Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Crime Against Nature


I'm in the car so much, that to keep me awake, or just to pass the boring down time, I listen to audio books. Presently, I'm listening to The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard. It's a mystery. The main character, the detective, is Gus Landor. He's investigating the "crime against nature." A young man has committed suicide. Crime against nature, # 1. Then someone stole the dead body and cut out its heart. Crime against nature, # 2. And I think the detective himself will commit suicide in the end. Maybe a crime against nature, # 3.

What depths of depravity mankind can sink! What about the ultimate crime against nature? If a mother "chooses" to murder her own baby inside her womb, she is committing THE ULTIMATE crime against nature.

What have we become?

Lord, have mercy on us.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pray for the Pope

In light of the attacks on Pope Benedict, I thought it would be a good idea to pray for him. This pray is in Envoy, Vol. 9.2.

God Our Father, look with kindness upon your servant Pope Benedict XVI, the pastor of Your Church. Grant him, we beseech you, an abundance of the virtues of faith, hope, and charity, prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. Protect him from the designs of his enemies, and grant him always the courage to fight the good fight. As successor to the Apostle Peter and vicar of Christ, may his fidelity to you, through his words and example, inspire and guide the Church, and may he and all those entrusted to his care come to the joys of eternal life. Grant this, we pray, through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy spirit, on God, forever and ever. AMEN

Viva Cristo Rey and Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro

Have you ever heard of Catholic Quest, or Envoy, or Patrick Madrid, or Viva Crista Rey? Catholic Quest was new to me, but I was familiar with the other three.

Today, my sister, Bette, and I went to hear Patrick Madrid speak, at her parish, St. Monica's, Methuen. Catholic Quest privides forums for Catholics to continue to learn about their faith. Patrick Madrid gave four talks. He's a lecturer, not an entertainer. I'm ashamed to say, I dozed off on the first talk. It was the history of the popes. Bette had never heard of Pope Joan, so thought this was the best talk. The second talk was more interesting to me. It was about why and how Protestants, like Scott Hahn convert. I prefer personal stories to history. The third talk was about scriptural proof of some of the truths in the Catholic Church, i.e., Eucharist, purgatory. He talked about tradition and what apologetics is and isn't and the danger inherrent in moral relativism.

I subscribed to CD of the month and listed to Viva Cristo Rey on my way home. The story of Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro is perfect for Hollywood. He is a martyr, for sure. Patrick parrels what happened in Mexico to what he sees happening today, here. Scary.

I also bought his book, Search Rescue. He wrote, "Faith, pray for me." For sure, I'll pray for the intercession of Fr. Pro to oversee Patrick Madrid's apostolate. Definitely, I'll be praying for our Church.

One last thing: I picked up a few of Patrick's magazine, Envoy, to leave in the back of my own parish.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hey! It's Lent.


It's Lent, so watch your mouth. Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, the USCCB's spokesperson has issued a statement entitled, "In All things, Charity." The bishops decry the tone people have taken when they disagree. The verbal sparring deteriorates into threats and even physical violence. It's crude and scary.

We saw on TV, legislators being spit on, racial slurs and even death threats. And what is even more shocking is the childish taunt, "Well they did it first!"

Give me a break.

In fact everyone should take a break. Take a deep breath. Think "this is Lent." Give people with other views some slack. This is a democracy--meaning you don't always get what YOU want. Trust in the Lord. All things will come to good. Keep this in mind during Holy Week.


Give us strength to trust in Your mercy, Lord.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Water Rosary



I've seen this picture of the water looking like a rosary before--all over the internet. But for some reason, tonight, while reading Father Tim's "Hermeneutic of Continuity," I was moved to post about it.

It's interesting, not miraculous. It's like seeing shapes in clouds. Am I taking the fun out of it? What is miraculous is that this baby is the son of an unwed mother. She could have aborted the baby. Thank God, she didn't and now we see
Valentino Mora, being baptized.

Here is the accompanying text:
"This was taken at the baptism of Valentino Mora, son of Erica, a single mom of 21 who asked the photographer to take a picture of her son for free. The photo of the baptism of Valentino Mora is sweeping the Internet, because at the time the priest pours the Holy water over his head, the water flows in the shape of a rosary. This story began at the Parish of the Assumption of Our Lady in Cordova, Spain, where the baptism of a one month baby took place. At the time that Valentino came to the baptismal font for the sacrament of baptism, Erica asked the photographer Maria Silvana Salles, who was hired by other parents baptizing their babies, to take a photo of her son as a favor, since the young mother had no way of paying for it. The photographer, moved by Erica's request, agreed to take a photo of Valentino. Maria Silvana works with a traditional camera and had to send the film to be developed to a shop in Cordova. When she received the photos, she noticed with surprise that the water poured from the head of Valentino was a perfect rosary. The photo of the baptism of Valentino has awakened faith in the people of Cordova who come to the humble home of Erica and Valentino Mora to touch him. The truth is that this sign of faith has mobilized this town in Cordova, whose neighbors go to Maria Silvana's store to buy the picture as if it were a prayer card."

You can see God's work all around you. It's wicked awesome.

Novena in Honor of the Virgin of the Incarnation


Sometimes my ignorance just is overwhelming. Today, March 25th, is the day I start a novena. I've been saying this novena for four years now, even since my Provincial Promoter, Fr. Juan-Diego Brunetta, OP asked the Lay Dominicans in the Province of St. Joseph to pray the Novena in Honor of the Virgin of the Incarnation.

Well, it just occurred to me, that nine months is the time of gestation. I never thought of that. I was just thinking that novenas involve "nine." So we pray this novena as if we are pregnant. March 25-----Dec. 25.

I pray that new meaning will help me pray more fervently.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Catholics Pray to Saints



My spiritual brother, Tom, over at his blog, "Disputations" has a posting about Catholics praying to saints.

It's a common expression. Pray to St. Anthony when you lose something. Pray to St. Jude when you're desperate. Pray to St. Dominic before you lector. Pray to St. Thomas Aquinas before a test. Pray to St. Rocco to be cured. Pray to St. Gerard for a baby.

I always thought that it is understood that you are praying for that saint's intercession to God. But I guess many don't look at it that way. Too bad because that's one of the reasons I'm glad I'm Catholic. I have all these saints to pray to.

Ora pro nobis.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Visiting all the Catholic Churches in Franklin


The tradition of visiting seven churches on Holy Thursday is an ancient practice, probably originating in Rome, where early pilgrims visited the seven pilgrim churches as penance. They are Saint John Lateran, Saint Peter, Saint Mary Major, Saint Paul-outside-the-Walls, Saint Lawrence Outside the Walls, Holy Cross-in-Jerusalem, and traditionally Saint Sebastian Outside the Walls. Pope John Paul II replaced St. Sebastian with the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Divine Love for the jubilee year of 2000.

But here in Franklin, MA, USA, we only have one Catholic Church in town. What do we do?

Hope the interfaith council does something. I'll count attending that service as visiting the seven churches.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"Boston" --St. Patrick


Did you know that Boston was the first city in America to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with a parade? That's right, 1737. One version of the story is that on March 17th, some of the drinking in the taverns spilled over into the streets. Sounds plausible to me.

And then when the British troops occupied Boston around 1760, the Irish regiments
celebrated St. Patrick's Day with marching, feasting, and dancing. On March 17, 1775, 70 Redcoats, paraded through the streets of Boston in regimental form.

But then the revolution happened. After the Battle of Lexington and Concord, British troops had retreated to Boston where the Continental Army held them besieged for 11 months. But Washington's troops had positioned cannon on Dorchester Heights overlooking the city. The British would occupy Boston for only a few more days because they could see they would lose that battle. And you know what? They never returned.

Washington was well aware that the liberation of Boston occurred on St. Patrick's Day. A number of the men on his command staff were of Irish descent. The General Orders he issued that day specified that anyone wishing to pass through Continental lines would give the password "Boston," to which the reply would be "St. Patrick." It is said that as the British troops departed, an American band played "St. Patrick's Day in the Morning."

h/t to Fr. Gabriel, who told this story at Mass this morning. h/t to Mass Moments, which is probably where Father got his info. ;-)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Shoes

That's right, shoes. This was the topic at the Laetare Communion Breakfast, this morning. Sister Barbara Reney, csj, tied shoes to spirituality.

Douay-Rheims Bible
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, and that preacheth peace: of him that sheweth forth good, that preacheth salvation, that saith to Sion: Thy God shall reign! Isaiah 52:7

She had us contemplating where our shoes (feet) had taken us. She told us the story of her being a pastoral visitor and bringing Communion to parishioners in the hospital. While in the elevator she met a women who saw that she was a pastoral visitor and asked her if she would visit her friend, even though she wasn't a parishioner. Sister Barbara did.

She went up to the fifth floor and into the room. The patient was the only one in the room. Sister walked over to her and saw that her eyes were closed. Sister Barbara gently touched the young lady. And when she opened her eyes, Sister gasped. She knew her. She immediately knew who she was and said her name. This patient was a former student who Sister Barbara had had when she taught fifth grade.

Sister brought her Communion as long as she was in the hospital. She also visited her in her home. She was there for her, until the day she died.

And her shoes brought her there.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Alert

USCCB Issues New Bulletin Alert on Health Care Reform - Fix or Oppose

Thanks to the blog, Catholic Key, we have a heads up. Friday afternoon, the USCCB contacted dioceses across the country with a new bulletin insert. As church bulletin’s are usually prepared on Wednesdays, the Conference realizes that most parishes will not be able to utilize the insert for this weekend. They have asked, however, that dioceses use every means of dissemination and social networking available to get this important action alert out, as action in the House is expected in days. You can do the same.

In the insert, the Bishops again urge Catholics to contact their House and Senate members urging them to oppose the Senate Health Care Bill unless changes regarding abortion funding, conscience and immigrants are made. Here it is in pdf and inline below:

USCCB NATIONWIDE BULLETIN INSERT/ACTION ALERT
Updated 3-11-2010
Stop Abortion Funding in Health Care Reform!
Protect Conscience
Ensure Affordable Health Coverage
Allow Immigrants to Purchase Private Health Insurance

As long-time advocates of health care reform, the U.S. Catholic bishops continue to make the moral case that genuine health care reform must protect the life, dignity, consciences and health of all, especially the poor and vulnerable. Health care reform should provide access to affordable and quality health care for all, and not advance a pro-abortion agenda in our country. Genuine health care reform is being blocked by those who insist on reversing widely supported policies against federal funding of abortion and plans which include abortion, not by those working simply to preserve these longstanding protections.

• On November 7, the U.S. House of Representatives passed major health care reform that reaffirms the essential, longstanding and widely supported policy against using federal funds for elective abortions and includes positive measures on affordability and immigrants.

• On December 24, the U.S. Senate rejected this policy and passed health care reform that requires federal funds to help subsidize and promote health plans that cover elective abortions. All purchasers of such plans will be required to pay for other people’s abortions through a separate payment solely to pay for abortion. And the affordability credits for very low income families purchasing private plans in a Health Insurance Exchange are inadequate and would leave families financially vulnerable.

• Outside the abortion context, neither bill has adequate conscience protection for health care providers, plans or employers.

• Congressional leaders are now trying to figure out how the rules of the House and Senate could allow the final passage of a modified bill that would satisfy disagreements between House and Senate versions.

ACTION: Contact your Representative and Senators today by e-mail, phone or FAX.

• To send a pre-written, instant e-mail to Congress go to www.usccb.org/action.

• Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202-224-3121, or call your Members’ local offices.
Contact info can be found on Members’ web sites at www.house.gov & www.senate.gov.

MESSAGE – HOUSE:
“I am pleased that the House health care bill maintains the longstanding policy against federal funding of abortion. On the other hand, the provisions on abortion funding in the current un-amended Senate health care bill are seriously deficient and unacceptable. I urge you to work to uphold essential provisions against abortion funding, to include full conscience protection and to ensure that health care is accessible and affordable for all. I urge you to oppose any bill unless and until these criteria are met.”

MESSAGE – SENATE:
“I am deeply disappointed that the current un-amended Senate health care bill fails to maintain the longstanding policy against federal funding of abortion and does not include adequate protection for conscience. I urge you to support essential provisions against abortion funding, similar to those in the House bill. Include full conscience protection and ensure that health care is accessible and affordable for all. I urge you to oppose any bill unless and until these criteria are met.”

WHEN: Votes in the House and Senate are expected at any time. Act today! Thank You!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Pro Life Victory

The Dominican Republic has passed a new constitution. One of its new articles states:

"The right to life is inviolable from conception to natural death. The death penalty shall not be established, decreed or applied in any case."

Kudos to the Dominicans!

The right to life and its protection is the most basic human right.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dosan Ahn Chang-ho


Dosan Ahn Chang-ho is a Korean/American hero. Ahn Chang Ho was born in Korea. Dosan is the pen name he chose seeing Hawaii for the first time from the ship he was traveling from Korea on in 1902 on his first trip to America. It means Island Mountain.

Dosan was born in Korea in 1878. He is one of Korea's greatest patriotic figures and is also a historical figure in America. He died on March 10, 1938 after being imprisoned and tortured by the Japanese. He was persecuted for his patriotism and love of his country and his people. You can read more about him on the web site dedicated to him.

What interested me was one of his letters, while he was in prison. It's full of love. What a remarkable man. I refer you to the Marmot's Hole, where you will read something wonderful.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Poetry Night

In Book Club we reviewed Mary Oliver's Evidence. We all agreed that this book of poetry is Oliver's best. Of course, we said that the last time. Mary Oliver is our favorite poetess.

We all took turns reading our favorite poems out of the book. We had a special treat, in that the long lost Linda showed up. She's the one who introduced Oliver to us, so it was fitting that she came, tonight. She's been through a lot: new job, working 12 to 14 hours a day, and shingles! ugh!

My favorite phrase is in the "Snowy Egret." The poet describes how the egret has come for forty years to her house. "Don't think he is a casual part of my life."

I'm saving that phrase to tell to someone who needs it. Isn't it beautiful?

How about: "Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed."

Her poetry is so simple and direct. People who say they don't understand poetry would do well to begin with Mary Oliver. We decided to go visit her in P-town. We made plans for May. We'll take the ferry from Boston to Provincetown. We'll visit her book store and give her a telephone call and see if she's up for visitors. Probably not, but that particular book store has her personally autographed books. And P-town is always interesting and fun. It'll be something to look forward to.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Demographics of My Parish

Tonight at the Parish Pastoral Council, we had two representatives from the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center. They explained St. Mary's demographics, which we are to use in formulating a plan to best meet the spiritual needs of the parish in the future, specifically 2014.

ExecutiveInsite devised a really interesting picture of the parish. It integrated a data tables and graphs with narration. It included twelve trends:
Population
Racial/Ethnic
Age
Children
Marital Status
Educational Levels
Occupations
Household Types
Charitable Giving Practices
Religious Practices

On the whole, St. Mary's is average or above. We're doing all right. To maintain and increase will be our goal. Our next meeting, hopefully will be to come up with some concrete, valid, ideas. But presently, we think that just being joyful, excited about our Faith, and practicing what we preach is the best policy.

In fact, our conclusion reminded me of something the Venerable, Father Samuel Mazzuchelli, O.P. said: "A holy cheerfulness, gentleness, and readiness in speaking, a modest and reserved manner, confidence in the Lord, and zeal for the salvation of others are irresistible attractions that almost always draw the bystanders around one who, with frank simplicity, is defending the cause of Catholic doctrines."

IOW, don't hide your light under the basket.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Faith is Greater than Love

I know that 1 Corinthians 13:13, says that the greatest of the virtues is love. But that was before my time. Paul hadn't met Faith.
;-)
Just kidding. But that passage always went up one side of me and down the other. And I know why. Love without Faith is "eros" love. It's selfish love. You need faith in God to kick up the love, a notch or two.

When you act with charity towards another, it may just be an act of convenience. When you "make love" with another, it may be self gratification, or a fulfillment of personal needs. It is only when you serve the other for the love of God, that the love counts as LOVE. This is called agape.

BUT YOU HAVE TO KNOW AND LOVE GOD!

Thus, "FAITH" comes first. Faith is what turns "eros" into "agape."

I rest my case.

Chile

What can I say?

the poem VIVA CHILE MIERDA!
Fernando Alegría

(Unauthorized English Translation by Grecia Bate & Marcia Campos)


When the Chilean goes out into the dawn to pull back the stars
And, damp with morning dew, lights the fire in his spurs;
When the red horse leaps the hurdle of the sea
And the lake trembles with a gentle mist of ducks;
When the wizened larch falls and betwixt its branches falls the sky,
I say with nostalgia: “Viva Chile, Mierda!”


When the deep-sea diver lights his suit
And the whales draw close to suckle at the belly of the boats;
When the country’s skeleton sinks to the bottom of the sea
And like a dead cow, is dragged away by an ancient wave;
When they work the mines and set Antarctica on fire,
I say, pensively, “Viva Chile, Mierda!”


When winter comes floating along the Mapocho River
Like a corpse tied with wires, to flowers and jars;
And dogs lick at him, and he shrinks away embalmed with cats
When it carries one child, and another sleeping child in its frost
And it keeps stirring and stirring its soiled bodybags;
I say, enfuriated, “Viva Chile, Mierda!”


When a squatter camp grows by the light of the moon,
When another crumbles and another factory goes dark;
When a Northern port dies and they wrap it in sand;
When Santiago reeks and its white plazas rust;
When the wine is all gone and the widows morgage their houses;
I say, head bowed, “Viva Chile, Mierda!”


I ask myself suddenly and with amazement why
I say, “Viva Chile, Shit!” and not my… er… beautiful country?
Perhaps in my ignorance I repeat the echo of another echo;
“Viva!” says the seeker with the the gold nugget between his fingers;
“Chile!” says the wind to the green sky of the drunken valleys;
“Shit!” replies the frog to the old witch of Talagante.


What is this deep problem hiding in the lines of my hand?
Is my country an illusion that follows me like a dog’s shadow?
My friends: Is there no Life between us without its shit?
The one for the slave, the other for the master
The one for the exploiter of nitrate, copper, coal, and livestock,
The other for the miner whose life is a subterranean death.


And as we grieve through life on our narrow land overlooking the abyss,
Who was the first to shout out the curse?
Was it a soldier wounded in the battle of Rancagua?
Was it a sailor in Angamos? Or a corporal in Cancha Rayada?
Was it a striker in La Coruña? A clenched fist in San Gregorio?
Or an Easter Islander bleeding in the nightfall of his beaches?


Didn’t the troubador croon his solitude unto the divine
While his humanity, hanged himself with the strings of his guitar?
Didn’t he follow the Holy One on horseback, while his knife’s kept the devil away?
Ah! What a giant undertaking for such a measly destiny!
Between snow and sea, with all our heart, we beat ourselves against a pathway that is walled in.


As a result, in the morning, when God ignores us,
When an earthquake’s shudder rouses us at midnight,
When the sea loots our houses and hides in the woods,
When Chile can no longer be sure of its maps,
And we crow, like a rooster that will peck the sun into pieces,
I say, with resolution, “Viva Chile, Mierda!”


And what I say is a battle cry,
A prayer without end, a farewell call, a fierce command,
A bloody digging in of the spurs, with the reins in the air;
The gallop of Chile’s stallion across centuries,
The grinding of tectonic plates, the ring of fire,
The ancient blue wave of impatient icebergs.


My bird-country, green root, corner where the world ends,
Whoever yells it shall have no peace, will move forward only to fall again,
Because from island to island, from the sea to the mountains,
From one solitude to another, as from one star to another star,
The verdict of the earth will go on howling in our ears:
I say finally, “Viva Chile, Mierda!

h/t to the blog on Fernando Alegria

Friday, March 5, 2010

Changhun's Definition


Finally, we had a chance to discuss "Freedom" in class. I posted about why in my Feb.25 post. We were talking about "dress codes." Changhun had said that he was surprised that in a free country, you couldn't choose to dress like you want.

His expectation bothered me and I wanted to discuss it. But the classes just never seen to go in that direction. Tonight the opportunity arose and we discussed what "Freedom meant."

I was surprised that Changhun laced his speech with "discipline," and "responsibility." He thought that "freedom" was the right to do what we should do, not whatever you feel like. Your freedom is bounded by laws.

The best example was "food." We are free to eat what we want. But is what we want good for you? To be healthy we must choose foods that are healthy. This was something we all could relate to.

Of course, to me, I think "freedom" is God given, and not something imposed on others by selfish people wanting to impose their will on others.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Am I Female?

Just for kicks I had the Gender Analyzer see what they think the administrator of this blog is.

They guessed correctly, but said that 54% thought it was written by a female, however it's quite gender neutral.


Is that good or bad?

I tried it again with the blog I do for my parish and they were wrong. 74% guessed male.

Dumb Asses.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mother of Divine Grace



Being the most perfect of God's creatures, Mary is protrayed in prints, pictures, sculpture and other modes of expression. "The Lord is with you," Gabriel tells Mary. He says she is "full of grace." God's love fills her and the life giving power of the Holy Spirit comes to fruition within her. God is Mystery; likewise, Mary. She is the Salve Regina, "our life, our sweetness, our hope."

Our hope for glory is Jesus Christ, but Mary is part of that glory so that she is also our hope.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, come to us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.