Pondering the Mysteries: The second sorrowful mystery, the scourging at the pillar

Just the title of this mystery invokes shudders.


Public punishment is not something we have in our culture. But up until about a hundred years ago, this was a normal part of life. People were put in stocks, were whipped in courtyards, and, in Jesus’ time, scourged. It was thought to be a deterrent to bad behavior. Mosaic law limits the amount of scourges allowed to thirty-nine.


Thirty-nine lashes against bare skin. Can you imagine?

Read the rest over at Plain Grace. 

Pondering the mysteries: The First Sorrowful Mystery

And then going out, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed them. When he arrived at the place he said, “Pray that you may not undergo the test.” After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.”
†Luke 22:39-42

Of all the rosary’s mysteries, the first Sorrowful Mystery–the agony in the Garden, is my favorite because it is so relatable. To me, this is Jesus at his most incredibly human. Which of us has not been there, begging God to take the cup that is in front of us, asking that this burden be lifted, asking that the pain be taken away? We do this, and so does Jesus.

Mark’s Gospel tells us that Jesus’s soul was sorrowful “even unto death.” (Mk 14:34) Luke’s account of the passion gives us this detail: “He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.” (Lk 22: 44) This is an actual medical phenomenon that Biblical experts have confirmed. Can you image being in such agony that you are actually bleeding with the pain of it?


Read the rest over at Plain Grace. 





This Saying is Hard

“Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”…As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.”
†John 6: 60, 66 (NAB)


In theory, we know that being Catholic in the world today–really Catholic–is countercultural. We know that things we belief are not exactly en vogue with the world at large. But, as Jesus shows us in the Gospel of John, it’s always been that way.


But that doesn’t make it easier to take.


Recently, I was having a discussion about what Catholics believe with some non-Catholics: Christians, atheists, and some agnostics. Most of these people do not believe what the Church teaches on just about anything. However, when one topic which is particularly sensitive came up, I took a deep breath and proceeded to state Church teaching in a polite, but unambiguous, manner.


Well, you would’ve thought I’d just been for puppy killing, from the reaction I got. Courtesy was not extended back, and I continued to explain the point–politely–until one person in the conversation stopped me with “Will you stop giving Catholicism a bad name?” She told the others that “Not all Catholics are like her.”


Read the rest over at Plain Grace. 


The Heroic Minute

When I was attending a retreat with the Dominicans of St. Cecilia in Nashville this past March, Sister spoke to us about the heroic minute and its importance in their lives.


The “heroic minute” is that first moment each morning when the bell rings, requiring the sisters to get up and begin their daily prayers and prepare themselves for morning meditation in the chapel at 5:30 a.m. It’s “heroic”, because the natural impulse is the “five more minutes” impulse to stay in bed and not get up. Sister advised us each to learn to conquer the heroic minute so that we can do the work God has asked us to do each day.


Read the rest here

This week’s Suscipio column

Can be found here.

Here’s the first few graphs:

Tis the season for graduations, confirmations and first communions, because it’s spring here in the U.S. (and the northern hemisphere). Do you remember your first communion? I’m pretty sure the Apostles never forgot theirs.


The importance of the Eucharist, and the Mass, in Catholic life cannot be understated. You can’t have one without the other. Mass isn’t Mass without Eucharist; it’s just the “liturgy of the word”, and, while that’s lovely, it’s not the source and summit of our lives, as my pastor is fond of saying. The Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ, and our belief that it is just that, is one of the hallmarks of Catholicism.


Maybe the apostles had no idea what Jesus was doing. I mean, sure, he’d said “eat my flesh and drink my blood” (John 6) and they hadn’t fled, like so many had. They’d stayed with Jesus, even though this teaching was hard to so many of their countrymen. But did they truly understand what Jesus was doing in that Upper Room? Do we, 2,000 years later, understand it at all?

St. Catherine and the next pope

In iconography, St. Catherine of Siena, a lay Dominican, can often be found with a ship on her shoulder, the saint holding it steady as she looks ahead. The ship is the Barque of St. Peter–the Catholic Church–and the papal insignia is often found on the ship’s flag. Why the boat? St. Catherine is intimately connected with the papacy…

Read the rest over at Suscipio!

(FYI: I write a biweekly column for this lovely Catholic website for women! Please come join us!)

Seven Quick Takes Friday Vol. 7



OK. Me, being me, we have to start with this. The March for Life is in D.C. today. I’ve never been, but I have a lot of friends who are attending. I pray that they will have a good March and that maybe this year the people in D.C. will listen.

I’m pro-life for a lot of reasons: I’m Catholic, for one. I love kids, for another. But also because I was born in 1982, and my mother could have aborted me. Not that she would’ve, because she loves kids and wanted me rather badly; she and my father had sort of given up on my ever showing up when I was conceived. I was–I am not–a “perfect” human being. I am massively, genetically flawed. I am expensive to keep up. I’ve almost died a lot of times, and I’m pretty sure no parent wants to experience that once, let alone more than once.

Parents have filed “wrongful birth” suits because their child was born with CF. That chills me.  Life is life. And we have  a duty to protect it. Places like this are doing the work of it, and we have to support them.

So, yes, I feel pretty strongly about this, because those babies? They could be me.


Well, OK, we started with the heavy! Whew. But I honesty couldn’t let the MFL go by without commenting on it. It’s the way I’m wired.


T.S. Elliot, famously, said April is the cruelest month. I think January has more right to that than April. Christmas and the holidays are over, the world is full of snow and grey and generally gross (at least in Ohio), you just want to hibernate but you can’t, and you may or may not have failed in your yearly resolutions to do better. The days are longer, but not warmer–yet. And of course January is 31 days. Oh well. I console myself with things like opera and good books.


On the reading list this week: Everyday Divine; Cravings; The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena, and hopefully finishing Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ this weekend. I’ve been dipping into this for awhile and it’s time to just finish it. I’ve also been weeding out the library. I only want books that I love and that I read regularly. You don’t meet the criteria, you be going to Half Price Books very soon.


January does have one thing going for it: since it’s cold and gross you can spend time straightening the house and organizing it. So that’s a plus. Right now, that means the library and the basement–two areas that are sort of “undefined” since I moved in over a year ago. The basement is waiting on furniture and c., and better storage units (as in, something beyond the black stacking blocks I used in college). The library is the manifestation of Psalm 23: “My cup overflows {with books}.”


Have I posted library pics here? I can’t remember, so here’s a taste:

One of the library shelves

One of the library shelves

This is OLD so I’m going to have to update these later. Book photography!


Some of you may know I write other places than just here. I write regularly for Suscipio, a Catholic women’s blog. We’re women from all walks of life: students, moms, singles, whatever. The blog is written by a bunch of regular writers and contributors, we have a book club, and all sorts of fun. Here are my last two columns: this one, about the presentation in the temple, and this one, about the finding of Jesus in the temple. (I’m doing a yearlong series on the Mysteries of the Rosary and Faith, since it’s the year of faith. We start the Luminous mysteries next week!)