What I Have Been Writing

Greetings, readers! This school year has been one of transition for our family. We shifted all of our children into our parish Classical Catholic school and I have been devoting my daytime hours to my intellectual life and my afternoons and evenings undivided to family life. It has been overall a good family transition as I have been exploring how God is calling me to use my gifts in my home and for the Church. I have been loving my quiet time, including more time for prayer, jumping late onto the sourdough bandwagon, and reveling in motherhood when my children are home.

The Fall semester was full of reading St. Edith Stein’s Essays on Woman and participating in a reading group. In addition to my reading, I wrote several features for the National Catholic Register and worked on Content and Theological editing for Blessed is She. I have been also working with my mother on her memoirs as she is going through the process of moving towards her final home of heaven from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

This next semester, I hope to continue writing articles and have been revising a book for which I hope to find a publisher soon. My resolution for this year is to share my articles more frequently with you all through this website.

In the meantime, here is a list of the most recent articles I have published on the NCRegister (in case you have not seen them yet!):

Catholics in Community: Witnessing as the Body of Christ in Public Processions
All Creation Waits: New Kids’ Book Highlights Saints’ Animals and Care of Nature
Praying Like a Monk: The Liturgy of the Hours as a Family
A Mother’s Womb Is a Portal to Eternity
St. Edith Stein’s 5 Tips for Religious Education
Storytelling in Song: What Taylor Swift Phenomenon Has to Do With the First Commandment and the Blessed Mother

BIS Advent with the Good Shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd . . .

I shall not want . . .

He restores my soul . . .

When I wrote the narration for this year’s Blessed is She Advent devotional, I did not know how much I would need the Lord as a place of rest in the months following. Meditating on Psalm 23 gave me the practice of bringing my unrest to the Lord, going to Him for restoration, and letting His grace cover my soul as I walked through the dark valleys of loss and suffering this past year.

And now I am eager to go back to this place of rest this coming Advent, to prepare my heart for the coming of the Lord at Christmas. For even in the busyness of external preparations, we can still dwell in the restful place of our souls where the Trinity is present within our baptized souls.

Blessed is She has offerings on for Advent with year with reflections on the Good Shepherd for women, men, and children. Below are my affiliate links. Please join us as we allow the Lord to shepherd us into Christmas:

  • Found: an Advent devotional for women all about Psalm 23 and the Good Shepherd with stories written by Rachel Balducci, Mary Catherine Craige, Katie Prejean McGrady, and Senite Sahlezghi. Beth Davis wrote the questions. Narrations are written by yours truly.
  • Found for Kids, an Advent book for kids all about walking with Jesus their Good Shepherd written by Olivia Spears.
  • Fierce, an Advent book for men written by a friend of Blessed is She, Paul George, will equip men of all ages and vocations to embrace the spiritual fatherhood that they’re called to.

Finding Truth in the Pre-Christian Philosophers

An unusual icon hangs on the icon wall in my living room. It pictures some “pre-Christian philosophers” or “pathfinders of the way.” At the very front of the group of thinkers are St. Paul and St. Justin Martyr. St. Paul holds a scroll with words from Acts 17:23-24, when he preached to the Athenians about their altar to an unknown God, “Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all things in it, since he is Lord of heaven and earth …” St. Justin’s scroll reads from his writings, “Come, be taught; become as I am, for I, too, was as ye are.” Behind St. Justin and St. Paul are The Sybil of Erythraea, Socrates, Plato, Solon, Aristotle, Pythagoras, Thucydides, Apollonios, and Homer, all of whom were philosophers or writers who discovered important truths that the Church has used in her theology.

St. Justin wrote to Greeks and Romans about how the Christians “teach the same things as the poets and philosophers whom you honor, and on other points are fuller and more divine in our teaching” (The First Apology, Chapter 20). It has been a long custom in Christianity to take what is true in the thought of a philosopher and in the traditions of a culture and to “baptize” it by drawing it into the tradition and truths of the Catholic Church. This adds to the fullness of our faith, especially as we acknowledge that God can choose to reveal truths to and work in the hearts of any of his human creatures. However, when we do this, we must do so cautiously and be careful to only accept what is actually true in these works.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register…

St. John Paul II on God’s Plan for Marriage

One of the most striking passages in the Gospels is when Jesus’ disciples, upon hearing that marriage is not meant to end in divorce, muse, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry” (Matthew 19:10). Jesus tells them, “Not all men can receive this precept, but only those to whom it is given” (Matthew 19:11). The Church has taken nearly 2,000 years to understand more deeply what Christ meant when he said, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so” (Matthew 19:8). Now, this is not an essay on divorce and remarriage, but on the phrase “in the beginning it was not so.” Pope St. John Paul II helped the Church understand the great gift the Lord gave us by raising marriage to a sacrament and how we can, through grace, live free of the curse that was put between husbands and wives because of the Original Sin. Spouses married in the Church, to whom sacramental marriage has been given, can live as equals mutually submitting to the love given through the self-gift of each other. In the beginning this was so.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register…

How to Make Blessing Bags for the Homeless

On Good Friday my husband took the route home from church that leads us through downtown St. Paul, a route that is always leisurely on a Sunday morning. The reality of a world oblivious to the Triduum hit us as we encountered the busy Friday afternoon traffic. Then we saw him — a homeless man up ahead at the next traffic light. Liturgically, Christ had just died on the cross and was descending into hell, but in our current moment he was standing before us in the person of the homeless man.

“As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).

I turned around and asked my daughter if we had any “blessing bags” left. A blessing bag is a collection of simple necessities we keep in our car to hand out to the homeless we encounter at street corners. We were out of blessing bags but had a box of granola bars. My husband rolled down the window and the man came over to us.

“I’m Josh! What are your names?” he asked cheerily. We told him our names and my husband offered Josh the food. He was delighted, and then he looked into the back of our van and saw the children.

“What a beautiful family!” he gushed. Then he addressed them, “You kids grow up helping people, okay?”

Lent is over now, and so is the Church’s focus on prayer, fasting and almsgiving, but as Jesus said a few days before his death, “The poor you will always have with you, but you do not always have me” (John 12:8). The poor still need the generosity of those who have more — and we, in fact, need them.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register.

We Pay Debts of Justice by Performing Works of Mercy

“I am thirsty,” he says to me as I tuck him into bed. “These pants have a hole,” she informs me as she gets dressed. “I need a hug,” another child cries out as she deals with the consequences of her poor behavior.

Addressing these basic necessities of my children has been a part of my life for nearly 12 years, and I realized a few years into parenting how in my service to my family I am fulfilling the call to live out the works of mercy. However, the fact of my own children’s needs being daily met, reminds me that there are many people who do not have these most basic needs met — of food, drink, clothing, health care, and human sympathy and comfort.

In the encyclical Rerum Novarum, Pope Leo XIII wrote about private ownership as the natural right of man. He further discussed how we should use our own possessions, quoting from St. Thomas Aquinas, “Man should not consider his material possessions as his own, but as common to all, so as to share them without hesitation when others are in need” (RV 22). He said it was our duty, “not of justice (save in extreme cases), but of Christian charity, to give what we have to others,” not of what we reasonably need to support ourselves, but of what we are able.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register…

Make Lent About Loving God This Year

Lent is early this year–in just six weeks–and it is still Christmas now. But perhaps it feels as if it never ended from last year. Our lives are still turned upside-down. Our world is in turmoil. Perhaps you are dealing with life changes you were not expecting. 
On February 17, come join me in journeying through Lent with the Blessed is She Lent devotional, Set A Fire, narrated by Olivia Spears with reflections by Jenna Guizar, Tricia Tembreull, Elise Howe, Sarah Ortiz, Mary Catherine Craige, and Ginny Kubitz Moyer. This fire is not a physical one, but a spiritual one, where we will invite the Holy Spirit to enter into our Lenten observance and open up ourselves to His grace. We will be transformed. And maybe, maybe when Easter comes, even if the world is still crazy, our hearts will be resting more fully in His love.


There are a lot of awesome products this year to go with the grown up Lent book, such as the children’s Lent journal, for boys and girls. It follows along with the same scriptures and themes on each day; we will do it during our quiet family prayer time together while they pray at their level and I will at mine. My children delighted in the Advent journal for them, and my son can’t wait to cut out the paper dolls.

And the bundle this year has this sandalwood rose candle and this beautiful Holy Spirit necklace. 

And if you don’t yet have your Risen Easter Devotional, you can buy a bundle with both the Lent and Easter together!

Affiliate links are all here:

Set A Fire: BIS Lent 2021 Devotional

Kid’s BIS Lent 2021

BIS Lent Adult and Kid’s Bundle

BIS Lent Bundle: Devotional, Necklace, Candle

Lent/Easter Bundle

A Shoot From the Stump of Our Lives

I have never noticed the slanting light of winter afternoons as vividly as I have this Advent on our daily family walk — a walk that has become our custom in 2020 just to get out of the house. The sun eases her way over the horizon these days — coming up late, going down early. She shows herself for only eight hours or so and then leaves us in the darkness speckled with the twinkling Christmas lights of our neighborhood. Advent feels more advent-like than normal as we wait, wait for the world to breathe again, wait for things to be normal again, wait most of all for Christ to come on Christmas morning. Perhaps his coming into our hearts again this year will change everything as it did on that first Christmas.

Isaiah wrote about the coming of Christ in these words we hear every Advent, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots” (Isaiah 11:1). The prophet’s words were talking about the line of the family of Jesse, the father of David. They were words for the chosen, faithful people of God, but they lost their way again and again and again. When Jesus came as a little baby — God made man — he was this shoot coming out from this stump of the broken line of kings, a stump of the chosen people unable to stay close to God, a stump of all fallen humanity unable to know God on their own.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register…

Love of God is the Reason for Education

I plopped down in my desk chair. Our first day of homeschool for the year was over and instead of my normal hurry to get to my afternoon work, I was filled with a sense of accomplishment in having taught my children well, and gratitude that I have the means to be their educator. All of the careful planning I had done over the summer — the choosing of curriculums and books, the detailed planning of the school year — was beginning to bear fruit.

We have the rest of the school year ahead of us, and it is my job to teach kindergarten, second grade, fourth grade and sixth grade to four very unique children. I began to reflect on the experiences of my friends had shared with me when they were thrown into distance learning last March and the struggle of discernment they went through about this school year. I considered the careful planning done by schools and youth programs to make education possible and doable this year.

And what I saw was this: while it was all extremely hard and often tedious, this work of educating children is a worthy task and one in which we should feel humbled to take part. For this task of education is never for the sake of knowledge itself but is for the sake of knowing and loving God. If we do it well, the children we educate will have grown in knowledge, virtue and holiness. If we do it well, what our children learn will fill them with a love of God and wonder of his creation.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register…

Bl. Franz Jäggerstätter and a Third Party Vote

The issue of protecting the life of unborn children in the womb has been the central issue for American Catholics for almost half a century. Furthermore, many Catholics think they have an obligation to vote for the pro-life candidate who has the greatest chance of winning. But at what point does a candidate who promotes pro-life legislation go too far in many the other areas of Catholic social teaching? Do Catholics have an obligation to vote for someone who leads the government into other grave violations of human dignity, just because he or she is opposed to abortion?

With many other Catholics, I have concluded that voting for the anti-abortion candidate who is most likely to win does not fit with our duty as Catholics to uphold all the truths taught by the Catholic Church when that candidate’s other views conflict with other important life issues. In this position, I see myself following the example of Bl. Franz Jägerstätter who was pressured by fellow Catholics including priests and bishops to support the Nazi Socialist Party in Austria in the 1930s and 40s. They told him that he had to do it for the Fatherland—but he felt that he could not participate in the evils promoted and actually committed by the Nazi Socialist Party.

I am not saying that our political parties are as evil as the Nazis, yet. But they support many elements in American society that degrade the dignity of the human person. Since a government has a moral duty to protect and respect the dignity of all humans in its realm and not violate the dignity of noncitizens, all of these things must be taken into consideration by Catholics

The USCCB presents these important considerations in their rereleased document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. In this document, the bishops apply the tradition of Catholic social teaching to issues we are facing in the United States today. While they emphasize ending the evil of abortion as the preeminent “priority because it directly attacks life itself,” they also bring attention to “other serious threats to human life and dignity such as racism, the environmental crisis, poverty and the death penalty,” and to issues like the inhuman treatment and lack of due process for families coming to our borders in crisis, gun violence, health care reform, and attacks on the essential nature of the human person as male and female.

When the only anti-abortion/pro-life candidate who is likely to win stands for and promotes a large number of issues that violate human dignity, Catholics face a difficult decision. After we have formed our conscience in the fullness of truth, reasoned about the weight of the importance of various issues, and have found that the two major-party candidates and platforms do not promote enough of the fullness of truth about human dignity, we have to make some decision.

I contend that it is morally permissible, or even recommended, for Catholics either to vote for a third-party candidate* who is both pro-life regarding abortion and has stances consistent with many other aspects of moral truth or to turn in a blank ballot. When there is not a candidate worth voting for, then it is best to not vote for any. This is so even if a major-party candidate supports Catholic social teaching on some issues, like abortion, and stands a good chance of winning the election.

St. Thomas Aquinas explains in the Summa Theologiae that it is wrong to not follow one’s conscience, but also that one has an obligation to form one’s conscience (I-II, Q. 19, Art. 5-6). He explains that we are responsible if we do not fully form our consciences in accord with the fullness of truth. The Church gives us examples of this sort of political act in some of her saints. The drive to not compromise the fullness of moral truth for the sake of worldly success is the same drive that led Bl. Franz Jäggerstätter and similarly St. Thomas More and to stand against the unjust governments of their respective times and ultimately give up their lives. For them it was the love of truth and desire to do what was right that led them to make their stand.

St. Thomas More was an influential government leader who refused to support King Henry VIII in separating the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church. Bl. Franz Jägerstätter in his position against his government was a simple Austrian peasant as he courageously refused to take the oath to support Adolf Hitler and serve under the National Socialists in the military.

Both men knew that they faced hopeless cases politically. They both knew that they would forfeit their lives if they did not agree to support an evil leader of a government. Nearly all the other Catholics that both men knew chose to go along with the evil done by the government. Both men knew their choice to stand against it would not stop the leader from making evil choices. But both had to follow their consciences. They both supported a hopeless cause, but they chose to support the truth anyway.

In his personal notebooks, Bl. Franz described German-speaking Catholics as people engulfed in a stream they would have to struggle to escape, that stream being the National Socialist party, which Pope Pius XI had spoken out against. The German Church supported that party’s rule out of fear of losing its liberties. But Bl. Franz asked in his writings, “Have church officials reached the decision that it is now permissible for Catholics to belong to a party that opposes the church?” (Franz Jägerstätter: Letters and Writings from Prison, Notebook II, p. 174) Catholics today run the risk of being engulfed in the stream of either major political party. But it is our moral duty to examine each party and discern if either is worth supporting.

Now, unlike in the cases of St. Thomas More and Bl. Franz, the way that a Catholic chooses to vote in an election in the United States is not a matter of physical life and death for him or her. But it is clear that the major parties do not promote respect for the human dignity of all persons: the unborn, the poor, the worker, the elderly, families, the oppressed, etc. It is also clear that how we vote is a moral act, and that like any moral act, it affects the life of our souls. Like Bl. Franz and St. Thomas More, we have to make political choices that aim at protecting the truths of the Church and the moral truth that all humans have dignity and deserve to be treated as such.

As in the cases of St. Thomas More and Bl. Franz, it is worth aiming at these goals with our votes, regardless of whether our choice stands any reasonable chance of success. It may be that turning in a blank ballot or voting for a third-party candidate aims at these goals better than voting for a major party candidate. Each Catholic must weigh all of the relevant information in their consciences, and the right choice in not always clear. But turning in a blank ballot or voting for a third party send will send a message about the Catholic vote: that we must protect the unborn and all vulnerable people and that our two major parties are not doing enough. Just as in the acts of St. Thomas More and Bl. Franz, this is worth saying, even if it has no immediately apparent effect.

*One third party many faithful Catholics are supporting is the American Solidarity Party, which has based its platform on the successful Christian Democrat parties in Europe and Catholic Social Teaching.