St. Kateri Tekakwitha Memorial Today

Posted by on Jul 14, 2017 in courageous saints | 0 comments

St. Kateri Tekakwitha’s memorial is today. I’m drawn to her as a model of virtue, so much so that I included her in my book, Super Girls and Halos: My Companions on the Quest for Truth, Justice, and Heroic Virtue.

I’m often asked how I pick the saints I share about in my books. The short answer is that the saints find me. I know, that’s a glib answer. The more complex one is that I enjoy reading biographies, and in the last several years, have been picking up the lives of saints. I guess I have been slowly amassing a collection of saints that I’ve been drawn to in some way. I like to think of them as my friends in heaven. The random part of that process is that, maybe, they are calling me from the shelves. I like pretty covers and clever titles.

Back to St. Kateri Tekakwitha! I spoke about her virtues. She showed an amazing amount of fortitude in her brief life. Tekakwitha was born in 1656 in the area we now know as New York. Her mother was Algonquin and her father was Mohawk. Jesuit missionaries had a strong presence in the area, and Tekakwitha’s mother converted to Christianity. Sadly, a smallpox epidemic wiped out her immediate family when Tekakwitha was only four years old. Her uncle took her in, and thus began a life of conflict for the young woman.

Tekakwitha longed for the faith of her mother, and was drawn to the Jesuit priests who taught this faith near her village. By the time she was 20, Tekakwitha had decided she would convert. She took the name Kateri, after St. Catherine of Siena, and was baptized. That led to more difficulties with her uncle, who hated the Christians. She faced ostracism and more in her village.

Eventually, when things became increasingly difficult for her, she fled to a Christian community in Montreal, Canada. A Jesuit mission had been established there, and she was able to not only find kindred spirits there, but some family, too. She had to travel hundreds of miles into an unknown area to find the peace she sought in Christ.

Although I admire St. Kateri’s fortitude to withstand the trials she faced daily, it was actually her temperance that I admired in her life. She learned to live within the limitations imposed upon her, embracing her solitude rather than fighting it.

St. Kateri died in 1680 at just 24 years old, succumbing to illness no doubt exacerbated by the physical challenges she faced in the wilderness. She was known as the Lily of the Mohawks.


Photo credit by Dieterkaupp – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,




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birdie buddies create bridges

Posted by on Jul 11, 2017 in Weekly Photo Challenge | 0 comments

My birdie buddies — beautiful birds that live nearby or are moving through in the migration patterns around Mobile Bay. They are my early morning companions as I have my coffee. They pop in and out throughout the day. I wish I had a better understanding of their movement. We have plenty of the usual birds that I can identify readily. Lots of cardinals. Lots and lots of bluebirds. But we have a huge variety of birds I don’t know, and it’s a neat challenge to get to know them. These new buddies, often just around for a brief period, are a bridge to other places as I wonder where they’ve come from and where they are going.

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bells ring for “bread of salvation”

Posted by on Jul 2, 2017 in good for the soul | 0 comments

Bells ring at our little church several times a day. I’ve recently posted about the Angelus bells and alluded to other bells as well. We hear them all, and each round of tolling means something special. I already spoke about the Angelus, but the bells toll before Mass, too. And then, in a grand surprise that reminds me of my experience in Cuba, the bells also toll during the Consecration. We always stop what we’re doing when we hear that round, and send up a brief prayer of thanksgiving. It really is something special to not only hear those bells, but know what they mean.

This morning, as I was having my coffee, I heard the bells on the heels of reading a beautiful quote from St. John XXIII, and thought I’d pass it along for you. It’s the perfect reflection for today.

May your sacrament, O Jesus, be light to the mind, strength to the will, joy to the heart. May it be the support of the weak, the comfort of the suffering, the wayfaring bread of salvation for the dying and for all the pledge of future glory. Pope John XXIII (1881-1963)

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anniversaries and gratefultweets

Posted by on Jun 26, 2017 in good for the soul | 13 comments



Anniversaries are often times for reflection. A year ago this weekend we moved into our new home in the gulf coast. It coincided with the homecoming celebration and picnic at the little Creole church that is now our parish. Although the actual date was a couple of days ago, the homecoming carries much more meaning for me. It was, and is, a homecoming of sorts for us, too.

We constructed our new house, so my husband and I were living apart for a few months, he to supervise the build from a borrowed RV, and me in our old home as I finished out my contract. We moved in as the tents were going up on the church lawn. John had already made a few acquaintances and was volunteering. I sold and signed a few books as part of our sponsorship of the event.

A year later, and oh what a year, I’m feeling a part of this community. I’m at home here, and it’s a lovely gift.

abbeyI knew I would miss my afternoons at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, and wondered if I could ever find my peaceful spot here. All I need to do is stand at my kitchen window or step outside onto our porch and look at the bay. A bay, I discovered, named the Bay of the Holy Spirit, la bahía del Espíritu Santo, by the Spanish explorers in the 1500s

Here I was, pining for the Holy Spirit. Silly me. I missed my blue-lit abbey; I got a blue expanse of sea and sky, and a continuous breeze from the water reminding me that God is here, surrounding me, lifting me, inside me, above me.

sunriseEvery sunrise reminds me of this truth, that God is with us. I should know this, right? God is always present, whether we acknowledge this or not, but at this time in our lives, when the days could be dark and hopeless, I am acutely aware that he has brought us here to this place in the sun.


Some years ago, years — wow–Matt Swaim started this #gratefultweet thing. Fr. Kyle Schnippel further explained it, and I picked up the habit of tweeting with gratitude instead of vitriol. I don’t think I’ve made social media any happier, but I can say that starting the day with a grateful heart has had an impact in my life. Every day is a gift. Every morning, when John and I survey our little piece of the bay as the sun comes up, we spontaneously offer a prayer of thanksgiving.

The birds are up at that hour, chirping away. If I’m paying attention, I see the dolphins swimming up to where the river empties into the bay, in search of breakfast no doubt. The osprey family that has nested next door goes out hunting. And I check out the yard for box turtles before sending Otis out. It seems they’ve found our little corner of paradise, too.


Sometimes I feel like I’m killing my followers with the daily views of sunrises, but each one is different, unique in special ways, like all of us! You can follow my #gratefultweets @bego.



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The Angelus: Called to Prayer

Posted by on Jun 19, 2017 in reviews | 2 comments

prayMary has been reminding me to share my love of the Angelus. Two recent encounters with women who heard the Angelus bells in my community became opportunities to evangelize to one, and to pray with the other. It was a blessing in the middle of our days.

Jared Dees wrote a beautiful book, Praying the Angelus, that not only introduces us to the Angelus and its history, including an explanation for the ringing of the bells, but provides a section of meditations. This has taken me deeper into prayer. I usually pray the morning prayer from my bed (yes, I am, in fact, awakened by the Angelus bells instead of a shrieking alarm); the noon prayer lends itself to a break, which includes a longer time for the meditations.

Years ago I picked up this devotion because I thought it was short and easy to keep up with. Um. Ok. I mean, it is short, and prayed three times a day at set times (6 AM, noon, 6 PM), but the real challenge isn’t memorizing the brief prayers, it’s in remembering to pray them at the set times.

Ah, discipline. I am so weak. And the Lord is so merciful.

You see, I live next to a church that reminds me to pray the Angelus. The bells ring three times a day for the Angelus, plus the other times when they ring for Mass. They also ring the bells during the consecration. It is a glorious sound; to be called to prayer is a beautiful thing. Listen.

I encourage you to pick up this easy practice. Jared walks you right through it — it’s easy. And soon, you’ll be walking with Mary!



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