We talk about being on a Faith Journey.  That may sometimes sound vague and abstract.  Where exactly is this journey taking us?  What is our final destination?  What’s the point?

You may have a different answer than I, but to me, my faith journey is leading me to an eternity in Heaven with the God who knows me and loves me.

Along the way, if done well and with intention, my journey will allow me to become the best version of myself that I can possibly be.  That’s who I hope to be when I present myself on that final day.

To reach that end, I need to put a great amount of conscious effort in coming to know myself, others, and of course, The Lord.

I’m pretty confident that you are striving for the same goal—the same Grand Prize—that I am.  We are called to have faith that God exists, that He knows and loves each and every one of us and that He wants us to spend all of eternity in His presence.    In every thing that you do, Keep Your Eye on the Prize!


Mary Chapin Carpenter, a folk singer, has a beautiful song she calls “My Heaven”.  When I listen to her song, I am filled with joy to think that my eternity could be so beautiful.  And, with the faith I have, I know without doubt that this beautiful version of heaven will come nowhere close to the reality I will experience.

Nothing shatters, nothing breaks, nothing hurts and nothing aches.

We’ve got ourselves one heck of a place—in my heaven.

Looking down at the world below: a bunch of whining, fighting schmos.

Up here we’ve got none of those—in my heaven.

There’s pools and lakes and hills and mountains, music, art and lighted fountains.

Who needs bucks here?; no one’s counting—in my heaven.

No one works, we all just play.  You can pick the weather every day.

If you change your mind, that’s okay—in my heaven.

Grandma’s up here, Grandpa too in a condo with to-die-for views.

There’s presidents and movie stars.  Just come as you are.

No one’s lost and no one’s missing.  No more parting, just hugs and kissing.

And all these stars are just for wishing—in my heaven.

There’s little white lights everywhere, your childhood dog in dad’s old chair,

And more memories than my heart can hold when Eva’s singing “Fields of Gold”.

There’s neighbors, thieves and long lost lovers, villains, poets, kings and mothers.

Up here we forgive each other—in my heaven.

For every soul that’s down there waiting, holding on, still hesitating,

We say a prayer of levitating—in my heaven.

You can look back on your life and lot, but it can’t matter what you’re not.

By the time you’re here, we’re all we’ve got—in my heaven.



Saint James (the Greater), Apostle Saint James the Greater was one of the apostles closest to Jesus; the others being his younger brother, Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Peter. He is not to be confused with James the Lesser, another one of the twelve apostles, or with James from the Acts of the Apostles who was the author of the Letter of James and the leader of the Jerusalem community.

By the Gospels’ accounts, James, born in Galilee, was an ordinary fisherman who showed no signs of being readily able to grasp the genius of his master’s life and ministry. He and his brother were even considered “hotheads” as Jesus gave them the nickname “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17).

On one occasion, when a Samaritan village refused hospitality to Jesus, they urged him to call down fire from heaven to destroy it, which prompted a stern rebuke from their teacher (Luke 9:51-56).

On another occasion, with uncomprehending ambition, James and his brother made a daring request to sit at Jesus’ left and right hands, places of honor in the glory of the kingdom of God. Jesus warns them of the suffering and hardship they will eventually endure in Jesus’ name (Mk 10:35-40).

What makes this ordinary, impulsive man a stewardship saint, however, is that he allowed Jesus’ call to discipleship to cut through his ordinary, everyday life. His response was instant, complete and single-minded.

James and John were working on their boats with their father, Zebedee, when Jesus calls them to follow him. “And at once, leaving the boat and their father, they follow him” (Mt 4:22).

It was a call to share in Jesus’ mission, a call that allowed for no other priority.

James’ response in faith models what the response of each Christian disciple is to be to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

James is also privileged to be one of the apostles chosen by Jesus to witness his most dramatic signs of power: his Transfiguration and the raising to life of Jairus’ daughter.

James was the first of the Twelve to suffer martyrdom. He was beheaded during the persecution of Herod Agrippa I between the years 42 and 44 (Acts 12: 1-3).

Later traditions hold that James actually preached in Spain or that at least his body was transferred from Jerusalem to Compestela in Spain, which, in any case became a major pilgrimage site in the Middle Ages. Saint James the Greater is the patron saint of Spain, Chile, Guatemala and Nicaragua. He is also the patron saint of pilgrims, pharmacists, laborers and those suffering from arthritis. His feast is celebrated on July 25.

I hope you are inspired by the story of Saint James the Greater and can follow his example of following Jesus’ call to discipleship.  It’s who we are when we call ourselves Christians.  We need to mindfully act like one.




I’d like you to meet Neal Finnegan McGrane.  He was delivered on Sunday night to my daughter Rachel, her husband Colin, loving grandparents and lots of excited extended family.  Little Neal is the first child of this generation in our family.

Rachel and Colin had a very specific birth plan.  But Neal did not arrive according to plan.  They had all their prenatal appointments with a midwifery in Orange County and planned a very natural and organic birth experience.   Things didn’t go as intended.  After 30 hours of “excruciating back labor”, Rachel asked to forego her original plan and have labor induced.  Eventually, the baby was delivered by caesarean section.

Through it all, they kept an attitude of gratitude, accepting that it is all God’s plan.  Not theirs.  They confidently knew that they had done everything in their power to make it happen.  The midwifery did everything in their power as well.

Several days later, I expressed to my daughter that she was lucky to have several days in the hospital to rest, get pampered, get used to new parenthood, get advice, etc.  She couldn’t have agreed more.

It is my experience that when you humbly let go and accept God’s will, you are rewarded.

EVERY DAY I am reminded that God wants nothing but the best for us.  AND…He knows exactly what we need.    Our only job is to gratefully accept His guidance and do the best we can with all the gifts He has given us.

This has truly been a blessing for my family and I thank you for keeping my family in your prayers.  And…you can call me Nana B.



Last week, I shared with you a Mid-year Reassessment.   We all tend to make some kind of resolution or commitment at the beginning of the year and then get less focused over time.  It’s human nature.

Can you believe that summer is about half over?  I heard today that one local school is starting on August 14!  Yikes!

School children are asked every year to reaffirm their commitment to education.   They are asked to come back to school ready to hit the ground running.  What I like best is that they must be ready not only to recommit, but to knuckle down and be ready to tackle an even more challenging year than the last.

That is how we grow.  In education, in maturity, in our faith life.  We must recommit on a regular basis and then challenge ourselves to tackle even more.

So, whether you are getting youngsters ready to start a new school year, you’re not yet at the place in your life, or you’re past all that, I challenge you to think about what you can do to recommit yourself for this next phase of the year.  I will close as I do so often:  Ask God for His guidance.  Follow it.





We all like to make resolutions, having a grand plan for ourselves.  If you’re like me (and most of society), you make them with the very best of intentions.  Sometimes they don’t work out exactly as we had planned.  Early this year, I printed an article entitled “A New Year, New Beginnings for the Christian Steward”.  Maybe you remember reading it. Maybe you even vowed to put a few of the suggestions into action.  I invite you to take a few minutes to reread the suggestions. You will not be graded on your responses.  We’re almost halfway through the year. Now’s as good a time as any to begin.

MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR PARISH COMMUNITY:  Believe it or not, your parish community can use your talents.  Offering your talents to your faith community is one of the most effective ways to feel useful and connected to others,  and it is a potentially life-changing resolution.

RESIST OVERWORK:  There is a pressure to produce, to meet goals, be successful.  But activities that lead us to overwork, constant fatigue and worry do not give glory to God.   What God calls us to do we can do well.  Be mindful that life requires balance, down time, and letting go of unrealistic goals.

NURTURE FRIENDSHIPS:  Our friends are those with whom we choose to spend our time, with whom we vacation, to whom we go for advice.  Friends are gifts from God who give us a greater appreciation of God’s love for us.  Friends need our time and love.

GIVE MORE:  Good stewards realize that everything they have is entrusted to them as gift to be shared.  There is no better place to begin than sharing with the community that gathers around the Lord’s table at Mass.  Consider what you are giving to your parish (weekly collection /designated gifts) and local diocese (Annual Catholic Appeal) and commit to an even greater contribution as circumstances allow.

LIVE MORE SIMPLY:  We cannot find fulfillment in possessions.  They add nothing to our self-worth.  Jesus blessed the “poor in spirit’ in his Sermon on the Mount; and St. Francis of Assisi urged us to live with only what was necessary, for that is how we begin to find God.

GET HEALTHY:  Are you accelerating your own decline into premature old age, owing to poor diet and lack of physical activity?  Be a good steward of your body.  Plan a complete overhaul of your diet and exercise habits.  Schedule an annual physical.

PRACTICE GRATITUDE: Cultivating a grateful heart is the hallmark of a Christian steward. Every day, express thankfulness to the Lord and to others.  Seeing the good in your life will allow you to keep your heart compassionate and loving.

ENCOUNTER THE LORD EACH DAY:  Find time to be with the Lord each day, whether it be for an hour or ten minutes.  Have a conversation with the Lord.  Give your joys and worries to Him.  Allow God’s love to transform you.  Our regular encounters will keep our eyes and ears open to the presence of Christ in our midst.  Be present to others—there is much celebration and mourning, joy and sorrow in people’s lives.  What a blessing it is to be able to share those times and not let others experience them alone.  The gift of your presence is much more valuable than you probably realize.

DON’T GIVE UP:  People give up their resolutions because of perfectionism and unrealistic expectations.  So take it slowly, be kind to yourself, and keep trying.  Resist the urge to throw up your hands and quit.  You succeed through small, manageable changes over time.

TURN TO THE LORD:  Add some planned daily prayer time to your busy schedule.  Start asking God’s blessing before meals.  Start praying the rosary once a week.  Take time for God.  Ask the Lord for guidance, strength, and perseverance in achieving your resolutions.  In his letter to the Philippians, St. Paul writes “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength”.  (Phil 4:13)  If God is the center of your resolutions, they have a better chance for success.  With God, all things are possible!





Today is Pentecost Sunday.  Today we remember Jesus’ challenge to Go and Teach All Nations – to Evangelize.  But how do we do that?

As with all aspects of your life experience, you can teach by your example.  Others will see you living your faith—acting in a Christian manner to those you encounter.  I’m not just talking about your friends and family, I’m also referring to the person who is rude to you, the person who is asking for assistance, the person who talks too much and drives you crazy.  I know it has been overused, but let me refer back to “WWJD?”

You can evangelize by living your faith openly.  Go to Mass on a regular basis.  Spend time with the Lord in  Eucharistic Adoration. Become a member of our Visitors for Christ or Legion of Mary and bring Catholic/parish materials to homes in a neighborhood.  You can take a copy of the Southern Cross (our Diocesan newspaper) and share it with a friend.

You can be a catechist; a teacher or helper in the Faith Formation (CCD) program.   Or, you could assist in the RCIA process.

Do you remember how you became a Catholic?  Were you baptized as an infant or young child and only remember the experience from the pictures in the photo album?   Many of our practicing Catholics have made  the choice to become a Catholic as an  adult.   Maybe even the person sitting beside you in the pew is a convert…

But to become a Catholic as an adult, a person must enter through the RCIA, which stands for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.  It includes several stages marked by study, prayer and rites at Mass. Participants in the RCIA are known as catechumens. They undergo a process of conversion as they study the Gospel, profess faith in Jesus and the Catholic Church, and receive the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Holy Eucharist.

Prior to formally beginning the RCIA process, an individual comes to some knowledge of Jesus Christ, considers his or her relationship with Jesus Christ and is usually attracted in some way to the Catholic Church.   This time period is known as the Period of Evangelization and Precatechumenate. For some people, this process involves a long period of searching; for others, it is a shorter time.

After conversation with an advisor or spiritual guide, the person, known as an “inquirer,” may decide to continue the process and seek acceptance into the Order of Catechumens. The local parish assembly affirms his or her wish to become a baptized member of our church and the inquirer then becomes a “catechumen.”

The period of the catechumenate can last for as long as several years or for a much shorter time. It depends on how the person is growing in faith, what questions and obstacles they encounter along the way, and how God leads them on this faith journey. During this time the catechumens consider what God is saying to them in the Scriptures, what changes in their life they want to make to respond to God’s inspiration, and what membership in the Catholic Church involves. Catechumens have a special connection to the Church and even though they are not yet baptized, they also have certain rights in the Church.

Every step of the way, someone from our parish walks along with the person in the RCIA process.  The team includes teachers and sponsors.  There are also ancillary roles, such as those helping with hospitality on a recurring basis or for specific events.

Each year our parish welcomes 10-20 adults into the Catholic Church (either through Baptism or Profession of Faith).   It takes many dedicated parishioners to facilitate and assist in this beautiful process.   Anyone who has ever been an RCIA sponsor has felt doubly blessed by walking the path and being exposed to the truths of our faith in a fresh light.

I ask you to prayerfully consider some level of involved in the RCIA.  You may wish to discuss the possibilities with Patty Mann.  I’ll be praying for you.


I stumbled across the reflection on this page and found great inspiration it.  It was written by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw in memory of Oscar Romero (1917–1980) for his Beatification two years ago.

Oscar Romero was born to a very poor El Salvadoran family in 1917, received only a third grade education, but was later accepted into a seminary.   He returned to his home country, serving first as a parish priest and eventually the Archbishop of San Salvador.

Archbishop Romero turned the facilities at the cathedral into a space for people to come for relief, food and medical assistance.  He also began hearing the stories of countless Salvadorans who told him how their family members were tortured and killed, or just disappeared.  He quickly began to speak out on behalf of the poor and powerless.  His weekly sermons, broadcast throughout El Salvador by radio, cited human rights violations by the government.  His life was threatened on several occasions, to which he responded: “I have frequently been threatened with death. I must say that, as a Christian, I do not believe in death, but in the resurrection. If they kill me, I shall rise again in the Salvadoran people.”

On March 24, 1980, as he was celebrating Mass in the chapel of the Carmelite Sisters’ hospital for cancer patients, where he lived, he was shot to death.  Pope Francis quoted him: “We must all be willing to die for our faith even if the Lord does not grant us this honor.”

At this time, I challenge you to read the reflection.  I think the line that speaks to me the most is: “We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing this.  This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.”    I have to remind myself of this on a regular basis. I can give much greater glory to God by offering a few things done really well instead of being known as the person who does everything.    Read the reflection a second time, find the passage that speaks to take, and take it to prayer, asking God for guidance and direction.



It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.

The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,

it is beyond our vision.


We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction

of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.

Nothing we do is complete, which is another way

of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection,

no pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.


This is what we are about.

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

We water the seeds already planted

knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces effects

far beyond our capabilities.


We cannot do everything,

and there is a sense of liberation in realizing this.

This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,

a step along the way,

an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results,

but that is the difference between the master builder

and the worker.


We are workers, not master builders,

ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.



Written by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw in memory of Oscar Romero (1917–1980)


Happy Mothers Day

For Mothers’ Day, I would like to share with you a poem that I wrote for my mom on Mothers’ Day 1988.   I had a four-year old daughter and a two-year old son and I had the revelation that I understood my mother so much more now that I was a mother myself.

A few weeks ago I wrote about setting a good example because people are watching.  Most importantly, your children are watching.  And whether they are two, or twenty, or forty…trust me, they are watching and listening.

I tried very consciously to be a good parent.  I know I did a lot of things “right” and I know I failed at others.

But I can tell you that, with my children finally having “grown up” (thirty-one and thirty-two), I often hear my words come back to me.  The advice that I gave them or the example I gave sat dormant for awhile, but never left them. Now, as mature adults, they can draw on the prior exposure.

We all try to do something special for our moms on Mothers’ Day.  I challenge you to do something special more often.  A call, a hug, a card, a prayer.  If you are still lucky enough that your mom is still living, cherish every moment you have with her.  Your children will see your example and it will come back to bless you as well.


Gentle memories of you

            fill my thoughts and my heart.

I remember

            warm vanilla pudding, homemade pies,

            and recipes being passed on from generations gone by.

I remember

            coming home from school, bursting with urgent news

            …and always finding you there, ready to listen.

I remember

            learning to sew and to cook

            from a patient master.

I remember

            summer mornings

            with fresh-cut peaches for breakfast.


By your example

I learned

            right from wrong

            and values to last a lifetime.

I learned

            how to be a real lady

            and at the same time how to take care of myself.

I learned

            that it’s okay to be an individual

            – not always part of the crowd.

I learned


            that I could achieve whatever I desired in life.

I remember

            loving you very much.


I was my mother’s child, but now I’m my child’s mother

And I love you in ways I never could before.


Always Set a Good Example


My mother used to read to me every day when I was a child.  She was also an example to me by reading the newspaper every day and devouring the Newsweek Magazine when it arrived on Tuesdays.

When I had my children, it was imperative to me that I continue the reading tradition.   My children had separate rooms.   At bedtime, I would start in my son’s room, read two books with him, turn off his light, and then visit my daughter.  I would read two books with her and  then turn out the light.  More often than not, her little voice would come to me from the darkness.  “Mom?”  “Can I talk to you for a minute?”  I soon learned that she felt safest under the cloak of darkness. I would come back in her room and listen to her most private thoughts and concerns.

So, while my mother did most things really well, I didn’t think she excelled at listening.   I made a vow that I would be the best listener ever!  So, when my daughter wanted to talk at the most inopportune times, I always said YES.  When she wouldn’t stop talking, I always encouraged her to say everything on her mind.  And I promised not to judge or preach, but rather mentor her decisions.

Don’t get me wrong. I always reserved the right to share my opinion.  I would make it clear if I did not think she was making the right decision, but it was she who had to learn to live with the consequences of her choices.

One time my daughter came into my room around midnight.  (I had gone to bed around 9:00 and was enjoying some great REM sleep.)  “Mom?”  “I’ve been on the phone with my friend and he’s talking about committing suicide.  What can we do?”  I called his parents.  Woke them up.  Potentially saved the life of their teenage son.

Both my parents smoked when I was a child.  I don’t mean to offend anyone, but I knew it was something I wanted to avoid and I vowed that I would never have anything to do with it.  Sally felt the same as I, but our oldest sister smoked in college (a combination of peer pressure and “how bad can it be if my parents are doing it?”) Good or bad, we were influenced by our parents’ example.

In every thing we do and every thing we say, we are an example to those around us.  Whether it is a good example or a bad one, people are watching.

We have power and influence without even knowing it.    Don’t you have a teacher who made a difference in your life?  Or an adult neighbor?  Or a priest?

Share your good example, including the example of how to live as an Engaged Catholic.   Remember, not only are “people” watching…GOD is watching!



Because next week is Mothers Day, I would like to share a little poem I wrote about my son when he was 2.  At the end of the poem, I thought about how all-consuming young parenthood is, and how transient.   I knew it would be gone all too soon and that I would miss those days…


From the corner of my eye I spy

a little golden head.

Who can it be

playing peek-a-boo with me?

All I can see is a little golden head.

Then I hear a giggle, and see a wiggle.

There are lots of toes, and a nose,

and a little golden head.

I wake now to find

my dreams left behind;

I am caught in fond memories

of a little golden head.





Many years ago I was in a Women’s Scripture Study group.    The facilitator tasked us with writing a reflection on how we could “give back to God” for all the gifts He had given each of us.

At the time, my children were young—3 and 4-1/2.    I was in awe of the blessing of being a parent.  (For the record, I still am!)

I had just recently attended a day-long Ministers’ Retreat at our parish.  We brought in a priest from outside the parish and I was asked to provide hospitality.   I set up a nice continental breakfast and had sandwiches ready for the midday break.  When the ministers were asked to relocate to the church for the opening session, the priest approached me and asked me to join them.

I told him that I was just there to provide hospitality and besides, I was the Parish Secretary, not a Minister.   He said something to me that day that changed my life.   He told me that there was no such thing as “just a Parish Secretary”.  He explained that, indeed, I was not a Minster of the Word, or a Minister of the Eucharist.  I did not facilitate a Bible Study or act as an Usher at Sunday Mass.

Instead, I ministered to the ministers.  I ministered to every person that walked in the front door of our parish office.  I was often the first person they saw that represented the parish and perhaps the Church.

So I set aside “Martha” (I still had to clean up the breakfast), followed him to the church, and became “Mary” for the morning.  At a short break, I told Father that I was back in Martha mode, worrying about setting up lunch.  He said he would find a few people to help me and the group would delay lunch by a few minutes and we could get it set up AFTER the morning session was completed.

At the conclusion of the day, we sang “Here I am, Lord”.  To this day, I still cry every time I hear/sing that song.   It reminds me that God intended for me to be there FOR HIM just as He is here for us.  God has no hands by ours; hands to do His work, arms to embrace a lost soul.

God places people and situations in our lives all the time that will lead us to the answers.  We just need live with our eyes, minds, and hearts open to these opportunities.


Lord, You’ve given me many gifts in my life. 

You placed me with parents who truly love me and then you stayed by to offer counsel and support.

You helped me find someone with whom I can share my life; a man who is genuine and supportive.

You placed in my arms two of your sweetest angels and trusted me with the responsibility of raising them.

You steered me to a job that allows me to serve you in a very special way.

You gave me friends who are always there for me with love and support and sometimes just a sympathetic ear…friends who allow me to be myself.

You’ve given me so much…probably more than I deserve.  It’s time for me to start giving something back to you.

 I will glorify You by allowing my job to be a special way to serve your people.

 I will glorify You by being a responsible parent to your little angels.

 I will glorify You by being the best friend I can for the people who count on me to be genuine and caring.

 In my work, in my friends, in my family, in every aspect of my life, I WILL GIVE GLORY TO YOU, O LORD!




Christian Stewards: People of the Resurrection

For those immersed in the secular world, Easter is long over. The pastel bunnies, the chocolate eggs, the color-splashed jelly beans which appeared in the marketplace so temptingly just as Christians were beginning the fasting of Lent, have long been swept from the store shelves to be replaced in anticipation of the next marketable holiday. For the Christian steward, how backward this all seems. Yes, we believe that the Paschal mystery and the life-changing events of Easter are not over. They are not an end but a triumphal beginning, and they have altered us in a quite radical way. The mystery and miracle of Easter challenge us to live as different people, as people of the Resurrection.

What does this mean? For those new Catholics who participated in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), a period of mystagogy helps to understand this mystery. Indeed, this ancient Greek word actually means “to lead through the mysteries.”

During mystagogia, many parishes introduce their new members to service in a quite practical way.

Here are the ministries of the parish; here are the charities we support; here are the needs of our community and our congregation.

How do you choose to live out your faith in the Resurrection in a quite tangible and real way? How do your gifts fit into our needs? Essentially, however, this is a question that the Easter season calls forth in all Christian stewards not just our newest members.

We have lived through Lent and the Paschal mysteries, all the while trying to deepen a relationship with the person of Christ. It’s as simple, yet as amazing and complex as that.

The deeper the relationship grows, the more we become rooted in it, the more this relationship with Christ comes to dominate our lives. We no longer compartmentalize Jesus, we hold him at our center. And the mysteries lead us to the fundamental question at the heart of all Christian stewardship, the question that Easter compels us to ask: How do I steward my resources – my time, my money, my abilities and gifts, my very life – so that they are in service to the Kingdom of God? It’s not a part-time question. It’s not a seasonal question that’s swept off the shelf periodically. It’s the basic question which the Easter season demands of us: Jesus, how do you want me to serve you?

How did you do with your Lenten promises/sacrifices this year?  Did you add something meaningful to your life or did you sacrifice something that brought you pleasure?  You might remember about my giving up my second cup of coffee.  I can’t believe that I managed to follow through with it all through Lent!  During that time, it became a habit NOT to have a second cup!  So it was good for the soul and good for the body!  A Blessed Easter Season to you.