Comfort Food

Lately, with all the violence and natural disasters, the world has felt like a combat zone to me. My heart has reached out for comfort through prayer and what I call, “autumn foods,” soups, stews, and casseroles. Both prayer and “comfort food” feed our souls. When I had a heart attack in the Fall several years ago, I received an outpouring of casseroles, chili, and all manner of “family style food.” It was a manifest of love and care from one heart to another. From that point on I knew what a gift of love a prepared meal can be both to give and to receive. While preparing food for the poor, I have opened my heart in prayer for every unknown recipient. I am reminded that God feeds us all at His table at every Mass. His unconditional love and mercy pours out to cleanse and strengthen our souls so that we might live in His grace forever. Please enjoy my favorite Savory White Chili recipe made with ground turkey.


by Gracie

Question for All Seasons

For me, the energy of autumn has always represented the changing out of the old and making way for the new, which leads to the pondering of something eternal. Recently, a friend called to say she was incredibly inspired by a homily given by a priest speaking during a mass at the Caruso Center at USC. After spending several years in Calcutta serving the poor with St. Mother Teresa, he was sure this work was his calling and asked if he could stay and permanently. But when she asked him if he would give up his American passport in order to stay, he realized that he couldn’t do that. Mother Teresa replied, “Then, this is not your Calcutta. Go back to the US and find your ‘Calcutta’.” I am inspired by this question. How can I serve God and how am I already serving God in a way that administers to the immediate needs of others?”

by Gracie

My Nana

Nonna, Abuela, YaYa, Bibi, Awa, and Babuska, are all names for Grandmother from countries around the world. My “Nana” was my Mother’s mother.  Some of my oldest and fondest memories are being rocked in her arms in the small rocker that had come across America in a covered wagon. I remember the love in her eyes and her sweet voice lulling me to sleep. The cookie jar was always filled with homemade chocolate chip cookies. She let me be me and more than any other person in my life, she showed me what unconditional love was like. She lived in a retirement community from age seventy-two until she passed away at age one-hundred and four. While there, she encouraged women to knit, crochet, and do needlepoint, all crafts of women from her era. All the items were then sold at a bazaar. It became an annual event and with the first money raised they purchased an ice cream machine for their community. What I wanted most growing up was to be like my “Nana,” loving, creative, compassionate, and giving.

by Gracie


St. Hildegard of Bingen

I was first introduced to Hildegard of Bingen a decade before I became Catholic. As a lover and performer of classical music, I stumbled across the most spirit filled and mystery driven Renaissance music I had ever heard. Curious about the composer, I began researching Hildegard. What I discovered was Hildegard of Bingen was a “renaissance woman’ to rival Leonardo da Vinci! She is a Christian mystic, visionary and considered the founder of the scientific natural history in Germany. Born in 1098, she wrote liturgical songs, theological, botanical, and medical texts, as well as poetry. Her music fills me with the presence of God as experienced entering a European Cathedral, built in the Middle Ages, with ceiling arches arching to heaven, and light streaming from stained glass windows, the air heavy with the prayers from generations of souls long departed. Please enjoy, Saint Hildegard’s, Spiritus Sanctus.


by Gracie

Walt Disney’s Magic

I started working at Disneyland nine years after it opened. When Walt Disney visited “the Park,” word would spread like wildfire! As a tour guide, my job was to share Walt’s vision. Can you imagine what it’s like to be tasked with spreading joy, magic and fairy dust on all who entered beneath the tunnels of the Santa Fe Railroad? Walt invested his creativity in a place where humanity could leave its daily cares aside and enter a world, with family and friends that would transform reality into awe and wonder, giggles and laughter. I would regularly come home from an exhausting day’s work exhilarated, bubbling over with stories to share. Similarly, Christ’s love fills me with awe and wonder that flows from deep gratitude. I often come away from prayer renewed, feeling blessed, and held in eternal love. Walt Disney wanted to give people keys to the “Magic Kingdom.” Christ wants us all to have the keys to eternal life! From California Adventure, please enjoy “Soaring over California.”


by Gracie

Gift of Friendship

Rita’s power was in her gentle unconditional love and acceptance of all who crossed her path. She was a passionate, uncompromising, musician and a lively advocate for music education. In fact, she made her living doing just that for the OC Philharmonic Society. Very smart, she had a mind like a steel trap. She was an example in my world of how kindness and affirming acceptance brings out the best in people. Rita was diagnosed with cancer and was gone within ten days of that diagnosis. I was devastated! The night before she passed I awoke in the middle of the night overwhelmed with grief. I tried everything to calm myself down but even praying didn’t help. I started to say the “Hail Mary.” I choked up at the beginning on the line, “Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.” Slowly a calmness began to come over me as if being held in eternal love. Then I fell into a deep and restful sleep. Please enjoy the Beatles rendition of “Let It Be.”


by Gracie

Inspired by Audrey Hepburn

I first fell in love with Audrey Hepburn as a “tweener” in 1959 after seeing the movie Green Mansions. She continued to charm in Roman Holiday and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I fell in love with her elegant sense of style and whimsical characters. However, more charming to me was her generous, service oriented spirit. Having received aid from UNICEF as a young woman post-WWII in Holland, she would later become the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1988. Audrey traveled to more than twenty countries meeting children who were struggling every day to survive. She is credited with saying, “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says,”I’m possible.” She has inspired me my entire life to always be myself, give to others unconditionally, and believe in myself when things get tough. I have the following quote of hers on a small easel on my nightstand, “For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”

by Gracie

Our Superstar

Going to the theater is like taking a vacation for me. Last Saturday I went to see the rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar,” music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Tim Rice. I first saw it thirty-eight years ago. I found myself equally in love with the music but my, oh my, has my theology changed! Back in the day, the depiction of Jesus as human and praying to God, as an exhausted son, separated from the Father, was plausible to me. Today I can’t imagine my Lord ever separated from His Father or His earthly mission. In the Garden of Gethsemane, when He asked, “Father, if it be your will, let this cup pass from me,” He made a statement all of us can identify with. But when He said, “Your will be done Father, not mine.” He showed us the way to salvation. Please enjoy Sarah Brightman singing Mary Magdalene’s famous song from Jesus Christ Superstar, “I Don’t Know How To Love Him.”


by Gracie