People want to know about Our Lady of Kibeho!

If I’m going to figure out where this blog is going, I need to understand what was going on while I wasn’t paying attention to it.

According to the site analytics from 11/19/21 (the date of my last post) to today (4/1/2024), the most accessed page on the site was the last one posted, “Our Lady of Kibeho Novena Starts Today!” This page has accounted for 58% of all page views. If you add in the clicks on the Our Lady of Kibeho tag, which was 1.3% of all site page views, we’re up to almost 60% of the people who came here were looking for Our Lady of Kibeho content. I think the Blessed Virgin Mary is trying to tell me something!

20% of the remaining page views were to the main page of the blog, and those people would have seen this post. If we add those people in, that’s 80% of the site visitors who were exposed to the page.

Rounding out the Top 5, my out-of-date About page got 7%, my GoRuck Challenge experience post got 3.6%, and the Blog main page for 2.3%. My Portfolio page, which along with the About and Blog pages were links on the main menu, got 1.2%. The fourth link on the menu a permalink to my “Accidental Educator” blog post didn’t get any views.

Bottom Line: People haven’t been coming to my website to find out about me, but to find out about Nyina Wa Jambo!

Yes, Mother, I am listening. I will start researching and writing about your appearance in Kibeho, Rwanda. Please guide me as I write.

Easter Monday 2024

Happy Easter Monday (or Monday of the Angel) everyone!

It has been a while, hasn’t it? This blog is littered with posts where I claim that “wow, it’s been a while” and I say I’m going to do some updating. Is this going to be yet another addition to that pile or will this be the beginning of something different?

All I know is that while I am not getting much traction in other areas of my life, one where I am definitely getting some is with my writing. If that’s the case, when people are going to look for me, they’re going to end up here. Right now, when you end up here, dear reader, you see a sadly out of date Word Press site.

I am going to post something every weekday this week, and give you an update on my writing, and some ideas about what I will be writing about. There will also be some general tinkering to make everything look more presentable.

What the site looked like today.

Our Lady of Kibeho Novena Starts Today!

This morning I was praying and looked at my icon of the Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Kibeho. As you may know, I have developed a devotion to this apparition of Our Lady, and was reminded of the date. I checked my calendar, and the 30th anniversary of her first appearance to the visionaries of Kibeho, Rwanda is on November 28, 2021, which is also the First Sunday of Advent. When she appeared to the visionaries, she called herself Nyina Wa Jambo, or Mother of the Word.

My beautiful Our Lady of Kibeho icon by Aleksandra. Please support her beautiful ministry!

I urge all of you and your families and friends to join me starting today in doing a Novena to Our Lady of Kibeho. I could not find an existing novena but I did find this prayer on the Kibeho Shrine’s website by Bishop Augustin Misago, who investigated and approved of the apparitions, which I will be using:

Prayer to our Lady of Kibeho (N° 2)

Lord our God,
we thank you for the good things which you always give,
and your infinite goodness in sending us the Blessed Virgin Mary,
mother of the Word so that she may come to bring us back to the good path
that Jesus Christ your Son showed us.
She asked us to repent,
to confess our sins and to pray without hypocrisy.
However we have disobeyed,
hardened our hearts, and this has been the source of our misfortune.
Thus, Lord our God, we beseech you through Jesus Christ your Son,
to have mercy on us and forgive us.

Lord, have mercy on us (3 times while striking the chest)

And you our mother,
Virgin Marie mother of the Word,
we thank you for having accomplished the mission of God,
for your patience toward us in suffering
by shedding lots of tears
when you saw that we refused to receive the message that you brought.
But, from this time, we commit ourselves
to be faithful children by doing all that the Lord tells us,
by following the advice that you gave us here at Kibeho,
and by fortifying the love to transform ourselves
into beautiful flowers whose scent is pleasant everywhere for everyone.

Virgin Mary, Mother of the Word, pray for us!”

In addition to the Novena prayer, I am going to say a Rosary as well as the Seven Sorrows Rosary, which Our Lady instructed the visionaries to pray, each day.

If you want to know more about Our Lady of Kibeho, I urge you to check out this link to the Marian Fathers who have a mission near the Shrine, or watch this documentary

“I would approach them with love.”

This morning, I went to Mass at St. Alphonsus. It is the second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. Today’s Gospel (John 1:35- 42) struck me deeply, and instead of making some phone calls on my walk after Mass, I decided to reflect on the Word as I walked through Ballard. I was led to have an encounter that I wanted to record and share.

First, the Gospel (John 1:35-42):

“35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples,

36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.”*

37 The two disciples* heard what he said and followed Jesus.

38Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?”

39He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon.*

40Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.

41He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah”* (which is translated Anointed).z

42Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John;* you will be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).a

All through Fr. Richard’s homily and the rest of the Mass, I kept hearing Jesus’s question: “What are you looking for?” At first, I responded that I was looking for Him, but then I said “I’m looking for love.” It’s so hard to summarize in a coherent way on paper one’s thoughts during Mass, but this is what I reflected upon as I received the Eucharist and then afterwards, as I went on my walk afterwards. I had to go get some things at Fred Meyer, and the only way to do that was to walk through the light industrial area of Ballard that has become a place where many homeless people are now living. Usually, I would use this walk as an opportunity to make some phone calls, but I wanted to continue to hold on and contemplate the Gospel.

While there have always been homeless people living in Ballard, and in this area in general, there has been a huge increase, particularly in the past year. Many of these people are no longer living along the streets but have now moved around and into the parks. This morning, I walked through Gilman Park, where there are several encampments, including one near the playground. The last time I was at the park, I had an animated conversation with a young man who lived near the park about the situation.

This morning, I was walking past a young man trying to fix his red and gray tent set up on a grassy knoll near the tennis courts. The young man kept looking at me, so I made eye contact, raised my coffee cup to say hello and kept walking through the park.

“Excuse me,” the young man said. I stopped and looked back at him. He went from where he was working on his tent and came over to speak with me. As he got closer, I was able to see that he was a white man, probably in his twenties, wearing black and gray clothes with matted dreadlocks and tattoos on his face and hands. His hands were so dirty they were gray themselves.

“Someone slashed my tent,” he began.

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“What would you do,” he continued, “if there was someone who was obsessed with you- her name is ___- and every time that you tried to push them away, they started doing things like slashing your tent?”

“Does this person live in the park?” I asked.

“No, but they keep on doing this, and I’m asking people trying to figure out what to do.”

I paused and stopped thinking and tried to be a conduit. “I would approach them with love. I don’t know who this person is, but you might want to approach them with love.”

He paused and looked at me. If I had to guess, I thought that as we were talking, he was sober and lucid. “You know, I’ve asked a bunch of people about this, and you’re the first person to say to approach them with love. I think I’ll try that. Thank you.” With that, he turned and walked back to the ruins of his tent.

Rainbow after the 2020 WA March for Life was not a coincidence

The super- faint by then, but it’s there rainbow over the Temple of Justice in Olympia, WA after the conclusion of the Washington March for Life on January 21, 2020.

On Tuesday, January 21st, 2020, I attended my first Mass for Life and March for Life as a correspondent for Northwest Catholic. Here’s my article.

It was quite an amazing experience to see more than 5,000 people gather in the pouring rain and driving wind on the steps of the State Capitol in Olympia, WA to show that they truly care about life. It was a group that spanned all ages, including the young woman holding the sign in the picture. On the reverse side of her sign, it said “Forgiveness is for everyone.” I really wanted to know her story, but she really didn’t seem like she wanted to be interviewed, so I’m letting her sign speak for her.

In fact, I spent so much time looking for parking that I didn’t really get a chance to interview many of the participants before the March for Life began, and besides, most of them were just trying to stay warm standing out in the crazy (even for Western Washington) rain. I followed a group who went in afterwards and got to speak with their Senator, as well as aides from their Legislators. Any time you see actual citizens go in and have face-to-face meetings with their representatives, it is extremely heartening. Did they change the heart and mind of their pro-choice state Senator? Probably not, but, as Sean Stewart, with the Legislative Advocacy Group at St. Stephen the Martyr Parish in Renton said, “Our goal is to plant seeds. I could see that maybe a few got sprinkled on the ground and might be taking a little bit of root, we’ll see. It’s a long-term effort here, and I think we surprised him… we deliberately took a different tack this time based on something he told to us previously which was ‘Let’s find common ground.’”

Depending on the media you consume, you may feel that the pro-choice crowd has the upper hand at the moment, and perhaps they do. During the March for Life, the rain was coming down really hard and the wind threatened to rip away the tent over the podium where the speakers rallied the crowd. Yet, as the march concluded, I witnessed the rain let up for a few minutes and a faint rainbow appeared over the Temple of Justice across the way from the Legislative Building. That was a real, unmistakable message from someone who approved of what the Marchers were doing.

“Still, not my will, but yours be done.”

This past Sunday at St. Alphonsus Church in Seattle, Fr. Richard Klepac, in his homily for the Second Week of Advent, talked about the graces of the Holy Spirit and praying to God to give yourself over to His will. Not what we want to be doing, but what God wants us to do. Praying for this is very dangerous, Fr. Richard warned us, and I am thankful that he is right.

This past March, I began to write once again for Northwest Catholic, the magazine of the Archdiocese of Seattle. I had written for them in 2014-15, but my writing for them trailed off after I got another job. The last article I wrote for them became a cover story and ended up winning a 2016 Catholic Press Award. I framed it, and, while not quite forgetting about it, the award became just another thing on the wall in my office.

My 2016 CPA award. A tad bit of the frilly award edging is cut off, but you get the idea.

I continued to write, mainly on a novel that I later shelved and nothing for public consumption. During this time, I began to have experiences that drew me closer to Jesus and deeper into my Catholic faith. I often thought that it would be great to finally start writing again about Catholic stuff, but a little voice kept reminding me that I don’t have any theological training.

Eventually, I left that job, and my faith was a rock before, during, and after the transition. Once things had calmed down a bit, I started to think about writing for Northwest Catholic once again. Luckily, the editor that I worked with before was still there, and she was happy to have me back, so I began to write again.

They say you’re onto something career-wise when you don’t consider what you are doing to be work. I’m really enjoying the opportunity to travel around the Archdiocese to interview lots of great people about the great things they were doing and to write about it. Is this type of writing- dare I say it?- my charism?

This brings us back to the homily. As I sat there in the pew, I realized that I have done just about everything except give myself over to the path that God has been pointing me towards.

Yet, the little voice continued, and continues as I write this: Surely He can’t be calling me to write for Him? Well, why else would he have given me this gift? Maybe He didn’t want me to write the type of science fiction that I had been writing with little success (hint, hint), or anything else, except about Him.

So I prayed that dangerous prayer and ended up creating a Twitter and Facebook account for this site. I don’t know where all of this will take me, except to say that I hope it is in the direction where Jesus wants me to go. I will start providing more substantive content starting next week, and I hope you will find it interesting.

NW Catholic: North American Martyrs Parish celebrates first mass in its own church

A statue of Mary watches over the new home of North American Martyrs Parish in Edmonds, WA.

Here’s my latest article for Northwest Catholic about the blessing of North American Martyrs church in Edmonds, WA. North American Martyrs parish is a Latin Mass parish (FSSP) that has been looking for a permanent home since 2008. I wrote an article over the summer when they announced the purchase of the property and it was amazing to see the beautiful transformation of the site in just over three months.

The power of prayer manifested

A few weeks ago, Fr. Richard Klepac gave a homily at St. Alphonsus Parish in Seattle that touched on the power of prayer and its efficaciousness. One thing that he mentioned in particular that stuck with me for the rest of the day was to develop a habit of saying a prayer every time you hear sirens to pray for the person in need as well as for the first responders.

Later that evening, I heard a siren and started to pray a Hail Mary. As I prayed, the sirens got closer until finally I could hear them outside. I opened the front door and to my left I could see a column of flame shooting up into the night sky. There is a construction project going on across the street from our house and there was a fire right next to it. The firefighters were able to put it out, but if they had not arrived when they did, the new building would have probably caught on fire.

I asked the firefighters what had caused the fire and all they could tell at that point was that it had started in a plastic container. The next day, my daughter and I checked it out and found the remains of a port-a-potty and what looked like some clothes.

Abstract art, or the remains of a portable toilet that could have caused a huge fire?

I wanted to share this story because it is such a simple and profound example of the power of prayer.

God is listening. God answers our prayers. Most of the time, they will be answered on His own time, but sometimes He gives us clear, immediate responses that make you feel His presence in that moment.

Viva Christo Rey!

New Look for 2020

I repaired this toaster. I’m repairing this website.

I’ve said this before, and I’m saying it again- I’m refreshing this website. This time, however, I have decided to focus on writing about a particular topic rather than being a personal blog/website/ineffective marketing tool.

Details to follow.