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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Icon of the Virgin Nicopeia

April 30 is the feast day of Pius V.  He is the pope who asked everyone to pray the Rosary during the Battle of Lepanto.

In looking at videos and pictures of the lucky people who were able to go to Rome for the two popes' canonizations, I saw a picture of this icon, the Virgin of Nicopeia in the church of San Marco. She has an interesting history.

The name itself, Nicopeia, means bringer of victories.  It was first mentioned in the first half of the fifth century.

 The word Nicopeia indicates the place, Constantinople. There are actually many different types. The early Byzantine and widely spread style usually shows Mary seated on a throne in a frontal position with her feet on an imperial footrest. She is richly dressed in purple and the costume of the empresses. Seated on her lap is the Child, whom she supports with her left hand on the his left leg and her right hand on his right shoulder. This solemn and majestic pose is often accompanied by two angels holding the orb and the scepter at either side and as part of the frame.
   The name "bringer of the victory" seems to have been attached to this form of icon after Heraklios selected this image of Mary and the Child and named them his protectors when he sailed from Carthage to Constantinople in 610 AD. Heraklios left the image in Constantinople after the victory. In 626, the siege of the Avaren and Slaves is said to have been averted after prayer before this image. The image is also thought by many to have been the icon given by Empress Eudokia to her sister-in-law Empress Pulcheria in the fifth century.
Whatever its actual origin, it became part of the Venetian loot when Constantinople was sacked in 1204 during the fourth Crusade. The original disappeared after that. The Nicopoia in San Marco is most likely a copy made after the difficulties with iconoclasm.

Copies are what we see now.  At various times, iconographers have added precious jewels to the icon, but these have been stolen.  I'm not sure if the original is still around.  But this icon was carried in a ship in the Battle of Lepanto.  

And also, the icon was given to the primate in the Ukraine, in 2001.  They need her prayers, now.

"Thou art an impregnable wall and a source of miracles enabling us to subdue enemy attacks, O Mother of God. Wherefore we pray thee grant peace to the world and great mercy to our souls."

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

She Who Was Nothing

Today is the Memorial of one of my heroes, St. Catherine of Siena.  She is a favorite because she was a nobody.  In her prayer conversations with God, she would often ask Him "why," and His response would be "...because I am God, and you are not."  She didn't know how to read nor write.  She wasn't schooled because females in her time in history, were not, neither were most men.  However, she may have learned how to read later in life, because she wrote many letters and her dialogues with God.  Although, her friends, Catherati, so to speak, may have helped her.  Many people followed her.

I love the fact that she was a lay woman, not a religious sister or nun.  She was in the exact state of life she needed to be to do the work God gave her.  If she were a nun or sister she would have been under obedience to a superior and that would have been the end of her mission, for sure.

As I mentioned, she was unschooled.  Hence, the fact that she conversed with political figures and princes, in the warring Italian cities, is proof that God was with her.  Why else did anybody pay her any mind, were He not?

She is famous for telling the pope where to go.  Pope Urban VI moved the papacy to Avignon, France.  Catherine convinced him for the good of the church to move back to Rome.  The papacy never left Rome again.

How could an unschooled girl have this power over political and religious leaders, were she not from God?  And she did it by identifying her will with God's.  This shows that strength comes from accepting God will and one's nothingness.

Catherine worked among the sick and in her era pestilence thrived.  She had an affinity for society's poor souls.  She labored in prisons and befriended the condemned, including catching the head of a condemned guillotined man.

She performed miracles and even received the stigmata.  Upon requesting that the overt display of the wounds be taken away, but not the pain, her request was granted.  She didn't want to "show off" in any way, not that the gift of stigmata wasn't wanted.

She changed her world.  "If you are what you are meant to be, you will change the world."

Because of her humility, charity, prayer and sacrifice, she was made a Doctor of the Church.  

Monday, April 28, 2014

Day Off

Languid reflections mirror your resting image,
Hushed lapping sounds as the water gently kisses your hull,
Quietly the day of rest is spent,
breath deeply the joy of relaxation,
no tension, no stress, no billowing waves,
no bellowing calls, no fish to haul,
Gently rocking at the dock,
Warming breezes waft in the early morning sun,
peace has come, no work to be done,
No stress to overcome,
nothing better than a day
spent with your loved ones A Day Off...
    * Pic and reflection from MEK's Pencil in the Hole

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday in Penance

Pic from MEK's Pencil in the Hole

Last night was one of the worst nights I've had in a long time.  We were babysitting overnight.  My granddaughter woke up crying too many times to count.  I felt that I had no choice but to get into her bed and sleep with her.  Well, I didn't sleep.  I kept my ears open for my alarm to ring at 6:00 because I was scheduled to Lector the first Mass for the Second Sunday in Easter.  I certainly didn't want to wake her up so early.

I had a lack of sleep headache most of the day. I was back from Mass and she was still asleep--lucky!

She was gone by noon, so I went to the Divine Mercy services.  I was so tired.  I planned to go to Confession and come home.  A nap was in my future.

The lines for Confession were long.  I almost fell asleep waiting.  My confessor was good and I liked him, but the penance he gave me made my jaw drop.

My penance was to stay for ALL the Divine Mercy services:

Exposition/Adoration of the Eucharist
Chaplet of Divine Mercy
Veneration of the Image of Divine Mercy
and the relic of St. Sr. Faustina
and Mass  (I said I had already been and he told me I could go again and receive Communion again, since this was a special occasion.)

Today was a very special occasion.  Today was:
Divine Mercy Sunday
Canonization of two popes--John Paul II, and John XXIII
Second Sunday of Easter
Thomas Sunday
Quasimodo Sunday  (read Fr. Gerald Souza's blog for explanation)

For doing all this, I received a plenary indulgence.  I can use all the indulgences I can get.  I feel I really earned it today.

I was so tired that I'll admit that I dozed off during Adoration.  But the Mass and everything else Fr. Romanus Onyekuru, SMA presided over, woke me up.  He is an excellent homilist.  In fact, I didn't want his homily to end.  He saw things in John 20: 19-31 that I never saw before.  He also had a wonderful voice.

One of the themes he mentioned, that resonated with me, was "community."  He talked about how important community is:

where two or three are gathered  Matt 18: 20
living in community Acts 2: 44-47
be united 1Cor 1:10

And there's many, many more references in the Bible.  Well Father Romanus said the reason Thomas doubted, was because he was alone.  If he had been with the others, he would have felt what had moved them.  Community offers support.

Also, Thomas is known as Didymus, meaning the "twin."  Who's his twin?

You and me.  We have doubts, too.  Anyone who has ever doubted is Thomas' twin.

Of course, Jesus treats Thomas mercifully and that theme was expanded on too, since today is Mercy Sunday.

For a penance, I admit I enjoyed myself.  And I got a plenary indulgence, too.

Sunday Snippets -- A Catholic Carnival

Compared to when I usually post Sunday Snippets -- A Catholic Carnival, I'm late.  I've been busy and I'll write separate posts about what I was busy about, later.  Now, I'm focusing on Sunday Snippets -- A Catholic Carnival, which I do every Sunday with some other bloggers.  You are welcome to click over to the blog, This and That and the Other Thing, to see what I am referring to.

But first let me answer R'Ann's question about what I do for the parish.  Presently, I only Lector because I belong to a lot of groups, e.i., two book clubs, two Bible sharing, and a prayer group.  I belong to other non-religious groups too.  I could very happily spend all my time volunteering and belonging to groups I enjoy.

What did I do this week?

Monday --  Boston Marathon poem     

Tuesday -- Childhood memories :-(

Wednesday -- My visit to the Peabody Essex Museum

Thursday  -- Prompt writing and Spirituality

Friday -- The value of a Bible

Saturday -- Giuseppe Girotti, O.P.

That's all folks!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Beatification Commemorating the Martyrdom of Fra Girotti

Lost in all the hoopla of the canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII is

The Beatification of Giuseppe Girotti, OP.  

Giuseppe Girotti
On the 27th of March 2013, the Holy Father Pope Francis authorized Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to Promulgate the Decree on the Martyrdom of the Servant of God Giuseppe Girotti, a professed priest of the Order of Preachers. His beatification will take place on Saturday, 26th of April 2014 at Duomo di Alba in Cuneo, northern Italy, the city of his birth.

The solemn celebration will be presided over by the delegate of the Holy Father, Cardinal Giovanni Coppa. Also expected at the celebration are; Bishop Giacomo Lanzetti, Bishop of the Diocese of Alb with the priests, religious and faithful of the diocese and other bishops. The Master of the Order, Fr Bruno Cadoré will also be there, accompanied by a host of Dominican brothers, sisters and laity.

The entire preparation is a combined effort of the office of the Postulator General of the Order in Santa Sabina, the Organizing Committee of the Province of St Dominic in Italy (frs Lodovico Montoli, Igor Barbini and Massimo Rossi) and the Diocese of Alba. After the joint meeting of the group, the following were decided; the official image which will be used for posters and other souvenirs, a booklet of about 40 pages on his life and process, a documentary film on his life and testimonies about his life and a programme of events to create the necessary awareness.

Special thanks goes to fr Ludovico Montoli who laboured for 30 years on the cause of our brother Giuseppe Girotti. Thanks also goes to all other brothers, living and dead, who have contributed in one way or the other towards the cause. Not forgetting the other members of the Dominican family especially the Dominican Nuns who prayed earnestly for the beatification.

Come April 26, all roads will lead to Alba where we shall celebrate our communion as Dominicans in union with the Universal Church. For promotional materials, please contact, Convento S. Bartolomeo, Largo Belotti, 1, 24121 BG;

His Profile:
Fr Giuseppe Girotti was born in Alba, in the northern part of Italy on the 19th of July, 1905. He was born of a humble family that were esteemed for their hard work and godliness. At the age of 13, he was convinced of his aspiration for the priesthood which led him to enter the Dominican Seminary of Chieri (TO). He was a brilliant student, very lively and cheerful too. In 1923, he made his religious profession in “La Quercia”, near Viterbo and on August 3, 1930 he was ordained to the priesthood at Chieri.

He specialized in the interpretation of Scriptures at Angelicum, Rome and the Ècole Biblique of Jerusalem. At the Ècole Biblique, he was a student of the Servant of God Marie-Joseph Lagrange, OP and under him, he published his academic work, “Prolita in Sacra Scrittura” in 1934. He dedicated his life to the teaching of Scriptures at the Dominican Theological Seminary of Turin (S. Maria delle Rose). As a result of his extensive study of Scriptures, he published an extensive commentary on the Wisdom Books and the Prophet Isaiah.

Esteemed for his vast learning, he loved to exercise his priestly ministry among the poor and lonely especially at the hospice of the elderly which was close to his convent of S. Maria delle Rose, Turin. There came a period of trial and suffering for him, which he accepted in humility. He was deprived of further education and was transferred to the Convent of San Domenico in the historic centre of Turin. Despite this, he continued his research in Scriptures while intensifying the exercise of his priestly and charitable activities.

“Everything I do is for charity”, he candidly said once, indicating his continued growth in the virtue of charity.
After September 8, 1943, with the German occupation and the birth of the Italian Social Republic, Girotti began a centre for a vast network of support for Jews. His cultural affinity to Jews was nourished during his years of study in Jerusalem and further deepened by his actual study of Scriptures. It is in this sense that we understand his expressions “Carriers of the Word of God” and “Elder brothers” as referring to Jews. At this time, many of them, while facing persecution and much suffering, sought for safe havens and false documents for a new identity. Girotti was able to assist them in many ways.

His activities with Jews which were contrary to the Laws of the Fascist and Nazi led to his arrest on the 29th of August, 1944. He was betrayed by a spy who disguised as someone in need of help and he was taken to Villa Cavorette, the place where Girotti had hidden the Jewish Professor Joseph Diena. Girotti was subsequently arrested and imprisoned in the new prison at Turin. Despite the efforts of his prior to have him released, he was transferred first to San Vittore prison in Milan, then to the camp of Gries, Bozano and finally on the 5th of October 1944, he was taken to Dachau, Germany. According to Don Angelo Dalmasso, another priest with whom he was imprisoned, Girotti stood out for his generosity and openness toward the other inmates with whom he frequently shared the Word of God. He was imprisoned in Cabin 26 with a thousand other priests in a space that was originally meant for 180 inmates. Due to this condition, he became ill and was admitted at the infirmary.

On Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945, at barely 40years old, Girotti died. His death was probably aided by a lethal injection of gasoline as was the custom then. On his bunk, his fellow inmates wrote, “Here slept Saint Guiseppe Girotti”.

In 1988, the curia of Turin started the formal process for his canonization. On the 14th of February, 1995, 50years after his death, he received a posthumous medal as “Righteous Among the Nations”, a recognition from the State of Israel to all those who worked for the salvation of Jews during the Holocaust. His name is inscribed on the official list and a tree is planted in his honour at the Avenue of the Righteous at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. (The Postulator General of the Order)

Friday, April 25, 2014

My Best Book

As a blogger, and gluttonous reader (belong to two book clubs and writer of reviews for Tribute Books, Tuscany Press, and Catholic Fiction), I love the flow, sound, and images of written language.  I just love the written word.  But the book I always return to, more than Island of the World, more than The Liturgy of Flowers in a Mary Garden, and David Lang's Does The Bible Support Catholic Beliefs, is the Bible.

The aforementioned books meet certain needs I have in certain moments.  Reflection comes from Island of the World and The Liturgy of Flowers....  The Liturgy of Flowers... gives me inspiration and beauty.  (See You Tube above.) The Island... offers hope and imagination.  David's book is well worn from thumbing.  It's my "go to" reference book.

But the Bible is so much more than that.  Hardly a day doesn't go by, in which I don't  have a need to look up something.  It has everything for everybody: wisdom, direction, help in various situations, love letters and poetry, warnings, and instructions for life.  It's God's manual for how to live your life.  This is all in one book.  See how great our God is!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bethanien Spirituality

If you've ever wondered what I'm about, here's the basis of my spirituality.


pic from creative commons

The other night in my writing workshop I was given the prompt, "freckles."  How appropriate, that I should be given that particular one!

In five minutes I wrote.

My mother tells me that the sun loves me very much.  And to prove his love for me, he kisses me.  That kiss from the sun leaves a freckle.

My sister tells me not to worry, they'll fade as I get older.

My brother tells me to wear makeup to hide them.

Daddy tells me to forget about them, besides, he likes them.  He thinks they're cute, and makes him think sunny, happy thoughts.

I believe them all:
     *  the sun loves me
     *  they will fade in time
     *  makeup can disguise them
     *  Daddy likes them

They're cute.  They make people think sunny, happy thoughts.

So?  I was only give five minutes to write!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Silk Chasuble

Look what I found in the Peabody Essex Museum, in Salem, MA.  This is a chasuble from the 18th-19th century, in China.  It's made of silk.  It was probably made in Canton or Macau.  Chinese textiles made for foreign patrons often featured vines and leaves and peonies.

Just imagine the history this chasuble went through, giving glory to God.

The style of needlework on this piece is typical of the time.  The embroidery thread is silk, as well as the material it is sewn on.  IHS is a Greek monogram for the name, Jesus Christ.  The Greek monograms were used even in Latin.  Even St. Vincent Ferrer used IHS, and it became a characteristic iconographic image associated with him, before the Jesuits adopted the symbol as their seal.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Family Barometer

You can tell how the family is by the atmosphere around the dinner table.  I'm sorry to say, that as a child, I was the cause of a lot of tension.  No one could get me to eat what I didn't like, and I didn't like most things.  I remember hiding crust in the sugar bowl.  Throwing food to the dog.  Hiding meat in the mashed potatoes.

The worst was when I spilled milk, twice in a row.  My father would slam his hand down on the table and scream obscenities, "Every gd time we sit down to eat, she spoils it."

But I wasn't doing it on purpose.

That's why I never pushed my kids to eat.  They didn't want what was served, "fine."  Just no dessert.  When they were older, they were allowed to get up and make themselves something else.

No big deal.

Everyone says the dinner table should be a place of happy intimacy.  I've tried to do that in my own family because I remember my childhood's table being a place of hostility.  My fault, I'm sorry to say.  I made dinner hell.

Lord have mercy on my poor parents.  They did the best they could.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Ballad of the Boston Marathon

Ballad of the Boston Marathon
                      (bombing 2013)

“I’m thinking of going to the Marathon,
leaving early in the morn, 
and watch the runners cross the finish line
at the Boston Marathon.”

“No! You know what a mess traffic is,
today will be more than crazy,
parking will be impossible and expensive,
and the crowds whipped to a frenzy.”

“We’re taking the ‘T’ to Back Bay Station.
The finish line is there.
And my friends will guide and protect me,
we’ll be good and take care.”

The mother finally smiled in acquiescence,
to think her child safe
and happy with sensible companions.
All too soon that smile was erased.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Alleluia!  He is risen.  Truly risen!

It's Easter and it's also time for linking up with my fellow bloggers at R'Ann's.  I urge you to click on over there to read some good blogs.

What's your Easter tradition?  Ours is an Easter egg hunt.  My kids were in the twenties and still insisting on it.  Now we do it for my grandchild.

This week, actually two weeks, have been wicked crazy.  I've had company the whole time.  The first week I had my nephew's family, here to visit UMass.  This week, I've had the President of the Lay Fraternities of the Southern Province, Col. Jo Ann Cotterman, O.P..  She is here to talk to my "cloistered brothers."

Meanwhile, I managed to squeeze in these posts:

Monday -- cleaning the prison cemetery

Tuesday -- Book Review of Alive

Wednesday -- Re: Judas

Thursday -- The Last Supper

Friday -- Explanation of the Tridiuum

Have a wonderful Easter. We have good reason to celebrate.  He is risen; truly risen!  Alleluia!

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Easter Tridiuum

                My brother (Irish Dominican) explains the Easter Tridiuum.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Last Time

We all know we're going to die, but we don't think about it.  We've all had friends with cancer, if not ourselves.  Sometimes the cancer is terminal.  Now, that brings about a new definition of knowing when we are to die.  Everything is seen with different eyes.

Some of these people sometimes make a conscious effort to say "goodbye" to their loved ones.  If they can, they want to spend time with them.

Even though he didn't have cancer, Jesus knew he was about to die.  He knew this was the last time he would be spending with his disciples.  He made it very special.

We remember, Lord.  Thank you for remembering us.  Thank you for loving us.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Surely it is not I, Rabbi?

All my life, I've gone to Mass.  I've heard the story of the Last Supper, all my life.  Today, I heard and learned something new.

The disciples never used the title, "Rabbi," when addressing Jesus.  He told them not to.  Others who were not close to him, called him Rabbi, e.i., Pharisees and Sadducees.

So when Judas asks "Surely it is not I, Rabbi?" everyone at the table must have perked up.  Something's amiss.

Yes, this is a foreshadowing of Judas' separation from the disciples.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Piers Paul Read has written a few books that I often recommend.  So when I picked up Alive and the cover read, “# 1 New York Times Bestseller,” “Sixteen men, seventy-two days, and insurmountable odds—the classic adventure of survival in the Andes,” I thought Piers Paul Read had authored another great work of fiction.

It wasn’t until I was on page 8-11 that I started having my doubts.  Definitely, when I spotted a map on page 13, the possibility that Alive may not be fiction dawned on me.  That’s what I get for skipping “Introductions.” 

The Acknowledgements, Introduction, and the Interview with the Survivors, in the back of the book, confirmed the fact that Alive by Piers Paul Read was non-fiction.  By then, it was too late.  I was hooked. 

I don’t only read fiction, after all.  But Alive is so unbelievable, it could very well be fictitious.  The survival of these men is so miraculous, it could be a tall tale.  But it’s not.  It’s made all too real by the author’s telling of the truth.

Piers Paul Read lists the passengers on the plane flying from Montevideo, Uruguay, to Santiago, Chile.  I got to know each one, and cared about them.  Any author of fiction would create sympathy for their major character.  Piers Paul Read does this for forty passengers and five crewmen.  There were times I was brought to tears by their fate.  I winced at their pain.  Is this because of the author’s skill at fiction writing?  Piers Paul Read definitely is skilled in the craft of writing, fiction and nonfiction.  Although he apologizes in the Acknowledgements, for not having the skill to express what these survivors went through.  I can’t imagine any author doing a better job.

This book is the most overtly Catholic book I’ve ever read, outside of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  The author, Piers Paul Read is a Catholic writer.  The characters are all Catholic.  They are rugby football players from two Catholic schools.   They pray their way through the book.  They meet God through their ordeal.

The boys are going to a game.  The plane crashes.  The passengers’ prayers stormed heaven.  The survivors thought a lot about God.  As time passed and they became weaker, their thoughts and prayers became desperate.  The boys made a conscious decision to organize and plan, since it didn’t look like search parties would find them.  First, they prayed.  Every night a rosary was prayed.  At night many theological and philosophical problems were discussed.

But first things first, food was a premium.  They ate what was available: wine, cheese, chocolate the passengers had bought as souvenirs.  But the plane had landed in snow covered mountains.  There was no vegetation and no game—absolutely no natural resources.  After a few weeks, the medical students in the group suggested eating the muscle and flesh of their deceased peers.  (The dead were naturally preserved due to the frozen conditions.)  Of course there were objections.  But in the end they had no choice.  They all agreed that to survive, they themselves would offer their own bodies so the others may live.  They even wrote letters to their parents explaining this, so if any of them survived they would not be judged criminally.

Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.  John 15:13

How they survived is only through the grace of God.  An avalanche covered the plane and more avalanches were always a threat, which is the main reason why a couple of the survivors had to trek out on their own to find help. 

A couple of attempts were futile.  The boys had to turn back disappointedly.  The third attempt was a success when two of the survivors found a couple of Andean herdsmen.  Soon after, search parties were sent out to find the others.  Praise God.

The author didn’t end the story there.  The passengers’ spiritual journey wasn’t finished.  The survivors were grateful to God but because of their experience, yet they were a little afraid of the world.  It was a bit of a culture shock.  What people were giving them and making a big deal out of, just seemed excessive, unimportant and of no value.  The boys craved solitude to process their experience and probably to express their thanks to God.  Besides, at first the media and so the world, rejoiced at finding the survivors and the plane, but when it became known that the boys had turned to cannibalism, public opinion turned against them.  It was unimaginable.  What they did was debated in the press and other media.  Over time, the hysteria died down and life went on.
However, life was never the same for the survivors.  They had felt the presence of God and kept the faith through it all. 

Alive is certainly not fiction, and its message suggests the significance of a biblical story.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Potter's Field

We volunteers in prison ministry in the Bethany Community, got together this day to clean up the prison cemetery.  This is where unwanted men go.  If an inmate dies, and the family does not claim his body, he ends up in Potter's Field.

Here it is.  First glance told us that there were a lot of branches and sticks to pick up.  We also decided to rake up as many pine needles as we could, too.

This is Sister Ann picking up here and there.
And this is Gary picking up.

I felt sorry for this one.  It
was the only broken one,
so I made sure I planted
the most flowers around it.        
Some graves didn't have crosses.  Some had cement squares with numbers.  Some had both.  Sister Ruth said some men are buried with no markers, what so ever.
How do you like this veteran's grave?

             It is a corporal work of mercy to bury the dead.  Today the Bethany Community honored our brothers by doing what we could.  There were no names, some had numbers, some had nothing.  Where once these men lived, with a family, with love, with a life, with dreams, and hopes, here they rest eternally.  May God have mercy on them.  Rest in peace.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Snippets -- A Catholic Carnival

It's that time again, where we bloggers all link together at This and That and the Other Thing blog and tell about our week.  Here's mine:

Monday -- Black Madonna

Tuesday -- Book Review of the Terminals

Wednesday --  Street Confessionals

Thursday --  Book Review of Dancing Shadows, Tramping Hooves

Friday -- A Prayer Group Tale

Saturday -- Choices

Sorry for the curt post.  I have company up to Easter.  Have a holy HOly Week.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

You are what you Choose

People are funny.  They can be so irrational.  They can believe something for so long and never ever change their mind, even when confronted with overwhelming evidence.  Then something will occur and they might, or might not.

I'm thinking of my sister who wouldn't look for a family photo my brother was asking for.  She kept saying, "I don't have it."  She was telling the truth.  In her mind, she didn't have that picture.  Years went by.  One day, her husband came across that very picture.  When she saw it, she said "Oh, I didn't know he wanted that one."  He had described it perfectly down to the most minute detail.

You see, she was very, very upset over an ex-son-in-law.  And for some reason when my brother used the term "family photo," she envisioned pictures that included the despised "ex." This was even after everyone told her numerous times, over more than a few years, that the much sought after photo was of her and us siblings--nothing what so ever to do with her children!

More drastic is the example of people who never forgive.  What do people do who hate their loved one's murderer, for years, only to find out later that the person was wrongly convicted.  Do they transfer their hate to another person?  Do they ask forgiveness from the person they were condemning?  

It's all so irrational.  Emotions drive us crazy.  

How about two people in the same accident and both are severely hurt.  One chooses to be bitter and blames God and everything.  The other lives in gratitude that they're still alive.

Our emotions are unreliable gauges of rationale.  We can't control what happens to us, but we can control, at least attempt to control,how to integrate what happened.  It's a choice.  I even call it a spiritual choice.  And it's another reason why I'm grateful for being Catholic.  I have a community of prayer warriors to encourage, love, and support me.  Deo Gratias.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Prayer Group's Prayer

Father Diotrophes wondered what the prayer group was up to.  They were mumbling a lot and shuffling around, even more than usual.  Oh, he was sure that sooner or later they’d be bothering him about one thing or another, and whatever it was would really be annoying.

Sure enough, they all crowded around him like they were one organism. 

“Father, Father!”  
He couldn't make out what they were saying.  They were all talking at once.  So he just said, “No.”

“But Father, Father, we want to bury our old rosary beads.  That would be the respectful way to dispose of blessed objects.”  The group pleaded.

Father Diotrophes warily asked, “Where?”

“On church property,”  was the response.

“Well, of course.  How appropriate!” thought the pastor.

And everyone went away happy. 

That is until the pastor was walking the grounds and surveying the spring buds sprouting.  The tulip bulbs he planted in front of the statue of St. Theresa weren't up yet.  Father Diotrophes wondered why.  Everything else was sprouting.  There was sun.  It was too bad because that little space in front of the statue looked empty.

So Father Diotrophes planted more tulips in front of the statue.  As he was digging with his trowel, the blade hit something.  He looked, and something shiny was sticking out from the soil.   It was the cache of old rosaries that ragged prayer group buried. 

There was a note attached to the beads.  It read:

Here lies our dear rosary beads
They were well used and served our needs.
But they got broken and all twisted,
So now we’ll try to forget they ever existed.

It...the note…well …. It brought a tear to Father’s eye.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dancing Shadows, Tramping Hooves

Dancing ShadowsTramping Hooves is the name of a collection of short stories by Dianne Ascroft.     
They really are short, short stories.  That’s what I liked about them.  You could read one in one sitting.  And they are nice family friendly tales.  You could read them aloud to any group, without censorship.  Any one of them could be published in the local newspaper, as a common interest story. 

There are six stories, altogether.  My favorite was the last story, “Going Home.”  The author explores the definition of home, in this thought provoking story.  In an original twist, the daughter kept referring to her childhood home as “home,” even though she had moved away many years ago.  I think anyone who has experienced moving away from home, can relate to it.

The reader can tell that these stories relate to the author’s life, who in real life, is an American living in Ireland.  Her Irish neighbors are her inspiration.  But they could be anybody’s neighbors.  There’s more to her stories than the story line.  As “Much More Than A Dancer,” leads to deeper insights than a budding romance, all the stories are “Much More…”  Book Clubs will have great discussions.

I received a free e-copy of Dancing Shadows by Tribute Books.  No other compensation was received and my review is my honest evaluation.

Other interesting Sites:

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Squeamish Caution

The Terminals by Michael F. Stewart is the subject of this book review.  I don’t know where to begin.  You wouldn’t believe it.  You won’t believe it.  I have never read anything like this before.  Dante’s Inferno comes to mind—maybe.  But Stewart’s gnostic hell is more graphic than Dante’s.  If you have a weak stomach then this book is not for you. 

In fact, nobody should eat or munch on any goodies while reading The Terminals.  Your stomach is guaranteed to turn.  That’s not saying that the story isn’t good, because it is.  I was hooked and kept on reading, in spite of my IBS.
The story revolves around Col. Christine Kurzow, who feels responsible for her troops who were blown up in Afghanistan.  She’s suicidal.  Actually, all the characters in this novel are suicidal, hence the title, The Terminals.  These people who are going to die are referred to as Terminals.  (I’m trying very hard not to give out spoilers.)  The Terminals descend into death to solve crimes.

If you don’t understand, good.  Read the book.  I can’t explain it.  Like the “Lovin Spoonful” say, “It’d be like trying to explain Rock n’ Roll.”

Christine becomes a handler of Charles Hackman, a monk who specializes in the gnostic religion.  Charles’ assignment is to find Hillar the Killer in gnostic hell.  Hillar is psycho and had kidnapped a school bus full of kids, then he was killed before he could reveal where he hid the kids.  Charles communicates the clues he’s garnered from Hillar (easier said than done) and Christine tries to locate the kids before they die. 

Even dead, Hillar is psycho.  His clues are worthless.  What else can I tell you?  It’s not a happy ending; not an unhappy ending.  It’s real.  “Ha!”  “Did I just say that?” 

The Terminals isn't like Michael F. Steward’s Assured Destruction series.  I’ve read those and liked them.  I like The Terminals, too, but this is nothing like Assured Destruction.  In fact, it’s like nothing I’ve ever read before.  The descriptive action is grotesque.  It’s disgusting.  It’s nauseating. 

“Oh, wait.”  It is hell, isn’t it? 
I received a free e-copy of The Terminals by Michael F. Stewart, from Tribute Books.  No other compensation was received and my review is my honest evaluation.

Format:   ebook
Pages:      310 pages

I’d give you direct links to order this ebook, but it won’t be released until April 15, 2014.  But here’s Michael F. Stewart’s page on Amazon
And here’s Barnes and Nobles  
Here are some links to learn more about the author:

Win a copy:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 7, 2014

Saint Who?

Much to my surprise, I came across a saint I became acquainted with a couple of years ago.  I was reading Magnificat, April 2014, "Saint Who?".  Not only did I know who Saint Meinrad was, but I could improve that article.  Saint Meinrad had one of Europe's famous Black Madonna's.  No where in the article does it mention that.  That's very strange.  That would be the first thing I would mention.  There's about four hundred Black Madonna's.  Age, fire, and type of wood explain the black color, but they're considered rare and precious.

I was blessed to visit the Benedictine Abbey and attend Mass there.  No cameras are allowed, but I blogged about the experience, here.

The statue is kept behind bars.  So the Einsiedeln Madonna reminded me of my "cloistered brothers."   

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Sunday Snippets -- A Catholic Carnival

Sunday is the day, my blogger friends and I link together at R'Anns, and blog our week's posts.  We also usually answer a question.  This time the question is about wearing mantillas.  I have a couple of them, I have worn once, at most.  No one in my parish wears one.  Although, one lady wears this tiny lace circle on her head.  I find it odd and silly.  However, I abide with whatever the local custom is, as St. Anselm advised St. Monica, when she asked about the manner in which the Romans were receiving communion.  "When in Rome, do what the the Romans do."  So when I go to the Traditional Latin Mass, I wear a mantilla because that's what the other women there, do.

My posts this week:

Sunday --  I made a Smile Box.

Monday --  Communion and Sister Mary Clare's story.

Tuesday  --  Book Blast and an April Fool's joke.

Wednesday --  Catholic Fiction posted my reviews.

Thursday and Friday--  Sex and Money

Saturday --  Communion

Go click on   to read some pretty interesting blogs.


One of the pillars in the Order of Preachers (commonly known as Dominicans) is community.  Because of this, prayers are being offered for the members of our family in the Ukraine, and everywhere else in the world, where the  family is residing in turmoil.

The students of Bologna, who are blessed to have the Ark of St. Dominic in their chapel, have an oil lamp as a symbol of this prayer of community.  The Ark is where St. Dominic's remains lie.

Every week, the students, after compline, with the chanting of Spem Miram, process to the Ark of St. Dominic.  They light an oil lamp which is kept going as a sign of the ongoing prayers that are offered for the Dominican family in Kiev, Ukraine, and wherever else our family is in trouble.  A portion of the oil from the lamp will be sent to those who need our prayers, and another portion will be sent to the Master of the Order.

 See more at:

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sex Party

Tonight my six week old pregnant daughter had a sex party.  Sometimes it's called a revealing party.  There was cake and balloons and fun.  Here are some pictures.

The cake had chocolate question marks on the top.  The candy was blue and pink.
six weeks gestation
her arm is covering her face.

It was only when the three year old, future big sister, cut the cake open, did we see the sex of the coming baby.

It's pink!  Thanks be to God.

Prayers are requested, for the health of the Mom during her pregnancy.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Once again I'm repeating this post.  I'm appealing for donations to help with Fr. MacRae's appeal.  Please read below and open your heart.
The National Center for Reason and Justice announces a new federal court appeal filed by Attorney Robert Rosenthal for wrongly convicted priest, Fr Gordon MacRae.
Editor’s Note: The following is a TSW guest post by Ryan A. MacDonald.
I am once again pleased to write about a major step in the effort to free Father Gordon MacRae, a priest of the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire now in his twentieth year of unjust imprisonment. In a memorable quote in “The Trials of Father MacRae” in The Wall Street Journal last May, Pulitzer-prize winning author and columnist, Dorothy Rabinowitz summed up an appeal to state courts to overturn the unjust 1994 sexual assault convictions of this falsely accused priest.
“Those aware of the facts of this case find it hard to imagine that any court today would ignore the perversion of justice it represents.”
That “perversion of justice” continued when New Hampshire state courts rejected this appeal without a hearing on its merits, its new evidence, or its documentation of gross ineffective assistance of counsel in the 1994 MacRae trial. In an upcoming guest post onThese Stone Walls, I plan to write in more candid detail of that perversion of justice from documents I have recently obtained in this case.
But first, some hopeful news. The National Center for Reason and Justice, a Boston-based organization that reviews claims of wrongful conviction and now sponsors the appellate defense of Father Gordon MacRae, has announced a new federal court appeal. Attorney Robert Rosenthal, lead counsel for the defense, has written an extensive new habeas corpus petition filed in the United States District Court in Concord, New Hampshire seeking to overturn the conviction of Father MacRae. We urge readers to review this appeal brief published by the NCRJ and here at These Stone Walls.
It was the readers of These Stone Walls that made this step possible. In my last guest post here last October I wrote, “For Fr Gordon MacRae’s Appeal to Move Forward, Help is Needed.” Readers stepped up admirably to help meet expenses to ensure the continuation of this case.
But now we must ask your help in expanding this effort to raise funds and to promote justice. The drafting of this extensive new appeal and its hundreds of pages of exhibits has exhausted all available resources and left the defense of Father MacRae in debt for the first time since it began. At the conclusion of this post, I will list once again the ways readers can help. We are deeply grateful to those who already have.
It may also help a good deal if readers would circulate a link to this post by sharing it on your social media networks, among your contacts, and in comments on other blogs and websites. We need to generate awareness of this case and the importance of justice not only for one falsely accused priest, but for the priesthood itself. We must together promote the mandate of the global Catholic Church to be a mirror of justice. Just two days before writing this post, I read the following in a weekly Catholic newspaper by a prominent Catholic writer:
“I hate to say it, but there really is no way to defend any of these guilty priests or their enablers anymore. The priest sex abuse scandal has been responsible for so much of the brutal criticism and fracturing of the modern day Catholic Church. We have been shamed. We have been put in a very difficult position as lay Catholics where we face scorn and ridicule…”
Who could disagree? I can’t! However I also happen to know first-hand that many accused priests are not guilty. The scorn and ridicule we face as Catholics will only be magnified – in this life and in the next – if the justice we see meted out is not marked by mercy, and especially by truth.
And the truth is that the Church is not just an easy target for the slurs of detractors, but she is also an easy target for lawyers and false claimants looking to score a windfall. This aspect of the scandal is seriously neglected – even by the Catholic press – because organized victim groups stand ready to trumpet their cause and demean the Church whenever the legitimacy of a decades-old claim is questioned.
As a result, bishops have been bullied into silence and unquestioned settlements. They have also been bullied into discarding our priests, ignoring their due process rights under Church and civil law, and into casting adrift the accused without due process. Justice itself has been the most abused victim in this tragedy for the Church.
By once again exposing the truth of “The Trials of Father MacRae,” Dorothy Rabinowitz and The Wall Street Journal presented compelling reasons to revisit this case, not only for the integrity of the justice system, but for the integrity of the Church as a mirror or justice.
To paraphrase a well known Gospel parable, Father Gordon MacRae was beaten by robbers and left on the side of the road in our Church. No amount of Catholic shame over the sex abuse scandal can justify passing him by on that road, not by us, not by his bishop and diocese, and not by the global Church. We of good conscience, with truth and justice in our hearts, cannot allow the injustices visited upon this priest to stand.
Please read at least the Introduction to Attorney Robert Rosenthal’s new brief, and please share this post with others.
As listed on the “Contact” page of These Stone Walls there are four ways you can be of help, and I urge you to spread word of this information by sharing this post with your social media and online contacts. Here’s how to help:
LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: A legal fund has been established to accept gifts applied directly to legal costs that are ongoing in this case. As we now begin the process of preparing appeals to the federal courts, available funds have been seriously depleted, and continuance of this effort depends on assistance. Checks in any amount to this fund should be made out to Fr. Gordon MacRae and mailed as follows:

Friends of Fr. Gordon MacRae

P. O. Box 863

Hampton, NH 03842-0863

TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS: The National Center for Reason & Justice ( has fully examined the case of Fr. Gordon MacRae. Its Board of Directors and wrongful conviction specialists voted unanimously to provide fiscal sponsorship of his ongoing legal defense. What this means is that this fine organization lends its name to this appeal for funds, and will accept tax deductible contributions earmarked for legal expenses in this appeal if they meet the criteria.
Please consult for instructions on how to make a tax deductible donation earmarked for the Fr. Gordon MacRae case. If you wish to donate to the NCRJ, please indicate in the “memo” line on your check that you wish to apply the funds to the Fr. Gordon MacRae case. If you also wish to apply for a tax deduction, you should indicate so in a cover letter. That address is:
National Center for Reason & Justice

Re: Fr. Gordon MacRae Defense 

P.O. Box 191101 

Roxbury, MA 02119-1101

Website: (
THE PAYPAL LINK available on the top right corner of These Stone Walls is active, and it provides an opportunity for online gifts in any amount. If you take advantage of the Pay Pal link, please include an e-mail instructing us on whether you prefer your gift to be used for legal expenses or the support of These Stone Walls.
A SUPPORT FUND is also established to accept assistance in support of These Stone Walls and the special circumstances in which Father MacRae must write and publish. This includes costs for domain and hosting fees, postage and typing supplies, and daily telephone costs from prison to edit and manage These Stone Walls and hear and respond to messages. Remember that as a prisoner, Father MacRae has no Internet access so all messages must be read to him by telephone. Checks to this support fund should be made out to Fr. Gordon MacRae and mailed as follows:
Fr. Gordon MacRae

P.O. Box 205
 Wilmington, MA. 01887-0205

Fr. Gordon MacRae
And remember, you can also help enormously by posting links to These Stone Walls on other blogs, social networks, and to your own contacts. This is most important. (See Social Media Buttons Below)  And you can also pray, without doubt the most powerful intervention available to us.
Once again, please review Attorney Robert Rosenthal’s new federal appeal on behalf of Father Gordon MacRae. Let us hope together for justice.
 Continued thanks to TSW readers for their generosity in responding to Ryan MacDonald’s appeal to help with the legal costs, at the Federal level. We haven’t reached our goal yet, which is why Faith is repeating this post.

The Blood of Goats will Shatter Diamonds

                                                                        Greek bronze bust of Aristotle by  Lysippos ,                       ...