Saturday, November 21, 2020

an Advent like no other

[Note: these holy women are all part of my saint posse, 
the ones I call on and depend on to walk with me. 
They are all found at Clear Creek Abbey in Eastern Oklahoma]

It’s been a long time… I’ve missed chatting with you all. I’ll write more about the past few months soon, but today, let me put in a plug for ADVENT…

There is so much about the season of Advent that I have always loved. Waiting. Anticipation. Grace. Beautiful feast days. Incarnation. We are the only religion who make this bold radical claim. The son of God became flesh, like us, within a human mother. And He entered the world as a humble, fragile baby.

In the midst of this bizarre pandemic year, where nothing is familiar and everything feels unsteady, where the future is a mystery and it is impossible to predict or prepare for what comes next… I invite you to be still. 

Talk walks outside. Sit and feel the sun on your face. Break the usual habits and find space, time, silence to just be. 


To this end, I want to suggest two resources that you don’t want to miss!


·      I pray with the beautiful Magnificat Magazine daily. And this year, as they have in the past, the generous folks at Magnificat have sent me several FREE Advent apps to give away to my readers. Interested?  Just leave me a message here, or email me directly:

·      In the past few years, I have written biographies about three modern saints, and each one enriched and transformed my life in a very personal way. 


I humbly suggest, for your Advent reading… or as a gift for a friend, the stories of these amazing holy people:


Rosemary Nyirumbe: Sewing Hope in Uganda (Liturgical Press)

Sister Rosemary is a Sister of the Sacred Heart of Jesus ministering, to this day, in a special way to the women and children of her homeland in northern Uganda. Read her story. It will enrich your heart!  In Sister Rosemary's own words, “Love is the key!” [click here]


The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run: Blessed Stanley Rother, Martyr from Oklahoma (Our Sunday Visitor)

Father Stanley Rother, a priest from my home Archdiocese of Oklahoma City is the first American martyr. He was killed in 1981 at the Oklahoma mission to Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala. But the gem of Blessed Stan is not how he died, but how he lived. We are all called to be saints, and he can show us the way through the ordinary living of our lives.


This book is available in Spanish and in English now! Please, help me spread his amazing story! [click here for Spanish] [click here for English]


Edith Stein, the Life and Legacy of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Sophia Institute Press)

Perhaps you have heard about this brilliant, prolific, gifted woman philosopher. But I fell in love with her heart, through her letters written to friends, colleagues and family, as she shared with them her own conversion story. Always seeking the God, she could not see, she finally felt Him deep inside.   I’ll give you a hint, she read the biography of Teresa of Avila, put it down and said, “This is Truth!” [click here]

Whatever you decide to do for your Advent, just pick one thing. Please join me! And I’d love to hear about it once you decide!


Blessings to each of you from the Heartland.  I am thankful for YOU!




Tuesday, August 11, 2020

on this my birthday week


This is my birthday week. 


And it’s not just any birthday, it’s one of those birthdays that is attached to a superlative -- a banner, landmark, milestone birthday.  


On August 13, a birth day I share with Fidel Castro (although THAT deserves its own separate headline!), I will turn 60. 


I was sharing my thoughts on this with my remarkable 89-year-old mom, who as usual, had an insightful suggestion. Instead of rolling my  eyes  and moaning about the idea of being 60, she said, take the time to write down a list of my blessings. 


“¡Ya verás que tu lista de bendiciones va a ser mucho más larga que tus años!”


So here is my list. And because 60 is such a HUGE number, I have tried to keep each to one word—with a few exceptions. Also, I decided that listing the 22 members of my Tribe individually would be, well, cheating. 


My SIXTY blessings, in no specific order: 


1.     My faith

2.     Culture

3.     Cuba

4.     Caribbean

5.     Music

6.     Being woman

7.     Mother Mary

8.     Parents

9.     Refugee / immigrant

10.  Health

11.  Family together

12.  Heart

13.  Humor

14.  Michael

15.  Intuition

16.  Saints

17.  touch

18.  Color

19.  Perspective

20.  Nature

21.  Walking

22.  Camino de Santiago

23.  Singing

24.  Old friends

25.  beauty

26.  Technology

27.  service

28.  brother

29.  Writing

30.  Prayer

31.  Silence

32.  My Grands

33.  My Awesome Foursome

34.  Motherhood

35.  Playfulness

36.  Dancing

37.  Grandmothering

38.  Creating

39.  Traveling

40.  Home

41.  My body, as is

42.  Women in my life

43.  Food

44.  Desire to be real

45.  cooking

46.  flowers/planting

47.  art

48.  hugs

49.  poetry

50.  ocean/beach

51.  sunshine

52.  moon

53.  photos/images

54.  holy examples

55.  laughter

56.  washing machines

57.  animal companions

58.  breath

59.  surprises

60.  being alive to celebrate 60!


Mami was right, of course.  

The correct title should not be, “My 60 blessings,” but rather, “Sixty of my blessings”! 

Friday, July 31, 2020

of hearts and memories and home and peach trees and turning 60

Three years ago, my family surprised me with fruit trees for my birthday – a pear, a plum, and a peach tree. As is always true in life, I had no clue then how much my life was getting ready to change or how different my daily landscape would become.


Fast forward to last Spring, the months when all my energy became focused on going to heart rehab -- and on the reality of moving and finding a new house in Oklahoma City.


As I look back on it now, it’s downright humorous to see how the two became one!


For the past year and a bit, I have felt an undeniable parallel connection between the house we lovingly called Casa Scap and my body. It may sound ridiculous, but as I’ve struggled and stumbled over the physical changes and reality of a heart condition and my aging body, I have also fought and cried over the changes and the letting go of that old but familiar home of 23 years.


I know it’s just a house. And I know we will make new memories in the new house. Believe me, I know. That Waverly Ct house was the 23rd house I have lived in! 


It’s not just about the memories, or the stories, or the Sacraments that we have celebrated there – from First Communions and weddings, to baby showers for my Grands. 


It’s not just about my wrinkles, or the sagging, or the new scars and meds – or the fact that I’ll be turning SIXTY in a couple of weeks.


It’s about ALL of it. 


Saying goodbye to our Norman home reminds me – no, REFLECTS and visualizes for me, how my role as a mother has changed, how different my life as a grandmother is now, and how precious is the life we have left, both as a couple and as individuals. 


The last time I walked through our Waverly Court house a few days ago, my eyes watered as I could see with my heart’s eyes the many beautiful moments we experienced there. I consciously and deliberately offered prayers of thanksgiving for the walls and rooms that allowed us to welcome and love the dozens, or rather hundreds, of young people over the years. 


And I brought home, to our new house, a bag full of pears and peaches. I laughed out loud when I saw that the fruit trees were loaded with peaches and pears – for the first time, ever! 

Oh, God’s sense of humor…

Monday, July 27, 2020

Padre Apla's: santo subito! or at least muy pronto

“The shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger.

Pray for us that we may be a sign of the love of Christ for

our people, that our presence among them will fortify them to

endure these sufferings in preparation for the coming of the Kingdom.”


~Father Stanley Rother, 

from his Christmas letter to Oklahoma Catholics, 

months before his martyrdom


+    +    +    +


Speaking to a plaza full of people in front of the Parroquia de Santiago Apóstol at the 35th anniversary of Blessed Stanley Rother’s martyrdom, Monseñor Gonzalo de Villa y Vásquez, S.J., then-Bishop of Sololá y Chimaltenango (now Archbishop-elect of Santiago de Guatemala) repeated over and over the word pronto at every reference he made regarding Father Rother's canonization. 

He is honored and remembered, but above all, he is their priest, Padre Apla’s, the shepherd who didn’t run away from danger, who stood faithfully and lovingly with his suffering people. 


[Hablando sobre Padre Apla’s]… su martirio se inscribe literalmente en las palabras de Jesús… dar la vida por sus amigos, por su pueblo, por aquellos a quienes se les confió su cuidado… 


[Asi como el año pasado honramos a Monseñor Oscar Romero como martir]… hoy, igualmente, aquí en Atitlán en el recuerdo aparecide la vida y la memoria de Stanley Rother, Apla’s… pedimos a Dios que pronto llegue el día en que la iglesia reconozca oficialmente su martirio… 


[al regresar a Atitlán] podemos decir que Apla’s humanamente selló su muerte trágica.  Con ojos de fé… sabemos y proclamamos que esa muerte trágica y cruel abrió para el la vida eternal…


por eso hoy celebramos con alegría esta misa, y por ello damos gracias a Dios por el recuerdo y el ejemplo de este sacerdote ejemplar…  y pedimos para que pronto no solo lo recordemos, sino que lo tengamos como intercessor.


¡Que así sea!


+   +   +


[Speaking about Father Stanley’s death]… his martyrdom is a literal manifestation of Jesus’ words… to give his life for his friends, for his people, those who were entrusted to his care.  


[Referring to Oscar Romero’s canonization last year] … today, in the same way, here in Atitlán, we honor and recall the life and memory of Stanley Rother, Apla’s… we petition to God that the day will soon arrive when the universal Church officially recognizes Father Stanley’s martyrdom. 


[With his return to Atitlán] we can say that in human terms Father Stanley sealed his tragic death.  With eyes of faith we know and proclaim that his tragic and heartbreaking death opened for him the doors to eternal life.


That is why today we celebrate with joy this Mass, and why we give thanks to God for the example and the memory of this exemplary priest… and we ask that soon we can not only remember him, but also have him as intercessor on our behalf.


May it be so!


[my un-official translation of Archbishop Gonzalo de Villa y Vásquez’ homily]

July 28, 2016


Padre Francisco – Padre Apla’s -- Father Stanley Francis Rother: 

the young parish priest who put aside his fears, courageously agreeing to serve the People of God in Oklahoma’s mission in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala.


Father Stanley, the man who struggled to pass Latin and learn Spanish, yet succeded in learning the challenging Mayan language of his Tz’utujil parishioners.


Father Stanley, the farmer from Okarche, Oklahoma, who believed plowing the fields standing next to his Tz’utujil farmers was part of his vocation as a minister of God’s love.


Father Stanley, the shepherd who chose to face death rather than abandon his flock—the shepherd who didn’t run.


And, finally, Father Stanley Rother, already the first martyr from the United States, and the first priest from the U.S. to be declared a Blessed. 


Yes, may we not only remember this exemplary priest, but may we also be able to have him as saint and intercessor on our behalf – and may it happen, ¡muy pronto!


+   +   +

Want to learn more about Blessed Stanley Rother? 

Check out my biography of our Oklahoma martyr, and SOON, available also in Spanish

+   +   +