Blog

May 23, 2021

Thinking About Heaven and Hell- And the New York Times

Thinking about heaven and hell Today is Pentecost. This day marks the end of fifty days of joyous liturgical celebration of death’s destruction by Jesus when the Father raised Him from the dead. It follows seven days after the Great Sunday or Jesus’ ascension into heaven. And commerorates the descent of the Holy Spirit “in tongues of flame” upon the disciples. The Spirit, Jesus explains, could not be released until He ascends into heaven and takes his seat at the right hand of the Father. I will send the Paraclete who will teach you all things. The Gospel readings for […]
May 16, 2021

Even Perhaps Grope for Him and Find Him

St. Paul is speaking to the Athenians Probably because I spent time in Athens during a long-ago ten-day journey to Greece, St. Paul’s speech to the Athenians always pierces through my skull to ping around in my head. This past Wednesday, his words cut more deeply than usual. Plunging deeply into my heart and psyche, they leave red streaks. Just so does my memory of sitting alone in the Acopolis of Athens become so vivid that it feels like yesterday. He made from one the whole human raceto dwell on the entire surface of the earth,and he fixed the ordered […]
May 9, 2021

The Labor of Obedience

The labor of obedience: For many years, the word obedience served as a lightning rod to me. The concept connoted all that I disliked about being female: Powerlessness, submissiveness, conformance, passivity and…  And yet, feminism offered no viable solution. Fundamentally, feminists blamed men for whatever ailed us and seemed fixed on adopting the role of victim, seeking redress in legislation and our culture of euphemisms. But then I became a Christian Catholic and a few years later, an Oblate of St. Benedict. And that word, like so many others in the vocabulary of faith became something I embraced; at times, […]
May 2, 2021

We Stiff-Necked People: Hearts and Ears Uncircumcised

We stiff-necked people: hearts and ears uncircumcised The reading for the April 13th daily mass was from the Gospel of John. The passage begins, “Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born from above.” The wind blows where it wills and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” And ends with, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of God be lifted up so that everyone who believes in […]
April 25, 2021

Ode to Shadow-I Can’t Stay Any Longer

Ode to Shadow-I can’t stay any longer John was watching our boy panting, lurching because his back legs barely support him, yet incapable of stopping the relentless pacing that exhausted and caused him intense pain. And then John said, “I can’t stay any longer, I’ve stayed as long as I could.” A wholly perfect translation of this past Monday morning when Shadow let us know it was time. You think you’re ready. You see the fur whitening, energy dropping, diminishing interest in eating. Then the confusion, ataxia, muscle wasting which create a perfect storm of misery. You tell yourself that […]
April 18, 2021

The Death of A Monarch- Prince Philip

The Death of a Monarch The late consort of Queen Elizabeth II was a paradigm of the Age of Stoicism. That statement in Francis Phillips’ article, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, grabbed me. Enough to write this week’s piece about the late husband of the Queen of England. It’s that phase, “a paradigm of the age of stoicism” which made me curious enough to ponder the death of a monarch. More on stoicism later. But first some background. An anglophile I am not. But like most of us, a British accent gets my attention. Somehow the accent confers more knowledge, […]
April 11, 2021

Are You the Only One Who Does Not Know?

Are you the only one who does not know? Dear Brothers and Sisters, in our time…The concealment of God is part of contemporary man’s spirituality, in an existential almost subconscious manner, like a void in the heart that has continued to grow larger and larger. Pope Benedict Just so, the road to Emmaus, the Gospel reading for Wednesday, April 7th, in the Christian liturgy serves as metaphor for humanity. Whether believers or not; consciously or unconsciously, all seven billion of us walk beside the God-man and ask Him, “Are you the only one who does not know about what they […]
April 4, 2021

The Irresistible Essence of Divinity

The irresistible essence of divinity We all feel it: The magnetic, magnificence of Beauty. Whether in sunsets, ocean surfs, newborn infants or soaring orchestral chorus, our hearts soar, are lifted up in what feels like an echo of something so yearned for that we cannot express it. During the many years I considered myself an atheist, agnostic or another label that felt fitting, a sunrise or operatic aria could drop me to my knees figuatively or literally. I feel confident that even those most immersed in our woke culture are goaded by the irresistible essence of divinity. Now that we […]
March 28, 2021

Praying The Old Testament: Mirror For You and Me

Praying The Old Testament: Mirror for you and me. “Catholics pray the Old Testament? Really?” The speaker was a Jewish friend. Agrressively atheist, yet intrigued by my love for her people. Judith was just the first of many Jews and Christian friends who have asked me that question with incredulity. “I have always been attracted to the Jewish people…the Jewish religion.” Elizabeth, another Jewish atheist we met on a cruise, was surprised- even uncomfortable, at my words. Even more so when I added, “You are God’s chosen people.” Why do I feel this way? There are many reasons. Growing up, […]
March 21, 2021

Have We Got it Wrong: Heaven on Earth?

Have we got it wrong: Heaven on Earth? Is heaven a place far away? Only habitable by the dead? Or could it be attainable here? On earth…in this life? Many, perhaps a majority, of us look at our life on earth as something to be endured. Perhaps a cosmic test of some kind. Increasing numbers of us accept reincarnation and its karmic payback. We Christians may not all that different in our thinking. Many of us act as if suffering is what life is…what life should be. We seem determined to wrest misery out of the jaws of joy. Overstatement? […]
March 14, 2021

Fasting: Why Do It?

Fasting: Why do it? We are body, spirit, and soul, we humans. For many of us, however, any concept of our spirit or soul is either whimsy or irrelevant. In this postchristian culture, we have confidence only in our bodies. Spirit and soul have been eclipsed by the pure physicality of our material forms. To some of the most physical of us, the athletes, fasting became a way of life in the late nineties and spread. Over time, it has caught on. The health benefits of fasting from all food for eight, sixteen hours, or two to three days comprise […]
March 7, 2021

The Institutionalization of Denial: Legacy of the Social Sciences

The institutionalization of Denial: Legacy of the Social Sciences You know them when you meet them. Or read them. Or have the privilege to study under them. Those rare people gifted with the courage to perceive their limitations; even trumpet their errors. Edwin H Freidman was such a man. Although you may be tempted to read politics into this piece, do not do so. For there is wisdom contained here, if it is reduced to politics, it disappears. Edwin Friedman was an ordained Rabbi, psychoanalyst and family therapist, and a leadership consultant in Washington, DC. He founded the Bethesda Jewish […]
February 28, 2021

Shadow on age, patience, and death.

Shadow on age, patience and death. “The old boy’s not what he used to be.” Looking at the tall, thin, older, stranger watching our sidewalk trio: Seymour in front, pulling as hard as possible, me, and Shadow plodding at the end of his leash, I replied, “Neither am I.” Each day, the three of us walk through our closely packed community, and down to the sidewalk along route 1 in our still new residence of Oceano, California. At least twice each week, someone comments about Shadow’s age. Like the neighbor who has finally stopped asking, “How old is that dog […]
February 21, 2021

Cain and Abel: It’s All About Mediocrity

Cain and Abel: It’s all about mediocrity Monday’s reading for the Christian liturgy is a Genesis passage most Jews and Christians recall with ease. Abel’s dead, the Lord comes looking for him and asks Cain where Abel is. Cain’s reply? “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Remember the song, he ain’t heavy, he’s my brother? Even back in the days when I thought the Bible and religion pure fallacy, I loved that song. And sang it at the top of my lungs. A vivid demonstration, I think, of the law written in each of our hearts. Even-perhaps especially-when we deny its […]
February 14, 2021

Football as metaphor for life, faith, and happiness

Football as metaphor for life, faith and happiness Back in another career, my fourth, I ‘met’ Brady. Everything was brand new: The marriage, the career, the faith and football. It was January, 2002. My still new husband insisted I watch the Playoffs between his beloved team, the New England Patriots and Oakland. We were living in Connecticut, cold, snowy Connecticut. I’d decided to leave my career in academic medicine where I’d built a national reputation and join my husband in an online business about which I knew nothing. About sales. Or marketing. Or excel spreadsheets. John knew I didn’t like […]
February 7, 2021

Make Yourself an Ark: Listen to the Higher Voice

Listen to the higher voice: make yourself an Ark The Bishop’s encapsulated advice to the Cadets at the US Naval Academy in his address Called Into The Depths? Listen to the higher voice. Build an ark. Accept your mission. Find the place where Jesus sleeps. Bishop Robert Barron’s brilliant address to the Navy Cadets serves both as metaphor and method for the upcoming forty days known as the Great Fast by our Byzantine Catholic friends. In case you are not familiar with the auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, here are a few facts about this unusually gifted […]
January 31, 2021

The Corporate Reality of Prayer: How Can You Say Reality?

The Corporate Reality of Prayer Although I had never conceived of the Mystical Body of Christ, a few pieces of the massive chessboard of the mystery of God clicked into place. All at once. We were all connected, all of us. Even if the virtual arteries and connective tissue had narrowed, even closed, due to sin, they were there. They existed. All of those strangers speaking to me through the years, even perhaps praying for me. There was no doubt in my mind, none at all. This was why I had felt this powerful sense of belonging, of being home. […]
January 24, 2021

A Man For Our Times: Saul of Tarsus

A man for our times: Saul of Tarsus Tomorrow, the Christian Church celebrates the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, pictured above in Caravaggio’s exquisite painting. A special day in the life of the Christian Church. A special day for each one of us: believers or not. This day is one imbued with mystery and grace for me: a former hater of Paul, his writings, and the entire Church. The following section is excerpted from the author’s notes of my latest novel about the early life of St. Paul: Throughout the writing of this book, my decision to imagine the […]
January 17, 2021

The Razor’s Edge of Forgiveness

The razor’s edge of forgiveness “Forgive your enemies. “ Since forgiveness was just as unnatural 2100 years ago as it now, the Apostle Peter seeks to bind it. You will recall that Peter was a pious Jew and knew the Mosaic law. The law that from Levitcus, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and in both Deuteronomy and Exodus denounced the hatred of fellow country men “in your heart,” and commanded the loving of “even the stranger.” And yet, Peter asked, “Lord, how many times must I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I […]
January 10, 2021

Baptism: His and Ours

Baptism: His and Ours If we’re under the age of fifty and are, or were, a Christian, we have been baptized. Most likely, our parents made the decision for us when we were infants. But in this “post-Christian era”, more and more parents choose not to baptize their child. The stated reasons vary, but these are a sample of those I have been told and read. We don’t need church to be spiritual. We can pray anywhere. The woods, mountain or ocean is our chapel. Nature is my church. I was brainwashed as Catholic or evangelical Christian and I want […]
January 3, 2021

In Desperate Need of Fatherhood

In desperate need of fatherhood Ours is a world in desperate need of fatherhood. A quick online search reveals the startling rise of single motherhood here in the US and in the world. Soberly revealing our need for heavenly intervention for our fatherless families and overburdened mothers. Starkly exposing our culture’s bereft notion of fatherhood as mere sexual congress. These very simple words, “father” and “fatherhood,” once had plain, unadulterated meanings. But that was before the intensification of the “struggle between the family and the State for the minds of the young.” And the realization that the final battle between […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]