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September 26, 2016

The Joyful Mystic, Saint Teresa of Avila Prayer Reflections

I read a story recently about a study of the happiest countries on five different continents. Results showed that it wasn’t a surplus of money or goods that equated happiness. Rather it was the absence of worry about the future and a high degree of face-to-face socialization. The findings shouldn’t surprise us. Great saints have been demonstrating for centuries that the road to happiness usually winds its way through simple pleasures.

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WBAS Topics Prayer, WBAS Topics Saints

September 20, 2016

Returning to the Virtue of Modesty

Pope Francis has served for over three years now and we still are still getting used to his humble demeanor and actions. I can still picture him riding back to his hotel on the bus, garbed in his brand new papal vestments. He lives in modest fashion, drives around in a small car, and eschews the trappings that come with being in a position of power and authority. All of this could be dismissed by a cynic as a facade, but Pope Francis continues to exemplify modesty in the way he speaks about his own sinfulness and nudges the followers of Jesus along a similar path. Pope Francis is truly a wonderful example of how to live modestly.

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WBAS Topics Virtues & Values

September 20, 2016

Growing Gracefully

When I grow up, I want to be like Aunt Julia. After a brief visit with her in Orlando this past weekend, I feel warmed by her spirit, her easy laugh, and her generous heart. As the only surviving sibling in a large family, she holds stories and memories that tell of another era. Her father died when she was ten and her older brother had to take on the role of patriarch when he was in his mid-teens. Only two children in their large family went to high school; all of them, except Julia, worked in a local shoe factory. She studied nursing, married, raised a family, and moved from New York to Florida. I am not privy to many other details of her life, having “inherited” her as my aunt-in-law. I just know that I admire her greatly.

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WBAS Topics For Families

September 14, 2016

Reflection on St Francis of Assisi

Is there any other saint who enjoys as much popularity as Francis of Assisi? Google his name and over 7 million results become accessible. Likenesses of him stand in gardens, parks, and churches, usually with birds and animals clustered around him. Such devotion must surely be due to nature – both his love of God’s creation as well as his own gentle demeanor.

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WBAS Topics Saints, WBAS Cat Prayers & Reflections

September 8, 2016

Our Lady of Sorrows Feast Day

I saw them as I entered the supermarket parking lot. A family of four crouched in the shade of a small tree. Two young boys sat with their mother and waved at passing cars. The father held a sign asking for assistance. I parked the car and made a mental note to buy something for them to eat before heading back home. My good intentions slipped away, however, as I made my way up and down the aisles, searching for all of the items on my list. As I exited the store the sight of the family brought me up short. I unloaded my bags and pulled out the lunch meat and rolls I bought for lunch with a friend. After handing over my meager offerings, along with a few dollars, one of the boys looked up and smiled. “God bless you,” he said.

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WBAS Seasonal Feast Days & Holy Days, WBAS Topics Prayer

September 7, 2016

People of Faith Remember: September 11, 2001

I can’t say I gave much thought to flying on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. My mind was more focused on the talks I had just given in Tucson, Arizona, as part of a catechetical conference. While standing in line at the airport, however, the significance of the anniversary took hold. The security agents shut down the screening process and we joined with millions of people across the country in observing a moment of silence for those who died on that tragic day.

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WBAS Topics Prayer

September 1, 2016

Making Time for Friendship

Paul Simon, in one of his early songs, described old friends as “bookends.” The image didn’t mean much to me until this past weekend when I drove to Taos, New Mexico, to reunite with two friends from childhood. Bill and I grew up in the same neighborhood and share memories that stretch back to Kindergarten. Stephanie showed up in the middle of our fifth grade year and Bill and I quickly swept her into our little circle. Our friendship remained steadfast well into our twenties when years and careers started to pull each of us in different directions. We stayed in touch sporadically until this past spring. The heart attack that nearly took Bill’s life jolted us into recognition of the time not to waste. We each cleared our calendars in order to reunite for a weekend of sustained conversation and lengthy meals. These two friends have truly bracketed my life with their love and laughter.  

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WBAS Topics For Families, WBAS Cat Prayers & Reflections

August 23, 2016

Catholic Virtues Series: Uncovering Virtue

Much as I love the season of fall, I am going to miss my mornings on the front porch. I start most summer days there, reading from a book of reflections and writing in my journal. The birds have gotten quieter in recent days. Their babies have exited the nest so perhaps they, like me, can take it a little easier. Every once in a while a hummingbird flits into my space but, lacking anything of interest, flies off again. The soft rustling of the trees and the absence of extraneous noises makes my morning contemplation all the sweeter.

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WBAS Topics Prayer, WBAS Topics Virtues & Values

August 18, 2016

Holy Labor Day

It’s been a few years since I wrote the “Ripples” reflection for my online column, From My Home to Yours. Nevertheless, I remember the story well. I popped into a convenience store on my way to give a talk to catechists in northern California. After a long, uncomfortable plane ride and with another two-hour drive ahead of me, I wasn’t a paragon of patience as I waited for the friendly clerk to assist the person in front of me. When she extended her graciousness to me, however, I shifted emotional gears. In doing so, I recognized the rippling effect that emanates from small acts of kindness.

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WBAS Topics Holidays, WBAS Cat Prayers & Reflections

August 9, 2016

Catechetical Sunday 2016: Learning to Pray

“I know how to say prayers but I’m not sure I know how to pray.” I have heard this from catechists, teachers, and parents over the years. Distinguishing between prayers and praying is at least a starting point for those unsure of how to deepen their spiritual lives. Did Jesus’ disciples face a similar dilemma when they requested a lesson on prayer? “Teach us to pray,” they asked, not “teach us a prayer.” Jesus responds by giving them one of our most cherished prayers – the Our Father – but it is clear this is more than a single prayer. It is a way to pray.

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WBAS Cat Prayers & Reflections

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