Thursday, December 31, 2015

Prayer for the New Year

Tomorrow, when you wake up, a good prayer would be the Night Prayer, After Evening Prayer I of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  It just speaks to me.

Lord,
we beg you to visit this house
and banish from it
all the deadly power of the enemy.
May your holy angels dwell here
to keep us in peace,
and may your blessing be upon us always.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Portable Shrine


These pictures are of a little portable shrine that my Lay Dominican student in formation made for me.  He did this on his own; it was not an assignment. It started out as a small tin box that once contained "ALTOIDS," the breath mint.  Inside he glued a rosary ring on one side and some medals on the other.  On the outside is taped a holy card on the front and back.  On one side it reads, "Praise, Bless, Preach."  The other side says it in Latin, "Laudare Benedicere Praedicare."

I use it to carry my rosary.  When I'm waiting for this or that, I take it out, open it in front of me, and pray.  It's a little prayer shrine.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Happy Endings

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty is an easy read.  It's very enjoyable.  I loved the major character, Alice.  She's your best friend or the best friend you wish you had.  She suffers a concussion and her experiences living in the world that she doesn't remember are not only hilarious but interesting.  It all seems so real.

Her insightful re-seeing for the first time what had become her life was deliciously enjoyable.  She's horrified at what an exercise, health fanatic, that she had become.  Her personal life tugged at my heart strings.  Her wardrobe shocked her with its tasteful fashion sense.  Who knew?

All in all, I recommend the book.  It's fun.  It's memorable.  It's a keeper.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Use the Regret

I started reading Joan Chittister's The Gift of Years.  The first chapter is about the feeling, regret.  Joan suggests that we shouldn't regret regret.  It's part of us.  It helped mold us to whom we have become.  We need to acknowledge this and use it.

These thoughts remind me of the philosophy my "cloistered brothers" follow.  The way they term it is, "Use the time; don't let the time use you."  I keep thinking that Joan Chittister would say, "Use your regret; don't let your regrets use you."

No one knows this better than my "cloistered brothers."  They can't change the past.  But they can change themselves.  They can be better than they were by learning from the past.

One of Aaron Neville's songs also is brought to mind.  To Make Me Who I Am says it all.  Here are the lyrics.

To Make Me Who I Am by Aaron Neville

I've walked through this world sometimes without a friend     

My life has been up and down, been close to an end
But I've been through the mill
And I've paid my dues
Walked so many miles in different peoples shoes
But I've been through the fire
And I've walked in the rain
I've felt the joy and endured the pain
Once I was a schemer
But I always was a dreamer
But it took me who I was and where I've been
To make me who I am
I've met a lot of lost souls in the bowels of hell
Traveled some crooked roads, got some stories yet to tell
I've shot up with the junkie, in piss stench halls
Broken bread with the devil, fallen on my knees to god
Some days I was blessed, some nights I was damned
But I always tried to lend a helping hand
Once I was a deceiver
Not I am a believer
But it took me who I was and where I've been
To make me who I am
Oh, I've seen the little children, all strung out on dope
No one to care about them, living without hope
But I've been lucky that I always had a song
I'll sing it with compassion, to try to right the wrong.
Once my life was wretched
But why should I regret it
'cause, it took me who I was, and where I've been
To make me who I am
This is dedicated to my friends in jail
For my brother jake who had to ride the rail
For my friend roonie and melvin, who were so dear
They were so misunderstood
But I wish they were still here
To hear this song I sing from my heart
They're forever in my soul, even though we had to part
Once I was a deceiver
Not I am a believer
But it took me who I was and where I've been
To make me who I am
God said I forgive you
Wipe away the scars
Cause I know it took who you were
And where you came from
To make you who you are
Cause I know it took who you were
And where you came from
To make you what you are


Saturday, December 26, 2015

What Being Christian Means


Stephen's martyrdom is very unsettling.  He is the first martyr.  Read Acts 7: 54-60.  Stephen's death prefigures what being Christian means.  Christians will be persecuted.  The next passage after describing Stephen's death, Acts 8: 1-3 relates the persecution of the followers of Jesus.

Following Jesus meant and still means, persecution.  Today, the persecution of the Christians in the Middle East comes to mind.  In my personal surrounding world, being Christian means being counter- cultural.  There is an insidious feeling of not being accepted, of being a religious nut, or some other kind of crack-pot.  My opinions are irrelevant because the majority opinion rules.

We should have known this from what happened to St. Stephen.  He is the precursor of today's martyrs.  Stand fast, my brothers and sisters.  A crown of glory awaits you at the end of your journey.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Mass

Midnight Mass came and went without me.  I was stuck at home with a head cold.  This morning I felt a bit better and made it to the last Mass in my parish, 10:30 AM.  Observing the people entering, I noticed they were quieter than usual.  Most of them I didn't know.

Were they strangers and weren't sure how to act?  Did they not see any friends and neighbors?  Maybe.

Usually, there's a lot of chatter, with people greeting each other.

Wait.

There could be another reason.  Maybe, just maybe, they recognized the presence of Jesus in the Tabernacle. Do you think?

The quiet atmosphere just reminded me of walking into a sleeping baby's room.

Look. Look, the Baby Jesus has come.  Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Reasons to Register in a Parish Faith The One True Faith · Post

The discussion on why one should register in a parish was interesting.  The best reason, to me, was that signing up, fosters community.  That's what a parish is--a community.  When you fill out the registration form you're telling your pastor what your needs are, how he can best serve you.

You would also find out pretty quickly why you should have registered when you go to the rectory to arrange your wedding, or baptize your child.  Who are you?

Also, when you sponsor a confirmandi, or become a godparent, you have to prove that you are a member in good standing in a parish. You are? Prove it.

Some dioceses also use the number of registrants to assign priests.  Low registration = one priest.

Have I convinced you?  You probably can register on line.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Never Forget All He Has Done FOR You

This morning's reading was Psalm 103.  These verses just hit me quick to the heart.  It's just how I feel:

My soul, give thanks to the Lord,
all my being, bless his holy name.
My soul, give thanks to the Lord
and never forget all his blessings.

I don't have the language skills to truly express how much these verses express what I think and feel.  The most I can do is rest in these written expressions.  And I thank God for the ability to be able to do so.

Monday, December 21, 2015

God's Retribution


In talking with one of my "cloistered brothers," the story of his arrest came up.  He believed that his arrest saved his life.  You see, he was a drug addict.  If he had not been arrested, he is sure he would have died from an overdose, committed worse crimes and even killed someone.  He actually believes that his arrest and prison sentence are proof of God's mercy.

His story contrasted with other stories blaming God for their prison woes.  I reflected.

Growing up, my sister and I would quip, "See God is punishing you!" when we fell down, were punished, or hurt ourselves.  We never believed He was.  Even then we knew that an all loving God doesn't do that.

Upon reflection, my "cloistered brother," myself, and others were stopped from hurting ourselves or others, not as God's retribution, but as an act of mercy.  We needed to be stopped.

I pray that everyone will be able to see God's mercy in their lives.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Disaster--Almost


This is the last weekend, I have to sell the church ornaments.  This will be my third weekend, where I stand outside ALL the weekend Masses to sell these ornaments.  Today it is the 4:00 Mass on a Saturday.  The temperature is hovering around freezing and it's windy--very windy.  The wind came in gusts.

You'll have to picture this.  I leave the in-law Christmas party to get to the end of the 4:00 Mass.  I don't think the hosts objected.  Too many leave the party and go outside to smoke cigarettes.  I was only gone a little longer than the smokers, who step outside.

Since Mass has started, there was no place to park.  I had to park far, far away, and walk, in the cold, in the wind.  I went in to assess how far along the Mass had progressed.  They were about in the middle.  During Communion, I went outside.

As a few were leaving, I had a customer.  I put down the bag of ornaments and a gust of wind blasted the entire bag down the sidewalk, spilling the ornaments all over the sidewalk and the street.  Horrors!  The street is Church Square (a four lane, four corner intersection with traffic lights at both ends of the church block.)  AND THERE'S ORNAMENTS BLOWING ACROSS THE SQUARE!!!

The customer I was waiting on, needed change, so I was taking off a mitten to put my hand in my pocket for change, when that same gust of wind ripped a roll of money out of my hand.

Now there's money and ornaments blowing down the street, down the sidewalk, and across the square.

I left the bag of ornaments to chase after the money.  Everyone was helping me.

Good thing, these people are church people because everyone returned the money and brought back the ornaments.  See Aquinas was right.  People are made in the image of God and therefore are basically good.

Everything ended happily.  I sold some ornaments.  I returned to the party.  No one noticed that I was gone, never mind the disaster I almost went through.  Thanks be to God.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Tomorrow I Will Come


The O Antiphons that are sung during Advent always seemed boring to me.  That was until this morning.  For some reason, I listened and watched a You Tube video of an explanation of the O Antiphons and understood it.  It sunk in!!!!  Thank you, Ave Maria press.

Maybe because the video hit two senses: audio and visual?  Maybe I got enough sleep last night?  Maybe my understanding has matured enough?  Maybe I'm sitting still?

Whatever.  I enjoyed the explanation Father Kubicki gives.  Father explains that these antiphons have been chanted since at least the early middle ages.  Each antiphon begins with "O".  They, unlike Christmas Carols are Advent hymns.  They should be sung from December 17 through December 23.  Each one begins with a title for Jesus:
  • December 17: O Sapientia (Wisdom)
  • December 18: O Adonai (Lord)
  • December 19: O Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse)
  • December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
  • December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
  • December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)
  • December 23: O Emmanuel (With Us is God)
Not only are the titles of importance, so aren't the first letter of each title, read backwards.  Each letter makes up an acrostic puzzle.  Read the first letter from the bottom: 
Emmanuel
Rex
Oriens
Clavis
Radix
Adonai
Sapientia
These letters spell out the Latin words Eros Cras, meaning, Tomorrow, I will come.  Jesus did come, and tomorrow He will come again.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Hiking in the Rain

The Hiker's Group went to Birchwold Farm in Sheldonville, MA, this morning.  It was damp, cold, with a gentle, yet constant drizzle, all morning.  We had a great time!  We hardly noticed the rain.  We just enjoy each other's company.

As we were walking through the woods, we heard this terrible sound.  It was an animal sound.  We speculated that it could be a deer.  What sound does a deer make?  We walked toward the sound.  I took a picture of the animal.  Most thought it was an ox.  I think it looks like a cow.  But cows moo.  The ghastly bellow this creature was emitting was not a "moo."  What does it look like to you?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Comments on the "Back of the Church"


A few days ago, I posted about my observations from the back of the church.  I was telling my friends about my observations and they disagreed with my assumptions.  In fact, they rejected my analysis, altogether!

BTW, my friends sit in the front of the church.

They pointed out, rightly so (if I do say so myself), that I have no idea what is going on in the minds of those who sit in the back.  Are they praying?  Are they making a spiritual communion?  Is their countenance devout or just serious?  Perhaps their expression is just dutiful because they're making themselves come to church (maybe out of obligation?).

I will see this weekend.  This is my last weekend selling ornaments.  Once again, I'm committed to all the Masses, except for the last 5:00 PM.  I'll take notes--maybe sneak in a few pictures.  Then you'll be able to see for yourself; are the back people more devout, than the front?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Taking A Chance


Today I heard about a pastor who told his congregation that he was going to have a second collection every Sunday, to help pay the church's maintenance costs.  And he welcomed lottery tickets (new/unscratched).  So when you buy a lottery ticket, buy one for yourself and one for your parish.  I don't know what to think of this idea.  What do you think?  

Monday, December 14, 2015

Places to Pray


It is obvious that some places are better than others, to pray.  I contend that sitting by yourself and looking out over the ocean is my ultimate best, e.i. the end of Seacoast Boulevard.

Church would be my second choice, especially Adoration.  How could you not pray, kneeling in front of the True Presence of God?

Sometimes lying in bed is conducive to prayer. I like to reach over to sleeping husband and pray over him.  (If he only knew!)

I often pray in the car, while driving, or waiting for people.  In fact, I call my car, "the prayer mobile." 

I have a "Little Oratory" in a corner of the dining room.  I like to sit at the long table and read and pray--Lectio Divina.

I also have a traveling oratory that a Temporary Promised Lay Dominican made. I may post separately about that, but for now, it's a portable shrine that can be put in my purse.  I take it out, now and then to say "hello" to Jesus.

Lastly, and embarrassingly, I pray in the bathroom.  I was driven to that extreme when I had Cronkhite Canada syndrome.  But I stopped it because a Jewish friend said it was rather blasphemous to pray in that atmosphere.  However, I took it up again after reflecting upon the conditions Bernadette Soubirous lived in--and she's a saint!  Bernadette's windows were prison cell barred windows, looking out upon the village's dunghill.  And the Blessed Mother appeared in a grotto where the village pigs foraged!

Actually, I could go on and on.  Anywhere and everywhere, that works for you.  

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Observations from the Back of the Church


This weekend I helped sell items for Christmas.  I attended all the Masses--All.  I wasn't there the whole time, I waited until what I thought was Communion and went inside the church.  I stayed in the back until the recession and then I ran out to do my job.

There are two classes of people in church.  There's the "up front" people.  They occupy the seats closest to the altar.  They tend to be ministers in various functions, e.i., readers, bring up the Offertory, etc.  They are the last to leave the church.  They are the most sociable and spend an inordinate amount of time talking after Mass.   They also make the best customers.  They spend and buy and it's not unusual for them to just give money as a donation and not want anything.

Then there're the people who sit in the back.  They often come in late and leave early.  But you know what, and this is my personal observation, they are the more devotional.  Every Mass, every single Mass, had a couple of people who stood in the back (by choice, they were plenty of seats), and kneel on the concrete floor during the consecration and again, to pray, "Oh Lord, I am not worthy."  Note this, then they leave--no Communion.  They just receive Spiritual Communion.  They're not too friendly, either.  They don't look happy.  They won't look you in the eye.  They come in to pray and worship the best they can and don't stick around to socialize, drink coffee, etc.  The others in the back, who have seats seem to be quiet ones.  They pray and mind their own business.  They were not my best customers.

Those that left early just rushed by.  Of course, they didn't buy anything they were in a hurry to get somewhere.

Where do I sit?  I usually sit as close to the heat as possible. 

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Servant Girl and the Holy Family


The Bethlehem Inn was very busy.  Caesar Augustus decreed that the whole world should be counted and everyone from the line of David was coming to Bethlehem to register.  It was a crazy time.  But I looked at it in a positive way.  I had a job.  I was in demand as a servant.  I served all the people in the Inn.  And since the tips were plentiful, we lived well for quite a while.

Some people and incidents stand out in my memory.  There are memorably good and bad stories.  Upstairs, I didn’t get to know as well.  Those with more money had rooms upstairs.  Everybody else slept on the floor, downstairs. It was so crowded that no one really had room to stretch out on the floor.  They were sleeping sitting up.

With a gust of wind, the door opened and slammed, and in walked a man and a woman.  They looked very weary.  My heart felt sorry for them because they were covered with travel dust and looked beaten down.  The woman was really young and on the verge of tears.  The Innkeeper was talking to the man and I knew that he was explaining that we had no vacancy, not even for sitting on the floor.  He was even suggesting other inns.

It was when the women grabbed her stomach that I noticed that she was pregnant—very pregnant.  In fact, I instinctively knew that she was in labor.

I prayed to G-d to help her.  How could I help?  There really were no vacancies in any inns.  What could I have done?

Suddenly, I remembered the inn’s stable.  Of course, that would be better than any inn because they’d have privacy.  No one would be gawking at a lady giving birth on the floor.  I joined the man and the innkeeper’s discussion and suggested the stable.  Of course, the innkeeper thought this a good idea because he could make some money, plus help the pregnant woman.  The couple immediately agreed.

I showed them the stable and shooed some of the animals out of the way, and put others in stalls.  It wasn’t too bad.  It was warm and we could clean it up.  I even retrieved one of the animals’ mangers and made a baby’s crib out of one, cleaning it sweet smelling hay.

I went back and forth doing my job at the inn and running back to the stable whenever I could.  I swept it up and shoveled out the muck.  I brought some clean cloths and fresh water.  The animals were acting odd.  They stayed a respectful distance away but were very curious.  Even the innkeeper himself came out to help.

Eventually, everyone in the inn knew a baby was going to be born in our stable.  Everyone was happy and kind.  I ran in and out to help and report the progress.  Finally, one of the times that I went out to check on them, I saw that the lady had delivered the baby.  It was a healthy baby boy. 

Everyone seemed to celebrate this babe’s birth.  I swear the animals were smiling.  Crickets jumped up and down.  The sheep baa-aed happily.  The cow moved out to peak.  Little birds darted to and fro, from nests in the eaves.  The donkey stayed near the baby.  The proud parents’ eyes were round in awe.  The mother sang a happy lullaby.  I’d swear I heard angels singing, but then everyone was cheering and shouting.

Cheers of delight exploded inside the inn and the people rushed out to see.  I’ll never forget the feeling.  I felt more emotional at this birth than the birth of my own children.  It felt like we were celebrating the long awaited birth of the messiah.


Surprisingly, even the innkeeper offered a free drink to toast the occasion.  Now there’s a miracle.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

John the Baptist is Elijah

In Thursday of the Second Week of Advent, we find a crazy Gospel reading, Matt.  11: 11-15.  Biblical scholars debate its meaning.  I can only relate what it means to me.
Wood Sculpture of John the Baptist's Head by Santiago Martinez Delgado.

Jesus said to the crowds: "Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he... '

The reason I'm posting this is because of the word, Amen.  Amen means "listen up."  Well, what does it mean that the Baptist is so great, yet also the least in all of heaven?
   I see Jesus talking about His present time.  John was a great prophet, like Elijah, yet he's in prison, right now.  Everyone is greater than anyone in prison.

"From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force.  All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John..."

From the angels battling to Herod taking the Baptist by force has all be prophesied by all the prophets and religious writings.

"And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come..."

Again, Jesus speaking in His time, explained that the coming of Elijah, wasn't what they thought (if you are willing to accept it).  The people expected Elijah to come down from heaven in a flaming chariot.  No, Elijah came as John the Baptist
.

"Whoever has ears ought to hear."

Try to wrap your mind around Jesus' words.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Our Lady of Gudalupe

http://ncronline.org/blogs/author-discusses-writing-national-geographic-s-december-cover-story-virgin-mary    
Neil brought the December 2005 issue of National Geographic magazine to Bible Sharing, last night.  It was beautiful--the pictures and the article.  Immediately after Bible Sharing, Mary and I went out and bought our own copies of National Geographic.  Then we spent a couple of hours looking and reading the article.

What impressed me the most was the descriptions of Juan Diego's tilma, with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  I couldn't tell if additions suddenly appeared on the image, or were they man-made.

Sometime between 1531 and 1570 the original image on Juan Diego's tilma was embellished.  Gold stars were added to the Virgin's mantle, aligned, according to a Mexican study published in 1983, in their configuration at dawn on December 12, 1531, the day the image allegedly appeared on the tilma.  The Aztec greatly revered the sun god, and glowing rays added behind Mary signify that she comes from heaven and that her god has divine power.

What do you think?  This is a direct quote, p. 54.  Does it read like the stars and sun's rays miraculously appeared, or that a human artist embellished the image?

I think it sounds like a person embellished the image.  But what human artist would dare touch the tilma?  Who could do it justice by embellishing what a divine artist portrayed?  So on second thought, the embellishment must be of divine origin.

Awesome.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Mob Behavior

A bizarre incident happened the other day.  I can't seem to wrap my mind around what it means.  I was at a church-related workshop that included other parishes.  We all were working on two questions: our parish strengths and weaknesses.  I was the designated "note taker."  In listing the strength, "our religious education program," I felt we got side-tracked.  We started patting ourselves on our backs and a discussion broke out, led by our pastor.  In essence, we started discussing what parents want, think, and behave.  Since we didn't have all the time in the world, and I would be the one reporting to a room full of people, I said, "Excuse me, Father, you are off topic.  Let's get back to our parish strengths.  What else besides our religious ed program works?"

Well, everyone jumped down my throat!  They insisted on continuing the discussion and Father continued pontificating his thoughts on why parents send their kids to Sunday School.

We eventually got back on topic and everything else continued well.  Just before time ran out, Father asked me to "recap" what we said.  When I got to the religious education topic, I recapped as best as I could what Father said, and he said, "...er...well...you were right, that is off topic.  Scratch it out!"

Ha!

So, what do you think?

No one said anything.  I don't think they gave it any thought whatsoever.  And I can't get over it. Ten minutes ago everyone was going to crucify me because I said Father was off topic, then when Father acknowledges the fact that I was right, no one blinks.

They never gave any intelligent discernment to my correction; they just reacted.  When confronted with their behavior, they're oblivious.


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Susie and Blaise

Blaise sitting in the Advent Wreath
My granddaughters' have Susie the Elf on the Shelf.  Susie is a scout for Santa Claus.  She reports to Santa whether or not the girls have been naughty or nice.

Well, Santa Clause has scouts everywhere.  This Elf sitting in the Advent wreath is Blaise.  He is assigned to watch the children at Mass, at St. Blaise church.  He kept a close eye on them and he had nobody naughty to report.  I took note of that, myself.  

Friday, December 4, 2015

Worshipping Mary

An experienced trial attorney will never ask a question that he doesn't already know the answer.  I know that.  I also learned today that sometimes the responder doesn't know what you know.  What am I talking about?

A few days ago, I posted about my R.C.I.A. class.  I planned on introducing Mary.  I did this.  The catechumenate said that they had heard that Catholics worshiped Mary.  I told them that we don't.  I was surprised when I asked them since they have been attending Mass, and are friends with some Catholics, do they, themselves, think we worship Mary, and they said, "yes."  Some added, "Well maybe," "It looks like that."

I tried to explain that we worship God, and honor Mary, and why we honor Mary.  They didn't see much difference in the meanings of worship/honor/reverence.  Once we agreed on the differentiations between worship and honor, they could see the difference between the way Catholics think and pray to God and Mary.

But the devil intervened.  Francisco walked in.  Francisco teaches R.C.I.A. to the Spanish class.  I asked my confrere, "Francisco, do you worship Mary?"

Immediately, Francisco responded, "Si."

My jaw hit the floor.

Francisco could tell by my expression that he gave the wrong answer.  But he didn't know why.  I explained, "No we honor Mary and we worship God."  He said "yes."  That was what he meant.  Francisco's problem was that his first language is Spanish and these particular words: honor, revere, worship, and devotion, have different nuances to them that English doesn't convey.

For example, Francisco objected to the expression, "having a great devotion to Mary," because in Spanish, devotion is a word connected to God, alone.  In English, people can be devoted to people and animals and even ideas.

I don't know if the catechumenate understood this Marian concept, but I know that I learned why non-Catholics think that Catholics worship Mary.  


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Mary Dyer, Pontius Pilate and Tolerance, Oh My!

Statue of Mary Dyer in front
of the Massachusetts' State House
Today's Mass Moments is about Mary Dyer.  Actually, it's about the Puritans rejecting the Quakers, but Mary Dyer was martyred because of the intolerance of the Puritans.  It is because Mary Dyer wouldn't shut up.  She kept returning to preach her beliefs.

Both sides in this instance, display intolerance.  However, tolerance is a confusing virtue.  In fact, some philosophers and theologians argue that tolerance is not a virtue.  Jacques Maritain points to Pilate's question, "What is truth?" as not being tolerant but rather betraying the concept of tolerance.  When one has the truth, then accepting falsehoods is wrong.

Both the Puritans and the Quakers thought they had the truth.  The trouble lies not so much in their beliefs but in their pride.  Their pride led them to bully others. Tolerance does not require one to deny their own personal belief.  Rather, you retain your truth and also respect others' beliefs.  Tolerance is honoring truth, which Pilate did not.  Pilate betrayed tolerance in allowing himself to be bullied into accepting something he didn't want, nor believe.  He was an ignorant coward.

Tolerance should be positive and life-giving (display love for others).  You don't give up your beliefs; you try to understand others and exchange ideas.  Of course, you want to convince them to see your truth, but you should realize that they may not see what you do.

Neither Mary Dyer, nor Plymouth Colony, nor Massachusetts Bay Colony understood the concept of tolerance.  Pilate in not accepting the truth standing before him allowed himself to be bullied into accepting the popular opinion.  Why wasn't Christ tolerated?  

So much for tolerance!  It is a confusing notion.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Introducing Mary

Advent is a good time to introduce Mary to the catechumenate.  There was a time when I happened to refer to Mary as Mother of God, on Facebook, and a commentator posted that "She is not the Mother of God.  Prove it."  I'm sorry to say that I just ignored his comment because I didn't have the time to get into an argument, besides his tone was so confrontational that I just knew that discussion would be futile and a waste of time.  But I never forgot his comment--Mary is not the Mother of God.

In order to believe that Mary is the Mother of God, you have to believe that Jesus is God.  Since Mary gave birth to Jesus, she is then the Mother of Jesus, Who is God.  To me, it's simple.  So simple that I can't see how everyone cannot see this.

Besides, "Mother of God," is only one title, Catholics use.  We must have over a hundred.  Do people really scrutinize what we call our Mother?  I know people who call their birth mothers all kinds of titles: Meme, Mum, Mom, Mommy, etc., even just using their first name.  I also know someone who calls their mother "Babe;" it's a name they've used since they first learned to talk--copying their father's pet name for his wife.

Someone once said, "No Mary, no Jesus."  I take this as meaning that if Mary hadn't given birth to Jesus, He wouldn't exist.  Also, "Know  Mary, know Jesus."  This means if you look to understand Mary, then you will understand her Son, Jesus.

This month has two Marian feasts: Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Immaculate Conception. I love Our Lady of Guadalupe.  A picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a great visual to explain this apparition.  The concept of the Immaculate Conception is always interesting because once understood, the catechumenate seem proud to correct anyone who thinks the Immaculate Conception applies to Jesus' conception.

Personally, I love Mary, because for me she feminizes a male-dominated church hierarchy. She also is someone I can identify with as a way to get to Jesus.  If I model myself after Mary, I am closer to Jesus.  Mary and I understand each other.  We're BFF.
  

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Devil's in The Details

Father John Vidmar, O.P.
If you know me then you know I don't bother with details.  I think the "Devil's in the details." means that if you pay attention to details, you'll be driven crazy.  That's my experience.  Perfectionists drive me crazy.  "Good enough!" is my favorite expression.

Anyway, my Lay Dominican Chapter was blessed to have Father John Vidmar, O.P. visit us.  He talked about the Inquisition.  Everything he seemed to say hinged on the details of history.  O.K. I see his point.  My "cloistered brothers" definitely pay attention to details.  There's a huge amount of  difference between Murder One and Murder Two.  In fact, that's the distinction that turned my opinion around.

Since coming to that conclusion, I could see how distinctions are important to teachers.  Academics reward distinctions to give recognition for superior work.  Also, societal class distinctions can be felt, nevermind, seen.

Of course, there are other examples, but I don't want to drive myself crazy distinguishing details.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Your First Christmas Card

YOUR FIRST CHRISTMAS CARD 
Cleverly done!!!


T'was two months before Christmas
When all through our land,


Not a Christian was praying

Nor taking a stand.

Why the PC Police had taken away
The reason for Christmas - no one could
say.
 
The children were told by their schools not to sing

About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.

It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would
say

December 25th is just a ' Holiday '.


Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, cheques and credit

Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!

CD's from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-Pod

Something was changing, something quite odd!


Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa

In hopes to sell books by Fran-ken & Fonda..

As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas - was nowhere to be found.

At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.

Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-is-ty

Are words that were used to intimidate me.

Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton,
Wolf Blitzen

On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton !

At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter

To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.
 
And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith

Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace

The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.
 
So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'

Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.

Choose your words carefully, choose what you say

Shout "MERRCHRISTMAS",
not "Happy Holiday "!
 
Please, all Christians join together and
wish everyone you meet


MERRCHRISTMAS!
 
Christ is The Reason for the Christ-mas Season!

If you agree please forward, if not, simply delete.
Remember we as Christians are to represent what Peace looks like!

Friday, November 27, 2015

A Secret to the Grave


Sometimes we took a short cut walking to school.  A rather dangerous short cut which went across the Spicket River.  I’m talking about the winter time when the river was frozen.   We could save five minutes this way.

It was around 7:15 in the morning.  We had missed the school bus, so we were rushing.  Sliding down the hill with the snow filling our boots wasn’t a concern.  Even knowing that we’d be sitting in school all day with wet feet, we couldn’t take the time to be facetious. 

So we ran and slid and ran to the frozen river.  Again we ran and slid and slipped and ran until Sheila fell.  She fell hard and cried out.

I knew immediately that something was terribly wrong because her cry was full of pain.  I thought she had broken her arm or wrist, but she said it was her shoulder.  I tried to help her get up, but she said not to touch her.  She managed to stand and I carried her book bag. 

We walked slowly to school and believe it or not, we prayed for a miracle.  Sheila’s parents would kill her if they knew we walked across the river.  We could never, ever, tell them.  We prayed for her to be OK.  We even stopped in St. Monica’s Church and prayed.  We bargained with God.  We promised to never cross the frozen Spicket River again if Sheila was healed.

Sheila said she thought the bargain worked because she felt better.  I was hoping this was true because telling our parents we got detention for being late was nothing compared to telling them that Sheila got hurt when she fell on the ice crossing the frozen Spicket.

Unfortunately, God didn’t accept our bargain.  During the morning, Sheila felt worse.  Her shoulder and her whole upper body was in excruciating pain.  She couldn’t fake being OK, any longer.  She needed help.  But we had to make up a story that didn’t get us in trouble.  What would we say?

We couldn’t involve any people because that would get them in trouble.  So I couldn’t have been with Sheila.  That would involve two stories that might be different in the telling, when we were nervous.  The story couldn’t involve falling in school because Sheila’s parents would sue the school, or wherever else she fell.  We decided to say that she fell on a slippery sidewalk, while running to school, because she missed the bus.


That was the final story and she stuck to it.  And I’ll keep the secret to my grave.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Your Safe Place

You must always come in when it rains.  You never know what wet clothes can do.  I mean keeping them on will give you a chill.  And your hair is ruined.

You need a safety place—a place to return to when the clouds open up and attack.  This is the place where you can wait out the rain.


The same is true when trouble attacks you spiritually.  Get out of that mood.  Run to your safe place.  Jesus holds the door open for you.  And this place doesn’t have to be physical.  It can be like St. Catherine of Siena’s cell.  She had an interior place to retreat to when she felt the rain.  That’s what you need.  Otherwise, you’re all wet.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Rant of the Day

Intruding into my semi-conscious internet surfing are some discussions on weather and newscasters' appearance.  Here's one sample here.  Some of the comments resonated what I've been thinking for years.  But I've never blamed the performer herself.  I blame her costumer, or whoever plans her wardrobe.

When the credits roll, I see who did the hair, makeup, and clothes for the newscaster/weather person.  I blame whoever chooses the "clothes."  If the store who provides the clothes aims to get customers from the show, they've lost me.  Most people buy clothes for work.  The people on television need to reflect that.  If they did, 99% of the time, the women would be wearing pants and tops.  Usually, the women wear dresses that you'd wear to a wedding reception.  And I get that sleeveless is "sexy," but it would be more sensible to have a cardigan or jacket paired with the dress.  In fact, taking the sweater off or putting it on would advertise the clothing.

I'm just criticizing the sensibleness of the wardrobe.  I just want the ladies to wear what I would mostly buy--career type clothes, not the occasional dresses to go clubbing or a wedding reception.