Prayer / Spiritual Life

Mission Dolores Altar (San Francisco)
Photograph © by Andy CoanMission Dolores Altar (San Francisco) Photograph © by Andy Coan

The Problem of Suffering

I remember sitting in my Introduction to Moral Theology class as a college undergraduate and being asked, “What is the problem of suffering, and how do we respond to it?”  We were then introduced to Rabbi Harold Kushner, who wrote a book called When Bad Things Happen to Good People.  Rabbi Kushner explained that there are three basic premises we […]

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Being Intentional About Our Prayer Lives

As I wrote this post I reflected on my experiences as a Catholic from my conversion in 2005 until now. One of the biggest obstacles for me in the early days of my faith journey was the lack of a prayer life. I knew I needed to pray, but I couldn’t ever remember sincerely praying about anything. I was struggling […]

"Christ's Charge to Peter" (detail) by Raphael"Christ's Charge to Peter" (detail) by Raphael

“Do You Love Me? Feed My Sheep.”

In the twenty-first chapter of St. John’s Gospel, we find a gut-wrenching encounter between Jesus and Peter that defines the essence of Peter’s mission. To make this encounter unforgettable, Jesus takes Peter to the point of deep distress as he asks him not once, but three times, “Do you love me?” It is hard to imagine what this must have […]

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How to Be More Grateful

There is a running joke in my family about asking God for help in parking the car. My nana initiated the practice of imploring God when encountering difficulty in finding an open parking space: “Jesus, please help me find a parking spot.” Well, my dad repeats this prayer, adding his own twist at the end. As he drives around a busy […]

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Tips for Praying and Studying the Faith Within the Time Demands of Parenting and Work

I remember one particularly spiritually dry day early on in my second pregnancy. It was late at night and my energy was spent that day keeping a nap-protesting toddler content, doing chores and cooking, and grabbing spare moments to keep up with ministry work before collapsing onto my bed that night. My connection with God that day felt weak and […]

Photograph © by Andy CoanPhotograph © by Andy Coan

How the Weakness of the Cross Makes Us Strong

“When I am weak, then I am strong”; “power made perfect in weakness.” Such verses are often cited as key to spiritual growth, but do we really understand what they are talking about? Can anyone ever understand? Yes. If we couldn’t understand it at all, God would not have told it to us. God does not waste words. It is […]

“Christ at 33” (detail) by Hofmann“Christ at 33” (detail) by Hofmann

A Boundless and Profound Beauty

It takes courage and perseverance to walk this journey, but it is filled with a peace the world cannot give and a boundless and profound beauty leading to eternal glory in Heaven. We were created to gaze upon endless, eternal beauty. All of us were born with an unrelenting,  deep thirst that will never be satisfied fully in this life. […]

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Discovering God in Silence

A prayerful, meditative silence is the mother of truth. God cannot be found in noise and agitation. His true power and love are revealed in what is hardly perceptible, in the gentle breeze that requires stillness and quiet to detect. In silence, God listens to us. In silence, listen to Him. In silence, God speaks to our souls and the […]

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Mary, Virgin Mother of Grace, and the Lessons She Teaches Us

There’s more than one budding artist in my house.  Any one of my older kids will lose themselves, sometimes for hours at a time, working on “projects.”  They’ll get paper and markers and transform whatever is in front of them into a masterpiece. “Look, Mommy!” one of them will shout, and, of course, I have to look up from whatever I’m doing.  Without fail, I’m […]

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A Lenten Reflection on Christ in the Desert

“…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 […]