Category Archives: Faith

St. Teresa of Avila March 28 Thought of the Day

“What a great favor God does to those He places in the company of good people!”–St. Teresa of Avila

Teresa of Ávila, Ulm, Germany

Teresa of Ávila, Ulm, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada was born on this day in Gotarrendura, Ávila, Spain in 1515. Today is the 498th anniversary of her birth.

Teresa’s grandfather converted to Christianity to avoid persecution from the Spanish Inquisitors. It didn’t quite work. Although his son, Teresa’s father, Alonso Sánchez de Cepeda, became a prominent member of Catholic Avila society, her grandfather was later condemned for allegedly returning to his Jewish roots. Alonso was a strict and pious man and Teresa grew up fascinated with the mysteries of the faith and the lives of the Saints.

At seven she tried to run away with her brother. The plan was to find some Moors and convince the “barbarians” to chop of their heads so they could become martyrs. Fortunately their uncle found the children before they could get too far.

She was 15 when her mother, Beatriz, died, and Teresa was sent to live with the Augustinian nuns. She soon decided to enter religious life

In 1535, she joined the Carmelite Order. She spent a number of relatively average years in the convent, punctuated by a severe illness that left her legs paralyzed for three years, but then experienced a vision of “the sorely wounded Christ” that changed her life forever. [CCEL.org]

When she was ill she claimed to have experienced a number of religious ecstasies and visions. At about age 41 some of her friends thought these visions might be the work of the devil, but her confessor assured her that they were  of Christ’s doing.

From this point forward, Teresa moved into a period of increasingly ecstatic experiences in which she came to focus more and more sharply on Christ’s passion. With these visions as her impetus, she set herself to the reformation of her order, beginning with her attempt to master herself and her adherence to the rule. Gathering a group of supporters, Teresa endeavored to create a more primitive type of Carmelite. [CCEL.org]

She had opposition from her original order, the local church and the town. At some point she was threatened with the Inquisition, but she pushed on.

In 1567, she met St. John of the Cross, who she enlisted to extend her reform into the male side of the Carmelite Order. [CCEL.org]

She died while on a journey from Alba de Tormes in 1582. Forty years later she was canonized a saint by Pope Gregory XV.

"It is love alone that gives worth to all...

“It is love alone that gives worth to all things.” – St. Teresa of Avila (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


St. Patrick 3.17.13 Thought of the Day

“Christ beside me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me.”
St. Patrick

[Image courtesy: Wikipedia]

[Image courtesy: Wikipedia]

St. Patrick died on this day in 461, in Saul, Ireland. Today is his Feast Day.

Patrick was born in Scotland sometime around 385 AD to Roman parents, Calpurnius and Conchessa. When he was about 14 he was kidnapped by a raiding party and taken to Ireland to work as a slave. There he tended sheep.

In the despair of his captivity he turned to God in intense and desperate prayer, drawing comfort from the Christian faith that he and so many others of his people had abandoned under Roman rule. …Patrick’s captivity became a preparation for his future in ministry. He learned the language and customs of the Irish people who held him, and even while he practiced devotion to Christ he also became very familiar with the pagan and druidic practices that were popular throughout Ireland at that time. After six years as a slave he was told by an angel in a dream to run away to the coast. He travelled over 200 miles from Ballymena to Wexford and escaped on a ship that was taking dogs to Gaul (France). After landing in England he was recaptured and returned to slavery, but this time he escaped again after only two months and traveled around Europe seeking his destiny. [All Saints Brookline.org]

Once home he had another dream that called him back to Ireland to teach the people about God. He studied to become a priest and eventually be came a Bishop. At 48 he was sent to Ireland.

Patrick preached and converted all of Ireland for 40 years. He worked many miracles and wrote of his love for God in Confessions. After years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering he died March 17, 461. [Catholic Online.org]

His ability to connect with the people on a personal level helped him win over hundreds of thousands of converts from peasants to tribal kings.

Oxalis Shamrocks, Two Kinds

Oxalis Shamrocks, Two Kinds (Photo credit: cobalt123)

He is, perhaps, most famously known for using the common shamrock [NOT THE 4-LEAF CLOVER] to explain the Holy Trinity.

Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish. [History.com]

Mythology has Patrick “bringing Christianity to Ireland,” but the Church was already there. He expanded it and made it more appealing to the Irish. He’s also suppose to have “driven the snakes out of Ireland.” Another myth. There weren’t any snakes in Ireland to drive out.

The Patrick of historical record is just as compelling as the Patrick of legend. … He was the first real organizer of the Catholic Church in Ireland by dividing the church into territorial sees; he raised the standard of biblical scholarship and especially encouraged the wider teaching of Latin; he travelled throughout the country preaching, teaching, building churches, and opening schools and monasteries; and he converted countless people of all social classes, and inspired many to become monks and nuns. He not only shared God with the people of Ireland, but also grew in his understanding of God through them. [All Saints Brookline.org]

In Ireland St. Patrick’s day is a holy day of obligation, but Catholics and non Catholics alike celebrate it world wide. So whether you are saying a rosary or lifting a glass in St. Patrick’s name today… I wish you Sláinte (good health)…. and …

May the strength of God pilot us,
may the wisdom of God instruct us,
may the hand of God protect us,
may the word of God direct us.
Be always ours this day and for evermore.

Statue of St. Patrick in Aughagower, County Mayo


Thought of the Day 9.18.20 Peace, Love, and Understanding

“My world, your world, one world” collage. [copyright: ritaLOVEStoWRITE]

“Love one another as I have loved you.”

— Jesus

Jesus of Nazareth was born in Bethlehem on December 25th in the year O*. We’ll celebrate his 2012th birthday soon.

[So, you may be wondering why am I bumping up Jesus in the usual chronological birthday list of Thought of the Day and featuring Him today?  I did it because I was looking for a good quote that reflected how I felt about current events, and this quote says it all. Let me explain…]

I’m dumb.

I must be.

Certainly I’m naive.

Absolutely I’m a fool.

Because… no matter how often I am presented with it…I just don’t understand hate.

This week has been a good one for hate and the haters. The bullies and the manipulators have been out in force. Frankly, people, I just don’t get it and I’m telling you to stop.

Please stop making (or rather manipulating**) movies so they are purposefully incendiary to an entire religion. While you are at it, stop sanctioning that movie in some misguided blessing from my God (as one Florida preacher did). Don’t speak for  Jesus unless it is a direct quote. Jesus, as I recall, said “Love one another as I have loved you.”  ONE ANOTHER — meaning everybody, not just the people who look, think, love, vote, or pray the way you do.

I’m a writer. (The word “write” is in the NAME of my BLOG). Obviously I believe in FREE SPEECH, but I also believe that Freedom of Speech comes with responsibility. You can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theatre and then, after people stampede out, shrug and say “Free Speech.” You can’t liable someone and evoke the right. And you shouldn’t knowingly spew hatred. Is it your free speech right to make any movie you want? Yes, but it is wrong, and you know it.

Hatred hurts. In this case it killed.

That brings me to the other side of this crisis, and the other side of the world. To those of you in Muslim countries and of the Muslim faith, PLEASE know that most of us in the U.S. are just as revolted by that movie as you are. In fact most of us didn’t know anything about it until the protest started in Egypt.

That movie in no way represents America.

But, it is also wrong that this stupid little movie is being used to insight violence through out the Middle East and in other Muslim countries. What happened in Libya was horribly wrong and senseless, and the only agenda it promoted is one of hate.

To my Muslim brothers and sisters I ask you to consider a more peaceful response.

I hope we can all dial back the rhetoric, the name calling, the stone throwing and resentment and redirect our efforts towards building peaceful relationships… large and small.

I know I’m not a genius,  but I do know that hate begets nothing but hate, whereas a hand held out in peace can build a better world.

Peace be with you, my friends.

Holding a virtual candle, and saying a prayer for peace, love and understanding.

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(*Jesus’ birth is either on year O 0r the year 6 or 4 BC depending on which scholar you read)

(**The actors and crew for that movie didn’t know that their work would be over dubbed to become an anti-Muslim film btw. They thought it was just a low budget sci-fi movie about a astroid falling to the desert.)


thought of the Day 8.26.12 Mother Theresa

“We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.”

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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[True confessions of a blogger: I have always chaffed a bit when spoon fed hyper goodness. I am a skeptic. A Catholic skeptic at that. I graduated from an all-girl Catholic high school the year after Mother Teresa won her Nobel Peace price in 1979. It was a time when the mere mention of the good nun’s name brought a gleam of zealous holiness to some folk’s eyes. The words “Mother Teresa” still bring an (imagined) soundtrack of angels singing “ahhhh” in the background. The publicity wagon behind this gal was in full tilt boogie in 1979 and frankly, it was (is) a bit much to take, especially given her dogged adherence to church doctrine on things like abortion and divorce. 

I know I would have been much more receptive to Mother Teresa if the ‘holy bus’ would have pulled over for a while and she would have been presented as what she was… a mere moral doing some pretty extraordinary good works in some pretty nasty areas of the world.  So when I read about Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk’s book Come Be My Light  I was moved to find out that Mother Teresa had struggled for over 60 years because Jesus has stopped talking to her. The fact that she soldiered on, day by day, decade by decade, caring for the sick and discarded and continuing to pray to a God who no longer answered kept up his side of a conversation makes her a lot more heroic in my book.  

It continues to gall me when her name and image are co-opted for things and statements that are not her own. While researching this “Thought,” for instance I found a poem by Mother Teresa called “Do It Anyway.” It’s a lovely poem about going beyond adversity and doing the right thing “anyway.” The problem is… despite dozens of websites and placards for sale on Ebay that attribute the poem to Mother Teresa it was written by Kent M. Keith. So why shine on? Isn’t her goodness good enough?  Do we have to fake stuff or steal stuff from other people to make her sound wiser or holier? Another example is the long-held belief that Mother Teresa was ardently anti-gay. I found some of that hate mongering rhetoric in my research too, but not from the woman herself. And closer inspection — and a bit of logic — shows it’s not true. Mother Teresa, of course, worked tireless with the victims of AIDS, she didn’t discriminate by sexual orientation in the clinic. And when “some reporters asked Mother Teresa about the homosexuals in Calcutta, she said she didn’t like the word ‘homosexuals’ and went on to insist that they use the term ‘friends of Jesus’ instead.”[Lina Lamont blog post ] I’m not so naive to think she’d be voting for same-sex marriage any time soon — as she’d be likely to tow that Church line too– but  she certainly didn’t demonize homosexuals as some people would have you believe.

She’s a much more complex and human individual than the cartoon saint the ‘holy bus’ presents.]

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Agnes Gnoxha Bojaxhiu was born on this day in Skopj, Yugoslavia in 1910. This is the 102nd anniversary of her birth.

She was the youngest of five children (three of whom lived to adulthood.) According to her brother, Lazar, and despite myths to the contrary, the family did not live like peasants, but lacked for nothing. They owned two houses, living in one and renting out the other. The children were raised as Catholics and Agnes loved to listen to stories about missionaries from far away places.

She was called to religious life as an early teen, and made her final decision while praying at the Black Madonna of Letnice when she was 18.

She joined the Sisters of Loreto. Her missionary training began in Ireland where she learned English (the sisters use English in their missionary work.) At 19 she traveled to Darjeeling to begin her novitiate in the shadows of the Himalayas. She learned the native Bengalese language and taught school to the wealthy girls who attended St.Teresa’s School where she was assigned. She took her  first vows at 21 and became Sister Teresa in honor of St. Therese de Lisieux (the patron saint of missionaries). In 1937 she was sent to Entally (near Calcutta) to another school where she taught History and Geography for another 20 years. She was made headmistress in 1944.

In 1946 while the nun was taking a 400-mile long train trip to a retreat in Darjeeling she heard Christ speak to her.  “Come, come carry Me into the holes of the poor,” He told her, “ Come be My light.” It was her “call within the call” and one she took seriously. Teresa gave up her relatively comfortable life at the school and headed toward the slums that had been devastated both famine and Hindu/Muslim violence.

She sought permission from the church to begin on her path. She took a course in basic medical training at Holy Family Hospital, and she exchanged her Loreto habit for a white sari with a blue border. In January of 1948 she started a school in Motijhil, Calcutta teaching the poorest children in the slums. She had no classroom equipment so she used what was available. Instead of a chalkboard she wrote in the dirt. She worked to teach the children both how to read and the basics of hygiene. As she got to know them she gained the trust of their families and got to know their needs as well.

In 1950 she started (with Vatican permission) The Missionaries of Charity to care for “The hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled the blind, the lepers, and all those people who feel  unwanted, unloved, uncared for though out society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.” [Mother Teresa]

The little congregation of 13 women had grown to over 4,000 sisters by 1997.

They opened a Home for the Dying, a place offering free hospice care for the poor , in Calcutta in 1952. Next they opened a home for people with Hansen’s disease (leprosy) called City of Peace. They also started outreach clinics in the city where those suffering from the disease could get medicine,clean bandages and food. The Children’s Home of the Immaculate Heart, an orphanage for the city’s many homeless youth and orphans was opened in 1955.

Throughout the 1960s similar houses of care were opened by the Missionaries of Charity throughout the world. In 1963 the Missionaries of Charity Brothers was founded for men who wanted to follow Mother Teresa’s leadership in feeding, clothing, housing and caring for the poor. Branches of the organization for contemplative Sisters, Lay workers (both Catholic and non-Catholic) and Priests followed. Today there are more than 4,500 Missionaries of Charity and over a million Co-Workers working at 610 mission in 133 countries around the world.

She was awarded the first Pope John XXIII Peace Prize. Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace Price in 1979. (She gave the prize money to the poor in India). She thought that earthly rewards were important only if they helped her help the world’s needy. When asked what we can do to promote world peace she answered “Go home and love your family.”

The Myth of Mother Teresa

The Myth of Mother Teresa (Photo credit: Chris Yarzab)

The “Saint of the Gutters” suffered a heart attack in rome in 1983, and a second in 1989. In 1996 she fell and broke her collar bone, suffered from malaria and had heart failure. On March 13, 1997 she died.


Thought of the Day

Changing things up today … the THOUGHT is not from someone who is having a birthday … It is, instead, from something that has moved me on a personal level. If you know me through Facebook you know my handle is Rita lovestosingknitread. And today my thought is an nod to the SING side of my personality. Every week I get to sing (and play) with some fabulously talented and wonderfully generous musicians. This week I got to sing the Psalm at Mass. It really spoke to me, and I thought I’d share it here…  

O God, send out your Spirit;
renew the face of the earth…

Ev’ry time a person reaching out
is turned away by the racist
prejudicial attitudes of hate,
we are called to break the silence,
sanctioning the shame,
stepping across the lines of this
sometimes unholy game.

–Jesse Manibasan

Jesse Manibasan is a singer/songwriter of contemporary Christian Music. Besides “O God, Send Out Your Spirit,” Manibusan has written “Open My Eyes,” “Come Fish With Me,” and ” Revive Us, O God,”  and many others.

A variety of guitar picks

A variety of guitar picks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You Can find him on You Tube or  at http://jessemanibusan.com


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