprika to something to make it red at least.

Oh and God, as we gather together our little family (well the seven of us make a big family nowadays I suppose) together to celebrate the birth of Your only begotten Son, would you mind helping us out by not letting it snow anymore for a while. I love my kids, but if I have to spend another week cooped up with them I may go bonkers!


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Christmas Letters

To all my friends who sent Christmas Letters with their cards this year:

I don't need to hear about all the wonderful trips to exotic places that you took last year. I didn't even make it out of town when the tornado came through. Hearing about how wonderful your trip to see your college roommate who is married to a Viscount in Europe made me very sad, because I can only see my college roommate on visiting days at the peni-uh-rest home.

I don't need to hear about how amazing your children are. It really hurts to have to read about Junior's second PhD when we are struggling and praying that the third time will be the charm and our Junior will finally graduate from elementary school.

I don't need to hear about the wonderfully romantic gift you got from your husband for your anniversary. My husband only celebrates our anniversary if it is raining too hard to play golf and there is nothing on any sports channel.

And telling me that you finally had your entire house remodeled, complete with all new furniture is just mean spirited when you know that we are still cooking on the "avocado" stove that came with the house and our decorating scheme is early Salvation Army.

When I finally get the time (and everyone is off probation) I will try to come up with one of these Christmas letters myself. There must be something about my life that would make someone jealous to read about.

Happy Holidays


Friday, December 17, 2004

O Come O Come: Prepare Your Heart for the Indwelling

Today, we who celebrate our Christianity in the Catholic Tradition begin to meditate and pray an ancient prayer of praise and thanksgiving. Each day from now till December 23rd we focus on one image.

It may seem familiar to you even if you aren't Catholic, because the Christmas Carol O Come O Come Emmanuel is based on this ancient prayer. I offer you here the text we pray, thanks to New Advent Catholic Website.

December 17
O WISDOM, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: COME, and teach us the way of prudence. Amen. "O Sapientia..."

December 18
O LORD AND RULER of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: COME, and redeem us with outstretched arms. Amen. "O Adonai..."

December 19
O ROOT OF JESSE, that stands for an ensign of the people, before whom the kings keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: COME, to deliver us, and tarry not. Amen. "O Radix Jesse..."

December 20
O KEY OF DAVID, and Sceptre of the House of Israel, who opens and no man shuts, who shuts and no man opens: COME, and bring forth the captive from his prison, he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death. Amen. "O Clavis David..."

December 21
O DAWN OF THE EAST, brightness of light eternal, and Sun of Justice: COME, and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. Amen. "O Oriens..."

December 22
O KING OF THE GENTILES and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes both one: COME, and deliver man, whom you formed out of the dust of the earth. Amen. "O Rex..."

December 23
O EMMANUEL, God with us, Our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Saviour: COME to save us, O Lord our God. Amen. "O Emmanuel..."


Sunday, December 12, 2004

True Joy of the Season

It is so hard to explain to non-Catholic Christians why we Catholics don't "celebrate" Christmas until December 24th and 25th. They don't see the point in our waiting and hoping and patience and restraint.

But we, who wait and hope know. We know that preparing our hearts is a very important part of receiving the Joy that will come. Anticipation of that joy is part of why we wait. How can one build up in anticipation if one is playing Christmas carols since before Thanksgiving? How can one build up the feeling of hopefulness if one decorates the entire house immediately.

My biggest question is: how can one celebrate the Greatest Gift given to human kind in just one day? And yet, the day after Christmas most people are thinking about taking down decorations and getting on with life. We Catholics celebrate Christmas as a Season. We have 12 days, from Christmas mornings till the Baptism of the Lord two weeks later. Each day of that two weeks we celebrate the gift of Emmanuel (God with us) in prayer and song in our liturgies and private devotions.

I can't imagine celebrating any other way. Beginning today, the Third Sunday of advent we will begin to decorate our houses, and our prayers will increase in the heightened anticipation of what is to come. And then on Christmas Eve at Midnight (in my mind the only way to celebrate Christmas) we sing wonderful carols of Joy and we pray for Peace on Earth and Good Will to All, just as the angels did at the Birth of our Lord.

So, In two weeks we will celebrate. Until then, we prepare our hearts and minds to receive the Gift we know has come. Emmanuel, God With us!!!


Friday, December 10, 2004

Sorry for the Silence

As most of you know, I am in Gradual School, and have been working pretty constantly on final assignments since before Thanksgiving, and haven't had much time to post.

I am nearly done with this semester. I am on the stretch run of my final paper, and should be happily free to post whenever I wish. I am so glad that this semester is nearly over. I have learned so much, not just general knowledge, but personal insights this semester that I would consider this one of the best semesters I have experienced in the year I have been in school. At the same time, this was also a semseter where I never quite felt as though my head stayed comforatbly above water very often. It is so hard to believe that I have only been in school since Last December!! It seems in many ways to have been so much longer a time.

There have been many other changes in my life lately, and I want to spend some of my "free time" in January and February to processing and posting about how I see God working in my life and the lives of those I love.

So, for those of you who bother to check back here from time to time. (all two of you, and you know who you are!) Expect to have more to read in the coming weeks.


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Simple Gifts

Have you noticed how much more society is becoming inundated with Christmas stuff so early in the year. The Halloween costumes are barely put away and already the stores are full of the next big Christmas fad. We decorate our houses inside and out and we even decorate ourselves with Christmas themed clothing from sox to pajamas to sweatshirts.

We are told to buy, buy, buy for our loved ones. Each year the gifts have to be bigger, better and more expensive than they were last year. How on earth did this season of simple giving become the consumerist paradise it is today?

If we look back at that first Christmas, Mary and Joseph were content with a warm place to lay their heads. The angels announced the birth of Jesus with heavenly light and song. And humanity received the greatest gift of all -- God's presence in the world in the form of a little baby born in a simple manger.

We need to think about these realities and balance them against the consumerism and materialism of this age. Why not consider giving someone your time instead of a gift? Offer to do small jobs around the house for a shut in or someone who has no family nearby. Bring lunch in to someone who might otherwise have to eat alone. This year instead of all those presents, why not give the simple gift of presence.


Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Giving Thanks

Tomorrow I go to spend the day with my mother. She is still in pretty good shape, all things considered, but I know that an entire day with family around her will be more than she can handle. I want this to go well, as this may be the final Holiday where I still have something of my mom to interact with before the disease takes all of her memory away.

Please God give me the serenity to accept this situation, and the wisdom to not think that any of her negative emotions are about me personally, and the courage to stay there -- in the past I have just left when things got bad.


Sunday, November 14, 2004

Identity Crisis

I was a member of a group this week, as an exercise in obedience. I really didn't want to be there, I hadn't had much fun in the previous sessions, but I am required to attend one more as an obligation.

One of my problems when I am in this group is that I get so nervous that I talk entirely too much. This is a problem I have. I get very excited about a topic and what I have learned and gleaned and absorbed in my spiritual journey on that subject that I want to share all of it with whoever will listen. I guess I had this problem in the group I was in. I was asked that perhaps I should curtail my sharing with the group for the benefit of the group.

I had decided that I was not going to attend this group for a while, but there happened to be a really interesting topic this night, and I wanted to hear what was said. I decided that I just wouldn't say anything at all, just listen and get it through the night.

As the hour wore on I did venture one or two statements, and I had a few more in mind that I wanted to share, but I found myself editing in my head, and keeping myself from sharing very valid feelings and emotions, for fear that the others in the group would judge me as talking too much again.

As I was sitting there, in the last fifteen minutes in the hour, I found myself getting very depressed. I had to force myself to become someone I wasn't by editing my comments in order to feel as though I could be a member of this group. It wasn't like a mortification, which would make me stronger, it was a painful realization that this group would only accept me in this edited version of myself.

It was a painful realization. If this group, whose purpose is supposed to be spiritual growth, could only accept me as a member if I was constantly keeping myself from sharing any part of myself, then perhaps it is time that I leave this particular group. I would never discount someone for who they are, and that is the way I perceived what was happening to me.

I guess it is important to know what isn't working in ones spiritual life, and make adjustments when it is obvious that one should move on. I don't want to be in a faith-sharing group where I feel as though the other members only care about an edited version of my journey.

So, I go.


Friday, November 12, 2004

Change is Good

Change is inevitable, or so they tell us. Nothing can stay the same forever, even mountains eventually errode. So why does the idea of change scare us so much?

From the moment we are conceived every aspect of our lives is about change in some way or another. Most of the change that happens is in an orderly and predictable manner, but sometimes changes come that couldn't be predicted or expected.

After we are born the changes continue. And yet as we age we become less and less comfortable with change. I wonder what causes us to fear it so much. Perhaps we have forgotten what we learned as babies in diapers: change isn't always a bad thing, it is usually pretty evident when change is necessary, and change is necessary to stay healthy.

So, learn to re-embrace change, and when one is necessary don't complain.


Thursday, November 04, 2004

Living in the Mystery

The other night on television I heard some talking head new age philosopher say that it isn't important to be in the know. What is important is to be in the mystery. I really wanted to jump into that discussion and tell that man that his "new age" philosophy wasn't new at all.

As a Catholic Christian I live in the mystery every day of my life. Every aspect of lived Catholic faith is done within the Paschal Mystery of Jesus' incarnation, life and mission, suffering and death on the cross, and rising to new life in the resurrection.

I guess the axiom is true "everything old is new again". To have someone speak of living in the mystery devoid of any mention of God or faith was a bit jarring, but I suppose that this philosopher's idea of transcendence is God's self revelation in a way. Perhaps the only difference is semantics.

I am lucky I guess that I didn't have to go off in search of Kabala or Wicca or Dyanetics or some other path, because I have the way the truth and the life set before me.


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

My Husband, My Strength

A long time ago, when I was a very little girl I watched my mom and dad sitting together in the kitchen having a last cup of coffee before starting their busy days. They had been married for at least 20 years by this time, and they seemed so content to be together. They weren't really talking about anything of substance, it certainly couldn't have been considered exciting to be talking about storm windows and loan payments. I could tell that they really cared about being together, even in those few short minutes that they got to spend together before life would take them in different directions for the rest of the day. I remember hoping one day that I would have that kind of relationship.

It occurred to me the other day, as Mr Angelmeg and I were sitting down over the Sunday paper that I do have what my parents had. We both have busy busy lives, and we are pulled in many directions, but when we are together we really savor the time we have to spend together, even if it is just sitting together in the same room.

I have been joking with my friends that recently Mr Angelmeg and I are only in the same room together when either one or both of us is asleep. That isn't too far from the truth. We both are taking Masters Courses, and He is working overtime and I am very busy with my job. Add in taking the kids to all of their activities, and general housework and there really isn't a lot of time left.

I guess I am one of the blessed ones: not only did I have a great example of how to live in a happy, long term, committed relationship, but I also am living in one myself. I hope my children can have what I have. I guess I just needed to let someone know how much it means to me that I am in a relationship that I know will last.


Saturday, October 23, 2004

Joan Watch

I really enjoyed this week's episode. I found the idea of "my way, no matter who I have to hurt" to be such a relevent message to bring out during this election campaign where both sides are doing less substantive campaigning and more "Look how Wrong my opponent is".

It again shows just how much Joan is growing in her understanding of doing God's will and that it doesn't always mean things end up the way you want them to. This has been almost a running theme this year, the outcome of her task is negative but the ripples are positive.

I wish I could remember a good line, if anyone can think of one please post it in the comments.

I think it is awesome that Friedman is memorizing Hamlet for Judith. I have known a guy or two who would be willing to go to that length. Too Funny!!!


A House Divided

We are a very happy family this week. Mr. Angelmeg's favorite baseball team since he was a little boy; the Saint Louis Cardinals is in the World Series. If I do say so myself they have just about held a clinic all year on how to play heads-up baseball. Each win has shown how to defeat the opponent by playing to their weaknesses.

Our oldest Daughter has an affinity to the Boston Red Sox, that is part her love of Seth Myers from Saturday Night Live, and part something she brought back with her from when we stayed in Boston for a year when she was very little (I think it is in the water there).

Needless to say, we are all about the World Series this week. See you after the game.

Go Cards!!!


Thursday, October 21, 2004

A Little Perspective on an Insane Situation

Thanks to the recent death of Superman (Christopher Reeve) fetal stem cell research is back in the news in a big way. Now we have his grieving widow all over television saying it is so compassionate that we should "harvest these little proto-humans so that men like her husband might be able to walk again someday. She says they need that kind of hope.

The only hope any of us needs is a hope in the Life to come. Nothing on this world should hold us here, even the hope of a longer life. Messing around with DNA to prolong a life given by God doesn't seem to me to be any way to show our Creator that we think he knows what he is doing in the constant act of creating the world we live in.

Up until now, stem cell research has yet to cure any current disease or condition. There has been the argument that the abortion industry creates hundreds of thousands of fetuses which could be put to use in harvesting stem cells for this research. As if that will justify or give some higher purpose to the act of killing these innocent children. I have had two miscarriages, one, was eleven weeks gestational age and I actually held in my palm. This was no mass of undifferentiated tissue, this was a child; my child. To think that children of this same gestational age will become medical research material is so ghoulish to me.

What this whole debate comes down to is that people are afraid of death and will grasp at any straw they can find to hold on to this life. I think people are so afraid of death because they don't know what life is all about. They don't have the real life that only comes from loving God completely and wanting his will. Even if God's will means watching someone you love die.

I have only had one person very close to me die, my father died when I was 13. Now my mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and she is slowly dying right in front of my eyes. I really hate that this has happened to her, but I do know that I would never be able to take knowing that either of their lives were spared because thousands of tiny helpless victims were sacrificed to the God of scientific discovery.

We get so excited that we can do something that we never seem to stop and think whether we should be doing it.

Only Jesus conquered death; and to do that he had to die. Our true hope is in Him and the life after this one we are promised. Nothing on this world should hold us so tightly. My father's life was in God's hands, and so now is my mother's.

I have said my piece, and now I am going to bed.


Monday, October 18, 2004

Scripture is a Place of Windows and Mirrors and Elephants Swimming

NOTE: this is an assingment submission for my Foundational Theology course. I am not sure I will get a good grade but I must admit it is one of my favorite I have written this semester. Enjoy:

Our first entry point into scripture is the completely literal sense of the story being told. From our earliest days we wade into Scripture as we hear the stories of Adam (Gen 2) and Noah (Gen 6-9) and Miriam (Num. 12), and Esther (Es). We begin to “see” the bible come alive, as if we are looking into a window on the world “back then. We can see how these people lived, and were governed, and we can grow in our understanding of how God worked in their world.

But something else happens as we learn these stories; the messages meant for the protagonists in the stories can also be related to our own lives. From Noah we learn that doing God’s will doesn’t always make sense in the eyes of other people (Gen 6). From Esther we learn that we can control our destiny even when we have no political power (Es 5). From Joshua we learn that obedience to God can bring great triumph (Jos 6). We begin to see the scripture stories as a mirror, reflecting the light of truth on our own lives.

As we grow in faith and knowledge, we begin to realize that this window/mirror debate isn’t an either/or proposition, but a both/and banquet. Without understanding the dynamics of the jealousy among Jacob’s sons, we cannot begin to understand how they could have sold off their brother and told their father he had died (Gen 37:33). When we see how Joseph’s being steadfast in faith during great suffering brought him through to better times (Gen 41:41), we can relate that to our own lives. When we see that God can use the jealous rage of the brothers, to His purpose: sending Joseph where he could best serve, we can see how God can write straight with crooked lines in our own circumstances.

We learn that simply to read the story, without trying to understand the “window message” of what the author intended for the people of that time and place we lose meaning, because times and words change. If we only see the story as some historical record of a time gone by we lose the “mirror message” insight into our present day world that may be revealed through deeper reflection.

As our faith matures we yearn for the fuller meaning (sensus plenior) of scripture. We are no longer content with only the surface story, or the inner truth, but we want it all. We want to understand exactly why the human author chose that structure to the story. We want to understand how some parable might relate to contemporary social justice issues that hadn’t even been imagined at the time it was written. This fuels our journey into bible study and from there to hermeneutics, exegesis, theology, philosophy, semantics, and even Hebrew Latin and Greek.

All of these tools are God’s way of drawing the intrepid deeper into the revealed truth contained in the sacred scripture. As we gain insight and experience using the diverse methods of biblical exegesis in our study of scripture we begin to see that there are so many layers of meaning to the stories in scripture. And we can imagine scripture as the place where children can wade and elephants can swim. And we are glad that we have been chosen to be like the elephants, happily swimming, and learning, and growing, and falling in love with the God of truth, light and love.


Sunday, October 17, 2004

Joan Watch

My favorite line from Friday's show had to be

God: (to Joan concerning a group of wild cats) If no one adopts them they will be put to sleep.

Joan: They look like they could use the sleep.

My other favorite reference was "Cats Gone Wild" on Adam's art project.


Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Would You Believe . . .

I heard it on MTV?

Last night I couldn't sleep so I was channel surfing in the middle of the night when I came across a show in MTV about casual sexual relationships called "I am a friend with benefits". I am not sure what I expected from the show, but what I found was a total indictment of the casual sexual relationship. There were two couples on the show; in both cases one partner wanted the casual aspect while the other wanted a deeper relationship. In both cases there was pain and anguish.

When will people learn?

What finally struck me was something one of the girl's friends told her and I am going to try to put it here exactly the way she said it:

Don't settle for the one you can live with, hold out for the one you can't live without.

I have been pondering that statement all day long. This has been a lectio divina that has given me great insight into how God is working in my life.

That statement can refer to so many aspects of our life from partners to jobs to purchases.

So, I just want to thank God for dragging me out of bed, making me channel surf, and allowing me to hear that statement and contemplate its meaning. He really does work in mysterious ways


Monday, October 11, 2004

Is This My Day or God's?

I woke up this morning and didn't want to get out of bed. My arthritis has been bad lately, and I had a very late night last night trying to keep up with my reading for my classes as well as getting work done and taking care of family. I was just too tired to move this morning.

Had I considered this day to be my day, I might have just stayed in bed. A few years ago I offered my life to God. Each day I say a prayer that says:

Heavenly Father,
I offer you this day
please help me to
do what You need me to do,
Go where You need me to go,
say what You need me to say.
Please help me to see when
I am doing my will and not Your's,
for Doing Your will is my
greatest blessing.

I would love to say that I am really good at doing God's will, and not my own, but the spirit is willing, and the flesh is weak.

Today though, knowing I was going to say that prayer, and knowing that there were people who were counting on me to do what needs to be done, I was able to get up from my nice warm bed and meet the challenges of this day in service to God.

Because God only wants what we are willing to give Him freely, I will say that prayer, and have that choice again tomorrow. With His help and grace I will get up again.


Friday, October 08, 2004

Joan Watch

My absolute most favorite show in television in the past few years has to be Joan of Arcadia , the story of a high school girl who talks to God.

The writing is creative and insightful, the characters are fully developed and quirky enough to be interesting, and the show's producers haven't given in to the demand from society to be more of the world.

My absolute favorite thing about Joan is that she says to God many of the things I wish I could say. I find in nearly every episode something I wish I had thought of.

My other favorite thing about the show is that it doesn't make a mockery of the Catholic Church. Helen, Joan's mom, is a lapsed Catholic who seeks out the Church to help her deal with struggles and uncertainty in her life. Can we not all relate to that? The priest she meets is so refreshingly human, not a caricature, or holier than thou, just a man doing a job well. I am really glad that they have chosen to follow this story line out.

So I suggest that you watch an episode. It is nice to see something on television that isn't driven by sex jokes or potty humor.

Each week I will include as part of my blog my favorite line from that week's episode as a teaser.

Today’s favorite line was:

Joan (speaking to God) People pray to see you . . . if they only knew.

Writing like that deserves awards.


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

But I Just Don't Have Time!

Have you ever said I would just love to read the bible, I just don't have the time? That used to be my excuse. Until I realized that every day at Mass the Word of God is proclaimed. The Catholic Lectionary Cycle gives us the bible in short manageable pieces. So if I went to daily Mass I would get a good sampling of bible readings every day. If one were to go to daily Mass, in just two short years one would have heard most of the bible proclaimed. Even if one only attends Sunday Liturgies, it only takes three years to be exposed to almost all of the scriptures.

But what if you just don't have time to go to Mass every day? What if the closest Mass is too far from home or work? Then I would suggest that you can still read the daily Mass readings every day, in fact there are ways that you can either get them on line, or emailed directly to your inbox every day. One of these email programs is called the Daily E-pistle. If you are interested in trying this all you have to do is click the link below and send an email directly to them and you will be registered to receive the daily Mass readings.

Click Here To Subscribe!

There are other resources out there to receive the daily readings. The USCCB(United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) has them posted on their website.

Oneof my absolute favorite sites though, has to be the Daily Reflection on the Mass Readings done by the professors and administrators of Creighton University and presented by Creighton University Online Ministries .

I hope one of these links will help you to consider offering ten short minutes a day to read the Word of God.


Monday, October 04, 2004

Seeking Direction

This summer I spent five amazing days at Jesuit Retreat House in Cleveland, Ohio. It was one of the best retreats I have ever been on in my long history of retreat experiences. My time at Jrh directly led to my starting this blog.

I went on this specific retreat as an act of obedience. I am in a Graduate School Program at Saint Meinrad School of Theology . As part of our spiritual formation we are compelled to take a retreat every year. As I was discerning which retreat I should take, I got the strong sense that I should take a Jesuit retreat, and further a silent, individual directed retreat. Those of you, who know me well, know that it must have been an act of supreme obedience for me to go anywhere to be silent for more than one hour. Silence for five days took a huge leap of faith on my part.

The grounds of Jrh are just amazing. 59 acres of the most beautiful woods and meadows, complete with deer and foxes and other forms of wildlife. The grounds are set up with a series of pathways for one to explore. Some paved, others trails through the woods.

I found that when I stayed on the paved pathways, and on the trails that were clearly marked I was fine, but when I ventured onto the more obscure pathways (even the ones on the map) I found myself lost more than once. Lucky for me, the entire grounds were surrounded by chain link fence. Whenever I reached fence I knew that I had strayed from the path and began to work my way back toward the center where the retreat house was located.

The point to my explaining all of this is that I am a person who needs good directions to find my way. When I hike I need a very detailed map and a compass or confident guide in order to feel secure that I won’t get lost. This analogy is true of my spiritual life as well.

In my spiritual life I have found that I can get really lost when left to my own navigational ineptitude. I have found that even with a pretty good map I can still lose my way. That is why for the last 8 years I have been receiving Spiritual Direction.

Spiritual Direction is a process by which a person seeks the help of someone else in their spiritual life. I meet once a month with my current director. These meetings aren’t pep rally sessions, or psychoanalysis. What they are is a chance for me to have an objective viewpoint on my struggles and successes.

My Director keeps me honest about where I am in my spiritual journey, she affirms my right choices and helps me to see where I am not living up to my potential as a child of God. She also challenges me to step out of my comfort zone and take risks when it means that I will be doing God’s will.

In the last ten years I have had three wonderful guides on my spiritual life. The first was a gentleman I had the privilege of being in a small faith community with. He and I never had an official director/directed relationship, but he did so much to help me to see where I was headed and what I needed to do in my life to change direction and move toward God that I count him as my first director.

My second director was a priest in a neighboring parish. I met with him every six to eight weeks and he really helped me to begin to grow in faith. He challenged me to read books I never would have picked up, and he helped me to define my prayer life and explore forms of prayer that I never would have tried without his guidance. Unfortunately, circumstances in both our lives made it very difficult for me to continue to see him on a regular basis, so our time together ended.

My current director is a woman who is a member of the parish where I work. About six months after I had stopped going to Father for direction, I was beginning to see that I really had come to depend on the objectivity of a Spiritual director, and needed that objectivity in my struggles in my job in the parish. I told God in prayer that I really needed direction again, and he would have to lead me to the right director. Through a series of discernments on both our parts, I was led to ask, and she was called to agree, and we have been together for going on two years now.

If the Catechism is my map, then my Spiritual Director is my compass. She keeps me pointed in the desired direction, and she helps me to see the clearly marked path ahead of me. When the path isn’t so clearly marked, she helps me to carefully pick my way through the underbrush until I can get my bearings again. I still stumble, and I still get lost, but I am never alone or lost for long because she is there to help me.

I don’t even want to know what my life would be like without Spiritual Direction. I can’t imagine ever going without it again. It is a powerful tool in ones spiritual life and I highly recommend that you all go out and find a spiritual director if you don’t already have one. Unless you like being lost in the spiritual wilderness, I guess.


Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Easy Diet Viagra

I knew that headline would be an attention grabber. I have seen signs that state this along the highways near my house. I think perhaps that these are meant to be two different offers, but the signs don't make a distinction.

Which brings me to what I really wanted to talk about today: What we want from God, and what we are willing to do to obtain it.

Society tells us that we can have many things in our life, ease, comfort, success; all we have to do is buy this book, use this program, join this gym, and take this pill. We buy into the easy fix because we want our gratification now!

God isn't like that. God loves us unconditionally, and wants us to have lives of abundance, but He also will not enter into our lives unless we ask Him. Even when we ask God to be a part of our lives, we still have to participate in gaining what we want.

God gives us exactly what we want, and has done since Adam and Eve wanted to have knowledge of Good and Evil. Oh to be walking in the garden never having to know of the evil in the world. When we want the quick fix that we get from something, God gives it to us, but then we also have to take the consequences that come along with our quick fix. These consequences can be things like addiction, poor health, relationship woes, work problems, or even worse.

Have you ever pondered the list of virtues? Temperance, prudence, modesty, patience; none of these virtues sound like they would be applicable to a quick fix solution. When we want to change something in our lives, we have to be willing to do the very hard work that goes with that change. If we want a more loving marriage we have to work to get that. If we want a better paying job, we have to be willing to gain the skills to earn the better paying job. If we want to lose weight we have to be willing to use those virtues like prudence, temperance and perseverance and patience.

So, don't expect God to be sending you any easy diet viagra any time soon. What He does send in abundance is His love, and when you ask for His help and are willing to cooperate with His will your life will change for the better. Count on it!


Saturday, September 18, 2004

Things My Mother Told Me

My mom said that staying strong in my Catholic faith would help me when times got tough. I have been through illness, death, disappointment, betrayal and disillusionment in this world. In the roughest times my faith was the shining light that led me through the darkness. My mom gave me that faith.

My mom said that reading was a very important skill to acquire. I have been reading since I was three years old. I still remember our reading times every afternoon when mom read novels to myself and my younger brother and sister. I once heard my mom tell someone that I read everything I got my hands on. To this day, all the reading I have to do in Gradual School isn't a problem because my mom gave me a love of reading.

My mom said that if I prayed for a loving Catholic husband, my guardian angel would help me find one. I have been married to my soul mate, loving Catholic husband for over 20 years. When we first met in college my mom often had us over for free meals, a real plus to poor college kids. Thanks mom.

My mom said that being faithful to God was more important than any success or reward this life had to offer. I have sought success as the world defines it and found that it was a pedestal everyone wanted to knock me off of. Faithfulness to God has brought me much more inner peace and true Christian friendship.

Mom said that adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was like spending time with the greatest "Host" I would ever know. I have come to love my visits to be with Jesus in this sacred mystery, the peace I gain from my time with Him is undeniable, and indescribable.

Mom told me that I could be whatever I set my mind to be. Mom made me strong by her example. She finished college when I was in college. She took job after challenging job to make sure that we had a place to live and food to eat. She worked very hard as a single parent from the time I was thirteen. She was much more of an inspiration than any other woman on the planet. Every time I have been discouraged as I worked toward some goal, I could hear mom telling me that anything worth having was worth fighting for.

Mom taught me that being compassionate was more important than being right. This was a lesson that I didn't realize the value of until I began to work. Sometimes it is more important to let someone else take the credit for your hard work, because they need the accolades. All I ever needed was to know that I was doing what God wanted me to be doing. Mom taught me that.

Mom didn't give me many monetary or social advantages, but she did give me everything that I hold dear, and everything that makes me the person I am today. You should meet my mother; you would love her as much as I do.


Friday, September 17, 2004

Seeing One's Name in Print

My previous post was about being humbled. The most humbling experience I have had recently was seeing my name in print for the very first time as a contributor to a book of essays.

It all began a few months ago when I told a very good friend that God was calling me to write about faith for others to read, and she encouraged me to write something about the Eucharist to submit to a website she was familiar with. The website belonged to the Franciscan Monastery of Saint Clare in Spokane Washington. Sr. Patricia Proctor OSC was compiling stories which she was planning to publish in a book in honor of the Year of the Eucharist.

I wrote a short essay telling how my father taught me about the Real Presence, submitted it and promptly forgot all about it. I got an email a few months later saying that my essay would be included in the book. About a week or so ago I received copies of the book and what do you know, there on page 20 is my little essay.

I am so humbled by this entire experience. My little offering is in the same book with much more scholarly writings, more spiritual offerings, the words of Church Documents, and the words of our Beloved Pope John Paul II. What a wonderful book it is.

God willing this will be the first of many times I will see my name in print, but no other time will be as special as this one.

If you are interested in having a great book, 201 Inspirational Stories of the Eucharist is something that you will be able to use the entire year for meditation, adoration and just growing closer to the Heart of Jesus Christ.


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

being humbled

I learned something very interesting on my retreat earlier this summer, but it took the specific events of this week to remind me that I should be living what I had learned.

This week has been a very humbling week for me. I have been snapped at, ordered around, and totally disregarded by people who I thought wouldn't act that way toward me. It was beginning to grate on my nerves. Why wasn't this person taking my opinion seriously? Why did that person feel as though she should tell me what I am doing wrong without an ounce of charity in her voice? Why was this other person telling me that I should be doing work for him when I barely had time to do my own work?

It was late last night, as I was going over the previous week that I remembered meditating on the passage from the bible that says "humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up" (James 4:10) The realization I came to on my retreat is that Christ is in every created man or woman on this earth. Every time someone humbles me I should take it as Christ and be humbled in His sight. Christ alone will lift me up, not the opinions or feelings or thoughts of people.

So, I have been humbled often in the past week, and as I look back some of the reasons I was humbled were for my correction, some were so that I might better understand the stress or situation that might cause a person to lash out or be mean when it wasn't necessary. It isn't fun being humbled, but then I must remember: Jesus was humbled by the Sanhedrin and Herod and Pilate, humbled even unto death. A little embarrassment on my part is a small sacrifice to make. I know where my true reward is.

So, I go out to greet a new day, with a new chance to see Christ in everyone and be Christ to everyone. What a blessing that will be.


Sunday, September 12, 2004

My School Community

We come. We leave our homes on Friday or early Saturday and we drive from many places. We come from Missouri, Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio and Indiana.

We arrive on the Hill, and we become community. We settle in, those of us who come on Friday, we dine together. We hug, and talk and get caught up on each other's lives since the last time we were together. We greet the resident seminarians, and monks, faculty and staff.

We are all drawn here by the still small voice of God, calling us ito communion to learn about Him, and to experience His love and grace here on this Hill we will call home for the next two days. We are all here to attend classes in the Lay Degree Program.

We study together, we worship together, we joke around with each other, and we have fellowship.

And when our weekend is over we disburse going our separate ways back to our other lives where we are medical doctors, lawyers, engineers, Ph D's, dentists, electricians, teachers, chaplains, musicians, pastoral workers, administrators, permanent Deacons, Episcopal Clergy, salesmen and retirees. And yet, even as we move back into our separate lives, we are bonded by our study for the next weekend when we will leave our homes . . .

We have entered into a relationship that will last a very long time. We have entered into a relationship that will sustain us as we strive for our goal of graduation, and beyond.

I wouldn't have it any other way.


Friday, September 10, 2004

The Road not Taken

Ask anyone who knows me, I never like to drive anywhere I haven't been at least once before because I am terrified that I will get lost. I don't like being lost. It goes back to when I was a child and a friend and I decided to walk to a store a few blocks from our houses and somehow we turned down the wrong street and five hours later the police brought us back home. I am sure the Police were wonderful, but I never wanted to be lost ever again.

Anyway, I had to drive to the School where I am Gradually learning I no longer want to be, and I had to go from my office instead of my house. From my house I know exactly how to get there and I don't have any problem at all. From my office the directions tell you to drive this one state road that I can only describe as my worst nightmare; no shoulders, very curvy and nowhere to turn off. I drove that way once, and Hated it. Now anyone who knows me will tell you that I don't use the word hate very often. Dislike yes; don't like definitely; but hate is such a strong emotion that I don't normally throw the term around. I HATE this state road they want us to drive.

So ever since then, I have tried to find another way to get from my office to my School. I found one way, but it was still a little to curvy. Today I took another route, it went past a great big man made lake, and was a beautiful stretch of road the entire drive. My only fear was that somehow I would miss the turn and end up heaven knows where a few states south of the one I am in. I found the intersection. It was really hard to miss. It was a T.

The drive was absolutely beautiful, and restful and I had plenty of beautiful scenery to marvel at as I drove. It isn't hard to see God in all things when the day is beautiful and the landscape stretches out before you like a painting.

The map showed a small road that would have taken me from the road I was on to the road my School is on, but I had never driven on that road before. I had had such good luck so far this trip, I guess I didn't want to press my luck. So I drove about 10 miles out of my way because I knew the road I was on intersected with the road I normally drive from home on. I chickened out.

So, I have decided that the next time I come down here from my office I am going to take the little road not taken, I am sure that the intersection will be clearly marked, and I will have had another adventure and gained a little more confidence in my ability to navigate on my own. Either that, or I will see some wonderful contryside in the bordering state, who knows?

Who knows what treasures I will find on the new road? It almost makes me less gradual about school.


Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Watching my Daughter Watch the Passion

When Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of the Christ came out Mr. Angelmeg and I took the entire angel family to see it; all except our youngest. At seven, we thought it might just be too much for her to handle.

Now she is all of eight, and ever since she found out that it was going to be released on video she has begged us to let her see it. So I purchased a copy (wide screen DVD of course) and Sunday she and Mr. Angelmeg and I sat down to watch.

She had a bit of trouble reading some of the captions, so Mr. Angelmeg and I read them for her. She was transfixed, she didn't squirm or fidget, or any of the things she normally does when we watch a DVD. She watched until the last frame, and as Jesus resurrected walked out of the shot, she said: "See, He is alive."

So much of the story she already knew; and who can fault that she has heard it every year for the past eight Easters at Palm Sunday Masses and Good Friday services. She has seen other movies about Jesus' life death and resurrection. But none has made the impact that this movie has made on her. She says now that we own a copy we need to make it a family tradition to watch it every Holy Week.

This morning she was looking at my screen saver, which says "Touch my computer without my permission and you DIE PIG, love Mom." and said to me "Mom, you really need to change that, how can you have such a mean message on your computer when we have "The Passion" in our house. From the mouths of babes comes the wisdom of the ages.

How can I, knowing what Christ did for me, not live every moment of my life to bring life, not death? How can I not build up my fellow man, and be the image of love that the Holy Trinity; Father Son and Holy Spirit are in this world? How can I not offer every moment of my life to the One who gave His life so that I might live?

Step one: thank God for giving me my little angel baby, to show me how to be more like His Son.

Step two: change the screen saver to something more life affirming.

Step four: Live, for Him because He died for me.

Step five: plan for that family viewing.


Sunday, September 05, 2004

God Forsaken

There is a man who lives near where I work who loves to paint signs with his opinion on them. He uses so much red and white paint that it makes one want to go out and buy stock in a paint company. Today the sign in his yard said: If God loves everyone there would be no need for a hell".

That phrase bothered me all day. I pondered it, and considered it, and deconstructed it from every angle until I found the flaw in this man's thinking.

God does love everyone and must do because God is Love. To do anything else except love everyone would make God a liar, which is impossible because as we know from Jesus, He is the truth. BUT: God is also the WAY, if we follow God, we will always be on our way toward God.

God loves us all, and the deepest longing of God’s heart is for us to live in God’s Agape love for all eternity. That is why God keeps reaching out to us, no matter how much we reject God's love God continues to give us everything we need (notice here I say everything we need, not everything we want).

God must love, but because God created us with free will, we can choose to accept or reject God's love. If we accept God's love, we want to do what is pleasing to God. As Thomas Merton said I do not know where I am going, but I know that my wanting to do your will is in itself pleasing to you (or something similar to that). When we chose to reject God's love and do things that are displeasing to God, we have chosen to live outside God’s Agape (love). God has not made that choice for us.

So, God can love everyone, and there can still be a place called hell, which in this case is the place; freely chosen by some, who wish to live without God's love for all eternity. Not some place I wish to experience.

We are only God forsaken, if we choose to be.

All I can say is God loves everyone, which only proves that God has no taste, Thank GOD!!!!!!!


Thursday, September 02, 2004

The Theology I Learned From Watching a Baby Crawl

NOTE: This is adapted from a posting I made in my Fundamental Theology On-line Course. I wanted to share it with you all:

A working definition of the task of Theology might be: the disciplined exploration of what is contained in revelation." I would like to offer an analogy of my own to help understand this definition and the types of theological exploration.

My friend has a 10 month old daughter named Cecelia, who is beginning to explore her world for the very first time. She is set on the floor of the kitchen where her mother and I are sharing our weekly prayer time. She has faith in the solid nature of the floor based upon seeing her mother and I walking on it ourselves (fundamental floorology). She has seen this action before as she has been carried into this same room(historical floorology). Everyone she has seen has been able to walk on the floor just as we do (systematic floorology) If she walks on the floor she will be safe (moral floorology). If she walks out of the door of the kitchen into the hallway, she will still be able to safely walk on the floor. (practical floorology).

But, say she walks down the hallway to the stairway. This floor doesn't look the same.(revelation) She looks back to see that mom and I are watching her, (disciplined) She reaches up and tests the first step (exploration) and feels that the stair is solid, as the floor she is standing on. She climbs up the stair, and sits on the runner. Then she tries to move up to the next stair in the same way she did the first. (methodology). Then she watches as mom climbs the stairs standing up and realizes that she can do the same, and the next step she steps up onto instead of crawling up (observation and adaptation of others).

I realize as all analogies, this one is limited in scope. I was reading Fr Nicholas' article I kept thinking of how children learn about thier world. Aren't theologians similar in the way they explore revelation? So long as they are disciplined in thier aproach, no question should be disregarded out of hand, and within the framework of discipline, they will be kept from toppling down the stairs, hopefully. As they explore they make implications for the other aspects of life. Our lives are all richer because they take the time to explore.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Gradual School

In the John Irving Book "The World According to Garp" there is a great line about Graduate School, actually being 'gradual school’ because that is where you go to gradually learn that you no longer want to be in school.

Unfortunately for me, I'm not even through my first year of gradual school and I am fast approaching never wanting to go back.

I say that in a half hearted way. I love my school. I am learning so very much, and the people I attend classes with have become so very special to me. I just don't like feeling pressured constantly, and there are days when all I feel about school is pressure.

I know that God wants me to be there. I know that everything I am learning is going to benefit not only me, but also those to whom I minister. I just don't like constantly feeling under the hammer.

So I have decided I need to begin a new prayer novena (for those of you not Catholic a novena is nine days (weeks, months) of prayer for a specific intention. This comes from the nine days between Jesus' assension into heaven and the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost during which time the apostles and Mary and others prayed together in the upper room. My new novena will be for the intention of having the will to survive in Gradual school.

I have also decided, that from now on I am going to try to remember that I am there to learn, not to be top Dog, not to get the highest grades, but to learn everything I am capable of learning while I am there.

Oh well, back to reading about divine revelation. If I can stay awake.


Sunday, August 29, 2004

End of Summer Tale

School has begun for my children, so summer must be over. If that is true why am I sitting here contemplating my final weekend of my summer school class? And if summer is over on Sunday afternoon when my class is over, then what does that mean for Labor Day, which is still a week away? Isn't that supposed to be the final summer weekend?

Technically summer isn't really over until September 21st. Then there is still the promise of Indian summer; warm summer like days in the midst of falling leaves and other signs of autumn. We all perceive summer as beginning and ending dependent upon our own lives.

This is a lot like the way we perceive God's grace, or God's action in the world. If one is more aware of God's action, then one perceives its abundance much more clearly than someone who doesn't know or has never had a personal experience of God's grace. Some can see God's grace very clearly in thier own lives and in the lives of those they know and love. Others can see God's grace, but explain it away as coincidence, or chance or dumb luck. Others can't see God's grace at all because they refuse to believe that there is a God.

I guess what I am trying to say is that summer is as long as you perceive it to be. If summer is what you love, then let it linger; enjoy and extend it. See it all around you in its many forms.

See God's grace in the same way: be aware and keep it with you.


Wednesday, August 25, 2004

What Have I Been Reading?

I have been an avid reader since I learned to read at the age of three -- one of the benefits of having older sisters who wanted to play school. My sister Ann was so good at the game that she taught me how to read.

I usually have at least four books in the process ov being read, but I have to preface this entry with the caveat that I have spent the past summer in grad school, so most of my reading time was devoured by required text. I am sure you all can't wait to read The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church by Neuner and Dupuis (Alba House 2001), or Jaroslav Pelikan's exhaustive document on Creedal forms called Credo (all 647 pages of it). While both are compelling reading I wouldn't recommend them except as a resource.

Prayer and Temperament by Chester Michael and Marie Norrisey, Open Door Inc, 1991 --- If you know your Myers Briggs Type Indicator score (I am an INFP) this book will help you to explore prayer forms that fit your type. I found it very interesting to read about and explore prayer forms for other types as well.

The Creed What Christians Believe and Why it Matters by Luke Timothy Johnson, Doubleday, 2003 -- This is a wonderful article by article explanation of the Creed in everyday language. It was very easy to read and had many wonderful insights.

Finding God in All Things by William A. Barry, SJ, Ave Maria Press 1991 --- This is a companion to the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. I found it to be very enlightening. It has some amazing correlations to my current spiritual journey, and thus was much help as I try to walk with God at all times. I know I will go back to this little book often.

Father Joe by Tony Hendra , Random House 2004 --- This was my summer reading choice book. I took it on vacation and spent a wonderful week reading something that wasn't assigned. I loved this touching story of one man's search for meaning, and the spiritual guide who helped him find his way. I am not sure I would call it Confessions of Saint Augustine for our time, but it was very good.

I am still reading Beyond the World of Pooh (Dutton Books, 1998)the selected writings from the memoirs of Christopher Milne, the son of A. A. Milne who wrote the Winnie the Pooh books. He has a very readable and enjoyable writing style. This is a book I can pick up and put down, so it gets thrown in my bag for those moments when I can escape into a world that is unfamiliar to me.

So, read what I have read, or don't. I do encourage reading.

Monday, August 23, 2004


I looked around my office this morning and realized that I am probably the least organized person working in my field. My desk, really my entire office, is a mass of piles and boxes, and stacks and books, etc, etc. I am beginning to chip away at the disorganization, and it actually feels really good. But, I feel as though this task may be way over my head in terms of getting it right.

So, I have a plan: each day I will endeavor to work on streamlining one area of my job. I have given myself a month to get things so organized that I can find anything on the first try, and nothing gets lost in the mass of piles on my desk, which hopefully won't exist.

I am declaring this my goal. I will get organized, or die trying. I have to get organized, I just looked over the syllabi for my two classes this semester, and I will be working very hard to keep up in both classes. Unless I want a stress induced stay in the rubber room, I must get things in ship-shape order as quickly as possible.

As I have always told my children, how to do complete the largest task in your life? One step at a time.

Step one: admitting I have a problem and am powerless to overcome it without divine intervention.

I know that God is watching over me, and will guide my work. I can be at peace, and get through this without going to pieces, because God is with me.

So, I only have one final statement to make before I begin the monumental task of organizing my life's work. . . HELP!

Anybody? Can you hear me?

I bet if I asked for volunteers to organize my chocolate collection there would be a stampede toward my door.


Sunday, August 22, 2004

Out of the Fog

I drove to work this morning in the most amazing fog. It was beautiful and terrifying at the same time. There are stretches of road between home and work where the fog gets to zero visibility very quickly.

As I was driving I noticed that while I was cautious, I wasn't the least bit afraid. I tried to figure out why I wasn't afraid and I made some interesting inferences, which could easily be applied to my spiritual life as well.

We have all had those foggy spiritual experiences, where we know that we should do God's will, but we can't see much of what is ahead of us, and we become scared to take those steps of faith for fear of losing our way. I hope these few tips I gained from my drive this morning can help you the next time you are in a situation like that.

When the fog gets thick it really helps if you know where you are headed. This isn't the time to try that new short cut or side road that someone told you about. Stick to the main road, because it is usually clearly marked and you have traveled it before, so you have some sense of where you should head. In you spiritual walk, when it gets foggy it’s probably not a good time to take on an entire new devotional structure.

Slow down when driving through fog. When your visibility is limited, take things more slowly so that you have time to react when you come upon something unexpected. Don't barrel ahead full throttle to get to the other side. In foggy spiritual times, slow down and become more aware of God' guidance in your life.

Use your headlights, they don't much help you see, but they do make you more visible to others around you. In the spiritual sense this would mean being true to who you are, not pretending to be someone else.

Trust in God to see you through. In the fog panic is the worst reaction you can have. Trust your instincts as gifts from God and follow them. Fear of any kind is a lack of faith. Have faith and move cautiously.

Eventually the fog will lift, and things will be clear again and you will see the sun. In the spiritual case I hope that you see the Son, clearly after the fog. And remember to thank God when you come out of the fog. It is so easy to call on God when we need strength, but then when the time of trial is over we often forget to thank God for getting us through. Or we begin to fool ourselves that we got through it on our own power.

So, like I said: I drove through the fog this morning, and when I got through it the sun (Son) was shining as if to remind me that all was right with the world.


Friday, August 20, 2004

They will still outnumber us four to two

Tomorrow we will pack up our van, and our oldest daughter's car and help her move into her dorm at college. This will be the first of our children to live away from us. While we are a little sad, in a way we are improving our odds around here.

Our son's ambition is to move out before he turns 30, so we are looking at at least ten more years with him. Our other angel girls all have some schooling left, two are in high school and one still just in second grade. If they all go off to college, then we will be looking at sending the angel baby to college in 2015, abut the time our son finally gets himself his own apartment.

I have always wanted my children to know that faithfulness to God's plan for their lives is much more important than earthly success. Our oldest daughter has chosen to study theater. I think Mr angelmeg would prefer her to go into something a bit more stable, but I realize that she can only be who God wants her to be if she is faithful to his plan and uses the gifts He gave her.

So, Mr angelmeg and I will be sad tomorrow, and then we will return home to our four other hungry, fighting offspring and realize it just doesn’t make that much difference.

Only kidding. We will really miss her. She helped drive her brother and sisters around.


Thursday, August 19, 2004


I am having a hard time thinking today. I am so overtired from the unrelenting hot and muggy weather, and I just can't seem to rub two brain cells together with enough energy to process anything.

I call days like this "thinking optional" days. For most of the day I felt as if I was just going through the motions, doing what I had to do to get through the day, but without the energy and spirit that I usually expend. I realize now that some of my problem today came from a distinct lack of energy that was generated in a meeting I attended. It is hard to keep up ones spirits when others are very negative.

As I look back over the day I see four very bright spots:

One was my prayer time with my prayer partner. We meet once a week and go over our previous week and see how we have been obedient to God and where we were able to bring God's love to others. This short period of time each week has become so important to me. I can't imagine not having that check in each week. In fact the past two weeks due to circumstances we didn't get to meet and I know I missed it a lot. I got to hold my friends lovely baby daughter for a while too. I love babies so much.

The second came from three different women who all talked to me this afternoon, and each one in her own way gave me hope, and a glimpse of a future not yet in focus. I will be forever grateful for those three short conversations, each lasting less than five minutes, but each so important to my ministry and to me personally.

The third flash of inspiration came just before and then during Mass today. Prior to Mass I talked to a woman on the phone who really helped me to set the direction of one program at the church where I work. I have been struggling for nearly three years trying to figure out how to do something, and I think after the phone conversation tonight I am on the right track finally. Then at Mass I saw a young couple I haven't seen in about a month. It was very nice to see them, and I was reminded how important our new young adult ministry is going to be.

The fourth was the monthly meeting of Catholic Women in Faith, a group at the church. It wasn't just seeing all of these wonderful women, and hearing of their journey's of faith, it was also knowing that I was in the right place, doing the right thing. There was so much wisdom in that room.

So, I end the day looking back over one negative spot in an otherwise exceptional day. I need to work on not allowing someone else’s negativity to sap my strength, that happens all to often to me. I need to trust more in the Lord, and learn to let go of the bad feelings and energy drainers as quickly as I can.


Tuesday, August 17, 2004

One of Those Days

I love my job. It can be exciting, and rewarding and draining, and challenging, and disturbing, and just plain hard work. Today was one of those days when it was all of that and much more.

This was one of those days I wished could have been punctuated with fireworks like you get at the ballpark when someone makes a home run. BAM! KABLOOM! Something really great just happened. Why should ball players get all the great support?

I have one of those jobs where I wear a lot of hats. I never spent more than an hour doing any one specific part of my job, so I was constantly changing hats: at times it felt like I was juggling them.

As frustrating as that can be, today was one of those days when I was so aware of how awesome God is, and how carefully He watches over my work. God's answers came so immediately today that I didn't even have time to wonder how things were going to get done. When I looked back at my day before I left the office I had done so much more than I had ever expected to in one day.

The coolest thing was that I actually realized all day as I was working just how awesome this day was going to be. Each phone call, each personal conversation, each piece of paperwork was propelling my programs toward the event horizon where Kairos becomes my time, and all things happen as they are supposed to happen.

I love my job! Tomorrow everything could go horribly wrong and I will hate my job. But even at the end of a bad day, I can usually see how my bad day made it possible for God to do awesome work in someone else's life.

God is good, all the time!


Monday, August 16, 2004

Coincidence? I think not!

Some people call it a coincidence; some people call it serendipity, which roughly translates to a happy accident, others just call it dumb luck. What all of these people have in common is a distinct lack of faith in a loving God who has counted every hair on our heads, and has so carefully ordered our steps so as to keep us on the right path.

I no longer believe in accidents, nothing is outside of God’s careful plan. When things seem to work out despite our best efforts to thwart them, what other explanation could there be?

One time I was rushing home from work, thinking about what I was going to cook my family for dinner. Just before I reached my turn off of the highway I decided I wanted something else for dinner, so I drove to the store instead of home. As I was walking through the store I ran into someone that I had been trying to get in touch with for days. Coincidence? No way.

The day our youngest daughter almost drown in our pool, I was trying to reach a priest to come to the hospital. Our pastor, who had a special place in his heart for our daughter was on vacation in Canada. In desperation a friend of ours left a message on his rectory answering machine hoping someone was screening his calls for emergencies. An hour after she left the message, who should walk into the hospital but our Pastor. He had in fact left for Canada three days prior, but not 100 miles from home his nephew’s car had horrible transmission trouble and the trip had to be scratched. He had just gotten back into town that afternoon and had gone out to dinner with a friend and returned home just as the message was being left. Would you call this a coincidence? I would call it God’s tender care. Fr. was with us when our daughter opened her eyes a few hours after he got to the hospital and prayed with us. She looked right up at him and said hi.

I have seen too many happy accidents to think of them as anything but God’s tender care. I know He orders my steps carefully, and He makes allowances for my short comings. I am always in awe, but seldom amazed at what God can do in this world.

God can even use totally unwilling messengers. My one brother professes not to believe in God. In fact he has said before that he stopped believing in God when he was 6 years old. Yet, there have been many times when I have read something he wrote which has answered a prayer in my heart, or has helped me to see something more clearly. My thought at those times is my brother may not believe in God, but God believes in my brother; thank God!

I dare you to go through an entire day keeping track of every happy accident, or coincidence, or piece of dumb luck that you experience. Perhaps you will begin to feel a sense of awe at how carefully God takes care of you.


Sunday, August 15, 2004

Extending Family

Our oldest angel daughter will be leaving for College very soon, and one last time wanted to get our closest friends together for a meal. So we called around and set up a pitch in where everyone brings something to share and we grill burgers and talk and laugh and the house just bursts with joy.

It was so nice having these friends around us. They are closer than friends, they are family. A family God has chosen for us, and we are so appreciative. We can all be ourselves around them, we don't have to be Martha Stewart perfect with everything. And no one looks at the messes behind the closed doors.

I know that the angel daughter will miss these people as much as she misses her angel family, but in a way that is good because it guarantees that she will come back often to see them.

It is amazing how much joy one house can hold. We are very blessed.


Friday, August 13, 2004

Olympic Spirit

Was it just me, or was Bob Costas having a really hard time keeping it together by the end of the parade of athletes? Some of these countries spend the equivalent of ten years salary to send three athletes and he makes jokes about their color scheme!

I love the Olympics, the first one I remember is the '68 games in Mexico City, and then '72 when Mark Spitz tore up the pool, but what a sad year that was. I love to watch all the sports, even Badminton; those shuttle cocks can really fly.

We have our favorites, but we also look for that amazing athlete who has a personal best and still comes in 35th. This year we are so excited about the Afghanistan Women, Go Girl Power!

The next 14 days will be so overloaded with Olympic spirit at our house. The Medal count will be the first thing the angel kids look at in the paper, edging out the comics for two whole weeks.

My prayer this year is that all politics is kept outside the games. We saw a good start of this when Korea marched in the parade of athletes as one unified Country.

All I have to say is “let the Games begin”, and may God watch over all the athletes.



I wonder what this word means anymore? We have Friends like the TV show, pseudo family groupings of people who care about each other. We have circles of friendship, radiating outward from ourselves at the center. We have bosom buddies, those close enough to know who we really are. We have acquaintances; people we work with or know casually enough to say hi.

Then there is that rare person in our lives who defies these descriptions, they are as close as family, but have no blood relationship to us. They are as intimate as can be in a way that sexual intimacy will never come near to approximating. They understand when we need encouragement, and when we need chastisement, and are willing to give either when called for.

These people will stand up for us when our last shred of dignity has been callously stripped away. They will hold us in their arms as we grieve. They will share their wisdom and their last quarter when they know that is what we need.

They know exactly who we are, and love us in spite of our bad points. They take into consideration what is happening in our lives before being offended when we can't be what they need, because they know that we understand when they can't be what we need. Small annoyances don't even faze them, they just know and understand.

I count myself lucky; I have a few of these in my life. They know who they are. They will tell me to snap out of it when I am wallowing in my pity party, and they will dry my tears and hold my hand when there just aren't words to help. These are people whose friendship reaches right down into my soul.

THAT'S IT! Not my girl friend or boy friend, or best friend, or closest friend. These people are soul friends! Without them I could never see myself as clearly; because of them I am able to be soul friends in return.

God is good, all the time, especially when He gives us soul friends.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Forgive Me

Jesus is pretty careful throughout his public ministry to let everyone know that one of the most important qualities for his followers is mercy. In fact with all the wonderful imagery and instruction in the Lord's Prayer in Matthew, Jesus only comments on the fact that if we cannot forgive our Father in heaven will not forgive us.

It used to be very hard for me to ask for forgiveness. I don't mean saying, "oh my bad" or "I’m so sorry" but really asking for forgiveness for things I had done or failed to do.

Then I went through a period where some people in my life hurt me very deeply, and I realized just how much pain unforgiveness causes. I have to forgive those who have hurt me, not because they deserve it, but because Jesus asks it of me. Carrying around pain and hurt from a slight or an overt act of betrayal doesn't hurt the person who did it to me, but it does hurt me.

It was during this time of forgiving those who hurt me that the Lord allowed me to see some of the people I had hurt with an offhand remark or a disloyal sharing of their secrets. I was in such pain thinking I had caused others to feel just as bad as I had felt in their place. That was when I realized that I needed to ask for forgiveness.

I am not saying I had to go up and say I am sorry. I had to go to these people and say I need to ask for forgiveness, so that I can make right what I caused to be wrong between us. It isn't easy to do this, but things of value are rarely easy.

I tell you what; this being perfected is hard work. But some day, I will be a mirror image of He who lives in me. Like Blessed Mother Teresa, I will be exactly what God had planned when he created me.

Some day.


Wednesday, August 11, 2004

To Not Remember

I am losing my mother. It has been happening for a few years now, she is in the clutches of that ugly monster Alzheimer’s disease. I call her and talk to her and I realize that nothing I say is sticking. I go to visit and she gets very upset with me over some bad thing I did years ago, or how not one of her children ever come to visit her.

Very early on, just after her diagnosis, she was at least appreciative of the little time we had left together. In these later stages she has become selfish, demanding and bitter and someone I don’t recognize. But I still call, and I still go for visits, and when I hang up or leave I cry.

I am learning a new way to love my mother; an unselfish, undemanding way. When I visit it isn’t about me, or what is going on in my life anymore, it is about her disease, and what she still has left. I want to honor her for being who she is; the woman who not only gave me life, but gave me the courage and faith to live the life I have.

It is from my mother that I get my skill at writing. Dad couldn’t write a grocery list. I get my looks from my mom, well maybe not the excess weight, but certainly the hair and facial features, I look nothing like my German Irish father. It is from my mother that I get my contemplative heart. Dad’s prayer was more restless and roving.

I still have my memories: I cherish them every day. I try to spur mom on to remember, but the disease won’t let her remember what she wants to, only what she finds.

It saddens me that the next time I see all of my siblings together in one place will be at my mother’s funeral. We missed the chance to all be together while mom could remember because two of my brother’s had other plans.

I have placed my mother in God’s gentle care, and have faith that after this, her exile she will rest in his loving embrace for eternity. I wish she didn’t have to live her purgatory here on earth. I hope when my time comes I have half the faith and courage she has.

I love you mom, even though you don’t remember.


Tuesday, August 10, 2004

When Sleep Won't Come

After twenty years of sharing a bed, it can be really hard to get to sleep when my love is away. I find myself avoiding getting in bed because I know that I will toss and turn trying to find the equalibrium that only his counterweight on the other side of the matress provides.

It's pretty amazing the things that keep us together. Mr. angelmeg and I love the song "Happy to be Stuck with You" by Huey Lewis, because it said in a slightly comical way what we feel at times; lucky for us that the things like shared checkbooks that never quite balance, and lumpy matreses best slept in by two bodies keep us from going our separate ways.

I would stay up and think up more lyrical poetry about my love, my other half, my counterweight, but I have a meeting in the morning. Believe me, I don't want to be yawning in the faces of a room full of priests. It would not be taken in the proper context.

So off I go. The only thing that will help me to finally get to sleep is knowing that somehwere out there in this great big world, someone is trying to find the right curve in a hotel bed matress so that he can get to sleep without me by his side.

Ah, love. May God watch over me and he until we can again create the perfect balance, at least on the matress.


Sunday, August 08, 2004

My Time or God's Time?

I get so excited about all the new aspects of my spiritual journey that I tend to race way ahead of the Holy Spirit. I learn about a new prayer form and I jump in with both feet, abandoning all my old devotional tools to put all of my effort into this new form. Or I get an idea for something that would be awesome and I forge ahead with the idea before checking with anyone else let alone God, to see if this is the right time to do what I am planning.

I used to get very frustrated by this pattern in my life. I used to think that God's timing stunk, because things always seemed to either happen when I wasn't ready, or take so much longer than I thought they should. Then I developed a deeper understanding of God's Time. The Greek word for God's time is Kairos, and from now on I will be using that word.

In my time I am woefully underprepared for something, but am called upon to do it. In Kairos I will act in faith no matter how ill prepared I feel, because God doesn't always call the equipped, sometimes he equips the called.

Moses is a great example of someone who was willing to step out in faith because it was Kairos. After meeting God in the burning bush, Moses made every possible argument against his being the one God wanted, and each one God refuted. Moses was willing to step out in faith, without feeling he was prepared to do what God asked of him. Moses had faith that if it was Kairos, then everything would work out.

Conversely, in my time, I forge ahead when I am ready without a care in the world of anyone else's journey. In Kairos, the souls of those who will be on the receiving end of my program are carefully prepared to accept and receive the insights that will be gleaned from the message. This can take a long stretch of my time, but Kairos doesn't care about minutes or hours or weeks or months, Kairos cares about hearts.

In my time I do what God has asked of me, I receive extra training, I read the right books, I learn all I can from other people, and I am ready to offer what I know to others. In Kairos my head is filled with knowledge and my heart is filled with longing, but my human emotions clog up the delivery system and must be cleared away. I must be made so that I don't feel superior to those to whom God will send me. I must be made to be aware of their needs, and not my wants in every situation. I must be honed, and humbled and carefully molded. This process can take a very long stretch of my time, but Kairos only cares that the process is complete, not how long it takes.

In my time all of my affairs are in order, so this would be a great time for me to act. In Kairos events I haven't even considered are foreseen, and my waiting will assure that I am not deep into something when my services and energy are needed elsewhere.

Saint Peter the Apostle, and our first Pope is a great example of someone who had to learn about Kairos. In story after story in the Gospels we see Peter jumping ahead with a thought or action and having to have Jesus set him straight or pull him out of the water. And then just before Jesus ascends into Heaven, He reminds the Apostles not to act until the Holy Spirit comes to them. Peter and the other apostles and Mary the Mother of Jesus return to the upper room to wait. For nine days they pray and wait, ready to act, but not called to it just yet. Then the Holy Spirit descends upon them in the Wind and Fire and they are called out of the upper room to preach the Good News to those who are waiting outside. Kairos has arrived; it is now God's time for Peter to speak.

Acting outside of Kairos may be in some ways considered successful as the world views success, but it is never faithful as God views faithfulness. So our job is to prepare and then wait and pray so that when we act it is in Kairos.

In the immortal words of that great theologian Tom Petty "The waiting is the hardest part"!


Saturday, August 07, 2004

Get it in Writing!

I have kept a journal of one form or another for most of my adult life. I distinctly remember the first time I got a diary as a Christmas present. It was one of those leatherette ones with the little lock and key. I was nearly frantic with anticipation for New Year's Day to come so that I could write in it for the first time.

Over the years I have written in notebooks, blank books, for a time I had a computer journal in word that was password protected. I have been given journals as gifts and have purchased them on my own.

I know exactly what type of journal I like to write in too. It can't be one of those bound books; it has to have a spiral binding. But not just any spiral notebook will do, it has to be at least 8 by 6 inches and have hard cardboard covers so that it lays flat in my lap as I write. The Spirals have to be those big thick metal ones that barely move when you bend them. I have to write in pencil as well, and mechanical pencils are the best, they are always sharp, so long as you don't run out of lead.

Having said that I will admit that someone gave me a bound empty book as a gift one time and I began to use it as my journal. I really didn't like it at all, the paper was too thick, and it never sat in my lap the way I liked. But being the person that I am I felt that I should keep using it, even though I didn't like it, because someone had given it to me. I am not sure what finally broke me of that feeling, at some point I just realized that resenting having to write in my journal just to fill it up was becoming a common theme in my entries. I tell you I felt completely set free when I put that half-filled book on the shelf next to my old journals and began writing in a new spiral bound one I purchased at a discount store.

Presently I have three ongoing journals. One is for general use, I write in it most evenings if I think about it. It is like a trusted friend that comes with me wherever I go. I have one that I keep with my Liturgy of the Hours book, so that I can write my reaction or reflection when I am praying. The third journal I have right now is my current retreat journal. I just came back from retreat a few weeks ago, and I keep my little notebook/journal from that retreat nearby so that if anything I gleaned from that retreat needs to be commented on or thought about I have it handy.

The strangest thing about my journals I have found is when I go back and re-read parts of old journals. In some ways I can see just how far I have come in my spiritual walk. Or I can re-experience some incident in the lives of my children or husband or myself. Or I can become extremely frustrated that no matter how enlightened and evolved I think I am; I am still struggling with the same temptations that I struggled with six or ten or fifteen years ago. That really used to get me down until I thought about how far I have come in terms of understanding my own weaknesses and sinfulness.

The amazing thing I find when reading old journals is how struck I am by the beauty of something I wrote years ago. I hope as a writer that I never lose that sense of awe at the gift God has bestowed upon me.

I guess in a way this has become like journal entries for me. Odd to think, I really don't like when other people read my journals, and here I am writing this blog for the entire world to see. I guess that could be considered growth on my part.

Through all of my journal writing one theme has been the most constant: Lord give me the will to do your will in my life. The difference between my early entries and the more current ones is that I am so much more aware of God's will in what happens than I used to be. God has ordered my steps very carefully. And I will follow Him, wherever He leads. Just last week I was given a chance to begin to mend a broken relationship that I have been praying about for years.

So I wait, and pray, and write in my journal. God is good, all the time.


Friday, August 06, 2004


My spiritual life is like a jigsaw puzzle. When I was young the pieces of the spiritual puzzle came spilling out all around me and I was at a loss as to where to begin that daunting task of creating a relationship/picture from the many pieces.

I begin to realize there is a way to start. I should get the outline pieces in place first. The outer edge of my spiritual journey consists of family, community, faith traditions, scripture reading and the first stirrings of personal prayer. These pieces all have very strong boundary lines, and are easy to distinguish, and once one puts them in order they form a framework for the rest of ones spiritual life.

The next step is filling in the middle of the puzzle. This is a little bit harder, because while doing a traditional jigsaw puzzle, all I had to do was look at the picture on the box to see what the final picture is supposed to look like, the box to my spiritual puzzle is gone, so I grope along trying piece after piece until one fits. In the spiritual life this is like using new forms of prayer and reading spiritual books without any guidance, you can really get far in the wrong direction very easily.

It is only after a long frustrating session of trying so many ill fitting pieces that I begin to understand that pieces not only fit together because the edges match, but also because the colors of the pieces surrounding it are similar. In my spiritual life I equate this to turning to trustworthy sources as I seek the truth. Why go to a source that only knows what they have been told about the truth when there are those who know the truth.

Then I find that having someone more skilled at puzzles to guide me really helps as well. In my faith tradition we call this spiritual direction. I have been blessed with two wonderful official spiritual directors and a few others who took on the task in an unofficial way. My Spiritual Director helps me to see the patterns in each tiny piece of the puzzle, and when I can see the patterns clearly it becomes so much easier to see where they fit into the framework.

Even the most experienced puzzle assembler can be tricked though. Have you ever seen two puzzles cut with the same die at the factory? They may have totally different pictures, but each puzzle has exactly the same shapes of pieces in exactly the same place. If two puzzles of this type have their pieces mixed together it can mean chaos to the puzzle assembler.

In the spiritual life, the world is full of similar puzzles. I go around picking up prayers and other devotions, and groups and other ways of experiencing God and I try them out in my puzzle. When a piece fits, I am so happy that I don't even realize that the piece has a totally different design than the surrounding pieces. It fits; it should be part of my puzzle. This is when that wise spiritual director can help me to see the error of my strategy, and help me to remove the piece that fits the shape exactly but totally clashes with the pattern.

When I complained to my spiritual director that God had thrown so many puzzle pieces into my stack, she reminded me that all I had to do was look a little more closely at the pattern on each piece and make sure the pattern matched before I moved on.

But I lament all of the little holes in my framework that removing the dissimilar pieces have created. I will have to go back and find the pieces that fit in these spaces. When I moan about God's lack of good puzzle keeping, my spiritual director chastises me for being so ready to pick up puzzle pieces meant for other puzzle assemblers.

Stick to your own pattern, she says, adding someone else’s pieces to your puzzle will only lead to dissatisfaction when you have every space filled and the picture is something unrecognizable.

So, I carefully add piece after piece to my framework, and something that looks familiar emerges. As my spiritual journey progresses I see that what I am constructing is a picture, of something I know quite well. For if I am careful, and assemble my puzzle with all the correct pieces meant for me, I will construct a picture of LOVE!

Happy puzzling, and by the way have you seen a piece that looks like morning prayer, I think that is supposed to fit right over there in my framework.


Thursday, August 05, 2004

The Truth about Men and Women

While I don't ascribe to the maxim that men and women are from two different planets, there are some very fundamental differences in the way men and women look at the world that cannot be ignored. I would just like to share a few questions and comments that you might like to ponder as you go through your day:

Why is it that when a woman exercises, she will cover herself from head to toe if she feels she has an ounce of fat on her body, but a man no matter what shape he is in will strip his shirt off for all the world to see if he happens to be on the "skins" side of a basketball game?

Why is it that men feel compelled to tell each other what gas mileage they got on their last tank, but get upset that women discuss the cost of their newset dress?

Have you ever gotten driving directions from a man? They tell you to turn right exactly 2.2 miles from the intersection of such and such street and the other street and continue on till you come to this cross street and then veer left for .4 miles till you reach the driveway of the place you are going. Women on the other hand will say, stay on the road you are on till you pass the Convenience store on the right and then at the next stopligt turn right. You will then drive through a really nice neighborhood with some beautiful flower gardens. When you have gone past the big stone house with the wisteria growing in the side yard you have to veer left toward the brick house with the Francis statue on the patio and then the driveway of the place you are going is right across the street from the fire station. Think about that for a while.

I heard once that men and women have different limits of words to use in any given day, with a man's limit being thousands of words fewer than a woman can use. So when your husband doesn't talk to you at night, don't take it personally, he may just have used up all his words at work that day.

What would posess a man to do yardwork (outside, for all the world to see) in clothing that is so falling apart that it barely leaves anything to the imagination. My guess is this is the same principle as in my first example.

Why is it that a man will drive around for blocks before he will admit that he either took a wrong turn or has no clue where he is?

I wish someone would tell me how to coexist with a man whose taste in music is alarmingly dissimilar to my own. Oh sorry, that one was meant as an internal musing, I didn't mean to print it, but if you have any ideas I am sure that mrangelmeg and I would be appreciative.

Do you know what though, God created us man and woman alike to live together loving each other despite and in some cases because of our differences. There must be some purpose in the grand design for the ways in which we relate to each other. I do know that when I am troubled and can't figure something out, I will let mrangelmeg think about it for a while and he comes up with a solution that I never would have seen. Maybe the eyes with which we see the clearest are not one set, but two pair.

So, God love them, and so do I. But please someone buy some jerseys for them to play basketball in.