Check it out!

We all need encouragement during these strange times, don’t we? Well, I have something exciting to share!

Fr. Mark Thibodeaux, SJ is one of the spiritual masters of our time and he is offering a free, 30-day at-home retreat entitled, “Ascending with Ignatius.” The retreat will run from April 25 – May 24 but you can check the website and listen at any time. No pre-registration required. 

Ascending with Ignatius Retreat

I hope you will join me on this retreat!

“A Little Too Risky to Take In”

I have two teenage sons. They came home the other day and shared with me a story about their friend who is 15.

They say she is pregnant. She is going to be married. I didn’t even know she had a boyfriend. I’m really surprised at this news.

She has to go with him to his homeland to deal with some government paperwork. It’s a risky trip because it’s dangerous to go back there – there are thieves and others who would harm them – not to mention the coyotes and lack of water in the heat.

On top of that, they might not be able to get back into the country if she leaves.

Her boyfriend is in construction. Good guy – hard worker. They don’t have a lot of money right now so they’re going to take the trip on foot. Her family is so worried. It will be very dangerous.

Update: My sons came home and said that she texted. She made it there and they’re going to fill out the paperwork this week.

She went into labor right after they got into his homeland. None of the hotels would accept them because they had been travelling a long time and looked haggard. Their friend thought they probably looked (and smelled) a little too risky to take in.

They weren’t near a hospital so she ended up giving birth in an alley.

She and the baby are doing well though and in surprisingly good spirits. She was telling the boys how grateful she is to God for getting her this far and for her beautiful baby boy and her new husband. She said she just feels so blessed. It sounds like she is really at peace despite everything. She sent a picture too. The baby is just gorgeous!

This is the story of Mary. Or Maria. Or Miriam.

If you’re like most people, you probably made a judgment after nearly each paragraph above. Think about how each statement affected you. What judgments did you make?

If the Christ child came today – would you be happy with the judgments you made?

If you’re anything like me, you would probably like a do-over. The good news is, we have that chance! Every day, we encounter Christ in situations like these.

How will we welcome Emmanuel, Christ-with-us, in the world today?

Don’t Worry

One of the things that can steal our peace is worry about the future. Oftentimes, when we are overcome with worry, we lose perspective. Sometimes, we even lose hope. Over 400 years ago, St. Francis de Sales offered some timeless words of wisdom about worry:

Be at peace. Do not look forward in fear to the changes of life; rather look to them with full hope as they arise. God, whose very own you are, will deliver you from out of them. He has kept you hitherto, and He will lead you safely through all things; and when you cannot stand it, God will bury you in his arms. Do not fear what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today, will take care of you then and everyday. He will either shield you from suffering, or will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imagination.

When I am really worried about things, I try to remember St. Francis’ soothing words.

Spread Hope

It seems that the days of eloquent letter-writing and moving oratory have largely passed. And, with the passing of these times, the immense power of words has been forgotten. Civility has gone out the window. Hurtful words are thrown around carelessly – often aided by the anonymity of the internet. Thomas Merton, one of my favorite gurus, offers some timeless wisdom on the power of words.

Speak words of hope. Be human in this most inhuman of ages. Guard the image of man for it is the image of God.

Every time we open our mouths or type out our thoughts, we have the power to spread hope – or not.

Let’s choose hope.

Start today – with even just one person. Ask God to lead you to the person and give you the words of encouragement that this person needs to hear. Maybe it’s a family member, friend, or stranger – be open to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in finding that person and speaking the uplifting words they need to hear.


Photo Credit: CBF Portal Files

Useful mistakes?

Sometimes, things don’t work out quite like we had hoped or expected. St. Teresa of Avila has some really great thoughts for times like these:

“To reach something good, it is useful to have gone astray.”

I love this sentiment! How often do we think of “going astray” as being useful? The temptation is to think of these times as “mistakes” or a “waste of time,” but she knew from experience that God works all things for our good – even the times when we think we screwed up!

Think about it…

“God created shadows to better emphasize the light.” – St. John XXIII

Did you see the solar eclipse this summer? During the eclipse, the light shone out from behind objects as crescent shadows. While the divisions between light are darkness are rarely ever sharper than they were during the eclipse, divisions between people were momentarily suspended during it. Strangers came together in fields, streets, sidewalks, and city blocks to admire the phenomenon with wonder and joy.

God unites.

On Reaching out to Those on the Margins

I am so pained by the vilification of all refugees based on the actions of a few. Pope Francis, nearly daily, calls us to respond with compassion to those on the margins – in the world, in our communities and in our lives. Please check out my post on Loyola Press’ dotMagis blog this month: