Bernadette, Friend and Guide

One of the first movies that captivated me as a young child was a film called “The Song of Bernadette.” A black and white classic now, it tells the story of Bernadette Soubirous, a poor French girl who encountered a “beautiful lady” on the banks of the river Gave in a place called Massabielle, in Lourdes, France. Quite unexpectedly, her story resurfaced when I was an adult and inspired me to do more research about her. I learned that Bernadette was very different from the way she was portrayed in the film. She wasn’t afraid and tearful like actress Jennifer Jones. Rather, she was fierce, determined and laughed all the time. Now that’s my kind of saint!  Bernadette has since become an important spiritual guide and friend to me. When I feel the weight of the world, I gaze at her photograph and gather strength. I especially like this one because it looks like she’s suppressing a laugh. Bernadette reminds me to take only God seriously and the rest of life lightly, the true path of holiness

by DC

Spiritual Mothers

For many years I longed for a spiritual mother, someone with supernatural ease and grace, into whose arms I could fly in times of turmoil.  I do have a lovely relationship with Blessed Mother but the desire for someone in the flesh remained. About sixteen years ago, I began facilitating retreats for women in the hopes of providing a spiritual well for others thirsting for a pool of feminine wisdom. Today, when I think of significant people who have changed my life, the women who have poured out their hearts on retreat immediately flood my mind. They have held my hand, dried my tears, made me laugh, and nurtured me in a myriad of ways inexpressible. They have trusted each other and opened the doors to the deep, mystical thresholds that few people are allowed to cross. Bonds of grace connect us even after the retreat experiences. Beyond my wildest expectations, spiritual mothers continually appear, disguised as friends, teachers, and family members, the Body of Christ, the feminine face of God.

by DC

Fr. Louis Knight, Founding Pastor

Soon after I came to the parish, I met our founding pastor, Fr. Louis Knight. His reputation proceeded him. He was a powerful presence and legendary stories of his vast intellect and stony personality surrounded him. Intimidated, I did my best to avoid him. But the parish was small then and he had a keen eye for strangers in the midst. We came face-to-face one evening after a religious education class. “Who are you?” he asked. Taken aback, I simply answered, “A teacher and seeker.” He smiled shyly and wanted to know more. That was the beginning of a series of talks we had about God and faith. Later, he asked me if I would consider joining the parish staff. I was incredulous and refused politely. But he was persistent and persuasive. Eventually, I left my beloved teaching position at Saddleback College to forge a new path. Out of the blue, my mission in life radically changed because of one priest who took a chance on a seeker. Underneath the gruff exterior was a loving, compassionate and prophetic Christ figure who changed lots of lives, not just mine.

by DC

Thanks Fr. Ron Rolheiser

There is an old saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, Catholic theologian, author, and speaker, appeared in my life quite unexpectedly many years ago when I attended the Religious Education Congress in Anaheim. I had never heard of him but was intrigued by the unique title of his presentation. Only about forty people were in attendance that day but when Fr. Ron spoke, I immediately felt my heart swell and my mind expand. After the talk, I awkwardly introduced myself and tried to express my feelings but was teary and tongue-tied. When his book, The Holy Longing, was published, I was deeply touched. It is still the best book on spirituality I have ever read. In 2001, I spent two weeks studying with Fr. Ron in Louvain, Belgium. During that time, we established a friendship that I cherish to this day. Much more than possessing theological insights, Fr. Ron embodies what it means to image forth Christ with his gentle way, uproarious humor, and embrace of all that is Good, Beautiful, and True. I am humbled to know and love him. He truly has changed my life.

by DC

Sign up for his reflections: http://ronrolheiser.com/en/#.WarLbLKGODI

Who Should Be Canonized?

While on my daily walks or doing home tasks, I find great enjoyment listening to spiritually-themed podcasts. One of my recent favorites, “Jesuitical,” is produced by some creative young folks who work with Jesuits. These are not your ordinary millennials! Their religious outlook is quirky, amusing and refreshing as they report Church news and do interviews with people rarely heard elsewhere. At the end of each interview, guests are invited to name someone they think should be canonized. It can be a person living or dead, someone they know personally or simply by their writings or deeds. It is fascinating to hear who people choose and why. Every time, I am surprised and delighted. Consequently, as we dive into September and the Fall season, we thought it might be fun to write about the significant people who have changed our lives. Finding God in relationships is not a new idea but here is an opportunity to be collectively grateful for the many companions who have graced and blessed our lives. Welcome, September!

by DC

Link to Jesuitical Podcast: https://jesuitical.podbean.com/

The Mute Button

Did you ever wish you could press the mute button on the noise of life?  I love that little feature on my electronic devices. For a brief moment, there are no little noises, beeps, or prods disturbing the quiet. Many people tell me they wish they had a mute button for the bombarding thoughts that arise when they pray or at night when they are longing for rest; when they cannot stop thinking about what was said or felt that day, or the unfinished to-do list. To remedy this, what sages often call “monkey mind,” I practice contemplative prayer, sometimes called meditation or mindfulness.  It is a simple way to pray by sitting still and combining a centering prayer or sacred word with breathing. After being in the stillness for a short period of time each day, my soul is like a leaf floating in God’s ever-present lake of grace, heightening a calm awareness when I go back to my daily routine. I like to think of it as God’s original mute button, always ready and available no matter where I am.

by DC

For more about contemplative prayer:


Divine Coincidence

Monday was a big day on our planet. Literally, millions of people drove untold miles to view the total eclipse of the sun. The growing excitement was contagious! After the anticipation and waiting were finally over, I was fascinated not only with the phenomena itself (I watched it mainly on television since I live in Southern California) but also with the reactions of those who said it was a spiritual experience. There were tears, expressions of wonder, awe, beauty, and humility. Perhaps since we live in such tumultuous times, this event made people feel the joy of being alive and primally connected under the same sky. For a brief few moments, everyone was united in the happy surprise that such a cosmic event brings into the mundane. Vatican astronomer Brother Guy Consolmagno, said it was a “divine coincidence” of science, a time when everyone experienced the glory of God’s creation first hand, making us feel both small and infinitely blessed. Afterward, on just another ordinary day in August, I prayed that this memory of unity could linger on forever.

by DC

The Assumption of Mary

Assumption of MaryToday the Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. As I ponder the mystery of her life, my heart is grateful for knowing what her presence means to humanity. Considering Mary’s life parallel to ours, we experience all of the events she experienced–birth, ordinary life, love, relationships, sorrow, letting go, death and finally resurrection both of the soul and body. Fear of the future dissipates when I look at her path as my own life’s pattern, for Mary represents a “wild, immaculate love,” unfettered by conditions, prejudices, social, cultural, and economic constraints.  Besides mass, each year, I traditionally go to the beach, a symbol of Mary’s womb, on August 15th, to re-dedicate my personal spiritual path. Wading into the waves with prayerful intention cleanses and renews my soul. My center, anchored in the heart of the Holy Mother, gifts me with a feeling of strength and serenity. The day is made holy by this opportunity of grace, never an obligation.

by DC