July 8, 2014

Kudos To The Younger Generation

Heraclitus or maybe it was Herodotus complained about the graffiti scribbled  on the walls of the Coliseum or maybe it was the Parthenon. But it seems to be a rule: The older generation complains about the younger generation. I am old enough to have heard friends and colleagues expressing the same critical, negative opinions about ‘kids today’ or the latest crop of new graduates for many years now. Generally, the criticism covers everything from dress, manner of speech and music to lack of work ethic and ambition. We don’t have kids and we live, as they say, in the middle […]
June 29, 2014

Language: Subtle Perversions

  I was reminded yesterday of the meaning of the word martyr. I needed the reminder on the Solemnity of The Feast Of Peter and Paul because the meaning of martyr, for me, has devolved to mean dying for God. Perhaps for you too, the word martyr has been perverted by teen-aged boys and girls with suicide vests who agree to blow themselves up…along with as many infidels as possible, for God. But the priest reminds us that these two men: Peter and Paul were not out to die; quite the contrary, they were living to give witness to what each […]
June 19, 2014

For The Love Of A Doberman

This past Monday morning, my friend and I got to Rosharon to meet Max. Rosharon, Texas is the home of Aeolus Dobermans and an almost 6 month old puppy Candace has named Max after our frequent talks after my Dobie boy Ally’s sudden death. Max is bigger than pictured here; he is, after all,  close to 6 months old now. He is a lot bigger than pictured here; legs long and gangly but that quintessential expression of Doberman intelligence and curiosity is, if anything, magnified. I had not seen Candace since I left Houston in November of 1995- it seems […]
June 17, 2014

The Dance Of Love

  I had been to this church in November of 2009 while in Texas to research my recently published novel; I am back to Texas to do early promotions for the book in Austin and Houston. Five years ago the parishioners in Austin were raising money to build their beautiful church and were holding Mass in an auditorium; I enjoyed the Mass but do not recall much about the liturgy or the homily. Perhaps because of the light- filled brand new St Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in northeast Austin, I am still reflecting on the homily preached by Fr. […]
June 5, 2014

Orioles and Eden

Orioles and Eden Each morning, very early, I walk to the 3 areas where the Bullock Orioles  dine on their meals of oranges, and a mixture of meal-worms and grape jelly. Always, I hear the staccato like chatter as they wait for their breakfast in the trees in our gardens…it is not chirping, the sound is unique to these birds. And always, I smile because I feel privileged- honored, really- that these splendid creatures come here and trust they will find the nutrition they need to nurture themselves and the babies they fly thousands of miles  to have here in […]
May 22, 2014

Because Of Me, You Will Be Hated

Hatred Outside her prison, crowds carry signs demanding her death: This Sudanese 27 year old mother  who incredibly refuses to recant her Christian faith. The Sudanese Judge allegedly sentenced her to death after saying this, “We gave you 3 days to recant, you refused and so I sentence you to death.” Thousands of Sudanese have recanted their Christianity in order to preserve their lives and those of their families. But not this young mother. In response to the claim of a sheikh explaining how dangerous was this woman to Islam and to the Islamic community, Meriam “shot back, “I am […]
May 18, 2014

Thinking, Once Again, About Time-About Stability

Due to major changes in my personal and professional life, I now have more free time…more time to write, pray, ponder, read, exercise-one, all or none of these. I should be more grateful than I am and there should be more to show for this first full week of my new business arrangements. But I have written next to nothing this week nor have I done much of anything else. My new large chunks of unstructured time make me uneasy as has always been the case in my life. And the current lack of deadlines in my life result in […]
May 11, 2014

Deaths of Baby Oriole, Baby Lamb And Long Ago Friend

Of late, I have felt weighed down by death. Although acutely aware of how blessed I am with my health, that of my husband and close family, this sense of the immediacy of death began when I watched my Doberman drop dead 6 weeks ago and it has not gone away. These 3 recent deaths of last week could-perhaps should- be felt as trivial but they did not…do not. For the last few years, I have delighted in the numbers of glorious Bullock Orioles who inhabit our lives for these early spring months while they build their nests, gestate their […]
April 17, 2014

Holy Week In Half Moon Bay

The last couple of months  have been filled with difficulties-ranging from trivial to awful. And so we decided to spend Holy Week and Easter weekend down here. I was dreading yet another series of “firsts”; this RV suffused with memories of our boy, now gone, the 4 mile walk along the ocean that the boys and I took so many times while on holiday down here over the last several years. Both Shadow and I had lots of trouble last night with those parts of this RV that were Ally’s…I could see Shadow carefully avoiding them…tough to do in less […]
April 15, 2014

Coping With Lessons We Never Want To Learn

It’s been a little over a month since I lost my best friend- a Doberman named Ally. And this is the 4th post I have written in my attempts to come to grips with the loss of this remarkable creature with whom I was graced for a little over 7 years. Over 3000 words before I felt that the tribute had been written. As I write about what I have learned, I think of one of my many teachers, CS Lewis, when he talked about experience: ‘But we learn, by the awful grace of God, we learn,’ because that’s what […]
April 3, 2014

My Friend Rachel’s Dog, Houdini Died In January

My friend Rachel’s dog Houdini died Remember the song from Annie, I Don’t Need Anything But You“: ‘Yesterday was plain awful and Daddy Warbucks sings back: ‘You can say that again’ and she does? It’s been 3 weeks tonight since I saw my Dobie boy drop dead and I really thought I had accepted that he was gone…could focus on the joy this boy brought into our then 4 creature family-the great memories of  long hikes in the mountains behind our house with my 2 four footed boys, being ever so grateful that his heart did not stop out there in the wilderness where […]
March 31, 2014

Noah- Powerful, Intriguing and Provocative

  Perhaps the reason that I was so eager to see by Russell Crowe’s new movie, Noah, was the unanimity among a few very conservative Muslims, evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics that this was a study in misanthropy and a perversion of  Genesis with an extreme left wing environmentalist agenda. And then there was a piece in the Wall Street Journal quoting Director and self-proclaimed atheist Darren Aronofsky “bragging” that this was the “least biblical” of any Bible story ever.  Now that I have seen the film, I understand the media chatter about misanthropy and ‘extreme’ environmental agendas. I disagree […]
March 27, 2014

The Samaritan Woman- St Fantine

When Christ meets her, she’d had 5 husbands and is currently living with a man to whom she is not married. But in the eastern Catholic Church, she became St. Fantine…Fantine, the mother of Cosette in Les Miserables, Victor Hugo’s tragic story we know because of the splendid-at times celestial- music from the Broadway play and the recent film. We are taught that the Gospel is the living Word…despite all the iterations of translations through the centuries, that truth becomes evident to me with a March 9th homily on the conversation in the Gospel of John which should never have […]
March 22, 2014

Grief, Sorrow, Loss-Is There A Purpose In Them?

Grief, sorrow, loss- Is There a purpose in them? Deeply aware that I am writing of one of life’s deepest mysteries- the suffering we face from the death of those we love- a suffering from grief, sorrow and loss which none of us escapes, I write this morning anyway. And I am more than aware that for many of us, this was ‘just a dog’. After all, we simply turn on the news to hear the plight of thousands…perhaps millions of souls as they battle with the loss of children, spouse, entire families in this beleaguered journey we each travel…alone; […]
February 23, 2014

People You’d Like To Meet In Heaven

I think there was a book by this name- or close to it- published a few years back…or maybe it was a movie. Regardless, I think about that question now and then, perhaps we all do. When I read something that prompts me to consider this possibility ( CS Lewis is almost always my catalyst, more on why in a moment), I get stuck on a few details. Like these: Will I get there? If and when I do, will there be a recognizable I…? Will who I was while here, what I did and what I thought be accessible […]
January 24, 2014

Lone Survivor-The Movie

I don’t know what I expected from this movie- I thought I knew but didn’t. Sure we can expect violence and death; after all, it is called Lone Survivor.  I did not read the book but have spoken with several people who did-apparently everything is based on actual events. It’s been a few weeks since we went to see this movie but I decided to write about it because of the 2 portrayals that I continue to think about all these weeks later. The first is about rules of engagement. Most of us know what that phrase means, intellectually. While […]
January 11, 2014

Baptism Of The Lord

  One of the many reasons I remain a Benedictine Oblate is the promise we make each day to read, study and ponder the words of the Daily Office. Known as the Breviary, there was a time that the Office was accessible only to priests. Somewhere around or after Vatican ll, that prohibition was lifted. Only upon reflecting upon a sermon by a saint I have never heard of-Saint Maximus, Bishop of Turin, did I stop to consider why the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus ends the season of Christmas in the Christian liturgy. Maximus writes in the Second Reading […]
December 1, 2013

Useless Murmuring And Sandy Hook Elementary School

Why this tumult among nations, among peoples this useless murmuring? They arise, the kings of the earth, princes plot against the Lord and his Annointed. These are the first 4 lines of psalm 2, words I am sure I’ve read before but only today, on this first Sunday of Advent, do they echo in my mind and my heart, shadowing me with sorrow and helplessness at the plight of our tumult filled world, the dreary and endless litanies of war, violence and hatred. The useless murmuring of so many voices  ceaselessly preaching anger, fear and hopelessness. There was a time, […]
November 19, 2013

Last Vegas

Take Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro and Kevin Kline, add a pinch or two of a mediocre screenplay and mix. The result: Two hours of pure entertainment; filled with self deprecating humor by these giants of film facing the consequences of age in the film, Last Vegas. Freeman attempting to accept graciously the anxious ministrations of a concerned son; Kline as he fights a losing battle with his manhood, De Niro, lost in grief at the loss of his wife and Douglas, the sole bachelor of the four-some who accidentally proposes to his 30 year old girl friend. It […]
October 12, 2013

Cheap Grace

Cheap grace: sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? But even a cursory reading of Diedrich Bonhoeffer reveals it’s itchy truth. Germany: the land of Luther, Wagner, Nietzche, Hitler, Rahner, and Ratzinger. The list combines the very noblest and the most bestial of the minds and hearts of man. And there was also a man called Bonhoeffer. I have read occasional meditations by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and found them intriguing but it was not until I began to read Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas that I began to grasp the power and the far reach of yet another great theological mind […]
October 10, 2013

Gravity, The Movie

                Eerily reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey, absent Hal, Gravity places two American astronauts alone in the vast, black, void of outer space. I saw the movie last week but keep drifting back to the film and the stunning cinematography which transports the willing viewer to a place of pure silence, isolation; the abyss. With its stark absence of dialogue, and its placement of the man and the woman as the paradox of humanity: fragile and vulnerable yet with a spark of the divine, Gravity manages a strange combination of the very […]
August 28, 2016

The Ambiguity of Talent

We use the word talent to connote skill or expertise. Often, we mean an individual with intrinsic aptitudes toward a thing, whether it be athletics or mathematics, someone with unusual ability. Frequently, organizational recruiters look for specific aptitudes in people considered potential employees. In our “flattened secularized culture” (I love this phrase used by Bishop Robert Barron in his Word on Fire series) however, we perceive these capacities as our own, as our property to do with as we wish. Rarely do we see these capabilities as gifts, on loan. But yesterday’s Gospel parable about talents confounds our twenty-first- century […]
December 25, 2016

The Walls of Our Unbelief

It was 1918. The young intellectual was nervous about her upcoming visit to Anne, the widow of Adolf Reinach, killed at the 1917 Battle of Flanders. How could she offer comfort? What could she say? Reinach had been a fellow scholar at the University of Freiberg, an assistant to the great philosopher, the ‘master’ Edmond Husserl. She had been attracted to the Christian faith of her colleague: His goodness and kindness radiated through his person, vitalized his teaching of the opaque philosophy of Husserl. The Christian conversion of Edmond and his physicist wife Anne had nonplussed Edith Stein who had ‘stopped […]
January 22, 2017

Overcoming Anger: The Final Spiritual Struggle

We feel it everywhere: Anger. Whether a seething whisper or bellowing roar, resentment, anger, even rage, feels like the fuel of this brand new year as the second decade of the twenty-first century heads south. The source is anyone’s claim. An endless laundry list of injustice, victims and causes. Here in what is arguably the safest country in the world. Here in a country where close to twenty percent of the population receive free food, where the government spends more money on its citizens than does any other country. Millions of Americans believe it’s not enough. Remember that axiom, “May you […]
March 5, 2017

Newman Centers- Lighthouses of Grace in Secular Education

“If then a practical end must be assigned to a University course, I say it is that of training good members of society… It is the education which gives a man a clear, conscious view of their own opinions and judgements, a truth in developing them, an eloquence in expressing them, and a force in urging them. It teaches him to see things as they are, to go right to the point, to disentangle a skein of thought to detect what is sophistical and to discard what is irrelevant.” Although Newman wrote these words over a century ago, their wisdom […]