Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Family Barometer

You can tell how the family is by the atmosphere around the dinner table.  I'm sorry to say, that as a child, I was the cause of a lot of tension.  No one could get me to eat what I didn't like, and I didn't like most things.  I remember hiding crust in the sugar bowl.  Throwing food to the dog.  Hiding meat in the mashed potatoes.

The worst was when I spilled milk, twice in a row.  My father would slam his hand down on the table and scream obscenities, "Every gd time we sit down to eat, she spoils it."

But I wasn't doing it on purpose.

That's why I never pushed my kids to eat.  They didn't want what was served, "fine."  Just no dessert.  When they were older, they were allowed to get up and make themselves something else.

No big deal.

Everyone says the dinner table should be a place of happy intimacy.  I've tried to do that in my own family because I remember my childhood's table being a place of hostility.  My fault, I'm sorry to say.  I made dinner hell.

Lord have mercy on my poor parents.  They did the best they could.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Ballad of the Boston Marathon

Ballad of the Boston Marathon
                      (bombing 2013)

“I’m thinking of going to the Marathon,
leaving early in the morn, 
and watch the runners cross the finish line
at the Boston Marathon.”

“No! You know what a mess traffic is,
today will be more than crazy,
parking will be impossible and expensive,
and the crowds whipped to a frenzy.”

“We’re taking the ‘T’ to Back Bay Station.
The finish line is there.
And my friends will guide and protect me,
we’ll be good and take care.”

The mother finally smiled in acquiescence,
to think her child safe
and happy with sensible companions.
All too soon that smile was erased.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Alleluia!  He is risen.  Truly risen!

It's Easter and it's also time for linking up with my fellow bloggers at R'Ann's.  I urge you to click on over there to read some good blogs.

What's your Easter tradition?  Ours is an Easter egg hunt.  My kids were in the twenties and still insisting on it.  Now we do it for my grandchild.

This week, actually two weeks, have been wicked crazy.  I've had company the whole time.  The first week I had my nephew's family, here to visit UMass.  This week, I've had the President of the Lay Fraternities of the Southern Province, Col. Jo Ann Cotterman, O.P..  She is here to talk to my "cloistered brothers."

Meanwhile, I managed to squeeze in these posts:

Monday -- cleaning the prison cemetery

Tuesday -- Book Review of Alive

Wednesday -- Re: Judas

Thursday -- The Last Supper

Friday -- Explanation of the Tridiuum

Have a wonderful Easter. We have good reason to celebrate.  He is risen; truly risen!  Alleluia!

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Easter Tridiuum

                My brother (Irish Dominican) explains the Easter Tridiuum.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Last Time

We all know we're going to die, but we don't think about it.  We've all had friends with cancer, if not ourselves.  Sometimes the cancer is terminal.  Now, that brings about a new definition of knowing when we are to die.  Everything is seen with different eyes.

Some of these people sometimes make a conscious effort to say "goodbye" to their loved ones.  If they can, they want to spend time with them.

Even though he didn't have cancer, Jesus knew he was about to die.  He knew this was the last time he would be spending with his disciples.  He made it very special.

We remember, Lord.  Thank you for remembering us.  Thank you for loving us.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Surely it is not I, Rabbi?

All my life, I've gone to Mass.  I've heard the story of the Last Supper, all my life.  Today, I heard and learned something new.

The disciples never used the title, "Rabbi," when addressing Jesus.  He told them not to.  Others who were not close to him, called him Rabbi, e.i., Pharisees and Sadducees.

So when Judas asks "Surely it is not I, Rabbi?" everyone at the table must have perked up.  Something's amiss.

Yes, this is a foreshadowing of Judas' separation from the disciples.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Piers Paul Read has written a few books that I often recommend.  So when I picked up Alive and the cover read, “# 1 New York Times Bestseller,” “Sixteen men, seventy-two days, and insurmountable odds—the classic adventure of survival in the Andes,” I thought Piers Paul Read had authored another great work of fiction.

It wasn’t until I was on page 8-11 that I started having my doubts.  Definitely, when I spotted a map on page 13, the possibility that Alive may not be fiction dawned on me.  That’s what I get for skipping “Introductions.” 

The Acknowledgements, Introduction, and the Interview with the Survivors, in the back of the book, confirmed the fact that Alive by Piers Paul Read was non-fiction.  By then, it was too late.  I was hooked. 

I don’t only read fiction, after all.  But Alive is so unbelievable, it could very well be fictitious.  The survival of these men is so miraculous, it could be a tall tale.  But it’s not.  It’s made all too real by the author’s telling of the truth.

Piers Paul Read lists the passengers on the plane flying from Montevideo, Uruguay, to Santiago, Chile.  I got to know each one, and cared about them.  Any author of fiction would create sympathy for their major character.  Piers Paul Read does this for forty passengers and five crewmen.  There were times I was brought to tears by their fate.  I winced at their pain.  Is this because of the author’s skill at fiction writing?  Piers Paul Read definitely is skilled in the craft of writing, fiction and nonfiction.  Although he apologizes in the Acknowledgements, for not having the skill to express what these survivors went through.  I can’t imagine any author doing a better job.

This book is the most overtly Catholic book I’ve ever read, outside of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  The author, Piers Paul Read is a Catholic writer.  The characters are all Catholic.  They are rugby football players from two Catholic schools.   They pray their way through the book.  They meet God through their ordeal.

The boys are going to a game.  The plane crashes.  The passengers’ prayers stormed heaven.  The survivors thought a lot about God.  As time passed and they became weaker, their thoughts and prayers became desperate.  The boys made a conscious decision to organize and plan, since it didn’t look like search parties would find them.  First, they prayed.  Every night a rosary was prayed.  At night many theological and philosophical problems were discussed.

But first things first, food was a premium.  They ate what was available: wine, cheese, chocolate the passengers had bought as souvenirs.  But the plane had landed in snow covered mountains.  There was no vegetation and no game—absolutely no natural resources.  After a few weeks, the medical students in the group suggested eating the muscle and flesh of their deceased peers.  (The dead were naturally preserved due to the frozen conditions.)  Of course there were objections.  But in the end they had no choice.  They all agreed that to survive, they themselves would offer their own bodies so the others may live.  They even wrote letters to their parents explaining this, so if any of them survived they would not be judged criminally.

Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.  John 15:13

How they survived is only through the grace of God.  An avalanche covered the plane and more avalanches were always a threat, which is the main reason why a couple of the survivors had to trek out on their own to find help. 

A couple of attempts were futile.  The boys had to turn back disappointedly.  The third attempt was a success when two of the survivors found a couple of Andean herdsmen.  Soon after, search parties were sent out to find the others.  Praise God.

The author didn’t end the story there.  The passengers’ spiritual journey wasn’t finished.  The survivors were grateful to God but because of their experience, yet they were a little afraid of the world.  It was a bit of a culture shock.  What people were giving them and making a big deal out of, just seemed excessive, unimportant and of no value.  The boys craved solitude to process their experience and probably to express their thanks to God.  Besides, at first the media and so the world, rejoiced at finding the survivors and the plane, but when it became known that the boys had turned to cannibalism, public opinion turned against them.  It was unimaginable.  What they did was debated in the press and other media.  Over time, the hysteria died down and life went on.
However, life was never the same for the survivors.  They had felt the presence of God and kept the faith through it all. 

Alive is certainly not fiction, and its message suggests the significance of a biblical story.