Showing posts from December, 2012

I am a Lay Dominican

The poem below is obviously inspired by Langston Hughes', Negro.  It is in no way an imitation except in style.  I yield to Langston Hughes.  But I am grateful for the impetus to meditate upon whom I am.

I am Catherine of Siena:
     I served all in bondage:
     sick, poor, prisoners, the unloved.  

I am Margaret of Castello:
     hunchbacked, dwarfed, blind, lame.
     They wish to abort me still.

I am Rose of Lima:
     I am virginal and holy.
     I am the Americas first saint.

I am Zdislava:
     blessed to give rather than receive.
     I pray for healing.

I am Pier Georgio Frassati:
     I am handsome, young, and joyous.
     I am a man of the beatitudes.

I am a Lay Dominican:
     I radiate the presence of Christ
     in the midst of the world.


This nativity set started out as a source of irritation.  My husband made it for me.  That's not as nice as it sounds.  I never had a manger scene as a child, and always wanted one.  So the first year of my marriage, I asked for a set for Christmas.  I didn't get one.

Ditto, the third year, and the fourth, and the fifth.

The fifth year, we had our first child, and I wanted my children to have nice memories of looking at the baby Jesus.  Christmas isn't just about Santa, you know.

So that year, I really nagged my husband.  I gave the man no peace.  So to shut me up, he went down the basement, where he was working on a project and found the ends of two studs.  They were of  equal length. He looked around for particle board but couldn't find two that matched.  So what?  He just nailed it all together.  That's it.  No measuring; no cutting; no painting; just here, now "shut up."

I did.  It wasn't what I pictured, but it was better than nothing.  I also …

Brother Tonto Limerick

A poor Dominican friartried out for tenor in choir.His name being Brother Tonto,was told to sing pianissimo,and caused embarrassment to the prior.

Praying with the Communion of Saints

Two new (not so) people dropped by Our Lady of Hope Prayer Group.  They're not one of the regulars who always show up.  They used to be, but you know, "life happens."  Anyway, they were there.

Why?  They both had specific prayer requests.  One was requesting prayers for her brother.  The other was requesting prayers for her co-worker.  Now, you and I know, and they know, that they can pray by themselves.  So why bother to come to Prayer Group.

Because OLHPG are efficacious prayer warriors.  That's true, but that's the answer I'm looking for.  It's because together we pool our prayer resources and storm heaven with our prayers.

Catholics call this the Communion of Saints.  This means that we're all united.  These two people pray, and we add our prayers, and we request that the Blessed Virgin Mary intercede for us and continue our prayers.  We ask other saints, likewise.  I'm praying now, as I think of it.  I'm sure they are, too.

See how it …

The Difference Between Catholic and Protestant Bibles

Another reason I'm glad I'm Catholic is because my favorite story and prayer is in the Catholic edition. The Bible is the Bible.  That's what I think.  But the Protestant version has 39 books in the Old Testament, and the Catholic has 46.  My favorite story is about the Archangel Raphael and the deliverance prayer, in Tobit.

See the Bibles are the same, except the Catholics include seven more books.  So you Protestants who drop the Bible, like it's a hot potato, with a look of disdain, upon finding out that its Catholic, think about it.  Everything you wanted to look for, is in the Catholic Bible.  Actually, it's we Catholics, who should be dropping the Protestant Bible like a hot potato because it just may be useless to us--if we're looking up one of the seven books that Protestant Bibles don't have.

The reason certain books, testimonies, writings are in the Bible, is logistics; you can't include everything.  Choices had to be made.  Repetition, unver…

Merry Christmas

Brother Tonto and Cappa wish you the peace of Christ.

No Christmas is Perfect

Midnight Mass was beautiful.  The ride home was beautiful, also.  It was snowing lightly.  The long curving, country road was barely lit by the Christmas lights, decorating homes.  We didn't need the radio because the nuns’ voices were still singing in our minds.      
Our world was quiet, at peace.                 
Until morning…all hell broke loose.  My adult son refused to wake up.  I couldn't find his girlfriend’s present; but it’ll show up.  We won’t see her until this weekend, so I don’t need it right now.  My granddaughter didn't understand why Santa gave her two of something.  My son’s cat had ripped some presents looking for her presents (She smelled catnip).  My camera’s battery was low.  And my oven is a mess because my 20 year old roasting pan had a tiny leak in it.  I was wondering what the drip/hiss/sizzle sound was. 
Time for quiet meditation—Ignatian style.  I’m Mary. 
You’d think Joseph would have enough sense to make reservations.
These animals stink…

Thinking of Mary and Joseph

The case for man and woman marriage.

Christmas Blessings

Appatition of Benoite Rencurel Perhaps "The best Christmas present ever," or "My first Christmas present,"  or "My favorite Christmas present," or even "Surprise Present," should have been the title.  I am overwhelmed with happiness, gratitude, and the thoughtfulness of someone I have never met.

What am I talking about?  I'm talking about the present I received today, Christmas Eve, from Patrick Robles.  Out of the blue, arrived a padded envelope in the mail.  The return address said Patrick Robles...France.

Yes, France--across the Atlantic from me.  What on earth, is a man whom I have never met, (he's a Face Book friend), sending me.  Inside are a couple of holy cards, a post card, and a bottle of holy oil from Notre Dame du Laus.

I had no idea of what Notre Dame du Laus was, is, or whatever.

Of course I googled it, and I've been spending the last hour, happily reading about Benoite Rencurel.  Reading about Benoitre, alone is a bl…

The Christmas Letter

Do you write Christmas letters?  I wasn't brought up to.  My mother used to say, "If everything's so honkey dorey, then why don't they slip in a couple of dollars for us?"

My theory is, that people who write these letters are bragging.  The news they give you is always wonderful.  They never tell you who got busted for drugs, DUI, flunked classes, kicked out of school, lost his job, beat his wife, is having an affair, or kicked the family dog.  These letters are all about above average kids and beautiful adults.

Another thing about these letter is that most of them arrive AFTER Christmas.  I think the letters are trying to compensate for the fact that the senders don't have their act together.  They're not organized enough to get their Christmas cards out in time for Christmas.  They're trying to make up---"See why we're late getting our Christmas cards out.  We had to write letters."

"B" as in B., and "S" as in S. …

Kitty and the Granddaughter

Once upon a time there was a little granddaughter that had a favorite chair to sit in, whenever she came to visit her grandparents.  She had tried the big recliner that Grandpa always sat in, but that was not comfortable for her.  It was too hard to get up and into, and impossible to get out of.  She also tried the couch that was Grandma's favorite place.  But that wasn't cosy enough, unless Grandma was sitting beside her, reading a story.

So Grandpa bought his little granddaughter her very own chair.  It was perfect for her.  It was pretty.  It fit her size.  It was comfortable,  It rocked if she wanted it to.  And it was nice and soft.  She liked it very much.

In Grandma and Grandpa's house lived a big bad wolf a naughty kitty.  Whenever the Granddaughter was in the same room, or just happened to cross the kitty's path, that naughty kitty would hiss at her.  This frightened the little girl.  Besides, that kitty was always watching the granddaughter with an evil eye.…

What is Anointing of the Sick

Anointing of the Sick used to be called Last Rites.  Nowadays, many receive the sacrament and don't die.  In fact, the opposite.  The sacrament often brings spiritual and physical strength.  So "Last Rites," is hardly appropriate, is it?

Last Sunday, I attended Mass at St. Jude's, in Norfolk.  Monseigneur Peter Conley was the celebrant.  He did something, I have never seen him do, before.  He called up people to receive the Anointing of the Sick.

Remember that a sacrament is a sign to show Jesus Christ's blessings.  The Anointing of the Sick is a rite that Monseigneur Conley performed to convey God's grace upon the sick, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Many people came forward.  Quite a number were in wheel chairs, had canes, and crutches.  And some were brought up by others.  Some of these didn't look like they knew what was happening.

Yet, all!  Yes, all of them, visibly, woke up at the words, "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Ho…

Mixed Pronouns

The Second Readings at Mass always seem to be the most difficult.  The First Reading is from the Old Testament and is easy to understand.  But the second reading has the most convoluted grammar.  Often it is nigh near impossible to wrap your tongue around the sentence.

This Sunday's reading is one example.  It is a reading from the Letter to the Hebrews 10: 5-10.  Now, I have the advantage of looking up the Reading, and reading what comes before--the background. But when reading to the congregation in a church, I'm pretty sure that they're listening to this reading "cold."

The question is: How do I convey the pronoun antecedents?  How do I make it clear that I'm speaking in a passive voice and then later switch to active?  How can YOU be indefinite, impersonal, or generic, when I'm not sure myself?

I am so tempted to change the words to make who is Who, clear.  I just want to change a few pronouns to proper nouns.


Look at this Reading.


System of Counting by Faith

You've probably heard or read this before, but I use a similar method to memorize numbers.  For example, to memorize my license plate, which is 525 43LC, I think: Five foolish virgins-two natures in one God-five wise virgins-four Gospels-three persons in One God-Loves Christ.  

So here are the twelve Catholic numbers and Faith's numerology.
The Twelve Days of Christmas

What in the world do leaping lords, French hens,
swimming swans, and especially the partridge who
won't come out of the pear tree have to do with

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England
were not permitted to practice their faith
openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol
as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has
two levels of meaning: the surface meaning
plus a hidden meaning known only to members of
their church. Each element in the carol has a
code word for a religious reality which the
children could remember.
-The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.�����������������…

Shady Hook to New Hope

With the tragedy of the massacre of Newtown, Connecticut, in mind, there won’t be a Christmas, for the families of Shady Hook Elementary School.  I was reminded of the personal tragedy of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  Longfellow’s wife was killed in a fire.  While still grieving, his son joined the army, against his wishes.  This is during the Civil War.  Charles Appleton Longfellow was killed in the Battle of New Hope Church, in Virginia.  Needless to say, Longfellow was distraught.  Neither his wife’s death, nor his son’s, had given him the chance to say good-bye.  His wife’s was an unforeseen accident; and his son left without his blessing. It was no wonder that when the poet heard the bells on Christmas day, he wrote this poem.   
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play, and wild and sweet The words repeat Of peace on earth, good-will to men! And thought how, as the day had come, The belfries of all Christendom Had rolled along The unbroken song Of peace o…

Mary Morphs into Martha

Somewhere during Advent, I change from my Mary personality into Martha (Luke 10: 38-42).  No matter what I do, it happens.  I've tried going on retreat during Advent, but that caused a worse transformation.  Mary became a raving maniac, Martha.  I had too much to catch up on.

Baking Christmas cookies, writing Christmas cards, shopping, wrapping presents, social obligations, and feeling guilty because Advent should be one of the holiest times of the year.  I should be growing closer to God, not the opposite.

Every year, I more or less try to not let this happen.

Well, this year, I found an aid.  It's the rosary.  I've started praying the rosary, a bit differently.

In the second part, "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for" _____________, I add what I'm praying for.

It can be a person, a situation, whatever.  Two people praying, are better than one, especially one that has some "pull."

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.  Blessed are thou …

Make Your Requests Known to God

Today is the Third Sunday of Advent.  The Readings are full of expectant hopefulness.  I read the second reading today.  And with the Sandy Hook Massacre in mind, St. Paul's letter to the Philippians was poignant.

The Lord is near.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Christmas in Prison

Every year Bethany House Ministries distributes over 1700 Christmas packages to prisoners.  What is their mission?

The mission of Bethany House Ministries comes from the Gospels and the spirit of Father Jean Joseph Lataste, OP, who recognized through his work with prisoners that God's love has the power to heal, transform and renew to what many seemed hopeless.  Their mission is to create a compassionate and healing environment, and to provide services for those in difficult situations.  They are especially committed to the physical, emotional, and spiritual support of prisoners, and their loved ones.

So today, I helped package for prisoners.  I carried packages, help pack the truck, but mostly I worked in a production line.  It was my job to open the bags that would be filled.

Filled with what?  Socks, small toiletries, such as toothpaste, and bars of soap

Big deal, huh?  Well, that's Christmas in prison.

And it's very appreciated!

My Holy Card

What were your first thoughts when you first saw the holy card of St. Lucy?  I'm talking about the one of her holding her eyes on a dish.  That's what she was known for?  She was tortured for being Christian, by taking her eyes out.  Her name means "light" and your eyes help you see the light.  Does knowing the story, make the picture more understandable?

Thinking about St. Lucy's holy card, I thought of other holy cards that have "attributes."  That's how you know who the saint is.  St. Peter has keys.  St. Dominic has a dog with a torch.

What should I have?  I am a saint in the making, you know.

                                                                                           I'd like this one.

But Mick, one of my cloistered brothers, did a caricature of me.  So maybe it should be this.


Discerning the Word

One could study the Bible all their life and still not be able to fathom it.  When I think of my understanding as a teen, a young mother, and now as a grandmother, I am amazed at the different discernment I went through.  Surprising, also, is Bible exegesis.  It seems that the Bible grows, adjusts, and/or adapts to the time, culture, and/or need.

Recently I joined a Scripture Study for moms.  I'm the oldest. This has resulted in some new insights for me.  I'm so happy that I found this group.  I pray that I'm as valuable for them, as they are to me.

I'll take the story of Adam and Eve, for example.  Somehow, I had always blamed Eve for taking that apple.  I pictured her representing mankind.  We are weak creatures and easily seduced.

These young ladies introduced me to consider that the blame really lies with Adam.  Man was put in charge.  He was the keeper of the garden.  He was standing beside Eve, when the serpent appeared.  (I had to check three Bibles to assure …

Christmas Cookies

It’s just bizarre.  It’s very strange how I enjoy cooking with my two year old granddaughter, when I hated cooking with my own children.  I remember I hated bending over the child to work on the counter.  I was annoyed that they took so long, didn’t stir good enough, and that they made such a mess.  Flour was all over the floor, counter, and cupboards.
Now, however, I think my granddaughter is so damn cute!  I still have to bend over her to stir, scrape, shape, pour, etc..  But I have so much more patience, now.  Her antics make me laugh.  And there’s still flour all over the floor, counter, and cupboards. 
I don’t know why or how this has happened.  But I know enough to enjoy it.  Thanks be to God.

Freedom is Coming


Faith Suggestions for the Year

Here are my ten humble suggestions for the Year of Faith.  I think they're more doable than parcing through the Catechism, or reading the Summa Theologica. 
 You can obtain a plenary indulgence on certain Solemnities and Feast Days, e.i., Immaculate Conception, by attending Mass, or Liturgy of the Hours, Confession, praying for the intentions of the Pope, and making a profession of faith.  

1.  Watch You Tube.  I like Father Barron's style of preaching.

 2.  Go to a concert.  Music can lead to contemplation.  I like John Polce concerts.

3.  Have a fun/learning night in your parish by having a contest between your parish priests and the Knights of Columbus (or some other organization).  Ask questions from the Bible, catechism, or parish history.

4.  Start or join a Catholic Book Club.

5.  Join a Scripture Study, or go to a Cursillo, Life in the Spirit, Alpha Course, or a Renew Program.  Alpha and Arise (Renew) were pretty successful in my parish.

6.  Go on a pilgrimage to deepe…

Criticizing the Catechism

Earlier today I found myself defending my Face Book Status. I don't get reading the Catechism, which some seem to be doing for the Year of Faith. Isn't the Catechism a reference tool? Isn't it like reading a telephone book or dictionary? Catholicism for Dummies is more my style.

Many friends (mostly my Dominican brothers and sisters) were all over me for that.  Well, of course; what was I thinking?  (See why I love my "cloistered brothers?"  They're not from the same mold.  Don't worry.  When you've met one Dominican, you've met one Dominican)  A Dominican doesn't criticize the Pope, doesn't pull on Superman's Cape, doesn't criticize Magisterium, doesn't spit in the wind, doesn't break Tradition, doesn't pull the mask off the Lone Ranger, or bother a friar in prayer with his Capuce up, or criticize the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Let me explain:

Is it lawful to criticize using the CCC as appropriate reading mater…

More Advent Haiku

Advent is waiting                            
Emmanuel in the womb
Born with angel’s song

Jesse Tree

Tonight in prayer group, we made a Jesse tree.  A Jesse tree doesn't have to be a tree.  It can be a branch stuck in a pail.  One year, I used an earring tree.  You just need something to hang ornaments on.

I got this tree at Sister Ruth's store, the Hope Chest.  When I was paying for it, the cashier, Gary, asked me why was I buying a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. I explained that I wanted it for a Jesse Tree.  I also just sent him a slide show of us making it.

The ornaments can be bought, but they have to represent Jesus' family tree.  The ornaments start with Jesse.  Jesse was the father of  King David of the Old Testament. He is often looked upon as the first person in the genealogy of Jesus.  The ornaments show the relationship of Jesus with Jesse and other biblical personages.  The various branches have pictures of other Old and New Testament figures who were ancestors of Jesus. At the top of the tree is the birth of Jesus.

I used figures from the internet.  Sorry, I…

Enjoying Christmas

I'm getting ready for two Christmas parties, this week.  Trying to stay healthy, only eat nutritious food--not junk, and also enjoy the Advent season, can be a challenge.  So I was looking at my club's suggestions, on its web site.  There was one video there that I took notes from.  I'd put it on this blog, but I don't have the expertise to do that.  It's the one in the middle, entitled, "Creating Your Holiday Experience."

While there were many good tips, the one I want to highlight is focusing on "what's important for you in this particular season."  Even if you say THE FOOD, you can still enjoy and not feel guilty.

Now make a list of what you love most about Christmas:
presents, decorations, atmosphere, people, religious ceremonies, parties, music, parties, food, etc.

Next, think what it is that you love about the items in your list.

I, personally, picked atmosphere.  Included in that are the affect that atmosphere has on people.  Some o…

Advent Haiku

                                           Advent                                                                  Patiently, we wait upon a virgin’s promise neath a shining guide