Friday, September 30, 2011

What a Bunch of Turkeys!

My friends and I were aiming to walk three miles in an hour.  We would have done it too, were it not for Peggy stopping and pointing to someone's lawn.

It was dusk, so the light wasn't too good.

Are those turkeys?

What?

There on the lawn.

No, I think they're Canadian geese


So we stared for a while.  Those turkeys/geese never moved.  Then someone walked out of the house, and right by them.  Those turkeys/geese still never moved.

Duh!  Those are lawn ornaments!


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Christian Pastor Needs Your Support


Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, is facing a death
 sentence, in Iran, for apostasy, even though he 
never was a Muslim. You can protest in person by 
filling out the letter form at Christian Solidarity 
Worldwide.  The form is on the Take Action Site.

New App for Catholics

Immediately after reading about the new app to help Catholic voters, in Zenit, I ordered it.  It promises to inform you and allow you to send your representatives your thoughts.  Sounds great.


SOUTH BEND, Indiana, SEPT. 28, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The company that put confession preparation on the iPhone now has a tool for Catholic voters: CatholicVote Mobile, aimed to mobilize and unify those who want to get the Church's view to Congress.
Little i Apps, LLC, makers of Confession: A Roman Catholic App, collaborated with CatholicVote.org in the development of the new app.
The service provides a method to contact members of Congress, as well as offering mobile access to CatholicVote.org's blogs and news.
A one-touch method allows Catholic voters to more easily participate in the political forum. Based on a user's GPS location or zip code, the app generates the contact information for their representative and senators. Users can select to automatically add this information to their contact lists or simply tap to connect.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sometimes When You Lose, You Win

I sang all the way home.  "Putting on the Ritz," "Cabaret," "Money makes the world go Around," and other songs reminiscent of Hollywood musicals, rang through the air.  I saw the musical, "Putting on the Ritz," at the Cornerstone Playhouse, in Mystic, Connecticut.  I love the dancing, too.  And there was so much of it; one show tune after another belted out and danced.

Tashia Levy is terrific.  She wrote and directed the play.  She has great talent.  Also giving wonderful peformances are Kaitlyn Kuvalanka, Christine Poland, and Maryanne Whitford.  It was so uplifting and exciting.

It made up for my losing at Mohegan Sun.  

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Kop-Chu'u" ("The Hunchback")

Saint Lucy Kim "Kop-Ch'u" was a Catholic Korean when that was not so acceptable.  She married a pagan who would not allow her to practice her faith.  She was compelled to separate from him.  Other Catholic families took her in and she worked here and there to support herself.  She cleaned houses, took care of children, nursed the sick.  Lucy was over seventy years old when she was arrested for being Catholic by Korean's pagan regime.  Lucy's life (c. 1768-1839).  Even in prison, Lucy ministered to ill prisoners. Lucy looked forward to dyeing for God.  She was beaten and ill and died in prison, with the names of Jesus and Mary, on her lips.

h/t to Magnificat 

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Pot Calling the Kettle Black

The way someone reads makes a difference in how you understand that reading.  I'm talking about Ezekiel 18:25-28.  Now, I know this scripture well.  I read it yesterday, since I was Lector B, who does the First Reading for the Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

I understood this Reading to mean that the person who sinned is the one who deserves punishment.  But tonight, Father Denis Como, sj made me smile to myself, because the way he read, "Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?" gave me a humorous visualization.

I can just picture God remarking incredulously, "You have the nerve to think I'm unfair?  What about yourselves?  What about Troy Davis?  What about ....."  

An Abomination!

That's what it is.  Capital punishment in a civilized society--it's incomprehensible to me.  Why do we do this, especially nowadays, with all the information before us that proves it doesn't work?

Let me give you some reasons why its wrong, and I won't start with religious arguments.

1. It doesn't work to cure violence.  Think about it.  Can you bite a toddler to teach him not to bite?  Besides the fact that biting the child doesn't stop him from biting, you have just taught him that he who bites harder wins.  And state authorized executions are inefficient and brutal.  Modern civilized society has many other methods of penal conduct to employ.

2. Capital punishment is a denial of the due process law.  It denies the individual the opportunity to present new evidence, or the opportunity to benefit from new laws, or scientific procedures to prove his innocence.

3.  It is cruel and unusual punishment because out of the modern industrial countries, the United States is the only one that still has capital punishment.  And we think sharia law is brutal!  IOW, capital punishment is rejected by other Western countries because it is cruel.  We're the only ones who still have it, therefore it is unusual.

4.  Capital punishment discriminates.  How come most of the executions are done on black poor people?  The answer is because they don't have the money to pay for a good lawyer.

5.   It's a waste of money.  The cost of prosecuting attorneys, defense counsel, juries, courtroom personnel, and all the fines accrued, plus appeals, after appeals, cost more than incarceration for life.

I have one more reason that I want to add that bridges secular and religious arguments.  That is that a society that respects life does not kill to solve its problems.

Religious reasons:

1.  Life for life is Old Testament.  It's sharia law.  We'd all be dead if we carried this out, much like we'd all be blind if we practiced an "eye for an eye."  And when you make a mistake, "oops?".  That's what we're doing.  Executing a man and finding out that he's innocent--"oops."

2.  We all are made in the likeness of God and as such deserve respect.  This is why Christians minister to those less fortunate than ourselves.

3.  Christians forgive.  That does not mean that murderers should be free.  Punishment should be applied, but human life must always be respected!  (Read that last sentence again, because it's important enough to be repeated.)

Keep these points in mind when you think about the execution of Troy Davis.  And kudos to the Vatican for strongly expressing its opposition to this erroneous application of capital punishment.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lingo

Criteria for advancement in the Lay Fraternities of Saint Dominic are: completion of the official Ongoing Formation Program, our Chapter's Additional Formation Material,  and a prudent and thorough review by the Chapter Council that the member understands and adheres to the criteria for Lay Dominican life as set forth herein in Section III § 1 (Initial Formation).  § 3, IV, Particular Directory Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic Province of St. Joseph.


OLMC has been conducting interviews for the past couple of weeks.  The Chapter Council has to decide who moves forward.  My "cloistered brothers" make me laugh.  They kept asking each other if they were "upped."  Finally, I asked what "upped" meant.  "Upped" is Mafia speak for being promoted up the ranks.

My "cloistered brothers" also kept referring to us Lay Dominicans as the "brotherhood."  The "brotherhood?'' What about me?

It was explained that we all belong to the Fraternity of Lay Dominicans.

They had me there.  :-/

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ask Sister Mary Martha: Mysteries of the Rosary

Ask Sister Mary Martha: Mysteries of the Rosary has a post about praying the Rosary.  Someone asked her about praying while driving and a discussion arose.  People were worried that praying would distract a driver.  Really?  People drive talking on their cell phones, texting, putting on make up, looking at maps, turning around to talk to passengers, and more.  Praying is no distraction at all, when compared to others.

The comments also questioned the value of breaking up the Rosary and praying a decade, here and there.  I found this interesting.  Praying is praying.  Isn't prayer talking to God?  Sometimes you just check in.  Sometimes you relate long stories.  Sometimes you even give Him a piece of your mind.  Praying is different strokes for different folks.

In fact, I remember hearing that St. Theresa Lisieux (Saint and Doctor of the Church) didn't like praying the Rosary and said that she wouldn't pray it, if it weren't part of the Rule of her Order.  I can relate to that.  The Rosary isn't for everybody.  The Rule for the Lay Fraternities of Saint Dominic require that a daily Rosary be prayed.  And I, like the Little Flower, find it a challenge.  But I do it.

What helps is to vary the prayer.  Sometimes I pray the entire Rosary at once.  Sometimes I pray it while walking.  Sometimes I listen to a Rosary CD.  Sometimes I pray it in Latin, praying to a CD of Pope John Paul II.  Sometimes I vary my position: one decade kneeling, one decade sitting, one decade walking, one decade kneeling, one decade sitting.  Sometimes I meditate on the Rosary by doing a Scriptural Rosary.  and there are times that I do pray a decade on my way to work, a decade on the way home to lunch, a decade on the way back to work, and then a decade on the way home, leaving one decade to pray in bed.  Yeah, sometimes my guardian angel finishes that Rosary for me.

And you know what.  Because I pray this Rosary as a duty.  I think it's worth more than those Rosaries prayed by people who like praying the Rosary.  I do!!!!     I do something to please God, not myself; that's an example of love.  It's like making my husband corn beef and cabbage.  (yuk)  I do it out of love.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sacred Heart Chapter

This is a statue outside of St. Mary's School.  This is where the Sacred Heart Chapter, in Rahway, NJ, meets.  I was there to give them a talk about Pere Marie Jean-Joseph Lataste, O.P.  This chapter is a chapter of ladies.  It's a good group, and I was reacquainted with some Lay Dominicans that I had met at a retreat in the Poconos.

I learned or reviewed lessons I hadn't thought about in years.  It was good for me.  The Chapter was discussing Dominican Spirituality.  This is hard to pin down because St. Dominic didn't write very much at all.  He left no manual or way of life like St. Ignatius, or writings like St. Francis.  Dominicans have no system of spiritual exercises, nevertheless, all forms of prayers are found.  The spirituality is grounded in scriptures.  Liturgical prayers mark our day, but not intense as strict contemplatives.  Our Divine Office prayers should be brisk and light because we need to move out to preach.  Preaching is what Dominicans do.  We preach in many ways to which we are suited by temperament and opportunity.  All of us preach with our lives, by how we treat people, and by how well we radiate hope to the world, or our little part of the world, because the whole point of the Scriptures is summed up in hope.  IOW, Dominican spirituality is life in the Holy Spirit.

My talk about Pere Lataste touched upon his emphasis of Dominican Spirituality.  Lataste spirituality is very, very Christian.  It works towards redemption.  It believes that everyone can be redeemed.  It's very Catholic because once you are sorry and asked for forgiveness, you are just as worthy as anybody.  You are absolved.  It offers hope for everyone.  Every person has dignity because they are a reflection of God.

I know this is an abstract concept that all Christians believe, but Father Lataste lived it.  He founded the Dominican Sisters of Bethany to work with prisoners.  Not every Christian will do this.  Will you give a job to a pedophile?

See?

I'd like to give a special thanks to Mrs. Judi Navetta, O.P. for treating us to dinner.  It was a generous, thoughtful and much appreciated gesture.  May God bless you, Judi, in your discernment.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The New Translation

I heard it!  I read!  I prayed it!  I was visiting my "cloistered brothers," Agustin and Francisco, in Trenton, NJ, these past few days.  I also gave a talk on Pere Marie Jean-Joseph Lataste, O.P. to the Lay Dominican Chapter, Sacred Heart, in Rahway, NJ.  And lastly, of the utmost importance, I was talking business, and visiting  Omega.

Omega took me to her parish church, for daily Mass.  Nativity of Our Lord Parish, in Monroe Township, NJ, is a nice new parish.  It has a nativity scene set up outside, permanently.  Omega said at Christmas time the church really goes all out.  It must be something to see.

I was surprised to see that the parish is using the New Translation.  Omega said that they were starting now so when the rest of the country starts in Advent, the Nativity of Our Lord Parish will be all ready.  There were colorful cards in the pews with the new prayers.  They're not all that different.

In fact, I don't think we people skipped a beat.  The priest messed up once or twice.  That's OK; we're Christians and forgive him ;-)

BTW, I liked it.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Omega


Hope you'll miss me.  I won't be blogging the next couple of days.  I'll be in Jersey visiting Omega and two of my "cloistered brothers," Agustine and Francisco.  Oh yeah.  I almost forgot--the purpose of my visit.  I'll be giving a Talk on the Apostle of Prisons: Pere Marie Jean Joseph Lataste, O.P.  to a chapter of Lay Dominicans.  I'll post more about it when I'm back.  

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Catholic Look at Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide


I have more than a little interest in the assisted suicide proposal being put on the ballot, in Massachusetts.  It wasn’t so long ago, that I was thought to be dying.  Ugh—that purgatorial illness!  People still talk about being afraid that I was dying.  I literally was wasting away. 

I knew I was a burden.  My husband was my right hand.  And my left!  He cooked, fed, dressed, and cleaned me up when I was too weak.  I was wasting away in my own diarrhea.  It’s called Cronkhite Canada Syndrome and it’s an adult onset disease.  Old, weak people die from it, because they’re too weak to fight it off. 

We discussed putting me in a nursing home.  I couldn’t expect hubby to be at my beck and call forever.  It would have been for the best.  He was relieved from responsibilities by other members of my family.  I was a burden to everyone I loved.  My death would have been a relief—to everyone.  We discussed my funeral.

That’s what I thought.  I was praying to die.  Death couldn’t come quickly enough.  I wasn’t suicidal because the fifth commandment is something I know well.  (My apostolate is prison ministry.)  But because I was weak, and mentally depressed, I could have been easily exploited by  misguided health workers.  I also wondered  if I had lacked health insurance (Thank you Governor Romney.) would I have felt pressured to die, to ease my family’s financial burden of mounting medical bills. The cheapest way out was to die.   I was way too vulnerable to the opinions of others, in my condition. 

I wasn’t in excruciating pain, but I was suffering.  Because I am Christian, I know the value of redemptive suffering.  I put myself into God’s hands and if He permitted me to live, it was because He had more work for me to do.  If that work was to suffer then so be it, I’ll be a good Christian example of suffering.  His ways are not my ways.  I wasn’t in the mood to meditate on it, I just prayed acceptance.

It was simple.  I would die in God’s time, not mine.  He knows best.  And it’s a good thing I didn’t do anything rash, because it wasn’t my time.  God had other plans.  I’m still working on them, but the lessons I learned from that experience were life changing. 

That death wish was depression.  I wonder if that’s the case with those who have committed euthanasia, or asked for assisted suicide.  Most physical pain can be managed.  The book of Exodus tells us that we are stewards of life.  We are not God; we are answerable to God, for how we have cared for life.  How would one explain that we played God and decided who would die, and who wouldn’t?

I know that the ballot question on euthanasia and assisted suicide will couch the question in words of compassion.  But I’m telling you the words are just a misleading, erroneous seduction.  The question is  really, “Who decides whether you live or die.?”  It shouldn’t be the decision of the vulnerable sick person, who probably needs depression medication.  And it shouldn’t be the decision of those who look upon the ill as a burden.  And it can’t be left to politicians to decide by popular opinion.  Genocide has been committed upon those whom society has decided were burdensome: the poor, the frail, elderly, marginalized, minorities because they have no voice, people who lack health insurance, etc.  Good Lord!  This ballot question is a slippery slope.

Pain usually isn’t the reason, because nowadays, pain can be managed.  I know it wasn’t with me.  I am thankful that I’m Catholic and could depend on the sacraments for consolation.  Fortunately, I had a Spiritual Director, at the time, and the comforting grace of Anointing of the Sick.  Catholicism is the best religion to be in sick in, and following, to die in.  God is the author of life, don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Let's pray for Cardinal Schoenborn

If the name Christoph Schoenborn sounds familiar, it should; he is the editor of the Catechism.   He's as conservative and traditional as they come.  He and Pope Benedict are personal friends and fellow theologians.  Oh, I know that once in awhile on slow news days, a sound bite of Schoenborn being at a puppet Mass, or something else considered "liberal", will be blared hither and yon, across the media.  But that's not him.  He never knows what he's in for when he makes a pastoral visit.  He's also a gentleman and too kind and pastoral, to throw a "hissy fit" when he's thrown into unconventional circumstances, e.i., puppet Masses.


Right now, he's in a position that he doesn't relish.  He has to lay down the law to a number of priests in his country, Austria, who want to be married, OK giving Communion to the divorced and remarried Catholics, and also give Communion to Protestants, who aren't in communion with us, who want lay preachers and administers of the sacraments...     It looks like they don't want to be Catholic, anymore.  


Fine.  Go.


But they don't want to go.  They want the Catholic Church to come around to their line of thinking.  The truth of the very precepts that these priests are rebelling against are grounded in doctrine, tradition, and 2011 years of spiritual discernment.  These dissident priests will not get their way.  Cardinal Schoenborn  has no choice.  


Actually, it's the dissenting priests who are choosing.  And they are not choosing the Catholic Church.


This situation cries out for our prayers.  Extra prayers are needed for Cardinal Schoenborn.  May these priests open their minds and listen.  May they see the wisdom in our Deposit of Faith and accept their Cardinal's 
dialogue and pastoral decisions.


*http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/09/17/uk-austria-church-idUKTRE78G1F220110917

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Suitcase Man is Home

My friend, Jim, died this week.  Now he is at peace.  No more walking. No more angst.  No more shame.  No more fear.  No more hunger--for love, food, warmth, attention, care, family, companionship...  He was a poor soul.

...You are the God of the lowly, the helper of the oppressed, the supporter of the  weak, the protector of the forsaken, the savior of those without hope.  Judith 9:11

Sometimes I see him in the Common.
Sometimes he appears on the "T."

It's Jim, the Suitcase man.
My friend who thinks I'm an angel.

He's walked the day; God knows where!
Traveling for hope, looking for love.

He's talking to invisible people.
But they're nicer than most.

Head down, one foot in front of the other.
Plod, plod, plod along, my friend.

* from Justitia, Poetry from the Second Annual OPrize for Poetry, ed. Robert Curtis, School Boy Press, 2006, p. 21.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Stanley Seagull

Stanley Seagull by Cathy Mazur, illustrated by Colleen Gedrich is the latest children’s book I’ve read.  As you can see the colors are eye catching and fun.  I think everyone will love the illustrations.  As for the story itself, well that also is fun.  There’s so much to it.  Tribute Publishers has done it again.  There are many themes: the environment, food and nutrition, trash/landfills/use, bird life, etc..  But I’m choosing to write on morality.  Yup!  You read that correctly.  I’d like to emphasize a theme of morality, in Stanley Seagull.

The story is about Stanley who loves his home by the ocean.  He dives and catches his own fish; he has many friends; he loves the sun, salt air, beach, and the ocean.  The gulls though, mostly lived off the “left behinds” that beach goers dropped. 

And one time, Stanley’s cousin swooped down and stole a hot dog, hot off some people’s grill.  Ah, this is where I honed in.  Ask anyone who has lived near the ocean and they will have a similar seagull story to relate.  I have my own story of a gull swooping down to steal a sandwich right out of my hand, when I was a child.  This was at a state park in Rye, NH.  I was appalled.  As a child, the shock left me with a derogatory opinion of sea gulls.  I always thought of them as ocean vultures.

But I’ve grown up now.  I realize that birds are birds.  They don’t have the mental abilities that human beings have.  In fact, it is our job, as humans to take care of our world.  The environment is another moral issue.  We need to keep our oceans clean.  We need to take care of our trash.  And of course we have to take care of the animals and birds that inhabit our world.  The care of our world is our responsibility.

When Stanley got trapped in a garbage truck, my childhood fear of getting lost made my heart drop to my stomach.  Do we all feel that way?  Imagine what Stanley felt.  I think all children would love to tell their feelings and worries, about getting lost. 

But Stanley Seagull has a happy ending, so children will leave this story happy.  I was happy.  I know you’ll be happy, too, after reading this book.  They’re so much to it for everyone, on so many levels.  It’s a keeper.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

News!

The beatification of Pere Marie Jean Joseph Lataste, O.P. will be in early June, 2012. It will be in France.  He's my spiritual hero and my spiritual guru.  Do you think I'll be going?

Ha!  Is the Pope Catholic?

Try keeping me away.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Do Catholics Pray to Saints?

The Argonauta Book Club meeting went well.  The Argonauts didn't eat very much, but that just means that the people at Work will.  (I'll bring the left-overs to work today.)  I was telling everyone about my plans to go to the beatification of Pere Marie Jean Joseph Lataste, O.P.  This was an opportunity to explain the process of sainthood.  But more than that, it brought up the subject of religion.

Three of the Argonauts are married to Catholics.  One said that her Catholic husband always attended the Episcopal Church's Mass with her.  But he said that's as low as he will go.  (There was an "o-o-oh, tsk, tsk.) Another said that her husband attends his Catholic Mass once in awhile, and he never goes to her Universalist church.  The last Argonaut lady said that her husband always attends Sunday Catholic Mass but he won't go with her to her church.  (I didn't choose to enter into the fray.)

But my Episcopal friend in discussing "how low" her husband's standards had fallen was explaining that there were very few differences between Catholics and Episcopalians.  One diff was that Episcopals don't pray to saints (since I had been talking about the beatification of Fr. Lataste.)

"Oh...oh, do Catholics pray to saints, I was asked."

I explained it's not the same as when we pray to God.  I said that Catholics think of saints as friends just as I was talking to my Argonaut friends,  Catholics may talk (which is a definition of prayer) to saints.  After all, we believe that death is the beginning of a new life.  So we're not praying to dead people, but to people alive with Christ.  Our friendships don't end in death; I'll consider the Argonauts my friends in heaven.  And I'll be talking with them then, too.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pea Pods, Chipmunks, Hissing Cat, and the Argonauts

It's about an hour before the Argonauta Book Club and I'm pooped.  What a day!  I'm glad I only have to host the club once a year; it's a lot of work.

I've got two different kinds of cheeses and basil and tomato crackers.  I've got salsa and chips.  A big bowl of grapes is the centerpiece.  I've got honey roasted peanuts, chocolate almonds, and unsalted peanuts.  I've macaroons and hermits.  A mile high apple pie will be served last.

I'm also trying something I'm not sure about.  See the picture.  That's a picture of either snow peas or snap peas.    I read a recipe somewhere and thought it was simple enough not to copy it down.  I made an onion dip to stuff the peas.  But when I opened the peas there were seeds in them.  Do I leave them in?  They were soft and I ate some.  But I chose to take them out.  Get that--I bothered to take out these itsy bitsy peas, out of their pods.

So I hope Jayne is the first member to arrive.  She's a gourmet cook and will tell me.

As I looked over the snack food, I checked what I had to drink: coffee, tea, apple cider, and Chardonnay, Merlot, and Sangria.  Mmmmmmm.  Most of the ladies drink Pinot Grigio.  So I ran out to Liquor World.

While I was gone, all hell broke loose.  Out of the corner of my husband's eye, he saw a chipmunk run across the living room.  A CHIPMUNK!  


What if that happened during Book Club?

Luckily, the chipmunk ran out to our screened porch--where the cat was.  Hubby closed the sliders so the chipmunk couldn't get back in the house.  He then open the screen door, so the chipmunk would run out.  The cat caught him and dropped him at hubby's feet.  Hubby picked up the cat and opened the slider and threw the cat in the house.  (And she's been in a "piss ass" mood ever since.)  Anyway, back to the drama on the porch.  That stupid chipmunk would not run out the opened door.  Hubby had a dickens of a time trying to shoo it out.  At one point the chipmunk sat down in the middle of the threshold to the door.  What a dumb ass!  That chipmunk ran around the porch, up the grill, across the table, until hubby threw a towel over it.  He scooped it up and brought it outside.

The cat's been looking for it, ever since.

I came home to listen to this tale.  Can you imagine if that chipmunk ran across the floor in the middle of our discussion of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand?  This meeting would be the topic of discussion amongst my friends and I, for the rest of our lives.  Never mind my worrying about taking peas out of pods, or not.  

Stuck

You know how I take "P & P" (Pray and Play) Days off from work, every now and then.  Well today, I took a "CBBC" (Clean Before Book Club) Day off.  (yeah...yeah...book club should meet here more often)

This morning I did errands, bought train ticks to N.J. to see Omega, got lab work done, and did an exercise work out to a TV program.  The work out instructor said something that got me thinking.  (yeah...yeah...I should do that more often, too)  She was talking about when you reach a plateau in your weight loss program.  She was obviously talking about exercise.  But I was thinking how it would apply to everything.  Well, why not?

She said, "Stop what you're doing and think how you could "vary" it."  One example would be a walking program.  If you routinely walk to lose weight and you've reached a plateau where you've stayed the same for a long time, well, vary it, e.i., speed walk for a section.  Then walk normal to catch your breath.  Try doing that again.  Speed walk and then slow to normal.  See if that makes a difference.

If you swim laps, try treading water for a period of time, then finish with laps.  Get the idea.

Well, if that works for physical gain, why wouldn't it work for spiritual plateaus/ dryness.  If you're spacing out doing the Rosary, walk while praying, then sit, then stand.  I've used different media to vary the routine: I've prayed with Father Reed on Boston Catholic TV; I've used the Rosary App on my iPhone; I've used CD's; I've prayed with the Rosary ladies before Mass; I've prayed with the parish Prayer Group; I've tried praying the Rosary in Latin, in French, in Spanish; and I've prayed the Rosary in bed where I enlist my Guardian Angel to finish it for me.  Give me another method and I'll try it.

I also like to vary the places I go to pray.  When you think of it, nothing ventured, nothing gained.  Keep trying; perseverance wins the race.  That's what St. Paul says.

I think. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Is Forgiveness Weakness?

Mass tonight had Father Chris still talking about forgiveness.  He spoke of the concept of forgiveness and the act.  He spoke of personal forgiveness.

You know what I was picturing?  Fr. Chris was trying to have us see that forgiveness is NOT weakness.  It takes a better and stronger person to forgive.  So I'm picturing a little guy being pushed around.  It makes him angry to be picked on so he becomes belligerent himself.  He feels that he can't walk away and forgive and forget because he is weak and needs to prove himself otherwise.

A physically big person wouldn't even bother with the little guy.  The bigger person knows he can hurt the smaller person, if he wanted to.  Of course he could.  The bigger person is a better person for not hammering the little guy.

Wouldn't the same be true with the virtue forgiveness?  It would be a generous gesture to forgive.  A narrow, mean, small act to not forgive?  In fact, Indira Gandhi once said, "Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Nostalgia



I was part of a panel discussion at Our Lady of Divine Providence & St. Thomas Aquinas Chapter, today.  The discussion was on prison ministry.  I think my Talk went well.  I focused on  Pere Marie Jean-Joseph Lataste, OP.  Everyone seemed interested and asked the appropriate questions.

But I missed my Chapter, and my "cloistered brothers."

Afterwards, I stayed to pray Vespers with the friars.  Praying in community with them really made me nostalgic for St. Stephen's Priory in Dover, MA.  I spent my Postulancy and Noviate there, and I haven't prayed with the Divine Office, with the friars, since then.  St. Stephen's Priory was a beautiful place; 78 acres bordering the Charles River. It was a spiritual haven.  The priory and the grounds spread contemplation.  When I sat in St. Cecilia's Garden, I could hear the river pass quietly by.  Walking down  the path doing the Stations, one would come to a canoe.  Paddling down the Charles defined tranquility.  Canoeing is so peaceful, like the Priory.

 That's what I remember about St. Stephen's--the sense of peace.  You recognized God there.

You probably will find this hard to believe.  The closest I've come to this experience, is my present Chapter, Our Lady of Mercy.  My "cloistered brothers" exude contemplative peace.  The fruits of their contemplation, and study, are evident in the witness they portray in their environment.  They are a source of peace and grace.  I pray God continues to bless them.

In the priory where silence reigned,
From the French doors shadows fell.
I felt God's presence in the dusk.
A habit of crosses, the friar wore so well.


The crosses flickered across the white,
As you bent your ear to me.
"Where two or three are gathered..."
We whispered praises in the night.


Father, listen! in the hour you bless.
On the long table, the shadows press.


And I under the Pompeii frieze,
Felt only comfort and peace so true,
With the cross pattern on moonlit white.
And I prayed for you.

This was a recollection of spiritual direction in St. Stephen's Priory.  It was published in The Pillars, Poetry from the 1st Annual OPrize for Poetry, ed. Robert Curtis, OPL, SchoolBoy Publications, 2005.  The title is Spiritual Direction and I wrote it about my director, Fr. Bede Shipps, OP.  

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I Resolve to Reject Hatred

"We resolve today and always to reject hatred and resist terrorism.The greatest resource we have in these struggles is faith." These are the words of the President of the USCCB, Archbishop Timothy Dolan.  The words were offered as a statement on the tenth anniversary of 9/11.  They recommit us to pulling together in faith, work, ideas, and commitment.  We can make our country and the world better.  We know we can.

The Archbishop closed his statement with a prayer, Pope Benedict XVI offered when he visited Ground Zero in 2008.


"O God of love, compassion, and healing,look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions,who gather today at this site,the scene of incredible violence and pain….
God of understanding,overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,we seek your light and guidanceas we confront such terrible events.Grant that those whose lives were sparedmay live so that the lives lost here may not have been lost in vain.Comfort and console us,strengthen us in hope,and give us the wisdom and courageto work tirelessly for a world where true peace and love reignamong nations and in the hearts of all."

Friday, September 9, 2011

Situational Irony


There were six of us walking tonight.  It was a beautiful Fall night.  You didn't need a jacket.  The temperature was in the 70's.  We couldn't walk the track because there was a high school football game going on.  We could hear the cheering and band music and even feel the excitement.

We walked around and through the Town Common and headed downtown.  Somehow we had paired off, and soon found ourselves walking and talking in two's.  We usually walk for an hour and we were on the last 20 minutes or so, when the couple in front of us turned to say something, and we all stopped.

Where was the last couple?

If they went somewhere, why didn't they tell us?  Did they stop to window shop?  Did they meet friends?  Did they go inside some where?  Did they head off in a different direction?

Then we spotted them back down the road.  And, they had crossed the street!  They were now on the other side of the street.

We decided to continue slow to allow them to catch up.  We also were going to cross the street at the next corner crosswalk, so we'll be on the same side as they.

But there were no cars coming.

We decided to jaywalk.  Hey! This is Massachusetts.

As we were dashing across the street to be on the same side, as our friends, we saw that they were dashing across the street to be on the same side, as us.

If we did it again, would they?

We chose to stay put and wait until we all were close enough to talk.

Sometimes Christian love of neighbor can be humorous.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Mother Mary

I know this birthday cake says "Happy Birthday Mark," but that's because today is Mark's birthday.  My son Mark was born on September 8, which is also Mother Mary's birthday.

Mark received clothes for birthday presents.  What shall I give my most Blessed Mother?

How about her Rosary?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

7 x 77 = oo

I was reading the Gospel for the Twenty-Fourth Sunday, (Matt. 18: 21-35) and laughed at a memory.  One of my friends was ranting on and on about a mutual acquaintance.  When I quoted, ""Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive?  As many as seven times?"   Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times."


My friend snapped at me, "She's used up more than THAT!"

I laughed then, and I laugh now.  I don't get too upset about people who want revenge.  Some people treasure grudges.  It seems to keep them going.  Maybe it gives them a purpose in life.  And I have reflected on this, quite a bit, especially since I'm in prison ministry.

Victims, understandably, want "justice."  What that is, is different for each person.  That should tell you something, right there.  But however people determine what is "justice" here on earth, will never be satisfying.  True justice is divine.  Vengeance seems self destructive.  It changes one.  As Archbishop Tutu said, "No Future Without Forgiveness."  And I've always wanted to know how someone felt who harbored revenge on someone and then found out they were wrong.  How do you spontaneously turn off the hate that was nurtured so long?  What about new evidence proving that someone else perpetrated the crime, how do you realign your vengeance?   What's that feel like?  What does that do to you?

I also think that you can't blame people for finding it hard to forgive.  I think it's a personality type.  For some, it's easy, others, not so easy.  As it's said, "Only God can read hearts."  

Monday, September 5, 2011

Aren't All Religions the Same?

Isn't one religion as good as another?  This past Labor Day provided some good quality family time.  As usual, certain family members bring up religion.  It use to bother me that people associated me with the Catholic Church, but not only have I become accustomed to it, but I'm rather proud of it.  I guess I give good witness.

But in discussing the topic of religions all being the same, I became aware of how smug I am in my Catholicism.  I have to watch myself that I don't come off sounding superior.  It's just that I am very certain that I belong to the only Church that Christ founded.  He is truly present in the Holy Eucharist.  It's just so obvious to me that I find it incredulous that not everyone sees that.

Jesus started the Catholic Church: (Matt: 16: 18-19), (Luke 10:16), (John 14: 16, 26), and (1Tim 3:15)

Who would dare tell Jesus that the Eucharist is not His Body and His Blood, when He said it was?  (1 Cor. 11:23-26)

I am satisfied and confident that all religions are not the same.  I am secure in the knowledge that I am on the way towards salvation.  For anyone to say that one religion is as good as another hasn't studied history, never mind religion.  We're all different, and to Catholics, that makes all the difference in the world.


Labor Day

                                                             How I spent Labor Day

Labor Day this year, fell on September 5, 2011.  This year it has meant many things, to me.  First of all, as a Union Member, I give thanks that my union speaks for me.  I would have no chance sitting across the table, from management and negotiating working conditions.  I've been there alone and just don't have the political savvy to see their agenda.  Stupidly, I believe everything management tells me.  I just assume that they have my interests in mind.  Besides, negotiating isn't something I do often.  To me, it's just common sense to have people whose job is to represent me, represent me.  They've trained to do just that.  How could any worker oppose this idea?  Those workers who are anti-union are just jealous that they don't have representatives working for them.  Either they should start their own union to represent their ideas, or give back the benefits that unions have have gotten for all workers, negotiated in collective bargaining.

Yes, I know unions can be corrupt.  Duh.  Did you think they're governed divinely?  Are all popes good people?  Of course unions have their faults, but it is the only voice workers have.  If we lived in the Garden of Eden, we'd have no need of unions.  But we don't.  I thank God for my union membership.

Labor Day also reminds me to send up a prayer for Boston's Labor Priest, Father Edward Boyle, s.j..  His Labor Guild is where AFSCME Local 1298 union reps were trained.



The Labor Guild was created in 1946 by Cardinal Cushing to educate 
Catholic workers about their rights and responsibilities.  Today, the Guild 
continues to run a School of Industrial Relations and offers classes to workers in 
labor law, collective bargaining, steward training, union governance, 
parliamentary procedure, public speaking, organizing, and the philosophy of 
unionism.  Hundreds of students benefit each year from experts and practitioners 
in labor, management, and arbitration who contribute their services.   The Guild 
also provides a neutral venue for collective bargaining, arbitration, and union 
elections.  But most importantly, over the years the Guild, under Father Boyle’s 
leadership, has grown to become the moral voice for labor management 
relations, providing opportunities for the area’s leading union and management 
leaders to meet,  build close personal relationships, and explore ways to work on 
shared problems

                 http://www.law.harvard.edu/programs/lwp/people/staffPapers/kochan/kochan_fahey.pdf

Thank you, Lord for Rerum Novarum, Centisumus Annus, and the Catholic Labor Network.

Labor Day also marks the end of summer on the Cape.  There are still some of the best beach
days left on the Cape.  The crowds have gone, and you can practically have the entire beach to yourself.  The water is warm.  Sometimes warmer than the air.

And although, we might still spend some weekends down here, this weekend is the last weekend that my entire family is together.  That's what these pictures depict.

More reason to thank God.  Deo Gratias.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Dusk




Last night while driving by Menauhant Beach, I just had to stop and take this picture.  That's a line of clouds above the sea.  It looked like God drew a line with a ruler and placed the clouds right on that line.  Extraordinary!




Tonight, we went to the Knob, to watch the sunset.  It's always spectacular.



From the rising of the sun to its setting, may the name of the Lord be praised.
This morning while praying the Rosary before Mass, I received a blessing.  I should say we received a blessing.  A diocesan priest, on vacation, joined us.  He just knelt over near the sacristy and prayed.  He even remained a while after the Rosary ended.

I'm not saying that diocesan priests don't pray.  It's just that it seems rare to see one pray in a lay lead group.  They're probably afraid it looks pretentious, or that someone will interrupt their praying to ask an inane question.

Thank God they all don't think like that.  And thank God for Father Who Ever You Are.

Lord, shower this priest with the gifts necessary to do Your work.  Give him health and people who support him.  Keep him true to Your teachings.  And lead him to lead other priests to the Rosary prayed with Your children.  I ask this through Jesus, Your Son, our Redeemer.  Amen.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bl. Franz and Franziska Jagerstatter

Franz and Franziska are another example of well married saints and holy people.  Franz is a martyr who refused to participate in evil.  He was a conscientious objector in Austria, when Hitler ruled.  He is an example of Christian resistance.  When Hitler conquered Austria, Franz and Franziska hoped the was would end before he was conscripted into duty.  Franz was the father of three daughters, at that time.  His wife, Franziska was very loving and maybe while not agreeing wholeheartedly, did understand and support him.  Both knew the consequences of resisting the Third Reich.

There is a good biography written by Dr. Erna Putz.  Franz is a martyr, of that there is no doubt.  But I also think Franziska should be considered a saint, also.  Would Franz be what he was, without her?  Her life after his death was hard, due to people.  Yes, she was shunned and even ridiculed.  You would expect disapproval from the government, but her neighbors turned their backs on her.  Some blamed her for husband death because she was perceived as encouraging him in his "nonsense."  She could receive no privileges from the government because of the way Franz died.  No one helped her.  Even after the war, officials penalized many of those who opposed Hitler.  During rationing, Franziska received no coupons for even her children.  For many years she was denied the pension allocated to veterans' widows.  In many ways, she was a pariah.

After the war Franz' ashes were brought home and buried beneath a  crucifix by the church.  Eventually, his grave became a place of pilgrimage.  He was beatified Oct. 26, 2007.

h/t Fr. Thomas Kevin Kraft, O.P. research on married saints