29 Nov

Our Lady of the Redwoods

There is a monastery of Cistercian nuns in Northern California called "Our Lady of the Redwoods," and what a fitting title indeed for our Blessed Mother.  The Redwood, known as the Sequoia sempervirens (sounds similar to semper virgo, or ever-virgin), is the tallest tree on the planet, growing up to 300 feet and beyond.  It is also the oldest species of tree, dating back to 240 million years. 

22 Nov

Father William Doyle, SJ

Father William Doyle, SJ was a well-known preacher and spiritual director in the early 20th Century.  He traveled the world giving missions and retreats, helping bring people closer to Jesus.  And yet he wrote these words in his journal while making the Spiritual Exercises on his 30-Day retreat in 1907:

Each fresh meditation of the life of our Lord impressed on me more and more the necessity of conforming my life to His in every detail, if I wish to please Him and to become holy. To do something great and heroic may never come to me, but I can make my life heroic by faithfully and daily putting my best effort into each duty as it comes around.

15 Nov

The Angel's Share

Occasionally I will have a sip of something when I read scripture, either coffee in the morning or a beer in the evening, but often not grappa.  I felt inclined to have that digestivo, however, when I read this line from the prophet Isaiah: "Thus says the Lord: When the juice is pressed from grapes, men say 'Do not discard them, for there is still good in them'; Thus will I do with my servants; I will not discard them all" (Isaiah 65:8).

08 Nov

Blessed Frederic Ozanam

Most of the "O" streets in Chicago come from either Native American tribes or chiefs, like Osceola and Ottawa, or from real estate developers, like Olcott and Odell.  But one street name in Edison Park is different: Ozanam.  The 7800W to 7600N section of the city is named after Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, the founder of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society.

01 Nov

Catholicism Transcends All Divides

Lieutenant Joseph Dutton of the Union Army crawled out into the night during a Civil War battle and dragged a wounded soldier back to camp.  When the light was shone upon the rescuee, a comrade remarked, "The joke's on you, Dutton, this man is a rebel." Dutton did not flinch, but simply responded, "that I knew."

When the War ended, the talented Dutton ventured into a variety of careers, but none would satisfy his restlessness.  He converted to Catholicism and after spending some time in prayer at Gethsemani Monastery in Kentucky, where Thomas Merton would enter sixty years later, Dutton discovered his calling.  At 43, he traveled to San Francisco and from there set sail.