Pope Francis decides not to spend summer at Castel Gandolfo | National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis decides not to spend summer at Castel Gandolfo | National Catholic Reporter.

Shhhh…..don’t tell hubby this piece of news! Many years ago, when our kiddies were still young, we bought a cabin to use as a vacation home. With five children, our holiday options were limited. We found out quickly that camping was not our thing. Travel and hotels were not only costly with our crew, but it often left us exhausted. As hubby would say, we were just “taking the show on the road”!

The cabin became our second home. It surrounded us with familiarity while getting away from it all.

In recent years, hubby has pushed to sell the cabin. He believes that having a second home is excessive. (No arguing there….it is a luxury that I don’t take for granted.) I claim that it is now becoming even more valuable as a vacation retreat for our growing family; a place where we can gather for fun in the sun with the clan.

I used to argue that even the pope had a “cabin” for the summer. Granted, Castel Candolfo was a far cry from our get-away. And, the Vatican kept up the expenses basically for the use of one person and his entourage. We were sharing our place with many, making it all the more practical and viable.

Pope Francis continues to impress us with his simple and humble life-style. It thrills my heart to see him refuse the trappings and pomp of previous papacies. But, I am a firm believer in the need for holy leisure. Francis will be curtailing many of his normal duties during the summer months in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. But, we all need time to rejuvenate. We all need time to get away.

Perhaps a few weeks in the brutal heat of a Roman summer might change his mind.


more joy, please!


I continue to be amazed and in awe of the writing process. Sometimes you just “hit the zone”. Time stands still as you enter into this wondrous world of words. Sentences pour out. There is utter joy in re-arranging phrases until all flows….seemingly effortlessly. Of course, there are days when creativity takes a hike and you dig fruitlessly for an idea – any idea!

And, sometimes, you forget having written a specific piece and wonder where it came from. Your own writing becomes a challenging mirror, forcing you to either eat your words or accept the meager wisdom you are trying to offer. I had this feeling with my latest column for the Prairie Messenger. I wrote a column on joy when joy was absent.

Joy is perhaps the most underused and under-appreciated tool at our disposal for the new evangelization. Faith presented as a source of joy, not as a burdensome obligation, plants seeds of desire to believe ever more deeply. Memories of past joys help us to grasp onto hope in the midst of darkness, believing that eventually all will be well once more. Joy glories in the love of God and others and effortlessly draws others into that love…..read more.

P.S. I dare you to look at the photo of Pope Francis and not smile! 🙂


tithing time

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An article in The Tablet reports the following challenge by the Bishop of Portsmouth to the Catholics in his diocese, “I would like to invite every Catholic to consider tithing, that is donating 10 per cent of your time and talents to Christ’s service, especially the care of the needy,” Bishop Philip Egan wrote in a pastoral letter for Trinity Sunday, “It would be good if every pastoral area engaged in local works of charitable assistance, thus giving witness that the Jesus we love in the Eucharist is the Jesus we love in the poor.”

A great challenge, I thought. True Christian stewardship entails the sharing of time, talent and treasures. This is a more holistic approach than simply digging into our pockets for a financial donation. So, how much time would this entail?

I pulled out my calculator and began punching in numbers. Ten percent of ALL our time would be 16.8 hours a week. Not practical. Let’s take eight hours of sleep a night out of the equation. Ten percent of 112 hours a week is 11.2 hours tithed to charitable work; still not do-able for most. If we just take a normal 40 hour work week, ten percent would be a commitment of 4 hours a week. This, perhaps, is more manageable; if you are not already overwhelmed with work and family responsibilities.

I’ve always struggled with the concept of tithing as a flat rate, percentage calculation that doesn’t take into account the personal needs and responsibilities of each giver. A single person and a family of five can earn an equal salary. In each case, ten percent of that equal salary is not equal in sacrificial value. The same is true of our time.

Bishop Egan’s invitation to live gospel generosity in concrete works is a worthy and much needed message. The use of the concept of tithing makes for a good head-line, but the reality is that each person and each family has unique stresses and demands on their time, treasure and talents. These demands change through different life stages. Heck, they can change from week to week and day to day.

Time is one of our most precious commodities. We all have to discern wisely how to be good stewards with what has been given to us. God bless those who are able to give, and give generously. God bless even more those who give generously from limited resources.