Footprints on the Journey

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

Who Turned the Lights Off?

Yesterday, I wrote about how a very close family member of mine is in the hospital with some serious difficulties. It seems like every time there may be the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel,” the family receives more bad news. When that happens, it’s as if the light is extinguished, and it’s hard to hold onto hope.


It’s hard—but is it impossible? That’s what I am trying to figure out.


I once went through a serious tragedy in my life and for a long time, I couldn’t accept the reality of my situation and was thrust into a deep depression that I still struggle with. I know how hard it is to accept your life when it is drastically changed for the worst. The hardest part was when I lost all hope of a better future.


There is a quote from the Italian poet of the Divine Tragedies that says “There is no greater sorrow than to recall happiness in times of misery.” This was happening to me every time I would visit—I would recall earlier times of joy before the stroke occurred. It would instantly zap me of all of my hope and bring me down. I think it was not the happy memories themselves…those were good. It was the fact that I was comparing the two times. We are all changed when tragedy hits. But when it does, we can react in two ways—we can give up and allow the tragedy to become our whole story or we can fight and make the tragedy into a small part of our life story.


Right now, I have to focus on the fact that my family member is alive and that right now may be bad, but the next hour, the next day, could be better. If only I could convince him that this was the case…that there is hope…that he can keep fighting…that it may seem like an eternity right now but this moment in time can become just a part of his story, and that it can be a good one.


Keep the hope alive! Was there a time you lost hope? How did you get it back? Please share.

When Someone Close to You Suffers


For the past month, a very close family member of mine has suffered from a serious stroke with some other complications. From my perspective it looks like such a hard journey for them—to go through stages of various forms of incapacity, pain, sickness, immobility and other things.


For me, I can’t imagine what they are going through, even though I try to empathize. How would I feel if I could only use half of my body; if I were dependent on other people for everyday tasks? Every day I visit, I try to bring dignity and respect into the room—to show my loved one that no matter what they may feel, they are still themselves and worthwhile and loved.


It’s been hard for me to think about anything else this past month. That’s why I haven’t written any posts. I’ve been asking myself, and questioning God, with some serious things. “Why does my loved one have to suffer so much?” and similarly, “If God has a plan for everyone, why do those plans include so much pain for some people?,” and lastly, “Where is God when good people suffer?”


I’ve asked a few friends those questions, and have been asked those questions by people as well. I am generally met with cliché and canned responses that do nothing to ease the pain, like “We will find out when we get to heaven.” And when I am asked, I find that I have no answers. It’s hard to keep the faith when you are grappling with such things.


But yet, I grapple. And I am asking you, readers, for your thoughts on suffering. Do you have any answers?

Out and About at Maryknoll

In Catholic New York, we have a section called “Out and About” which includes Masses, prayer groups and other events in the archdiocese. This past weekend, there was a Bazaar at The Maryknoll Sisters’ Center in Ossining. My husband and I decided to take a trip there to see what was going on.

When we arrived, a Maryknoll sister in a yellow security vest directed us to a parking spot—my husband who has worked in security for nearly his entire career in various forms found this site fantastic.

Inside, there were crafts from the sisters as well as from the missions where they serve including Asia, Africa and South and Central America. The crafts were handmade and beautiful. Here is a shot of me looking at some of the handmade knitting that was on display:
Maryknoll Crafts

The thought that the sisters had been to all of these places was astounding. Each and every one we met was smiling and joyful, even though they had all been to places full of travesty and depression. But a sign they had outside seemed to sum up why they were so joyful. It said something along the lines of: thank you for helping to feed the poor, serve those in need, etc. It reminded me that the sisters weren’t focused on the negatives, but on the good they could do, and that we could all do, even with our little purchases that day.


I had only been to Maryknoll once before, and my husband had never been to the grounds, so seeing the enormity of it with the changing leaves of fall all around was spectacular. We took a walk around, enjoying the crisp weather and stopped in front of a statue of Mary to say a prayer before we left.

Maryknoll Outside

What started as a shopping trip turned into something much more spiritual for both of us. If you haven’t checked out Catholic New York’s calendar, you can also see it online at

Can the Mets Make a Person a Better Believer?

My two older brothers are die-hard Mets fans. One or two of my best friends are also Mets lovers. So it’s no surprise that I’m a Mets fan, too. As I watched each of the four Mets games against the Cubs, however, I have to admit I was holding my breath. I knew they could do it. I wanted them to win. I wanted to believe with all my heart, but there was that one… tiny… seed… of… skepticism.


Perhaps I should have known from my love of Norse mythology that Thor (the nickname for Noah Syndergaard—one of the Mets pitchers) wouldn’t let the team be vanquished by their foes.

“Ya gotta believe!” is the rallying cry for the Mets thanks to Tug McGraw. You gotta believe. Those words are so true—in baseball and in life. Was I a believer? When it comes to baseball, the answer is a little easier to answer…but what about in life? What about faith?

It’s easy to show you believe in the Mets. You can wear sports hats and shirts, gloves and coats, and orange and blue, the team colors. You can openly talk about it with friends and family, even when they may like a different team. But faith…that’s not so easy.

St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words.” I think that means that we are supposed to live a life that shows we are believers in Jesus. But honestly, there are times when I am afraid to let my faith guide what I say or do because of fear, skepticism, embarrassment or doubt. I know that is something I have to work on.

Seeing the Mets advance to the World Series lifted my spirit. It made me want to be a better fan. Now I have to figure out how to carry that over into my life so I can use it to help me be a better Catholic.

Would You Go…to ‘The Future?’

Today is “Back to the Future” day. That means a lot to movie buffs and nerds everywhere who have seen the “Back to the Future” trilogy. It’s the day that Marty McFly time travels to the future-to exactly Oct. 21, 2015. Marty McFly sees his possible future and that of his family. It raises an interesting question: If you could visit the future and see how your life is going to turn out if you continue on the path you are on right now, would you?


Would you get into that Delorean and take the ride? Or would you let time sort things out on it’s own?

I might.

However, I think we don’t really need the time-traveling machine to know if the path we are on is a good one. Sometimes all we have to do is contemplate on our current situation and face the truth. That means asking the hard questions. For me, those questions can include: Am I being faithful to God? Am I being honest with myself and others? Am I doing all that I can at work, at home, for my health?

Depending on those answers, I can guess if I’m on the right path or not and see where I need to make changes.

And for all the “Back to the Future” lovers out there, the future is today, so let’s not waste any time setting a path for our future!

Coming in Loud and Clear

The antennae in our car broke. My husband and I aren’t sure how it happened. We noticed it when our favorite stations became fuzzy and wouldn’t come in. Well, most stations wouldn’t come in. Perhaps because of our proximity to Fordham University, WFUV came in crystal clear. And you’ll never guess what happened to be playing at the time.

I must be honest. It’s hard to admit—but I’m not perfect. I didn’t go to Sunday Mass this weekend. But it seems like that wasn’t going to stop God because as soon as I got into the car…you guessed it, WFUV was broadcasting the Mass live from the University Church. Over the airwaves came a voice that sounded shockingly like Sean Connery (Father Patrick Ryan, S.J., I’m talking about you!) I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, or the timing.


The incident left me shocked, for sure. But it also made me feel like God was reaching out to me. I felt so close to God in that moment in the car and found myself really praying, telling Him that I loved Him, even though I had been very distant as of late. I knew that it wasn’t some coincidence that all of the circumstances led up to that instant—God knows the plans he has for us. And sure, it may seem like a small thing (a blip on the radio—pun intended), but to me it was a true and clear sign. Get back to praying regularly. Get back to church. Get back to God.

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. 

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