Articles written by Michelle Jenkins

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  • Journey to Easter and to freedom

    Michelle Jenkins|Mar 14, 2024

    On Feb. 14, “ValentAsh Wednesday,” this year, we began the holy season of Lent, and many of us received blessed ashes as a symbolic gesture of our repentance and of our resolve to live the 40 days of Lent to grow in virtue. In this holy season, we accompany Jesus in His 40 days of temptation in the desert. It is a time of purification and growth. It is a springtime for the soul. And it is a journey to freedom. In our Lenten journey to Easter, we are encouraged to move from where we are to where the Lord wants us to be: to a greater obe...

  • Christmas: Its myth, folklore and mystery

    Michelle Jenkins, Director of the Sycamore Tree Catholic Retreat Center|Dec 21, 2023

    Christmas, especially an American Christmas, is “a many splendored thing.” It engages the imagination and the heart. And while it is a Christian feast – celebrating the birth of Christ - unlike other Christian feasts, it is celebrated not just by Christians but by just about everyone. And in America we start celebrating it right after Halloween! We celebrate it with fanfare and great expectations. What is an “American Christmas?” There is some myth: Santa Claus, reindeer and Christmas elves for starters. Santa Claus has his origins in a real...

  • Peace is the tranquility of order

    Michelle Jenkins, Director of the Sycamore Tree Catholic Retreat Center|Aug 3, 2023

    “What is peace?” Some might say: “Peace is the absence of war;” “Peace is freedom from turmoil;” “Peace is the avoidance of hostility;” “Peace is the termination of anxiety,” and so on. Some people think that peace is nirvana, but this word can mean death, or at least a state of feelinglessness. Is peace just a form of anesthesia? Is peace merely the cessation of pain? If so, why do we long for it so? We should want peace to convey something positive, something that improves our lives. We should be concerned about what peace is, rather th...

  • Celebrating Earth Day… the Christian Way

    Michelle Jenkins, Sycamore Tree Catholic Retreat Center|Apr 20, 2023

    So, how are you going to celebrate Earth Day? Many Americans may have a suspicious attitude toward celebrating what some see as a “hippie holiday” or a political statement against anyone who doesn’t embrace a 100% “Green” lifestyle. As devoted Christians, some of us might struggle with expressions of “Environmental Spiritualism”; i.e., treating the Earth as if it were God or another type of deity. As a Catholic convert, and once-upon-a-time unbeliever and ardent environmentalist, I have progressed from an attitude of “environmental spiritualism... Full story

  • On the Twelfth Day of Christmas …. Epiphany!

    Michelle Jenkins, Director, The Sycamore Tree Catholic Retreat Center, Swan Lake, MT|Jan 5, 2023

    Each year on January 6 – twelve days after Christmas - Christians around the world celebrate the feast of Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day. [ In the United States, in modern times, the Catholic Church celebrates Epiphany on the Sunday following Christmas.] For many, this day ends the Christmas season and Christmas decoration are taken down and put away for next year. Epiphany is a holy day that celebrates the revelation of Jesus to the three Wise Men (or Kings/Magi), when they arrived at His place of birth after following the unusual s...

  • Vacation rovings ... and the search for real life

    Michelle Jenkins, Director, The Sycamore Tree Catholic Retreat Center, Swan Lake, MT|Aug 4, 2022

    It’s mid-summer and peak vacation time in the scenic and majestic Seeley-Swan Valley. Every summer there’s a mass migration of visitors and adventurers on the highway, on the trails and in the local shops. Even when gas prices are high and lodging costs exorbitant, people are vacationing across the land. And why, one might wonder, is that? Certainly, relief from COVID travel restraints is part of it. But it’s not new, the yearning to travel, to break away from routine, to be free and spontaneous, to discover new places, people, things and t...