Catholic Living

The Marriage Stretch

  I watched the nubile yoga instructor demonstrate. “This is an awesome stretch,” she crooned, lying down on her back on the mat. “Just put your hands like this over your head, flat on the mat. Now, spread your feet like this to anchor your energy,” she continued, bending like a jointed Barbie. “Now, push … Read more

Sleep Is for Wimps

Tiny hands cupped my face. “Mama, Mama,” I heard a voice whisper. “I need you.” “Gah!” I responded. To explain my somewhat inelegant response, I should tell you that it was about 2 a.m. when the tiny hands cupped my face and the small voice awakened me from a sound sleep. The little person needed … Read more

Six Tips for a Healthy and Happy Marriage

Six-and-a-half years ago I was a blushing bride dreaming of her happily ever after. After enduring a rigorous marital boot camp at my church’s Pre-Cana program, I thought I knew a lot about love and marriage. I knew squat. I admit I still know fairly little, but I like to think I’ve learned a thing … Read more

Forbidden Fruit — and Sponges

A few years ago, my son Ambrose was hospitalized with a lung infection. The two weeks he spent away from home were trying times for our family, but I have one particularly fond memory of his stay. One day, when I returned to his hospital room after being away for a few hours, he made … Read more

On This Rock

Two-year-old Daniel jabbed a small, pudgy finger at my face in the wedding photo. “Mama,” he announced confidently, and then, “Papa,” as he pointed to his father. “Yes,” I told him. “That’s Mama and Papa on the day we were married.” He squinted at the photo for another moment before turning to me with an … Read more

Adoption: A Love Story

I was relaxing in my favorite armchair and watching golf when my daughter, Hannah, strode into the room. “Dad,” she said, “we need to have a serious talk.” “Okay,” I replied, turning to her. She frowned. “You’re going to have to turn the TV off.” “Oh.” I tapped the remote control. This was serious. Almost … Read more

Contemplations for Skiing

I ski, but not well. I devote much of my time skiing in prayer to Jesus, whose protection and humor I must beg every ski season. Skiing leaves plenty of time for prayer, as there’s really not much to it: You stand atop a mountain and move forward down the slope until you slam into … Read more

Meeting Mary

When people stop me after Mass to tell me how well-behaved they thought my children were, I usually smile and say “thank you.” I have got to stop taking credit for any of it. I recently attended a Sunday-morning Mass without my husband and without my two oldest boys. It was just me, two big … Read more

A Fine Thing

I hit the first-floor landing just as my son’s shoe toppled the crystal angel given me last Christmas by my mother-in-law. I’d heard the “boy noise” escalate from laughter to hysteria to full-on combat. It happens this way with teenage boys; often, it’s a matter of seconds before rough-housing turns into a WWF smack down, … Read more

Christmas Morning: The Rules

The hallway on Christmas morning: We children stood, youngest in front of oldest, not allowed past an invisible line on the floor separating the hall from the living room. We were close enough to see the lighted tree, the fireplace, and the wrapped presents — but not close enough to see the unwrapped presents left … Read more

A Simple Little Christmas

Years ago, we belonged to a parish where the pastor was an elderly “retired” French-Canadian priest. Monsignor Leo was a little rough around the edges and sometimes a bit deaf in the confessional, but we loved him just the same. We especially loved him at Christmastime. Every year, at the end of the first Christmas … Read more

Glamour Moms

Her gleaming grin caught my eye in the checkout aisle. There she was — Angelina Jolie. Newly pregnant, the headline told me, with her seventh child.  The evidence of this latest “pregnancy” was helpfully highlighted for readers with the use of a yellow arrow marked with the words “baby bump.” There, beneath a fitted dress, … Read more

Into the Purple

Among my most vivid memories of my father is being with him in Toronto, nearly 40 years ago, in the moments before he delivered a speech to a design convention. We were having coffee in the Colonnade, my beloved father and I. He had of course written his speech, which was supposed to be about … Read more

Alleluia in the Dark

Last weekend, we attended a funeral Mass for a four-month-old baby girl. She was the beloved daughter of my husband’s cousin and his wife. These are the kinds of life events that threaten to expose me for the faith fraud I fear that I am. It’s easy to say we have faith when all goes … Read more

Birth Plans and Market Crashes

The nurse approached my bed impatiently, extended her hand, and snapped, “Hand me your birth plan.” I could only shake my head, as another contraction gripped me. “No,” I sighed as the moment eased, “I didn’t get to writing that down.” My nurse broke into a smile. She took my hand — the one without … Read more

What’s In a Name?

The other day, a proud Grandma I know announced to me that her daughter had recently given birth to a fourth child. “They named her Zipporah,” she beamed. “Zipporah?” I raised an eyebrow. “Yes,” she explained. “It was Moses’ wife’s name.” Hmm. I kind of like it. Besides, who am I to judge anyone for … Read more

Gift of Grace

“The juice! Don’t forget the juice!” my mother-in-law, Dolores, called after me as I made my way down her front steps and toward my car. Her anxious face appeared in the doorway and she thrust a half-gallon bottle of cranberry juice toward me. I didn’t want the stupid juice. “Thank you,” I answered weakly. I … Read more

Nostril Muscles and Other Secrets

“Watch this, Mom,” my red-haired, eleven-year-old son yelped yesterday, his brown eyes dancing with amusement. He yanked a white tissue from the Kleenex box and blew. Smiling largely, his drippy nose reddened to match his hair. “Well,” I ventured, “very nice job, dear, blowing your nose.” As I cocked my head quizzically, he offered, “Mom, … Read more

Scheduled Chaos

Fancy calendars and datebooks are all alike. Every fall, at the fresh start of a new academic year, they get to me. Irresistibly coy in their cloth-bound covers, they call to me from bookstore shelves. “Buy meeee!” they whisper alluringly as I pretend to be perusing the fitness section. “I have all the answers! I … Read more

The Widow of Nain

The message was terse and professionally uninformative: “This is Chandler Regional Hospital. Your son is here. You will need to come over.” A message from my son’s roommate gave me a few more details. “Gus spent all night vomiting, and this morning he was deaf. I had to take him to the ER.” I couldn’t … Read more

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