Blog

July 25, 2021

Real Poverty-Not Knowing What We Lack

Real Poverty-Not knowing what we lack. We hear the phrase a lot: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” And recall that St. Mark qualifies St. Luke’s with two words: “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Until hearing a homily by EWTN priest Fr. Mark Mary, I’d not given any thought to the qualifier, “poor in spirit.” When hearing that beatitude, my mind automatically interpreted the words of Christ to mean material poverty: the poor have far more chance of making heaven than do we who have received such abundance. Real poverty-not knowing what […]
July 18, 2021

In Praise of Criticism-Albeit with Gritted Teeth

In praise of criticism, albeit with gritted teeth About four or six weeks ago, I sent the first draft of my newest book, The Reluctant Queen-The Story of Esther– to my four readers. These four people are generous enough to read the word document online and tell me what they think. It’s not editing I want from them. Instead I’m looking for honest reactions by people who love reading a great story. And can tell instantly if there are problems in these areas: Overall coherence “Feel” of the characters and plot. Whether or not main character-Esther- can be clearly visualized […]
July 11, 2021

Called to be prophets: Each of us.

Not me! You’re joking, right? Called to be prophets: each of us? Prophets were the Old Testament men. Like Isaiah, Ezekial, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Amos. They were called by the Lord to prophesy repentence to the Chosen Ones: the Israelis. Right, but it did not end there. Last Sunday’s homily from Bishop Robert Baron is titled, You are called to be a prophet. This one echoed in my mind and heart, hence this piece on the obligation of each Christian, each of us, to take stock. Not of our neighbor. Not of our politicians. Nor our priests, Bishops or pastors. […]
July 4, 2021

Is Anger An Emotion? Or Learned Reaction?

Is anger an emotion? Or a learned reaction: habit? 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 youngest child of a mother who seemed slightly to very discontented for the majority of her time on this planet, I began my acquaintance with anger at an early age. I wrote that paragraph five years ago, but it accurately descibes what we read, watch and hear in 2021. Hence I have revisited the question, “Is anger […]
June 27, 2021

Thomas More-Patron Saint of Politicians-and Pope John Paul

Thomas More, Patron saint of politicians. This past Tuesday was the Feast Day of Saint Thomas More. Sir Thomas More was Henry Vlll’s Lord Chancellor during the King’s attempts to persuade the Catholic Church to grant him an annulment. His marriage to Catherine of Aragon was invalid, claimed the King, for it had produced no heirs. Henry argued that he should be free to marry Anne Boelyn so that the reign of the House of Tudor would be protected. King Henry’s argument failed. So the King declared himself-and successive monarchs- head of the church through a Parliamentary move called the […]
June 20, 2021

The Real Competition is for Souls- Super Apostles

The real competition is for souls I have read and heard St. Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians numerous times. I speak of the passage referring to the “super Apostles.” But had always assumed that St. Paul referred to some of the original twelve, (Including Mathias.) After listening to Fr. Alphonse Van Guilder’s homily for Thursday of this past week, however, I realized that St. Paul was not referring to Peter, James, Andrew or any of the original disciples. Instead, the Super Apostles that Paul spoke of were those who changed Christ’s message to suit their own agendas. …But I am […]
June 13, 2021

The Talkative Man is not Stable on the Earth

The talkative man is not stable on the earth Thi phrase is from the extensive treatment of humility by St. Benedict. Chapter seven, the reading for this past Monday, June 7 was: The ninth degree of humilityis that a monk restrain his tongue and keep silence,not speaking until he is questioned.For the Scripture showsthat “in much speaking there is no escape from sin” (Prov. 10:19)and that “the talkative man is not stable on the earth” (Ps. 139:12). When I read it last Monday morning, the words echoed in my mind and have not left. Augmented and amplified by its antecedent: […]
June 6, 2021

Ever Think About People From Your Past?

Ever think about people from your past? Well, sure, we all do. Especially teachers or professors who changed our lives. Or bosses we were privileged to work for. And, of course, those rare friendships lost through a move, or a divorce, or some kind of disagreement which could not be resolved. But I had never heard of thinking about people from your past as “good spritual practice” until listening to Fr. Alphonse Guilder‘s homily for Wednesday’s daily mass. Fr. Alphonse was speaking of the reading from Tobit: the one detailing Angel Raphael’s restoration of Tobit’s sight and exorcism of Sarah’s […]
May 30, 2021

It’s Memorial Day Weekend- Shouldn’t We Think About the Cost of Freedom?

It’s Memorial Day Weekend Traditionally, Memorial Day opens the gates to summer: barbeques, beaches and bathing suits, concerts. But this holiday (holy day) is so much more than summer fun. Since we are obligated to honor those countless men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice, shouldn’t we think about the cost of freedom? It’s Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day’s beginning was, fittingly, during the Civil War. According to the Library of Congress, southern women decorated the graves of dead soldiers long before the war’s end. June 1, 1861 may be the first such grave to be decorated in Warrenton, […]
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 […]
August 12, 2018

Writing the End First

  Writing the end first. Makes no sense, right? Writing the end first before the whole story is told? And yet, I’m doing just that. The thought had been niggling around for several weeks, until it stopped being a thought and took on legs. So yes, I am now writing the end of I,Claudia. Why? Yes, why indeed? Well, it wasn’t exactly first thing I wrote. At least a third, maybe more, maybe less, of the book was written before I began to write what I thought would be the last chapter but will most likely become 10,000, maybe 15,000 […]
September 9, 2018

How Do We Package Love?

How do we package love? That question needs a bit of reflection, right? It’s a bit of a mixed metaphor, isn’t it? Or, is it? Three reasons to consider our overemphasis on the packaging of love. Pretty, glitzy paper and ribbons tend to get us much more interested than does a plain wrapper, encouraging us to ignore or prejudge the contents. A package connotes certain dimensions. If it is ten by twelve inches then we cannot fit an item that has the dimensions of thirteen by fifteen in the package…imposing advertent constraints. Result? I want him to look like…I want […]
September 16, 2018

Gratitude: What is It?

Gratitude: What is it? The word gratitude doesn’t resemble what it signifies. Both the noun gratitude and its adverb grateful seem to me to be passive, inert, easily overlooked. Maybe that is why so few of us talk about it. In a world where so many billions live in conditions which would be considered unacceptable in the US, I have been thinking recently of  this word and wondering: Gratitude: What is it? Is it a feeling, Or an emotion? No they are inadequate, it is more than these, much more, isn’t it? In these ‘advanced’ times, the collective we has […]
October 21, 2018

Could We Have It Wrong?-Is it About Avoiding Unhappiness?

Could we have it wrong? Is it about avoiding unhappiness? ” So, are you happy now that I, Claudia is done?” I stared at my psychologist husband and grudgingly admitted. “I was happier while writing it because now I’m wondering what to do in the next book…” We had been discussing happiness. That everyone says they want a happy life, happy marriage, they want. to. be. happy. But when asked how that is defined, often the answer is in the negative…”I don’t want to be poor”…”I don’t want to hate my job like…” or a generic,”I don’t want the life […]