Category Archives: Being Catholic

What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine also!

What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine also!

I went foraging today for greenery, pods and other accoutrements of fall in order to decorate my front door wreath and herald in the new season.  Off I went up Llagas Ave with my hand pruners and a recycled Safeway grocery bag under my arm.  Today’s booty included pale pepper tree berries (they will be bright red by December and worth another trip up the hill for Christmas decorating), fragrant eucalyptus with flowers intact, almonds still encased in their protective hull, wild pomegranates (oh they pruned back my favorite bushes so they are scarce this year) and some unidentified tree pods.

I am writing this post at the urging of my middle son, Patrick, who has endured patiently his mother’s habit of petty theft, all with good intentions of thoroughly enjoying God’s beautiful earth.  I learned how to do this very early in life (along with a few WWII marching songs) while walking with my dad for exercise.  My dad always said that if it hangs over the fence onto the sidewalk it’s yours!  That includes apples, kumquats, avocados, almonds, olives and any kind of greenery that might look good on your fireplace mantel.

Oh Lordy!

This seemingly harmless activity became a habit when we moved to Portland, Oregon.  So many beautiful flowers and colors I’d never seen before having grown up in semi-arid season-less Southern California.  I couldn’t resist the lovely hues of violet in the hydrangeas and lilacs that grew so prolifically around every corner.  I once had a small gathering of friends for tea and one of my guests asked me “Where did you get those beautiful flowers?”  I replied, “Which ones?  The hydrangeas are from 31st Ave near Crystal Springs Ave and those roses came from behind Reed College.”  (Whoopsy.. maybe that wasn’t exactly legal.)

When we moved back to Northern California my Lebanese neighbor Eza and I used to walk together on Saturday mornings and catch up on our work week adventures.  She wasn’t too sure about my habit of pinching and picking but I taught her the song: “This land is your land. This land is my land.”  That seemed to quell her anxieties.

A couple weeks ago I came home from work and it appeared that my neighbor, Rick, was having a tree trimmed in his back yard.  On further inspection I saw that it was my gangly out of control curly willow that the gardeners were dragging out to the wood chipper!  It was hanging over the fence dropping leaves and debris all over my good neighbor’s yard.  He took it upon himself to have it trimmed- never mentioning a word to me or asking me to share in the expense.  Now that’s a good neighbor and an interesting twist to this tall tale.  It hung over his fence so he considered it his problem.

Now I am going to Mass tonight at the Santa Clara Mission to pray for my gracious neighbor, Rick, to thank God for the wonderful community I live in and to ask forgiveness for my sins and mercy to overcome my bad habit.

Oh.. did you know they have the most beautiful rose garden there?

Mea culpa! Mea culpa!








Women of Substance

Women of Substance

Those of you who are cradle Catholics like I am know exactly what is happening in this picture.  You might even be humming to yourself the familiar tune from the Stations of the Cross.

Every Friday during Lent at St. Philip Neri Parish in Lynwood, California- grades one through eight- we attended this ritual which reenacts the journey to Calvary where Jesus was crucified on Good Friday.  Along this path Jesus meets Veronica.

Just recently on Facebook a friend of mine posted in exasperation: “I’m looking for one strong female role model!  Come on! I know you are out there!”  She received 52 comments.

The thread went something like this:

I need someone to talk to, draw inspiration from.  Someone who doesn’t go eeeek when they break a fingernail!  I’m frustrated with the shallowness of women these days!  It’s all about appearance!

We need a round table of women willing to meet with no makeup on!

I could spend a whole day on the shallowness of boobs!

How much wine have you had?

Not nearly enough!

Why aren’t there more women adventurers?  Why do we allow ourselves to be tied down and tethered to domesticity?

A slave to our biology!  To bear and then nurture selflessly…

Or the corporate apron!

I like men lots. I can’t stand women running around degrading the whole sex with fake boobs and fake weakness and fake airheadedness to make cavemen feel macho.

A woman who is willing to face each and every one of her fears directly in the eye!

Putting it in a form of a prayer always works to bring what I seek into reality.

And a prayer it is… find me one female who is a work in progress, willing to face her fears, doing the best she can in this world with integrity and strength which is her birthright.  A person from whom I can learn and grow into the best woman I can be!


When Jesus crossed the path of Veronica she had a decision to make.  Holding the linen cloth and seeing Jesus in all his suffering- blood mingled with sweat dripping off his face- she stepped out in faith against all odds.  She shrank from fear and gathered every ounce of courage in order to do the right thing despite the violence of the angry guards and a culture that disregarded women in every venue.  She laid that cloth on Jesus’ face and lovingly and tenderly wiped the grime, showing him a measure of humanity and grace.  What woman wouldn’t?  It is our gift as well as our curse.  She could not let him pass by unattended and without mercy.  She meshed her innate chemistry as a woman with the courage of a martyr and left us with this extraordinary illustration of how to be a woman of substance.

Veronica is a role model to all women.  Did she really exist?  Theologians laugh and say “yes.. and there is a Santa Claus!” But Veronica has always existed for me.

As a little girl standing with her classmates at St. Philip Neri going through the motions of the Stations of the Cross.

Even before I knew what kind of courage and fearlessness it would take to be a woman.


Lord have mercy!

Lord have mercy!

So there seems to be some kind of mistake?  Who planned a meatless Lenten Friday to follow a green beered boiled dinner of succulent corned beef and cabbage?  What are we supposed to do with those left overs today?  One would think that God and St. Patrick would work this placement of holidays and fast days out while they are leisurely sitting around in heaven shooting the bull.

And here lies the dilemma…  Last week I made a meatloaf on Thursday and couldn’t eat the left overs on Friday.  In the faculty room at Presentation High School we had a discussion about what is worse.  Eating the meat on Friday in order to not be wasteful or throwing it out and breaking out the good ol’ frozen fish sticks- reminiscent of our Catholic growing up years? Which is the bigger sin?

We decided that the tension of this discussion is all about awareness.  Awareness of our eating habits as Americans in general- our abundance, our waste and our over concern about our waistlines.  Hoping we can work all this out in the lunchroom for the next several weeks of Lent.

Any non-Catholics out there interested in some leftover Corned Beef and Cabbage?  Gonna put on my hair-shirt and open a can of tuna for dinner tonight.  I’ll pray for you.

“You are dust and unto dust you shall return”

“You are dust and unto dust you shall return”

We are well into Lent- the Catholic season of  40 days and 40 nights before Jesus is raised from the dead on Easter Sunday.  This picture was taken on Ash Wednesday when we celebrated Mass as a school community and learned some important lessons about what it means to be generous and to have gratitude. But mostly we took away foreheads full of ashes in remembrance of our physical bodies having their origin and their destiny in dirt.  You heard me.  Dirt.

Such disparity in this photo!  These young women, so young and beautiful with their bright smiles and hope for the future; their willingness to learn and grow and connect with life!  Their hopeful faces smudged with ashes…

I want to tell them some secrets about life but they will need to learn those on their own at the school of hard knocks.   But today I want them to know that they are perfect in every way.  And that they are loved beyond belief by their parents and by their God.  And that no one can take that away from them.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.  Be the beautiful young women that you are and guard this treasure.  That is my Lenten prayer for you.  Fresh faces and ashes.  Amen