• Mary van Balen

    • Mary van Balen is the author of four books, numerous articles, and has written the column, “Grace in the Moment” for over thirty years. Mary holds an MA in Theology and was a resident scholar at the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical & Cultural Research. A public speaker, Mary conducts retreats and days of reflection on a variety of topics including journaling and spirituality. She is a spiritual director and a graduate of Shalem's Nurturing the Call: Spiritual Guidance Program. You can contact Mary through her website: maryvanbalen.com.

Letting the Light In

Full disclosure: I’ve tried to write this column for weeks. Thoughts and notes spill across my journal pages; drafts of documents sit on my laptop. Prayer and vigil candles are spent. Life feels heavy. Sometimes overwhelming. The state of our world and our country is revealing the dark, shadowy side beneath our comfortable façade. And […]

A Mindful Loaf

Sunday, I decided, was the perfect day to use some of my precious yeast and flour to make a single loaf of bread—the day Christians set aside to gather and remember God’s great gift of self, given and shared with all creation. Baking would be my prayer. The cover of my old Tassajara Bread Book […]

Celebrating the Triduum Together While Apart

Holy Thursday begins the Triduum—time set apart to reflect on the meaning of events from the Last Supper to the Resurrection, not only in the lives of Jesus and his disciples, but also in the Paschal Mystery unfolding in our lives. Following the great tradition observed by generations of Christians, we gather to commemorate these […]

Lent: Letting Love Enter In

On Ash Wednesday I took tentative steps into the Lenten season. I wasn’t sure what disciplines to embrace, but that morning I lit a candle and sat quietly in prayer before going through liturgical readings for the season. I attended a noon service and stood in line to receive ashes on my forehead, remembering that […]

Proximity and Hope

by Mary Van Balen A movie or book can be transforming. For Black History Month, I’m sharing an experience with both. In January, I attended a movie with friends: Just Mercy. Based on the book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, written by Bryan Stevenson and published in 2014, the movie centers around […]

Finding Hope

Today’s blog is by Mary van Balen People long for hope, for peace, for cooperation. While some are bent on stirring up distrust, and spreading fear based on dividing the world into “us” and “them,” most of humankind is looking for a better way in 2020. Many I talked with over the holidays desire an […]

Advent Listening

Today’s blog is by Mary van Balen I am poring through Scripture readings and books while preparing for an Advent retreat, revisiting favorite writings and discovering new ones. As readers do, I filter the words through my current state of mind, faith, and being. A passage that held deep meaning five years ago provides little […]

Deeds Come First

Today’s blog post is by Mary van Balen Peter Claver, a 16th century Spaniard, was canonized by the Roman Catholic church as a saint in 1888, but he is not well known. He was born in 1581 and entered the Jesuits there in 1601. In 1610 he went to the missions in America, landing in […]

The Wisdom of Pope John XXIII

Today’s blog is by Mary Van Balen. Friday, October 11, is the 57th anniversary of the opening session of Vatican II. It is also the fifth time the Catholic church celebrates the feast of Saint John XXIII. Almost 12 when the Council began on October 11, 1962 and a student in a Catholic school, I […]

Niksen: A Time for Be-ing

Today’s post is by Mary van Balen There is a Dutch word for doing nothing: Niksen. I know this not because of my Dutch heritage but from an article that made its way to my email inbox. What does it say about our modern sensibilities that an article about doing nothing and not feeling guilty […]