Friday, March 17, 2017

The Way It Was

Bourne Bridge over Cape Cod Canal

“There is only one reason I would ever leave ever you.”

 I explained to my fiancĂ© about my alcoholic parents.  I had had a childhood of bickering, fighting, drunken screams, police, embarrassing situations, and secrets from friends.  No more… I couldn’t bear it.

“If you ever become a drunk, I’ll leave you.”

And that’s the way it was.  Oh, I’m not a prude.  I’m not against wine at meals, a nice cold beer on a hot day, Friday afternoons at the VFW.  But not habitual drunkenness.

And that’s the way it was.  There was one time, however, when I did pack up my bags and leave.  It was B. C.  (Before children).   It was a Friday.  He didn’t come home his usual Friday time.  And when he did come home, he staggered through the door into the bedroom and fell face down onto the bed.  He was stinking drunk!

I screamed.  I cried. 

I couldn’t believe it.  He was just like my father.  How could he turn into such a selfish, weak, booze soaked wretch!

He wasn’t responding.  He was out of it.  What could I do?  I needed to show him how I felt but he wasn’t listening.  I told him I would leave him and that’s what I decided to do.

I packed a suitcase.  Even though we were renting an apartment, we owned a summer cottage down the cape. I thought I’d go down there for the weekend and after a few days, sort things out between us.  Let him stew.

Just before I left, I put the cat and dog in the car.  He wasn’t getting them!

We lived in Hyde Park, at the time, so it was a good hour before I was crossing the Cape Cod Canal.  I cried all the way there.  And it was while crossing the Bourne Bridge when I remembered that we had rented the cottage out that week.  I couldn’t go there. 

 Well!

 I thought I’d stay at a motel and charge it.  Let him pay the bill.

But I had the cat and dog with me.  Damn.

The only other alternative I could think of was to go home to my parents.  No way.  What a predicament!  Before my tears were mostly anger, now I was wallowing in self-pity.  What to do?
My sister’s, that’s what I decided to do.  She had six kids and no room for me, I know, but she’d let me stay.  I knew she would.  The only problem was that she lived in Methuen, which is on the border to New Hampshire.  It was early morning.  I had already driven more than hour to the Cape; here I was driving back an hour to Boston; it would be another hour and a half from Boston to Methuen.  I was tired.  But I was still steamed and all cried out.

By the time I reached Boston, my eyes were burning.  The lids were heavy and it was a struggle to focus. I would never make it to my sister’s.

The car found its way back to Hyde Park.  I was too emotionally wrought to think.  All I wanted to do was sleep.  The dog and cat were glad to be home. The house smelled like a barroom.   I put my suitcase in the closet and followed the stench to the bedroom.

There the drunken sot lay.  He hadn’t moved.  He was oblivious to the emotional hell I had just been through.

And I was too tired to care. And that’s the way it was.


I woke to the sound of vomiting.  He was extremely sick.  His world was spinning.  He was miserable.

I didn’t speak a word.  He was too miserable to notice. 

Actually, I don’t think I knew what to say.  Should I tell him how I spent the night?  For some unknown reason, I decided not to; we weren’t speaking anyway—with me it was deliberate—with him it wasn’t possible.  He was preoccupied with the devil’s revenge.


The next year we were entertaining friends.  The occasion presented itself—the story was told.  My friends laughed at the time I left my husband—for four hours.  (Is that all?)  We all laughed, except for hubby.  I turned to him and said, “You never knew that.  You were too drunk!!!!)  He was silent and his eyes inscrutable.

And that’s the way it was, until months later when we were getting ready for vacation, but I couldn’t find our suitcases. 

“Have you seen our suitcases?”

“Yes.”

“Where are they?”

“I hid them.  I don’t want you to leave me, again.”

And that’s the way it was, is, and always will be.




Thursday, March 16, 2017

Jesus Wouldn't Say That


In RCIA class we were doing a skit reenacting the story of Bartimaeus.  The skit has Jesus saying "Go your way; you are healed."  But it was read as, "Go away!"

It was so funny.  He said it so emphatically.  I think he really saw the words as a command without thinking that Jesus wouldn't have said that.

After everyone laughed, he looked at what he said and laughed at himself.

Another blind man was healed.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Why It Matters Who Jesus Is

Why It Matters Who Jesus Is: "I have been reading, with both profit and delight, Thomas Joseph White's latest book, The Incarnate Lord: A Thomistic Study in Christology. Fr. White, one of the brightest of a new generation of Thomas interpreters, explains a different attitude of approach when considering Jesus."  Bishop Barron, the author of this article, explains that he was taught in the 1980's to look at Jesus psychologically and relationally.  Fr. White's approach is to understand Jesus ontologically.



Bishop Barron explains his view on the link above.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Empty Tomb


Grace Gifford Plunkett

One of my favorite Irish songs is "Grace."  It's a love ballad.  The story is a true one; it's about the love story between Joseph Mary Plunkett and Grace Gifford.  Plunkett was an Irish rebel and was executed because of the part he played in the Easter Uprising.  Just before he was executed, Grace and a priest were allowed in his jail cell.  The priest married them.  The couple only had 15 minutes together.

Grace painted this picture of the Madonna while she was in jail, in 1923.

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Madonna_and_Child_painted_by_Grace_Gifford.JPG#/media/File:Madonna_and_Child_painted_by_Grace_Gifford.JPG

Monday, March 13, 2017

A New Lenten Discipline

A new Lenten discipline: For Lent 2016, I adopted a new Forty Days discipline in addition to intensified prayer, daily almsgiving, and letting my liver have its annual vacation: I quit sports talk radio, cold turkey.



Wow!  I'm impressed!                                   Big time!!!!!

Love is both tolerant and intolerant

Love is both tolerant and intolerant: Every community, inevitably, has a value or set of values that it considers fundamental, some basic good which positions every other claim to goodness. For most of the modern liberal democracies, for example, freedom and liberty play a determining role in the moral discourse...



This is a good article which explains how love may have to correct and redirect.  It's not love to allow the beloved to be harmed.  This is why the church says "All are welcome," but you have to understand that you are welcome according to Christ's teachings, not your own.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Inside Out

See if you can follow my drift.
       Inmates in prison refer to me as an outsider.  They are insiders.

We were discussing the Samaritan Woman at the well in John 4. The woman was drawing water from the well at the hottest time of the day.  She was the only one there because no one would go to get water at that particular time, unless they really had to.  So why did she?  We learn that she is not the average wife, at all.  In fact, she has flaunted the social sensibilities because she is living with a man and they were not married. She also was married five times before!  So she was ostracized.

I asked these inmates if they ever felt ostracized, left out, or an outsider.  As soon as I said it, I realized that they literally were ostracized, left out, and outsiders.  But they thought the opposite, because they are on the inside and people like me are the outsiders.

Do you see what I'm saying?

There's a lesson in this exchange.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Re-examen


The other day, I was talking to a friend about another friend, who is a Wiccan.  My friend is into yoga and meditation and she said she was surprised that wiccans meditate, just like Christians do.  We kind of ended our conversation with the realization that all religions have a lot in common.

Later on, I came across this examination of conscience on the Defend the Catholic Faith website.  It's quite comprehensive.  I  glanced at the list of sins that broke the first commandment.  I immediately recalled my conversation with my friend where we concluded that wicca is on par with Christianity.  Yikes!  What an idiot I am!  I knew it's not; what was I thinking?

And scandal!  Scandal is an attitude or behavior that leads one to evil. Hence!  That's a sin against the fifth commandment.  Who knew?

And "adulation!"  I didn't even know what that was.  That's being an accomplice in another's vices or grave sins.  Ah.....

I'm going to Confession at my first opportunity.

Monday, March 6, 2017

A Covenant of Trust

Lectio:


Genesis12: 1-4a

The Lord said to Abram:
"Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father's house to a land that I will show you.
          I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you;
          I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
          I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.
          All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you."
Abram went as the Lord directed him.

Studium:

Abram is considered the father of God's people.  Genesis contains Abram's stories which show him as a model of faith.  In Genesis 17:15, God changes Abram's name to Abraham.  They mean the same but a name change is important.  Think of when a woman marries.  Her new name connects her to her husband and his family.  Name changes change identity.  However in Gen. 12: 1-4a, God is giving directions and promises.  A covenant is formed.  Honor Me and I will honor you.

Meditatio:

God is giving much to Abram and his people.  The passage conveys God giving strength to His people.  Obviously, these blessings come from God, not Abram or anyone else's efforts.  We should take note that we can do all things, but God can.

Oratio:

Lord, may I always love and trust you.  I pray to recognize my blessings and not ever think that my personal behavior is the cause of my good things.  A situation can change in a second.  But You, O Lord are always there.

Contemplatio:

Lord, Jesus Christ, I trust in You.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Look Beyond

Flying from Boston to Orange County, I read The Rent Collector by Camron Wright.  Good story!  It is fiction but based on a real place, Stung Meanchey.  Stung Meanchey is a dump in Cambodia.  People live in the dump.  They make a living there.  In fact, the main character is a young mother, Sang Ly, who with her husband and baby, move from her family village for a better life, scavaging in the dump.

  They have a regular routine.  Sang Ly takes care of her son and hubby scavages.  He picks metals and such and sells it.  He gets money to pay the rent on their cardboard hovel plus some for food.  Once in a while, they have a little to save.  Their savings are eaten up by medical bills because the baby has chronic diarrhea. The diarrhea goes away when he's on medicine but it always comes back when the medicine runs out.  It's a constant worry.  Also, overshadowing the little family is the rent collector.

The rent collector is a bitch on wheels.  Her demeanor is terrorizing bullying.  But one day an incident happens that alters Sang Ly and the rent collector's lives. While scavaging, the father finds a child's book and brings it home to his son.  No one can read, but he's only a baby, anyway.  They all enjoy the pictures.

The rent collector happened to see the book while collecting the rent.  What happened when she spied the book was earth shattering.  The rent collector pounced on the book like a cat on a mouse.  She snatched it up and almost kissed and hugged it.  She cried.  She wailed.  And she collapsed on the ground and read the book, hiccupping tears of joy.  She ended up taking the book, in lieu of rent.

Sang Ly had always wanted to read but never went to school.  She sweet talked and strong-armed the rent collector into teaching her to read.  In the process, Sang Ly and the rent collector developed a relationship which was based on admiration and respect, if not friendship.

Another strange thing happened.  Sang Ly (out of the blue) had a dream.  She dreamt she was in her village and the witch doctor or shaman (you know what I mean--one of those guys) was telling her to come see him to cure her son's diarrhea. Sang Ly had to act on this vision.

The family travels back to their village.  They meet the witch doctor and the baby is cured.  Meanwhile, back at the dump, the rent collector has moved.  I don't want to spoil the ending for you, except to tell you that you'll like it.

I couldn't put the story down.  It made the flight fly by.  I cried, laughed, and bit my nails.  The characterization is well drawn.  The fact that I would have never picked up a book about dump pickers were it not assigned by book club, and I literally devoured it with my eyes, tells you how good the book is.  It should be an award winner.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Fools


The Fool of New York City is Michael D. O'Brien's latest novel.  I didn't like it as well as his others.  The first few pages were difficult to get into.  I remember thinking to myself that I could recommend this book to friends--they wouldn't get past the first few pages.
But then the story hooked me.  A giant (man almost seven feet tall) rescues a man with amnesia.  How they trace back the amnesiac's life, is the plot.  O'Brien has a knack for character depiction.  Although I enjoyed the book, I thought the ending rushed.  



Friday, March 3, 2017

Home

Home Sweet Home!  I'm glad to be back.  Unfortunately, I came home with a UTI and a frozen iPhone.  My broken cell phone caused me much anxiety.  I couldn't tell my family I was leaving; I had arrived; when are you coming; help!
I spent all yesterday morning trying to fix my phone.  It was dead.  I had to buy a new one.

My doctor's appointment is this afternoon.

But the trip to the RE Congress and my visit with my relatives: nephew Fred and his wife, Monika was great.  Fred always takes us to fantastic places.  He drives me crazy because he offers too many options, but it's always fun.  The Congress was my best.  I chose good speakers this year.  Every single one of them was interesting.  I'm sure I'll be posting thoughts I've gleaned from them, later on.

Since I was traveling on Ash Wednesday, and would not have been able to get ashes, we made up a ceremony.  Fred burned last year's palms, Tuesday night.  Wednesday morning, we set up a little holy space: candle, holy water, and ashes.  We blessed ourselves with holy water as we lit the candle.  We said a little prayer.  It was extemporaneous so I don't remember it.  Then we smeared ashes on each other's foreheads.  Fred got his revenge on me by smacking me with a humongous cross.  SoI went all day feeling kind of embarrassed but sacrificial.

The sad part is that during our flying home, across the country, I only saw two people with ashes.  No one in Orange County airport.  One person in Chicago.  And one person in Boston.  Two.

Lord have mercy on us.

Faith can't grow without temptation, pope tells Rome priests

Faith can't grow without temptation, pope tells Rome priests: ROME (CNS) -- Faith is a continuing path of growth and maturity that cannot progress without the presence of temptations, Pope Francis told priests of the Diocese of Rome.



Doesn't this remind you of Dostoevsky's faith?