Monday, December 31, 2012

I am a Lay Dominican

The poem below is obviously inspired by Langston Hughes', Negro.  It is in no way an imitation except in style.  I yield to Langston Hughes.  But I am grateful for the impetus to meditate upon whom I am.

I am Catherine of Siena:
     I served all in bondage:
     sick, poor, prisoners, the unloved.  

I am Margaret of Castello:
     hunchbacked, dwarfed, blind, lame.
     They wish to abort me still.

I am Rose of Lima:
     I am virginal and holy.
     I am the Americas first saint.

I am Zdislava:
     blessed to give rather than receive.
     I pray for healing.

I am Pier Georgio Frassati:
     I am handsome, young, and joyous.
     I am a man of the beatitudes.

I am a Lay Dominican:
     I radiate the presence of Christ
     in the midst of the world.   

Sunday, December 30, 2012


This nativity set started out as a source of irritation.  My husband made it for me.  That's not as nice as it sounds.  I never had a manger scene as a child, and always wanted one.  So the first year of my marriage, I asked for a set for Christmas.  I didn't get one.

Ditto, the third year, and the fourth, and the fifth.

The fifth year, we had our first child, and I wanted my children to have nice memories of looking at the baby Jesus.  Christmas isn't just about Santa, you know.

So that year, I really nagged my husband.  I gave the man no peace.  So to shut me up, he went down the basement, where he was working on a project and found the ends of two studs.  They were of  equal length. He looked around for particle board but couldn't find two that matched.  So what?  He just nailed it all together.  That's it.  No measuring; no cutting; no painting; just here, now "shut up."

I did.  It wasn't what I pictured, but it was better than nothing.  I also found some really cheap figures made out of plastic resin--but they looked like wood.  Sometimes I'd find matching figures at yard sales, rummage sales, or thrift stores.  Eventually, the set ended up looking like it does now, in the picture.

Yet every year, when I took out the nativity set, it would be a source of irritation, because I'd remember that my husband literally just slapped it together.  But because it wasn't fancy, or expensive, I let the kids play with it.  They'd put little people in it, and cars, and other farm animals.

One day I had a revelation.  This creche is a blessing.  The children love it and will remember this always.  If the creche were an expensive ceramic set, children would never be allowed to play with it.

And when you think about it, where would Jesus prefer to be laid--expensive creche, or a humble manger?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Brother Tonto Limerick

A poor Dominican friar

tried out for tenor in choir.

His name being Brother Tonto,

was told to sing pianissimo,

and caused embarrassment to the prior.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Praying with the Communion of Saints

Two new (not so) people dropped by Our Lady of Hope Prayer Group.  They're not one of the regulars who always show up.  They used to be, but you know, "life happens."  Anyway, they were there.

Why?  They both had specific prayer requests.  One was requesting prayers for her brother.  The other was requesting prayers for her co-worker.  Now, you and I know, and they know, that they can pray by themselves.  So why bother to come to Prayer Group.

Because OLHPG are efficacious prayer warriors.  That's true, but that's the answer I'm looking for.  It's because together we pool our prayer resources and storm heaven with our prayers.

Catholics call this the Communion of Saints.  This means that we're all united.  These two people pray, and we add our prayers, and we request that the Blessed Virgin Mary intercede for us and continue our prayers.  We ask other saints, likewise.  I'm praying now, as I think of it.  I'm sure they are, too.

See how it works?  How's that for organized labor?

Praying at the tomb of Blessed  Pere M. Jean-Joseph Lataste, 
 Hence my definition of Communion of Saints: a union of prayer warriors, living and deceased, praying for a common purpose.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Difference Between Catholic and Protestant Bibles

Another reason I'm glad I'm Catholic is because my favorite story and prayer is in the Catholic edition. The Bible is the Bible.  That's what I think.  But the Protestant version has 39 books in the Old Testament, and the Catholic has 46.  My favorite story is about the Archangel Raphael and the deliverance prayer, in Tobit.

See the Bibles are the same, except the Catholics include seven more books.  So you Protestants who drop the Bible, like it's a hot potato, with a look of disdain, upon finding out that its Catholic, think about it.  Everything you wanted to look for, is in the Catholic Bible.  Actually, it's we Catholics, who should be dropping the Protestant Bible like a hot potato because it just may be useless to us--if we're looking up one of the seven books that Protestant Bibles don't have.

The reason certain books, testimonies, writings are in the Bible, is logistics; you can't include everything.  Choices had to be made.  Repetition, unverifiable writings, heresy, craziness, etc., was left out.  So the Jewish canon chose only 39 books, and the Protestants followed.  The Catholics included more because they were following the Greek language that was used.  The Jews were using Aramaic.  Those churches that used the Greek Old Testament were using the 46 books, and the tradition has been carried on.  These seven books are called deuteroncanonical, or second canon. They include:
1 & 2 Maccabees
Wisdom of Solomon

I love the stories in these seven books.  Another reason to be glad I'm Catholic

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

                                      Brother Tonto and Cappa wish you the peace of Christ.

No Christmas is Perfect

Midnight Mass was beautiful.  The ride home was beautiful, also.  It was snowing lightly.  The long curving, country road was barely lit by the Christmas lights, decorating homes.  We didn't need the radio because the nuns’ voices were still singing in our minds.      

Our world was quiet, at peace.                 

Until morning…all hell broke loose.  My adult son refused to wake up.  I couldn't find his girlfriend’s present; but it’ll show up.  We won’t see her until this weekend, so I don’t need it right now.  My granddaughter didn't understand why Santa gave her two of something.  My son’s cat had ripped some presents looking for her presents (She smelled catnip).  My camera’s battery was low.  And my oven is a mess because my 20 year old roasting pan had a tiny leak in it.  I was wondering what the drip/hiss/sizzle sound was. 

Time for quiet meditation—Ignatian style.  I’m Mary. 

You’d think Joseph would have enough sense to make reservations.
These animals stink.
It’s cold outside and I’ve a newborn.
All I want to do is rest and everybody and their uncle have come to gawk.
What am I supposed to do with gold, frankincense, and myrrh?
I need diapers!

I want my mommy!

Thinking of Mary and Joseph

                                          The case for man and woman marriage.  

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Blessings

Appatition of Benoite Rencurel
Perhaps "The best Christmas present ever," or "My first Christmas present,"  or "My favorite Christmas present," or even "Surprise Present," should have been the title.  I am overwhelmed with happiness, gratitude, and the thoughtfulness of someone I have never met.

What am I talking about?  I'm talking about the present I received today, Christmas Eve, from Patrick Robles.  Out of the blue, arrived a padded envelope in the mail.  The return address said Patrick Robles...France.

Yes, France--across the Atlantic from me.  What on earth, is a man whom I have never met, (he's a Face Book friend), sending me.  Inside are a couple of holy cards, a post card, and a bottle of holy oil from Notre Dame du Laus.

I had no idea of what Notre Dame du Laus was, is, or whatever.

Of course I googled it, and I've been spending the last hour, happily reading about Benoite Rencurel.  Reading about Benoitre, alone is a blessing.  I consider being introduced to her a Christmas present!

She was a simple peasant French girl, living in the seventeenth century.  She was blessed to receive many apparitions--many, many.  Read about her and love her.  And the best part was that she was a Third Order Dominican.  That's what is now called a Lay Dominican.  I love her for this, and the fact that she was who she was--a humble, simple, pious, obedient, faithful servant of God.

I considered Patrick's introducing me to Benoite Rencurel and Notre Dame du Laus, one of the best presents I've ever received.  And I also appreciate the Huile de la Lampe du Sanctuaire de Notre-Dame du Laus, the post card, and the holy cards and information, too.

Joyeux Noel Patrick!

Here's Patrick Robles:

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Christmas Letter

Do you write Christmas letters?  I wasn't brought up to.  My mother used to say, "If everything's so honkey dorey, then why don't they slip in a couple of dollars for us?"

My theory is, that people who write these letters are bragging.  The news they give you is always wonderful.  They never tell you who got busted for drugs, DUI, flunked classes, kicked out of school, lost his job, beat his wife, is having an affair, or kicked the family dog.  These letters are all about above average kids and beautiful adults.

Another thing about these letter is that most of them arrive AFTER Christmas.  I think the letters are trying to compensate for the fact that the senders don't have their act together.  They're not organized enough to get their Christmas cards out in time for Christmas.  They're trying to make up---"See why we're late getting our Christmas cards out.  We had to write letters."

"B" as in B., and "S" as in S.  I'm not buying it.

I do like the Christmas photo cards.  I like to see how the kids have grown.   The above picture was almost my Christmas card.  My niece fell asleep.  We were going to put a cigarette in her fingers, and a can of beer in her hand.  Oh, did I tell you that she's only sixteen?  That would have been a good "anti-photo Christmas card."  Too bad Christina woke up before our nefarious, dastardly plans were put into affect.

Besides her father wouldn't get the joke.

So here's my real card.  Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Kitty and the Granddaughter

Add caption
Once upon a time there was a little granddaughter that had a favorite chair to sit in, whenever she came to visit her grandparents.  She had tried the big recliner that Grandpa always sat in, but that was not comfortable for her.  It was too hard to get up and into, and impossible to get out of.  She also tried the couch that was Grandma's favorite place.  But that wasn't cosy enough, unless Grandma was sitting beside her, reading a story.

So Grandpa bought his little granddaughter her very own chair.  It was perfect for her.  It was pretty.  It fit her size.  It was comfortable,  It rocked if she wanted it to.  And it was nice and soft.  She liked it very much.

In Grandma and Grandpa's house lived a big bad wolf a naughty kitty.  Whenever the Granddaughter was in the same room, or just happened to cross the kitty's path, that naughty kitty would hiss at her.  This frightened the little girl.  Besides, that kitty was always watching the granddaughter with an evil eye.  And that's not nice.

One time when the granddaughter was not visiting her grandparents, the kitty had the nerve to jump up and into the little girl's chair.  She even took a nap in it!

But just then, the granddaughter came to visit.  When she came into the room and saw the kitty asleep in her favorite chair, she screamed.  "Out, Out!  Bad Kitty."  And then the granddaughter HISSED at the kitty!

The kitty was so frightened that she jumped off the chair, and scampered out of the room so fast that she knocked over a plant.

Later on, Grandma found the kitty hiding under her bed.

And the naughty kitty never took a nap in the granddaughter's favorite chair, again.  

Friday, December 21, 2012

What is Anointing of the Sick

Anointing of the Sick used to be called Last Rites.  Nowadays, many receive the sacrament and don't die.  In fact, the opposite.  The sacrament often brings spiritual and physical strength.  So "Last Rites," is hardly appropriate, is it?

Last Sunday, I attended Mass at St. Jude's, in Norfolk.  Monseigneur Peter Conley was the celebrant.  He did something, I have never seen him do, before.  He called up people to receive the Anointing of the Sick.

Remember that a sacrament is a sign to show Jesus Christ's blessings.  The Anointing of the Sick is a rite that Monseigneur Conley performed to convey God's grace upon the sick, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Many people came forward.  Quite a number were in wheel chairs, had canes, and crutches.  And some were brought up by others.  Some of these didn't look like they knew what was happening.

Yet, all!  Yes, all of them, visibly, woke up at the words, "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."  Then they followed the rite with eyes and hearts of the spirit.  The believed in their hearts, and they confessed with their lips.

I felt very blessed, myself, to just witness their faith.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mixed Pronouns

The Second Readings at Mass always seem to be the most difficult.  The First Reading is from the Old Testament and is easy to understand.  But the second reading has the most convoluted grammar.  Often it is nigh near impossible to wrap your tongue around the sentence.

This Sunday's reading is one example.  It is a reading from the Letter to the Hebrews 10: 5-10.  Now, I have the advantage of looking up the Reading, and reading what comes before--the background. But when reading to the congregation in a church, I'm pretty sure that they're listening to this reading "cold."

The question is: How do I convey the pronoun antecedents?  How do I make it clear that I'm speaking in a passive voice and then later switch to active?  How can YOU be indefinite, impersonal, or generic, when I'm not sure myself?

I am so tempted to change the words to make who is Who, clear.  I just want to change a few pronouns to proper nouns.


Look at this Reading.

Brothers and sisters:
When Christ came into the world, he said:
"Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,       How do I convey that YOU is God?
but a body you prepared for me;
in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight.
Then I said, 'As is written of me in the scroll,     "I"--are we switching antecedents?
behold, I come to do your will, O God.'"

First he says, "Sacrifices and offerings,       Is the narrator speaking?  Who's he?
holocausts and sin offerings,
you neither desired nor delighted in."
These are offered according to the law.
Then he says, "Behold, I come to do your will."    Same questions
He takes away the first to establish the second.
By this "will," we have been consecrated              Now it's we?????????  Is the narrator speaking?
through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.


Please pray for the congregation.

System of Counting by Faith

You've probably heard or read this before, but I use a similar method to memorize numbers.  For example, to memorize my license plate, which is 525 43LC, I think: Five foolish virgins-two natures in one God-five wise virgins-four Gospels-three persons in One God-Loves Christ.  

So here are the twelve Catholic numbers and Faith's numerology.
The Twelve Days of Christmas

What in the world do leaping lords, French hens,
swimming swans, and especially the partridge who
won't come out of the pear tree have to do with

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England
were not permitted to practice their faith
openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol
as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has
two levels of meaning: the surface meaning
plus a hidden meaning known only to members of
their church. Each element in the carol has a
code word for a religious reality which the
children could remember.
-The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.                                                                                  One God
-Two turtle doves were the Old and New                                                                      Two natures in one God
-Three French hens stood for faith, hope and                                                             Three persons in one God
-The four calling birds were the four gospels of                                                                      Four Gospels
Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
- The five golden rings recalled the Torah or                                                                       Five foolish virgins
Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
-The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of                                          God made man on the sixth day.
-Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold                                    Seven gifts of the Holy Spirit
gifts of the Holy Spirit--Prophesy, Serving,
Teaching,Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership,
and Mercy.
-The eight maids a-milking were the eight                                                                        Eight Beatitudes
-Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the                                                  Nine fruits of the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit--Love, Joy, Peace,
Patience, Kindness, Goodness,Faithfulness,
Gentleness, and Self Control.
-The ten lords a-leaping were the ten                                                                            Ten Commandments
-The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven                                 I don't go beyond 10.  I repeat one-ten.
faithful disciples.
-The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the
twelve points of belief in the
Apostles' Creed.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Shady Hook to New Hope

With the tragedy of the massacre of Newtown, Connecticut, in mind, there won’t be a Christmas, for the families of Shady Hook Elementary School.  I was reminded of the personal tragedy of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 
Longfellow’s wife was killed in a fire.  While still grieving, his son joined the army, against his wishes.  This is during the Civil War.  Charles Appleton Longfellow was killed in the Battle of New Hope Church, in Virginia.  Needless to say, Longfellow was distraught.  Neither his wife’s death, nor his son’s, had given him the chance to say good-bye.  His wife’s was an unforeseen accident; and his son left without his blessing.
It was no wonder that when the poet heard the bells on Christmas day, he wrote this poem.   

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on the earth, good-will to men."

I wish I had the skill to craft a poem like “I heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”  Instead, I’m going to do away with Santa, reindeer, elves, snowmen, and other examples of our modern-day commercialism.  I’m going to celebrate what’s important: our faith in the Christ Child, family, tradition, and communal love.  People are important, not things.  As the poet wrote:

"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on the earth, good-will to men."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mary Morphs into Martha

Somewhere during Advent, I change from my Mary personality into Martha (Luke 10: 38-42).  No matter what I do, it happens.  I've tried going on retreat during Advent, but that caused a worse transformation.  Mary became a raving maniac, Martha.  I had too much to catch up on.

Baking Christmas cookies, writing Christmas cards, shopping, wrapping presents, social obligations, and feeling guilty because Advent should be one of the holiest times of the year.  I should be growing closer to God, not the opposite.

Every year, I more or less try to not let this happen.

Well, this year, I found an aid.  It's the rosary.  I've started praying the rosary, a bit differently.

In the second part, "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for" _____________, I add what I'm praying for.

It can be a person, a situation, whatever.  Two people praying, are better than one, especially one that has some "pull."

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.  Blessed are thou among women; and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray that I may grow closer to your Son, this Advent season.  Amen.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Make Your Requests Known to God

Today is the Third Sunday of Advent.  The Readings are full of expectant hopefulness.  I read the second reading today.  And with the Sandy Hook Massacre in mind, St. Paul's letter to the Philippians was poignant.

The Lord is near.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas in Prison

White Socks are like gold!

Every year Bethany House Ministries distributes over 1700 Christmas packages to prisoners.  What is their mission?

The mission of Bethany House Ministries comes from the Gospels and the spirit of Father Jean Joseph Lataste, OP, who recognized through his work with prisoners that God's love has the power to heal, transform and renew to what many seemed hopeless.  Their mission is to create a compassionate and healing environment, and to provide services for those in difficult situations.  They are especially committed to the physical, emotional, and spiritual support of prisoners, and their loved ones.

So today, I helped package for prisoners.  I carried packages, help pack the truck, but mostly I worked in a production line.  It was my job to open the bags that would be filled.

Filled with what?  Socks, small toiletries, such as toothpaste, and bars of soap

Big deal, huh?  Well, that's Christmas in prison.

And it's very appreciated!

Doesn't that look like an angel inside the truck on the right side?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My Holy Card

What were your first thoughts when you first saw the holy card of St. Lucy?  I'm talking about the one of her holding her eyes on a dish.  That's what she was known for?  She was tortured for being Christian, by taking her eyes out.  Her name means "light" and your eyes help you see the light.  Does knowing the story, make the picture more understandable?

Thinking about St. Lucy's holy card, I thought of other holy cards that have "attributes."  That's how you know who the saint is.  St. Peter has keys.  St. Dominic has a dog with a torch.

What should I have?  I am a saint in the making, you know.

                                                                                           I'd like this one.

But Mick, one of my cloistered brothers, did a caricature of me.  So maybe it should be this.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Discerning the Word

One could study the Bible all their life and still not be able to fathom it.  When I think of my understanding as a teen, a young mother, and now as a grandmother, I am amazed at the different discernment I went through.  Surprising, also, is Bible exegesis.  It seems that the Bible grows, adjusts, and/or adapts to the time, culture, and/or need.

Recently I joined a Scripture Study for moms.  I'm the oldest. This has resulted in some new insights for me.  I'm so happy that I found this group.  I pray that I'm as valuable for them, as they are to me.

I'll take the story of Adam and Eve, for example.  Somehow, I had always blamed Eve for taking that apple.  I pictured her representing mankind.  We are weak creatures and easily seduced.

These young ladies introduced me to consider that the blame really lies with Adam.  Man was put in charge.  He was the keeper of the garden.  He was standing beside Eve, when the serpent appeared.  (I had to check three Bibles to assure myself that he was there beside her.)

The Bible I take to class is the Christian Community Bible.  I often cross check with the New American Bible, and the King James.  I checked all three and two intimate that Adam was beside Eve.  The King James version actually states that Adam was beside Eve.  Previously, I thought he wasn't.  I even pictured Eve looking for him with an apple in her hand.

The young ladies also pointed out, that if Adam was there beside Eve, why didn't he say something?  Why didn't he defend Eve?  Why didn't he defend God?  He was supposed to be protecting her.  And the most important question, why didn't he appeal to God, for help?

Because of Adam's inaction, he is the one responsible for the first sin.  Adam saw with his own eyes, God's goodness.  He saw God create Eve.  Adam had believed and trusted God; surely this should have enabled him to repel the serpent.  His unwillingness to say anything, or act, actually left Eve vulnerable. His silence influenced her.  His "NO!" would have ended everything.  Adam didn't help her.  Instead, she was alone in her reasoning.  And we know that it is not good for man to be alone.

This was interesting to me.  Both Adam and Eve were together in front of the serpent.  The serpent is speaking to both, although his attention is directed to Eve.  "He said to the woman, 'Did God really say...'"  Why did the serpent focus on the woman?  If Adam had the authority, then shouldn't the serpent go through him?  The Christian Community Bible has an interesting footnote:
             The woman temptress--isn't the reality, especially in a world where she is 
             riveted to an inferior state.  Perhaps the author in this remote age witnessed
             the exploitation of women and the art of exploited people to manage their
The serpent saw that the woman was subordinate to the man, and he concluded that the woman would desire more autonomy.  Is the serpent correct?

Isn't that the original sin?  The disobeying of God's command was due to man wanting autonomy.  Adam and Eve chose their own "wants" over God, against the requirements of their respective statuses.   Adam's silence and inaction condemned them.

And for what?  Everything the serpent promised, they already had:

          You will not die.  They had that, already.  They were created for immortality
          Your eyes will be opened.  They had that, already.  Adam saw the woman...
          You will be like God.  They had that, already.  They were made in His image.
          Knowing good and evil.  They had that, and should have known it.  They knew that obedience                    
          to God was good because it meant life; they also knew that disobedience was evil, because it
          would cause their death.

Do you think Adam was intimidated?  I can just see Eve turning to Adam for some confirmation.  She keeps deferring to him and he doesn't respond.  At all!  The serpent seemed to have superior knowledge.  Are they too inexperienced in debate?  Was this a fair contest?

Wait a minute!  I'm looking at Adam and Eve like it's factual history.  It is not.  It certainly isn't a scientific treatise on cosmography.  Our Lord was talking simply to men of a certain time, and He used references in their experiences.  He made use of his writers' expressions and knowledge.  St. Thomas Aquinas interprets scripture as history written in mythic language--a poetic truth.  We are obliged to believe the fundamental truths expressed--that our first parents, tempted by the devil, committed a primal act of disobedience whose effects we still suffer (Catechism, no. 390).

I love to read the Word to prove my love and faithfulness to God.  I also have found, that the more I persevere, the more I understand, and my discernment grows.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Cookies

It’s just bizarre.  It’s very strange how I enjoy cooking with my two year old granddaughter, when I hated cooking with my own children.  I remember I hated bending over the child to work on the counter.  I was annoyed that they took so long, didn’t stir good enough, and that they made such a mess.  Flour was all over the floor, counter, and cupboards.

Now, however, I think my granddaughter is so damn cute!  I still have to bend over her to stir, scrape, shape, pour, etc..  But I have so much more patience, now.  Her antics make me laugh.  And there’s still flour all over the floor, counter, and cupboards. 

I don’t know why or how this has happened.  But I know enough to enjoy it.  Thanks be to God.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Freedom is Coming

Yes I know.  Jesus is coming.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Faith Suggestions for the Year

 You can obtain a plenary indulgence on certain Solemnities and Feast Days, e.i., Immaculate Conception, by attending Mass, or Liturgy of the Hours, Confession, praying for the intentions of the Pope, and making a profession of faith.  

1.  Watch You Tube.  I like Father Barron's style of preaching.

 2.  Go to a concert.  Music can lead to contemplation.  I like John Polce concerts.

3.  Have a fun/learning night in your parish by having a contest between your parish priests and the Knights of Columbus (or some other organization).  Ask questions from the Bible, catechism, or parish history.

4.  Start or join a Catholic Book Club.

5.  Join a Scripture Study, or go to a Cursillo, Life in the Spirit, Alpha Course, or a Renew Program.  Alpha and Arise (Renew) were pretty successful in my parish.

6.  Go on a pilgrimage to deepen your faith.  Everyone talks about Medjugorge, nowadays, but if that's not possible, go to a local shrine.  My favorite is the Fatima Shrine in Holliston, MA.

7. Go on a retreat.  My very favorite was St. Stephen's Priory in Dover, MA.  Since that one has closed, I go to St. Joseph's Abbey, in Spencer, MA, not only because that's where my Spiritual Director, Father Aquinas is, but also because I like the atmosphere.

8.  Do Liturgy of the Hours for your parish.

9.  Go to a Catholic Speaker Forum.  The Lay Dominicans in New England have sponsored quite a few.  The St. Mary's Chapter in New Haven, Ct. has had Scott Hahn.  The Boston Pro-Chapter has had Father John Vidmar, O.P.

10.  Read Faith Moments, or start one in your parish.  You could publish these thoughts on your parish website.  eLumen, the Internet Newsletter for the Lay Dominicans in the Eastern Province, is running a contest for Faith Moments, in the December issue.  All one has to do is write a paragraph explaining when a moment of grace touched them.

I think these are all easy, fun, and educational and spiritual.  They're tailored made for the Year of Faith.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Criticizing the Catechism

Earlier today I found myself defending my Face Book Status.  I don't get reading the Catechism, which some seem to be doing for the Year of Faith. Isn't the Catechism a reference tool? Isn't it like reading a telephone book or dictionary? Catholicism for Dummies is more my style.  

Many friends (mostly my Dominican brothers and sisters) were all over me for that.  Well, of course; what was I thinking?  (See why I love my "cloistered brothers?"  They're not from the same mold.  Don't worry.  When you've met one Dominican, you've met one Dominican)  A Dominican doesn't criticize the Pope, doesn't pull on Superman's Cape, doesn't criticize Magisterium, doesn't spit in the wind, doesn't break Tradition, doesn't pull the mask off the Lone Ranger, or bother a friar in prayer with his Capuce up, or criticize the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Let me explain:

Is it lawful to criticize using the CCC as appropriate reading material during the Year of Faith?

Objection 1.  It seems that reading the CCC is not appropriate because if it doesn't make sense to you, then it is as worthless as straw.  Thomas Aquinas said,  "All that I have written seems like straw compared to what has now been revealed to me."  Hence he stopped writing.

Objection 2.  Besides, the Psalmist says, "thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me."  (Ps 23:4)  Forcing yourself to read a telephone book, dictionary, catechism is not comforting.  Hence, it would not be comfortable to push yourself to read something so distasteful.

Objection 3.  Furthermore, St. Jerome said that ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ.  By this insight we learn that there are other means, (scripture is one of many others) to be used to gain knowledge of our Faith.  Hence, there are other appropriate reading materials to be used.

On the contrary: Educators recognize that there are different learning styles.

  • Visual (spatial):You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
  • Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.
  • Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
  • Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
  • Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
  • Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
  • Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.

Therefore, it is lawful to criticize a learning style that is not appropriate for you.

I answer that, one may criticize the appropriateness of the CCC for oneself.  This country still has the First Amendment to the Constitution (so far), which claims freedom of speech, as a right.  The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law ...  abridging the freedom of speech,...    Consequently, one has the right to not read what I write.

Reply to the First Objection.  Here the Angelic Doctor expresses his opinion on his written word.  I also express my opinion on written word.  The Angelic Doctor didn't have the protection of the First Amendment, and he could still feel free to express his thoughts.  Hence, I do likewise.

Reply to the Second Objection.  Life if too short to waste time reading something that one finds not very interesting.  1 Thessalonians 5:2  For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  Hence, parcing through the CCC would be a waste of valuable time.

Reply to the Third Objection.  The CCC style does not appeal to my type of poetical, verbal, learning style.  Pope Benedict has granted an Indulgence for certain activities during the Year of Faith.  Hence I am not confined to plowing through the CCC to fulfill the Indulgence requirement.  (Deo Gratias) 
Provisions to gain the Indulgence:
 (A) Each time they attend at least three sermons during the Holy Missions, or at least three lessons on the Acts of the Council or the articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in church or any other suitable location.
"(B) Each time they visit, in the course of a pilgrimage, a papal basilica, a Christian catacomb, a cathedral church or a holy site designated by the local ordinary for the Year of Faith (for example, minor basilicas and shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Apostles or patron saints), and there participate in a sacred celebration, or at least remain for a congruous period of time in prayer and pious meditation, concluding with the recitation of the Our Father, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form, and invocations to the Blessed Virgin Mary and, depending on the circumstances, to the Holy Apostles and patron saints.
"(C) Each time that, on the days designated by the local ordinary for the Year of Faith, ... in any sacred place, they participate in a solemn celebration of the Eucharist or the Liturgy of the Hours, adding thereto the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form.
"(D) On any day they chose, during the Year of Faith, if they make a pious visit to the baptistery, or other place in which they received the Sacrament of Baptism, and there renew their baptismal promises in any legitimate form.
"Diocesan or eparchal bishops, and those who enjoy the same status in law, on the most appropriate day during that period or on the occasion of the main celebrations, ... may impart the papal blessing with the Plenary Indulgence".
The document concludes by recalling how faithful who, due to illness or other legitimate cause, are unable to leave their place of adobe, may still obtain Plenary Indulgence "if, united in spirit and thought with other faithful, and especially at the times when the words of the Supreme Pontiff and diocesan bishops are transmitted by television or radio, they recite ... the Our Father, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form, and other prayers that concord with the objectives of the Year of Faith, offering up the suffering and discomfort of their lives".

Thursday, December 6, 2012

More Advent Haiku

Advent is waiting                            
Emmanuel in the womb
Born with angel’s song

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Jesse Tree

Tonight in prayer group, we made a Jesse tree.  A Jesse tree doesn't have to be a tree.  It can be a branch stuck in a pail.  One year, I used an earring tree.  You just need something to hang ornaments on.

I got this tree at Sister Ruth's store, the Hope Chest.  When I was paying for it, the cashier, Gary, asked me why was I buying a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. I explained that I wanted it for a Jesse Tree.  I also just sent him a slide show of us making it.

The ornaments can be bought, but they have to represent Jesus' family tree.  The ornaments start with Jesse.  Jesse was the father of  King David of the Old Testament. He is often looked upon as the first person in the genealogy of Jesus.  The ornaments show the relationship of Jesus with Jesse and other biblical personages.  The various branches have pictures of other Old and New Testament figures who were ancestors of Jesus. At the top of the tree is the birth of Jesus.

I used figures from the internet.  Sorry, I can't remember where.  Just google Jesse tree, and I'm sure you'll find some.  We colored them, cut them out, and hung them.  

The idea is to read the scripture verse each day, on the appropriate ornament.  You start the first day of Advent, and continue until Christmas.  

What do you think?

Enjoying Christmas

I'm getting ready for two Christmas parties, this week.  Trying to stay healthy, only eat nutritious food--not junk, and also enjoy the Advent season, can be a challenge.  So I was looking at my club's suggestions, on its web site.  There was one video there that I took notes from.  I'd put it on this blog, but I don't have the expertise to do that.  It's the one in the middle, entitled, "Creating Your Holiday Experience."

While there were many good tips, the one I want to highlight is focusing on "what's important for you in this particular season."  Even if you say THE FOOD, you can still enjoy and not feel guilty.

Now make a list of what you love most about Christmas:
presents, decorations, atmosphere, people, religious ceremonies, parties, music, parties, food, etc.

Next, think what it is that you love about the items in your list.

I, personally, picked atmosphere.  Included in that are the affect that atmosphere has on people.  Some of that atmosphere is religious, and most of the "people" are my direct family members.  So I'm going to concentrate on the exterior decorations, music, and not too much food.  I'm plan to make my home a welcoming, Christmas event.

Even if I had picked FOOD, I would stress portion control.  Abstinence makes one feel deprived.  So unless you're fasting for religious reasons, don't.  You'll end up bingeing. Eat a LITTLE of everything.

One good piece of advice I picked up from the video was when you're visiting another's party (you're not in control of the menu).  Sometimes you can't be polite and refuse the food the host is pushing on you.  In that case, you say you're full and ask to take it home.  Take a bite, and say, "mmmm...delicious, may I have the recipe?"

You definitely don't want to hurt anybody during the Christmas season; or any season!

Enjoy what's important: how you decorate your home, the church's decorations, the Town Common's decorations, neighbors' homes.  Wish everyone well.  Pray for everyone you meet.  Sing carols.  Bless everyone with your love, not necessarily food.  Have a blessed Advent.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Advent Haiku

Patiently, we wait                                                       
upon a virgin’s promise                                               
neath a shining guide

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 ...