Category Archives: Forming Our Faith

Articles from The Catholic Herald.

Just to be is a blessing… (Abraham Heschel)

Observing sacrificial practices for Lent seem to be in the bones of Catholics. Prayer,
Fasting and Almsgiving are the traditional ways to prepare for the Holy Triduum and
celebrate the pascal mystery; the dying and rising of Jesus Christ, which broke the
chains of death for humanity. It is a penitential season when we examine our lives and
own the sinfulness. It is a time to try to transform our lives to more reflect our faith in
God, our desire to follow Jesus, to simply become a better person.

This week when visiting a friend in Hospice, it came to me, that one sin I could claim, is
that of taking the good things in my life for granted. As I walked out to the parking lot I
thought, I am going home. My friend and his wife were not going to sleep peacefully,
that night, with their children in their home. I shouldn’t take going home for granted.
I shouldn’t take for granted that I can walk to my car! After helping my sister for several
months as she recovers from an accident that left her with shattered legs and now is
learning to walk again, I shouldn’t take that I can still walk for granted.

I write this after just finishing our uplifting Confirmation Retreat and listening to witness
talks of the hardships some of our friends have endured. I thought I shouldn’t take my
health for granted. I shouldn’t take this community for granted. I shouldn’t take that I
was born to a family that raised me in a faith-filled and loving home for granted. It is so
easy to take the everyday goodness of being alive for granted. The Confirmation talks
were a witness of faith because each person found strength and goodness beyond their

How would we be better people if we weren’t taking things in our life for granted? What
if we practiced being grateful this Lent and renounce the sin that takes the many gifts of
life for granted?

Unshakable faith develops as we take each moment, and thing, and person and
experience, as gifts from God, not for granted.

February: First Loved

February is not my favorite month. A few of our Christmas decorations are droopily
hanging outside. It’s just too cold to make the effort to take them down. Does every
family have someone sick these days… with some known or unknown virus? The days
are getting longer… but not that much. Lent is between us and Spring.

For me, love, redeems February. In the middle of the month is the holiday of love,
Valentine’s Day. I so enjoyed the project of decorating a Valentine bag as a child and
making valentines for my classmates. I am happily surprised that my husband invited
me out for dinner on a weeknight. I am up for any reason to crack open the chocolate. I
am looking forward to our all-parish fundraiser, Hearts on Fire. More than anything I am
delighted to have an excuse to lift up the theological virtue, Love, to remind us of the
grace of being loved.

There are so many divisive forces it seems in our local and global world. I appreciate
being reminded of the simple sentiments and symbols of love. My prayer this month is
to try to soak in God’s love. More than anything I want to grow in trust of being first
loved by God. If we need a day, a holiday, a celebration, a season to just remember
that… I am grateful.

C.S Lewis said, “Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.” So,
whatever February is bringing, or not, maybe it is a good time in this middle of winter, to
check in on how well we are caring for ourselves and others, how evident is our love, in
our words and actions, remembering, “We love, because He first loved us.” (1John 4:

Groundhog Day Revisited

These past months of this pandemic has been likened to the movie
Groundhog Day, when the main character wakes up to relive the same day
over and over again. The futility of it was exhausting for the main character.

Might we all confess to feelings like this? Seriously, we aren’t out of this
yet? We live in the Groundhog Day of continual news of depressing
statistics of illness, crowded hospitals and overwhelmed healthcare
workers. How many people do you know who had revised plans for
Christmas? Some schools found themselves back to virtual learning.
Sometimes we need a scorecard to keep track of who is in and out of
quarantine. The list goes on of disruptions, disappointments,
inconveniences, cancellations, and even in some cases severe illness and

The editor of this Newsletter, Michelle Lucas and I were discussing this.
She said, “We attempt to continue life as normal, but it’s not normal. This in
between time is so strange. The constant decision making paired with
analyzing risk is exhausting, yet I feel like we need to live life and model
living life with faith, not fear.”

It seems we are somewhere between the beginning of this and hopefully a
time when it isn’t a main topic of discussion or planning. We are living in
this liminal time. We are not here, and we are there.

I found some direction in Pope Francis’ New Year’s wishes to the world. He
acknowledged, the pandemic is hard, but he encouraged people to focus
on the good which unites us.

The Pope’s words came back to me at our high school sophomore retreat
on Catholic Social teaching this past weekend. The topic itself was uplifting,
thinking about how our Catholic Church has held up the dignity of the
human person and prioritizes care for the vulnerable. “Whatever you do to
the least of others, that you do for me.”

While planning for the retreat I was focused on who couldn’t make it, for
one reason or another. But when I got there, I could focus on who was
there and how beautiful the retreat experience was! I hope every parent of
a student on the retreat or helped with it reads this. You can be so proud of
your sons and daughters. They conducted themselves with respect for the adults, their peers, and the topic. They processed the ethic of care for others with kindness and maturity. Led by Taylor Baar, our outstanding youth minister, and supported by the older teens, college students and
adults, the teachings came alive. I felt uplifted. I was witnessing this
meaningful formation, of the future church.

Here in our own little community, I saw vibrant faith and care for others. I
saw the young church focusing on the good that unites us. This community
was living life in faith, not fear. We aren’t out of this pandemic, but we are
holding together the threads of faith, and the Church is prevailing through it.