Faith

What Does the Bible Teach About Fasting?

"Into the Wild" © by Jef Murray—(Click sketch for artist's gallery.)

Lent has begun, so I thought we should revisit self-denial. Fasting and other forms of self-denial, as spiritual practices of materially subduing and controlling the physical appetites of the body, help us, by God’s grace, to enable the soul to more perfectly and freely pray.  This leads to a deeper union with God and thus we become better stewards of the gifts […]

Becoming More Human This Lent

Photo by Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash

“You weren’t created for this world- so for the next forty days, live like it.” This Sunday, the first reading might surprise us. It’s Lent, so we might expect to hear about fasting or penance. Perhaps we expect the first reading to be about sacrifice or suffering. Instead, we start at the beginning. We’re back in the Garden, with the […]

Living Simply This Lent

I once was visiting a beautiful home, finely furnished with exquisite furniture, lovely artwork and impeccable décor. However, the heavy draperies around the windows blocked most of the natural light in the rooms, and left an atmosphere of heaviness and, quite frankly, suffocation. Although the home was beautiful I couldn’t wait to leave and enjoy the freshness and plainness of […]

Christ in the Desert

"Crossing of the Red Sea" (detail) by Hans III Jordaens / Public domain

“…if anyone wishes to seriously exercise the spiritual life, he had better know that the company of people that hold our own faith and worship in our own churches is a most difficult company to keep. And we ought not to pretend we can follow God very far unless we know that it is a desert like asceticism.” I write […]

The Penance of Every Day

“Perhaps you have an impressive plan of intense penances that you are convinced will make you holy by the Easter vigil … but what do your daily activities, obligations, and vocational demands look like?” If you’re a planner, you’ve already begun to think about what you’re going to “do” for Lent. When I was growing up, it was in vogue […]

The Heavy Burdens We Carry

Confessionals

I have been thinking a great deal about my experience at Reconciliation this past Saturday. I felt an intense and unexplainable urge to go and confess my sins when I woke up that morning. I try to go every six weeks or so, but this was no routine visit to the priest for me. I needed to unburden myself of […]

We Owe Each Other a Terrible Loyalty

St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church, Roswell, Georgia—Photography © by Michael Bickerstaff

Looking back at my childhood, I am thankful for the many gifts the good God sent my way in the form of people who knew and loved Him and chose to share that knowledge and love with me. There are so many examples from the good Catholic sisters and priests who taught me to my Presbyterian friend, James, who announced […]

What does his love look like?

Photo by Laura Allen on Unsplash

“Sometimes the gifts God has in store for me are not the gifts I would have chosen for myself.” “He doesn’t do the things he used to do, like buy her flowers.”  A coworker was telling me about a friend of hers, who, after several years of marriage, was lamenting the changes in their relationship.  Their lives were now full […]

What’s in a Name?

Photography © by Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Los Angeles

A handful of times in my life, I KNEW with deep conviction that certain things would come to pass.  I can’t explain it.  I just knew.  My vocation to the Carmelite Sisters was one of these “Aha!” God-moments.  I knew in an instant I had a vocation to the religious life and to this religious family.  I also knew without […]

Be salty.

Photo by Jason Tuinstra on Unsplash

“We have the responsibility to bring Christ into the world.“ This Sunday’s Gospel has one of my favorite images for our vocation as laity: “You are the salt of the earth.” Salt.  It’s a powerful image for us.  What are a few grains of salt?  They’re so miniscule, they’ve become an image for smallness and insignificance: “She took it with […]