How About You?

When Pope Francis was in Philadelphia last fall, he told a story from the life of St. Katherine Drexel (1858-1955), a native of that city.   in 1887, Katherine and her sisters, who had recently inherited a nearly $16 million estate, traveled to Europe and had a private audience with Pope Leo XIII.  Katherine asked the Holy Father to send missionaries to the United States to care for poor African Americans and Native Americans.  While to pope was amiable to this, he had a challenge for Katherine.  “How about you?  What can you do?”  And so began the desire of this future saint to become a woman religious.  Katherine Drexel devoted her life and her part of her family fortune to serve these two groups.  When she died in 1955, she left a rich legacy that continues to this day.

By chance, I was at a conference today in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.  Someone mentioned that the Shrine of St. Katherine was just a few blocks away, and when the conference was over, I drove up the road to her Shrine.  As I sat in the beautiful chapel in this photo, a chapel which St. Katherine knew well, the words of Pope Leo came into my mind.  It’s a great challenge to all of us, don’t you think?

The world is a crazy place, and there are many, many lost and broken people right among us.  What are we doing to help?  It’s not someone else’s job.  The challenge is for you and me.  St. Katherine could have chosen to just give her money away and leave the work to others.  She chose to be the servant, the worker, the provider herself.  It was a blessing to pray where she prayed, and kneel at her tomb.

Sadly, I learned that just this past month, the sisters have decided to sell the 44 acre property, including the Shrine.  St. Katherine’s remains will be moved to the Cathedral in Philadelphia, a church where she prayed as a child.  When I learned this, I felt doubly blessed for my visit today, especially for the randomness of it.

I don’t know what will become of the property, but I hope I’ll have the chance to visit again before it’s gone.




National Trails Day

OK, I have to admit it.  Up to this morning, I didn’t know we had an National Trails Day.  Well, on my early morning sweep of the on-line news, I found that the first Saturday in June is, you guessed it, National Trails Day.  You can learn more by visiting the American Hiking Society’s website.  So, now I’m sure you are wondering if I knew about the American Hiking Society.  Nope.  Where have I been!

Anyway, a subtheme of Making All Things New is that we all need to get out and walk, not only for exercise, but also to look for God.  As St. Ignatius said, we can “find God in all things,” and friends, that includes nature.   So, on this first Saturday in June, I hope you’ll throw on your walking/hiking shoes, and get out on some trail near you.  After visiting my local Farmer’s Market, I’m going to surprise my dog Smokey with a hike at the Nature Center a few miles from where we live.  He likes that trail, and its been awhile since we’ve walked it.  My only hope is that every other dog owner in Carroll County doesn’t know about National Trails Day 🙂

(photo via pixabay)


Gathering Graces

Last night, I finished my task of leading a group through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  The six of us spent 30+ weeks together, sometimes in person, sometimes online, and all of it a very rich and rewarding experience for everyone.  It is a great blessing for me to have seen the transformation of each pilgrim, and, as typical at the end of the Exercises, we gathered for a Mass of Thanksgiving, where together we savored the graces which God gifted to us.

The location of the Mass was Kane Chapel at Mount St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, Maryland.  A great friend of mine is the University Chaplain there, and he was very kind in celebrating our Mass.  He too has been through the Exercises, and shared a bit about his own experiences.  After Mass, we heading out to a corner pub and had had a celebratory dinner.

Last week at this time, I was preparing to lead a weekend Ignatian retreat for another group.  20+ people participated, and our weekend together proved to be quite fruitful as well.  Now, this group is moving through our on-line retreat continuation, and from their comments, they are continuing to grow deeper in their relationship with God through integrating Ignatian Spirituality into their daily lives.

What a joy it is for me to personally witness the impact of this nearly 500 year old spirituality has on the lives of people living in the 21st century.  What a gift.  What a grace.