May 31, 2020

The Advocate Will Teach You All Things

The advocate The words are Christ’s, said prior to the horrors he would shortly face-horrors that the disciples had no understanding of. Nor do we. We Christians hear those words frequently in the liturgy preceding Pentecost. But until recently, I had never considered the Holy Spirit-Holy Ghost- as a lawyer. But that is the meaning of the word advocate, is it not? “I will send you an advocate and He will teach you all things.” To whom is the Lord speaking when He makes this promise? To His Disciples and Apostles, we reply automatically. But to the rest of humanity, […]
May 24, 2020

Making A Gift of Our Wounds

Making a gift of our wounds “Making a gift of our wounds” is a most peculiar phrase for a piece on Ascension Sunday. Had I not listened to Father John Paul Mary’s homily on the EWTN daily mass this past Thursday, the phrase would never have occurred to me. But the more I ponder the words of the priest, the more I understand. A brief aside-until the churches closed, neither my husband nor I had never participated in a television mass or heard of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word. Now a day without these Friars and their sacraments […]
May 17, 2020

Health is Boring-Disease is Sexy: Lessons from the Media

“Health is boring, disease is sexy.” I said this to a CNN producer who was ‘vetting’ me to see if I’d be good fodder for a weekend interview. I’m a writer. Like most other writers, I want people to read what I write. Like most of us, I write about what interests me, often using my own experience and mistakes to help others think about . When I switched from non-fiction to fiction, I knew I needed help getting known therefore hired a publicist to promote my first novel. Because of my background and experience, the publicist achieved quite a media frenzy […]
May 10, 2020

The Passion of Patience

It’s a peculiar phrase: “the passion of patience.” Almost oxymoronic- in its combining the vigor of the heft-filled word passion with the passivity neutrality of patience, it was coined by Venerable Madeleine Debrel. A former atheist turned Catholic apologist who lived and died during the last century. Her poem The Passion of Patience begins with this searing line: The patiences, these little pieces of passion, whose job is to kill us slowly for your glory, to kill us without our glory… Debrel’s words apply a wholly different twist to that seemingly inert noun patience, don’t they? Especially during these fear-filled […]
May 3, 2020

Ever Think About Eden- Whether it was a real place?

Ever think about Eden-whether it was a real place? I do. Not daily but frequently enough that I write about it. And it is almost always at this time of the year, when I go outside to our gazebo and gaze at the stream pictured above. The stream in the middle of the desert. Ever think about Eden-whether it was a real place? Yes, of course, don’t you? Extraordinary creatures like these Western Tanagers and Bullock Orioles magically appear at the grape jelly and meal worm mixtures I have learned to offer each early spring. They are back!! The beauty […]
April 26, 2020

Why Did You Become Catholic?

Why did you become Catholic? In the twenty some years since my conversion, I’ve been asked this question countless times. Therefore should not have been surprised when she asked it. But I was. I was speaking with a friend whom I have not seen since I left Houston and my job in the Texas Medical Center. My last clear memory of her was our presence with another friend at a cocktail party for top financial supporters to Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List. Like the three of us. I called Claire because she and her husband Gary are TMC pediatricians (I’ve […]
April 19, 2020

Go Tell Them How Much I Love Them

Go tell them how much I love them. Being quarantined, locked in, sheltering in place can have consequences. Fears that we can risk only brief trips outside the safety of our homes, and then do so only when gloved and masked might shake us up enough to erode certainties. Dread of infection and death make our vulnerabilities painfully present each time we look up the rising number of cases in our county. All of these can coalesce and tear away our carefully constructed images of our world and ourselves. Maybe. If you talk with writers about the primary source of […]
April 12, 2020

The Immensity of Sin-His Real Suffering

The Immensity of Sin- His Real Suffering It is impossible to look upon the image of this tortured, disfigured image of the Messiah- the Son of God- without grimacing, blinking, wanting to gaze anywhere but at that. At the visual reenactment of His Passion, we are sickened and horrified. So much so that many of us have removed it from our crosses, altars and churches. This is too depressing, we should focus on his resurrection, we tell ourselves. Even St. Paul tells us that if he had not risen…then our faith is in vain. Conveniently overlooking St. Paul’s single refrain, […]
April 5, 2020

Fear And Faith Intertwine

Fear and faith Intertwine. The two seem to coexist.  Even before His birth, Jesus galvanized anxiety- in His virginal mother and just and righteous adoptive father. The decision of God the Father to send the Word- His Son- in that way and precise manner consumes lifetimes of reflection. And still we barely scratch the surface. Many of the things that are happening today would never have happened if we had been living in that longing, that disquiet of heart which comes when we are faced with God, and when we look clearly at things as they really are. If we […]
March 29, 2020

Tertullian and our dog Seymour

Tertullian and our dog Seymour Tertullian and our Dog Seymour All the angels pray. Every creature prays. Cattle and wild beasts pray and bend the knee. As they come from their barns and caves they look up to heaven and call out, lifting up their spirit in their own fashion. The birds too rise and lift themselves up to heaven: they open out their wings, instead of hands, in the form of a cross and give voice to what seems to be a prayer. What more need be said on the duty of prayer? Even the Lord himself prayed. To […]
March 22, 2020

Conversions: Is Coronavirus An Opportunity?

Conversions: Is Coronavirus an opportunity? Huh? This statement may evoke eye-rolls, grimaces or frowns and maybe whole-hearted agreement with a long ago friend, an infectious disease doc, appropriately enough, who wryly commented during a conversation about the problems in the TMC hospital where we both worked: “Lin, you could be standing in a pile of horse s#%#t and find something good to say about it.” Dr. Terry Satterwhite is a native of North Carolina and despite several decades of working in infectious disease at the medical school in Houston, maintained his distinctive North Carolina twang. When relaxed, as he was […]
March 15, 2020

Knowledge: The More The Better, Right?

Knowledge: The More the Better, Right? It’s a simple question. Until you think about yesterday…and this last week. And all that you now know about the state of the world, spread of the new virus and standings of your favorite candidate in the Democratic primaries. Maybe you are no longer sure that more knowledge and more learning are always good and useful. In fact, perhaps you are becoming aware of the need to manage knowledge. Strange phrase isn’t it? More on that in just a bit. Like many of us insatiably curious humans, knowledge-wisdom- was something I pursued with a […]
March 8, 2020

Buck plus Harrison Ford- What else is necessary?

Remember Jack London’s The Call of the Wild? Most of us read it in junior high or somewhere around there. And many of us can recall vividly the tears evoked by London’s lyrically, evocative prose from his 1903 novel, The Call of the Wild: “With the aurora borealis flaming coldly overhead, or the stars leaping in the frost dance, and the land numb and frozen under its pall of snow, this song of the huskies might have been the defiance of life, only it was pitched in minor key, with long-drawn wailings and half-sobs, and was more the pleading of […]
March 1, 2020

My Name is Saul is Done!

My Name of Saul is done Finally, your first or maybe fifth book is done. All that work, concentration and discipline over, done! For a time we feel exhilaration, relief and pride. But only for a while. Maybe it will be weeks, days or merely hours but inevitably, we’ll hear that voice, “Now what? It’s Done, Now What? I wrote those words four years ago. And smile as I read them again because this time those lovely feelings of relief and exhilaration came and went so quickly that I barely knew they were there. True because of the challenges looming […]
February 23, 2020
why this useless murmuring?

Belief is Not Enough: The Awful Power and Weakness of God

Belief is not enough: the awful power and weakness of God. “This commandment, that we should love our enemies and forgo revenge will grow even more urgent in the holy struggle which lies before us and in which we partly have already been engaged for years. In it love and hate engage in mortal combat. It is the urgent duty of every Christian soul to prepare itself for it. The time is coming when the confession of the living God will incur not only the hatred and the fury of the world, for on the whole it has come to […]
February 16, 2020

Only Those Who Obey Can Believe-The Cost of Discipleship

Only those who obey can believe. After completing Eric Metaxas’ splendid biography of the German founder of the German Confessing Church, Spy and Martyr, Bonhoeffer, I needed to understand more about this man who understood Christianity in a way that few of us do. To do so, I bought and read Bonheffer’s, book, The Cost of Discipleship. Since writing almost always helps me better understand complicated questions-like these of faith- I wrote an article called Cheap Grace vs Costly Grace several years ago. And thought I had understood this brief, dense book which was written during the shockingly few years […]
February 9, 2020

Taming Our Mammoth- Or Finding Our Authentic Selves

Taming your mammoth…or finding our authentic selves Months ago, when I first read Tim Urban’s funny and whimsically illustrated article, Taming the Mammoth, I was so intrigued by the illustrations and lighthearted banter in his quirky website, that I decided to do a post on his essay. Thus the super cute image of the caveman taming his mammoth. Keeping it for a time when I needed content… like now. Here is Urban’s list of the primary obstacles implicit in finding our authentic selves: Our desire to conform, belong and follow was once an evolutionary adaptation in a culture requiring […]
February 2, 2020

Do You Mind if I Boast About I, Claudia?

Do You Mind if I boast about I, Claudia? Late last February, Amy Lignor of Feathered Quill wrote this in her review of I, Claudia: For anyone looking for one of those easy, cozy reads, this is not it. For someone who is looking for a fantastic plot of the ancient world filled with suspense, romance, and history, this is definitely the book you want. Not only is this a well-researched book that allows the reader to actually feel as if they are walking the streets in Judea and living within this realm, it’s also a book that does not […]
January 26, 2020

How Is Your Heart Doing?

Muslim cultures have an intriguing way of greeting one another: How is your heart doing? The English translation to the Persian greeting, “Hello, how are you?” is “How is your heart doing at this very moment? At this very breath?” Head of Islamic Studies Omad Safi suggests that is what we mean when we say “How are you?” We mean to ask, “How is your heart?” I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. […]
January 19, 2020

The Golden Globes and The New/Old War

It’s been two weeks and yet I am still thinking about Sunday evening’s Golden Globes and the New/Old War. Because I wanted to see the winner of the Best Picture, I turned it on in time to watch Ellen DeGeneres speak about receiving the Carol Burnett award. The award was created last year by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association last year to celebrate “outstanding contributions to television on or off the screen…in celebration of the medium’s ” Golden Age.” The comedienne was understandably overjoyed at the kudos: “From her sitcoms, to stand-up, to becoming a household staple on daytime television, […]
January 12, 2020


Stability: It’s an interesting noun- the meaning of which became radically different for me once I became a Benedictine Oblate. Many lifetimes ago, I used it to refer to critically ill patients, but as as an  adverb upon naming all the physiologic parameters used to measure the cardiac and pulmonary status of patients, “He’s been stable for the last hour…”. I encountered it anew as a Benedictine Oblate: stability is one of the three promises an Oblate makes upon making her oblation. Stability of Heart – This promise expresses the oblate’s commitment to a particular monastic community. Stability of heart reaffirms […]
September 2, 2014

Life: The Fragility and Heartbreak Of It

Ever had an encounter with a tangible reminder of life- the fragility and heartbreak if it? I am not talking about the pain of deaths, losses, failures and disappointments each of us must suffer, I mean a tidal wave of awe, joy, beauty, indescribable that flattens you…engulfs you within it, shocking and paralyzing. In the 12 years we have lived in the high desert, I have seen hundreds, maybe thousands of lizards. But never, until yesterday morning have I seen a baby lizard. Not once. It was Labor Day morning and I planned to give myself the day off; we […]
September 16, 2014

Mavericks Surfing

We came down for only a few days but I’m sorry to be leaving in the morning. The weather has been perfection. Plus now I understand why this is the home of the Mavericks Surfing contests. The wave looks as if it was shot in Hawaii but it was taken right here in Half Moon, California. Maybe because of the hurricane that hit the Baja peninsula last night, the surf in the bay where we always stay while here has been wild. People have been standing watching these waves all day; many of us in awe of the surfers who […]
September 20, 2014

God As Mystery

Only rarely do I get the gift of true understanding- that sense of YES, that is right…that nails it perfectly…this morning it was the phrase  God as mystery used by a man I had never heard of in a pod cast I seldom take the time to listen to. In reply to what you may be thinking, let me quickly ask that you suspend the Duh that is hovering in your mind and ask that you walk with me for a few brief moments while I explain. I took time this morning after praying the Office to check out Krista […]
November 3, 2014

Communion, Consolation and Church

The church was packed: St. Patrick’s Church in Arroyo Grande had a Mass of Remembrance –Communion and Consolation-at six last evening for All Souls Day. I expected there to be very few people there, after all, it was time for Sunday night football but there was almost no room by the time the priest began the Mass. In the back of the church was a small family with their son; immobile on a hospital type bed, completely paralyzed with a machine rhythmically providing humidified air through his tracheotomy. We worshipers looked like an ethnic soup: Asians, Hispanics, Filipinos, Blacks and […]