“And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit” (John 19:30)


While I still am on a blog pause until October 1, I could not let this Feast of the Cross pass by in silence.

This past week, I found a reflection I wrote back in 1991 on the epiclesis, a Greek word which means “to cry out to” and refers in the Mass to the moment when the priest calls out to the Father to send the Holy Spirit on the gifts of bread and wine to transform them into the dead-and-risen Jesus.

You are indeed Holy, O Lord, the fount of all holiness.
Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray,
by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall,
so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

My reflection, as I recall, emerged from my meditation on St. John Paul II’s comment in Dominus et Vivificantem: “At the price of the Cross the Holy Spirit comes.” I had learned in my liturgy class that there was an etymological affinity between the words epiclesis and paraclesis (whence we get the Spirit’s name, “Paraclete”). Epiclesis means “to cry out to” and paraclesis refers to “one who hears the cry.” So the Paraclete is the One who “hears the cry” of suffering humanity — a cry summed up by Jesus on the Cross: “My God, my God…” And when He comes, He comes to transform darkness into light, sin into forgiveness, death into life, etc.

My reflection is not structured as a true poem, but rather as a loose association of images from the Passion that, in my mind’s eye, were all mystically present at the Mass each time the priest invoked the Spirit to come “at the price of the Cross.” And, in my mind’s eye, it was for me an epiphany as to why Christians believe in the power of the prayer that rises from those who suffer in faith and charity. In the Kingdom, weakness is power (1 Cor. 12:9ff).


O Father,
send down the Promise,
hear the cry
of the Enfleshed One!

Led to the slaughter,
Lamb without blemish
laid bare
to bitter blows
to dry worn whip
shards cut deep
spat upon
accused, cajoled
extolled in jest
lord of the Jews
royal crown of pain
anointed king by blood:

O Father,
send down the Promise,
hear the cry
of the Enfleshed One!

Tied, judged condemned
friends fleeing far
rejected by your own
tied and bound
a pillar your Throne
bound by love
tight, worn rough wood
splintered rope
gasp for breath
scream and moan
light dimmed by sweat and blood
thirst, parched
look up to blackness
harken to silence, alone
from the depths sighing
in flesh rent:

O Father,
send down the Promise,
hear the cry
of the Enfleshed One!

Taken away
jeers and taunts
this God is despised
led out of the Gates
along the weeping Way
to be mocked, nailed
crushed, pierced
wheat ground
grape pressed
expiring, pardoning

Risen, respiring us with life
to the overfilling full.

Come, O Come
O Paschal Dove!

Now consecrate
our agonies
ever and forever living.

Mysterium fidei.

Catch my breath


I have to grudgingly concede I can’t maintain my blog these days. The irreducible multiplicity of work and home commitments have erased the time available for pleasure writing (which is what I consider my blog). My plan is to start up again consistently posting on October 1.

Thank you for making this blog a part of your life. It’s life-giving for me in ways I could never adequately describe.

Let me leave you with some art to chew on until then: drawing, singing, poetry, a hymn and a photo.

First, I’ll share with you two artistic pieces: one by my daughter, Maria, and the other by local Gospel and blues singer, Cornelius “CC” Celestine, who sings in my wife’s parish choir.

Maria’s piece is a 27 second sped-up video she made that chronicles her drawing to the beat of a cool tune:

CC’s piece is an audio recording of his gorgeous a cappella rendition of Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child, an African slave song that gives voice to the devastating experience of families being torn apart by the violence of slave trade. See the lyrics below the audio clip. He sang it one Sunday at Mass after Communion. I’d never heard it before, but it was for me like a meditation on the painful cry of prayer found in Psalm 88:14-15:

As for me, Lord, I call to you for help;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Lord, why do you reject me?
Why do you hide your face?


Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
A long way from home
A long way from home

Sometimes I feel like I’m almost done
Sometimes I feel like I’m almost done
Sometimes I feel like I’m almost done
A long way from home
A long way from home

True believers a long way from home

A long way from home
A long way from home

To honor Our Lady for her September 8 feast, I wrote a poem back in 2010. I titled it by the Aramaic word for mother: Imma. To love this Lady is to discover her Son in a way you simply could not apart from her.

O Imma

I rejoice this festival of your birth
O Ark fashioned in secret earth,
conceived all-awash in mercy tide
gushing from His open side:
God’s hoping future crashing in
to stay the hand of Adam’s sin.
For of your womb, O Chalice pure,
is born for earth a heavenly Cure
who enfolds all in deathless-Life
harrowing hell and quenching strife.
Pray for us now, and as death preys,
to the timeless One, that Ancient of days
whom you knew as so young, so near,
kissing His face, sweeping His tear.
O look up now to Him who stoops low
that He might grace us with weal, not woe;
with treasures of grace and garments of light
putting our deadly, darkened Foe to flight.
O Bearer of the Infinitely Above,
O Whisperer to the God of love;
O Mother who alone dares to say:
“O God, this is how you are to pray.”
To you we raise a hymn of joy,
O Woman made without alloy,
celebrating your Nativity feast
gives great glory to God the Least. Amen.

+ + + +

This is a sung rendition (and lyrics) of an exquisite Byzantine hymn called, O Virgin Pure. It honors the mysteries surrounding Mary’s divine maternity:

O virgin pure, immaculate: O lady Theotokos
O rejoice, bride unwedded
O fleece bedewed with every grace, O virgin, queen and mother
O rejoice, bride unwedded
More radiant than the rays of sun and higher than the heavens
O rejoice, bride unwedded
O joy of virgin choruses superior to angels
O rejoice, bride unwedded
More bright than the firmament and purer than the sun’s light
O rejoice, bride unwedded
More holy than the multitude of all the heav’nly armies
O rejoice, bride unwedded

O ever-virgin Mary, of all the world, the Lady
O rejoice, bride unwedded
O bride all-pure, immaculate: O lady Panagia
O rejoice, bride unwedded
O Mary bride and queen of all, the cause of our rejoicing
O rejoice, bride unwedded
O humble maiden, gracious queen, supremely holy Mother
O rejoice, bride unwedded
More honored than the Cherubim, beyond compare more glorious
O rejoice, bride unwedded
Beyond bodiless Seraphim, transcending the angelic thrones
O rejoice, bride unwedded

Rejoice, the song of Cherubim; Rejoice, the hymn of angels
O rejoice, bride unwedded
Rejoice, the ode of Seraphim; the joy of the archangels
O rejoice, bride unwedded
Rejoice, O peace and happiness and haven of salvation
O rejoice, bride unwedded
O sacred chamber of the Word; the bud of incorruption
O rejoice, bride unwedded
Rejoice delightful Paradise of blessed life eternal
O rejoice, bride unwedded
Rejoice, O sacred tree of life and font of immortality
O rejoice, bride unwedded

I supplicate you, Lady now, I fervently entreat you
O rejoice, bride unwedded
O queen of all I earnestly implore and seek your favor
O rejoice, bride unwedded
O gracious maiden spotless one, O lady Panagia
O rejoice, bride unwedded
I call upon you ardently: O holy, hallowed temple
O rejoice, bride unwedded
Assist me and deliver me protect me from the enemy
O rejoice, bride unwedded
And make me an inheritor of blessed life eternal
O rejoice, bride unwedded

+ + + +

A Sunset

Photo of sunset by the levee taken by Maria

Please pray for me and my family.

I wrote a chapter in a book


I was very grateful and humbled when Liguori Publications asked me last Fall to contribute an introductory “theology of the family” chapter in a book on family life. The book to be published soon is wonderfully entitled, The Family, the Church and the Real World, and includes well-known contributing authors like Dr. Sean Reynolds, Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak, Lisa Hendey, Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, Don Paglia, Christopher West, Fr. Andrew Wisdom, and Greg and Jennifer Willits. I can’t wait to get a copy myself to feast on its riches!

When they first asked me, I confessed to them that I’m not a theological specialist in that area. But when they told me they were not looking for a specialized theological treatise, but rather an accessible Catholic theological meditation on the nature of family written in a familiar style by someone who is theologically literate, I felt more at home. Though I am a theologian, I’m not a scholar’s scholar. Rather, I consider myself more a public intellectual whose primary vocation and mission is to reveal intelligently and faithfully the Word made fresh. That’s my guiding ideal, at least.

To help me keep the tone of my chapter a bit more intimate, I decided to write it as a personal letter addressed to dear friends of mine who were married this last June (whom I mentioned in an earlier post): Mr. & Mrs. Jordan and Shannon Haddad. Just thinking of them makes my heart leap for joy — watch here and see why:

My chapter offers a brief look of the Church’s theological vision for family life.  It draws from Scripture and Tradition, and was influenced by my own experience of being married to Patti Ann Neal, and of being the father of Michael Anthony (19), Nicholas Patrick (17), Maria Thérèse (15) and Catherine Elizabeth (13), as well as of our six miscarried babies. As I wrote, in my mind’s eye also were countless witnesses to marriage and family life from my own family, my wife’s family, and among our friends and many acquaintances over the years, as well the bishops, priests, deacons and religious we have been privileged to know. These have convicted, rebuked, exhorted and encouraged us to live out a faithful marriage and family life, and to not despair in the face of weakness and failure. In that last category, I’d like single out the Brotherhood of Hope, whose love and devotion to marriage and family life has had an unparalleled influence in our lives. These extraordinary Brothers embody the complementarity of vocations in an exemplary way.

Okay! As I don’t want this to be longer than the chapter itself, let me end by sharing with you here a few of the energetic opening lines and then some of the more sober closing lines from this chapter:

Dear Jordan and Shannon,

What a privilege it will be for the Neal family to be part of your upcoming wedding day! I thought, as a gift to honor your marriage, I would offer you some of my own theological and personal reflections on the Church’s magnificent teaching on marriage and family life.

I remember vividly our wedding day back in 1995, on October 14th. It was also the feast of Pope St. Callistus I, who was martyred in 222 A.D. during a time of fierce hostility toward Christians in the Roman Empire. To be openly Christian in those days was a risky choice to make! But imagine – without those many men and women who did take the risk and choose to publicly proclaim the Gospel, where would we be? We need more daring witnesses! In fact, I’d say the Church is always in need of new martyrs, and your choice to give yourselves to each other in holy wedlock – freely, exclusively, totally, faithfully, irrevocably and fruitfully – is itself an heroic act in this day and age! Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church, will consecrate your free act of self-gift by joining it to His own martyrdom as a Sacrament, i.e. a living and effective sign to the world of His saving death and glorious resurrection! The two of you, with hands joined, will become fountains of Christ lavishing graces, everything you will need to remain faithful to your exalted vocation.

Educating your children is a tall order! But the beauty is that we never have to do it alone. We are part of a Church that is a Family of families, a living Body of Christ in which all are concerned for the well-being of all. At least that’s our mission. Rely on the support of others, and pass on to those less fortunate than you the good things you have received. We are made in weakness that we might supply for one another. Be sure to consult often with your wiser elders, and teach your children to do the same. Remember your Baptismal anniversaries and use plenty of holy water to keep grace fresh. Frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation – together, and one day as a family – and stay close to the Holy Eucharist, which is the source and summit of your lives. See yourselves as architects of wonder who encourage the love of learning, and strive to build a home transparent, like a sacrament, to the presence of God. Read the Scriptures daily, pray together as often as possible and often intercede before God for your children, offering up for them many secret sacrifices. Give alms to the poor and teach your children to do the same. Keep close to the Mother of God and your patron saints, and talk often about saints on earth and in heaven. Practice hospitality, cultivate domestic stability, nurture a strong work ethic by giving out chores, practice frugality and generosity as stewards of God’s manifold gifts. Practice discipline of the tongue, bless your adversaries, speak well of others and criticize only when required by justice or charity…

Promo: Feminine Geniuses in NOLA

The Church sees in the face of women the reflection of a beauty which mirrors the loftiest sentiments of which the human heart is capable: the self-offering totality of love; the strength that is capable of bearing the greatest sorrows; limitless fidelity and tireless devotion to work; the ability to combine penetrating intuition with words of support and encouragement. — St. John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater

The hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of women is being acknowledged in its fullness, the hour in which women acquire in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment when the human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women imbued with a spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling — Closing Message of the Second Vatican Council 1965

I’d like to promo an event here in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. It’s a series sponsored by Notre Dame Seminary, University Ministry at Loyola University, the Women’s Resource Center at Loyola University and the Loyola Institute for Ministry that will be held in Metairie at the Retreat Center of the Archdiocese of New Orleans on September 17, 24, October 1, 8, 2015, from 7:00-8:30 pm.

Five extraordinary women will be offering a series of reflections on the God-given dignity and unique vocation of women, as drawn from the wisdom of St. John Paul II’s 1988 papal apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women).  Each part of the series includes reflection on the theology and spirituality of this document, as well as opportunity for prayer and discussion.

I cannot recommend this event highly enough. Full details can be found here: http://dzsj18.wix.com/noladignityvocation

I know each of these women, and can attest each brings a unique gift, depth, beauty and experience of the gift of femininity lived out in faith. Here they are:

Jill Cabes

Sarah Denny

Daniella Zsupan-Jerome, Ph.D


Susie Veters

Jennifer E. Miller, S.T.D.


Crickets, Give Thanks and Praise!

Repost 2013

I am overwhelmed by an unusual sense of gratitude today, a strange thankfulness for a fact that I mostly overlook and take for granted: that creation exists at all. That I exist. I felt overwhelmed with appreciation that I, and all things, have received from our common Creator an irrevocable vocation: to be. As I thought of the phrase, “God has called all things into being,” I realized that simply existing gives me a rock-solid sense of meaning, of value, of purpose. Abiding in the divine gaze: “Very good!” (Genesis 1:31). Every other vocation builds on that one. Today, being super-sufficed to fill me with joy.

Because I agree with Hans Christian Andersen’s comment, “Where words fail, music speaks,” I would like to steal some music from creation to fittingly sing to God, sing a new song. Someone who knew I loved nature sent me a link to an article with an audio embedded in it. I found what I heard so astonishingly beautiful — sat and listened for almost an hour — that I just had to share it with you. The article says, “Composer Jim Wilson has recorded the sound of crickets and then slowed down the recording. The crickets sound like they are singing with an angelic chorus in perfect harmony. Though it sounds like human voices, everything you hear in the recording is the crickets themselves.”

Enjoy the Cricket Symphony:

And then pray the cosmic liturgy of creation those crickets join in on:

Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord
Praise and exalt Him above all forever
Angels of the Lord bless the Lord.
You heavens, bles the Lord
All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord
All you hosts of the Lord, Bless the Lord
Sun and Moon, Bless the Lord
Stars of heaven, bless the Lord.
Every shower and dew, bless the Lord.
All you winds, bless the Lord
Fire and Heat, bless the Lord

Cold and chill, bless the Lord
Dew and rain, bless the Lord
Frost and chill, bless the Lord
Ice and Snow, bless the Lord
Nights and days, bless the Lord
Light and darkness, bless the Lord
Lightings and clouds, bless the Lord

Let the earth bless the Lord
Praise and exalt Him above all forever.

Mountains and hills, bless the Lord
Everything growing from the earth, bless the Lord
You sprints, bless the Lord
Seas and rivers, bless the Lord
You dolphins and all water creatures, bless the Lord
All you birds of the air, bless the Lord.
All you beasts, wild and tame, bless the Lord
You sons of men, bless the Lord.

O Israel, bless the Lord
Praise and exalt Him above all forever.

Priests of the Lord, bless the Lord
Servants of the Lord, bless the Lord
Spirits and souls of the just, bless the Lord.
Holy men of humble heart, bless the Lord.
Hananiah, Azariah, Mishael, bless the Lord.

Praise and exalt Him above all forever. — Daniel 3:57-88

“Only faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6)


Fr. Tom Hopko:

…So then, you have what I consider personally to be the most terrifying paragraph in the New Testament. These are the most scary and terrifying verses in the New Testament. This is what Jesus says, and this is how the Sermon ends. He says:

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father, who is in Heaven. On that day many will come, and they will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not cast out demons in your name? Did we not do many mighty works in your name?”

Three times, it says, “In your name.” And within the name, one is “prophecy,” which means to teach the truth of God. One is “casting out demons,” which means to heal the diseases and madness of the world. And the other is “mighty acts,” or miracles. And just for fun, let’s add, “Did we not serve the Divine Liturgy in your name? Didn’t we go to church in your name? Didn’t we organize the conference in your name? Didn’t we go to Guatemala in your name?”

Jesus continues, “And then I will declare to them, I never knew you. Depart from me you evildoers.” Could you imagine that? You say to the Lord, “I prophesied in your name. I did miracles in your name. I did healings in your name. I did all these things in your name my whole life. I walked around in a dress, with a cross on it, in your name.” And He says, “Depart from me you evildoer. I did not know you.”

What does that mean? What it means is that you can do all these things and even do them in the name of Christ, but you did not do them according to the law of God, which is love and mercy and forgiveness without vanity or conceit.

Now He adds, “…only the one who does the will of my Father in Heaven,” and here, all the Holy Fathers will unanimously say that ascetical actions in themselves are not necessarily the will of God in Heaven. Miracles and prophecy and teaching and casting out demons are not necessarily the will of God in Heaven. Don’t ever think just because someone works signs and wonders means they’re the real deal. The real deal miracle worker is only the one who loves enemies, is humble and doesn’t feed on attention. Miracles and mystical flights and ascetical feats can cover up brilliantly the fact that we’re totally full of ourselves. As Fr. Schmemann liked to say, all too often mysticism becomes nothing but mist, I, and schism.

Jesus is very clear in the Sermon on the Mount: loving, forgiving, being poor in spirit, mourning, meekness, hungering and thirsting for justice, being merciful and pure in heart, peacemaking, being persecuted for doing right and not for being arrogant; and doing all I do, as much as possible, hidden in secret — that is the will of God in Heaven. And that alone saves a person.

So the Holy Fathers say that no one was ever saved for not eating meat. The devils never eat. No one was ever saved for sleeping on the ground or giving up sleep. The demons never sleep. And no one was ever saved by doing a miracle or giving a talk. You’re only saved when you do the will of God, which is to love with the love with which God has loved us in Christ. St. Thérèse, a Roman Catholic saint, said it perfectly: “It is only love that makes us acceptable to God.” So it’s love, and it’s also humility. Real humility. Humility ready to confess our total failure to love this way. Only then we can receive the mercy of God. So we’re saved by love and by humility. Real humility that’s brutally honest before God, before others and ourselves. God’s mercy can only teach us to love if we’re humble, able to be absolutely honest like the Publican in the synagogue: “Have mercy on me a sinner!”

Dostoevsky really got this kind of humilty and mercy. In Crime and Punishment, he puts these words in the mouth of the drunk, Marmaladov, whose daughter, Sonya, becomes a prostitute to feed his family that’s starving because he’s a drunk. The father’s talking about the eternal fate of his messed up family. He’s willing to see things as they really are. No self-delusion here. I’ll read it to you so you can feel its full power.

God will come in that day and He will ask: “Where is the daughter who gave herself for her angry, consumptive stepmother and for the little children of another? Where is the daughter who had pity upon the filthy drunkard, her earthly father, undismayed by his beastliness?” And He will say, “Come to me! I have already forgiven thee once. Thy sins which are many are forgiven thee, for thou hast loved much.” And He will forgive my Sonya, He will forgive, I know it… I felt it in my heart when I was with her just now! And He will judge and will forgive all, the good and the evil, the wise and the meek. And when He has done with all of them, then He will summon us. “You too come forth,” He will say, “Come forth, ye drunkards, come forth, ye weak ones, come forth, ye children of shame!” And we shall come forth without shame and shall stand before Him, and He will say unto us, “Ye are swine made in the image of the Beast and with his mark; but come ye also!” And the wise ones and those of understanding will say, “O Lord, why dost thou receive these men?” And He will say, “This is why I receive them, O ye wise, this is why I receive them, O ye of understanding, that not one of them believed himself to be worthy of this.” And He will hold out His hands to us and we shall fall down before Him, and we shall weep, and we shall understand all things! Then we shall understand all!




People don’t live in New Orleans because it is easy. They live here because they are incapable of living anywhere else in the just same way. — Ian McNulty

One of the most extraordinary things I have discovered about New Orleans (and here I include the surrounding region of SE Louisiana) is its firm hold on the people who call it home. In general, there is a profound devotion and love among residents for this city. While I know that love for your city or town is not unusual, there is something here about people’s love and devotion that I find singularly unique in my (admittedly) limited experience. How can I say it? Maybe I can say that people have very deep roots here, and that they really identify with New Orleans’ colorful culture in a way I am not accustomed. One lifelong resident said to me that living in New Orleans is like having an addiction. But, he added, unlike a drug or alcohol addiction, you feel freest and most yourself when you finally succumb to its allure. It’s all been a beautiful thing to experience for us, and my wife and I feel very committed to retiring here. Unless they exile me for my Yankee leanings.

But Katrina really is the word I would use to most forcefully describe the uniqueness of my experience of the Big Easy. There’s hardly a day that’s passed these three years my family and I have lived here when I don’t hear the word “Katrina” spoken by someone. Seriously. To be a New Orleanean, I have discovered, is to be forever marked by Katrina. Like 9/11 for New Yorkers. But to be a New Orleanean is also to be fiercely committed to keeping this city alive, with its rich cultural heritage, tight network of families and very old faith. When we first moved here people in our neighborhood were anxious to convince us that the New Orleans projected by the media to the world after Katrina was not their New Orleans. Their New Orleans was about people helping people, about the will to survive and go on, about hard work and a passion to rebuild. The Papal Nuncio Carlo Maria Viganò said it well in his message to New Orleans sent earlier this month: “While Hurricane Katrina took away your homes, churches, public buildings, and even the lives of your loved ones, she did not take away your determination to rebuild. Such perseverance is an expression of your faith in God.”

In honor of the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s devastating blow on the Gulf Coast, I asked a friend, colleague and native New Orleanean, Mrs. Susie Veters, to share her own experience of living through those days. She, her husband and family represent for my wife and I what we love most about New Orleans: family, faith, joy and friendship. I am grateful she said yes to my request…


Our Lakeview home one week after Katrina

I was recently asked to write a reflection on how Katrina changed my world.  Before I jump into that, I need to preface my remarks with a few thoughts about the events.  Before Katrina, my husband and I were never “evacuators.”  We “hunkered down” (a favorite New Orleanian phrase), we bought supplies, we filled our bath tubs with water (in case the City water supplies failed), we bought gas for our generator, and more importantly called around to see who else was silly enough to stay for the hurricane so that we could decide who would have the hurricane party when the weather died down.  What was the worst thing that could happen – loss of electricity and a couple of days of no school and work?!   Well, luckily we knew better than to stay for Katrina.  We watched Katrina from a friend’s deer camp in Alabama.  We watched as reports of flooding rolled in, as thousands of our citizens remained trapped on roof tops and interstate overpasses and, literally, as our city burned.  It was an out of body experience that one cannot really describe.  When we finally heard that our neighborhood was one of the hardest hit, I felt like the breath had been knocked out of me.  I was sure my world as I knew it was over.  We packed our car with the little clothes we brought and headed to Houston to find a new home and a school for our children.  We felt like the Beverly Hillbillies (a reference that only us baby boomers will get!)  Without a doubt the thing I mourned most during the days, weeks and months that followed was not my possessions, but the thought that the awesome parish community we lived in, St. Dominic’s, was lost.  Luckily that was not the case.  We came back.  We rebuilt our house. We did what we could to get our parish up and running.  I came to realize that the quality of life is not measured by the stuff we possess but by the relationships that give us life.  I also learned that a community of faith is the rock upon which everything else is built.  Once St. Dominic was up and running I believed that things would be ok.   I cannot describe the joy the first time our parish came together to celebrate Mass.  It was at that moment that I knew that what we lost was not the issue; instead it was what we still had that mattered most. And so how did Katrina change my world? It made me come to a much deeper appreciation of my faith, my family, and my friends.  It was a 3D experience of how much we rely on each other.  It made me appreciate the kindness of strangers and enkindled in me a need to give back in a way I had not previously experienced.  I don’t regret Katrina for one moment.  She gave us much more than she took!