Thoughts on Lent 9: What’s In a Name? Pope Francis Explains

One year ago an Argentinian named Jorge Mario Bergoglio assumed the name of Francis -- or, in Italian, Francesco. For Italians, the name needs no explanation. For Americans, not so much. In the video below the Pope gives voice to his thoughts about why he took the name of Italy's most beloved saint. Post by Catholic News Service. Purchase Wendy Murray's book on Francis of Assisi -----------> See also: The Year of the Pope in Pictures … [Read more...]

Thoughts on Lent 8: Read Well, and with a Notebook


By Wendy Murray I write in notebooks meaningful passages from books I read. I have volumes of these notebooks that include passages from the works of large-souled thinkers and dreamers, including George MacDonald, Thomas Merton, Albert Camus, Frederick Buechner, Annie Dillard, Isak Dinesen, J.R.R. Tolkien, John Donne, William Shakespeare, Francis de Sales, Henri Nouwen, James Merrill, G. K. Chesterton, St. Augustine, Anthony Trollope, William Maxwell, Willa Cather, E. M. Forester, Graham … [Read more...]

Thoughts on Lent 7: Let My Soul Cling to You


A prayer from Saint Augustine of Hippo from Confessions Let the ears of my heart move close to Your lips and let me listen to you, who are the Truth, so that you may tell me why tears are sweet to the sorrowful. How can it be that there is sweetness in the fruit we pluck from the bitter crop of life? For wherever the soul of man may turn, unless it turns to You, it clasps sorrow. Even though it clings to things of beauty, if their beauty is outside God and outside the soul, it … [Read more...]

Thoughts on Lent 6: Mystery


In the face of  "unprecedented mystery"  we turn to the great writers who convey clarity of vision beyond what eyes see. From George MacDonald's classic fantasy novel, Phantastes: Fairy Land is full of oddities and all sorts of incredibly ridiculous things, which a person is compelled to meet and treat as real existences, although at the time he feels foolish for doing so. I felt as if a cool hand had been laid upon my heart and had stilled it. My soul was like a summer evening, after a … [Read more...]

Thoughts on Lent 5: Where is FLT MH360?


By Wendy Murray In general, the initial shock of hearing a jumbo jet went down in the ocean quickly transitions to the benumbed interlude of grief watching the mournful recovery of seats, suitcases, and  severed ailerons. In any case, the laws of physics have been obeyed. From that vantage point, the world still spins on its course. This is the third day in the aftermath of that initial shock of hearing a jumbo jet disappeared, Malaysia Airlines MH370. Sometime between one and two hours … [Read more...]

Thoughts on Lent 4: Vocation

Rembrandt, Study in black wood frame

Claim your vocation. Follow it. It is what you made for.    From The Inner Voice of Love, by Henri Nouwen: "Rembrandt and VanGogh trusted their vocations and did not allow anyone to lead them astray. With true Dutch stubbornness, they followed their vocations. They did not bend over backward to please their friends or enemies. Both ended their lives in poverty, but both left humanity with gifts that could heal the minds and hearts of many generations of people. Think of these … [Read more...]

International Women’s Day: Remember the Enslaved

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An interview with a sex trafficking survivor by Wendy Murray  The following interview was part of a major feature story I wrote for Christianity Today,  titled "The Hidden Slavery" (Nov 2003). Wendy Murray interviewed Srey Dara (not her real name) who had been victimized by the sex trade in Phnom Penh, Cambodia before she was rescued. How did you become entrapped? When I was 17 years old, I was married. After three months my husband wanted to move to do business in a distant province. … [Read more...]

Thoughts on Lent 3 : Beautiful God-spark Joy


A note to readers: This is an usual post but one for which I hope readers will stop their day. The video below is the final portion of Ludwig van Beethoven's 9th symphony, his last. It is the portion commonly referred to as the "Ode to Joy," words Beethoven appropriated from the poem of the same name,  "An die Freude," by Friedrich Schiller. I invite readers to take time to read the English translation of the lyrics posted under the video itself (they are not the same words of the … [Read more...]

Thoughts on Lent 2: Holy Time


By Wendy Murray Circumstances change but the ever-present heartbeat of God does not. The oddest thing happened to me when I was sitting under a dim light on the couch in a room of the rented house where I live temporarily. I was reading Where the Red Fern Grows. I hadn't read it before. And so when I found myself living in  this house, a rented furnished house that included dishes and books; and when I was reproaching myself for not reading enough; and when I saw Where the Red Fern Grows … [Read more...]

Thoughts on Lent 1: Remake Habits

Angels and Nerves

By Wendy Murray Lent is time to rethink old habits and, where necessary, remake them. It is more manageable to create new habits as a means of breaking old ones. This involves penetrating that invisible holy space where for now certain patterns follow comfortable courses. To displace the sovereignty of these habits, it is necessary to enter this space in the attempt to wrench comfortable courses in another direction. It involves will, cognition, intention and patience. In time these … [Read more...]