Saint Kieran (Ciaran) of Saighir

21 January 22 | Posted in Animals, Events, Global Catholic, History, Saints, Supernatural

Saint Kieran was an Irish abbot and bishop who lived in the sixth century. His feast day is March 5. Saint Kieran is said to be the first native-born saint of Ireland. 

His conversion to Christianity probably preceeded the arrival of Saint Patrick. He may have been ordained a bishop during a visit to Rome; or he could be one of the twelve bishops appointed by Saint Patrick.

On his return from Rome Saint Kieran settled in Saighir as a hermit, an area near the Slieve Bloom Mountain range. He wore animal skins and lived in the wilderness. One day, he noticed a fierce looking boar close to him in the forest. Saint Kieran spoke gently to the boar calling him, “Brother Boar.” Kieran loved animals and they trusted him. The boar realized that Kieran was a friend. He helped him build his hut, tearing down strong branches with his teeth and tusks and bringing them to Kieran. Soon, other animals joined them included a wolf, fox, badger, deer, and many birds. Kieran called them his brother monks. The fox stole Kieran’s shoes. The badger went after the fox The animals stayed even though men came to follow to follow Kieran and join his community.

Kieran performed his first miracle as a boy. A kite soared over him and grabbed a little bird as she sat on her nest. Kieran demanded that the kite release the little bird. The kite turned back and released the bird, but it was wounded and half-dead. At Kieran’s command, the little bird was restored to life and resumed sitting on her nest.

In one wonderful tale, Saint Kieran blessed a well and from that time it “had the taste of wine or honey—for everyone who drank from it got drunk as well as filled.” The site may have been a local holy well, which certainly would have become even more popular after his miracle.




St. Kateri Habitats and Parks

I wanted to find a way to honor God, faith, and my love of nature. The St. Kateri Habitats and Parks program showed me a way to do it. Anyone can change their yard, parish landscaping or fields into a healthy habitat for people and wildlife. It can be as easy as planting an herb garden, or flowers and shrubs for bees and butterflies.  The St. Kateri Habitats and Parks program is sponsored by the St. Kateri Conservation Center. 

The St. Kateri Habitats program helps us to see the land as a spiritual place, which fosters and strengthens our spirituality. Religious expression in a St. Kateri Habitat could include signs, statues of Mary, your favorite saint, saints who loved animals, birds and nature, angels, crosses and shrines. It could include walkways or paths for meditation and benches to sit quietly in prayer or contemplation.

Please click here to register your habitat and join the St. Kateri Habitat community.

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha is the first American Indian to be canonized by the Catholic Church. She was a Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) born in what is now New York State. St. Kateri is the patron saint of the environment and integral ecology.


Build Back Better Boondoggle

28 December 21 | Posted in Arts and Letters, Events

I like Michael Shellenberg. I enjoy reading his blog. I like him because he’s a thinker; not an ideologue. This is evident in his blog post, “Climate Dogma Killed Biden’s “Build Back Better.”

Michael Shellenberger

Build Back Better,” the $1.7 trillion climate change boondoggle President Biden and progressive Democrats tried to push on the American people, went down to defeat when Senator Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia killed the legislation by refusing to vote for it.  Build Back Better was also a sneaky way to lay the groundwork for higher taxes and beefing up the IRS to make sure they are paid.

Progressives, environmentalists, and Democrats are furious with Sen. Manchin, but it was their own climate and renewables dogmatism that doomed the legislation. Democratic Senators could have written legislation that expanded nuclear energy and natural gas, the two main drivers of decarbonization, which are strongly supported by Manchin, and Republicans, but instead investments went overwhelmingly to solar panels, wind turbines, and electric cars.”

Who would benefit financially from the Build Back Better subsidies, grants and spending: solar energy entities and foreign suppliers.  After decades of trying, solar energy is still unproven as a large-scale energy option. What were the lessons learned by the Solyndra debacle, the Silicon Valley solar start-up that left taxpayers on the hook for $535 million in federal guarantees? Solar energy also brings its own environmental problems, which progressive Democrats ignore at our peril. “Solar Panel Waste – The Dark Side of Clean Energy.”

Shellenberg has the right idea: “The core principles of the energy legislation that comes next should be reliability, affordability, and sustainability. Only nuclear and natural gas fit the bill. Both are produced domestically, in contrast to solar panels and wind turbines. It also has to work politically. In October, a YouGov poll found that 53% percent of those polled in West Virginia thought Build Back Better would result in higher inflation, taxes, and interest rates.”

Go back and craft a better bill with bipartisan support and realistic funding. 


St. Kateri Tekakwitha and the Tornado

6 April 21 | Posted in Arts and Letters, Events, History, Saints, Supernatural

In his book, Tornado God: American Religion and Violent Weather, Peter J. Thuesen compares tornados, windstorms, and other especially violent weather events to human conceptions about God, punishment, and gratitude for coming through them.  “Tornadoes, and weather generally,” he writes, put us in touch with the origin of religions, which arose in part as humans struggled to account for the forces of nature.”  Thuesen explains that God and weather are unknowable and have uncontrollable power, so it is not surprising to see that the two tied together in the human psyche.

One night in August 1683, a tornado hit the Jesuit mission at Sault St. Louis, (the Mohawk village of Kahnawake) in Quebec, Canada. “All the monsters of hell” were unleashed against the mission in the form of a “whirlwind” which destroyed the chapel.  Miraculously, Fr. Claude Chauchetiere and two other Jesuits who were in the chapel at the time of the tornado survived without serious injury.

Fr. Chauchetiere credited their deliverance to Kateri Tekakwitha, a Mohawk convert to Christianity. Earlier in the day each of the men had prayed at her grave nearby. They attributed their prayers at the site for their salvation from the tornado.  Surviving the destructive tornado was the second miracle Chauchetiere attributed to Kateri Tekakwitha. Three years earlier an oak tree next to the chapel had been struck by lightening but the chapel was left untouched.   

Fr. Claude Chauchetiere (September 7, 1645-April 17, 1709) was a French Jesuit missionary priest and painter.  He met Kateri Tekakwitha at Kahnawake a year or so before her death. His oil painting of her hangs in the sacristy of St. Francis Xavier Church on the Kanawake Mohawk Reserve near Montreal, Quebec, Canada.





The Stone Man

5 February 21 | Posted in Spirituality, Supernatural


We built a stone man on our land in Pennsylvania.  We built him from rocks from a nearby stone fence, and from a stone cairn nearby. I felt a breath of air when we displaced the cairn rocks. Whatever had been there was freed.  I felt its sigh when I lifted a large stone in the center.

The Stone Man came together easily and balanced perfectly.  He had a discernable head, stumpy arms, long legs and looked like he was riding on a surfboard.  He had a hole in his center. Once I spotted a hunter’s lost cap looking through him.  The Stone Man was more than a marker. He was a familiar and friendly presence. We felt a great affection for him and the feeling was returned. I was always glad to see him, and I never felt alone when he was within sight.

He stood near the border of our property in the woods. Once we passed by the Stone Man, a trail began along an ancient lake to Mud Pond. The trail went up a hill through dense clumps of mountain laurel, black ash, birch, granite boulders and some white pine. Mud Pond was surrounded by a boggy area, so you needed to be careful where you walked.  We also needed to be careful of the bears which used the trail.

I got the idea of building an inuksuk from photos of inuksuit created by the Inuit in Alaska.  The word “inuksuk” means to “act in the capacity of a human being.”  These stone figures acted as hunting and navigational aids and message centers.  A familiar inuksuk on the landscape is a welcome sight when a hunter or traveler is a long way from home.  Many Inuit retain strong attachments to Inuksuit built by their ancestors. Some of the old inuksuit are mentioned in Aya-yait, the traveling songs passed from one generation to another to help travelers remember a series of directions.

Traveling northward in 1834 toward the Arctic Ocean on the river that now bears his name, George Back, captain in the British Royal Navy, was amazed to see “a man” looking down at him from a high hill. Closer inspection revealed it to be a stone man “placed there by the Esquimaux.”  Stone men guided Inuit seafarers along the coasts. In the 1940s, while working in northernmost Labrador, Canadian archaeologist Douglas Leechman saw inuksuit “on many headlands…gazing steadfastly out to sea. Their principal purpose is to serve as landmarks, and an Eskimo knows the shape and color of every one in his district. Should he be overtaken by fog or bad weather he will often be able to save himself from going astray by the timely sight of a familiar cairn.” “A long time ago near Cape Dorset, (on Baffin Island, in the Canadian territory of Nunavet), there was a special inuksuk,” elder Peter Pitseolak told historian Dorothy Eber. “In the old days people from our side who were going to cross (Hudson Strait) used to go to the inuksuk and give presents. They would say, “I give you this. I wish to return again.”

There is a spiritual presence, and dignity, in each inuksuk.  I felt it immediately when we placed the last rock to build our stone man. He wasn’t alive in our human sense of the word, but an energy and connection was present.  We always felt his kinship and care as we passed by, and he felt our respect and affection in return.