Footprints on the Journey

2014 Second Place Winner of "Best Online Blog-Individual" Category from the Catholic Press Association

Jesus is in Your Corner

What happens when you’ve been on the outs with Jesus and your faith life? Yesterday I mentioned that I have been having a hard time praying—and I felt as if my prayers were going nowhere fast. This isn’t the first time in my life this has happened. It may not be the last. But the thing that keeps me holding on to my faith in times when I can’t “feel it” is the fact that my life just doesn’t make sense without it.

Catholicism is embedded into my very being and it colors all that I do—from minor things like how I spend my spare time to important matters like how I view my friendships and my marriage. My religious beliefs make me ask questions I probably wouldn’t ask otherwise such as: Is my time being used to strengthen friendships?, or to better myself?, or to bring me closer to God? Or, Am I doing all I can for my husband? Am I helping him as much as I can as a wife? OR am I thinking only about myself?

When my faith falters, I falter as well. One significant alteration I notice is that my demeanor towards other people changes—I become more bitter and selfish. (I’m not saying that Catholicism or religion makes people less bitter and selfish, I know a few religious folks who are quite bitter and selfish. I’m just saying that for me, I notice my mood and outlook changes.)

Generally my spiritual life goes by the wayside when things are tough. It reminds me of boxing, and the movie Rocky. When Rocky is in the ring, he’s focused on the task at hand—surviving and winning. He may forget in the moment that in his corner is Mickey. It’s the same for us. Jesus is always in our corner, waiting for us, cheering us on.


And I know that Jesus will be there for all the rounds in my life, first, second, third. No matter how many times I go in and forget that he’s there, he’ll take me back and fix me up.

Jesus Loves You, But…

You’ve probably seen the message: “Jesus loves you, but I’m his favorite” somewhere at some point in your life. I’ve seen it on a number of car bumpers as my husband and I travel around New York, from Manhattan to Wappingers Falls, and all areas in between. 

Right now, I feel like I could sport a shirt or hat with that message sprawled on it and feel it. Today is by no means a perfect day, either—just this morning I went into my editor’s office and talked for about five minutes without realizing I had a mixture of lipstick and red juice on my teeth until I got back to my desk. But unlike other days when something like that would cause me to malfunction and shut down, full of embarrassment, I just laughed it off and kept going.


I have to admit, lately, I haven’t been relating to Jesus all that well. In fact, there have been a number of days where I haven’t been able to feel him at all. I would pray and it would feel like it was going out into oblivion. But something was different about today. I woke up and felt like I had Jesus by my side—like a friend. Sometimes I forget that we have to relate to Jesus in the best way we know how—for some people that means looking to him as a mentor or teacher, for example. Well, that works if you’ve had great experiences with teachers. 


For me, I like to see Jesus as an unconditionally loving friend who is there to just be with me—

someone who isn’t there to judge me or question me or tell me what to do. I like thinking of him that way. As a friend who loves you so much they just want to be with you, imperfections and all, and they choose to be with you, because they love you so much. 


My Papal Moment

I didn’t get a chance to see Pope Francis up close and personal. I didn’t have an epiphany or a reawakening of my spirit when he came to town. But I did have something that I think a lot of New Yorkers had—a moment when I saw the pope and thought, “I think I’d like to be friends with this guy.”

During the Mass at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 25, I was pretty focused on catching everything that Pope Francis said so I could write about it in my article. I also had to deal with some waves of nausea thanks to my high seat position (see my earlier post ‘God Was There’ for more on that). But I was as excited as everyone when he came zipping through the arena on his golf cart and even stood up to cheer—which was a momentous feat for me due to my fear of heights.


But there was one particular moment. It lasted perhaps five seconds, at the end of the pope’s homily, when he asked for prayers and smiled that I saw what all the fuss was about. That genuine beaming smile, a lighthearted grin that you could see in his mouth that lit up in his eyes, when he asked for prayers was something else. It melted away all the anxiety I felt throughout the week and especially that day as I worked on one of my biggest assignments.

Did you get a chance to see Pope Francis? Is there a story you would like to share?

God Was There

I was nervous going into Madison Square Garden for the Papal Mass. I was excited and felt blessed to be able to experience such an event as well, but there were some things that were a little frightening. The first was my seat.  
I am terrified of heights. And wouldn’t you know it…I was placed on The Chase Bridge…the highest point in the Garden. And I was in the first row. The whole front barrier is made of glass, the table is made of glass. So it feels as if you are sitting there atop the Garden. I would get waves of nausea every few minutes. But God was there, placing me near entryway. 
Not only that, he placed me near a journalist who was friendly and kind, who talked with me and helped me feel like I was not alone. 
Since there was time before the event, and it had been a long day, I decided to get something to eat at one of the concession stands with my neighbor reporter. We went down to a lower level, got our food and proceeded to go back up. Or at least tried to. She was able to up the escalator with no problems. Again, my fear of heights kicked in and I just couldn’t get myself to go back up. Thankfully, a kind security guard saw me struggling, and helped me step onto the escalator and rode it up with me, along with the next escalator as well. I was humiliated, but it was okay, I knew God was there, putting the security guard right where I needed a steady hand to help me.  
I knew that the pope was visiting, and I couldn’t wait to see him, but I felt God there, and knew He was there to stay. 

Pope Francis Friday-UPDATE!

Welcome to the Fifth and Final installment of #PopeFrancisFriday!   Next Friday, the pope will be with us in New York, speaking at the United Nations and at the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum. He’ll be visiting school children and immigrant families in Harlem and processing through the gorgeous splendor of Central Park. And finally, he’ll be celebrating Mass at Madison Square Garden. He’ll be doing all this before he heads to Philly for the World Meeting of Families.   For this week, CNY thought it would be both inspirational and fun to see how well you have been listening to the pope through a quiz we call “Quote the Pope.”   The rules are easy. There will be two quotes listed for each number, see if you can pick the one that was said by Pope Francis!  IMG_1632 The winner will be randomly selected from the top scorers to receive the beautiful coffee-table book, “Pope Francis: A Photographic Portrait of the People’s Pope.”  Have fun, and good luck!    


We have a winner! Mackenzie Clayton from Nebraska is the winner of the fifth and final #PopeFrancisFriday! Congratulations, Mackenzie! 

The Papal Posse

Today I read an article that quoted Pope Francis saying he has felt “used” by people who said they were his friends. He noted that some people claimed to be his friend in order to get something out of him—to earn some sort of advantage. That bothered him.

He went on to say, “Friendship is something sacred. The Bible says to have one or two friends.”

I thought that was an interesting thing for Pope Francis to say—after all, his nickname is “The People’s Pope.” I thought for sure he would be for as many friendships as possible. But the more I thought about it, the more it makes sense to have a small, close circle of friends that you can really trust and rely on.

Right now, for example, I can count the number of close friends I have on one hand. Two I see every month, one I see every day, some I email or text. I know I can count on all of them to be there for me in good times and bad. But why would Pope Francis say friendship is “sacred?”

I’m not a theologian, and I’m not sure what the pope was thinking when he said that, but the way I understand it is that friendship brings you out of yourself—it should hopefully bring out the best in you because you become concerned for your friends. You love your friends and want to care for them in the best way you know how. Time spent together is never wasted, it’s cherished and enjoyed, even if it’s nothing more than sitting together. A lot can be said for just relaxing with people you trust.

What do you think? Do you think the pope is right, and that your inner circle of friends should be kept small? Or do you disagree? Please share.

A Message That Changed My Life

I’m not going to lie—sometimes it’s hard to write for an online audience. There are always those lingering questions: “Does anyone really read or care about what I’m writing?” “Does my writing make a difference?” and more importantly, “Is this what God wants me to do?”

On a particularly contemplative day, I was mulling over these questions and how they relate to my life when I saw that I had an unread message in my Facebook inbox for “Footprints on the Journey.”

What I read shocked my soul to life.

Any doubts I had about what I was “meant” to do were erased. I knew that I was where God wanted me to be. I’d like to share what the note said with all of you because it touched me so much, and also shows how reaching out with one kind act can have a huge effect on someone.

The note was from a sweet woman named Jasmin North.

Ms. North wrote, “As you had once written about having an atheist friend, I also have one…or at least had. His name is Thomas Romanelli.”

She continued on and wrote, “To make this short, I actually persuaded Romanelli to start reading FOTJ. Slowly, but surely, he became interested. Eventually, he started to become open towards the idea, and is now a Christian, has joined the Catholic Church.”

She ended this amazing letter by saying, “I thank you so much, Mrs. DosSantos, and I think I can speak for Romanelli as well. I believe the Lord has worked through you.” I also have to share with you all that when I finally did see and read this note, I was feeling pretty depressed and was questioning whether or not my own spiritual journey was going in the right direction and was it worth the hard work that I was putting in.

So when I read this note, I cried. Back in 2010, when I started this blog, I told my editor that if I had one reader who was helped, in even the smallest way, it would be worth it. Ms. North, you made this whole endeavor worth it. For that, I am forever grateful. You say that God worked through me, but He really worked through you! I’m glad that I could play a small part.

I wanted to share this post not to boast of myself, but to show how each and every action has a reaction—and how it’s so true that God has a plan for all of us, whether we see it or not.

Salt & Light to Air Interview with Stephen Colbert

Salt & Light will air an interview with Stephen Colbert, comedian and Catholic, on Sunday, Sept. 13, at 8 p.m. ET.

Father Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., will be the one to interview Colbert on the show “Witness” which features Catholic men and women who are making a difference in the world.

The show can be viewed at:

Pope Francis Friday! – UPDATE!

Welcome Back to the 4th installment of #PopeFrancisFriday! Pope Francis is making waves—digitally—before his upcoming trip to the United States. With some 1.3 million followers on Twitter as of this writing, and rising, the pope has been a proponent of using social media to connect with different members of the Church. Now, with his visit nearly upon us, interests are rising, and so have popemojis…or emojis featuring the pontiff. The app, which is downloadable for iOS and Android devices is full of stickers and gifs that users can send to one another featuring Pope Francis in a majority of scenes. Here are just two of them:

pope pontifex

The app is available for free download and is called “Popemoji.” This is just one unique way people can get into the excitement of the papal visit. Share what you are doing to get ready for the pope’s visit in a sentence or two and be entered to win a random drawing for a Pope Francis bobble head! The drawing will take place on Monday, Sept. 14 at noon. (Be sure to include your email address in the proper field in the comment section below so we can contact you if you are selected so we can find out where to ship your prize—your email address will not be published.)

We have a winner! Congratulations to Mary Gregory of Brooklyn who was randomly selected as the winner of a Pope Francis bobble head!  See you all on the 18th for the next installment of #PopeFrancisFriday! 

Taking Advice From Mother Teresa

September 5 was the feast day for Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, otherwise known as Mother Teresa, who spent much of her life with the poor and forgotten. I didn’t know that it was her Feast Day until I saw a number of quotes and photos of her posted on Facebook and Twitter.

I realized as I read each quote that Mother Teresa gave good advice. One quote in particular stood out to me: “Do not let the past disturb you. Just leave everything in the Sacred Heart, and begin again with joy.” When it comes to bad news, old memories and past mistakes I’m like the first victim in a horror movie—the one that always trips and falls—I can’t help but look back.

What really made me think about the quote and take it to heart was the second part “Just leave everything in the Sacred Heart, and begin again with joy.” We’ve all heard the message about leaving the past in the past. And everyone who has tried to do that knows just how difficult it is. But Mother Teresa gives us a new way to go about it. Give it to God and start again with joy. How beautiful is that? Every time we make a mistake or, on the flip side, get hurt by someone, we can give those feelings over to God and start fresh, with joy.

It might sound odd to think that after something negative you can go on living with joy. It sounded really hard to do to me, too. I think that’s why I liked it so much. I know that sometimes after a tragedy, it’s hard to begin again at all. But sometimes, when we hand over the feelings that upset us, we not only free ourselves, but we can learn to use those same feelings to empathize and help others—and that can bring a lot of joy.

What do you think? Do you agree with the quote, or do you feel otherwise? Please share.

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