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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dynamic Catholics

This Christmas, my pastor gave every family a copy of the book, The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, by Matthew Kelley.  Actually, this is my third time reading it.  I read it last year, along with Rediscover Catholicism, Forming Intentional Disciples, and Rebuilt.  My prayer group also subscribes to Lighthouse Catholic Media, so we’ve already heard Matthew Kelley’s Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic.

I’m up to the discussion questions in the study guide and I’m starting to wonder why I’m reading this.  I already AM a Dynamic Catholic.  Look at these questions:

Do you have a daily routine of prayer? If so, what is it? If not, what would you like it to be after reading this chapter?  Do I ever!  Daily Mass, Divine Office, Rosary, 15 minutes Lectio Divina, and a few other personal intentional prayers.  And this is the bare minimum that I do.  If I have time, I do more Lectio.  I pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.  I also have a Spiritual Director who sits on me, or I’d really be off the wall.
    I’m not extraordinary, either.  I’m a Lay Dominican.  We ALL are required to have this daily routine of prayer.  So do Secular Franciscans, Lay Cistercians, Benedictine Oblates, etc.  And even if you aren’t associated with a religious order, I have many friends who go to daily Mass and pray the Divine Office and the Rosary. 

How consistent is your prayer life? What prevents you from praying on days when you don’t?  Read above.  What prevents us—our vows or solemn promises and SDir.

As for evangelizing, well we Lay Dominicans have apostolates, both personal and chapter.  I preach on this blog and other social media.  I edit a newsletter.  I write book reviews for three publishers.  I belong to a writers group that contributes to the local newspaper.  I help facilitate RCIA in a prison.  And this is not extraordinary.  Many friends have similar and/or other apostolates.

We are dynamic Catholics.  And you know what?  When the parish has its book discussion, I bet it’s those of us whom are already dynamic Catholics, who attend.  So what’s the point?

As Matthew Kelley explains, we’re the 7% that are doing everything.  Yet look what we do!  We keep the parish running.  Just imagine if we were 8%.  That’s why we’re attending the discussion, because we hope that we can get just one or two more people interested.

And if it’s not this book, we’ll try another.  We’ve done the Renew programs, Cursillo, Life in the Spirit, Alpha.  We’ll keep trying because the touching of the hearts is the Holy Spirit’s job.  We bring in the people, and pray that they’re receptive to the Holy Spirit.  Come Holy Spirit.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Gift of a New Beginning

Faith, the magazine from Lansing Michigan, had an article on gift giving.  The topic was gifts.  A sister felt cheap because the gifts she gave to her nieces and nephews weren’t equal to the gifts her sister gave to her own children.  I found this subject interesting. 

Gifts have always been a nuisance for me.  I have friends who obviously re-gifted their gifts.  I know.  Once I gave a friend a gift, and she must have forgotten who gave it to her, because I received that very same gift on my next birthday!

One of my most embarrassing stories concerns gift giving.  On year I had to buy too many “little” gifts:

two book clubs yankee swaps under $ 20
work gift exchange under $ 20
my work cubby-mate—whatever
walking group gift exchange-- $ 10
hairdresser-- $ 25
women’s club--ornament swap
two Bible studies gift swap $ 15-20
paper boy--$ 10
ladies from work, monthly dinner, gift exchange--$ 10-20

One of the ladies, in this last gift exchange, had eight children—all grown, with families of their own.  She literally had more than fifty grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Obviously, she had a surplus of bath salts, bubble bath, cologne, lotions, bath sprays, body washes, candles, etc., which she had received as gifts.  She could never use all this stuff, even if she lived two life times.  So she re-gifted.  But it was embarrassing for us other ladies, who had only one gift to exchange when not only did she have the one gift for the exchange, but also, gave many gifts to all of us. 

One stress filled day in the Christmas season, I gave my friend, the above litany of gifts I had to buy.  I was bemoaning the idea of the under $ 20 gift—how much lotion, can a person use?  We all have enough of that junk!  It’s stupid; I give you lotion; you give me lotion.  You can’t get much for under $ 20.  It’s all junk.  I had had enough of it.  I didn't want any more junk.  I didn’t want to buy anymore junk.

My friend stood up nice and straight, opened her bag, and threw a gift at me.  “Well here’s one more piece of junk, for you.”

I-I-I-I didn’t know what to say.

I remembered feeling my neck get red.  I don’t remember anything else.  I don’t remember what I ended up saying.  I don’t know if my friend got up angry and left.  I don’t remember what we said, at all.  (I probably repressed the memory.)

But I learned a lesson.  I continued to buy and receive, all the same under $ 20 junk—but I kept my mouth shut.  I still thought the same.  I still felt the same.  However, I would never verbally express my thoughts and feelings.  That is, until I read this article in Faith

The author, the psychologist, Dr. Cathleen McGreal writes about the motivation, in gift giving.  Are you looking for equity?  Are you looking to get your money’s worth?  Actually, I guess that’s exactly what I was doing.  That’s why I was angry at my friend’s surplus gift giving; it wasn’t equal.

Does your gift giving express love?  Are you kidding me?  I just wanted to be rid of the obligation.
Does your gift giving express the joy of giving?  Bah humbug!


I really am a miserable excuse for a human being. 

How much better the season of Christmas, or any occasion would be, if I gave presents that had more thought put in them.  Dr. McGreal uses the verb “ tailor”,  when she explains the motivation in gift-giving.  She is trying to tell us to think of the other person and “tailor” the gift towards their wants and needs. That’s exactly what I wasn’t doing.  I was thinking of myself and my needs.  I didn’t want to be bothered.

You know, it’s a new year.  I don’t want to be so narcissistic, anymore.  The year 2014 will be the beginning of a new me.  My gift giving will be a reflection of my altruism.  I’ll think of what the other needs, wants, and likes. 

This type of gift-giving, is better for me, too.  Seeing the pleasure in the receiver’s face, will be my gift to myself.  That the gift expresses my love for them, is gift enough, no matter that it was under $ 20. After all, it’s the thought that counts, right?   

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sunday Snippets -- A Catholic Carnival

RA'nn at the blog This and That and The Other Thing graciously hosts our weekly link ups.  We're a group of Catholic bloggers, who gather at RA'nn's every Sunday and talk about our week's posts.  But before I get into that, I want to answer a question I was asked.  "What is my spiritual New Year's Resolution?"

My New Year's Resolution is applicable to all areas of my life.  It is to change my attitude.  I tend to be negative, snarky, and cynical.  I'm going to try to be positive, charitable, and kind.  This applies to my everyday activities.  I want people I meet to go away from me happy that they met up with me.  This attitude will even spill out on my weight loss issues.  Positive people are happier people and that affects everything you do, and everyone around you.  Consequently, my spiritual life will be better because I won't be hurting others with my snarkiness and bad humor.  Pray for me.

Monday -- At my advanced age, it finally occurred to me to pray for my Confessor.  Poor priest.

Tuesday -- I posted a video from You Tube.

Wednesday -- A poem from my fellow Senior Scribbler, Carol Belcher.

Thursday -- My thoughts regarding Fr. Bob's homily on his Bangladesh Christmas.

Friday -- You won't believe all the connections between the Nativity and the Resurrection.

Saturday -- Br. Tonto cartoon.

See you over at This and That and the Other Thing.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Linking the Resurrection to the Nativity

Msgr. Moran gives his daily homilies in a Socratic style.  Today's Gospel was John 20:1-8.  It was about the Resurrection.

After the homily, Msgr. Moran walked down to the pews.  He asked, "Why is this Gospel placed in the Christmas season?"

That was exactly my question when I heard the Gospel proclaimed.  Some answers the people gave:

Without the Resurrection, why bother with the birth of this baby?
The Resurrection completes the story that began with the Nativity.
Today's the Feast of St. John the Evangelist, and he is a part of the Resurrection story.

Msgr. Moran then asked for similarities between the two events.

                           Both involve caves--birth and death.
                          Both are heralded by angels.
                         Both involve Good News.
                        Both have people rushing to see.
                       Both involve women named Mary.
                      Both mention cloth (swaddling and shroud)
                     Both fulfill scripture.

And I was wondering why this Gospel was placed in the Christmas season.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Mass celebrant this morning was Fr. Bob.  He's a Xaverian missionary.  Of course he wished us all a Merry Christmas.  His homily was about his experiences in Bangladesh.  He spoke of celebrating Christmas Mass.  The children climbed above a ledge, bordering the windows, to view Mass better.  Most fell asleep.  The people were packed in.

After Mass, outside, the courtyard had numerous ovens situated around the perimeter.  This was to cook up a feast.  Although the small church housed a hundred, the outside celebration was for thousands.  Their Christmas was                                           for everyone.  All faiths were invited.  This is the true Christmas--for all.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

No More Waiting

The waiting is done.
 Christmas is here.
Advent is finished.
Christmas has begun.

Not only the physicality of counting the days, opening presents, but the most telling proof of all.  The spirit has peaked.  The Advent sense of expectation has come to fruition with Christmas.  He has come.  Our long awaited Messiah is here.  Like the birth of all babies, we sigh, we see He's safe, healthy, well,--real, and we smile.

Last year I wrote these poems for Advent: Advent in Franklin, MA, Haiku, and More Advent Haiku.  So I didn't want to post them again, especially since my local newspaper just published them for Christmas.  But in my writers' group, Senior Scribblers, my fellow writer, Carol Belcher wrote a poem about coming home; it's in the local paper along with mine.  Strictly speaking, it's not about Christmas. But who's strict?  And Christmas is all about coming home.  Besides, this is my blog and I'm the mommy, that's why.  I'm putting it in.

Where is Home?                                     Home...
by Carol Belcher                                 is where I was born.
                                                        is where I grew up.
                                                        is where I got married and raised a family.
                                                        is where I retired.
                                                        is where I find myself alone.
                                                        is where I shall meet my God.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Addendum to Examination of Conscience

Confession has often been the theme of my posts.  I thought I knew everything there was to know about Confession and the examen.  However, you're never too old to learn.  A friend gave me my Christmas present, today.  It's the book, 7 Secrets of Confession, by Vinny Flynn.  No.  I haven't read it already, but I did flip through it and something caught my eye.

p. 187  # 7, Pray for your Confessor.  He is instructed by the Church to pray for you, so you, in turn should pray for the light of the Holy Spirit to guide him.

I think every Confessor ends the session with "God bless you, pray for me."  I take it as a priests' "Have a nice day."  It's just a common platitude.

But it has never occurred to me to pray for the Confessor before Confession.  What was I thinking? Rather, I wasn't thinking.  Of course, that would be the time to pray for the priest hearing your sins, guiding you, trying to understand your motives, your contrition, your intentions, your disposition, etc..  That's when the Confessor would need prayers specifically to guide the penitent.  What a dummy I am.

So everybody, here and now, add "pray for your Confessor," to the top of your Examination of Conscience.  Everybody needs prayers.  Priests need prayers, especially.  But your Confessor, particularly, needs the guidance of the Holy Spirit to meet your specific spiritual needs.  May Our Father bless him; may Our Most Merciful Redeemer love him; and may the Holy Spirit guide him.  Mother Mary, intercede for him.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Four more days before Christmas, and it's Sunday Snippets.  This is a post where some of my fellow bloggers and I gather together and share our week's posts.  RAnn at This and That and the Other Thing is our hostess.  So go over there and read what we've been up to this week.

Before I get into all that, I'd like to tell you about our crazy Christmas tradition.  When my children were very young, life was crazy and to make life easier, we ate Chinese Take Out, for Christmas Eve.  With a young family, this was a treat.  It was even considered a Christmas treat--Chinese food!  As teenagers, one of my daughters was dating an Italian boy.  He was invited to our traditional, annual, Christmas Eve Chinese Take Out.

He couldn't believe it.  He was appalled.  He said, "My family has been cooking for two weeks, and you Irishmen order Chinese Take Out?"

Italians have a 7-9 course fish dinner as a traditional Christmas Eve meal.

Nowadays, my daughter and her husband (not aforementioned) have our traditional Chinese Take Out, at their house.  They pay for it and it's their Christmas present to everyone.

Merry Christmas.

Monday -- My attempt to talk about the Blessed Mother.

Tuesday -- My attempt to stop a "cloistered brother" from worshipping Mary.

Wednesday -- Christmas skit on nutrition.

Thursday -- Book Review on Wasteland Renegades.

Friday -- I needed to slap myself from staring into space.

Saturday -- A Christmas present for yourself.

Remember the reason for the season.  Have a holy and blessed Christmas.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Confession for Christmas

Give yourself a gift, and go to Confession.

St. Catherine of Siena in Letter 36 says, "First of all, arrange for holy confession, and unburden your consciences."

Letter 35, "Go to confession often, and seek the company of people who will help you possess God in grace."

Dialogue, "You have to be set free.  Leave deadly sin behind by a holy confession with heartfelt contrition, satisfaction, and resolution to sin no more."

Take the hint.  St. Catherine of Siena is telling you how important it is to have a clean soul.  Go to Confession.  Don't you want to be as clean as possible for Christ's Mass?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Disciplining Prayer

Setting regular time aside to pray, isn't the end.  Just because you are quiet with no distractions, doesn't mean you are praying.  Staring off into space, doesn't do it.

There's a little bit more involved.  A memorized prayer can open your session, e.i., Our Father would be excellent, because Jesus taught us this perfect prayer.  Then I'd go over yesterday.  What went wrong?  What could you have done to make it better?  What was good, yesterday?

Next is planning today.  If you know what you are going to do, plan for meeting the people involved and how your encounter with them, could make them happier.  Are you dreading any encounter?  Ask for God's help?

Now be still and stare into space; but listen for God's voice.

End in prayer, thanking God for loving you.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Perron and Simpson Warp Us, Again!

Perron and Simpson Warp Us, Again!

Wasteland Renegades by Kristene Perron and Joshua Simpson, is book two of the Warp World Series.  It is also the answer to one of my wishes.  I was so hooked on the characters and their adventures that I wished for more and I got Wasteland Renegades.  I am not disappointed. 

Ama and Seg are in Seg’s world.  But they spend most of the time separated.  Seg has everybody on his back and has to keep everyone as satisfied as he can.  Ama doesn’t understand.  She has no patience and causes all sorts of trouble.  Poor Ama, although I could have shook her if I could, my heart went out to her when she was being “processed.”  She will never be the same.

There are some new characters.  The bad guys are really bad.  The good guys are likeable.  The authors, Kristene Perron and Joshua Simpson characterize very well.  I love and hate exactly where the authors wanted me to.  These authors are masters of thrilling suspense.  Their depiction of Warp World is delineated very clearly.  I can picture Seg’s world and Julewa Keep.  The action is making my heart race around. 

The novel ends before the smoke is cleared.  The reader knows that Seg’s troops have control of Julewa Keep, but at what cost, and what now?  I don’t know.  And where’s Ama? 

The authors leave us on the cliff.   #%^#**  That’s what I said too, or as The People would say, Karg!

This book was provided by the author and Tribute Books for review purposes.

Also, we have a giveaway going on over at Goodreads. You can enter to win a signed copy of Wasteland Renegades:

 The books on their website

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Skit on Nutrition

Surviving the Christmas Party with TOPS

Five Characters:   Narrator 1, Narrator 2, Trudy TOPS, Sally, Susie
Props:                   None really, just acted out.

Narrator 1:           Healthy lifestyles are what TOPS is all about.  If you have a
                           healthy lifestyle, you will be  what you are meant to be.
Narrator 2:          During the holidays, a TOPS knows that a cheerful, optimistic, 
                          caring demeanor is the best clothing anyone can put on. 
Trudy TOPS:       Well!  Now that I’m dressed in satin and velvet, and more importantly,                                 I’m in a good, healthy, frame of mind, I’ve got to plan. This Christmas                              party will have a buffet.
Narrator 1:          Trudy TOPS is wise.  She knows what she’s up against.  She's using mental imagery                         to practice overcoming tough situations.  She is imagining herself moving down the
                                buffet table taking reasonable servings of tasty, healthful food.
Trudy TOPS:   Before I leave, I’ll have a glass of water and an apple.  What other fruit is in the refrigerator?
Narrator 1:          Never go to a party hungry.  Hunger leads to overeating.  Trudy finishes her snacks and is off to the fun.
Trudy TOPS:       Before I open the door, I’m going to reaffirm in my mind, my behavior.  I won’t make a fool of myself.  I won’t overeat.  I won’t gossip.  I won’t choose foods laden with calories.  I’ll say something positive to everyone.  I won’t drink to much.  I will have fun.
Narrator 2:          Trudy TOPS arrives cheerfully greeting everyone.
Narrator 1:       Parties are about friends—visiting, and making new friends.  Trudy Tops spends the time chatting with everyone.
Narrator 2:      Notice that Trudy TOPS circulates among friends, as far away from the food as possible.
Trudy TOPS:       Hello Ladies.  May I join your group?
Sally & Susie:      Sure.
Sally:                      I’m going to get something to drink.  What do you ladies want?
Susie:                    I’ll have the egg nog with rum.
Trudy TOPS:       I’ll have a water, thank you.
Sally & Susie:      Oh com’on.  It’s Christmas.  It’s a party.  Don’t be a wet blanket.
Narrator 2:        Uh-Oh.  Social pressure.  Trudy Tops doesn’t like to be called a wet blanket.  She doesn’t want to be a wet blanket.  She doesn’t want to spoil Sally & Susie’s fun by making them feel guilty by drinking in front of her.  So…she says,
Trudy TOPS:       I’ll have white wine.  Pinot Noir if they have it.
Narrator 1:          Good choice.  Next to water, Pinot Noir is best.  It has 121 calories per serving.  Trudy TOPS will probably be nursing this one glass all night.
Sally:                      Time to eat.  Let’s go to the buffet table.
Narrator 2:          Trudy TOPS doesn’t go in line, immediately.  She surveys the table, as she imagined at home.   She looks the table over and skips the beginning where the bread is.  She chooses more vegetables and skips the potatoes with gravy.  Trudy choses the white turkey meat, in place of the dark.  Then she walks by the desserts, and picks up fruit instead.  Lastly, she walks away from the table and sits down to eat with Sally & Susie to enjoy her meal.
Narrator 1:       (Looking at Narrator 2)  Will you look at what Trudy TOPS chose?  There was no salad.
Narrator 2:          There was no salad on the table.  Trudy TOPS chose what she could.  Cherry tomatoes, pickles, carrot sticks.
Narrator 1:          Those broiled brussel sprouts look delicious.
Narrator 2:          The corn with red peppers looked pretty.  I bet they’re good too.
Narrator 1:          Broccoli and cauliflower heads top the plate.
Narrator 1:          Trudy Tops chose the lean white meat.
Narrator 2:          And only a little bit because her plate was so full.
Susie:                    I’m ready for dessert.
Sally:                      Trudy Tops, you’re such a slow eater!  Look you aren’t even half done!
Trudy TOPS:       I know.  I’m just enjoying the moment.  You girls are such fun.  The food is so good.  Go on and get your dessert.  I’m going to get myself a glass of water and finish eating at my own pace. 
Narrator 1 & 2:  YAY!!!  Trudy Tops is great!  Trudy Tops is the best!  Yay for Trudy!
Narrator 1:          Parties are about having fun.  That doesn’t include stuffing yourself with food until you feel bloated or drinking until you’re drunk.  Parties are enjoying the good will, the festivities, and sharing the time with old and new friends.
Narrator 2:          Talking helps you digest your food and paces your rate of eating.  Trudy TOPS spent the rest of the evening circulating among friends, making positive and happy comments to make everyone feel good, and taking sips of her Pinot Noir.
Trudy TOPS:       Good bye everyone.   Thank you.   I had a wonderful time.  I’m full.  I’m happy,  And I’m tired.  Merry Christmas to all.
Narrator 1:          And to all a good night!
Narrator 2:          Good bye.  Good night.  God bless.
Everyone:           Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Worshipping Mary--Not!

Yesterday's encounter with the ministers was still on my mind.  So I asked my RCIA candidates and catechumenate, what they thought of the ministers' refusal to engage in conversation with me.

Geeesh!  If I had said, "Look at the facial expressions of 'Little Bo Peep,' in these paintings.  What do you think?"  Would the ministers have reacted differently?

They can't even look at Mary?

Come on!


Well, the RCIA candidates who were Protestants, and the one Buddhist, said that "Mary" was the issue.  If I had said the woman was Little Bo Peep, the ministers would have responded differently.  Mary is the problem.

Sad, very sad.

One of the candidates is a former Protestant who has some sort of mystical relationship with Mary.  In fact, he said that Mary told him to go to the Catholic Church.  He seems normal; he's your average guy; until you bring up the subject of Mary.  He wears a rosary around his neck and also, another rosary is wrapped around his wrist and somehow his middle finger back down to his wrist.  He constantly prays the rosary--all day.

Yet, he seems like the average guy.  He told me that the ministers won't even entertain thoughts of Mary.  They dismiss even thinking about her, like a Christian should dismiss evil thoughts.

I said to him, "You do know that Catholics don't worship Mary?"
Everyone answered in agreement, except for him.  He insisted that Mary was right up there with the Trinity because there would be no Son if it weren't for her.

While that's true, there's only one God and that's who Catholics worship.    Mary is reverenced, greatly, but not worshiped!  I couldn't get him to agree to that.  I kind of think he wants to be Catholic because he loves Mary so much, he wants to worship her.  As a Protestant he was taught that Catholics worship Mary, and that's the reason he wants to join the Catholic Church.  Lord help me explain to him that it's only You Who is God.

Finally, I told him to pray about it.  He must continue reading and praying for understanding and wisdom.  Me too!  I need to find a way to tell this man that Mary is not equal to God.  Catholics do not worship Mary.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Traditional Mary

See these artists' depictions of Mary at the Annunciation.  My "cloistered brothers" and I were discussing the artists' interpretations.  Of course, this led to our own individual ideas of Mary at the Annunciation.

I think we passed a couple of hours in discussion.  It was very spiritually fruitful.  I was very impressed with this session.  I'm still meditating about our thoughts.

What is troubling is the fact that some people miss out on the Catholic view of Mary, the Annunciation, and Incarnation of Christ.  Walking away from having this graced filled experience with my "cloistered brothers,"  I walked with a couple of Protestant ministers.  I was so filled with the enthusiastic  benevolence I had received from this discussion, that I talked about my experience with these ministers.

I showed them these pictures.  I pointed out the various different expressions on Mary's faces.  I rattled on about some of the insightful comments my "cloistered brothers," shared.  I was happily praising and presenting my own interpretations.

But they looked embarrassed.  They put their heads and eyes down.

One of them said, "I take a more traditional view of Mary."

"OK"  I said.  "What's more traditional than Fra Angelico's Mary?  Look at this beautiful picture of the angel announcing...."  I could see he was shaking his head "No."

"OK" I continued.  "You know Mary is called the New Eve.  How far back do I have to go, for you to consider Mary traditional?"

They walked away from me, shaking their heads.

I don't get it.  They can't even look at Mary?  They can't look at art?  What do they do in school when the teacher discusses Michelangelo, Botticelli, Rembrandt, Lippi, etc?

Who do they think the scriptures are referring to as the Daughter of Zion, the embodiment of Nation Israel, the Ark of the Covenant, the bride at the Messianic Wedding Banquet, etc.?

What about Genesis 3: 15
Isaias 7: 1-17
Micheas 5: 2-3
Jeremias 31:22

Wow.  I don't get it.  Thank God I'm Catholic and can appreciate more fully the Trinity and all its revelatory experience.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday Snippets -- A Catholic Carnival

Rejoice!  I say it again, rejoice!  It's the third Sunday of Advent and the Lord is coming.  \0/ \0/ \0/  

RAnn asks what spiritual gift I would like to be blessed with.  What I need is the gift of moderation.  I tend to jump in with both feet, when just a toe would do.  Please God, place a hand over my mouth, handcuffs on my hands, and shackle my feet to You.  Sit on me Lord, I don't want to make a fool out of myself, anymore; although I will for you.

Now for Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival, where I give you my week, in review.  This post will link up to RAnn's This That And The Other Thing, where other bloggers will also link up.  Together, we share, read, and discuss our posts.  It's fun.

Monday -- I wanted to call attention to the vocation story of three seminarians, one of whom is from my own parish.  Patrick Fiorillo gives witness to his faith journey.  Pray for Pat and his classmates.

Tuesday -- A rant against recreational sex and living together.

Wednesday -- I prayed.

Thursday -- Commercial for Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology

Thursday -- Book Review on Scott Lerner's Ruler of Demons.

Friday -- Short Story for my granddaughter.

Saturday -- The Blues

Christmas is getting closer.  I've finished the Christmas cards.  I've lit the pink candle on the Advent wreath.  I'm ready.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Where Are You At?

Father Rocco told us about Beverly Blue, this morning.  She was a lady with a big voice and a big heart.  In the morning, every morning, Beverly helped make sandwiches for the homeless.  In the evening she sang the Blues.  She was good at both.

One of Father Rocco's students was amazed.  At what?  That she made sandwiches for the homeless and sang the Blues.  "How can she do that?" The student asked.

Father Rocco responded, "because that's where Jesus has led her."

Where has
Jesus led you?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Lucy Lego

Lucy Lego’s Christmas Ordeal

The big tub said 1000 legos.  But nobody bothered to count.  Among the lego blocks were some lego people.  Lucy was one of them.  She was a happy lego little girl.  She loved to play with the children and had as much fun as they did.

The children received the 1000 legos for Christmas and liked to play under the Christmas tree with them.  Particularly nice, was when all the lights in the room were turned off, except the Christmas tree lights.  Lucy Lego’s eyes sparkled with the reflection of the lights. 

She was a favorite of the children because there weren’t any other child legos.  There were her parents, and a lego dog and a lego cat.  Sometimes the children would fight over her.  This frightened Lucy because their Mother said that she would take Lucy Lego and throw her away, if the fighting didn’t stop. 

But the fighting didn’t stop.  One little boy was mean, and refused to share.  This made the little brother  cry, and the other children called him a “cry baby.”

Mother came in the room and picked up Lucy Lego, and made the children pick up all the other 999 legos.  The cover was put on the lego tub, and Lucy Lego was carried away.  Everyone was sent to bed.

Lucy Lego cried too.  Any minute she expected the Mother to throw her away in the waste basket.  But she didn’t.  Mother put Lucy Lego in an empty sugar bowl in a cupboard.

If Lucy Lego weren’t so confused and worried, she would have noticed that she was saved.  She wasn’t discarded with the trash, at all.  She was in a safe place.  The cupboard wasn’t so bad.  She could hear the family and the children.  Once in a while, when the cupboard was opened, she could even get a peak outside. The sugar bowl was pretty and cozy.

The twelfth day after Christmas, Grandma was coming over for dinner.  The cupboard was opened and the best dishes were taken out, along with the creamer and sugar bowl.  Mother took Lucy Lego out of the sugar bowl and dropped her into an apron pocket.
After dinner, the children went to play under the tree, as usual.  The Father gathered the children around himself, and told the children the story of the three Magi, following the Star of David, to find the promised baby, Jesus.  The three Magi brought gifts for the new born baby.  And to carry on that tradition of gift giving, Father gave the children a big box of crayons.  Grandma gave the children a music box that played Silent Night.  And Mother gave the children Lucy Lego.

The screams of delight echoed Merry Christmas!

Ruler of Demons

Scott A. Lerner’s Ruler of Demons is a fast read.  At first I laughed out loud at the depiction of Catholic transubstantiation, Catholic clergy, and the hovering hints of secret plots.  My Catholic senses braced for Catholic bashing and ridiculous portrayals of what I hold sacred.  But then I got drawn into the story.

The story has the major character, Sam, in a race, to solve a puzzle, prevent more ritualistic murders, and crazy as you probably think, force God’s hand to end the world.  You won’t think it’s so crazy when you’re in the story.

Hey, this isn’t theology 101; it’s a story, and you will be following Sam, and his sidekick, Bob, traveling from the USA, to Israel, to France.  They have a week to fix everything, solve the mystery, debunk the myth, and stop the bad guys.  And oh yeah, save the world.

One of the best techniques in this thriller is the pace.  Your heart will race.  But you won’t have a heart attack, because the author is skilled in breaking up the pace with humor.  Sam’s and Bob’s banter will make you laugh.  Sometimes you have to stop and think, and then you’ll guffaw.  (He who laughs last laughs best.)  They’re clever, witty, and likeable.    

I think everyone will enjoy this story.  You won’t figure it out.  You won’t expect any of the twists  the characters find themselves going through.  You won’t want the world to end.  Yet, (no spoilers)!
This book was provided by the author and Tribute Books for review purposes.

Prices/Formats: $4.95 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Pages: 202
ISBN: 9781603819053
Publisher: Camel Press
Release: December 15, 2013

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Prayer by Drake, Tutu, and the One True Faith

My "cloistered brothers" and I examined a prayer by Archbishop Desmond Tutu from the Forgiveness Project.  At the bottom of the prayer, credit was given to the original prayer by Sir Francis Drake.  My curiosity was piqued by the name Sir Francis Drake?  Wasn't he a pirate and traitor?

 Naturally, I googled him.  He wasn't a traitor and he was a legal pirate.  He raided the Spanish and at that time, Spain and England were at war, so his illegal endeavors were sanctioned or winked at.

He did write, including poetry, and the prayer that is famous.  When I compared the two prayers, I didn't see any difference in meaning.  Surely there are words that are different, but not the sentiment.  I imagined Archbishop Tutu memorized this prayer, but when he wrote it down, he didn't write  word for word.  The same ideas came across.  I like it, and I want to do the same.  My take on the Francis Drake Prayer:

Disturb us Lord, when we're drifting,
When our course doesn't allow for Your Wind,
Because we think we're in charge.

Disturb us Lord, when the cargo is heavy,
When we want to keep what we have,
Because we forget  we owe everything to You.

Disturb us Lord, when  weather comes upon us,
When we're frightened and feel so all alone,
Because we doubt Your Presence and Power.

Help us Lord, when we look for shore,
When we're tired and need to anchor,
Because it's time to come home.

We ask this in the name of Our Savior, Lord, Redeemer, Your Son, Jesus Christ, Our Captain.

Here's my inspiration.

Sir Francis Drake's Prayer                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show
Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.


Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, O Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess,
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
When, having fallen in love with time,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of Heaven to grow dim.
Stir us, O Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms show Thy mastery,
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

In the name of Him who pushed back
The horizons of our hopes;
And invited the brave to follow.

 The red is what different in the prayers between Sir Francis Drake and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Normalizing Perversion

Good grief!  What acrobatics we put out consciences through to justify our actions!  I'm thinking of how young adults justify "recreational sex."

"We've made a personal commitment to each other."  That's their reason.  Mmmm, like I've made a personal commitment to feed my cat every day?  Walk the door?  Take care of my pets?

Is that what love has been reduced to---a personal commitment?

(Thank you Jesus for Dick, my hubby.)

That kind of personal commitment doesn't do it for me.  I want a sacred covenant relationship, made before God, and sealed with the Eucharist.

How did we ever get to this stage of human development?

Isn't love a supreme desire to seek the true good of the other person?  Forever and ever?  A desire to grow old together?  To enjoy children together?

The nature of marriage is love. I always think of Tobit praying before taking his wife, "... And so I do not take my sister for any lustful motive; I do it in singleness of heart..."

What is the nature of a personal commitment--depends (feed the cat, etc.).  Do couples in "personal commitments" take their partners not for lust?  

Nowadays, people don't take sex outside of marriage, seriously.  The culture promotes recreational sex. No  one sees any wrong in it.  Our culture has so perverted society that sex before marriage is normal.  I feel especially sorry for young women.  They have rationalized that their bodies' main purpose is to pleasure men.  Is it fun to have your hymen broken? Is it pleasurable to have sex, rather than make love?  She is also taking the risk of pregnancy, and her partner is letting her take it. I think this is a perversion of love.  The personal commitment isn't about love; it's normalizing perversion.  

(Thank you Jesus for Dick, my hubby.)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Evangelization of Witness

Pay attention to my parish's seminarian, Patrick Fiorillo. His journey is what we hope for all our children, indeed, all people.

Advent is Waiting

Msgr. Peter Conley
Msgr. Peter reminisced about "waiting."  When he was a boy of eleven years, he loved his father most.  His father was the head of the family and always insisted upon the family eating supper together.  One day there was a blizzard.  He had no school.  It snowed all day.

Dinner time came and his father wasn't home yet.  The family waited half an hour.  They waited an hour.  No one voiced what they were thinking.

Peter worried that something had happened to his father.  After a couple of hours, he told his mother that he was going to wait at the bus stop.  His mother didn't stop him.  So Peter bundled up to walk in the snow and trudged out.  He walked up the side street.  He walked up the main street, crossed the railroad tracks, climbed the little hill, and stood at the bridge.

There were two busses his father could take.  One would stop at the bridge, and then cross over the bridge.  The other would stop at the bridge, and continue on straight.  Peter waited.  He saw bus headlights down the road.  He waited.  He watched the bus slowly, ever so slowly make its way to the bridge.  One person got off.

Peter held his breath.  He couldn't make out the face.  But the person that got off the bus was a man.  Then the man pulled down his hat, and Peter recognized his father's mannerisms and let out a sigh of relief.

That's waiting.  Advent is waiting for Christ to come.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

It's Sunday, again!  That means it's time for A Catholic Carnival's Sunday Snippets, generously hosted by R'Ann and her This and That and the Other Thing Blog.  I suggest that you go over to her blog to see what Sunday Snippets is all about.

R'Ann was talking about her favorite title for Mary, which for her is Our Lady of Divine Providence.  My favorite title is Our Lady of Mercy because that's the title of my Lay Dominican Chapter.  The Chapter is inside a prison, so we have a very heartfelt connection to Our Lady of Mercy.

What happened this week?

Monday -- I did a book review of Ruby Heart by Cristelle Comby.  This is book two, of a detective series.  The detectives are a unique complementary combination.

Tuesday -- my thoughts about Father George's homily.

Wednesday -- I made a fool of myself, again--almost.

Thursday -- Catechesis about the Church Fathers.

Friday -- A post about hubby's toilet paper fetish.

Saturday -- Two posts: a quiz to help buying Christmas presents, and Father Jerry almost catching on fire, from the Advent Wreath.

I'm happy I went to church on Saturday, because I feel a cold coming on, and since I've been to Mass already,I can stay home and gather in my defenses to battle any germs lurking around, waiting to attack.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Holy Spirit and Fire Ignites Priest

We almost had a real live demonstration of Matt. 3: 11-12, and/or a catastrophic event.  Father Jerry Hogan, the circus priest, almost went up in flames.  No he wasn't performing, just giving a homily.  It wasn't boring before the fire, and it certainly wasn't after.

Father Jerry was talking about John the Baptist proclaiming:

 I indeed baptize you with water...He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

When the people sitting on the side aisle starting exclaiming.  "Look out...the candles...your vestments...the flame...the chasuble...catching fire...Advent wreath..."

Father Jerry looked behind him.  Father Jerry jumped down three steps at once!!!!!


Thanks be to God that he wasn't hurt.  Nothing happened.  The Advent Wreath is placed on the floor in front of the altar.  And that's where Father Jerry stands to give the homily.  The vestments weren't even scorched.

I think this is one homily I will never forget, (nor Father Hogan).

Quiz to Help You Find the Perfect Present

Are you overwhelmed with thoughts of what to get people?  Money and gift cards show no thought.  You want to do better than that.  This quiz  will help.

1.     Does the person like music?

2.     Does the person like to read?

3.     Does the person watch movies?

4.     Does the person dress stylishly?

5.     Does the person wear rude, crazy, tee shirts?

6.     Is the person a sports fanatic?

7.     Does the person wear pajamas?

8.     Is the person sentimental?

9.     How close is the person to you?

10.     How much money do you have to spend?

So take the questions you answered "yes" to, and take questions "9" and "10" into consideration, and you should have a pretty good idea what to buy.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Toilet Paper Roll School of Thought

Yesterday, the RCIA catechumenate discussed self-esteem and narcissism.  Self-esteem is good.  You should be proud and have faith in yourself.  Narcissism is too much self-esteem.  You would never think of anyone but yourself; rules and laws don't apply to you.  Narcissists think they're always right.

When it comes to going to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, they're in a quandary.  They probably wonder why they have to, because they haven't sinned.  Everyone understood this.

Everything was going along fine, until someone mentioned that narcissists don't change the toilet paper in the bathroom because they had what they needed; let the next person change the roll.  Everyone laughed but me.  Hubby is always accusing me of doing this.  But I don't think I'm being narcissistic.  It's just because I change it when it's near the end of the roll.  He always wants an extra one handy, all the time.  I claim it's just a different school of thought, not narcissism.

Do you see my point?
The Christmas Cactus does well next to the toilet paper.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Who are the Church Fathers?

A few days ago, we celebrated the saint, John Damascene.  My book said that he is regarded as the last of the Church Fathers.  This made me wonder who the other church fathers were, how many there were, and why are they called "church fathers." Today, I finally had time to delve into my questions.

They are all from the early church.  St. John Damascene died in the eighth century, and that is customarily considered the cut off date.

Why they have this title varies.  Some were religious, some clerics, but all were leaders who were listened to.  They had influence and that influence shaped the church.  Hence, they are considered "fathers of the church."

According to Catholic Answers:

 The Church demands four major characteristics to be exhibited in the life and works of an early Church leader if he is to be considered a Father of the Church. These are antiquity, meaning that he lived before the eighth century doctrinal orthodoxy; personal sanctity; and approval by the Church.

Were there Church Mothers? Since the women weren't people with as much influence as the bishops and noted theologians, their writings haven't been promoted, as much as the church fathers.  Besides, the culture at that time was patristic; hence the Church Fathers.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Called to Help

After Mass this morning, at the abbey, I went to get the book with the psalms to sing Terce with the nuns.  I noticed this man in the last seat, in the last back pew, of the chapel.  He was standing up ready to sing.  But, he had no book and I thought he looked confused.  So I went over to him and asked him, "May I pray with you?"  He said "Yes."  We prayed, sang, and prayed, again.  He followed me along.

When it was over and the nuns were recessing, he turned to me and said, "Sometimes it's nice to just listen.  The words get in the way."  He said some other things, also, but the words in the quotes are what resonated.  I thought he was trying to tell me that he would have rather I had left him alone.  I had interrupted his prayer time.

I walked out feeling very down about my self.  I had done it again.  I had presumed too much.  It's like helping an old lady cross the street when she didn't want to get there.  She was just standing on the corner.  I can't count how many times I've done this--too many to count.

I think I'm being inspired, or called to help someone.  NOT!

Downcast, I walked to my car. Berating myself. "Stupid!"  "Idiot!"

Michael, (I later learned his name.) came over and started to chat.  It was just small talk.  We didn't say anything I can remember.  But I do remember how he made me feel.  As we chatted, my mood changed.

Whereas, I had felt like a failure before, I now felt better.  I may have interrupted Michael's prayer time, but that was OK.  I made a new friend.

Look out little old ladies.  Get ready to cross the street--whether you want to, or not!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Turning the Corner

The Archdiocese of Boston has turned the corner.  That's what Father George said in Sunday's homily.  After years of being ashamed and struggling and plodding along to keep the faith, there's hope.  Father George related an experience he had as he was walking to a parishioner's home.  A young man across the street from where he was walking raised his hand in a salute and shouted, "The Pope's the man!"  This is the equivalent of "hurrah!"

Father George also told the story of something that happened at a catechesis class for adults.  This class had been advertised for weeks before it began.  The night it started, the priests and teachers were outside the church to greet the people coming to class.  A man came holding a baby.  He said he was coming, but forgot something.  He asked a lady to hold his baby.  She did.  He went.

He was gone.  The class was held and he didn't return.  The class ended and he wasn't back.  As they were discussing what to do, the man appeared.  He thanked the lady holding his baby and took the baby.  He also gave her something in return--a gun.  He swapped the baby for the gun.  He said he went off to kill himself, but decided he couldn't.  He came back to try and start all over, for his baby.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Ruby Heart

Have you ever heard of a blind PI?  Well, read the Neve & Egan series, and you’ll meet one.  Ashford Egan is the analytical, organized, and blind component of the detective team of Neve & Egan.  Alexandra Neve is the impulsive, loose cannon.  Somehow they complement each other. 

Ruby Heart is the second  novel in the Neve & Egan series.  After I read the first ten pages, (the Prologue), I had to buy the first book, Russian Dolls.  I devoured both novels.  But you don’t have to read Book One before you read Ruby Heart.  It stands by itself, and explanations are given for reference, when necessary for the story.

Ruby Heart is a necklace, a very dear necklace.  It was given to Neve & Egan’s client before World War II. The client is elderly and seriously ill.  Actually, she’s at death’s door.  So the pressure to find the necklace before Doris Hargrave’s death is critical. 

Alexandra Neve searches Nazi newspapers and actually does see the necklace on the neck of a lady, in one of them.  She identifies the woman, and tries to see if anyone in her family still has the necklace.  The necklace was probably used to buy safety from the Nazi’s. 

Don’t forget that Doris is dying.  She wants to see the necklace before she dies.  She especially wants her granddaughter to wear it on her wedding day.  It’s a family tradition that it will be a happy marriage for the wearer.

Did I mention that Alexandra’s house is burned down: that the police think the stolen necklace case is too old to investigate, that a mysterious “mob boss,” called “the Sorter,” seems to be a step ahead of them?  There’s more, too. 

Ruby Heart inspired me to look into my jewelry box to see if I had something similar to a ruby heart necklace. Better than finding my own family heirloom, I found a new detective series that I love.  I am looking forward to the next case.

I’d like to thank Tribute Books   for providing me with a complimentary review copy.

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