Thursday, March 31, 2011

Birthday surprises

The white noise machine is pulsating in the background with the sound of rain as my punky doodle sleeps. Footsteps scurry in these wee hours of the morning like a quiet mouse.

Final touches are being put on birthday surprises. A little message propped at the coffee pot.

A gift sack waiting with glee sharing same space.

Another message on the notorious fb....

"to my very best friend, my husband, Happy 50something birthday.
I'll love you forever!"

The smell of turkey will fill our home with aromas in the afternoon that set our feet a dancin'. A traditional repast with loved ones to give thanks for punky doodle's life that has made eyes glisten, hands raise, knees bend, hearts sing, arms embrace.

Love, life, joy, and peace darlin' and to all of you,


Wednesday, March 30, 2011


The Word of God invites us to go deeper. "Put out into the deep." Lk 5:4  Lent is a good time to reflect and ask the Lord to do a mighty work within us. Here is how I was instructed to put out into the deep while on retreat a few years ago.

When we talk about being afraid of what others may think, we can go before our Lord and ask that we be without shame before God and man. Satan doesn't want the child of God within exposed.

In the early church they were faithful. They exposed themselves and mighty things happened.

Some things we can do to overcome shame:
  •  Ask for the Holy Spirit to overshadow us and lead us in prayer
  •  Ask the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel
  •  Ask the blood of Jesus to cover us
  •  Ask for Blessed Mother's intercession
If there's any area of our life that needs to be addressed and brought into the light we can ask Him to show it to us now. Anything. We can let Him know we want to receive the fullness of light and truth.
  • Say, "Do it Lord. Let it be done according to your Word."
  • Say, "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief."
Go deeper. Ask more questions. Consciously give Him permission to help you see your life clearly from the moment of conception to the present time.

Ask that you see it clearly, specifically in dreams.
Say, "I give you permission."
Ask what He wants you to look at.

If you have certain emotions name them,
for ex. fear, discouragement, uncertainty.
Say, "I can't put my finger on it. Show me, Lord.
Tell me more about why I feel this way."

Say, "Dear Jesus, help me to be like a child so I can simply see what you are speaking to me and showing me."

Ask, "What is preventing me from bearing new life or bringing new life?"
Ask Him to bring power into every area of your life.

Ask, "Is there any pain I have not expressed, suppressed or repressed in my childhood? 

Ask, "Do I still harbor any feelings of shame where I felt shame? And ask Him to bring healing to it.

May the Lord bless and keep you and give you His peace.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Who have you given power to in your life?
Who have you not forgiven?
Today's Gospel is about forgiving
"seventy times seven times. Mt 18:22

We need to remember
we hold own own selves in bondage
when we harbor unforgiveness,
resentment and bitterness
toward someone.

When we obey this gospel message,
70 X 7,
we are set free.

We may not feel like forgiving
but what we are asked to do is will it.
To have virtue is to force our will
to do what is right.

A woman of peace
demonstrates the action of mercy.
She is forgiving
and bears wrongs patiently.

She forces her will to do what is right
because she trusts
that in this act of faith
she is transformed,
and the spirit of peace
will rest upon her.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Walking Stick

Early one August morning, my husband, a priest friend and I went walking briskly along a street in Fatima, Portugal, a pilgrimage site. There laying on the side of the road was a branch of a tree. Knowing my father was back home and using a cane, I thought of him. Despite the fact that it was over four feet long, I was determined to get it home on the airplanes and have it carved into a special staff for him.

It felt a little awkward carrying that branch through the airports on the way back, and especially onto the planes hoping I could find a place to put it. Fortunately, each airborne leg of the journey had a place where it could be stored.

In September, after settling back home, I eagerly called a wood carver--an acquaintance--to ask if she could carve the stick so I could give it to my father for his birthday in December. When I left it at her house she told me, "Get back with me about what you want me to carve on it."

Months passed. I hadn't called her back yet. Finally, in November when I did, she said, "It's finished!"

"Finished?" I questioned. But I hadn't even informed her what to carve. Somewhat apprehensive, I hastened to see what she had done. She presented me with a transformed stick, now a glowing staff and said she was impressed to carve acorns and oak leaves on it.

Acorns. How did she know? Acorns were significant in the story of the shepherd children of Fatima who saw Our Lady. After the first apparition when the three children would leave home to go take care of the sheep, the littlest one, Jacinta, became very concerned about doing as Our Lady had instructed them, "Pray the rosary and make sacrifices for the conversion of sinners." She began to desire to give her lunch to poor children she saw begging.

After getting hungry herself, Jacinta decided to eat the bitter acorns from the oak trees nearby, for the conversion of sinners. Acorns.
My acquaintance carved acorns and didn't even know, had never heard the story before. But the Spirit moved her, inspired her and there was the walking staff before me with that unique symbol of sacrifice--an offering for the conversion of other souls.
St. Paul wrote, "I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, in my flesh, for His body, which is the church." Col. 1:24

A seven-year old child could make such sacrifices. Surely, I could too. A transforming message was carved in my heart that day. One I will carry with me the rest of my life.
my father's hand on staff

Peace to all on earth,

Saturday, March 26, 2011


"Rejoice always, never cease praying, render constant thanks; such is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1Thes 5: 16-17


"Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding."  Ralph Waldo Emerson

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."  Mother Teresa

"I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it."  Dwight Eisenhower

"Lord, bid war's trumpet cease;
Fold the whole earth in peace."  Oliver Wendell Holmes

"We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace."  William Ewart Gladstone

"I am convinced that the women of the world, united without any regard for national or racial dimension, can become a most powerful force for international peace and brotherhood." Coretta Scott King

"Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me."
Seymour Miller & Jill Jackson, "Let There Be Peace on Earth," 1955

Friday, March 25, 2011


In the Gospel of St. Luke Chapter 1, the scripture story tells about the Angel Gabriel appearing to Mary--and announcing that she will conceive in her womb and bear a son, and name him Jesus--which means Savior. The story reveals Mary's humanity by saying she was deeply troubled--we can all relate to that feeling, right? and yet,... she listened to the angel and eventually said,..."be it done to me according to His word."

In this mystery we pray for the grace of joyful surrender to His will. To surrender means we give to God all that we are about--just as we are--whether happy or sad, anxious or serene, fearful or confident, doubting or believing.

This is a beautiful action we can make each morning from the moment we arise from slumber-a surrender to His will like Mary at the Annunciation. She uttered the anointed word, "Fiat!" which means "Yes"-- a word that can be reechoed in our daily life with whatever we face and especially in troubling circumstances....just like Mary, all lifted up and offered to Him knowing that as we offer this to Him we are emptying ourselves and allowing Him more room to work--to do His holy work--within us.

Come Holy Spirit

When Mary asked how it was possible for her to conceive a child when she had no husband the angel reassured her by saying, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you." These words are so powerful! I was directed in a week long silent retreat to pray this way.

Have you ever thought of praying like this in your daily life when you need direction--when you need inspiration? I hadn't, but now I do! Say, for example, you don't know exactly what to do about the problem of how to respond to your child's disappointing behavior. The very same prayer in any moment can be said, "Come Holy Spirit, may the power of the Most High overshadow me." And wait in silence, wait in prayer for the answer. And if nothing comes to you then ask the Lord to reveal it to you as you go about the day. It is my experience as I have practiced this more and more as a daily habit that wonderful ideas fill me and surprise me.

The Spirit, is with us always--not out there, but right within us, waiting for an invitation to do a deeper work within us.

"Nothing is impossible"

The Annunciation story continues as the Angel Gabriel further tells Mary that her kinswomen, Elizabeth, who was called barren, has also conceived a son in her old age and that "nothing is impossible with God."

As the Lord made Elizabeth fruitful after many years of being unable to bear fruit from her womb, so He can cause us to bear fruit where no fruit has been as we "live on in Him and He in you." (Jn 15:4) And so whatever seems impossible in our life right now is something we can surrender to the Lord, asking the Holy Spirit to come and standing in faith on His promise of His word. Mary stood on the promise of His word and like a handmaid she, in utter humility and total trust, surrendered her human will to the Father's divine will.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Interfaith Peace

In January of 2002, leaders of various faiths and widely differing beliefs gathered to pray for peace. What an unusual sight to see representatives of the world's major religions--Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox Christians--sitting side by side in the same sanctuary of a Catholic cathedral in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Upon the request of the late Pope John Paul II, Roman Catholic Bishop Edward J. Slattery called the leaders together. "We're here because we believe in the possibility of peace," he said. Each leader was given about seven minutes to pray for peace according to their own tradition.

Rev. William Christ, pastor of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, said, "We're always looking outside ourselves to make peace. If we want to transform the world, we must start by looking at ourselves. Only when we find peace within ourselves can we expect peace to come about in others." He quoted St. Seraphim who said, "Acquire the spirit of peace, and thousands around you will be saved."

Archaka Swamy Venugopal Swamy Gattu, priest of the Hindu Temple, chanted Hindu scripture that listed sins to be avoided--pride, envy, gluttony, lust, avarice, sloth--and the virtues to cultivate--righteousness and truth-speaking. He instructed his listeners to "try to cultivate love in your heart; a man without love is lifeless. If you find someone who is suffering, make all effort to give him solace."

Nguyen Van Hoa, from the Buddhist Temple, simply removed his shoes and stood in silence which spoke volumes, then chanted with the sounds of a bell and small drum.

Rev. Floyd Schoenhals, representing the Evangelical Lutheran Church, said Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the promise of peace on Earth. Jesus' gospel of peace, he said, heals broken relationships and creates a new humanity. The promise is for the reconciliation of all things in Christ.

Rabbi Howard Schwartz, prayed a prayer he learned in Hebrew as a youth, asking God to make Israel a messenger to the people of the world and the United States a stronghold of peace and advocate of peace to the nations.

Bishop Slattery said there can be no peace without justice and no justice without the forgiveness demonstrated by Christ, who forgave those who crucified him.

Clergy members came forward at the end of the service to sign a commitment to become instruments of peace.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all committed to becoming instruments of peace?

Resource: Tulsa World/B. Sherman

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


One of the most popular topics for the Women of Peace Workshop/Retreat is self-talk. Time after time this is women's number one choice.

So what do you say when you talk to yourself? Is it generally positive or generally negative? Are you kind and gentle? Or do you put yourself down? What thoughts that come into your mind do you choose to entertain?

Once when I needed some spiritual advise I went to a wise woman. I'll never forget what she said. "We can not control the thoughts that come into our minds, but we can choose to entertain them." Before that I mistakenly thought that I shouldn't even have certain thoughts, but after her guidance I realized that the choice was mine to dwell on something.  That truth set me free.

Developing a sound mind has much to do with what and how we choose to think about something or someone. Let's begin with ourselves. If I think of myself as ugly or stupid, how much glory is that giving God? Scripture exhorts us to think on these things..."whatever is true, whatever is right, whatever is pure, lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy..." Phil 4: 8

So what is true about ourselves? We are a beautiful child of God. We have been given many gifts. The Spirit has been given to help us in all things. Not just some things-all things. That's the truth. It's a lie to think we're ugly or stupid because the Spirit within us gives us knowledge and wisdom and beauty. Sometimes we beat ourselves up unnecessarily and waste so much energy that could be used for other creative endeavors.

Well, it's not just negative thoughts about ourselves but how about others? When someone annoys or angers us do we begin to let one negative thought lead to another and another until we are completely in a stew? Why not stop the thought processes at the beginning and choose to think about something good and lovely? It's again our choice, and it can apply to the varied circumstances of our lives.

We all want to be transformed into the best person possible. And how do we become a better person? "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." And look at the reward of that. "Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." Rm 12:2

Being our own best friend is good and healthy, so we must be kind to ourselves and treat ourselves with compassion. When we look at our face in the mirror, we can easily focus on the wrinkles and think, "Yuk, I'm losing it." But we can also just as easily look and tell ourselves, "What marvelous character lines that speak to my life's story." We have to reassess the value of the lines in our face and see with new eyes the greater meaning.  Again, what messages am I sending myself?

Negative thinking can be habitual, but like all bad habits, even addictions, they can be broken. With prayer, perseverance, the grace of God and the right choices, we can become all we are called to be. So let's be mindful of what we say when we talk to ourselves and make better choices to think on "whatever is true...excellent or praiseworthy."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

St. Therese

St. Therese of Lisieux, doctor of the Church, is an extraordinary saint who can be a great friend to you no matter what your profession of faith. Her heart's desire was to continue doing good on earth even after she died at age twenty-four. The Story of a Soul, her autobiography, is a priceless treasure full of wisdom and spiritual insight.  Therese said this about peace:

"May today there be peace within.
May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us."

Here's a gem she shared in her autobiography that has brought me immense peace:

"After Holy Communion one day He made me understand the significance of these words in the Canticle of Canticles: 'Draw me: we will run after Thee to the odour of Thy ointments.' So, Jesus, there is no need to say: In drawing me, draw also the souls I love. The simple words "Draw me" are enough! When a soul has been captivated by the intoxicating odour of Your ointments, she cannot run alone. Every soul she loves is drawn after her--a natural consequence of her being drawn to You."

In other words, when the Lord draws us closer to Him, our friends, children, husband, siblings, and parents are in turn drawn to Him.

Grace & peace,

Monday, March 21, 2011


A vivid image and experience of surrender came flooding into my mind's eye this morning. My husband and I were standing at the altar of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle with arms outstretched as we did on our thirty-first wedding anniversary last December when renewing our Benedictine oblation.

Following the ancient Benedictine tradition, we said the Suscipe three times:

"Receive me, O Lord, according to your word,
and I shall live;
let me not be put to shame in my hope." Ps 118:116

Or in a child's words, "Papa, I am yours!" 

Oh, the grace and peace in surrender, in the free act of offering ourselves to Him anew.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

People of Japan

My mother Kathryn's painting
How staggering to think of the tragedy that has fallen upon the country of Japan. One catastrophe is enough, but to suffer three simultaneously--earthquake, tsunami, nuclear plant crisis--is beyond comprehension.

I have a beautiful friend from Japan who lives here in Tulsa now. Her name is Sr. Maria Paula. She is a Catholic convert from Buddhism. When I wrote her to tell her how much her people were on my mind, she suggested I write a little poem about it. And so I simply did.

Loving Father, stretch out your hand,
On brothers and sisters in Japan.
We hear their cries within our hearts,
from them, O Lord, do not depart.

Our prayers this day, we do lift up,
and place them in your loving cup.
That covered in your precious blood,
they'll rise again despite quake and flood.

Let us not turn our eyes or ears,
but rather that the cross they bear,
be ours as well to You we plead,
and offer now each word and deed.

Thousands suffer, thousands died,
many missing once at their side.
Now children search for mom and dad,
the sorrow and grief, so truly sad.

Peace, we pray, be with them Lord,
no more hardship can they afford.
Within their homes and minds and hearts,
come quickly, Lord, do not depart.

Peace be with you and all the people of Japan,

Friday, March 18, 2011

Rule of St. Benedict for Lent

My husband and I are Benedictine Oblates with the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Yesterday we met with Father Mark Kirby, the Prior, for an explanation of The Rule of St. Benedict on Lent.

St. Benedict
Father Mark reminded us that Benedictine life is "an infirmary not Olympics. The Father monk applies the appropriate remedies to the other monks. God came to heal the sick and St. Benedict was fully aware of our human weaknesses and our tendencies toward discouragement."

"We urge the entire community during these days of Lent to keep its manner of life most pure...," said St. Benedict. This, Father Mark told us, is singleheartedness--keeping our hearts and minds fixed on the Lord. "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God." Mt 5:8

The Rule continues, "...and to wash away in this holy season the negligences of other times." This is a time of reparation, a time to make up for sins, especially those of omission. The sins we commit by failing to do something, like not reconcile with a friend or relative, for example, or reach out to a neighbor in need.

"Compunction of heart" is something St. Benedict stresses for Lent. Allowing our hearts to be open and touched. It is humility and contrition that bring us closer to God.

Adding to the "usual measure of service," St. Benedict encourages us to abstain from food and drink. Father Mark explained that means to go without something, but to do it in moderation.  "Our usual measure of service," he said, "is our worship. Everything is worship. It's all integrated and everything is sacralized."

We offer to God an oblation--a free act of self offering--"with the joy of the Holy Spirit," wrote St. Benedict. 1 Thess 1:6  Yes, Lent is a time to have the joy of the Lord, the joy of spiritual desire--Holy Pascha.

And finally St. Benedict warned against doing anything with "presumption and vainglory," so Father Mark recommended for those who are married that we seek our spouse's approval for our spiritual observances. This will help safeguard peace and harmony in our marriage relationships.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick

What a beautiful time of year during Lent to reflect upon the goodness of the Lord and all He has done for us. St. Patrick, of Ireland, loved the scripture verse, "What return can I make for all the good You have done for me?" Ps 116: 12"

Coming home from a 2006 pilgrimage to Ireland, the theme of which was "Follow in the Footsteps of St. Patrick," I read his Confession... on the airplane. Inspired by him and his writing, I wrote these questions so that I could reflect on the answers for my own life. I pray they may be of benefit to you.

  1. St. Patrick saw all he had as a gift.
      Do I see all I have as a gift from God?
"Every good and perfect gift is from above"...Jas 1:17
  1. Patrick spoke of converting with his whole heart.
      Have I converted with my whole heart?
      If not, have I asked God for the grace
      to convert with my whole heart? 

  1. Patrick spoke of making a return to God for all his benefits.
      What return am I making
      for all the good he has done for me?

  1. Patrick’s writings were out of the thanksgiving of his heart.
      How will I demonstrate my thanksgiving to God?

  1. Patrick used the words, “cry out.”
      Is the Lord asking me to cry out
      for someone or something?

  1. Patrick was prepared to give his life without hesitation.
      Am I willing to give even my life?
      If I am not, do I pray for this grace and strength?

  1. Patrick said God had mercy on him thousands and thousands of times.
      How has God shown his mercy to me?
      Be specific. Take time to see God’s mercy
      from the time I was born unto now.

  1. Patrick prayed for perseverance to be a faithful witness to the end of his life.
      Do I pray for perseverance?
      Do I truly want to be a faithful witness?

  1. St. Patrick was unlearned; he had not had an opportunity to study like other men.
      In our day and age,
      when we have been given so many
      educational opportunities,
      how much more responsibility do we have?

  1.  Patrick stressed that God had poured out the Holy Spirit abundantly upon him.
      Do I pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit
      upon myself and others?

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mother Teresa

At the 1976 International Eucharistic Congress, I had the opportunity to hear Mother Teresa speak to the people gathered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her simple yet profound way of speaking had a powerful effect on me. The words she spoke still echo within me today almost thirty-five years later.

"The poorest of the poor are often in our own homes," she exclaimed. Those were prophetic words for me. Instead of joining her Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, I realized I didn't have to go far away; there was plenty to do where I was.

"A smile is the beginning of peace," she used to say.

Mother Teresa didn't have to say much. God spoke through her and the words had tremendous life.

My vocation became teaching children with special needs who had severe and profound disabilities. Once I worked at a school where we served little ones birth through three years of age. They couldn't talk, walk, or feed themselves. A three year-old boy named Matthew had a profound effect on my life. He lived what Mother Teresa taught. Every morning he would crawl into my classroom from an adjoining room...crawl because his legs were too deformed to walk. Using his upper body strength, looking a bit like a mermaid from the rear, he grinned ear to ear and said, "Good morning!"

"If I can't wake up with a smile and a cheery attitude, then I have a problem," I'd think to myself. Even to this day, I see his face clearly. Now I can't get the smile off my face.

"A smile is the beginning of peace." And peace is the way.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Paschal Mystery

'Winter. Spring. Summer. Fall.
Our love is an endless season."
The words on darlin' and my wedding invitation.
The Paschal Mystery.
The dying, rising, and going forth.
The cycle spiraling and spiraling
throughout our lives,
within our days.

Four Japanese woodblock prints hang in our dining room.
Each depicting a certain season.
Winter. Spring. Summer. Fall.
The Paschal Mystery.

The seasons of our lives.
The points of dying to self, experiencing resurrection, 
and then going forth,
until our life on earth ceases.

Winter, the cold, the desert, the suffering,
the earthquake, the tsunami, the storm.
The seeking, straining and calling for help.
The surrender--complete and reverberating.
The cry, the wail, the sobbing, the repent.
The dying.

Spring, the blooming and flowering, the warmth and the rain.
The sight of new life.
The birth from the wait.
The warmth of the sun.
The fruit of the labor.
The flowering of beauty,
 and promise fulfilled.
The rising.
Summer, the continued sunshine, the harvest reaped. 
The ordinary and the stability.
The embrace of the routine,
 and the obedient service to humankind.
The rejoicing.
The going forth.

Fall, the return of the cold, the changing of colors,
the glory, then quickly the fading.
The planting of seed,
the hope of the spring.
The preparation for challenge,
and standing firm.
The dying--to begin again.

The Paschal Mystery like the four seasons within a year,
our lives, the world.

The mystery surrounds us, pervades us, summons us
to listen--listen with the heart--
for the "peace..beyond all understanding,"
which will "guard our hearts and minds,
in Christ Jesus." Php 4:7

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bridges of Peace

Dear friends,

Last Tuesday, March 8, 2011, the 100th anniversary of Women's Day International, over twenty women rallied together at the River Parks Pedestrian Bridge in Tulsa, Oklahoma U.S.A. in our first "Join Women on the Bridge" campaign.

Photos by Debbie Viuf

Despite the drizzly weather we dressed warmly carrying our umbrellas, signs and banners. Radio and TV stations were there too and we were grateful for much news coverage of the event which brought more attention to the issues of women in war-torn countries, for which we were rallying.

Women met on bridges in over 200+ events in the world, from Afghanistan to Mexico, Australia to Russia, and France to China, making a statement that "Stronger Women Build Bridges of Peace." (Women for Women International)

Our special guest speaker here in Tulsa was Leah Farish, a civil rights attorney, who has worked with the women in northern Africa. She brought a quilt with bright orange and yellow squares that the women of Algeria had made. Leah had promised them she would tell everyone she could about what was going on there. Before the end of the rally, a woman spontaneously suggested that we hold on to the quilt and pray for those women and all women in war-torn areas of the world.

New friends were made that day. Women, from teen-agers to some in their eighties, came together in a show of solidarity for our "sisters" who are suffering.

The dozen white balloons were let go. We watched like children as they drifted off into a sky that seemed to know that heaven and earth had bridged together that day.

Peace to everyone,

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Kindergarten Ashes

Dear friends,

Today I am reminded of the book Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Monday through Friday in the weekday afternoons, I work for two hours in a school a hop, skip and jump from my house.

Since it's Ash Wednesday, I arrived at school with ashes on my forehead that I received at Mass this morning.

The first children I tutor are kindergartners. Here's how the conversation went:

"You have black right there," pointing to my head.

"What is it?" I asked him.

"Probably a cold."

I said, "Like I'm sick?"

And another chimed in, "There's black on your brows. I don't know what it is. It looks like black hair."

When I said, "Look again," then someone saw the cross.

"A cross," I questioned, "why would that be there?"

A kindergartner replied, "Cuz God's been there."

And another child said, "Does God really be there?"

So the other child informed him, "If it has a cross--then God's been there."

"That's not true," said yet another.

So I asked, "Do you know what that means?"

And the child said, "If you love the cross, God will come to you and put a cross on your forehead...cuz it reminds you 'bout God and the cross he died on."

"How did you learn that?" I inquired further. "Did someone teach you?"

"No, I just know it! Wherever you go you can remember the cross."

His buddy said, "God died for our sins, probably that's how you got a cross on your head."

"What did He make us out of?" I questioned them again.

"Sticks and bones...and blood," they all decided.
I didn't have the heart to tell them "from dust we were made, to dust we shall return."

The kindergartners left and the third graders arrived.

"There's a cross on your forehead; it looks like you have a bruise."

"Oh," I seemed puzzled. "What does that mean?"

"God might be showing you a sign that you're doing well and he wants to praise you today."

And another student, "Are you thinking about people who died in your family?"

The first girl insisted, "He's trying to tell you a story."

The other girl continued, "I can't understand why it should be black instead of red."

"Why red?" I asked.

Their answers came spilling out.

"For love."

"Jesus blood. There was blood running down the cross."

So I told them why I received the ashes today..."From dust you came, to dust you shall return..."

Then someone posed the question, "How did people get invented?"

That half hour was over and the fifth graders arrived. They too saw the cross.

Immediately, one knew it was Ash Wednesday.

"Did you get baptized?" another asked me. "My sister got a cross on her forehead when she got baptized."

She got straightened out by the boy who knew it was Ash Wed. He told her it was "a thing at church."

So I told them that when I received the ashes these words were said, "From dust you came, to dust..."

"I'm filthy" one fifth grade girl blurted out. Then looking down, and then back up with a smile, said "rich!"

Grace & peace,

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Woman of Peace/Donna Wuerch

Greetings friends,

There's a couple whose witness of faith and love has forever changed our lives. My husband and I had the special privilege and honor of walking a profound faith journey with them. Donna amazed everyone who knows her by the peace she exemplified during the greatest challenge of their life. I asked Donna to share what "woman of peace" means to her. Here's what she said:

"Donna Wuerch = A Woman of Peace. Are you kidding? That just does not describe someone who was given the title of "Martha" by my husband, children, other women and my pastor so many times. I've been the worker, the doer and the fixer so much of my life. Just "being", or in the case of Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus - basking in Him - the Prince of Peace, did not fit in with my busy schedule. "After all... .someone had to prepare the meals, clean up afterwards and plan the next event!" At least that's what I thought.

In April, 2010, we received the doctor's call that said, "Ron (my husband) has Stage 4 Kidney Cancer". Yes, it was a shock to our entire family and friends. But, instead of being in that place of insurmountable despair, worry and concern, I found myself covered by a sweet "blanket of peace". For almost eight months, through six surgeries, treatments, doctors' appointments, tests, then hospice, to ultimately, my Sweetheart's graduation to heaven, I have known the "peace that passes all understanding". How is it explained?

For many, many years, even though I was so busy attending to the many things that life requires, I still planted God's Word deeply within my heart. In our faith tradition, we sign ourselves with the cross on our foreheads, our mouths and our hearts at the time of the Gospel reading. In so doing, we are saying, "I receive the Word in my mind, in my mouth and in my heart." That is exactly what I did.

I read God's Word, believed it was true, spoke it and meditated on it. I was planting words like Isaiah 26:3 "Him I will keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon me."; John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."; Philippians 4:6,7 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." And, after the planting, I received a bumper crop harvest of peace, and that peace continues to guard, sustain and keep my heart and my mind, even to this day - three months after my husband's passing.

Yes, I am a Woman of Peace. Perhaps, I am still a little more "Martha", than "Mary" - but, daily, as I purpose to break away to embrace Him, my Prince of Peace, and sit in His presence...just a little longer, then I will start to bear a striking resemblance to Him. Maybe, then, I'll become known as His 'Princess of Peace'."

Peace be with you,

Monday, March 7, 2011

Morning Prayer

Dear friends,

Every morning as my head lifts from the pillow
and I stretch in bed, I say this prayer:

"Dear Lord, I adore your Sacred Heart,
which I desire to enter with acts of
love, praise, adoration, and thanksgiving.
I offer You my own heart
as I sigh to You from its very depths,
asking that You will work through me
in all that I do this day;
thus may I draw You closer to me
than You were before.
I offer You all the crosses
and sufferings of the world,
in union with Your life on earth,
in expiation for sins.
Please join my every action and heartbeat
to the pulsations of your heart.
I unite all my works of this day
to those labors You performed
while You were on earth,
bathing them in Your precious Blood,
and I offer them to the Heavenly Father
so that many souls may be saved. Amen." 

This prayer can be found in the little book,
Prayers and Heavenly Promises by Joan Carroll Cruz.

May we be closely united to Him today in our hearts and actions.

Peace be with you,

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Circus Man

Dear friends,

In 2001 my mother and I were boarding a flight from Dallas to Mexico City on a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  As we walked down the aisle on the plane I was looking ahead to locate our assigned seats. As we got closer and closer I could see a very unusual sight. Sitting next to my mother's assigned seat was a man whose face was completely covered in fur-like hair. Astonished and concerned for my mother I sat down next to him and had my mother sit across the aisle.

I felt extremely perplexed about who this person was and if the fur-like hair on his face was real, or if he might be playing a joke and wearing a mask. I didn't want to stare so I just peeked from time to time. I would ask myself, "Is it covering his whole face?" I'd peek and look again. Then another question, "Is it on his hands?" Peek and look again. It was so strange, so unusual, so uncomfortable that I didn't say a word to him.

The stewardess came along and for some reason asked the man to change seats which he did.

Throughout our pilgrimage this man's face was in my mind's eye. I found out later that he was part of a Mexican family who for five generations has suffered from a very rare condition known as hypertrichosis which causes an excessive amount of body hair primarily from genetic factors. The family has been segregated from Mexican society and can only obtain work in the circus. The brothers are known for their daredevil acts in the Mexican circus.

Some people perceive them as wolves--insulting them, howling at them, saying unkind things to them--treating them like people from another world. One of the young men of the family, quoted by the US News, said, "I don't take it seriously. I know who I am inside."

Profound--utterly profound, "I know who I am inside." How many of us with no obvious abnormality can make such a statement?

I deeply regret missing my opportunity that day to meet a special man, to speak kind words to him, to treat him with dignity and respect. He came to me as significant gift and I will never forget him.

May we have the grace like him to know and be at peace with who we are on the inside.


Thursday, March 3, 2011


Dear friends,

Next Tuesday on March 8th, thousands of women across the globe will be meeting on bridges in a second annual "Join me on the Bridge" campaign building bridges of peace and calling for an end to violence against women in zones of conflict. In 2010 over 20,000 people took part in 119 events across 21 countries. This year thousands more are expected with 200+ events confirmed. 

That day marks the 100th anniversary of Women's Day International, and "we will honor our mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers" who took a strong and brave stand for women’s equality 100 years ago. (Women for Women Int'l)

We will be gathering from China to Australia, Europe to the Congo, Mexico to Pakistan, Russia to the U.S. carrying signs and banners with messages of peace that read, "No to War," "Stop the violence," Yes to Peace." Many women in places like the Congo and Rwanda will be walking for hours or days to get to their bridges.

We will stand in solidarity with women from war-torn countries particularly, this year, for the women of Afghanistan who need a seat at the peace negotiation table in an effort to help rebuild their country. "One hundred brave Afghan women, who are suffragettes of today, will stand on a bridge in Kabul, to take a stand on two fronts:
  • To demand a seat on the High Peace Council, known as 'the Jirga'. The Jirga is negotiating with the Taliban at the expense of women's rights.
  • To oppose a new law being presented by the Karzai government that will decentralize the justice system so that individual cases are settled by local Jirgas (councils)." (Women for Women Int'l)  

We will stand strong, here in Tulsa, Oklahoma U.S.A., on Tuesday, March 8th at 11 :00 AM on the River Parks Pedestrian Bridge, as a sign of unity and our commitment to help build bridges of peace across the world today.

We can not turn a deaf ear or close our eyes to the suffering of women in this world. Some may be next door to us; some may be in our own families. A women who is suffering violence and abuse and in despair needs another woman to tell her that there is hope for the future--that their lives can find new meaning and purpose, and that with support of others they can rebuild their lives.

For more information about this inspiring movement across the world go to this link:
I encourage you to open it and click on the video in the upper right corner. There you will see for yourself the images of women who are telling their stories and causing our hearts to be changed forever.

Peace in our hearts, our homes and in the world,

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hiding Place

Dear Friends,

There's a beautiful song I've been singing lately called "You are my Hiding Place" by Michael Ledner. The words say, "You are my hiding place. You always fill my heart with songs of deliverance, whenever I am afraid I will trust in You. I will trust in You. Let the weak say, 'I am strong in the strength of the Lord.' I will trust in You."

It reminds me of some prose I wrote in 1996 that I'd like to share with you. I had retreated to a chapel--a "hiding place"; somewhere I could have some peace and quiet. Particularly for you young mothers, I remember the whirlwind of motion going on in our lives at that time. The children's extracurricular activities kept us constantly on the go. I look back on that period and think, "How did we do all that?"

O restful haven, an oasis in the desert.
Here I come to surrender myself to you.
All that I am, good and bad,
the rich and poor parts of me.
And You--You take me as I am,
no one on earth can equal that.

Your arms surround me,
0 how happy I am to be with You.
Great Lover, 0 that You are!

I'm parched, I'm pining, I'm dusty, I'm dry,
I need to be bathed in the rivers of Your life,
renewed by the springs You promised.
You, 0 Faithful God are true to Your word,
alone are You in this.

Your grace has drawn me to this place.
I struggled to get here, so many obstacles in the way,
some I'm sure I created for myself, others--
I laid down my life for others,
my children depending on me.
I am in need Lord, in need to rid myself
of unwanted self and pride.
Thinking I can do anything on my own,
how foolish of me.

Exhausted I lie, no ounce of my own strength
can renew me now.
Only You Good God--You
who breathed life and energy into me in the beginning.
Breathe life into me as I surrender to You, Lord.
Give grace that breaks all resistance
to fall into your loving embrace.
Take away all my fear
and give me childlike trust in my Father's arms.

I feel my soul quieting now;
I've escaped the hurricane winds,
the whirlwind pace that has swept me
far too long.
The quiet here is as if I'm in a space capsule—
far away from earth,
traveling above time and beyond gravity.

Let me tumble into Your embrace,
for I know You love me,
and I want to love You in return.

May we truly find that hiding place--that home within--where we feel peaceful, protected, and refreshed.

Abundant blessings of peace,

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Woman of Peace/Dianne Hogue

Dear friends,

Today's "Woman of Peace" is Dianne Hogue. Our footsteps providentially crossed in 1998 when we served in the same public school. She exuded light, life and love from the moment I met her and more so now. Here are her reflections of peace. She says:

"I believe scripture teaches that peace begins with faith.  We see in Romans 5:1 that we have peace with God because of our faith in His work to present us justified before the Father through Jesus Christ.

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."  

When we accept Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, we are brought into a right relationship with God; We are justified. We are made righteous through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

Can we really have true peace with others if we have not been reconciled to God and enjoy peace with Him?

All through scripture righteousness and peace are linked together. We read in Isaiah 32 that peace is the fruit of rightheousness. So taking that in a logical sequence of events, it seems that if we are attuned to right living (making the choices of doing what is right because of the provision of Jesus), then we can expect peace to follow. Hard choices and right choices are not always easy but they are always possible.

Psalm 85 states:
   "Love and faithfulness meet together; 
   righteousness and peace kiss each other." 

 Isaiah 32
  "The LORD’s justice will dwell in the desert, 
      his righteousness live in the fertile field. 
  The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; 
      its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. 
  My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, 
     in secure homes, 
     in undisturbed places of rest."

  I am reminded of this admonition in Psalm 34:
    "Turn from evil and do good; 
        seek peace and pursue it."

True peace is about so much more than just the absence of conflict.  It encompasses seeing that all of God's creation operates in quiet harmony.  I am always reminded of Mother Teresa when I think of true peace.  She went about doing good, bringing peace and understanding but with a firm resolve that what society deemed as the "lowliest among us" should be treated with utmost respect and cared for properly.

When seeking peace, we are seeking the face of God Himself manifested through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Maybe that is what it means when scripture says, "Righteousness and peace kiss each other."

Righteousness is God, I have His peace because of Jesus--I am kissing the face of God."


What a beautiful expression, " I am kissing the face of God." May we all long for this.
To access Dianne's blog site, click here.