Monday, June 29, 2015

Bronx Gothic

Bitter Bronx by Jerome Charyn is written in Gothic Bronx style.  I don’t know if there such a thing. 
Look at the tail on Jerome Charyn's cat.
Isn't she beautiful?  You gotta love a man
who loves cats.
If not, then give Jerome Charyn credit for creating a new genre. I call Charyn’s book of short stories, “Gothic” because his thirteen stories tell of weird, comic characters involved in melodramatic situations that will raise your eyebrows, or twist your lips into a smirk.  I think I might have even guffawed at one of the “Silk” stories.

Charyn’s stories bring you to a “mecca of middle-class Jews,” “Mafioso restaurants”, and up to the Grand Concourse.  A grifter gigolo named Howell is surprised to find love in Lorelei.  Another gigolo whose modeling name was Adonis is good at dining widows. The kids at Music and Art had a cockroach who writes poetry and a companion, alley cat, who thought she was Cleopatra.  They are named Archy and Mehitabel. Then there’s the bisexual in The Cat Lady’s Kiss.  My favorite stories were the three stories about the Silk family: Silk & Silk, Little Sister, and Marla. The reader gets drawn into this melodramatic soap opera life of the Silks.  The characterization must have reminded me of some people I know because these stories are my favorite.

Then we continue with Dee who tried to help the gentle giant, Eddie.  There was a homeless man in love with Princess Hannah.  A poetry teacher who made me wonder if the author was projecting himself in  Milo’s Last Chance.  An orphan who lucked out in Alice’s Eyes.  A New York Yankees’ twenty-fifth man, who became the secret lover of a hospital administrator, in Major Leaguer.  Lastly, a dangerous female ex-con in White Trash, who exhibited psychopathic behavior.

These thirteen stories will hold you tight and then release you to breathe.  And think.  You’ll be wondering and thinking of the Silks, and crazy characters, and colorful situations, for quite a while.  Jerome Charyn’s Bitter Bronx is quite a tour.  I enjoyed it.  I think you will, too. I received a free copy of Bitter Bronx by Jerome Charyn from Tribute Book, but no other compensation was received, and my review is my honest evaluation.

About the Author:

Jerome Charyn's stories have appeared in The Atlantic, The Paris Review, The American Scholar, Epoch, Narrative, Ellery Queen, and other magazines.  His most recent novel is I Am Abraham. He lived for many years in Paris and currently resides in Manhattan.

Bitter Bronx can be purchased at:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Prices/Formats: $9.99-$12.49 ebook, $24.95 hardcover
Genre: Short Stories
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9780871404893
Publisher: Liveright

Click to add to your Goodreads list.

About the Author

Jerome Charyn's stories have appeared in The Atlantic, The Paris Review, The American Scholar, Epoch, Narrative, Ellery Queen, and other magazines. His most recent novel is I Am Abraham. He lived for many years in Paris and currently resides in Manhattan. 

Links to connect with Jerome:

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Is Reality Relative?

A funny thing happened to me while reading the Office, I came across the word exegesis.  It was used as if it were a specific way of studying the Apocalypse.  I was uncertain of this meaning.  Hence, I asked my iPhone: "Definition: exegesis."   IPhone answered with a definition of genital.  !!!!!!!

????  Must be my Boston accent.  I asked again.  "No, exegesis.  E - X - E - G - E - S - I - S."  This time my iPhone gave me the address of two local restaurants.  !!!!!

I exclaimed, "You are no help!"

Then I heard my iPhone tell me, "Why do you hate me?  I'm not even real."


Here I am admonishing my phone.  It makes a joke.  I laugh.

And my iPhone thinks it's not real.

Ordinarily I would end my blog post here, but I didn't end my conversation with my iPhone.  (I should give it a name, shouldn't I?)  I asked it, "Is reality relative?"  This time I received a choice of website to explore.

I did what the iPhone told me.  I explored.  It does seem that sometimes reality is relative.  Sometimes it isn't.  Think of what you thought of your parents as a child and what you think now.  Sometimes reality is not relative.  God is God.  That's absolute.  But how you think of God is relative.

So my iPhone is relatively real.

Friday, June 26, 2015

My Two Cents

Today the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage.  I find that odd since the Supreme Court is ruling on historical tradition.  Since when?  Franklin Graham said today,

With all due respect to the court, it did not define marriage, and therefore is not entitled to re-define it.
Long before our government came into existence, marriage was created by the One who created man and woman—Almighty God—and His decisions are not subject to review or revision by any manmade court. God is clear about the definition of marriage in His Holy Word: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

You know what I think.  I don't think laws can legislate morality.  The Supreme Court can try, but laws can be repealed.  And also, I don't think (I pray) appeals and protests aren't the way to repeal laws.  I think we have to change hearts.  It's working with abortion.  Less and less babies are being aborted.  I think the same-sex marriage hoop-la will die down.  Wait until people want to have two or more wives or husband.  I mean why exclude others from the matrimonial union.  Don't they deserve happiness too.  
It's just silliness.  So how to respond?  We work on the culture and respond like Christians.  We spread our joy and encourage people to have a personal relationship with Jesus.  Now that's where they will find true love.  The Archdiocese of Denver has a good response to the Supreme Court decision.
Interesting response from the Archdiocese of Denver to today's Supreme Court decision:
"We here at the Denver Catholic figure that we have two options for how to respond going foward:
Go on the defensive. We've clearly lost the culture war, but we can try to convince the public that our view is the correct one.
Realize that we don't live in a Christian culture, and therefore must engage it as missionaries.
Option one is equivalent to declaring ourselves victims. Option two is to accept the challenge of living as authentic followers of Jesus Christ in a world that has largely forgotten Him.
Jesus Christ is real. We Christians have experienced the sweetness of a personal relationship with Him. Our mission is not to punish or coerce those who have not experienced this—instead, we must invite them into relationship. What better way to do this than to show the joy of living the Catholic faith?
We ask you to join us in the ‪#‎MissionofJoy‬ campaign.
Our goal is to fill social media, and Catholic media especially, with messages of hope and joy, not victimhood and retaliation.
Please consider doing the following:
Take time to reflect on how you, personally, can be a missionary of joy
Create memes, videos, infographics, etc.—wherever your strengths lay—to show the joy of living the Church's teaching, or share ours!
Share your messages through your own social media channels using the hashtag #MissionofJoy
 As for me, I choose Option Two.  Fill the social media.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Forgiveness Behind Bars

A lot of the advice on how to deal with forgiveness doesn't work in prison.  I feel like I'm in over my head.  I'm asking for advice and not giving it.

It is a fact of our human condition that our first response to anger is to lash out.  Christianity tells us to forgive and not to exact revenge.  However, not to react in a retaliatory manner would be perceived as weak, in a prison environment.  A big guy may be able to pull off a "turn the other cheek" attitude, but not the average or small one.  How should a Christian inmate respond?

One way to handle situations is to visualize forgiveness.  In one's mind the situation is reenacted.  This fantasy has one as strong and responding with wisdom.  I don't think that would work.

Would it be acceptable to visualize the opposite?  Fantasize pounding the sh** out of the offender.  Wouldn't that get the aggression out?  The intention is to do violence in your mind, so you don't do it for real?  Would that be a sin? 

Communication isn't possible with crazy people.  And some of the people in prison are not mentally well.  The normal methods of handling anger just aren't feasible.  What would Jesus do?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Blog Sharing

I received an invitation today to blog share. Mandy Welty Mazzawi asked to swap blogs which means to share our blogs.  I happy to do so.  Mandy is a Catholic Mom from Ithaca New York who is into self sustaining living and living life to it's fullest.

What's that, you may ask?  That's what you'll find out when you click here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


It's inevitable.  "God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living." (Wis 1: 13) This is the first line we read in this Sunday's readings, Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.  I think that's one reason we have for a life after our physical death.  God will take us in.  Faith says "Death where is your sting?" It's not a "sting;" it's a sling shot into eternal life.

The gospel for this Sunday has Jesus raising a little girl from death.  (Mark 5: 21-43)  See.  God intends for us to live.  I love the word Jesus uses to command the girl to "Arise!"  Arise was the name of my other blog, I used to have when my parish participated in the Boston Archdiocese's renewal program.

And arise we all shall right into eternal life, just as God intended in the first place.  God promises this in every Eucharist we receive.  It's a taste of heaven.  The psalm for this Sunday has us thanking and praising God for the promise of eternal life "for You have rescued me."  (Ps 30: 2)

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows

Note the groups of SEVEN beads, not ten.

Recently, I came across the story of the apparitions at Kibeho, Rwanda in the 1980's.  I hate to sound blase but Mary seems to be appearing everywhere, so I didn't pay Kibeho much attention. Anyway, now I know better.  These apparitions are remarkable to me because of the number of people involved and the different types of people who experience apparitions.

This post isn't about the apparitions, I want to tell you about a new prayer I learned from the story of the apparitions.  One of the seers, Marie Claire, who herself didn't believe in the apparitions in the beginning, until she herself was blessed with a visit from Mary, was given an assignment by Mary.  Marie-Claire was to promote the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows.

The Rosary of the Seven Sorrows is a little bit different than a regular rosary.  Whereas a rosary has groups of ten beads, the Seven Sorrows has groups of seven beads.  And there's seven groups.  There's a few short different prayers that you say at the beginning of each group and closing, but basically the prayers are Hail Mary's.  This excerpt  is taken from

How to pray the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows

When starting the Rosary of Sorrows, after the sign of the cross, we do not recite the "Creed," but immediately say the following prayer:

Introductory prayer
My God, I offer you this Rosary in honour of the seven principal Sorrows of Mary, for your greatest glory, for my conversion and that of all people through your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our salvation and our unique way to come to you, in union with the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen!

Act of contrition

My God, I regret so much to have offended you because you are infinitely good, infinitely kind and you dislike sin. I make a firm resolution, with the help of your holy grace, never to offend you and to do penance. In this state of contrition, I want to live and die. Amen!

Then we begin the meditation of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary...."

1 ° First Sorrow

Old man Simeon announced to Mary, a sword will pierce your soul

The word of God: Luc 2: 25-28 a; 33-35

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required,  Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, (…) The child's father and mother marvelled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."

Word for meditation

The prophecy of Simeon to Mary undoubtedly caused great pain. Mary complied with the requirements of the act of purification (Exodus 13: 2-13), even though she was not directly concerned by this law. Given that she was conceived without sin, she came into the temple not to cleanse herself, but to offer to God the Son that she had received from him. Oh! What a way she offered to God with great love! And publicly the way she has never ceased to offer him in the temple of her heart! She knew that this child belonged more to God than to her. This led her to offer him with a humble heart and thanksgiving, as a holy sacrifice without blemish. After she had finished offering her Son Jesus to God, the old man Simeon prophesied regarding her, saying “a sword will pierce your soul,” which means that she will see her Son suffering, being rejected, abandoned, and finally dying as a criminal hanging on the cross.


Our God, you who love us so much, we pray to you with confidence and humility. We ask you to preserve us from discouragement because hope is often lost among your children. There are those who see the day ending without hope that it will rise again. Others see the day rise without believing that it will set again! All these are afraid of the tomorrow because they do not accept that there are some good things ahead for them. Their chorus is always: "God has become for them - as stated the well-known proverb, "what has been lacking for levelling will not be found during the finishing". Give us Lord a strong heart like that of the Virgin Mary, so that we can consecrate our lives to you, and thus we will see that everything becomes new in you, Lord. Gives us power to unite ourselves to Jesus so that our difficulties may become a ladder to climb up and reach you, the King of kings.

Say the "Our Father".
and the "Hail Mary" seven times.

2 ° Second Sorrow

The escape to Egypt

The word of God: Mt 2: 13-15

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him."  So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son."

Word of meditation

See how the Virgin Mary suffered, when Joseph told her that they should immediately take the child and seek refuge in Egypt, as the Angel came to reveal him in a dream, so that King Herod does not kill him. See Mary seeking what to take and what to leave, and she takes the infant Jesus on her back and leaves everything without hesitation to flee with Joseph.

As Marie passes all mothers in maternal love, that is why she suffered much by fleeing; the child was shivering in the night, dying from cold, parents themselves were tired, crushed by hunger and tiredness, and preoccupied by the journey towards an unknown country, without any knowledge of anyone to welcome them. In this escape, they were thinking of just how to save the infant Jesus. What pain they have not suffered by seeing their child, the child of God, that they loved so much, chased by the enemies, so cruel. Moreover, this new born baby, for who is he the victim? For what is he the victim?


Virgin Mary, Mother whom we love, you endured a suffering that we cannot name, by carrying the infant Jesus into exile; teach us to accept our daily sufferings. Teach us to be brave so that we should never be discouraged when the world rejects or persecutes us. Help us to protect the life of Jesus who lives in our hearts as the jealousy of the devil does everything to drive out this life with Jesus. Loving Mother, you who suffered much because of this exile, we offer you all refugees today. Keep them from despair so that they understand that the Almighty is with them everywhere they are. You who were denied the right to possess and to be filled with joy in your country, we offer you those who their rights to live in liberty are violated.

Say the "Our Father".
and the "Hail Mary" seven times.

3 ° Third Sorrow 
The disappearance of the child Jesus in Jerusalem

The word of God: Luc 2: 43-50
After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.  Thinking he was in their company, they travelled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends.  When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.  After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.  Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you."  "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?"  But they did not understand what he was saying to them.”

Word of meditation

Jesus is the only Son of God and also the only Son of Mary. Mary had an Immaculate Heart and loved her Son with unparalleled love, and her child Jesus was God. She could not live without him. This is what made her to look for Jesus when she did not see him during their journey returning home. She searched everywhere in Jerusalem for three days. The more time she spent looking for him the more sadness filled her heart. At this point, the Virgin Mary suffered much because she felt that not taken enough care of her Son.


Tender Mother, you suffered greatly when you were searching for your Son who was lost in Jerusalem, I offer you my soul which is lost in the darkness of sin. I offer you my heart which is far from the creator of heaven and earth. I offer you my brothers and sisters who are far from God, so that you will look after them, so that they will come back to you, and that Satan will not do any harm to them since they are also your beloved children.

Say the "Our Father".
and the "Hail Mary" seven times.

4 ° Fourth Sorrow

Marie meets Jesus carrying the cross

The word of God: Lk. 23: 26 - 31
“As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, `Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!'  Then "they will say to the mountains, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!"' For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?"

Word of meditation

The Virgin Mary loved her Son Jesus very much, first of all as her only begotten Son, and then as the Son of the Most High. Because of this great love she had for him, she felt much pain when she met him carrying his cross. As the Gospel according to Saint Luke tells us, there were also other women who accompanied her and were lamenting about him!
- Then, if those who did not know the secret of this Son of Mary were lamenting, what of her to whom this secret was revealed by the Angel? What suffering was in her heart!
- If those who did not give birth to him, those who had never fled with him or lived with him in a foreign country shed tears, how upset was the heart of the one who lived through all that with him?
- Ask yourself then. If the women who cried were not those who raised him up, or saw his sweet smile, or heard his sincere word, greatly or saw his true love for his mother, or knew what it was to be called "Mother", she whose heart was so full of goodness for her Son well educated, she who experienced all this, what feelings were in her heart!

O Mother, who suffered so much, let me ask you something, you who do everything to ensure that those who come to you to find refuge are not disappointed, console the mothers who have been seriously wounded by seeing their children stabbed like animals, slaughtered and pierced by the spear as those who have offended the King. Console the mothers who are afflicted by the immense grief caused by losing their children that smiled at them so tenderly and filled them with joy. Console the children who are victims of a judgment like that of Pilate even when they don't know what sin is. Console the children who carry the heavy cross of life while they are still very young. Console those who are unjustly accused and carry on their heads many burdens.

Say the "Our Father".
and the "Hail Mary" seven times.

5 ° Fifth pain

Mary at the foot of the cross

The word of God: Jn 19: 25-27

“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home”.

Word of meditation

The Virgin Mary climbed up the Mount of Calvary with Jesus, carrying in her heart the same cross which her Son bore on his shoulders. As she walked, she watched how her Son was stumbled under the cross. How they were beating him so that he moves forward. He often fell under the heavy burden and they lifted him up by pulling on his hair. When they arrived at the top of Calvary, they forced him to undress in front of his detractors, who were happy to mock him. His mother felt all these things so deeply that she suffered bitter pain seeing these wicked men humiliating and making fun of her Son until they finally crucified him in front of the eyes of the crowd. When Jesus was nailed to the cross, the Virgin Mary suffered in her heart, as if it was she herself who was nailed to the cross. Jesus spent six hours in extreme agony as he saw his grieving mother, standing near the cross.

Our mother you who loves us so much, Queen of Martyrs, gives us the courage that you had in such painful moments, so that in our turn we can give thanks to God through all who do evil to us, and thus join in the pardon granted by Jesus for everybody.

Say the "Our Father".
and the "Hail Mary" seven times.

6 ° Sixth Sorrow

Mary receives the inanimate body of her son
The word of God: Jn 19: 38-40

“Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews. With Pilate's permission, he came and took the body away.  He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.”

Word of meditation

Look at Jesus nailed to the cross until he dies. Look also at his mother who received his body in her arms. Who could understand the sadness that filled his mother’s heart? Jesus, her only begotten Son, died as a criminal. This Son took part in domestic work with his mother; they were praying together, they were laughing together, and now all that is finished. Yet this mother kept everything in her heart, knowing well that all that happens is for the glory of God. In spite of all the pain she felt, she understood very well that to lose a person who is dear to us for the glory of God, is really no loss.

Mary, mother of incarnate Word, obtain for me from your Son the grace of faith.
Mary, mother of sorrows, obtain for me from your Son the grace of perseverance.
Mary, mother of sorrows, give me the grace to accept the cross in my life as a gift from God.

Say the "Our Father".
and the "Hail Mary" seven times.

7 ° Seventh pain

The burial of Jesus

The word of God: Mt 27: 55-61

“Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs.  Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's sons.  As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him.  Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.”

Word of meditation

The Virgin Mary accompanied her Son Jesus all the way of the cross, while those with little faith fled, believing that everything had come to an end. They thought that the one in who they had put their trust was now at the point of death. At the end of his painful agony, his time had arrived. He bent his head and he died (Jn 19: 30). Joseph of Arimathea took his body and buried it in honour. Mary accompanied the sacred body of her Son to the grave, and saw how they closed the tomb with a big stone.


Mother who suffered greatly, we come before you as our refuge and our shield so that you may intercede for us. We offer you our Church so that you can intervene in all the difficulties it is going through: the discouragement of the faithful, especially those you have chosen to be your beloved in a particular way, the persecution of the faithful in various parts of the world, the constant decline of faith among Christians.

Say the "Our Father".
and the "Hail Mary" seven times.
Concluding prayers:

“Queen of Martyrs, your soul was greatly troubled in the ocean of suffering. We beg you by the merits of the tears you shed in these terrible sorrowful mysteries, to obtain for us and all sinners of the world, the grace of complete sincerity and repentance. Amen.”

To wipe away Mary's tears during her immense sufferings, say Our Father, Hail Mary and the following prayer three times:
"Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!"

The Third Death

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