Memorial Day

I have only been to one military funeral.  Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder was 20 years old when he was killed in Iraq on March 3, 2006.  Matthew was from my church, and his mother was one of our religious education volunteers.

His funeral took place right after we had gotten news that our pastor was critically ill in Italy, and we didn’t know if he would recover.  Our nerves were very raw and our hearts troubled in the days leading up to Matthew’s funeral.

What made everything worse was the announcement that a radical organization known as Waynesboro Baptist Church was going to protest the funeral.  We couldn’t believe that anyone, let alone a “church,” would do such a thing.  How could people be so cruel?

The morning of Matthew’s funeral will always be etched in my memory.  The profound sadness that comes with the loss of someone so young was overtaken by the anger that welled up in everyone when the protestors arrived.

Gratefully, the police and a veterans group kept them at a distance, away from the funeral cortege.  But we knew they were there.  It was a group of about twenty to thirty, including small children, and each held posters with unbelievable hate speech written on them.  The scene was surreal.  It was painful.  How could people hate like this, and to do so in the name of Jesus just broke my heart. We all wanted to weep.

Since the Revolutionary War, people like Matthew have been fighting and dying for our freedom.  The same freedom that was, in my opinion, terribly misused that day by the members of the so-called Waynesboro Baptist Church.  I had never heard of this group before, but Matthew’s funeral was not their first protest, nor was it their last.

In October of this year, the United States Supreme Court will hear the case of Snyder v. Phelps. Matthew’s father sued the leaders of Waynesboro Baptist Church and won in a lower court.  It was later overturned, and, although it is beyond my comprehension, Mr. Snyder was ordered to pay the court costs of this hate group, which totaled tens of thousands of dollars.

The case that will go before the Supreme Court this fall focuses on the limits of free speech given to us under the Constitution.

No matter how the Court decides, the actions of this group represent the very worst behavior I have ever witnessed. I pray that God will have mercy on them.

On this Memorial Day, I think we need to be reminded that freedom is never free. It always comes with a price. May Matthew, along with all the others who have given their life in the service of our country, rest in peace.  May their families receive the consolation that can only come from God.

God bless our troops

God bless America


Pardon My Dust!

Please bear with me over the next few days as I work on making this blog even better.  I’m trying to get the menu more organized, add content so things will be clearer and more in depth.  I hope to be done by Monday!

I hope those of you that subscribe aren’t overwhelmed with email updates.  If that happens, I’m really sorry 🙂

In the end, I think everything will be better than before!

Here in Maryland, we’ve had a gloomy start to the long Memorial Day weekend.  I haven’t checked the weather report because I figure I’m going to be glued to the computer.  Oh well, the work now will pay off later.

If you don’t have anything to do today, get yourself up and moving.  Take a walk, plant some flowers (its not too late for veggies), visit a Farmer’s Market.  If you have to work, say a prayer of thanksgiving that you have a job to go to.  Whatever you do, enjoy!

Ignatian Spirituality Mind Spirit

Examen Prayer

Sorry, this post is a bit longer than my usual.  But as I was thinking about it early this morning, I wanted to spell this powerful prayer out to you.  I hope you find it beneficial.

When I began making the Spiritual Exercises, I began working on the discipline of the Daily Examen.  I can’t say I was always faithful to it, but it was very beneficial when I did.  I continue to strive to make it a part of my daily life.

Developed by St. Ignatius Loyola,  this practice seeks to grow followers of Jesus in their capacity to discern God’s will, find God in all things, and enhance their understanding of God’s good creation.

The prayer takes between ten and twenty minutes. The majority of that time will be spent reviewing your day. Try not to dwell too long on thoughts. Instead, allow yourself to become aware and move on.

Begin by finding a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Then sit comfortably, with good posture and both feet on the floor. Allow yourself to relax.  Close your eyes if you like.

1. Recall you are in the presence of God

As you sit in silence, focus on God’s deep and abiding love for you. We are always in the presence of God. Try to become aware of God’s presence in an attentive way. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you recall your day with love.

2. Recall your day with gratitude

After a few moments, remember the small pleasures of your day; things like a good night’s sleep, a great conversation with a friend or co-worker, or a beautiful sunrise. These are all gifts from God. As you remember these small gifts from God, take a moment to reflect on the gifts that you gave today, whether to God or to others. How did you bring your strengths, your sense of humor, your abilities, your encouragement, your patience to others today? When you have finished, pause briefly and thank God for these things.

3. Ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit

In a moment you will begin to retrace the steps of your day. Before you do,  ask the Holy Spirit to guide and direct your mind. The Spirit will lead and guide you into the truth and mystery of your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit for the capacity to recall your day with clarity and an understanding of your limitations.

4. Review your day

This is the central and longest step of the prayer. Go back to the start of your day and allow it to play like a short movie in your mind. Pay attention to the details. What were your feelings? What motivated you to respond to certain situations in the way that you did? The purpose of this is to draw out the positive and the negative aspects of your day.

As you are reviewing your day, ask the question, “Where did I fail today?”

Was there a moment when you lived out of anger or bitterness? Were there things that you avoided? Don’t allow yourself to dwell on these things or seek to resolve them. Simply allow yourself to identify them and move on.

Next, ask the question, “When did I love?” Was there a moment, or several moments, in which you made the choice to live out of love. Perhaps it was a kind act like holding the door or spending intentional time with your family. Remember the ways that you chose to love this day.

Next, search for any patterns or habits during the course of the day. Do you make coffee at the same time? Do you chat for a few minutes with a co-worker? Are you always staying late at work? As you detect these patterns, what emotions do you sense coming to the surface for each habit? Do these habits help you face your day with love? Do they hinder you from facing your day with love?

5. Reconcile and Resolve

Finally, picture yourself seated next to Jesus, talking as you would with a friend. Maybe there was something in your day that you don’t feel good about. Tell Jesus about this and express your disappointment and ask him to be with you when you face that moment again. Allow yourself to feel the sorrow in your heart as you share this, but also remember and give thanks for Christ’s continual restoration of your heart. Remember all of the good moments of your day and thank Jesus for His presence with you in those moments.

6. End with the Lord’s Prayer

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”   Amen

Body Inspiration Mind Spirit

Biggest Loser

The other night, I happened to catch the season finale of The Biggest Loser.  I’m usually at work when the show is on, but I saw it for  the first time during one of our big snow storms.  I guess that was towards the beginning of the season.

Having recently undergone my own weight loss journey, I was amazed at the exercise routine of these very obese people.  Without a doubt, they had to have the show hosts after them non stop in order to achieve their goals.  Those that didn’t meat their weekly goal got bumped off the show.

When I saw these folks at the end of the series, having lost an unbelievable amount of weight, I was impressed.  They didn’t look like the same people.  They have a lot to be proud of, and I hope they are able to keep the weight off.  It’s an ongoing battle, and will be probably for the rest of their lives.

I’m bringing this all up because I think that it’s very important to set goals for yourselves, and then keep following through until you achieve them.  Maybe your issue isn’t weight, but rather you want to find a new job, or you want to get out of debt.  Whatever it is for you, start setting up some reasonable goals.

I say reasonable because if you begin with false expectations, you’ll quickly give up and go right back to where you were, or maybe worse.  I’m guessing none of us have the luxury of personal trainers like the ones on Biggest Loser. We’re probably going to have to do it on our own.

For me, achieving my goals by myself has been hugely rewarding.  I studied up on what I needed to do, got some good advice, and set reasonable and measurable goals.  These weren’t long range goals, but weekly, even daily.  When I met a goal, I celebrated.  When I missed one, I went back and figured out why, then worked on it again until it was accomplished.  This was not easy.  Achieving good goals usually never is.

Do you have some things you need to work on?  Summer is a pretty good time to develop a plan, since things slow down a bit and you can focus.  There are tons of resources, including 974 titles at Amazon to help you.  Or, you can do it the old fashioned way.  Put pen to paper, and write them out.  Don’t forget to ask for a little Divine Assistance.  It always helps!

The experts say this step of writing goals out is important.  If you don’t you’re almost surely doomed to failure.

Lastly, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.  Bring God into it.  Watch what happens 🙂

Body Ignatian Spirituality Mind Spirit

Simplicity and Silence

First off, hope you’re having a good day.  I had to go to Baltimore for a meeting, and someone I work with asked me to pick up a bag of the country potatoes I wrote about yesterday.  I had to go to two Trader Joe’s stores before I found them 🙁  As it turns out, they’re a new item.  I hope you can find them easily.

When I was on my eight day silent retreat last year, my spiritual director told me that, generally, it’s taking people until the fifth day before they can relax and fully de-stress.  Of course, he made this comment to me on my fifth day, if that tells you something.  Why do we find ourselves so exhausted that we can hardly function?  Is this the way its supposed to be?

According to Brother Victor, (author of Sacred Feasts Cookbook), he says no, it is absolutely not supposed to be this way.  He writes,

In an age such as ours, full of feverish consumerism, instant communication, loud music and noisy tv, it is quite a challenge to being speaking about the reality of silence.  Occasionally I am asked to give a talk to a group of people , either young students or adults.  I often notice a visible expression of skepticism on their faces when I mention or stress the importance of silence in daily life.  The value and appreciation of silence in today’s culture has dwindled…  Today, belief in the truth of silence is not only disregarded and underestimated, it is considered plainly outmoded… Everyone needs to rediscover some silent, quiet space within himself or herself just to maintain basic sanity. 

The simplicity of silence creates this inner space within us, and silence purifies our vision, cleanses our hearts, and strengthens and deepens our prayer…

The simplicity of silence  brings light and clarity to our minds; it grants peace, tranquility, and perseverance as we toil daily.    (taken from the Gift of Simplicity)

If you are feeling particularly stressed right now, maybe it’s time to take a little break.  Go out and take a little walk around the block.  Go to a park or some other place where you can enjoy nature.  If you’re stuck where you are, close your eyes and dream about some peaceful place where you have had the chance to visit.  No matter what you do, just remember that, as Brother Victor reminds us, we’re not supposed to go through life exhausted, unhappy, and depressed.  I hope you can get the re-charge you need.

Main Course Vegetarian

Quick and Tasty

I wanted to tell you about a new dinner I’ve been making over the last few weeks, compliments of Trader Joe’s.    They are always bringing out new products, and I recently picked up a couple of bags of their Country Potatoes with Haricots Verts (green beans) and Wild Mushrooms.  Everything is pre-cooked and seasoned with olive oil and garlic.  Heating them through in a saute pan takes just a few minutes, and I think you’ll like them as much as I do.  

To get some protein, I combine them with another Trader Joe’s product, Meatless Meatballs.  They are also tasty, and joined with the potato mix and a green salad, a quick and easy dinner can be whipped up in about fifteen minutes or less.

If you’re watching what you eat, here’s the numbers:

1 1/2 Cup Country Potato Mix:

130 Calories; 6 gram fat, 2 gram saturated fat; 0 gram cholesterol; 18 gram carbs; 3 gram fiber; 2 gram protein

6 Meatless Meatballs:

140 Calories; 6 gram fat, 0 saturated fat; 0 gram cholesterol; 8 gram carbs; 4 gram fiber; 16 gram protein 

The potatoes would be a great side dish to roast beef or a nice steak.  I’ve used the meatballs in countless recipes and they are a good way to get some protein into your diet.  Lastly, this is a very inexpensive and healthy meal that I think you’ll enjoy just as pictured.

I hope you’re lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s not too far from where you live!

Mind Spirit

New Beginnings

Although it was a bit overcast today here in Maryland, it would a great day to go sailing.  I haven’t been too many times, but when I do go sailing, especially on the Chesapeake Bay, I realize how much I love to be around water.  There’s something about the immensity of what’s right underneath the hull of the boat.  I’m reminded of the saying,  you’re a little fish in a big pond.  I’m pretty sure you get the message. 

On the flip side, there’s something exhilarating about being on the water, especially in a sailboat.  There’s a lot of work that goes into sailing, and I’m always impressed with those that have the skill to do it.  I enjoy watching them, and I try to stay out of the way, helping where I can.  Heck, they seem to know what they’re doing, why interfere?  Anyway, it’s a lot of fun.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve interviewed a bunch of people for an open position in my office.  There are so many qualified folks out there right now, its been a bit overwhelming.  But we’ve narrowed it down to just a couple of folks, and my staff and I could work well with any of them.  When it’s all said and done, it has to come down to instinct.  Who will do the best job?  Who will reach the most people?  I think I know who that person is, but I still have to put it to prayer.  These are important days, and there are great needs.  This new person will be responsible for a lot.  That being said, we are all ready for a fresh start.  Excitement is in the air.  

In a lot of ways, hiring someone is a lot like asking them to come sailing with you.  You’ve invited them onto your boat, adding weight and taking up space.  They might prove to be a great help, or they might end up being in the way.  First, you have to show them the ropes (an old nautical phrase?), and then let them loose and become part of the team.

 I almost always find that people work out after a little trial and error.  They turn out to be a great help, rarely getting in the way.  It’s generally a lot of work on everyone’s part, but nearly always worth the effort.  I love new beginnings.  They help us dream, knowing that better days lie ahead.  I can’t wait.

Thanks to some input from one of my faithful readers, I’m going to be making some updates to this blog over Memorial Day weekend.  I’m still sailing in uncharted territory for me, and there’s a lot to navigating around (nice, all these sailing images :)).  Basically, I’m hoping to clean things up a bit, add a lot of new recipes, and make everything easier to find.  I hope you’ll like what you see.  Thanks to my newest subscriber.  It’s about time…

Catholic Church Ignatian Spirituality Spirit


When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem.
At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?
Then how does each of us hear them in his own native language?
We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome,
both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”
They were all astounded and bewildered, and said to one another, “What does this mean?”
But others said, scoffing, “They have had too much new wine.”
Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed to them, “You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem. Let this be known to you, and listen to my words.
These people are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning.
No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
‘It will come to pass in the last days,’ God says, ‘that I will pour out a portion of my spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.
Indeed, upon my servants and my handmaids I will pour out a portion of my spirit in those days, and they shall prophesy.
And I will work wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below: blood, fire, and a cloud of smoke.
The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the coming of the great and splendid day of the Lord,
and it shall be that everyone shall be saved who calls on the name of the Lord.’
You who are Israelites, hear these words. Jesus the Nazorean was a man commended to you by God with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs, which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.
This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God, you killed, using lawless men to crucify him.
But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it.
For David says of him: ‘I saw the Lord ever before me, with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted; my flesh, too, will dwell in hope,
because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption.
You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
My brothers, one can confidently say to you about the patriarch David that he died and was buried, and his tomb is in our midst to this day.
But since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne,
he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that neither was he abandoned to the netherworld nor did his flesh see corruption.
God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses.
Exalted at the right hand of God, he received the promise of the holy Spirit from the Father and poured it forth, as you (both) see and hear.
For David did not go up into heaven, but he himself said: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies your footstool.”‘
Therefore let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and they asked Peter and the other apostles, “What are we to do, my brothers?”
Peter (said) to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit.
For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call.”
He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day.
They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.
Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles…..

Acts 2

A blessed Pentecost Sunday to you.  This reflection comes from Catherine Doherty:

The Holy Spirit is there for you under many conditions.  Sometimes you are confronted with a very vital situation and you feel that you should talk to the Holy Spirit about it because what you think seems right but might be all wrong.  Suppose your people want you to take a job some place and you don’t feel sure that it s a good spot to go.  Well, pray to the Holy Spirit and he will give you an answer.  At least he always does for me.  When I was deciding to give up everything and follow God directly, it was quite a struggle, you know.  So I talked to the Holy Spirit and asked him what he thought about it.  At that time I had a strange answer: “Do it.” So I did it, and here I am. Yes, here I am.  It is astonishing, absolutely astonishing.

Prayer to the Holy Spirit is indicated at least once a week, because people forget him.  They pray to Jesus Christ and they pray to the Father, but forget the Advocate who teaches us.  So pray to him quite often.  It is impossible to tell you who wonderful he is, and how important.  The average Catholic doesn’t think he is important, but he is very important.

We celebrate Pentecost yearly but I think Pentecost could be celebrated every day.  Each day he is with me and holds me tight.  All of me.  He is like my cloak that covers me up and I am safe.  So are you.  Yes, he keeps you really safe.  So I hope you are going to pray to him.  It is so very important that you should.

Mind Spirit

Believe and Succeed

I took this picture when I was out for my walk today.  These geese hang out at a pond not too far from my house, and I see this little family every day.  Actually, I guess you could say I live between two ponds.  Throughout the day, the adult geese fly back and forth between the ponds, and my house is right below their flight pattern.  It is the coolest thing to actually hear the flap of their wings when they fly overhead.

They say that when geese fly together, the honk they make is done to cheer the lead goose on, encouraging them keep it up.  I’m not sure if that’s true, but it’s a pretty neat idea.

Years ago, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale wrote,

Jesus said, “Everything is possible to one who has faith” (Mk. 9:24).  This is one of the greatest laws in the universe. , fervently do I wish I had discovered it as a very young man.  It dawned upon me much later in life, and I have found it to be one of my greatest – if not greatest- discovery, outside of my relationship to God… The great law briefly and simply stated is that if you think in negative terms, you will get negative results.  If you think in positive terms, you will achieve positive results.  “That is the simple fact,” he went on to say,”which is the basis of an astonishing law of prosperity and success.  In three words:  Believe and Succeed.”

William Shakespeare put it this way:  “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

I think there’s a lot of wisdom in positive thinking.  When I hear those geese fly overhead, I’m always struck by the fact that it’s only been in the last 100 or so years that we have been able to fly.  Now, most of us take it for granted.  But a lot of failures took place prior to that first successful flight.  Those failures never stopped the Wright brothers, and countless others before them, from trying.  They believed it would happen one day.  And on December 17, 1903, it did.

What possibilities are you thinking about?  What dreams do you have?

Ignatian Spirituality Mind Spirit


In the late 90’s, there was a little book that came out entitled, Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff, and it became a best seller.  Basically, the book is filled with little tips and stories to help us realize that we can do all kinds of things to reduce the stress in our lives.

I have been doing some housecleaning lately, and one of my tasks is to donate a bunch of old books to the public library.  I had my hand on this book, written by Richard Carlson, more than once.  But in the end, it made the cut.  This morning, I decided to flip through it, and I came up with a good thought for today’s blog:

Many people live as if life were a melodrama- “an extravagantly theatrical play in which action and plot predominate.”  Sound familiar?  In dramatic fashion, we blow things out of proportion, and make a big deal out of little things.  We forget that life isn’t as bad as we’re making it out to be.  We also forget that when we’re blowing things out of proportion, we are the ones doing the blowing.

I’ve found that simply reminding myself that life doesn’t have to be a soap opera is a powerful method of calming down.  When I get too worked up or start taking myself too seriously, I say to myself something like, “Here I go again.  My soap opera is starting.”  Almost always, this takes the edge off my seriousness and helps me to laugh at myself.  Often, this simple reminder enables me to change the channel to a more peaceful station.  My melodrama is transformed into a “mellow-drama.”

No matter what, there’s someone who has it worse than us.  I think it would really help if we could just start getting over ourselves and laugh things off a bit more often.