Acts of Kindness

At the beginning of Advent, I made a new prayer promise to help me prepare for Christ’s birth into my heart once again. I vowed to do something kind for someone different each day. One day, I sent a Starbuck’s card and note to my brother-in-law, who was having a particularly hard day. I sent a friend a meaningful song that had recently spoken to me. I reached out to relatives across the country to express my gratitude and love for them in my life. As I sealed my Christmas cards, I said a prayer specifically for each family and friend addressed on the envelope. It was a powerful experience for me and it changed the way I pray.  I knew this couldn’t just be an Advent activity; this is how I should be living every day. Through this new resolution, I am allowing God to transform my heart for others.

by CMM

Growing Pains

For years I had avoided purchasing a “smartphone.”  Not because I am a luddite, but in hopes of preserving an old-fashioned kind of privacy; the solitude that comes from being occasionally unavailable. Finally, younger heads prevailed (my adult children) and I was dragged into the twenty-first century.  Now I can text and skype and email with abandon like a normal human being. Also, I can check the latest political news. This is a problem. I am a complete political junky. Yesterday morning I resolved I will spend less time checking on my favorite political nemesis and more time contemplating the astounding grace that is offered to us in every blade of grass, every shaft of moonlight, every fellow human that we encounter on our journey.  Yesterday afternoon several family members and I visited an ancient sycamore tree growing near Aliso Creek. A bronze placard states that the tree is 500 years old. Awe-inspiring! We came home to the latest news from Washington. My resolution will not be easy.

by Nathaniel

Resolved to Pray

I made only one New Year’s resolution this year, to explore different ways to pray. My writing will encompass that exploration this month. With that in mind, I want to share  an acronym for prayer given in a homily recently.

ATRIP:  stands for:

A = Adoration: Start your prayer with Love for the Lord. Praise Him.

T = Thanksgiving: Whatever, in the moment, you are thankful for, share it with God.

R = Repentance: Asking forgiveness for unloving acts or thoughts against yourself, God, or others.

I = Intercessory Prayer: Pray for our world and those you know who need God’s help.

P = Petition: Lift up your own concerns, dreams, and desires to the Lord,

What I like about this kind of structure is that it gives me a framework in which to focus my prayer. Praying this way gives voice to loving God, gratitude, forgiveness of my own failings, the needs of my friends, family and the world, as well as my own concerns. I feel more at peace, hopeful, and complete when I use ATRIP for my prayer format.

by Gracie



Not Putting Away Christmas

I walk around my home this week after Epiphany and say to myself “Well, time to put away Christmas.” I pause and think, no I am never putting away Christmas. Maybe physically, take down the lights, tuck away the Nativity set and pack up all the decorations. But the true meaning of Christmas, that God chose to send his son into my life and your life, will never be packed up, taken down or tucked away except into a special place in my heart. This New Year will bring us a challenge once again to bring the light and love of Christmas into each and every day.  Can we add this resolution, to be receptive to encounter everyday epiphanies and see the sacred in everything? That will truly be a gift for 2018!  “Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” John Milton

by Cathy

Yelling For Joy

When I was young, I use to go off into the woods near where I lived and yell to my delight just because I could. There were ninety acres of redwoods and not a soul around.  My yells would sometimes echo back to me so I felt I was not alone.  I sometimes thought it was God talking back to me. This is something I would never do now, given the proximity of neighbors and feeling somewhat reserved about a grateful yell.  There was something freeing about a good ol’ yell out loud.  I felt release, merriment, and gratefulness all at the same time; a sacred space, of sorts, to hear my own voice when I felt I did not have one.  I have discovered my voice, yet again in a different light, in my adult years and that same feeling of delight and gratefulness overcomes me.  I resolve this year to continue to yell out my joy and share it with others.

by Liz


Another Epiphany

On Epiphany, we attended a wedding. This wedding had a deep, penetrating feel to it.  Most weddings do. But this one was different. This one had lemonade and sweet tea. It had tattoos and vaporizers. Most of the guests shared a bond of accomplishment and a sorrow for those not present. The bride and groom were proclaiming victory over evil. The best man gave a one wedding at a time toast. The judge left quietly out the back door, his judgment not needed anymore. It seems every life has some pain in it, every life challenges. Down deep were all the same. We all need each other. We all need some support. Our epiphany comes with the morning sunrise. It comes with the touch of a loved one. Every day of our glorious life, through the pain, comes a new start. It’s humbling to know that we’re all a part of something much bigger, much deeper than just breathe in and breathe out. Together we can ease the pain and pave a new day.

by Diego

Resolved to Live the Gospel

It seems like there has been a dearth of genuine Christian witness out in our cities. I’m not talking about street corner Bible thumpers condemning the “unsaved” or even other less bullying evangelization tactics.  I’m looking for the Jesus of the Bible showing up on the streets, in the offices, warehouses, docks, alleys, and byways of my daily life.  My heart seeks the breathing gospel that our beloved St. Francis speaks of; the unspoken one preached by loving action and kindness. As a man on the other side of middle age, I can’t say that I have always been a beacon of God’s grace and mercy.  I have faltered and been enticed by the glitter and shimmer of this world’s empty promises. I pray that God may take the ignoble parts of me, and in his perfect economy, allow me to preach His gospel quietly, with humor, kindness and humble wisdom.

by Andrew

Making A List

I have never been one to make a lot of New Year’s Resolutions. I learned long ago that the fewer you make, the more chance you have of keeping them. I try to choose only two or three and it’s never more than five. This year I’ve added a couple that I found in an article called “8 New Year’s Resolutions for Catholics.” I’d gladly add all eight at once but I know that, coupled to my two or three secular ones, would violate my own numbers rule and could doom me to failure. Instead, I’ve decided to choose one each month and try to achieve that goal in addition to my “regular” resolutions. I am hoping to continue the previous month’s so that by the eighth month I will actually be following all of them! If you’d care to join me, visit http://www.stedwardoutlet.com/8-new-years-resolutions-for-catholics.html and choose all or follow my plan and take on only one at a time.

by JAM