Learn more about Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious or order a signed copy!

This makes me think… God is way bigger than the devil…

God is infinitely more powerful than the Devil and his hosts. So why doesn’t God prevent them from their evildoing on planet earth? We could ask a similar question about why God doesn’t stop human beings from committing wicked deeds. Evil’s continuing presence among us is a mystery we can’t fully figure out in this life.

Nevertheless, we can say this much: God allows evil because He’s powerful enough to bring out of even the greatest evil a much greater good.

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ provides a vivid illustration of this reality. According to the Gospel, when “Satan entered Judas,” one of the twelve Apostles, he went out to betray Jesus (see Luke 22:3-14). So the worst evil we can imagine — the torture and murder of God’s innocent Son — occurred through the Devil’s influence.

Yet the triumph of the empty tomb transformed the horror of the Cross. Satan was thwarted. When Jesus rose from the dead, He displayed God’s power to bring out of the greatest of evils an even greater good: the world’s redemption.

Meanwhile, our days in this life provide a season for God to test, purify, strengthen, and perfect us, making us fit to live with Him forever in heaven. To that end, demons serve as useful tools for Him as they constantly test us by tempting us, so that we become purer and stronger and closer to perfection every time we resist temptation.

In this sense, we might say, quoting St Augustine: “As an artist, God makes use even of the Devil.”

– Paul Thigpen-

Manual for Spiritual Warfare, TAN books, 2014.

I’m a guest at the WINE blog today… talking about wine and music and wisdom

I’m a guest at the WINE blog today… talking about wine and music and wisdom

A little proverb in the book of Sirach gets me started…

“Wine and music gladden the heart, but the love of wisdom is better than both.”
—Sirach 40:20

Ah, wine and music! Two of my favorite things! Yet the proverb from Sirach offers much to consider as we examine the love of wisdom.

The sound of a cork pop remains a signal to my heart that life is good. The influence from the French side of my family taught me the beauty of wine on the table. I grew up a wine drinker and to this day, it is a joy to shop for wine, to taste new labels, to pair a special vintage with a good meal. Even the delicate nature of wine glasses signals to us that we must handle wine with care, savor its bouquet, and drink temperately. Every glass of wine was years in the making. It ought be respected and consumed with gratitude.

Wine is an occasion waiting to happen; through it we toast the gift of family, we honor friends, and celebrate milestones. For Catholics, we intuit the wisdom of Jesus in bringing us together for the Eucharistic meal whereby he shares his very self under the guise of bread and wine. That knowledge alone elevates our notion of wine as a gift that must be shared with love.

I also grew up a music lover and a musician. For me, music is a way to sing, to dance, and to pray. Music moves us, not only to sing and dance, but it moves the heart.

I’ve seen the right choice of music change someone’s day. I’ve been privileged to choose and sing music at weddings where the memories of those songs will last a lifetime. Music offers a soundtrack to some of the most important moments of our lives. Music is the language of the heart.

Wine plus music equals a celebration! From simplest gathering to the more elaborate events—whether an intimate gathering for two, a party with friends, or a wedding reception—wine and music are complementary sensory gifts that make life better, joyous even!

Yet, Sirach reminds us, even as we find the gifts of wine and music enjoyable and inspiring … “the love of wisdom is better than both.” Why might this be?

Read the rest at the WINE blog.


(WINE = Women In the New Evangelization)

WINE has many events throughout the year, mostly in Minnesota, although its mission is growing.

The 2016 Women’s Conference Feb 6th

The Italy tour – June 2016

Splinter from the Cross – this little poem never ceases to inspire me

Splinter from the Cross IMG_3401

Little headaches, little heartaches
Little griefs of every day.
Little trials and vexations,
How they throng around our way!
One great cross, immense and heavy,
so it seems to our weak will,
Might be borne with resignation,
But these many small ones kill.
Yet all life is formed of small things,
Little leaves, make up the trees,
Many tiny drops of water
Blending, make the mighty seas.
Let us not then by impatience
Mar the beauty of the whole,
But for love of Jesus bear all
In the silence of our soul.
Asking Him for grace sufficient
To sustain us through each loss,
And to treasure each small offering
As a splinter from His Cross.

– Author Unknown –

Today is the feast of the Triumph of the Cross, as I grew up calling it. Today it is the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. But to my meager mind, if you do not understand what a triumph this is, you will never know how to exalt in the cross.

A couple years back I wrote a series of posts related to this theme. 

This makes me think… Jesus is the friend who always has the time…

“There is always a way open to each of the faithful: the way of prayer. Whoever sincerely believes the words “Ask and you shall receive” is given consolation and courage to persevere in every need. Even if it is not the immediate help which, to some extent, the person conceives of and desires, help does come.

For every Catholic there lies ready an immeasurable treasure: the proximity of the Lord in the holy sacrifice and in the most holy sacrament of the altar. Whoever is imbued with a lively faith in Christ present in the tabernacle, whoever knows that a friend awaits here constantly – always with the time, patience, and sympathy to listen to complaints, petitions, and problems, with counsel and help in all things – this person cannot remain desolate and forsaken even under the greatest difficulties. He always has a refuge where quietude and peace can again be found.”

Edith Stein, Edith Stein, Collected Works II, Essays on Women

(Later known as St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)

Melanie Rigney’s Blessed-Are-You Blog Tour Finishes Here! “Blessed are the meek…”

Melanie Rigney’s Blessed-Are-You Blog Tour Finishes Here! “Blessed are the meek…”


Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 4.09.42 PMThis is the final stop of the 8-beatitude blog tour for Melanie Rigney’s latest book, Blessed Are You: Finding Inspiration from our sisters in faith!

This book is available today for you to browse or purchase through this link: Blessed Are You!

Franciscan Media summarizes the book this way…

Melanie Rigney uses stories of the saints, our sisters in faith, to help readers grow in their spiritual lives. Some of these saints are familiar—Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, Bernadette of Lourdes, Elizabeth Ann Seton—while others are not so well known—Maria Karlowska, Claudine Thevenet, Josephine Bakhita, Margaret Flesch. They come from different places and different times, creating an intimate portrait of the universal Church. Yet the lives of each of these women illustrate the qualities of the Beatitudes—what the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls “the heart of Jesus’s preaching” (1716)—in a down-to-earth and human way. Through the lives of these exemplary women saints and the qualities they espouse—meekness, mourning, poverty of spirit, justice, mercy, purity of heart, peace, righteousness—women will find ways to live more fully the Gospel values of Christian life.

Melanie Rigney invited me to write the foreword for this book and I gratefully accepted. Her book is a fantastic mix of lessons from the beatitudes of Jesus and the inspirational lives of saints who live them.

Beatitudes = Being like Jesus.

This book is a call for all of us to live the beatitudes – to know them and love them.

Here’s a little bit from the foreword I wrote:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church declares: “the Beatitudes depict the countenance of Jesus Christ and portray his charity.”

To live the Beatitudes is to be like Jesus, to reflect his countenance, and to be his charity in the world. Picture Jesus’ face, and his example, in each of the Beatitudes as you read them in Blessed are You. The real blessing will come when you can picture your own face, and your faithful example, following Jesus! It’s challenging, yet rewarding. What Melanie Rigney has done in this book is demonstrate the powerful countenance of Jesus that comes through the faces of faith-filled women, chapter by chapter, beatitude by beatitude. So take notes on the women who inspire you. More than famous list of proverbs, the Beatitudes are paradoxical promises – hope in the midst of tribulation — and a response to the holy desire for happiness that God has placed within our hearts. Memorize them and make them your own.

Meekness matters!

Today, on this final leg of the blog tour, we focus on the beatitude meekness.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

When I was growing up I was a bit rambunctious. I frequently had parents and neighbors asking, “why are you so loud?” I had not yet realized the gentility needed for the deep and booming voice God had given me. You could say that it took a while before meekness was on my youthful radar. In time I learned that meekness is one of the qualities that Jesus describes as a key to happiness in Christian life, and indeed, meekness properly asserted brings rewards from God.

Melanie Rigney writes… “In today’s world, meek gets a bad rap. We link it to words like submissive and deferential, words that might make for a deeper relationship with God in theory but that make us uncomfortable to say, let alone consider using as guideposts in our relationships with others here on earth. We want to be strong, empowered, confident, successful, popular—not meek, for goodness sake!

The thing is, we become all of those things when we embrace meekness and humility.”

How true!

Rigney’s book shows that meekness is what Jesus (who was all powerful, being God himself) ultimately demonstrated when he humbled himself in the Garden of Gethsemani at the beginning his passion. He was humble to God’s sovereign will for his human life. Meekness was also a quality of Mary — she humbly yet confidently submitted her request to Jesus at Cana when the wine ran out. Jesus went on to perform his first of many miracles at his mother’s request.

Meekness, though it rhymes with weakness, is anything but. Meekness waits on God. Meekness trusts God implicitly. Meekness lets God lead.

One aspect that I love about Blessed Are You is its liberal use of quotes from the saints. Among those mentioned in this chapter are two of my favorites saints — Gianna Beretta Molla and Thérèse of Lisieux. I’ve included their prayerful quotes for our edification.

“O Jesus, I promise to submit myself to all that you permit to happen to me. Only make me know your will.”
St. Gianna Beretta Molla

“… Dear Lord, Thou knowest my weakness. Each morning I resolve to be humble, and in the evening I recognize that I have often been guilty of pride. The sight of these faults tempts me to discouragement; yet I know that discouragement is itself but a form of pride. I wish, therefore, O my God, to build all my trust upon Thee. As Thou canst do all things, deign to implant in my soul this virtue which I desire, and to obtain it from Thy Infinite Mercy, I will often say to Thee: ‘Jesus, Meek and Humble of Heart, make my heart like unto Thine.’”
St Thérèse of Lisieux

Find out more about Melanie Rigney

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 1.35.18 PMCatch the earlier dates of the Blessed Are You blog tour — click the links below:

Week One

Week Two

Find a conversation with Melanie and myself about The Sisterhood of the Saints, a previous book, on Among Women.

Find Melanie’s posts at Your Daily Tripod.

Go to MelanieRigney.com.



This makes me think… entering into the place where Jesus is…

Not to know Scripture is not to know Jesus, Saint Jerome tells us. And we know Christ only if we are conversant with the words that are the words of God. Scripture tells us how such a oneness with Christ, such a penetration to the center, is to be achieved in practice. It tells us that faith is not something remote from us, something that would require us to engage in great research, or, perhaps, to cross an ocean or make an expedition into the depths of the earth. It speaks to us of what is near. The word is in your heart. You have only to enter into your own heart and you will find it there. Jesus is Lord, Jesus is risen. In these words Paul identifies the two confessional formulas of the Church, which form the heart of our confession of faith. He says: When you enter into your heart, you enter into the place where Jesus is, and vice versa you enter into your heart only when you do not simply hide yourself in yourself but co-believe with the faith of the living Church. In co-believing with the faith of the living Church, in letting yourself be carried along by it, even though many individual teachings continue to be obscure, you are hidden in the communality of the faith and so remain faithful to it, communicate with it. We read Holy Scripture as we should, from its center, from its inner unity, only when we read it in harmony with the faith of the Church.

From: L’Osservatore Romano 13, no. 8 (1983), p. 12

 Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans., I. Grassl, Ed.) (p. 269). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

I’m over at the WINE Blog… talking about the fantastic… the infinite…

I’m over at the WINE Blog… talking about the fantastic… the infinite…

Women In the New Evangelization = that’s WINE!

I’m happy to be contributing to their blog this week!

Catholics believe in the fantastic, the miraculous, and the infinite!

God. Love. Forgiveness. Friendship. Heaven.

Friendship with God of the universe! Joy for eternity!

Truly, this is the stuff of celebration!

I’m a wine drinker – and a wine lover! One of my favorite sounds is the hearing the pop signaling the release of a cork from a bottle. It’s a cue for celebration – sometimes lavish and sometimes simple! Our earthly celebrations bring meaning to life.

All of our family’s most important celebratory moments happen in the context of good meals with wine – sacraments, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, job promotions, engagements, marriages, victories large and small. And there is a prayer of blessing for each occasion! Besides the food and drink, we also discover the blessing in the love of the people gathered there. In these simple earthly rituals we find nourishment and refreshment, and the presence of hope and love.

It is no wonder that Jesus desired to bring us his love in a way that would be a daily reminder of the reality of his true presence – a way to miraculously make his sacrificial love accessible and experiential.

With his friends, at the Last Supper, Jesus offered his very self through the ancient Jewish blessings of bread and wine…

Read it all. 


In Napa CA, last fall.

This makes me think… God’s desire is to be loved rather than feared.

I appeal to you by the mercy of God. This appeal is made by Paul, or rather, it is made by God through Paul, because of God’s desire to be loved rather than feared, to be a father rather than a Lord. God appeals to us in his mercy to avoid having to punish us in his severity.

Listen to the Lord’s appeal: In me, I want you to see your own body, your members, your heart, your bones, your blood. You may fear what is divine, but why not love what is human? You may run away from me as the Lord, but why not run to me as your father? Perhaps you are filled with shame for causing my bitter passion. Do not be afraid. This cross inflicts a mortal injury, not on me, but on death. These nails no longer pain me, but only deepen your love for me. I do not cry out because of these wounds, but through them I draw you into my heart. My body was stretched on the cross as a symbol, not of how much I suffered, but of my all-embracing love. I count it no loss to shed my blood: it is the price I have paid for your ransom. Come, then, return to me and learn to know me as your father, who repays good for evil, love for injury, and boundless charity for piercing wounds.

From a sermon by Saint Peter Chrysologus, bishop, 5th century.