Monday, January 29, 2024

Catholic Women Preach

This Sunday, I was honored to preach for Catholic Women Preach, a wonderful project that lifts up the voices of women in the Catholic Church and encourages an expansive sharing of the Word. Join me in reflecting on our true calling and how God calls each of us to authenticity. Watch or read more at
Preaching on the readings for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B:


Monday, December 18, 2023

Finding God in our Christmas Cards


This Advent I was blessed to join a host of wonderful writers commissioned by the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States in reflecting on finding God in the Christmas prep. It was a delightful assignment that gave me the chance to reflect on the Christmas cards I send this time of year. Join me in reflecting more deeply and while you're at it be sure to join us for the final days of reflection at


Each year, sometime in November, I begin to ask myself: What message will Christmas bring this year?

As I watch stores fill with decorations and radio stations slowly turn to Christmas music, I wonder to myself: What message do I need? What message does our world need? And what could possibly capture the magnitude of this season and the fullness of the Incarnation?

Then, putting all profundity aside, I ask myself: What will my Christmas card be this year?

There is something that brings me great joy in answering that final question. Browsing online catalogs and walking down the aisles of my local card shop, I marvel at the variety of cards available. From the sublime to the ridiculous, Christmas cards have you covered. A New Yorker cartoon with a child Jesus complaining about how close his birthday is to Hannukah? A Thomas Kinkade cottage tucked away in a winter wonderland? An abstract rendering of the Nativity? You name it, and I bet there’s a card for that.

Yet, as I browse, the question of message returns. What exactly is God calling me to be ready for this Christmas? It’s in answering that question that I ultimately come to the card I want to send.

Afterall, that message is what I will pray with time and time again as I write cards to my friends and family. That is the message that will be echoed in my own words written inside and which will be put on display in people’s houses, as the cards adorn mantles and refrigerators.

As I take my time writing my cards, my own mailbox will begin to fill with cards from near and far. Opening each one is a gift unto itself. These are physical manifestations of relationships maintained over the years, signs of connection and thoughtfulness.

Gleefully opening each card, I wonder to myself: What is the message this person wanted to send?

As the days of Advent progress toward Christmas, a collage of Christmas cheer begins to gather in my prayer space. With gratitude, I look upon them each morning, and as I recollect each night, I marvel at the ways God comes into our lives through the everyday relationships we maintain. God became human and dwelt among us.

In this busy season, the act of sending Christmas cards helps to ground me in that reality. It slows me down enough to see the goodness of God coming to life all around me. As I write my own cards, I revel in the simple signs of love these cards capture: families I’ve watched grow over the years, Christmas letters that give the roundup of what has been, and beautiful images emblazoned with messages of peace, hope, joy and love.

I take each card as a prayer from those who sent it, an act of intention — as if to say, I picked this stamp for you, this card for you, this picture for you… (And guess what else? I went to the post office, for you!). The implication of each is that if I would do that for you, I’d surely do much more. My hope, of course, is that those who get a card from me feel the same...

Read the rest of the reflection at:

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Bending Toward Mercy

The following reflection on the readings of the day for September 20th is featured in the September 2023 issue of Give Us This Day from Liturgical Press


My eight-year-old nephew has taken to creating imaginative games. There are whimsical dance battles, intricate webs of hide-and-seek, and fanciful games in which everyone must do what they’re told. Because he’s often making up the rules of these games as we go, there is little room, in my nephew’s mind, for improvisation on the part of participants. Try doing something different and (more than likely) the game is over.

The same, it would seem, is true of those Jesus encounters in today’s Gospel. In their eyes, Jesus didn’t play by the rules. Like John the Baptist, Jesus challenged assumptions and pushed boundaries. What they had imagined the Messiah to be, Jesus wasn’t. He wept in sorrow and rejoiced with outcasts. He was fully human and utterly divine, a mystery beyond their—and our—wildest dreams.

This is the mystery of devotion Paul writes about in his letter to Timothy. This mystery is not some game we master but someone we come to know: Jesus the Christ. “Manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the spirit,” Jesus invites us into mystery, to grow in relationship with the unknowable and to bend our rules toward mercy. Our devotion demands that we reimagine what we think possible, embracing the unexpected and adopting the wisdom of Christ. This wisdom calls us into union with all—the rule makers and the rule breakers, those who suffer under our assumptions and those in whom we find the kinship of Christ—so that together we might become the Church of the living God that Christ calls us to be.


[CREDIT] Sr. Colleen Gibson, SSJ,  from the September 2023 issue of Give Us This Day, (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2023). Used with permission.

Friday, July 14, 2023

Take a Break this Summer... for your good and the good of the world!

 In my latest column for Global Sisters Report, I look at the need for rest as a critical aspect of engaging in life and our call to faithfulness. I hope that you get a chance to relax this summer amid work and apart from it. May the God of the Sabbath make space for the Spirit to expand in our resting and may we take the time we need so that that Spirit has room to breathe in us and the world!


Summer break can mean many things: days at the beach, time to curl up with a good book, or a pause amid the daily grind to reconnect with family and friends. With activities including barbecues, service projects, annual retreats and long weekends away, the summer offers a time to shift with the seasons, find a new rhythm, or (at least) put our current pace in perspective. 

For some, summer is a season of vacation, while for others, it is a busy time spent facilitating those spaces for others. Regardless of where you find yourself this summer, I think something about the "in between" moment of the season invites our recollection.  

Two email signoffs recently caught my attention. The first came as a response to my hope that the sister I was corresponding with was enjoying the change of pace that comes with summer. With kindness and honesty, she wrote of a few projects she needed to work on, after which she hoped "to enjoy this pace of which you speak!"

The second came from an acquaintance who knew I'd recently completed a degree program and hoped I would have a moment to breathe before moving on to my next ministry. "Hopefully, these days are feeling a little freer," she wrote before posing a few questions about a project we're preparing for later in the summer.

After reading each email, I took a deep breath, imagining the freedom we all hoped for in our responses. In between time, after all, is what we make of it, and such freedom is as hard (or as easy) to come by as we make it.

Looking at my summer calendar, I can see this truth playing out in real time. The difficulty of the in between is how we choose to embrace it. That embrace can be as easy as settling into a seaside lounge or as tight as a schedule packed back-to-back with engagements and appointments. In our busy lives, we sometimes see free time not as a time to rest but simply as available or otherwise unoccupied time. Rather than saving time for recharging, we often pack it with other to-dos and miss the regenerative power of being free and changing our pace.

Of course, we all face demands to do more. The reasons are many and varied. For some, time off isn't an option. With mouths to feed and bills to pay, time off is an unaffordable luxury. For others, the idea of taking a prolonged rest might seem to fly in the face of the pressing demands of our world. With all the suffering and injustice in the world, rest appears to be a luxury or disengagement from the things of the world that demand our attention and action. From this point of view, the question arises: How can we take time to just be when there is so much yet to be done

This question, of course, is a false dichotomy. Rest is neither solely for the rich or privileged, nor is it unavailable to the poor and marginalized. Rest is a universal need and right. We each are called to refill and make space in our own way. Rest is found in our making time and space and our intention in taking it. Actively choosing such rest is an act of resistance in a culture that demands productivity and directly correlates worth with activity and output. 

In her 2022 presidential address to the Catholic Theological Society of America, "Remembering the Rest of Life: Toward a Rest-Inflected Theology of Work and Action," Christine Firer Hinze makes a poignant plea for rest as part of our Christian call to action. "In the face of the potential endlessness of all the good work to be done," Firer Hinze asks, "how do we better understand, incorporate and advocate for good rest, not as a grudging accommodation to our finitude, but as an essential human, societal, and spiritual good?"

By framing rest as an essential element of faithful action, Firer Hinze calls all people of goodwill to account for the nature and underlying motivation of our rest, examining our resistance to rest and the grounding power inherent in genuine rest. 

Finding rest means facing the pressure to produce and the perception that productivity defines our worth. Solutions to such culturally pre-programmed restlessness are not simple, or one-size-fits-all. Part of learning to rest comes from reevaluating the unhealthy standards we've set for ourselves.

Early in my religious life, I remember meeting with a wisdom figure in my congregation about what advice she would offer a younger member. "Say yes to whatever you are asked to do," she replied wholeheartedly. 

I sincerely believe that she was telling me to be open to opportunities and share my gifts with a sense of abundance. Yet her response also delivered a message about working without abandon (or rest). Years later, I realized you can't say yes to everything. You must choose wisely, discerning when 'yes' is a prudent response and when rest might be a better choice for all involved.

In time, I've come to cherish those people in my life who have modeled such regenerative and integrated habits of rest, prayer and service. Their example challenges me to reevaluate my work patterns and find rest amid and apart from my everyday life. As Firer Hinze highlights, such rest is integral to embodying a just love of ourselves, our God, our neighbors and all creation. 

Drawing on the work of Tricia Hersey, the founder of The Nap Ministry, we would be right to embrace a space of rest this summer — to grow in community and faith. This is because rest is not a solitary endeavor but a communal effort and investment. Restoring ourselves gives back to the communities we belong to. Rest enables us to rely on others; it makes us vulnerable and lets us lean into the support and care of others.

Rest also humbles us. Our need for rest shows us that we are human. To be faithful to the practice of rest both amid our service and apart from it is an act of faithful charity. We rest so that we can better love, and by resting, we recognize that rest — the very act of sabbath-making — is part of our call as people of faith.

Learning to rest and applying those lessons is countercultural. As I stress about the projects that lie ahead and a new ministry on the horizon, I feel the temptation to fill my time, to be productive in the service of something other than the call to be present to the feelings of the in between. Resting this summer is a call to develop patterns and practices of rest in every season of our lives. That is a call that I, at least, could use practice in answering. (Maybe you could, too.)

As we look toward the months ahead and the mountains of things that could or should be done, why not spend some time away with friends, family or God (or all three!)? For in that restful space, we may be able to listen more deeply to God's call to service, more able and willing to respond prudently, and find that rest is exactly what is needed to live the fullness of life God intends for us. 

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Give Us This Day: "Five Simple Words"

My reflection on today's readings from Give Us This Day:

Be it a time of distress, a moment of loss, or a season of uncertainty, sometimes the greatest offer we can receive is the promise of prayer. I will pray for you. With those five simple words, what I once held alone (or that which I felt held me captive) is transformed from a solitary burden to a communal endeavor. Whatever was mine is now ours. The blessed assurance being that together we, each in our own way, will hold the intention at the heart of our conversation with God.  

We trust this promise because we hear it in Jesus’ own prayer. Facing the imminence of his death, Jesus’ words fold in on themselves—a rapid-fire succession of “you in me” and “I in them” and “they in us” that can boggle our minds if we don’t pause to hold the heart of his prayer. Transcending time, Jesus is emphatically praying for us: that all may be one, in God and for God, forever and always. 

 Listening to Jesus pray, our hearts are stirred. In this crucial moment, Jesus reminds us who we are and who—in union with others—we are called to be. What’s more, he reminds us whose we are. We are God’s—a beloved people, a gift given and received. 

In the intimate prayer of Christ, we know this to be true. Despite the darkness of night, we, like Paul, hear God say, “Take courage.” We can do this because Jesus has prayed and continues to pray for us and with us. Knowing we are lovingly held in the heart of God, we are called to love one another, so that the resurrected Christ might be known in our union and our lives might be the answer to Jesus’ prayer. 

(Visit the GUTD blog for more: )

Friday, May 5, 2023

Votes and Voices: The tent is expanding

In my latest column for the Global Sisters Report, I reflect on the recent news about the expansion of voting in the Synod of Bishops/Synod on Synodality to non-bishop members, including women and other lay people. Check it out!


The tent is expanding. I repeat, the tent is expanding. 


Last week (April 26) the Vatican office in charge of the synod on synodality made a historic announcement: Women will be able to vote at October's assembly, the first time women and lay people will be allowed to vote at a meeting of the Synod of Bishops.

As the International Union of Superiors General, or UISG, lauded in its press release this week, the move to allow women to vote "enriches ecclesial dynamism, manifesting openness and readiness to welcome God's newness in gradually renewing the Church by revealing its full richness," all while preserving the synod's episcopal nature.

In some ways this is a logical next step in the growing movement of synodality in the church. It should have been expected, and still to have the votes and voices of women acknowledged, affirmed, and uplifted feels like a big (if not also a long anticipated) step on the journey towards church governance and direction setting that is more inclusive of the entire people of God.  

Anticipating that the work of the October assembly will include issues surrounding women's roles in the church and LGBTQ relationships, among a cavalcade of other issues, it's encouraging to know that the diversity of voices at the table will be increased. And yet, there is still more expansion that awaits us if we're willing to be stretched by the Spirit.

"We are all called to become an active part of a relational, inclusive and dialoguing Church" Sr. Nadia Coppa of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, president of the UISG, commented this week. This includes those few hundred who will have a vote at the synod and the millions more whose voices have lifted their voices thus far in the current synodal process.  

In an informative piece of news analysis out this week, Sebastian Gomes of America traces the growing desire and demand over the last 10 years for women to be able to vote at the Synod of Bishops. Swelling support speaks to the collaborative model Francis has tried to put forward in the synodality that has characterized his pontificate, and also the growing realization that for our church to truly be catholic, we need to listen to the voices of the people of God.  

This listening will now include the right to vote. Come October, about 1 in 5 of the synod's 370 participants will be non-bishops, with at least 1 in every 10 being a woman. Ten percent may not feel like a lot and yet the double-digit figure is encouraging. As research from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute suggests, "when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society."

Of course, the synod participants are all individuals with their own opinions and we trust that the Spirit is at work in the synod on synodality. Yet, having women at the table can only enrich the conversation and the ability for all participants to vote on the synod's concluding document promises a more representative mode of participation.     

The matters of concern for women, after all, are matters of concern for the world. As Sr. Mary Luke Tobin, one of the 15 women auditors (see: non-voting) originally invited to the Second Vatican Council, famously retorted when told that she could only attend council sessions of "particular concern" for women: "Good, that means I can attend them all." I can only imagine the impact women voting at the Second Vatican Council would have had.

Yet, I wonder too who else's voices and votes need to be at the tables of power as we move forward on the synodal way. It's important to have women represented and to have people from all of the continental assemblies in attendance. Still, I wonder about LGBTQIA+ individuals … will they be represented? What about gender nonbinary persons? What about those who remain unseen in our church, those who are disregarded, and those who we don't envision immediately when we use the term "the laity"? 

So often when we use the term "lay people," we think of people like us … but what if we are being invited to expand the tent of our perception to include those beyond our own circles or preconceptions?  

A contingent of only a little over 70 non-bishop (and hopefully predominantly lay) representatives at the October assembly makes an expansive sense of representation difficult at the highest levels of the synod. We certainly can (and should) rejoice in those whose voices and votes will be counted and included. The question, considering the size of that assembly though, is how we are going to enlarge the space of our tents at other levels too? To welcome a diversity of voices on the ground level of the church, in parish, school, and social settings.

Where are there spaces of welcome to be created? Who are new neighbors for us to meet? How are we being called to push out the walls of our secure church structures to let the Spirit blow through? Like God the Creator breathing life into the dust, new life might thus spring forth. We might find ourselves rejoicing in opportunities we never thought possible, avenues we didn't deem viable, and situations made more hospitable.

With each new step on the synodal way, surprises are surfacing as our footsteps kick up the dust of new life. This dust shows us that walking the Way stirs things up, a process of mess making that ultimately holds hope. In this Easter season, we're called to rejoice in the One who walks the Way with us, the resurrected Christ who calls us to new life. As we enlarge our tents, let us rejoice in the promise of expansion and continue to lift up our voices so that all the world may hear the good news.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Dirty Dishes & the Cross

 In these holy days of the Triduum there is much to ponder- the mystery of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ, the call to hope, and the encounter with suffering. in the midst of it all, I've offered the following reflection for the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph for their series of Lenten Reflections. Today may be Holy Thursday, but I pray this Good Friday message reaching you wherever you are.

I have always loved Holy Thursday. That might seem like an odd way to start out a reflection on Good Friday, but as I sit with the many questions and the somberness of this day, I can’t help but recall that initial love found in foot washing, students turned friends, and memories of a dinner party we recall with each Eucharist.

Today, on Good Friday, I imagine the dirty dishes left behind. Signs of what was hoped for, quietly held in the stillness of a story gone awry. The cross is not what the disciples had anticipated. They surely had imagined triumph like we saw on Palm Sunday, a lauded Messiah who would save an oppressed people, who would overturn structures of domination and suffering just as surely as he had flipped the tables in the Temple.

Suffering is not on the top of any of our lists of what it means to be a follower of Christ.

And yet, today we stand at the foot of the cross and wonder: how did all this happen? What does it mean for us? Why did it have to happen and why would God let it? Simply and emphatically, why?

The answers to these questions resound in silence. They come with tears and grief, mourning and weeping, pain and anguish. These are natural responses to injustice and evil in our world. Any easy answers offered for such a catastrophe should certainly be deemed suspect.

God didn’t send Jesus to die on the cross. Jesus died because he claimed who he was and preached the Gospel- proclaiming good news to the poor, freedom for prisoners, and healing for the outcast. This Good News was a call to right relationship with God and with every neighbor without distinction. It threatened the status quo, and for this, Jesus was killed. Ultimately, what Jesus’ death on the cross reveals is the fullness of God’s love for humanity.

This love draws us into union with God. It is what is so beautifully expressed on Holy Thursday and so heartbreakingly snuffed out on Good Friday.

On this day, when we venerate the cross it’s important to remember that Jesus gave his life not only for salvation from sin but also, in the words of theologian Jon Sobrino, for freedom “from any sort of oppression, inner and outer, spiritual and physical, personal and social.” That freedom calls us to act for justice, wherever life is threatened or senselessly lost. We are called to be agents of unity, bearing hope amid our mourning, faithful friends actively upholding the promise of new life Jesus offers us.

For Reflection:

-        -Take time today to reflect on the places of despair and injustice in our world. Who suffers senselessly? How is life being threatened? What would it mean to venerate unifying love in these situations?

-         -They say on Good Friday the world stood still. If you can, try walking outside today. Imagine Jesus is walking with you. What would you want to say to Jesus? What might Jesus be trying to say to you?

What does it mean for you to bear hope in the shadow of the cross?