courageous saints

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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superheroes and saints

Posted by on May 21, 2017 in courageous saints, formidable women | Comments Off on superheroes and saints

I thought I’d share some of the Super Girls and Halos that have filled up my new bulletin board in my new office. It was fun getting to know them!

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Mother Mary Lange, an educator after my own heart

Posted by on Feb 2, 2017 in courageous saints | Comments Off on Mother Mary Lange, an educator after my own heart

I have a soft spot for saints who were teachers. And I have a quirky desire to dig up as many unknown saints as I can in my reading, so I’d like to introduce you to this incredible woman, Mother Mary Lange, who founded the Oblate Sisters of Providence in Baltimore, Maryland.

Mother Lange’s cause for canonization has been open since 1991, and perhaps moving closer to the day she will be canonized.

I wrote about her in my book, My Badass Book of Saints, because she has some unusual ties to the Caribbean, and I wanted to explore her further. She and I share a common circumstance in our immigration stories. Both of us are refugees; her family fled the dangers of the Haitian Revolution and my family fled the dangers of the Cuban Revolution.

Born Elizabeth Lange in 1790, some sources say she was born in Haiti or the Dominican Republic, and then emigrated to Santiago de Cuba, others say she was born in Cuba. She eventually emigrated to the United States and settled in Baltimore, Maryland.

She dedicated herself to educating the Black children in her community and fervently wanted to consecrate her life to the Lord. At that time, there were no orders of religious sisters taking women of African descent. The Emancipation Proclamation was decades away, and educating slaves was illegal. Elizabeth took it upon herself to privately fund her efforts to educate the children in her community. She did this with another like-minded young woman, and together they formed a small school out of her home, serving the needs of the Catholic African-American community in which she lived.

When the local bishop found out, he urged her to found an order for African-American women, and thus, she became the foundress of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first religious order for women of African descent. Her little school became the Baltimore Academy for Colored Girls and later changed it’s name to St. Frances Academy. Today, the school is co-educational and continues to serve a largely African-American student body.


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“It is time to walk.”

Posted by on Oct 14, 2016 in courageous saints | 3 comments

St. Teresa, Brompton Oratory

St. Teresa, Brompton Oratory

I’ve never felt more convicted by St. Teresa of Avila’s words than now, when I’ve taken a long hiatus from writing, and find myself facing a deadline. “It is time to walk,” or as I first saw that statement in Spanish, “Ya es tiempo de caminar.”

In other words, get to it.

The context isn’t quite right — she was on her death bed and was talking to Jesus. I’m not on my death bed, though it is a small death to face the blank page if you’re a writer.

Anyway, today on the feast of St. Teresa I am reminded that I need to get moving — get the manuscript finished, but more than that, get myself together and live this pilgrim life.

I just got back from a month-long tour of Scotland. My husband and I took off to enjoy a slow journey around the country — a bucket list vacation where we took our time and saw the beautiful countryside. I expected lots of ruins and monuments, and got plenty of them. I crawled through the cavern to the Tomb of the Eagles and climbed the 246 steps of the Wallace Monument. What I didn’t expect was a pilgrimage featuring some of my favorite saints. I’ll write more about that in the coming days.

The last leg of our trip was in London. We spent a few days in the city, resting, before flying out of Heathrow. Although we had seen many majestic cathedrals, we attended Mass in modern churches since the cathedrals were now Church of Scotland. Finally in London, we looked online for a place to attend Mass on our last Sunday. Mr. Google kindly suggested the London Oratory, which was just minutes away from our hotel in South Kensington.

It was one of the most beautiful Masses I’ve attended in a long time. Maybe it was the beauty of the church, Immaculate Heart of Mary, or maybe it was finding myself in a holy place after chasing so many pagan ruins. I felt at home, surrounded by my favorite saints, Saints who have been in my life recently because of some writing projects. St. Philip Neri has been a long-time favorite, and the church, of course, is part of the St. Philip Oratory, which is sometimes called the Brompton Oratory although its proper name is the London Oratory. Take a tour here!

Though I’d spent a month in tourist mode taking hundreds of photos, I took only a few here. I was there for Mass, not sight-seeing, but I did take a couple of pictures. As soon as I walked in, my eyes were drawn to the altar on my right –I couldn’t help the smile that bubbled up, as I realized it’s the St. Mary Magdalene altar. I’m currently writing about Mary Magdalene, so I walked over for a brief prayer. There, the natural light illuminated a stature of St. Teresa, pen poised, book open.

Hi, old friend, I whispered.

Start walking, she responded.

Good ole St. Teresa. She doesn’t mince words with me. There’s no getting away from her eagle eye ever since I commended myself to her patronage. That’s a good thing, because I need a firm hand. I understood her — I need to get to work on the manuscript, but more than that, I need to get walking with the Lord. He has laid out a path for me, and I will follow it, joyfully!

We can only learn to know ourselves and do what we can – namely, surrender our will and fulfill God’s will in us.

Happy Feast of St. Teresa of Avila!

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Super Sale all Week at Ave Maria Press [updated!]

Posted by on Dec 7, 2015 in courageous saints, formidable women, reviews | Comments Off on Super Sale all Week at Ave Maria Press [updated!]




Day 2 code: MERCY15


Get your shopping on!sale

click on picture to go to website

Please note my tiny little book is nestled in there between some other awesome titles! At these prices, get them all!

I’ll update each day’s code here.

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today’s prayer

Posted by on Dec 4, 2015 in courageous saints | Comments Off on today’s prayer

“Lord, teach me to be generous;Teach me

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