Monday, May 23, 2011

A Thief and a Gift

My Dad is losing more and more of his memories. He can't participate in 'remember when's' anymore. He can't tell me stories of why I was given the name I have or stories of me as a child or trips we went on. He forgets my name and the names of my nieces and nephews. We're losing my Dad, piece by piece. His forgetfulness shakes his confidence. He often denigrates himself and says he's stupid or a dummy. That is hard to hear. He's not and never has been stupid. Forgetting can be a good thing: he's forgotten the bad times, the stressful times. This is the first year that he did not remark on the anniversary of my Mom's death.

I have the opportunity to get to know my Dad in a whole new way. I get to learn a little bit more of his likes and dislikes. I am seeing how he makes light of his suffering and offers it up. I am seeing where I get the goofy, weird side of my personality. I enjoy every single minute that I have with my Dad. That is a tremendous gift.

Dealing with dementia is hard. It will get harder. This is not a fair or easy disease. Please pray for a happy, peaceful death for my Dad.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for those with dementia and strengthen those who take care of them. Amen.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Red Bike

My mother was the buyer of gifts in our house. I can only remember one time when my Dad bought me a gift by himself. He bought me a red bike when I was in second grade or so. It was the Cadillac of bikes. It was a glorious, shiny metallic sparkly red. It had all sorts of bells and whistles: a bell, a back rest and so on. It was truly a thing of beauty. There was a problem though; it was too heavy. We kept our bikes in the basement so I had to carry the bike up and down the steep stairs. My spindly little arms couldn't do it. I tried. How I tried. Unfortunately, the bike had to go back. I ended up getting a Fred Flintstone, plain jane bike, one that I could carry up and down those stairs.

I related this memory to my Dad the other day. It is one of my favorites because first of all, my Dad picked out the red bike and secondly, he picked out the very best bike he could fine. My dad wondered if that memory made me feel sad or if it bothered me to ride that other bike. Not in the least! The knowledge of how much my Dad loves me carried over onto the other bike and I rode it as proudly as if it had been the Cadillac bike.

Somehow, this memory has made me think of the baby I miscarried. God gave me a baby because He loves me. Unfortunately, I was unable to carry her. The sorrow is gone but I still have the joy and the knowledge of God's love for me and I have a baby cradled in the arms of Our Lady. A little saint of my very own. God is good.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


As any marketing executive or parent can tell you, words have an impact- should have an impact. Some words can cause instant joy or instant revulsion. Think of the following list of words:

Child abuse

Each should invoke a shudder; a flinch, a sense of revulsion or horror. That is important, especially in society today. When words are used in a false way or in an inappropriate way for shock value, they lessen the true impact of the word; they change the actual meaning of the word itself.

Lately, I have noticed a trend to use the word 'rape' or 'raped' when meaning haven been taken advantage of; or of having been tricked out or deprived of something. This is an appalling misuse of this word. It does a tremendous disservice to those who have suffered such a brutal, horrible crime. It negates the severity and the shock of such a crime.

Fetus is another word that has been turned by the evil empire, Planned Parenthood, into a scientific and therefore cold and technical word. Never mind that fetus means little one. Although, nothing PP says can be believed since they claim to want abortions to be 'safe, legal and rare'. Thus far, they've only made one of those true: legal.

It is important to think about the words we use and how we use them. I was always chided in school to be careful of too much hyperbole. I'm irish. I like to tell a good story and might exaggerate just a wee bit. But, it can get out of hand. I need to myself watch what I say and say only what I mean.

Be aware of what others say and what they truly mean. As Jesus admonished, let our 'yes' mean 'yes' and our 'no' mean 'no'.

O Mary, conceived without sin, grant us the grace to follow your Son and lead us always to Him.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Defender of the Eucharist

He didn't wear a cape. He didn't draw a crowd or look for applause. He had on a green sweater but a sword and shield would not have looked out of place in his hand. He is a hero and a defender of the Eucharist.

It was easy to tell that the couple sitting just a few rows from me at Sunday evening Mass at the Cathedral weren't Catholic. The woman didn't participate at all, in fact, she seemed in a daze. The man tried to follow along, but there was just something a little off. Something that just felt wrong. I thought briefly about the New Year's day car bomb outside a Christian church in Egypt and that we might become martyrs. When it came time for communion, they stayed back in the pew. There was some discussion between them, the man obviously trying to convince the woman to take the Eucharist. She remained in the pew. He went to receive. He took the Eucharist - the body of Christ - in his hand but didn't consume it. He clenched it in his hand after looking at it for a few seconds. He returned to his seat briefly. He motioned to the woman that they should leave; he was still clenching the Eucharist in his hand. They quickly got up and headed for the door. I was stuck at the opposite end of my pew with the communion line to my immediate left. I could never make it to them before they reached the street.

Just as I was despairing of my inability to do anything I saw him. The man in the green sweater quietly but quickly went after the pair. He retrieved the Eucharist. He is a hero in the truest sense of the word.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Persecution of Christians

21 Christians exiting a Coptic Christian Church in Egypt today were killed shortly after midnight by a car bomb. Terrorist groups had threatened to attack Christians repeatedly in this area. Today, they succeeded.

This is one of many, many recent attacks on Christians and Catholics all over the globe. Attacks on Catholics and Christians have been reported in India, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, the Philippines this past year, just to name a few.

Please pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters and for those who persecute them.

O Mary, conceived without sin, please protect and strengthen our brothers and sister who suffer for their faith in your Son. Convert those who oppose your Son and turn their hearts to His. Amen!

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Glass Philosophy, part II

I have a loved one who is firmly entrenched in not being able to see the glass at all. She is a champion at reciting past hurts, insults and transgressions at dizzying speed. I'm not saying that she doesn't have reason to be hurt, but how long is long enough to carry around that garbage?

I don't have all the answers. Not by a long shot. I still find some people hard to love and I struggle. But I am learning. These are a couple of the things I've learned:

1. Different families have different expectations of what is 'normal' or 'expected'. You can't hold people to the same standard as your own family. That's asking for trouble.

When buying our house, we asked my sister and her husband for their opinion, trusting it more than our own and trusting they would tell us what they truly thought. When my daughter and her husband were looking seriously at a house they asked our opinion and his parents opinion. They said nothing, we said lots. I could not stand back and watch them make what in my opinion was a serious mistake. Nor could I understand his parents' silence. Perhaps they couldn't believe my 'meddling'. Different families, different ways.

2. It does absolutely no good to carry grudges and look for the bad. It takes a lot of energy to do both things. It is not being strong to be able to cast people out of your life for petty things, it is weak. Forgiveness takes strength and work. It takes humility since we can't do somethings all on our own. We need to ask for help and grace.

3. The book Crucial Conversations -tools for talking when the stakes are high was an eye-opener for me. It wasn't a fluffy, feel-good book. It had a lot of common sense to it. One of the most interesting pieces was how we fill in details about something we have observed. We stray from facts - the action or statement of someone else - and color in our own details, based on nothing and how that filler we provide gets in the way of our having a conversation with someone else; at the very least it makes that conversation difficult.

4. Take things at face value and assume positive intent. Don't go looking for motive. Don't be suspicious.

5. Accept people as they are - warts and all. If you have a friend who always wants your help but is scarce when you need her or isn't well acquainted with the truth - don't be surprised if she's not around when you need a friend but if she is, bonus! Don't have unrealistic expectations.

Nothing I've learned is particularly creative, original, earth shattering or particularly new. But it was new to me. Now I need to figure out how to help my loved one. If you think of it during your prayers, please pray for my loved one.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee! Mary, look with favor upon us, grant us the graces we most need. Amen.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Glass Philosophy, Part I

We've all heard of optimists and pessimists being described as seeing the glass 'half-full' or 'half-empty'. I think there is a third category of people, far beyond the pessimist, who can't see the glass at all. Those whose thoughts are so distorted and dark that they are unable to recognize good when they see it. Those who cart around grievances, hurts and slights with the ease and dexterity of a professional mover.

I lived in the suburbs of that dark city for a long, long while. I moved there bit by bit each time I had an opportunity to forgive and said, 'yeah right'. I didn't know how to forgive and had not the slightest interest in learning how. I'd been forgiven in a beautiful, generous and complete way but I never recognized that's what it was. I'd discarded friends and family who, in my mind, crossed uncrossable lines. The most recent casualties were a couple of my sisters. They resided in the discard pile for nearly a decade. Twice, one of them offered a olive branch. Twice, I scoffed and rejected it. Oh, I knew that not forgiving was wrong. The part of the Our Father that talks about being forgiven as we forgive poked at me. I didn't know how to move out and didn't really have the desire. Sometimes I'd half-heartedly ask for the desire to forgive but it was a weak prayer.

I eventually was booted out the dark land and I'm not sure how. I know it was not my doing. I believe it was through the intercession of my guardian angel and praying the divine mercy chaplet that the incredible Mercy of our Lord Jesus worked a miracle in my heart. I am not using the word miracle lightly nor in a joking manner. I have no other explanation for what happened other than that. I truly believe that it was a miracle.

I finally saw there was a glass. I finally learned how to forgive and how to ask for forgiveness. Well, I'm still learning but I want to forgive and quickly. I learned that there are many sides to a story and I didn't own all the hurt. I've come to recognize that the story I tell myself isn't necessarily a true one; that I color in all kinds of untrue details instead of looking at just what I know.

This post may come across as overly dramatic but it was a dramatic change that Jesus wrought. It was His doing and His Mercy. All the old, ugly feelings and hurts are gone. Gone. Nothing bubbles up or lurks beneath the surface. It is really and truly gone. If that is not miraculous, I don't know what is. I was and am reconciled with my sisters. From as fractured as we were, we've come a long way. We have a long way to go.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee! Please intercede for those who struggle with letting go of ancient history and forgiveness. Grant us peace, through your Son Jesus. Amen

Friday, October 15, 2010

National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Day

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss day. Did you know every single day 2000 women suffer from pregnancy or infant loss? Every single day. 730,000 babies are lost every year yet no one talks about it. Why not? Is it due to shame? Embarrassment? The culture of death?

I had a miscarriage last year in January. I was so overjoyed at finally being pregnant after being married nearly nine years. Finally, we were going to have a baby! I was so thrilled I wanted to take out billboards to announce our joyous news. I wanted to tell absolute strangers God had gifted us with a baby. My husband wanted to take a more low key approach and not get our hopes up because we knew right away that our chances of my being able to hold on to our baby were very low because my pregnancy hormones were low. But how could anyone pray for us if they didn't know? I wanted every single prayer I could muster in order to keep our baby and to accept God's will for us.

To our great sorrow, I was unable to hold on to our baby. I don't know if the baby was a boy or girl. Sometimes now it doesn't even seem very real. But, I think about her. I thought about her yesterday as I held my grandson. I thought about her on what would have been her birthday.
I have a ring that I bought in her memory.

I can readily call at least six people to mind who have all suffered one if not more miscarriages or stillbirths. Talking about it opens the door for others to talk about it, too. It is entrance into a 'club' that no one really wants to join but are now a member.

For more information or to read inspiring stories visit I am the Face or Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope. I have a friend whose story is there. Her strength is amazing.

Please pray for those who have suffered and are suffering from a loss of a child at any age. O Mary, conceived without sin, you who wanted your Son die a horrible, painful death, help us to trust in the Lord, trust in His Mercy and cling to Him. Amen.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My Dad's Dementia

My Dad has dementia. That is hard to say or type. My Dad has dementia. His memory is slowly fading. He doesn't eat well if someone is not there with him and he can't really pull things from the fridge together for a meal. He is starting to be unable to do tasks like paying his bills or make up a grocery list. He can do some of it if he is interrupted but it is slow going. He has mentioned more than once the damage that does to his confidence. He easily gets lost and flustered.

It is our turn, as his children, to take care of our Dad. He has been, very fortunately, very willing to ask for help and to let us do things for him. He has mentioned more than once how lucky he is to have us. He has us because my parents were open to life. It makes me so sad for the people who have 2.5 children but have no one to visit them, no one to take care of them. I saw it all the time when my grandma was in a nursing home.

Each of us are coming to terms with what that means and the difference in my Dad. Some are in denial that he is as bad as he is. Others think he is worse than he is. Some are letting their own guilt or denial get in the way of doing what is right. Some of that reflects their own past history with my Dad and their relationship to him. But, we are stepping up, in varying amounts, to take care of him.

It has been a great joy to be able to do something for my Dad. While this time is sad, and will get sadder yet, I would not change it. I enjoy every moment I spend with him and every thing I do for him in a different way than before. Our visits have more meaning and are richer because I know that someday he may not know my name. I want to be satisfied that when he dies that I have done everything I could for him. Everything. I do not want any regrets.

Please pray for a happy and peaceful death for my Dad. Please pray for us that we remain strong and united in our care of him. Please let us put him first and ourselves second.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Bullies, Babies and the Mosque

There is no question that the Mosque should not be built nearly on the site of the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. It wasn't just New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania who were attacked. It was all of us. The terrorist didn't care who died, just that we did die.

Out of respect for our nation and the people who died; out of patriotism; out of sensitivity for those who lost loved ones, it should be built elsewhere. No one is object to a mosque being built, only to the planned location.

Take a look at this video regarding the ground zero mosque: It brings up some interesting points regarding the likelihood of patriotism before Islam, of country before Islam and the mindset of even moderate muslims.

Now there's a so-called Christian pastor who plans to burn the Koran on 9/11. He seems much more like a cult leader to me. What true Christian would want to do that? What could that possibly accomplish? Why is he doing this now? My advice to this cult pastor? Take your toys and go home. You aren't helping.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us! Pray for the United States! Save us from ourselves. Pray for all sinners. Those who know your Son and those who do not.