Saturday, January 31, 2009


Can letter writing be an apostolate?

I think so. It's becoming one. I write to my brother in California, who's in a nursing home. I write to Fr. Aquinas, but he's my Spiritual Director. So actually, I'm his apostolate. But I write to Augustine, Francisco, Mark, and Paul, who are in prison.

We write about everything, but mostly religion and church. Of course, Dominican questions are discussed with my cloistered brethren. Actually, all these guys in prison are Dominicans. All these guys are some of my best friends.

Mmmmmm..................who's ministering to whom?

Friday, January 30, 2009


The February issue of the newsletter, eLumen is fun. There's a book giveaway, caption contest, quizes, and the usual interesting tidbits. If you want to see it, go to Once there go to the Latest. You'll see the newsletter listed in the menu. If you want to subscribe, email Helen at

Thursday, January 29, 2009

First Poetry Workshop

Last night, I held my first poetry workshop. Ten showed up. That was ten more than I expected. It wasn't as easy as I thought. We read three poems that showed a child's point of view, as an adult, but more importantly, three different points of view.

In Memory from Childhood, by Antonio Machado, we were left with a boring impression. Machado described how boring school was.

In Power by Corrine Hales, we saw a narrative depicting fun, and then shock, conflict, and sad thoughtfulness.

Last, we read The Tooth Fairy by Dorianne Laux. Here we all felt sad and too many of us could identify with a child's helplessness in the midst of a home racked with physical abuse.

We talked about conveying emotion as concise as we could. I wanted them to show me how they felt, not tell me.

No one could do it.

I ended up collecting their poems. I intend to rewrite their first stanzas to show them what I want.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Another Poem

The New Torah*

do the beatitutes
negate the ten
or enhance?

does wine negate
the meal or
enhance it?

the Israelites will die
if ____ should speak,
but the Son speaks face
to face sitting
on this mount,
this new Sinai;.
people flock to listen,
to be healed;
but it is hard, too
hard to grasp for
weak hands and wills.

“I have come not to
abolish them but
to fulfill them.” **

the piety of the Psalms,
the goodness of the Psalms,
the humility of the Psalms,
open the door to the
new law;
a new torah
blesses the poor
in spirit and
the humble heart,
the peacemaker’s
gentle preachings.
the life of St. Dominic
that offers a new
way to the new
covenant, the new torah,
a new life;
a life of preaching
not to the birds
but to the cats;
a life of study
not for self
but for all men;
a life of prayer
not by rote
but in lectio
devina, contemplatio,
meditatio and
nine other ways;
a life of community
to offer support
and example in a
kind of Kingdom
of God searching
for koinonia;
in prayer and work
and in play, for a
mankind that knows
not what it does;
righteousness’ clean
hands and pure heart
reach out and call us
to seek the face of
God on this
sermon on the mount.

Referring to the Sermon on the Mount as the new Torah comes from Pope Benedict XVI’s book, Jesus of Nazareth, Doubleday, 2007, p. 68.

•• Mt 5: 17-18

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Jury is In

"Not Guilty," was the verdict. My jury duty is over. Five days of driving in traffic, getting up an hour early, listening to boring testimony, and actually, it was all for naught. I say it was for nothing because there were 14 of us listening to the testimony. When it was finished, they only needed 12 jurors. I was chosen to be an alternate. So the other alternate juror and I were put in a separate room with absolutely nothing to do, for six hours. Six hours! We couldn't leave because we might be needed to fill in.

We two alternate jurors had absolutely nothing in common. I'm old; he was the youngest juror. I'm white; he's black. I live in the suburbs; he's a city kid. I'm female; he's male. Talking to him was like living in a different plane of existence. It occurred to me that he has no idea of what I'm talking about. How could he ever be a good juror?

When it took the deliberating jury 6 hours to reach a decision that I was convinced of without any doubt, within 5 minutes, this lead me to think less of the jury system. What were they deliberating about when it was so clear that he was innocent. I don't think I ever want my future to rest in the hands of a jury. I'll take my chances with an experienced judge.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Obama's Abortion Policy

Prayers are requested. If you're political, help the Democrats for Life group. They are a lone advocacy group that has a hard time of it, but we can't abandoned the Democratic Party. We must make it see if they are to stand for all people: women, minorities, poor, disabled, etc., as they say, then the unborn are included. The DFLA lobby to work towards changing the abortion policy. They are mobilizing and fighting an uphill battle, with Obama supporting abortion rights. Help them keep up the good fight.
Let us also pray to win hearts. If no one wants an abortion then any law saying they could have an abortion is useless. Pray to change hearts.

Jesus has gone mad.

Fr. Gabriel this morning read the Gospel of Mark 3:20-21. It is such an abrupt fininsh, "He is crazy." Some people and even the nuns, laughed out loud. These Cistercians don't give a homily on weekdays, but because some people laughed, he said a few words in way of explanation. Fr. Gabriel said that this is the same Chapter where Jesus says that his mother and other brethren are whoever does the will of God.

I can just picture the family scene. Everyone is arguing and probably it's about the stir that Jesus is causing with His preaching. I bet some in the family side with the pharisees and think that Jesus should be stopped because He is not the messiah. So they must think he's gone mad. Jesus leaves them to their arguing and speculation and goes to eat at a friend's house. But Jesus has attracted a crowd. Maybe some Pharisees came and got the family and told them that He was at it again. So the family rushes out to grab Jesus before He does something embarrassing or worse. That's why they say He is crazy.

Mary must have been with them, too, because later on, Jesus says "Who are my mother and my brethren?" I think Jesus lost His cool a bit. They didn't get Who He really was.

Families! Can't live with them and can't live without them (at least not fully.)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cat of Heaven

Apology to Francis Thompson

I sought Him, up all night and up all day.
I sought Him, all my sinful life.
I sought Him, through the academic maze,
Professional cubicles and children’s strife.
I looked for Him, I reached out, I touched.
Across the land, I held tight.
The gentle breeze of His approach
Would calm my racing heart at night.
No hound of heaven; rather playful kitten,
Scratching at the door – not to be ignored,.
Circling feet, rubbing, caressing, tail high.
Alack! You have always been my Adored.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jury Duty

The most important thing about jury duty is that you can't talk about it--until after the trial. So be it. So after the trial, I'll write about my impressions. I'll probably not write about the trial, but my impressions about my fellow jurors, the court environment, and other peripherals.

I am exhausted from it. I have to get up an hour earlier. I ride in with traffic going to Boston. That's something I'm not use to. It makes a 20 minute trip, a harrowing hour. And that's with moving traffic!

Afterwards, I go to work, and TRY to do what's important. But the work and demands are piling up and grasping at me.

On top of that, I'm out every night this week. Last night was an Arise Training Workshop. Tonight a web committee meeting. Tomorrow is Pilates. I was going to skip that, but believe it or not, I actually feel better, after a Pilates class. I always think I'm too tired, and then after the session, I'm always glad I went.

Then the next day is Friday, finally. TGIF

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Prayers Answered

About two weeks ago I received a Jury Confirmation card that I was suppose to fill out and bring with me when I go to serve. I couldn't find that card. I prayed to St. Anthony. I looked everywhere. No card.

I was frantic, but I thought that if I got my mind off the loss, I'd relax and maybe I'd remember where I put it. So I went out to lunch. I went shopping at Walmart. I came home and made supper. Then I settled down at the computer to finish my newsletter. Every once in awhile I'd think of that jury card and say a prayer. But no luck.

I have to digress a bit. In my newsletter, I had asked if anyone wanted a patron saint for the year to write to me. One young lady asked for one. In telling me a little about herself, she said she wasn't married and lived with her parents to take care of them. They were elderly. So I googled "patron saint for those who take care of the infirm and elderly." I wasn't expecting much, but there were a few entries.

I linked to a few of them and read, but nothing struck me. Then I read about Tobit and the Archangel Raphael. In short, Tobit took care of his father, who was blind. The Archangel Raphael came to help them. This appealed to me. If Raphael could take care of Tobit and his family then he can take care of the young lady who asked for a patron saint. But I needed to reference the chapter and verse, so I got out my Bible.

Guess what was in the Bible.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Guido Conforti

Guido Conforti is the founder of the Xaverian Missionaries. These priests help out my parish. They have a shrine in nearby Holliston, MA -- Fatima Shrine. I adapted this prayer from his:

May I focus my life in Jesus. May Jesus always be present in my thoughts, and heart, in every encounter, with every person, and place. Amen

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Yes Pecan

In a tip from, you can have an ethical reason for indulging in eating peanut butter pecan ice cream. In a campaign called "Yes Pecan," Ben and Jerry's will donate its proceeds from the sale of its butter pecan ice cream to Common Cause during the month of January. Additionally, the company will contribute $1 for anyone who joins Common Cause on Facebook. Also, Ben and Jerry's will donate its proceeds from the sale of its butter pecan ice cream to Common Cause during the month of January. Additionally, the company will contribute $1 for anyone who joins Common Cause on Facebook.

Common cause aims to make government responsible. Look them up on Facebook and join.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I will never again use Splenda. That was always my sweetner of choice. From now on I'll use regular sugar cane sugar. Better to get fat, than have diarrhea, again. That almost killed me when I had Cronkhite Canada Syndrome.
Today I read an article on Globenewswire:
regarding the artificial sweetner Splenda. James Turner, the Chairman of Citizens for Health said the FDA should review its approval of Splenda. Among the results in the study by Drs. Mohamed B. Abou-Donia, Eman M. El-Masry, Ali A. Abdel-Rahman, Roger E. McLendon and Susan S. Schiffman is evidence that, in the animals studied, Splenda reduces the amount of good bacteria in the intestines by 50%, increases the pH level in the intestines, contributes to increases in body weight and affects the P-glycoprotein (P-gp) in the body in such a way that crucial health-related drugs could be rejected. Turner noted that the P-gp effect "could result in crucial medications used in chemotherapy for cancer patients, AIDS treatment and drugs for heart conditions being shunted back into the intestines rather than being absorbed by the body as intended."

I'm obsessing about "reduces the amount of good bacteria in the intestines by 50%..." I'm telling Dr. Anastopolous about this study. Maybe the concentrated us of Splenda triggered my Conkhite Canada Syndrome.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Objective v. Perspective

Tonight I was watching Greater Boston with Emily Rooney. The participants were discussing whether the White House Press Corps should have more Black representation. Some felt that it didn't matter--in fact if they were to have more diversity, it would just be token diversity. Jeff Jocoby in the Globe was quoted as opining that the objective should be good reporting not diversity. However, Callie Crossley, whom I admire, commented that objectivity was not the issue. Perspective should be the aim. Callie referenced a few examples of how different perspectives really added to a story.

Callie is right on. Perspective does add to a story. But realistically, doesn't everybody have their own perspective? How can every single race, ethnic group, religion, age, political party, gender, sexual orientation, ...whatever, be represented? Should majorities only be hired? Minorities only?

Is this too complicated? Why not just take the best for the job?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Book Club

Blood Done Signed My Name by Tim Tyson was this month's book. It was very good. I didn't read it--I listened to it. I listen to the book in my car, on CD's. It's the history of the civil rights movement from 1960's to the present, through the eyes of the author. He takes us through his childhood in North Carolina. His family was wonderful and their story inspiring. I wondered if I like it so much because I remember what he was talking about. This is my time, too.

The title comes from the Negro spiritual of the same name. And Jesus has indeed signed, sealed, and delivered! Amen!

Monday, January 12, 2009


Today is my friend Gail's birthday. I was wondering how many candles she has on her cake. Then I wondered about the number of candles we'd put on Jesus' birthday cake.

That would be silly, not because of the number of candles, but because He is always Emmanuel, God among us. He is no age.

Happy Birthday, Gail. May God always be with you.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Story of Hope

Today in Chapter we heard a funny story about Pope Pius VI and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey. The two of them celebrated an ecumenical liturgy in St. Paul Without the Walls, in Rome. They signed a common declaration affirming their desire for unity. But then, the Pope took the Archbishop aside and asked him to take off his ring. He didn't want to, but then did. The Pope slipped his own ring on his finger. The ring the Pope had worn when he was Archbishop of Milan. Archbishop Ramsey burst into tears and wore the ring for the rest of his life.

The point of the gesture is an expression of hope for the future.

But I note that the Pope didn't give Archbishop Ramsey his papal signet ring. He gave him his Archbishop's ring: Archbishop to Archbishop. That is significant.

Isaiah 42: 7

This morning we are celebrating the Baptism of the Lord. In this morning's Office of Readings, the First Reading from Isaiah 49: 7 resonated with me. I am thinking specifically of:

I, the Lord, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
To open the eyes of the blind,
to bring our prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

I feel that Our Lord is speaking directly to my "cloistered brothers." They have been redeemed, too. But in this world, they will always be condemned. Only in heaven will there by true justice. The Lord has called for the victory of justice.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Our Lady of Lourdes Healing Novena

My parish is having an Our Lady of Lourdes Healing Novena from February 3--February 11, 2009. It will consist of 9 days of Masses, Rosaries and a Novena Prayer. Mass will be at 7:30 every day, except Saturday, when the usual Sunday vigil Mass is at 7:00 PM. Immediately after Mass will be the praying of a Rosary and then the Novena prayer.

I volunteered to lead the Rosary on Saturday, Feb. 7th.

The Archdiocese of Boston certainly needs this Healing Novena. Our parish and each of us, also, needs healing.

Good idea to begin Lent, this way.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Image of the Month

My colon is going to be famous. The world will know me intimately--my colon, that is. Dr. Anastopoulos, my gastroenterologist and his team are submitting the pictures of my colonoscopy and upper endoscopy to New England Journal of Medicine. They think the pictures would make good "Image of the Month" illustrations of Cronkhite Canada Syndrome. It'll be interesting to see if NEJM accepts them.

I saw Dr. Harry, today. He's very pleased at how well I am. Because CCS is so rare, he really doesn't know what to expect. He doesn't know if I'll have a relapse. He doesn't know why I got this purgatorial illness in the first place. And he doesn't know why it went away--if it did.

Personally, I think it's gone for good. Good riddance!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dominc the Preacher

Should I be miffed? The world site of the Dominican Order is celebrating its jubilee. They've invited people to send in their work. I sent in a poem, based on the form "Mary the Dawn." They're using it, but not giving me credit.



Fr. Brian Pierce wrote an article and his name is on the byline. How come not me? least it's up there. It's all for the glory of God. Right?


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Novena for Life

Our Lady of Hope Charismatic Prayer Group is sponsoring a Novena for Life. It will be from Feb. 3-11. It will include Mass every night at 7:30 and then praying of the Rosary. I think if the prayer group advertises, they'll get more people. All I've seen is a terrible copy of a flyer that was so poor I couldn't read the time.

Should I join them in promoting the Novena. I don't have time for another cause. I will volunteer to lead a Rosary one night, but they need promotion.

I'll pray on it.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Arise Together in Christ

Arise Together in Christ is a three year spiritual renewal program that my parish is undertaking. We already had one session, last fall. We were surprised at how much of a success it was.

Tonight we met to plan Session II. I'm excited about it. We had such good evaluations from the first session; this next session just has to be even better. One suggestion, however, was to gave some sort of forum for questions to be asked about Arise. So.....I was thinking of starting another blog. I know...I know...I need another blog like I need another hole in the head. But, wouldn't it be easier to do? It wouldn't be a daily journal, like this. It would hardly change, unless someone commented or asked a question on it.

What do you think? Unless someone tells me something diffent, I'm doing it!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Employee Free Choice Act is Very Important

As a member of AFSCME, Council 93, Local 1298 I just have to tell you how important this bill is. This is the bill that allows you to have a union in the work place. You may not agree then don't join, but if you want the benefits of a union then you should have the opportunity to join one.

Just compare the benefits of union employees with those non unionized. Think of the mine workers who don't belong to a union and the safety violations that they work under. That would not be tolerated in a union environment.

Pay attention to this bill and call your rep. to support it.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Take Off Pounds Sensibly is a club I belong to. I won't call it a diet club because I used it to gain weight, when I had Cronkhite Canada Syndrome. It's a health support group. I call it that because the people in the group sometimes belong to Weight Watches, Jenny Craig, Overeaters Anonymous and others of that ilk. We come together and talk about what works and we show concern for each other. I joined a few years ago to loose 20 pounds. I was losing, but then I got sick and lost 58 pounds in a month. That was way, way, way too much. I had to gain back 30 pounds to be healthy. I was doing fine until December. Every meeting I had a Christmas luncheon to attend. There was also Christmas baking. I received a lot of chocolate.

Anyway, the result is, without the support of T.O.P.S., I have gained 10 pounds. I can't go to the meeting, this week, either. I have a doctor's appointment--the gastroenterologist who treated me for Cronkhite Canada. I wonder if he'll say anything about my weight.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Rosary

As I prayed my Rosary today, I realized that praying the Rosary is a technique. It's tactile, mental, contemplative, and can be personal or communal. It can be prayed whatever way is best for you.
Tactile because you finger the beads. I like to walk while praying because that helps me focus, and also burn calories! It's mental because I place the appropriate mystery in my mind. It's contemplative because it can bring one deeper into prayer to Jesus. There's the repetitive formula that centers you into that anthropological phenomenon of centering, or union with God. Finally, when I have the opportunity to pray in community, especially with my prayer group, Our Lady of Hope Charismatic Prayer Group, or my Lay Dominican Chapter, Our Lady of Mercy Chapter, I sometimes can feel people praying in unison. It's an auditory lifting of our voices to our Lord. You know what I mean?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God

I thought this beautiful picture of Mary by Mr. Michael Kelley, O.P. was apropos, for the day.

Jan. 1, 2009

Depending how you look at it, I either wasted today, or spent a good restful day, doing whatever whim entered my mind. I woke up late because I stayed up to watch the ball drop. I went to Mass because today is the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Afterwards, I went over Merrell and Judy's to have lunch with them and Chris. Next I came home and did absolutely nothing but surf the net.
I did work a bit on eLumen.
I entered a contest to win a trip to the Inauguration.
I cleaned the kitchen sink. Gotta do that or the Fly Lady will be disappointed in me.
Now, I'm going to read in bed until I fall asleep.
Good night.

The Third Death

Today as I was praying and walking through the cemetery , I came across a gravestone that I couldn't see due to the overgrown bush ...