Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Celebrating Saint Padre Pio

Padre Pio is one of my favorite saints and today is his feast day.

I recently read his biography and it was fascinating, things you could not even make up: many miraculous healings, predicting the future and even examples of bilocating. He suffered greatly physically and psychologically. He had the stigmata for most of his life, and endured terrible persecution from many, including from his own order and other archbishops and priests in the Church.

But what is most amazing to me about Saint Padre Pio after reading his biography is how much his life is like Christ's. It finally hit home after I read about his life and felt such a strong love for him that this is what the saints do for us. Through their unique way of living in the world and relating to God, they bring us closer to Christ.

I'll admit, sometimes it is hard for me to relate to Jesus. He lived so long ago and we don't have letters that he wrote or nearly as many anecdotal stories as we have for saints like Padre Pio who lived in more modern times. So, for me, in reading the life of Saint Padre Pio, how much he suffered and his ministry with people, allowed me to grow closer to the person of Jesus because that is who Padre Pio was imitating.

So, thank you Padre Pio for the beautiful gift you are to the Church and the beautiful example you are to all of us as someone who lived virtues heroically and suffered joyfully for love of Jesus.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Mary Mo

I always seem to do this whenever a sibling travels far away, I start to eulogize them in my mind as if it makes any difference to me whether they are in Michigan or Honduras or Costa Rica or Oklahoma.

Mary is gone for her year abroad in Costa Rica and Chile. My mom and I recently discovered that Mary is the only one in her junior class to travel abroad. She mentioned it nonchalantly when my Mom commented on how difficult it has been for her to be able to travel abroad.

This quiet determination on my sister's part set me to reminisce about Mary and the role she has played in her family.

The Noble children are a determined, passionate and stubborn bunch. I would say that these characteristics are present in all of us but are expressed in very different ways.

Mary, although a very extroverted girl since she was little, probably expresses these traits in the quietest way of the family.

I remember one time she asked my mom to go somewhere with her and David. Mom said, "No" and Mary quietly accepted her answer when most of the Noble children would have yelled and possibly thrown something. A half an hour into Mom and David's drive they heard a rustling in the back seat. Mom looked in the rear-view mirror and Mary's little blond head popped up with a huge grin on her face. Mom could hardly muster up a look of disapproval. That is usually how Mary gets things done - quietly, with charm and mischievousness that very few people can resist.

When Mary was around 5 she, like most 5-year-olds at that time was obsessed with Beanie Babies. When McDonalds was selling them in their Happy Meals Mary would sit with a phone book in her lap and call every McDonalds until she found the one that had the Beanie Baby that she had not yet collected. Unabashedly, she would ask them to save it for her and then she would convince my Mom to drive to a McDonalds out in the boonies so she could get her Beanie Baby.

One afternoon I was sitting on the couch reading a book and Mary was sitting on the floor, the Classifieds spread out before her calling EVERY SINGLE person who had an ad for Beanie Babies.

"Hello, I was wondering what Beanie Babies you are selling. Oh, do you have the Garcia Bear? Oh no, ok thanks"

After a while I noticed that Mary would change her voice sometimes as she called people.

(in a gruff male voice) "Hello, could you tell me if you are selling Princess?"

Finally I became suspicious and asked, "Mary why are you changing your voice?"

"Oh sometimes I forget to ask someone a question so I call them back and change my voice so they do not know," she replied.

Ah Mary. I'll miss you down there in Costa Rica. Behave yourself, go to church, hang out with your host family instead of Americans and learn lots of Spanish.

I love you lil' sis.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

End of the Lectures on the Eucharist

Last night was the last lecture in a series of lectures on the Eucharist at my parish. Even though I loved the Eucharist before it began, I have learned so much and come to a fuller realization of its importance in my Catholic faith.

The Eucharist truly is the powerhouse of my faith and my spiritual life. It was Jesus' sweetness and presence in the Eucharist that drew me back to the Catholic church and to who I am meant to be in this life.

A good percentage of Catholics, less than 60% in most cases I saw in polls on the internet, believe that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist.

This is not surprising. Jesus' teachings on the Eucharist are hard to swallow.

In John Chapter 6 in the Bread of Life Discourse Jesus says:

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?"

Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.

For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink."
After saying this, everyone left Jesus except his disciples because this teaching was so outrageous to them.

It is outrageous. To believe in the Eucharist is outrageous. But the Truth is sometimes outrageous. The lengths that God goes to humble Himself to bring Himself to us is beautiful and outrageous.

May we continue to grow in our faith and our ability to see just how much God loves us, that He is willing to give us the gift of the Eucharist even though most of us, even most Catholics, will not believe.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Limits of Rationality

So God has really been helping me to understand something lately.

It all started with my car accident. When I was riding to the hospital in the ambulance I was very happy and grateful to God that I was not hurt. I knew that God had protected me and my friends and I truly felt thrilled to be alive.

After a few hours, however, my mind started to whir. I tried to put the jigsaw puzzle together and make deductions about the meaning of this event in my life.

Did God make it happen?

Probably not.

Did God allow it?

Of course, He must allow everything bad that happens because He is all powerful.

If He allowed it, why?

Why does He allow bad things?

What am I supposed to learn from this?

Catholics are supposed to learn from suffering.

Am I learning?

All of you probably can recognize this train of thought in yourselves. Humans are made for deducing, figuring things out and when we do not get an answer with the limits of our rationality we run in circles around the same thoughts over and over again until we are exhausted and frustrated.

Finally, the other day Brother Matthew, a Dominican who spoke at our parish on the Eucharist said something that made things click for me.

"God is not a rational being," he said.

I was shocked.

My first reaction was utter disbelief. Of course God is rational I thought. He is the smartest being on Earth, who could be more rational?

Then Brother Matthew explained.

God is not rational because He is Knowledge. He does not have to acquire knowledge. He does not have to analyze, deduce or learn. He already knows. There is nothing He needs to know beyond what He is.

What an AMAZING concept.

Then things began to fall into place for me. For some time now, I have been understanding and believing things about this world that I cannot quite wrap my mind around. The limits of my rationality prevent me from clearly communicating what I believe to others and when they look for purely logical explanations, I am at a loss. And yet, I am more sure of the things I believe now than I ever was when I was only dependent on what my mind could fully understand.

Here is an example - in high school and college I was an avid animal rights activist. I became vegetarian when I was 14 and vegan when I was 18. If there is one issue that I have thought more about, I am not sure what it is. I was constantly making deductions and analyzing my beliefs about humans and animals and the proper way we should interact with them.

1. Humans are sentient, they can feel.

2. We cannot say that humans are more valuable than animals by virtue of their intelligence because there are many humans who are not intelligent who are still valuable (i.e. babies)

3. If humans and animals are the same in the fact that they can feel pain, what gives humans the right to eat animals?

4. Humans do not need animal protein to survive, therefore it is unnecessary to eat meat

5. If humans do not need animals to survive and eating meat is unnecessary and it causes animals pain, then it should be avoided.

I never went to the extreme of saying that animals and humans were the same, but this was based on a gut feeling as well. I have a very intelligent friend who could completely silence me now with the argument that species is a figment of our imagination and there is nothing that truly separates us from the animal kingdom.

Yet reaching the limits of my own logic and rationality left me feeling like there was something missing.

Then God began to work in my soul. He helped me to see that I was more attached to what I was capable of understanding than allowing Him to work in my heart to understand the things that were beyond the limits of my own mind. He showed me that I was attached to my vegetarianism, more than I was to the Truth.

I eat meat sometimes now and honestly it does not make me feel guilty. I am not sure why, it defies my rationality.

I thank the animal for the life it is giving me when I eat it and I do not take it for granted. I hope I never do.

I still do not know the Truth when it comes to animals. I do know that animals are abused in our society and undervalued. I know that we think we are better than animals but we are only better than them if we follow God's law and raise ourselves to become more in the image of God. And in the case that we don't live as God asks us to, we can look to animals as much more noble creatures than we are. Animals are completely in tune with God's will for them. They do not have the capacity to disobey. What a beautiful gift from God they are in our lives!

But does this mean we should not eat them?

I am not sure anymore.

But I do know that God knows and He is gently leading me there.

I challenge you dear friends and family to look at where the limits of your rationality challenge you.

Does the Church's teachings on family, sexuality, or the priesthood confront the limits of your rationality? Is it difficult to understand where these teachings come from?

Don't depend on your mind to solve all of the issues in the world and in our Church. Open it up the God. If you are willing to let go of your own will and attachments, He will reveal to you what your mind cannot comprehend.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Adoration

I like going to Eucharistic adoration on Friday night.

When I am driving past couples and college kids having fun, I never feel like I am missing out on anything. I feel so lucky to be clued in to the most exciting thing that is happening in the East Bay - Jesus is coming out of the tabernacle to spend some quality time with anyone who wants to drop by.

Sometimes when I am headed to adoration or to any church event, I get this feeling like I need to speed up or show up early because surely there will be huge lines waiting to get in to see the miracle that is about to take place.

But unfortunately, (or fortunately for me when I am running late), when I get there I am astounded to see myself and a handful of other people, never the throngs that I expect.

Adoration is the form of prayer that I really want to share with people who are hungering to really feel the love of Christ in a tangible way.

Sitting in front of the exposed Blessed Sacrament, I can feel God's presence and peace. Sometimes I bring a book but most of the time I find myself just sitting in silence, absorbing the peace and love of my God.

I nod off occasionally but I have gotten over feeling guilty about this, I really feel like God is wrapping me in His love and when I wake up He is still there waiting for me and loving me.

I encourage all of you to try Eucharistic adoration, even if you are not Catholic. God IS there, of this I am sure. And He is waiting to give himself to you, to wrap you in His embrace and show you just how much He loves you.

This link should show you a church near you that provides adoration either 24 hrs (if you are SUPER lucky) or at set times during the week.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes Jr.

I made another attempt at cupcakes, this time from scratch.

Chocolate cupcakes, buttercream frosting with a hint of peppermint extract and a junior mint perched on top.

Happy Sarah??

Monday, July 13, 2009

I LOVE this painting of St. Therese, click for a better view:

St Therese of Lisieux painted by Edgar Maxence - St Therese had promised to let fall a "shower of roses" or favors from heaven

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Red Velvet Cupcakes

My friend gave me a mix from Williams Sonoma to make red velvet cupcakes. I am usually against mixes but this one was divine!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Love/Hate Relationship with Christian Music

I really like Christian music and there is a lot of it around, but I can understand why people sometimes make fun of it. It can be simplistic and superficial. Even though I won't ever get tired of worship music, lately I have been wanting to find any kind of Christian music that is more subtle and complex, and it's here that things get a little more difficult.

I understand it is a hard balance for bands. If they want to be overtly Christian they usually have to cut out the primary market because people who are not religious and are in to music have a quasi hatred for bands that try to be independent artists and Christians at the same time. I think there is some truth in this criticism - a lot of people just cannot see how someone can make something the primary focus of their music and still stay true to who they are and free to express their art. And it seems that the Christian market is not really interested in artists trying to explore new kinds of music or ways of expressing their art, it really is a niche market looking for a similar kind of sound in most cases.

So, I understand people who do not like Christian music because I used to share this extreme dislike when I was not Christian. In high school, when I found out that Jeremy Enigk of Sunny Day Real Estate had become a Christian, I stopped listening to the band altogether. I think I just did not think that someone could be a Christian and a real artist at the same time. Here is the letter he wrote fans like me who were disturbed when he became Christian. Now that I am Christian, I think it is pretty brave.

I now understand how artists who become Christian or who have been Christian their entire lives cannot just sing music and cut their religious beliefs out of it like I have heard so many secular people insist they should do. If musicians did this then they would be untrue to who they are as artists. Artists express what is going on interiorly and share it with the world in the hope that they will identify with it or learn something from their experience. If you love God and think about Him all the time, it would be "anti-art" to cut that part of your soul and life out of your music.

So lately I have been scribbling down names when I encounter good Christian musicians whose music is not simple or superficial. They seem to be exploring their Christianity through their music, not just writing lyrics that make it seem like they already have everything figured out. I appreciate that.

Here are some of my favorites:

Derek Webb
Matt Redman
Jon Foreman *
Brooke Fraser
Bebo Norman

(my favorites)

Hope you enjoy some of it as much as me!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Getting to Know Myself

I spent the weekend in a workshop getting to know my Catholic spiritual gifts.

A friend who was in the workshop with me showed me this web site where you choose 5 or 6 adjectives that you think describe you and then ask your friends and family to choose from a large list and you can see where the overlap is and where your blind spots are.

Can you help me get to know myself better? Please fill this out!

And HONESTY is what I am looking for, not flattery :)


Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I'm ok guys! But I do miss my little car......

Thanks to God for protecting my life and my friend's lives. I am forever grateful for His love and protection.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Pro-Life Poll

More American are calling themselves pro-life than ever before, 51% to be exact. That is the first time a majority of Americans have called themselves pro-life in 15 years.

Link to Article


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Saving Souls

Many, many people hereabouts are not becoming Christians for one reason only: there is nobody to make them Christians.

--Saint Francis Xavier


When Jesus says "I am the Way the Truth and the Life," do we really take that seriously?

What is the balance my friends in sharing our faith and being passionate about others' souls in the same way you would want them to be passionate about yours? When does it go too far?

I think too far is very often not nearly as far as we go...

Or rather, I think it more accurate to say - Most people either do not go far enough or go too far. Which side do you fall on and how can we reach a balance so we can help God bring as many souls into His kingdom in the end as is possible?

Friday, May 8, 2009


This work by an icon painter from the Kirillo-Byelozyorsk Monastery in Archangel (Arkhangelsk) depicts the apostle touching his lips with his right hand, as a sign that he is keeping silence, while with his left hand he points to the text of the Gospel According to St John. The size of the figure is exaggerated in comparison with the small angel behind the saint's shoulder. The hovering angelic form with a seven-pointed halo is an embodiment of the Holy Spirit, and symbolizes wisdom.

We cannot find God in noise and agitation.

Nature: trees, flowers, and grass grow in silence. The stars, the moon, and the sun move in silence.

What is essential is not what we say but what God tells us and what He tells others through us.

In silence He listens to us; in silence He speaks to our souls. In silence we are granted the privilege of listening to His voice.

      Silence of our eyes.
      Silence of our ears.
      Silence of our mouths.
      Silence of our minds.
      ...in the silence of the heart
      God will speak

      ---Mother Teresa, from No Greater Love

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sunday May 3, 2009 - World Day of Prayer for Vocations

“Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest” (Mt 9:38)

Let us join the worldwide church in prayer that more people around the world will answer God's call to the priesthood and religious life.

In the Holy Father's message regarding this day he said:

The awareness of being saved by the love of Christ, which every Mass nourishes in the faithful and especially in priests, cannot but arouse within them a trusting self-abandonment to Christ who gave his life for us. To believe in the Lord and to accept his gift, therefore, leads us to entrust ourselves to Him with thankful hearts, adhering to his plan of salvation. When this does happen, the one who is “called” voluntarily leaves everything and submits himself to the teaching of the divine Master; hence a fruitful dialogue between God and man begins, a mysterious encounter between the love of the Lord who calls and the freedom of man who responds in love, hearing the words of Jesus echoing in his soul, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide” (Jn 15:16).

p.s. Happy B-day Lizzy boo (I am saying this, not the Holy Father for those of your who were confused)

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
- John 12:24

These words of Jesus have been following me through the Lenten season and into the Easter season. I seem to hear them in communion antiphons, Gospel readings, church hymns, even on the radio. As I consider the next steps in my life and in my relationship with God, it seems appropriate that this quote from John follow me in my prayers, constantly reminding me that it is not all about me, but it is all about my salvation as well as others who I might touch as I move through this life.

Please Lord, give me the strength to be this grain of wheat, it is only through losing myself that I will truly find myself and find deep joy. It is only through you that I can become who I am truly meant to be.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter in Denver at the Community of the Beatitudes

My dear friend Lucie invited me to spend Easter with her in Denver, Colorado with the Community of the Beatitudes:

Sister Nikki is the first person I meet. She walks up to us, tall dressed in an all-white habit. I imagine her wearing hiking books and being outdoors leading a group into the Grand Canyon. Her lips blue from eating the principal's birthday cake at the Catholic School where she teaches gym.

Sister Annie is from Senegal, even when she is not smiling, she is smiling, her joy hidden just beneath the surface.

Sophie is from France, she used to work for Luis Vuitton before she left her job to spend a year discerning what God wants for her life. Maria is Sophie's close friend. They both wear white bubble jackets so Lucie and I joke that they are like two marshmallows walking along together, never separated. She is Vietnamese and a huge clown. Even in Easter Mass she is giggling and smiling mischievously.

Marcello, Hank, Randy and Andre are the men in the School of Life in the community. It is inspiring to see such prayerful men. Marcello is Brazilian, handsome and always put together. He wants to become a priest. Hank is quiet but when he talks, he talks without embarrassment about how Jesus saved him when he was 21. Randy is always chatting and kidding around. He wears an American flag tie to the Easter Vigil mass. On Holy Saturday, Andre stays until the church is empty, his head down in prayer.

Clotilde is taller than most of the men, her eyes soft and light. She makes icons, many of which hang around the chapel and are sold in the church.

Jud and his wife Mariane are the quiet backbone of the church. Mariane shows me how to sponge up the Holy Water from the marble bowls around the church so we can clean them out. Jud's eyes tell you he is strong and loves his faith. He used to be a Hindu until Mary called him to the Catholic faith.

Father Nathaniel is young, his eyes like a cat. He gives a homily on Holy Thursday that moves me to tears. He brings the Blessed Sacrament to the "Garden of Gethsemane" and remains, on his knees, his head tilted in silent prayer for several hours.

Father Sebastien is the pastor of the church, his head shaved bald - he is a force to be reckoned with. Everyone around him waits in delighted anticipation of the next antic he is going to pull. He is unpredictable, intuitive and strong.

Father John is full of the joy and strength of the Holy Spirit. He gives a homily in half Spanish and half English, never losing his train of thought. His words are not just words, they are feelings. In his Easter homily, he brings us through the pain and death of Jesus to the Resurrection not just in our minds but with the feelings of our hearts.

Thank you Lord for the beautiful example of what our Catholic faith can look like. Rooted in the power of the Eucharist, this community overflows in the richness of God.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Prodigal Son

I am giving a short talk on the Prodigal Son for a Lenten retreat this weekend.

PLEASE help me -

Please comment with your experience and thoughts regarding this poignant parable!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Part Deux

The Omniture Conference was in Salt Lake City and was my first work related conference. Omniture is a company that collects data for companies that have web sites regarding all of the people who come to your web site and what they do. So, for instance if you go to a web site and look at sweaters and then leave, that company can see this and “follow” you around the internet with ads for sweaters. Pretty Big Brother creepy, I know.

Unsurprisingly, I felt out of place the entire conference. My first thought, when I saw the fancy hotel we were staying at and the laughing beautiful men and women who were in the lobby attending the conference was, “Oh man I have to pretend I am an adult now!” Why, when put in these situations do I feel like I am not part of the crowd and this somehow makes me feel childish?

After much thought on the subject, I realized that this feeling has less to do with acting like an adult and more to do with acting like part of the upper class. And I just did not feel like I belonged.

When I would walk out the door and the bellboy would say, “Ma’m can I help you get a cab?” I would wonder if he was talking to some women behind me in a mink stole and a snotty look on her face and then shocked, I would realize I was the ma’m he was talking to.

At the conference, when an older woman who looked about 55 came up to me and asked me if I would like an hors d'oeuvre at the opening reception I wanted to crawl under my table and die. I felt disrespectful smiling at her and looking her in the eye, seeing that she is the matriarch of the family, probably has children and grandchildren and this woman is serving me hors d'oeuvres!

There was something of the celebrity in the air the entire week. When I would walk into the main conference room, lights would flash and techno music would be thumping. I could not avoid feeling some degree of self importance, as if I were a movie star walking down the red carpet. One night, Maroon 5 played and the Celtics who were staying at the hotel came down to watch. I told Sarah this and she cackled, then said, “But Theresa only 15 year olds like them (Maroon 5, not the Celtics)!”

I escaped one day from the conference and visited the local Catholic church. When I saw it, my heart was at peace and I said to myself, “Here I feel at home.” I walked in for daily mass and as the priest walked towards the front I heard an angelic sound. I thought, “How strange, they have recorded music for the daily mass! Suddenly I realized it was not recorded. I turned around to see a full boys’ choir walking down the aisle singing in Latin. Their voices were so pure and angelic. I felt like it was God’s gift to me saying, “Look Theresa, here is something truly of value, something truly beautiful.”

How can I end this post without mentioning my trip to Temple Square, the center of the Mormon faith.

I think I will avoid saying too much; honestly my head is spinning from information from them and from my dad about their faith. I do not want to make judgments to soon. I will say this much, as I walked through the square several young missionaries stopped to talk to me. When I looked into their eyes as they spoke of their love for Jesus my heart leapt with joy. I felt a kinship with them based on that love. I also admired that they cared enough about my soul to stop and talk to me about their love for God.

That being said, there were some strange aspects of their faith that gave me pause and although I admire some things about their faith, I don’t think many Mormons would say the same about mine which does not give me a warm feeling inside.

So that is my strange week in Salt Lake City folks.

I’ll close with a short message to my dear Franciscan friend Mike who I saw in Portland and did not mention in my last post. When I felt out of place at the conference, I realized that this feeling was very Franciscan at heart. When I thought of the little St Francis parish in Portland with the dwindling congregation that we visited, I realized that your desire to join them and to be with them was a very beautiful thing. The desire to be with the marginalized, not to change them, just to be with them, that is a wonderful gift and something I hope you continue to share with us. Love ya!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Portland, Mormons and Maroon 5

I have had the strangest past week ever ever ever.

It began with a fabulous weekend in Portland with Davie. When he arrived to pick me up, he said, "Oh as I was driving here I was wishing that all of the girls were coming to visit me." A sweet thought that I am sure faded as the trip wore on as I liked to wake him up every day before he had coffee with noogies and giggles.

There was something that clicked as I spent time in the city that has been David's home for several years now but was never visited by a family member until now. It was like the hidden life of David was suddenly revealed and the city and all of the people I had just heard passing murmurs about became living and breathing characters in my life. And they were characters.

Let's start with Ian, the spritely "wood-elf" as David calls him. I did not quite understand this characterization until I met Ian and really there is no other phrase appropriate to describe this odd little silly man who loves plants and has nothing but non sequitur conversations with those around him. Some of my favorites quotes from Ian:

"We should start a marketing campaign that cannot possibly lead people to anything else but complete confusion - how about this - CATS THEY EXIST!"

"I like to walk, it really is an amazing thing, you just put your foot in front of the other over and over and it doesn't even feel like you are expending energy, and yet you are active."

Then there is Ryan, his friendly roommate who told me that I can "invade their space again anytime" and made yummy fajitas and apologized to me because he made some chicken to go with it.

And of course, who can forget Chad. Goofy, gushy Chad. When I met him, I could tell that he was genuinely eager to meet me because he loves David so much. And I know this because he does body work and gave me a free stretching session and a few minutes into it he said, "I love your brother, he is just such a great man." It is funny to imagine dry, sarcastic David getting along with someone who would say something like this but he does. Chad, like the Noble sisters, brings out what David calls "his soft underbelly."

Anyway, enough about Portland, although I could go on and on about that city. One last thing, the food is GREAT! Vegan options everywhere! It was a vegan utopia.

On to the Omniture conference in Salt Lake City Utah. Actually I am running out of steam and honestly this conference deserves its own post. Seriously, there is so much to say. Here's a sneak preview - Mormon missionaries, boys choir, Smart cars and Maroon 5 concerts.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Our Prayers

"I just am never satisfied with the little things," I sighed to my friend, "I know I should be, but I am just never satisfied with the small ways that God is working in my life during the day."

Later that night as we boarded the BART, I noticed a disheveled woman wearing torn jeans and an over-sized sweatshirt. Her face was made up so thickly that she looked like a clown. Her hands were a dark brown color but her face was smeared with white make-up and she had long fake eyelashes that were half fastened on. I could barely keep myself from staring at her and observing her nervous movements. She was talking to herself quietly and reading a torn piece of newspaper.

"If you have a problem with someone you should ask your guardian angel to talk to that person's guardian angel," my friend said to me.

"That is a really good idea," I said, something I will keep in mind.

I turned my attention again to the woman and said a short prayer for her, something I do every once in a while when someone's condition or way of being tears at my soul like this woman.

I began to talk to my friend again but all the while I watched the woman out of the corner of my eye.

She was sitting toward me but never met my eyes. Suddenly, something she said caught my attention.

"Prayed for me and snap it worked."

I was startled.

I strained to hear her again.

The group of boys next to me were talking loudly in Spanish about dancing with girls and I could not hear her.

Then the woman made the sign of the cross and kissed her thumb.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Theologian Dads

Today is my Dad's birthday -

Thanks God for the day my Dad was born!

During my Dad's birthday call, I asked him a few questions that have been on my mind lately and he gave me some beautiful answers that I thought I would share with you my dear friends, (I figure I should not hog him all to myself).
  • Question - Why is God more present in the Eucharist than in my room? Isn't he infinitely powerful and all present?
Answer - God is more present in the Eucharist in an incarnational, sanctifying way. Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist - body, blood, soul and divinity. There is more of a fullness to His presence in the Eucharist than in your room for instance. This is how God chooses to express Himself in the world.
  • Question - Then how is He present in my room in a different way?
Answer - He is present in your room because He holds together its very existence. (Isn't that a beautiful answer!)
  • Question - When I feel a push to pray for someone I do not know on the street, sometimes I feel like I am like God's spy, notifying Him of someone He needs to help. But this can't be right because God knows everything - so, how is this possible?
Answer - God uses us as a vehicle for grace. We intercede for someone else and God uses our prayers to help that person.
  • Question - Why does God needs us? He is all powerful, He could help that person without our prayers, right?
Answer - God chooses to depend on us in this case. He chooses to depend on us in other areas as well, for example to procreate.


Isn't God beautiful? We are so undeserving of His love and yet He loves us and chooses to make us a part of expressing His love in the world.

Aren't I lucky to have a theologian for a dad?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

To The Ends of the Earth....

It occurred to me today that the phrases "to the ends of the Earth" or "four corners of the Earth" may originate from so long ago that it was when people believed that the world was flat.

I am not sure this is true but it is something pretty amazing to think about - to remember and take part in the long string, or tapestry of the history of humanity in one single phrase.

Happy Birthday Sarah Beara my dear sis

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

East Meets West continued

Pope Benedict's address 1.28.09:

While I renew with affection the expression of my full and unquestionable solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters, receivers of the First Covenant, I hope that the memory of the Shoah leads mankind to reflect on the unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the heart of man.

May the Shoah be for all a warning against forgetfulness, against denial or reductionism, because the violence against a single human being is violence against all. No man is an island, a famous poet wrote. The Shoah particularly teaches, both old and the new generations, that only the path of listening and dialogue, of love and of forgiveness lead peoples, cultures, and religions of the world to the hoped-for goal of fraternity and peace in truth. May violence never again crush the dignity of man!


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

East Meets West

There has been a lot of controversy regarding the recent lifting of the excommunication of several bishops from the Society of Saint Pius X, primarily because one of the bishops turned out to be a Holocaust denier.

Needless to say, I am not thrilled to welcome this man back into the Catholic Church. His views are, of course, despicable but I am going to withhold judgment until Pope Benedict responds to the controversy. The Catholic Church has always dealt strongly with the Society while also making attempts to reconcile, and I hope and have faith that in this instance the Church will immediately voice its opposition to the antisemitism that seems to be a disturbingly common thread in the Society of Saint Pius X.

But the point of my post is not to focus on that aspect of the controversy, but to take a look at the interesting role this event plays in the history of the Catholic Church. Although the Society of Saint Pius has not been around that long, they did break with the Catholic Church and marked a rupture in the faith. The Catholic Church has spent a great deal of time trying both to stand its ground, but also try to embrace these Catholics back into the fold. I believe the lifting of these bishops' excommunications by the Pope indicate his willingness to work with other Christian denominations and unify all Christians.

On a related note, a new leader of the Russian Orthodox Church was elected today. He has been head of the external relations department for the Russian Orthodox Church making him a point man for ties with the Catholic Church.

What a miracle it would be if in our lifetimes, nearly a millennium after the East-West schism in the Catholic church, we were to unify again with our brothers and sisters in the faith.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Fight the Freedom of Choice Act

I was excited to see some of the changes that Obama made in his first days in office - signing orders to close Guantanamo and banning all forms of torture. But there are some changes I am not happy to see.

Today, as one of his first acts in office, President Obama lifted the US ban on international funding for abortions around the world. Does this really improve our image in the world?

President Obama has also expressed that he will sign the Freedom of Choice Act into law if it is passed by our Congress. This vote is imminent and if it is passed, it will greatly change the abortion landscape in the US:

1) It is possible that all hospitals, including Catholic hospitals will be required to perform abortions upon request. If this happens bishops vow to close down all Catholic hospitals, more then 30% of all hospitals in the United States.

2) This law would wipe away every state restriction on abortion including bans on partial birth abortions and parental notification laws.

3) All U.S. tax payers would be funding abortions.

You can go to this web site to express your opposition, but something that I know is even more effective from my animal rights lobbying days is to call your senator or representative: 202-224-3121

Ask to be forwarded to your senators/representative's office and all you have to say is "Hello my name is ___________, I am calling to express my opposition to the Freedom of Choice Act." They will probably ask for your name and zip code and that is all. Phone calls are taken more seriously than letters or postcards so please do this if you have a spare 5 minutes.

This Saturday is the Walk for Life. please keep this march, our senators and representatives who will be voting on this law, as well as our new president in your prayers.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Pacific Grove, CA

I had a restful weekend by myself in Pacific Grove, CA. As I was returning home I felt like I had purged the need to be alone out of my system. At least for the time being.

In joyful silence I spent the weekend praying, reading, eating good food and watching jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Sometimes I wonder if God created such a beautiful world for us or for His own amusement. There are times that His creations are so fabulous that I get the distinct feeling He was just playing around.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

What Do We Want?

Happiness is not a destination. It is a method of life. - Burton Hills

Sometimes what we want is the exact opposite of what we think we want. Sometimes we know what we want and do not have the strength to go in that direction.

A wise friend always tells me to "search for the deepest desires of your heart."

These things are not always on the surface. Sometimes we have to fight, to strive in our spiritual life to dig deeper before we hit these flowing waters.

Lately I have been longing for silence. Every time I hear noise - loud talking, music, pounding - all I want is silence. But actually obtaining that silence requires discipline. Saying "No" to friends I love and spending time alone is not easy. Even though I am longing for time alone, I accept invitations to go out at every turn.

This weekend, I am going to Pacific Grove, CA by myself. I may not have the strength to enter in the silence but booking a small hotel room gave me no choice.

As I grow closer to God I am beginning to slowly learn that moving towards that small voice, what He desires for us, the deepest desires of our hearts, may be difficult, but it is always, always worth it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Quinoa - A Super Food

So I ate quinoa tonight for dinner and it made me think that I should share news of this amazing food with those I love.

Quinoa, though it tastes like a grain is actually an edible seed. It originates in South America and the Incans believed that the crop was sacred, (much like the Mayans believe corn to be sacred).

The protein content of quinoa is very high 12-18%, and unlike wheat or rice it contains a balanced set of essential amino acids, which makes it a good food for vegetarians. But it is also a good food for all because it contains lots of fiber, iron, phosphorus, manganese and magnesium. And it is gluten-free, making it easy to digest!

So, here is a recipe that is easy to follow:

Quinoa and Kale Bowl

1 cup of quinoa
2 cups of kale, chopped
2 tomatoes
1 avocado
salad dressing of your choosing

Rinse the quinoa in a strainer and add quinoa with 2 cups of water to a saucepan. Salt to taste and bring contents to a boil. Once boiling, add the kale and stir. Turn heat to low and steam for 15-20 minutes.

Chop tomatoes and avocado. Once quinoa is finished steaming, serve with tomato and avocado on top.

I also usually pour some salad dressing on top to give it some moisture. I buy a wasabi-flavored dressing from Whole Foods but any dressing will do.

Voila - A yummy, nutricious, high-protein, gluten-free dinner!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Year Blessings

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.

-Benjamin Franklin

I took some time over the last week to determine what I wanted to do for my new year resolutions. I went to my old blog and took a look at the resolutions that I made last year. Some of them are still present in this year's resolutions, (hopefully I will get to them this time). But some goals I met and surpassed, which I was very happy to see.

There are not words to describe how lucky I feel to be where I am today.

I have a family that is more wonderful than I could possibly imagine. Every day I realize how blessed I am to have a family full of love and happiness.

I have wonderful friends who challenge me and help me to grow closer to God every day.

I have a job that is better than one I could have dreamed up in my wildest dreams, sometimes I want to pinch myself to see if it is really happening.

But, even with these blessings, my critical eyes do see some room for improvement in my life.

With that in mind, here are my New Year's Resolutions:

  • Daily prayer
  • Adoration (at least weekly)
  • At least two days a week to myself of quality time
  • Explore Bay Area more (repeat from last year, I really am going to do it this time!)
  • Learn Italian (I signed up for the class yesterday!)
  • Read more, computer less
  • Exercise 3x per week, move more!
  • More veggies, less bad carbs
  • Research nutrition