Peggy Writes


Back To School, Prayer

Back to school 2014

This week our five children returned to school.  Our oldest entered 8th grade and our baby, kindergarten.   The beginning of a new school year brings excitement and a return to routine in our daily life: homework, extra-curricular activities, dinner as a family at the table, and earlier bedtimes.  During the summer, when our schedules were more relaxed, I had set a personal goal of reading small bits of scripture with my children, hoping the stories would become more ingrained in their heart and mind, and that they would come to know better who Jesus was to them.  Our 4th grader was very interested in reading her children’s bible on most nights, but I wasn’t as successful as I had hoped with the others.  As parents, we establish the family values, goals and expectations; I wonder which ones will take root and still be with my children when they are grown.

Summer also brought a fall for my mom, resulting in fractures that required her to spend 7 weeks in a rehab center.  Because she would be going home with a walker, my siblings decided to de-clutter her house to make getting around easier for her.  Have you ever cleaned out your parents’ home, while they were in the hospital, or after they passed away?  It can be a rather odd experience, going through their drawers, closets, and personal belongings, finding old letters that were written to loved ones, jewelry that had been saved from a deceased relative or everyday items that were stashed in a special drawer, clues to what your mom or dad held close.  Sifting through your parents’ possessions while trying to protect their privacy and dignity can be an overwhelming, frustrating and emotional experience.  (I’m blessed that my older siblings let me “off the hook” this time, and shared this chore between them.)

My mom is turning 85 at the end of the month, and has been known for writing in a journal. She jotted down memories of us growing up in little notebooks or even scraps of paper, and documented important dates or events with a photo attached. She even recorded details of my dad’s deteriorating health last year as she cared for him up to his death.  My mom also wrote down many prayers and scripture passages over the years that were meaningful to her.  While tidying her home, my eldest sister, Debbie, found this prayer. It was typed on an old-fashioned type writer, and the paper was slightly yellowed.  It was tucked into a big stack of books in the corner of her home, and could have easily been overlooked.  My sister shared it with me, and it reminded me of my daily struggles and how I wrestle with who is in control: God or me?


Our Thinking versus God’s Promises

It’s impossible.

               All things are possible. (Luke 18:27)

 I’m too tired.

               I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28-30)

 Nobody really loves me.

               I love you. (John 3:16)

 I can’t go on.

               My grace is sufficient.  (11 Cor. 12:19)

 I can’t figure things out.

               I will direct your steps. (Proverbs 20:24)

 I can’t do it.

               You can do all things. (Phil 4:13)

 I’m not able.

                    I am able. (11 Co. 9:8)

 It’s not worth it.

               It will be worth it. (Rom. 8:28)

 I can’t forgive myself.

               I will supply all your needs. (Phil. 4:19)

 I’m afraid.

               I have not given you a spirit of fear. (11 Tim. 1:7)

I’m always worried and frustrated.

Cast all your cares on Me. (1 Peter 5:7)

I don’t have enough faith.

I’ve given everyone a measure of faith. (Rom. 12:8)

I’m not smart enough.

I give you wisdom. (1 Cor. 1:30)

I feel all alone.

I will never leave you or forsake you. (Heb. 13:5)


This prayer is a beautiful reminder that God’s promises are far better than what we come up with on our own, in our human condition. Often, we fall short when we rely on Our Thinking, but if we instead entrust ourselves to God’s Promises, our lives will be a lot easier!

This week is the one-year anniversary of my ministry, Creating Space, and my blog.  As I look back over the year, and even just this summer, I see that some things I had hoped to achieve didn’t happen; my children didn’t memorize scripture (a discipline I admire in our protestant brothers and sisters).  Yet in finding this prayer that my mom had tucked away, I can see how she relied on scripture throughout her life, and without using actual words, she taught me to do the same. Perhaps when my children are 45 they will find my old-fashion blog writings, and have a glimpse of how scripture played a part in my faith, and hopefully their own, as well.

This blog is based on the personal experiences and opinions of Peggy O’Flaherty. Any reproduction of the material in this blog may be used with written consent of the author by e-mail at

Peggy O’Flaherty, is a certified spiritual director, public speaker, blog writer, wife and mother of five children. Her recent writing projects include “New App For your Phone Connect your Parish, Growing the Faith, One Parish” and “Extending Compassion, Losing a Child & Evangelization” She is the Founder & President of Creating Space, LLC., a ministry helping people enrich their faith. Follow Peggy at


All Are Welcome – Gossip

This weekend I fell short of being the person I think God intended me to be.   I should have stood up for someone that was being talked about and couldn’t defend themselves.   Often I talk with individuals about the purpose of The Church, about The Body of The Church and how each one of us represents The Body of The Church.   I learned this lesson from my Dad, as he would say “We represent the church by our actions and our words.”   This hit home when our family attended mass this weekend and I heard the following song, I was reminded of the lessons my Dad taught me.


All Are Welcome

By Marty Haugen

“Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live.

A place where saints and children tell how hearts learn to forgive.

Built of hopes and dreams and visions, rock of faith and vault of grace.

Here the love of Christ shall end divisions;

All are welcome, all are welcome all are welcome in this place.”


When we fail to defend someone if they are present or not (if we gossip) aren’t we causing division?   The gossip divides us and others, as well as us from God.   Creating Space the name of my ministry has always been a way of life for me to find space in my life to reflect upon how I am living my life.   In this area of my life I have room for improvement.  I could say much more on this topic, but for now will just end with a short youtube video with this hymn.





Family Values – Teaching Our Children To Pray

This morning I was interviewed for a parenting article about the O’Flaherty Family values.  If I had to sum the interview up in two words it would be LOVE and FAMILY.  Both of these things in our family are rooted in our faith.   In continuing my summer plan to impart small bits of scripture to our children, I am blessed with the gospel reading for today which is from Matthew 6:7-15.

Jesus said to his disciples This is how you are to pray:

“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Cillian and Mother Mary

Back in 1965, Pope Paul VI had a little something to say about parents and their role in educating their children:

“Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators.(11) This role in education is so important that only with difficulty can it be supplied where it is lacking. Parents are the ones who must create a family atmosphere animated by love and respect for God and man, in which the well-rounded personal and social education of children is fostered. Hence the family is the first school of the social virtues that every society needs. It is particularly in the Christian family, enriched by the grace and office of the sacrament of matrimony, that children should be taught from their early years to have a knowledge of God according to the faith received in Baptism, to worship Him, and to love their neighbor. Here, too, they find their first experience of a wholesome human society and of the Church. Finally, it is through the family that they are gradually led to a companionship with their fellow men and with the people of God. Let parents, then, recognize the inestimable importance a truly Christian family has for the life and progress of God’s own people.” (Declaration on Christian Education, Gravissimum Educationis

Thanks to Amanda another blogger at Worthy of Agape, for her quote from the Pope.

Wondering if you can share what are two words that would express your family values?

This blog is based on the personal experiences and opinions of Peggy O’Flaherty. Any reproduction of the material in this blog may be used with written consent of the author by e-mail at Peggy O’Flaherty, is a certified spiritual director, public speaker, blog writer, wife and mother of five children. Her recent writing projects include “Who Is Listening?” and “Why Clean Your Garage?” She is the Founder & President of Creating Space, LLC., a ministry helping people enrich their faith. Follow Peggy at


Discover Your Spiritual Gifts


Pentecost Sunday is one of the most ancient feast of the Church, celebrated early enough to be mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles (20:16).    In that account we hear Jews from all over were gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish feast.  On that Sunday, ten days after our Lord’s Ascension, the Apostles and Blessed Virgin Mary were gathered in the Upper Room and suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a mighty wind and filled the whole house and then tongues as it were of fire sat upon each of them.   They were filled with the Holy Ghost and granted gifts of the Spirit.   The Apostles began preaching and about 3,000 were baptized that day.   Pentecost is often called “the birthday of the Church.”

Gifts of the Holy Spirit were not limited to the Apostles alone.   We receive gifts from the Holy Spirit, as well during baptism and then during Confirmation a friend of mine explained it as if the Holy Spirit comes in and stirs up those gifts, so we can go and share those with the world.     Over our life we see the benefits of our natural talents and strengthens, when have you had time to ponder the gifts you received from the Holy Spirit?    The Catherine of Siena Institute provides an amazing workshop, Called & Gifted that allows you time to see how God has blessed you with gifts.  The benefit of discovering your spiritual gifts will allow you to do the following:

Deepen Your Faith

Positively Impact Your Career

Enrich Your Family Life

Support Life Transitions

Simply Life and Provide Clarity

Saint Mary of Gostyn in Downers Grove, IL will be hosting a Called & Gifted workshop on July 19.  9:00 – 4:00.   Registration is available at  Lite breakfast and lunch will be included for the day at no charge.     Join us and find out how you are Called and how you are Gifted.   You can also review the Catherine of Siena website for workshops closer to your home    They do workshops internationally.


Feast of Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today is the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saint for today is Saint Joan of Arc.


From the Gospel of Luke we know that Mary traveled to Judah to spend time with Elizabeth, whom is also getting ready to bear a child.   We hear that when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”  My family made a New Years Resolution this year to focus on the Holy Family and we have been doing that in very small and simple ways.   This summer we are continuing that focus by spending time pondering short lines from sacred scripture.   Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.   How does it feel knowing we are also filled with the Holy Spirit?  We are all called as Christians to share the gift of the Holy Spirit with others.   Do you know the unique spiritual gifts that you have been given at baptism?


The Saint for today is Saint Joan of Arc, which I discovered on my favorite new app for my phone.   The OneParish app. reminded me that St. Joan of Arc is the patroness of soldiers and of France and she was also filled with the Holy Spirit.    As a young girl she entered into battle and defended her faith.   Did you know that each of us are called to be saints?   I know I have a great way to go on that journey and yet taking time to ponder the saints such as St. Elizabeth and St. Joan of Arc provide me an example to follow.

saint joan of arc

I hope you and your family can enjoy the summer months and some of my post from scripture and saints of the day.

Good Friday, The Interview With God and Pope John Paul Canonization Divine Mercy Novena

My 13 year-old daughter shared this short video with me today. The Interview with God is a nice reminder on Good Friday about the life we have been given and His endless love for us. Good Friday is also a good day to consider starting the Divine Mercy Novena, which is a 9 day prayer that leads up to Divine Mercy Sunday. This Divine Mercy Sunday is April 27 and is exceptional as Pope John Paul II will be canonized.

My experience has been that God provides great grace and healing over the next 9 days, through the devotion to the Divine Mercy chaplet. I hold someone who has passed away in the last 12 months close to my heart, along with anyone I know that needs special healing from physical illness or spiritual healing/conversion. Please consider reading more about Divine Mercy, the messages of Saint Faustina and her experience with the Lord via this link.

This blog is based on the personal experiences and opinions of Peggy O’Flaherty. Any reproduction of the material in this blog may be used with written consent of the author by e-mail at

Recent writing projects include:

Spring Sports, Family Dinner and Faith

New App For your Phone Connect your Parish, Growing the Faith, One Parish

Extending Compassion, Losing a Child & Evangelization”


Spring Sports, Family Dinner Table and Faith

IMG_5741Spring sports are upon us and for the first time in 10 years, we made a conscience decision for all 5 of our children to take a break from  spring sports.  A good friend of mine, who is a father of 3 children and very well respected in our community sent me this article.  I am sharing as I found it insightful and yet it may hit a nerve with some of my friends and followers.  Shane and I have realized that at times, our dinner routine has been sacrificed for sports and that our weekend schedule is ruled by running from field to field.   Father Bill Cullen often challenges us to consider, as a society what rules our Sunday schedule?  The desire to build our child’s athletic ability or our moral obligation to build the foundation of their spiritual well-being.   Would love your thoughts on this article…..


Your kid and my kid are not playing in the pros

Posted by on Tue, Mar 25, 2014 at 4:00 AM

I don’t care if your eight year old can throw a baseball through six inches of plywood. He is not going to the pros. I don’t care if your twelve-year-old scored seven touchdowns last week in Pop Warner; he is not going to the pros. I don’t care if your sixteen -year -old made first team all-state in basketball. He is not playing in the pros. I don’t care if your freshman in college is a varsity scratch golfer, averaging two under par. He isn’t playing in the pros. Now tell me again how good he is. I’ll lay you two to one odds right now and I don’t even know your kid, I have never even see them play, but I’ll put up my pension that your kid is not playing in the pros. It is simply an odds thing. There are far too many variables working against your child. Injury, burnout, others who are better, – these things are are just a fraction of the barriers preventing your child from becoming “the one.”

So how do we balance being the supportive parent who spends three hours a day driving all over hell’s half acre to allow our child to pursue his or her dream without becoming the supportive parent that drives all over hell’s half acre to allow our child to pursue OUR dream? When does this pursuit of athletic stardom become something just shy of a gambling habit? From my experience in the ER I’ve developed some insight in how to identify the latter.

1. When I inform you as a parent that your child has just ruptured their ACL ligament or Achilles tendon, if the next question out of your mouth is, “how long until he or she will be able to play?” You have a serious problem.

2.If you child is knocked unconscious during a football game and can’t remember your name let alone my name but you feel it is a “vital” piece of medical information to let me know that he is the starting linebacker and that the team will probably lose now because he was taken out of the game, you need to see a counselor.

3.  If I tell you that mononucleosis has caused the spleen to swell and that participation in a contact sport could cause a life threatening rupture and bleeding during the course of the illness and you then ask me, “could we just get some extra padding for around the spleen, would it be o.k. to play?” Someone needs to hit you upside the head with a two by four.

4.  If when your child comes in with a blood alcohol level of 250 after wrecking your Lexus and you ask if I can hurry up and get them out of the ER before the police arrive so as not to run the risk of her getting kicked off the swim team, YOU need to be put in jail.

I bet you think I’m kidding about the above patient and parent interactions. I wish I were, but I’m not. These are a fraction of the things I have heard when it comes to children and sports. Every ER doctor in America sees this. How did we get here? How did we go from spending our family times in parks and picnics, at movies and relatives houses to travel baseball and cheerleading competitions? When did we go from being supportive to being subtly abusive?

Why are we spending our entire weekends schlepping from county to county, town to town, state to state to play in some bullshit regional, junior, mid-west, southeast, invitational, elite, prep, all- state, conference, blah,blah,blah tourney? We decorate our cars with washable paint, streamers, numbers and names. Little carpool lines trekking down the interstate honking and waiving at each other like Rev. Jim Jones followers in a Kool-Aide line. Greyhounds, Hawks, Panthers, Eagles, Bobcats, Screaming Devils, Scorching Gonads or whatever other mascot adorns their jerseys. Little megaphone window stickers proclaiming “Ashley” or perhaps a baseball mitt with “Tyler #3.” It is time like these I wish my kids just shot skeet. That would make a hell of a window sticker, little bullet holes spelling their names, or perhaps a transparent dead quail with its head blown off and little feathers spelling out “Tyler #3.”

Somewhere along the line we got distracted, and the practice field became the dinner table of the new millennium. Instead of huddling around a platter of baked chicken, mash potatoes and fruit salad, we spend our evenings handing off our children like 4 x 200 batons. From baseball practice to cheerleading, from swimming lessons to personal training we have become the “hour-long” generation of five to six, six to seven, and seven to eight, selling the souls of our family for lacrosse try-outs. But why do we do this?

It’s because, just like everyone else, we are afraid. We are afraid that Emma will make the cheerleading squad instead of Suzy and that Mitch will start at first base instead of my Dillon. But it doesn’t stop here. You see, if Mitch starts instead of Dillon then Dillon will feel like a failure, and if Dillon feels like a failure then he will sulk and cower in his room, and he will lose his friends because all his friends are on the baseball team too, and if he loses his friends then he will start dressing in Goth duds and pierce his testicle and start using drugs, and listening to head banging music with his door locked. Then, of course, it’s just a matter of time until he’s surfing the net for neo-Nazi memorabilia, visiting gun shows and then opening fire in the school cafeteria. That is why so many fathers who bring their injured sons to the ER are so afraid that they won’t be able to practice this week, or that he may miss the game this weekend. Miss a game, you become a mass murderer – it’s that simple.

Suzy is a whole other story, though. You see, if she doesn’t make the cheerleading squad she will lose a whole bunch of friends and not be as popular as she should (and she is REAL popular) and if she loses some friends, she will be devastated, and all the cool kids will talk about her behind her back, so then she’ll sit in her room all day, and start eating Ding Dongs, and begin cutting at her wrists. Then, of course, it is only a matter of time until she is chatting on the Internet with fifty-year-old men and meeting up with them at truck stops. And that is why every mother is so frightened when her daughters have mononucleosis or influenza. Miss cheerleading practice for a week, and your daughter is doing porn. It’s that simple.

We have become a frightened society that can literally jump from point A to point Z and ignore everything in between. We spend so much time worrying about who might get ahead – and if we’re falling behind – that we have simply lost our common sense. Myself included.

There was a time when sick or injured children were simply sick or injured children.They needed bed rest, fluid, antibiotics and a limitation on activity. They just needed to get better. They didn’t NEED to get better.

I know, I know. Your family is different. You do all these things because your kid loves to compete, he loves the travel basketball, she loves the swim team, it’s her life, it’s what defines him. Part of that is certainly true but a big part of that isn’t. Tens of thousands of families thrive in this setting, but I’m telling you as a clinician, tens of thousands don’t. It is a hidden scourge in society today, taxing and stressing husbands, wives, parents and children. It is denying children the opportunity to explore literally thousands of facets of interests because of the fear of the need to “specialize” in something early, and that by not doing this your child will somehow be just an average kid. How do we learn to rejoice in the average and celebrate as a whole society the exceptional? I’m not sure, but I know that this whole preoccupation is unhealthy, it is dysfunctional and is as bad as alcoholism, tobacco abuse, or any other types of dependency.

I would love to have a son that is a pro athlete. I’d get season tickets; all the other fathers would point at me and I might get a chance to meet Sandy Koufax. It isn’t going to happen, though. But you know what I am certain will happen? I’ll raise self-reliant kids, who will hang out with me when I’m older, remember my birthday, care for their mother, take me to lunch, and the movies, buy me club level seats at Yankee Stadium on occasion, call me at least four times a week and let me in on all the good things in their life, and turn to me for some comfort and advice for all the bad things. I am convinced that those things just will not happen as much for parents of the “hour-long” generation. You can’t create a sense of family only at spring and Christmas break. It just won’t happen. Sure, the kids will probably grow up to be adequate adults. They’ll reflect on how supportive you were by driving them to all their games and practices and workouts. They’ll call the ER from a couple states away to see how mom’s doing but in time you’ll see that something will be missing, something that was sacrificed for a piano tutor, a pitching coach, a travel soccer tournament. It may take years, but in time, you’ll see.

Dr. Louis M. Profeta is an Emergency Physician Practicing in Indianapolis, Indiana.He is the author of the critically acclaimed book, The Patient in Room Nine Says He’s God.


This blog is based on the personal experiences and opinions of Peggy O’Flaherty. Any reproduction of the material in this blog may be used with written consent of the author by e-mail at peggy@creatingspaceinyourlife.comShe is the Founder & President of Creating Space, LLC., a ministry helping people enrich their faith. Follow Peggy at  Peggy O’Flaherty, is a certified spiritual director, public speaker, blog writer, wife and mother of five children. Her recent writing projects include:

40 Day Printable Lenten Calendar

New App For your Phone Connect your Parish, Growing the Faith, One Parish

Extending Compassion, Losing a Child & Evangelization”

Creating Space - Headshot - Peggy


Henri Nouwen The Return of the Prodigal Son

Lent started for me, after having just finished reading The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J.M. Nouwen.    Henri Nouwen’s reflection of Rembrandt painting is an amazing journey and a worthwhile read.  My brief reflection doesn’t accurately portray the impact this book has had on my spiritual journey, yet I wanted to share two takeaways.

The Prodigal Son

I grew up in a large close-knit family of 9 children.   My older brother, for a period of 10 years was separated from our family.   He was living out of state and was busy working.  He missed several major family events such as the birth of several of my children, my Father’s 75 birthday and all the holidays.   I was angry and hurt, but at the same time I also missed him.   Honestly, I was also indignant that he wasn’t around to help our parents.   I thought he didn’t care.    Eventually, he came home around the time my dad was dying.  During my dad’s final year my brother moved into their home, he rolled up his sleeves, opened up his heart and embraced all of their physical and emotional needs.

Having heard the Prodigal Son over the years and being in the midst of my brother being gone, I pictured myself as the elder brother.   One day during his absence, I remember visiting my mom and watching her tears and pain about her one lost sheep, her son.   At that time, I felt slighted and even annoyed that she would continue to care so deeply for him since he has not been around or even truly connected with us for over a decade.  Sitting in front of my mom, I had a feeling of emptiness in heart and a wondering of why she wasn’t recognizing me.  Henri Nouwen’s reflection brought those feelings to life for me, as well as the deeper internal pain I had experienced around that time.

“When I listen carefully to the words with which the elder son attacks his father ~~self-righteous, self-pitying, jealous words~~  I hear a deeper complaint.  It is the complaint that comes from a heart that feels it never received what it was due.  It is the complaint expressed in countless subtle and not-so-subtle ways, forming bedrock of human resentment.  It is the complaint that cries out: “I tried so hard, worked so long, did so much, and still I have not received what others get so easily.  Why do people not thank me, not invite me, not play with me, and not honor me, while they pay so much attention to those who take life so easily and so casually?”

I ordered a print of Rembrandt’s painting and it now hangs in our home, in a clear bright room over the piano.   Fifteen years have passed since sitting in-front of my mother and now I sit before this painting.   While I gaze on the younger son, the elder son and the father in this painting, I am mulling over Nouwen’s words and through my own prayer, I recognize I am also similar to the younger son.

“I am the prodigal son every time I search for unconditional love where it cannot be found.  Why do I keep ignoring the place of true love and persist in looking for it elsewhere?  Why do I keep leaving home where I am called a child of God, the Beloved of my Father?  I am constantly surprised at how I keep taking the gifts God has given me  ~~my health, my intellectual and emotional gifts~~ and keep using them to impress people, receive affirmation and praise, and compete for rewards, instead of developing them for the glory of God.”

Lent calls us into a time of prayer.   In prayer as we get to know ourselves better, we gain a better understanding of God.   Allowing God to transform our hearts is a gift.

This blog is based on the personal experiences and opinions of Peggy O’Flaherty. Any reproduction of the material in this blog may be used with written consent of the author by e-mail at peggy@creatingspaceinyourlife.comShe is the Founder & President of Creating Space, LLC., a ministry helping people enrich their faith. Follow Peggy at  Peggy O’Flaherty, is a certified spiritual director, public speaker, blog writer, wife and mother of five children. Her recent writing projects include:

40 Day Printable Lenten Calendar

New App For your Phone Connect your Parish, Growing the Faith, One Parish

Extending Compassion, Losing a Child & Evangelization”

Creating Space - Headshot - Peggy


How Do Spiritual Gifts Change Your Life?


In 1979, I was an 11-year-old fifth grader at Saint Joseph School in Downers Grove, IL. On October 5 of that year, my family and I spent the entire day camped curbside in downtown Chicago waiting patiently for Pope John Paul II. We sat with our brown bag lunches amidst the sea of followers. The streets were filled with nuns, priests, children and security guards. This was the first time I had ever heard a foreign language, and many were spoken around me that day, among them, Polish, Spanish and Italian. We were all chanting “Viva la papa!” I remember leaning over and asking an elderly Italian woman with her rosary wrapped around her wrist, “What does that mean?” She looked into my eyes and said, “Long live the Pope.”  In typing this post that phrase still brings a tear to my eye.


I remember the Pope’s motorcade coming down the street and the excitement of his presence. As he passed by, I knew I would always remember that moment, as well as attending the mass he celebrated hours later, with what felt like all of Chicago. The following day, the Chicago Tribune reported the events: “Pope John II traveled to Grant Park for the largest mass ever celebrated in Chicago. The skyscrapers of Chicago’s Loop resembled cathedral spires as they soared over the crowd.” The article described the gathering of an estimated 200,000 people as “festive yet solemn, happy but devout.” Worshipers of all ages, races and religions had come to see the pontiff.

In his homily, John Paul II said:

“Looking at you, I see people who have thrown their destinies together and now write a common history. .. . This is the way America was conceived; this is what she was called to be. . . . But there is another reality that I see when I look at you. . . . your unity as members of the People of God.”

Years later, in 1989 before I met my husband, Shane, he traveled with friends through Europe after graduating from college. They found themselves in a similar crowd gathered at Saint Peter’s Square to attend mass with the Holy Father. After the mass, Pope John Paul II walked amongst the crowds and laid his hand upon the head of one of Shane’s fellow travelers. This experience of the mass and the encounter with the Vicar of Christ left an equally immense impression on Shane.

This past Sunday after mass, as Shane and I ate breakfast with our 5 children, we recounted these stories, and shared how the experiences helped shape us, and led to our current ministries. Another recent turning point for me came through a life-changing program from Catherine of Sienna Institute: its Called and Gifted workshop. Ever since I had finished my studies in spiritual direction, I had been searching for my next step. The Called and Gifted workshop provided me with an inventory and personal context for my spiritual gifts.

Spiritual gifts are different than natural talents and strengths. Natural talents are in-born, or inherited from a parent. I can see that in the athletic ability that my daughter received from my husband. Spiritual gifts (known as “charisms,” a Greek word used in the New Testament for “favor” or “gratuitous gift”) are gifts from the Holy Spirit. They are intended to be shared with the world in an outward focus, in charity and service. Spiritual gifts enable Christians to build up the church. (CCC 2003)

Through scripture we hear about spiritual gifts in I Corinthians 12:7-10

“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  To one is given through the spirit of wisdom, and to another the speaking of knowledge according to the same spirit to another faith by the same spirit to another gifts of healing by the one spirit to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kind of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.”

Our Sunday breakfast conversation evolved as our children were eager to hear, how and when they will receive these spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts are given to us through the Holy Spirit at our sacraments, in addition to grace, which helps us overcome our fears or hesitation in using those gifts (similar to what the early disciples may have felt). The Catechism states that when we are baptized, we are made a temple of the Holy Spirit and are given “the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. (CCC 1265-1266) Then at the sacrament of Confirmation, an imprint is made on the soul, “an indelible spiritual mark, the ‘character,’ which is the sign that Jesus Christ has marked a Christian with the seal of his Spirit by clothing him with power from on high so that he may be his witness.” (CCC 1304)

When we use our spiritual gifts, we are not only building God’s church on earth; studies show that we also become more fulfilled. Gallup, an organization widely known for its polls and employee-selection research, found that when individuals use their strengths in their occupations, they are more engaged, productive, profitable and happier.  In Living Your Strengths, a recently-published book by Gallup, the authors explain that American churches are experiencing a power shortage. “People aren’t harnessing the power of their innate gifts,” I see this in my own parish: individuals volunteer for a position out of a desire to help, but in some cases, the right person is in the wrong ministry. Or in other cases, an individual works tirelessly doing a ministry that isn’t within his or her spiritual gifts, which leads to burnout and disconnection from the church. How invigorating would it be if all members of a church were using their gifts to enrich their parish, while at the same time, making each parishioner more engaged, productive, and happier?

Life is messy, complicated and challenging on many days, and it can be hard to find the joy in our daily existence. Life also changes us. And yet since the beginning of time, man has always searched for a deeper meaning for our existence. As we gain a better understanding of ourselves, and learn what our spiritual gifts are, we are given a glimpse of our purpose on earth. Living, working and serving from your spiritual gifts provides abundant amounts of energy, others will affirm your efforts, and surely in God’s timing you will provide a positive impact on others.

When Pope John Paul was in Chicago he talked about “unity,” and in our union with God we are more capable of unity with others. This quote from Pope Francis reminds me of my daily desire to be attentive to using my gifts to foster unity:

“We should get into the habit of asking ourselves, before the end of the day: ‘What did the Holy Spirit do in me?  What witness did he give me?’ Because he is a divine presence that helps us   moving forward in our lives as Christians.”

The Pope explained that the Holy Spirit is always there to protect and support each person, and that, “without this presence, our Christian lives cannot be understood.” Perhaps this Lent can be a season for you to consider: do you know your spiritual gifts? How are you sharing those gifts?  Who might be able to help if you are wrestling with this topic?

This blog is based on the personal experiences and opinions of Peggy O’Flaherty. Any reproduction of the material in this blog may be used with written consent of the author by e-mail at

Peggy O’Flaherty, is a certified spiritual director, public speaker, blog writer, wife and mother of five children. Her recent writing projects include “New App For your Phone Connect your Parish, Growing the Faith, One Parish” and “Extending Compassion, Losing a Child & Evangelization” She is the Founder & President of Creating Space, LLC., a ministry helping people enrich their faith. Follow Peggy at

Adopting a Child via Unbound

I wanted to share some exciting news in my Sunday snippets this week. On New Years Eve our family talked about ways that we could try and model the example of the Holy Family. Each of us came up with a few ideas; we talked about saying the rosary as a family on a weekly basis or reading a short verse from scripture on Sunday evenings, or doing works of service within our community among other things. Honestly if we were more patient with each other (myself included), more loving and sharing of our time we would be on a good path.   Many of you know that we have five children. We have been blessed with two girls, then our son and another two girls. We left our NYE dinner without a plan.  Several years ago, while attending our Sunday service I noticed my son was rumbling under his breath and had tears in his eyes.  I leaned over and asked “what is wrong” and he replied “I come here every week and keep asking this God why can’t I have a brother.”  I wrapped my arms around him and said “I ask God the same question.”  So this week we had Father Dan shared with us his ministry, called UnBound (previously the Christian Foundation for Children).  UnBound is a dedicated to tackling poverty in new and innovative ways.  They connect people across cultural, religious and economic divides to live in daily solidarity and work toward a greater good.  They bring confidence, opportunity and encouragement to children and families living on the margins of society in 21 countries.   Throughout the entire church (altar, pews, and at the entrance) they had yellow pamphlets with photos of children of various ages and some adults from countries all around the world.   So after mass we let our son look at all the children and find a boy who was close in his age that we could adopt. Image

Here is our son, looking at our new adopted child – Cesar who is an 8 year-old boy from Honduras, born on October 27, 2005.    His father passed away a few years ago and he is living with his mother and few relatives.   Cesar has a respiratory condition and yet he loves helping his mother around the house and playing with friends.   Cesar is active, smart and math is his favorite subject.   Cesar’s mother does housekeeping and the family income is less than $200 a month.   Our small donation of $30.00 a month will provide Cesar with some very basic needs that come so easily for us in Downers Grove, IL.   We will be writing Cesar letters and they shared that he will be writing back a few times each year.   Cesar will help us keep focused on making different decision each month, as we can surely offer $1.00 a day to be put toward Cesar.  Giving our prayers to Cesar for his health, education and well-being is another small way that we can incorporate Cesar into our family.

Isaish 58:10

 “Work hard to feed hungry people.

 Satisfy the needs of those who are crushed.

 Then my blessing will light up your darkeness.”

Please consider reading more about Unbound

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