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Showing posts from August, 2015

Litany for my "Cloistered Brothers"

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R.Lord have mercy on me
When I can’t accept the past:     R. When I feel all locked up:       R. When I despair:                R. When I can’t forgive:     R. When I feel the world hates me:  R. When I am lonely:        R. When the day never ends:      R. When I am overshadow by darkness: R. When I’ve lost hope:     R. When I have no one:      R. When I hurt:      R. When I fall into sin:   R. When I am afraid:     R. When I see no point to living:   R. When problems overwhelm:    R. When I am judged:    R. When You seem distant:   R. Closing Prayer
O Merciful God, I see You tortured and thrown into prison.  I see You shamed in Your nakedness before the crowd.  I see the confused hurt in Your Mother’s eyes. Help me Lord in Your compassion to keep my faith, and hope to be with You in paradise.  I love You.  You are all I have.  It is in Your Eucharist that I taste your sweetness.  We become One.  May I have the grace to feel the effects of Your Redemption forever.

Psalm for Mercy

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Psalm for Mercy
Help me Lord
my accusers are strong
I am weak.
Their anger
consumes reason
I am in danger.
Give me shelter, Lord
under your wide wings
help me this day.
Turn away their judgment
Banish all my enemies
I repent of all my sins.

My sins against You
are my worst fear
You are so worthy.

I am so ashamed.
My life is a disaster
Remove my disgrace.

Absolve all my transgressions
Bring me home to You
May I rest in Your peace.

Bitter Hurt

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I thought I'd forgiven him.  At least I was trying.  I was going through the motions.  But when we were together, standing next to each other.  I'd feel internally so cynical and angry, and that made me anxious and confused.  It was depressing me because I was trying--praying not to feel this way.

The only way I can describe it is that he made me feel broken, not healthy.  Somehow, he made me not feel like myself.  Was he to be blamed for something he didn't even know about?  "Is he making me feel broken or is it myself?"  To be truthful, I had to admit that he probably had no clue how I felt.  So I was only hurting myself by harboring the resentment, hurt and anger that made me feel broken.

"What!  Am I stupid?"

"It's not him; it's me."  Slowly the realization that forgiveness wasn't about him, at all.  It's more about healing MYSELF.  I have to forgive to make and keep myself healthy.  This was an epiphany.  What I perceive…

Singing

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Another Prayer

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Mercy Prayer God of mercy and of love, no one can outdo You in  compassion and generosity. With this in mind I humbly petition You to forgive my  sins, help me to forgive myself, soften the hearts of those I have harmed and free all imprisoned behind bars of hate.
With overwhelming gratitude I know how much You love me. Help me to be worthy of Your  love.  Give others the grace to not judge me according to the wrongs I have committed but as Your repentant child.

May St. Dominic and Pere Lataste continue my prayer. This I ask through Christ, my Lord and Savior.     Amen

Prayer to Our Lady of Mercy

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Our Lady of Mercy
Father, You saw Your Son, Jesus, thrown in prison,
and redeemed.  We thank you for your providence
and care.  You gave us Mary, as our model in all
things.  She accepted Your Will with faithful trust.

Help us to be like Mary, in faith, hope, love, and
obedience.  Have Mary spread Your mercy on
all whose hearts are hardened with anger, hurt,
and sin.  May we all learn from her compassion
and accept Your holy will.

Strengthen us to be like Mary:
to ponder Your Word in our hearts,
to sing Your praises every day.

Father, we ask this through Your Son
Jesus Christ.

Amen.

The Christian Paradox

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It's a kind of paradox to love the sinner but not the sin.  When I sit with my "cloistered brothers" I love them all.  Of course I don't love what they've done; I don't even want to imagine it.  I separate the two.

How?

Just as easy as telling a lie and accepting the trust in your eyes.  Just as easy as cheating on my essay and accepting the "A".  Just as easy as driving over the speed limit, yet slowing down for ducklings. Just as easy as separating myself from the person who drank a little too much last night and went to Communion in the morning.

What is the difference between those found guilty and the innocent?  Too many times it's just a matter of circumstance:

lack of money
wrong skin color
mental illness
bad neighborhood
bad parents
bad lawyer

There but for the grace of God go I.  When I hear their stories I can see parts of my own story.  I see myself.  So I treat everyone like I would like to be treated.  That means that I am a good p…

A Memoir

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My niece handed me a book she had to read for school.  She had finished it and said that I would like it.  The book is Townie by Andre Dubus III.  The author teaches at her school.  Regardless, she liked the book.  I did too but I'm sure for different reasons than my niece did.  She enjoyed the author's craft.  His descriptions are sharp.  You're there.  His characterization is amazing.  I not only can picture his characters, I'd recognize them anywhere.  It's a work of art.

What I enjoyed is the setting.  I grew up around Haverhill, Newburyport, Plum Island, Salisbury, and Lawrence.  So not only do I know whom the author is talking about, but where he is standing.



Gossip Is and Isn't

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Gossip is bad; that's what everyone seems to say.  I beg to differ.  There was a time when I was in emotional angst for four years because of what a certain person did to me.  Four years!  Then one day in conversation I overhead a piece of juicy gossip that blew those four years of angst to dust.

I didn't know.  It seems it was an open secret that everyone knew, but me.  If I had known I wouldn't have resented, and at times even hated this person.  Wow!  And of course I know that you never know what people are going through until you walk a mile in their shoes.  That's such an abstract concept that it's trite.

I still am shocked and it's been a few years since that knowledge was revealed to me.  So is gossip bad?  I contend that the hearers or readers never know and are not to judge.  Only the person telling knows what's inside their heart--their intention.  Telling that a young girl is pregnant may be gossip if you are trying to hurt that girl's repu…

What a Story!

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Awesome story!  I'm talking about the conversion of Alphonse Ratisbone.  He absolutely hated the Catholic Church.  And for fun, he took a bet to wear a miraculous medal and pray the memorare.  Well, a miracle happened.  He had an apparition, just like Catherine Laboure--Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, which is on the miraculous medal.  Read about it here.

Secrets of the Fraternity

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I’m one of those people that read three or more books, at once.  Scott A. Lerner’s The Fraternity of theSoul Eater was among the group I was reading.  It didn’t take long before every book was dropped because I was hooked by the story in The Fraternity of the Soul Eater.  Sam and Bob are buddies that solve crimes.  To be fair, although Sam’s girlfriend, Susan won’t agree, the adventures find them. 
Sam has dreams that foretell what will happen.  In this particular case, a frat newbie, Chris Stevens, is in the process of being inducted into a super-secret fraternity, where he sees a human sacrifice.  Chris goes to Sam because he needs a lawyer since the police charged him for making a false police report.  Only it wasn’t false.
Sam comes across more missing people, more secrets, and ancient ritual, tunnels, and believe it—a real pyramid—built underground.  The pace of the story is fast, so you’re turning pages as fast as your eyes will allow. 
My favorite character is Sam’s friend B…

The Movement

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One of my "cloistered brothers" talked my ear off, last night.  He was talking about "The Movement."
This is an initiative to change people's lives.  He was very excited about it.  So I looked into it.

The group's official name is "Pain is Skin Deep The Movement."  They want to change someone's day, which will affect the rest of their week.  Day by day will affect their life.  Maybe it will start with a smile, a kind gesture, and a kind word of welcome.  It doesn't hurt.  It doesn't take money.  It takes hardly no time at all.  Actually, just be human.  Reach out and touch someone with compassion.

Jesus tells us this in the golden rule.  Luke 6:31  Jesus summarizes the Torah, "Do to others what you want them to do to you.  Catholics know the Corporal Works of Mercy:

To feed the hungry;To give drink to the thirsty;To clothe the naked;To harbour the harbourless;To visit the sick;To ransom the captive;To bury the dead. The spiritual…

Grab God Go

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Does it annoy you, as it does me, to see people receive the Eucharist and leave?  Sometimes brushing past the minister to get past.  How rude!

It also tells me that they don't have a clue as to what is happening.  This is Communion.  Their brother and sisters are receiving.  Their parish community is receiving.  Don't they pray a thanksgiving after Communion?  Shouldn't they wait for the final blessing?

And if you ever had someone singing in the choir, you would notice how discourteous people are to leave when they should be singing and not leave the choir hanging by their lonesome selves.

Finally, what happened to praying a thanksgiving prayer after Mass?

Curious minds want to know.  God does too.

The Christian's Function

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Today I felt like I live in a surreal world.  I'm out of it.  I don't understand what people are talking about and I don't want to know. In fact, I'm glad I'm not in it.  I don't feel superior, just different.


Two of my adult children ran in the Falmouth Road Race.  I stood next to a man who told me all about the real estate projects that were making him rich.  (Why should I be impressed?)  Also all the big boats--yachts he has owned.

After the race there were celebratory parties everywhere.  Why would athletes want to get drunk?  I couldn't relate.  Just standing out in the sun watching the runners go by melted me.  I couldn't wait to get a (1) drink of ice water (2) take a shower and (3) take a nap!  I can see that my son and daughter were hyper after the race and wanted to talk about the race but if I were them I'd do (1) (2) (3) and go to a party at night, after I was dry, clean, and rested.  Maybe then I'd have a drink in my hand.

Watchin…

The Eucharist as Spiritual Carb

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Why do people run?  I mean as a hobby.  It must make them feel good.  Some describe it as a runner's high.  My son and daughter, who are runners, say they have never attained that kind of "high." They do like the feel of their muscles when they run.  It makes them feel healthy.

Today, I went with my son and daughter to pick up their numbers for tomorrow's Falmouth Road Race.  There was an expo of sorts of all things associated with either the town of Falmouth or running or health. The thought did occur to me that "running" is some people's religion.  They treat their bodies as temples.  Well, it is, but too much would be idol worship and that what I'm talking about.  Oddly, many drink beer as if running and drinking went hand and hand.  Many tee shirts alluded to that idea.

St. Paul must have been a runner, hence his allusion to finishing the race: 2 Tim 4:7 and 1 Cor 9:24.
And tonight at the four o'clock Mass, Msgr. Avila's homily was all …

Dumb Bunnies

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One of my favorite stories from the lives of saints is Saint Martin De Porres.  Legend has it that he  could talk to animals.  The story goes that the priory was becoming overrun with mice, so Martin had a talk with them and they didn’t bother the priory, anymore.  They were everywhere but they were never seen in the priory again.
I always thought that Martin laid out food for the mice in the barn.  Why go hunt for food in the priory when you can get it more easily in the barn?

That was until this year.  Rabbits are eating my flowers and vegetables.  I tried pulling the De Porres trick.  I leave lots of lettuce and vegetable scrapes out for the animals, so they’ll leave my garden alone.  They don’t.  So what’s wrong, St. Martin de Porres?

Fasting

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When you read the Old Testament, the Hebrews are always fasting.  They seem to do it mostly for preparation or atonement, i.e., preparing for battle, penance.  Whatever.  Fasting is done to get closer to God, because you started to drift away, because you are in danger and will need help, just in case.  For sure, fasting involves turning away from something and turning towards God.  Just the action doesn't do it.  That's faking.  You have to mean that you want to get closer to God.

The same is true for any kind of fasting.  If you fast from salt because your doctor told you to, you won't last too long with just your good intentions.  You have to mean it.  You have to sincerely want  to be healthy.

Hence, the purpose of fasting is conversion.  If fasting is for spiritual reasons then you need to convert your heart.  If fasting is for health reasons then you need to convert your bad habits.

Either way, that conversion requires self discipline.  And there's the rub.  Tha…

Roses

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In Christian art, the white rose is a symbol of purity, the yellow rose perfection and papal benediction, and in T.O.P.S. you're a K.O.P.S.  T.O.P.S. is an international group focused on healthy living.  The initials stand for Take Off Pounds Sensibly.  When you've reached your goal, you become a K.O.P.S. -- Keep Off Pounds Sensibly.

The red rose is a symbol of martyrdom.  The rose is a frequent symbol of the Blessed Mother.  The thorns have an interesting symbolic story.  Since the Blessed Mother was free of original sin, she is referred to the "rose without thorns."  In the Garden of Eden, the rose didn't have any thorns; the thorns came when roses grew on earth.  So think of man's fall from grace, when you stab yourself on the thorns.

Orange Jumpsuits Fit Men and Women

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Last night (early morning), I finished Orange is the new Black by Piper Kerman.  I thought the book was excellent and an easy read.  However, my "cloistered brothers" scoff and dismiss the scenarios with disparaging remarks: "She was in a country club."  "If she was in with Sister Ardeth Platte then she had easy time.

Of course, everyone's experience is different.  One of my "cloistered brothers" tells of his introduction to prison.  Whereas Piper Kerman was given a welcome basket of toiletries, he was given a stack of National Geographics.  WTF?

It turned out that as he was walking through the door he was shanked.  Fortunately, the wound was minor.  That's what the National Geographics were for--protection.  He should have placed them around his waist.  This was done to see what you are about.  My "cloistered brother" didn't snitch, so he was "OK".

Father Gordon MacRae tells of his walking into prison for the first …

A Letter from Jesus

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Last week one of my R.C.I.A. candidates asked me a question I had never thought of.  This is my candidate that was a Wiccan.  As a wiccan, he didn't believe in Jesus.  So my job is to convince him that Jesus is who He says He is.  Well, my inquirer asked, "How come Jesus never wrote anything?"  He went on to elaborate about how common sense would demand that someone as important as Jesus would leave a paper trail.

The answer boils down to the culture of the times.  Jesus' culture was "oral".  They told stories and passed them down.  Besides, where would Jesus have gotten the paper to write.  Papyrus and animal skins were expensive and nobody from Jesus' strata could have gotten ahold of them.  Also, why would you want to write to people who didn't know how to read?

Someone also expressed the thought that people thought the world was going to end soon, so why worry about leaving a paper trail?

St. Dominic's Compassion

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My  Lay Dominican Chapter is still celebrating the blessed solemnity of Saint Dominic.  We did some reflections on the stories about Saint Dominic, today.  There is one story that relates the situation of a man who unfortunately had been taken into slavery.  Dominic was going to offer himself up to replace the man, but the captive was released before that exchange could happen.

Dominic often could be heard crying, himself.  And if you could understand his mutterings, you would have heard begging God's mercy for us sinners.  One of the brothers wrote:

So wonderfully tender-hearted was he touching the sins and miseries of men, that when he (Dominic) came near any city or town from where he could overlook it, he would burst into tears at the thought of the miseries of mankind, of the sins committed therein, and of the numbers who were [headed for destruction].  (Conway and Jarrett, Lives of the Brethren, p. 56) as quoted in Praying with Dominic by Michael Monshau, o.p.

Meditating upo…

Mimosa

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Today is the Feast of Saint Dominic.  I began the day with breakfast with my friends from the Hope of Bethany Pro-Chapter.  Sister Ruth surprised us by bringing a couple of our former "cloistered brothers."  It was wonderful to see them.  We toasted with orange juice because St. Dominic liked oranges.  He planted some orange seeds outside of Santa Sabina in Rome.  Santa Sabina has been the home of the Order of Preachers, since the 13th century.

There is still an orange tree growing and producing oranges at Santa Sabina.  No doubt it is a descendent of St. Dominic's original.

We were wishing we had some champagne to toast this happy occasion because orange juice and champagne make a drink called mimosa.  The toast would be Veritas!

Impossible Love

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Avalon by Vanessa Morgan is for cat lovers.  Only a lover can understand the overwhelming, self-denying devotion of the beloved.  Only a cat lover can appreciate Avalon.  However, anyone who has ever experienced all-out obsessive love will be able to identify the emotional soul-lock love between Avalon and the author.  Parents with handicapped children will understand.  Spouses with dependent mates can identify.  Maybe it’s dependency?  Maybe it’s what love is all about—“in sickness and in health.”  Whatever!  Does it matter?  Not to the beloved; it’s wonderful; it’s enriching emotional fulfillment.  Life is forever altered.
How did this happen between Avalon and the author?  Avalon is about a cat and his owner.  Avalon is a Turkish Van—a rare breed.  The author picked up Avalon off the street and brought him home. He didn’t adapt well.  He terrorized the other pets and even the people that Vanessa Morgan brought in their lives.  Having had a cat like this, I understand the situation.…

The Crown and Scepter

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Whenever I go to Portuguese churches I see a crown and scepter.  I've seen it at St. Dominic's in Swansea, MA, where most of the people are from the Azores, and I've also seen it at St. Anthony's in East Falmouth, MA, where the people are mostly from Cape Verde.

What do the crown and scepter represent?  The story goes back to the 13th century Queen of Portugal, Queen Saint Isabel.  There was a lot of contention between her husband, Dom Diniz, and her son.  Queen Isabel feared the son would break and battle with his father.  So she prayed to the Holy Ghost to make peace between them.  Thankfully, the son and father resolved their disagreements and peace reigned.  In thanksgiving, the queen held a ceremony every year in honor of the Holy Ghost.  She put a poor man on her throne and crowned him with her crown.  This, legend has it, was the birth of the Holy Ghost Festival in Portugal.

Another story tells of Queen Isabel of Portugal, also.  She was known as the Holy Queen…

Argonauta 2015

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This is the day my book club, Argonauta, met to choose our book selections for the year.  It did not begin very well.  We planned to meet at a certain place for breakfast.  However, when we arrived we found out that the place was closed for the week.  It was their vacation.  So we made a few telephone calls and settled upon another place, in a different town, for lunch.

This place was wonderful.  We arrived at 11:00 AM and they opened at 11:00 AM.  That meant that we were the only people in the restaurant.  They'd be no chance of us being kicked out due to our rowdy behavior.

Two hours later, after much laughter, arguing over Atticus Finch, (Iconic character), and clapping, we came up with the following:

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

The Nightingale by Kristen Hanna

A Desperate Fortune by Susana Kearsley

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

The Boys in the Boat by …

St. Dominic's Yoga

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My Lay Dominican Chapter is gearing up for St. Dominic's Feast Day.  Today we watched a real live demonstration of St. Dominic's Nine Ways of Prayer.  Afterwards, one of my "cloistered brothers" quipped, "It looks like Yoga!"

We all laughed and from now on St. Dominic's Nine Ways of Prayer will be known as Dominican Yoga.  This led to a discussion of different ways of prayer.  Brother James added an interesting concept that I never thought of before.  Brother James remembered that at one time we had a volunteer that used to come to Mass with us.  Afterwards, she lead us in some yoga exercises.  This volunteered said that yoga was spiritual to her because she considered yoga led her to prayer.  We didn't know what to think of that, but to be polite, we joined her.  After all she volunteered to teach us yoga.  She wasn't being paid.

So after Mass, Mary Jane led us in some yoga.  We all laughed, especially at each other.  But we were laughing to…

The House Across the Street

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As I opened my front door, I noticed that something was different.  The house across the street was gone.  I guess I must’ve blinked a hundred times.  I looked around and the rest of the street was the same. 
It wasn’t an empty lot with a driveway, either.  It was a wooded lot.  Am I crazy?  There was no one around to ask.
So I just got in my car and drove to work.  Should I call the police?  Nah, someone probably already did.  It’s odd that there were woods there.  If the house was somehow demolished during the night wouldn’t there be rubble?  Even if everything was cleared away wouldn’t there be an empty space?  How did all those trees pop up overnight?
At work, everyone laughed at me.  “Was there a pink elephant darting between the trees?”  After my second cup of coffee, I agreed with everyone.  I must have imagined it.  It must have been some trick my half asleep mind was playing. 
Still.  I couldn’t wait to get back home, after work.
Arriving home, I couldn’t believe it.  I me…