Sunday, August 30, 2020


I recently came across this video, which is sure to delight. The Franciscan Mission of Legnano in Italy is bringing joy to the locals in dance.

Dancing together to the contemporary song “Jerusalem”, the religious  show off some nifty footwork and coordination. The friars and nuns are wearing their sandals, and habits, and their joie de vivre spreads around the crowd.

Dance is an art which expresses human feelings, especially joy.
Even among the mystics, we find intervals of dancing as an expression of the fullness of their love of God. (St. Theresa of AvilaSt. Philip Neri, St. Gerard Majella)

Una Kim-  Monk Dance
The dance can turn into prayer which expresses itself with a movement which engages the whole being, soul and body. 

It’s not the first time the Mission Legnano has taken to the streets to spread some joy. Their aim is to follow in the footsteps of Christ by bringing friendship, peace, and comfort to the streets. Watch these joyful Italian religious men and women using dance to express their love for Jesus Christ and their community.

Friday, August 28, 2020


In my last Blog I mentioned how important it is to give our children a knowledge of the saints but it is also  important for adults- parents- to have some guides as they go through these uncertain times in educating their children in the faith. Yesterday was the feast of SAINT MONICA a who should be an inspiration to all mothers, especially those whose children have lost their way. Today is the feast of the son she saved.

Born in Tagaste (in Algeria) around 330, St. Monica was raised in a Christian family, but married Patricius, a pagan who served on the City Council of Tagaste. Augustine was the couple's eldest son. Monica was a good mother, but Augustine, as a young man, did not follow her example of Christian faith. Monica prayed continually for her son, as well as for her husband. Both eventually become followers of Christ.

Monica, in her fervor to see her son truly come to know the Lord, at times exhibits a lack of trust that God will bring good even out of Augustine’s mistakes and failings. Throughout Confessions, Augustine describes many of his mother’s admirable qualities and gifts including her sincere faith and vast wealth of patience. However, his writing also unveils the fear and worry she lived with wanting to keep watch over her son at all times, and thereby, to a certain extent, desiring to control the course of his life. Even from the earliest days of Augustine’s life, Monica seeks to protect him from any potential dangers to his faith. In his youth, his mother decides not to have him baptized because “if [he] continued to live, [he] should defile [him]self again with sin and, after baptism, the guilt of pollution would be greater and more dangerous” (Confessions 1.11).

St. Monica cried many times over her son’s transgressions, but received affirmation from God on several accounts.

She had a dream in which she wept over her son, and a figure told her that he was still with her. In his autobiography, The Confessions of Saint Augustine, St. Augustine wrote, “that it was my soul’s doom she was lamenting…” The figure told her to be at peace, and “see that where she was there I was also.”

She also received encouragement from a local bishop, who told her that “God’s time will come.” He added, “Go now, I beg you; it is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish.”

Augustine credited his mother with planting the seeds of faith in his heart. He called his conversion a return to the faith which had been instilled in him as a child. When Augustine and his friends would get together for philosophical discussions, Augustine would invite his mother to join them. Her wise comments helped nurture the faith that had begun to grow in Augustine's heart.

The conversion of Augustine, whose earlier ways had caused many tears, brought particular joy to Monica. She was present at his baptism. On her way back to Africa with Augustine, she died at Ostia, near Rome, probably some time in October, 387. Her remains are at the Church of Saint Augustine, Rome.  She is an example of the mother who never gives up hope.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020


As many schools are deciding to keep children home this fall, using Zoom or Google Classroom to interact with their students directly, it means that parents are being forced to be more involved in their children’s education.  This is an added stressor, especially to parents who feel ill equipped to teach their children. Social media is filled with people sharing their experiences of what it is like to stay at home during this pandemic.

I will not use this space to tell you how to educate your child, but rather  look to the lives of the saints to see how they took responsibility for their child’s growth. What an opportunity parents today have to form their children in the faith.

I recently came across a young man on our island, visiting his grandmother. The father of three young children and getting his master’s in special education, he is concerned that we return to giving our children a path of morality and spirituality, which builds on their faith- faith that can take care of them in times of crises- such as pandemics.

We can take some advice from St. Benedict who in the prologue of The Rule of Saint Benedict writes:

Listen carefully, my child, to my instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is advice from one who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice. Let us open our eyes to the light that comes from God, and our ears to the voice from the heavens that every day calls out this charge: “If you hear God’s voice today, do not harden your hearts (Psalm 95:8).”

Therefore we intend to establish a school for God’s service. In drawing up its regulations, we hope to set down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome. The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love. … But as we progress in this way of live and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love. 

Parents right now already have a lot on their plates, so even if they simply see this time at home as a way to pray together as a family or to talk about God at the dinner table, that’s important.  But this is a chance for parents to educate their children  in more than just the "three Rs". I do not pretend to think this is easy. Many parents have left the education of their children, especially spiritually, in the hands of others so are unsure of how to proceed in this.   For me the most important part of education, especially in young children, is to develop a love of learning. They can do the basics later, but if they are given the chance their rapidly growing minds can absorb more than we can dream of giving them. 

An interesting article I found recently was Jerry Windley-Daoust  “What does the Rule of St. Benedict offer families?”  A good example of a parent thinking! (Teaching Catholic  In the past I have also recommended the videos  of Father Mike Schmitz for teens.

I have stressed in this Blog the saints.  Now is the time to read about and discuss saints with children of all ages. Find a theme. Find the modern saints who have something in common with your child’s interests. Stretch their minds.  Inspire awe and wonder, knowledge and appreciation of Jesus and His saints.

Jacob Tate writes: …some of our greatest saints would be appalled at the thought of randomly assigned teachers, who may or may not be qualified, educating our children according to arbitrary, anti-religious government standards. St. Thomas Aquinas, for one, wrote that early childhood education should be a sort of “guided discovery” for the child. That phrase could be unpacked quite a bit, but I think anyone can admit that an army of six-year-olds in desks all day being taught what the current educational regime deems intellectually and morally appropriate for them looks quite different from “guided discovery.” (5 Reasons to Keep Homeschooling after COVID)

Saturday, August 22, 2020


Daniel Bonnell

What seems like eons ago, I started to present excerpts from our Seattle Archbishop’s pastoral letter given to us April 29 of this year.  No one knew then, how our lives would be changed by this virus, which seems to be roaming around like a lion seeking whom it can devour. 

Many are still not able to attend Mass, either because the liturgy has been suspended again, or because there is little room for all at the Masses, or simply because, as in the case of the elderly, they are afraid of contagion.

People write daily for prayers, for jobs, for their children, and sometimes for the seemingly hopelessness of our world today. But what a time to give ourselves to the redemptive work of Christ, to find our place in salvation history.  We are all guilty of telling the Lord we will carry our cross, we will offer up whatever He asks of us, but when the shit hits the fan- and it can be that bad- we moan and groan and wander around like lost children.

‘When it comes to the liturgy, it is not enough simply to be present, because we are not to be “silent spectators” or consumers, but devout collaborators with Christ in the holy work of redemption. Our active participation in the liturgy is a reflection of our active participation in the mission of Christ. Gathering time and again to celebrate the liturgy, we experience and participate in Christ’s self-offering in the Eucharist. And even as we share in the fruits of his sacrificial love, we are called to make that love the model of our own lives: We are called to offer ourselves for others. The liturgy is not only the model for our lives, but forms us to live our day-to-day lives with this same sacrificial love of Christ.”

Great food for thought, as this pandemic goes on and on and people become more and more restless and careless or fearful. I spoke with a priest recently who said that of the 800+ regulars who attended Sunday Mass before the pandemic, only about 250 fill four Masses.  Fear yes, and also a complacency that they can continue to stream Mass. So much easier and with little effort.  But what of the Eucharist?  

When our Archbishop has asked us to focus the year 2020-2021 on the Eucharist, I am sure he never had a clue how our lives would be changed- and how the loss of the Body and Blood of Christ would effect us.  The Church has been going through some major changes in the past five to ten years, but suddenly it is as if the Holy Spirit is sweeping through to cleanse even more. How many  of the faithful will remain? 

“The Eucharist strengthens our interior life, while transporting us beyond ourselves into a profound relationship with the Lord. This heavenly food fortifies us for this earthly pilgrimage until we find our true home in heaven. I recently received a lovely note from one of our women religious who made this concise observation: “Our home is not here. Our home is in heaven, and heaven is found in the Eucharist.” There is nothing else like the Eucharist on earth: Comparisons cannot do it justice! This is food and drink, but different from any other food and drink. This is a shared meal, but different from any other meal. In the Eucharist, God takes the humblest of our earthly offerings — bread and wine — and transforms them into something extraordinary, the very Body and Blood of Christ. In the presence of this awesome mystery, all we can do is humbly approach the Lord to receive what He desires to give us.”

Food for thought?

Tuesday, August 18, 2020


Always interesting what one finds on the internet when searching for something else. I came across an article about a nun, who should be better known than she is, as her contribution to modern science is phenomenal.

The discovery of DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, was a groundbreaking step in understanding the building blocks of all living creatures. DNA is a molecule in each cell that bears the genetic instructions for the development and reproduction of living organisms, including viruses.

In 1962, Francis Crick (British), James Watson (American), and Maurice Wilkins  (New Zealander) received the Nobel Prize for discovering the double-helix structure of the DNA molecule.  Yet this work could not have been done without the discoveries of other scientists, many of whose contributions have gone unrecognized.  A Dominican nun and a professor of chemistry at Siena Heights University, Adrian, Michigan was one of these unsung geniuses.  

SISTER MIRIAM MICHAEL STIMSON, O.P. (December 24, 1913 – June 17, 2002). Her obituary notes:

“Her early success in chemistry, working on early research examining cells, led to an invitation to lecture at the Sorbonne in Paris. She was the second woman to lecture there; the first was Marie Curie, and the first woman invited to lecture at Notre Dame University.

She later received international recognition for her early work with the spectroscope, a tool used for analyzing chemicals, and wrote manuals for using the instrument.”

Sister Miriam also worked on wound-healing hormones, helping to create Preparation H. She established a research laboratory at Siena Heights in 1939, where she researched cancer for more than 30 years. Known at Siena as “M2,”Sister Miriam introduced undergraduate research and an addiction counseling program.

Sister’s most significant contribution in cancer research was her solution that unlocked the shape of DNA nucleobases. Jun Tsuji’s book “The Soul of DNA” records:

“For lack of knowledge of the DNA double helix, scientists were unable to understand the genetic roots of cancer, and subsequently they were unable to develop effective methods of treatment. In the early 1950s, scientists were on the verge of discovering the DNA double helix and unveiling cancer as a genetic disease. Stumped by the uncertainty regarding the shape of the DNA bases, the structural and functional “soul” of DNA, the male-dominated scientific establishment – from James Watson and Francis Crick to Linus Pauling – proposed models of DNA that were, in effect, inside out. In contrast, a woman, Sister Miriam Michael Stimson, OP, an Adrian Dominican sister and chemist, dared to imagine a solution to the DNA base problem. Using potassium bromide (KBr) to prepare the DNA bases for analysis by infrared spectroscopy, Sister Miriam Michael successfully developed a chemical method that affirmed the structure of the DNA bases and of the double helix itself.”

Sister Miriam saw her scientific work as a means of discovering truth that would lead us closer to God. Indeed, DNA investigations led prominent atheist philosopher Antony Flew to affirm God’s existence:
“What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together. It’s the enormous complexity of the number of elements and the enormous subtlety of the ways they work together. The meeting of these two parts at the right time by chance is simply minute. It is all a matter of the enormous complexity by which the results were achieved, which looked to me like the work of intelligence.”

 Marian Emma Stimson was born into a devout Catholic family in Chicago on December 14, 1913. She attended Sienna Heights College in Adrian, Michigan. In 1935, she joined the Adrian Dominican Sisters, taking the name Miriam Michael.

She received a B.S. in Chemistry from Siena Heights College in 1936. She continued her studies at the Institutum Divi Thomae in Cincinnatti, where she received her M.S. in 1939.

She then joined the chemistry faculty at Siena Heights College, while working toward her Ph.D. at Institutum Divi Thomae, which she completed in 1948.

She remained at Siena Heights College for most of her career, except for a stint at Keuka College in New York between 1969 and 1978. She started an undergraduate research program at the university. She chaired the chemistry department from 1948-1968 and served as director of graduate studies from 1978-1991.

Sr. Miriam Michael Stimson died of a stroke in Chicago on June 17, 2002.  Sister Miriam Michael believed that knowledge will lead us to God, “if we maintain a disposition of humility and love.”

Friday, August 14, 2020


Our dear friend Abbot Neal Roth, O.S.B. retired earlier this year and so a new abbot was elected for Saint Martin's Abbey in Lacey, WA.  ABBOT MARION, the ninth abbot of Saint Martins, was born in Can Tho, South Vietnam, in 1976.
He is the second of four children of Thien Nguyen and Thu-Trinh Pham of Everett, Washington. When he was four, his family escaped South Vietnam by boat, was raided by sea pirates and eventually arrived in Thailand, where they lived in a refugee camp for three years. In the mid-1980s, the family began a new life in Washington, where Abbot Marion attended Immaculate Conception Grade School in Everett and Bishop O’Dea High School in Seattle.
He did his studies in philosophy at Saint John Vianney Seminary and the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota and theology at the Gregorian University and the Angelicum while residing at the North American College. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Seattle on 12 June 2004.
Since priestly ordination, he has held the following offices: parish vicar of St Joseph parish in Vancouver, the cluster of St Edward parish, St Paul parish, St George in Seattle and Sacred Heart parish and Assumption parish in Bellingham, priest administrator, the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Bellingham. While there he was chaplain of the Newman Catholic Campus Ministry at Western Washington University.
After receiving permission from Archbishop J. Peter Sartain in 2012, he entered as a postulant of Saint Martin’s Abbey, making his first vows on 15 August 2013, receiving the name Marion. He made final profession on 11 July 2016.
Abbot Marion reads and speaks Vietnamese, French, English, Spanish and Italian; his hobby is digital photography.
Abbot Marion was  a doctoral student in the Monastic Institute of the Pontifical University of Sant’Anselmo in Rome, and will finish his studies - on line.

Abbey Church
On August 15, the feast of the Assumption of Mary, Abbot Marion will receive the blessing as Abbot. Due to the coronavirus, it will be a closed ceremony, but one which we are sure will be a happy occasion for the monks.  We pray for this young new Abbot, that his road ahead be as grace-filled and fruitful as was Abbot Neal’s.

Monday, August 10, 2020


Sometimes something  in the news hits hard, like a stab in the heart or punch in the gut. In these turbulent times, especially in our own country regarding racism, prejudice and downright hatred, I think this story of one man trying to make right the injustices in his own town, hits close to home.  When I first read the story last week I wept, perhaps not tears, but something deeper in my soul, and everyone I showed the article to had the same reaction.

LASZLO BOGDAN was the 46 year old mayor of Cserdi, Hungary. He was known to be a charismatic and much-loved man, but what makes this story unique is, he was Romani  and two thirds of his town were “Gypsies”, a term I think as derogartory today as “Nigger”. 

Laszlo (Laci) was a man driven by a strong sense of personal responsibility as he organized the life in his small town,setting up work programs, eliminating crime, caring for the poor, building parks and green areas for all. His success was dubbed the ‘Cserdi miracle’.

In 2020, along with Gábor Iványi and Jenő Setét, he received the Wallenberg Prize, for ‘setting an example for humanism’ and his contribution to ‘peaceful coexistence of minority and majority society’. 

When asked about his success he replied: “It is difficult to determine what is the measure of credibility. I am neither the Dalai Lama, nor am I a Pope Francis…I merely try to offer sober messages and goals, so that people might understand that there is hope, not everything is lost.”

In a tribute on Facebook, Mayor of Budapest, Gergely Karácsony recalled “the last time I was in Cserdi, I got a beautiful photo from Laci. The photo shows the oldest citizen of Cserdi, a beautiful elderly Romani woman. He said he was giving me this photo to always remind me that only very rarely do Roma live to such a beautiful age, and carry a lot of burdens even during their shorter lives. László Bogdán, the mayor of Cserdi, carried these burdens and more. His own, those of his village, and even the common burdens of all of us: poverty, exclusion, futility, dogmas.” 

Even Opposition leaders respected the man and mourned his loss. Klára Dobrev described  Laci as a role model: “The calm, soft-spoken man radiated strength, good sense of conscience, and a belief that it was worth fighting for. I learned a lot from him.” Another leader,  described his loss as a tragedy: “There is one less among those who want to bring peace and cooperation between Roma and non-Roma … without László Bogdán, there is one less proof that it is possible to run a settlement in such a way that everyone feels at home, regardless of skin color.” To ensure the legacy of László Bogdán does not pass, she called on all in public life to take responsibility to fight against exclusion, disadvantage, and domination: “It is a common tragedy that we have to continue this work without László Bogdán.”

Those close to him said that he was not ill, or at least had not spoken to anyone about health issues. He was full of plans, saw himself as an ambitious public figure with a promising future, a view shared by many across the country, including parliamentary parties who wanted him on their national lists for the next general election in 2022.  

With so much to look forward to it in hard for anyone who knew this brave man to know why he took his life. Perhaps he felt the future  was hopeless- that he was not doing enough, fast enough. Certainly anyone who experiences racism and discrimination as a part of their  daily life, is vulnerable, but to take on a whole village?

His name, Lazslo means “glorious ruler”. May the man who tried to better the lives of his people find peace in the Lord and may  the "Gypsy" St. Ceferino Giménez Malla (also known as El Pelé, "the Strong One") patron saint of Romani people,  greet him with open arms!

St. Ceferino

Saturday, August 8, 2020



In my last Blog I said I had discovered two Ukrainian artists whose work I found interesting.  But when I went to find some information on the second I could find nothing- not even in the native language.  But I still present some of the art of VLADIMIR KORNEV, which is unique with its almost ghostly colors, and geometric forms. It reminds me of the Art Deco period.  

For me, finding new forms of art and new artists, can give food for thought, as these differences convey how others perceive the Lord and His works. We get used to the old Masters and so get "stuck" in our moving in our own period in salvation history.

Gifts of Angels

One does not have to like the art, but it can still stir something in our hearts and move us further in our relation to the Lord, which is what good religious art should do. It just so happens I do like this artist. My favorite in Holy Family, which shows Mary and Joseph as one, as they together hold the Christ Child.

Holy Family

Wednesday, August 5, 2020


In past centuries, spirituality and culture coexisted and complemented each other. Today however, we live in a time of their total separation. Countries of the Soviet Block suffered this most of all after WWII, when Communism took over banning most religious art.

For me some of the best religious art is coming out of the Ukraine, noted for its iconography, but now seeing a play between this classical style and a more modern approach.

Ukrainian art has long been influenced by the Eastern Orthodox Church and Slavic mythology. But  today Ukrainian contemporary art has evolved into a vibrant, dynamic scene with the major social and political changes of the 20th and 21st Centuries.   

Lyuba Yatskiv- Creation of the World
In past Blogs I have presented the art of Ivanka Demchukwho goes beyond the boundaries of the conservative art form of  the icon, as she uses different color palettes and contemporary compositions.  Ulyana Tomkevych is another wonderful artist who also uses elements of the icon but gives her art a new vitality with modern patterns and shapes. But perhaps my favorite is Lyuba Yatskiv. “She is an intuitive artist who begins with free sketches and adapts them to historic prototypes, creating long, sinous lines, which extend and bend holy figures in expressive ways.”  (John Kohan - Sacred Art Pilgrim)

While I am familiar with the women of this country, I have found two men whose work I do not know, but who have a major influence on the art scene in  the Ukraine today.

'I am for stillness', declares the Ukrainian artist Feodosiy Humeniuk. 'I am for an art that is deep and peaceful, like the soul of my people'. 

FEODOSIY HUMENIUK is one of Ukraine's great artists, a visionary master who brings legends to life. He is an Honored Artist of  the Ukraine and winner of the prestigious Shevchenko Prize (1993). In 2009 he was given the title of People's Artist of Ukraine. His art combines the traditions of old Byzantine art with folk art and modern Western styles and he is a dominant influence in Ukraine's artistic processes today.

St. George & the Dragon
Feodosiy was born in the village of Rybchyntsi, near the city of Vinnytsia in central Ukraine in 1941. He studied at the Dnipropetrovs'k Art College where he was a pupil of Iakiv Kalashnyk. In 1971 he graduated from the Ilya Repin Institute for Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in Leningrad.
In 1975 he organized an exhibition of nonconformist artists in Moscow, a seminal event that defied the enforced tenets of Socialist Realism. After participating in another exhibition of nonconformist art in Leningrad in 1976, he was accused of nationalism and denied the right to reside in Leningrad.

In the Desert
Together with his wife Natalia and his daughter Ulyana, he moved to Dnipropetrovs'k, where he lived for six years. In 1983 Humeniuk returned to Leningrad, where he was invited to participate in the exhibition of the Group of Fourteen. In 1989 his work was exhibited abroad at the National Archives of Canada in Ottawa, York University in Toronto, and the Ukrainian Museum in New York

His work was later exhibited at the Grand Palais in Paris. In 1993  he began to direct a studio at the National Academy of Art devoted to historical painting, a genre he has sought to revive in Ukraine. In 2000 he was named professor of painting and composition.
Feodosiy has held over twenty solo exhibitions and participated in over forty group exhibitions. His work, skillfully combining folkloric content and avant-garde form, is a cornerstone of contemporary Ukrainian art.
With almost muted colors and very geometric design, for me he conveys the beauty of his people and their culture.

Holy Family

Christmas Festivities