Can we still find refuge in the Catholic Church?


The image is a pelican, a mother whose children will starve, so with her beak, she opens her breast and allows them to drink from her blood, that they may survive.


Image result for pelican stained glass


In the selflessness of a mother, Christ’s heart is pierced on the cross and, pouring his blood out for us, he saves our lives.


Image result for christ cross blood chalice


This sacrifice continues in the mass. “For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink…Do this in memory of memory…” We must not ignore those words.


Image result for christ crucified chalice mass


Since July, I have felt at odds with the men on the altar. I heard nothing. From across the country, priests were speaking out. Women in Facebook groups shared how their priests preached on the crisis. Hours of reparation were scheduled. But not here. One parish here, but not where I attend.

We are split between two parishes. One did not even include the statements from the bishop in their bulletin. No mention. No words. Happy-go-lucky music. Was it even happening? Is it business as usual while the faithful who are up on Church news feel broken, alone, lost, abandoned by their shepherds to the thieves who disguise themselves as shepherds?

I heard a priest could choose to dress in black on such an occasion as this. Sackcloth and ashes.

Fed up, I contacted a priest who I knew had preached on the crisis. And by preaching, I don’t mean a passing comment for a few words connecting what he is preaching on to the news and back to the topic at hand.


No, I mean it was the focus.


They have no excuse because the readings have been all about the failure of the shepherds who choose to shepherd themselves. Even now, Augustine’s sermons on pastors fill the Office of Readings.

We left town for the day to the hills of Sonora, to mass at St. Patrick’s were a pipe organ fills the back wall, a few miles from Indgeny reserve, our destination for the afternoon. There were saw Fr. Sam. He looked deeply into the eyes of those he passed by. He bends down a little to do so. As his gaze grazes the congregation, he stops from time to time. He sees them.

And he preaches to them, to us.

In the reading, he said Christ exposes a great error we fall into, to think we can adapt God’s will to our will. He points out Peter being rebuked publicly by Christ, “get behind me Satan.” It wasn’t private, it wasn’t soft, it was public, it was telling. He pointed out that Peter went onto become Pope. The pope is infallible on the teachings of morals and doctrine, but he can still make mistakes, still make grave errors. We have seen it in history, we are seeing it now.

It doesn’t mean the Church has failed.

The exposure to the light is good. We need that.

He said all that…and more.


I felt seen. I felt heard. For over two months I’ve put my heart into the effort to feel it is not us (the laypeople) against them (the establishment of men either committing crimes or men afraid to rock the boat by speaking the truth, by preaching God’s word). I have felt desperate to hear this word, desperate to hear from the representatives of Christ, in person.

Last week reeling, this week refuge.

Reeling and Recentering

I’m reeling this morning. I am back to listening to the Memento Mori playlist on spotify because I live generally close to the edge and every now and I get pushed off.

This morning it was the homily. Not what the priest said. He said very nice things, exhortations and whatnot. It was what he chose not to say. That he encouraged us to point the finger to ourselves, address our consciences, not treat the powerful better than the little guy. In between the gaps, I raged, desperate for him to say, “and your shepherds have failed at this, but a lot of us are trying.”

The quote from St. Catherine of Siena travels around Facebook, “We’ve had enough of exhortations to be silent! Cry out with a hundred thousand tongues. I see that the world is rotten because of silence.”




I am home now; I have to refocus. I cannot walk around in a rage all day. I can send off my emails, schedule to meet with a priest, who is himself speaking out, to balance my perspective and focus on what is closest to me.

They say to think of things you’re grateful. I’m going to review the photos from the week. The world seems to be falling down around us, but the good things remain, even in this crisis. I learned that as my child was pumped full of antibiotics in his early life and when we buried our daughter. I can remember now, even as I try to understand how men can be so evil.


At the fullness of time, God created a woman, born without sin, knowing this woman, full of grace, would allow him to work his wonders of her life and, subsequently, change the world.

On September 8 we celebrated the Birth of Mary.

I suppose because birthday days matters around here, we celebrate her’s too.

This year I made a Sour Cream Coffee Cake.




And it actually turned out.




And we honored our Queen, queen because she is the mother to the King of the Universe.




That event became the unofficial beginning of fall in our home.




Pumpkins from the garden.






Sunflowers from the garden.




The return of the “Beatus Autumnum” which means Blessed Fall.




I experiment with this concept of “selfies,” aka, the self-portrait. This might sum up life right now.




Some photographs are better blurry than in focus. I’ll take it. My children delighted in the enormous balloon acquired following Edible Extravaganza.




This is what matters. I have to sort out the mess of my heart. In the meantime, there is laundry to fold, smiles to savor and little people to tend to.

I’ll take that, too.



Links to understand this Church Crisis

What a week and a half it has been. I do not know what it looks like if you only read the secular press. I do not know what it looks like for non-Catholic Christians. I do not even wholly know what it looks like for Catholics who are not plugged into Catholic social media.


Photo by Ruth Gledhill on Unsplash


But I know this: it has been one of the wildest two weeks I have experienced in the church.

Part of it started in June, with McCarrick sexually harassing and abusing seminaries yet somehow still rising in the ranks.

This did not hit the secular news. It was actually Catholic journalists who uncovered it, brought it to life and blew it open. Now, he is stripped of his title and confined.

But he never should have gotten as far as he did.

The scandal goes deeper than the creepiness of pederasty (like we were ancient Greeks or something). These were supposed to be our shepherds, our fathers, they were supposed to be men of God.


And they failed.


Those seminaries were supposed to be houses of formation, not distortion, spiritual hermitages where men could deepen their faith, discern their vocation and delve into the mysteries of the Church’s teaching preparing them for the pastoral care of the people of God.

Instead, it destroyed them.


Was it everywhere? I knew of the failings of my own diocese (we are bankrupt), but I held onto this hope that elsewhere in the world there were priests and bishops who not only love the Church but were courageous enough to talk about and it takes the risks God calls us to take.

I wrote the priests from the podcast, “Catholic Stuff You Should Know.” The priest who responded reassured me that it was not as widespread as it seems, that it was not the norm, and cautioned me in the direction my heart would take in sorting through this mess.


Well, the onslaught continued. The Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report revealed the heinous crimes of clergy and Fr. Dwight Longenecker, with typical insight and concise clarity posted “Cardinal Whirl Resigns.”

The idea that bishops who failed would resign and commit themselves to prayer, penance, and service of the least of our brothers, whispered into my heart what ought to be. This ought to be the spirit of our leaders.


Those priests on “Catholic Stuff” took up the call from their listeners and had a podcast (THE SCANDAL AND THE SCOURING) on the subject. I needed this. I needed to hear from the men of the cloth saying they are heartbroken. Otherwise, it feels very much like we are on the outside and alone, abandoned by our shepherds, left to the wolves of the world on one side and their own distorted sexual vision on the other.


Fr. Longenecker, less humorously, more practically made a list of “What the Bishops Should do…


By this time, social media had erupted. Female Catholic bloggers began #sackclothandashes calling for a time of reparation, like another Lent, to beg God for mercy on our Church and to bring these men back into the light of grace that they may do their duty in justice. From August 22 to Michaelmas, September 29, we would pray, fast and make sacrifice for reparation.

This is the John Paul II generation, taught we could do great things, taught to love the Church and love her shepherds. We are in tears, in rage, in astonishment, but instead of attacking Mother Church, we dove deeper into her traditions, looking for answers, knowing it was these men who were failing the Church, not the Church failing us.

The weekend brought an even more wild wave of news:

Ex-nuncio accuses Pope Francis of failing to act on McCarrick’s abuse reports

And the Pope responded on the plane: ‘I will not say a single word’ on Vigano’s allegations of cover-up.


We ask ourselves, WHAT FRANCIS KNEW.

We were not surprised to see California produced more corruption with the retiring bishop of San Jose planning to move in a 5-bedroom 2.3 million dollar house upon retirement. Following the heroic trend, he changed plans once the media caught wind of it. We would, perhaps, prefer to see those “leaders” consider doing the right thing before they’ve been caught, you know, because it is

the right thing to do.


There were great articles about how this could happen, how the bishops could become so far removed from the real world to perceive themselves above the law of God. Mass readings called out bad shepherds, pasturing themselves, Jeremiah lamented.

And out of the ashes, Fr. Longenecker wrote, THE COMING CATHOLIC RENEWAL AND THE TREE OF GONDOR.

Something could happen. Something could change. But then Fr. Longenecker gave us a dose of reality. As much as we want these bishops to resign and Pope Francis to tell us what he knew, he likely won’t, they won’t. Instead of speaking truth, Francis will likely just remain silent, as he did with the dubia, when faithful Catholics wanted to know what he meant. He refused to clarify.  And awful, infuriating and likely accurate prediction.


It is a marvel that I could end this week feeling inspired and hopeful, but I do.

That bit of magic came from Al Kresta, who explored in depth what we know and what we do not know on his radio program, “Kresta in the Afternoon.” Kresta is a journalist and as a journalist, he takes a different approach. He interviews journalists. It was the journalists who first brought this to light and who will not let it rest, even as Francis refuses to tell us the truth.


Kresta in the Afternoon – August 27, 2018 – Hour 1

Kresta in the Afternoon – August 27, 2018 – Hour 2

Kresta in the Afternoon – August 28, 2018 – Hour 1

Kresta in the Afternoon – August 28, 2018 – Hour 2

Kresta in the Afternoon – August 29, 2018 – Hour 1

Kresta in the Afternoon – August 29, 2018 – Hour 2


I invite you to listen for yourself. As the days moved forward, Kresta comes to the belief that like the great crises in the Church, occurring approximately every 500 years, this will be another. He calls it the era of sexual heresy.

The root of this evil grew in denying the Church’s authority in sexual morality. A personal denial, then a refusal to teach her teachings, a refusal to counsel others to follow her teachings, then a refusal to follow her teachings. The teachings on sexual morality stem from a belief in the goodness of God’s creation and that one must never use another person. The sexual act is to be one of total self-gift, committed in marriage, unitive and procreative. When it becomes about me, use, or merely pleasure, all kinds of distortion can come into play, reaching, ultimately, at the extreme ends, the disregard of the other person in rape or abuse.

Don’t believe me or want to know more where I’m getting this stuff? Read Humanae Vitae.


There is a lot more to be said but this post has gone on long enough.

I am praying for the victims. I am praying for the truth to be revealed. I want to see those filing cabinets wide open. Let every last crime come to light. Only then, can our Church be purified and renewed.


Photo by Linus Sandvide on Unsplash

Facing the Brokenness: Thoughts on the crisis

This is a heartbreaking time to be a Catholic. The brokenness of the institutional Church is broken open. I am thankful it is that the truth may be known. When this happened before in 2002, I was too young to be plugged into the news cycle. We did not have social media. We have it now. My online peers and mentors are speaking out. There must be change and not just talking points.



What are we to do when we discover and rediscover the brokenness of our families, our community or the world around us?

We left behind the old life to commit to the new. For some, this represented a significant break from their history and making considerable sacrifices in a new way of living. When we first fall in love, we see only the good. This is the romance or colloquially called the honeymoon stage. One might say we see only what matters. Alice von Hildebrand, in her book titled “Letters to a Young Bride” writes that this vision of the person (which can be applied to the communities and organizations we love) is a vision to help sustain us when this next phase kicks in.

Disillusionment is the loss of the illusion, the honeymoon period of which we saw only the virtues. It is celebrating National Night Out before reading the griping on It is knowing the beliefs of a Church or the mission of a non-profit before encountering the mess of a bureaucracy. It is realizing how long the man goes before clipping his toenails. All of this comes to light gradually. In the eye of the beholder, the flaws grow and grow. One may resist seeing them, fight them, but ultimately, to continue the relationship, one must learn to separate the flaws that are normal human imperfections and the sins that must be left behind.

Because I love you, I accept that you are more forgetful than me.

Because I care about this mission, I will jump through these hoops to get approval for my project.

But I will never, ever let you lay a hand on me.

I will not tolerate being spoken to in that way.

If I am employed, I expect to be paid for my work.

You must follow the law.

And if I really loved the thing or person I thought I did in the first stage, if I can remember how this commitment first came to be, then it is possible for me to decide, now, with eye wide open, if this person or organization is worth fighting for.


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


Vices plague communities in ways similar to how they plague people. The person I loved is more than that vice and if I love him then I will want to see him restored to the person I know him to be.

But if I am in danger I will get out and go somewhere safe. We cannot help a person or an organization continue maltreatment and call that being faithful to it.

Creating safe boundaries is another way of helping a person move through the stages of change to sobriety from these grave faults. Staying in a situation when you are in danger does nothing to help that person. Separation does not have to mean divorce from the first commitment. You are better than the way you are hurting me. By not allowing you to hurt me, I am helping you return to the person I know you to be. By creating safe boundaries, I am reminding you of the accountability to which you are called.

There are many paths through the disillusionment stage. We accept our personality differences, we accept that weaknesses exist, we exhort without nagging the need for growth. When both parties are willing to grow and acknowledge their faults, the relationship can move into the third stage of a mature, stable love and commitment. Or it will dissolve, either internally or externally.

What did we know in that first stage? There will be clues along the way to know if this thing is worth fighting for. Then I will spend my life loving you enough to call and help you to become what you have always been meant to be.

While this is not the place for deep dive into the news surrounding the Catholic Church, I encourage those who want to learn more to go to




Weekend Links 9.2.17

Eleven endnotes to enlighten your off-time.

‘Tis the Season:

It’s my favorite time of year! Time to watch the marketing frenzy, time to be told in order to celebrate we must spend, time to see American resent that retail worker must work on Thanksgiving but do not shed a tear over movie theater staff or police officers, time for Christian get up in arms about the commercialism of Christmas while they themselves go to just one mass on Christmas and deck their halls with Pottery Barn. Where is the medieval spirit?

  1. For those of us who delight in material gift giving (damn Love Languages) check out what you can buy from religious orders before you shop at Target.
  2. Halloween products are out at the Dollar Tree and Raley’s. In the spirit of the holiday creep, enjoy this article defining another animal symbol. Your way through Medieval art and Halloween decor.

Now, the less light-hearted…

On or against religion:

Wikipedia defines iconoclasm as “the social belief in the importance of the destruction of usually religious icons and other images or monuments, most frequently for religious or political reasons.”

Merriam-Webster defines it as “the doctrine, practice, or attitude of an iconoclast.” So helpful, iconoclast is defined as

  • a person who destroys religious images or opposes their veneration

  • a person who attacks settled beliefs or institutions

  1. New Advent’s Catholic encyclopedia will tell you the history of iconoclastic persecutions in the Catholic Church. If salvation history teaches us anything about how things connect in time, it is worth understanding the history of iconoclasm from new Pharoah’s obliterating the images of their predecessors, to religious persecution to this modern political ideological warfare. Who are the victims in each case?
  2. Lately, we see symbols associated with racism or sexism being toppled in public parks, and even, less dramatically, in Catholic schools.

Some symbols should go, I agree. But rational thought is required to determine which ones. Teach required to demonstrate the value of others. Why we have a Harvest Goddess in Turlock but the Ten Commandments removed defies understanding. Some times I think our society is more comfortable with pagan images because they do not believe in them, whereas their heart strings tug with guilt at Christian symbols they wish to dismiss.

3. We have a tendency to reduce people to symbols. Thus the boy who wore the gray becomes a symbol of racism. If racism must be overcome, symbols honor racism must be destroyed. Along with that, we blot out our history and dishonor those who were just doing their best. We close our ears at hearing the other person’s story. This modern iconoclasm is disturbing to behold.


On earth:

  1. We are praying for the people in Texas and this devastating hurricane. With each tragedy, thanks to social media (which is not obsessed with Trump like mainstream media), we can hear stories of heroism. Here is one such story in the water with a Catholic priest doing his duty. Mothers do not stop mothering, priests do not stop the sacraments. This Catholic priest fulfills the call during Hurricane Harvey. Beautiful!
  2. Other stories in the past of heroes doing heroic things. Heroes are not defined by vocation or gender. This article tells the story of a group of nuns giving their lives to save children.
  3. I had hoped to find a collection of photos from the eclipse like this. Amazing!

On Relationships

  1. When people argue they will not have more children because they desire to give a greater share of resources to the one or two children they have, I wonder if they are thinking of the big picture? What happens when the parents are aging and the care falls on one grown child’s shoulders? What else is this child missing out that other generations may have taken for granted? (These thoughts circle around those who chose, not those for whom there has not been a choice). This article in praise of cousins would be great except modern mobility spreads families to greater distances. If the greatest generation has a greater number of kids, then their children have the trendy number (1-3), and then generation X doesn’t marry or marries but has no children, you end up with no cousins at all.
  2. This piece sums up my experience of how I need to relate deeply to people or not at all. Growing up, I never knew there were so many other deep women in the world. I am finding them these days thanks to the internet and a great blogging/podcast community.
  3. Lastly, be patient! It is hard but think of intentional waiting as training muscles, to prepare you for the things we cannot control.

Weekend Links 8.28.17

Twelve tidbits to tide you over till tomorrow.

On Family and Community:

  1. The American virtues of autonomy and usefulness poison the sense of duty in the family to care for each other. If I must always take care of myself, I deny my family members their duty to care for me. That duty makes us better people. I try to remind myself of this when I feel I burden others with our family’s unavoidable needs. Gilbert Meilaender puts it well here from First Things archives.
    Giving women credit that they can make choices. We are not just a bundle of “twitching nerves.” That this fertility awareness method is mainstream is terrific.
  2. Community networks and organizations, like the local parish, helped mitigate the problems of age segregation highlighted in this article on youth culture because children were naturally around adults, teenagers with kids, kids with elderly. The more we separate, individuals may feel understood and better fulfilled, but there must be variety.
  3. Wouldn’t hurt for us to keep perspective about why we do the parenting things we do, like first-birthday parties. I wished we could have done something for my son, Peter’s birthday. It was a miracle he made it that far. But I was so burnt our keeping the other family traditions alive, we did not do a thing. And that’s okay.
  4. This woman: her writing is amazing, her story is amazing, she has been an inspiration and source of her. Her posts following the births and deaths of her twin girls gave us the courage to face our daughter’s birth. Here she writes about what she carries with her.
  5. Peter’s little guts are in a study right now, different goals as this, but just as amazing.
  6. Our family is making plans! Want to journey with us to Detroit to pray for our son?

On the Church:

  1. One of my favorite saints is St. Francis de Sales. Only after I met him and loved him through reading Introduction to a Devout Life did I learn he is the patron saint of writers.
  2. The Church will always offend someone because she is charged with declaring what is right and wrong. Even speaking with as much kindness as possible, the only way to not offend anyone, is to stop talking.

On Culture and Education:

  1. I hope there are newer films/shows out there that would benefit girls than this list presents (as these are mostly older), but I must say, I love many of the movies on this list for girls.
  2. Some good advice for any graduate student. I think it applies to us lifelong learners as well.
  3. Here is an article on The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis. In high school, I argued with a friend over what order one should read the Chronicles of Naria, whether in order of publication or the order of the story sequence. I cannot remember what side of the argument I was on, I often argued ignorantly in those days. This author is on the side of allowing the story to unfold as Lewis intended it, with The Magician’s Nephew coming first. Allowing authors to lead us through the story. There is something to be said for trusting the author to lead you through a story. If we trusted rather than deconstructed, maybe authors like Arther Golden would not have found it necessary to present his historical fiction, Memoirs of a Geisha, as an autobiography.
  4. There is a modern iconoclasm taking place in the United States. We worshipped civil heroes while blacking out their conversion stories or stories of weakness, letting our universities do that for us (Martin Luther King Jr., Christopher Columbus). Would that we understood a man can do great things, while still falling short.

Days of Promise

Today is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Today is one of the days of promise.
The Immaculate Conception is the day we celebrate God’s gift of redemption to Mary, through the merits of Christ cross, applied retroactively in order to prepare a place fitting for God-made-man to dwell. In the same way, he applies the glory of his second coming retroactively by assuming her into Heaven, body and soul.
In this, he honors his mother and shows us the way.

Oil painting of the Assumption of the Virgin by Titian, 1516 - 1518

Today is a great day for me. Last year, I read post after post, related the Assumption to the Theology of the Body and resurrection of the dead. None of this resonated.
I have only held one deceased person in my arms, the same person I held within my body. This girl leaped with joy at John the Baptist did in utero. With the glow of angels around her, she died before she had a chance to breathe the air if she would have breathed at all. We did not see her body as it was. At our request, the nurse placed her bonnet on her head before we saw her.
I knew I had two children already waiting for me in Heaven, but I never saw them, never held them. I know there are other dearly departed in Heaven we long to be with, but we did not see them often on earth. My body was primed to know her every movement, as it was with all my children. This year’s celebration is different than before. When I think of Heaven now, it is a richer vision than ever before.

For the Lord himself, with a word of command,
with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God,
will come down from heaven,
and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive, who are left,
will be caught up together with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air.
Thus we shall always be with the Lord.
(1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

These are days of promise. I will see her perfect body, restored and complete, not as she grew, but whole.

Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Pierre Paul Prud'hon
Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Pierre Paul Prud’hon

It is easy to accept God what God has on resurrection days like this. That is what these days are for – to carry us through the valley and dark times with the light of God’s promise. They are moments of Transfiguration to keep in mind as we travel the Way of the Cross. So let us stop and celebrate, seeing the way it went with Mary, and how it will go with us, should we fight the good fight, and hold fast to the faith.

Weekend Links 8.12.17


Nine snippets of news and novelties for your weekend musing.

Our life has been changed and our son’s life sustained by the incredible and collaborative care at UCSF. It is not surprising to me that they should rank so high in this national survey.

If this reporting is accurate, that is a wonderful example of how we need to give more credit to lower income families and how family truly forms the child. My question regarding the author’s way of presenting the research is this. The author reports pre-school enrollment dropped in 2008, likely due to parental unemployment. If that gap narrowed in school readiness, then wouldn’t that put more educated parents at home than before the rise in unemployment levels. I would like to see if we control for parent education levels if the results still remain. For a resource on providing more books at home, check out this project by Dolly Parton, the woman you naturally think of when you think of family life.

I was moved by this video of Jim Carrey (never thought I would write such a sentence! It was in the darkness of grief that I began to cling to beauty and art, which before had been a hobby and simple pleasure. The contemplation of beauty draws us out of ourselves. It is a great antidote to grief, loss or depression.


Gratitude is a powerful force for good, as this article illustrates. Would you consider ending each day with a moment of gratitude, considering three things you are thankful for? It can help us through dark times, balance our perspective, and overcome automatic negative thoughts.

I suspect objecting to this painting is a matter of Conservatives trying to get back at or making a point that if someone did a Christian parallel of the same thing, it would be publically unacceptable. On a deeper level, patriotism is a spiritual thing, the Statue of Liberty is one of our national symbols, as is the American flag. I do not believe these should be altered to express one person’s message. They are enough in themselves. We could also analyze that this doe-eyed lady is an exaggerated form of how women are distorted in media, and the strong stance with the torch is diminished by her gentle hold as if it were a bouquet of flowers.

No matter how busy life is, we really should make time for events like the solar eclipse on August 21. I hope we do in this household, though there are no plans as of yet.

Your words matter! I began to guard my grammar as my children grow. It takes practice, but we can do it. “Gonna” and pronouncing to as “ta” (If you’re going ta do this…”) are two habits my husband and I are currently trying to root out of our speech. I heard a song yesterday that rhymed over with you by pronouncing them as “ova” and “ya.” Brain cells have been lost by listening to music like this!

My reflection from this article on the reemergence of a vocational crisis: A priestly vocation requires heroism in a world such as ours. John Paul II inspired this heroism in the youth of the world and encouraged us to go all in. That is why my generation of Catholics is referred to as the John Paul II generation. We need inspiration from our leaders in the Church to “be not afraid” and “put out into the deep.” Too many times, to draw people into the church, leaders in parishes water things down, make it simpler, gentler. Our generation and the generation that follows ache for something to live for, for something strong we can hold on to in the moral chaos of our society. We need something to fight for. John Paul II and the priests of this generation show us that.

This is worth sharing since an American paper seemed to have picked up the original absurdity. I wonder Associatedsociate Press will be able to restore its credibility?

Revisiting Young Ladies Institute (YLI)

As a 16-year old girl watching Felicity and 10 Things I Hate About You, there was nothing that drew me to the Young Ladies’ Institute (YLI), a large, active women’s organization at our local Catholic Church. My mother was greatly involved. With all the jokes about how young the ladies were (they were not) I did not understand this organization.

Like many other high school graduates I knew, I petitioned for financial support, a donation for missionary work, a scholarship for college, both of which received. YLI was a good organization. I thought nothing ill of it.

College and marriage took me to the midwest and east coast, far away from YLI which spans the west. Returning home, looking for projects to fill my housewife lifestyle. I volunteered to create the monthly newsletter.

In this way, I learned about the program to which my mother was greatly committed. I learned the events, the works of mercy performed, the offices and annual tasks. Every woman I interviewed had this to say about YLI, “I love YLI because they were there for me in my time of need…”

As life goes on, the structures of our relationships change. I found myself looking for friends who were able to be a part of daily life. I longed for a community I could plug into with like-minded women.

In the last two years, crises mounted. We were in need. YLI came to our aid through meals, donations, and putting together the most beautiful funeral reception I could imagine. Walking into my mother’s kitchen, seeing platter after platter of brightly hued fruit after burying my baby was a relief I did not expect. It was Beauty after Sadness.


These women served and washed dishes while I talked with friends, hoping this would be the end of our grief. They did not do this only because they are my mom’s friends. They did it because they are my sisters, my YLI sisters. Despite my lack of involvement, they were there for me as no single individual could be.

Meanwhile, I considered the benefit of the parish in a small town, as put forward by Rod Dreher’s in The Little Way of Ruthie Lemming. Our friends can be like-minded, but in our lives we need to be confronted by people who are different: older, younger, married, single, with kids, without kids, wanting kids, not wanting kids, working, unemployed by choice or circumstance, conservative, liberal, faithful to the Magisterium, spiritual-but-not-religious, and so on. In adulthood, it does us no good to live in a bubble. For some, social media and steaming-on-demand create quite a secure bubble. We see or hear only what we want.

Then one evening, I decide to attend the YLI meeting in order to flesh out that month’s newsletter.

There are three young women there, all younger than me. I gravitated towards one, sitting on the outskirts with her infant. Feeling the need to explain my lack of involvement (too cool for the old ladies group), she scrunches her nose, smiles and says, “I like it. It’s fun.” When the meeting begins, I see what she means.

First, I felt like I was in Bewitched at some committee meeting. This gave me a sense of continuity with history. Housewives did not just stay at home mothering. They volunteered. They plugged into not just their children’s schools, but community groups, local nonprofits, programs that benefit the neighborhood. This is one fall out of a majority of mothers going to work. Neighborhoods wane because no one except paid employees has the time to improve them.

Secondly, Robert’s Rules of Order govern the meeting. A strange sight for a teenager, I see how that this structure is necessary. How else could you bring 18-year-olds and 80-year-olds together in one room? Without the structure, they would speak a different language. Like the Church, this order makes it bigger than the personalities of the leaders and the age.

Lastly, I cannot think of many tasks I like more than watching people interact. This was food for the mind and fodder for my humor.

I thought to myself, this could be it. This could be what I have been looking for. My community, right here.

And in the end, it provides more opportunities to tease my mother. That makes the experience priceless.

Weekend Links: July 22-23

It seems I cannot get enough of this topic. This article from First Things compares books to screens. In my opinion, nothing beats the real, tactile, “existed before you and could exist after you” feel of a real book. Of course, children’s books in my house do not last that long. We try.

My time off Facebook has been positive. I go on in the morning to scan for news and stay involved my the “meaningful groups.” Glad to know I am fulfilling Mark Zuckerberg’s vision, except for the staying off Facebook part. Now that I have time away when I do go on, the whole thing feels like a lot of visual noise. Between the Newsfeed, the adds and the menus, it is all too much. If I can find a way to keep up with my favorite sources, and a way to maintain online groups without Facebook, I would be up for that! Any suggestions?

As I was citing sources for an article, I thought some readers might be interested in knowing more about where my views on the human person come from. We cannot know man only through science, or faith without science, or faith without philosophy. A view of man that brings all this together is the Catholic Christian Meta-Model of the Person (CCMMP). This model was foundational in my graduate education on considering the whole person in psychological practice.

The model accounts for our need for relationships are our inclination to sin (and possibility redemption). Here is a good piece from Verily pointing out some red flags in relationships. These can be taken and generalized to identify any toxic relationship, and personality types that are generally good to avoid. The desire to save a person through relationship is as old as time. We love people while still protecting ourselves by maintaining space.

In this encyclical,  Pope Pius predicted three outcomes from widespread contraception use. He predicted increased infidelity and lowering of moral standards (check), increased disregard on the part of men towards women and their bodies, reducing women to an object for his own desire (check), the third was public officials attempting to coerce contraception on individuals. This is very clear in China, and here it is in the US. Worth noting, I think.

Politically, it is hard to keep up with the real news because the media has not yet recovered from its Trump meltdown. I grew up with a sensitivity to the evils of Communism because my grandmother is Chinese and the stories I heard about what happened to her family members who were left behind. In school, we learned a smidgeon of bad regarding the USSR. That fell, but there is much to be concerned about in Russia. I always appreciate a piece from George Weigel on Eastern Europe and Russian news. I hope you do as well. As a birthday present, he will be speaking at Star of the Sea parish in San Francisco on July 27. I will be there.

If you avoid the downtown, San Francisco is a breathtaking city (downtown will also take your breath away because of the smell). On the topic of beauty, Two great pieces from Aleteia this week on why angels are portrayed with wings and why we have stained glass windows in Catholic Churches. In the Medieval days, these windows were instrumental in teaching illiterate Church-goers the faith.




Words matter. Ask my husband who often has to spend the next 15 minutes telling me what he really meant because there was an accidental error in his choice of words. N.M. Gwynne, authors of Gwynne’s Grammer convinced me with his logic of the greatness of grammar. This article is an example of that work at play.

I do not care to dwell on the conversation about the status of the university system. I follow it but cannot verify it. That said, one section in this article makes a good case for the power of words. Chronic exposure to hostile speech increases stress which can lead to adverse physical effects (this would fall under verbal abuse). Short term exposure to hostile speech can strengthen us, leading to all kind of cognitive and emotional benefits like resilience.

Earlier in the week, my reflection on the meaning of on The Giving Tree was shared by a former graduate school classmate. Check out her blog. For me, her writing is just stunning: peaceful, clear, paced to be a great companion.

Those are my thoughts. I would love to hear yours in the comment section!