what a week for 7 takes!

Check out the collection of other 7 Quick Takes Friday posts, hosted at Jennifer Fulwiler’s blog, Conversion Diary


How about our Holy Father? He’s definitely the headliner this week! I imagine y’all watched his journey through Mexico and Cuba.

I love this Pope! There’s something so sweetly vulnerable in his age and demeanor, and yet, he packs a powerful punch! I love the report that Fidel Castro told him they were both old men, and Pope Benedict responded, “Yes, but I’m still working.”

I hope it’s true 🙂


Pope Benedict XVI during general audition
Pope Benedict XVI during general audition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Speaking of the Pope, Pat Gohn invited me to be a guest-poster at her Patheos column, A Word in Season, with my reflections on the Pope’s visit to Cuba. I hope you read the whole article, and pass it along to your friends.

Here’s a little snippet…

Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Cuba, the country of my birth and the country my parents and I fled in 1966, both delights and pulls on the heartstrings of many Cubans and Cuban-Americans like myself; we watched his pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre from afar, yearning to be present with the Holy Father in this Jubilee Year.


In the when it rains it pours category, I’m also featured over on Sarah Reinhard’s blog, Snoring Scholar, as part of her on-going series on the Hail Mary. If you haven’t seen this, she’s deconstructing every word in the prayer with a delightful collection of talented folks stepping in to contribute. Somehow, I got blessed with the word BLESSED! I hope you pop over there and read that little piece, too.

I treat myself to a burrito at a local fast food joint about once a week. I can’t exactly call it a highlight of my week, but the burrito gets the job done.

The early afternoon lunch run through the drive-thru is efficient. Quick. Impersonal. Just the way I like it.

Enter Gloria, the super-fast, super-accurate cashier. She always tells me to “have a blessed day” when she hands me my order. Every single time. I’ve probably heard that about 200 times since I started eating there, and I never gave it a thought until now.


And, as if it wasn’t enough that my two dear friends, Pat and Sarah, have me playing in their sandboxes, I have a new poem over at Catholic Lane! It’s a pretty little ditty about spring called Light of Day.

You’d think I was busy writing or something 🙂


A pollen update is probably due although it kinda falls into the whining category, but for those of you who care, it continues to be annoying. So much so, that we’re really not enjoying the wonderful weather in our work-in-progress backyard haven because of it. Attempted to entertain on the porch earlier this week, but I think we need to wait just a little bit more and get a good pressure wash in first.


I talked about working through a consecration to Jesus through Mary this lent, and I finished this weekend. Thanks for your prayers, friends, it’s been a wonderful experience!


And finally, had a delightful meet-up with this special person…

another term begins…

Tomorrow I get back to work in earnest. On-line classes become available to my students, so while technically, students start attending their classes on Monday, I have to be ready to go tomorrow for the few enthusiastic ones who have been waiting for their on-line classes to go live.


I don’t blame them. I was that nerdy student who sat in my room the night before classes started, caressing my school supplies, sharpening pencils, labeling notebooks. I know, it was a giant nerdfest for me. Don’t judge.

It’s not that much different on the other side of the desk. I still get a little utz in my stomach — part nervousness, part anticipation. The start of a new term, the start of a new class is full of all the hope and wonder of new beginnings. A little bit of the unknown mixed with the desire to do things right this time. To really get the most out of the term, or experience, or whatever.

It’s one more chance to get it right.

My school supplies are easy these days. A red pen is all I need. In most classes, I don’t even need that — we’ve gone practically paperless.

I’ll walk into my first class with a smile and a plastic pen that lets me magically make images appear on a board. A click, a swipe, a tap here and there and I’ll open up an entire universe to students who’ve never ventured beyond the natural boundaries of their neighborhoods.

I’ll introduce them to art and literature and history that will confuse them, inspire them, anger them, and, if I’m doing it right, move them and make them think.

I don’t take this responsibility lightly. Some days I get angry, and other days I feel like phoning it in. But most days I get up ready to face the challenge with enthusiasm and joy.

Part of my job is to inspire and motivate my students. I recognize that I am a source of many things for them — sometimes the content of the class is not as important as how I deliver it. It’s a crazy responsibility  — forming minds. Too many times I feel that I am not up to it — what if I get it wrong? What if I fail? What if I unintentionally hurt someone –squash dreams, crush hopes.

I don’t dwell on these thoughts too much or I wouldn’t be able to do my job. They are not paralyzing — just simmering under the surface. Let’s say that these thoughts keep me honest. I am aware of the power I have in the classroom. Power for good if I harness it properly.

That’s why I found Pope Benedict XVI’s address to university professors so inspiring. He acknowledges a great truth that drives what governing bodies tell me I must do:

At times one has the idea that the mission of a university professor nowadays is exclusively that of forming competent and efficient professionals capable of satisfying the demand for labor at any given time. One also hears it said that the only thing that matters at the present moment is pure technical ability.

That can’t be all I do, for I would fall short … way short of the potential for teaching the whole person. Otherwise, I might as well be training pets to do tricks.

In truth, the University has always been, and is always called to be, the “house” where one seeks the truth proper to the human person. Consequently it was not by accident that the Church promoted the universities, for Christian faith speaks to us of Christ as the Word through whom all things were made (cf. Jn 1:3) and of men and women as made in the image and likeness of God.

I don’t teach in a Catholic university. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to face a different kind of student than the demographic I serve. Most days I consider it a very special mission … they deserve no less than what I would offer elsewhere. It becomes an unexpected lesson in dignity and respect for the human person. Although I work in a very secular setting, I cannot divorce my faith from who I am and how I teach, and ultimately what I teach, if not explicitly, then certainly implicitly:

…we realize that we are a link in that chain of men and women committed to teaching the faith and making it credible to human reason. And we do this not simply by our teaching, but by the way we live our faith and embody it, just as the Word took flesh and dwelt among us.