The Healing of Memories As Part of the Christian Journey

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.               The Liturgy of the Eucharist

It seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea at the time. Mark and I would move back downstairs into the master bedroom and give the upstairs bedroom, which I’d moved to after the death of my late husband, Bernie, to our seventeen-year-old son. We spent the entire day hauling furniture up and down the stairs, making each room beautiful as we hung artwork, placed lamps, and lovingly made beds.

Then came the moment of reckoning. As soon as I was flat on my back in bed in my old bedroom, I was slammed by a dizzying array of disorienting dreams, thoughts, and emotions that seemingly came out of nowhere.

Where was I? Who was I with? Had Bernie just died the night before? Or was he still alive? I literally had no idea what was going on.  

 Seized with panic and grief, I intermittently cried and prayed through the long night as I tried to get my bearings. I hadn’t felt that battered since the day Bernie died, and after another night of panic-stricken sleeplessness ensued, I took the matter to prayer.

Seated in the adoration chapel before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, I closed my eyes and asked the Lord what he wanted to do with all of this. Suddenly I saw him clearly in my mind’s eye entering my bedroom dressed in a long white robe with his right hand raised in the air.

Peace be with you, I heard him say as I watched him make the Sign of the Cross and bless my bedroom. Jesus then walked around the bedroom pronouncing blessing and peace over every inch of the room. He then came and stood beside my bed, where I saw myself in my mind. Placing his hand on my forehead, he spoke the same words: Peace be with you.

 I spontaneously saw a review of each painful trauma that had occurred in that room—jolting news of too many tragedies and too much death; long nights of grief and pain after the sudden deaths of my husband, two brothers and stepson. But this time I could see that I was not alone: Jesus was next to me, tenderly touching me, speaking words of comfort and healing over me. It was clear that I had never been alone, and that I simply needed to consciously, prayerfully welcome Jesus into the past events and emotions that I had stuffed into my subconscious; memories and feelings that had unexpectedly erupted when I unassumingly re-entered a long-deserted space.

I’m sure it was “God-incidental” that I had just begun working through a small book entitled “Walls and Bridges: Healing of the Heart".   In the Foreword, Fr. Richard McAlear, O.M.I., who is renowned for the gift of healing, writes:

We all have inner hurts, carried in our hearts. There are negative feelings and emotions that swirl around in the subconscious and unconscious realms. Touching them with healing grace is essential to a full awareness of God’s loving presence and subsequently to the fullness of life in God…Jesus brings the love, the security and the healing that are needed to make the difference between coping and healing. Jesus’ love alone is adequate and can touch the wounds that human insight and self-knowledge have brought to light.” Walls and Bridges: Healing of the Heart, page 10.

I had coped with my pain, but God wanted it healed.  I was powerfully reminded that healing was, and is, an essential part of Christ’s person, presence and message—a truth we have largely forgotten both in the Church and in a hurting world that offers mostly coping mechanisms instead of authentic healing in and through Jesus Christ.

Author’s Note: Fr. McAlear’s books on healing can be found at

Our Fiat’s Walls and Bridges: Healing of the Heart can be found at

This article was previously published at Aleteia.

Darrien's Story: From Vulgar Rapper to Innocent Child in 30 Seconds Flat

Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?”     Mark 2:8

 There he stood on the end of the pier with a fishing pole in one hand and an iPhone in the other, rapping aloud to the lyrics of the vulgar, violent music emanating from his electronic device. The sun was beginning to set and I was craving a moment of quiet, contemplative enjoyment of the multi-hued evening sky. Quickly concluding it wasn’t going to happen, I began to leave, but not without rolling my eyes and engaging in a mental rant about how angry, demeaning and offensive his music was.

Finding my husband Mark on the way back to our condominium, he asked why I wasn’t on the pier enjoying the sunset.

“There’s a young man blaring rap music at the end of the pier and he’s oblivious to the fact that the people around him want to enjoy the sunset in peace,” I huffed.

“Well let’s go ask him if he’ll change his music,” Mark suggested.

“Oh, right!” I said rolling my eyes again. “I’ve got a vision of that!”

A minute later we reached the end of the pier and Mark quickly launched in.

“You catching anything?” he asked as I waited for him to address the issue of the music.

“No, man, I’ve been here for three days and haven’t caught one fish yet,” the young man responded.

“Maybe your music is scaring them away,” I said wryly.

“You been out here the whole time?” Mark continued.

“Well other than yesterday when we drove to Key West,” he answered.

“Oh, how’d you like Key West?” Mark inquired. “We were thinking of driving there tomorrow.”

“It was horrible,” he responded without hesitation. “All day in the car with my Mom and step-dad fighting the entire way. Two hours there and two hours back with him picking on her the whole time,” he began to open up. “And you know what they were arguing about? The way I was dressed! He didn’t like the way I was dressed and he fought with her the whole day over it,” he said with evident hurt and exasperation as the rap music drummed on.

Hearing his angst, I immediately felt sorry for the young man and understood a little more clearly what his music expressed for him. I suddenly wanted to ask him a million and one questions about his life…starting with: “Where is your dad?” Instead, I asked if his name was James, noting that he was wearing red and white a jersey with the name “James” on the back.

“No, my name’s Darrien,” he laughed. “Lebron James is an NBA star,” he continued. “You haven’t heard of him?”

“Oh,” I smiled feeling embarrassed. “I don’t watch much basketball.”

“Well nice to meet you Darrien,” Mark interjected. “I’m Mark and this is my wife, Judy.”

As the conversation continued between the three of us to the beat of the rap music, it quickly became obvious that Darrien was a good kid with a load of frustration about his family situation. He was friendly and thoughtful—and a 16-year-old basketball player at a nearby Florida high school.

“Hey Darrien,” Mark offered as the sky blushed red, orange and pink. “You like Andrea Bocelli?”

Before I knew it we were standing on the end of the pier watching a magical sunset, listening to Andrea Bocelli’s “Dare to Live” and enjoying a nice conversation with our new friend Darrien—who was more than a little eager to share about his life and its frustrations. In fact, it was clear that all the poor child really wanted was to be seen, heard, and blessed for who he is.

“I gotta go,” Darrien said after a few more casts into the Atlantic garnered no bites. “I tried your music,” he smiled pleasantly as he walked off. “Now y’all should try rap.”

Maybe we should, I thought. Maybe we should.

This article was previously published at Aleteia.

It's Pentecost and I'm Burning to Death: Is It Possible to Do Purgatory on Earth?

IMG_2349 Have you ever had a magnanimous moment where you begged for the fire of God’s love to consume you, only to find in short order that it’s burning the hell out of you?


Somehow, I’m always surprised when I pray for holy fire to fall, and its flames begin to burn me to death. I’m not referring to the kind of death that ends earthly life, but instead to the painful death of my egocentric plans and programs, and especially the death of my unholy determination that life will unfold according to my will.

I’m a firm believer that purgatory—the purification from disordered attachments that all humans must undergo to be perfectly united to God—begins on earth. For some, though God alone knows who, purgatory will be completed during their earthly sojourn as they are “salted with fire” (Mark 9:49), allowing the flame of God’s love to burn away the dross in their souls until love is perfected in them. For other souls (at least for those who are heaven bound), this purgation will be completed after death, as they pass through the fire of God’s purifying love to behold him face to face (1 Cor. 3:10-15).

While we tend to think of purgatory as a “place” we enter after death, St. John Paul II said that "the term purgatory does not indicate a place, but a condition of existence,” where Christ "removes ... the remnants of imperfection.” (General Audience of Wednesday, 4 August 1999). Surely, such a condition should be part and parcel of our daily walk with Christ.

 In Crossing the Threshold of Hope, John Paul II explained it this way:

The ‘living flame of love’ of which St. John (of the Cross) speaks, is above all, a purifying fire. The mystical nights described by this great Doctor of the Church on the basis of his own experience corresponds, in a certain sense, to Purgatory. God makes man pass through such an interior purgatory of his sensual and spiritual nature in order to bring him into union with Himself. Here we do not find ourselves before a mere tribunal. We present ourselves before the power of Love itself. Before all else, it is Love that judges. Love judges through love. (St. John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, 186-187)

I’ve spent the past few weeks praying with St. Therese of Lisieux for the fire of God’s love to come upon me as I prepare to make the Little Flower’s Consecration to Merciful Love on the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity (Fr. Michael Gaitley, 33 Days to Merciful Love). “O my Jesus, let me be this happy victim; consume Your holocaust with the fire of your Divine Love!” I’ve mimicked St. Therese with gusto.

Sadly, it only took one episode of overt rebellion by our resident teenager for me to be burned by Love’s fiery flames. It wasn’t pretty to find myself completely unable to pray the words thy will be done for several excruciating days, as I shook my fists at heaven and demanded that God do things my way. My outburst revealed a lingering lack of trust both in God and his goodness, along with a need for deeper healing and conversion.

You see, it’s one thing to say that we believe in God, but another thing entirely to trust completely in in his unwavering goodness. It’s one thing to claim that we love God, but another thing to truly trust in his infinite love for us—and for our children. It’s one thing to say that we have faith in God, but another thing yet again to yield to him in a faith-filled act of surrender.

Life on this earth gives us ample opportunities to surrender to God’s love, and in so doing, to be stripped of our sins, doubts and mistrust. This stripping is the painful “condition of existence” that may just constitute “purgatory on earth”—the suffering that breaks our attachment to the disordered love of self.

While such trials by fire may put us on the hot seat, they shouldn’t surprise or scandalize us, but instead cause us to rejoice (1 Peter 4:12-13).   For it is Love alone that is capable of sending such holy fire, and an encounter Love’s fire alone that can heal us.

This article was originally published on Aleteia.

Where a Wiccan Meets Mercy: Yes, Virginia, There is a New Evangelization


“In this Holy Year, we look forward to the experience of opening our hearts to those  living on the outermost fringes of society.”   Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, par. 15.

When I spotted them standing on the downtown Denver street corner handing out pamphlets, I kept my eyes down so as not to be accosted by what I thought were Jehovah’s Witnesses. But as soon as I heard the young man say to a passerby: “If you’d like to learn more about the Catholic faith…” I stopped dead in my tracks.

“It’s not very often that you see Catholics on the street handing out flyers about the faith,” I offered with a smile, extending my hand to introduce myself to the brave evangelist. “What group are you with?”

John shared that he was a seminarian at the nearby St. John Vianney Seminary and that he’d recently been ordained a deacon. In evangelization training with St. Paul Street Evangelization, he was there with a group of soon-to-be ordained priests trying to engage passers-by in a non-confrontational conversation about Jesus Christ and the Church, hopefully planting seeds for them to learn more about both.

A disheveled, confused looking young man with a devil’s face on his t-shirt and the word “DEMON” tattooed in large letters on his bicep approached. “Dude, can I have one of those?”

John happily offered him a rosary, which the young man proceeded to place around his neck while explaining that he is a Wiccan who uses magic on people. “I only use good magic, but there are others in my coven who are infernal. The magic makes me very disoriented, because it takes so much out of me,” he continued.

The rosary-adorned Wiccan quickly moved to another group of seminarians to seek more goods, and John, my daughter, Kara, and I joined our voices in prayer for his soul. Before long, he reappeared wanting to hear more about Mary, the Mother of God. “Wicca has a great mother in its religion, too,” he informed us. “We call on her for help,” he explained.

Suddenly, I remembered a story I’d read on the Internet about a former satanic high priest who was awakened to the truth of Jesus Christ via a Miraculous Medal given to him in a shopping mall . I quickly dug into my backpack and found a small white envelope with the words “Blessed Miraculous Medal” on the front and gave it to him.

“Here you go,” I said placing the envelope in his hands. “Mary is the Mother of Jesus Christ. Remember to call on her if you ever need help.”

He smiled and took the medal out, then placed it on a beaded chain that fit snugly around his forehead. Off he meandered down the street sporting the rosary around his neck and the Miraculous Medal on his forehead—with us praying a “Hail Mary” for his conversion.

“What led you to the priesthood?” I asked Deacon John after the Wiccan visitor left.

“It was attending Denver’s World Youth Day in 1993 with Pope John Paul II.   Following his visit, it was like a wave of the Holy Spirit came through the whole city and nothing has been the same since. There’s a lot of strange stuff in this city, but there’s a profound Catholic presence also. God is really moving here.”

Deacon John and I said our goodbyes and I walked into the corner department store I originally intended to enter to resume shopping with my daughters.

“Is there anything left in this world that will satisfy me?” a song screamed from the store’s speakers, seeming to speak right to the confused young Wiccan we’d just met on the street corner, seeming to speak to all of the searching people in the world. I thought of John Paul II’s words to the Church on World Mission Sunday in 1985, “Jesus alone can satisfy humanity's hunger for love.” Jesus alone, I prayed.

This article previously appeared on Aleteia.

Amazing Grace

Today's blog is dedicated to our precious parish angel, Anita, whose name means "Grace." She was hit by a car last Sunday while riding her beloved blue bike, and will be buried today.  Anita had a way of making everyone feel special, and her entire life was a prayer.  She spent her days moving between the Adoration Chapel, Our Lady of the Lake Church and the cemetery, praying for the living and the dead.  Heaven has won a holy saint.  We have lost a friend.  Rest in peace, sweet Anita.  You will remain in our hearts forever. Photo Credit: Andrea Kratzenberg


The first time Grace walked into the Adoration Chapel that sits beside Our Lady of the Lake Church, I was taken aback by her disheveled appearance and the dirt that was evident on her body and clothing. But what really got my attention was how Grace prayed, out loud and filter-free as she knelt before the stunning five-foot gold mosaic of Our Lady of Perpetual Help that adorns the front wall of the chapel.

“Mary, you are so beautiful and I’m so ugly,” she mumbled, seemingly unaware that I and the other adorers in the small chapel could hear her most intimate prayers. “I love you so much, Mary,” she continued. “I don’t have any friends, but you are my friend, Mary…I love you so much.”

My heart raced as I peered unintentionally into Grace’s soul, feeling like a voyeur, wanting to cover my ears. But she continued on, unfazed by those around her. “I’ll be back to visit you this afternoon, Mary. You are so beautiful. I love you so much.”

Off she went out the chapel door, making her way through the church’s large front entrance, then up the aisle to Our Lady’s altar to speak to Mary again, up close and personal.

I watched that same scene play itself out again and again over the last few years, as Grace became a fixture both in the Adoration Chapel and the church. Her daily prayers in adoration became a litany of sorts, always including the familiar refrains: “You’re so beautiful, Mary,” and “I love you so much.”

A while back, I noticed that Grace was staying in church for Mass, and I could see that she was feeling more at home among our little community of daily Mass-goers who befriended her. One day, I knew it was my turn to get to know Grace, and I walked up and introduced myself.   Standing outside the chapel beside her ever-present blue bike, we carried on a conversation for all of ten minutes, and we became fast friends.

I learned that she lived with her elderly father and that she had two grown children of her own—a son and a daughter. She beamed about the fact that they are good kids, that they both have good jobs and that they come to visit her on the weekends. She told me her life has not been easy, as most of it was spent in the now shuttered Southeast Hospital for the Mentally Ill. She moved there as a teen when she “started hearing voices,” and remained until the hospital closed its doors a couple of years ago.

I shared that I was a newlywed—that I had been widowed a few years earlier and had met my new husband, Mark, in the Adoration Chapel. I told her about my five children, and asked her to pray for their various struggles. We exchanged a few more of life’s particulars, then I watched her take off on her bike and ride the two blocks to the lakefront to drink her Coke beside Lake Pontchartrain’s murky waters.

Grace and I spoke almost daily after that, but never without her telling me “You look so beautiful today! I love your shirt!” before she asked, “How are your children?”

Recently, as I sat in the chapel praying, Grace came in. Kneeling in front of the mosaic of Our Lady she began to pray out loud in her customary style. But this time around, what came out of Grace’s mouth nearly knocked me over.

“Thank you Mary for my friends, Mark and Judy,” she began. “They are so cute together. I pray that you bless them and give them a happy life,” she went on. “I love you so much, Mary. Please bless my friends, Mark and Judy, and give them a happy life.”

As she prayed, my eyes watered full as I blinked back tears over the holy litanies of God’s beloved daughter, Grace. She considered me a friend; and I had grown to love her, too.  I could faintly hear the voice of the  Lord echoing right back to her: “You are beautiful, my beloved. There is no blemish in you” (Song of Songs 4:7).

For Freedom Christ Has Set Us Free Galatians 5:1

Dear Friends, As we celebrate the Fourth of July, we remember that it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  By grace, Christ has empowered us to do as we ought, not whatever we wish.  This concept of freedom laid the foundation of liberty for our great nation.  We pray for grace, healing and peace for America, and we pray that we will remember our high calling to live as sons and daughters of God.  Blessings and peace to you and your families.

In Christ,   Judy

Photo Credit: Judy Klein

What Holds The World Together

Blessed is the womb that bore you,

and the breasts at which you nursed.      

Luke 11:27

Cut away the umbilical cord, but don’t cut away the heart. Because the heart—the feminine heart—helps hold the world together.

I watched  with tears in my eyes yesterday as the women of the Our Lady of the Lake Altar Society processed up the center aisle of the church, carrying roses and bouquets for the annual May crowning while singing hymns to Our Lady.

 Triumph all ye cherubim! Sing with us ye seraphim! Heaven and earth resound the hymn! Salve, salve, salve Regina!

Hail, Holy Queen, we cry with such resounding joy that it carries a exclamation point! Why? Because we know that our salvation was and is contingent upon the intersection of divinity and humanity in Mary’s hallowed womb. We understand that the world and the Church need the balance of the feminine heart, the heart that mothers children, the heart that gives life, the heart that takes its piercings and releases the offering of blood, sweat and tears into the ground of its saplings, who move too fast from suckling to separating. But even as they pull away, a mother’s heart stays put.

Like the mother I spoke to yesterday, one of the three whom I call, “The Daughters of Jerusalem.” They can often be seen kneeling together praying for and suffering over their children. When I see them conjoined in prayer, I think of Jesus’ words: “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not over me; but weep for yourselves, and for your children” (Luke 23:28). And I think of Our Lady, who was a daughter of Jerusalem.

“My daughter just had her first baby,” one of the women shared with me before Mass. “She asked when she can expect to get a good night of rest, and I told her you’re never going to sleep again!” she smiled. “Because mothers never stop lying awake at night worrying about their children!”

Then there’s the mother I see day in and day out in the chapel on her knees, praying and weeping for the teen who’s taken to cutting herself; her beautiful, beloved daughter who has turned against herself. I watch her wipe her tears; I see the broken heart she bears as she grips her Rosary with tired fingers and as she does not sit down, never sits down, the entire time she spends each day offering the raw-kneed sacrifice of her bleeding heart for the child to whom she gave life. That, the fruit of a mother’s love, consumed for the fruit of her womb.

And let’s never forget the Mother at the foot of the Cross, standing beneath her Son’s broken body so she can receive, let it fall on her face and her veil, His precious blood—the same precious blood that formed in her womb with her consent. Her primordial affirmation also made life possible for us, hence the adage of the Church Fathers: “Death through Eve, life through Mary.” There she stands beneath His battered flesh, her tears and sweat mixed with His, uttering the unceasing: “yes.” Yes until it’s finished. Yes as she receives His body from the Cross. Yes as He disappears from her sight.

It is good that we remember and sing praise.

Don’t tell me the Church wants us to deify Mary, for that would, indeed, be blasphemy.   But what we need, oh so desperately need in order to be human, is to experience and celebrate more deeply the feminine heart of the Church in this all too lopsided, hostile world.

May after May we remember the Woman who continually births Love into the world. Roses, crowns and hymns are hardly enough to recognize the feminine beauty found in Mary's heart, the axis that every Christian church and every woman in the world needs to reclaim.

Standing In Mama's Shoes

I'm proud to dedicate this blog to my beautiful Mama, Phyllis Landrieu.  I hope to have a fraction of your grace and courage some day.  Happy Mother's Day!  I love you!!!

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother. John 19:25

“My Mama’s given me big shoes to stand in,” I have frequently been heard to say. And it’s true. My mother is one of the smartest, most gifted, hard-working and energetic women I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing and loving. And did I mention that she’s beautiful? At eighty-one, she’s lovely, elegant and graceful. See for yourself.

Phyllis Landrieu, Mother of Ten

But the thing I appreciate most about my Mama is that she’s taught me to stand strong in the face of suffering. She’s demonstrated in living color how to let love make suffering pregnant with life, and how to permit intense pain to bear great fruit. She’s shown me how to stand—yes, stand at the foot of the Cross—offering bitter tears and the sacrifice of a sword-pierced heart for the good of other souls. Reflecting on my Mama, I can’t help but think of the Blessed Mother, who gave us the first big shoes to stand in. And like my earthly mother, stand she did, even as her heart was breaking.

When my mother faced the shattering suicide of my thirty-five year old brother, Scott, sixteen years ago, she had a choice to make. She could turn in on her grief—focus on her sorrow and let it consume her—or she could let her suffering become a conduit of blessing for others. She chose to found a task force in Scott’s name, training school teachers to recognize and respond to the signs of sexual abuse in children. It was not until my late husband, Bernie, died that Mama shared with me a private letter she’d written to him upon the death of his own son, Marshall. Her powerful words encouraged Bernie not to let his grief defeat him, but to use it instead as an impetus to help others. She wrote:

 At first after Scott’s death, I wanted to remove myself from all of my activities, pull down into the lonely darkness...just sit and hold my pain. But the abused children kept calling me and I found an opportunity out of the darkness by working to open the Children’s Advocacy Center. I did it in Scott’s name and there is a picture of Scott on the wall…If I could relieve some child’s suffering, I could relieve some of Scott’s suffering, and mine…There are so many suffering, just as I am, with pain and disappointment. In helping them, I am helping myself...They dim my pain, and I am rejoicing that Scott is in some way helping them also.

Nine years after Scott’s death, Mama faced the unimaginable. She faced the loss of another child to suicide; this time it was her second born son, Stephen.  If anyone ever had a right to close the blinds, turn off the lights and call it quits, it was my Mama. Instead, she chose to found an educational center in a poverty-stricken neighborhood of New Orleans designed not only to educate poor children, but also to provide comprehensive healthcare for them, as many poor children have never been to a doctor or a dentist in their lives. Though Mama has faced numerous personal and health challenges in recent years, including recuperating from a brain injury caused by a fall and caring for my Parkinson’s stricken Dad, she passionately presses on to help “the children,” for whom she fervently believes we all bear a responsibility.

Yes, my Mama has given me big shoes to stand in, but mostly, she’s taught me to stand. To stand upright when life goes face down, to stand steady when the rug is pulled out from under your feet, to stand, and keep standing, when all you really want to do is crumble to the ground in a heap. She’s shown all of us, with incredible courage and grace, how to walk forward in the face of inconceivable adversity. She walks forward with her face set like flint, carrying in her heart the sacrifice of her grief—a sacrifice that may just give a poor, needy kid a chance at life.

Now those are some shoes worth wearing.

Mom and Dad

Catching the Faith

Please enjoy this re-post of my last Easter blog.  This Easter, I was busy welcoming my new granddaughter, Rose Grayson, to our family.   She is blessed to have three big brothers and her parents, Gaby and Grayson, to pass the faith to her. Happy Easter!IMG_0440

“Christos Anesti ek nekron, thanato thanaton patisas, kai tis en tis mnimasi zoin harisamenos,” my little grandsons chanted in unison as I watched happily in surprised silence. “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and to those in the tombs, granting life,” the boys rang out in Greek, singing the ancient paschal troparion taught to them by my son-in-law, Grayson. Five-year-old James looked entranced, while two-year-old John-Henry danced around the room, slapping his hips and throwing his hands into the air to provide dramatic effect at just the right moments. Even baby Joseph, who just turned one, chimed in.

“Catholicism is caught, not taught,” I thought as I observed the children singing, remembering the familiar adage from Catholic theology that I’ve quoted numerous times to my students. “We don’t sit a one-week-old infant down and tell him everything he’ll ever need to know about the Catholic faith,” I’ve explained repeatedly when teaching how the truths of our faith are passed down in tact from one generation to the next.   Instead, we start with songs, pictures and simple blessings. We take the kids to Mass, point out statues and stained glass windows, and maybe light a candle for those we love. We read Bible stories, whisper prayers in the dark when bad dreams invade the night, and sing—in Greek if we so desire—the deep mysteries of our faith, learned on an I-phone while riding in the van. That’s how our children catch the faith, and it’s how we, in turn, catch it back from them.

Catholicism has been “caught” for two thousand years the very same way; that is, through the habits of a living Church that hands on its living faith via time-honored practices that grow organically and culturally throughout history. We call these practices “traditions,” and they are meant to embody and express Sacred Tradition--which is the Truth that Jesus deposited into the Church through His life, death and resurrection, and through the relationships and institutions He established.

The concept of living faith comes down to us from our Jewish ancestors, and was embraced by the Christian Church:

“Take to heart these words which I command you today. Keep repeating them to your children. Recite them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them on your arm as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

In other words, we are to let our faith in God permeate everything we think and say and do. Which doesn’t mean that we’re on our knees 24/7, or that we escape our broken human condition. It does mean, however, that we invite God into all things, and that we remember that He is with us at all times.

Part of the crisis we are facing in our Christian culture is the direct result of the dichotomy that exists between faith and life, due in large part to a modern world that compartmentalizes and hyper-specializes every aspect of life. Our lives have become neatly divided into measurable functions and categories, reducing the expression of Christian faith to a perfunctory Sunday visit. But it is not meant to be so. Our fathers in faith reminded us that the “split between the faith which many profess and (our) daily lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age.”* Further,  they teach us that harmony should exist between our faith in Christ and all of our earthly activities.

I heard that harmony Monday night in the voices of little children, as they chanted, “Christ is risen from the dead” during a family vacation. Yes indeed, they are catching the faith. And they’re throwing it back to me.

*Par. 43, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Second Vatican Council

Holy Hope for Holy Week

IMG_0823 Holy Week is the perfect time for personal and spiritual reflection.  To that end, I offer the below reflection entitled, "Holy Hope:  Is There Any Other Kind?"

Discover the difference between secular hope and Holy Hope, and unlock the biblical secret that turns meaningless suffering to hope! Please press play to listen to this two-part, 56 minute talk.

May the Lord grant you an abundance of graces, blessings and HOPE this Holy Week and during the coming Easter Season.

In Christ,


Holy Hope: Is There Any Other Kind? Part One

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Holy Hope: Is There Any Other Kind? Part Two

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