Greetings from (let me quickly check)…DeWitt, Michigan!

I’m here at the lovely St. Francis Retreat Center, in the Diocese of Lansing, leading a retreat for the Catholic Writers Guild. It’s been a great experience and, for a newly-minted Floridian, a great chance to remember what it’s like to be in a place which actually has autumn! Leaves are turning, the temperature is falling, and there’s a fire burning in the retreat house fireplace. Life is good.

The grounds are just beautiful. There’s lots of room to roam.

Meantime, I’m in the middle of what I like to call October Madness: the crazy blur of Catholic STUFF that hits most dioceses this month. Everybody, it seems has retreats, convocations, congresses (and synods!) because it’s the last chance to squeeze in these big events before Thanksgiving and then the Advent Crunch.

Just last weekend I was in the Diocese of Austin, speaking at the convocation for deacons there — what a great group, in a diocese really on fire with faith!

This coming weekend, right after I leave Lansing, I’ll be landing in Charlotte, North Carolina, leading a retreat for the deacons down there. And then, the following weekend I’ll be in another corner of North Carolina, Raleigh, speaking at their Eucharistic Congress. 

I thank God daily in my prayers for the gift of caffein.

But that’s just the beginning. Gifts abound. Being able to live out this ministry of speaking and writing in this way is a wonder and a joy. Really, it’s a blessing, all of it, and I love seeing the American Catholic Church, in all its variety and diversity.

As I head off to give my next talk this morning, I’ll leave you with a piece from Living Faith, my reflection for today. A friend wrote to tell me she thought it was especially timely, given the tragedy that is continuing to unfold in the Holy Land. Pray for peace!

In the Holy Land today, a popular pilgrimage stop in Jerusalem is the Church of the Pater Noster, or Church of the Our Father. It’s the place where, tradition holds, Jesus taught his apostles how to pray and gave them what we now know as the Lord’s Prayer.

The walls surrounding the central courtyard there contain that prayer written in more than 100 languages, signifying the profound universality of its message. It is the prayer for everyone.

The site is built on the ruins of a 4th-century church, but while building a new church in the 1920s, the French owners of the property ran out of money. The work is incomplete. The church is unfinished. That seems fitting. Our work of prayer is never finished either. Just like the building at that holy site, our building of the Kingdom here on earth is also a work in progress.

As often as we pray these famous words, let us pray to undertake that work daily with fervor, with faith and with hope!