Category: Community

Liguorian receives a lot of uplifting and engaging content that can’t be published in print simply due to limited space. As a result, we are excited to introduce the “Community Page”—an online outlet designed to share these inspiring pieces with the Liguorian community. Check back often to enjoy creative works from your fellow readers—everything from poems to thought-provoking articles

Illustrations of the Holy Spirit

“When we pray, or are faced with a difficult decision, how can we know if the words or thoughts that enter our mind are from the Holy Spirit, or just our own thoughts? In other words, how can we recognize when it is the Holy Spirit present, speaking to us,...

The Glory of Faith

  By Frank R. Iacono In a spot experience I had awhile ago, I was drawn to see and consider the merits of divine faith in elevating life. On that particular day, I had just about ended my usual visit to a family relation at her nursing residence. Before leaving,...


The Mission of Liguori Publications and Liguorian Liguori Publications, a Roman Catholic company, furthers the mission of the Redemptorists founded in 1732 by Saint Alphonsus Liguori whose mission is to spread the Gospel to the poor and most abandoned by providing resources and fostering community to accompany the people of...

Life’s Mountains

Written by: Nanci Mascia When life’s mountains come your way There is one thing I can say. Take the hand of the one you love, And climb each threshold, Till you’re high above As you climb, your tears will flow And as you stumble, you’ll feel, you can’t go on...

The Anza-Borego Desert

In early March, the Anza-Borrego desert is in bloom. That is when a miracle of the season occurs. I have always been fascinated with Scriptural references to the desert experience, for many of these allude to the fact that the desert (both materially and metaphysically) prepares us to listen to God’s voice in the emptiness of our own souls.
Certain scriptural references alluding to this have always been among my favorites, including the one that goes, “I shall lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there” (Hosea 21: 16-17). At times, I feel sorely in need of God’s “tender speech” when life becomes most challenging. Even finding the time to appreciate and marvel at God’s gifts on earth is not always easy to do. My soul had become hungry for beauty—the kind that nurtures us, renews us, and imparts special insightsand a sense of the sacred. I knew that I needed to revel in this beauty, and realized that to love God’s creation is in itself a way of offering thanksgiving and praise.
Years of an exhausting work schedule after my husband’s death made me thirst for God’s tenderness and Christ’s promise of water that would quench our thirst forever (John 4:7). Still, I was unprepared to happen upon the miracle of the Anza-Borrego Desert in early March after a month of soggy Southern California rain—even more welcome after a wildfire had swept through the region the year before, mingling ash with mud, choking the waterways. Then, suddenly rain brought life back to our hills, revived mossy trunks that had been blackened, and birthed vibrant leaves. One weekend, a friend and I planned a drive to the Anza-Borrego Desert, only an hour’s drive from San Diego. As we descended the slopes of the Laguna Mountains, we could see the hazy pastels of the desert floor in the distance.  Coming into the desert itself, flowers formed a fragrant sea of textured color that stretched from one horizon to the next.

Meeting Jesus in the Mall

 For many religious people the mall is one of America’s prime symbols of crass materialism; yet that idea is only partially true.  During the time I worked there, I met Jesus on numerous occasions. 
My journey began when my religious superior asked me to look for a job after I left my position as a parish director of adult religious education too late to be assigned elsewhere.  The job had to be part time as I also had been allowed time to write.  When I finished my list of possibilities, I remembered an acquaintance who is the owner of a religious retail store. She told me once if I knew anyone who was honest she would be interested in talking to that person.  So I called her and blurted out, “How would you like to hire me?”  She called back thirty minutes later and I had a job.
I didn’t have to wait long for my encounter with Jesus as my first eye-opener took place during the evening I started work.  Three young women with tattoos laced up their arms walked in.  I asked one of them if they were looking for something particular and if I could be of help.  Then the oldest of the three responded, “Do you have any prayers for the poor souls in purgatory?”  To this day I hope my face didn’t express in neon what I was initially thinking.  Like Abraham’s three visitors, these women helped me to be more open to the Divine Presence when It was least expected.

Drinking Poison

 No, I’m not talking about weed killer or some other chemical that can damage our health. I am talking about nursing resentments and failing to forgive.  

I once heard an evangelist on the television say, “Having resentment towards someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”  How true.  When we hold on to resentments, gripe about our unfair burdens, and fail to forgive those who have harmed us, we damage ourselves and those around us.  We allow ourselves to become victims over and over again.  
The hurt inflicted on us or those we love cannot be forgotten. Try as we might, we cannot forget an event that happened just because the information retrieved is painful.  God gave us memories and intellect.  We are not like God in this respect.  When God forgives, God forgets.  We have a forgetful God.  How marvelous!  Our sins, when confessed, are plunged into the deepest part of the sea, never to arise again – unless we drag them up.
The same is true when someone unjustly harms us.  If we nurse the pain and change our expressions whenever that person’s name is mentioned; when we steel ourselves and harden our hearts, then we perpetuate the original crime.  Of course, this hardness most often hurts the people around us – our family members who misinterpret our coldness, friends who cannot break through our defenses, and educators who sense our distraction and often our disinterest.  The plank of un-forgiveness even blinds us to our sins and failures.  We end up hurting ourselves and others even more than the original offense hurt us.  We neglect Jesus’ command to “forgive those who trespass against us,” so that we ourselves can experience total forgiveness.  

The Smile

Her name was Sister Mary Benigna, a Roman Catholic nun who taught in a parochial school many years ago. She became a profound influence in my life when I was in the fourth grade. For two years I attended Sacred Heart School in Davenport, Iowa. Sister Mary Benigna was a slender young nun robed in a long black habit, and a starched square of white linen framed her face with her head covered by a long black veil. Swinging from her tiny waist hung a long brown-beaded rosary. She taught her class in a gentle yet firm way, gaining the respect of my classmates.

For some reason she took a liking to me, and I adored her. This incident I will remember   forever and has made me regard praise and worship of the Lord in a new and totally different way. Her relationship to Jesus was the most personal one I had ever encountered. One afternoon in the spring of the year she took me aside into a private room to talk to me for only a few moments. What she said struck a lasting chord in my spirit, and I realize the lasting effect our words can have.

Child of Autumn

  “Are you having a good trip with your grandmother?” was a question often put to me when I traveled with my mother.  Her hair had turned white in her forties and in those days women accepted their white hair. At least in our locale they did- and they often accepted babies late in life as well.  But still we looked, to much of the world, like a grandmother and granddaughter traveling together. 

The question bothered me a little because it told me that we didn’t look the way a mother and daughter should look. The polite grown-ups who asked seemed wise so they must be right. We must be different.

But if they looked past the white hair they would have seen the youthful sparkle in my mother’s dark eyes- the eyes that flashed at me from behind a tree when we played hide and seek and made me happy just to be alive.

Saran Wrap and the Perfect Prayer

It is a summer morning and I am seven or eight years old, skinny as a sapling and as lithe as, well, a skinny seven or eight year old.  Halfway up a silver maple tree in our front yard, I pause. The wind is coming up. It is a moment of grace, and I feel the arrival of a weather front like a secret just for me. I turn my face into the wind and close my eyes, and the cool air washes over me. The tree begins to creak and sway.  It is exhilarating …..for a minute. Then the swaying becomes more violent. I know I ought to climb down, but that means letting go of branches and trying to keep my balance along the way. Instead I cling like Saran Wrap to that tree trunk and start praying—and shouting—for help.

Fast forward many years. It is a Sunday morning in early summer. I am at a Sunday service, with sunlight streaming through the windows and spilling over a cool wood floor.  There is a small group of people with me at this Buddhist monastery, 20 or so others, all in our socks or bare feet. There is a sequence of group chants and responses that I cannot understand but can sound out, which somehow feels a little familiar. Then, an interesting talk by the abbot. Again, there is a comfortable feeling.

More chanting. We rise now from the floor and walk silently, in prayer or meditation, depending on our need. We move single-file in a silent line, out of the room on one side, down a hallway, and back into the room again. Ten times, 20 times, I don’t recall. This is the Walking Meditation.

Mary: From Child to Intercessor

There are very few words recorded in scripture attributed to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. The first time we hear from her is in the gospel of St. Luke when the angel Gabriel appears to her and tells her she has been “greatly blessed.” This statement is an affirmative scriptural reference to Mary’s “Immaculate Conception.”  She is not yet pregnant but Gabriel says she has already been prepared for her calling to be the mother of Jesus.  The Church teaches that this preparation started with her sinless conception as a worthy “vessel” or “ark” for Jesus.  When Mary speaks she questions Gabriel’s message and asks, “How can this be as I am a virgin?”  The angel assures Mary and says, “The Holy Spirit will overshadow you and the power of God will rest upon you.”  Mary then becomes very humble and submissive to the words of Gabriel and says, “Let it be done to me as you have said.”

Next we hear Mary’s words when she visits her relative Elizabeth who is pregnant with John the Baptist.  Mary is also pregnant and when she enters Elizabeth’s house, Elizabeth immediately knows of Mary’s pregnancy and says her child “leapt in her womb.”  Mary’s demeanor is now one of joy and excitement as she tells Elizabeth her feelings through a song of praise.  “My heart praises the Lord; my soul is glad because of God my Savior, for he has remembered me, his lowly servant….”  She has truly accepted her calling and is overjoyed with what is to come.


Editors Note: Two readers share their thoughts on annulments being seen as part of a healing process and an aid to make second marriages work.  With the permission of the authors, we included their full names and credentials.

    Recently, Catholics in Germany and elsewhere have asked Rome to allow divorced Catholics in non-sacramental second marriages to receive Communion.
    This suggested policy would eliminate the need for an annulment and a “blessing” of the second marriage.  But, it might also eliminate the potential healing that the annulment process can bring to people who were scarred in previous unions.
    The broader use of church annulments has a history of about forty years.  The church began to wonder about the validity of marriages where the Vatican II ideal of “communion of spouses” never seemed to take hold.  Procedures differed in dioceses around the world. Some sensational cases (like Rep. Joe Kennedy’s remarriage) made many Catholics skeptical.  They wondered about the quote from Christ:  “What God has joined, let no man put asunder.”  They wondered if wealthy Catholics could get diocesan courts to brush aside valid marriages.  Most of all, they heard that the annulment process re-opened old wounds:  memories of bitter conflicts and crying children, and a sense of failure.

My Conversation With God

I am finally getting what prayer is. On a recent weekend retreat to the beautiful Gonzaga Eastern Point Retreat House in Gloucester, Massachusetts, I spent a lot of time in adoration in the lovely chapels.
One evening as I sat with the Lord, I tried to quiet the turmoil within me.  God does not need a lot of words, I told myself.  He already knows what’s in your heart and what your needs are.   I remembered the advice of a wonderful retreat leader from several years back.   He said just tell God you love him and thank him.   So instead of reciting learned prayers and a list of petitions, I said, “I love you,” and then added “thank you.”  I concluded with “I’m sorry.”  I sat quietly for a while and then imagined God’s response to my prayer.   “I love you, too”, and “you’re welcome,” he replied. And he ended with words that soothed my soul: “you’re forgiven.”
I knew I must have been on to something because I felt immediate peace.  Not the “flooding of peace” that you sometimes hear about when people say they have had an encounter with God, but a restful peace.  It was release and relief, a let go of some of the hurt within me.  Tears came—a lot of tears.  I remember the wetness as they flowed down my cheeks and onto my neck.  I did not feel the need to wipe them away, nor did I feel any embarrassment that others in the chapel would notice.  Something special had happened and the tears were a testimony. 
A little while later I went into Mary’s Chapel in the next room.  I pulled out my journal and wrote down my prayer.  Could it be that simple I wondered?  Yes.  Yes, it was that simple.  I did not always have to go into a lot of detail when I spoke with God.  Sometimes you may want or need to be specific but other times you are tired and your lists are too long and you worry about forgetting things.

Unconditional Love

It snowed the night before the funeral and was still snowing when we arrived at the small country cemetery. Because of the deep snow, none of the vehicles in the procession could traverse the hill leading to the grave site.  The casket had to be transferred from the funeral car to a small truck and then moved up the hill. Although it was fourteen years ago, I can clearly remember walking through the blowing snow and thinking of my Mom’s life. She was on this earth for seventy-eight years and I had kept her at a distance. Only at the end of her life, when she was confined to a nursing home, did I acknowledge and return the unconditional love she always gave to me.

Mom grew up in a large God fearing family at a time when there was much hard work and few rewards. She knew the poverty of the Great Depression and the sacrifices of World War II. Life was tough.  In her family you practiced the message of Jesus through acts of generosity and kindness but few words. Those beginnings formed the simplistic and frugal manner in which she spent her life. Uneducated about worldly affairs, she performed no publicly renowned feat, sought no attraction but glorified God through her neighborly compassion and charity. While I give from my excess, Mom had no excess, thus her giving and sharing came from her basic existence. If I somehow enrich the life of one person, it is the exception, with Mom it was natural. No neighbor ever went hungry, unclothed or suffered alone. She wouldn’t (and couldn’t) send a check; instead, she took a crock of soup next door. It took little to make her happy; Mom never sought any of the earthly attachments I hold so dear. She never drove a car, never spent a night in a hotel, never saw the ocean, and was never on an airplane. Her life revolved around family, home, neighbors and hard work. When I was young, Mom worked at a variety of jobs not only to augment Dad’s small income but to ensure I had what the other kids had. Her life was an example of putting others first and self second. I was slow to learn that lesson. 

The Night the Fruit Fought

In a garden, one warm midsummer’s eve,
As the greens readied for night’s cool reprieve,
And the fireflies’ light suffused the air
All was calm and bright on that evening fair.

But then a small voice, and the silence broke —
The quiet cleared as an Apple bespoke.
“For quite some time, a question I’ve in mind
That’s been eating at me to ask in kind.”

The Peaches rustled, the Plums gave a shake,
And Pears bustled as each fruit yawned awake.
“What?” Orange bristled, “For the time is past
When we should be asleep; so make this fast.”

“Very well,” the Apple crisply replied,
“While we all claim to be the best supplied
Which of us fruit did Eve pluck from the tree?
I, of course, think it was most likely me.”

Out of the Tomb

Written by: Karen Anne Donner We keep descending into our tomb whose walls are built of cold stones of self-centeredness, whose mortar is a sticky paste from our clenched fists. In the darkness we don’t see our true self. We can’t see God. We can’t see others. Then, we think...