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Showing posts from February, 2016

California Here I Come

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I'm off to the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress.  AND, I'm not taking my computer. I'll be back in March.  We can catch up then.  Pray for me.

Patron Saint for Sensitive Pessimists

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Laura Macalister has a post about different things she could be patron of.  She asks, "What could you be the patron saint of?"  I  thought about her question for a bit.  At first, I thought that I could be the patron saint of  super sensitve people.  That's me.  I'm always reading into things that people don't really mean.

Then I thought that saints usually are patron saints of more than one thing.  A good example of this is St. Dominic.  Not only is he patron of preachers, but of those falsely accused and astronomers.  Don't ask me what St. Dominic has to do with astronomers, but he is.  Preachers because he founded the Order of Preachers.  "Those falsely accused", I'm not sure.  Probably because of Dominic's compassion and mercy.  But astronomers, I have no idea.  Maybe because of the star over Dominic's head?

Anyway, my point is, I can be the patron saint of more than one thing.  So besides being the patron saint of the sensitive, I t…

Unpacking the Planet of Antiquity

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"The Planet of Antiquity" is the last chapter in the memoir, Unpacking the Boxes, by Donald Hall.  The author, Donald Hall, was our Poet Laureate from 2006-2007.  When Donald's mother died and her material goods disposed of, he was sent boxes of her treasures, which were Donald's memorabilia.  This book is the memory of what her boxes triggered.

Donald has had a long and interesting life.  Being a poet, he has crafted the story of his life in an appealing story.  His favored and only son status was not wasted.  He matured into a responsible, well-adjusted, and contributing member of society.  He was blessed.  But it is his last chapter, "The Planet of Antiquity", that I enjoyed the most.  I roared with laughter.  This chapter could stand alone as a short story.

Donald begins this chapter by comparing his ability to move, in his eighties, to his abilities as a child.  He's slower, unsteady, and has fallen, more than a couple of times.  But as he says, &…

The Snooze Button

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Don't hit that snooze button!  Give up hitting the snooze button for Lent.  Too late!  Too late? You might say that you've already given up what you planned to give up.

Think again.

You can think of other sacrifices to give up anytime during Lent.  In fact, you might have already failed in your resolve.  You try again.  Begin again and start something new, add something.  The idea is to sacrifice.  Keep trying.

I know a woman who lost 100 pounds.  Wonderful, right?  But if I told you that it took her 56 years to do it, you'd think her accomplishment is diminished because it took her so long.  That would only be about a couple of pounds a year!

Think again.

During those 56 years, she's had multiple bouts of cancer and four hip replacements (hip replacement only last about 20 years).  Wrap your mind around that.  Hence, her 100 pounds weight loss accomplishment is now enhanced!  The idea is to keep trying.  She was derailed too many times to enumerate, but she began aga…

R.C.I.A. Lingo

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It is easy to see why some people are turned off by RCIA.  New terms and concepts are thrown at them.  Yes, each one is most probably explained, but one doesn't have a chance to get used to a term, understand it, let alone get accustomed to it, before another is introduced.

First of all, the man or woman trying to understand what Catholicism is all about is referred to R.C.I.A.  They may have asked what RCIA meant and told that it's an abbreviation for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, but that might immediately pass through the ears, because it's not used in its long form.  It is the most frequent question asked, and that's not by the newbies, it's asked, every single year by the same "cradle Catholics" --What's RCIA stand for, again?

Next, these newbies are called:
       Inquirers
       Candidates
       Neophytes
       Precatechumenate

They are instructed by:
     catechists
     sponsors

They learn they will need:
        rites
      god…

Pray Before You Think

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One time when I arrived late for the inauguration of a friend as president of his chapter, I saw that the room was crowded.  The only seats available were in the front row.  I was OK with that.  I can stand.  However, I noticed a man in a wheelchair trying to peer over everyone's heads.  I thought for a minute and decided to tell him that there was space for him up front.  So being kind, I said to him, "You belong up front."

Just then, the audience erupted in applause, so I couldn't hear his response.  Besides, he had some sort of speech impediment I guess, because I couldn't understand a word he said.  I didn't want to embarrass the man and keep asking him, "What?"  "What?"  "What?"

Quickly, I grabbed the handles to his wheelchair and proceeded to push him up the aisle.  Immediately, his arms started to flail and his grunting words became louder, but I wasn't deterred.  I continued, until, another person stopped me.  Puzzl…

Listening to God

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Sometimes when you are having a conversation with God (prayer), do you intuit a response?  I take that as a legitimate answer and go with it.  I figure if I'm wrong, God will stop me.  I'm still trusting in Him, even more so.  Don't you think?

Other times, I take my time when I'm trying to discern something.  I figure it doesn't matter much if God hasn't shown me the way.

Have you ever ranted at God and then stopped short, in shame?  I have.  I take that as God giving me a look that would peel wallpaper off the walls.  As well He should!  Who am I to question One to whom I owe everything?  Still.  I know He cuts me a lot of slack.  I know He understands because after the shame, I usually can look at whatever injustice I was ranting about, more objectively.

Am I projecting myself in my perception of God?  What if I am?  Does it matter?  If God made me in His image, wouldn't it be natural for me to imagine God in my world?

I consider this relationship with…

Mass Jitters

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It was -14 degrees, this morning.  I was scheduled to lector at Mass.  Due to the freezing temperature, my car wouldn't start.  It's a good thing that my friend always goes to this Mass and gave me a ride.  Otherwise, there wouldn't have been any lectors, because the other one didn't show up.  The altar servers didn't come, either.  So I did double duty and did a poor job of it.

I couldn't get the stoppers off the cruets.  The wine almost flew out of the cruet when I finally pulled the stopper out.

Worse, when I washing the celebrant's hands the water spalshed out of the lavo bowl too fast,
and went all over the priest and myself.  Then because of all this, I got the giggles.  I almost couldn't stop them.

I almost lost it!

Pray for me.

Chimeras

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Chimera is pronounced with a hard "C".  It's NOT "sh".  It's "K", followed with long "i", like in the word "kite."  Ki-mirror, is the way to say it.

What is it?  Chimeras are animals (and that includes human beings) with a combination of organs from other species.  Think Frankenstein.  Think again.  Many people have received replacement heart valves made out of pig or cow tissues.  This is a type of chimera.

Researchers use animals for medical study.  If a pig could provide a heart, kidney or liver, a human life would be saved.  This is a good thing.

What could go wrong?  


Think Frankenstein.

Pope Francis is said to have blessed some of the research.  The technology could be used for unethical practices.  Imagine a human brain inside a pig.  A pig brain inside a human.  Human embryonic stem cells put into animal embryos to create a chimeric animal.

Has your stomach turned, yet?

Let us pray that this new biomedical research r…

Texas Story

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It's so cold back home in Massachusetts right now, that Patrick was happy to be in Texas.  He was telling the Texan next to him, about his home in the Berkshires.  Patrick owned a farm.  It was a large dairy farm--20 acres.  Tex scoffed at that.  20 acres is nothing.  Tex said that it took a whole day, 24 hours, to travel from one end of his ranch to the other end.

Patrick mused a bit and said, "I used to own a truck like that."

Public to Private Confession

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Tonight's Reading in the Evening Prayer for the Friday after Ash Wednesday is from James 5:15-16.
Declare your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may find healing, reminded me of the teaching my formation team and I gave last weekend, on the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

James is talking about the early church, when they had public confession.  At first, the people just confessed to one other, i.e., "I'm sorry I used your tools without your permission; I'm sorry I lied to you..."

However, a big sin, like apostasy, was a mortal offense against the entire church community.  Remember Christianity was against the law. One who sinned against the entire community by denying Christ, or snitching where the place their Mass was being held, needed to apologize to the community.  The community would then assign the penitent, a penance.  Once the penance was completed, the bishop was called in to give absolution.

Note that this sequence is opposite of ou…

Everyone Can Be Merciful

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Pope Francis has declared as a year of mercy, this year.  In reading a sermon by Saint Leo the Great, I read:

The works of mercy are innumerable.  Their very variety brings this advantage to those who are true Christians, that in the matter of almsgiving not only the rich and affluent but also those of average means and the poor are able to play their part.  Those who are unequal in their capacity to give can be equal in the love within their hearts.

Those with money can donate the funds to help others.  Those without money can donate their time.  Everyone can pray.  I have no excuse not to be merciful.  Neither do you.

Escaping Down the Ladder

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Book Club is tonight but I'm not going.  It's too cold.  I did like the book, John Grisham's The StreetLawyer.  It's about a successful, high-power attorney and his rejection of the glitter and gold.  Unfortunately, in researching personal information that interested him, he ended up stealing property that wasn't his.  In fact, it would mean the loss of his license to practice law and jail time.

My "cloistered brothers," would say, "If you can't do the time, don't commit the crime."  Unfortunately, our main character, Michael Brock, didn't consider the rhyme.  But anyway, that's not the real story.  It's a concern, but the story is how Michael throws away his fast track career to become a street lawyer and become a better person for it.

The Wilderness

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Our environment is the wilderness that is spoken of in Luke 4: 1.  I think of this especially during the upcoming Lent.  Jesus' temptations in this desert/wilderness are similar to mine and probably yours.  All the temptations the devil offer are material stuff, i.e., possessions, power, and status.  Of course, being old, I know better than when I was young.  Experience has taught me that people who have acquired much, aren't any happier than I am and maybe pretty sad and miserable.  What they lack is God.  Our relationship with God not only guides us through the wilderness but shelters us from assaults.  We are "led by the spirit," through life, just as Jesus was led out of the desert wilderness.

Meditation upon this Sunday's Gospel: Luke 4: 1-13.

Dirty Little Secrets

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Many ask priests, "What's Confession like?"  What they probably mean is, "What's it like to hear people's dirty little secrets?"  Well, from what confessors say, and from what I've read, priests respond with, "It's a humbling experience for the priest;" "it's a liberating moment;" "it's a grace."

The dirty little secrets are not what the sacrament is about.  The sacrament is a reconciliation with God.  Sin separates us from God and Confession/Reconciliation/Penance (different names for the same sacrament) bring (reconcile) us back to God.  This is why the confessors say, "It's humbling, liberating, a great grace."

The confessor sees how the penitent is sincerely trying to live a moral life. They don't like what they've done, or how they are, and want to start over.  The confessor sees the desire to be a better person, to get closer to God, to be what God them to be.  The confessor is …

The Face of God

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This is my "cloistered brother," MEK's latest creation.  The face shares an eye.  It represents both the feminine and masculine sides of God.  He is One God.  We, males and females, were created in the image of God.  God is looking at us with love.

Looking into the eye of Christ.
Looking with the eye of Christ.
Looking thru the eye of Christ.

Hearing thru the spirit of Christ.
Hearing with the heart of Christ.
Hearing into the grace of Christ.

Praying into the hope of Christ.
Praying with the tears of Christ.
Praying thru the mercy of Christ.

Paul Miki and Companions

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Today, I'm teaching parents whose children are receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time.  I'm giving the parents the history of the sacrament.

This morning, I opened my prayer book to find out that today is the feast of Paul Miki and Companions.  I can use this feast in explaining the history of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  In early Christianity, the sacrament was public because Christianity was just beginning to develop.  Christianity was outlawed.  When it was discovered that you were Christian you were arrested, beaten, tortured, and killed in various horrendous ways.  Many denied that they were Christians.  That's apostasy.

Afterwards, these traitors tried to go to church.  What nerve, huh?  Of course, their brothers and sisters could see that they needed to be accepted back, so the deniers of Christ had to apologize to the community.  This is how the first confessions were done--publically.  The community decided on the penance.  Once the p…

Indifference

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There's a blizzard outside.  I love bad weather, only because it gives me an excuse to stay home and read.  This morning, after my prayers, reading the Globe (Yay, delivery is getting to be regular!), I read the message of his Holiness Pope Francis for the celebration of the XLIX World Day of Peace.  I only read paragraphs One and Two, but that's enough to get the theme.  The theme is something I know but had never thought about--indifference.

I know and so does everybody else, that human beings are the most human when we help each other.  In other words, we feel compassion for them and are moved to do something, for them.  Nowadays, the pope points out, the world seems to be callous.  People seem to be indifferent to the plight of others.  (Think of those who want to build walls to keep people out.)  (Refuse to welcome refugees.)

I see it more and more, do you?

This is the intro to the rest of the message.  That's as far as I got.  After all, I have homework to do.  I&#…

Interpretation of My Dream

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This morning's post was about my dream.  I told the chaplain about it and she explained some of it to me.  She has taken a few courses in dream interpretation.  Most important is to know that dreams are ALWAYS about yourself.  I dreamt about someone else, but the dream is about myself.  The important items in the dream--we think are:

shrinking to disappearing
the head
the envelope kept for safe keeping
the EMT's

And what I felt during and after the dream. The shrinking shocked me.  The head appalled me.  I felt good about keeping her safe locked up in the envelope and felt relief when the EMT's came.  After the dream I was frightened that we (RCIA team) would get into trouble.  I was also very sad that the chaplain had died and we had nothing to prove that she had ever lived.  There was no body.

The last emotion I felt (being sad because there was no body) I think is what the dream is all about.  Hubby and I, and friends, have been discussing end of life issues.  Also, wh…

Dreaming

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Dreams don't usually affect me.  However, last night I had one that woke me up and won't leave me.  It frightens me and I don't know why.  It isn't about me.  Here's the dream.

I'm teaching my RCIA class and the chaplain walks in.  She trips and falls.  We all immediately rush over to her.  She's unconscious but her entire body is twittering.  It's moving here and there, like a roomba vacuum cleaner.  It skitters across the floor and when it bumps into something it turns and continues.  There's another thing.  It's shrinking--very fast.  Of course, someone has called 911.  When we see her heading under something like our little refrigerator or a bookcase, we all rush over to it to block her from skittering under and getting stuck.  But eventually, she jitters her way into a big manilla envelope.  We don't think much about it except maybe--Good!  We can easily get her out when we want and meanwhile she's safe.  Finally, the EMT's com…

First Draft

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Poetry consumed my thoughts all day, yesterday.  In the evening, I reread the instructor's poem.  I am taking a workshop in Prose Poetry Memoir Writing.  In the syllabus, when I read the instructor's example, I thought, "this kind of poetry is just like one run-on sentence."  I didn't think much of it.

 Now, listen up.

Last night, I read the story she distributed to the class.  Guess what?  It's a great short story.  I liked it a lot.  Then I looked up her prose memoir poem.  It's the very same!  So with that in mind, I took one of my poems that I recollected from my childhood and turned it into a memoir.  In other words, I expanded my emotions.  I wove a story around the feeling.

Here's the original story:

Cemetery Ice Capades
Dodging gravestones at winter's dusk My labored breathing pounding in my ears, I raced through the silence of the dead, Leaving clouds of rasping vapor.
Being chased by serrated points, My figure skates beat sharply Again…

Narrative Prose Memoir Poetry

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You'll be suffering through my experimenting with writing my memoir in prose poetry.  For now, I'm just reading.  Here's the first stanza of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's My Lost Youth.  It's not in prose form but it is a memoir in poetry.  Nice imagery.

My Lost Youth
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Often I think of the beautiful town
That is seated by the sea;
Often in thought go up and down
The pleasant streets of that dear old town,
And my youth comes back to me.
    And a verse of a Lapland song
    Is haunting my memory still
    'A boy's will is the wind's will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.'

Longfellow is writing about Portland ME.  I'm making a list of my own memories that I want to write about.

And I keep catching myself smiling.

Lataste Holy Door of Mercy

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The beginning of the Jubilee Year is always solemnly marked by the opening of a Holy Door by the Pope in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. However, for this Jubilee of Mercy Pope Francis also wanted a Door of Mercy in each diocese so that everyone throughout the world may be able to celebrate the Jubilee.
Of importance to us, the Holy Father has designated the door to the chapel of this Bethany Community’s hero, Blessed Father Jean-Joseph Lastaste, the Apostle of Prisons.  His chapel in France is designated as a “Door of Mercy.”  How appropriate, for our spiritual father!