Column: My Dear Family

This column contains articles published posthumously from the writings of Catherine Doherty.

Go Forth and Proclaim the Good News — by Catherine Doherty. The foreign missions, the fringes Pope Francis talks about, and very likely your neighbourhood and/or your work place: today so much of the world is mission territory. Catherine Doherty’s vision of mission is as pertinent now... (May 04, 2016)

Showing the Wounds of Love — by Catherine Doherty. Today, in this confused world, how do people find Christ? It seems to me that the answer to this question is exceedingly simply: They meet him in a real Christian.  ... (April 22, 2016)

He Can Count on God — by Catherine Doherty. We are anawim before God. An anawim is a biblical word meaning a nobody, the poor man of the Lord, the poor man of the beatitudes.... (March 18, 2016)

Confession: The Kiss of Christ — by Catherine Doherty. When I was a young girl, my mother said, "Catherine, it’s time for you to go to confession and be kissed by Christ." Isn’t that a nice introduction for a child? So I would go to... (February 10, 2016)

The Holy Family Were Refugees — When Catherine wrote this article about refugees in 1981, she didn’t need to "identify" with them. She herself was a refugee. During the Russian Revolution, she and her husband, like hundreds of thousands today, had to leave everything they had... (January 01, 2016)

Celebration: The Choice to Live in Light — by Catherine Doherty. True celebration, whether of Advent, Christmas, a birthday, or even the beauty of a flower, opens our hearts to God and is a prayer of praise to him. It is also a vehicle of evangelization. No... (December 02, 2015)

Are You Ever Lonely? — by Catherine Doherty. We all suffer from loneliness, one way or another.... (November 02, 2015)

Walking on the Water — by Catherine Doherty. "I am the light of the world," said Christ (John 9:5). Since he has come, we are no longer living in the shadow of death. We can live in light. But light is only light in... (October 02, 2015)

Is Your Heart Divided? — by Catherine Doherty. God is love, and where God is, love is. What role does God play in your life? And, how much do you really love him and one another? Stop and think for a moment.... (September 28, 2015)

Now! Now! Now! — by Catherine Doherty. The following is a very early letter to the members of Madonna House, the letter Fr. Pat McNulty talks about in his previous article.... (July 24, 2015)

The Secret of Mary — by Catherine Doherty. Do you want to know the secret of Mary? The first step is the consecration to Mary according to the Act of Total Consecration of St. Louis de Montfort.... (May 05, 2015)

Hope — by Catherine Doherty. Hope is a word little understood, although we use it often*. Yet, as our life unfolds, hope becomes elusive. We are almost afraid to believe in it, to hold it close, to use it as a... (April 10, 2015)

You Will Hear the Holy Spirit — by Catherine Doherty. Listen with your hearts and your souls. Listen with an ear attuned, with expectation, desire, and love, and you will hear the coming of the wind of the Holy Spirit. This wind is mightier than any... (March 20, 2015)

How Unfit I Am! — by Catherine Doherty. In this diary entry from December 1934, Catherine Doherty shows that she had the same kind of struggles as the rest of us. She was in her thirties at the time and heading Friendship House Toronto,... (February 05, 2015)

Nazareth: The School of Love —  by Catherine Doherty. Somewhere in my childhood I was already attracted to Nazareth. I wanted to become a member of the Holy Family, to be a servant girl, someone who would go for the water—for the well was probably... (January 05, 2015)

A Sad and Glad Christmas — by Catherine Doherty. Our foundress wrote this Christmas letter to her Madonna House family in 1976. It was prophetic: her words are even truer now than they were then. I want you, with a desire that is almost too hard... (December 22, 2014)

It’s All Right to Be a Failure — by Catherine Doherty. I would like to talk about failure. In this strange world of North America, in Canada and the U.S.A., failure is seen as the end of the road. That’s a strange thing, isn’t it, for Christians.... (November 07, 2014)

The Silence Within — by Catherine Doherty. Deserts, silence, and solitudes are not necessarily places but states of mind and heart. These deserts can be found in the midst of the city, and in every day of our lives. We need only to... (October 10, 2014)

The Call to Priesthood — by Catherine Doherty. The year was 1951. In North America the future seemed bright and the Church in very good shape; vocations to the priesthood were more than plentiful. In that year, Father Rawley Myers, a diocesan priest and director... (September 01, 2014)

Shopkeeping for God — by Catherine Doherty. Our gift shop is not only a vehicle for raising money for the poor, but it is also an apostolate in itself through our contacts with those who come as customers.... (July 24, 2014)

The Holy Spirit is There for You — by Catherine Doherty. The Holy Spirit is there for you under many conditions. Sometimes you are confronted with a very important decision and you feel that you should talk to the Holy Spirit about it. What you think seems... (May 08, 2014)

How Death Became Life — by Catherine Doherty. Death was born on a flaming day—at least that was the way she remembered it. For when she came forth, full-grown, into the world it was alight with the colors of fire. The light seemed to... (April 02, 2014)

We Are Saved Sinners — by Catherine Doherty. Baptism washes away our sin, but we can, of course, still sin any time. The Lord … left man free to make his own decisions (Eccl 15:14). God knows that after Baptism we will continue to... (March 10, 2014)

The Church and I — by Catherine Doherty. This was probably written in the 1970s and the examples used are even older. But in its essence, it could have been written today. I have always loved the Church. This is a very strange statement to... (February 03, 2014)

Identifying with the Poor — by Catherine Doherty. I have often spoken of identification with the poor. This is an identification that only love can achieve by complete forgetfulness of self and total concern for the other person.... (January 17, 2014)

A Bridge Between East and West — by Catherine Doherty. Catherine Doherty didn’t initiate; she waited on people and events. She listened to the Spirit, and when events happened, she moved with them. Bringing the rich religious tradition of Russia to Madonna House was no exception. Here,... (November 13, 2013)

Hospitality of the Heart — by Catherine Doherty. Love has no limits. Christian love is allowing Christ to love through our own hearts. Without his loving us, none of us could love the way he wants us to. That means emptying ourselves from our... (October 21, 2013)

Oh Holy Cross! — by Catherine Doherty. September, the month of many feast days. Our Lady’s birthday. The Exaltation of the Cross. The Seven Sorrows of Mary. And others. Yet mind and heart seem to be attracted to the CROSS. Perhaps because nature all... (September 12, 2013)

Before You Move to the Country — by Catherine Doherty. As I sit before my lovely large cross in my cabin on the island, I wonder what has happened to us as human beings. All of us hunger for the open spaces and the simple life—but few... (July 04, 2013)

A Nursing Story — by Catherine Doherty. Catherine liked to reminisce about her early years in Combermere. Here is one of her favorite stories—and one of ours, too. The day had been hard. The bed was so wonderful. Sleep was instantaneous and deep.... (May 09, 2013)

Easter: Hope for the World — by Catherine Doherty. Christ is risen! Alleluia! Truly he is risen! Once again, these words echo and re-echo across the world, for it is Eastertide. Once again Christians realize that God is with us unto the end of time.... (April 01, 2013)

This Lent, This Easter — by Catherine Doherty. Lent, Easter, the conditions of the world …. Though Catherine wrote this in 1981, you’d think she was talking about today. Does anyone understand that Lent is a joyous season? True, it is also a season... (March 29, 2013)

Lent: A Path to New Life — by Catherine Doherty. Our road is rough at times. We pray, "Lord, show me your path." Then when he does this, we draw back. We draw back into ourselves, not necessarily walking his paths. We stand still because we... (February 01, 2013)

Ottawa Beginnings — by Catherine Doherty. In August 1973, Catherine wrote the following article to introduce the readers of Restoration to the Ottawa house. It was a new kind of venture—the first of our houses that did not perform a concrete work... (January 07, 2013)

Where Love Is, God Is — by Catherine Doherty.  Where was Christ born? In a quiet, dry cave, of which there are so many in the Holy Land, and which probably was close to an inn. That is where God was born.... (December 24, 2012)

When All Is Said And Done — by Catherine Doherty. What is our spirituality when all is said and done? I see us silently, in a manner of speaking, doing little ordinary things men and women do everywhere, always with an immense, burning love, knowing that... (November 21, 2012)

Now That I Am Old — by Catherine Doherty. I feel closed in. I have reached the age where people hem me in on all sides. I am not free anymore. In many ways I cannot dispose of myself. Everything in me seems to be... (October 01, 2012)

Getting Ready for the Year of Faith — by Catherine Doherty. When I was a young wife in Petrograd, the city was in chaos when the communists took over. My husband Boris and I were sleeping on the floor after everything was taken away from us. I... (September 03, 2012)

A Paper With a Punch — by Catherine Doherty. Ever since the foundation of our first house, called Friendship House, in Toronto in 1930, I realized the need for an apostolic newspaper. This paper would present the principles and truths of our faith, but with... (July 05, 2012)

Listening to Nature — by Catherine Doherty. The green wall around my island is thick now, and the island has become a green cell. Few people going in boats down the river or looking at my island from the mainland, would guess there... (June 26, 2012)

A Triumphant Love Song — by Catherine Doherty. The Gospel of Christ’s Resurrection fills the heart with joy! Our mind nearly stops, because it knows that this news is more astounding than the burning bush in the Old Testament. We not only have to... (April 03, 2012)

Loneliness and Love — by Catherine Doherty. Do we realize how utterly, tragically lonely man is, especially in our Western world? The only way we can begin to assuage this loneliness which cries out for help at the top of its voice in... (February 01, 2012)

The Duty of the Moment — by Catherine Doherty. All through my childhood and early youth, I was indoctrinated with the fact that the duty of the moment was the duty of God.... (January 11, 2012)

First Christmas in Combermere — by Catherine Doherty. Catherine’s first winter in Combermere was a difficult one. She and her husband Eddie had little money, the cold was bitter, and except for Grace Flewwelling, or "Flewy," as she was called, it would be a... (December 23, 2011)

Bringers of Joy — by Catherine Doherty. This letter to priests was written long before the sexual abuse scandals of recent years. Had she written it today, Catherine might have done so differently, but she would not have changed her essential message. Her... (November 11, 2011)

Be Gentle With Yourself — by Catherine Doherty. On Holy Saturday, while I was in the poustinia, a strange word came to me. And since the word that one receives in the poustinia is sometimes meant for everybody, I bring it to you. The word... (October 19, 2011)

The Holiness of Work — by Catherine Doherty. At times it seems we have lost all sense of direction. Truth hides her face from us because we have turned away from her source, God. We tread water and beguile ourselves into thinking that we... (September 02, 2011)

How Do You Find Christ? — by Catherine Doherty. Today, across a confused world, people are seeking God. They are seeking the real Christ, the Christ of the Gospel, the one they have read about but cannot seem to find. In this seeking, people ask... (July 05, 2011)

Living Between Two Masses — by Catherine Doherty. Indeed living the Gospel is hard, but God will give us strength. Everything can be borne between two Masses.... (May 19, 2011)

Icons and Icon Painters — by Catherine Doherty. In Eastern Christianity, icons are not just another form of religious art, in the way we of the West see religious art. And the iconographer, the one who paints them, is not simply an artist. Joan... (April 26, 2011)

We Need Silence — by Catherine Doherty. It seems to me, as I sit by my window at eventide, that what we need is a true encounter with our Brother, Jesus Christ. We need to open ourselves completely to the work of the Holy... (March 25, 2011)

The Shepherd’s Flute — by Catherine Doherty. Have you ever heard a shepherd’s flute in Scotland or in Jerusalem? It is so haunting, so enticing, so irresistible that you have to follow the sound and go see where it comes from. The Good Shepherd’s... (February 08, 2011)

Are We Christians? — by Catherine Doherty. We should ask ourselves: are we Christians? To be a Christian means to live in such a faith and commitment to Christ, that it will revolutionize—turn upside down—not only our lives but the lives of others.... (January 25, 2011)

Journey Inward — by Catherine Doherty. Catherine wrote this as a poem. We suggest you read it as such—slowly. Somewhere along the road of life, by the grace of God, my soul woke up, and its hunger became a fire, a fire that... (December 27, 2010)

Love God Madly — by Catherine Doherty. Love God madly—there is so little time—is a motto that comes to mind, or should, this holy month of November, the month of all the saints of heaven. The known or canonized ones, the unknown ones, the... (November 08, 2010)

We Are Incredibly One — by Catherine Doherty. Christ gave us a Church by his coming. He is the Head and we are the members. That the Church is a body we find again and again in the Sacred Scriptures. Now stop for a moment.... (October 11, 2010)

Failure: A Path to Success — by Catherine Doherty. How often do we look at ourselves and feel that we are total failures? We grow older, we look at our lives, and we don’t feel there is anything in them worth recording. We feel we have... (September 14, 2010)

Apostolic Farming — by Catherine Doherty. Our farm was born very humbly and simply, in "blood, sweat, and tears," in endless discussion, with much frustration, and also in much beauty and with much perseverance. Let us look at this farm as I saw... (July 12, 2010)

Choosing Hope — by Catherine Doherty. As our life unfolds, hope tends to become elusive. We are almost afraid to believe in it, to hold it close, to use it as a compass for our life. Yes, it dims with the years, and... (April 12, 2010)

Forgiveness — by Catherine Doherty. We must forgive the society from which we came; we must forgive the ways it has hurt us.... (March 03, 2010)

What Is a Priest? — by Catherine Doherty. Our foundress Catherine Doherty gave the following talk in the 1970s before the current revelations of sexual abuse by priests. Had she written it now, her style and approach would have been different. Her essential vision of... (February 01, 2010)

Listening to God — by Catherine Doherty. To me, prayer has always been a matter of listening. All my life, I have desired passionately to listen to God. When I was a little girl, I used to run in the low hills which were... (January 20, 2010)

Story Telling — by Catherine Doherty. How we love stories! Why are they so powerful in helping us understand and remember deep truths about life? Isn’t it because stories are closer to life than mere ideas?... (December 14, 2009)

The Blessed Souls in Purgatory — by Catherine Doherty. The Church dedicates the entire month of November to the souls in purgatory. Why a whole month? And why do we Catholics call them "the poor souls?" How can a soul assured of the golden, blinding glory... (November 11, 2009)

The Spirituality of Machines — by Catherine Doherty. Catherine wrote this for the repairmen of Madonna House, but it can speak to anyone. For who does not use machines? God the Inventor, God the Creator, looked at man, smiled, and found him very good. Man... (October 02, 2009)

Conforming to the World — by Catherine Doherty. In order to be understood and heard, must the Church conform to the world and its ideas? If by conform is meant change and adaptation in order to express eternal truths in a way more understandable to... (September 18, 2009)

Spiritual Direction — by Catherine Doherty. What is a spiritual director? A spiritual director is a priest who, with the grace of his priesthood, has also received the grace of guiding souls to the Father, through Jesus Christ, our Brother.... (July 10, 2009)

A Vision of Art — by Catherine Doherty. I want to record some thoughts and ideas that have come to me in prayer about the artists of Madonna House. First and foremost I see the Madonna House artists as humble people. Humility means living in... (May 06, 2009)

Christ is Risen! — by Catherine Doherty. Alleluia! Christ is risen! Verily he is risen! Because he has, darkness has been conquered by light, death by life, and hate by love. Now the world lives in the resurrected Christ.... (April 12, 2009)

Hearing the Voice of God — by Catherine Doherty. I believe that God inspires and draws people, but when he does, it invariably makes some kind of sense in terms of the circumstances surrounding that person’s life. A woman once wrote to see if she could... (March 06, 2009)

Hospitality of the Heart — by Catherine Doherty. What the world needs most today is the hospitality of the heart. Hospitality of the heart means accepting all others as they are, allowing them to make themselves at home in one’s heart.... (February 12, 2009)

The Secret of Community — by Catherine Doherty. I was asked a while ago to speak to a group of religious concerning the "Formation of a Community of Love." What I had to say was simple, pertaining to what I consider to be the essence... (January 05, 2009)

A Remedy for Fear — by Catherine Doherty. When I was little, my father used to say that, if you were a real Christian, you would never be afraid of anything or anyone.... (November 05, 2008)

Living Between Two Masses — by Catherine Doherty. Your life as a lay person in the world is hard, and the life around you will be grim, even sordid at times. But God will give you strength. Everything can be borne between two Masses.... (October 15, 2008)

Making the Desert Bloom — by Catherine Doherty. Wild flowers, garden flowers—look at each one separately. If you do, you will lose yourself in its infinite perfection. Behold its colors, its form, the shape of its petals.... (July 01, 2008)

A Pathway to Hope — by Catherine Doherty. You hear all the beautiful readings in the liturgies during the Easter Season that say that Christ is risen, the bonds of sin have been broken, and the world has been renewed. And in our nitty-gritty way,... (April 02, 2008)

Holy Saturday — by Catherine Doherty. The stone was heavy. It took strong Roman soldiers to roll it across the entrance. The cave was cold. There wasn’t a chink that let in any light. The walls were hard. There was so little air,... (March 22, 2008)

The Good News About Guilt — by Catherine Doherty. We are riddled with guilt. One of the things people are worried about is God’s justice. People shake and say, "Oh, I am a louse. I am a sinner." Of course you are a sinner. But never... (February 04, 2008)

Letter to a Friend — by Catherine Doherty. Your long letter is still on my desk. I have read it and re-read it many times. It is that kind of letter. It demands all the attention and prayer I can give it. Yet it is... (January 09, 2008)

The Red Pump — by Catherine Doherty. In the last month of this year during which we celebrated the 60th anniversary of MH Combermere, we share with you a homey story from our early days. Truly all life speaks of the Lord. People, things,... (December 07, 2007)

The Moment Between Lives — by Catherine Doherty. As I was meditating on death, it seemed to me that we do not talk or think enough about this topic. We should, you know, because death is one of the most beautiful moments between lives. Since... (November 02, 2007)

The Earth is Angry — by Catherine Doherty. The stocky peasant with the square beard that tumbled down to the middle of his chest stood easily before my father. I heard his usually calm voice acquire a vehement accent: "No, sir," he said, "it doesn’t... (October 03, 2007)

Marriage: A Vocation to Holiness — by Catherine Doherty. Marriage is a vocation, a call from God, to two people to become one, to found a home, and to beget, bear, and raise children. In this glorious and hard vocation, husbands and wives are called to... (September 03, 2007)

Hospitality of the Heart — by Catherine Doherty. What the world needs most today is the hospitality of the heart. This hospitality is very profound, for hospitality of the heart means accepting each person as he or she is, allowing him to make himself at... (August 27, 2007)

Standing Room Only? — by Catherine Doherty. From the day of the first Pentecost, Mary the Mother of God was loved and venerated in the Church. Although she appears from the Gospels to have spoken very little, St. Luke brought her to the forefront... (May 31, 2007)

The Whisper of Trees — by Catherine Doherty. The earth has been called "God’s Book of Love for Man." She reveals his secrets to those who take time to search for them. Did not the Lord himself use examples from the earth for his parables... (April 16, 2007)

Plunging into the Sea of Mercy — Since God could create everything out of nothing, he can also, through the Holy Spirit, give spiritual life to sinners by creating a pure heart in them (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 298). With God, every moment is the moment... (March 02, 2007)

Encountering God — by Catherine Doherty. It seems strange to say, but what can help modern man find the answers to his own mystery, and the mystery of him in whose image he is created, is silence and solitude—in a word, the desert.... (February 02, 2007)

The Chitchat Apostolate — by Catherine Doherty. One of my techniques in loving others is what I call the "chitchat apostolate," a homey, person-to-person approach. It is a way of loving and of discovering the real needs of people, whether material or spiritual or... (January 19, 2007)

A Pathway to Joy — by Catherine Doherty. There’s more to celebration than you might think. What is celebration? Celebration doesn’t mean a big party with balloons, drinking, carousing, and in general creating a lot of noise to assure oneself that one is celebrating. It... (December 18, 2006)

Pauper? So What? — by Catherine Doherty. What does it matter if you are inadequate in your own estimation? What does it matter that you think you are not contributing too much to the Church?... (November 03, 2006)

The World is at War — by Catherine Doherty. Mary, teach us to pray! For see, you who are our mother and the Mother of God, somewhere along the dark road of the past decades, while we walked between war and uneasy peace, we have forgotten... (October 23, 2006)

A Dream Dreamt in God — by Catherine Doherty. We have a farm at Madonna House called "St. Benedict’s Acres." This farm was born out of a dream—a dream dreamt in the Lord. In the steaming streets of Harlem, in the cold, windy streets of the... (September 06, 2006)

When God Calls — by Catherine Doherty. God’s call doesn’t only come once when he calls us to our vocation. No, it comes over and over. Does anyone describe it with more fire than Catherine Doherty? There is a moment when God calls you.... (July 28, 2006)

Praying with Fire and Tears — by Catherine Doherty. I often meditate on holy cards. Yesterday I came across one that spoke of prayer as fire and tears. Yes, prayer comes from the heart, the heart that is on fire, and full of tears. If I... (May 04, 2006)

Can You Weigh Desire? — by Catherine Doherty. Preparation for Lent begins with desire. Can you weigh desire? Can you measure it with a yardstick? Can you unwrap it and know the chemical content? No, my friends, you can’t. Desire is like a flame; it... (March 08, 2006)

Walking on the Water — by Catherine Doherty. I am the light of the world, said Christ (Jn 8:12). Because he has come, we are no longer living in the shadow of death. We can live in light. But light is only light in contrast... (January 16, 2006)

The Cry of a Prophet — by Catherine Doherty. Chapter forty of the book of the prophet Isaiah contains some of the most beautiful passages in scripture. And these prophecies are eternal. They were not just meant for the time of Jerusalem. They are meant for... (December 02, 2005)

How Death Became Life — by Catherine Doherty. Death was born on a flaming day—at least that’s the way she remembered it. For when she came forth, full-grown into the world, it was alight with all the colors of fire. The light seemed to come... (November 04, 2005)

Beads on a String — by Catherine Doherty. I went outside for a bit today to enjoy the mild air and the autumn leaves. Sitting in my Russian shrine, I was thinking—of all things—about the rosary, the neglected, rejected rosary.... (October 07, 2005)

A Sign From the East — by Catherine Doherty (1968). There are moments in human lives that are truly inexpressible—moments when one gropes for words that all shrink into nothingness before the happenings or thoughts that occur in this once-in-a-lifetime business. Some ten years ago (in... (September 19, 2005)

Listening to God — by Catherine Doherty. We tend to pray with great intensity for the things we want, but do we ever think of praying for what God wants? Usually when our desire for something “cools off,” so does our prayer. It is... (July 18, 2005)

The Hearbeats of God — by Catherine Doherty. How in heaven’s name will we be able to face a lifetime broken into small particles of days that will bring us doubts, temptations, and fears? How in heaven’s name will we stand up to that grind... (May 06, 2005)

Evangelization is Simple — by Catherine Doherty. This was written 30 years ago, and the delightful examples Catherine used from her childhood and from Harlem in the 1940’s are even older. But as always, her message is timeless. “Evangelization” is a word that I... (April 27, 2005)

The Feast of Feasts — by Catherine Doherty. Catherine often told us about her childhood in Russia, not because she loved to reminisce (which, perhaps, she did), but to give us glimpses, concrete pictures, and a vision of a culture in which life and faith... (March 26, 2005)

The Bright Sadness — by Catherine Doherty. In the Russia of my childhood we felt deeply that the way to the cross—to Golgotha—is always filled with a “bright sadness,” for Christ is etched on the cross against a fantastic light, an explosion, a transfiguration:... (February 01, 2005)

Where Love Is God Is — by Catherine Doherty.  “God’s peace be upon you.” “And may it abide in you, too.” How familiar to me, and how beloved, is the memory of this greeting and its response, heard so many times in my childhood and youth!... (January 01, 2005)


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