Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Jesus the Man

Last night in Bible Sharing we discussed Sunday's Readings.  I won't reference them because I'm sick and tired--literally.  Being one of the crowds to see the pope allowed me to mingle with all their germs.  I'm sick; I have a cold.  Being up all Sunday night and still not having caught up on my sleep, I'm tired.  But I still went to Bible Sharing because I wanted to tell the group about my Philly Adventure.  

I did that, but I wasn't or couldn't focus on scripture.  Let's just say, I'm so grateful to God for having Jesus become one of us.  Jesus suffered colds and viruses and being tired.  I feel better just knowing that God has experiential knowledge of humanity.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pope Francis Speaks to Prisoners

Pope Francis met with inmates at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia and said:

"Thank you for receiving me and giving me the opportunity to be here with you and to share this time in your lives.  It is a difficult time, one full of struggles.  I know it is a painful time not only for you, but also for your families and for all of society.  Any society, any family, which cannot share or take seriously the pain of its children, and views that pain as something normal or to be expected, is a society 'condemned' to remain a hostage to itself, prey to the very things which cause that pain.  I am here as a pastor, but above all as a brother, to share your situation and to make it my own.  I have come so that we can pray together and offer our God everything that causes us pain, but also everything that gives us hope, so that we can receive from him the power of the resurrection.

I think of the Gospel scene where Jesus washes the feet of his disciples at the Last Super.  This was something his disciples found hard to accept.  Even Peter refused, and told him: 'You will never wash my feet' (Jn 13:8).  In those days, it was the custom to wash someone's feet when they came to your home.  That was how they welcomed people.  The roads were not paved, they were covered with dust, and little stones would get stuck in your sandals.  Everyone walked those roads, which left their feet dusty, bruised or cut from those stones.  That is why we see Jesus washing feet, our feet, the feet of his disciples, then and now.

Life is a journey, along different roads, different paths, which leave their mark on us. We know in faith that Jesus seeks us out.  He wants to heal our wounds, to sooth our fet which hurt from travelling alone, to wash each of us clean of the dust from our journey.  He doesn't ask us where we have been, he doesn't question us what about we have done.  Rather, he tells us: 'Unless I wash your feet, you have no share with me.' (Jn 13:8)  Unless I wash your feet, I will not be able to give you the life which the Father always dreamed of, the life for which he created you.  Jesus comes to meet us, so that he can restore our dignity as children of God.  He wants to help us to set out again, to resume our journey, to recover our hope, to restore our faith and trust.  He wants us to keep walking along the paths of life, to realize that we have a mission, and that confinement is not the same thing as exclusion.

Life means 'getting our feet dirty' from the dust-filled roads of life and history.  All of us need to be cleansed, to be washed.  All of us are being sought out by the Teacher, who wants to help us resume our journey.  The Lord goes in search of us; to all of us he stretches out a helping hand.  It is painful when we see prison systems which are not concerned to care for wounds, to soothe pain, to offer new possibilities.  It is painful when we see people who think that only others need to be cleansed, purified, and do not recognize that their weariness, pain and wounds are also the weariness, pain and wounds of society.  The Lord tells us this clearly with a sign; he washes our feet so we can come back to the table.  The table from which he wishes no one to be excluded.  The table which is spread for all and to which all of us are invited.

This time in your life can only have one purpose: to give you a hand in getting back on the right road, to give you a hand to help you rejoin society.  All of us are part of that effort, all of us are invited to encourage, help, and enable your rehabilitation.  A rehabilitation which everyone seeks and desires: inmates and their families, correctional authorities, social and educational programs.  A rehabilitation which benefits and elevates the morale of the entire community.  Jesus invites us to share in his lot, his way of living and acting.  He teaches us to see the world through his eyes.  Eyes which are not scandalized by the dust picked up along the way, but want to cleanse, heal and restore.  He asks us to create new opportunities: for inmates, for their families, for correctional authorities, and for society as a whole.  I encourage you to have this attitude with one another and with all those who in any way are part of this institution.  May you make possible new opportunities, new journeys, new paths.

All of us have something we need to be cleansed of, or purified from.  May the knowledge of that fact inspire us to live in solidarity, to support one another and seek the best for others.

Let us look to Jesus, who washes our feet.  He is 'the way, and the truth, and life.'  He comes to save us from the lie that says no one can change.  He helps us to journey along the paths of life and fulfillment.  May the power of his love and his resurrection always be a path leading you to new life."

Monday, September 28, 2015

Philly Adventure

This was my bus on the way to visit the pope in Philadelphia.  We were so excited!  The ride down took us six hours.  There was a little mix-up when we changed drivers because our new driver expected us to stop and eat and we didn't plan on doing that.  But we did; our driver needed to eat something.  And I think it was for best; we needed to get off the bus and stretch our legs.

From where we parked the bus in Philadelphia, it was about a 20-minute walk to the subway.  The ride on the subway was fast.  Then we walked for about 45 minutes and joined a crowd of people walking to Benjamin Franklin Parkway.  We understood that it would take us to security points that we had to get thru to get to see the pope's Mass.

It took us about four hours!

We inched our way along, baby step by baby step--for four hours!  It was excruciatingly slow and maddening.  Even so, it could have been worse.  Everyone was nice and happily excited.  We were kind to each other.  Every once in awhile someone would start singing and we'd join in.  We'd make a wave.  Someone tossed a balloon around.  We prayed a rosary.  People who spoke other languages joined in, in their language.  It was wonderful.  We lucked out weather-wise also.  It was about 60 degrees and cloudy.  IOW, cool and comfortable.

Finally, we got through the security checks to see everyone give each other the "kiss of peace."  Distribution of communion was next and we received.  Then it was over.  I really didn't get to see the pope, except on a jumbotron.  But I received communion at a papal mass; I'm happy.

Some people on my bus never got through.  They were turned away because the Mass was over.  All that trouble waiting, and they never got through.

Then we backtracked--hour walk to subway--subway ride--20-minute walk to the bus.  The subway was mobbed with people.  But everyone was singing in their language, mostly Spanish.  All were happy.

We waited about an hour at the bus for everyone to come back.  There was an eclipse going on so we were blessed to view it.

We left the parking lot at 8:30 PM. (Remember this time; it'll be important, later.)

In Connecticut, the bus driver announced, "I have bad news.  The check engine light is on and we're losing power."  The bus pulled over to the breakdown lane and slowly died.

Every bus was busy.  Every bus driver was working.  We waited 2-3 hours for a rescue bus.  A tow truck came in a couple of hours to take the broken bus away.  Then when the rescue bus arrived one of our passengers refused to get on the bus because the driver wasn't a fresh driver.  Eventually, however, she got on the bus and we were off.

While waiting to be rescued, we played cards.  I learned how to play rummy with two decks.  Some people slept.  Some high schoolers did homework.  Others just talked quietly.

The rest of the ride was uneventful.  We arrived back home at 7:30 AM.  

Around 6:00 AM we heard that the pope arrived in Rome.  Imagine that!  The pope flew back to Rome and was sleeping in his own bed before us!

Was it worth it?

You betcha!

Would I do it again?  Not for all the whiskey in Ireland!  

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Streets of Philadelphia

Streets of Philadelphia, here I come.  I'm off to see the pope.  I don't know when I'll be able to post.  My iPhone is full, so I can't take pictures.  My point and shoot camera needs a new lithium battery and I don't want to spend the money.  IOW, no pictures.  But I'll have memories and I'll tell you all about them when I get back.

Wish me God's speed.  

Friday, September 25, 2015

Mourning and Weeping

Whoever thinks the Dominican Chant of Salve Regina is beautiful hasn't heard my chapter sing it.  We make it die.  We sound like a funeral procession moaning dreadfully.

The Salve Regina is a prayer sung after Evening prayer.  Legend has it has composed by angels.  Wikipoedia has it composed by a monk, Hermann of Reichenau  but St. Dominic had his nuns singing it in 1206, which is before his time.

People say it's beautiful, but we are struggling with it.  My chapter of Lay Dominicans is practicing for our Profession Day.  Fr. Nic, our spiritual advisor would like us to sing it.  So we need prayers.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Who is Jesus to You?

Just beginning RCIA, we are discussing Jesus--Who He is? He is:

Teacher   --   John 13:13

Lover      --   John 15:9, 12-13

Friend     --   John 15:15

There's more, but these are the ones that mean most to me.  Could Jesus be whoever you want Him to be?  I don't think so because let's suppose you were crazy and want Jesus to be evil.  That He could never be except inside your misdirected mind.

But to me, Jesus as a teacher, lover and friend helps me relate to others better.  He teaches me to be a better person.  And a better person means I love others.

What is Jesus to you?


Monday, September 21, 2015

I Forgive You

It's late September, after all.  There should be a chill in the air.  But 52 degrees!  I had to wear a jacket for the first time in months!  That's why my rosary beads were stolen.

Here's the story.  I wasn't used to wearing a jacket, so I wasn't used to checking the jacket's pockets.  I was going through security at the prison and forgot.  The door opened and I was just about to step through the doorway when I remembered.  One pocket had a packet of tissues.  The other pocket had my rosary beads.  However, the beads were in a little purse that may have looked like a change purse.

I couldn't take the time to go outside to go get money, to pay for a locker, to put in the rosary and tissue packet.  So I just put them on the top of the bank of lockers.  When I came back out, only the packet of tissues were there.

Obviously, all the thieves aren't on the inside.

Somebody probably just snatched the purse and took off.  Later, what did they think when they saw there was no money, just prayer beads?  I hope they feel guilty and obligated for the rest of their life to pray the rosary.

But realistically, they probably just threw them away.  May God forgive them.  I do.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Full Day

My schedule today:

Leave the house at 7:00 AM in order to get to Mass 20 minutes before it starts--I am Lector A.

After Mass meet friends for breakfast.

10:00 AM go to the Hope of Bethany Pro-Chapter's meeting.

Noon give formation to a temporary professed Lay Dominican.

1:00 PM my own Lay Dominican Chapter meeting

4:00 PM watch football with hubby

5:30 make and eat supper

7:00 blog this post

Sundays are my busiest days and I love it.  I prayed Morning Prayer with my brothers and sisters.  And I prayed Evening Prayer with my "cloistered brothers."  It doesn't get any better than that.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Sinister versus Urgent Conviction

How do you speak with urgent conviction and not sound sinister?  That's my assignment as Lector for the first reading for the twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time.  (Wisdom 2:12, 17-20)

The wicked say:
    Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
    he sets himself against our doings,
    reproaches us for transgressions of the law
    and charges us with violations of our training.
    Let us see whether his words be true;
    let us find out what will happen to him.
    For if the just one be the son of God, God will defend him
    and deliver him from the hand of his foes.
    With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test
    that we may have proof of his gentleness
    and try his patience.
    Let us condemn him to a shameful death;
    for according to his own words, God will take care of him.

The wicked don't see this as an evil scheme.  They are planning a test to prove a theory.  Look again.  The wicked have the unmitigated gall to concoct a scheme to trick God into taking responsibility.  "God will take care of him." is an excuse for their wickedness, not concern for the wellbeing of the just one.

And I'm not suppose to use a sinister tone!

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Prayer Group's Faith

Father Diotrophes preached on James 2: 14-26.  It was on practical faith. Faith is what the prayer group had.  Yes, indeed!  They had so much faith that it was ridiculous.  They really were too much.  They were overly pious.  But they were genuine; it wasn’t just for show.

But God forgive him, the group just got on his nerves.

Father Diotrophes tried to get across to them that praying wasn’t enough.  They should do some good works.  Faith without works is dead.  Maybe they could help with the parish food pantry.  They could help drive those who can’t drive to Mass.  They could visit nursing homes.

They just smiled and nodded at him like they always did, and continued fingering their rosaries.  Father Diotrophes sighed.  It was no use, they didn't get it.

On his way down the aisle in recession, Father tripped and hurt his back.  Everyone rushed to help but he waved them off.  He was better off alone.  Everyone left him alone, except the prayer group.

They insisted on taking his arms and walking with him—and they walked too fast.  They all tumbled down the church stairs.  It looked like the entire prayer group landed on top of him.

Father didn’t think he could get up.  The prayer group said that he was not to worry, they’d carry him.  That announcement caused Father Diotrophes to get up as fast as he could.  Again they all pulled and pushed him too fast and this time they all almost fell up the rectory stairs.

Finally, Father was in his own home.  The prayer group was getting him a glass of water, pillows for his back, a heating pad, ice bag, taking off his shoes…

ENOUGH!  Father Diotrophes shouted.  “Stop it.  Everyone go home and leave me alone.”

The prayer group reacted like they were slapped.  Their collective expression looked like  scolded puppies.  Father’s tone softened.  “Thank you but I want to be alone.”

“But Father Diotrophes,” their leader explained.  “You said, ‘Faith without works is dead.’”

“We’ll stay and help you.”  That’s all Father Diotrophes heard because he was banging his head on the table.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Plugging Away at the Rosary

I'm still plugging away at the Rosary.  I have a love/hate relationship with this type of prayer.  I just space out and realize that I'm on the last bead and don't remember a darn thing. How did I get here?

I've tried not praying the Rosary, but that made me miserable.  I missed it.  I carry a rosary with me. I absently finger the beads.  They're in my pocket, under my pillow, in my car's cup holder, hanging on my rearview mirror,on the table, next to my chair, and draped over my lamp on my computer table.

So I vary the ways to pray the Rosary, hopefully to keep me alert.  I've tried audio, visual, DVD, praying on my computer, praying the Seven Sorrow Rosary, contemplative rosary, and I'm sure there's others.  Today, I read about the clausular approach to the rosary.   It would work like the following for the Sorrowful Mysteries:

The five Sorrowful Mysteries with the clauses in red.
1st Sorrowful Mystery – Jesus in Agony in the Garden
Our Father…
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus – with whom you suffered at His torment in the garden. – Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Glory Be…
O My Jesus…
2nd Sorrowful Mystery – Jesus Scourged at the Pillar
Our Father…
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus – with whom you agonized at His torture at the pillar. – Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Glory Be…
O My Jesus…
3rd Sorrowful Mystery – Jesus Crowned With Thorns
Our Father…
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus – with whom you mourned at His ridicule. – Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Glory Be…
O My Jesus…
4th Sorrowful Mystery – Jesus Takes up the Cross
Our Father…
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus – with whom you offered yourself as he embraced the cross. – Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Glory Be…
O My Jesus…
5th Sorrowful Mystery – Jesus is Crucified
Our Father…
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus – with whom your heart was pierced as He was crucified. – Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Glory Be…
O My Jesus…
Hail Holy Queen…
May your heart bleed with Mary’s heart…and through her eyes come to more fully know what Jesus has done for you.

Read more:

By myself, I kind of made up a more personal clausular approach.  On every Hail Mary I specifically pray for someone I know personally.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for my son who is looking for a better job, now and at the hour of his death.  Amen.

As long as I pray, as long as I intend to pray, as long as I try, as long as I persevere, Our Lady understands.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Apostolic Nuncio

Apostolic Nuncios
by Fr. Larry Rice  (source USCCB)

In order to ensure the smooth functioning of a worldwide
community of faith and to facilitate relations
with the civil governments of the world, the Catholic
Church maintains one of the largest diplomatic corps
in the world. Although its origins lie in the centuries
when the Church was itself a civil and political
power, today the Vatican’s diplomatic corps serves
other purposes.

The chief ambassador at a Vatican embassy is the
Apostolic Nuncio. Usually a bishop or archbishop, the
Nuncio has the same diplomatic duties as any other
ambassador, but also serves as a conduit between the
local Church and the Roman Curia. These duties may
include recommending the appointment of bishops,
monitoring human rights issues, and serving as an
impartial mediator.

In many countries, the Apostolic Nuncio is regarded as the “dean” of the local diplomatic
community and is given honorary precedence in many matters of protocol. The Vienna Convention
on Diplomatic Relations provides that, “Except as concerns precedence and etiquette, there shall be no differentiation between heads of mission by reason of their class” (article 14[2]), but the Convention also states, “This article is without prejudice to any practice accepted by the receiving State regarding the precedence of the representative of the Holy See” (article 16[3]).

His Excellency, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, is the current Apostolic Nuncio to the United States and has been serving in that capacity since October 2011.  His residence, called a nunciature, in Washington, DC, will also be home to Pope Francis during his September 22-24, 2015, visit to the city.

Fr. Rice is Vocations Director for the Paulist Fathers.

Not Smarter Than The Average Bear

When we were hiking in Yellowstone, we had to be escorted by park rangers, a few times.  There were quite a few bear sightings.  So we thought we would invest in a can of "bear spray."  It's a good thing that we were given instructions on how to use it, because I thought it was similar to insect spray--I spray it on myself, to repel bears.  It's the opposite.

It's a weapon, like mace.  It's to be  used on an attacking bear.  You spray it at the bear to keep him away.

This reminded me of the joke about the man who saw a bear coming at him, so he prayed to God.  Guess what.  The bear stopped charging.  He knelt down.  The man thought it was divine providence.  However, the bear blessed himself and said, "Bless me O God, and these thy gifts, which I am about to receive.  Amen."

Friday, September 11, 2015

Our Lady of the Grand Tetons

I think you will laugh at this.  While we were touring Grand Teton National Park, we came to a chapel--a log cabin chapel.  It really was impressive.  The chapel also had a breathtaking view of a lake.  The inside was none too shabby, either.

The chapel was originally named Our Lady of the Grand Tetons but the congregation found out that Tetons was Indian for "breasts."  They didn't think Grand Breasts was appropriate for their place of worship so they changed the name to Sacred Heart Chapel.

Everything was made out of wood, except the windows, of course.  They had one fabulous stained glass window above the altar.  The stations of the cross were little circles distributed on the walls.
And even the ambo was rustic.  See how it's made out of small cuts of logs.

I felt very comfortable praying here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Warning

Last night, I finished unpacking.  I found a little piece of paper I had saved.  On our flight to Yellowstone, on the plane, we found this warning on a tiny piece of paper stuck on the seat.  My son in law just laughed and was going to throw it out, but I saved it.  I knew it would make a good blog post.  The slip of paper said:

Something to think about.  Have you noticed how violence and lawlessness have drastically increased not only in our country but all over the World?  Every night on the News we hear about brother against brother, rioting and killing in the streets and schools, wars and rumors of wars, famines, plagues, earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural disasters.  Moral decline has hit a new low and keeps getting worse.  (OVER) -- [It was a tiny slip of paper.  On the other side was written:]

Knowledge and travel are increasing.  We are lovers of ourselves, wanting to look better than we do.  The Bile, God's Word, states these are signs that the end of time is near.  Read Isaiah 13: 6-13, Isaiah 24, Ezekiel 7:5-27, Daniel 12:4, Matthew 24, Luke 21:25-26, II Timothy 3: 1-5; Rev. 11:13.  Read all of John and Romans for a way out of the dilemma.  Also see Luke 11:9.

So what do you think?  Will someone ignorant of the Word be converted?  I doubt it, but maybe it's worth a shot.  Although, if someone was ignorant of the Word they wouldn't know how to look up the references, so the message is lost.  But then again, what if......?

I know that when I was looking at the fumerals and mud pools and devasted landscape at Yellowstone, the Apocalypse came to mind.  But I'm in the choir, most people aren't.  So how do you reach those ignorant of God?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


This picture was taken only two hours after we arrived.
Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park should be on everybody's bucket list.  Within two hours of arriving, we saw a mama mouse and her baby.  The wildlife is unbelievable.  We saw elk!   That's unheard of around MA.

You'll laugh at this.  There're bears and all kinds of warnings about being careful around bears.  "A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear."  We had to be escorted by park rangers twice, due to bear sightings.  We had to purchase "bear spray."  I originally thought "bear spray" was something I put on to repel the bears--like insect repellent.  No, that's wrong.  "Bear Spray" is a weapon--like mace.  You spray it at the bear.  He will turn away.

Seeing buffalo became ordinary.  I got up real close to deer.  It was like paradise.  I was thinking that the early native Americans must have lived as if they were in the Garden of Eden.  There were plenty of game, nuts, berries, other plants, water, etc.  What more could anyone want?  

Monday, September 7, 2015

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

So sorry I didn't warn my readers that I was going on vacation and wouldn't be blogging.  I didn't want to tell burglars that my house would be empty.
Old Faithful at Old Faithful

We were in Wyoming touring Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park.  This is mountainous country, so I didn't even attempt to bring my computer.  I had hard enough time with my iPhone just texting when I could.

The very first day of hiking I got a blister on my heel.  I don't understand why because I've worn those hiking shoes many, many times.  I wasn't too upset because I could feel my asthma tightening in  my chest when we were climbing fast.  I had to stop a few times to catch my breath.

So the second day through the fourth day we rented a device called Gaperguide.  It's a Godsend.  It's a GPS self-guided auto tour.  Wherever we drove, the Gaperguide told us everything we needed to know about what we were viewing.  It gave directions.  It told us how far a hike was.  I was wearing flip flops because of my blister, so I couldn't walk too, too far, so the Gaperguide was perfect.  Gaperguide even mocked us for taking pictures at the Welcome to Yellowstone sign, when we were leaving.

The fifth and sixth day we visited Jackson City and Jackson Hole, buying souvenirs and enjoying the cowboys.  Everybody is friendly and the landscape is so different than what I'm used to here in New England.  The open prairies seem to go on forever, but I'll tell you more in subsequent posts.

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