Showing posts from December, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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…

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.


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 t…

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 o…

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?

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?

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?

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 …

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…

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 talki…

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.

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 …

Our Lady of Gudalupe

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…

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 e…

Susie and Blaise

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.

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.


Mary Dyer, Pontius Pilate and Tolerance, Oh My!

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 …

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, Mu…