Always Safe

You shall not fear the terror of the night
nor the arrow that flies by day.

Psalm 91:5

My family will gather in a few days to continue our holiday festivities with a New Year’s Day celebration. For generations before I arrived, my dad’s Canadian family preserved this tradition which includes a blessing. Every New Year’s Day, our family gathers before our eldest family member to request their intercession. This year, my sister Rita will ask God’s gifts of happiness, health and prosperity for each one of us during the coming year.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve experienced a reassuring sense of peace as we kneel together for this annual prayer. Afterward, I feel oddly protected regardless of what life has in store for the next three hundred and sixty-four days. This was very important to me the year my dad passed away and for many years thereafter. Perhaps this is the reason I was always careful to help my own sons to feel safe. Perhaps this is the reason I hold my grandchildren so close these days. Perhaps this is the reason I’m compelled to remind all who will listen that God is always nearby, around us and within us, keeping us safe all the while.

Caring God, just as you lovingly remain with us, help us to treasure and nurture one another with equal devotion.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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My Dear Archangel

As I watched, thrones were set up
and the Ancient One took his throne.
His clothing was snow bright,
and the hair on his head as white as wool…

From Daniel 7:9

Daniel’s imagery provides a fairly accurate picture of my earliest impressions of God. The adults around me did a very good job of convincing me of God’s love. Still, there was something about the Almighty’s powerful presence which gave me reason to pause. The earliest days of my relationship with God included some shyness and perhaps a bit of fear when it came to my own behavior and the things I dared and dared not to pray for.

The good news is that Daniel’s imagery also inspired my faith in God’s helpers, the archangels in particular. From the time I was a little child, I turned to Michael the Archangel when fearful people or fearful circumstances threatened. Though I was unsure of how all of this worked back then, I do recall finding great consolation under the Archangel’s watchful eye.

Though I have set aside the more cumbersome baggage from my childhood which stunted my growth faith-wise, I admit that I continue to turn to the Good Archangel Michael when those I love are in danger. Though I don’t expect him to draw a sword to take down their adversaries, I do believe that Michael is present with just the same. Perhaps all that is required to make things right is a strong shoulder to lean on, even when we don’t realize that shoulder is there.

Loving God, thank you for all of the entities, here and above, who guard us and guide us along the way. Most of all, thank you for being with us in everything.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Speak Up And Step Up

So they tried to arrest him,
but no one laid a hand upon him
because his hour had not yet come.

John 7:30

Since childhood, I’ve been surrounded by people who realize that sometimes we take chances in order to do the right thing…

When my husband and I married, our first parish was led by a priest I’d known since I was a little girl. Father O’Connell was like a dad to me. He was the first person I told when my own dad passed away. Father was also a bit of a rebel. Though he respected the letter of the law, he also had great compassion for those in need. He locked horns with the housekeepers of the rectory because he had “cluttered up” the basement with clothing which he’d collected for the poor. Not long after, he locked horns with a local mayor because he’d hired striking city workers to do odd jobs around the church so they could put food on their tables. Though he was threatened a few times, nothing ever came of the these things. In each instance, someone came to bat for him, perhaps out of fear that he was a little too close to God to mess with.

Over the years, when I protested the war and my employer’s unfair treatment of migrant workers, I worried just a bit about the job I needed to pay college tuition. Still, I felt certain that God would take care of everything. Later, when I had to stare down my principal and then face the superintendent, I worried a bit more as my family depended upon both my husband’s and my salaries. Still, I persisted. My crusades continue even today because God indeed takes care!

Dear God, give us the courage to speak up and to step up when it is up to us to do the right thing.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Always Safe

The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream
and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother,
flee to Egypt and stay there until I tell you.”

Matthew 2:13

My family will gather in a few days to continue our Christmas festivities with a New Year’s Day celebration. For generations before I arrived, my dad’s Canadian family preserved this tradition which includes a blessing. Each year, our family gathers before our eldest family member to request their intercession. This year, my sister Rita will ask God’s gifts of happiness, health and prosperity for each one of us during the coming year.

For as long as I can remember, I experienced a sense of peace while we knelt together for this annual prayer. Afterward, I felt protected somehow regardless of what life had in store for the next three hundred and sixty-four days. This was very important to me the year my dad passed away and for years thereafter. Perhaps this is the reason I was always careful to help my own sons to feel safe. Perhaps this is the reason I hold my grandchildren so close these days. Perhaps this is the reason I am compelled to remind all who will listen that God is always nearby, around us and within us, to keep us safe along the way.

Caring God, even Jesus had reason to fear from very early on in his life. Still, Mary and Joseph remained steadfast in their loving care for him. Help us to treasure and nurture one another with equal devotion.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Choose Well

You are my shelter; from distress
you will preserve me;
with glad cries of freedom
you will deliver me.

Psalm 32:7

I tossed and turned last night. I pride myself in being able to set aside my worries in order replenish myself with a good night’s sleep. Still, I failed miserably during the wee hours of this morning. This occurred in spite of the fact that no overwhelming troubles beset me at the moment. Indeed, most of the demands placed upon me these days are the result of my own choices. I enjoy far more freedom than most of the people I know. Still, I tossed and turned to no avail.

It was 4:30 A.M. when I finally looked heavenward for comfort. “Why am I worrying? Why do I feel that I’ll never accomplish anything? Will I ever finish that book? Am I supposed to write or not?” I continued my litany until I felt completely exhausted. As I inhaled deeply to calm myself, I noticed the slit of light at the edge of our blind. “Hmm. Are our days finally getting longer? Maybe that light is just the moon’s reflection on the snow. Maybe not.” I crept out of bed and went to our spare room to see the sky more clearly. “Nice,” I told God who continued to listen patiently. “It is lighter this morning.”

Finally, I closed my mouth and gazed at the moon and stars which would soon disappear in the dawn. As I watched the birth of the new day, I marveled at God’s generosity in providing us this miracle every twenty-four hours. God comforted me with a reminder of the second miracle which comes every twenty-four hours as well: Our ability to use the new day as we wish. With that, I decided to let go of the stress and to embrace this amazing opportunity.


Loving God, you deliver us from all evil and you empower us to live with joy. Please gift me with the wisdom to choose well as I plan this new day and every day I am given.

©2015 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved