Showing posts from January, 2016

Who Am I Revised

The game I made yesterday, turned out to be a disaster.  My "cloistered brothers" are just not versed enough in hagiography to enjoy the game.  They knew too little.  So instead of the participants just out of the blue guessing "Who Am I?"  We'll read the saint's life.  Then guess who he is.

  This will be read to them.

I was born in 1170. Son of Felix Guzman and Bl. Joan of Aza, he was born at Calaruega, Spain, studied at the Univ. at Palencia, was probably ordained there while pursuing his studies and was appointed canon at Osma in 1199. There he becamepriorsuperior of the chapter, which was noted for its strict adherence to the rule of St. Benedict. In 1203 he accompanied Bishop Diego de Avezedo of Osmato Languedoc where we preached against the Albigensians (heresy) and helped reform the Cistercians. I founded an institute for women at Prouille in Albigensian territory in 1206 and attached several preaching friars to it. When papal legate Peter of Caste…

Who Am I?

I'm working on creating a game for my "cloistered brothers."  The R.C.I.A.catechumen are looking at patron saints. So they will play a game with the rest of the  Bethany Community.  We're calling it, "Who Am I?"

The community will be given two facts.  For example: I am a male, born in 1182.

The catechumen will answer whatever questions the community asks--up to ten questions.
Are you a martyr?   No.
Are you a priest?    No.
Are you married?   No.
Are you a soldier?   At one time.                                                      
Are you a founder of a religious order? Yes.
Are you known for helping the poor?  Yes.
Are you St. Vincent de Paul?  No.
Are you Spanish?  No.
Are you Italian?  No.
Are you St. Ignatius Loyola?  No.   

The answer is St. Francis of Assisi

What is the Meaning of Life?

Tom Lyman was on Boston Catholic TV, this morning.  He was talking about the New Evangelization.  Tom stressed the need to be ready to share our faith, when the opportunity presents itself.  He gave as an example an encounter with a customer in the checkout line.  He was a stranger but while waiting, the two of them shared a sigh of resignation.  (It looked like a long wait.)  The man said to Tom, "What is the meaning of life?"

Tom said he used the opportunity to share the kerygma.  I understand that Tom shared the Gospel message.  But he didn't say exactly what he told the man.

So all day, I've pondered that question (just in case I'm ever asked, "What is the meaning of life?").

The first thing I'd do is affirm the question and questioner.  This question has been asked by everybody, throughout history, at some point in their lives.  Next, I'd tell him about my experiences volunteering in prison.  Now, if anybody had a good reason to ask, &quo…

What Will You Request of the Lord?

January 28th, is the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas.  In reading one of Aquinas' conferences I was reminded of a story about him.  It seems that during one meditation, Thomas had a vision of Jesus.  They conversed.  St. Thomas was commended by Jesus for writing so well about Him.  Then Jesus asked Aquinas what reward he wanted for all he had done and written.  The saint answered.

 "Non nisi te, Domine" -- only you, Lord. 
 This story reminded me of when the Lord asked King Solomon the same question.
"Make a request of me, and I will grant it to you."  (2 Chronicles 1: 7)

Solomon answered differently than St. Thomas Aquinas.  But God was pleased with Solomon's request.

Give me, therefore, wisdom and knowledge to lead this people...
Not only did God give Solomon wisdom and knowledge, but also riches and glory.
I compared the two requests.  St. Thomas Aquinas is well known for his wisdom and knowledge.  So he didn't have to ask for that.  He already had it.  …

You Only See the Stars in the Dark

Tonight's Lay Dominican Study Group turned into a gripe session.  We listened.  We have to stay in community.  It's one of our pillars.  So we tried to turn the discussion toward the positive.  We asked, "Who are the leaders?"  "Who will everyone listen to?"

Someone has to make the effort to cross over and shake hands, include the other and invite him.  We have to try.  The conclusion isn't certain.  But something has to be done.

Evaluation will be next week.


State of Wonder by Ann Patchett is a wondrous book.  My hiking friend, Mary Connor asked me if I had ever read any novels by Ann Patchett.  I said "no."   Then she said, "I think you'll like her."

She's right!  I loved State of Wonder.  What an imagination the author has!  How could she ever imagine such a story line.  The story line revolves around "searching."  First we have some of the characters searching for a fertility drug.  But one of the doctors doesn't stay in touch (it's more complicated than that.)  So one of the researchers goes to find her.  He dies, (that's complicated, too).  Another pharmacologist is sent to search, "What the hell is going on down there?"  This pharmacologist is the main character, Marina.  Communication is the problem and mail doesn't get through. Phones don't work.  So the boss, who happens to be Marina's lover, also, comes down to find her and find out "What the hell is go…

A Pro-Life Meditation

The homework for my Bible sharing group, this Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, includes reading Jeremiah 1: 4-5:

The word of the Lord came to me, saying:
     Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
        before you were born I dedicated you,
        a prophet to the nations I appointed you.

Since the March for Life was only a few days ago, these verses stood out, for me: "in the womb, I knew you."  These words suggest so much more than God's choosing Jeremiah as a prophet.  It means that before Jeremiah was born, he was chosen.  Ponder "...I knew you."  Wowza!  God knows Jeremiah.  A relationship had begun.  God loved Jeremiah before he was even born.

And God feels the same for each one of us.

A Snow Altar

Many people who were involved in the March for Life got caught in the blizzard.  In fact, they're stranded on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  While waiting to be rescued, the passengers made friends with each other.  The Green Bay bus and the bus from Missouri and others emptied out and found out that one of the groups had a priest.  So the kids made an altar out of snow, and the priest celebrated Mass.

I bet the singing was heartfelt!  Why doesn't mainstream media report wonderful news like this?

Request for Palanca

What's Palanca?

Palanca is a Spanish word that means, "lever."  Just as a lever enables a person to move something, which is beyond normal strength, Palanca empowers the accomplishments of things which would not be possible without the grace of God.

Palanca involves writing letters of encouragement to people attending a Cursillo.  This is what I'm requesting, that you write letters with words of inspiration, and also offer sacrifices for the success of that person's "walk."  This particular Cursillo is special.  It is called a REC (Residents Encountering Christ).  REC is Cursillo inside a prison, South Middlesex Correctional Center for Women.  Due to the rules and exigencies of the prison environment, variations of Cursillo have to be adopted.  No names can be used.  Crosses and rosary, etc., can't be in your letter.  Here are some guidelines:

The letter should be addressed to Sister in Christ or Dear Friend.  It should include the actual palanca t…

Preferential Respect

First, if I've violated copyright issues posting the funny above, please contact me and I'll take it off.  This post is for a select group of people.  They will know "what of" and "where of", I'm referencing.

It's an "open secret" among Lay Dominicans that we are supposed to get special treatment when we stand before the pearly gates.  We can even prove it to you by quoting popes and various saints.  However, we know better.  Of course!

But still.

There's a part of us that cuddles up with a nice snug smile when we're listening to a Jesuit, or a Franciscan.  But that's between our confessors and ourselves.

Kiss and Make-Up

I'm preparing my lesson plan on the Sacrament of Reconciliation and it occurred to me that it is easier to explain this sacrament to children than it is to explain it to adults.

Adults correct children.  We stop their sinning and explain that they are doing wrong.  (Like the Confessor does.)

Let's say the children are fighting.  The adult will stop the children.  Listen to the children's side, then the adult will explain and try to resolve the issue. (Like the Confessor does.)

The adult will tell the children to "kiss or shake hands--some gesture of 'making up'".  (Like the Confessors absolves.)

There may be restitution involved.  That depends on the situation.  (Listen to the Confessor's advice.)

I think children readily accept and see the connection.  We adults have too much pride; I guess.  It's more difficult for us to admit we're wrong.  Also, saying "sorry," is a big obstacle, for some.  It's too bad we grew out of &quo…

Belly Slides

Watching the kids learn to play ice hockey, I was struck by the fact that "how to get up when you fall," is a major technique.  Of course, when you think about it.  Kids just learning how to skate would fall more than they'd skate.  And isn't that a life lesson!

We do fail in life.  Too bad we don't practice "falling."  Again!  and Again!   and Again!

The instructors made it fun for the kids.  They called it "Belly Slides" and they skate fast, and faster, and then throw themselves down on their bellies and slide.  The kids love it.  It's their favorite part of the lesson.  Imagine that!  Falling is their favorite part!

But!  The lesson isn't in the falling.  It isn't just for fun.  It's to practice getting up.

"Getting up" when you fall is the most valuable lesson anyone can learn, whether skating or in life.

Esau's Generositiy

Saturday in the First Week in Ordinary Time has a letter to the Corinthians by Pope Saint Clement I.  I read:
God's blessing must be our objective, and the way to win it our study...
Jacob had the humility to leave his native land on account of his brother, and go and serve Laban.  He was given the twelve tribes
of Israel.
Really?  Clement, really?  Do you think it was humility or fear that was the impetus that drove Jacob away from his home?  Gen. 27: 41.

I have always wondered about Esau.  Scripture doesn't portray a flattering picture of him.  He's impetuous.  So?  Isn't Peter?  But God doesn't choose to favor Esau, as He does Peter.  I choose to think that Esau trusts in God.  No, scripture doesn't support my thesis, but how else to explain that a man as macho as scripture depicts Esau doesn't kill Jacob?

 Esau obviously doesn't hold grudges.  Maybe Esau's generosity is supposed to be an example for us.  Forgive those who have wronged you.



At a Christmas Yankee Swap, I received the book, My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante.  What a brilliant gift that was!  I loved the book.  Oh, I have my complaints, i.e., I wish the author didn't have so many characters, I wish they weren't so mean, why did so and so do that, etc.  That's what makes the story so real.  It's so like life.

It's not so much that I identify with the setting, because how could I?  It's exactly what the author depicts is what I always pictured.  I know an order of priests that come from Italy.  In fact, many of these priests grew up in this setting.  That's where I'm coming from.  Also, many of these priests are priests because that was the only way they could further their education--to say they had a vocation.  So it confirmed my impression to see that Rino, Lila, Stefano, Pinuccio, Alfonso, Pasquale, Carmela, Ada, Antonio, Enzo, Marcello, Michele, Gigliola, etc. did not further their education beyond elementary school.

Who Was the First to Call Jesus, Lord?

In study group, tonight, one of my "cloistered brothers" was talking about attending a Protestant service.  Well, that brought up the story of Joe and the Rosary.

Joe also used to attend all the church services he could--all denominations.  At one Protestant service, a question came up.  "Who was the first person to call Jesus, Lord?"

Now, these Protestants are well versed in scripture.  But this question stumped them.  No one said anything.  Finally, Joe, the Catholic, raised his hand.  He said, "Elizabeth."  Everyone was astounded that the Catholic knew the answer.

"How did you know that, Joe?"

And he laughed and pulled a Rosary out of his pocket.  "It's in the Rosary!"

Now everyone laughed.

Olivier Messiaen

We often talk about how to give witness to Christ.  We have pocket speeches ready.  We have arguments prepared.  One just never knows when the opportunity will arise when we have to give witness of our faith.

Tonight, I was looking for inspirational models for a "cloistered brother."  I came across a beautiful story.  The man's name is Olivier Messiaen.

He was a musician and organist in France when France was fighting the Germans in World War II. He also was fiercely devout.  He was captured by the Germans and sent to a prisoner of war camp.  As a musician, he was always singing, and composing musical pieces.  A fellow prisoner, a clarinetist, joined him in his musical endeavors, such as they were, with regards to their conditions.

Luckily, their German guards were music lovers and helped them find or make instruments, here and there.  Eventually, the prison camp orchestra had a pianist, cellist, and a violinist, besides the clarinetist.  Olivier composed a piece and h…

The Cost of a Valentine

The assignment is to write a Valentine story.  This is the first draft.

Every Valentine’s Day I think back to that ill-fated day, Peter gave me his high school ring.  He was a Junior in High School and I was a Freshman.  I was thrilled to have a Junior as a boyfriend.  He was pretty special.  I thought he looked like George Peppard  in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. 
For Christmas, Peter took me to Boston to go ice skating on the Frog Pond.  I thought that was a creative idea.  He didn’t have a job at the time, but he was looking.  So I never expected anything for Valentine’s Day.  I was planning to bake something for him. Boy, he really swept me off my feet when he gave me his high school ring. 
My family invited him to dinner.  We were going to babysit my little sisters.  That’s about it, for the evening.  We played Monopoly until the girls’ bedtime.  I put them to bed.  Then we settled down on the couch to eat and watch TV.  Peter had already given me a Valentine card and I thought that w…

Perceptions and Misperceptions

Surfing Facebook this morning I came across an article 11 Hidden Castles in Massachusetts.  I knew
my high school would be among them.  Sure enough!  There it was, # 11.

Many things came to mind.  The title of the article, itself, was the first.  These castles aren't hidden.  People in the area know them.  Second, that misnomer gave me cause to reflect.  Misperceptions have a life of their own.  Most of the time, there's no rational reason for them.  There may be a slight thread of an immature impression that resulted in the misperception.  Hopefully, that misperception will be corrected by an open mind.

My early impressions of my high school were connected to the seminary next door.  St. Basil's Seminary, back in the day, decorated its building with lights, during the Christmas season.  I had always assumed that all the adjacent buildings belonged to St. Basil's.  When my parents were suggesting high schools, and Presentation of Mary Academy came up, I was surprised…

Water Made Holy

In Bible Sharing, Frank asked, "Why would Jesus need to be baptized?"  We offered different reasons, but this morning I read one we never imagined.  This is from a sermon by Saint Maximus of Turin, bishop.

Christ is baptized, not to be made holy by the water, but to make the water holy, and by his cleansing to purify the waters which he touched.  For the consecration of Christ involves a more significant consecration of the water.  For when the Savior is washed all water for our baptism is made clean, purified at its source for the dispensing of baptismal grace to the people of future ages.  Christ is the first to be baptized, then so that Christians will follow after him with confidence.

We did think that Jesus was giving us an example to follow.  He always obeyed the religious rules.  But the Hebrews weren't baptizing.  Jews don't get baptized.  So, Jesus was giving us an example of new rules.  Water will change us, wash us clean, so to speak.  True, the church te…

There Are No Accidents

First, I confused my days and thought I had a R.C.I.A. class today.  I didn't.  So since I was there, I thought I'd stop in and visit the facilitator of the novices, especially since I'm the Formation Director.  There was a class for novices going on.  It's a good thing I went because I discovered a grave error, on my part.  The Module the novices were working on, was the Rule of the Lay Fraternity of St. Dominic.  Well, novices don't have the Rule.  We've been awarding them to novices when they are advancing to Temporary Promises.  We should have been awarding them to postulants, not novices.  Here's poor Steve talking about the Rule, and these guys don't have the Rule in front of them.

Regardless, Steve did a good job.  We discussed the Rule in general.  Then he read a few things out loud, for the men.  The discussion was fruitful.

When I was leaving the building, I walked out with the minister of the Refuge Church.  When he asked how my day was goin…

Is There Anyone We Wouldn't Love?

Sister Mary Lou Knownacki is my "go to" person for "forgiveness inspirations.  She seems to always say what I wish I could not only say, but do.  What particularly strikes me is the example of Phan Thi Kim Phuc.  Here is the famous picture of her running naked down a road with her back on fire from napalm during the Vietnam War. The young soldier, John Plummer, who organized and participated in the air strike on her village in 1972 was haunted by that Pulitzer Prize winning photo.
Kim Phuc underwent plastic surgery, married, defected to Canada and became a spokesperson for UNESCO.  She forgave him and moved on.
But John Plummer returned home racked with guilt, divorced, turned to alcohol, and then met his second wife, who led him to God and eventually to serve as a minister. Plummer said he thought about Kim Phuc every day and wanted to tell her how sorry he was but could not summon the courage to contact her.
Then in 1996, Kim Phuc was the main speaker at a special se…

2016 Religious Feasts

On the Epiphany, after the Gospel, traditionally the Deacon will announce from the ambo the upcoming religious feast:

Know Dear Brethren that, as we have rejoiced at the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, so by leave of God's mercy we announce to you also the joy of his Resurrection, who is our Savior:

On the 10th day of February will fall Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of the fast of the most sacred Lenten season.

On the 27th day of March you will celebrate with joy Easter Day, the Paschal feast of our Lord Jesus Christ.

On the 5th day of May will be the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.

On the 15th day of May, the feast of Pentecost.

On the 29th day of May, the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

On the 27th day of November, the First Sunday of Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom is honor and glory for ever and ever.  Amen.

A.D. 20 + C + M + B + 16

A.D. 20 + C + M + B + 16, is not code.  It is a traditional house blessing.  You write on the lintel of the door above the entrance to your home.  You may live in an apartment, then write above your door.  I've also seen it written above doors in rooms.  It's the spirit of the intention, not the exact position, that is meaningful.

The story of the meaning I heard begins in Germany.  Every year around Epiphany, children play "three kings."  They dress as the Magi and go door to door.  One child would carry charcoal or chalk.  Another would have holy water.  The third would carry incense.  The head of the household would take the chalk or charcoal and put A.D. 20 + C + M + B + 16 above the door entrance.  Then the holy water would be sprinkled throughout the house.  This procession was led by the child swinging an incenser.

Note that A.D. 20 + C + M + B + 16 begins and ends with the date of the current year.  It's the year of the Lord, Anno Domino, 2016.  The le…

The Visible Invisible

Granted, I'm not the sharpest tool in the box.  But I find it hard to believe that I missed a Eucharistic reference in a book I read and loved.  Bishop Robert Barron's book review of All The Light You Cannot See is impressed with the author's, (Anthony Doerr) crafted illusions to the Eucharistic miracle celebrated in the Catholic Mass.  During Mass, through the words of the ordained celebrant, a transubstantiation occurs.  It is invisible to the common human eye, but not to the spiritually attuned eye of faith.  It is extraordinarily transcendent.  As the bishop points out in Doerr's wonderfully worded supposition, "If invisible electrical impulses travel constantly along certain paths, is it so hard to believe that souls might also travel those paths?"  It shouldn't to Catholics.

And here I thought the novel was about a jewel.  I'm embarrassed.

Prayers to Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Again.

As flood-weary towns near St. Louis began to regroup from record high water, Mississippi River communities farther south braced for the peak of flooding that has already damaged hundreds of homes and businesses and killed nearly two dozen people.  Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015 the flood level was 7 1/2 feet.
 It's certainly time to pray. Prayer for Protection against Storms and Hurricanes Our Father in Heaven through the intercession of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, spare us during this Hurricane season from all harm.  Protect us and our homes from all disasters of nature.  Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen. Prayer to Avert Storms and Hurricanes Father, all the elements of nature obey your command.  Calm the storms and hurricanes that threaten us and turn our fear of your power into praise of your goodness.  Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  A…

It Works Best

The feel of my favorite rosary brings me to prayer.  Just seeing it draws me.  I like the tiny, smooth and shiny feel under my finger tips.  Feeling it under my pillow gives me comfort.  I just think pray, whenever I see or feel it.

The same isn't true for other rosary beads.  You'd think my Dominican rosary would be my favorite.  But it's not.  It's too big and has too many added medals.  You'd think the rosary my "cloistered brother" made for me would be special.  I even have a rosary blessed by both Blessed Pere Lataste and the Master of the Dominican Order.  It's a corded rosary but is always twisted and I usually spend my time pulling on it to straighten it out, rather than remembering where I am.

No, it's this small sterling one.  I don't even remember where I purchased it.  But I love it so.