Sunday, January 27, 2013


pgh looks just like l.a.!
photo credit
I'll soon be giving a talk for the Newman Center at Duquesne University, as follows:

March 2, 2013, Saturday 10:30 a.m.
Lenten speaker, Newman Lecture Series 
Gailliot Center for Newman Studies
211 N. Dithridge Street
PittsburghPA 15213 
Street parking! 
Refreshments and coffee starting at 10 a.m.
Free and open to the public.

My contact person there, Ph. D. Kevin Mongrain, is an Associate Professor at the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts, a scholar of Hans Urs von Balthasar, and an author. I was so excited about the prospect of coming to Pittsburgh (where I've never been before), that somehow we got to talking and next thing I knew he was offering me a suite at the Gailliot Center for a bit longer than the planned three days.

I am quite taken with the whole notion of a "suite," and post-haste got on and booked a ticket for a week. So I'll be in Pittsburgh from Feb. 25 through March 3 and before I'd even told anyone I coincidentally heard from a lovely priest at St. Paul of the Cross Monastery and Retreat House across the river  who ended up sending me all kinds of maps and brochures and offering to show me around Pittsburgh or "Pgh" as the people from there seem to spell it.

I love the idea of getting to wander around the arts district of a new city: going to Mass, drinking coffee and listening to the accents. It will be Lent so I will probably be abstaining from sugar and thus in a low, desolate, self-pitying mood but I'm sure the good folks from Pgh will cheer me right up.

So thank you in advance for having me!

Then there's my recent post,  "The Existential Nostalgia of TV," in which I copped to the fact that I haven't much watched TV since the days of Mister Ed. A few days later I  received a little package in the mail. No card, no indication of the sender--but instantly I discerned the hand of my beloved little brother joe...


  1. Heather, I really wonder if giving sugar (brown) up for Lent is pleasing to Our heavenly Father.... talking to myself too.
    or are we trying to earn His Love & attention? Dont know ....

  2. "Take something from the belly -dedicate it to the spirit." -St. Gregory the Great

  3. I see the Lenten practice of denial as a way of experiencing detachment.We have no idea how attached we are to things when our focus should be Christ.

    A story:my Mother gave up smoking one Lent-very hard for her but she did it and in her 60s ,when a relative suffered with emphysema ,she saw her future and was able to quit easily because she had done it before.She lived to be 83.Grace!

  4. Hi Denis, Oh I have never let a little case of mixed motives stop me...there's a thin line, perhaps, between trying to 'earn' the Father's love and taking a season to voluntarily strip down in order to be in closer solidarity with The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, which is to say with reality--but that's no reason not to at least try to "take something from the belly and dedicate it to the spirit" and thank you, St. Gregory/Sallie.

    I find fasting to be a deep and authentic spiritual exercise, even on the almost ridiculously small level of fasting from sugar. I'm always amazed (and I actually don't eat THAT much sugar to begin with) to discover how much I depend on outside substances, activities, etc. to regulate my mood, bolster my ego, make me feel "secure," "productive," "together." All kidding aside, I WILL feel a bit "low" during Lent--and that will be a good thing. I'll turn ever more toward the Sacraments, prayer, reflection...fasting can help me make the whole week in Pittsburgh a preparation and a prayer for the people who are hosting me and the people to whom I'll give the talk Saturday.

    Everything is meat if we let it be. Everything "registers" (not on our 'scorecard,' but toward the light that shines in darkness) if our hearts are oriented toward humility, gratitude, and love....

  5. You MUST go to St. Anthony's chapel and see the relics!

    You will love it.

  6. Try to catch the Univ of Pitt women's basketball game vs. DePaul on Sat afternoon (my SIL is coach). And you will LOVE my favorite card store in the world: Kards Unlimited in Shadyside. You might even see a black squirrel or two. Enjoy the 'burgh!

  7. It is indeed Pgh! Welcome and love it. :) My parents are 'Burghers so us kids are honarary ones.

  8. Heather, delighted to learn that you are coming to PGH! Always inspired by your writings...what a blessing you are to many of us! Yes, I too find Lenten fasting and abstinence sometimes difficult by also fulfilling...

    "and after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen and establish you." 1 Peter 5:10

    I look forward to your talk on March 2nd. Enjoy your stay in the burgh!

    Kathy B.

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  10. Thanks so much, folks! I am truly looking forward...

  11. Heather,
    A list of "must-see" churches:
    St. Nicholas of Millvale- covered in extrordinary murals from the 30s (Christ's side pierced by a WWI soldier)
    The Pittsburgh Oratory for Mass.
    St. Aug's in Lawrenceville for the stained glass.
    St. Anthony's Chapel.
    Epiphany downtown
    St. Patrick's in the Strip and St. Stanislav's in the Strip. (Go Saturday morning)
    About ten others.
    It will be an honor to have you; we Burghers are pretty fanatical about this town, and any of us will be proud to show you!


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