Friday, February 28, 2014

Ultreya


Before I tell you about Ultreya, let me ask you for prayers for Amanda.  I spotted her sitting alone in church, tonight. So I went over to her after Mass and asked her if she was new.  She responded in the affirmative, so I told her that I was too, and that we should go downstairs for refreshments together.  She refused.

So I went over to Bob and sent him over to her.

Then I sent the Deacon over to her.

Lastly, I told Father Al about her, and he went over.

She went with Bob. I went over and sat with her.  Her name is Amanda and she doesn't know why she came into the church, or what we were doing, or what we're about.  She ate something and left.  I just feel she needed prayers.

What we were doing was celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and an Ultreya.  Ultreya is continuing the Cursillo experience.  We listened to Paul give his testimony.  He taught me a maxim that I never heard before.

When God upsets your plans its because you were going to upset His plans for you.

I like that and can think over the many times in life that it's true.

After Mass and introducing myself to Amanda, everyone went downstairs for a palanca party.  We ate and drank and wrote palanca.

I really can't tell you more than that.  It would be like explaining transubstantiation.  You have to live it.  Go live a cursillo.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Last 24 Hours

Whew!  I've been in a whirlwind of activity these last 24 hours.  I've been too busy to think, never mind worry.  In fact, I've decided that keeping busy is the best way to stop worrying.  I know that Matthew 6: 25-34 tells us to trust in God, and when you're busy you are trusting Him because you're too busy to trust in anyone else, certainly not oneself.

Yesterday, we started by going to the Russian Icon Museum.  I wished I lived closer; I'd be a docent. Afterwards, we had dinner at The Mill Restaurant.   I had chicken champagne salad, and hubby had baked haddock.  In the evening, my parish had a book discussion on Mathew Kelley's Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic.  It was incredible.  There were over a hundred people.  I think the Holy Spirit was bouncing off the walls.  Everyone left excited!  In fact, my friends and I weren't ready to go home.  We went out for coffee and appetizers, and continued our discussion.  When I came home my phone messages were blinking.  It seems that the designer for the newsletter, eLumen, which I edit, had been trying to reach me. The March issue is ready to be sent on Saturday, and the placement of some of the articles needed to be reorganized.  That discussion left me crawling into bed, after midnight.

The alarm woke me up early because my friends and I had planned to go hiking today.  The temperature said 4 degrees.  I wouldn't have gone but one of my friends depends on me taking her.  She looks forward to it, so I went.  I was happy I did.  There was no wind and talking with friends you don't notice the cold.  It was actually nice.  When we finished, the temperature said 14 degrees.

I had to rush home to get to RCIA.  One of my "cloistered brothers" was talking about the sacrament of marriage.  He said that love is an emotion and emotions don't stay the same.  But marriage is a commitment.  To Catholics, marriage is a sacramental covenant.  It is a vow, meaning it takes sincere effort to persevere.  He said it affirmatively and completely.  I had nothing to add.

Next is a nap.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mary Three Hands

Hubby and I went to the Russian Museum of Icons, again.  This time I was impressed by the Icon known as Mary Three Hands.

Here is the story.  The pope at the time of St. John Damascene was afraid that the people were worshipping their beautiful icons, instead of God.  So he ordered all the icons to be burned.  St. John Damascene wrote a defense saying that the icons are not worshipped.  The icons are venerated and only God is worshipped.  The icons are used to bring God to mind.  Icons are more than religious pictures.  They're catechesis, and even history because some were made to celebrate military victories or some other celebratory occasions.  St. John Damascene wrote letters to everybody he thought necessary to change the pope's mind.  He made such a fuss that his writing hand was cut off.

St. John Damascene prayed to God, in front of an icon of the Theotokos, and she restored his hand.  In honor of the restoration of his hand, St. John Damascene had a silver hand made to commemorate the hand.  This icon tells this story.  Notice that Mary has three hands, one of them silver.  Note that it's hands, not arms.

St. John Damascene is considered one of the last Fathers of the Church.  He was also declared a doctor of the church in the nineteenth century.
 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

No One can Avoid the Sun, nor the Rain


Matt 5:45: tells us that the sun shines on the just and the unjust.  The rain falls on the good and the evil.  My understanding of this idea is that we are to live every moment.  Don't stay out of the sun because it shines on all.  Likewise the rain.  Since we can't avoid the sun and the rain, they must be necessary.  For sure, they're necessary for spiritual growth.  If it never rained, we wouldn't appreciate the sun.

Also, God loves us all.  I know more people than most, who have done some pretty terrible things in their lives.  Yet, I know they are good people.  Good people make dumb choices resulting in bad things. I'm glad God loves them.  He loves all.  Thanks be to God.








Monday, February 24, 2014

Treating Others How You Want to Be Treated

Guess who I met tonight.  Scot Landry came to Mass tonight with Fr. Chris.  Scot talked with my "cloistered brothers," after Mass.

We all listen to Scot's radio show, "The Good Catholic Life" on Boston Catholic Radio.  So it was nice to put a face on the voice.

Personally, I wanted to meet Scot because he is the Executive Director and President of Catholic Voices, in USA.  I had a few things to get off my chest.  First of all, when Catholic Voices first came to this diocese, why did they ask for applicants?  You see Catholic Voices does what we Lay Dominicans have been doing, since the thirteenth century--defend the Faith.  So also do Lay Franciscans.  We both are half contemplative and half apostolic.  We preach.

OK, so they were ignorant.  They didn't know Church history.  They didn't know we were here.  They didn't know us.  They didn't know that Dominicans have the model for disputation. ( Do you see any Albigensians around?)

So we Lay Dominicans applied and told them.  We're still waiting for a response; it's been over a year.  We're still waiting.....

One of the first things a Lay Dominican learns in disputatio is
                                      people remember how you made them feel
                                      it's not about you; it's not about winning; be respectful
                                                        and always keep in mind
                                      never deny, seldom affirm, and always distinguish

Well, Catholic Voices flunked.  F

I told Scot this.  Catholic Voices should have sent out letters saying "thank you for applying, but no thank you."  Form letters are acceptable.  Anyway, I got to vent.

I learned more about Catholic Voices USA.  They train people to be like Dominicans.  They go on radio and TV, write letters to the editor, and blog, and give talks--just like us.

 Maybe we should recruit them.



Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Snippets -- A Catholic Carnival


Hello, and welcome to Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. This is a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other. To participate, go to your blog and create a post titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. In it, discuss and link to your posts for the week--whether they deal with theology, Catholic living or cute Catholic kids. Make sure that post links back R'Ann's This and That And the Other Thing.  I'd like to read it.

This morning at Mass, Father Anthony told us a joke which is my new favorite Bible verse.  "A husband and a wife were arguing over who should make the coffee.  The wife insisted that it should be her husband because he was up first.  The husband said that the kitchen was the wife's domain, so she should make the coffee.  Finally, the wife open a Bible and pointed out scripture, to prove to her husband, that it is the man who should make the coffee.
    'Where does it say that,' the husband demanded to know.
    'Right here.'  The wife pointed to 'Hebrews.' "

My week's posts:

Monday -- Request for palanca.

Tuesday -- Mother Mary needs a pair of shoes.

Wednesday -- A short story.

Thursday -- Nouwen's heaven isn't mine.

Friday & Saturday -- I still can't get over the fact that God wants us to be like Him (God), here and here.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

In Good Hands

Awesome, indeed!
Still thinking about tomorrow's first reading, Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time A, Leviticus 19: 1-2, 17-18.  Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.

It's unfathomable to me.  How can I?  What are You asking me, Lord?

One of my "cloistered brothers", helping to facilitate RCIA, said he can't think when he receives Communion.  He receives in his hand, and he feels he should say a prayer of thanksgiving, or praise, or something.  But he's just dumbstruck.  He can't get over the fact that He has God in his hands; the One who has him in His hands.



Friday, February 21, 2014

Be Holy as I am Holy

The workbook for Lectors directs the readers of Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18, to read with a compassionate tone.  God is explaining to Moses, not barking orders.

Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.

You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart.
Thought you may have to reprove your fellow citizen,
    do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people,
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

This is hard to do.  God is asking us to be like Him.  The human response is to fight back and plot revenge.  But wouldn't do that.  Is that what being holy is?

I'm not sure "being holy" is what we think it is.  It's not a moral code.  It's a state of being.  If we are thinking and feeling, as God does, why would we care that something was stolen from us?  We would consider material things as unimportant.  The only important thing is our relationship with God.  Things are junk.  They will pass.

Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.  I desire to be holy, like God, to have such a close relationship with Him, that I wouldn't notice that my neighbor hurt me, or anything I own.  The only important thing is that I stick with God.  Think about Him.  Talk about Him.  Talk to Him--pray.  Be holy like Him.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

My Picture of Heaven

The resurrection of the body means that what we have lived in the body will not go to waste but will be lifted in our eternal life with God.  As Christ bears the marks of his suffering in his risen body, our bodies in the resurrection will bear the marks of our suffering.  Our wounds will become signs of glory in the resurrection.   
   
- Henri J. M. Nouwen  

I hope Nouwen isn't correct in his view of heaven.  I don't want my fat body with its too long legs and nose.  Glorified fat isn't my idea of heaven.  Fatness is a wound and I don't think it want it to be a sign of my glory.

I picture heaven is where everybody is equally beautiful.  I've heard it said that we will have our bodies as they were at age 33.  What if you didn't live that long?  What if you were grotesquely fat at age 33.  I don't want this body at all.  I want a new one.

If happiness is heaven, then what will our glorified bodies look like?  All these people who have had near death experiences always recognize their loved ones.  How come their bodies aren't glorified?  They must still be ugly, if they're recognized.

Who knows?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Definition of a Bad Day


I didn’t know what else to do.  When I called up work to tell them the alarm clock didn’t go off, I was told “Don’t bother comin in, you’re fired.” 

Contacting my parents was too humiliating.  I had burned that bridge, long ago.
I was out of smokes, too.

I had no girlfriend, anymore, if ever.  Ha!  I don’t even have ANY friends!

I didn’t have enough money to pay the rent.  Bill collectors were on my back.

I just didn’t know what else to do.   I needed a job.  I needed money. I needed a life.

And the only thing I could think of was stealing.
 
I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t see any other way.  How else could I get rent money, or food? 

I thought just this once.  Just once!  All I need is enough money for rent and food, until I find job and get paid.  Was that asking too much?

I’m not robbing a bank.  That’s too dangerous, with cameras and all, maybe security guards, besides I don’t need much.  I figured just a thousand. 

Grocery stores have cameras, too.

“Hey,” I could beg.  I wonder how much busking would bring in.  I’ll try it for an hour.

So there I was, standing in the middle of the street, between two rows of cars stopped at a red light.  Most people gave me their change, some gave me a buck.  Then I started to get nervous that someone might call the cops.  Maybe it’s illegal to busk.  Maybe I need a license.  I stayed anyway, until a dog snapped at my hand, when I put it in the window.  And he made the driver spill his hot coffee on my legs, too.

I added up all the change and in an hour I had $ 13.66.  That’s better than minimum wage!

But it’s no way enough.

I considered prostituting myself, but I figured then I’d really starve to death.

Besides…ick.

The only thing I could think of was stealing.  I could break into some houses and look for money, and then I’d take jewelry and stuff to pawn.    I have no choice.  Life sucks.  But life is making me do it.  I just need rent and food for a month, and by then I’ll have a job.  Any job: washing cars, bagging groceries, anything is better than nothing.

I figured I’d take the bus out of town and hit some quiet suburban houses.  It seemed like a good plan. 
And that’s what I did.  I picked a neighborhood that wasn’t too shabby, nor so prosperous that people would have alarms.  I walked down a cul-de-sac.  The last house was surrounded by woods.  There were no cars in the driveway.

Perfect.

I walked around the back.  The bulkhead was locked.  I went up the stairs to the deck and found the sliding glass door, unlocked.  I went in and looked around.  I opened a cookie jar hoping to find money.  There wasn’t even a cookie! 

I was looking around for something to pawn but then I thought the bus driver would notice and remember me, if I were carrying a toaster or TV.

 I could steal jewelry.  So I headed to the bedroom.  Oh-oh!  There in the middle of the bed I saw two eyes staring at me.  It was a black cat.  He was kinda, sorta big. 

He was also growling. 

Cats don’t growl.

This one did.

"Yikes", he jumped at me screaming.

I ran out of there, with that cat swiping and clawing and screeching, at me.

Whew!  That was close.  He got me good.  My leg was all scratched up.  My whole body was shaking.  I can’t do this.  I’m not cut out for it.  I decided to take the bus back.

As I waited downtown for the bus, I noticed a sign in an ice cream shop, “Help Wanted.”
Why not?  I went in and was put to work immediately. 

Soon I was in a cow costume (udders hanging down and all) standing outside, on the sidewalk, beckoning people to come in to Bessie’s Dairy. 

I didn’t mind too much.  It was a job.  I’d have cash in my hand, by the end of the day, and a promise of a job in the dairy.  It could be worse.  I could be wearing a donkey costume.  Then I’d really feel like an ass.

*picture Milker from Creative Commons



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Where are Mary's Shoes?

Yesterday, my three year old granddaughter was playing with all the interesting little  things on my dresser.  I  asked her if she knew who the statue was of.  She answered, "Baby Jesus."  Well, she was half right.  We were looking at a statue of Mary holding Jesus.  I explained that His Mother Mary was holding the Baby Jesus.

She examined the statue more closely.  Then she asked, "Where are Mary's shoes?"  I never noticed that Mary was barefoot before, and I didn't know.  I admitted I didn't know, and we went on to other interesting things, like spraying perfume all over everything, and opening my jewelry box.  But ever since that simple question, I've been wondering why doesn't Mary wear shoes.

I've seen statues where she does.  They did wear shoes in her time.  Remember Yahweh told Moses to take his shoes off.  Exodus 3:5

So if it were the custom to wear shoes, probably sandals in her part of the world, why is she barefoot?  She definitely was poor.  She married a carpenter.  When she and Joseph took Jesus to be circumcised, they paid the price that the poor paid.  (Lev 12:6)  But the poor wore simple sandals.

I think it's just pure, simple, artistic interpretation.  It's the sculptor's prerogative to decide the footwear.  Definitely, in the statues where Mary is stepping on the serpent we need to see her heel crushing the serpent.  Otherwise, I think the bare feet was just to show Mary's poverty and humility.  That's why the Discalced Carmelites and Primitive Franciscans go barefoot.

Do you think a three year old would understand poverty and humility?

Maybe, I should just tell her that Mary is more comfortable barefoot.  After all, my granddaughter is always taking off her shoes.  

Monday, February 17, 2014

De Colores!


Cursillo is a short course in Christianity.  It is a three day working retreat. REC, Residents Encounter Christ is Cursillo in prison.  Like Cursillo, the REC team are volunteers who go in, sit with prisoners, give talks, and share their lives.  They try to show the residents that there is hope in following Christ.  The goal is to try to break the cycle of recidivism and to encourage prisoners, many of whom were victims of abuse who turn to alcohol and drugs to consider the hope offered by following Christ. 

 We will be having a REC retreat (Residents Encounter Christ) on February 20, 21 and 22 and March 15, 16 & 17 at Souza Baranowski Correctional Center in Massachusetts. This is a super maximum prison. I will like to request prayers for the men participating in these weekends.

If you are a cursillistas you know what palanca is.  Please consider writing some palanca for the REC.  Palanca are letters of support promising prayers of support during the REC.  Please send them to:

Bethany House
1049 Main Street
Millis, MA 02054
USA

The letters can be addressed to dear brother or dear brother in Christ. For some, this is the only letter that they will ever get while incarcerated.
Thank you all for your prayers in advance.
Sister Ruth, Sister Kathleen, and Faith

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

R'Ann asked "What's your favorite book?"

Answer: "My new favorite book is Island of the World, by Michael D. O'Brien.  I admit it's heavy reading, but that's why I keep going back to it.  It is a keeper.  I easily imagine for the rest of my life, I'll be going back to it.  The main character, Josip, will have you in love, in tears, in pain, and enthralled.  Whew! What a book!  I did once write a review of it, but it was too long (three pages and over 7000 words), for Catholic Fiction.  The novel leaves such a large impression, there is no way a quick review would do it justice.

That answers R'Ann's question.  R'Ann hosts Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival.  This is a place where Catholic bloggers, like myself, link up with our week's posts.  Go over there and read some other bloggers.  As for me, my week went like this:

Monday -- This post is really my Lay Dominican Chapter's discussion on the New Evangelization.

Tuesday -- was a hoot! (Still laughing.)  You know there was an earthquake (2.?) in the area.  LOL

Wednesday -- I disagreed with Doc, the discussion leader.

Thursday -- A short story for Valentine's Day.

Friday -- I prayed for you.

Saturday -- Another prayer group tale.

How did your week go?  Click over to R'Ann's and read some other bloggers' weekly posts.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Prayer Group in Winter

Everything about the Prayer Group irritated the pastor, Father Diotrophes.  They haven't changed at all. They were overly pious.  Because of their kindheartedness, he couldn’t be angry with them.  But he was.  Their leader wore a pectoral cross, bigger than the pope’s.  He was a little deaf, so when he was told something, he just gave you that subservient, obedient smile, nod, and move on.  You never knew if he understood what you said, or he understood, and decided to ignore you, or he forgot.

The others in the group, which was only about two or maybe three, were just as bad.  It really was a lame little group.  

He could see them now from his "watch tower" room in the rectory, trudging through the snow.  They're going to hold their prayer meeting in this weather?  There really is something wrong with those people.  

UN belive ABLE ! 

Well God bless them!  It is said that God takes care of drunks, old people, and fools, and they're two out of the three. 

Father Diotrophes shrugged them out of his mind and went back to his book.  

Gradually, a scraping noise entered his consciousness.  He listened closely.  "What?"  

There it was, again.  Clunk, Scrape.  Clunk, longer Scrape.  "What is that?"  

Father got up out of his chair and looked out the window.  There what do his wondering eyes see?  It was that little lame prayer group shoveling the sidewalks to the church.  

"Well, well, God bless their little hearts."  





Friday, February 14, 2014

A Valentine for You

                                My Dominican rosary will be prayed for all my readers, today.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Valentine Bandit


Tomorrow will be Valentine’s Day and Spidey just had to break-into her apartment and steal back the TV she was holding.  She used to be Spidey’s  main squeeze, but their romance went down south.  Spidey owed her money.  He couldn’t pay her back.  And she wouldn’t give him back his TV until he paid up. 

Spidey was good at climbing into windows.  He had a rep for walking up buildings, like Spider Man.  Since tomorrow was Valentine’s Day, Spidey planned to steal the TV and leave a Valentine card.  He planned to sign it, “Guess Who”.

He planned to hit at night.  She worked as a night nurse, so she wouldn’t be home.  She’d come home Valentine’s Day to see no TV and the Valentine’s Day card.

He dressed all in black, including black water shoes (good grip for climbing), and a black ski mask.  He waited in the parking lot, for her to leave for work.  In fact, he waited half an hour longer.  The entire apartment building was quiet.  Spidey went around the back and with a running jump, leaped up to the fire escape.  He missed.  He tried again. And again.  He got it. 

Pulling himself up with all the upper body strength he had, until his elbows were on the fire escape landing.  Then leaning his chest against the edge, and bracing his hands on the edge, he hoisted up one knee.  Then the other knee.  Finally, he made it.  It just seemed excruciatingly slow.  But he was quiet.  There was no movement inside that apartment.

But he had to go up two more fire escapes.  There was a ladder that led to each one.  Spidey climbed up tenuously.  And quietly, don’t forget quiet.  Sh-sh-sh----

Ah, here’s the one.  Spidey managed to push up the screen.  He took out his knife and jimmied the lock on the window.  Good.  It went up.  He didn’t have to break the window.  So far…so good.

Once inside, he looked around.  He even felt safe enough to put the light on.  Everything looked just like the last time he was in this kitchen.  He went to the cookie jar and helped himself.  He went to the bathroom.

Then he went into the TV room.  He put on a lamp.  He looked around.  He didn’t see the TV in the entertainment center.  Instead was a large cardboard. 
Spidey went over to take a closer look.  It was a card.  He read: 


No money—No TV
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Guess Who.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Now versus To Come

My Lay Dominican study group discussed living in the moment.  Doc was facilitating and he was waxing poetic about the joys of living in the present.  Some of my "cloistered brethren" could see where he was coming from, and agreed with Doc.  However, some others, including myself,
disagreed.

My personal mantra has always been, "All is passing.  God alone abiding."  And if you're cloistered as by brothers are, I would think that would be the only hope you have.

I think, life has to be pretty good, in order for one to live in the present, to savor the present.  If your basic needs aren't met, how could anyone say, "Enjoy the moment."

Doc's life is too good.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Typical Book Club Meeting

As of four hours ago, I had nothing to post.  I would have posted something, according to my personal philosophy.  But nothing inspired me, then.  I also knew something would happen at Book Club.  It usually does.

The book club has been going on for years and years.  It's beyond ten years.  The name is Argonauta, because the first book we ever read was Anne Murrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea, and in it she talked about the seashells, Argonaut.  They travel the seas, and that, to us, conveys adventure.  Hence, we chose Argonauta as our Book Club's name.

Hors D'oeuvres
Tonight, we discussed The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  Keeping with the flower theme, our hostess had flowers around her living room and dining room.  Her dining table was beautifully set with hydrangeas.  We all love hydrangeas, but in The Language of Flowers, they meant dispassion.

For hors d'oeuvres we had shrimp with two kinds of dips, a couple of cheeses, chili, etc.  Of course, the wine was whatever your little heart desired: white, red, or rose.

Desserts
We discussed the book and relished the food and wine.  We all loved the book.  We also planned to go to Nantucket or Block Island to see the daffodil festivals; but of course, we won't.  The fun is the planning.  "Getting our act together" is difficult.

Boston Cream and Carrot Cake
After the book discussion, we adjourned to the dining room.  Here our hostess outdid herself.  A big bouquet of hydrangeas was the centerpiece, with candles.  At each table setting was a little gift, for each of us--a ladybug planter.  In the ladybug was a tea rose.  The beverage was decaffeinated tea or coffee.  The wine was still available.  We had cupcakes to accompany our drinks.  We had two kinds of cupcakes.  One choice was Boston cream cupcakes.  The other was carrot cake with cream cheese.  I had both.  Don't think I'm a pig; I cut each one in half.  So it was really only one cupcake.

Ladybug Planters
Something happened while we were departing that made tonight different from all other book club nights.  As I was leaving, I heard "help," "help."  I looked at the direction the cries were coming from.  I thought I saw an animal running up and down beside the driveway.  One of us ran over to the "animal" and was talking to it.  Then the scene became clearer.  It wasn't an animal running back and forth; it was a hand waving help.  Someone, somehow, had fallen in the snow, right beside the driveway.  Then the one who was helping, got pulled down into the snow, trying to pull the other one out.  Now there were two in the snow.

Others ran to help and pull them out.

Not me; I was taking pictures to post on Facebook.  I only had my phone.  It was dark and the driveway didn't have enough light.  So what you are seeing is the backside of the one, trying to pull up the other.  I wish the picture had come out better.  They will never live this down.

As I said before, Argonauta conveys adventure.



What you are looking at is Monique trying to pull Linda out of the snow.
Don't ask how she fell into the snow bank.
What happens to Argonauta, stays with Argonauta.

My turn to host, next month.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Evangelizing the Complacent


My Lay Dominican Chapter, Our Lady of Mercy, is reading Evangelii Gaudium.  We were discussing paragraph 24, which exhorts the Church to "smell like sheep."  The pope visions a church reaching out to the people, particularly the marginalized.

Jesus got involved with the lowly, including washing the feet of his disciples.  An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people's daily lives...  Evangelizers thus take on the "smell of the sheep" and the sheep are willing to hear their voice.

Sheep in general became the topic.  One of the "cloistered brothers" said how stupid the sheep were.  They don't know enough to come in out of the rain.  One of my sisters, who is from Scotland, where she said there were more sheep than people, added," If they were crossing the road and decided to stop, they stayed there.  No horn blowing, revving your engine, yelling at them, shooing them, would work.  If you were in your car, there was nothing to do but wait.  You had to wait for the shepherd, or the sheep dog to come and lead them away from the road."

We people are as dumb as the sheep.  Certainly not dumb because of comparable intelligence.  But as Sister Amata labels it, "complacency."  Life is too good; we've become complacent.  We don't want to change.

Like the sheep happily blocking the road.  Why move?  They're happy where they are.

You move because if you don't, life will make you.  Imagine someone with road rage meeting up with those sheep blocking the road.  Lamb shish kabobs would be cheap.

It will rain and the sheep's wooly coat will get awfully cold, wet, and heavy.  How long would it take to blow dry lamb's wool?

The sheep will starve to death if they're not let to food.  Do you want that to happen?

What does spiritual death mean?  It means no God.  No God means no love.  No God means no hope.  No God means no divine life.

If you care about your fellow man, then lead them off the road of complacency, and into the warmth of the Christian barn, with good nutritious Catholic food, served with love.

Jesus asks you, "Feed my sheep." "Do this in remembrance of me."


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Today is Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival hosted by R'Ann from This And That And The Other Thing.  What?  I'm talking about R'Ann blog, where we Catholic bloggers link out weekly posts together in one spot--This and That And The Other Thing. Click over there and look around, yourself.

Before, I list what I posted about this week, R'Ann asked who my favorite Catholic author is.  That would be Michael D. O'Brien.  He is an artist extraordinaire.  Not only does he paint pictures, he paints redemption in his novels.  He's about the only novelist about whom I've read everything (novels) he's ever wrote, at least once.  My favorite is Island of the World.

The week's posts:

Monday -- Book Review, I Am Abraham by Jerome Charyn

Tuesday -- Matthew 5: 13-16

Wednesday -- Ignoring Pope John Paul II last wishes

Thursday -- How blogging is a ministry.

Friday -- A chance to win a trip to Rome for the canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II

Saturday -- Prayers requested for the success of an appeal in the federal court for Father Gordon MacRae.

See you at This and That And the Other Thing.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Another Step for Father Gordon MacRae


Perhaps, you've read my posts regarding Father Gordon MacRae, before, here and here.  In short, he's a wrongly convicted priest, who's been in prison for 20 years, for something that never happened.  He could have been out, if he had pled guilty, but he's not.

Another turn of events has occurred.  The National Center for Reason and Justice has just announced a new federal court appeal, on behalf of Father MacRae.  This is a major step aimed towards freeing Father MacRae.

I can't explain it better than this excerpt from the post by Ryan MacDonald on These Stone Walls.

I am once again pleased to write about a major step in the effort to free Father Gordon MacRae, a priest of the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire now in his twentieth year of unjust imprisonment. In a memorable quote in “The Trials of Father MacRae” in The Wall Street Journal last May, Pulitzer-prize winning author and columnist, Dorothy Rabinowitz summed up an appeal to state courts to overturn the unjust 1994 sexual assault convictions of this falsely accused priest.
“Those aware of the facts of this case find it hard to imagine that any court today would ignore the perversion of justice it represents.”
That “perversion of justice” continued when New Hampshire state courts rejected this appeal without a hearing on its merits, its new evidence, or its documentation of gross ineffective assistance of counsel in the 1994 MacRae trial. In an upcoming guest post onThese Stone Walls, I plan to write in more candid detail of that perversion of justice from documents I have recently obtained in this case.
But first, some hopeful news. The National Center for Reason and Justice, a Boston-based organization that reviews claims of wrongful conviction and now sponsors the appellate defense of Father Gordon MacRae, has announced a new federal court appeal. Attorney Robert Rosenthal, lead counsel for the defense, has written an extensive new habeas corpus petition filed in the United States District Court in Concord, New Hampshire seeking to overturn the conviction of Father MacRae. We urge readers to review this appeal brief published by the NCRJ and here at These Stone Walls.
It was the readers of These Stone Walls that made this step possible. In my last guest post here last October I wrote, “For Fr Gordon MacRae’s Appeal to Move Forward, Help is Needed.” Readers stepped up admirably to help meet expenses to ensure the continuation of this case.
But now we must ask your help in expanding this effort to raise funds and to promote justice. The drafting of this extensive new appeal and its hundreds of pages of exhibits has exhausted all available resources and left the defense of Father MacRae in debt for the first time since it began. At the conclusion of this post, I will list once again the ways readers can help. We are deeply grateful to those who already have.
It may also help a good deal if readers would circulate a link to this post by sharing it on your social media networks, among your contacts, and in comments on other blogs and websites. We need to generate awareness of this case and the importance of justice not only for one falsely accused priest, but for the priesthood itself. We must together promote the mandate of the global Catholic Church to be a mirror of justice. Just two days before writing this post, I read the following in a weekly Catholic newspaper by a prominent Catholic writer:
“I hate to say it, but there really is no way to defend any of these guilty priests or their enablers anymore. The priest sex abuse scandal has been responsible for so much of the brutal criticism and fracturing of the modern day Catholic Church. We have been shamed. We have been put in a very difficult position as lay Catholics where we face scorn and ridicule…”
Who could disagree? I can’t! However I also happen to know first-hand that many accused priests are not guilty. The scorn and ridicule we face as Catholics will only be magnified – in this life and in the next – if the justice we see meted out is not marked by mercy, and especially by truth.
And the truth is that the Church is not just an easy target for the slurs of detractors, but she is also an easy target for lawyers and false claimants looking to score a windfall. This aspect of the scandal is seriously neglected – even by the Catholic press – because organized victim groups stand ready to trumpet their cause and demean the Church whenever the legitimacy of a decades-old claim is questioned.
As a result, bishops have been bullied into silence and unquestioned settlements. They have also been bullied into discarding our priests, ignoring their due process rights under Church and civil law, and into casting adrift the accused without due process. Justice itself has been the most abused victim in this tragedy for the Church.
By once again exposing the truth of “The Trials of Father MacRae,” Dorothy Rabinowitz and The Wall Street Journal presented compelling reasons to revisit this case, not only for the integrity of the justice system, but for the integrity of the Church as a mirror or justice.
To paraphrase a well known Gospel parable, Father Gordon MacRae was beaten by robbers and left on the side of the road in our Church. No amount of Catholic shame over the sex abuse scandal can justify passing him by on that road, not by us, not by his bishop and diocese, and not by the global Church. We of good conscience, with truth and justice in our hearts, cannot allow the injustices visited upon this priest to stand.
Please read at least the Introduction to Attorney Robert Rosenthal’s new brief, and please share this post with others.
HOW TO HELP
As listed on the “Contact” page of These Stone Walls there are four ways you can be of help, and I urge you to spread word of this information by sharing this post with your social media and online contacts. Here’s how to help:
LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: A legal fund has been established to accept gifts applied directly to legal costs that are ongoing in this case. As we now begin the process of preparing appeals to the federal courts, available funds have been seriously depleted, and continuance of this effort depends on assistance. Checks in any amount to this fund should be made out to Fr. Gordon MacRae and mailed as follows:


Friends of Fr. Gordon MacRae

P. O. Box 863

Hampton, NH 03842-0863

e-mail: TheseStoneWalls2@gmail.com
TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS: The National Center for Reason & Justice (www.ncrj.org) has fully examined the case of Fr. Gordon MacRae. Its Board of Directors and wrongful conviction specialists voted unanimously to provide fiscal sponsorship of his ongoing legal defense. What this means is that this fine organization lends its name to this appeal for funds, and will accept tax deductible contributions earmarked for legal expenses in this appeal if they meet the criteria.
Please consult www.ncrj.org/donate/ for instructions on how to make a tax deductible donation earmarked for the Fr. Gordon MacRae case. If you wish to donate to the NCRJ, please indicate in the “memo” line on your check that you wish to apply the funds to the Fr. Gordon MacRae case. If you also wish to apply for a tax deduction, you should indicate so in a cover letter. That address is:
National Center for Reason & Justice

Re: Fr. Gordon MacRae Defense 


P.O. Box 191101 

Roxbury, MA 02119-1101


Website: (www.ncrj.org)
THE PAYPAL LINK available on the top right corner of These Stone Walls is active, and it provides an opportunity for online gifts in any amount. If you take advantage of the Pay Pal link, please include an e-mail instructing us on whether you prefer your gift to be used for legal expenses or the support of These Stone Walls.
A SUPPORT FUND is also established to accept assistance in support of These Stone Walls and the special circumstances in which Father MacRae must write and publish. This includes costs for domain and hosting fees, postage and typing supplies, and daily telephone costs from prison to edit and manage These Stone Walls and hear and respond to messages. Remember that as a prisoner, Father MacRae has no Internet access so all messages must be read to him by telephone. Checks to this support fund should be made out to Fr. Gordon MacRae and mailed as follows:
Fr. Gordon MacRae

P.O. Box 205
 Wilmington, MA. 01887-0205

Email: gjmacrae@gmail.com
And remember, you can also help enormously by posting links to These Stone Walls on other blogs, social networks, and to your own contacts. This is most important. (See Social Media Buttons Below)  And you can also pray, without doubt the most powerful intervention available to us.
Once again, please review Attorney Robert Rosenthal’s new federal appeal on behalf of Father Gordon MacRae. Let us hope together for justice.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Win a Trip to Two Canonizations


I've been to a beatification, Pere Marie Jean-Joseph Lataste, O.P. but I've never been to a canonization.  I've never been to Rome.  Have you?

Here's your chance.  CatholicVote.org is having a raffle to win a trip for two to the canonizations of John Paul II and John XXIII.  It's on Facebook.  Follow directions and fill out the form.  I did.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Blogging Apostolate

The One True Faith
Today's Zenit, contained an article by Father John Hardon, S.J., entitled Writing to Sainthood.  You know how the internet is.  Reading this article, led me to the Marian Catechesis Blog, which led me to the Catholics Writers' Guild, which led me to think.

Blogging is my way to preach.  My blog isn't preaching catechesis.  It's giving witness to how a human being is trying to walk the straight and narrow; how a saint in the making is about never giving up; how Christians are human, yet trying to do as Jesus wants.  So, OK, I guess it is catechesis without the catechism.  I hope it is a living human catechism.

That's the intent.  Hence, I post my thoughts, poetry, jokes, pictures, and rants.  Now, after reading the aforementioned  posts on writing, I realize how easily Hardon's suggestions apply to blogging.  Here's my adaptions:

(1)  Post daily.  This disciplines your thoughts.  If you can't think of what to write on any given day, write anyway.  Share your thoughts on Sunday's Gospel.  Put up a picture, and give your thoughts.  Post a YOUTUBE.  Post a favorite quotation and tell why it appeals to you.
     Forcing yourself to post daily is important to fix spiritual thoughts in your mind.  You'll remember important occurrences, better.  You'll remember failures, too.  How's that to keep you humble?  Rereading the week's posts, like I do for Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival, organizes my thoughts.

(2)  The benefits garnered from (1) carry over in speech.  Thoughts will be more organized and expressed more easily because you've trained our mind that way, through daily blog posting.

(3)  Blogging, especially mine, shares my soul's journey with others.  The hope is to bring others to Christ.  My life is like a parable, that I pray will give others faith.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Last Wishes

 Everyone seems upset that Pope John Paul II's last wishes weren't kept.  I'm not.  I think the Pope's secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz  did what he felt best.  He is not making money; he's giving the proceeds from the sale of the book away.  He is saving the Pope's papers for the world to read.

Look at it this way.  Last wishes and just that--wishes.  If Pope John Paul II wanted his papers destroyed, he would have done it himself, before he died.  I did.  I've burned my personal journals and diaries.

It was easy.

Arc of St. Dominic
One can never know what will happen when you die.  St. Dominic was a very humble man.  His explicit directions when he was dying was to bury him on the path where his brothers would walk over him.  Did you ever see the marker that indicates his grave?  He who wanted no marker except to be trampled upon, has a monument.  It took centuries to finish.  Renowned artists, including
Michael Angelo, added to it.  It is so huge, it is called the Arc of St. Dominic.

Bl. Pere Marie Jean-Joseph Lataste, O.P.'s grave was moved three times!
Tomb of Father Lataste

Last wishes are just "hopes."  My poor brother wanted his ashes scattered in the Pacific Ocean.  Well, the Department of Environmental Protection had something to say about that.  We upgraded his "wishes" and had his ashes buried with our parents in consecrated ground.

I think people try to honor the loved one's wishes.  But you can't always get what you want when you're living, so don't expect it when you die.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How Does Salt Lose Its Taste?

This Sunday's Gospel talks about salt.  Matt 5:13-16  My Bible sharing group questioned how salt could lose its taste.  If you tried to water it down, you'd just make salty water like the ocean.  If you throw salt in soup, it doesn't lose its taste; it adds taste.  Would the people in Jesus' time know how to separate the chemical properties of chloride and sodium?

The conundrum was solved by Kevin.  Kevin usual knows.  He's a great reader.  Kevin said salt was used in making ovens because it held heat (think salting ice on roads).  People made their oven.  Then they put a layer of salt across the floor of the oven.  Tile was placed over the salt layer.  Now the oven held the heat.  Eventually, the salt's ability to hold heat lessened and was gone.  Then the salt was "no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot." Matt 5: 13.

Jesus is telling us not to lose our "flavor."  Glorify God by being His disciple and seasoning others with Christ's flavor.  A little salt makes the food taste better.

Monday, February 3, 2014

What Strength and Force of Character Can Do

I am Abraham by Jerome Charyn
According to the back of the book, Jerome Charyn is a master writer.  I am Abraham does not prove that description wrong.  I received an understanding of not only a man, but the times, the politics, the family life, and the Civil War. This story may be fiction, but Jerome Charyn captures the spirit of the times. 

I am Abraham begins with Abraham in his twenties.  He’s a young man who defines the term “self-made man.”  He was born poor and had to work hard, twice as hard, to overcome his origins.  By sheer force of personality, intelligence, and perseverance, Abe earns respect and position, even a wife.

This book is significant historical fiction.  My appetite to learn more was increased.  I kept googling generals, Jeff Davis, Robert Todd Lincoln, Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Todd Lincoln, etc.  I knew Lincoln had to juggle stress from his wife, children, political factions, and generals, but I never considered his own mental and emotional state.  Everyone wanted a piece of him.  I don’t know how he did it. .  I consider I am Abraham’s strength is its character analysis.

I was also very surprised that the Emancipation Proclamation was a political tool and campaign strategy to win the war.  The North needed man power and if the slaves were free to leave the south, not only would that cause havoc for the south, but increase the manpower of the north. 

The style was perfect for I am Abraham.  There was enough dialect for flavor, but no confusion in what was meant.  The pace was good.  I would recommend this book for book club reading.  What good discussions would be elicited. 

I received a free copy of I am Abraham by Jerome Charyn, from Tribute Books.  No other compensation was received and my review is my honest evaluation.

Prices/Formats: $12.99-$14.99 ebook, $26.95 hardcover
Pages: 464
Publisher: Liveright
Release: February 3, 2014

Kindle buy link ($12.99):
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DX5X80S?tag=tributebooks-20

Nook buy link ($14.99):
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/i-am-abraham-jerome-charyn/1115449611?ean=9780871404275

Amazon hardcover buy link ($26.95):
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0871404273?tag=tributebooks-20

Barnes and Noble hardcover buy link ($26.95):
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/i-am-abraham-jerome-charyn/1115449611?ean=9780871404275



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