Friday, December 31, 2010

We've Got Your Back

Sacred Heart Church, Cambridge, MA
On this last day of 2010, I went to a wake and Funeral Mass, for the mother of one of my brothers in Community.  I love my Lay Dominican Community.  And the outpouring of love and support is why.  The Funeral Home (Donovan-Aufiero Funeral Home) was crowded with my brothers, family, and friends.  After the priest led prayers in the parlor of the Funeral Home, he said he could feel and see the prayerful, and personal relationship that we all had with God.  It was kind of obvious.  We blew the priest over with EVERYBODY responding to the prayers.  Father said it was usually just himself and Mr. Aufiero praying, while everyone else listened.  Whereas, not only did we know what to respond, we did respond--a la Our Lady of Mercy Chapter style!

As you can see, Sacred Heart Church, Cambridge, MA is beautiful.  It's really head turning beautiful inside.  I walked in with the crowd and when I saw the altar from the entrance, I was awed.  I spontaneously whispered (Irish whisper--couldn't help it), "Wow...it's so beautiful."  The man in front of me turned around and said, "Thank you."

YIKES!  It was the priest.  (Good thing I didn't say anything bad.)

But it was beautiful.  It sparkled.  It was still decorated for Christmas.  And everywhere there were little tiny Christmas lights--very tasteful.  The sanctuary had a lot of candles.  They were of different heights and lit.  I don't know if the church was just painted, but that's what I remembered about it -- the sparkling cleanliness.  I didn't see any water stains, or peeling paint.  And this is an old church, built 1874, so I'm sure it's a money pit.  Yet the parishioners must love it.  God bless them.

Father Tackney was a good match for my brother Gary and his family.  Again, Father said it was a pleasure to pray with us.  Father even let Spider sing, before his final blessing.  And Spider's song was perfect for the last sentiments of Gary's Mom's Rite of Christian Burial. Spider's lyrics and sentiments still ring in my heart.

May Marion be welcomed by Jesus.
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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Drink and Be Merry

A friar walks into a bar and orders a beer.  Suddenly, a Jesuit runs in and yells, "Brother Diotrophes, come look, your house is on fire!"  The friar rushes out and then stops and thinks, "Wait a minute!  I don't own a house."

The friar sits back down and orders another beer.

Soon a Franciscan runs in and yells, "Brother Diotrophes, come look, your car is being stolen!"  The friar rushes out and then stops and thinks, "Wait a minute! I don't have a car."

The friar sits back down and orders another beer.

Soon a nun runs in and yells, "Brother Diotrophes, hurry up, you won the lottery and there's a million dollars waiting for you at the post office."  The friar jumps up, runs to the post office, and then realizes, "Hey, My name isn't Brother Diotrophes!"

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Stress Coping Skills with Faith

In work today we had a Stress Management Class.  I didn't particularly learn anything, because I've been there before.  Heck!  I could teach the class.  I could teach a course.  I could write a book.  I'm referring to my Cronkhite Canada Syndrome, which is caused by stress.  But near the end, the facilitator asked us how we coped with stress.  Someone said they telephone their daughter, and another said she cooks.

No one said they meditate.  No one said they prayed.

No wonder they're stressed.  You can't do it alone.  You can't get through life by yourself.  Well, yeah, you can, but it won't be easy--not stress free.  We all need help.

Add caption
Stress Coping Skills with Faith

Take care of yourself.  If you're not strong you can't help anyone else, not even yourself.
Pray.  You've got to communicate with God, and that means listen.  Praying is mostly listening--yeah, read that again.  Prayer is mostly listening.  That's meditation.  Complain, bitch, whatever...God's a big boy; He can take it.  But then, listen to what He has to say.
Family comes first--after you and God.  If you screw up here, you have reason to be stressed.  What else matters?  Family life takes a lot of time.  What of it?  It's the most important time you'll ever spend.
Friends and other relationships are next, because people are important.  Be kind.  Treat others like you want them to treat your children.  Everyone is important.
Routine is necessary.  I think everyone needs the rhythm of a routine to feel balanced.  If you miss your morning daily Mass then the whole day seems off.  Keeping to a daily routine keeps peace and security.  When your routine is interrupted, everything seems in chaos.
Learn to say "NO."  You can't do it all.  It's humanly impossible to do a good job in more than one activity.  I know it's flattering to be asked to do something, or lead something, or help, or.....  "NO."   Say it again, "NO."
Take naps.  Yep, I said it, the un-heard of, at least in the USA.  Short power naps for 20 minutes will give you more energy, make you more alert, and look prettier too.  Yeah, I said "prettier," because you won't have that tied, drawn, sallow skin of a stressed-out zombie.

You can't be human and have no stress.  But it's not worth it, to let it control your life.  Stay on top of it with my hard earned "Stress Coping Skills."  Trust me.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mystic or Atheist?

Which are you?

In preparing for Sunday's Readings, I was reading Fr. Ron Rolheiser's explanation of Karl Rahner's description of the future, e.g., that we will either be mystics or non-believers.

Why?

I thought you'd never ask.  ;-)  Times are different.  Rahner saw a future hostile to religion.  It is true.  Our present culture does not support a religious centered mind set.  Think of Medieval times.  Life centered around the Church.  You woke to the Church bells.  Prayers were prayed all day long as the bells tolled the time for prayer.  I'm old enough to remember my immigrant grandparents and their strong faith.  The church was their educational and social center.  Most parishes had parochial schools.  Every family had children that grew up to be nuns and priests.  Doesn't everyone have aunts and uncles who were religious?

It's not that way, now.  In fact, to be religious, is counter cultural.  Sometimes I feel marginalized.  This is what Rahner meant, I believe.

This is why I'm glad I'm a Lay Dominican.  I have the support of my Dominican Family.  My Chapter and my brothers and sisters keep me centered.  And surprisingly, you know what else?

Facebook.

I have gathered about me people who think like I do.  Yeah, they're all over the world.  Others like myself!  Imagine that.  And I never would have known that they ever even existed, were it not for FB.

It's us against the world.  But we're not alone.
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Monday, December 27, 2010

Light of the Church



Can't wait.  This film was two years in the making.  The Dominicans from the Philippines  Province made this movie to coincide with the anniversary of the Order in 1216.  The backgrounds: scenery and props are pretty close to Dominic's time in Medieval history.  The actors are international and aimed to portray their roles to give a picture of the life of Saint Dominic and how the Dominican Order came into being.


St. Dominic as portrayed in the film is described for his selfless love for his brothers and sisters especially to those who need help the most, the oppressed and the lowly.

The verse in Matthew resonates in the film as a conviction of St. Dominic, the words of Jesus to his disciples, “…whatever you do for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you do unto Me.”
On his deathbed he said to his brothers, “Do not weep, I shall be of more use to you after death than I ever did in life.”
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Prayer for Beatification and Canonization

Pere Lataste's remains were moved from
the nun's chapel to his very own new chapel.
This prayer is to be prayed privately, because it is not officially recognized, by church authorities.

O Lord of all that is good and holy. You see those of us who love and serve You faithfully. If it be Your Will, I ask you to glorify Your faithful friar, Father Marie Jean-Joseph Lataste, O.P. he exemplified Jesus' teachings on mercy, forgiveness, and love. He taught the forgotten, the poor, the marginalized, and the imprisoned, that all Your people are loved equally by You. Pere Lataste said that the prisoner was loved the same as a priest, in Your eyes. His clear and courageous preaching of Your Truths converted many hardened hearts to embrace the Faith. His love for the Blessed Mother moved many to love Your Son. He inspired the lives of the women prisoners in Cadillac, France, to establish the Dominican Sisters of Bethany. He gave his all for You, zealously bringing people to You. His will was to do Your Will.

Lord, if it be Your Divine Will, I ask you to glorify Your loving and faithful servant, Father Marie Jean-Joseph Lataste, O.P. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord and Savior. Amen

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Vigil for Life





http://www.bostoncatholic.org/Events-Calendar/Event-Detail.aspx?id=19092

A Cardinal Behind Bars



Cardinal Sean Patrick must be talking about the Bethany Community at MCI Norfolk, of course.  “Sometimes seeing the generosity and the kindness of some of the prisoners working as volunteers in the programs we have there is . . . inspiring. Or,’’ he said with a chuckle, “to go to some of these Masses where the singing is actually much better than in some of the parishes.’’

Saturday, December 25, 2010

My Canticle

I praise You, Lord,
the God of all people:
because you have redeemed us all:
because you are Love,
Mercy, and Kindness:
because you understand
our weaknesses, our
efforts, and our obstacles.

I praise You, Lord, and
bless us, your children,
who do believe and work
toward salvation, as did
Your son, as did Mary,
Joseph, Dominic, and all
followers of Jesus.  Bless us
all, my God, for we are
Your people, and wait for
Your return, now and forever.     Amen

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Backbone Award


News Conference at the Diocesan Pastoral Center, Dec. 21, 2010 from Diocese of Phoenix on Vimeo.


The Backbone Award, given by many bloggers on the blogosphere, (one of my favs is his hermeneuticness, Fr. Tim) is given to Bishop Thomas Olmstead, Bishop of Phoenix, Arizona.  The just Bishop has severed relationship with St. Joseph's Hospital.  To get the full story, listen to the video.

Pay attention to 23' 30".

We need Catholic hospitals to be Catholic, NOW, more than ever.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bible Sharing = Lectio Divina

When you read, don't you automatically just stop and think about what you just read?  That's how you read.


Isn't it?


This morning I was reading about Brother Simeon Leiva, at Spencer, MA.  Catholic News Service reports,      Lectio divina," an ancient scriptural meditative practice, is an ideal way for contemporary Catholics to unplug from worldly distractions and establish holy intimacy, permanent friendship and fruitful companionship with Jesus Christ, according to Trappist Brother Simeon Leiva.


And when you read something deep, you spend longer thinking about it.  So isn't Lectio Divina something we already do?


And in Bible Sharing, like my parish does in it's Arise Groups, isn't that just Group Lectio Divina?


What's the big whoop about?  

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Alex's Christmas Tree

The following won an Honorable Mention in the Second Annual OPrize for Poetry .  It was published as Justitia by lulu.

Alex's Christmas Light
       by Mrs. Faith Flaherty, O.P.

Alex beams as he show his Christmas card --

The prisoner artist, with soft eyes,
     has to peer beyond to see
             behind bars.

Happy garland embraces thick branches,
      bright lights shining
             behind bars.

Kairos Moment!  When I see
    that emblazoned tree is
            behind bars.

Alex gives a present of hope
    to us--who put him
            behind bars.

Merry Christmas to all and
    may all see the Light.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Jump! Jump!

The Arizona Republic had an article on the conflict between Bishop Olmsted and St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center.  St. Joseph's is the Catholic hospital that performed an abortion supposedly to save the life of the mother.  Perhaps you've heard of the controversy?  Yeah, ad naseum.  But in case you're cloistered and don't know what I'm referring to, go here for the story.  Thanks to http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/.

I don't want to get into

  • the pressure insurance companies put on doctors
  • fear of litigation
  • taking the easy way out
  • the role of the media
  • American mores
  • whether of not the abortion was necessary
...and I really don't want to get into whether or not the Bishop is wrong, because he's not.  Either you're Catholic or not.  Fine.  Take the name Catholic off.  This is the Bishop's call.  Lump it.

What really bothers me are the people who are urging the Hospital Board to fight the Bishop.  The ACLU is attacking Bishop Olmsted for opposing abortion.  Commonweal urges the hospital administrators to stand up to the Bishop.  Some people question the Bishop's jurisdiction over a Catholic hospital.  I've even read that Rome needs to jettison "excommunications" from Canon Law because bishops have little credibility; the hospital needs to separate itself from the Catholic Church; the best thing the hospital could do is tell the Vatican to shove it; terminate all connection to the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix; fight the excommunication--the Bishop has no right to do this....

...yakty yak.  Reminds me of the type who stand on the street yelling at the man on the ledge, "Jump!  Jump!"

The heart wrenching exigencies that caused this predicament aren't even given consideration.

They just want blood.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Finding the Right Place


You know how some books are written for one age, yet have a deeper meaning for adults to enjoy?  Think of fantasy writers like Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.  Such is Red in the Flower Bed, by Andrea Nepa.

No where in Red in the Flower Bed is God mentioned.  But I picture the adult reading this book to an adoptive child, automatically seeing God's fingers in everything that happens to the little poppy seed that grows up to be a beautiful red poppy.

In fact, in the beginning, I can see why a child hearing:
                Good-bye little one,
          You will me missed you know
        but this is no place for you to grow.     
would wish he were living with another family.  !!!!!  Don't laugh.  That happened to me.  As a child, my friend told me that her mother had told her that she may not have grown in her belly like most babies, but she had grown in her heart.  I thought that was so beautiful.  So I went home and asked my mother if I had grown in her heart.  She, not knowing where I was coming from, told me not to be silly, that I was grown from her belly.  I really was bummed.

Red in the Flower Bed is a beautiful story. The story of a flower seed traveling to just the right place, is perfect for a child's understanding.  A pre-schooler will love the rhyme, pictures, and story.  A child in the primary grades would be able to understand their parent's explanation of God's Divine plan working in the life of this little poppy seed.

You can purchase Red in the Flower Bed, at Tribute Books.  I definitely recommend it for adopted children.  The author, Andrea Nepa, wrote the book for her daughter.  It's perfect for interracial families, like the author's, but everyone will enjoy it.  Even adults, like me.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Politics as Usual



Pray for China.  Having two churches claiming to be the One true Church must be very confusing.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Impossible to Proclaim

This 4th Sunday of Advent, I'm reading Rom 1:1-7.

How?  I dunno.

Look at it.  8 subordinate clauses in the first sentence.  And another 8 subordinate clauses in the next sentence.

That first sentence is just a salutation.  The second sentence is Paul's idea of the Kingdom.

But I'm still thinking "huh?" after reading the first sentence.

The reading is impossible to do any justice to.

The Lector's Notes tell me to:


The Lector's Proclamation: Proclaim this, then, with the gravity it deserves. The sentences are long, but you can break them sensibly into phrases. Don't rush. Be sure to announce it as "The beginning of the Letter of Paul to the Romans," rather than another "reading from ..."
You might try to imagine what the historically first reading of this letter was like. The Christian congregation in Rome was small, not yet persecuted, meeting in someone's home. These were first-generation converts; their heritage: some Jewish, some Gentile. The religion was still genuinely new to them. They did not celebrate Christmas. They had not divided into Catholics and Protestants. There was no church-sponsored sports program. They knew the reputation of Paul, former persecutor turned apostle, and the word has gone out that he has written them a letter. The church assembles one Sunday, and you have the letter. You stand to read it.
A bit melodramatic, yes. But every time a lector stands to read in a twenty-first century assembly, there's a chance that someone there will hear the words as if for the first time.

Drama I can do.  I'm all set.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Can You Spare $ 10

A local kid has been working out in California putting a documentary together for kids living on the streets. He's trying to get this movie going but needs some help -- $ 10.

If everyone who reads this post donates just $10, it can be done.  Be part of this movement to help our homeless youth. Below is a letter explaining more.

Right now there are almost 2 million kids living on the streets of America and every day, 13 of them will die.  Yes, this is the truth about what is happening in our country.


While the statistics are staggering, what's more shocking is the number of Americans that are unaware of this crisis.


Hi, my name is Michael Leoni and for the last year and a half, my team at An 11:11 Experiment, and I, have been making Spare Some Change, a documentary that exposes the truth about the lives of American's homeless youth.  We could not stand by and just allow this tragedy to continue.  Over the last 18 months, we have met hundreds of kids and heard thousands of stories that will hammer you to your core and make you wonder if this really can be happening on our streets.


Spare Some Change is almost at the finish line and with your help we can get all the way there.  There can be no change without awareness and together, we can make a difference.


As some of you may know, HBO Films recently approached us about Spare Some Change.  Initially, we were very excited as we felt that this could be an amazing opportunity for the film and the kids.  However, their intention was to purchase Spare Some Change and lock it in the vault while utilizing our resources to make their own film.  We politely declined, as the trust we built with the kids, their well-being, and the message of this film, are too important for us to compromise.  HBO is now filming on the streets where we shot, using the same kids as some of their subjects.  However, the kids believe that Spare Some Change is the movie that's going to change the world.


Now, more than ever, I'm asking everyone that I can reach, to contribute in any way possible.  If everyone who receives this letter donates at least $ 10, we will reach our goal.  Please join my team and me in a Worldwide Fund-raising Campaign to complete this powerful, eye-opening and inspirational film.


Our goal is to raise $ 40,000 to complete filming and post-production.  With your support, we will be able to share the message of Spare Some Change with the world.


All of the funds raised to date have been tax-deductible donations and have ranged from $5 - $ 10,000, proving that every single dollar counts.


Please watch the trailers and meet the kids.  If you would like to make a charitable (tax-deductible) contribution to help complete this film, go http://www.facebook.com/l/1b233umpGz1uX4CvpmHqPIN4BzA and click "Donate" now.


Help spread the word.  Send you friends and family to the website and Facebook page and pass this letter around to everyone you know.  The more people that know about this, the more change can be created.


Go to : http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spare-Some-Change/88462783086 and become a fan and a friend of Spare Some Change.


Many thanks for taking the time to read this.


With tons of gratitude,
Michael Leoni & the Team at AN 11:11 Experiment
Michelle Kaufer
Erica Katzin

Monday, December 13, 2010

Aha Experience

Christmas has come.  I've had an epiphany!  I went to Spiritual  Direction tonight and it was a gift--a surprise gift.  Unbeknown to my Director, he let slip something I didn't know.  I'm sure he thought I knew because it was in casual conversation--not like he was letting me in on a secret.

We were talking about my "cloistered brothers," the way the Holy Spirit moves, mutual friends, relapses, etc.  Just shooting the breeze.  And in among the chit chat was a fact that I didn't know, but it definitely enlightened my understanding.   I didn't stop him and say, "What...what....what did you say?"  I just breathed it in and assimilated the implications.  Everything fell into place.

Of course, that's why.                 Now I get it.

                  What am I talking about?

Sorry, can't tell you.     Seal of Confession!            But God is good--all the time!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I Love My Parish

St. Mary's Franklin, MA
Let me count the ways I love you.
I love your depth and breadth and height
my soul can reach, with palpable feeling:
for the ends of Being and ideal Grace,
for your namesake Mary, Immaculate,
for the smell of incense ever there,
for the taste of the Most Precious Blood,
for the sun-light thru the stained glass,
for the golden Baptismal font,
for the kiss of peace from a friend,
for the same worship of my childhood's faith.
I love you freely, as men strive for right;
I love you purely, as our praises touch your arches.
I love your incarnational God and faith.
I love your people who worship there;
I love your transubstantiation, my God.
I love you with a love I feel in communion
with saints -- I love you with my breath,
smiles, tears, of all my life! --and, if God
wills-my funeral Mass, be my place in death.

h/t with apology to Elizabeth Barrett Browning
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Brothers and Sisters

In reading over James 5:7-10, I was struck by the number of times the word "patience" was used.  Of course, it would be mentioned since it's the theme of this reading.  However, what truly did stick, even more so, was the number of times, "Brothers and Sisters" was used.  The way James used it, I think, is as a term of endearment.  It's not a salutation to a letter.  James begins with "Be patient..." In fact, to me it looks like he took particular care not to begin a sentence with the two words.

It's probably just me.  But I can't help feeling that he uses it to draw the reader in.  Is it an unconscious, technique?  Is it a deliberate tool of manipulation?

I think it's a very natural expression of intimacy.  In fact, the admonishment "Be patient," juxtaposed with "Brothers and Sisters," makes being patient, a loving thing, which I don't think it necessarily is.  In fact, it may just be the opposite.  I have all the patience in the world about things I don't care about.  It's things that I love that I want yesterday, that I need NOW.

Can I make myself have patience?  I won't if I have a choice.

So I wait for the Lord, Brothers and Sisters.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Send the Pope Christmas Greetings

Do you want to send the Holy Father a Christmas Card?  The Pope 2 site allows you to do just that.

You can even send a photo.  This is just like sending Christmas greetings to friends and relatives.

h/t  George Matysek's The Narthex

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Random Vowels


Random Act of Culture & Patti Smith from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.


Random Acts of Culture strikes again.  At a book fair, no less!

At the Miami Book Fair International, Scott Cunningham read the poem Vowels by Arthur Rimbaud.  He asked those that knew the poem to stand up and say it with him.  At first, only a few did; then more stood; and more, and more...

Later, Pattie Smith read excerpts from her book Just Kids.

Wish I were there.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Our Lady of Salvation in Iraq



Please watch this video of the attack on the Church of Our Lady of Salvation in Iraq.  Then please pray for these martyrs, and those who attacked them.

h/t to Brother Paul, OP   Dominican Cooperator Brother

My Contention

This morning's homily's  was "responsibility."  It inspired me.  I agree with Father that "owning" up to what one did wrong is not one of society's strong points.  Since I'm in prison ministry, I think this is important.  Some people pay very dearly for their mistakes.

But the theme got me to thinking.

Both Adam and Eve did not "own up" to their sin.  They tried to put the blame on someone else.  But I have always thought that Eve was a victim in this scenario, and Adam was more culpable.  In the first place, Eve was tempted by a master.  She could not have out reasoned Satan. She was tricked.  Whereas, Adam was afraid that Eve was going to get ahead of him and so ate.  And, Eve thought she had eaten something good and was generously going to share it.  I don't read that she maliciously planned to seduce Adam.

Besides, Adam was placed in charge of this earthly dominion.  The responsibility was his.

They must have had a bum lawyer represent them.  Their sentence is way too severe.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Persecuted Priests Praying



Have you read Priestblock 25487, by Jean Bernard?  It's a memoir of a priest, Jean Bernard, in Dachau.  The horrors of the concentration weren't only perpetrated on the Jews.  Anti-Nazi Catholics were persecuted, also, in particular, priests.  In watching this video of priests praying in Dachau, I couldn't help but think of Fr. Bernard.  Look at the faces in prayer.  Watch the fingers praying the Rosary.

Look in their eyes.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Out of the Mouth of Babes



This song and its story have been making the rounds via e-mail.  I enjoyed it and know you will too.

Here’s the story behind the song: 

About the Song 

While at the mall a couple of years ago, my then four year old nephew, Spencer, saw kids lined up to see Santa Claus. Having been taught as a toddler that Christmas is the holiday that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, he asked his mom, "where's the line to see Jesus"? My sister mentioned this to my dad, who immediately became inspired and jotted words down to a song in just a few minutes. After putting music to the words, and doing a quick recording at home, he received a great response from friends. He sent the song off to Nashville without much response, except for a Christian song writer who suggested adding a bridge at the end of the first chorus. My dad then asked if I wanted to record the song to see what we could do with it. I listened to the song, made a few changes to the words to make it flow better, and we headed to Shock City Studios. It was at the studio where Chris, owner and producer, rewrote the 2nd verse and part of the chorus... with goosebumps and emotions high, we were all hopeful and felt like we had something special. The demo was recorded in just under 2 hours and sent off again to Nashville ... still no response. Then 2 weeks before Christmas last year, my cousins Greg and Robbie decided to do a video to see what we could accomplish on YouTube. The first day we had 3000 hits and it soared from there. We received e-mails, phone calls, Facebook messages from people all over asking for the music, CD's, iTunes, anything... we had nothin'. After a couple of meetings with Chris following the amazing response, we got serious. We headed back into the studio this past spring... this time with guitars, drums, bass, pianos, choirs... the real deal.... and here we are today. Getting iTunes set up, a website put together, and loving that thousands upon thousands of Christians have come together... remembering the true meaning of Christmas. Out of the mouths of babes come profound truths that many adults can not understand. Hopefully Spencer's observation will cause people all over to reflect on the love of Jesus, and that one day we will all stand in line to see Him. We are most thankful to our Heavenly Father to have this chance to share our music with you. Merry Christmas everyone. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Poetry

CENSUS:  BC--AD
by Lois Staas



Before Jesus was born,
            before the first Augustan census,
            the estimated Roman population was about 200,000 male individuals.

Before Jesus was born,
            the conquered needed to know they were conquered;
            crucifixion was a common form of execution.
            The god of Rome was Jupiter.

Before Jesus was born,
            all the known world ruled by Emperor Caesar Augustus,
            were ordered by law to register in their places of origin.

Before Jesus was born,
            What was the reason for the census? 
            Money.  The reason is always money.

Before Jesus was born,
            the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem was a stony, ten day donkey ride.
            A few died along the way.

Before Jesus was born,
            Bethlehem was a small walled town;
            those who arrived had traveled through the Sabbath.
            I Am Who Am was the God of the Israelites.

Before Jesus was born,
            Jews for the census overcrowded the City of David—
            bartering callous merchants for food,
            haggling infuriating innkeepers for non-existent rooms.

Before Jesus was born,
            Joseph and Mary--aching, wind-chilled, and hungry--
            settled into a stable attached to an inn.

Then, Jesus was born,
            and there was Christmas.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Spiritual Purgatory


I was reading the Aggie Catholic and was deeply touched by the following post, simply because I empathized.  I went there myself with Cronkhite Canada Syndrome.  I also agreed with Marcel's answers.  Great post!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Where Are You God?

**Have you ever felt that God just wasn't interested in your problems?
**Have you ever felt God was distant and unaccessible?
**Have you ever thought maybe God is just a myth, because He just doesn't seem to care?

I have.  Me Too!  Definitely.

I am sure that somewhere in the world right now, there are people that:
  • feel alone  Even in a room full of people who care
  • are scared
  • are unsure of God's existence and love for them  because you feel like He's dropped your hand, or pushed you away--there's just a difference between then and the now--What Happened!
  • can't figure out what God's plan is for them and doubt He even has one  Because He doesn't exit?
  • hurt  Devastated!
Are you one of them? Was You are not alone. Others have felt the same way. It's a blessing.  Trust me.  I know I have and I know my sister, Simone, did while she suffered through horrible cancer for five years.

I remember growing up thinking that God would answer my prayers if I prayed hard enough, believed enough, or did enough good things. But, when I messed up, had little faith, or didn't pray that God wouldn't help me. This childish attitude about God's love for me carried into my adult life, which meant my faith stayed small and misunderstood who God really is and how He loves me. My perception of God was warped and this warped perception made it easy to keep God out of my life. Simplistic but that's the perception of many.  But, some people never gave up on me. One of these was my sister, Simone.

Simone never stopped trying to help me know God's love. She always wanted me to experience at a deep and personal level. Even when she got cancer five years ago it didn't stop her from loving others. Even when it disabled her, she never stopped loving.

But, she also felt far from God through it all. She felt dryness and pain in her emotions, spirit, relationships, and her body.  Been there; done that.
She threw every question she had at the feet of Christ:
  • where are you?
  • why won' t you take the pain away?
  • do you hear me?
  • are you even there?
  • can't  you make this all stop?
  • don't you care?
  • do you really love me?
  • etc.
And the answer was a resounding silence.

I tried to look on the humorous side.  I didn't want to be depressed.  I told myself "No answer is better than 'f*** you." because I knew God was there.  He was.  Everyone tells me He was, is, always will be.  I have no choice.  Right Blaise?

My sister, Simone LeJeune, died on November 16.  She is on my prayer list.
She knew what it was like to feel distant from God. She also knew what it was like to have God wrap her up in his arms and console her, love her, and heal her.

Simone loved life before she got sick. If you ever met her, you wouldn't forget her. She had a HUGE personality (she made me seem dull). This personality was either loved or hated by others because she could seem overwhelming and loud. You either couldn't get enough or had too much of her at all times.

Simone was one of my heroes. She was a modern-day Mother Teresa. She worked in youth ministry, counseling, social work, and as a special ed. teacher. She worked with the severely disabled, the imprisoned, the elderly and those society gave up on.

About 12 years ago, Simone started working with a group of special-needs children living in a group home. She fell in love with all of them. Matthew was a 2 year-old in the home. He lived there until the caretaker of the home grew very ill and Matthew was going to be put into foster care. Simone knew he would probably bounce from foster-home to foster-home for years, because black toddlers with special needs rarely get adopted. So, she took him in and adopted him herself.

Simone befriended those most would reject. She met an elderly Jewish woman several years ago who lived in her apartment complex. This woman hadn't left her apartment in years, so Simone and Matthew would go visit her, help her clean her apartment and bring her some human comfort. She left her apartment for the first time in years to come to Simone's funeral. This woman was torn apart, because so very few people care about her and she lost one of the few who did.

Simone did retreats in prison for hardened convicts. She would get so excited to see the changes in men who had never known God's love and forgiveness.

Simone would teach a wheelchair-bound child to feed themselves at age 14, when nobody else could seem to break through.

So, what gave her such a passion? She had the belief that God lived in every single person, loved us individually, died on the Cross for our sins, and had no greater desire than to have us love Him back.

The only one she sometimes doubted He loved was herself. In her moments of honesty, which I was blessed to be a part of, she confessed that she sometimes struggled with doubts of God's personal love for her. But, who wouldn't ask tough questions of God when you can't hold down food for months at a time. When your hair falls out. When you are in constant agonizing pain for years. When you felt that some friends and family abandoned you because you got sick. When you lost your job, possessions, independence, etc.

Simone was in many ways like Job. She had everything stripped away until all she had left was faith in God. This faith, lived in love, is what I believe saved Simone. Which is why I have not had too much difficulty in seeing her die.

You see, Simone's prayers have been answered in full. I have full hope that if she isn't already in Heaven, her purification will be short, and she soon will be.  I'm sure, too.   Simone suffers no more but answers the questions in the following way:
  • where are you?
    • I have been right here all along.
  • why won' t you take the pain away?
    • I know it hurts, I too have suffered. But, suffering is my way of salvation for you and for many others. Combine your suffering with mine and great good will come of it.
  • do you hear me?
    • Of course I do. I hear all of your cries to me.
  • are you even there?
    • Yes. I am always here for you. When I seem distant I want you to rely on me even more. The feelings of my presence may come and go, but I never will.
  • can't  you make this all stop?
    • I could, but I allow it in order to make you strong. Just as gold if purified through fire, so you are purified through suffering. My love is a burning fire.
  • don't you care?
    • Yes, I care so much that I suffered more than anyone else ever has.
  • do you love me?
    • Yes, more than anything else I have ever created. I love you enough to become one of you. I love you so much that I would suffer and die for you - individually. I love you with a never-ending love and want you to be with me forever.
Simone please pray for us!  Please.  You have taught me a valuable lesson.
To all who read this - please pray for the repose of Simone LeJeune and for her family and friends who miss her.  For sure.
"Then Job answered the LORD and said: I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be hindered. I have dealt with great things that I do not understand; things too wonderful for me, which I cannot know. I had heard of you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you." - Job 42: 1-5
"I have come to realize more and more that the greatest disease and the greatest suffering is to be unwanted, unloved, uncared for, to be shunned by everybody, to be just nobody to no one."
-Mother Teresa
I love you Simone!  Me too.

h/t http://marysaggies.blogspot.com/

Friday, December 3, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Botched execution survivor stays on Ohio death row

Romell Broom
Botched execution survivor stays on Ohio death row: "COLUMBUS, Ohio - The only inmate in modern history to survive an execution attempt must stay on death row, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a decision that leaves the man's fate up to the federal courts."

C'mon! Once is more than enough! Are we civilized?


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Just A Jest



I thought I'd be fair and put something representing the other side.

\0/ \0/ \0/ Alleluia Strikes Again! \0/ \0/ \0/



It's Advent everyone!  What a way to bring people to God!  First at Macy's, (of all places) and now at a Food Court, in a mall.  WOWZA

Handel would be proud.

A composition to praise God, bringing people to Him in the most pedestrian of places, is much more than a work of  art.  Thank you Random Acts of Culture.

Thank you for the present.

Billboard War

These both are billboards in New Jersey.  The Myth was first.  The Real is the response.  Veritas!