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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Bunny or Jesus

Parents have always debated whether of not to tell their children stories about the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus.  They're afraid that when they find out that the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus aren't real, then maybe Jesus isn't, either.

My children grew up with both--Jesus and the mythical bunny and Santa.  It was a problem only once.  An irate parent telephoned me and berated me about my son, who had told her son, that there really was no such thing as Santa.  No explanation could calm her down.  I had ruined all the fun of childhood.

My own adult daughter is raising her daughter with stories of the Easter Bunny.  The little girl is two years old.  Today, Holy Saturday, our parish church is open.  It's nicely decorated for Easter with flowers everywhere.  The tabernacle is open.  We don't cover our statues anyway, but our statues of Mary are beautiful.  So I took my granddaughter for a visit.

She didn't have a clue.  We happened to be walking in the church, when the chimes tolled.  I said, "Listen to the music of the bells."  She covered her ears.

She liked running up the stairs, although I didn't think she was going to make it.

The first thing she saw was the snake that Mary was crushing.  She asked to be picked up.

I pointed to Mary and said "Look at the beautiful lady."  She looked around.  I showed her the statue and asked her if she wanted to hold Mary's hand.  She said "No" and looked at me like I was crazy.

We went to the empty tabernacle and I told her that Jesus lives in there, but today He's gone.  That she could see.

Then we went around to see and smell all the beautiful flowers until she said, "I want to go home."

So, apparently two years old is too young for religion.

But not the Easter Bunny.

[Drawing above shared under a creative commons license. Original  by palomaironique  and shared under a Creative Commons image license.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Why did Jesus Do It?

Reading The Way of the Cross with St. Catherine of Siena, I come to Jesus dying on the cross.  Catherine asks me, "Do you think nails could have held Him, if He didn't want it to be so?"  And I meditate on her question.

As a child, I envisioned God as deus ex machina, and wanted the Father to come thundering out of the clouds and strike dead all the Roman soldiers, and people who had done this to Jesus.

But as an adult, I see that I am one of the people who did this to Jesus.

We were that soil in which the most holy banner was set.  We became a sort of vessel to receive  the blood of the Lamb, which ran down from the cross.  Why were we that soil?  Because the soil was not sufficient to support the cross erect, rather would it have rejected such injustice.  Neither would a nail have been enough to hold Him, fastened and nailed, if it not for the indescribable love He had for  our salvation had not held Him bound.  So then it was the intense love for the Father's honor and our salvation which kept Him there.  (Letter 102) quoted in The Way of the Cross with St. Catherine of Siena.

Because of God's mercy and love for us, He did this.  I must do likewise.  I must imitate Him.  Lord, help me to be more like You.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Washing in Humility

At that time, Peter was the only disciple who questioned Jesus washing their feet.  Usually a servant would do this.  But they didn't have any servants.  So Jesus did it.  Was He being a good host?  More than that, much more.  He was teaching, preaching and setting a precedent.

Do you know what I have done to you?  You call me Master and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.  If, therefore, I the Lord and Master have washed your feet, you also ought to wash the feet of one another.  For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you also should do.
John 13: 12-16

IOW, if Jesus, humbly and loving served His followers.  Then they should do likewise. No Christian should put himself above others.  God blesses those who honor Him by serving others.

The Lord in dialogue with Saint Catherine of Siena, teaches about saints:

"My goodness permits this to strengthen them and make them great in my own sight and the world's, since they have made themselves small in true humility.  You can see this clearly in my saints.  They made themselves small for me, and I have made them great in myself, everlasting Life, and in the mystic body of holy Church.  There they are forever remembered because their names are written in me, the book of life.  Thus the world hold them in reverence because they have despised the world.
     These souls hide their virtue only through humility, never through fear.  If their neighbors have need of their service, they do not hide their virtue for fear of suffering of for fear of losing their own selfish comfort.  No, they serve them courageously, with no concern for themselves.  In whatever way they use their lifetime for my honor, they are happy and find spiritual peace and quiet.
      Why?  Because they choose to serve me not in their own way but in mine."  Dialogue, p. 142.

Serving others is the best way.  Serving yourself doesn't work out.  Selfish, self-centered, self-serving people are left with themselves.  God's way is best.

How to serve others:

  • Pray to imitate the lesson of the spirit of foot washing.
  • Read John 13.  Be alert to Abraham, Noah, Ruth, Daniel, etc. serving others, when you read the Bible.
  • Think how you can help whomever you talk to.  What do they need?


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Crossing the Bridge

To Catherine Siena, Jesus is the bridge on which we cross over the turbulent river of life.  In one of their dialogs, God spoke to Catherine:

"But first I want you to look at the bridge of my only begotten Son, and notice its greatness.  Look!  It stretches from heaven to earth, joining the earth of your humanity with the greatness of the God-head.  This is what I mean when I say it stretches from heaven to earth--through my union with humanity.

This was necessary if I wanted to remake the road that had been broken up, so that you might pass over the bitterness of the world and reach life.  From earth alone I could not have made it great enough to cross the river and bring you to eternal life.  The earth of human nature by itself, as I have told you, was incapable of atoning for sin and draining off the pus from Adam's sin, for that stinking pus had infected the whole human race.  Your nature had to be joined with the height of mine, the eternal Godhead, before it could make atonement for all of humanity.  Then human nature could endure the suffering, and the divine nature, joined with that humanity, would accept my son's sacrifice on your behalf to release you from death and give you life.

So the height stooped to the earth of your humanity, bridging the chasm between us and rebuilding the road.  And why should he have made of himself a roadway?  So that you might in truth come to the same joy as the angels.  But my Son's having made of himself a bridge for you could not bring you to life unless you make your way along that bridge."  (The Dialogue, p. 59)

Catherine called the bridge Jesus and sometimes she called it the cross.  She sought to imitate Jesus, who suffered and died, bridging the gap between humanity and divinity.  Suffering is part of life.  It definitely is a part of love.  Offering our suffering to God, is offering our love, just as Jesus loved us.
                         Come Gesu, anch'io ti amo fino a morire.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cooking with the Blessed Mother

Today in my Holy Week Walk with St. Catherine of Siena, we are joined with Mary.  I was eating a breakfast of hot cross buns and was reminded of a Caterinati story of Mary helping Catherine cook.

It was a time of famine in Siena. Catherine was with her friend Alexia.  Alexia was making bread.  However, some of the grain was moldy, and Alexia was going to toss that portion out.  "Oh, no." Catherine cried.  The poor would be happy to have bread, any bread.

And Catherine took the grain with water, and made a paste of it.  As she kneaded the dough, so much had it grown, that Alexia joined in to help.  The two of them, made several trips, back and forth, from the kitchen to the oven to bake .

The smell of the baking bread was so savory that everyone drooled.  Usually bread made from corn meal, like these loaves, don't have much of a savory odor.  But these smelled heavenly.

But when they 
were baked and set on the table to eat, they that ate of them 
could find no manner of evil taste in them, but rather said that 
they had not in their life eaten better or more savoury bread.

Word of this miracle spread, and Catherine's spiritual director and confessor, Fra Raymund asked her if the story were true.  Catherine told her confessor that she so desired to help the poor that she asked our Blessed Mother for help.  Not only did Mary come, but she brought with her some angels, who helped Catherine kneed the dough.  

No wonder the bread smelled and tasted so good.  The Mother of our Eucharist, would make excellent bread.

Photo above shared under a creative commons license, original on flickr by user
 ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA. From the Engraving by Francesco 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pregnant with Jesus

Ave Marie
Used with permission
Stained Glass Inc 

On March 25, I always start my Nine Month Novena in Honor ofthe Virgin of the Incarnation.  March 25-December 25 is nine months.  So for nine months I am pregnant with Jesus. 

However, this year, 2013, the celebration has been moved.  We will celebrate the observance, after the conclusion of the Octave of Easter, April 8.  This definitely throws praying nine months off kilter. 
I don’t want to confuse the pregnancy calculations.  Hence, I’m starting my novena today, March 25.

Also, since I’m walking with Catherine of Siena during Holy Week, I am recollecting her closeness with Mary.  Catherine, quite a few times, had visions of being espoused to Jesus. (See Denis Vincent Wiseman, op, Mary in the Life andThought of Catherine of Siena.)   In all of these mystical experiences, Mary gives Jesus to Catherine.  I however, never envision that.  For some reason, I identify with being pregnant with Jesus.  I like to think that He is dependent upon me, for food, love, comfort, and physical sustenance; whereupon I know it’s the other way around. 

O Virgin of the Incarnation, a thousand, a thousand times we praise thee, a thousand times we greet thee, for the joy thou did know when the Son of God became flesh in thy womb.

Here is the Novena

 This novena is offered for three intentions.

Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen)

O Virgin of the Incarnation, a thousand, a thousand times we praise thee, a thousand times we greet thee, for the joy thou did know when the Son of God became flesh in thy womb.  Because thou are most powerful, O Virgin Mother of God, grant what we beseech thee for the love of God: (here name the three intentions).

The Memorare

Hail Mary

May the heart of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored and loved with grateful affection at every moment in all the tabernacles of the world and in the hearts of all, even until the end of time.  Amen.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Looking Through the Mirror

We were at a meeting.  I was having a good time.  It was after the meeting, that my friend confronted me about my negative behavior.  She said I made sarcastic, snarky remarks that were really uncalled for.  More than one person asked her what was up with my backbiting stabs.

Really?  Here I thought I was the bon vivant!

Now is the time, during Lent, to examine our behavior.  Do we really know ourselves?

St. Catherine of Siena was good at this.  She had a gift of looking inside, not only herself, but others, as well.  In her Dialogue, Catherine tells us:

A soul rises up, restless with tremendous desire for God's honor and the salvation of souls.  She has for some time exercised herself in virtue and has become accustomed to dwelling in the cell of self-knowledge in order to know better God's goodness toward her, since upon knowledge follows love.  And loving, she seeks to pursue truth and clothe herself in it.
      But there is no way she can savor and enlightened by this truth as in continual humble prayer, grounded in the knowledge of herself and of God.

Catherine tells us to get in touch with ourselves and discover God's goodness.  But how?

There's always Spiritual Direction.  For most of us, that's not an option.  Of course, the best spiritual director is the Holy Spirit.  He will lead you in prayer, to helpful friends, books, and others.  If you're married, your spouse could be honest with you.  Your spouse will tell you your failings and what you're good at.  A friend, like my friend, who told me to stop the negative sarcasm.  It's not funny, nor clever.

Blogging helps.  Blogging is like a journal, and I know when I look back a year or two, I can visualize where I was in my faith journey.  And why!  I can see where I've grown, and slipped back.

Private journaling would do the same.  One can really bare their souls, in their own personal diary.

Some concrete way to keep tabs on our attitudes and actions, must be found.  Some assessment to realistically see how we're getting closer to God.  Pray for this.

Purify my soul,
help me listen,
give me eyes to see,
and understanding
to discern what's
hindering my
way to holiness.
I only want to
get close to You.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

How We Are Not Like God

St. Catherine of Siena spent three years of contemplation in her room in her parents' home.  Since there were over twenty children in the house, I doubt she had much privacy.  Consequently, she learned how to meditate within.  Her life became inner prayer.  She called this her "cell within."  She didn't mean "jail cell" although I'm sure her critics, at that time, would have wished to put her in a jail cell than traveling and conversing with princes and popes.

Catherine encourages me to enter into the depths of my being.  My aim is to know myself so that I can transform into God's will.  IOW, become holy.  This takes honest self-assessment.

Catherine uses her famous, dramatic juxtaposition of opposites to speak about God in relationship to herself (us).

You, eternal Godhead,
are life
and I am death.
You are wisdom
and I am ignorance.
You are light
and I am darkness.
You are infinite
and I am finite.
You are absolute directness
and I am terrible twistedness.
You are the doctor
and I am sick.

You are God.  I am not.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Losing Weight with a Rosary

I found myself sitting next to a president of St. Mary's Catholic Women's Club, at today's T.O.P.S.' meeting.  Since T.O.P.S. is about "Take Off Pounds Sensibly", we were talking about how our week went--weight wise.

Since three days out of seven this week, I partied with heavy "fat" food, I'm sorry to say, I gained a couple of pounds.  I had two St. Patrick Day parties.  That means two kinds of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, squash, turnips, carrots, parsnips, and Irish bread.  And you know how dry Irish bread is unless you slather it with butter or jam?  And don't forget the green beer!

Besides, last night was a friend's birthday party.

These are real excuses.  I don't even consider them excuses.  They're so real that they're reasons, not excuses.

Although I gained, my Catholic friend didn't.  Still she complained.  She bemoaned the fact that her weight never changes.  It's always the same.  She also said that her meals are for the most part, the same.  Very rarely, is there a change in her meal plans.

We looked at what she ate, and it was a healthy plan for her age, and height.  Then I asked her about her exercise.


She doesn't exercise.  She said she knows she should but she can't work up the motivation to get up off the couch.

I asked her if she prayed the Rosary.  She replied, "No."

Again, like exercise, she'd like to pray the Rosary, but she can't work up the motivation.

"Well, here you go!"  Walk around praying the Rosary.  You can walk around the apartment, if you don't want to go outside.  There's the solution.  She'd be killing two birds with one stone, i.e., physical and spiritual exercising.   

Our Pope Emeritus walks while praying the Rosary.  If an 85 year old man can do it, so can she.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Dominicans Hear Habemus Papam

Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist react to hearing about Pope Francis being elected.  Jubilation!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My Favorite Story About Pope Francis I

There are many endearing stories circling our new Pope Francis I.  We hear about how he likes to mingle with the people, walk the barrios, ride the bus and subway, etc.

My favorite is why he chose the name Francis.  Yes, it was because the pope has a soft spot for the poor, nature, and the simple life.  But the name has a more deeper meaning than Francis of Assisi.

Pope Clement XIV suppressed the Jesuits in 1767.  (The usual political BS)  It was whispered in Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio's ear, to take the name Clement XV as sweet revenge on Clement XIV.

Our future Pope took revenge the Christian way--through reconciliation.  You see, Clement XIV belonged to the Franciscan Order.  The founder of the Franciscans was St. Francis of Assisi.  Hence, our future Pope reconciled the Jesuits and Franciscans, plus honored one of his favorite saints, by choosing the name Francis.

BTW, these two religious orders concelebrated the Pope's Inaugural Mass. The superiors, Jesuit, Father Adolfo Nicolas, and Franciscan Father Jose Rodriguez Carballo were chosen to concelebrate.

Above photo shared under a creative commons license

Monday, March 18, 2013

Imitating Adam and Eve

Yesterday, St. Patrick's Day, we had a party.  It was a grand time.  Everyone who is dear to us attended.  It was so much fun, so much food, so much laughter, so much busyness, that my two year old granddaughter didn't pay attention to nature's call.  It was too much distraction for adults too, so no one remembered to remind her to try and go to the bathroom.  Hence, she had an accident.

As I was fixing her shoe, I noticed that her pants were wet.  I asked her "Why are your pants wet?"  She told me that Dallas, the cat, did it.

I was reminded of Eve blaming the serpent, and Adam blaming Eve.  This incident is proof that we really are Adam and Eve's descendants.

This would be funny, except that I was told that she has been blaming Grandma for naughty things she has done.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick and the Four Leaf Clover

St. Patrick made by Stained Glass Inc.
The four leaf clover is considered lucky because of its rarity.  Just try to find one!

I consider St. Patrick lucky to have been kidnapped and forced into slavery because it deepened his faith.  In prayer, Patrick learned contemplative listening and trust in God's plan.  I also consider St. Patrick lucky to have not only survived the pagan hostility, but overcame it.

But it's not the four leaf clover that is associated with St. Patrick.  It's the shamrock--the three leaf clover.  There are many stories about him using the three leaf clover to explain the Trinity.  It worked at the time, and for the pagans he was ministering to.  There are three person in one God.  And I've also heard that St. Patrick stuck the shamrocks on his clothes, so that people would inquire about them.  Hence, he would be given the opportunity to explain the theological concept of the trinity.

It worked.  And it still works--to an extent.  It has its limitations.  There are three distinct persons in One God.  There are not three distinct clovers in one shamrock.

All attempts to explain God fail.  He wouldn't be God, if you could.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Vote for These Stone Walls

Dear Reader,

These Stone Walls is a blog by a falsely accused priest who has been in prison, in New Hampshire, for almost twenty years.  He would have been released, long ago, if he had said he was guilty.  But Father Gordon MacRae is not a liar.  The truth is the only truth.  He blogs by sending his post to a friend who runs the blog, These Stone Walls, for him.  It's not as easy as it sounds.  Father types on a cantankerous old typewriter.  Note, not a word processor, nor an electric typewriter.  He balances that typewriter in his cell, somewhere (toilet? cot? floor?).  But the message gets through.

Father MacRae's blog has been nominated in the yearly contest, My Favorite Catholic Blog.  I'm praying that his blog wins, to call attention to the injustice being done to him.  Please click on this word link, and vote for These Stone Walls.  You can vote, once a day, every day, until the Feast of Saint Joseph, March 19.

Thank you.

Friday, March 15, 2013

One Reason to Confess to your Parish Priest

During my life, I've been blessed with wonderful guides, soul mates.  I thank God for them.  My sister was my mother/best friend/sister, as I grew up.  I wonder how people can grow up without someone like her.  Once I got married, my husband was my husband/ best friend/soul mate.  Plus all along the journey, I make friends, and I usually have a few very close friends.

These people know me well. When we're together, no one has to talk.  We communicate soul to soul.

This is like baring your soul in confession.  If you go regularly to your parish priest for confession, he'll get to know you.  He'll see patterns.  He'll direct you spiritually because he's learned how you think.  He knows what kind of person you are.  He will become like a very close friend.

I had forgotten this, while I was going for Spiritual Direction with AQ.  He always began spiritual direction with confession.  So for quite awhile, I had no need to go to confession in my parish, I went to AQ.  But since he moved away, I've been going to my parish priest.  And now when I see Father, I feel like we're best friends.  He knows me well. He's like a comfortable old friend.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Memory Loss

How quickly we forget!  Most of time when I read about the Israelites forgetting about the God that had delivered them out of Egypt, I wonder how could they forget?  God does so much for them.

Then I remember that we are not so different.  Today's Mass reading from the book of Exodus tells of God's wrath against the Israelites who had made a molten calf and were worshiping THAT.  Moses talks God out of it.  While I wonder how the Israelites could be so faithless, I see that God really wants to be merciful.  He even forgives the idol worshipers.  All we have to do ask for mercy.

We do the same.  Once when I was visiting my brother, we went to Mass.  The way this parish distributed communion, had people walking around the pews to get back to their seat.  As I was passing the back, I remembered seeing this one pretty lady.  She stood out because she was so pretty.  She also was the only Asian.

After Mass, as we were caught in the traffic exiting church, I saw this same lady,crying.  She was walking along, on the sidewalk.  There was a man behind her, yelling at her, and shoving her along.  We sat in our cars and watched.  I remember praying for that lady.

They had just come out of church.  That's even less time, then the Israelites coming out of Egypt.  And that man forgot.

Lord forgive us.  We are fickle, unmindful, thoughtless, miserable examples of your creation.  Have mercy on us.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Don't Cry for me Argentina. Pray for me.

Prayer for Pope Francis

Our Father, we the faithful, humbly thank and praise You for our new Vicar.  We ask You to protect him from the malice of the world.  Defend him from all who wish him harm.

Have mercy on us all, O Lord, and bless Pope Francis with the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, understanding, and the wise discernment to know Your Will.  May he serve You faithfully, as Your representative on earth.             Amen

Mary, Mother of the Church, intercede for blessing upon our Pope Francis.

St. Joseph, patron of the church, pray for us.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Art thou the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened...?

This morning I was reading Dominican Daily, specifically Br. Raymund Synder, O.P., Smoke and Frescoes: the Papal Buzzand , and I was provoked to scream.

It is a pet peeve of mine  that people who are selfish, self-centered, self absorbed, self-interested, self-involved, and egocentric boors, absolve their boorish behavior in smug self-righteous, holier than thou justification.  The article, Smoke and Frescoes: the Papal Buzz, is the perfect example.

Br. Raymund waxes poetic how admirable it is to remain above the fray.

"B" as in B___, and "S" as in S___.

Your neighbor needs you, and you are unaware.  How will you know this and call for help, unless you look out the window and see smoke coming out of his house?
A natural disaster has occurred in your country.  How will you be able to go help, unless you watch TV, listen to the radio, read media reports?
A far-off country is at war and needs prayers and money.  How will you be able to respond, unless you are alert to what's happening in the world?
The Jews are being slaughtered in concentration camps.  How can you demand for something to be done, unless you listen and see?
A man has been assaulted and thrown in a ditch?  How can a Samaritan respond, unless he is alert to his surroundings?
Sede Vacante.  How do you pray for the judicious discernment of the cardinal electors, unless you pay attention to the media?

Art thou the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?  (Luke 24: 18-19)

Where have you been?  Have you been on a toot for the past three days?  Were you in a coma?  Didn't you notice how dark it became, three days ago; the sun darkened and the curtain of the temple was torn down the middle?  How could you not know?

Jesus, the Christ was crucified, and according to scriptures rose after three days, proving that He is the long awaited Messiah and atoning for mankind's sins and breaking the bonds of Satan and...

How could you not know?  Oh, I see.  You practice custody of the eyes.  You don't want to commit the sin of curiositas.

I think it is better to err on the side of curiosity than pharisaic excuses. I think God prefers the spirit rather than the words.  I mean, stay alert to what's happening.  You don't have to live for it, but pay attention.  Don't be LAZY and justify your apathetic behavior by cloaking it in attributions of religious beatitudes.

I am reminded of a joke a religious Sister once told me.  She told of a Sister who was looking at the newspapers spread out on the table and inquired;

"Who is this poor unfortunate woman, Pearl Harbor, that was attacked?"

Photo above shared under a creative commons license

Monday, March 11, 2013

Papal Politics

As an American who is so tired of hearing people being categorized as "liberals" and "conservatives," it is amusing to see people label the Cardinals as "First World" v. "Third World," "Traditionalists," v. "Progressives," and "Everybody Else" v. "The Italians."

Doesn't make you wonder why we have this propensity to label.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Renewal Prayer

Pere Lataste
Dear Heavenly Father,
     Through the intercession of Blessed Jean-Joseph Lataste, O.P., our Blessed Mother Mary, Our Lady of Mercy, and our holy Father Dominic, and with the grace and blessing of the Holy Spirit, I renew my promise to live my vocation as a Lay Dominican.
      Ever mindful of fulfilling the obligations of Lay Dominican life, may I be fervent in my prayer and love of neighbor.  Amen.

How the Apostles Died

This compilation is making the rounds.


Suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, Killed by a sword wound. 


 Died in Alexandria, Egypt , after being dragged by Horses through the streets until he was dead.


Was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous Preaching to the lost. 


Faced martyrdom when

he was boiled in huge
Basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution In Rome . However, he was miraculously delivered From death.

John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison Island of  Patmos ..

He wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation on Patmos . The apostle John was later freed and returned to serve As Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey . He died as an old man, the only apostle to die peacefully.


He was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross.

According to church tradition it was because 

he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die In the same way that Jesus Christ had died.


The leader of the church in Jerusalem , was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple  when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.

When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a fuller's club. 
* This was the same pinnacle where Satan had taken Jesus during the Temptation.
 James the Great 

Son of Zebedee, was a fisherman by trade when Jesus Called him to a lifetime of ministry. As a strong leader of the church, James was ultimately beheaded at Jerusalem.

The Roman officer who guarded James watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial. Later, the officer Walked beside James to the place of execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and Knelt beside James to accept beheading as a Christian.


Also known as Nathaniel Was a missionary to Asia. He witnessed for our Lord in present day Turkey.  Bartholomew was martyred for his preaching in Armenia where he was flayed to death by a whip.


Was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Patras, Greece.  After being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words: 'I have long desired and expected this happy hour.

The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it.' He continued to preach to his tormentors For two days until he expired.


Was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church in the Sub-continent.


Was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.


The apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot, was stoned and then beheaded.


Was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in
A.D. 67. Paul endured a lengthy imprisonment, which allowed him to write his many epistles to the churches he had formed throughout the Roman Empire. These letters, which taught many of the foundational

Doctrines of Christianity, form a large portion of the New Testament. 

Perhaps this is a reminder to us 

That our sufferings here Are indeed minor compared To the intense persecution And cold cruelty faced by the apostles And disciples during their times For the sake of the Faith. And ye shall be hated Of all men for my name's sake: But he that endureth to the end shall be saved. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Jesuitical Decision Formula

St. Ignatius Loyola is the founder of the religious order, known as the Jesuits.  He was a noble knight. While recuperating from wounds, he had a religious conversion.  The rest is history.  

It was immediately after Ignatius' conversion that he was traveling to meet with his confreres regarding his new religious order.  It's the sixteenth century; so his mode of transportation was a mule.    While traveling, Ignatius met a man also riding on a mule.  In the course of their brief conversation, the man insulted the Virgin Mary and then quickly took off.  Now, mind you, Ignatius is still new in his religious conversion.  His first reaction was to run the man through with his sword.  But the man took off.  He still wanted to chase him down and then kill him.

As he trotted or rambled, whatever mules do, Ignatius fumed.  His good angel said let God handle the insult.  His bad angel said murder was justified.  Try as he might, he was unable to decide whether he should kill the man or not.  At that moment he reached a (literal) fork in the road.  Ignatius decided to leave the fate of the blasphemer up to his mule.  As Ignatius wrote in his autobiography, "If the mule took the village road, I would seek him out and stab him; if the mule did not go toward the village, but took the highway, I would let him be."  Fortunately for all concerned, the donkey chose the highway.

The moral of the story: "Ever since then, asses have been making decisions in the Jesuits."

Source: Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life by Fr. James Martin, s.j.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Family Dynamics

Me and Mom
Dad and his one true Faith

It's a wonder that we grow up, at all, considering the families we grew up in. That's what I was thinking when I read, Father Tadeusz Pacholczyk, today, in the Pilot.  I understand his point.  The best parents are models for their children, i.e., one male and one female.  That you need these two sexes to grow up normal.

In a perfect world, I agree.  Actually, even now, I agree.  What I don't agree with are the examples and studies he uses.  I don't think there's such a thing as perfect parents (including hubby and myself).  We do the best we can, and pray.

The examples rubbed me the wrong way.  Of course, Fr. Tad was talking about two active homosexuals bringing up children.  But I know many, many people who were brought up by same
sexes and are as normal as others.  What about children whose father died and they were brought up by a single parent mother and their grandmother?  A single mother and big sister?

How about a single mother with a family of girls and one boy?  Won't that affect him?

Isn't any loving parent better than abusive mothers and fathers?

How about being brought up in an orphanage?

I know prison inmates that say they were brought up in prison?

I know prison inmates that say they never knew what a family was, until they joined a religious community, in prison.

This world is a fallen state.  God help us all, especially the little children.    

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Communion of Saints

This sculpture was created by Vytautas K. Jonynas for the Vatican Pavilion in the World's Fair in New York, 1964-64.  It depicts the church militant, the church suffering, and the church triumphant.  That is the church on Earth, Purgatory, and Heaven.  You can see it at the Franciscan Retreat and Guest House in Kennebunk, ME.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cardinal Mahony and Forgiveness

Surfing the net this morning, I came across Cardinal Roger Mahony's Blog.  He was blogging about "forgiveness."  Of course, my interest was piqued, and I read on.  He referenced, the same Guardini article that I used on my post on forgiveness. I wanted to comment on his post, but like myself, he doesn't have "comments."

I noticed that he does have a Facebook page.  So I went to that and posted what I wanted to say.  I also noticed other commentators on his page.  Most were sharply negative, crude, and full of deprecation.  Ah, flashback!

Coming from Boston, which is ground zero for clerical sex abuse, I empathize. Time is healing, and my righteous anger has yielded to rational judgment. I understand that our church leaders at that time followed standard procedures, followed current medical, psychological expert counsel, and legal advice.  Even so, they were in charge and bear the burden of responsibility.  The buck stopped with them.

Ministering to men in prison, I have met many inmates who are good, decent, law abiding citizens.  Their crime was committed under the influence, or they mentally snapped, or it was an accident.  It doesn't matter.  Someone has to take responsibility.  Someone has to pay for the wrong that was committed.  That means that some of these bishops should be thrown in jail.

I think Cardinal Law and Mahony should serve time.  They should take the lead and take responsibility.  Jesus did.  Jesus was in prison.  So weren't some of the apostles.  Church leaders in prison would lead by their example.  What would the New Testament be, without St. Paul's letters from prison?

Cardinal Mahony asks for forgiveness.  I ask him to see my post "Forgiveness is Not the Same as Absolution."     People can't forgive Cardinal Mahony.  No one can forgive Cardinal Mahony but Cardinal Mahony.  Forgiveness is for yourself.  You can't force people to love you, nor forgive you.  They have free will and have to chose rightly.  That's up to them.  Even if a perpetrator tells his victim that he is sorry, he can't make the victim forgive him.  The victim has to overcome his emotional baggage before he can accept apologies, and forgive himself.

Note that Jesus never says, "I forgive you," to all those who tortured Him.  He prayed for them.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Man Who Would Be Pope

Some jobs require applicants to go through several interviews, because experience and education aren't  the only indications that this particular job is a good fit.  The experience and education won't matter, if the applicant can't get along with the rest of the department.  That is why applicants meet with the employees they'll be working with.  There is an informal question and answer session for both the employees and the prospective employee.  This has proved very valuable.

I thought of this when I read Father Peter Daly's wish list, for qualifying a prospective pope.  Father Daly wants a pope who has worked as a parish priest, as opposed to an academic, or monk, or lawyer.  These are admirable and valuable positions, but serving as a parish priest is people experience.  The kind of people experience that most of the world lives in.

It's a very good article, as far as it goes.  I'm adding my own qualifications:

The man who would be pope must have done prison ministry.  I mean more than offer a Christmas Mass.  Working with inmates would benefit any priest, because here is where redemption becomes concrete, and not just an abstraction.  Once you've witness this koinoia, you have been blessed.

The man who would be pope must pray the Rosary.  This is how you can tell a holy priest from a regular guy.  Priests should be close to Mary.

The man who would be pope must attend to supplications, promptly.  Just answer people.  He doesn't have to give a definitive answer, just an acknowledgement of receipt of a letter, email, or verbal request.  No "cop-out" I'll take it under consideration, and then forget about it.  Communication is important.

The man who would be pope must love women.  He must have worked under a boss lady.  He must have women friends.  He must treat nuns with deference.  He must listen to women seriously and address their concerns.

The man who would be pope must not tolerate any pedophilia.  He must be sensitive to victims and respond in a pastoral manner.

The man who would be pope must not be averse to conflict.  He has to be strong, steadfast, consistent, and true to the Gospel.

The man who would be pope must sell a papal tiara, or some other long forgotten, past era attribution.  The proceeds will go to the poor.

Finally, the man who would be pope must hire the best public relation firm he can, so he won't be perceived as a fool.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Forgiveness is for the Victim

Forgiveness is for the Victim.  It is permission to let go of the emotional baggage that is weighing you down.  Monsignor Romano Guardini, in a reading from Magnificat, p. 79-80, explains what I’m beginning to see.  We react like animals, i.e., strike back.  That’s our first reaction.  But we are human beings and need to overcome that first primitive instinct.

Creatures are so ordered that the preservation of the one depends on the destruction of the other…He who injures me or takes something valuable from me is my enemy, and all my reactions of distrust, fear, and repulsion rise up against him…Here forgiveness would mean first that I relinquish the clear and apparently only sure defense of natural animosity; second, that I overcome fear and risk defenselessness, convinced that the enemy can do nothing against my intrinsic self…But the crux of the matter is forgiveness, a profound and weighty thing.  Its prerequisite is the courage that springs from a deep sense of intimate security, and which, as experience has proved, is usually justified, for the genuine pardoner actually is stronger than the fear-ridden hater.

Yes, ….what Monsignor Guardini says.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Forgiveness is not the Same as Absolution

Image Courtesy of Stained Glass Inc.

For the past few days, I’ve been mulling over a question: How do you act like a Christian in prison?  Then last night, while watching the DVD, “For the Greater Glory,” I realized that each time a Cristero told the man about to shoot him, “I forgive you,” that murderer didn't have a clue what he was saying.  The poor victim was saying he forgave, for nothing…or was he?

Last Wednesday, my “cloistered brothers” and I discussed “turning the other cheek,” and “forgiving your enemies.”  How do they do it, particularly in their environment?  After an hour or so, no definitive answer was determined.  But that’s not the end of the thinking process.  We’ll continue it, next meeting.

It is difficult, in my “cloistered brothers’” environment, because they can’t afford not to have a macho persona.  To anything less, than the attitude that I can take down everyone in here, would be perceived as cowardness. 

On one hand, being a Christian makes a big positive difference in my brothers’ lives.  Christianity offers hope.  It gives meaning to life.  Trying to live in the light gives purpose, a positive outlook, and a productive use of time.  Belonging to our community offers a renewed sense of self that helps overcomes guilt.  New relationships are formed.  Belonging to our community provides practical and moral support.  Moreover, they feel that their self-control and tolerance have made them better men.    In community, my brothers are striving to be good Christian men.

Meanwhile, outside on the quad, or in the cell blocks, it’s business as usual, shouting obscenities, swearing, gambling, drugging, extortion, sex, bullying, violence, etc.

Mix the Christians with those not, and you have the Cristeros saying “I forgive you,” to a psychopath, i.e., he doesn't have a clue why or even what you are saying.  Saying “I forgive you” could be dangerous to your health.  As Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)  Look at the beautiful stained glass window above, courtesy of Stained Glass Inc., Jesus doesn't tell His tormentors He forgives them.  He prays for them.

I’m still chewing on the idea of my “cloistered brothers” problem: How to act like a Christian and not become a victim of the bullies.  Forgiving their enemies would be perceived as condoning their bad behavior.  My ideas are not definitive.  I’ll probably post about them again and again. 

Some passages in the New Testament have Jesus not forgiving unless the sinners repent.  See Acts 3:19, Luke 13:3 & 5.  So why did the Cristeros say they killers were forgiven when they didn't ask for it?  Even if they were priests, they couldn't give absolution without repentance.  They should have prayed for them, like Jesus did. 

Following Jesus’ example, forgiveness is for the benefit of the victim.  The victim has been hurt and will feel anger, resentment, revenge, bitterness, etc..  Forgiveness disconnects the victim from these emotions, if he is blessed to overcome these emotions. 

Forgiveness is a decision to not be a victim any longer.  Leave the exacting of justice to God.  Then by the grace of God, the victim will progress and protect himself and others by not allowing the perpetrator to commit more hurt.  It would be great if the victim could pray for the perpetrator. 

One has to master his emotions, releasing oneself from a lifetime of bitterness.  Forgiveness is the best means of doing that.  Only priests can give absolution, so don’t even entertain that thought. 

Forgiveness is for the victim. 

This is where I am now.  Reconciliation is between at least a couple of people.  Absolution is between confessor and penitent.  Forgiveness is for oneself.

The Blood of Goats will Shatter Diamonds

                                                                        Greek bronze bust of Aristotle by  Lysippos ,                       ...