Friday, July 3, 2015


The thunder storm finally broke.  It had been threatening for hours.  “Well, we can use the rain, that’s for sure.”

Ma was in the kitchen doing the dishes.  She was talking to me but I was busy shutting windows and wiping wet windowsills. 

When I finally finished and went into the kitchen I was surprised to see Ma crying.

“What’s the matter?”

“Don’t pay any attention to me.  I’m just being an old fool.”

“C’mon, what happened?”

“I was reminiscing about when you were little and afraid of the thunder and we told you it was the angels bowling.  Do you remember that?”

“I certainly do.  And I also remember that I didn’t know what bowling was but I knew if angels were involved, it was OK.”

The conversation ended right then and there because the rain turned to hail and was pelting out a rhythm on the metal deck furniture.  “Well Ma, what are the angels doing now?”

“Playing marbles.”

“Throwing away moth balls.”

“Testing percussion instruments.”

“Playing with the kittens.”

“Playing with the kittens?”

“You know like you tease Tabby with the catnip ball.”


“You want to go bowling?”  We both went out the door smiling.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Society's Lepers

You'll have to forgive my missing a few postings, here and there.  I'm kind of in "vacation mode;" although I'm not on vacation. I guess it's the hot weather; that's as good an excuse as any.

OK.  I'm lazy.

But I've been thinking of what to post ever since Monday's Sunday Mass.  See my "cloistered brothers" can't get a priest on Sunday.  Hence, their Sunday Mass is Monday.  And I am blessed to attend two Sunday Masses.

Father Jack Sullivan
7:30 AM Mass on Sunday, the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time at my parish, found me reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians. Not many were awake enough to hear me tell them to open their wallets and give.  And they didn't even wake up to listen to Father Jack  tell them about Jarius' daughter coming back from the dead.  So it's a good thing he skipped over the part about the woman with the hemorrhage.  That story didn't fit into his excellent homily.

Our God is not God of the dead.  He created us to live forever.  Don't forget that fact.  This life is temporary.

Although, I don't think there's a woman alive who doesn't think of the hemorrhaging woman, once a month.  So about half of the population (women) know this story.

Msgr. Peter Conley
And it's exactly this story, that Msgr. Conley focused on, in his homily.  You see, back in the day (Jesus' time), blood meant disgustingly unclean.  When a woman was menstruating, she kept herself separate from the rest of society because she was dirty.  And this poor woman was bleeding for twelve years!  Think suffering, emotionally distraught from isolation and rejection.  No wonder the poor woman snuck up on Jesus to touch Him.  If people knew, they would have pushed her out of the crowd.  She probably thought Jesus was going to reject her also.

Isn't this exactly how my "cloistered brothers" feel?  They, like the hemorrhaging woman are considered the "lepers" in society--rejected and isolated from society.  Msgr. Conley hit a home run with this homily.  I as a female identified, and my "cloistered brothers" as inmates in a prison, identified.

But what does Jesus tell this "leper" from society?  "Your faith has saved you."

Thank you, Jesus.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Bronx Gothic

Bitter Bronx by Jerome Charyn is written in Gothic Bronx style.  I don’t know if there such a thing. 
Look at the tail on Jerome Charyn's cat.
Isn't she beautiful?  You gotta love a man
who loves cats.
If not, then give Jerome Charyn credit for creating a new genre. I call Charyn’s book of short stories, “Gothic” because his thirteen stories tell of weird, comic characters involved in melodramatic situations that will raise your eyebrows, or twist your lips into a smirk.  I think I might have even guffawed at one of the “Silk” stories.

Charyn’s stories bring you to a “mecca of middle-class Jews,” “Mafioso restaurants”, and up to the Grand Concourse.  A grifter gigolo named Howell is surprised to find love in Lorelei.  Another gigolo whose modeling name was Adonis is good at dining widows. The kids at Music and Art had a cockroach who writes poetry and a companion, alley cat, who thought she was Cleopatra.  They are named Archy and Mehitabel. Then there’s the bisexual in The Cat Lady’s Kiss.  My favorite stories were the three stories about the Silk family: Silk & Silk, Little Sister, and Marla. The reader gets drawn into this melodramatic soap opera life of the Silks.  The characterization must have reminded me of some people I know because these stories are my favorite.

Then we continue with Dee who tried to help the gentle giant, Eddie.  There was a homeless man in love with Princess Hannah.  A poetry teacher who made me wonder if the author was projecting himself in  Milo’s Last Chance.  An orphan who lucked out in Alice’s Eyes.  A New York Yankees’ twenty-fifth man, who became the secret lover of a hospital administrator, in Major Leaguer.  Lastly, a dangerous female ex-con in White Trash, who exhibited psychopathic behavior.

These thirteen stories will hold you tight and then release you to breathe.  And think.  You’ll be wondering and thinking of the Silks, and crazy characters, and colorful situations, for quite a while.  Jerome Charyn’s Bitter Bronx is quite a tour.  I enjoyed it.  I think you will, too. I received a free copy of Bitter Bronx by Jerome Charyn from Tribute Book, but no other compensation was received, and my review is my honest evaluation.

About the Author:

Jerome Charyn's stories have appeared in The Atlantic, The Paris Review, The American Scholar, Epoch, Narrative, Ellery Queen, and other magazines.  His most recent novel is I Am Abraham. He lived for many years in Paris and currently resides in Manhattan.

Bitter Bronx can be purchased at:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Prices/Formats: $9.99-$12.49 ebook, $24.95 hardcover
Genre: Short Stories
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9780871404893
Publisher: Liveright

Click to add to your Goodreads list.

About the Author

Jerome Charyn's stories have appeared in The Atlantic, The Paris Review, The American Scholar, Epoch, Narrative, Ellery Queen, and other magazines. His most recent novel is I Am Abraham. He lived for many years in Paris and currently resides in Manhattan. 

Links to connect with Jerome:

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Is Reality Relative?

A funny thing happened to me while reading the Office, I came across the word exegesis.  It was used as if it were a specific way of studying the Apocalypse.  I was uncertain of this meaning.  Hence, I asked my iPhone: "Definition: exegesis."   IPhone answered with a definition of genital.  !!!!!!!

????  Must be my Boston accent.  I asked again.  "No, exegesis.  E - X - E - G - E - S - I - S."  This time my iPhone gave me the address of two local restaurants.  !!!!!

I exclaimed, "You are no help!"

Then I heard my iPhone tell me, "Why do you hate me?  I'm not even real."


Here I am admonishing my phone.  It makes a joke.  I laugh.

And my iPhone thinks it's not real.

Ordinarily I would end my blog post here, but I didn't end my conversation with my iPhone.  (I should give it a name, shouldn't I?)  I asked it, "Is reality relative?"  This time I received a choice of website to explore.

I did what the iPhone told me.  I explored.  It does seem that sometimes reality is relative.  Sometimes it isn't.  Think of what you thought of your parents as a child and what you think now.  Sometimes reality is not relative.  God is God.  That's absolute.  But how you think of God is relative.

So my iPhone is relatively real.

Friday, June 26, 2015

My Two Cents

Today the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage.  I find that odd since the Supreme Court is ruling on historical tradition.  Since when?  Franklin Graham said today,

With all due respect to the court, it did not define marriage, and therefore is not entitled to re-define it.
Long before our government came into existence, marriage was created by the One who created man and woman—Almighty God—and His decisions are not subject to review or revision by any manmade court. God is clear about the definition of marriage in His Holy Word: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

You know what I think.  I don't think laws can legislate morality.  The Supreme Court can try, but laws can be repealed.  And also, I don't think (I pray) appeals and protests aren't the way to repeal laws.  I think we have to change hearts.  It's working with abortion.  Less and less babies are being aborted.  I think the same-sex marriage hoop-la will die down.  Wait until people want to have two or more wives or husband.  I mean why exclude others from the matrimonial union.  Don't they deserve happiness too.  
It's just silliness.  So how to respond?  We work on the culture and respond like Christians.  We spread our joy and encourage people to have a personal relationship with Jesus.  Now that's where they will find true love.  The Archdiocese of Denver has a good response to the Supreme Court decision.
Interesting response from the Archdiocese of Denver to today's Supreme Court decision:
"We here at the Denver Catholic figure that we have two options for how to respond going foward:
Go on the defensive. We've clearly lost the culture war, but we can try to convince the public that our view is the correct one.
Realize that we don't live in a Christian culture, and therefore must engage it as missionaries.
Option one is equivalent to declaring ourselves victims. Option two is to accept the challenge of living as authentic followers of Jesus Christ in a world that has largely forgotten Him.
Jesus Christ is real. We Christians have experienced the sweetness of a personal relationship with Him. Our mission is not to punish or coerce those who have not experienced this—instead, we must invite them into relationship. What better way to do this than to show the joy of living the Catholic faith?
We ask you to join us in the ‪#‎MissionofJoy‬ campaign.
Our goal is to fill social media, and Catholic media especially, with messages of hope and joy, not victimhood and retaliation.
Please consider doing the following:
Take time to reflect on how you, personally, can be a missionary of joy
Create memes, videos, infographics, etc.—wherever your strengths lay—to show the joy of living the Church's teaching, or share ours!
Share your messages through your own social media channels using the hashtag #MissionofJoy
 As for me, I choose Option Two.  Fill the social media.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Forgiveness Behind Bars

A lot of the advice on how to deal with forgiveness doesn't work in prison.  I feel like I'm in over my head.  I'm asking for advice and not giving it.

It is a fact of our human condition that our first response to anger is to lash out.  Christianity tells us to forgive and not to exact revenge.  However, not to react in a retaliatory manner would be perceived as weak, in a prison environment.  A big guy may be able to pull off a "turn the other cheek" attitude, but not the average or small one.  How should a Christian inmate respond?

One way to handle situations is to visualize forgiveness.  In one's mind the situation is reenacted.  This fantasy has one as strong and responding with wisdom.  I don't think that would work.

Would it be acceptable to visualize the opposite?  Fantasize pounding the sh** out of the offender.  Wouldn't that get the aggression out?  The intention is to do violence in your mind, so you don't do it for real?  Would that be a sin? 

Communication isn't possible with crazy people.  And some of the people in prison are not mentally well.  The normal methods of handling anger just aren't feasible.  What would Jesus do?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Blog Sharing

I received an invitation today to blog share. Mandy Welty Mazzawi asked to swap blogs which means to share our blogs.  I happy to do so.  Mandy is a Catholic Mom from Ithaca New York who is into self sustaining living and living life to it's fullest.

What's that, you may ask?  That's what you'll find out when you click here.