Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Things I want to remember

I saw this on Facebook today and it spoke to my heart. I think I'm going to memorize it.
“O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me forget myself entirely so to establish myself in you, unmovable and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing be able to trouble my peace or make me leave you, O my unchanging God, but may each minute bring me more deeply into your mystery! Grant my soul peace. Make it your heaven, your beloved dwelling and the place of your rest. May I never abandon you there, but may I be there, whole and entire, completely vigilant in my faith, entirely adoring, and wholly given over to your creative action. Amen."  
--Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity

Friday, April 5, 2013


Two weeks ago, I went to Long Island to spend some much-deserved time away with my other half.

Since we were approaching Holy Week, he brought me out to a nearby parish that was hosting a Lenten retreat experience called "Journey to the Cross."

The parish hall had been turned into a space of prayer, full of candles and music. The room was divided into 12 stations, each one depicting a particular event from the last week of Jesus' life. We blessed ourselves with holy water on the way in, and were greeted by a volunteer who told us to take as much time at each station as we liked. The room was open all day long, so we also had plenty of privacy and space.

The first wasn't actually about Jesus, but about us. Signs on the wall asked us to think about how we would spend our last week in life. There were postcards and pens on the table, and we silently sat down to write.

I exhaled hard. Even contemplating death sends me into a tailspin.

Still, I quieted my mind and pushed back the lump in my throat. What did I want?

I wanted a week full of family, faith, joy. I wanted to travel. I wanted to thank my parents for everything, especially the seeds of faith they planted in my childhood. I wanted to be with Jesus in Adoration.

I will fear nothing, because I know that I belong to the God who loves me. He has always cared for me, and He will never let me go. 

I stared at the little card and blinked back tears before writing the last line:

I want to leave this world in Brian's arms, and walk into His.


Later, the stations found us contemplating the Passion. We wrote a note to God on palms, tossed coins as the moneychangers in the Temple in repentance for our sins, washed our hands as a reminder of our redemption, ate bread as the Apostles did at the Last Supper.

The second half was darker: drinking straight vinegar from the "cup of suffering,"  writing our names on a kiss of betrayal, nailing our sins to a wooden cross.

But at the end we planted seeds, a sign of the Resurrection. Jesus waited for us in Adoration there, the floor covered with carpet, pillows and blankets.

I sat on the floor wrapped in a blanket inscribed with the words of the Serenity Prayer. Brian laid prostrate beside me. I counted my blessings and thanked God for each one. He has always given me exactly what I need. And He always would.


We sat at an Irish pub later that night, watching one of our friends play a classic rock gig. I sipped a White Russian and tried to savor every moment of these days as a "normal" couple ... I would go back home the next day. Back to distance, back to waiting, back to life without him by my side.


I startled at hearing his voice on the microphone. Our friend sat beside him and started to play the guitar. What was this about?

Internally I groaned. I hate attention, but bless his heart, the man is not shy about showing his love for me. I did my best to focus on the words as he sang, glad for the gesture but wondering why he would do such a thing.

Baby, can you answer this question for me? 
When did God seem to find the time to make you so perfectly?
And baby, I think we're much more than maybe, 
So what's the point in wasting all this time? 
We've got all our lives to see. 

I listened closely, the musician in me racking my brain to figure out what song this was, but I'd never heard it before. It was hard to focus. Unbridled, reckless joy rolled off of him in waves, and I couldn't help but feel emotional knowing it was over me.

The song was almost over. I kicked my feet, still trying to shake off my bashfulness at the public display of affection.

Baby, can you answer one last question for me?
'Cause I've had this on my mind
And I think it's time to see.

"Oh, my God," I said aloud, at once flushed and freezing. I couldn't be. It couldn't be. But as he watched my face and grinned from ear to ear, I couldn't help but beam back at him. I knew. And he knew I knew.

So will you...

I will forever remember him walking back to our table as he sang, microphone in one hand, the other in his pocket.

Will you...

He stood in front of me, then knelt before me, offering a delicate ring. Sparkling but simple, not glitzy. Elegant. Just my style. Perfect.

He was perfect for me.

Marry me?

I didn't hesitate.

"Yes I will."


Now, we plan "we." I look at the diamond on my left hand and wonder if this is all real. You couldn't have told me two years ago when I met him that I would marry Brian.

But God has mapped our steps. Over and over again He has pointed us toward each other, crossed our paths, even given me a second chance when I turned him down once before.

"All things work for the good of those who love Him..."

Our life together will be a living witness of His love.

We can't wait. Please pray for us.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


It takes a lot to disrupt the rhythm of work at my newsroom. We are a daily newspaper, and for most of the reporters, deadline is always looming.

But on a Wednesday afternoon three weeks ago, white smoke from the Sistine Chapel brought our workday to a standstill.

I am the only Catholic in the newsroom, and some of the editors began to pepper me with questions: how long until we know? What are the odds it'll be an American? Who are some of the front-runners?

I told them what I knew, then spent the next 20 minutes with my other half on the phone, glued to both the TV and my computer. Whenever something big happens in the news, I immerse myself in social media. It's an incredible way to gauge the world's pulse. But I digress.

Habemus papam!

Finally. Finally the Chair of Peter was filled. The uncertainty and waiting were behind us now.

I remember the first time I heard the name Jorge Bergoglio. "What?" I asked aloud, as if the cardinal making the announcement would repeat it for me. "Who is that?"

Of all the names I had read and studied since the announcement of Pope Benedict's resignation a month before, Bergoglio's wasn't one. He was brand new to me and, judging by the muted reaction from the crowd, I wasn't alone.

But like many, in the scramble to learn as much as I could as fast as I could, I grew to like him.

And when the smiling, easygoing Pope Francis bowed before the crowd in St. Peter's Square to ask for their prayers, my heart swelled with hope.

In the days immediately following his election, just about everyone buzzed about this gentle, but uncompromising Jesuit from Buenos Aires. And to my great surprise, the reaction was overwhelmingly positive, even among those in my life who are fallen away or non-Catholic.

He had reached them already with his unassuming acts of love.

Only three weeks into his papacy now, Francis is still causing ripples across the Church and the rest of the world. Some are incredulous at his unprecedented break with (small "t") tradition. Some are hopeful it means the Church will change her teaching. Others are convinced he will reverse much of the good accomplished by Benedict.

I try to ignore all that. What I know for sure is that the Holy Spirit will always protect the Church, whether Francis succeeds or fails.

But from what I've seen so far, I believe God has given us just the man we need right now. I say to the doubters what he said to us just a few days ago: "Don't let anyone rob you of hope."

I won't.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Faith and Feelings

Happy Easter! I come to the end of the day as I do every year: relieved, at peace, and full of amazement that I am sustained by God's grace.

This Lent was a challenge in ways I never expected. I've spent the entire season tending to my health, and the demands of recovery often caused serious distractions in my prayer life.

Now that I'm finally beginning to recover, I confess that part of me wants a second chance at Lent, another shot to "do it right."  At the same time, though, I was confident that there would still be lessons to learn.

The biggest lesson of all came during the Triduum this week.

Recently, during a discussion with my deacon's wife, I was asked to confront my feelings surrounding death and the afterlife. Both of these are difficult subjects for me — I've struggled with an intense fear of dying since I was very small, and the idea of an afterlife is perhaps the most trying on my faith. That conversation, coupled with my own contemplation in the following days, prompted a visit from my old friend Doubt.

But I've walked this road so many times that it almost doesn't hurt anymore. Almost.

At the Good Friday service, I found myself feeling desensitized by the Passion. It was all so long ago, and we are so far removed from it now. Can we trust what we've been told? Do I really believe all this?

I cried as we knelt for Communion. There are days when I feel like I have no faith, that I'm living a lie and shouldn't really be there at all if I don't feel it ring true in my soul.

But as I walked up to receive, it hit me.

I might not have warm fuzzies of belief in my heart or a bedrock certainty of God's existence, but I do have the desire to believe. I'm very far from perfect, but that's not going to stop me from showing up and living out my life trying to love like Jesus. God looks at our intentions, especially in our struggles.

Faith, like love, is a decision that we have to make every day. It's not the consolation. I was mistaking faith for feelings.

And I may not always have belief, but I've learned that I really do have faith, after all. That is something to rejoice in this Easter season.