Christian Community and the Loss of Penance

In a private forum, someone asked why Catholics don't talk about acts of penance so much anymore.  Why so little discussion of fasting, self-denial, self-mortification, and the like?  It's out of vogue.I floated a thought or two (summary: I'm Exhibit A for Poor Penitential Performance), and someone came back with the observation that penance is something we're expected to do all on our own. It's not communal.I replied: I think that's true. We have all kinds of self-chosen suffering tha … [Read more...]

Atheism, Beauty, and the Loss of Penance

My young daughter, whose cuteness makes her look even younger, sat on the stool at the jewelry store, stone still, waiting for the two gloved salesladies to punch holes through her earlobes on the count of three.  Stoic child, but if you can read her you knew she was nervous.  This was something she wanted, very much wanted.  She knew it would hurt, because we all reminded her of that fact, repeatedly.  She also knew two other things: Her older sister had done it and she was just fine now, and th … [Read more...]

So, Mr. Jesus. We Meet Again.

This Sunday's Gospel has Jesus out for a walk on the beach, and he sees these fishermen and tells them to drop everything and come become apostles.  To hear it preached sometimes, you'd think they'd all never met before.  But take a look at last Sunday's Gospel:John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, … [Read more...]

Evading the Useless Fairy Through the Miracle of Central Heating

I periodically give the friends and relatives a health update, which I don't usually publish here.  But thermostat settings, everyone wants to talk about that, right?   So everything is holding steady, which is good.  Miracle drug still doing its miracle thing.  I got hold of a fitness tracker this winter and have started watching the daily exertion count, which makes it much easier to manage my activity level, but also maybe a little more depressing (she said buoyantly).  Basically the pace of … [Read more...]

Christian Community Renewal for Ordinary Moms

This story is for Melanie Bettinelli, who is far more thoughtful than I am, and her house is in better order.So just before Thanksgiving this year, me and another mom got an invitation.  We had a new friend who we'd met because our daughters played sports together and liked each other.  And she said, "I'd like to have you over to do a Thanksgiving craft with us."We said yes, even though we were not really looking for Thanksgiving crafts, but we knew that friendship and community life is i … [Read more...]

Friends in High Places: Get Yourself a Saint for 2015

Matchmaking time.  Jen Fulwiler's Patron Saint Generator is up and running. If you haven't done so already, go get yourself an assigned saint for 2015.I did this in 2014, and got Don Bosco on my case.  We had started out with a rocky relationship some years ago, so I was a tad nervous when we were paired last winter.  But we've come to an understanding and we're friends now.Still, I had to hold my breath when I clicked the button this year, because I'm always secretly afraid I'll get so … [Read more...]

Being Someone New for 2015

Two links to my work elsewhere that deserve your attention as we start the new year:1. At CatholicMom.com earlier this month, I wrote about a Gospel passage I never quite grasped until the events literally happened to me.  And then I got it.  Read the whole thing, and then you'll know the context for my summing up: Is there an area of my life where I’m clinging to a past identity? Allowing what I’ve done to define me? To condemn me? What can I do, right now, to become a person who is no long … [Read more...]


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