On the Road in Wayne County

On the Road in Wayne County

I’m staying with my parents due to my mother’s long hospital stay and her subsequent recovery in a nursing home for rehab. As I travel through the local countryside, I’m pining for a better camera beyond my iPhone 4s. In recent weeks, I’ve been getting to know the highways and byways of this area and taking many photos of this landscape.

Over a dozen years ago, my folks, Jim and Cathy, transplanted themselves from cacophony of downstate Long Island (one of the most densely populated regions of the USA) to the upstate quietude of Wayne County, New York. Situated on the shore of the great Lake Ontario on its northern border, between Rochester to the west and Syracuse to the east, it’s got a varied history as the Erie Canal runs along its southern edge.

My daily drive to the nursing home takes me through farm and orchard country — especially apple orchards. Driving through the backroads, I spy many family farms and commercial growers, Amish and Mennonite homes and farms too. It’s a lot different than the country lanes I usually zip through in New England. 

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Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain. — James 5: 7

 

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A few pics from around my parents’ yard…

 

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My Dad's old truck.

My Dad’s old truck.

 

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This is Lilly.

 

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"Good dog."

“Good dog.”

This makes me think…

The Church’s proclamation on the family finds its foundation in the life and preaching of Jesus, who lived and grew up in the family of Nazareth. He attended the wedding at Cana, which he honoured by performing the first of his “signs” (cf. Jn 2:1-11) and presented himself as the Bridegroom who unites himself to his Bride (cf. Jn 3:29). On the cross, he gave himself up with a love to the very end and, in his resurrected body, established new relationships among people. By revealing the fullness of divine mercy, Jesus allows man and woman to recover that “principle” according to which God unites them in one flesh (cf. Mt 19:4-6) and for which — by the grace of Christ — they are enabled to be faithful to each other and love each other forever. Therefore, the divine measure of conjugal love, to which spouses are called by grace, has its source in “the beauty of the saving love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead” (EG, 36), the very heart of the Gospel.

Jesus, in assuming human love, also perfected it (cf. GS, 49), giving man and woman a new manner of loving, which has its foundation in the irrevocable faithfulness of God. In light of this, the Letter to the Ephesians has identified in the married love between a man and a woman, “the great mystery” which makes present in this world the love between Christ and the Church (cf.Eph 5:31-32). A married couple possesses the charism (cf. 1 Cor 7:7) of building up the Church with their spousal love and the task of the procreation and rearing of children. United in an indissoluble sacramental bond, the spouses live the beauty of love, fatherhood and motherhood and the dignity of participating, in this way, in God’s creative work.

 Throughout the centuries, the Church has maintained her constant teaching on marriage and family. One of the highest expressions of this teaching was proposed by the Second Vatican Council, in the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, which devotes an entire chapter to promoting the dignity of marriage and the family (cf. GS, 47-52). This document defined marriage as a community of life and love (cf. GS, 48), placing love at the center of the family and manifesting, at the same time, the truth of this love in counter distinction to the various forms of reductionism present in contemporary culture. The “true love between husband and wife” (GS, 49) implies a mutual gift of self and includes and integrates the sexual and affective aspects, according to the divine plan (cf. GS, 48-49). Furthermore, Gaudium et Spes, 48 emphasizes the grounding of the spouses in Christ. Christ the Lord “comes into the lives of married Christians through the Sacrament of Matrimony,” and remains with them. In the Incarnation, he assumes human love, purifies it and brings it to fulfillment. Through his Spirit, he enables the bride and groom to live their love and makes that love permeate every part of their lives of faith, hope and charity. In this way, the bride and groom are, so to speak, consecrated and, through his grace, they build up the Body of Christ and are a domestic Church (cf. LG, 11), so that the Church, in order to fully understand her mystery, looks to the Christian family, which manifests her in a real way.

-Instrumentum Laboris, par. 2,3, & 4-

“The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization” (in preparation for the Synod on the Family this fall)

 

 

Red. White. and Blue.

Red. White. and Blue.

Last year, our celebration of July 4th took on a new and holy meaning. Why of course we’re still forever grateful to be American citizens and we pray for our nation and celebrate our common ideals in the founding of this nation. Yet, last year we also celebrated a new beginning — not of a country but of a marriage — a new family formed in our daughter, Katie,  and son-in-love, Benjy.

Here’s to their first anniversary! May God bless and increase you both in every grace and blessing for a faithful and fruitful love!

Grateful for the red…

Chinese tea ceremony after Mass.

Chinese tea ceremony after Mass.

white…

Happy, happy!  (double happiness!)

Happy, happy!
(double happiness!)

And blue…

Loved the navy on the bridesmaids! Good friends!

Loved the navy on the bridesmaids! Good friends!

Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious wins a 2014 Catholic Press Association Award, as do others from Ave Maria Press!

Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious wins a 2014 Catholic Press Association Award, as do others from Ave Maria Press!

What a honor! Thanks to the Catholic Press Association! Let me also extend my deep gratitude to publisher Tom Grady and the great editorial, marketing, and creative teams at Ave Maria Press for their support of my book and those titles and authors listed below.

Ave Maria Press made this announcement via this press release:

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We are very pleased to announce that multiple Ave Maria Press books were selected as Catholic Press Association award winners this weekend. Congratulations to all these wonderful authors!

Check out all the results at the Catholic Press Association website.

Pastoral Ministry Category (First Place) 

Rebuilt by Fr. Michael White and Tom Corcoran

Spirituality (Soft Cover) (First Place)  

Atchison Blue by Judith Valente

Best Trade/Seasonal Catalog Category (Second Place) 

Ave Maria Press Fall 2013 Trade Catalog by John Carson, Chris Tobin, and Heather Glenn

Professional Book Category (Third Place) 

Redeeming Administration by Ann Garrido

Gender Issues Category (Third Place) 

Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious by Pat Gohn

Design and Production Category (Honorable Mention) 

Rebuilt by Fr. Michael White and Tom Corcoran (Design by John Carson)

More here. 

The Catholic Writers Guild Conference is two months away! Plan to go!

The Catholic Writers Guild Conference is two months away! Plan to go!

The Catholic Writers Guild Conference (CWGC) has been a favorite event of mine over the years, and I’ve received so much encouragement by attending it. If you’re a Catholic writer, you’ll want to meet this group and draw on its wisdom, and add some of your own!

This year’s conference will be focused on “Perseverance.” How do we continue to write our faith through the tough times? How do we run that race as our Lord asks?

The CWG conference will be held  July 30-August 1, 2014 at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center and Hotel in Chicago, in conjunction with the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show.

Get all the registration details at the Guild’s website.

“April Fool” – thank you Noel Paul Stookey for your lyrical gift (music video)

“April Fool”

(Noel Stookey and Stu Davis
©1981  Neworld Media Music Publishers)

April Fool
You wear your heart on your sleeve
And though they laugh when they leave
You call it Love and I believe (you)

April Fool
Why must you always play the clown?
You have the edge you laid it down
You give it up without a sound…

Oh April Fool
How can they say “love is cruel”?
They catch the ring but drop the jewel.
Like a teardrop in a pool…

April Fool
As the heart shows through the eyes
Before you were born you were recognized
And unto the losers comes their Prize.

Oh April Fool
Even as the hands were washed, knew
We’d free the thief instead of you
April Fool
You said the Father was in You
You said we know not what we do
Forgive us…April Fool.

The F.U.N. Quotient… An Ode to a Bowl of Cereal

The F.U.N. Quotient… An Ode to a Bowl of Cereal

 Ode to a Bowl of Cereal

Cereal,
Not just any cereal,
A bowl of cereal.

Not just any bowl of cereal,
A pit crew, ready,
To fuel up the car,
For the big race

A claw game,
Descending upon tiny
Flotation devices.
Giving their bounty to
The lucky winner

Tiny stars floating in the
Milky Way.
Being harnessed by higher beings
As if picking fruit off
A tree,
But picking cereal off a
Cereal tree
They
All band together,
Soldiers mingling in a
Circular expanse.
Collaborating and conversing
With each other,
Waiting,
To see when they will be selected
To fulfill their duty,
And head to the front lines
For battle

 A simple
Bowl of cereal,
A morning ritual, practiced
By millions each day.
Completely underestimated,
But also essential
For everyone

-John Oliveira-

This poem was written by my nephew, a high school freshman. Thanks, John!

Photo credit

This makes me think… it’s all grace…

“I shall love You, O Lord, and return thanks to You and exalt Your Name because You have pardoned so many of my guilty acts. If my sins have melted away like ice, it is the work of Your grace and mercy. All the evil that I have not committed was likewise the work of Your grace. Was there any sin that I could not have committed, I who have loved evil with so light a heart? I confess that all my sins have been forgiven, both those that I committed as well as those that, with Your help, I did not commit.” (St. Augustine)

Read more: http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog/2014/03/14/examination-conscience#ixzz2wKcAmQMv

Welcome to my chaos, Jesus

Welcome to my chaos, Jesus

It’s been a difficult winter season here. No getting around that. And I’m not just talking about the cold and the snowfall. In some ways, that has added some beauty to the landscape, and frankly, the excuse to cocoon a bit. Just a bit, because I’ve been out straight as they say. To compensate I’ve have to let go of a few things in order to embrace whatever fire is burning in front of me. To that end, I’ve missed writing and working consistently, I’ve missed getting together with friends or experiencing restful downtimes, I’ve missed podcasting, I’ve missed walking, and I’ve missed what I call balance-in-my-life. Even my prayer life — the anchor of each day — has been getting shifted into new times and forms, though that’s not always a bad thing.

My heart has been broken over sadnesses within my family, my friends’ lives, and mounting pressures — some unavoidable and some self-inflicted. Thank God for the menopausal crying jags… they cleanse me when I least expect them! If you know me, you can laugh at that last thing. Being a woman is still a wonderful thing — and it’s a wonder that I can recognize this new me on some days! Haha!

I’m not griping or ranting as if I’m looking for pity or for sympathies. I’m just a beggar who knows where her bread comes from, and I’ve written about in my latest over at Patheos. I had one of those Jesus moments that I’ve been mulling over for quite some time.

Here’s some of that…

All I wanted was a minute’s peace.

No, that’s not accurate. All I wanted was world peace, or something akin in my own little corner of it. At the very least, I wanted the noise in the church to go away. I wanted peace and quiet and escape from all that burdened me.

The Christmas season was ebbing away. I closed my eyes to pray after communion at Mass, to adore the Presence of Jesus in that moment. I attempted to pour out my heart, to break free from my troubles, to lean in and let him restore me with his holy food.

Instead I was remarkably distracted.

Normally, in prayer, I can tune out what’s around me. This day my concentration proved inadequate to the distractions.

The church seemed chaotic. I could not escape the scratchy shuffling of communicants in line to receive. After a New England snowfall, the “snowmelt”—salt and sand that sticks to the bottom of shoes—makes a scraping, gritty contact with the floor tiles in our church.

It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Even the music distracted me; the cantor, Lord have mercy,was out of sync with the hymn.

Oh geez, I know I am pitiful as I nitpick others—after communion, no less! Lord have mercy… on me.

There’s the distinctive cry of a newborn baby, and a new momma trying all she can to console, to no avail. She’ll figure it out soon enough. She needs to be here as much as we need her to be here with her little one. And their small chaos jolts me back to where I am.

I refocus, this time on the other baby within my line of sight—the Babe in the manger—in all his poverty and humility; Jesus born into our chaos.

 Read it all. 

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