ABOUT






















Hi, I’m Heather. I’m an alcoholic.  And a Catholic convert.
And this blog is the place where I open my veins every few days and share my very eventful life.

One day you might read a post on Joseph Cornell's boxes, the next a research project on where to buy cheap toilet paper,
and the day after that an impassioned plea called "The Homily I'd Give If I Were a Priest" (hint: if you're not in close contact
with at least one stripper, one person who's just been released from the psych ward, and someone who's trying to kick meth,
you're not getting out enough).

Unlike most of my beloved fellow alkies who are "recovering" from Catholicism, I converted to Catholicism in sobriety.
That’s how desperate I am.

If you’re interested in what it used to be like, what happened, and what it’s like now, I write books--lots and lots of books--
about my stumbling, tragicomic, journey. Which is, roughly, born and raised on the coast of New Hampshire,
twenty years as a hard-core drunk, sobered up, moved West, had a spiritual crisis as a Beverly Hills lawyer,
quit my job, started writing, converted, and took my First Communion at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Hollywood.

Then the hard part began.


MY FRIEND TONY,
ONE OF THE MANY GOOD, KIND
FOLKS
WITH WHOM I WALK THE PATH!
















Here are a few other things about me:

-Reverse of a "Catholic mom!" One of eight kids, I'm childless myself. Way, WAY too damaged for children.

- Dying to share (though no-one ever asks), yes I DID pass the California (and Massachusetts,
and New Hampshire bars) on the first try! Then I found I was so not cut out to be a lawyer!
That's when I quit my job, turned to Jesus, and entered the lucrative, prestigious world of free-lance writing.

-I’m an extreme introvert, which doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t like people
(though for the record I often don’t--well, come on, do YOU?); it just means I “recharge”
in solitude and silence. After a lifetime of feeling "out-of-step," untold hours of tears-of-blood prayer,
and approximately 59,000 12-step meetings of various kinds, I no longer feel this is selfish.

-However, this does mean I spend a considerable amount of effort cultivating friendships,
connections, a social life, and people I can turn to for help, guidance, human interaction tips, and jokes.
Consequently, I get invited here and there, and to travel a bit.

WITH THE POOR CLARES OF THE PERPETUAL ADORATION
IN TONOPAH, ARIZONA.
THE SISTERS PUT ME UP FOR
FIVE GLORIOUS DAYS


















-I don't watch TV. I read. Wait, is "Portlandia" TV? 

-Not only have I never owned a piece of real estate, I have never even owned a washer-dryer.

-My little brother Joe is frontman for the punk band The Queers. I have six godchildren,
among them the twin daughters of Ben Weasel of Screeching Weasel.

-I've driven cross-country, alone, twice in the last decade.

-I have abandonment issues.

- I live in a beautiful house in hipster Silver Lake with a roommate, a fountain in the backyard,
and several ancient camellia bushes.


THIS WAS AT SOME SHINDIG AT USC WHERE
WE WERE SUPPOSEDLY DISCUSSING FAITH
AND EVERY OTHER PANELIST
TOTALLY DISSED RELIGION.
I QUAVERED "LOVE WILL REIGN. LOVE DOES REIGN!"
LIKE A CRAZY PERSON...



















-I'm a big fan of the simple walk. I take photos of seed pods, branches, flowers, dead birds, and random leaves on the sidewalk.

-I'm fearful of spending money.

-I recently read Roadside Picnic. Then I watched Andrei Tarkovsky's "Stalker."  Then I read Geoff Dyer's
Zona: A Book About a Film About a Journey to a Room. That's my idea of "entertainment."

-My newest musical discovery (through Werner "Ecstatic Truth" Herzog) is German contralto Emmi Leisner (1885-1958).

-My favorite place for Confession is Holy Family in Glendale  (Tuesdays and Thursdays 4:30 to 5:15.
For  daily Mass, the Cathedral 7 a.m., St. Francis 8 a.m., Immaculate Heart of Mary 5:30 p.m.,
St. Dominic's 6 p.m., or Holy Trinity in Atwater, 7 p.m.

-I say the Office every morning, the Magnificat at Vespers, and the Jesus Prayer constantly,
in my heart.

-I sleep with a rosary.

-My favorite prayer is the Anima Christi:

Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me...

So that’s my story. If you’d like to follow along, you can receive my blog posts by email,
or connect with me on Twitter at @shirtofflame.

I would ask about you now but I'm too narcissistically disordered.
NOT REALLY!
If the spirit moves, please feel free to leave a comment below and introduce yourself.

Welcome!


JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL FOREST
MY ROOMMATE HAS A HOUSE OUT HERE, TOO!
WHERE I GET TO RETREAT
FROM TIME TO TIME.
GOD IS GOOD.














89 comments:

  1. Hello! I have been reading your essays in the Magnificat and have found them both beautiful and thought-provoking. And yes, I was intriqued that you were from LA, of all places. I don't subscribe to the Magnificat, but I do an hourly adoration at my church (St. Catherine Laboure in St. Louis MO) and someone leaves the past issues in the chapel. I basically read them only for the beautiful artwork, the art history essays, the lives of the saints, and now your essays. I'm looking forward to reading more on your blog....it took me a while to make it here. I wrote down your blog URL (twice!) from the Magnificat, and FINALLY I looked it up. Thank you for your insights and beautiful writing. Joanne

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    1. Joanne, thanks! I gave a retreat at Our Lady of the Snows a few years back and while in the area, got to eat in that great Italian section of St. Louis, the Hill or something like that? I also sampled a piece of, and I believe posted about, gooey butter cake. I hope to return to St. Louis some day and wander about some of those beautiful old neighborhood churches. Glad for your readership. It's been lovely to hear from so many of the folks who know me from Magnificat. May Lent deepen the mystery....

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    2. I'm glad to hear that you've made it to St. Louis. Yes,"The HIill" is the Italian neighborhood...there are lots of great places to eat. The center of that community is St. Ambrose Church. We do have a lot of old beautiful churches here! God Bless.

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    3. Heather, I have been trying to find an article that you wrote for the Magnificat a few months back. It was mentioned in the introduction to that month's issue.. But the article must have been VERY good because someone had ripped it out of the copy that I was reading! Maybe it was in Oct , Nov or Dec 2013 or Jan 2014. Do you by chance know which issue this was? Im sorry that I can't remember what the article was about....perhaps the shooting in CT? I only know that I read about it in the introduction of a Magnificat issue recently. Thanks much.

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    4. This year has been Credible Witnesses so it was either Madeleine Delbrel, Caryll Houselander, Irena Sendler or Gerard Manley Hopkins. last three months of 2013 were Holy Days, Oct. Therese of Lisieux, November All Souls and December Our Lady of Guadalupe.

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  2. Hi Heather! I was introduced to your writing through the Magnificat also and I get your blog posts in my email. I read your book Poor Baby and was blown away! I also have your Holy Days and Gospel Reflections. Your other books are on my wish list. I write at www.chicagonow.com/beingcatholicreally. You really are an inspiration. I converted to the Catholic faith as an adult and it's been quite the journey.

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    1. Thanks so much for the readership, Pam. Good to know of you and all the best on your own writing. Yup, the conversion is ongoing, and a pilgrimage for sure...

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  3. Hi Heather! My name's Jodi and I'm an alcoholic & cradle Catholic who has wandered away and back again. I have been deeply moved by your writing in Magnificat and here on your blog.Thanks for being so vulnerable and writing so honestly about your recovery and how your faith is a help not hindrance to it. I'm looking forward to reading your books. I'm blessed to live in the wonderful diocese of Wichita but am getting ready to move to Salt Lake City and looking forward to the adventure that will bring. My in-laws live near L.A. and we hope to be visiting there more often in the future. Maybe I will meet you as we trudge the road of happy destiny!

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    1. Jodi, right on! Welcome back...yes, let me know if you're ever in downtown L.A./Silver Lake area and I will hook you up with the trudgers of the road of happy destiny...Thanks for the readership and all the best on your Salt Lake City adventure and beyond...

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  4. Hi, Heather. My name is Mary. I don't know how I cam across you -- definitely not from Magnificat. I have been reading "Shirt of Flame", and bought Parched, etc. I think i like "conversion" stories -- not just outward conversion to a church, but the inner journey. I am an addict -- in overeaters anonymous and a couple of other programs. I believe the disease is addiction, and we choose the substance. Even Bill, while not drinking, used cigarettes and a few other things. We have a better awareness. I live in Akron, OH, the home of AA, and was born in St. Thomas Hospital, where Sr Ignatia worked with the drunks. I"ve just begun reading your blog, and i know for sure your faith is much more traditional than mine; I am a cradle Catholic, raised during and after the tumultuous years of Vatican II. It will be interesting for me to look at your journey/beliefs alongside mine.

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    1. Hey Mary, I stopped in Akron on a 2007 road trip. Just wanted to breathe the air... The disease is for sure addiction but I'm not so sure I choose the substance as the substance chooses me...Just read an interesting piece by Dr. Harry Tiebout on surrender and compliance. The true surrender that takes place on the level of the unconscious fascinates me. Cause I do think that's the same for an addict/alcoholic who finally admits complete defeat and gets sober, and say, the saint, who abandons him- or herself utterly to God...saying yes to sobriety in retrospect was for me like Mary's "yes" to Gabriel--a yes from the depths of my being without knowing what the yes will mean. In fact, I still don't know the the full magnitude of the yes. Which of course is ongoing and has to enlarge...Anyway, so glad to hear from you, however you stumbled across me. Thank you.

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  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you. First for Shirt of Flame, then Redeemed, and now Holy Days and Gospel Reflections. In that order only because that's the order in which I've been reading them. (If you don't count re-reads).
    Many months ago my spiritual director suggested I learn more about my patron saint, Therese. Getting into and through her autobiography was difficult for me, since her life and manner of speaking was so very different than mine. Then your book Shirt of Flame caught my eye, and reading it breathed astonishing life into my efforts to apply the Little Way to my life. Then I came across one of your reflections in the Magnificat, and decided to look for more. Wise choice.
    Thank you for your honesty, your humor, your courage, and writing to share your insight.
    On the surface our stories may seem very different. As a cradle Catholic coming of age in the late 60's, I lost my father to lung cancer 50+ years ago, felt abandoned by the outflux of priests and nuns in the 70's, wandered untethered for decades and then tried on many other faith traditions and denominations, and finally came back to Catholicism less than a decade ago in the midst of the pedophile scandal. As a Vatican II Catholic I've found in Pope Francis a leader to emulate beyond honor. I'm not an alcoholic only due to understanding instinctively even as a teenager that if I started drinking regularly, I would never stop. The addictive personality is still there. Supported by incredible family and friends, especially my husband after 30+ years of learning (often the hard way) to live with and love each other as much because of our differences as in spite of them. Lots of volunteering in the past ten years, especially ministry to the sick and music/worship. Retired from academia two years ago. We lost one daughter to suicide almost five years ago. Still treading water and seeking my path. "...when you face the power of hell and death is at your side, know that I AM with you through it all."
    You wrote in the preface to Holy Days, "..it is just now beginning to dawn on me that EVERYTHING is that miraculous, that astonishing, that unmerited. Everything - air, light, life - is that much of a gift."
    Yes!
    And so especially are you and your works.
    Many thanks & blessings.

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    1. Therese, what a lovely note/intro. Thank you so much. Cor ad cor loquitur: heart speaks to heart. Thus the outside differences don't much seem to matter....

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  6. I am thrilled to find a Catholic author and have already added your books to my wishlist. I found you via the Magnificat and loved the insert I read there! Thank you for sharing, and I look forward to reading much much more! (I'm a married mom of 4 in Kansas country.) Pax!

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    1. Thank you--I'm going to be visiting beautiful Omaha later in the fall which I realize is Nebraska, not Kansas--still, the "heartland," right? Pax and a blessed Passiontide to you...

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  7. Hello Heather.

    I have read some of your writings in the Magnificat (I recently got a subscription) and enjoyed them. Like you, I am also a convert. I would love to hear your conversion story. I am guessing that one of your books has your conversion story in it so I will check them out. My own conversion story was quite simple, yet profound---to me at least. LOL! In other words, no burning bushes or anything of that sort! However, my friends keep telling me that I should write a book about my life so maybe one day, I will.

    Anyway, I look forward to reading your books as well as your blogs. Take care.

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    1. Yes, in a way all of my books are about my conversion. But Redeemed is the one that lays out my actual coming into the Church. Thank you so much and forgive this tardy reply!

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  8. Heather,

    You are a real Trip! Love ya! I can always count on one of those chuckles that starts at the bottom of the heart, ya know, one of those you can actually feel bubbling up that ends with a great big Smile.

    Anyways, a hoot you are, and thank you for sharing your Trip here with us here instead of waiting until the metatautau, after all these things.!

    Sincerely,

    Clare Voyant

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    1. Dear "Clare Voyant"--thanks! Yep, I always know I'm on the right track when I can laugh at myself. Which sometimes takes a while...
      I appreciate your readership. Thanks, too, for introducing me to the phrase meta tauta (from Revelation, folks: "after these things"...

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  9. Heather,

    I am thankful to have already made your acquaintance, but I could not help myself from dropping yet another line here to share once more the delight I find in your blog. The dysfunction, wisdom, and art you combine through words and photographs draw me in ever nearer! Thank you for being YOU!

    -Alicia Rae

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    1. Alicia Rae, bless you! I say let's let our dysfunction shine through...in a life-giving way, of course. Thank you for your ongoing support, strength in adversity, and for being YOU.

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. Annette, thank you for checking in and forgive my failure to reply earlier.

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  11. Hello Heather,

    You sleep with a rosary. So do I. For some reason I find that moving.

    God bless!

    Natalie

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    1. Watch our sleeping, guard our waking/Be always near...God bless, Natalie, and thank you.

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  12. Heather,

    I have wasted much time on blogs and websites about politics and other such things that don't lift the soul.

    But I prayed a year ago or so that our Lord would help me find a blog that was worthwhile. The blogs got progressively better until I found yours. And it links to Aleteia! And now Tidings! I wait for your new articles and when they come...I meditate. Never wanted to be a goody-goody Catholic, but it was all I knew for decades. You are curing me of the last vestiges of that dreadful disease. Used to be a rugged conservative individualistic type (don't know why -I was never very successful at much!) until I really started to look into the eyes of homeless people who I just couldn't pass by any longer. Those are the eyes of Christ....and so started a long journey which continues to this day. So now I'm 45 years old and want to learn to love those who are not homeless physically, but are at best dead spiritually...to love those who don't love anybody, especially themselves. To love those who don't know or believe that love is, ultimately, a community of three persons in one God, that hides Its very Self in the most unlikely places...like the ugly corners of my soul that scare the hell out of me!

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  13. One thing I've noticed -often when I post a comment or reply, there is no more conversation that continues from that point. Just wondering...am I some sort of retard when it comes to conversations with people I don't know?
    Seriously, be honest if my way of stating things comes off too strong or opinionated or off topic or boring -or something of the sort?
    I hate it when conversations don't get started and really don't have any trouble when talking to people face to face with regular parlance.

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  14. fine then, i'll keep writing even though I derive little pleasure through hoped for conversations. anyway, I am, at heart, a happy-go-lucky clueless soul who is too dense to know that many people I meet probably don't have the time, or enjoy mutual conversations the same way I do. because of this I have a small number of good friends and a ton of acquaintances. and I love to be around any of them at least more than half the time. the rest is for Jesus

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    1. Hi there Paul, I appreciate your readership and comments, but as I noted before, my blog is not a chat room. It's a way for me to offer up what I can in the way of my daily life and observations and for people to do with as they will. Other people have the time, energy and resources to carry on an ongoing conversation with their readers--I do the best I can but I'm not one of them. In addition to the blog, I write two weekly columns, a monthly column, articles and books. I have a speaking schedule. And that's just my writing life! That doesn't mean I'm busy every minute; it means I choose very carefully how I spend my time and energy. A deeply examined life and an intentionally lived life is exactly what I have to offer, and all I have to offer. I do welcome comments. I'm nourished and sustained by the many thoughtful comments I receive, including yours. But it's kind of a love is an exchange of gifts thing for me. My temperament and my schedule don't permit me for the most part to comment on the comments. So if you want to post three comments at a time, be my guest, but as I've amply demonstrated, I'm neither able nor willing to respond. To continue to expect me to respond, as I also said before, becomes disrespectful and a violation of boundaries--both to me and at a certain point to my other readers. I totally understand the desire for community but if you're looking for a let's-tell-each-other-about-our-day forum, I encourage you to go elsewhere. But no, you're not a retard! And I'm glad my blog means so much to you.

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  15. As a resigned priest, recovering alcoholic and admitted pedophile, I come from a bumpy, roller-coaster background. Your words are as full of hope as anything I could imagine and confirm my conviction that Jesus loves us, no matter what. I ask you and your readers to pray for us pedophile priests. The awareness of what we have done is sometimes akin to what hell must be like.

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    1. Please know you are most welcome. I treasure your readership and join my prayers with yours and those of my readers for the healing of the emotional and sexual wound at the heart of all mankind...More and more, I see this is the work of the solitary. To bear his or her own wound, insofar as possible to refrain from acting out on it, and to silently, invisibly offer it up for the healing of all...

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    2. On this feast of Our Lady of Fatima, I will pray an extra Rosary for your spiritual healing and for all religious who struggle, like the rest of humanity, with temptation and sin. I ask that you pray for me and my family in return. Through the intercession of our Lady of Sorrows, may God have mercy on us all and give us the wisdom and strength to follow Him. Should we ever stray, may we always find our way back to Him with renewed faithfulness and fervor. God bless you, Father, and I pray Christ's peace invade every corner of your soul! ~Maureen

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  16. Hi Heather, I watched/listened to the video of your talk On the Vocation of Writing earlier today and thoroughly enjoyed it. You are a gift from God. Thank you! Abundant Blessings to you, Christine

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    1. Thank you, Christine! I hope to write a book about the writing life one of these days. All these years later, that I found my way to it still astonishes me...

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  17. Such a delight to come across your blog! Peace be with you. stan

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    1. Thank you so much, Stan--peace be with you as well.

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  18. Hi Heather, I hope you don't mind me using your first name but I just had to write and say that I too am a subscriber of the Magnificat and I just love to read your stories! They are so awesome! You have got a talent I wish I had. You are an awesome person! You have touched me in a way that no one else has. Please continue to write stories they are very inspiring. I just wish I knew how to write for I have many things to write about but don't know how to begin. Many people tell me, well, just write what comes to your mind and save it, continue to do that every time something comes to mind and then put them together. Well, I tried that and it didn't work for me. I started writing in a book and then lost interest and hadn't written in it for years. By that time, I lost what I was writing about. You said you are a recovering alcoholic. I understand a little of that, my husband was in the Vietnam war and he was an alcoholic even before he went in and he was 17 at the time. His mom gave him permission to join the service and he ended up in Vietnam. We had known each other since our teens he was 15 and I was 14 when we met. We became engaged when I was a Junior and shortly after that he joined the Marines. We had our ups and downs and finally I couldn't take it anymore, he called one day and said he was going to send tickets to come see him and live with him in N. Carolina and so like a dummy I quit my job and waited for that ticket that never came and me no job. So I sent him a "Dear John" letter not knowing he was in Vietnam by then. But my point is, he was drunk when he called me, he later told me. We got married later in the years, still drinking and me I didn't know just how bad he was drinking! Then I kept denying it. I was enabling him, by buying his beer. Then I finally got tired of that when our daughter got pregnant and told myself, I didn't want my grandchild to grow up with a drunken grandpa, so, I filed for a divorce, we lived separate lives for a while and he finally got it!! He said he looked in the mirror and saw a stranger, he quit the drink and the smoking too! All cold turkey. I was so proud of him and I asked him if he needed to talk to someone, like a group or something and he did not want to go. It's been like 23 years now sober. We love each other more than you know. This is the short version. There is more in between. This is why I would like to write about it and have someone else who has a problem, in marriage, alcohol, smoking to read my story. It might help them. I take my hat off to you, (I don't wear one) but you know what I mean. God Bless your talent and please keep up the wonderful writing! It is very beautiful.

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    1. Wow, well that IS a beautiful story, and just goes to show that people are healed from their addictions in any number of ways. I love that your husband found the way that worked for him, and that you're more in love than ever. Some of us write our stories and some of us live them and I am quite sure that all of it, done with love, goes toward healing all of humanity. Thank you so much for the encouragement.

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  19. Hello Heather! I just ran into your blog so I have read some but not all of it. Is Shirt of Flame published in Spanish? I will continue reading your page.... Thanks!!! Maria

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    1. Thanks for asking, Maria, but no, the demand for my books has apparently not been such that people from other countries are clamoring to read them! So for now we will have to be content with the English versions alone--so glad you found me.

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  20. Hello Heather. I really enjoyed what you had to say when you spoke at St. Lambert's this past Friday. I was unable to attend because I had to work but Fr. John had put your talk on PodOmatic which is where he puts all his Sunday homilies as well as his daily Mass homilies. He also puts his homilies on the parish website, too. It gets hard for me to be able to attend daily Mass as much as I would like as well as being able to attend different events at the parish because of work which is why I am grateful for Fr. John posting his homilies and different talks. Anyway, your talk really hit home and by the way, I can relate to being the single Catholic woman that has people (seemingly always!) crawling over them in the pew! LOL! Like you shared, I have had to remember "that this, too, shall pass" after listening, as well as seeing, what a few of my friends who have young children have to deal with at Mass. My children are grown now, and while I am thankful for each one of my kids, there are certain things I don't miss having to deal with anymore which is why I have had to "take myself to task" when I started to get upset about young families crawling over me! LOL!

    I also work as an overnight client advocate at a homeless shelter run by the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls, (I was a homeless widowed mom, so I consider myself fortunate to be able to work where I do plus, in some small way, I get to share my experience, strength, and hope with others like me---I'm also a recovering drug addict), and I love it. When I first heard about the homeless shelter, I immediately KNEW that was where God wanted me; however, I also know that by God's Grace, I am WHERE I'm supposed to be, too. Before working at the homeless shelter, I worked at a convenience store and I still work there part-time; I have been there for two years. By the way, I was homeless when my youngest child and I moved to Sioux Falls nearly 3 years ago. We were homeless up until October of 2014 when we got our apartment, so we are very grateful for God's Grace in getting our apartment. I also converted to Catholicism and took the Adult Summer Confirmation Program which was offered at St. Lambert in May of 2013, and I was confirmed and received my First Communion on August 25, 2013 at St. Joseph Cathedral. I have been a member of St. Lambert Parish ever since. The story of HOW I converted and WHY I chose St. Lambert Parish is a story all in itself which is why my friends tell me I should write a book about my life! Anyway, it was simple, yet very profound. As I shared in a previous post, no burning bushes or anything like that!

    Also, please pardon this long post; I don't know what came over me to share so much and I hope I haven't offended you or anyone else. Once again, I really enjoyed what you shared at St. Lambert's. God Bless you!

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    1. Hello CatholicLady, thank you so much for this--I loved my time in Sioux Falls and with Fr. John and the deeply good, welcoming people at St. Lambert's. I think someone should write a book about the unsung saints who work as convenience store clerks, Walmart security guards, stockers at Target, MacDonald's, and who are welcoming and kind. Which has got to be an unbelievably superhuman feat. I know when one of those people is kind--smiles, meets my eyes, exchanges a little I-see-you-are-a-human-being look, it makes all the difference in the world. I can go about my day in a whole different way than I might have otherwise. I once wrote about a middle-aged lady who worked at a MacDonald's near Charleston, WV, and who I remember to this day. Probably supporting a meth-head son and just gracious, man. Classy.

      So keep up the good work, and with the homeless, and thank you thank you.

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  21. . .. .. .. .. in humble gratitude for the faithful confessions of another sincerely sojourning soul. "Stripped" was my introduction to you. Strippers have hearts, too. Cancer is a wholistic disease, like acoholism. We need to heal from the inside out. Conventional medicine with its radical, sledgehammer, domineer over the effect and affected part approach leaves too much to be desired. Kudos to your informed choice NOT to subject yourself to the full spectre of their protocols. I shared the book with a stage 4 coworker who has yet to shed himself of deference to the conventional even though enduring an aggressive, invasive relapse seven years after the original. Like faithful conversion of the soul, how much does it take to look askance at the "pharmakeia promoters" of conventional allopathic medicine, whom the Scriptures advise us to be wary of? They're very talented at things that can be treated a la carte, through the reductionistic lens--like broken bones, trauma, infectious disease--but entirely without the perspective of supporting and promoting the body's (or the soul's) capacity to be healed from the inside out, through a more wholisitic approach. They attack and manage symptoms with synthetic drugs or surgery, radiation, etc. In virtually all cases, chronic and degenerative diseases are better managed and often reversed by a more wholistic approach. "Let God be true and every man a liar." [Rom. 3:4] Culturallly, we suffer too much from the disease of deferring to the priests in the white lab coats with the stethoscopes and some latter day technocratic, technetronic scientific, man-made encisionment of our salvation and deliverance. But, you're too sharp, and too much a rebel and an iconoclast or idolatroclast, RE mankind's atheistic hubris, for that. You KNOW there's something bigger, deeper which is lost on all or most but those who live and/or have lived on the fringes. And you speak of St. Therese's indubitable lament for our modern culture, that we're lost, alienated, missing the boat, missing the point, deracinated from our deeper roots. "Soul" is the greatest thing "stripped" and lost in our modern lives. God help those of us who are called to seek, address and ascertain more faithfully that journey within. So much of modern life is "white noise" and hubris, call it advertising, marketing, whatever--all flash, no substance, no soul. Only those who have suffered and more faithfully embrace it, rather than seek to subdue or escape from it via sex and booze or drugs, and rock and roll, or to ignore it and/or pretend it doesn't exist like all the little fake smiles of those so glibly trying to sell stuff to us. This forum online is an alternative vehicle, now far more mainstream. for grass roots awakening in our awareness. It is a godsend for the fringe who can find each other and make something a little better for ourselves and each other out of the deal. We've got to deal with the white noise here, though, too, in more easily camouflaged ways. As comment the others, thanks for your openness. I, too, hail from and still live in New England of similar WASP, as Mom used to say, "Touch me not," God rest her dear and loving soul, roots--- having forsaken my travels for a good while, mostly journeying within, I suppose, these days. I won a trip to South America for my own writing in high school. . . . .done nothing with it since, but share that deep affinity for the well-crafted, well-scripted muse, and enjoy practicing a little Spanish now and then. Muchisimo agradecido por conocerle por su candidad por aqui y por su libro diarioso, Stripped. Espero de gozar a los otros tambien. Fidelidadamente de acuerdo en Christo. ekh {Mass.}

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    1. Oh boy, thank you for this, and forgive me, all, for my tardy response(s).

      I esp. love this: "God help those of us who are called to seek, address and ascertain more faithfully that journey within. So much of modern life is "white noise" and hubris, call it advertising, marketing, whatever--all flash, no substance, no soul. Only those who have suffered and more faithfully embrace it, rather than seek to subdue or escape from it via sex and booze or drugs, and rock and roll, or to ignore it and/or pretend it doesn't exist like all the little fake smiles of those so glibly trying to sell stuff to us."

      What I find hard is that in addition to being on the fringe, with the lack of support/validation/companionship that necessarily entails, we don't gt to be bitter. As a writer, I'm ever mindful of striking the right tone. If I'm firm," "they'll" call me strident. If I'm nuanced, "they'll" call me wishy-washy. They being mostly fellow Catholics who are trying to establish a 'brand' while I am trying to shed my last drop of blood so as NOT to reduce myself to a brand. So you really really have to have a sense of humor and to pay as little attention as possible to what others say about me Although I do get to pay attention to what are often valid criticisms as in I CAN be strident.

      Luckily, people pay very little attention, period, as is always true of folks who consent to live, or by temperament/circumstances are more or less forced to live, on the outskirts. If you have the integrity to be TRULY on the outskirts, as Christ was, they will of course eventually pay attention. Then they'll kill you.

      The thing to do as you say is to rejoice at the way the internet connects those of us who might otherwise never meet. Thank God for these mutual words of admiration, consolation, fellow-feeling, encouragement.

      I hope you enjoy my other books, too!

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  22. Hi Heather, I'm a cradle Catholic, in my 80's, have lost 2 husbands, have 5 children, 13 grandchildren, not sure of their faith at this time. My father was converted when my brother and I were grown up. I get filled with so much joy and happiness when I hear a conversion story. I came across your writings in the Magnificat, which by the way arrived at my mailbox without me knowing where the issue came from. (I subscribed after reading that issue---amazing magazine!). I have prayed through recovery of 3 family members addicted to alcohol and drugs. Thanks be to God they are still sober.
    I was born in L.A. and lived in Glendale and graduated from Holy Family High School and was delighted to hear you go to confession there.

    Thanks for your blog, my first time here, wish you were my next door neighbor. Anonymous

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    1. Yes, have enjoyed many early eve Masses at Holy Family. Just a beautiful old neighborhood church and it's wonderful they have Confession Tuesdays and Thursdays (last I checked). Now I'm up in Pasadena and have discovered St Elizabeth's of Hungary. Chapel, open till 9 pm for prayer. Heaven...
      Thanks so much for your readership. I don't know what I'd do without Magnificat...

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  23. Dear Heather, I call you dear as you have helped my heart and I am so grateful. Shirt of Flame has been a pilgrimage for me. As you speak of 'keeping the tension' and thus finding the pathway to walk on between the best way and my human way, I find peace and greater understanding of what 'being in Christ' looks like. I find 'keeping the tension' (walking on the water of my inner self and discerning the next step/state of my being in a situation) an honest balancing tool. There is not an absolute answer or a perfect one, but a pathway through in Christ. You give so many tools in your books of which we have all except your Selected Writings. My Mom was sober, in AA, for 23 years before she passed on in 1978. You bridge for me my Mom's very useful/transformative/redeeming sobriety spirituality and my (I'm a convert) Catholic faith. She even became a Catholic in the last 9 years of her sobriety and now I celebrate our union in this way too.
    My dear husband picked up the August Magnificat today and with happiness found your article right away and we read it right away and had fun celebrating your presence gift. We love (you become part of us) your truth and life you so honestly share and share at such a price of writing dedication and diligence. This union in Christ's Truth, experienced even now in the flesh bringing new life and clarity in the journey, is so precious.
    "Christ in you, the hope of glory' is one of my top 3 scriptures and I've journeyed forward since July 9th, 1969. 'Judgment begins at the household of God' is another (He chastens His own) and 'I was wounded in the household of my friends' (I lived in Christian community for 9 years) .... the wounds were not unto death, but unto revelation of the old nature that is to die that Christ might be born/realized. If you're ever on the Oregon Coast, we would welcome your stay. Blessings to you of continuing to honestly pour our your brokenness that we might be fed even more. Hildy

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    1. Overcoming the old nature (old man) that Christ might be formed within, St Paul and Revelations spills this forth/breaks it open. As a sacramental Catholic, I am experiencing Overcoming and new life through daily Eucharist and frequent confession and being part of the Church. So, we are Overcomers in the Catholic church. I'd like to see a more out- front embracing of Overcoming...the theology of and 'working out of our salvation with fear and trembling'...of seeking Christ being formed within us. Of actively dealing with our 'fallen nature' (old man) and choosing to no longer have it be in us. This is harder than you think. Like St. Therese loving those she especially had difficulty loving. The mystery of our salvation. The mystery of iniquity. A new heart/renewed mind. How about overcoming the limitations/sin patterns/ blockages in our flesh? Laying down our life daily as we overcome our flesh dregs. Thank you, Hildy

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    2. Hildy, bless you. Thank you for your offer of hospitality on the Oregon coast. I may hold you to it!

      And boy, as I inch along, do I see how hard it is to bear the tension of our old self as it dies, one more time (which is painful) and as we consent to be born again (birth is also painful!) I'm a big devotee of Br. Joseph Schmidt's books on St. Therese--as you may know, his take is that Therese's whole spiritual path was through what we would today call codependence. As you say surrendering our blocks--which really are in the flesh, in our nervous systems, which were wounded in childhood--so that we can learn to love on another as Christ loved us. That is easy or easier when we are getting lots of support and validation but the truth is if we are getting a lot of support and validation we're not going to feel esp. invited or moved to investigate our blocks. "Blessed are the poor in spirit." So it does seem that feeling misunderstood, abandoned, the via negativa, really is the way. One proof to me of Therese's "health" was that she wasn't at all drawn to mortifications. We suffer enough in the course of any given day without having to add to it. The more you long to love, the more you suffer. That's just the way of it. Anyway, Christ' right hand holds us fast.

      I'm glad to know of you and grateful for your readership.

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  24. Hello Heather " ) I am Scott Medine and I am a Deacon at St. Joseph Church in Athens, Ga. (Home of the B 52s, REM and Widespread Panic oh yeah and the University of Georgia). Anyway, I love your blogs, your thought process and your enlightened view of Catholicism, a view with which I am completely in line. I wish you the best and that you continue to find the grace of God in every step you take.

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    1. Hello Deacon Scott Modine, so glad to know of you! I have a monk friend at Holy Spirit in Conyers, a brother in Marietta, and of course the one and only Flannery O in Milledgeville which I have yet to visit--anyway, just lovely to have another Georgia connection. Thanks for your response to my work. Like all of us, I need all the encouragement I can get!

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  25. thx for info... keep writing and giving us an information... glhf for ur day!!!

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  26. Hi Heather, I came across your blog while searching for a dear friend Jack Willow. It says RIP, was wondering if it was the same Jack Willow tax accountant, who at one time had an office on Sherman Way?

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    1. Yes, that was the Jack Willow, though when I knew him his office was in West Hills. I did a piece for NPR's "All Things Considered" on the great Jack, who was my tax guy for three or four blessed years. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9501410.
      He was loved and appreciated by many.

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  27. I am very broken right now. I'm going to start reading your blogs because what I've read so far gives me hope.
    I don't know how I got here in life. Not sure how to pull through. I pray a lot, but I think God dropped my ticket between the cash register and wall. Oops!

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    1. Mine went down behind the stove--obviously He can't get to it! Hang in there, Lisa. I can tell you this--you are not alone.

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  28. Thanks for the posts. Found you on Sacred Space, my daily reading page. Lived in Pasadena for a few years (Fuller Seminary) so I'm familiar with the Gardens and Christmas Tree Lane. Ah, memories indeed. Now in eastern PA. Am in another 12-step Fellowship. Moved to a Catholic Faith about eight years ago. It was a necessary move. I "favorited" your page. Lots of good stuff I can relate to. Dan

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    1. Hi there Dan, gave a couple of retreats at Malvern PA and spent several days in Philadelphia a couple of years ago--just loved it. And am now finding my way in Pasadena...one of my brothers also went through Fuller. Anyway, so glad you are finding stuff to relate to. Thank you for taking the time to check in!

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  29. Hi Heather, I found your book Shirt of Flame and decided to see if this would work for a spiritual book group that I lead through St. Catherine of Siena parish up here in Seattle. Anyway, long story short - I love it. the weaving of your story with St. Therese's was especially helpful to me because I am overcome with grief after losing my wife, my beloved, my best friend in the world three months ago. Sitting with her as she slipped away and into the arms of love that awaited her was more profound than I can express here but the grief and sadness that I have felt since then has been more painful than I could have imagined. Reading your book helped in so many ways, for example, after being together for over 40 years I felt as if I had been abandoned, that a part of me had died with Mary and at times I was barely here. Then I read a comment by St. Therese early in the book where she says, "I understood that if I was loved on earth, I was also loved in heaven." While this statement didn't make the pain go away, it did help me to feel less isolated. Thanks for your work, you are living the beatitudes. In Gratitude, John

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    1. Hi John, I visited Seattle for the first time last year, led a women's retreat at the Archbiship Brunet Retreat Center then spent some time on Bainbridge, Vashon, and downtown. Lord God, the beauty. I'm thrilled to know you used Shirt of Flame in your book group at St. Catherine of Siena.
      And I am so sorry about the loss of your beloved wife. Thank you for taking the time to write in the midst of your grief and I'm very glad that St. Therese--who, as you say, knew abandonment well--helped.

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  30. Hi Heather really enjoyed your book Redeemed it was excellent! In fact I was so impressed I have mentioned it on my website www.thegospelbutterfly.com
    I am in recovery and have been sober by the Grace of God for 17 years. I have also come back to the catholic church and it feels great God bless from Anita x

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    1. Anita, thank you so much--17 years, fantastic, and back to the Church as well. There IS a God....I'm very glad you checked in and all the best with your own writing.

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    1. Richard, best wishes back atcha and I'm so glad you're digging Redeemed!Thank you.

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  32. Hi, Heather, I religiously--and I don't use that term lightly--read your Blog and Twitter accounts, as well as essays in Magnificat. I am also a Catholic concert (2002, not the best year to come into the church....), and have recently become even closer through reading "Why Be Catholic: Ten Answers to a Very Important Question," by Patrick Madrid. You probably know it, but as a former Protestant I kept reading and saying, "Huh! What if this Apostolic Succession stuff is true?? Huh, what if this "I found my church on Petros" stuff is ALSO true! I'd better get my act together!" Have also just come through half a year of cancer surgery and treatment, port out now and everything looks good. Cancer journey and more is on my blog: http://faithismyos.blogspot.com.

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    1. Bless you, Annie-so glad everything is looking good, many thanks for the support, and welcome to the Convert Club!

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  33. LOVE this! I came across your name and website in a "magnificat" book where you had written a piece on Dorothy Day...the little book was given to me by another guest during my recent stay at Christ in the Desert monastery in Abique, NM..
    I'm not Catholic, was raised Protestant, but always drawn to aspects of Catholic worship...I was so amazed by my time at this monastery...I had no idea that monks get up and pray all day, everyday from 4 a.m. off and on until 8 p.m. for the whole world! I was also blown away at meeting Jewish and Muslim people during my time there who participated in the daily prayers as much, if not more, than me. I bought my first rosary and dipped it in the Holy dirt at Chimayo after I left the monastery. I guess I'm rambling now but I just love your blog and will be subscribing. Thank you and God bless!

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    1. Thanks, Amber! I've been to Christ in the Desert, just for part of a day, and have stayed at lots of other monasteries and convents over the years...have you seen the documentary Into Great Silence?...

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    2. Hi Heather! Any monasteries/convents that you would particularly recommend? And, no, I haven't seen that documentary yet...a person I met at CITD mentioned it, as well. What did you like about it?

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  34. Hello, Ms. King. Do you know that you were baptised at the same church as Alfred Doblin? (There should be an umlaut over the 'o'.) Since you mention Emmi Leisner and Herzog, I thought you might be interested to know, if not already apprised.

    My husband and I have gobbled up Shirt of Flame and Redeemed. Such thanks. Ann Fleck (I've never done this before so I don't know if I'm supposed to sign!)

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    1. I didn't know who Alfred Doblin was till you mentioned him, Ann! He was baptized at the Congregational Church in North Hampton, NH?

      Thanks so much--I've very glad you and your husband gobbled up Shirt of Flame and Redeemed...more to come...

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  35. Hi,
    My name's Padraig, recovering drunk (had 4 years now working on week 5), retired skin (non-racist), teacher and daddy. My mother introduced me to your work. All I can say is thank you.

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    1. Padraig, welcome! So glad for your sobriety. And thank God for mothers...

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  36. Hi Heather, For some reason The Lord led me to your blog today for the first time. I've read many of your reflections in the Magnificat and other Catholic publications. I have identified with you on several levels, particularly since I too am a recovering alcoholic, sobriety date is 6-12-2006. I am a "cradle Catholic", 13 years of Catholic Schooling in New York City, I live in Miami, Florida. Divorced, mother of 2 sons, grand mother to 3 beautiful grandchildren. Currently on chemotherapy battling non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. I'm Cuban born, but have lived 55 of my 61 years in the USA. Though I drifted very far away from my Catholic principles and the Church over a couple of decades, I never turned away completely from God nor ever considered leaving the Church per se. I just lived by my own rules and was driven by my ego. I know today that God never gave up on me, and saved me countless times from complete perdition. For this I am so grateful and have returned to the Church through a very deep and personal conversion. I am a very active member of my parish church and lead or serve on several ministries. Working the AA program, my meetings, the fellowship, my friends in the program and in my parish all brought me back to become a faithful living member of the Mystical Body of Christ. I could go on ad infinitum in recounting the blessings in my life and all of the miracles, but this is not the purpose of my writing. I do have a question for you. Perhaps you can help me by sharing your perspective on the sad state of our country's political climate these days. I have a very difficult time dealing with the very biased and mean spirited majority of many of my Catholic contemporaries here in South Florida. Last night and again this morning, at a Church Ministry meeting and a Bible Study program, respectively, that I am a member of, the discussion became very heated and distasteful to say the least, when fingers were pointed at certain candidates with insulting and erroneous information. I do not know your politics, but regardless, I have my own conscience and my whole life's worth of study and following US politics. I believe that it is not proper, and in fact contrary to Catholic tenets, that priests, bishops and other Catholic laity push their own political agenda from the pulpit. I love my Catholic faith, but it is often very challenging to remain loving and open minded when members of our Church become so offensive and judgmental of those that have differing political views. I remain silent most of the time, but as a FOB's, I also must be "true to myself" and when I see wrongs, I am compelled to speak up. Today has been a trying day and I know there is a lesson to be learned. But I'm glad to have shared it with Jesus and at an AA meeting this afternoon. Any thoughts from you are welcome! BTW, I've been sleeping with my Rosary beads and carrying them in my pocket for at least 20 years. Our Blessed Mother, always looking out for her children. Praise be to God!!

    Any ideas or advice would be greatly appreciated
    God Bless you,
    Irma

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    1. Hello dear Irma, I don't own a TV, have not watched a Presidential debate I'm pretty sure ever, and simply remove myself or refrain from engaging in the kind of vituperative argument you mention, the very tenor of which is anti-Gospel and anti-Christ. I simply don't write about or weigh in on bipartisan politics. Not because I don't care about "the issues," but because the real issues are infinitely deeper and richer than those posed by a debate over who is going to run what is essentially a military power whose goal is to protect and enlarge its monetary interests--again, two things about which Christ cared nothing. I spend my time visiting those in prison, writing on arts and culture, tending my plants, and pondering how very far I am from being a true disciple of Christ--but how very great my desire!...

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  37. Hi, Heather.

    I read Parched and related to you and your experience, strength and hope very much.

    I have been sober for 28 years, and I give all the credit to God and AA, which I view as an instrument of God.

    I returned to the Catholic Church (from the Episcopal Church, which is also a fine institution) after being sober for ~10 years.

    To me the Catholic Church's teachings and rituals fit like a hand in a glove with the 12 Steps and Traditions of AA.

    I wish you continued blessings with your recovery from alcohol and cancer and with your work in sharing God's message.

    God bless,


    Chris

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    1. Chris, thank you so very much--I couldn't agree more.

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  38. I basically just discovered you! I'd like to say that I wish I would have come across your writing sooner but as I'm learning (mostly the hard way) people and events are being placed in my path when He wills it.

    I read Shirt of Flame last week and immediately took to Amazon to see what else I could find by you. I'm currently halfway through Redeemed and trying to decide whether its appropriate material for beach reading? I kid. Sort of. I'm off to see what else I can find by you and I'm not even worried about being the strange woman reading books about suffering and Catholicism on the sand in the Caribbean next week.

    Thank you so much for sharing. It means more than you know. But maybe you do know and that's why you write with such honesty. When I came across this line last night--- "I 'boast of my weakness' as St. Paul did, because I can hardly believe-clueless and fallen as basically still am-that I'm even in marginally good enough shape to help someone else, to be kind to someone else."---it truly struck me. I had an encounter with the Holy Spirit and a woman who was suffering last week. I wrote a short blog post about it if you care to give it a glance.

    http://ashleyinarkansas.blogspot.com/2016/10/the-feast-of-st-francis.html

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    1. Hey Ashley, oh my stuff is definitely Caribbean beach reading! I love the sun.
      "I've learned that the Holy Spirit is the force that drives us to do and say things that might not be in our normal character." You hit the nail on the head, girl. Keep the flame burning in Arkansas and many thanks-

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  39. hello heather , my auntie is a Poor Clare , grateful to be reading you. David s/v Che'Bar , Port Franklin ,Australia.

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    1. Dave, greetings to you and your auntie! I am thrilled beyond measure to have a reader in Port Franklin, Australia.

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  40. Hi just ran across your article while searching "losing friends as catholics". I was baptised Catholic but didn't follow teachings out of selfishness. I recently have gone much deeper into my faith and noticed my best friend distancing. I would love to have a friend like you sound very similar. God bless you. Nannette

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  41. Hello, I am a addict, alcoholic and a mess. I fear everything!! I just put down my last drink and drug 2 days ago. 55 years old OMG how sad am I. I believe in God and that He died on the cross to take away my sins. I am Christian. I came upon you this am on TV (stumbles) I was intrigued and came here. Thank you I liked you and what you were saying. So here I am...I do not want to go back to my ways..Done AA, NA and all the A's at some point in the last 20 years. I do believe through Jesus Christ I will stay clean and sober. He has been on me for a long time to do this. I am sorry if I sound crazy Just a little nervous. I will keep reading your posts and blogs. I will also look into your books....Thank you for your honesty and caring...Say a prayer for me on my road to "recovery" and I will thank God for bringing you into my life at just the right moment!!

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    1. Thank you, welcome fellow traveler, and you bet I will say a prayer for you on your road to recovery...I hope you have many more days now than on February 12.

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I WELCOME your comments!!!