Did Mary Ever Have Days Like This?

Blessed Virgin Mary with Roses (detail) Artwork © by Jef Murray

I didn’t have a good excuse. No sudden death, news of great tragedy, or personal fall-through. The clock just met 4:00, the kid of choice started with the customary late afternoon ranting, and it all unraveled from there. Somehow, the everyday things—the weight of my worries, the onslaught of my duties, the trial of just getting through the rest of […]

Inspired by Our Lady of Fatima to Do Less (and More!)

Lucia, Franciso and Jacinta

I am constantly challenged to do more, sometimes by people who don’t even know they’re doing it.  Back when I used to work for our parish, almost everyone knew me.  After Mass once, a well-meaning and very enthusiastic parishioner came up to me and exclaimed, “WHY aren’t YOUR KIDS signed up for Vacation Bible School???”  She was smiling, she was excited, and […]

Finding Comfort in Our Lady of China

Our Lady of China

Whatever time it was, it was dark, pitch black, deep night.  The scream shattered the stillness and destroyed my sleep.  I was wide awake, completely alert, no daze to me, despite the lack of sleep. There was no intruder, no fire, no emergency.  There was, instead, a little girl, terrified by monsters assailing her in her dreams.  She had no […]

Peeling Paint and Our Lady of Good Counsel

Before we moved to our current home, when people would find out I lived in an old farmhouse, they generally had one of two reactions.  They either thought I was lucky or they commiserated.  For some reason, the people who thought I was lucky—living in a house that could have been in Anne of Green Gables or Black Beauty, electricity added of course—seem to outnumber […]

An Alternative to Being Busy

Am I busier… …than the third world woman who has no electricity and has to walk miles for a five-gallon bucket of water? …than the grandma who’s watching her grandkids, managing bills, and still getting dinner? …than any priest I’ve ever met or worked for? My list goes on. And on. And ON! The answer is…I don’t know. But I can’t […]

The Love Story that Brought Me Home to Jesus

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

It was a young man who brought me home.  He did it without fanfare and without argument.  He simply lived his faith. And he loved me. I think of that young man whenever I meditate on a crucifix. I see Jesus hanging there, sterile and mostly clean, and I try to imagine what it must have really been like.  I […]

Understanding Mercy Thanks to Mary

Our Lady of Mercy

There’s nothing quite like being in a hurry and seeing the flashing red lights that mean that a train is coming and that I have to stop. I had this happen to me recently when I was on my way from my mother-in-law’s house to town. It was at a train track that’s on a busy highway, in a place […]

The World of Little Girls and Possibilities

It was not until I was sleeping in a pink ruffled bed in a pink walled room, surrounded by all things sparkly and pink, that I began to fully realize our enormous responsibility—as parents of daughters and as a society and Catholic community. Laying there in my niece’s bed, with my own girl in the neighboring bed, watching the light […]

Mary, the New Eve—A Role Model of the Highest Order

Blessed Virgin Mary with Roses (detail) Artwork © by Jef Murray

When she was four, my daughter had many career aspirations, and she often shared them with us in a long list.  She would announce, out of the blue, that she was going to be a cowgirl, an artist, a flower picker, and a cheerleader when she grew up, and, for my part, I encouraged this diversity in interests. One day, […]

Mary’s Hands: How the Star of the Sea Inspires My Motherhood

Their hands were intertwined, mother and daughter.  They hadn’t seen each other for months, though they talked frequently on the phone, and there was something in the twisting of their fingers, in the contrast between younger and older, that told the story of their love for one another. Hands tell a lot about a person.  Infants curl their fists and […]