St. Frances of Rome, A Heavy-Hitter at an Important Time

St. Frances of Rome

O God, who have given to us in Saint Frances of Rome a singular model of both married and monastic life, grant us perseverance in your service, that in every circumstance of life we may see and follow you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. -- Collect from today's MassToday is the feastday of Saint Frances of Rome, particularly beloved by me because she was a wife and mother who lived monasticism … [Read more...]

Advent: Love Words and Expectations in the Dark – UPDATED

Madonna and Child, by Marianne Stokes (1855-1927)

I am so grateful that Advent is upon us; my favorite time of year! It is all hope, depth, mystery and promise of light, and it feels like we need it; it feels as though we have all been so occupied with politics, natural disasters, willful (and unpersuasive) belligerence and our own daily anxieties and stresses -- so many people I know are anticipating Christmas with dread rather than joy -- that we need our heads turned toward something great!In my column at The Catholic Answer I put it … [Read more...]

Portrait of Saint Francis, Subiaco – UPDATED

Francis at Subiaco

When we visited the Benedictine abbey of Subiaco in 2010, my husband -- obedient fellow that he is -- did not take pictures of the glorious and vivid ancient frescoes that so fully adorn its walls. It was a grief to me, at the time, because my eyes couldn't take it all in, and I wanted to remember. But of course, I got the souvenir book, which I do look at, and there is the internet, where one can still get a glimpse.It's not the same as being there, of course, amid the cave where Benedict … [Read more...]

Do not Despair; Get a Crucifix

benedictine crucifix

If you are anxious and despairing and worried, here is my advice: get a crucifix.Not a cross, a crucifix. Get a small one you can keep in your pocket; and another you can keep discreetly at your desk; get one for your home.Keep the crucifix before your eyes, and it will teach you everything. It will train you to the longview.The earthly goings-on that make us anxious and full of despair are a manifestation of the wholly spiritual war that proceeds apace -- continually,though unseen … [Read more...]

“An Experiment in Catholic Old Media”

ora et labora et zombies

I'm going to write more about the Catholic New Media Conference a bit later, but this is one part of the conference that I just need to give a space of its own.You know what these conferences are like, right? There's a thousand people milling about, and after a while one feels lost amid a sea of new faces, but then something stands out. For me, it was a young, tousled-haired man wearing a tee-shirt showing a monstrance and the simple word: ADORE."I like that," I told him."Thanks, … [Read more...]

Of Christ, Monasticism and Radio Astronomy

communion bw

Alright, after a couple of politically-flavored posts, I'm going to have mercy on everyone and give you a gift for the weekend, and it comes to us in two parts via an excellent site within the Evangelical Portal, Good Letters, where guest contributor and writer/poet Richard Cole relates how his first-ever retreat at a Benedictine Monastery resulted in his coming to Catholicism and his second grounded him within it:From Part I, where our hero is given no assignment except to be:At … [Read more...]

Why not a Religious Vocation “Mission”?

mother mary clare

Over at Word on Fire Ministries, Rozann Carter notes a Mormon celebrity putting his career on hold to make a two-year "mission" and wonders why Catholics don't have a similar mechanism in place to encourage religious vocations:I don’t agree with the theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Nor am I advocating that charity, service, and evangelism should be mandated, like some sort of religious draft. But, there is something here, something in the Mormon faith, that speaks … [Read more...]

Learning The Artist's Rule

I'm a sucker for wavy stripes; I find them restful. So when I saw the cover of Christine Valters Paintner's The Artist's Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom, I gave a little gasp of appreciation -- okay, I stared at it in a kind of bliss for a while -- and anticipated in those blurred, calming lines the message: more restful stuff within!Well. . .yes and no. There's a little treasure trove within the book, but how restful one finds it depends, ultimately, upon one's … [Read more...]

St. Benedict: Stability and Detachment

Today is the feastday of St. Benedict of Nurcia, who is regarded the Father of Western Monasticism. He is also one of the Patron Saints of Europe, and our dear Holy Father Benedict XVI, who made a retreat at the saints own Subiaco monastery just before his elevation to the Papacy. Although I am a very bad Benedictine, I do my poor Oblate best to honor our founder, today, whose Holy Rule has shaped and defined monasticism for both Benedictines and Trappists and has even been adopted by … [Read more...]

How Pilgrim Monks are to be Received

Part of my Lent has been re-reading the Holy Rule of St. Benedict, pertinent to the day. It's been speaking to me in very personal and private ways.Today as I contemplate a great decision that involved travel and has me doubting and unsure, the lesson is about stability, which is actually one of the Benedictine vows:If a pilgrim monk coming from a distant region wants to live as a guest of the monastery, let him be received for as long a time as he desires, provided he is content with the … [Read more...]