Category Archives: Holidays and other fun times

Modern women and Mary: Win a copy of “Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God”

Once upon a time, I wanted to know what young adult women thought about Mary.  (Mary as in Mother-of-God Mary.)  So I wrote an article about it.

Then, with the encouragement of an editor (who is herself named Mary!), I wrote a whole book about it.

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The process of writing it was eye-opening.  I talked to women from their twenties to their nineties, and heard their stories about who Mary is to them.  Those stories were poignant, affirming, at times raw, but always moving.  I came away with a deeper understanding of how much this young girl of Galilee keeps on inspiring women, even two thousand years later.   The whole experience proved that there’s so much power when women share their experiences of faith.

And since today is the day when Catholics have traditionally celebrated Mary’s birthday, it seemed like a terrific time to keep the sharing going.  So in honor of the day, I’m giving away a copy of Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God to a lucky recipient!  

How do you enter?  All you need to do is leave a comment in the comment section below.  You don’t even have to say anything deep or clever (seriously, who can pull off deep or clever on a Monday?).   A simple “I’d love to enter!”  is all it takes.  Entries will remain open until Friday, September 12th, then I’ll randomly choose a winner.

So please add a comment, tell a friend, and –while you’re at it — spend a minute or two reflecting on your own experiences of Mary.  Maybe you could send her a little “Happy Birthday” while you’re at it.   (It would probably make her son very happy, don’t you think?)

Labor Day and one big soul that everyone’s a part of

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At Mass yesterday, the closing hymn was “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored

That, in turn, got me thinking of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, which I’ll be teaching again this year. (Interesting bit of trivia: It was Steinbeck’s wife Carol who suggested that he use the song lyric as the title.)

And The Grapes of Wrath got me thinking about labor, and Labor Day.

Have you read the book?  If not, I highly recommend it. It’s a book about the dignity of labor and the laborer, as well as a call to justice in the face of worker exploitation.  Italo Calvino once said that “A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.”  In a post-Citizens United world,  The Grapes of Wrath speaks as powerfully now as it did during the Depression.  (It also has one of the two best endings of any book I’ve ever read.  It weirded me out as a high school student, but now, I’m in awe of what Steinbeck managed to do in one perfect scene.)

And as I sang along with the rest of the congregation and thought about the book,  I found my mind wandering to labor in general.  As much as we (or at least I) like to think of free time as being the real stuff of life, it’s work that makes this world run.  That’s true whether it’s crews building the roads or  migrants picking the crops or moms bathing the kids or  teachers setting up their classrooms for the start of the school year.

Still,  I think it’s fair to say that society as a whole seems to value some work more than others.  I know women who are disparaged for being stay-at-home moms, and we’ve probably all heard people make dismissive comments about the people who work in fast-food restaurants or work as sanitation engineers.  (And then there’s that saying about how those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach.  That one makes me nuts.)

Looking at the two young boys on either side of me, I realized how much I care about counteracting those attitudes. I want my kids to grow up to respect all kinds of workers  and all kinds of work  (save, of course, something  like dealing drugs).  Whoever we are and however we earn a living, we can only do our jobs because other people do theirs.  No one is an island;  we’re all part of a complex web of interdependence, one that works best when we all recognize and respect its existence.

As the ex-preacher Jim Casy famously says in The Grapes of Wrath, “Maybe all men got one big soul and everybody’s a part of it.”  (If you read the book in high school, I hope your teacher did the instructional equivalent of putting that line in neon lights.)  And if the book teaches nothing else, it teaches that there is a life-giving power when people remember that.  We all share a common humanity, no matter what kind of work we do, and that’s worth remembering all year long.

Twelve years since “I do”

The number twelve has many associations.  Twelve months in a year; twelve apostles of Jesus; twelve donuts in a dozen.

But as of today, it has a new significance for me.  Twelve years ago today, Scott and I said “I do.”

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So happy anniversary to my life partner, my in-home tech support, my coffee roaster extraordinaire, my first proofreader, my seatmate on the wild and wacky rollercoaster of parenting, my rock,  my sweetheart.  I love you forever.

Happy Father’s Day


To all the dads who help us stand tall and walk proud …

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 …Happy Father’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day

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What’s one thing your mom taught you how to do?

Whatever it was, don’t forget to say thank you today.