Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Just Wondering


I was reading this article, in CNA,  on the Pope asking forgiveness for cradle Catholics for not passing on their faith.  It made me wonder about my own catechesis.

My formative years were spent in public schools.  For Sunday School, I went to the children's Mass, which was held in the basement of the church.  Adults went upstairs and we kids went down.  The entire basement church was all kids supervised by a few Notre Dame de Mure Sisters.  All I remember is the Sisters teaching us to sing the songs that went to the Mass.  They were the old Catholic hymns.

But what has me wondering was the catechesis.  We didn't have the sisters; we had high school kids.  After Mass we went upstairs.  Maybe it was girls upstairs, boys down, I really don't remember that.  But upstairs there were about 5-8 kids in a pew, with a high school kid.  Then you skip a few pews.  Then another 5-8 children with a high schooler, and it continued like that through out the church.

The lesson was to just check our memorization of the Baltimore Catechism.  I got a star if I knew it well.  I'm sure the high school kid explained it too, what else would they have done with the time?

By the time I became a high schooler, the parish had built a school, and Sunday School had moved into a classroom, taught by parents.

So...I was thinking.  Maybe the catechesis wasn't so great -- memorizing the catechism.  Maybe it was our high school teachers that were learning.  When you teach is when you learn.  


Maybe we should have the confirmandi teach catechism to the candidates for First Communion.

....just wondering.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why Confess Your Sins to a Priest?

Confession is one reason I'm glad I'm Catholic.  Confession is called the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  I love that--reconciliation.  What a wonderful word.  Sinning distances ourselves from God, but this sacrament reconciles us with God.  I find that beautiful.

My religion-impaired friends question why not just confess them to God yourself.  Well, one reason is that sin offends God and He's the one that set down in (Matt. 8:6) (Jn 20: 21-23)  what to do.  You can't just make up your own conditions; some people would be too easy on themselves; some too hard.  Besides, a confessor does more than just listen; he talks with you and advises and the best part--absolves in the name of Jesus Christ.  I remember reading a book about Billy the Kid.  He was telling someone that God forgave him.  See Billy was one of those who believed in God automatically forgiving.  Well Billy was half right.  But don't you wonder what kind of spiritual direction God gave Billy.  I wonder what his penance was.

Catholics believe that Jesus gave the responsibility to forgive sins to the Apostles and their successors.  Yes, God does forgive you the minute you are sorry, but the sure way to know is through the sacrament of Reconciliation because Jesus established the sacrament, Himself.  (2Cor. 5:18-20)

I've gotten some dumb questions about Confession.  Well, I shouldn't say dumb.  It's just that they're so incredulous to me because we Catholics don't do that.  I'm talking about the question of cost.  I've been asked how much it cost to go to Confession.  I guess my religion-impaired friends thought that's why priests encourage Confession--to get money.  Confession is free.

Another question, or rather misunderstanding, is that Catholics sin a lot because all we have to do is go to Confession and our sins are wiped away, again, and again....  Don't laugh. The remark was serious, and it was given as a reason why priests sin themselves.  The Sacrament does not give permission to go out and commit the same sin, and if the penitent had that intention when he was confessing, then the Confessor's absolution is rendered void.

In my Dominican Study Group, I've read where the Didache, Ignatius of Antioch, Tertullian, Origen, and other early Church Fathers believed in Confession.  So if Confession has been practiced since St. Paul, why think that Catholics are wrong?  Rather, it's the other way around.  My religion impaired friends err in their scripture interpretation, not the interpretations of the early Christians.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene

We finally got our electricity back.  Deo Gratias!

Let me count my blessings:
    * I found a church that had a 7:30 PM Saturday night Mass.  My church dropped it's 7 PM Sat. Mass and
     that was the one I use to go to, when I wasn't down the Cape.  Since then, I never have found my niche.  I
     just can't find a Mass that I feel comfortable with.  You have to be Catholic to know what I mean.  It's a
     biological/spiritual thing.

    *I really got into the next book club book and I didn't like it, or get it, until today--page 76.  The book is         Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson.  If it weren't for Hurricane Irene, I probably would have  put the book away.  It's humor.  I didn't realize that until I was up to page 76.  It's that stiff obvious English observation, stated so matter-of-factly, that got me.  The Major was eating  at a restaurant and wondering what" holes in the face disease" all the young servers had.  You know what he was referring to?  This made me laugh out loud.  He was looking at the body piercings the kids have: nose, lips, eyebrows, tongue, etc.  But their work made them take out the rings, so all the Major saw was the "holes."

    *I caught up on all my letter writing.

    *I did the final edit for eLumen for September.

    * I outline my talk for the Providence, RI Lay Dominican Chapter on Sept. 11.  I outlined my talk for the Camden, NJ Lay Dominican Chapter on Sept. 21.

    * I feel good that I'm on top of everything.
   
     * My prayer life got a boost.

Let me count the bad.  (I looked up the antonym for blessings in the thesaurus and there really wasn't one.)

   #  I haven't taken a shower in a couple of days.

   #  No coffee.

   #  No TV

   #  No hot food.  We grilled meat, but oatmeal wasn't conducive to bar-be-que.

   #  My iPhone almost got used up.  

   #  My Kindle almost died.

   #  Had to do dishes by hand.

   #  Couldn't blog.

And I have to laugh at National Grid.  You would never know that they're in the communication business.  You'd think they'd have state of the art computers that could pin point important information.  The minute we got out power back the phone rang with an automated message from National Grid telling us that we wouldn't have the power back for a few days!  LOL.
   It gets funnier.  An hour later we receive a call from National Grid telling us that we wouldn't have power until this weekend.    
   And they're in the communication business?
   I'm not talking about their work, the quality of their work, the speed, the efficiency, etc.  I'm not judging that at all.  After all, we were fixed in a day.  I can't complain about their service.  I just think that their public relation communications need to be reassessed and fixed.  It's laughable.  

Sunday, August 28, 2011

St. Augustine

Today is Sunday so I'm not celebrating his feast day at Mass.  Rather I'm giving him honor as a Holy Father to the Order of Preachers.  Along with St. Francis, Augustine, is called our Holy Father, along with Saint Dominic. The Dominicans follow the Rule of Augustine.  Also, Dominic was an Augustinian Canon.

Since my Dominican Study Group is reading the Confessions, I have a new appreciation of him.  I've always enjoyed his sayings:

Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.


Complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation.


Faith is to believe what you do not see.  The reward of this faith is to see what you believe. 


I want my friend to miss me as long as I miss him.


It was pride that made angels into devils; it is humility that makes men into angels.


Love and do what you like.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

St. Monica

Next to Ven. Pere Lataste, St. Monica is my favorite saint.  That's because my life has revolved around her in many ways.  Mainly, all my sacraments were received in St. Monica's Church.   Well, I continue to receive Holy Eucharist and Penance, here and there and everywhere, but the sacraments that you only receive once, were at St. Monica's.
    I've always used her as an example of womanhood, wifery, and motherhood.  She was a grandmother too, but no one mentions that.  But a good mother would be a good grandmother; that's reasonable.
    She is best known for persevering in prayer for her son, St. Augustine.  One time, my nephew, Fred, sitting next to me in a pew, in St. Monica's, was incredulous, upon hearing her story.  He exclaimed, "You mean she's a saint for just being a mother!?!!!!!"
    I give my sister credit for putting up with this brat.  Virginia must have been a very good mother for her son to think that all mothers just automatically care and sacrifice for their children.  St. Monica followed her son, Augustine, and prayed, sacrificed, and never gave up on him.  There are stories around today about St. Monica's perseverance.     One is that Bishop Ambrose told her not to worry because there was no way the son of so many tears could not be saved.  Another is that Ambrose told her to stop talking to Augustine about God, and start talking to God about Augustine.
    She must have been a nag.  Which is reason alone for liking her.  She should and could be, Patroness of Nags.  You wouldn't nag, unless you cared.
    There's even a Sodality dedicated to her.  Well, not dedicated to her as a person, but rather, to her ideal, i.e., praying for your lost children.  I even tried to start a St. Monica's Sodality in my own parish but it never caught on.  So I depend on my parish's prayer group to do the job of converting my family.
    Another reason, I've always thought of St. Monica is that my childhood friend was named Monica.  Yeah, she was named after our parish's patron.  You see, her dad was the church's sexton, and he named his daughter after the parish's patron.  We were soul mates and I could kick her because she won't "friend" me on FB.  But I understand.  She's probably forgotten all about FB, and me too, for that matter.  We've moved on.

Then again, St. Monica is all about perseverance.  So I'll never give up on Monica, nor my family.
 
     *   As a side note:  Fred grows up to marry a Monika.  ;-)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Community

Some friends and I went to see the movie, The Help.  I have never seen a movie that followed the book so closely.  It's about the Black maids and the women they served in the 1960's.  It's chick lit and the theater was full of women, too.  I saw a total of three men.  

You can google the movie and read all about it.  What I noticed the most, besides the story line, was the black community, itself.  What a great support group.  Their church was their stronghold.  Prayer was their strength.

Abileen is a prayer intercessor.  She writes down her prayers because she feels God listens better when she writes them down.  People come to her and ask her to pray for them.  She's the writer and God her inspiration.  If it weren't for her faith, she wouldn't have been able to get through the day.  If it weren't for her faith, the book wouldn't have gotten written.  And no book--no movie. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hardwired for God

You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless, until they rest in You.  This famous quote is from St. Augustine's Confessions.  My Dominican Study Group is reading Confessions.  This quote is in the beginning, when Augustine starts to prove that his entire life was a search for God.

He begins in infancy and describes the self absorbed baby.  Childhood proves to be selfish and instant gratifying, also.  Sounds like kids today.

Augustine is showing his readers that he might have thought he was happy, but he wasn't.  One has no idea what happiness is, until they've fallen in love with God.  That's the only thing that will satisfy us.

We get it.  I get it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How do I Become Catholic?

Once, after Lectoring, I was taken by surprise by a lady stopping me, as I walked out of the church.  She asked, "How do I become Catholic?"

What surprised me was that she asked me--not the priest, nor the deacon, who were out front shaking hands with everybody leaving the church.  I was so taken aback that I just gave her a pamphlet for RCIA and walked on.

Since then, I've prayed for her.  It's the least I could do since I failed her miserably when she reached out to me. And when I think about it, we Lectors and Cantors, are the most approachable, of the visible participants, in the Mass.  I know everyone is participating, but I'm trying to look through the eyes of a non-Catholic attending a Mass.  Approaching the priest or deacon, is too intimidating.  It's the lay people, a lay inquirer would seek out.  I know I would.

What would my advice be now?  I'd befriend a Catholic who knows what they believe.  I'd ask the Catholic if they attend Sunday Mass; daily Mass would be a great find.  I'd ask them to take me to a Mass and afterwards we'd go out for coffee and discuss whatever questions came up.  I'd encourage getting together every once in a while to chat.  I'd recommend reading the Compendium on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and YOUCAT, together.  Both these would have questions that would be great discussion topics.

Maybe I could get a priest to discuss some topics with us.  Here is where we'd ask about RCIA and maybe sign up.

This won't happen over night.  You know how excruciatingly slow God's time is.  But when the inquirer is ready they can be Baptized.  It is appropriate to be baptized at Easter.  Here you may also receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and then you may receive the Holy Eucharist.

The Eucharist is what keeps me Catholic.  And it's the reason, my unknown inquirer is searching.  But that's a topic for another post.


Monday, August 22, 2011

F.P.O.


A Dominican went to a Mass, celebrated by Father Benedict, who is a Franciscan.  Sounds like a joke.  A Dominican, a Benedictine and a Franciscan walk into a bar...

Tonight I met a Franciscan of the Primitive Order.  He celebrated Mass for the Bethany Community.  Father Benedict is missioned to Lawrence, MA.

They are truly mendicants.  They don't work; they beg.  They beg for food and rides and whatever else they need.  Father Benedict was a good preacher, too.  His voice was melodious.  I liked listening to his talk on Mary.

The Order is just starting out and doesn't have many vocations.  Right now, they're in two Massachusetts' cities: Roxbury and Lawrence.  Their Lawrence home is Holy Trinity Church.

May God use them well.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Another Married Saint

Usually, I read about saints who knew from an early age that they were destined to be a priest, or a nun.  But Conchita knew from an early age that she wanted to married.  And she wanted to marry to have a lot of children.  Why?  She figured that with many children there would be all the more to pray and love God.

Ven. Conchita Cabrera de Armida loved the Blessed Sacrament.  As a child she often prayed in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and often felt incapable of loving God how He deserved to be loved.  Hence her desire to be more people--to love Him move.  This was behind her childish wish to have a lot a lot of children.

Conchita picked out her future husband at age 13, Pancho Armida.  She considered herself engaged to him and never considered anyone else.  She married at age 22 and went on to have nine children.  She attended Mass every day and prayed constantly.  She is considered a mystic and her writings reflect that.  See, Conchita, A Mother's Spiritual Diary, by Fr. Marie-Michel Philipon, OP.

There's a Face Book Page dedicated for her cause (with lots of pictures).  She is a venerable now, on the way to beatification.  Her writings were widely read and inspired the establishment of the "Works of the Cross," in Mexico, "the Apostolate of the Cross," the "Congregation of Sisters of the Cross of the Sacred Heart of Jesus," the "Covenant of Love with the Heart of Jesus," the Priestly Fraternity," and the "Congregation of Missionaries of the Holy Spirit."

Pancho died when she was 39.  Her youngest was two, and it was during the Mexican Civil War.  Her prayers allowed her and her family to get through the turmoil.  She said that God told her that she was to suffer and write.  That was her charism.  She never claimed visions, but often spoke as if Jesus had conversed with her.

There's a nice video on You Tube dedicated to her.  Conchita lived to age 75, dying in 1937.  She was a woman, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a mystic, a writer, a religious activist, and a servant of God.

*  h/t to Fr. Kevin Kraft, OP, and his research on married saints



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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Why?

Three questions today: why did it rain and why are people like that, and why does it get to me.

We went to the beach today.  It was a beautiful day.  There were a few white fluffy clouds, but the weather said no rain today.  I put my feet in the water.  It was a little cold.  Hubby would say "It's refreshing."  So I settled in the beach chair with my kindle.

Suddenly, I felt sprayed with water sprinkles.  I looked around and there weren't a kids or any reason for me to feel water. My kindle was getting wet.

What?

There weren't any clouds.

This is what is called a sun shower.  It doesn't last long and at first it felt nice.  But then it got cold.  Nobody moved off the beach.  I took my beach towel and covered myself like a blanket.  And after about five minutes, it stopped.

Then another interruption.  We had picked this spot on the beach because it was an isolated area.  There was no one around.  But when other people come, please tell me why, out of the entire empty beach, they have to sit smack so damn close to us?  They were practically sitting in our laps.

This always happens.  Sometimes we boat out to one of the islands and pick a deserted spot.  Then along comes another boat.  They have the entire island to anchor, but guess where they pick.   Why?

I don't know why, but this annoys me.

Friday, August 19, 2011

"Everybody's Talking at Me"


This Sunday's Gospel - the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time, Matthew 16: 13-20, makes me think of Harry Nilsson's song, "Everybody's Talking at Me."  This song is from Dustin Hoffman's and Jon Voight's movie, Midnight Cowboy.  ".

Jesus asks His disciples, what people are saying about Him.  Curiosity?  Testing them?  Interesting because everybody seemed to know Jesus as the carpenter's son, from Nazareth.  But aren't we all more than members of our family.  There's always more to us than what people see, or think they see, and know.

And in this Gospel, Peter gives the correct answer and moves to the head of the class.

Funny how the song "Everybody's  Talking at Me" came to my mind.  The lyrics have nothing whatsoever to do with this Gospel.  Jesus does move on, but not to a place where the weather suits his clothes.
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Thursday, August 18, 2011

WYD Faces




Web Site Shows Living Faces of the Church

Pope2you.net Launches Photo Networking Initiative



VATICAN CITY, AUG. 17, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Ahead of Madrid's World Youth Day, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications has launched a photo-based social networking Web site that demonstrates how all members of the Church form one body in Christ.
"Living World Faces" (www.pope2you.net/livingworldfaces), which was carried out with the support of the Italian Episcopal Conference, allows young people to share their pictures with other participants in the youth gathering, which is set to begin Thursday.
But that's not all. Once a photo is uploaded to the site, it becomes part of a mosaic of photos that forms either the image of Benedict XVI, an icon of Christ, or the logo of the 2011 World Youth Day.
Father Paolo Padrini, who is the director of the project, told ZENIT that the aim was to "offer young people a 'virtual square'" in which to participate in the event while they are "physically immersed in the sea of people."
He said that the experience of the site is "not only virtual, but real and virtual at the same time."
In addition, the priest said that the site "offers millions of young people present in Madrid the possibility of taking home in addition to a photographic memento."
"Thus, once again," Father Padrini added, "through the Web, young people will be able to become real evangelizers."
--- --- ---
On the Net:


From today's Zenit

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Selections

The Argonauta Book Club

The Argonauta Book Club has met and made its selections for the next year.  The choices are:

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present by Gail Collins
The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Greater Journey by David McCullough
Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
What Remains by Carol Radziwill
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Since Mary Oliver didn't publish this year, we couldn't decide on what poetry book to read.  So one meeting we'll bring a favorite book of poetry and have a poetry reading.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Luigia Tincani

Did Wikipedia screw up?  I was looking up this new Lay Dominican, soon to be Venerable, and although Luigia is a female name, and the picture is of a woman, the entire article is written with male pronouns.

It's a distraction, but it doesn't take away from Luigia's accomplishments.

the heroic virtues of the Servant of God LUIGIA TINCANI, founder of the Union of Saint Catherine of Siena of the Missionaries of the School; born on 25 March 1889 in Chieti (Italy) and died on 31 May 1976 in Rome (Italy).


h/t   http://newsaints.faithweb.com/index.htm

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lay Dominican Slapdown

It was the novices v. the postulants.  And since the President of the Chapter popped in, he was put on the hot seat, too.

What's a Lay Dominican Slapdown?

This Slapdown is the invention of the Formation Director to evaluate the materials and instruction of the Chapter.

Since I'm the Formation Director, I got to make up the questions.  The questions consisted of the history of Saint Dominic, Ven. M. Jean-Joseph Lataste, OP, the Family of Preachers, Our Lady of Mercy Chapter,and Lay Dominicans.  There were also general questions on the Catholic Religion--apologetics.

I didn't expect Bible verse quotations, as long as they knew where to find the answers.  I didn't expect them to know the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, kinds of graces, precepts of the Church and all those rules, as long as they can find them in the catechism, when needed.

When the novices and postulants didn't know the answer, the Chapter President was asked.  We were glad to see that most of the time he didn't know, either.  (Anybody who wants the twelve pages of questions can email me.)

Not knowing the answer was a teaching opportunity that often led to discussion.

All in all, the Lay Dominican Slapdown was a success.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Suffering Children


Fr. Keven this morning gave a few words on today's Gospel, Mt. 19: 13-15.  This is the Gospel where Jesus tells his disciples to let the children come to Him, and He blesses them.  Fr. Kevin said that children are among society's most vulnerable.  And they still need protection today.  We still have child slavery, child porn, abuses, and neglect.

This led to my reflection on today's gospel.  I was reading "Our Endangered Species, A Hard Look at How We Treat Our Children," by Andrew Vachss and was given plenty of food for thought.  Vachss' article begins with an infant showing signs of suicide because he had no reason to live.

He was only an infant, and his mother was torturing him.

Yeah...when you start breathing again, Vachss explains how society has not advanced when it comes to parenting and protecting our most vulnerable.  It's shocking and it's true.  However I tie in the religious aspect.    While it is unconscionable to maltreat a child and helpless infant, is it not even more unacceptable to kill the unborn?  If we kill our own vulnerable babies, why does it shock anyone that we torture other innocents?

Another article, Vijai P. Sharma writes in Mind Publications, "How We Treat Our Children Says How Civilized We Are," gives a history of child rearing.  In prehistoric times, children only had one parent--their mother.  Fathers didn't have a role.  Gradually males came into the picture.  And once religion was introduced, then the human being was given dignity, because he had a soul, which was created in the image and likeness of God.  Gradually, over time more humane considerations were given to children. However, as Vachss points out, we have a way to go to protect all children.

I also think of how today the concept of family is being eroded.  With the political acceptance of same sex couples, what will happen to the natural idea of motherhood?  The traditional mother carries her infant in her womb.  Even in the history lesson that Sharma gives in his article, the mother was the primary natural bonding agent in the parent/child relationship, from the beginning of time.  Going through labor kicks in more than lactation. God created two species--why?  Think about it.

And if He created man and woman to be His helpers in creation, then that's the way it was meant to be.  Man and woman birthing their family.  Carrying this thread even further, then obeying God's commandments is the way to safeguard all mankind--especially our children.
   
I'll finish with a quote from Nelson Mandela, "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children."

Friday, August 12, 2011

Resisting Cravings

I didn't realize that I had so many tricks up my sleeve.

First you have to realize that cravings are a physical response to specific situations.  The way to handle the cravings is to change your response.  How?

Try these:

*     Chew gum
*     Drink water
*     Take 10 deep breaths
*     Put one hard candy in your mouth
*     Brush your teeth
*     Telephone someone and talk for awhile
*     Do something with your hands that takes concentration, like knit
*     Just leave the room

If you survive for 20 minutes, the craving goes away.  Persevere.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mutts or Show Dogs?

Matt. 15: 21-28 relates the story of the Gentile woman nagging Jesus to heal her daughter.  Remember that in Matt. 10: 5-6, Jesus' instructions to his disciples were to stay clear of Gentiles and Samaritans.  So in this Gospel, Jesus is also not associating with Gentiles.  In fact, to get rid of the shrew, He calls her a derogatory name that is an insult in any language and time.  Jesus calls her a "dog."

Shocking.  What can I say?  Jesus is a product of His time and culture.

But the woman is desperate to get help for her daughter.  She'll try anything and bear any insult--it's worth a try--it may be her last resort.  She stays with Him and shows that she's not insulted, she just wants His help.  He is merciful and grants her prayer.  Deo Gratias.

I found it interesting that she didn't allow a name used as an insult, to insult her.  She was focused on obtaining help.  The insult wasn't important.  And they're not, are they?  "Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me."  Actually, that's true.  Although your first inclination is to say, yes words hurt.  And I have had my share, and I do know how hurtful they are.  But are they?  If we let them, they are.

The woman in this Gospel handled being called a "dog" wonderfully.  It reminded me of the Order of Preachers, commonly known as Dominicans.  Did you know that in their beginning they were known as the hounds of God?  At first, it was an insult because they went after the truth like a hound after prey.  I can imagine that some friars were as relentless as a blood hound when they were after someone in the Inquisition.

However, the Dominicans turned the insult into a positive identification with the Order.  Domini canes is Latin for "hounds of the Lord".  They are hounds after Truth.  Also, a dog with a torch in his mouth, is one of the symbols of the Order.  Dominic's mother had a dream before he was born that she gave birth to a dog with a torch in his mouth.  It was predicted that the child who was to be born would set the world on fire with his preaching.

Turning a negative into a positive is the idea.  Keep that in mind, next time someone says something hurtful.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Perception Deception



This weekend I read the children's book, Slippery Willie's Stupid Ugly Shoes, by Larry Peterson.  It's a good book.  I recommend elementary school teachers'  read it to their classes, because it is an important story about accepting differences.  Willie is different than everyone else and has to wear special shoes.  He's afraid these stupid ugly shoes will make him the object of ridicule, among his classmates.  You'll have to read the book yourself to get the lesson and story.

Willie's perception of his shoes, and his imagination caused him a lot of pain.  It reminded me of my youngest child refusing to wear his Halloween costume to nursery school.  The class was having a Halloween party and the teacher had asked that the kids wear their costumes to school.  He absolutely refused.

O.K.  I could understand that he's thinking he'll be the only one dressed up, and everyone else will be in their regular school clothes.  So I offered to carry the costume and he could change when he got to school--or not!  He threw a fit.  He didn't even want to bring the costume to school!!!!!

When I told him that he'd be the only one NOT wearing a costume, he said he didn't care.  (These damn kids all take after their father.)

Well, this was going to be a teachable lesson.  I brought my son to nursery school, sans costume.  He went in and had a good time.  If anyone asked him where his costume was, I never heard it.  I'm the one who told the other mothers that he wasn't wearing his costume because he absolutely refused to.  They hardly commented. They didn't care.  The kids didn't care.  I was the only one.

Is it possible that our perceptions aren't correct?

I was wrong.

Willie was wrong, too.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ninth Day



St. Dominic's Sweetness and Patience


"By patience let us run to the fight proposed unto us" (Heb xii. 1)

It was St. Dominic's gentleness and sweetness which won many souls to God, when all his other powers seemed in vain.  On one occasion, a heretic maliciously led him through a thorny wood, where his feet were terribly lacerated.  He exhibited such patience and sweetness towards his persecutor that the miserable man, touched with remorse, fell at his feet and renounced his errors.

During all the years of his apostolate St. Dominic not only endured the sufferings of hunger and thirst, but he was ever pursued by relentless hatred and persecutions of wicked men and Satan himself.  Under all these trials he bore himself with invincible patience.  Like St. Paul, he would engage in combat only with the arms of patience and sweetness.  With these he conquered the demon, and won many triumphs among men.  Never did he yield to impatience; never did he allow natural repugnance to overcome him.  Under all circumstances, in health and sickness, in honor and persecution, he ever displayed the meekness of Jesus, for Whom he suffered all, that he might convert souls.  This noble warfare against his own nature St. Dominic maintained till the end of his life, generously bearing all the sufferings which it inflicted upon him.

Practice

We are followers of Jesus Christ.  Are we His imitators?  Do we learn of Him, because He is meek and humble of heart?  Do we strive, like St. Dominic, under the trials which come unto to us, to imitate our Blessed Lord's patience and sweetness?  Are we gentle only in prosperity?  Do we yield to our dislikes and repugnances?  Is every little trial sufficient to rob us of peace of soul?  Are we willing to endure any of our neighbor's failings?  Even in our zeal, are we guided by the spirit of gentleness, or do we allow ourselves to become harsh and bitter?  Let us remember that to bear and forbear, to suffer all from others, and to give others nothing to endure from us, will quickly establish in us in holy peace and gentleness.  Ask St. Dominic that his spirit may be yours.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Glory to God in the Highest

This is the highest our sunflowers have ever grown.  Notice that they're up over the middle of the window.  Now that the blossom is growing, it will grow heavier and heavier and start to bend over.  So I mark this as it's highest height.

The vegetables in the rest of the garden aren't shabby, either.  The peppers are the best, with zucchini coming in next.  The tomatoes are slow, but when they ripen, we'll be giving them away.


Day Eight

St. Dominic's Zeal for God and Souls

"The zeal of Thy house hath eaten me up"  (Ps. lxviii. 10)

St. Dominic's love for God and his neighbor bore marvelous fruits through his zeal for souls.  This was a natural outgrowth of his love; in truth, it was part of his love.  The goodness of our Blessed Lord, His mercy, and His love, were so deeply fixed in St. Dominic's heart that he longed to make all men partakers of these divine gifts.  His life was spent for souls.

The vision which was granted to him, -- in which St. Peter and St. Paul appeared to him and told him to preach, for God had chosen him for this office -- was but the confirmation of that other vision in which his saintly mother saw him, as with a flaming torch, going over the entire world, enlightening all men with the fire of divine love.  To him the words of St. Paul may well be applied: "He maketh his ministers a flame of fire."

His apostolate among the Albigensians God blessed with wonderful fruits.  He labored in Spain and Italy, and many thousands were brought back to the true fold by his preaching and miracles.  Over the earth he scattered his devoted followers; and soon Dominican blood was poured out in every land, the fruitful witness of St. Dominic's zeal for God and souls.  Every night he scourged himself till his innocent blood flowed on the ground, that God might show mercy to sinners.  In naught did he spare himself; rather, in all things he spent himself for Jesus Christ and souls redeemed by Him.  His life is the story of a holocaust of a victim entirely consumed for zeal.

Practice

What are we doing for God and souls?  Have we ever made a sacrifice for the honor of our Divine Master?  Have we ever done aught that Jesus might be better known and loved?  Do we ever think of the interests of Jesus?  Do we ever reflect on the value of souls, on the price which Jesus paid for them?  Is our charity active?  Do we seek to instruct the ignorant, to recall the wayward?  Or do we content ourselves with a selfish attention to our own spiritual wants?  Ah!  If we have true love for our Blessed Lord, if we realize what souls have cost Him, we shall be willing to sacrifice our own ease, to forget our own interests, in order to labor for Him by helping our neighbor on the way of everlasting life; and thus we shall more effectually secure our own welfare.  Earnestly ask St. Dominic to make you zealous for the interests of Jesus and souls.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Day Seven

St. Dominic's Spirit of Mortification


"They, who are of Christ, have crucified their flesh, with the vices and concupiscence's" (Gal. v. 24)

St. Dominic well knew that without the spirit of prayer and mortification all his works would be in vain.  From his childhood, therefore, he was a model of mortification.  Though most innocent, he longed to suffer with Jesus and to weep for the sins of others, in imitation of his Blessed Lord.

His penances were most rigorous.  At all times gentle to others, he spared himself neither sleeping nor waking.  Day and night he girded himself with an iron chain.  His fasts, most severe in themselves were continued until death.  During his journeys on foot he suffered much.  Even when wearied nature obliged him to take some repose, it was hard stones or leaning against the altar steps, that he reclined his exhausted body.  Whole nights he passed in the church; never did he posses a bed or room which could be called his own.  Whenever he did not remain in the church, he gladly accepted whatever accomodations the brethren had prepared for him.  Ever a most faithful observer of the rule of his Order, he was likewise careful that his followers should also adhere to it.  Hence he always rebuked any infractions of the constitutions; but so gentle and affectionate was his manner, that penance coming from his hands, almost ceased to be a penance.  As his life was one of charity for his neighbor, so was it one of mortification for his neighbor's sins.

Practice

Am I convinced, with St. Dominic, that there is no sanctity possible without mortification?  He was most innocent; I have often offended God.  How then can I hesitate to walk in his steps?  Have I ever vigorously attacked my passions?  What is my prevailing weakness?  Am I strong to overcome it?  Do I not rather hesitate at the first sting of mortification, and is not the shadow of the cross sufficient to frighten me?  How often have I tried to justify my cowardice!  How often have I drowned the reproaches of my conscience by the din of worldly pleasures!  Can I not accuse myself of duty neglected simply because duty was irksome?  I have forgotten God.  I have not thought of the many offences which others commit against Him.  Even my own sins I have sought to palliate instead of doing a rigorous and continued penance for them.  Thus do I find that I have not as yet made the first step in the way of perfect virtue.  Assist me, great St. Dominic!  Animate my courage that I may not falter in walking after thee.

Sixth Day

St. Dominic's Spirit of Prayer

"We ought always to pray, and not to faint" (Luke xviii. 1)

The wonderful sanctity to which St. Dominic attained was due to his continual prayer.  He, indeed, prayed always.  Like the apostle, he could well say this his conversation was in heaven.  Prayer was his life, his light, and his strength.  The spirit which in early youth made it his delight to serve at the altar, to visit the Blessed Sacrament, and to sing in the Office the praises of God, was the spirit of prayer.  From prayer he learned more than from books.  By prayer he accomplished more than by preaching or miracles.  When his eloquence, and the wonders which he worked, failed to convert the Albigensians, it was the prayer of the Rosary that overcame them.

Whole nights he passed in prayer.  On his journeys he prayed almost continually, often going aside from his companions that he might give himself to deeper contemplation.  His love of prayer, as it exalted him in sanctity, also obtained many gifts.  Often rapt in ecstasy, he learned in communion with God the most sublime truths.  He was rewarded with the gifts of prophecy and miracles, with a keen insight into the hearts of others, and with such persuasive and convincing powers that none could resist him.

Practice

Neglect of prayer is the great evil of many.  Without prayer even the sacraments will not produce their effects.  Hence so many who often receive the sacraments continue in their imperfections, because of the neglect of prayer.  Do we endeavor to cultivate a spirit of prayer?  Do we strive to fit ourselves for prayer?  Why are we so cold, so distracted?  Why do we love prayer so little?  Because we do not seek, like St. Dominic, to bring the Holy Ghost into our hearts.  We do not guard our senses; we do not learn that meekness and humility so necessary for efficacious prayer.  We do not protect the holy flame of devotion by spiritual reading judicious silence.  In these virtues St. Dominic excelled.  He is our father and our master.  Let us implore him to guide us in the way of prayer, to make us faithful imitators.  Remember his miracles effected by prayer.  Think now of his power in heaven -- much greater than when on earth.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Adjusting the Sails

We use to have a sail boat.  My husband loved it although it turned him into Captain Bligh.  It was a day sailer--22ft.  He steered with the rudder, while we had to stay "put" -- yet also move when he said move!  So at the start of summer, everyone wanted to go sailing with Dad, by the end of summer, the crew had deserted.  No one wanted to get yelled at, anymore.

Besides the yelling, the sail boat was scary.  I never felt we were safe.  If it were too windy, it was hard to manage the jib, main sail, and the rudder.  I often felt like I was at the mercy of the wind.  If there were no wind, there wasn't a damn thing you could do about it, except drop the motor down and use it.  You definitely were at the mercy of the wind.

This memory was brought to the forefront in my reading of Sunday's Gospel: Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Matthew 14:22-33.  I can really feel for the men being tossed about in the boat.  I know that Jesus will calm all our fears, if only we trust in Him.  But that's not first on your mind when your busy ducking the boom, and pulling down the jib, and securing the lines, while trying to not get swept overboard, and hope the main sail doesn't snap.

Another image came to my mind, also, as I read these verses.  The Church is often depicted as a boat.  Sometimes it's tossed about, and sometimes it sails along calmly.  We have a sign hanging up on the wall that reads: "You can't control the wind, but you can adjust the sails."

No the Church can't control the wind, but it does adjust the sails.  The times call for repairing the sails.  The sea is rough and the sails need to be reefed, ....stay steady.

Day Five

St. Dominic's Love for His Neighbor

"This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you."  (John xv. 12)

As St. Dominic loved God for His own sake, so he loved his neighbor in God and for God.  In each individual he saw a soul redeemed by Christ, and this loved and longed to save.

No sacrifice for the welfare of his neighbor daunted him.  When a student he sold all his books, then far more precious than now, in order to relieve the poor.  Twice he offered himself to be sold into slavery that other might be assisted.  He knew no distinction of persons.  He yielded no distinction of persons.  He yielded to no personal likes or dislikes.  The image of his Divine Master, which he saw in every soul, was the power which moved him.  His prayers, his tears, his vigils, his sufferings, his penances, were nearly all offered for others.  Three times nightly he scourged himself, once for the souls in purgatory, once for sinners, and once for himself.  He worked miracles to feed his brethren; and after his long watches before the altar, he would go from cell to cell to see that his children were protected, carefully arranging the covering of those who had disturbed it during sleep.  Seldom speaking but of God or to God he was never known to utter an unkind or uncharitable word.  Ever returning good for evil, ever full of gentleness and sweetness, he lived only for God's glory and the salvation of his neighbor.

Practice

True love for God must ever include love for neighbor.  "If any man," says St. John, "say I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar."  Let us examine our hearts.  What are our thoughts, our words and our deeds towards our neighbors?  Do we wish them good?  Do we speak well of them?  Do we tell their faults, or do we conceal them, and pray for them?  Do we assist them in distress?  Do we endeavor to advance their salvation?  Do we contribute to their happiness whenever we can?  Is the motive of our love always pure?  Are we not often guided solely by our sympathies or our aversions?  Do we see God in our neighbor?  Do we see souls redeemed by Jesus Christ?  Are we willing to return good for evil?  Are we willing to make any sacrifice for others?  Do we love God in our neighbor, and do we seek His glory in the welfare of our neighbor?

Holy Father St. Dominic, pity our weakness.  Make us faithful imitators of your ardent charity for me.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fourth Day of the Novena

 St. Dominic's Love for Our Lady

Behold thy Mother.  (John xiv 27)

St. Dominic's devotion to Mary grew with him from his childhood.  He chose her to be his Mother, and under her protection he placed all his works.  For her he did all, knowing that this was the best way to do all for Jesus. Her Ave was ever on his lips before he preached.  Together with the name of Jesus, he ever proclaimed the glory of His Mother.  The same spirit he bequeathed to his followers so long known as the Friars of Mary.  And she, in her turn, was always mindful of St. Dominic, whom she lovingly called her son.  As a pledge of her gracious favor, she gave to his dear Reginald the white scapular of his Order.  To himself she gave the Rosary, the sweetest devotion to our dear Mother.  One night as he prayed, a comforting vision was granted to him, as he beheld a great number of his children in heaven, even under the mantle of the Queen.  And when about to close his eyes in death, our Lady made him a consoling promise that all who persevered in his order would be saved.  "The mother of his God had come to him," and we, his children still receive her visits, for in the beads, which St. Dominic left us we are able to continue his love for her.

Practice

The love of Mary is natural to all who believe in her Divine Son.  Our faith in Jesus made man is the root, the explanation, and the vindication of our love for our Blessed Lady.  We all look up to her, the foundations of whose sanctity are laid on the summit of the holy mountains; but how many allow their devotion to end here?  Do we, who ought to be the imitators of St. Dominic try to copy his example in loving Mary?  Do we take her for our model?  Do we endeavor, like St. Dominic, to study the lessons which she teaches us, and do we ask of her the grace to follow them in our lives?  If our devotion to Mary go no further than praise; if we do not strive to produce in our lives the virtues which she practiced, we shall not offer to her the fullness of homage which she desires.  Love and imitation!  Let these be our watchwords in devotion to her who is Queen of the Rosary, and let her beads be our dearest companion.  Let us ever remember that to do all for Mary is the safest way to Jesus.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Why do you go to Mass?

I was reading Bishop Dowd's blog Waiting in Joyful Hope, and he gives three reasons for people going to Mass.

1.  Communion
2.  Homily
3.  Eucharistic Prayer

He was talking about the Eucharistic Prayer--importance--meaning.

But I'm still thinking of other reasons why people go to Mass: habit, family, business reasons, your ministry obligates you to, personal promises, social reasons, what else?

...yeah, the Eucharistic Prayer trumps.
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Third Day

St. Dominic's Love for God


"If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema" (1 Cor. xvi 22)

St. Dominic's love for Jesus Christ was the mainspring for all his actions.  For Him he lived and died.  All his labors, his preaching, his writings, his journeys, his miracles, were the outpouring of this love that God might be better known and better served.  He ever prayed that he might love God with a pure love, that he might love Him solely for His own sake.  Jesus Christ and Him crucified he only desired.  The passion of our Blessed Lord was the object of his frequent meditation and this so inflamed his heart that he longed to yield himself up a victim, to shed his blood to prove how much he loved his Master.  And when he was asked by the heretics what he would do if he fell into their hands, he replied that he would ask them not to kill him by a single blow, but to cut off his members one by one, and then, plucking out his eyes, leave him there to die.

The Blessed Sacrament was also the object of his most tender devotion.  Frequently did he prolong his vigils before the altar during the entire night.  The tabernacle was the centre of his love.  There he always made the first visit on arriving at the end of his journey.

In offering up the adorable sacrifice of the Mass, his devotion was most touching.  Never did he celebrate without shedding abundant tears, and often while holding his Divine Master in his hands, he was raised in the air, where he remained in heavenly ecstasy.

Practice

How often do we make acts of love?  Let us measure our love by our deeds, by our suffering, for suffering is the test of love.  How does it appear compared with St. Dominic's burning love?  Have we ever proved our love by deed and not by word only, as St. John requires?  Do we try to imitate our Lord in His passion?  How often do we think of Gethsemane and Calvary?  And the altar?  Are our visits frequent?  Do we not soon grow weary of staying a few minutes with Jesus, Who remains days and nights for us?

Let us ask St. Dominic to be our master, to teach us how to love our Blessed Lord.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Matisse's Masterpiece


For years I've been carrying around this postcard from Chapelle du Rosaire a Vence, France.  It's a post card of an altar and stained glass window, designed by Henri Matisse.  As beautiful as the colors of the window and design of the altar are, that's not why I still have, and admire this postcard.  Behind the altar is a simple drawing of a Dominican friar.  This is what attracted me.  In a way, it reminded me of those games where you are suppose to draw something in one line without taking the pencil off the paper.  In another way, the simple curves and smooth folds of the cloth attracted me to the beauty of the habit.  I wonder if someone who doesn't have any idea of a Dominican friar could appreciate this wonderful drawing.  Probably not, otherwise I think this drawing would be as famous as Mona Lisa.

This post card was tacked to my bulletin board, for years.  All I knew about it was that Matisse had drawn the friar while convalescing.

Then I went to the Chihuly Exhibit, at the MFA.  Something about Chihuly's sea glass art reminded me of the stained glass window in the postcard.  It was the bold, bright color.  So cheerful, optimistic, sunny, smoothly curving....and wonderful.

...and then I read in The Pilot, (June 24, 2011, p. 17) that the Vatican Museum opened a new room for "Matisse designs for French chapel."  I don't know why I read this.  I wasn't thinking of my postcard, at all.  But when I read the article, I knew exactly that the reporter was referring to my postcard.  The article tells us that the Vatican Museum will house the drawings and models that Matisse did for a small chapel in Vence, on the French Riviera.  It went on to explain that Matisse's son, Pierre donated the collection.  It is interesting, because Matisse wasn't religious.  He never gave religion a thought.  (Hard to imagine that someone so blessed with artistic talent to portray God's beauty could not help but reflect upon the creator of it all!)  Henri Matisse was inspired to design this chapel by his nurse and model, Sister Jacques-Marie, O.P., aka Monique Bourgeois.  She asked him for ideas and perhaps a mural; but he was very generous and magnanimous, (as his art) and undertook designing the windows, the chapel, the altar, the furnishings, etc.  Matisse collaborated with Fr. Marie-Alain Couturier, O.P.,  for four years.  And the result---Matisse considers the Chapelle du Rosaire, his masterpiece.

This little Pilot article whetted by curiosity about Henri Matisse.  I've been googling and reading about the Chapelle du Rosaire a Vence, and it's artiste extrodinaire, ever since reading that article.  It was when Matisse was sick and needed a nurse that he met Monique.  She was very kind and beautiful on the inside, as well as the out.  They confided in each other.  Henri and Monique became soul mates, in that she supported him, and he supported her.  He must have been amazed at her discernment of a religious vocation.  No wonder he desired to undertake the chapel project.  I bet he was as excited in giving his talents to God, as Monique was in giving hers.

He used a Dominican friar as a model for the drawing of St. Dominic.  That is who the drawing of the friar, behind the altar, is suppose to represent.  And since Matisse was ill, he had cancer, he would use long bamboo poles with his pencil attached, to draw.  He also had teams of artists to help him.  You see, it was a mammoth project and Matisse poured his soul into it.

It is a masterpiece.

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Day Two

This is day two of my novena to St. Dominic.

The Humility of Saint Dominic

"Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart, and you shall find rest to your souls." 
 (Matt. xi 29)

Though of illustrious birth, and endowed by God with the most splendid gifts of mind and heart, St. Dominic considered himself the lowliest, and the most miserable of men.  He well knew the grace he had received; but to God he gave glory.  He realized that humility was the root of perfection, and as such he cherished it.

So deep was his conviction of his own unworthiness, that before he entered a town he always knelt on the road and prayed to God not afflict the people for his sins, but to make his efforts fruitful in their behalf.

He embraced every occasion of humiliation.  In choosing a place of residence, he always preferred Carcasson to Toulouse, because in the former place he was treated with contempt.  Three times he refused a bishopric, preferring to remain with his brethren, under whose feet, as he said, he wished to be buried.

He even sought to lay aside the office of General of his Order, alleging that he was too negligent, that he had lost all his usefulness.

Practice

What ought to be our reflection at the sight of such an example?  What have our lives been?  Do we like the saints, examine ourselves in the light of God?  Can we look back on lives of innocence and purity, like St. Dominic?  And yet can we not count many acts of pride?  Have we made the first step in humility?  Do we realize, with St. Dominic, that, at best, our justice compared to the justice of God, is but a shadow?  Do we seek occasions of humiliatiion?  Do we strive to advance our glory in every way, entirely forgetful that to the Lord, and to Him alone, glory should be given?

Let us ask St. Dominic to change our hearts, to mold them after the model of his own.