Advent Reflections – December 8, 2015

Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception! Today’s feast is near and dear to my heart. The chapel at the University of Dayton where I went to college is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception.

Today also marks the beginning of the Year of Mercy. Click here to learn more about the incredible opportunities we have to celebrate and participate in this year.


Able to Love without Requiring Love in Return: The Reality of Motherhood

The most fundamental task of motherhood is giving life, being open to life. Coupled with this live-bearing ability is the capability of loving another person, even if there is no expectation of reciprocal love. When a woman first conceives a child, for the first few months the only signs of the life growing within her are nausea,  fatigue, odd eating habits, new sensitivity to certain smells, and random bouts of tears during commercial breaks.

Our son John, around 8 weeks

She has felt no movement, sometimes hasn’t even heard a heartbeat yet. But already she is making extraordinary changes for the sake of her not-yet-known child.  Perhaps she is quitting smoking. She has reduced or ceased drinking alcohol. She is sleeping more and has increased the amount of water she is drinking. Very likely she is more closely watching her diet. She is or will be going to the doctor regularly.

The reality is that this new life has at this point, given her nothing. But in the depths of her heart, indeed her very being, this child is grown in love. The changes, the suffering, the anxiety, all come from this deep place of love.

Do you love anyone without needing them to love you in return?

Happy Thanksgiving


Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within the reach of every hand. – Mother Teresa


Today we celebrate Thanksgiving. Today is a day when we slow down, gather together, and bring to mind the things that we are grateful for. For some this year, there will be many things to be thankful for. Others may struggle, perhaps it was a year of hardship, difficulty or loss. Each year is unique and therefore, each Thanksgiving is filled with different hopes, joys, and sorrows.

This beautiful quote from Mother Teresa is appropriate for today. Regardless of the year you have had, love is always in season. God is Love. God’s love for each of us is never ending, untiring and ever merciful. It is never out of season, it is always in style.

It is my hope and prayer today that you are able to find time to spend with God, our creator and lover. I hope that you are able to recognize that no matter the year you’ve had, God’s love has been with you and will continue to be. When we extend our hands in thanksgiving, we realize our loving God has already filled them.

Happy Thanksgiving


Snail Mail

If you’re anything like me, you love snail mail. I don’t necessarily mean the sending part (sorry Dad, your birthday card is coming, I promise!) I’m not very good at the writing and sending part. Thank you notes are a necessary evil and always require a glass of wine, sometimes two. I am a horrible pen pal and always send “happy belated birthday” cards (again, sorry Dad!)

But, I love to be on the receiving end of snail mail. There is nothing better than walking up to your front door and seeing that package waiting. I wonder who sent it? What could be inside? Excitement grows as you pick it up and give it a little shake, which admit it, you still do even as an adult. You check the return label and your excitement either grows or diminishes, depending on the sender. Is it the new group set for your bike that you have been anxiously waiting for from England (Ben’s current anticipated package)? Is it the dress you found and have been crossing your fingers actually fits since shopping online doesn’t let you try anything on? Or, even better, is it a surprise, something you didn’t order but that some other person has lovingly sent you?

Yes, there’s nothing better than that special note in the mailbox or package by your front steps, especially when it isn’t something you ordered yourself. Someone was thinking about you. They were aware of your presence in their life. Even more incredibly, they cared enough to write you a card, buy you a gift, return something you forgot, etc. and send it to you.

There is something extremely gratifying about receiving mail. Some little corner of our heart is satisfied when we open that letter. In the moments before we actually open the letter (since not all letters or packages contain good news), our day is a little brighter and our feelings of self-worth and importance burn a little stronger. These letters and packages are capable of eliciting extraordinary responses in us, even for a few seconds.

Now here comes the question – why? Why can receiving a letter cause such a response? I have a theory, one you may or may not like or resonate with. I believe that we all, for one reason or another, have a hard time grappling with self-worth. It’s an easy enough thing to doubt, especially given the “standards” our culture impresses upon us.

Are you tall enough? Pretty enough? Strong enough? Make enough money? Have your kids in the right sports or music lessons? Attend the right school? Have the right job? Have the right spouse? The right house?

Are you patient enough? Honorable enough? Charismatic? Outgoing? Social? A good listener? Funny? Confident?

You can add your own “necessities” to the list. These unrealistic notions of perfection leave us feeling successful in some areas and woefully ill-equipped and incapable in others. It’s a problem we all have and that we all allow ourselves to have. When we measure our worth based on the world’s standards, we will always come up short.

Thankfully, I do not have to rely on others and how many letters or packages they send me (or that I send to myself) to prop up my feelings of self-worth. As a person, I am made in the image and likeness of God. God unconditionally and eternally loves me. Unconditionally – it doesn’t matter what I do or don’t do, He loves me. Eternally – it doesn’t matter how much time passes or how long I choose to ignore or defy God and His will, He loves me.

There is a song out right now that speaks to this. It’s called “I Don’t Need My name in Lights” by Francesca Battistelli. Here are some of the lyrics:

You saw my heart
And made
Something out of nothing

I don’t need my name in lights
I’m famous in my Father’s eyes
Make no mistake
He knows my name
I’m not living for applause
I’m already so adored
It’s all His stage
He knows my name

The music video is here for the whole song:

So I guess moral of this little story is that snail mail is fun – embrace it! Maybe even send some snail mail of your own, even if you need a glass of wine or a good TV show to accomplish the task. And finally, know where your self-worth comes from. I can promise you, you won’t find enough in your mailbox to satisfy your heart.