praying the way of the cross in photos, and other things

CSLentIPJI’ve been posting a photo journal for Lent inspired by, and it has been a real challenge to let pictures say a 1000 words. The challenge for me, of course, is that I never shut up, so to have my voice cut off…well, I am running the risk of not communicating what I want. Then again, there’s a positive side to that — perhaps I am communicating what someone needs to “hear.”

I hope you are enjoying it.

I’ve also revived my blog in Spanish, Petalos de Maria, where I’m endeavoring to post at least one entry a week. The wonderful Lisa Hendey at has picked that up and is running the Spanish with the English translation on Thursdays. I hope you check out one or the other.

In the meantime, here’s what I posted this week, and below, you can read it in English.


Lent is well under way.

I usually have many ideas about what I need to do for myself at the beginning. For me, it’s like an opportunity for a spiritual reboot, a chance to begin again. It’s not unlike making New Year’s resolutions.

And like those resolutions, my Lenten ideas tend to peter out sometime into the second week, and I fail to accomplish the lofty goals I set for myself.

I thought I’d keep it simple this year. Stick with the simple, which doesn’t necessarily mean easy.

One of the things I’ve set out to do is work on my prayer life. Because of the nature of my schedule, I can’t make a commitment to daily Mass. I’ve added certain prayers and routines over the years, so the challenge is to find a place to add, to enhance what I’m already doing.

There’s no question that my prayer life would benefit greatly from a more robust approach to prayer. With that in mind, I’ve made a commitment to the Stations of the Cross on Fridays, and rather than attending a group worship service in the evening, I’ve started going alone in the late afternoon.

I’m stretching myself with an hour of prayerful meditation on those Friday afternoons. I think enjoy is probably not the right word for this exercise, but it has definitely been something worth doing, and very likely, a practice that I could incorporate year round, if not weekly, then perhaps monthly.

In walking along with Jesus in His Passion, I’ve been able to participate in His suffering, to meditate on humility, and focus less on what I have and meditate more on what Christ has given me in Salvation.

It is a journey of suffering that accounts for my stumbles and falls, and the graces, too, as I experience with Christ, humiliation, weakness, pain, and also tenderness and love.

just a regular Friday

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Had breakfast with a friend. Stretched the creative muscles. Bought honey for my honey. Prayed with the monks. Put my pen to paper. Received lovely virtual flowers. Watched an artist at work. Sat in the sun. Chatted with a bluebird. Walked. Sent a postcard. Prayed a rosary.



a simple prayer


20140404-063849.jpgI recently had a conversation with friends over a beer or two. It was a delightful afternoon full of laughter and insights. One of the topics that came up was about using social media. My friend said that she often prayed through her news feed, stopping to offer brief prayers even when there was no request for prayers. Especially, she said, when there was no request for prayers.

It got me thinking about how quick I am to repost the silly, wasteful cat memes instead of looking for something a little more edifying. About how quick I am to let loose with my tongue or my pen keyboard instead of thinking before responding. For today, I’m going to make this pretty reminder, which I swiped, naturally, from a social media site, my prayer.

some wisdom from Brother Lawrence

So make it a habit little by little to Worship in this way. Ask Him for His grace and offer Him your heart from time to time during the day in the midst of your work — at every moment if you are able. Offer Him your heart in faith, with love and humility. ~ Brother Lawrence

do you know where your children are?

Remember that ad from years ago that asked, Do you know where your children are? I always thought it was a little creepy, but now that my kids are grown, and they aren’t necessarily checking in several times a day, I’ve had to learn to let go, and let God….

I’m at this week sharing a little prayer I’ve picked up in the past few years that has helped me release my worries.

I know my schedule has kicked into high gear with the beginning of the term and everything, but I’ve lost track of when the younger kids go back to school. I don’t miss the anxiety of those days, although taking that “first day of school” picture was a lot of fun….

These days August is a little slower around the house. The oldest has been on her own for several years, proudly serving our country. Two are still in college, one finishing in the next year, and the youngest following quickly behind her. There’s still a revolving door to the house, but it seems to be opening out more often than in. And that’s OK – I suppose it’s the way it should be….

[read the rest here]

for the stillness this afternoon

When the spiritual person cannot meditate, let him learn to be still in God, fixing loving attention on God in the calm of his understanding, although he may think himself to be doing nothing. Little by little, divine calm and peace will be infused into his soul.

~ St. John of the Cross

“continue praying”

Oh boy. In the entertaining angels department, I just had a delightful little exchange with an elderly blind woman sitting quietly waiting on…I dunno. I don’t know where she came from or who she’s with…she’s just sitting outside my door. Waiting.

I went to pitch a few things into the shredder so I greeted her as I passed. I admit, the greeting was not very enthusiastic or even personal…just something that I tossed out from habit rather than conviction.

Shame on me.

So out the greeting goes, “How are you.” Not a question, just a statement released into the air.

“I’m blessed.”

It jolted me, as I was already 5 steps away from her when I heard it, and 10 when I processed it.

I turned around and went back to the woman, and I spoke again. She put out her hand to hold mine as we spoke, and I apologized for not hearing her. She told me that she hadn’t spoken.


I told her that I was sure she had spoken to me, and she asked what she said, to which I replied, “I’m blessed.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is when it got interesting. She nodded, as if agreeing with the statement, and then shook her head no, “It must have been the Holy Spirit.” Satisfied with herself, she waved me away, saying, “Continue praying.”

Dude. I don’t even know.



God wears a guayabera (and probably smokes Cuban cigars)

He also answers prayers with a deep and resonant laugh. And waves his hands a lot.

It’s been a theater-of-the-absurd kind of day. That’s pretty SOP for the end of the quarter in my line of work … and then some. Things have a way of developing gravitas suddenly and inexplicably, sending an already high strung group of people on both sides of the desk into convulsions.

Lucky for me to have a daily smile texted at dawn. What’s not to love about a toothless grin from a lovable baby?

Perspective, as they say, is everything.

And if it isn’t, it certainly ought to be.

Sometimes the only way to get through some things in life is through prayer. That precious baby picture is part of a larger support group of people who pray for me. Now, I know people have been praying for me for a while. For a number of reasons. As a parent who frequently (I was gonna say religiously…too much? teehee) prays for her children, I know I can count on my own parents’ prayers. People I don’t even know have been praying for my family since my husband’s ALS diagnosis a few years ago. And social media, especially through Twitter and Facebook, has elevated intercessory prayer to an epic level by expanding the reach exponentially.

In the kind of Christian community in which I live and worship, work and play, it’s not unusual to tell someone, “I’ll pray for you,” and then really do it. In fact, I’d venture to say you’ve never really been prayed over until you’ve had a good ole Southern-style laying on of hands, but that’s a post for another day.

Prayer, then, takes many forms — from that spontaneous, extemporaneous artform of our evangelical brothers and sisters to the formal prayer of the Mass and all the beautiful prayers in between, from the sweet appeal to our Guardian Angel to the miraculous power of the Rosary.

I can do that. Mostly. I can follow along in a book or stumble through a poorly memorized and rusty prayer. I can get the job done, so to speak.

The challenge for me is not the deer-in-the-headlights call to lead a prayer for someone else — it’s the humbling appeal to a friend for a special, perhaps desperate, prayer.

There was a time when I wouldn’t have done it.

To acknowledge that kind of neediness is…well…needy. It’s weak. It’s shameful.

It’s ridiculous not to.

It took me a while to get to that realization. And then it became truly humbling, not in the common understanding of humbling to be lowly, but in the truly liberating humility that submits to God. This humility brings me closer to God’s light, an image that draws me more than any other. It is in that light that I bask in God’s love.

To ask my friends for prayer, then, is to let them love me. To give them the opportunity to express to me a love I willingly share with them. It is the grace to be loved.

When I made that adjustment, I realized how often my prayers are answered. Not with a yes or a no, a solution, or a miraculous change in the way things are going, but in the manner in which I receive God’s will. Because with it comes the peace and security of being truly loved.