Here we are in the first full week of Lent. I think we’re all getting used to the idea of what this year’s Lent entails. As I mentioned last week, I am trying to organize my thoughts around the Lenten pillars of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving and incorporating those pillars with the tripod of my way through Cursillo of piety, study, and action. Something the priest said at Monday’s mass stood out to me, and that was that we are all presbyters, as opposed to proselytizers. Public prayer, not conversion. That was the word [presbyter] used in that day’s Reading from the First Letter of Peter, and defined in Father’s homily as someone who prays in public. We may recognize that word as the basis for Presbyterian, a Protestant sect of Christianity.

If we are all called to be presbyters as Peter exalts us to “tend the flock of G-d in [our] midst” [1 Peter 5: 1-4], how do we reconcile that with Jesus’ call to not be like the hypocrites and go to our rooms and pray in private [Matt 6.6]?

How should, how can we pray in public and not become like those hypocrites?

As I set this aside earlier in the week, I thought about the ways in which I was praying in public and yet hoping to avoid hypocrisy. I am definitely thinking more about prayer and ways to be closer to G-d during these forty days leading up to the Easter Vigil. I spent time discerning what actions and tasks were important to me and which ones I needed to give up to make my time more effective and positive, not only for me, but for those people I would be working with.

Sometimes prayer is a conversation between yourself and G-d and sometimes it is contemplative, thinking on a scripture passage or meditation. We ask for things – petitions, we ask for things for others – intercessory prayer and sometimes we just sit in the quiet and hope G-d can understand what it is we’re seeking even if we don’t necessarily know.

On Wednesday night, I participated in a centering prayer group. We met on Zoom. I had been to a workshop on centering prayer last month, and this was a good opportunity to put what I learned into practice with others.
While we were each in our own spaces and muted, we were also all together, hearing the same reading, listening to the bell that started off our quiet, contemplative time, the screen sharing a single candle if we chose to keep our eyes open to see it. Solitary and in group at the same time.

Private and public.

Admittedly, I had some trouble focusing. My house was empty and silent. The group was silent, not even a buzz from the lights or clock in the room, no airplanes flying low overhead like they’d done all morning. And still, I needed to continue to draw on my sacred word to bring me back to my prayer. By the time, I felt settled, the bell rang and it was the end of the twenty minute sit (what the prayer time is called).

It reminded me of those early days of the pandemic, when the sun was out, the snow was gone, and the cold was bearable. I would take out my camp chair to the front lawn and just sit. On occasion I took a photo of the trees or the sky. I’d write in my journal. I’d pray the rosary.

But often, I would just sit, noticing each flutter of a breeze, each chirp of a bird, and before I even realized it, an hour had passed. I’d unconsciously been doing centering prayer a year ago, but didn’t have the language to name it then.

One way I can be a presbyter is to take my chair outside (when my lawn doesn’t have the mounds of snow that it currently has) with my prayer book and journal, my pashmina and just sit. Let myself be drawn into G-d’s world and let the nearby church bells lift me from my reverie and gently bring me back to this world refreshed.

Sundays in Lent – 3rd Tuesday


Read the Psalm for today’s readings and meditate on what it is saying and asking of you by way of compassion and kindness. I think that we all could use more of both in our lives, and this psalm is perfect for a reminder of that, and a way to include G-d in how you go about your day with more kindness and compassion.

Psalm 25

Remember your mercies, O Lord.

Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.

R. Remember your mercies, O Lord

Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your kindness are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.

R. Remember your mercies, O Lord

Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
he teaches the humble his way.

R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.

Sundays in Lent – 1st Thursday


Use this photo collage to meditate on your Lenten experience. Draw or photograph your own inspirational photo to carry with you on your Lenten journey. I chose to put together five selections to represent the natural world, which is where I draw upon much of my spiritual inspirations. Whether or not I’m physically in the natural world, I can easily find it in my phone or kindle’s camera as well as in a variety places on the internet. Use what’s available to you to find your way and pray.

All of these photos were taken in Northern Ireland. (c)2018

Gospel Women – Week 3


Today is the third week of the retreat workshop/contemplation/art commune that I’ve been taking. We spend the week reading and thinking about the two women, and then after a short discussion, we art.

I’d like to share with you the readings for anyone that was interested in doing this at home.

The first woman of the Gospel is the woman caught in adultery. The reading can be found at John 8:1-11.

Our second woman is the woman who anoints Jesus in Bethany. That Scripture can be found at Mark 14:3-9.

Later this afternoon or tomorrow, I’ll share what  came about in today’s hands-on portion.

What Ihave found in the past two weeks and four readings thus far is that we can not only see ourselves in these Gospel women, but often we see the women around us, who encourage us to look at things a little differently and who love and support us. I can only hope to be one of those women to someone else.

My Everlasting Gobstopper Prayer Bead (Title Change)


Today was week one of a four week mini-retreat I guess I’d call it. I hadn’t realized that there was an art component, but Brother Mickey and my son’s hesitation to explore his own talent has me stepping out more and more in the artistic realm. It’s not museum quality, but I’ve been pretty happy with what I’ve worked on.

The theme for the four weeks is exploring and meditating on the women of the Gospel as well as the Gospel women in our own lives. We all know them, and this series of exercises will let us dwell on them and ourselves with the guidance of the women mentioned in Scriptures.

Every week we will hear two readings and have the week to think on them. Lecto Divinia was mentioned as a tool which is one that I enjoy. When we return, we’ll talk about our week away and work on some kind of art that reflects our reflections.

Today, being the first day, we reflected on why we’ve come to this type of workshop and we set out to make a prayer bead. It’s not quite a bead. Some of us went long like a rosary. Some of us made necklaces, bracelets, danglies, and whatever else struck our fancy.

Mine is a necklace that i’ll wear the next four weeks, and then I will probably convert it to a danglie.

It’s something tangible to hold onto while I’m reflecting or meditating or sit next to my keyboard while I’m writing.

I anchored mine with a bell. I like d the idea of a little bit of noise in the silence of meditating.

Today’s silence was a bit too relaxing – I think I fell asleep. No one said anything, but I still feel as though I missed some parts of the talking bits.

When mine was finished, it reminded me of an everlasting gobstopper. Watch Willy Wonka making them, and then look at my photos from this morning.





Lenten Prayer


Prayer is one of those things that sounds like an easy fix, but it is far from that. It is also not rocket science. Prayer is one of those things that is very individual to each person doing it. There is no right way or wrong way to pray. As long as it’s meaningful to you,  you’re doing it right.

It took me a long time to figure that out. While I’ve always believed in G-d and had conversations with him, I had always found formal prayer to be out of my reach.

There are many opportunities during the Lenten season to pray a little extra each day and to spend some of that time in contemplation of those things for Lent: fasting, abstinence, penance, almsgiving and prayer itself.

One suggestion that was just offered at a recent retreat is that upon waking up in the morning, sit up in bed with your eyes closed and breathe slowly. No special counting or breathing necessary, just try and clear your mind. No thinking, no listmaking, no complaining. Think about what you’re grateful for, thank G-d for all that He’s given you, all that you have and get ready to start your day.

Think about the ways you can be better, can do better. Last Lent I tried to pray the rosary every day. This Lent, I’m trying to be a little quieter in my thoughts and writing a bit more and looking inward.

When I first began to attend the daily masses at my church, I never knew what to pray for during the prayer of the faithful. It was easy to pray for the sick and the dead – that’s right there in the big print. I had people who were sick, including myself; I had people who had died, but what were my silent intentions? I felt that I needed something tangible to think about in order to pray for it. If I had nothing more tangible to pray for, I had started praying for patience, courage and strength. Sometimes it was a bit more – patience with my kids, courage with my therapist and the like, but it couldn’t hurt and it still felt respectful.

At that recent retreat, I was reminded of an interview Mother Theresa gave on television where she was asked what she spoke to G-d about during her prayers. Her answer was, “Nothing, I just listen.” And while she’s listening, what was it that G-d was saying to her? Her answer to the reporter was, nothing. He just listens.”

Sometimes the silence is enough for our prayers to reach G-d. It’s taken me quite some time to find that place in my prayer. I can now sit in silence during a Mass without looking around, not sure if I’m doing it the right way. What I discovered is that my way is the right way for me. And we will all find our way.

That is one of the things I really love about The Little books. I’m currently reading The Little Black Book for Lent. On the left page is usually some kind of historical reference. On the right side is a portion of the day’s Gospel and a meditation. At the very bottom of the right hand page is the suggestion to “spend some quiet time with the Lord.”

Quiet time, contemplation, meditation, prayer.

Don’t let the focus rest on you. Focus on the joy of the season. Lent isn’t about you or me or the sin we might be running away from. It’s focus should remain on G-d. Every step on this journey should be moving us towards G-d. Lent gives us the opportunity to slow that journey down and look deeper into ourselves and our relationship with G-d.

At a recent Lenten reflection, the director told us to look at who we are and offer ourselves during this time. Lent gives us the time for reflection, for prayer, for thoughtful communion with G-d.



Is a retreat a pilgrimage? What about the reverse? Is a pilgrimage a retreat? They can be. They can also not be. Is a road trip a pilgrimage?

For a long time, I assumed that pilgrimage meant spiritual and/or religious. In looking back over my more focused travels, I’ve taken historical pilgrimages, writing pilgrimages, and nature ones. I never looked at them that way before. Everywhere I went in those instances (an in many others) always included writing. Notebooks came with me. Notebooks, journals, and my camera. Now, I will sometimes bring a sketchbook, like this past weekend retreat, but as opposed to the notebooks which is second nature I have to be conscious of packing a sketchbook and colored pencils. Drawing will never feel second nature to me, but it is something that doesn’t intimidate me as much as it used to.

While I’ve been writing this, I have come to the realization that a pilgrimage can sometimes include a retreat, but they are two different things.

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