From the category archives: Columns

Kathleen Giffin

God wants to lift suffering from our souls

Kathleen Giffin
September 26, 2016
Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 2, 2016

An occupational hazard for those who work closely with the suffering of others is "compassion fatigue." It is a condition of discouragement and hopelessness that arises from experiencing, day after day, year after year, the suffering of others, from witnessing the consequences of the harm that humans are capable of doing, one to another. As a Christian who does this kind of work, I sometimes find myself echoing the words of Habakkuk, asking God how long he is going to put up with the troubles we have down here, how much longer the children must suffer at the hands of their fathers, the innocent be brutalized for the ideology of their persecutors.

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Humility comes from recalling who we are

Kathleen Giffin
August 15, 2016
Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 28, 2016

A statue of St. Francis sits in my garden amidst the hostas and coral bells. He carries a Bible and a cross; his prayer beads are tied around his waist and a bird happily perches on his shoulder. St. Francis seems the epitome of humility. He stripped himself naked of his possessions and inheritance in the marketplace; he looked to God to supply all of his needs, clinging only to the prayer that expressed his union with God. He became so humble that the birds of the air found no threat in him; he became friends with all of creation by his lack of striving and his simplicity.

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Our lives must be centered around Jesus

Kathleen Giffin
July 11, 2016
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 17, 2016

I've always been able to relate to Martha, the busy responsible sister. The story of Jesus' rebuke to her, in support of Mary who abdicates her responsibility to do her share in caring for guests, has long felt unfair to me. Yet at the same time I have great admiration for a friend of mine who has the capacity to be truly present to the people she is with, whether they are friends or strangers, even when that results in neglecting the job at hand.

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Those forgiven much can love the deepest

Kathleen Giffin
May 30, 2016
Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 12, 2016

Years ago I became friends with a man who had a deep faith. Early in our friendship, he told me how his life had changed from a self-indulgent way of living to a life with the vibrant faith that was now so evident. He had been raised a Christian, but like many of his generation had left his church as a young teenager to follow the ways of his culture and generation. As a young adult, he experienced a spiritual hunger and found himself exploring many spiritual paths, none of which brought any conviction or peace.

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Family's struggle a reminder of call to hope

Kathleen Giffin
May 2, 2016
May 8, 2016

These last days I have spent a lot of my time thinking about and praying for a young family in our parish who are in great difficulty and uncertainty. Two weeks ago the father of two young children was in an accident which has resulted in a coma that is expected to continue for some time. While many signs point to a good recovery, there is also uncertainty and suffering, especially for his wife as she stays with him, day after day, praying for his healing.

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Receiving God's mercy, we pass it to others

Kathleen Giffin
March 21, 2016
Divine Mercy Sunday
April 3, 2016

The Second Sunday of Easter is a special day for all Catholics; in this Jubilee Year of Mercy we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. We have not long had this feast on our Church calendar; in 2000, our most recent year of jubilee, Pope John Paul II proclaimed this to be Divine Mercy Sunday. This jubilee year, it carries a greater significance for we celebrate it in the midst of a year set apart for us to reflect deeply on God's call to mercy and for us to become signs of mercy to the world.

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Jesus is the gardener of our souls

Kathleen Giffin
February 22, 2016
February 28, 2016

The rhubarb patch in my garden began as a transplant from the one at my previous house; I dug up a piece when I moved and got it started in a part of the yard where I thought it would do well. Rhubarb can be slow to get established, so I was patient the first couple of years, knowing it needed time to spread and strengthen. But then I began to notice it simply wasn't doing what I had expected.

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Anxiety rampant due to society's confusion

Kathleen Giffin
January 11, 2016
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 24, 2016

We live in interesting and difficult times. I spoke to a young man today who told me how life is harder for young people now because things are more "open"; the imperative to find one's own truth, to determine one's own course and meaning in life has been broadened to include all possibilities. The result is bewilderment and anxiety in the face of infinite choices and parameters. Truth has been declared relative, biological sex has been declared irrelevant, ultimate meaning is denied and the power to define has been conferred upon the individual. No wonder anxiety is rampant.

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Fresh eyes needed to see age-old truths

Kathleen Giffin
December 7, 2015
Third Sunday in Advent
December 13, 2015

I live in a remarkably beautiful part of the world; every day I see spectacular Rocky Mountains, peaks with glistening snow caps. Often I catch sight of nature that people come from all over the world hoping to see: grizzly bears, caribou, bighorn sheep and moose.

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Simplicity clears the path to forgiveness

Kathleen Giffin
October 26, 2015
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
November 8, 2015

Richard Rohr tells the story of meeting a group of women in a refugee camp in Guatemala in the early 1980's. They had been displaced from their homes in El Salvador as a result of the civil war, and all had lost family members, mostly husbands and sons. He recounted their weekly practice of walking and praying the Stations of the Cross that they had created in the camp.

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