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Showing posts from July, 2015

Our Lady of Hope Prayer Group

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Whenever people upset me, I always find solace in my prayer group, Our Lady of Hope Prayer Group.  I can't take too much negativity.  The people in the prayer group are joyful.  They love their faith with optimistic faithfulness.  They are just happy and confident.

When I can't take any more criticism, when my feelings are bruised, when I'm frustrated, I drag myself into Our Lady of Hope and find myself showered in healthy, strong prayer.  I am literally lifted up. None of us have much theology, but we know our faith.  We defend and love it.  We invite others to experience Jesus and the Church.  We live the Gospel.

It's home.  It's safe.  We are one family that prays for our parish.  I pray everyone has such  joyful, and caring support.  We thank God for the blessing of each other.




An Artist's Prayer

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While perusing my news feed on Facebook, I came across a post by a brother Lay Dominican, Robert Curtis.  (My brother, by a different mother, but still my brother.)  He posted a poem he found in National Review, December 2014.  It's about another brother.  (See above parenthetical explanation.)  The poem is about Fra Angelico.  Fra Angelico was born Guido di Pietro. When he entered the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) he was given the religious name Brother John of Fiesole.  He was an artist.  He painted like an angel, hence the nickname Fra Angelico.  His painting was his prayer to God.  His work preached the Word.








Angelico’s Crucifixion
By Lee Oser

Tempura and gold on wood, circa 1445
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue Here is faith’s erotic life.
Prayer’s unfallen touch, whose brushstrokes hold
Strange virtues even now to halt
And hush our steps beneath the Cross of Love: Magdelen staggers at the foot,
Her hair and dress a flame, her back to us;
In rapt obedience in her …

Personal Faith v. Show

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I don't know.  I don't know.  There's a man in my prayer group that makes me feel guilty because I don't wear a huge crucifix around my neck, like he does.  I wear a Dominican scapular, under my blouse.  If I'm performing a liturgical duty, e.i., lectoring, or teaching, I wear a Dominican cross on the outside of my clothing.

My friend makes me feel guilty that I'm not wearing some obvious outward sign of my faith.  But I'm not comfortable doing that.  I think of my own feelings when I see someone coming towards me wearing a cross bigger than the pope's.  I'd cross the street.  I don't want to debate him or even talk to him.  I don't think God wants us to call attention to our faith.  He doesn't want us to wear our faith on our sleeve.

Although my friend tells me about all the people that applaud his proudly displaying his faith, I always think, "How many did you chase away?"  But I suppose, there's different strokes for …

A Sign

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What more to people want!  Jesus just fed the crowd with 5 loaves and fishes and they ask Him for a sign John 6: 30.

I guess it takes eyes of faith to see a miracle.

How many go to Mass and don't see the miracle right in front of them?  No wonder they don't see how many accidents they just missed.  How many times their child could have been harmed?  How many times they finally understood their loved one's need?

Revelation and redemption are one occurrence and we have it in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

Divine and Human Mercy

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So I open my Liturgy of the Hours book to find, "A Sermon by Saint Caesarius of Arles," on Divine and Human Mercy.  How's that for a Godincidence!  (See yesterday's post on a Year of Mercy.)

Bishop Caesarius asks "How can a man ask for himself what he refuses to give to another?  If he expects to receive any mercy in heaven, he should give mercy on earth.  Do we all desire to receive mercy?  Let us make mercy our patroness now, and she will free us in the world to come.  Yes, there is mercy in heaven, but the road to it is paved by our merciful acts on earth.   ...Show mercy, then, while you are on earth, and mercy will be shown to you in heaven."

I link mercy to kindness.  I will try to be kinder.  The trick is how my "cloistered brothers" are to show mercy in an environment that views mercy as weakness, and weak is not what is safe nor smart to be.  They will need God's grace.  Please pray for my "cloistered brothers."

A Year of Mercy

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Father Nic and my "cloistered brothers" brainstormed after Mass, today.  We are planning a year of mercy.  Some thoughts:

Make a prayer card and we all pray everyday.  Make it like a holy card, i.e., a picture on one side and the prayer on the other.
Have a monthly calendar with the names of each chapter member on each day.  Everyone pray for that person on that day.
Bring in speakers to talk on mercy, e.i., Catherine of Siena, Fr. Lataste, St. Augustine.
Make Lenten reflections and send it out to all in the Bethany family.
Have a penance service.
Read Pope Francis' Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
Have a Chapter of Faults

This will begin on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception 2015 and end on the Feast of Corpus Christi 2016.

Personally, I'm going to work on the tone of my speech.  I'm not a priest in a confessional and able to pronounce the words of mercy to a sinner.  But I do have the power of mercy in my kind actions and speech.  …

Praying for the Dead

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What good does it do to pray for the dead?

We pray for the dead because the Christian knows that the life we live in is not our permanent home. We were made for better things.  We were made to live with God.  Besides, as a Catholic I believe in the  communion of saints.  That means we pray for our dear departed ones, and they will pray for us.  I like to think of it as having intercessors.  In fact St. Dominic told his friars, “Do not weep, my children; I shall be more useful to you where I am now going, than I have ever been in this life.”

Jesus says the same thing.  “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be” (John 14:2–3).

So the dead aren't dead.  They're more alive than we are now.  We keep in touch with them and they with us with our mutual prayers--comm…

The Office aka Liturgy of the Hours

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“No man is an island.”  We need community.  Even God, when we first encounter Him in the Bible says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Gen 1: 26) Of Course our God is Three Persons and since we, his creatures, are made in His image, we also need others.  Hence Eve, but that’s a different story.
There are plenty of times that we pray privately--all day in fact. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners.”  (Jesus prayer) But there are prayers that we pray in community.  The Mass is the best example.  The Liturgy of the Hours and the Rosary can be prayed both privately and in Community.  But the Liturgy of the Hours is special because it is prayed all day long, especially by religious communities.  So God is consistently being prayed to all day long by someone, somewhere, in the world.
Another great feature of Liturgy of the Hours, is that no matter how one is feeling, because I am praying the Office (Liturgy of the Hours), and the psalms, hymns, praye…

Some People Aren't Good Sports

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Someone in the doctor’s office asked me what I was chuckling about.  I told them I was reading a funny book.  They read the title; “Sporting Murder doesn’t look like a comedy.”  It’s not.  A Sporting Murder by Lesley A. Diehl, is a crime novel.  The investigator, Eve Appel is the main protagonist.  She is the one I was chuckling about.  Her turn of phrase, wise-ass comments and unexpressed thoughts had me laughing. 
Eve’s circle of friends is a good group.  Her boyfriend, Alex, and girlfriend Frida are the professional crime investigators.  But Eve solves the crime.  There are others that help also: Madeleine—Eve’s business partner, Sammy—handsome Indian friend, Sam’s grandfather—always available to help, Grandy , who I gather is a grandmother, and Nappi, who often pulls strings that only a mobster king pin could.  I can’t forget Jerry, although Eve would like to (inside joke, read the book).
I didn’t mention David because he was out commission in this story, although without him th…

I Call You by Name

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Bible Sharing last night had a new person.  We were reading Sunday's Gospel, John 6:1-15 and the newbie noticed that "...Andrew, Simon Peter's brother..." was pointed out.  "Is it important?", she asked.  This question led to a discussion of names.

Throughout scripture, names are important.  I'll quote directly here:

Names are significant in the Bible, and they have a variety of functions. For instance, a biblical name could record some aspects of a person’s birth. Moses was given his name because his mother drew him out of a river (Exodus 2:10). His name literally means “to draw out.” Jacob and Samuel also serve as examples (Genesis 25:6; 1 Samuel 1:20). Biblical names sometimes expressed the parents’ reaction to the birth of their child. Examples include Isaac (Genesis 21:6) which means “laughter”, and Abimelech (Judges 8:31) which means “my father is king.” Biblical names were sometimes used to secure the solidarity of family ties. An example of thi…

Fairytale Revision

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My granddaughter likes books.  She can never get enough of being read to.  But we adults do get tired of reading to her.  Luckily, she pretends to read.  Until she had a little sister, we thought she was just looking at the pictures.  But she reads to her little sister now.

It's so damn cute!

My favorite recollections are when she changes the story to how she wants it to end.  One example is the story of Goldilocks and the three bears.  My granddaughter changes the ending where the three bears encounter Goldilocks and instead of the scene shouting "Busted!,"  she has Goldilocks waking up to little bear asking her, "Do you want a hug?"

The Widow's Mite

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I came across a word I didn’t know.  The word was munificence.  I grabbed my iPhone and asked, “Definition: munificence.”  I received a definition for municipal.  “Mmmm…must be my Boston accent.”
I tried again.  “Munificence” in a loud syllabic emphasized voice.  This time iPhone gave me a list of websites to explore that had nothing to do with munificence.
Third time is a charm, right?  “MU-NI-FI-CENCE!!!!!” 
Not only did I get an audible definition, but also a visual:  Larger or more generous than is usual or necessary.
Ah!  “Give it away.  You can’t take all your toys with you.”  I get it.
But do others?  Munificence is more generous than usual.  That would mean not just giving for a charitable tax write off.  Giving money to the Girl Scouts and receiving cookies.  Buying a raffle ticket from Sons of Italy.
I’m not saying that these activities aren’t virtuous and praiseworthy.  They most certainly are, but you are getting something in return.  If one gave and didn’t want to receiv…

Don't Play with Fire

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Jorge explained Romans 12:19-21.

 ...Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord.  but if they enemy
                       is hungry, give him food; if he is thirsty give him drink; for by so

                      doing thou wilt heap coals of fire upon his head....

Back in the day, way back in the day, even before Jesus' time, the nomads carried their fire with them.  Fire was that important.  Fire was too hard to start over, every time one wanted to leave or have light at night.  Hence when it was time to move on, the coals from the fire would be put in a heatproof container to carry.  Where was the container itself, carried?

     On the top of their turban (or whatever their head covering was called).

  Actually, the verse is telling us to be kind to our enemy.  Kill your enemy with kindness.  Think of the coals of fire as giving shame to your enemy.  The purpose of the Christian is to bring his enemy to repentance and better conduct.

Besides, the verse tells us that "v…

Postcards

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Recently, I received a postcard in the mail.  I can’t remember the last time I received a postcard.  Was it last summer?
Nowadays people post their vacations on Facebook.  Why bother to go out a buy postcards and stamps?  Worse is taking the time to write.  Remembering street addresses is the deal breaker.  If you don’t remember the address you can’t send the card.  Few people are organized enough to remember to bring their address book.
As a child, I started collecting postcards.  But that hobby got left by the wayside when I received a camera.
At one time there was a chain postcard game going on.  Send five cards and receive twenty-five.  I sent out what I was told, but only received one back.  Why am I the only sucker that follows those rules?
I think for old time sake, and also to be counter-cultural, I’m going to send postcards more often.  They’ll say “I miss you.”  I bet they’ll bring a smile on people’s faces.  Maybe they’ll even be put in the home’s place of honor—the refri…

I Said a Prayer for You

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This morning I went to Mass at a neighboring parish.  I go a bit early just in case the parishioners pray a rosary and if not then I can do it privately.  I prayed it myself.  But while I prayed I observed the people coming in to Mass.  What kind of people go to Mass daily?  Do they look needy?  Do they look sad?  Do they look happy?

What are they thinking about?  Who or what are they praying?

There was one lady in particular that looked like she needed prayers.  Duh.  She came to Mass to pray!  Anyway, I prayed for her intentions.  Then it occurred to me to look at each person and do that.  All too soon that became impossible.  There were more than 30 people there and Mass began.

Then all our guardian angels brought all our intentions up to the altar.  Thank God I'm Catholic.

Am I Who I Think I Am?

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Have you ever had the experience of being in the presence of someone, or even a group, where they think you're a jerk?  And damn it all!  You can actually feel yourself acting like a jerk.  And you can't stop it.

Why does this happen?  Does it happen to everybody?

Let's say it happens to some. It's a strange phenomena.  Perhaps we pick up the social cues and become what people want us to be.  I can't think of any reason why this is so, but if it is so, then the solution is to not hang around these people.  Stay away from them.

Think about it.  If people can bring you down, then people can bring you up.  The solution would be to hang around people who think you are better than you think you are.  You will act in such a manner as to fulfill their expectations of you.

I guess I'll experiment and let you know.  Stay tuned.

Shots Unheard

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Shots Unheard on a Cold Night
In criminal investigations one has to be thorough.  This is what the main character, Detective Ellie March, personifies in Sorrow Lake, by crime writer Michael J. McCann.  Upon first meeting Detective March, the reader doesn’t warm up to her.  She’s a terrible mother.  But the reader will have to admit that she knows how to lead a criminal investigation. 
Conversely, March’s cohort, Constable Kevin Walker is likeable, immediately.  Even though, the plot puts Kevin in a compromising position, the reader emotionally supports him.  (No spoilers)
The crime itself is a good puzzle.  A well respected business man is found shot to death and left in a farmer’s field.  The investigation itself is a developing plot that unfolds as the reader follows the detecting procedures.  It’s quite scientific.  In fact, the details may be too much for some readers; nonetheless, the investigation demonstrates good police procedures. 
Michael J. McCann definitely has researched hi…

Consequences

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Msgr. Moran hit upon the subject that my study group is wrestling with -- God's omnipotence and evil.  This morning's Gospel was Matt 11: 20-24.  Jesus is reproaching towns that have rejected God, especially after all the manifestations of His presence in their midst.

Msgr. Moran said that God created a world of consequences--both good and bad.

That's the money statement.  Of course a loving God wouldn't create evil.  But the God who wants us to have "free will" would create consequences.  That's ingenious.  We are the ones who create evil by choosing things that carry us further and further away from God, resulting in evil.  IOW, we do it to ourselves or to others.

Born to bad parents would be the fault of the parents, not the baby.  But that's not the end of the situation.  That baby has free will and will have to make choices.  I pray that all children learn about God, and His love for us, and will always choose paths that lead to God.  Amen.

Life Goes On

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Johnnie Come Lately by Kathleen M. Rodgers was my first military story.  In fact, I didn’t know it was a military story until the story focused on Cade, the son who joined the marines.  Then I remembered that Johnnie’s father died while on tour.     
I turned to the author’s page and read that Kathleen M. Rodgers had written stories and essays that have appeared in military magazines, as well as the regular main stream periodicals.  This is also her second novel. 
There’s nothing different about military stories except maybe if you are a military family you would relate with a deeper emotional level.  But that’s not necessary at all.  I understood Johnnie’s feelings, as a daughter, wife, and mother.  In fact, the author relates to all women.  That’s the beauty of the story.  Johnnie is real. 
The plot itself is twofold.  Johnnie's mother walked out of her life when she was small.  But she's still alive and traces of her are left here and there.  Juxtaposition with Johnnie's…

Year of Mercy

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You have to help me think.  What can my Lay Dominican chapter do to celebrate a year of mercy?
Here's what we've come up with so far:

Have confession
A Chapter of Faults
Have the postulants write reflections
Have MEK create a symbol/drawing for a prayer card
Write a prayer for the prayer card
Pray the chaplet of divine mercy.
Have our retreat focus on divine mercy.
Make a calendar where each member of the chapter is named on a certain day and everyone prays for him.

What else can we do?  We have a whole year?