Be Heroes: Modern Love vs. Year of Mercy


Image courtesy of “The Thin White Duke 76” by Jean-Luc Ourlin . Uploaded here by Auréola. – originally posted to Flickr as David Bowie. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – 

This post has been percolating for quite a while.  If you’ve read Don’t You Forget About Me (or even just the reviews), you won’t need much thinking to figure out that music is an important part of my life–and not pure, holy music by Matt Maher or Audrey Asaad, either.

When I first returned to the faith of my baptism, I’d come from months of trying really, really hard to be a fan of CCM: Contemporary Christian Music.  And while a lot of the words were nice to hear, the music didn’t necessarily speak to me.  With the exception of Rich Mullins, it’s nothing I still listen to now.

“Don’t let the Devil have all the good music!” I  heard.  So I tried, but given the choice between Echo & the Bunnymen and Phillips, Craig & Dean… sorry.  Jesus may have saved me, but if I said I’d lost my way, would you sympathize? Could you sympathize?

I asked God to change my tastes, knowing full well He has the power to do so.  But He didn’t.  So here I am, downright afflicted with an ear that loves anything from blurred lines to the center of the hollow moon. I’m careful with what I let linger in my mind (the former gets the station changed; the latter… well, if it’s on the radio, it gets bleeped, so I let it play).  But I still worry about the state of my soul.

The state of my soul.

The state of my soul.

The state of my selfish soul.

So while it did occur to me a few years ago to offer prayers for the soul of Ian Curtis, I didn’t really extend those prayers to anyone else.  Then a few months ago, someone in a Catholic blogger FB group asked if it was weird to offer prayers for the soul of Kurt Cobain. Of course it isn’t, not if I’m praying for Ian and his family.  After all, dollars to donuts, neither of those people ran in circles where folks are including them in their rosary intentions.

So when Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots died this fall, I was pretty comfortable praying for his soul.  I was even contemplating having a Mass said for him (announced? maybe…) when I found this letter from the mother of his children.

Our once sweet Catholic boy refused to watch the kids participate in Christmas Eve plays because he was now an atheist.

“Once sweet Catholic boy.”  So… he might have people saying Masses for him?  People not making the Entertainment section, but still, people.

But why didn’t I think to pray for him before he died?  I’m a child of the grunge era.  I liked STP well enough.  Maybe if I had focused less on being a Good Contemporary Christian Music Fan and more on the people making the music I liked… I could have fasted and prayed and Noah and Lucy would still have a father here on earth.

I don’t know.  We’ll never know, I guess.  And now, David Bowie is gone, too.  Without a single Rosary from me.

The Catholic definition of “love” (courtesy of Aristotle first, then Aquinas) is to will the good of another.  God has been waving this musical flags in front of my ears, begging me to love people who very likely have turned from Him and written Him off.  And I’ve been sitting here, tentatively pulling my fingers out of my ears, saying to myself, “Oh, just one more song isn’t gonna hurt me.”

Dumbass.  It hasn’t been about me.

It’s the Year of Mercy.  We are asked to focus on how much God loves everyone, everyone, no matter how much they look like they don’t need Him.  So here’s the dumb thing I’m gonna do to celebrate the Year of Mercy.  I’m gonna have Masses said for David Bowie and Scott Weiland and Ian Curtis.  I’m also gong to have Masses said for the conversion of other souls still walking among us–souls that, frankly, look irrevocably hardened to my eyes, but as Simcha Fisher said,  generosity to one’s audience can be an act of charity, of virtue open to grace; and as all faithful Catholics know, we cannot know another’s soul.

So, Henry Rollins, you’re getting a Mass said for you before 2016 is out.  You too, Ian McCulloch.  Aaron Bruno? Dave Grohl? Heck, if you’ve ever played the Doctor, you might get a Mass, too.  (I’d keep naming names, but I just had steroids injected into my elbow, and while I’m offering it up for all these folks, I’m also a flesh & blood woman for whom Tylenol and ice only go so far.)

So that’s my Modern Love: getting celebrities who don’t know me from Adam into heaven.  If it doesn’t work (free can be a b1tch sometimes), then I’ll at least have some guardian angels joining me at my individual judgment who can hopefully say, “See how she loved them?”

Loved them.  Not their music.  Them.

Any other names you want to throw onto my list?  Pray for them.  Ask me to pray for them.  And we could be heroes.  

“And may God’s love be with you.”  

Let me know, below, on FB, shoot me an email, whatever works for you (but a reply might take a while, see above re: big needles in my elbow.)


A Body in Prayer: A Guest Post by Neil Combs

Welcome, Tomato Pie Fans! I’m taking a hiatus from blogging to finish the sequel to DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME. Meanwhile, I have a series of guest bloggers taking care of the place. Let’s meet today’s guest, Neil Combs.

Neil Combs

Why Write A Body in Prayer?

Prayer. What is it, really? Am I doing it right? Am I doing it enough? Do I pray with just my words, or can I pray through my actions? These were just some of the questions I was asking about 5 or 6 years ago. I was still a fairly new Catholic and I was struggling with prayer. I recalled the verses in the Bible that said “…pray always…” (Luke 18:1) and “…pray continually…” (1 Thes 5:16) but I could barely find the time to say a morning and night prayer. I did a lot of soul-searching at that time, but more importantly, I did a lot of information searching; books–The Catechism of the Catholic Church, CDs, and Scripture–to find out what I could about prayer.

What began as a personal quest for a better prayer life became something I never would have expected… a book. See, I wasn’t an author, I was just a pharmacist who had an idea and insights I wanted to share. I started by sharing it with a men’s group I belong to. They encouraged me to write it down, and a journal slowly became a book. As I shared more, I realized there were a lot more people like me who wanted a better prayer life but just didn’t know how to get there.

A Body in Prayer first defines prayer, and then it helps to identify and break down the common barriers to prayer, like the ever popular “I just don’t have enough time to pray!” But then it talks about the many different ways we can pray. You see, I always thought of prayer as talking to God, but in reality, it is so much more. It’s a conversation between two people in a relationship, and if you think of your own relationships, you know much can be said without a word being spoken. My wife has always said “actions speak louder than words,” and the same is true in prayer, maybe even more so, because God sees all our actions!

It was that realization, that by including Christ in all the daily activities of life, I could pray more and pray better. I could use my whole body to pray, by focusing everything I did (work, fasting, or appreciating a sunset) on God. Suddenly my actions could say more than my occasional words of prayer ever did.

A Body in Prayer challenges readers’ perception of prayer, yet is written in a light, conversational style. It uses ten chapters based on body parts – hands, eyes, mouth, even stomach – to give simple, real life examples of how we can use our bodies, and our actions, to pray and truly become A Body in Prayer!

BodyInPrayerCoverNeil Combs grew up as a Lutheran, but was confirmed into the Catholic faith, along with his children, in 2004.  A Pharmacist by profession, he was drawn to working with youth, and has been involved in the Youth Ministry program at St Le’s church in Hilton, NY, where he lives with his wife, Mary. He is also an active member of the Knights of Columbus. Learn more about A Body in Prayer on Facebook.

It’s quiet. Too quiet.

Well, on my blog, anyway.  In my life?  Not so much.  We are getting ready to put our house on the market.

Those booze boxes are empty.  Now they are, anyway.

Those booze boxes are empty. Now they are, anyway.

Carpets and appliances and packing, oh my!  All of my creative energies have been invested in preparing the house.  And preparing the children:  that takes a LOT of creative juice, I tell you what.

Not my image.  Duh.

Not my image. Duh.

Anyway, precious little blogging is getting done around here, and even less novel writing, I’ll admit.  I’m one of those writers who is too busy to maintain a separate Pinterest identity for my real life, so if you want to see All The Pins, including stuff on how to stage a home on None The Money, by all means, visit my Pinterest page.  If you’d rather just see the writing stuff, just check out my writing board and ignore the rest.

If none of those interest you, but you’re just a nice person in general, please ask St. Joseph to intercede for us and for the family we hope will buy our home.  And before you ask, no we’re not burying a statue.


What we are doing is, every time we go to church, we light two candles in front of the St. Joseph statue and offer one prayer for our family and one for the family who will buy our home.

If they buy it sooner rather than later, I’ll not complain!

Interview with Working Mother Colleen Gledhill

Here at Tomato Pie, we’re celebrating the release of my biblical historical fiction ebook “Working Mother” by celebrating the working mothers among us. Today is the Feast of St. John Neumann, the first saint out of Philadelphia.  It’s the perfect day to interview Philly Girl Colleen Gledhill!


What’s your name?

Colleen GledhillDisplaying Colleen G picture.jpg

Tell us a little bit about your family. 

My husband, Bill and I have been married for almost 27 years.  We have two children (who are now young men) and we have two beautiful grandchildren.


Imagine you’re at a dinner party.  Someone asks the question, “So, what do you do?”  What’s your answer?

I would say that I am a wife, mother and a Legal Administrative Assistant.

How do you think God uses your job to help shape you into all He made you to be? 

In the job of “Mother”, I believe God shapes me through both challenges and tenderness.  Recently, my family has been challenged with experiences that we never thought we would ever face- not in a million years.  This required great faith, patience, forgiveness and acceptance.  Through it all, I definitely felt that I was being shaped and molded into the woman that God created and not the image that I was portraying on my own.  But God is gentle and merciful, which allows me to show kindness and tenderness in even the most disappointing of situations.  In the job of “Administrative Assistant”, God uses diversity to shape me.  I have worked with so many interesting, beautiful and different types of people.  It has really broadened my view of the world and helped me to think out of the self-imposed box that I often found myself in.

What benefits (besides the economical) have you seen to your family that are a direct result of your work away from home? 

One of the biggest benefits of working outside of the home that I’ve seen in my family is cooperation.  There is definitely a sense of community and helping each other out.  Each of us realizes that we all are working hard and we are a team, (most of the time:-)…Utopia does not exist in the Gledhill household- but mutual respect does.
How do you balance any guilty feelings you might have in the tension between your workplace and your homespace? 

In full disclosure, I did not work outside of the home when my children were infants/babies.  I returned to work when they were pre-schoolers, but guilt was still present.  Guilt is a tough one.  I believe it is supposed to be a feeling that lasts only a moment or two when our conscience recognizes something that is contrary to God’s will.  It should be a spiritual nudge- not the gnawing torment that it can turn into at times.  The way I deal with it is through prayer and discussion.  I ask God to help me and my family to be balanced.  I have honest conversations with my family members which are important and helpful.  Time spent in the car driving to events, running errands and the kid’s activities usually prove to be enlightening and informative.  There is something about a car ride that makes it easier for children to open up.  Also, no matter what else is going on, we try to always have dinner together.  That is where much of the ‘guilt’ subsides.  We regroup, bond, debate, converse and laugh.  For years at dinnertime, we have asked each other “what was your high point today…what was your low point?”  This question helps you to remain in touch with your family, which in turn decreases any guilt that may build up from time spent apart.

What is one thing that you would ask the people in your life to do to support you more? 

I know this probably sounds so cliche, but the one thing I ask the people in my life to do to support me more is to pray for me.  That is the honest truth.  Years ago, my husband began to say the Rosary on his way to work each morning, and there is no better means of support for our family than that of him praying to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother!  I firmly believe that his praying the Rosary has helped our family get through the toughest and most tragic of times.  When others are praying for me I feel very supported, which in turn gives me the ability to reciprocate that support to my family and friends.

Thank you, Colleen!  

Are you a working mother?  So was (and is) the Blessed Mother!  If you enjoyed this interview and would like to celebrate working motherhood some more, please consider getting a copy of my $.99 historical fiction ebook, “Working Mother.”  

Interview with Working Mother Grace Mazza Urbanski

Here at Tomato Pie, we’re celebrating the release of my biblical historical fiction ebook “Working Mother.” Today is the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, the titular feast of the Jesuits.  What better day to interview someone who works for God through the Society of Jesus?  Let’s meet Grace Mazza Urbanski!

What’s your name?Displaying Urbanski Family.png

Grace Mazza Urbanski

Tell us a little bit about your family. 

My husband, David, and I have five children. We married the week after I finished my undergraduate degree, and the first four children were born in the first five years of marriage. Exhausting! And thrilling. There’s roughly 18 months between each of the first four children, but a whole THREE years between the fourth and the fifth. The children insist that we’re missing someone who should have been born in that gap. They call that person the “Missing Urbanski,” and many of their friends regularly lobby to be adopted to fill the position.

By the end of this month, the children will be 18, 17, 15, 14, and 10. Things we enjoy both individually or corporately include languages, legos, movies, camping, music, theater, reading, faith, and lots and lots of company at our house.


Imagine you’re at a dinner party.  Someone asks the question, “So, what do you do?”  What’s your answer?

I work at a Catholic (Jesuit) organization called the Apostleship of Prayer. I design prayer materials for children and travel across the country giving presentations to children and adults alike. I am able to do this now because my own five children are all in school, and they attend the school where my husband teaches Latin. They’re really good at working together to keep everything going when I need to be away.

[Erin here.  Grace also has a children’s ministry blog at]  


How do you think God uses your job to help shape you into all He made you to be? 

This job is a giant, delicious humble pie. If I write and teach about prayer, then guess what I need to be doing? Praying. I have a prideful, independent streak, and I would be the world’s biggest hypocrite if I indulged that while working in the Apostleship of Prayer. Being part of a family already helped me learn about being a team player and depending on God’s providence, but those lessons were more . . . private. I now stand on a scaffold in the public square while my sins flap in the breeze.

What benefits (besides the economical) have you seen to your family that are a direct result of your work away from home? 

See above. A more humble, prayerful mom makes the family better. That’s a benefit because of the nature of my work. The simple fact that I work has benefits too, because it explands my worldview. I tend to get deeply involved with volunteer activities whenever I am able. With my husband working at the school my children attend, though, too much of ME in that same mix could lead us to be myopic about our little community. When I have other communities’ visions on my mind, I tend to have a better perspective on our little corner of the world.

How do you balance any guilty feelings you might have in the tension between your workplace and your homespace? 

My organization is extremely pro-family, so they understand when I need to make myself more available to my family at times. For example, I take the entire month of August off, just to share that sweet summer month at home. Even when people in the office tease me for that August “vacation” (it’s unpaid), I feel zero guilt. My family is my first and best work. If I neglect my family, my ministry will suffer.

What is one thing that you would ask the people in your life to do to support you more? 

I’m still astonished at the lack of respect women receive in the workplace, perhaps especially in ministry. For example, a team of four young Jesuits (one priest, three in formation) was going to run a retreat at a parish. Two of the Jesuits had to cancel, so my Jesuit co-worker asked me to step in and give some of the talks (which I have done before, am totally capable of, blah, blah, blah). Then my co-worker called the parish priest who was hosting the retreat. He told the priest that the retreat team experienced a change: instead of three (non-ordained) Jesuits in formation and one Jesuit priest, the retreat team would now consist of one Jesuit priest, one Jesuit in formation, and one laywoman. The parish priest canceled the retreat. We still have work to do before the gifts of women are valued as much as men’s gifts.

Thank you, Grace!  

Are you a working mother?  So was (and is) the Blessed Mother!  If you enjoyed this interview and would like to celebrate working motherhood some more, please consider getting a copy of my $.99 historical fiction ebook, “Working Mother.”