Tuesday of Holy Week: Give Us Your Lattes, Please!

Today over at the Friends of Little Portion Hermitage (FLPH) site, we have our next guest post from author, scripture scholar, and well-known Catholic television and radio host Mike Aquilina, explaining how to go about developing a richer, more fulfilled prayer life: it’s full of terrific ideas that are worth taking to heart.

This is the third in a series of terrific posts, which we’ve asked Catholic writers to donate in aid of establishing a permanent Franciscan hermitage up in Maine.  If you missed the great pieces we had last week from Teresa Tomeo and Shane Kapler, you’ll find those as well as future guest posts archived under the “Guest Posts” tab on the FLPH site.  While you’re there, be sure to check out Brother Rex’ daily thoughts and reflections under the “Inspirations” tab, or ask him to remember your special intentions under the “Prayer Requests” form.  He has been thrilled with all the people asking him to pray on their behalf or on behalf of those whom they know need a constancy of prayer before God.  You can also follow all of this on Twitter and on Facebook.

We were looking at some of the FLPH site stats yesterday, and nearly 25,000 people have already visited the FLPH since we started this campaign and Brother Rex was on EWTN last week.  This is tremendous, and we’re really grateful for all of the visits and messages of support!  From a practical standpoint, if each one of those visitors had donated $2.00, we would have met our startup fundraising goal on this campaign! Unfortunately, we’re nowhere near that yet, and some recent news from Maine is a little troublesome.

So I’m now going to add a little note of urgency, and ask if you can, to please make a little act of self-sacrifice this Holy Week.

Brother Rex is currently living his life of prayer in a small rental property up in Portland.  It’s looking increasingly likely that sometime within the next couple of months, the place is going to be sold out from under him.  We’ve also just learnt that the parish rectory he was hoping to be able to stay at temporarily, to do some couch surfing if the sale of his current, temporary hermitage went through, is now no longer available.

Where do you come in?

Well if you’ve got a little house up in Maine to donate, or some lottery winnings just sitting around gathering dust at the bank waiting for a good project to donate to, we’d love to hear from you.  However barring that, during this season of self-sacrifice and seeking humility in imitation of Christ, I’m going to shift a bit to a more mendicant, Franciscan position.  Which quite frankly, is rather unusual for me given my Dominican tendencies, but needs must.

Could you consider giving up a latte this Holy Week, and sharing what you would have spent on that temporary caffeine high, with someone who will be praying for you and your intentions in gratitude for the rest of his life?

That’s not such a terrible Lenten give-up, it seems to me, particularly since we all have to fast on Good Friday anyway.  Of course, if you want to donate a latte a week, or a month, that would be swell too. On the FLPH site, you can click to donate by PayPal, or find out where to send a check.

We would be really grateful for your support, and please keep us in your prayers!

Detail of "Errand Boy Drinking Coffee" by Christian Krohg (1885) Göteborg Art Museum, Norway

Detail of “Errand Boy Drinking Coffee” by Christian Krohg (1885)
Göteborg Art Museum, Norway

On Hermits, Friends, and Marmots

I have to say, Brother Rex was terrific on EWTN last night! It was great to see and hear him, not only being thoughtful and serious, but also being very, very funny. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much watching a Catholic TV show.  If you were not able to catch his appearance on “The Journey Home” with host Marcus Grodi, the episode will be archived to EWTN’s YouTube page sometime in the next few days.  You can also download the audio podcast for free through iTunes.

Thanks to Marcus Grodi, we’ve even come up with a mascot animal – the marmot – for this project as a result: but in order to understand that, you’ll have to watch the episode of course!

Today we’ve kicked off our guest blogging campaign on the Friends of Little Portion Hermitage site, with a great piece on developing a deeper theology for women by Catholic author, speaker, and talk show host Teresa Tomeo.  We’re truly grateful that she’s sharing her time and talent with us, and with all of you, and thank her for this contribution. Teresa’s is the first in a series of posts we’ll be featuring on the site, every Tuesday and Thursday for the next several weeks, to help draw attention to the work we’re trying to do to get this hermitage established.  These posts will be in addition to Brother Rex’s own brief reflections which he posts on the site during the day.

I also want to thank both my dear friend Catholic new media “diva” Lisa Hendey and writer and commentator Mark Shea for the wonderful pieces about FLPH which they each posted to Patheos yesterday.  You can read Lisa’s post here, and Mark’s post here.  Two more hugely talented, gracious people in the Catholic media community, lending a hand in this effort: we’re really blessed!

I hope you’ll continue to keep the FLPH effort to establish a permanent hermitage in your prayers, gentle reader, since above all that is the most important thing we can do.  And again, if you feel inclined to donate or know someone who may be interested in doing so, please pass the link to FLPH along to them.  It’s not often these days that one gets to help establish an actual hermitage, so this is really a unique opportunity to help someone live out his vocation in a life of prayer on behalf of all of us.

Thanks very much for your support!

The Marmot

The Marmot


“God’s Bucket List” and Teresa Tomeo at the CIC

Last evening despite the sub-zero windchill I went to the Catholic Information Center here in Washington to hear author and broadcaster Teresa Tomeo discuss her new book, “God’s Bucket List”.  We were a small bunch, I suspect limited by a combination of the polar weather and those too worn out from the preceding day’s March for Life to want to head out once more into the cold.  Yet for those who managed to spend time listening to Ms. Tomeo, and pick up her book to continue considering some of the points she raised, the evening was very worthwhile – both from the perspective of getting background on the book itself, as well as hearing some of her observations on the state of the media in this country at present.

“God’s Bucket List” is not a book about a celestial “To Do” list.  It is not about writing down the spiritual equivalent of things like “Climb Kilimanjaro” or “Eat Snails in Paris”; God is not asking you – necessarily – to put down spiritual things on a list like “Make the Camino to Santiago” or “Have a Silent Retreat”.  Instead, what the author argues is that the closer we can bring ourselves to God, the more we will find that He has a host of wonderful things He wants to give us – experiences, challenges, etc. – that can draw us even closer to Him.

Giving a summary of some of the key chapters of her book, Ms. Tomeo began by pointing out that stillness is one of the most important aspects of trying to figure out what God’s plan is for us.  This is something very difficult to do in contemporary society, where we cannot seem to drag ourselves away from glowing, noisy screens.  Settling ourselves, and letting Him say what He is going to say, is only going to be possible if we turn off the television and the mobile, step away from the computer, and be quiet for a while.

The author shared her own experience of preparing dinner one night, when she had arrived home early and was feeling frustrated by her work situation.  All was quiet in the house, but at one point as she was chopping cucumbers for a salad, she “heard” an indication that God did not want her to keep doing what she was doing; He wanted her to try something else.  She was so surprised she looked around to make sure she was not hallucinating.  That was the beginning of a path which lead to her current career in Catholic media, as well as to greater personal and familial fulfillment.

The “how” of making that change is, of course, even more difficult, as Ms. Tomeo acknowledged.  It requires letting go of what we know, and indeed many of us prefer the devil we know, as much as we may hate it, to venturing out into the unknown.  Most of us are not going to get a full set of instructions on how to proceed, no matter how quiet we make ourselves, or how open we are to hearing what is on God’s list for us.

The evening continued with some key ideas and stories in a similar vein, but also with the keen observation of someone who has worked in media for decades about how media has changed.  One important point Ms. Tomeo raised was that of outreach to the secular media, something which is not always easy.  Ms. Tomeo pointed out that we need to be both consistent and persistent, in reaching out to the secular media to bring across our Catholic views: criticizing when it is warranted, yes, but also taking the time to be nice, and to compliment when that is warranted.

During the Q&A session, I asked Ms. Tomeo how would one distinguish between discerning a call to make a change in one’s life, and simply engaging in escapism.  To this she replied that the steps have to be taken one by one, and that through prayer, self-examination, spiritual direction, and affirmation, we will know if we are heading the right way.  By affirmation in particular, she noted how things can start happening, such as people coming up to you with positive comments, or opportunities starting to present themselves, that in the aggregate seem to be indicating you are along the path to where you ought to be.  Though in her own case, it took her a couple of years to finally figure out that she was exactly where she was supposed to be.

As of this post I am already halfway through Ms. Tomeo’s book, and am enjoying the read.  Many of the points she made last evening are expanded upon in the text, and the author provides some very useful citations from Scripture of the concepts she discusses in the book.  That combination of Scripture, personal experience, and common sense make this guidebook to discovering God’s Will for you – His”Bucket List” for your life – highly engaging for both Catholics and Non-Catholics alike.  And as Ms. Tomeo mentioned she had never visited the CIC before last evening, hopefully the powers that be will invite her back again when the weather is more friendly, to talk more about her experiences as a journalist and a Catholic who is learning as she goes.