Saturday, August 29, 2015

Litany for my "Cloistered Brothers"

R.  Lord have mercy on me

When I can’t accept the past:     R.
When I feel all locked up:       R.
When I despair:                R. 
When I can’t forgive:     R. 
When I feel the world hates me:  R. 
When I am lonely:        R. 
When the day never ends:      R. 
When I am overshadow by darkness: R. 
When I’ve lost hope:     R. 
When I have no one:      R. 
When I hurt:      R. 
When I fall into sin:   R. 
When I am afraid:     R. 
When I see no point to living:   R. 
When problems overwhelm:    R. 
When I am judged:    R. 
When You seem distant:   R. 
Closing Prayer

O Merciful God, I see You tortured and thrown into prison.  I see You shamed in Your nakedness before the crowd.  I see the confused hurt in Your Mother’s eyes. Help me Lord in Your compassion to keep my faith, and hope to be with You in paradise.  I love You.  You are all I have.  It is in Your Eucharist that I taste your sweetness.  We become One.  May I have the grace to feel the effects of Your Redemption forever.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Psalm for Mercy

Psalm for Mercy

Help me Lord
my accusers are strong
I am weak.

Their anger
consumes reason
I am in danger.

Give me shelter, Lord
under your wide wings
help me this day.

Turn away their judgment
Banish all my enemies
I repent of all my sins.

My sins against You
are my worst fear
You are so worthy.

I am so ashamed.
My life is a disaster
Remove my disgrace.

Absolve all my transgressions
Bring me home to You
May I rest in Your peace.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Bitter Hurt

Drawing by MEK

I thought I'd forgiven him.  At least I was trying.  I was going through the motions.  But when we were together, standing next to each other.  I'd feel internally so cynical and angry, and that made me anxious and confused.  It was depressing me because I was trying--praying not to feel this way.

The only way I can describe it is that he made me feel broken, not healthy.  Somehow, he made me not feel like myself.  Was he to be blamed for something he didn't even know about?  "Is he making me feel broken or is it myself?"  To be truthful, I had to admit that he probably had no clue how I felt.  So I was only hurting myself by harboring the resentment, hurt and anger that made me feel broken.

"What!  Am I stupid?"

"It's not him; it's me."  Slowly the realization that forgiveness wasn't about him, at all.  It's more about healing MYSELF.  I have to forgive to make and keep myself healthy.  This was an epiphany.  What I perceived as a wrong committed by him, somehow morphed into a wrong committed by me.  How did that happen?

Time was a factor.  Over time I had nursed my hurt into a gnawing bitterness that I perversely enjoyed. Blaming him was easier than thinking reasonably. So much time had gone by that he wouldn't even remember what had happened if I discussed it with him.  Now it's time for me to get over it, too.

OK.  Time for healing.  I once read Bishop Tutu's No Future Without Forgiveness and understood and recommend the book.  However, for me, it was an abstract concept.  Now however, it's palpable.  I will stay broken unless I get over my "hurt."  Time will help, but for now I can pray to be healed. we forgive those who trespass against us...

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Another Prayer

Mercy Prayer
Fr. Lataste by MEK
God of mercy and of love,
no one can outdo You in 
compassion and generosity.
With this in mind I humbly
petition You to forgive my 
sins, help me to forgive
myself, soften the hearts
of those I have harmed
and free all imprisoned
behind bars of hate.

With overwhelming gratitude
I know how much You love me.
Help me to be worthy of Your 
love.  Give others the grace to
not judge me according to the
wrongs I have committed but as
Your repentant child.

May St. Dominic and Pere
Lataste continue my prayer.
This I ask through Christ, my
Lord and Savior.     Amen

Monday, August 24, 2015

Prayer to Our Lady of Mercy

Our Lady of Mercy

Father, You saw Your Son, Jesus, thrown in prison,
and redeemed.  We thank you for your providence
and care.  You gave us Mary, as our model in all
things.  She accepted Your Will with faithful trust.

Help us to be like Mary, in faith, hope, love, and
obedience.  Have Mary spread Your mercy on
all whose hearts are hardened with anger, hurt,
and sin.  May we all learn from her compassion
and accept Your holy will.

Strengthen us to be like Mary:
to ponder Your Word in our hearts,
to sing Your praises every day.

Father, we ask this through Your Son
Jesus Christ.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Christian Paradox

A MEK Drawing

It's a kind of paradox to love the sinner but not the sin.  When I sit with my "cloistered brothers" I love them all.  Of course I don't love what they've done; I don't even want to imagine it.  I separate the two.


Just as easy as telling a lie and accepting the trust in your eyes.  Just as easy as cheating on my essay and accepting the "A".  Just as easy as driving over the speed limit, yet slowing down for ducklings. Just as easy as separating myself from the person who drank a little too much last night and went to Communion in the morning.

What is the difference between those found guilty and the innocent?  Too many times it's just a matter of circumstance:

lack of money
wrong skin color
mental illness
bad neighborhood
bad parents
bad lawyer

There but for the grace of God go I.  When I hear their stories I can see parts of my own story.  I see myself.  So I treat everyone like I would like to be treated.  That means that I am a good person that sometimes does bad things.  I am not bad.  I chose wrong.  I made wrong choices.  Please don't define me by my past.  See me not my sins.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Memoir

My niece handed me a book she had to read for school.  She had finished it and said that I would like it.  The book is Townie by Andre Dubus III.  The author teaches at her school.  Regardless, she liked the book.  I did too but I'm sure for different reasons than my niece did.  She enjoyed the author's craft.  His descriptions are sharp.  You're there.  His characterization is amazing.  I not only can picture his characters, I'd recognize them anywhere.  It's a work of art.

What I enjoyed is the setting.  I grew up around Haverhill, Newburyport, Plum Island, Salisbury, and Lawrence.  So not only do I know whom the author is talking about, but where he is standing.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Gossip Is and Isn't

Gossip is bad; that's what everyone seems to say.  I beg to differ.  There was a time when I was in emotional angst for four years because of what a certain person did to me.  Four years!  Then one day in conversation I overhead a piece of juicy gossip that blew those four years of angst to dust.

I didn't know.  It seems it was an open secret that everyone knew, but me.  If I had known I wouldn't have resented, and at times even hated this person.  Wow!  And of course I know that you never know what people are going through until you walk a mile in their shoes.  That's such an abstract concept that it's trite.

I still am shocked and it's been a few years since that knowledge was revealed to me.  So is gossip bad?  I contend that the hearers or readers never know and are not to judge.  Only the person telling knows what's inside their heart--their intention.  Telling that a young girl is pregnant may be gossip if you are trying to hurt that girl's reputation; it is not if you are explaining why she should be treated carefully.

In America, Vol. 211 No. 17, WHOLE NO. 5071, December 1, 2014, p. 5, there is an editorial "The Tyranny of Talk," exhorting people to speak with charity, not gossip.  The article begins with a quote from Oscar Wilde's play "Lady Windermere's Fan:"

"What is the difference between scandal and gossip?" Lord Windermere asks.
"Oh, gossip is charming!"  Graham replies.  "History is merely gossip.  But scandal is gossip made tedious by morality."

That's not my definition at all.  Gossip may be hurtful.  If a secret helps the hearer to be more compassionate only then the gossip is a good (noun).  The Pope's remarks regarding gossip are referring to the usual meaning of the word, gossip.  He actually calls gossipers "Christian murderers."

Actually, in my thoughts I was the Christian murderer, until I heard the gossip.

I think the English language has failed in this "gossip" concept.  It is difficult to coin a new word however, because the intent of the gossiper (help or hurt) is only known to himself.  Does anyone have any suggestions?

Until then, stop gossipping about gossip!  The term is loaded with negative connotations and I don't think that's right. Let's rethink what we say and do.  "Will this information I am passing on help or hurt?"  If I don't know, test the waters before you do either.  To pass it on may be divinely inspired, or not.

Let us pray.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What a Story!

Awesome story!  I'm talking about the conversion of Alphonse Ratisbone.  He absolutely hated the Catholic Church.  And for fun, he took a bet to wear a miraculous medal and pray the memorare.  Well, a miracle happened.  He had an apparition, just like Catherine Laboure--Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, which is on the miraculous medal.  Read about it here.  

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Secrets of the Fraternity

I’m one of those people that read three or more books, at once.  Scott A. Lerner’s The Fraternity of the Soul Eater was among the group I was reading.  It didn’t take long before every book was dropped because I was hooked by the story in The Fraternity of the Soul Eater.  Sam and Bob are buddies that solve crimes.  To be fair, although Sam’s girlfriend, Susan won’t agree, the adventures find them. 

Sam has dreams that foretell what will happen.  In this particular case, a frat newbie, Chris Stevens, is in the process of being inducted into a super-secret fraternity, where he sees a human sacrifice.  Chris goes to Sam because he needs a lawyer since the police charged him for making a false police report.  Only it wasn’t false.

Sam comes across more missing people, more secrets, and ancient ritual, tunnels, and believe it—a real pyramid—built underground.  The pace of the story is fast, so you’re turning pages as fast as your eyes will allow. 

My favorite character is Sam’s friend Bob.  Everyone has or needs a Bob in their life.  He’s there for his friend.  He’s handy with a computer and good to bounce ideas off.  I don’t want to give any spoilers but the story is a thriller mystery.  It’s fun, interesting, and good. 

I did receive The Fraternity of the Soul Eater by Scott A. Lerner for free, in exchange for a review.  But this review is my honest opinion.  I liked the book and recommend it for mystery thriller lovers.  They won’t be disappointed.

Author’s Information:
Scott A. Lerner's Facebook:

Scott A. Lerner's Twitter:

Scott A. Lerner's Goodreads:

Scott A. Lerner's Blog:

The Fraternity of the Soul Eater Goodreads:

Tribute Books Blog Tours Facebook:

The Fraternity of the Soul Eater
 blog tour site:

Scott A. Lerner's Bio:

Author and attorney Scott A. Lerner resides in Champaign, Illinois. He obtained his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and went on to obtain his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. He is currently a sole practitioner in Champaign, Illinois. The majority of his law practice focuses on the fields of criminal law and family law. Lerner’s first novel and the first Samuel Roberts Thriller, Cocaine Zombies, won a bronze medal in the mystery/cozy/noir category of the 2013 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Awards. The second book in the series is Ruler of DemonsThe Fraternity of the Soul Eater is book 3. Book 4, The Wiccan Witch of the Midwest, will be released on Halloween, 2015.

The Fraternity of the Soul Eater
 Book Summary:

It’s been a while since Samuel Roberts was called upon to save mankind, and he’s getting restless. His girlfriend Susan thinks he’s a danger junkie, and he’s worried he has a hero complex. He’s back to his usual small-town lawyerly duties in Champaign-Urbana, handling divorces and helping people beat DUI raps. But then a young fraternity pledge calls. During an initiation ceremony he witnessed the live sacrifice of a young woman, but he had so much alcohol in his system that no one believes him. Except Sam. Lately Egyptian lore has been creeping into his life, his dreams, and his movie preferences, and he’s pretty sure he knows why. Evil is knocking on his door again.

Is the call welcome? Why can’t Sam be satisfied with his comfortable legal practice and gorgeous redheaded girlfriend? Maybe it’s because he knows that, as inadequate as he may feel to the task, he and his friend Bob may be humanity’s only hope against ancient supernatural forces combined with modern genetic engineering. Come hell or high water. Or in this case, the underworld or subterranean pyramids.

The Fraternity of the Soul Eater is the third book in the Samuel Roberts Thriller series, which began with Cocaine Zombies and continued with Ruler of Demons.

Price/Formats: $4.99 ebook, $13.95 paperback
Paranormal, Mystery, Thriller
Camel Press
June 1, 2015

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The Movement

One of my "cloistered brothers" talked my ear off, last night.  He was talking about "The Movement."
This is an initiative to change people's lives.  He was very excited about it.  So I looked into it.

The group's official name is "Pain is Skin Deep The Movement."  They want to change someone's day, which will affect the rest of their week.  Day by day will affect their life.  Maybe it will start with a smile, a kind gesture, and a kind word of welcome.  It doesn't hurt.  It doesn't take money.  It takes hardly no time at all.  Actually, just be human.  Reach out and touch someone with compassion.

Jesus tells us this in the golden rule.  Luke 6:31  Jesus summarizes the Torah, "Do to others what you want them to do to you.  Catholics know the Corporal Works of Mercy:

  • To feed the hungry;
  • To give drink to the thirsty;
  • To clothe the naked;
  • To harbour the harbourless;
  • To visit the sick;
  • To ransom the captive;
  • To bury the dead.
The spiritual works of mercy are:
  • To instruct the ignorant;
  • To counsel the doubtful;
  • To admonish sinners;
  • To bear wrongs patiently;
  • To forgive offences willingly;
  • To comfort the afflicted;
  • To pray for the living and the dead

Even Wikipedia lists all the religions that promote the Golden Rule.  Here's the link:     The founder of this initiative, James Leon Freeman III, has written a book, Pain is Skin Deep

Product Details

  • File Size: 593 KB
  • Print Length: 220 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Xlibris US (February 24, 2014)
  • Publication Date: February 24, 2014
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled 

Look into The Movement and change someone's day.  I bet you'll feel yourself change, too.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Grab God Go

Does it annoy you, as it does me, to see people receive the Eucharist and leave?  Sometimes brushing past the minister to get past.  How rude!

It also tells me that they don't have a clue as to what is happening.  This is Communion.  Their brother and sisters are receiving.  Their parish community is receiving.  Don't they pray a thanksgiving after Communion?  Shouldn't they wait for the final blessing?

And if you ever had someone singing in the choir, you would notice how discourteous people are to leave when they should be singing and not leave the choir hanging by their lonesome selves.

Finally, what happened to praying a thanksgiving prayer after Mass?

Curious minds want to know.  God does too.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Christian's Function

Today I felt like I live in a surreal world.  I'm out of it.  I don't understand what people are talking about and I don't want to know. In fact, I'm glad I'm not in it.  I don't feel superior, just different.

Two of my adult children ran in the Falmouth Road Race.  I stood next to a man who told me all about the real estate projects that were making him rich.  (Why should I be impressed?)  Also all the big boats--yachts he has owned.

After the race there were celebratory parties everywhere.  Why would athletes want to get drunk?  I couldn't relate.  Just standing out in the sun watching the runners go by melted me.  I couldn't wait to get a (1) drink of ice water (2) take a shower and (3) take a nap!  I can see that my son and daughter were hyper after the race and wanted to talk about the race but if I were them I'd do (1) (2) (3) and go to a party at night, after I was dry, clean, and rested.  Maybe then I'd have a drink in my hand.

Watching the social interaction at the parties was an education in the "hook up" generation.  I don't think any of these young adults are interested in marriage.  Any thoughts of having a children are banished.  I asked about a young man who used to run in these races and I was told that his wife had a baby and your life is changed, after that.  (Yes, but isn't that a good thing?) Obviously, not to them.  Having a family would crimp their traveling, and buying nice things.

Upon reflecting upon the events of the day, I felt like I "live in the flesh but not governed by the desires of the flesh. I pass my days upon this earth but I am a citizen of heaven.  I am obedient to the law but live on a level that transcends law.  I love everyone but most think me strange and don't understand.  "

The thoughts in the last paragraph are paraphrased from a letter to Diognetus.  He tells us that living in the world but not of the world is the Christian's lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself."

Maybe that's it.  Maybe I'm just getting old.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Eucharist as Spiritual Carb

Why do people run?  I mean as a hobby.  It must make them feel good.  Some describe it as a runner's high.  My son and daughter, who are runners, say they have never attained that kind of "high." They do like the feel of their muscles when they run.  It makes them feel healthy.

Today, I went with my son and daughter to pick up their numbers for tomorrow's Falmouth Road Race.  There was an expo of sorts of all things associated with either the town of Falmouth or running or health. The thought did occur to me that "running" is some people's religion.  They treat their bodies as temples.  Well, it is, but too much would be idol worship and that what I'm talking about.  Oddly, many drink beer as if running and drinking went hand and hand.  Many tee shirts alluded to that idea.

St. Paul must have been a runner, hence his allusion to finishing the race: 2 Tim 4:7 and 1 Cor 9:24.
And tonight at the four o'clock Mass, Msgr. Avila's homily was all about running the spiritual race.  I think he did an excellent comparison between the running the spiritual race and the Falmouth Road Race, and "carbing up" and the Bread of Life, which is the Eucharist.  He talked about getting into spiritual shape to win the final race.  The Eucharist is the spiritual carbohydrate to give you the energy to win.

I also loved the blessing Msgr. gave to the runners.  First, he praised God for their lives, for the good weather, for the race itself.  He gave thanks for their ability to compete.  He asked God to take care of them and protect them from injuries. He asked for blessings of joy for their knowledge of Whom they owe everything. May they run the good race.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Dumb Bunnies

One of my favorite stories from the lives of saints is Saint Martin De Porres.  Legend has it that he  could talk to animals.  The story goes that the priory was becoming overrun with mice, so Martin had a talk with them and they didn’t bother the priory, anymore.  They were everywhere but they were never seen in the priory again.

I always thought that Martin laid out food for the mice in the barn.  Why go hunt for food in the priory when you can get it more easily in the barn?

That was until this year.  Rabbits are eating my flowers and vegetables.  I tried pulling the De Porres trick.  I leave lots of lettuce and vegetable scrapes out for the animals, so they’ll leave my garden alone.  They don’t.  So what’s wrong, St. Martin de Porres?

Thursday, August 13, 2015


When you read the Old Testament, the Hebrews are always fasting.  They seem to do it mostly for preparation or atonement, i.e., preparing for battle, penance.  Whatever.  Fasting is done to get closer to God, because you started to drift away, because you are in danger and will need help, just in case.  For sure, fasting involves turning away from something and turning towards God.  Just the action doesn't do it.  That's faking.  You have to mean that you want to get closer to God.

The same is true for any kind of fasting.  If you fast from salt because your doctor told you to, you won't last too long with just your good intentions.  You have to mean it.  You have to sincerely want  to be healthy.

Hence, the purpose of fasting is conversion.  If fasting is for spiritual reasons then you need to convert your heart.  If fasting is for health reasons then you need to convert your bad habits.

Either way, that conversion requires self discipline.  And there's the rub.  That's what it all comes down to.  Have you got what it takes?  Spiritually, it's the age old battle between soul and body.  Our bodily "wants" can drive us crazy.  And unfortunately, the desires sometimes win.  The trick is perseverance.  Losing one battle does not lose the war.  Victory is achieved by overcoming the losses.  Those bodily cravings constantly want control.  Who's the boss?  You or your body?  Every time you try to fast, you win.  You may give in, but the fact that you wanted to fast, that you are not going to get discouraged, that you are going to try again, makes you the winner.  Saying "no" to the body help you to assert dominance.  Your "will" will be strengthened and you will be freer.  Only death will make you completely free, but until then you must dominate.  Keep at it. And this struggle, and the need for perseverance applies to both the body and the soul.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


In Christian art, the white rose is a symbol of purity, the yellow rose perfection and papal benediction, and in T.O.P.S. you're a K.O.P.S.  T.O.P.S. is an international group focused on healthy living.  The initials stand for Take Off Pounds Sensibly.  When you've reached your goal, you become a K.O.P.S. -- Keep Off Pounds Sensibly.

The red rose is a symbol of martyrdom.  The rose is a frequent symbol of the Blessed Mother.  The thorns have an interesting symbolic story.  Since the Blessed Mother was free of original sin, she is referred to the "rose without thorns."  In the Garden of Eden, the rose didn't have any thorns; the thorns came when roses grew on earth.  So think of man's fall from grace, when you stab yourself on the thorns.  

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Orange Jumpsuits Fit Men and Women

Last night (early morning), I finished Orange is the new Black by Piper Kerman.  I thought the book was excellent and an easy read.  However, my "cloistered brothers" scoff and dismiss the scenarios with disparaging remarks: "She was in a country club."  "If she was in with Sister Ardeth Platte then she had easy time.

Of course, everyone's experience is different.  One of my "cloistered brothers" tells of his introduction to prison.  Whereas Piper Kerman was given a welcome basket of toiletries, he was given a stack of National Geographics.  WTF?

It turned out that as he was walking through the door he was shanked.  Fortunately, the wound was minor.  That's what the National Geographics were for--protection.  He should have placed them around his waist.  This was done to see what you are about.  My "cloistered brother" didn't snitch, so he was "OK".

Father Gordon MacRae tells of his walking into prison for the first time with the chant, "Kill the priest.  Kill the priest.  Kill the priest...."

Every institution is different.  I still liked Orange is the New Black.

Monday, August 10, 2015

A Letter from Jesus

Last week one of my R.C.I.A. candidates asked me a question I had never thought of.  This is my candidate that was a Wiccan.  As a wiccan, he didn't believe in Jesus.  So my job is to convince him that Jesus is who He says He is.  Well, my inquirer asked, "How come Jesus never wrote anything?"  He went on to elaborate about how common sense would demand that someone as important as Jesus would leave a paper trail.

The answer boils down to the culture of the times.  Jesus' culture was "oral".  They told stories and passed them down.  Besides, where would Jesus have gotten the paper to write.  Papyrus and animal skins were expensive and nobody from Jesus' strata could have gotten ahold of them.  Also, why would you want to write to people who didn't know how to read?

Someone also expressed the thought that people thought the world was going to end soon, so why worry about leaving a paper trail?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

St. Dominic's Compassion

My  Lay Dominican Chapter is still celebrating the blessed solemnity of Saint Dominic.  We did some reflections on the stories about Saint Dominic, today.  There is one story that relates the situation of a man who unfortunately had been taken into slavery.  Dominic was going to offer himself up to replace the man, but the captive was released before that exchange could happen.

Dominic often could be heard crying, himself.  And if you could understand his mutterings, you would have heard begging God's mercy for us sinners.  One of the brothers wrote:

So wonderfully tender-hearted was he touching the sins and miseries of men, that when he (Dominic) came near any city or town from where he could overlook it, he would burst into tears at the thought of the miseries of mankind, of the sins committed therein, and of the numbers who were [headed for destruction].  (Conway and Jarrett, Lives of the Brethren, p. 56) as quoted in Praying with Dominic by Michael Monshau, o.p.

Meditating upon this quote, we prayed.

Try praying the name Jesus until you have focused on His presence within you.  Think of one of your own shortcomings, and pray:

Lord, have mercy.

Think of another and pray:

Christ, have mercy.

Keep on going:

Lord, have mercy.

Pray like this until you can't think of any more faults.  Now ask Jesus to give you the graces necessary to become a more merciful and compassionate person.

Saturday, August 8, 2015


Today is the Feast of Saint Dominic.  I began the day with breakfast with my friends from the Hope of Bethany Pro-Chapter.  Sister Ruth surprised us by bringing a couple of our former "cloistered brothers."  It was wonderful to see them.  We toasted with orange juice because St. Dominic liked oranges.  He planted some orange seeds outside of Santa Sabina in Rome.  Santa Sabina has been the home of the Order of Preachers, since the 13th century.

There is still an orange tree growing and producing oranges at Santa Sabina.  No doubt it is a descendent of St. Dominic's original.

We were wishing we had some champagne to toast this happy occasion because orange juice and champagne make a drink called mimosa.  The toast would be Veritas!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Impossible Love

Avalon by Vanessa Morgan is for cat lovers.  Only a lover can understand the overwhelming, self-denying devotion of the beloved.  Only a cat lover can appreciate Avalon.  However, anyone who has ever experienced all-out obsessive love will be able to identify the emotional soul-lock love between Avalon and the author.  Parents with handicapped children will understand.  Spouses with dependent mates can identify.  Maybe it’s dependency?  Maybe it’s what love is all about—“in sickness and in health.”  Whatever!  Does it matter?  Not to the beloved; it’s wonderful; it’s enriching emotional fulfillment.  Life is forever altered.

How did this happen between Avalon and the author?  Avalon is about a cat and his owner.  Avalon is a Turkish Van—a rare breed.  The author picked up Avalon off the street and brought him home. He didn’t adapt well.  He terrorized the other pets and even the people that Vanessa Morgan brought in their lives.  Having had a cat like this, I understand the situation.  Everyone wants to get rid of the offending cat, but the cat owner feels it must defend the cat.  No one understands.  Besides, Avalon helped Vanessa grow up.  By that I mean, the cat and the owner were  sympathetico.  They understood each other.  How can you get rid of your soul mate?

 Vanessa in explaining the emotional bond in the conclusion states:
Many argue that my relationship with Avalon was unhealthy, but it was actually the opposite.  We became emotionally stable beings because we had each other.  We had both been our worst selves when we met, but we had bonded through an unwavering desire to be love unconditionally and to love just as much in return.  What we thought impossible, we had found with each other.

Vanessa even used Avalon in her work.  The cat was a character in her books and movies.  Vanessa and Avalon were a team.  You couldn’t have one without the other. 

There was one boyfriend, Gilles, who understood.  He was a keeper.  Anyone who understood Avalon and the beautiful bond between Vanessa and Avalon was special.  I was happy to read in the ending that Gilles was a part of Vanessa’s life.  Love expands.

If you’re a cat lover, you’ll love Avalon by Vanessa Morgan.  If you’re someone who loves with abandon, who jumps in with their whole heart, soul, and body, you’ll enjoy this memoir.  I know I did.




Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Crown and Scepter

Whenever I go to Portuguese churches I see a crown and scepter.  I've seen it at St. Dominic's in Swansea, MA, where most of the people are from the Azores, and I've also seen it at St. Anthony's in East Falmouth, MA, where the people are mostly from Cape Verde.

What do the crown and scepter represent?  The story goes back to the 13th century Queen of Portugal, Queen Saint Isabel.  There was a lot of contention between her husband, Dom Diniz, and her son.  Queen Isabel feared the son would break and battle with his father.  So she prayed to the Holy Ghost to make peace between them.  Thankfully, the son and father resolved their disagreements and peace reigned.  In thanksgiving, the queen held a ceremony every year in honor of the Holy Ghost.  She put a poor man on her throne and crowned him with her crown.  This, legend has it, was the birth of the Holy Ghost Festival in Portugal.

Another story tells of Queen Isabel of Portugal, also.  She was known as the Holy Queen and devoted to the Holy Ghost.  There are many stories that demonstrate the Queen's piety, compassion, and service.  They tell of earthquakes, volcanoes, and other natural disasters.  The queen would gather the people together and they would pray in appeal to the Holy Ghost.  On Pentecost, the people would be saved.  Then the queen and people would process through the streets of Lisbon to the cathedral where the queen would place her crown on the altar as an offering of thanksgiving for the favors the Holy Ghost had given her people.  She also began a tradition of feeding the poor on Pentecost.

Nowadays, the royals have forgotten the crowning, but the common people haven't.  From Easter to Pentecost, the people celebrate the Holy Ghost.  Some of the people are given the honor of keeping the crown, flags, ornaments, etc. to make a little shrine in their home, decorated with white paper and flowers for a week.  In the evening, the hosts, relatives, neighbors, and guests gather in front of the shrine to pray the rosary and worship the Holy Ghost.  Of course, food is a big part of the gathering.
On Sunday, a procession is made carrying statues, the crown, flags and flowers.  At the church, the priest blesses the crown and the people.  A banquet is served with Holy Ghost soup.

The Holy Ghost Festival is a wonderful way for the Portuguese to celebrate their heritage.  It is important for the children to see their family cultural traditions.  It is also wonderful for non Portuguese to see and celebrate.  Worshipping the third person of the Blessed Trinity is a custom everyone should cultivate.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Argonauta 2015

This is the day my book club, Argonauta, met to choose our book selections for the year.  It did not begin very well.  We planned to meet at a certain place for breakfast.  However, when we arrived we found out that the place was closed for the week.  It was their vacation.  So we made a few telephone calls and settled upon another place, in a different town, for lunch.

This place was wonderful.  We arrived at 11:00 AM and they opened at 11:00 AM.  That meant that we were the only people in the restaurant.  They'd be no chance of us being kicked out due to our rowdy behavior.

Two hours later, after much laughter, arguing over Atticus Finch, (Iconic character), and clapping, we came up with the following:

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

The Nightingale by Kristen Hanna

A Desperate Fortune by Susana Kearsley

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamand Ngozi Adichie

The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian

Me Before You by Jojo Moynes

Sunday, August 2, 2015

St. Dominic's Yoga

My Lay Dominican Chapter is gearing up for St. Dominic's Feast Day.  Today we watched a real live demonstration of St. Dominic's Nine Ways of Prayer.  Afterwards, one of my "cloistered brothers" quipped, "It looks like Yoga!"

We all laughed and from now on St. Dominic's Nine Ways of Prayer will be known as Dominican Yoga.  This led to a discussion of different ways of prayer.  Brother James added an interesting concept that I never thought of before.  Brother James remembered that at one time we had a volunteer that used to come to Mass with us.  Afterwards, she lead us in some yoga exercises.  This volunteered said that yoga was spiritual to her because she considered yoga led her to prayer.  We didn't know what to think of that, but to be polite, we joined her.  After all she volunteered to teach us yoga.  She wasn't being paid.

So after Mass, Mary Jane led us in some yoga.  We all laughed, especially at each other.  But we were laughing together, helping each other, and sharing the experience.  Brother James said that he tried doing yoga back in his cell, but it wasn't the same.  In fact, he considered it a failure.

What was missing when Brother James was alone was the community.  Also the timing.  When we did the yoga after Mass, it did feel spiritual--like continuing our prayers after Mass.  We were with our confreres and sharing the experience.

That's two of the four pillars of Dominican spirituality: prayer and community.  We decided to baptize yoga and make it Christian.  From now on our yoga will be known as Dominican Yoga, and St. Dominic's Nine Ways of Prayer are in it.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The House Across the Street

As I opened my front door, I noticed that something was different.  The house across the street was gone.  I guess I must’ve blinked a hundred times.  I looked around and the rest of the street was the same. 

It wasn’t an empty lot with a driveway, either.  It was a wooded lot.  Am I crazy?  There was no one around to ask.

So I just got in my car and drove to work.  Should I call the police?  Nah, someone probably already did.  It’s odd that there were woods there.  If the house was somehow demolished during the night wouldn’t there be rubble?  Even if everything was cleared away wouldn’t there be an empty space?  How did all those trees pop up overnight?

At work, everyone laughed at me.  “Was there a pink elephant darting between the trees?”  After my second cup of coffee, I agreed with everyone.  I must have imagined it.  It must have been some trick my half asleep mind was playing. 

Still.  I couldn’t wait to get back home, after work.

Arriving home, I couldn’t believe it.  I mean, I believed it, but…but!  The house was back.  It looked just like it always did. 

At supper, I told hubby the story.  He said I must have dreamed it.  Maybe it was some kind of mind trick like déjà vu tricks the mind.  I didn’t know what to think, so I didn’t—think.

The next morning as I opened by front door, the house was gone again.  This time I took out my smart phone and took a picture.  “Hrmph!  This will show those nay sayers!” 

But my co-workers weren’t impressed.  They didn’t know what was there before the woods.  “Why didn’t you ask one of the people in the woods?” 

“Huh?”  I looked at the pictures and there were people in the woods!  I never noticed them.  They were walking around talking, or something.  Some of them had cameras.


Later when I showed the pictures to hubby, he thought I was pulling his leg.  “C’mon.  You didn’t take this picture here.  You took this somewhere else.  Is this an early April Fool’s Day joke?”

I didn’t know what was going on.  But since I didn’t sleep well that night, I came up with a plan.  I was going to get up early with hubby.  Then I’d show him the woods across the street where the house used to be.  But I couldn’t sleep at all.  I was too jazzed.  So I got up.  I looked out the window.  The house was across the street, as always.  Well, not “as always” but it was where it belonged. 

I made us a big breakfast.  I looked out the window, again.  The house was there.  Hubby got up and we ate breakfast.  I didn’t mention the house but I kept checking the window.  It was still there.
Hubby did say that he was glad the house across the street kept disappearing because it got me out of bed early enough to make breakfast.  “Wise guy.”

As Hubby kissed me goodbye a van pulled up in front of the house across the street and dropped off some people.  Another van drove up and dropped off some stuff—equipment, I guess. 

I watched (open mouth) as some men climbed up the roof and dropped a camouflaged tarp over the front of the house.  Then some of the other people carried trees and placed them all over the front yard.

Voila!  The house was gone and replaced with a wooded lot. 

I wasn’t going crazy.  But why were they doing it?

I walked over and asked. 

They were making a movie.  The homeowners were on vacation and wanted a movie made of how their parents had built their house, starting with chopping down the trees by hand.  It was going to be a surprise for their parents.


A Priest's Day

Here is the book review I promised on Monday, for Death Comes for the Archbishop , by Willa Cather.  She really gets into the nitty-grit...