Archive for October, 2015

elephant foot Forgiveness is a spiritual work of mercy, but some people won’t do it. You can apologize to them for a wrong you may have done, you can bake them a cake, take them a meal, pay their bills, or keep their children. Oh yes, they’ll let you do all that. But they won’t forgive you. They don’t seem able to let go of the past.


Why is the past– especially one that’s not so rosy– important to them? What attracts them to the role of forever playing a victim? Like the elephant who never forgot an injury, they are tied past grievances.

A man I once knew had come through many problems in his life. Finally, he had the opportunity to move forward. He didn’t though. Needless to say, he was very hard to be around. In fact, being around him was like walking on egg shells, I had to be very cautious of every word I spoke for fear he might take it in the wrong way. He was a ‘hard case,’ but occasionally, don’t we all resort to this kind of mind control over someone who’s hurt us?

I believe some people see their victimization as a way to manipulate others. They play the “poor me” role. They portray themselves as targets of someone else’s behavior in order to gain pity or sympathy. In this way, they get something they want from another.

Since, most human beings are caring and conscientious, they don’t like to see anyone suffering. A manipulator plays on this. He plays the victim by finding something in his past to hold over another’s head. And he finds it rewarding because in this way he gets cooperation.

Children are great manipulators. As mothers, we see some of it in their whining. “Johnny needs to go to time out. He took my toy and he won’t give it back!” Fortunately, most children grow out of this behavior. But some don’t. All their lives, they carry a vendetta against somebody or other.

There’s the old story of a man and his wife sitting at the breakfast table. He’s reading the paper and paying no attention to her. Suddenly, she lifts her glass of orange juice and throws its content across the table.

“What was that for,” her surprised husband asks.

“What do you mean, what was that for! Have you already forgotten what you did to me twenty years ago?

There’s humor in this, but great sadness, too. So much of life is lost by holding onto the past!

Forgiving the Unforgiveable??

Posted: October 29, 2015 in World On The Edge

file1801281015946Can we do it—forgive what we consider indefensible, or deplorable? Do you know anyone who has done that?

What about a child, a young adult or teen, who tells you point blank that he hates you? What if he or she stole from you, did everything possible to make your life miserable? How would you react? Remember, this is your child, after all.

What if your spouse cheats on you, right under your nose. You’ve trusted him or her. You don’t suspect—until you discover it, maybe by chance. How do you react?

What if a friend whom you considered loyal, maybe your best friend—turns on you, talks behind your back, spreads lies or maybe some truth you’ve trusted to him or her and no one else? What would you do about it?

The fact is these things can easily happen to us, and often do–and most of the time, the situation is out of our control, not even our fault, and deeply hurtful—because these are people that we love. Can you forgive them?

Well, let’s turn it around. What if you are the perpetrator, not the victim, in one of those same situations? Each of us are capable of wrongdoing. Can you admit it? Can you ask for forgiveness?

What does it take to forgive someone who’s hurt you? What does it take to ask for forgiveness when you’ve hurt someone else?

I would posture that we cannot forgive–or ask for forgiveness–without help. And the assistance we need comes from our relationship with the God who created us. If we don’t have a dedicated relationship with God, these two very difficult tasks are impossible. If we do, they are not only possible, they are a certainty.

Forgiveness, and asking to be forgiven are not tangible things. They are not things we can touch. They are possibilities. We can chose them, but we don’t have to. It’s our decision. A decision that we come to because of the beliefs we hold.

If we believe in God, if we say we follow God. If we say we are Christians, we must forgive. And if need be, we must ask for forgiveness. It’s not a request. It’s a commandment.


Posted: October 28, 2015 in World On The Edge

file000405035154Do you sometimes feel as if you’re wandering?

At times, it’s difficult to see the path we’re on. It may be a path not particularly good for us. It may be a path of sin, yet we don’t want to change our direction–even though there’s a restlessness inside us that says we should go another way.

“For Thou hast made us for Thyself and our hearts are restless till they rest in Thee.”—St. Augustine

Talk about great sinners! St. Augustine was truly one of them—until he became a converted sinner. . . and a saint.

As Augustine later told it in his work, “Confessions,” his conversion was prompted by a childlike voice he heard telling him to “take up and read” which he took as a divine command to open the Bible and read the first thing he saw: Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, called “Transformation of Believers,” consisting of chapters 12 through 15 – wherein Paul outlines how the Gospel transforms believers, and the believers’ resulting behavior. The specific part to which Augustine opened his Bible was Romans chapter 13, verses 13 and 14:

Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.

Other philosophers, as well as people he lived around, pointed out that Augustine ought to change the path he was on. One who pushed him toward conversion was his own mother, Monica, who harped day and night, for many years, about his strictly human obsessions.

In “Confessions,” St. Augustine writes about how much he regrets having led a sinful and immoral life, shows intense sorrow for his sexual sins, and writes on the importance of sexual morality.

Most of us are like St. Augustine.

We live in the “City of Man,” and ignore the “City of God.”

Augustine writes: Accordingly, two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self.

Nevertheless, St Augustine believed that God intervenes in the life of mankind by direct action—the action of grace– at certain definite points in time and place.

This is what happens to us, too. Our wandering spirits yearning for ‘something else,’ until we encounter the grace of God—maybe because of a situation, or through a person. This encounter with grace causes us to change our ways.

What a gift is this Grace, this ability to change! We can go from a lost and lonely soul, to one who recognizes the love of God, and yearns to be worthy of it.

Where Do We Find God?

Posted: October 27, 2015 in World On The Edge

Pope Francis is a wonderful example of the spirituality of Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order.

Besides my husband and I, several of our children–and now our grandchildren–were/are educated by the Jesuits. I love the Jesuits and their philosophy. They are truly men for others. The Jesuits at Spring Hill College taught that God is present in the world today. And as a novelist and short story writer, that’s what I aspire to show. God is here. God is now.

Ignatian spirituality is rooted in the conviction that God is active, personal, and­­—above all—present to us. We don’t have to withdraw from the world into a quiet place in order to find God. God’s footprints can be found everywhere—in our work and our relationships, in our family and friends, in our sorrows and joys, in the sublime beauty of nature and in the mundane details of our daily lives.

It’s often said that Ignatian spirituality trains us to “find God in all things.” This perspective greatly influences how we live and how we pray. The daily grind of our everyday lives takes on transcendent importance. It’s the place where we connect with God.

This means that the choices we make in our daily lives either push us away from God or draw us more closely to him. Our lives matter.

The God of Ignatian spirituality is a giver of gifts. “God’s love is poured forth lavishly like a fountain spilling forth its waters into an unending stream,” St. Ignatius wrote. God’s blessings are a loving gift that invites us to love in return.

My Jesuit education invited me to love in return, too. Not always in a serious way. Love can also be laughter. The Jesuits are fun! My experience is that they love to laugh, and spoof, and generally have a good time. This video of this JHS choir is one example of how those wonderful attributes are passed on to students. Boys spoofing Taylor Swift? And having fun doing it!

See more at:

My Birthday

Posted: October 26, 2015 in World On The Edge

file851348626627Yesterday was my birthday. It was a lovely day and I thank God for it.

I thank him, too, for a loving husband I can count on, for my five amazing children and their terrific spouses, and my ten precious, fun-loving grandchildren.

I want to thank him for having had wonderful parents and grandparents. I want to thank him for my wonderful sister, my loyal cousins, my fantastic friends, and all the readers and supporters of my books and this blog.

I’m grateful for the happy times I’ve experienced, and for the lessons learned through the sad times. God is truly awesome. I don’t know how anyone goes through life without knowing Him. He is my greatest, continuing birthday gift.

Oh Lord, How Great Thou Art for giving me this life.

And for never leaving me alone while I live it.

What Will Become of Us???

Posted: October 23, 2015 in World On The Edge
Photo by idahoeditor, 2006,

Photo by idahoeditor, 2006,

Where are we headed as a country? What is the future of our children?

Once a Christian nation, hailed as the strongest democracy in the world, the United States of America is now sliding down a mountain of lies, apathy, hedonism, and a lack of dignity for the human person. Can we hope for a resurgence of goodness and Truth? Can we change the world?


“Why, Paul? Why did you do it?” she asks as I stand before her. “Think about the successful years we’ve had.”

But I couldn’t think about the years she called successful. I was recalling the hour before, in the lunchroom of The Institute of Tolerance, filled with those, like me, labeled misfits, and no longer suitable for a progressive America.
A slant of natural sunlight had barreled through a slim window and struck me like a spear in my side, impelling me to a table top, my feet on either side of a plate of ham, olives, and cheese, all topped with whipping cream, and surrounded by desserts covered with thick frostings. At first, none of the others being re-trained noticed my ascent. They were busy indulging themselves, until I pronounced loudly,”In a silent forest, a tree planted by our fathers, fell.”

A woman with dyed, red hair lowered her chocolate frosted cupcake and tilted her chin toward me. She’d read my books and had once accepted my words; but when she refused the government’s required, deadly–and of course, merciful–injection of her beloved, ninety year-old father, she was forced into The Institute of Tolerance for retraining. “Why, Paul?” the red-haired woman asked. “Who cut down the tree?”

“The tree rotted from within,” I said, catching the attention of a few others still chewing the goodies. “At first, there was no outward sign of the tree’s decay. It appeared unusually beautiful and produced an abundance of delicious fruit, so much that the people lay in its shade, stuffing themselves. Still, there were some who knew the tree was decomposing, yet did nothing to restore it.” I intended to follow with myself as an example of one who did nothing, but a young priest at the table spoke up first.

“Yes, I knew; and I did nothing.” The priest lowered his eyes, as if remembering his ordination, his un-kept vows. He’d been urged by an elderly parishioner to confess his sins and ask forgiveness of his parish. And when he did, his public repentance landed him in The Institute of Tolerance–because confession and forgiveness denoted a higher power, and there was no higher power than pleasure.

“The people are satisfied with self-indulgence!” came the cry of a heavy-weight politician who’d led the fight to legalize any drug whatsoever, to get rid of traditional marriage between a man and a woman, and secure unlimited abortion rights–until he fell into religion, and publicly changed all his agendas. He was still crying foul over his right to free thought, when the traffickers for Tolerance dragged him into The Institute.

“They want only youth and beauty,” said an aged movie star who’d once proclaimed a War against Women, filling the screen with her taut, tucked buttocks and surgically enhanced breasts. But later, when she sagged too much to tack, she challenged the Hollywood mentality, and ended up here, chanting, “Integrity means nothing anymore!”

“Nothing,” mumbled a multi-million dollar sports hero who’d bought and sold drugs and young boys during his spare time off-court; then one day, found Jesus and admitted his errors to the world on Facebook with his post: “Today, money and fame are the new gods. Pleasure is everything. And that is wrong.” The sports hero was snatched from his computer that very night and forcibly detained in the Institute.

“Wrong!” shouted a reporter who’d recently interviewed Irene, and called her an opportunistic liar on a nightly news show.

Aware of my own culpability, I swallowed and went on, “All of us; corporate executives and government officials who turned to thievery, physicians who cheated patients, parents who abused their children, and university professors, like me, who knew long ago the tree was rotting. What did we do about it?”

The people responded in unison, the boom of their voices piercing the lunchroom. “Nothing!”

Abruptly, the double doors flew open, and in the rush of air, I felt the heat of Irene’s teen-aged, overweight bodyguard coming up behind me to poke a finger into my thigh. “Irene wants to see you. She’s told you, and she’s told you. When you gonna learn?” Then Bobbo yanked me down.

“I will speak to the people!” I called out, but already the people were distracted by a line of waiters parading toward them with tray after tray of elaborate desserts. They oohed and aahed, and paid no more attention, as Bobbo led me out. Only the red-haired woman, lifting a spoonful of artificial whipped cream to her lips, followed me with her eyes.
–Paul Dunaway in “Mary’s Mountain”


Photo by Clarissa, 2004,

Photo by Clarissa, 2004,

Finding moments of light when darkness enters our lives is often difficult. Our sorrows, sins, and sufferings take over until they’re all we think about. But there’s more than all that if we take a moment, a deep breath, and a prayer, not only of supplication, but of thanksgiving to a truly merciful God.

That night in the dormitory room, instead of the
shadows, he studied the light on the ceiling—a pale
bluish, widening beam. Actually beautiful, he thought.
The first beauty he’d found within the prison walls. He’d
called Laura again, just after Mass, and was amazed
when she answered. The sound of her voice, fragile as
thinly spun glass, pierced his heart. Over and over, he’d
said he was sorry. And over and over, she condemned
what he’d done. But she had answered his call, and that
was a step.
He must have made some audible sound, because at
once, Raphael’s ruddy face popped up from the lower
“Quit that crying, son! It ain’t over ’til the fat lady
sings. You’ll get out one day. Then the Lord and me are
gonna let you in on our cotton farm. So raise your hand
and believe it!”
He lifted his hand with the broken finger until he
could see it distinctly in the beam of light, and then
raised it high. Any future he’d have might be as
misshapen as that finger; but in this present moment, a
light shined in the darkness of his prison, and David
Fowler smiled.

—-The Psalm of David Fowler, page 98, Birds of a Feather

Photo by deanjenkins, 2005

Photo by deanjenkins, 2005

When we take a truthful look at ourselves, we will see our sins and how they affect others. That truthful look at ourselves can cause us to change our behaviors and return to the God who loves us, who waits for us with open arms.

Have you experienced that moment of grace when you realized you were a sinner— which is the prerequisite for forgiveness and a joyous, welcome-home celebration by God?

An excerpt from “A Hunger in the Heart”

“I need to see the truth.”

Fig hung up the shears and limped toward Coleman.” Be careful, honey boy. It’s two ways to see the truth.’ He pointed to the crucifix hanging over the bookcase. “And Jesus done showed you it ain’t but one way that works.”

“I know what works.” Coleman said. “I don’t need a man suffering on a cross to show me.”

Fig gave him a cold glare. “Well, maybe you’re the monkey that can’t see his own self.”

“The monkey?”

“There’s two kind of monkeys lookin’ in a mirror. One of them so high and mighty, he don’t see a monkey lookin’ back.

“What does he see, then?”

“Whatever he decides to see, but that don’t make it true.”

“And the second monkey?”

“He’s the smart one. What the second monkey sees in the mirror is the same monkey face that’s doin’ the lookin’.

—-Fig and Coleman,

Photo by Scarletina, 2014,

Photo by Scarletina, 2014,

As a Catholic fiction writer, I recently received a comment that my books were not Christian because of the subjects I deal with and even some of the words I choose to use—so this person refuses to read them.

When I was raising young children, I was very careful about what they read. The mind of a child is fragile. Many young children often have a fairytale view of their environment, including their parents, friends and teachers. That view shouldn’t be spoiled, but of course, it will change as they mature.

Little girls and boys become big girls and boys, with a more realistic world sometimes slapping them in the face. Then the question becomes how they can remain faithful to God in such suffering?

So, if a Christian author is writing about the actual world we live in today, and not some fairytale, her subjects and words will reveal a world that is more than just frequently out of kilter. It is often violent, cruel, greedy, and yes, even evil.

In a world like this–a world we mess up big time—-the question becomes: Is God merciful enough to still love us?

I say YES.

And that’s what I write about. Because, at one time or another, we are all broken people who need hope.

So….stay tuned.

All That Needs to Be Said

Posted: October 19, 2015 in World On The Edge
Photo by JenniferCooper123,

Photo by JenniferCooper123,

Out on the perilous deep,
where danger silently creeps,
and storm’s so violently sweep,
You’re drifting too far from shore.

You’re drifting too far from shore,
You’re drifting too far from shore,
Come to Jesus today,
Let Him show you the way.
You’re drifting too far from shore,

Today, the Tempest rose high,
and clouds o’ershadow the sky.
Sure death is hovering nigh,

You’re drifting too far from shore.
Drifting too far from shore,
You’re drifting too far from shore,
Come to Jesus today,
Let Him show you the way.
You’re drifting too far from shore,

Why meet a terrible fate?
Mercies abundantly wait.
Turn back before it’s too late
You’re drifting too far from shore.

–                                                                              —Charles E. Moody, songwriter from Gordon County, Georgia, a member of the 1920s string band, Georgia Yellow Hammers.