Friday, November 28, 2008

Role Models

Haeyeun and I went to Norfolk Prison to give a talk on the "Role of Asian Men in Society." Actually, Haeyeun gave the talk. She was great. I was so impressed and proud of her. And I learned something. There were 39 men attending. Most of them are Cambodian. This is Asian Cultural Group that meets once a month on Fridays. Haeyeun spoke of role models. She contends that in order to grow up well, a role model is needed. Since these inmates came with their families from Cambodia and other South East Asian countries, their fathers came into a new culture, so very different from what they were use to. In fact, in some cases things were the exact opposite of their own country. Their fathers were confused and unsure how to behave. They wanted their children to fit in but didn't know when to encourage and when to discourage. Haeyeun contends that that's why these inmates landed in prison. They didn't have good role models.
This was very interesting. I never thought of role models contributing to the success of a child in that way. I think she's right.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Praying for the Souls in Purgatory

I found this blog that offers to pray for your loved ones from Nov. 25--Dec. 25.
It's A Month For The Souls In Purgatory 2008 and I gave them a long list to pray for and said I'd link to the blog.
Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us.

Cronkhite Canada Syndrome

Today is Thanksgiving and like last year, I am just so very, very grateful to be alive. Not so long ago, I almost wasted away in my own sh**. It was disgusting. I had diarrhea for months. I lost 58 pounds in just one month. I lost all my hair--everywhere--not only on my head, but no eyelashes, or anything. I lost all nails--fingers and toes. I was so weak. My voice sounded like I was 100 years old. I was a mess. Worst of all, I almost lost my faith. A terrible coldness came over me. That's the only way I can describe it. Cold, dark, lonely thoughts oppressed my soul. I couldn't shake it away. The prognosis wasn't good. Since the disease is an late adult onset disease, it is not unusual for old people to die from it. I was afraid that there was no God, not because He didn't cure me, but because He wasn't with me. I doubted that He was there, or ever was. I tried to write my thoughts down, but it didn't really express my feelings. This is the best I could do.

Shackled in chains blurred by ennui
My world is my bed
sometimes the couch.

Hovering or
between death and
wishing for death.

Sleep wasn't easy,
but dreams abounded.
Praying wasn't easy,
but dreams abounded.

Shouldn't there by
a difference
between Jesus
and Zeus and Mars?

How would you know?
Same result.

Shouldn't there be
feelings of comfort,
assurance from angels,*
warmth from a Presence?

Worm that I am,
crawling in sin,
not worthy to be
heard nor loved.

Surely no one
is righteous to You?**

You are there.
You are there.
If repeating
makes it true,

You are there.
You are there.

There or not--
same result.

How do I know?
How do I know?

Same result.

Beyond human


Lord, help my unbelief. ***

*Luke 22:43 **Psalm 143:2 ***Mark9:23

First published in The Map of Life, Poetry from the Third Annual OPrize for Poetry, ed. Robert Curtis, Dominicus Books, Inc., 2007.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Turkey Stuffing

It's done. The stuffing is the hardest part. It's my mother's recipe, that she spiced up from my French Canadian grandmother. My mother's first generation Lithuanian. Her mother didn't really have a good stuffing recipe. When she married my father Mama's cooking skills greatly improved due to her French Canadian mother-in-law. Mama took Grandma's stuffing recipe, which is really a pate, and doctored it up. It consists of ground pork, bread crumbs and spices. The secret is really the addition of cinnamon. It sweetens the meat.
Thanksgiving wouldn't be Thanksgiving without this stuffing.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Marginalized Friends

I'm a terrible excuse for a human being. I have lots of friends. Some I'm ashamed of. I'm ashamed to be ashamed. I don't know what to do about that. I should not be ashamed to be friends with anybody; then how do I get over that feeling?

Monday, November 24, 2008


I equate contemplation with meditation and mysticism. I think it's the same awareness level into which I'm absorbed. It's an experience. I'm having difficulty articulating that experience because,'s inexpressable.
Afterwards, I am not the same person. Let me correct that. Actually, I am the same person; only more aware of me.
It is peaceful. Nice. I thank God for this gift.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Interfaith Thanksgiving Service

Tonight I went to an Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. It involved the Federated Church, the First Universalist Society, Temple Etz Chaim, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and of course, us Catholics. The choir included members from all the faiths. I was touched by the fact that here we were, from diverse faiths, worshipping together. It was nice. The service was hosted by the Federated Church and they did a good job. There was a little colation after that was good.
The best part was a young man who played a Nardini Violin Concerto. He was very talented. His name is Ton Lazinski and he was from the First Universalist Society.
Actually, that wasn't the best part. The best part was when the minister of the host church, the Federated Church, the Reverend Vicki Hammel quoted Meister Eckhart. :-)
Rev. Vicki said that Meister Eckhart said that sometimes the best prayer is simply to say "Thank you."
What a way to end--quoting a Dominican. I loved it.

Distractions during Prayer

Thomas Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation is just a mother lode of spiritual directives. This morning in chapter 30, Merton talks about DISTRACTIONS. I'm the Queen of Distractions. I often think the Rosary that I pray each day is a disgrace--due to the amount of distractions I have. Sometimes I finish and wonder if I just fingered the beads or did I pray. Am I going senile?
Well, Merton says, "If you have never had any distractions you don't know how to pray." Ha! If that's the criteria, then I'm sitting next God!
The chapter goes on to say that it's all part of being human. There's no good in being upset by it. Keep refocusing. Keep at it and expect it to be part of your life ad infinitum. So quit bitchin' and offer it up.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Tonight I Lectored the 7:00 PM Mass. It's scary how fast the congregation grows from my greetings before Mass, to when I announce the intentions for the Prayers for the Faithful. I don't think I'm exaggerateing when I say it triples.
Another strange thing, tonight. The church is being painted. So there's scaffolding around the sanctuary. I was surrounded by the scaffolding and thought, "I feel like a caged bird."
Someone stopped me when I was leaving the church and complained about the church decorations. There's a liturgy committee that decorates and some people like what they do and some don't. What can I say? Although a while ago there was a helium baloon behind the altar. My first thought was that it must have belonged in some wedding ceremony. But I found out that it was put there by that liturgy committee. Well, Father in moving it.....let go. It rose to the very tippy top of the ceiling--way up there. And it stayed there.....until the painters used their scaffolding to get it.
Ha! I call that Divine Intervention!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cardinal Schonborn

Don't people love to jump on those in authority? I'm referring to the criticism Christoph Card. Schonborn, the Archbishop of Vienna is receiving for the youth Mass he celebrated, the beginning of this week. I would think people would give a person a break, but no they're so easy to damn. Since I've been following Card. Schonborn, (I'm rooting for him to be the next Pope.) is that he wasn't aware that this was going to happen. This was not his Cathedral. He was invited to celebrate this youth Mass. He probably arrived and was surprised. Also, the video producers might have had an agenda that they're promoting and just looking for liturgical craziness. Who knows? But give the guy the benefit of the doubt.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Arise: Together with Christ

It's over. Kinda. We had our celebration and evaluation of the Arise program in the parish tonight. We had a celebration Mass then a little social. It was very cold, windy, and dark. It's also a week night. I wasn't expecting many people to come to Mass.
But I was fooled. About 50 people came. Their responses were quiet positive about the program. The Mass seemed very personal. I don't know why, but I felt that we were all one. It's hard to put into words. I'll have to try and put it in a poem.
The social was fun. I thought people would never leave.
I pray people were brought closer to God. I hope they have a better relationship with Jesus. I pray they have been brought further along the path of salvation through this program. I ask this through Jesus Christ, my Savior, my Lord, my Beloved.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Today is Karen's birthday. Dick made a strawberry birthday cake for her. He's so thrifty that whenever he puts the oven on, he puts other stuff in there as well. So we have a lemon cake and brownies, too. We'll give all this away to our kids, because I don't want desserts around the house tempting me.
We in TOPS are trying to lose a pound, each, this week. That way, we won't feel so bad eatting all that food on Thanksgiving.
But this is a birthday celebration. You have to have cake and ice cream. You just have to.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


A Monastery
on top of the grassy mound
my old car climbs up

Mother of God Monastery has the most beautiful Eucharistic Shrine, I've ever seen. The Dominican nuns there have perpetual adoration. I plan to stay the weekend: resting, praying, re-acquainting myself with my Beloved.

Inside the Monstrance
Love Itself beats a warm pulse
Heard inside my heart

All my senses feel His presence. After a while, we are One.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Theology of the Body

Awesome! Wicked Awesome! While I'm keying these words on my blog, I am simultaneously listening and watching a live stream of TOB by Pauline Media. Fr. Loya is teaching. He's sitting at a table and explaining to the people sitting at the table.
It's almost like being there. Fr. Loya happened to say that he heard the Pope say that husbands who lust after their wives are sinning. This was said in the context of talking about Humanae Vitae. This statement about husbands lusting was earth shifting (I love this image. And I may steal it.). Well, we who are watching had comments entered on this "lusting". But Fr. Loya goes past this part and continues on. If we were there we'd raise our hand and ask questions, but we have to submit our questions, and he'll address them next week.
So, live stream lectures aren't perfect, but close to it.
The lecture is too long. Not because of subject matter, nor Fr. Loya's teaching/delivery, but rather it's just the time. Two hours is too big a chunk of time. I know I won't always be able to watch because of it. Too bad.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Truth and Charity Discussion Group

My chapter has a sub-group, The Truth and Charity Study/Discussion Group. Last night we had a wicked awesome discussion. We started talking about St. Bernard of Clairvaux's four degrees of love. We ended by discussing Kant. I found out that I'm pretty Kantian. I believe that if you make a deliberate choice to love, as opposed to doing just what come natural, you have loving in a more worthy way.
I'll give a specific example. You love your work with Downs Syndrome children. For some reason, I just can't see it. In fact, looking at a Downs child turns my stomach. I think badly about myself for being this way. So I decide to change. I volunteer to work with you. Soon I become use to the Downs kids. I learn to know them individually. In fact, they work their way into my heart. Guess what. I have grown to love them. Hence, I think, in a way, that my love is better than yours because I chose, even forced, myself to love them. You just did what came naturally to you.
Is that Kantian?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Favorite Place

Seacoast Boulvard

My prayer place is at the very end,
where steps of stone just fade away
into eternal depts of sea and sun.
Sailboats reverence, bow, and genuflect.
The nun buoys bob and ring, antiphonally.
The wind intones a canticle, a psalm.
And I announce the glory due today.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Another Place

This is another place where I spend a lot of wasted time. It does offer an opportunity for prayer and mediation, I'll give it that. This is called a "haibun" -- half prose, half haiku.

Waiting at the Gatehouse

A mix of parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, spouses, friends, and lovers patiently wait to be called. All nationalities, shapes and sizes share the time. I am reminded of Anna Akhmatova’s Requiem, and am ashamed of my impatience. We the waiting become one in prayer.

Leningrad -- Norfolk
snowflakes fall on both prisons
one tormented cry

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Tonight I was the Lector at the 7:00 PM Mass. We celebrated the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome. Fr. Bob told us about the basilica of St. John Lateran being the cathedral of the Pope as bishop of Rome. Therefore it is called the "mother church" of Rome and the world. It is a visible symbol of the universal Church.
At first, I was thinking "big deal." But then I thought how important places are to us. Think of those people who refuse to leave their closed churches. Geesh! I get upset when my favorite restaurant goes out of business. Seriously! I use to live across the street from a school and now that school has been made into an apartment building. Very strange.
The biggest emotional punch in the stomach was the closing of St. Stephen's Priory. I could still work myself up over that.

Memories of St. Stephen’s

It’s been a year now, the door to the priory
closed. Plants in bright uniforms, which use to
guard the entrance are missing. Sightless windows
search for the statue of St. Dominic.
I drive through the circle driveway,
listening for prayer, looking for
movement, but the stones are silent,
the fountain dry, and the benches empty.
Cob webs bloom among Queen Anne’s lace,
in St. Cecilia’s garden. The branches beckon
me to walk the overgrown path to the Charles.
No canoe, no paddle, no contemplation.
Where’s the praise for this dusky woods?
Laudare. Benedicere. Praedicare..
I wish.
I pray.
I could.

Friday, November 7, 2008


My daughter Karen had her first party, tonight. It was a jewelry party. The jewelry is from a company known as Kalista. Parties sell expensive stuff. The cheapest item was $ 60. Since it was my daughter, I wanted to show support, so I let her buy two pieces: one for her birthday, next week, and one for Christmas. I would have hosted a party, myself, but I don't know anybody that would spend that kind of money. Most of my friends are elderly and can not afford it. People I work with would never spend that amount. So I didn't volunteer to be a hostess.
Karen only had three people. Besides myself, she had her future mother-in-law, and future sister-in-law. That's it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I went to a Union meeting tonight. Why is it that everytime we get a raise; we have to pay more dues?
We talked about establishing a sick bank for our members.
How much to spend for flowers and donations for deceased family of members?
Should Union stewarts be given a stipend?
Managements reorganization and how this will affect us.
How many of us were thinking of retiring?
It was an interesting meeting, but not many came. The weather may have been a factor. It was and is raining very hard.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

In the Heart of the Sea

Something is bothering me. In the book, In the Heart of the Sea, by Nathaniel Philbrick, a true story about the tragedy of the Whaleship, Essex, there is something disturbing--cannibalism. It's not disturbing because of the cannibalism. That is heinous, enough. No, it is the very humane, even (I dare say), Christian way, they tried to approach the act. They prayed about it. They prayed not to have recourse to it. But they looked upon it as a Christ model of self sacrifice. They ALL agreed to participate. They ALL agreed to offer themselves up so that the others may live. It seemed a very Christian thing to do.
At the end, they chose straws. The one with the short straw was shot. His dead body gave the others life so that they lived to be saved.
...........some people think we Catholics are cannibal-like in eating the Body & Blood of Jesus.
Of course, we're not cannibals eating Jesus. That's not what disturbs me. It's the abomination of cannibalism being compared to acting like Jesus. You can't take a life to save a life.
They didn't always draw straws. Most of the men died, anyway, and they ate the dead.
Another thing--how come they never thought of using the dead as bait, to catch fish. Throwing the dead, overboard would have resulted in the fish eating it, anyway. Right?

Monday, November 3, 2008

St. Martin de Porres

Today is the Feast of St. Martin de Porres. One of my favorite stories about St. Martin is the one where he cut the hair of a friar too short. The friar called him every racial slur he could think of, insulting his intelligence, and whatever else he could think of. The prior happened to over hear and reprimanded the friar, but Martin said he didn't mind, everything the friar said was true. You see Martin had learned to offer up the crosses he met in the day. Every hurtful thing the friar hurled at Martin was used by Martin to bring himself closer to God.
I like the story, but I think with today's references. Martin would have been labeled a "sap." In letting people verbally abuse him he was enabling their abuse. He was not helping them advance on their path to God.
That's the meditation I like.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Mother of God Monastery

Mother of God Monastery is the home of Dominican Nuns in W. Springfield, MA. I spent the weekend there to attend a Regional Meeting of the Lay Fraternity of Saint Dominic for Region One. The meeting was interesting. We had an interesting talk on St. Paul by our brother from the Clerical Fraternity of Saint Dominic. Fr. Marc Bergeron, the pastor at St. Ann's in Fall River, MA was the speaker. He spoke of the Letters of St. Paul.
Besides the educational side, we also held elections. We were to elect a new President and secretary. But nothing is that simple. First, I was told that I was unelectable. I could vote but never be elected to anything. It seems that the Provincial Council once voted that nobody from my chapter (Our Lady of Mercy Chapter, MCI Norfolk, MA) could ever be elected. I suppose they were afraid that a murderer from my chapter might be elected to be the President of our Province. How would that look? A murderer as President of the Dominican Laity! Horrors! You better believe I'm going to work to change that law.
The person we elected to be President was our Vice-President. So being elected now meant the Vice President's slot was empty.
So we elected a new Vice President. But that person was our Third Delegate to Provincial Council. Now we need a new Third Delegate.
When it came to voting for Secretary, we had to run through the voting process three time. The winner, the first time declined the office. The winner of the second election, likewise, declined the office. The time was a take. Alleluia!
Our elections make the national election inconsequential!
Because West Springfield is a two hour drive, I made arrangements to stay for the weekend at Mother of God Monastery. Finally, a good silent retreat. I needed it. I reconnected with My Beloved.

A Priest's Day

Here is the book review I promised on Monday, for Death Comes for the Archbishop , by Willa Cather.  She really gets into the nitty-grit...