Growing in Holiness:...

Today is the 500th birthday of Saint Teresa of Avila, one of the greatest mystics and spiritual writers of the Church. When I think about it, St. Teresa was my first teacher about growth in the spiritual life. It seems strange; we know that we grow physically and intellectually, but we...

Lent, Suffering, and...

Lent causes suffering. The small (perhaps large to us) sacrifices that we make are meant to bring us closer to the cross. They are meant to bring us to greater reliance on Jesus instead of whatever it is we’ve chosen to give up. We can also “offer up” our myriad annoyances and...

Sheep Among Wolves

“‘Thomas! Thomas!’ two snickering friars called, rousing their brother who was bent over his books. ‘Look out the window—there are pigs flying about in the sky!’ Thomas rose at once and bounced to the window incredulously. The friars laughed. Putting the finishing touch on...

What my Confessor Ta...

I went to Confession one recent Saturday morning, planning on receiving the sacrament before Mass. As I drove to the church, I was doing my examination of conscience, and growing increasingly nervous. When I arrived at the church, it was dark and empty – except for the priest praying his...

The Other Side of Pi...

Many of us have been pilgrims, walking the paths saints have trod before us. How many of us have been saints, treading paths worthy of pilgrims yet to come? We can fly over land and sea, at great discomfort, and greater expense, to see the places sanctified by Brother Francis’ simple...

Patience in the Dese...

For forty days Christ suffered in the desert, fasting and depriving Himself of comfort, choosing to undergo hardship and temptation for the sake of teaching us the importance of fortitude, penance, and trust in God alone.  Christ made Himself uncomfortable to show us the importance of doing...

Minimalism

Minimalism takes work and effort. It is an exercise of saying no to many things in order to focus on saying yes to the important ones. It is well worth it since minimalism also brings many benefits to both body and soul. Lent is a season for minimalism, both inside and out. We are invited to...

Entering into the Si...

Throughout Lent, we often focus on the things we are giving up or the extra things we are doing. Maybe we are fasting from chocolate, praying a weekly holy hour, or volunteering more at the soup kitchen. Often our Lent becomes filled with things to do instead of drawing us closer to God. To...

Beyond My Comfort (F...

It is very appropriate, I think, that I received my diagnosis of wheat and milk allergies during Lent, three years ago. After all, I was already in a mode of Lenten sacrifice, and it felt good and natural to cut out these foods from my life and stick to a very basic diet. Also, I had been very...

The Whisper of the S...

The whisper of the Salve Regina echoes in my heart, a distant memory of chant at the Benedictine Monastery. …the January night sky glittered above with the sparkling of lighted stars. The long endless country road that dips and winds to the brothers’ abode. The moonlight shining on the...

A Clean Heart

A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Psalm 51 The heart is one of the most essential organs in the human body because it pumps blood to every extremity. When it does not function properly and effectively, negative side effects occur. If we do not eat a...

Why Do We Pray, Fast...

This is a lesson for which I will be forever in debt to Dr. Brant Pitre.  He taught it to me, and I’m passing it on.  But I have to say up front that if you enjoy this post, check out his presentation on it here.  It is amazing stuff! Lent is a fantastic spiritual opportunity for...

When Waiting is Real...

In reaction to the increasing physical immorality spreading through society today, and in an attempt to counter the message  constantly being sold through advertising, movies, music, and even best-selling books that says sexual intimacy is not only okay, but expected, outside of marriage,...

Some Wisdom from Joh...

Today at Holy Hour I read this passage in “The Living Flame of Love,” by St. John of the Cross: He [The Holy Spirit] touches the soul not with His shadow only, for He unites Him self to it, feeling and tasting with it the form and attributes of God in the shadow of God: that is,...

When Repentance Look...

“Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” -Mark 1:35-37   Any parent who has planned to get up “before the kids” in order to...

Internet Ire and Rig...

The readings for February 6, 2015: First reading: HEB 13:1-8 Responsorial Psalm: PS 27:1, 3, 5, 8B-9ABC Alleluia: LK 8:15 Gospel: MK 6:14-29 There is a lot of hostility being generated in the online worlds. I teach my history students that this is the result of fear. Fear prompts a tongue...

To what is God calli...

Discerning God’s will in our lives can be a difficult and confusing endeavor most of the  time. I can still remember hearing the many epic tales about the heroic Saints in our Church’s life and thinking, “If I really love God, wouldn’t I do the same? Wouldn’t I give up everything,...

Our Expectations and...

We are now a month into 2015. There is still so much unknown about this year; the blank pages are yet to be filled in, and many possibilities are present. Along with possibilities, we also carry our expectations into the year and into the situations we encounter. Yet, this year also brings...

Spiritual Antibodies

“And hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” —Mark 2:17 When I was three years old, I had a terrible case of the chicken pox. So terrible, in fact, that my...

Learning Patience

{Warning: I mention miscarriage in this post – not mine – but it comes up.} There we were, waiting in the waiting room. Waiting rooms make me nervous. I’d rather sit in my car until its my turn and then just go straight into the appointment. Doctor, dentist, ultrasound,...

Don’t Cry Over Spilt...

Arriving home from grocery shopping one afternoon, I sensed an imminent meltdown from my 9 month old son. He was overtired and still upset that I did not let him grab and chew on all of the exciting things he could see in the grocery store. I surveyed the heap of grocery bags in my trunk and...

Into the Woods: A Ca...

The movie points to a basic human fact that is often overlooked: humanity is messy

New Year’s Dre...

The shiftiness of college years does not always create the best circumstances for keeping New Year’s Resolutions.  Though I hardly ever pass up an opportunity to make a list, my typical resolutions seemed like they would only put more pressure on me in the midst of an already demanding...

Our Friends: The Sai...

We have access to literally thousands of friends—at any time. No, I’m not talking about Facebook or any other online network; I’m talking about an eternal network of friends in high places. The saints are always available when we need to ask for intercession. The saints are like a big...

A Christian Outlook ...

In our family, we celebrate New Year’s Eve in a typical way – Midnight Mass, party at our the house of our paternal grandparents, fireworks, noisemaking, countdown at the stroke of 12, eating the traditional twelve grapes for every month of the year. Then, we interrupt the revelry to pray...

Clinging to Traditio...

This time of year is usually filled with traditions: both family traditions and liturgical traditions, which shape our experience of Christmas. Traditions serve a great purpose in our lives. We are creatures of habit, and circling back to favorite traditions year after year helps us focus on...

7 Spiritual New Year...

I think most Catholics in the world would love to grow in their relationship with Jesus. People have a genuine desire to grow in holiness, even if they are not able to articulate their desires for it. On New Year ’s Day many people re-evaluate their lives. They examine how their lives were...

The Beggar In Me

I’ll be honest, more often than not when I pass a homeless person or someone begging on the side of the road I give them nothing more than a smile. Maybe, just maybe, if I happen to have extra food in my car and the light doesn’t change, I’ll give them of my excess, but...

What’s Become ...

A reader of Ignitum Today requested an article that in some way addresses the question of what it means to be Catholic today, especially in terms of what that means about the beliefs we hold.  To get right to the point: if many people who identify as Catholics also hold beliefs that the...

The Worlds of Differ...

When it comes to revising old hymn texts, I am typically a curmudgeon. I find excision as it is usually practiced a patronizing exercise in turning gorgeous old texts into meaningless drivel that avoids supposedly difficult or archaic words. Such excision includes but is not limited to:...

The Power of Traditi...

My husband and I are currently navigating our way through our first holiday season as a married couple. Many life lessons learned, many tears of frustration shed, and I’m sure there will be more. There have also been many moments of joy, laughter, and peace, and I know there will be more of...

Christmas – Wh...

The stores filled with Christmas items especially early this season, “Santa Baby” playing endlessly on the local radio station since late October. Christmas all around me and I am already getting tired of it. Yes, I sound like the famous character of Ebenezer Scrooge from A...

Helpful Advent Links

Advent is my favorite liturgical season. I become extremely excited when Advent is coming, and love observing it by wearing my purple “Advent scarves,” painting my nails to mirror the Advent wreath, and putting up my La Posada statue in my room. Unfortunately, during my first year of...

From the Realms of G...

I imagine angels to be like responsible teenagers asked to babysit their toddler siblings. I’m sure that my own guardian angel is often exasperated with me, as tends to happen when babysitting mischievous toddlers. Sometimes the kids are adorable, and sometimes you have to lure the guinea...

The Suffering Questi...

The first time I went to Europe came about when my essay was chosen to receive a mostly paid pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome.  $800 out of my pocket was all it took for me to embark on a once in a lifetime pilgrimage experience. Since then I have always looked back with such fond memories of...

Watch and Pray- Prep...

The Taize Community of France, known for their rhythmic hymns, which encourage contemplation on lines from scripture, has a beautiful chant paraphrasing from Jesus’ prayer in the Garden before his arrest.  They hymn repeats: “Stay with me, remain here with me, watch and pray,...

The Loss of the Orph...

I have been living in fear. I have been fearful that God will take away the things I love – my children, my husband, family – if I trust in Him wholeheartedly. Logically, it makes sense concerning my history. In the past ten years I’ve lost my mom, left my home, left my new...

Crawling to Heaven

If studying the saints has taught me anything, it is that there are many ways to travel the narrow road to Heaven.  While some lived shorter lives which were filled with spiritual difficulties, but ultimately ended early and sweetly, others suffered great pains and tortures to their bodies...

How a Trip to the Po...

Summer happens to be not a particularly favorite season of mine.  As a very fair skinned person, summer is a constant reminder of my need for sunscreen.  Lots of it. And often. I have never been the type to just ‘lay out’ in the sun for the day.  Recently I was needing an extra...

Misconceptions about...

Many people, including Catholics, have misconceptions about the saints. Consider the following incidents: A journalist interviews the producer of a musical play about the life of St. Lorenzo Ruiz, who, having been in trouble with the law, escaped his native Philippines to Japan where he is...