Chris Lyford

notes from a pilgrim





A Note from 3000 Miles Across the Country

A Note from 3000 Miles Across the Country

(October 13, 2017) Chris Lyford
Martin Brown teaches English Literature to Sophomores at Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, NY just outside of New York City. He also coaches the “Lady Firebirds” Girls Cross Country Team which raced to their third win in ‘third state’. The “Varsity A” Team took the title at the “Six Flags Wild Safari High School Cross Country Invitational” in Jackson, New Jersey earlier this month.

But this team does more than run like the wind; here is a note received by the Diocese of Santa Rosa yesterday:

Our team combined with other kids in our school to pray the Rosary for your Diocese. We are coordinating a fund raiser in the next few days-
God Bless- Marty Brown



Stories like this are beginning to come through and are bringing much needed consolation during this harrowing time for the families and schools in our Diocese affected by the devastating wildfires this week.

It’s like realizing you have an entire branch of your family that you hadn’t met yet, and all of the sudden there they are, with smiles and heartfelt care.

While the situation continues to be dangerous and fluid, as predicted winds are forecast and containment rates are only very slowly beginning to rise, signs of hope are beginning to dawn.

Last night an overflow crowd gathered for a community Mass at St. Rose Parish in downtown Santa Rosa. Bishop Robert Vasa was the celebrant, and Fr. Moses Brown, a Religious Studies teacher at Cardinal Newman High School gave the homily.

“My whole office was gone, all my papers, all the rosaries I had, and my mother’s bible given to her by her Grandfather in 1945 which had her name on it. Many are asking the question ‘why?’, and my answer is ‘today, I don’t know’. But what I do know is that God loves us.

Trust that God knows us, and loves us more than we could ever imagine or comprehend.”

The Diocese has created the #signofhope web page to offer a place where the Bishop can post periodic updates, and people can visit to offer financial support for the Diocese, and the Schools. Please visit the website at Today there is a personal message from Pope Francis offering condolences, and heartfelt prayer for the ongoing situation.

All of us have our own storms to contend with, some are dealing with shock, grief, and other powerful emotions as the days go by. But no matter what our circumstances, God is walking with us, and offering His hand to help us each become a #signofhope for all.

He is Greater than I.

Something I think about at this time each year when the daylight hours are maxed out is the phrase John the Baptist uttered upon Hearing that Jesus (his coumission san rafael sign.jpgsin btw) had begun His ministry. John was ‘da man’ up until then, but since he was the prophet that was proclaiming the imminent arrival of Jesus (The Immanent Word); once Jesus arrived, well, then John is out of work. Which is fine by him. Though he had just one more thing to do: be martyred. It makes me think of how much I want people to see Jesus in me, and not me. I cringe as I remember all the times I acted like such a fool. Head shaking, sigh making, eye closing behaviors. Only because Jesus says to me “What? I’ve forgiven you; what are you talking about?” am I able to let it go. Bike_walk pathHe’s like one of those good friends who you just know isn’t going to give up on you. No, not ‘like’ a good friend: totally and completely the best ‘friend’ you can have. I say that because yesterday was the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and I was reading in the ‘About this day’ section in the office app I have, and it says that the feast of the Sacred Heart was to honor the ‘human’ nature of Jesus. It really struck me, cause I always think of the feast of the sacred heart, and my mind goes to those images of Jesus’ with his heart coming out of his chest on fire, with thorns, etc. and I get a bit distracted by the image, so I never got the whole point – He has more love for me than any one of those really good friends that I know I have on this earth. Anyway, it was a great day yesterday thinking about that all day. Frank Lloyd Wright San Rafael City Hall

And then I read that because this year the Feast of the Birth of John the Baptist is today-Saturday June 24th, and that usually the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary falls on the Saturday after the Feast of Corpus Christi (today), that the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary will NOT be celebrated this year!  IDK.

Anyway, I decided to get up early, to enjoy the extra daylight hours in this gorgeous Northern California, Marin County region, and take what I call a “Rosary Walk” where I pray all the 20 mysteries of the Rosary as I walk somewhere. Then I was able to hit the 8:30am Mass at the Mission. Really anointed morning. So here is this month editorial from the North Coast Catholic which I wrote yesterday, and all the pictures i took on my walk…

Napa Institute rosary - Our Lady of FatimaThe Mysteries of July

The best thing I got from the Napa Institute, held at the Meritage Resort every year in July, is the Rosary that they give all attendees. Mine is about six years old and it’s still holding up. I guess I like it because it’s not a cheap rosary, and it’s not delicate. But mostly because the Institute logo on the little plastic pouch that contains it reminds me of the truth that the “world renowned” speakers and famous Clergy who gather to offer their gifted exhortations about how to prepare for the “Next America” have their priorities straight. I may have forgotten all the talks from years past, but I haven’t forgotten that it’s all ‘just talk’ unless you pick up the most powerful weapon outside of the Mass and fight hard. We need to take a stand and fight to defend the Faith and the Faithful, but if we think we can do it on our own power, and without constant prayer, we’re just about as dumb as a post.shadow on train tracks.jpg

July is here! An entire month of potential and possibility.  It’s a time for recreation, vacation, and the celebration of the birth of our great nation. It’s also a good time to do some spiritual house cleaning. Since daylight hours are abundant, we have an opportunity to spend a little extra time in quiet prayer. Still not enough time? I have the answer; replace all your entertainment, with recreation. It’s a good idea to reflect on the difference between entertainment, and recreation.

The English word “entertainment” comes from the Latin inter (among or across) and tenere (hold or keep). Entertainment is that which holds interest and attention.  The English word “recreation” is also from the Latin re (again) and creare (make or beget) recreation is what renews and revitalizes us.A Street Italian Street painting morning shot.jpg

The basic difference is that recreation produces good fruit; peace, clarity, patience, and the growth of virtue.  In short, I experience the fullness of life’s beauty. With entertainment on the other hand I could spend hours and have just the opposite effect and wonder where all the time went. People, we’ve got to shut down our screens every day and spend more time beholding the vistas of God’s creation. Think about, it we live in one of the most beautiful regions of the entire world. It’s really not that hard.

Although I just found out one excellent use of all screens big and small: ‘Formed’.  Formed is the best library of inspiration and information about our Catholic Faith I have ever seen. Mission San RafaelI had always hoped that all the great video, audio, and print resources generated from the New Evangelization would be able to be accessed in one place. Well this is pretty close in my opinion. The priests all heard about it at the Clergy week in early June, and the good people at the Augustine Institute (creators of ‘Formed’) have offered to give our entire diocese (every single Catholic) two free months of the streaming service (it works like Netflix). Even though you can sign up any time for a trial to be able to stream the “33 Days to Morning Glory” on your smart phone or home screen, the months of September and October will be free for all of us. Have you done the 33 day preparation for consecration to Jesus Christ through Mary yet? Don’t wait until September! after MassThis is a perfect month to do it at home or with a few friends. In order to do your consecration on August 15th the Feast of Mary’s Assumption, you can start on July 13th!

The fortnight of freedom prayer Vigil concludes on July 4th, our country’s Independence Day, as faithful Catholics join together in prayer and presence to bring attention to the freedom we possess in this country to practice our religion publicly and without interference from the government.

On July 1 we celebrate the feast of St.  Junipero Serra, the apostle of California. He founded the first of the 21 California Missions in San Diego 248 years ago.  italian street painting - before - pictureAt one point during the first few months in San Diego a group of 20 Natives attacked Serra’s party which included Spanish soldiers. italian street painting - before pictureSerra holding statues of Jesus and Mary, responded with heartfelt prayers that God might save both sides from casualties. As California Catholics we owe a great deal to Saint Serra and all who have gone before us to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to this end of the earth.

italian street painting pic from missionOn July 16 we celebrate the feast of our Lady of Mount Carmel. Many times my wife and I attended the novena of masses at the Mother of God Carmel in Marinwood leading up to the celebration of the feast. Our children have vivid memories of warm summer nights at the monastery. Our children were invested in the brown scapular from an early age. summer of love RR Though they were young they understood in their own way the special nature of receiving Our Lady’s  Brown Scapular.

And don’t forget, the 100th anniversary of the July 13th Fatima apparition, where Our Lady’s pivotal message was given to the children (read the account in this issue). Mary appeared as Our Lady of Mt. Carmel on the final day, October 13th!IMG_1403

“Receive, my beloved son, this Scapular of thy Order. It shall be a special sign of salvation, a protection in danger, and a pledge of peace. Whosoever dies wearing this Scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.”


David’s Mantle

David's mantle

You should know who these people are.
Our Liberty follows their path.
Though in the end she will triumph.

More… New Beginnings

Image result for san francisco sunrise
Wednesday Morning.
My daughter just asked me if I wanted to go to Mass, that she and her two brothers were going, did I want to come along.
They are ‘getting it’ that there is hidden manna, and wellsprings of peace in the ‘daily sacrifice’. They are connecting with the True Presence, with Jesus.
I am so very proud of my kids, each one of them!
But this ‘faith’ of theirs was bought with a price:

I repeat a Blog entry from 4 years ago……

New Beginnings

Turn from evil and do good: seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14

Much has happened in the last two months: I have begun teaching at Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield, CA and my son Luke is now off to college at John Paul the Great University in San Diego. Though we are still far from ‘settled’ in terms of our housing situation (no home yet), but we have been able to secure a beautiful 30′ travel trailer, and have a temporary place to lay our heads all due to the generosity and encouragement of a very good ‘sister in the Lord’. We still have no place to park our trailer that is close to work, and we are in need of some kind of vehicle to tow it from place to place safely.

The reality is that we are now in a time of humble thanksgiving to Our Lord for all the gifts of grace He has given us. Our pilgrimage is not over it seems, and yet we are now beginning to reflect on our experience.

I have  had occasion to contemplate many aspects of the ‘good’ things that we have been blessed with, but recently I was able to articulate some of the sorrowful things. Here is what I wrote:


Many years ago God gave Vickie and I a choice; we were shown that we could have made a lot of money by going the ‘worldly way’ or we could please God and Our lady by being a ‘family for others’ and living a very humble, vulnerable life. In return, He would continue to give us the grace to raise our children in the fullness of the faith and that they would understand ultimately who their Father and Mother truly were. In the meantime, I would work in His Vineyard and we would always have what we needed, and some of what we want. We are certainly still working on it. Our one consolation is that we have been able to facilitate some very wonderful things in the building up of the kingdom that only He knows about.

And yet in His friendship Jesus invited us to get even closer to Him and to experience the world the way He experiences it. Over the past year and a half, we have learned what it feels like to be discriminated against, judged, and ostracized. We have experienced what it is like to live a life that is a stumbling block for some, and a blessing to others. Our faith has grown strong. Our kids no longer see faith as a ‘theoretical’ concept; they know it as a practical reality. They know what it is like to have to pray for their daily bread, and to trust that even though it’s 9:00 pm and we don’t know where we as a family will be sleeping, that somehow He will make a way. And He has ALWAYS made a way. Never has HE let us down.

More than anything, we all have understood that HE is our daily bread; that the ability to receive Him in daily communion is the only way one can remain a Christian. We have had the privilege of being treated like ‘the least of His brothers’.

Nonetheless we have struggled with the human experience of being rejected and judged as being irresponsible. And it hurts a lot. In fact, we are not even beginning to deal with some of the wounds we have experienced, and though we understand that while God has blessed us with a very thorough purification, it doesn’t mean that the judgements, and internal accusations we have experienced have been what God wanted. In fact what we have experienced is because of sin. Our children know what people have said about us. They have found out that people in the ‘christian – catholic- community’ have said bad things about us, and called us names. It hurts to see your children hurting because of the words from ‘other christians’.

My children have experienced persecution. They did nothing wrong; in fact they have only done what is right; holding on to hope in the midst of what most families could have NEVER endured for over 1 month without completely self destructing. The truth is that we have been sinned against over and over again. And it still hurts. They don’t know us. They don’t understand the journey we have said ‘yes’ to. Yet we understand that what we have given THEM is the opportunity to give without condition or judgement. Some people gave us their spare rooms, or spare houses, or spare couches  with complete joy and an excitement that they were participating in something holy; something prophetic. The result is that they experience that awakening that happens like it did when you first heard about the call to conversion from Jesus. That feeling that you heard the news and applied the grace of conversion before it was too late for your soul. Others did the same , offering their ‘charity’, all the while ‘tsk tsk’ ing in their minds, as if saying like the Pharisee ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity’ Lk 18:11.

It’s pretty easy to tell who is thinking what. And yet who are we? If Jesus  bore the insults that He did without saying one word, who are we to do anything different?

The reason we have gone on this journey, putting our belongings in storage and ‘living a home-free-life’ is because the Lord in His Mercy has given us the opportunity to experience what EVERYONE will experience in the very near future: Judgement. Everyone will give account directly to Jesus for every little sin they have committed, and every little judgement they have made. He has given us permission to proceed with the purification process in advance of the Illumination of Conscience. And even so, it will be a harrowing experience for each of us regardless of how ‘converted’ we think we are.
People are either building up the body of Christ, or tearing it down. The most important thing is that people allow the fullness of complete conversion, deliverance, and healing to occur in their hearts and lives. Heaven is bending over backwards to provide everything people need to be purified, to be truly free to become the person they were created to become; to be TRULY happy.
It’s our hope that as we simply tend to our own vine; work on our own purification process by allowing the Mercy of Jesus to transform us, that others will be inspired to open up as well.
As pilgrims, we have a destination; eternal life with the angels and saints in heaven. Some people have joined us on this ‘new pilgrimage’ even though they have remained in their own lives continuing their own pilgrimage of the heart in their own families.
Others have not joined us, even though we have invited to the best of our abilities. We still love them deeply and pray with that love that they may take that first  step in allowing the transforming, healing presence of Jesus Christ to envelop them and to lead them into the refuge of the Sacramental life of the Church.
“Though none go with us, still we will follow.”


The Culture of Life and it’s Obstacles

One of the greatest obstacles in creating a Culture of Life today is the culture of death itself which pervades our society and is promoted and celebrated by those in control of the media sources through the vehicles of movies, music, fashion, and even news. The modern means of communication are not the obstacles; the content delivered by them and the authors of that content are. More substantially the obstacles come in the form of errant philosophies, pseudo truths, pluralism, and postmodern relativism that imbue these media creations to which our society is exposed on a daily basis.

These seeds of pseudo truth can infect the hearts and minds of our families with the darkness of self deception. In addition, the leaders of our world have systematically passed laws that break down Judeo-Christian principles, facilitated unjust wars abroad, and most devastatingly facilitated the death of millions in the slaughter of the unborn though acts of legislation. Sadly, because of these influences, many of our brothers and sisters have absorbed the myths that this ‘culture of death’ has sown. These seeds of ‘psuedo-truth’ can readily distort a true understanding of essential Catholic teaching on topics like the right to life, the Sacrament of Matrimony, the understanding of homosexuality, and the role of women in the Church.

Yet all of these obstacles can be overcome with the simple gifts of humility, charity, honesty, and faith. It’s not in the power of our logical argument, but in our living the joy of knowing we are God’s beloved that we can be a sign of hope to others. We all need mercy. And thank God for His mercy! It’s His mercy that reaches into the cave of darkness into which we can wander. He shows us the truth of what our lives are like when we choose our will over His, and still respects our free will to remain in the cave of self deception, or reach out to grasp His outstretched hand. With reckless abandon He strongly seeks any contrite heart in order to flood it with pure light; the light of truth.

It’s in our own parish community where the signs of hope abound. Every day I see more and more Catholics who have embraced the call to humbly evangelize themselves, their families, and their colleagues, and who are presenting to their ‘worlds’ the challenging merciful Jesus while they exhibit the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

The social teachings of the Church, the initiatives by our shepherds to make known at the ‘table of the world’ the timeless truths of our faith, and the heroic virtue of all Catholics who have embraced the New Evangelization are all the response of the light of Christ to this culture of death.  The 12th annual Walk for Life West Coast to take place on January 23rd represents a work dedicated to the public interaction between our basic belief in the dignity of human life itself, and our socio-political culture. It’s the image (and reality) of the Catholic Church walking the streets of San Francisco. This symbolic ‘front line’ of the culture war is primarily an event to show our support for the dignity of human life through faithful citizenship and political action, yet it serves as a rallying point for much more.

It’s the rallying point for all who have chosen to defend the Faith, hearten the faithful, and defend the faithful.

No Hobo.

Yes, there have been months at a time when my family and I were without things that I am grateful for every day: a working washer and dryer; a bed other than a cot;a car; a microwave; wifi… You get the picture. As a sign of our good nature and true gratitude in the midst of doing common things in relatively uncomfortable circumstances, we coined the phrase:

“No hobo”.

Brushing your teeth outside the car with bottled water? “No hobo”.
Using the wifi at McDonalds for extended periods of time? “No hobo”.

You see, we never do things half way. When God invited us into a pilgrimage of detachment from mammon, we chose the deluxe package. It’s really made all the difference especially during this season when we celebrate the “singing light” Who came into our silent night despite our preoccupation with all things material. It helps us stay centered on the Advent of the heart.

I found a sister in pilgrimage, who is on her way to a heavenly mansion and inviting others who have ears to hear… Check her out. Her name is Meg Hunter-Kilmer

young and troubled the story Meg Hunter

A Few Flashbacks

Source: A Few Flashbacks

Welcome to the era of full frontal assault on Pope Francis and the legitimacy of the Church. Brought to you by your “Catholic” brothers and sisters!

Welcome to the era of full frontal assault on Pope Francis and the legitimacy of the Church. Brought to you by your “Catholic” brothers and sisters!

“Be quick to hear. slow to speak…” my friends.

(be aware – as I over indulged in the analogies here, and unique childhood references)
Ever see a fight break out between two drunk rednecks and have the urge to ‘do something about it – step in to say – ‘break it up brothers”? (Applegate Trail Days anyone?) Drunk brawlers are easily subject to the power of suggestion.

Side note of personal experience:
True confession- way back in the ’80s my buddy and I once started a bar brawl as a joke by muttering “I wouldn’t let him say that about me…” and a few other choice phrases, just loud enough for the enraged inebriated ones to ‘touch off’ and throw the first few punches while we walked out of harms way laughing maniacally. Of course I was cruelly playing a game with the muscle-bound-high heart-rate-flooded-brained patrons, and for that I feel ashamed cause I threw gas on a fire. Seriously, I don’t know what calamity I may have incited that had ripple effects through relationships and families (BTW I know I have paid for that and all my sins through various temporal punishments since then).

But it was waaaay toooo easy, and I thought fun at the time!  (right Mike Cauthorn?)

I see a similar situation in our ‘Catholic World’ taking shape. Some will be called to use their wit and cunning to distract the increasingly defensive and otherwise emotional conversants with something that basically gets them into a cab for a nice ride home, or ANY other activity. You can actually feel it when a bar fight is about to break loose. I have learned that there is a point when it’s a forgone conclusion, and you better protect yourself and your family before the chairs start flyin’ unless you can either stop the fight cause your bigger than everyone else, or smarter and more quick witted (or both – Dan Kersey anyone?).

Yes, You (and I) friends will be tested. Best to not jump into the fray, nor cause one. What we do in this situation may have an effect on people’s salvation. When you see a fray, stay away. Or, maybe you are called to be a peacemaker and remind people of the underlying theme (supposedly) to this whole ‘church’ thing – Truth, Love, Hope…Jesus… and to not ‘major on the minors’, turn inward and embrace humility as you see your own sin and recognize that God sees through the years of your elaborate schemes to try to convince yourself that you are ‘just fine’  (nice fig leaf) AND He STILL loves you and cares for you beyond your wildest dreams, and greets you with non-judgemental affection every single time you turn your face to Him in spirit and truth.

Today’s reading from Colossians pretty much sums it up. Sometimes us ‘Christians’ need to get back to the reality that we were once really lost, and just ponder what an incredible deal we got in exchange for our sinful lives:

By these you too once conducted yourselves, when you lived in that way.
But now you must put them all away:
anger, fury, malice, slander,
and obscene language out of your mouths.
Stop lying to one another,
since you have taken off the old self with its practices
and have put on the new self,
which is being renewed, for knowledge,
in the image of its creator.
Here there is not Greek and Jew,
circumcision and uncircumcision,
barbarian, Scythian, slave, free;
but Christ is all and in all.

“feelin’ a little Dan Kersey?”

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