Monday, March 31, 2014

Be Careful What You Ask For

Sister Mary Clare told us the story about her praying in the chapel.  She was praying Sister Fausina's prayer, when a sister came over to her and requested her help.

Sister Mary Clare felt like snapping at her "Can't you see I'm praying."

But she didn't.  She got up and helped the sister carry what she needed.

On the way back to chapel, Sister Mary Clare heard God say, "I answered your prayer."

Sister almost fell over.  "What?"

Then she remembered the prayer asks God to use her hands, eyes, ears, feet, etc.

The very next day, the exact same thing happened.  But Sister Mary Clare had a different attitude when she got up to help sister.

Here's the prayer:

I want to be completely transformed into Your mercy and to be Your living reflection, O Lord. May the greatest of all divine attributes, that of Your unfathomable mercy, pass through my heart and soul to my neighbor.  
Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbors' souls and come to their rescue.  
Help me, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbors' needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moaning.  
Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbor, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.  
Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbors and take upon myself the more difficult and toilsome tasks.   
Help me, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor, overcoming my own fatigue and weariness. My true rest is in the service of my neighbor.   
Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbor. I will refuse my heart to no one. I will be sincere even with those who, I know, will abuse my kindness. And I will lock myself up in the most merciful Heart of Jesus. I will bear my own suffering in silence. May Your mercy, O Lord, rest upon me (...).
O my Jesus, transform me into Yourself , for you can do all things. 

Eating and Drinking

I’m still basking in the after-glow of yesterday’s CommunionBreakfast.  It seems that for a moment in time we were all “one.”  We ate the same food and drink, and listened to the same message, and we seemed to be “one.”  We helped each other to food and drink.  We shared our thoughts.  We were all invited to become a part of each other’s’ lives.

We were in communion with one another.  Strange as it may seem, we were just extending the Mass we just attended.  At the Holy Sacrifice, where Jesus shared His Body and Blood with us:

TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT OF IT,
FOR THIS IS MY BODY,
WHICH WILL BE GIVEN UP FOR YOU.

…TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND DRINK FROM IT,
FOR THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD,
…DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.


With these thoughts in mind, every time we gather to eat is an opportunity for sharing in communion, with one another.  We are blessed, indeed.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sunday Snippets -- A Catholic Carnival


This week RA'nn wants to know who our favorite authors are.  Michael D. O'Brien is mine.  I've read everything he's ever written.  I wish I could write like he.  He inspires me.  I especially like his "Children of the Last Days" books.  He's mostly self taught, which I think is the genius of his work.  God chooses the ordinary to humble the proud.

But let me link you to This And That And The Other Thing, so you can click over to the site and read about some other authors and interesting stuff.

And now, my interesting stuff:   ☺

Sunday --  My brother foolin around with You Tube  

Monday --  John 4: 8

Tuesday -- Feast of the Annunciation

Wednesday --  I got busted.

Thursday -- Advertising a movie.

Friday --  The Pope went to confession.

Saturday -- Do you want to know a secret?  I can't keep one.


Sh-sh-sh-hhhhhhhhhhhh.

My Friend, Frankie
Confidentiality be damned.  I don't know how professionals do it.  Maybe they can keep a trust because they're not involved.  They don't allow themselves to get close to people.  I don't know, and I don't think I want to be like that.

There are times when keeping a secret has caused me too much mental anguish. My emotional, mental, and spiritual health was being affected.  I just had to seek either professional help, or help from a trusted friend.

And you know what happened?  Relief.  Immediate relief, in getting rid of that monkey on my back.  Sharing that secret brought me healing, and the friend with whom I shared that secret, was brought closer to me.  As a result of sharing the secret, I have support, and a resource I can go back to.  I am not alone.  The secret is a burden to be shared and looked at with new and different eyes. I can see more clearly, now.  


Friday, March 28, 2014

The Pope Sins


I don't know why people are surprised.  Priests have to go to Confession, too.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Consolatrix Afflictorum


You may have seen the Gabriel award winning series "Saints Alive!" on EWTN? Please support their new film project "Consolatrix Afflictorum"! They will soon be mounting a crowd funding campaign and I am calling attention to their new movie, Consolatrix Afflictorum to support them.

Here's what it's all about.

A dying old man sends a letter to his parish priest recalling a supernatural apparition in his childhood and the amazing healing that resulted.
Description
From the producers of "Saints Alive!", "Parable" and "The Saints Speak" on EWTN comes this supernatural drama based on the classic short story by Robert Hugh Benson.
Plot Outline
Alone in his study, a parish priest reads through his mail. He notices that one of the letters has no return address; he opens it and begins to read. The voice of the writer, an old man, becomes the narrator of the story. He thanks the priest for a wonderful Christmas day sermon on the truth of the supernatural. He explains that because of the homily, he believes the priest will understand the story he is about to tell.

In 1939, when he was seven years old, his mother died tragically. He was a very a sick child. His father was devastated at the loss of his wife, and left him mostly in the care of a Nurse, a hard woman. Living in a huge mansion, far from town, the boy too was so grief stricken that his health worsened. To make it easier, he would trick himself into believing that his mother was there. But she wasn’t. At night he would cry himself to sleep thinking about her, remembering the happy times when he experienced her love. One night, his anguish overcame him; it was almost too much to bear. Then something incredible happened. His mother appeared standing before him. She took him into her arms, and sitting in a rocker by the fire, gently rocked him to sleep. This happened night after night for months. Whenever he cried out in anguish, she would come to him and he would always fall asleep in the same way, in her arms, with his head on her shoulder, but never seeing her face. One night the Nurse came into the room to check on him. But amazingly, she did not see his mother holding him by the fireside. It was as if they were invisible to her sight. Then his condition improved. This lifted his father out of his despair. Happiness began returning to the house. Then one final night, he saw her face. She was not his dead mother! Terrified at first, he struggled to break free from her. Then, he saw her beautiful face and recognized who she was. In place of his own mother, the Mother of Jesus had come to him. A new peaceful presence filled his heart, he kissed her hand, and soon after, she disappeared right before his eyes. He would never see her again.

The priest gets a phone call. He rushes by car to the same mansion of the little boy and finds the old man already dead. At the funeral, the priest looks into the eyes of the old man’s great grandchild and we hear his final words from the letter, “I know that I am an old man, and that old men are sometimes foolish. But it more and more seems to me that experience, as well as words, tells me that the great Kingdom of Heaven has a low and narrow door that only children can enter. Thus we must become little again and drop all our burdens, for someone who will comfort all our afflictions awaits us.”


ABOUT THE STORY’S AUTHOR:

Robert Hugh Benson (1871-1914) was the son of England’s Archbishop of Canterbury, Edward White Benson. His mother was named Mary. Ordained as an Anglican priest, he converted to Catholicism and was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1904. Joseph Pierce the English born author of celebrated books on Shakespeare, G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and others had this to say about him:

"Few stars of the literary firmament, either before or since, have shone quite so brightly in their own time before being eclipsed quite so inexplicably in posterity. Almost a century after his conversion, Benson has become the unsung genius of the Catholic Literary Revival."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

God blesses Old People

Sometimes it pays to be an old lady, in an old truck, going to Mass.

I had just turned the corner on Blackstone St.  I wanted to make the light so I had sped up a bit.  I hit Blackstone St. at 40 mph.  Across the street, I saw a police cruiser put on his lights and start up.

He made a "U" turn and was behind me.  I pulled over.

He did too.  He stopped but stayed in his car.

I prayed.  I also took out my license and started rifling in the glove compartment for the vehicle registration.

The policeman remained in his vehicle for an inordinately long time.  I thought he was probably running a check on my truck.

When he approached me, he asked me where I was going.  I responded, "St. Blaise."

Then he said, "Did you know you were going 40 mph in front of a school?"


I replied that I didn't realize it.  That's the entire conversation.  I handed my license and registration and he just took it and went back to his police cruiser.

Meanwhile, I prayed in an honest manner.  I was going 40 mph.  I deserved to be punished.  But I was praying for mercy.  Still, I recognized my sin and resolved not to drive so fast, anymore.

I was willing to accept God's judgement and punishment.  His will be done.

When the cop came back, he just told me not drive so fast.  "Go and sin no more."

Whew!  Not even a warning.  Sometimes it pays to be a simple old lady fingering her Rosary.

I've been grateful all day.  It's only through God's grace that I'm not paying higher insurance premiums caused by my lead foot.  He is too good to me.  I know it.

Upon reflection, I thought of King David killing Uriah.  His repentance was not unlike mine.  We used the same formula:

Honesty
Understand the sin
No excuses
Desire for reform
Appeal for God's mercy
Recognition that it's only through God's grace was I forgiven

Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness; in your abundant compassion blot out my offense.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Gabriel's Message



There's an old Christmas Carol entitled Gabriel's Message.  It's not that popular a Christmas hymn, however, it has been sung by some popular artists, e.i. Sting, Charlotte Church, Terry McDade, Jars of Clay, etc.  The ballad itself tells the story of the  Annunciation of Jesus to Mary, (Luke 1: 26-38 and part of the Magnificat).  The tune to me has a medieval tinge to it, but it was written in the nineteenth century as a Basque Christmas folk tune.

Since today is the day the Church celebrates the Annunciation, "Gabriel's Message," came to mind.  This is the day we celebrate Jesus conception.  Also the day, I begin my nine month novena, which will end when Jesus is born, Christmas.  

Monday, March 24, 2014

Pick-Up Lines

"A woman of Samaria came to draw water.  Jesus said to her, 'Give me a drink.'"  John 4: 8

"Give me a drink."!!!  What kind of pick up line is that?  Is that how they opened conversation in the first century?  Nowadays, the man would ask the lady, "May I get you a drink?"


Whatever.  It worked.  The Samaritan woman at the well and Jesus started talking.  Soon a relationship developed.  And that's what Jesus wants with all of us.  He wants us to converse with him, which is prayer.  He wants to quench our thirst, which can never be satisfied, unless it's living water.  He is the living water.  And it's free. 

All anyone has to do is talk like you live in the first century, "Give me a drink."  C'mon belly up to the bar.    Say, "I'll have a tall Living Water, on the rocks, please."

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Disciple Once and For All


               My brother in community (Lay Dominican), Christopher Smith put this video together.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Sunday Snippets -- A Catholic Carnival

R'Ann and the gang from Sunday Snippets are discussing Confession.  I've been thinking about what to answer, all evening.  As a Lay Dominican, I'm supposed to go once a month.  When I had a Spiritual Director, I did.  He began spiritual direction with Confession.  I got used to it.  However, he moved on and I've been adrift.

One Confessor told me I didn't have to go every month; I could go every few months.  Another Confessor wouldn't give me Absolution because he didn't see any sins.  Now I don't feel comfortable going to Confession.

I plan to go at the end of the Lenten mission.  Otherwise, I don't know when I'll go again.  I suppose I'll try every month, again.  I should.  I will.

My week went like this:

Monday -- A Reflection From the Mirror of Love by St. Aelred 

Tuesday -- About envy.

Wednesday -- A short story about spring.

Thursday -- Hiking on the first day of spring.

Friday -- An endorsement for the Christian Brothers.

Saturday -- A You Tube Evangelization.

Pray for me.

How to Evangelize


Friday, March 21, 2014

Two Different Schools of Thought

This is not a book review.  I'm only on page 7.  But I came across something, that I've been thinking about all night.  Certainly, there will be a book review, and what I'm posting about now, has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the theme of Alive by Piers Paul Read.  But I can't get it out of my mind.

The Irish Province of Christian Brothers was invited to set up a school, as an alternative to the Jesuit run schools.  Why?

Aye, that's why I'm posting.

The reason is because the Jesuits train minds, whereas the Christian Brothers form character.

Why do I find this interesting?  Because I can see where they're coming from.  Isn't this the difference between public schools and parochial schools?  And isn't this why children are home schooled?

You might say that parents teach character.  I will respond with the question, "When?".  Children are in school 6-8 hours a day.  Add in transportation to and fro, extra curricula activities, lessons, CCD, etc.  Parents spend all too few hours with their children, if they're not home schooled.

So where are children getting their character formation?

TV, music videos, video games, movies, friends--the culture.

Let's bring back the Christian Brothers.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

First Day of Spring


 These blue birds look so tiny, but if you click on them and enlarge them, you'll see how beautiful these little birds are.  The one on the left is not as colorful, so she is the female.  The one below is the male.  His blue coloring is striking.

Neily told me that since today was the Spring Equinox, I could balance an egg at 1:00 PM, on the ground.  She happened to tell me that when we were in a place where that couldn't be done, plus we had no egg.  I don't believe it, do you?

Regardless, I had a great first day of Spring.  The Trail Hikers walked some of the road around Diamond Hill Reservoir, RI.  We just reveled at the signs of spring.  Not that we saw budding flowers, but we saw blue birds, red-tailed hawks, goldfinches, and robins.  The female blue bird isn't as blue as the male, but the male was so blue, blue, especially when flying.  The goldfinches are brown in the winter, but turn more and more yellow as spring comes.

Yesterday, the temperature was around 30 degrees.  Today, while walking, it was in the 40's.  It was cloudy, but so nice.  Walking back the sun sneaked out.

It was a perfect day.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Spectacular Spring

The princess wanted some flowers to put on the kitchen table.  She planned to pretty up the table with delicate napkins, colorful placemats, and some pretty flowers.  Mother was cooking a dinner for the family and the little princess wanted to help.

Mother had put her in charge of setting the table.  That’s why flowers were needed.  This was the first time the princess set the table and so it had to be spectacular.

The princess opened the door to go outside and immediately the cold air hit her.  “Oh, I need my coat,” she thought.  Back outside, the princess looked around, but the ground was covered in white snow.  “Oh no.”

Dejectedly, the princess went back inside the house.  She went and told her mother her plans.  “But the flowers are all covered up with snow.”

“You could draw flowers.” Mother added, hopefully.

The princess didn’t care for that suggestion.  She wanted flowers in a vase. 

The princess sighed.

As she looked out the sunny window, she noticed a robin sitting on a tree branch.  The branch had red and green buds on it.  That’s it!  She’ll cut some little branches.  They’ll serve as the table’s centerpiece.

There, spring has certainly sprung.  The sun is shining.  Everyone is sitting around the table, happily chatting.  The napkins have flower decorations.  And the centerpiece is a gathering of small budding branches, just a few, the princess didn't
want to spoil the tree’s sprouting.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Envy


In our mission today, we talked about envy.  I was thinking of envy of people.  But in discussion, I found out that most of them weren't envious of people, but rather their place in life.

Children of alcoholics, envied children of parents who took better care of their children.  Parents who went to ball games.  Homes, children could take friends into.

Families who encouraged children to continue their education, and helped them go to college, rather than pull the children out of school to go to work.

I didn't know what to tell them.  God put us all in certain situations for a reason.  Some could see a reason.  Others are rather angry at God for putting them where He did.

Again, I didn't know what to tell them.  Their situations drew them to God, or they wouldn't be listening to me.  

Is it possible, that in some cases, envy can cause spiritual growth?

If it does, then can we say that about all sin?







Monday, March 17, 2014

What Are You Doing!

From the Mirror of Love by St. Aelred:

...It was not enough to pray for them: he wanted also to make excuses for them.  Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.  They are great sinners, yes, but they have little judgment; therefor, Father, forgive them.  They are nailing me to the cross: if they had known, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory; therefore, Father, forgive them.  They think it is a lawbreaker, an imposter claiming to be God, a seducer of the people.  I have hidden my face from them, and they do not recognize my glory; therefore, Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

I've often thought the same.  God's power and majesty was hidden.  I probably would be no different than the people thinking Jesus was just a "nut."  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunday Snippets -- A Catholic Carnival


A funny thing happened to me this week.  A publisher who I write book reviews for, asked me to write a review.  The book looked interesting, so I agreed.  The very next day the author nixed the plan.  He said that my view was too Catholic conservative, for his book.

It seems that the Catholic liberals think I'm too conservative, and the Catholic conservatives think I'm too liberal.  That's fine with me.  To me it means I'm fair.  I'm where God needs me.

Today, I'm needed to connect with my fellow bloggers on the site This And That And The Other Thing.  On Sundays, we link together to see what we did all week.  We catch up.

Before I talk about my week, I want to add to our discussion as to what resources to use during Lent.  My recommendation is people.  That's right.  I'm assigning everyone to deliberately make someone smile, every day.  I do it by complementing:

"That color looks good on you."
"You look happy and healthy, today."
"I like your hair like that."
"Your smile makes me smile."

Get the idea?  Since I've been doing that, (especially, when I don't go anywhere, and have to compliment family members), I find myself thinking about that person, during the day.  Often, I'm moved to pray for them.

This is turning out to be the best Lent I've ever had.

Back to what happened during the week:

Monday -- A reflection.

Tuesday -- The first day of my Lenten mission.

Wednesday -- Book review

Thursday -- Ray's Reflection.

Friday -- A Prayer for Lectors.

Saturday -- I advertised for Trinity Stores.

How was your week?  How's your Lent going?  Visit our link up at R'Ann's and see what we did this week.



Saturday, March 15, 2014

Shout Out

You like this picture of St. Dominic?  You'll find this and more at Trinity: Religious Artwork and Icons. I urge you to click over to their site and see what they have to offer.  It's very worthwhile, not only for your own gratification, but for the support they give to religious orders, e.i., Franciscans and Jesuits, and also charities like American Hospice Foundation and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

They are promoting a Crowd Funding Campaign.  They are offering signed prints and other artworks.  I urge you to visit http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/trinity-religious-artwork-icons-help-spread-our-minbiznistry/x/5278919 to see what it is all about.


Trinity Stores
PO Box 631294
Highlands Ranch, CO  80163
PH:    720.344.9212
PH:    800.699.4482
FAX:  303.471.6167

Soli Deo Gloria

Permission to use picture granted by John O'Brien, owner Trinity Stores.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Prayer for Lectors


PRAYER OF A MINISTER OF THE WORD    


Lord, open my lips,
that my mouth may declare your praise.
Open Your people’s ears,
that they may hear Your Words, not mine.
Open their hearts for Your Word is all holy and true.
Help me proclaim not just with my lips,
but with my whole heart and soul.
Free me from excessive concern over my performance.
Convert my feelings of nervousness and
turn all my apprehension into energy
for proclaiming Your Word with power and authority.
May your Spirit live in me and
fill the Holy Word that I proclaim.



May all I do and say, Lord, be for Your greater glory.
St. Dominic pray for me.
Mary, patron of preachers, pray for me.
All holy blesseds and saints of the Order of Preachers, pray for me.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

40 Days

My friend Ray, hammered home the importance of 40 days.

In the story of the flood, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, when Noah was in the ark (Gen 7: 12).  Moses went up Mount Sinai to be with God, twice, for 40 days and 40 nights (Ex 24: 18; 34: 28-29, Dt 10: 10).  Elijah took 40 days and 40 nights to travel to Mount Horeb ( 1Kings 19: 8).  The Israelites wandered 40 years in the desert (Ex 16: 35, Num 14: 33-34).  Jesus was in the desert for 40 days in order to fast, pray, and resist the temptations of the devil (Mt 1: 13).  All these things come together in Lent, when we join Jesus in fasting, praying, and resisting temptation for 40 days in the desert.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Plausible Pumpkin


What a pleasure to read A Pumpkin for Thanksgiving by Sue Berard-Goldberg, illustrated by Ann Handy and Judy Shammas.  I'm so used to reading children books for my own grandchild, who is only  three, that I had forgotten that children books can have a real plot to them.  A Pumpkin for Thanksgiving is a good, family friendly story, published by Three Bean Press.

The story is about a lady named, Nicole, who loved to garden.  When
she planned her garden she made sure that she left room for a pumpkin.  When she seeded her garden, she put her pumpkin seeds in a special area with room for a vine to grow.  When she cultivated her garden, she imagined a huge pumpkin, perfect for a Halloween jack-o-lantern.    She watched with pleasurable anticipation the orange squash grow.

However, what we plan is not what we get.

And that's the extent of my spoiler.  Buy the book.

Barnes & Noble
  • ISBN-13: 9780988221284
  • Publisher: Three Bean Press
  • Publication date: 1/27/2014
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 5.60 (h) x 0.40 (d)

ISBN   978 - 0 - 9882212 - 8 - 4
32 Pages

There is a twist to the plot.  Nicole adapts and makes do with what she has (I told you No Spoilers.)  Included in the back of the book is a craft that the family will enjoy.  

Not only am I reading this book to my own grandchild, but I'm planning on leaving room to  plant a pumpkin patch in my own garden.  Hopefully, the Thanksgiving craft will be a centerpiece on my own Thanksgiving table, too.  Five Stars *****     

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Pride & Humility

We began our Lenten mission today.  I helped facilitate and I don't know what to think.  I'm confused.  I'd say I failed but we were only given 15 minutes to discuss, or share, and how to do that wasn't explained.

We are doing Fr. Robert Barron's Seven Deadly Sins and Seven Lively Virtues.  We chose to do the four session plan.  The directions say to refrain from teaching or sharing yourself.  Let the members express themselves.

The directions also say to use the New American Bible and the Catechism.  Lesson One has nine questions, which the members haven't done, and don't know about.

Get this, I have 15 minutes to discuss/share, yet not teach, 9 questions referencing the Bible and Catechism.

It never happened.

I began by giving out name tags and introducing ourselves.  That took ten minutes.  Yikes! five minutes left.  I figured I can't get into the 9 questions, so I talked about having the Bible and Catechism.

Some background--I lugged my backpack to the Lenten mission, jammed packed with my New American Bible and six Catechisms.  I held up my Bible and no one had a problem.  I explained that Vatican II asked for a new Catechism to be devised.  I held up the 1992 CCC.  I held up the more handy size CCC 1997 edition.   I held up the second edition CCC 2000.  I held up the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults 2007.  Someone asked, why the US edition?  I explained that our culture has questions that those in Africa (for example) don't care about.  I held up the Compendium Catechism of the Catholic Church 2009.  Finally, I held up YouCat 2010.

Now, two people are making demands.  "Why the US edition?"

And all hell breaks out.  Everyone wants to know, how back in the day everyone had Latin Mass and everyone understood it no matter where you went.

Remember I'm not suppose to be teaching.  They are suppose to be sharing.

Well, they're doing that.  But the topic was PRIDE.


And time was up.

Since they were interested in the Latin Mass, I talked about my experiences with the Latin Mass, from what I remember as a child, from going to local solemn high Masses, and traditional Latin low Masses.

That's when the pastor walked in and sat down.

#$^%&**!!!!

Here we're supposed to be talking about PRIDE and we're "chit chatting" about Latin Mass.  "Uh,oh!"

God bless Father Al.  He deftly guided the conversation as to how the Latin Mass can be a beautiful expression of worship.  However, a priest could very easily slip into PRIDE, when he adds his personal touches, to his interpretation as to what the Latin Mass should be.

And the opposite of PRIDE is HUMILITY.  I learned not only the virtue of humility in accepting Father's redirection of the discussion, but also the difference between facilitating and teaching.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Long Way Home


I always take the long way home.  I enjoy being stuck behind a school bus.  It makes me smile to see the children jump off the bus into a parent’s arms.  They walk away together grinning and talking.

I always take the long way home.  Did you know that St. Mary’s Angelus bells answer Dean College’s?  It’s like listening to a choir chant antiphonally.

I always take the long way home.  Did you know that Route 109 dog-legs around Medway Community Church?

I always take the long way home.  Whenever I go buy the prisons in Walpole and Norfolk, I am moved to pray.  So many people have broken lives. 

I say, “I always take the long way home,” but that’s a recently adopted philosophy.  You see, I’ve settled into retirement mode.  The rhythm of my life has changed, and I walk to the beat of a different drummer, now.  When I was working, I didn’t walk.  I marched!  I marched to the beat of a fast pace world.  I was in the race. 

I always took short cuts.  Getting behind a school bus would make my blood pressure soar.  And watching a mother “chit chat” with the school bus driver drove me insane!  “Good grief!  Are they oblivious to the line of traffic waiting?”

I always avoided down town Franklin, especially Dean College.  Those students always dashed across the street like a stray cat.

I also avoided Rte. 109 during rush hours.  Does everybody live in Bellingham? 

I never used to give the poor souls in prisons a thought.  I never prayed while I drove.  I never noticed the brilliant fall colors.  I never slowed down to enjoy watching the ducklings cross the road.


I never listened to the music of life.  Now, I always take the long way home.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

It's time for Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival, where we bloggers link together on the blog, This And That And The Other Thing.  We posts our posts from the past week, and answer a question for each of us.

The question is "What is your favorite movie?"  My answer is "How to make an American quilt?"  I enjoyed the female togetherness: their solidarity, their love, their differences, their arguments, their humanness.  It's a different kind of love story because although the theme is love, these characters exhibit different kinds of love.

This weeks posts:

Monday --  Eleanor and a book review of Chasing Prophecy.

Tuesday  --  Still thinking about James Moser's Chasing Prophecy

Wednesday --  Br. Tonto and Cappa and Canis bury the Alleluia and another book review, A Dangerous Past.

Thursday -- I am looking for money to help in Fr. MacRae's appeal.

Friday -- God keeps telling me to pray.  OK, OK, I can take a hint, already.

Saturday --  Another book review.  This one is on, Too Late the Phalarope.

That's all I wrote.  Time to pray.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Why the Phalarope?


It's me.  I know it's me.  Everyone else says this book is a classic.  I don't see that.  Maybe, I'm just too stupid to understand.  Anyway, take it for whatever it's worth.  Here's my take on Alan Paton's Too Late the Phalarope. 
Too Late the Phalarope, by Alan Paton is an English teacher’s dream book.  Any teacher of literature would examine the complex society of Apartheid South Africa, the rigid culture mores, the main character’s humanity, and appreciate the beautiful descriptions of the country, and the moral dilemmas the plot purposes.
That being said, most students will hate this book.  I also found it painful to read.  Try as I might, I could not identify with any characters.  I didn’t know what they were talking about, most of the time.  The narration is convoluted.  A quarter of the way into the novel, I forced myself to begin again, because I was so confused.  I didn’t know who the narrator was.  Sometimes it was Pieter van Vlaanderen’s aunt.  Sometimes it was his journal. Then again, was it Pieter’s stream of consciousness?
The story begins with Pieter, an Afrikaner policeman.  His chosen persona is “stiff upper lip”, high moral standards, and a  “rules are rules”, type of person.  However, good people sometimes do bad things, and he did.  (Spoiler Alert) He rapes Stephanie.  A white man having sex with a black, at that time was not permitted.  Pieter is also married, so he’s breaking his marital vows, besides the country’s law.  Paton doesn’t mention the verb, rape.  It was clear, Pieter a white male had sexual intercourse with a black woman.  Since blacks were held in a subservient position, I call it rape.  His father is so upset, he disowns Pieter.  In effect, Pieter has broken more than the law.  He has destroyed his own family.
What I did enjoy in the novel, was Pieter’s turmoil with his conscience.  The poor man was twisting himself in spiritual, mental, and emotional knots.  At first, Pieter thought everyone knew his sinful deed.  When nothing happened the relief he felt was palpable.  It was short lived, however.  Pieter fails everyone who was dear to him, and everything that was important to him. He is exposed, arrested, and guilty. The emotional and mental anguish was an excellent description of human soul wrenching.  This was a redeeming feature of Paton’s writing and story.
I just could not identify with the characters, however.  I felt sorry for Pieter, but his life was so unreal to me that my sympathy was not empathetic.  The culture was so foreign it was unbelievable.  The extreme segregation was out of my frame of reference. The father’s reaction was beyond understanding.  What about Pieter’s wife and children? I just didn’t get it, so I didn’t like it.  The language itself was awkward.  I found the entire book too difficult to read.  I had to force myself to finish it. 

The title, Too Late The Phalarope, is further proof that this book is a difficult read.  From the story, the reader learns that a phalarope is a South African bird.  But what the title, “Too Late the Phalarope,” means, is a mystery.  I even googled and researched.  I don’t have the slightest clue what the title means, which is indicative of my critique of Alan Paton’s Too Late the Phalarope.


Friday, March 7, 2014

How Do You Pray?


It strikes me ironically that in RCIA I talked about prayer, yesterday.  Today everything I read has "prayer," as the topic.  This morning's reading was a homily by St. John Chrysostom:

Prayer and converse with God is a supreme good: it is a partnership and union with God.  As the eyes of the body are enlightened when they see light, so our spirit, when it is intent on God, is illumined by his infinite light.  I do not mean the prayer of outward observance but prayer from the heart, not confined to fixed times or periods but continuous throughout the day and night.

"Prayer and converse with God," is simply talking to God.  St. John Chrysostom is asking us to talk to God all day.  Make God your friend, and talk to Him as a friend.

I went to spiritual direction to learn to pray.  I remember the SpD said the Holy Spirit is the best teacher.  I took that to mean that He will move me to pray and tell me what to say.  Looking back, he was right.  For many years I just prayed the time honored prayers, e.i. the Lord's Prayer, Hail Mary, the Rosary.  Every once in awhile I'd try to just talk to God, from my heart, but I felt awkward.  I did it anyway.

Looking over my blog posts, I can see my progression.  I went from only praying the Lord's Prayer, to preferring my own prayers.

Look here and here. I use to say that my favorite prayer was the Salve Regina.  Nowadays I say that my favorite prayers are my own.  I like to pray and today I feel very called to prayer.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Another Appeal


Fr. Gordon MacRae's goal for money to appeal his court decision, hasn't reached goal, yet.  Please consider contributing in one of these ways:

... 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.
Fr. MacRae has spent 20 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.  Please read the story here and here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Flying Too Low


Dangerous Past by A.F. Ebbers is both a mystery and a thriller.  I was intrigued from the beginning.  This is a fast and enjoyable read. 

Also, the book surprised me, and will probably surprise you.  There’s no sex in it.  There’s no nod to the current cultural preference to prove how modern, how “hip,” how “up-to-date,” the author is, by making one of his characters, gay, or having gay children, or living with his gay partner.  Instead, (Make sure you’re sitting down.) the author relied on his talent.  I repeat.  The author relied on his talent! Imagine that.  A successful novel with no sex, no gay culture, relying on pure, unadulterated talent. 
 
Dangerous Past is so well written than you care about the characters, Frank Braden, Nicole, the FBI, the bad guys.  A. F. Ebbers skillfully employs flashbacks.  The pace will have you staying up later than usual, to see what develops.

The story begins with an explosion on an airplane.  The major character, Frank Braden, is the pilot of a Boeing 737 airliner with 110 people on board.  Miraculously, Frank only loses one person, an airline attendant, and lands the plane.  He’s a hero—for a short while.

Shockingly unbelievable, the police, actually, the FBI, (standard procedure with airplanes), think Frank is trying to kill himself. 

Adding to the drama, are flashbacks to Franks’ service in Vietnam.  They are not distractions; they’re background.  They are needed because that’s actually where the story begins.  It is because of crimes committed in Vietnam, that Frank is being stalked. 

At first, the FBI think Frank is trying to commit suicide.  It takes some frustrating convincing, but gradually the police see that Frank’s life is in danger because of something that happened in Vietnam.  It’s very suspenseful.

If you love thrillers, you’ll love Dangerous Past.  If you love to be riveted to a story, you’ll love Dangerous Past.  If you love history, you’ll love Dangerous Past.  I you love good, well written stories, with solid well drawn characters, you’ll love Dangerous Past.

 I did.

I did receive an e-copy of this book, from Tribute books, but I was not compensated to write a favorable review.  This is my honest evaluation.


Formats/Prices: Ebook ($0.99), Hardcover ($10.00)
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
ISBN: 9780978948238
Pages: 240
Release: May 1, 2007
Publisher: SilverHawk Books



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Burying the Alleluia


Explanation:  During Lent, which is a serious, somber time, Catholics don't praise God with Alleluia.  Alleluia is too gleefully joyful.  Easter we will burst with shouts of acclamation--Alleluia!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Deviant Lifestyles


Monday, I posted a book review.  I loved the book--Chasing Prophecy.  I loved everything except the lesbian couple, called MomZ.  What I didn't like wasn't the fact that they were lesbian.  This is 2014, after all.  What I criticized was my assumption that the author, James Moser, just stuck the lesbians in to show how "hep" he was.  I called it the "author’s capitulation to current cultural sexual/matrimonial fad)". 

Well, the author, James Moser corrected my assumption.  He explained:  

 re: MomZ--I needed the kid + parents to be semi-outcasts in the community, with only the Bethlehems supporting them, making it all the more precarious when that family turns against them. I needed them to be edgy enough that a rural community would , not "shun" exactly, but kind of have them at arm's length to begin with. Gay seemed just right to accomplish that, & that's all, just fyi. :) Wasn't an attempt to be trendy or anything else, though I get why it can come across that way when there's nothing else about their relationship mentioned beyond, 'hey, look, they're gay.' :) In any early draft he had straight parents who'd just been divorced, and the community had chosen sides between the parents--which necessitated about 10 pages of back story that early readers found tedious & extraneous to the story line. Then I just switched to 'gay' & people went 'oh, right, now they're all alone.' w/ just about 2 paragraphs of backstory.

 I stand (actually sit) corrected.  I'm a little awed  how Moser used the lesbian relationship to show in"2 paragraphs of backstory", the school and community environment, which Mo had to deal with.  It does show that Mo's different.  It does show how being different would align Mo and Prophecy together, against the rest of their world.  MomZ was the perfect solution.

My next question to the author was about the cult.  Was it based on a real cult?  James Moser said, "Yes, no, and maybe... 

Bethlehem Ranch--

Bigger ideas--I'm really interested in:
TIPPING POINTS--The Branch Davidians & David Koresh--the people at Ruby Ridge Idaho-etc--they all started as good folks with good intentions, raising vegetables & strumming guitar.  How did they get to the point where they were willing to die rather than succumb to society?  How does that happen?  How does strong faith turn to blind zealotry--when & how exactly does that happen--is it when people are backed into a corner & have to redefine themselves to survive?

HIPPIES
Community w/ interesting names north of Spokane I recall fr. my childhood.  In summers we'd stay w/ my dad in the bay area.  Guy named Love worked at coffee shop.  Big commune near base of Mount Tamalpais.  That was the start of my interesting/meaningful name obsession--which is why I love talking about faith with someone named Faith, for example.  A girl named "Present" used to babysit for us.

Later, First teaching job north of Seattle there was a family called "The Israels" also w/ interesting names.  I think of war & conflict when I think of Israel so I went with Bethlehem which is the most innocent thing I can think of.  The gov't did the 'you're not a religion--you're a for-profit avoiding taxes' 10 year lawsuit, which ended w/ gov't seizing their ranch.  They went peacfully to a different property in Eastern Wa. about 10 years ago now, I guess.  So the kind of Meditteranean-region name + gov't lawsuit is what I borrowed, conceptually.  All my names are made up though.  They did have a leader named Love also, who I  never met.  He did not have a son named Able or grandkids named Clean, Bright or Prophecy (that I know of--there were about 60 of them so 1-2 names may accidentally overlap for all I know :) ) I had Israels in my class but the Bethlehems are more like the young ones I knew in the bay area--a bit edgier.   The Washington ones were harmless.  Vegetables & a fall harvest fair, couple coffee shops downtown.  

The drugs for profit when backed into a corner I took from the TV show Breaking Bad.  What they turn into is more like David Koresh's outfit.  The bigfoot ending is obviously just cribbed from Boo's big scene in Mockingbird.  

The Israels did live on a big ranch east of town which I've driven by, but never set foot on (the gov't sold it as part of settlement--it's now a Jewish youth retreat center, or something like that).  The main lodge in my book is the boy scout camp lodge in Northern Idaho, complete with bigfoot + wooden eagle carving on the mantel.

Boulder Creek is based on Arlington, WA, which Twilight readers have told me sounds like Forks, which it does, b/c all small towns around here feel like that.  

 Interesting, no?  Moser asks what happens to good intentions.  

How does strong faith turn to blind zealotry--when & how exactly does that happen--is it when people are backed into a corner & have to redefine themselves to survive?

 I'll tell you. They turn from reliance on God to reliance on themselves.  I know two communities that are thriving.  You could call them cults, if your definition of cults is simply people that live together for a common purpose.  All Catholic religious orders do this, e.i. Franciscans, Jesuits, Dominicans, etc.  The two I'm thinking of aren't ordained priests and brothers, however.  

One is the St. Martin de Porres Dominican Community in New Hope, Kentucky.  They are a group of Lay Dominicans, men and women, some married, who live together.  They work together.  Their work is a publication company, New Hope Publications.

The other is the Resurrection Community in Casco, Maine.  This group consists of only women.  The oldest members were once Dominican Sisters of Bethany.  In the 1980's, the mother house called all their sisters to France.  Those who didn't want to go were released from their vows.  They got together and live in Casco, Maine.  Today, they run a farm and are known for their dog training and boarding.

These two communities are focused on God.  He is their leader.  That's the secret of their success.