March 6, 2014
My mother invited me to attend a meeting of the Sodality of Our Lady group at her parish the other night. I agreed, and found that it was not at all what I expected it to be—in a good way.
I thought perhaps that it would be filled with stoic women where I would feel like I did not belong. Instead, I found women of all ages engaging in their Catholic faith. They were there to laugh and to pray and to socialize together.
One of the most beautiful and moving parts of the evening was when the group prayed for those who were sick or who had died. The sense of love and community that filled the room during that time was almost palpable.
I was also shocked to see my mother, who is usually extremely quiet and reserved, read a prayer out loud to the group. It gave me a glimpse into her prayer life, a life that I did not know before.
Did you ever attend an organized church group? If so, what was your experience like?
March 4, 2014
When my co-worker came in this morning, he excitedly asked me if I had eaten pancakes for breakfast. I thought it was an odd question until he told me, “It’s Pancake Day!”
For a second I thought he was kidding, but a quick Google search showed that Shrove Tuesday, also known as Mardi Gras, is in some places called Pancake Day.
As a pancake lover myself, I was thrilled to hear the news. The tradition started as a way for people to use up all of the foods that they couldn’t eat during Lent—like butter, milk and eggs, for example. The tradition is popular in places such as England and Canada, among others.
I was also excited to hear this news because I plan on giving up pancakes for Lent. I love pancakes and eat them on a weekly basis. Finding out today is pancake day just gives me an excuse to indulge in them one last time before Easter.
What are you doing for Lent? Have you heard of Pancake Day?
February 28, 2014
I was having a conversation with one of my best friends the other day about the role of God in my life. I told this friend, “I’ve moved far away from God.” Along my own spiritual journey I have learned that if I don’t feel close to God, it’s on me, because God is always there. Which means I have quite a bit of work to do in my life.
For various reasons that range from the winter blues to trouble with the family to not focusing on the present moment, I have found that it’s harder for me to feel God’s presence when I pray. It’s not a great place to be. But what can I do about it?
Someone once told me to “Fake it until you make it.” I wonder if this applies to prayer life as well. Do I keep praying even though I don’t feel anything? Should I try a different form of praying? I have a lot of questions on my mind about what I can do to bring myself closer to God, especially because Lent is just a few short days away.
What do you do when you feel like you are lacking in your spiritual life? Please share any strategies you may have. And thank you in advance for doing so.
February 27, 2014
I recently saw a request online for people to submit, in only six words, the sum of their life. I was intrigued by the question and tried to think about how I would answer.
My first thought was “Once upon a time, I lived.” But that didn’t sum me up, because there were many dark periods in my life, especially in my spiritual life, where I felt as if I were not really living the way that God wanted me to.
After much deliberation, I settled on “Thank God I am almost there.” I thought that had the qualities that I wanted to portray for my life: a thankfulness to God and the fact that I am still on a journey in my personal life, my career, and most importantly, my faith. But then I thought about others, and how they would describe my life, and if it would match? It made me think about how I present myself to others. I came to the sad conclusion that even though that is how I would want people to view me, the reality could be, and probably is, quite different.
That’s one of the hard thing about life. Sometimes you try to do things and present your best to the world, but often because we are human, we fail miserably. In all truthfulness, I am not always grateful, and sometimes I feel as if I am stuck spiritually and otherwise.
I am going to try harder to show my best face to the world, all because of those six little words. How would you describe your life in six words? Please share!
February 25, 2014
I read an article today about an Ohio bus driver who was saved from two bullets by a Bible he kept in his chest pocket.
He was literally saved by the Bible.
The event made me think about how close I am with my own Bible. I carry it in my purse every day even though I don’t read it quite that often, it is there. It’s a comforting reminder that at any time I can turn to God. I know it wouldn’t stop two bullets, but it has save my life in many other ways.
When I read the Bible I am reminded of where my focus in life should be—on God. It makes all the large problems in my life feel small when I refocus like that. Small problems seem insignificant when I keep my eyes on the prize, as it were, and larger issues become easier to bear knowing that God is there with me. Reading the Bible doesn’t solve all of my problems, but it does make it easier to cope with them.
How often do you read the Bible? Is there a passage you would like to share with the rest of the readers? Or a story of how the Bible changed your life? Please share!
February 25, 2014
If you are looking for a way to start spiritual journaling, check out my new book, “Footprints on the Journey.”
“Footprints” is a spiritual journal for young adults that focuses on the themes of hope, joy and contemplation. Accompanying each entry is a discussion question with a blank page for personal reflections.
“Footprints on the Journey” is available for $13.95 through Catholic New York’s website at http://www.cny.org/footprintsbookorders.html or by calling (212) 688-2399 ext. 3121.
Don’t forget to “Like” me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/footprintsonthejourney
February 24, 2014
The sky in New York is a beautiful shade of cornflower blue; the sun is shining down on the streets of the city and there is more of a bounce in people’s steps. Even though it’s getting cold again, spirits seem to be warming up. I know mine is.
The old cliché of “looking at the bright side” of things has a ring of truth to it for me today. Generally, I’d focus on the things that are wrong with the day, especially on a Monday—which always seems to require more effort than usual to focus on the good.
One of my favorite books is by psychologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl. In it, he writes, “For the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.”
Living in the moment has a profound effect on my mental state, as well as my spiritual well-being. Like he says, my goals may change in an hour, but for this moment, right now, I can focus on the fact that I am at work on a beautiful winter’s day—and my soul can rejoice in that.
What do you think? Do you feel it is easy for you to live in the moment? How does it affect your spiritual life?
February 20, 2014
At work yesterday, I came back from a meeting with my editor to see that there was a box sitting on my desk. I knew at once that it was flowers of some kind from the label. However, when I excitedly opened the box, what I saw was a bonsai tree that was almost completely dead.
At first, I was shocked. Why would my husband send me a dead plant?! It turns out that he had meant for it to be sent to me on Valentine’s Day but for some reason the delivery was held up. There were a few springs of green, but mostly the little tree was brown and wilted.
My co-workers and I have adopted the plant as a special Lenten project and hope to resurrect it. The package is a good metaphor for life. For instance, yesterday when the sun first came out I was sure that it was going to be a good day, but after an incident with a friend that left me in tears, my day was pretty much ruined. Sometimes the unexpected comes, and it isn’t always good.
But that doesn’t mean that there is no hope.
My friend and I were able to patch things up quickly and move forward. In some cases, like illnesses, trying to find a job, or addictions, a quick resolution is not possible. But like the little tree, there is always a chance for things to improve in time.
February 18, 2014
In New York, we are experiencing another winter snowfall. Everywhere you go, you can hear a person talking about how this is the coldest winter in a long time, and how sick and tired everyone is of the snow.
I have to agree that while the snow is falling, it is quite gorgeous, but once it hits the pavement in Manhattan, it turns after a short while into dirty gray and brown slush and snowdrifts. Some cars are still trapped in their icy encasements, especially in the suburbs where I live.
The gray-blue mist weighs heavily upon my soul. The whole experience reminds me of how hard life can be. There is a certain kind of fortitude and perseverance one has to have to make it through the relentless days of winter—the same can be said for any of life’s problems. It may seem as if a solution, like the spring, may never come.
Instead of falling into the dreariness of the winter, I am trying to accept it for what it is. The same holds true for the problems I have in my life—some things you just have to accept and wait for an end to present itself. For example, there has been a separation in my family for some time now and I cannot change the past to make everything go back to how it was. Instead, I have to realize that I have to trust in God’s plan for me and his timeline, not mine.
It may not make the winter any warmer, but perhaps it will make it more bearable.
What do you think of the weather lately? Are you a fan of the snow?
February 14, 2014
With the inclement weather in New York City the other day, Catholic New York closed because traveling around would have been dangerous. Like a child receiving a snow day for school closings, I embraced the day with excitement and joy.
However, how I spent the day was vastly different with how I would have as a child. A snow day in my youth would mean building snowmen, having snowball fights, and tobogganing down the hills of Yonkers. Yesterday, I did none of those things. In fact, I didn’t even leave the house. Instead, I rarely left my bed.
For the past two weeks I have been fighting a case of bronchitis and I think my body needed the time to rest and recuperate. I spent the day in near silence with little communication, sending out only a few text messages to friends. By the end of the day, I felt much better mentally and physically.
I think that sometimes silence is undervalued—that is what I learned from my experiences yesterday. Just like our body sometimes needs time to rest, our brains sometimes need perfect silence. I’d like to say that in the silence I found myself praying more than usual but I didn’t—at least not this time. But now that my body is rested, my heart and soul crave the same stillness and silence. This weekend, I hope to find time for just that.