Wednesday, July 18, 2018


Pixabay.Com CC0

A Slur that Cuts Deep: He's a loser! You're a loser! Among all the hurtful slurs we mindlessly utter this particular one is perhaps the most hurtful and damaging. It needs to be forbidden in our public discourse.

Father Ron Rolheiser's article is tough.  I can think of many times I've been hurt.  And it wasn't a label; it was the tone.

          Oh!  You're so Catholic!

         Well, you would!

By themselves, these phrases are hurtful but add a deliberately hurtful tone of voice and ...OUCH.

Monday, July 16, 2018

It's the Culture

What's the difference between then and now?  Most think technological differences, but I contend it's cultural differences.  And there lies the devil.

I am reading or rereading (I can't believe I haven't read this before.) Willa Cather's Death Comes for The Archbishop.  I find the life of our early Catholic missionaries fascinating, heroic and inspiring.e

The Archbishop asks her friend, his classmate, his best priest, to be his vicar.  He wanted Father Vaillant to help him administer to the diocese.  Father Vaillant argued against this proposal, vehemently.  He wanted to "hunt for lost Catholics."

...I want to go from house to house...They are full of devotion and faith and it has nothing to feed upon but the most mistaken superstitions.  They remember their prayers wrong...They are like seeds, full of germination but with no moisture...

I am not writing a book review, now, because I'm only halfway through the book.  But how the character, Father Vaillant describes his people reminded me of people today.  They don't remember right.  They have nothing to feed upon BUT it's by choice, not circumstances.  Today's Catholics don't want devotions; they choice to distance itself from religion.  What's the difference?

Both people are starved for faith, but today's people choose not to partake of the feast set before them.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

My Personal Litany

Over at Windows to the Soul Blog, Sister Marie Paul Curly wrote a post before she went on retreat.  She actually wrote her own litany to her favorite saints--the ones she usually prays to.  And that's what I am doing here.

Lord, You who made everything on earth and heaven, I implore you to listen to my prayers and the intercessory prayers of my saintly friends.

R.  Pray for us.

Jesus, my Lord and Savior                          R.

Mary, Our Lady of Mercy                          R.         

Ven. Pere Marie Jean-Joseph Lataste         R.

St. Catherine of Siena                             R.

St. Dismas                                                 R.

St.  Peter                                                     R.    

St. Paul                                                       R.

St. Maxmillian Kolbe                              R.

St. Faith                                                     R.                                             

St. Dominic                                               R.

St. Padre Pio                                            R.

All holy men and women, pray for us

Monday, July 9, 2018

I Remember My Heart Stopping

I remember as a child shopping in Twaites Market.
It had three aisles plus one wider one for vegetables
and fruit, plus all the current week’s top specials.

I remember Mom cashing her pay check on Fridays.
We’d do the week’s shopping then, going up and down
every single aisle, grabbing  and dropping the usual,
in an ever-growing pile in the grocery cart.

Conversation consisted of imperatives:

Distracted seeing some shiny silver shimmering.

She was gone!


“Here.”  She was only in the next aisle, around the corner.

I remember that heart stopping feeling,… still.
The intake of breath, the widening of little eyes,
The scream ready to burst through my body, MAMA.

I remember this feeling as I look through those cages
into pools of terror filled eyes screaming MAMA.
I remember.  What will they remember?        

Sunday, July 8, 2018

A Gentleman Always Masters His Circumstances

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles is well worth the time spent reading all 462 pages.  The writing is beautiful.  Note this alliteration:
In a single week, there might be committees, caucuses, colloquiums, congresses, and conventions variously coming together to establish codes, set courses of action, levy complaints, and generally clamor about the world's oldest problems ...
Towles diction is remarkable.  My favorite "bon mot" is A gentleman always masters his circumstances.  Don't you think this should be everyone's motto?

And this motto is the theme of the novel.  I claim that it's a historical novel because the setting is the aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution.  Due to the demise of the Russian aristocracy, our hero, Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel in Moscow.

This hotel is the count's world.  And what a world it is!  Anybody who's anybody befriends the count, even a little girl who becomes one of the Count's best friends.  When this little girl grows up, another girl will insinuate herself into the hotel's life.  The chef, the maitre'd, the manager, the dressmaker,  and even a communist dignitary, all become important in the story's plot.

It's amazing how the author ties everyone and everything together.  The characters are very well drawn and I know which actors I would cast in each part when the movie is made. 

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Living next to St. Dymphna's

I've been on vacation and brought with me two big books.  I'll review one of them now and the other one tomorrow.

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn is a 427-page novel.  At first, one would think that a story about a woman who has agoraphobia would be boring.  What kind of story could they be when the main character won't leave her house?  Well, you're wrong.  There's a great story with thrilling adventure.

Anna Fox, although housebound, spies on her neighbors through her window.  She has a good view of a few neighbors' windows and has learned who's who.  One day she sees a murder.  Of course, she called the police.  The only thing is, the police can't find a murder victim.  The people who live in the house say it never happened.

Is Anna crazy?  The thing is, she does have mental issues.  But still.

Anna has a tenant who is an ex-con.  He is suspicious.  But he has an alibi.

The husband in the window seems like a tyrant.

The son in the window is a teenager with teen problems, identity problems, and emotional issues.

The wife and the mother in the window are very much alive and she shouldn't be.

Life would go on except for threatening messages.  If Anna was crazy before then she is really going off the edge.

The story climaxes with Anna almost being killed.  But she triumphs.

Not only does Anna prove that she's not crazy; she exposes the killer and his victim, she confronts her past and what caused the agoraphobia and steps outside.

I can see this story as a movie.  It'll be a real thriller.

Monday, July 2, 2018

The Greatest Commandment.

This morning in prayer, I was bemoaning the state of the world and telling God that I prefer He take me sooner than later. I am sick of sin all around me. The world seems to have passed me by. I am not part of it, anymore.

He told me those weren’t good enough reasons.

Well, what would be a good reason?

Love!  When you love Me so much you can hardly stand it.


Of course.  Sometimes my stupidity overwhelms me.

All day I have been praying for the Lord to give me the grace to love Him more.

Now I am praying Evening Prayer. Guess what the antiphon is for the Canticle of Mary is.

Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the law? JESUS said to him: You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Dying Alone

"I came in alone.  I'll go out alone."  Many same this, especially "lifers."  People doing life in prison often reflect on their death.  I guess everyone does.  I know I do.  I've had a few serious illnesses and wondered if that was how I was going to die.  But dying in prison really is a lonely proposition.  Of course, there's no family around you and there's a good chance you won't even have friends around to support and pray for you.

This article by Father MacRae describes the fear.

I'm glad to see hospice come into the prison system.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Adventure of Life

Wally Lamb's books are always so-o-o-o long; but they're always so-o-o-o good.  They are very worth the time spent reading them.  I guess She's Come Undone is the author's first.  If this is an indication of his talent, then Wally Lamb is my new favorite author.  His character delineation is excellent.

We meet the protagonist, Dolores, as a teenager.  Her big issue was a dad that basically left the family.  He couldn't keep his zipper zipped.  Her mother had mental and emotional issues and eventually had to be hospitalized.  So Dolores retreated to Grandma's.  Good ole Grandma to the rescue. 

Grandma may have been old, old-fashioned, rigid, odd, but she was always there to pick up the pieces.  Poor Dolores coped by eating.  In high school, she became morbidly obese.  But before high school, when Dolores was only twelve, she was raped.  It did a job on her, as it would on anyone. No wonder she sought comfort in eating.  Her parents were occupied with their own demons and Grandma didn't know anything.  Dolores only friends were the gay guidance counselor and the tattoo artist, Roberta, who lived across the street.

Dolores' Mom really, really wanted her to go to college, even though Dolores didn't want to.  Then Mom died and Dolores felt obligated to try college.

It was a disaster.  Everyone bullied her.  Everyone except the lesbian custodian who befriended her.  After a mammoth fallout with everyone, (Everyone!), Dolores ran into the lesbian's arms. But Dolores was disgusted with herself and grabbed a taxi and left.  In the taxi, the radio news was dominated by a whale washed ashore on the Cape.  So she told the taxi driver to take her to where the whale was. 

From the Cape, Dolores was committed to a mental institution. It was good for her, physically, emotionally, and mentally.  She loses all that weight, and it doesn't come back.   From the hospital, she went to Vermont.  She chose Vermont because an old college boyfriend of her roommate lived there.  In fact, they had apartments across from each other.  This wasn't a coincidence (read the book).  Dolores ends up marrying him.

To make a long story short, this guy isn't her "happy ever after" husband.  He's a loser; he makes her have an abortion.  The trauma of the abortion is something she regrets for the rest of her life.  She eventually gets rid of the husband and moves into the house her grandmother left her in her will.  Dolores even tries a few college courses and straightens out her life as much as anyone can.

In the end, you're happy for Dolores but sorry because the story ended. Now that's a good book.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Introverts aren't Church Goers

I have a new theory of why some people don't like going to church.  It's because they're basically introverts.  They don't like the community.  They definitely don't want to share.  They would be happy if you never knew their name.

What do you think?

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Post News: Why we can't stop eating junk food decoded

Post News: Why we can't stop eating junk food decoded:  Foods that are rich in both fats and carbohydrates have a particularly strong influence on our brain's reward system, say scientists ... What do you think?  Add to the fats and carbs the accessibility of the fact that junk food is easier to grab, and you've got appetite lust.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Real Ecumenism puts Christ over Division :: EWTN News

Pope Francis boards his flight to Geneva June 21, 2018. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/EWTN.

Pope in Geneva: Real ecumenism puts Christ over division :: EWTN News  Pope Francis spoke to participants in an ecumenical prayer gathering during his June 21 visit to Geneva for the 70th anniversary of the World Council of Churches. Founded in 1948, the World Council of Churches (WCC) is a global fellowship of churches seeking to foster unity among different Christian confessions and has some 348 members worldwide.

Members are present in 110 countries and represent over 500 million Christians, including Orthodox, Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran and Methodist denominations, as well as many Reformed, United and Independent communities.

While the majority of the founding members came from Europe and North America, currently the bulk of the WCC membership is in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific. The Holy See is not a member of the WCC, but it is an observer, and routinely sends representatives to the organization's meetings.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Alma Rosa Jaramillo

A picture of a dismembered body of Alma Rosa Jaramillo is jumping around in my mind.  I've just begun reading Choosing Peace edited by Marie Dennis.  The very first chapter mentioned the 2016  Appeal to the Catholic Church to Re-commit to the Centrality of Gospel Nonviolence.  The chapter continues with the plenary discussion "Nonviolence and Just Peace." The point of the story was to show that even though the atrocities were horrific, the people demanded peace.

For over forty years the people of Colombia were torn apart by various groups: National Liberation Army (ELN), various paramilitary groups, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the current government in power.  A lawyer, Alma Rosa Jaramillo, was working with the displaced small farmers was kidnapped by the ELN and then released.  Later she was captured by a paramilitary group which tortured and sawed the limbs off her body with a chainsaw.

And Alma Rosa Jaramillo was only one of many who was viciously maltreated.  What I want to know is why so little is known about her?  Maybe there are stories and biographies written in Spanish but not even Wikipedia has anything.  I couldn't even find a picture of what she looked like.

My heart is sick over humanity's heartlessness. 

A broken world: While the last century knew the devastation of two deadly World Wars,
the threat of nuclear war and a great number of other conflicts, today, sadly, we find our-
selves engaged in a horrifying world war fought piecemeal...We know that this "piece-
meal" violence, of different kinds and levels, causes great suffering: wars in different
countries and continents; terrorism, organized crime, and unforeseen acts of violence; the
abuses suffered by migrants and victims of human trafficking;...
                                       Pope Francis, World Day of Peace Message 2017

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Question Behind the Question

The Question Behind the Question: On the afternoon of June 14, a rather spirited, fascinating, and unexpected debate broke out on the floor of the USCCB spring meeting in Ft. Lauderdale. At issue was the possibility of reconsidering some social justice, environmental, etc., social justice issues.  But it was really how to get the message across.  That's the issue.  That's the question.  Please read the article.

Mystery Plant

When I was weeding my garden this morning, I came across a strange looking "growth."  See picture.

I tried pulling it out.  I couldn't; it was strong.  In my experience, if it's a vegetable or flower, it falls out easily.  If it's a weed, like a dandelion, then it has strong roots and is difficult to pull out.  So it must be a weed, right?  

It is pretty.  Here's another picture of another little one, just sprouting.

Maybe I'll ask around to see if anyone can identify it.  Meanwhile, I thought I'd dig up the "thing" and pot it.  It's pretty. I was going to bring it inside and keep it as a plant.  

But when I dug it up, I saw that the plant was growing out of a rock--a big rock. 

Wait a minute.  I remembered that hubby told me he planted potatoes.  I bet he put a potato with rooted eyes in the garden and this is what this plant is. You are supposed to cut up the potato and plant the eyes, not a whole potato.  Wait till I tell him.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

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 in front of it.  The fact that no one has trimmed that vegetation in front of that grave, gave me food for thought.  I thought of the three deaths my Mexican friends describe: when you stop breathing, when you are put in the ground, when no one is alive to remember and pray for you.

Hence, their remembrance of their loved ones on November 2, All Souls' Day, Dia de Muertos.

I actually turned around and walked back.  I took a picture of that vegetation hidden grave.  I even separated the branches and leaves, to read the name on the headstone.  I couldn't.  This was one of those skinny, flat, upright stone markers with the name and dates carved on it.  Only I couldn't read anything.  The information was well worn away.

Why this sight stayed with me, or why it brought to mind Dia de Muertos, is a puzzle, but it brought me to prayer.

 In fact, you know how there are holy cards of saints.  You know, usually get them at funerals.  On the front is a picture and on the back is the information about the deceased: name, dates, etc.  Well, I'm going to keep the picture I took of this old gravestone.  It will remind me of my Third Death, Dia de Muertos, the Communion of Saints, my mortality...  Who knows? Some day it just may be my own holy card.


Monday, June 18, 2018

Guide Book for Third Grade Book

It's summer and school's out.  I call to convene the Grand Book Club.  Our first book is Third Grade Mermaid and the Narwhals by Peter Raymundo.  Here is the guidebook to follow as you read the book.  (Please excuse the format of the questions.  I couldn't copy and paste exactly.)

        1. Who is the author of Third Grade Mermaid and the Narwhals?

2.  What day does the story begin?

  3.  Who is the best bedtime story reader ever?
   4. What is a nonfiction book?
    5. Who are the unicorns of the sea?
    6. What is the name of the story the mermaid wrote?
     7. What is the mermaid’s name?
      8. Where does Vivian Shimmermore sit?
      9. What kind of whale is the teacher, Mr. Spouter?
      10. What happens to the student 
      11. What did everyone do when Cora finished reading her story?


1.     Why did Mr. Spouter nominate Cora to represent the school for the upcoming Ocean Writes Contest?
2.   What happens when you win the contest? 
3.  Who is the smartest shrimp?
4.  What is the name of the jellyfish friend?
5.   What is the name of the sea cucumber?
6.   What is the most deadly creature in the ocean?

1.      What are the 3 S’s?
2.   When sailors hear the sirens sing what happens?
3.         What is that horn on a narwhal?
               4.    What is the SSCAB?
               5.   Why did Cora’s mother say YES?

1.     Who doesn’t have parents?
2.   Who was adopted?
3.    Name everybody who went on the adventure?
1.      Who was everybody afraid of?
                    2.   What is the name of the biggest jellyfish in the world?
                          3. What is the name of the king of the sea pigs? 
                         4.   What was the cage made of?

1.     Who was shrinking?
2. Who was at the sea caves first?
3.   What did Vivian break?
4.   Who was afraid of the dark?

1.      Where did Cora write her story?

1.      What was the worst thing Cora ever did?   


                    1.      Who got on the cover of Splashy! Magazine?

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Council of Cardinals finalizes draft of new document on Roman Curia

Council of Cardinals finalizes draft of new document on Roman Curia: VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will review a finalized draft of the apostolic constitution that would govern the Roman Curia, the Vatican spokesman said. Read the duties of the Curia, now.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Wearing a Rosary Around Your Neck

There is a little debate about wearing rosaries. In our culture, it isn't usually done.  And then some misguided youth wear rosaries as a sign that they belong to a certain gang.  I'm not talking about the gang symbols.  I'm talking about wearing the rosary around your neck as religious jewelry.  Something happened to a friend of mine, that made me realize that maybe wearing rosaries as necklaces may not be such a bad idea, after all.

Joe carries his rosary in his pocket.  The other day he was hit by a car and went sailing in the air until he landed on the sidewalk, smacking his head on the curbstone.  He was out cold.  But in looking through his belongs to see who he was, a rosary was found.  They called a priest.

The priest was there for him when Joe came around.  Joe was administered the sacrament of the sick for his abrasions and concussion.  Thank be to God.

What do you have or wear to tell people your Catholic?  By the way, Joe also carries a pocket cross in his pocket.  But all Christians recognize the cross; it was the rosary that told people he was Catholic.
As a woman, I don't always have pockets to carry a rosary in.  I do wear a medal but who's going to take a magnifying glass out to examine the wording on my medal.  All Christians can wear crosses; only Catholics wear crosses with a corpus. But who knows that?  Besides Catholics can wear both types of crosses.

It's the rosary.  The rosary screams Catholic.  I will have to wear a rosary as a necklace.  I'm taking my prettiest rosary to the jeweler, to add a jump link and clasp.  Then my jewelry will scream Catholic.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Misplacement of Course Books

When students enroll for a course, they're given a list of books to get for that course.  I propose that it's a misplacement of the texts.  How does the instructor know where the students are? 

I'm thinking of my RCIA class.  How can catechist assign a text without knowing who's entering the class?  One book applicable to both the Satanists and the Catholic who just needs to be confirmed doesn't make sense.  I think copied pages from different books are more useful.  In fact, I think after Easter, IOW after everyone has gone through the sacraments of initiation, then handing out a book list would be valuable. 

Would this also be true for any course?  How does an instructor know what level of expertise his students are--even introductory courses?  I would wait and see how "introductory" my students are.  Once everyone is on the same page (so to speak) then we all use the same book.

Anyway, I'm not ordering books for RCIA, except the catechism.                                                             And even that, will be a graduation present, not a course book.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

           An Old Pair of Shoes

Did you ever come to the parting point
With an old pair of shoes, that are outworn--   
Beyond fixing?  How you hate to part
With them, they fit so well,
As though they were made on your feet.
You can wiggle your toes in them,
For there is plenty of room.
Your feet have molded them with wear
To the right shape.
That little bump bulging on the side
Its the place that nestled your pet corn.
The thought of new shoes gives you the shivers
That corn--Oh! What new shoes will do to it!
And what that corn will do to me!!
"Ah Heck! These old shoes are good enough
                                    for another week."
by Henry Boulanger
in Cliff Dwellers and
other Poems

Saturday, June 9, 2018

After Mass

Our Lady of the Mountains, North Conway, NH
If you go to Mass at St. Mary's in Holliston, MA, you might be puzzled by everyone kneeling down during the recessional.  I didn't think they were kneeling down because the priest was walking by, but why?  Then one day, the priest didn't recess down the aisle, he left by a door to the side of the altar.  He was gone and still, the people knelt.  I finally asked someone why.  "We pray a Hail Mary in thanksgiving for the Mass."

I thought that was unique.  But while in Our Lady of the Mountains in North Conway, NH, the priest after Mass explained to all us tourists that it was their custom to pray a Memorare, after Mass.

Hail Mary!

St. Mary's Holliston, MA

Monday, June 4, 2018

Losing and Finding Faith

When my father came back from WWII, his family had grown.  His son was married with a baby of his own.  My sister was 20 years old and engaged.  He wanted a baby.  My mother was so happy that he made it home from the war, that she agreed.  It was a new beginning for them.  If I were a boy, my name would have been Jay, but I’m not a Jay.  My name is Faith, but the name has nothing whatsoever to do with religion.  My father said he chose the name so I would have great faith in myself.

The name, in the beginning, did the opposite.  In the 1950’s, the name, Faith was unusual.  Today, unusual names are in vogue, but that wasn’t the case when I was a child.  In fact, the name made me shy.  Yes, it was the name itself.  First off, the first word out of anyone’s mouth, upon hearing may name, was “What?”  In fact, there’s a good possibility that it was also the second and third words out of their mouths.

Then either you had to spell F-a-i-t-h, for them, or explain it further with, “i.e., faith, hope, and charity.”  Of course, that wasn’t the end of the discussion.  Exclamations of what a pretty name were offered. If it were so pretty then why don’t you name your next daughter, Faith?  End of discussion!
Selling Girl Scout cookies or raffles for school fundraisers was a torturous experience:

Ring…..Ring…  or Knock….Knock…. 
Who is it?
…opens door.  What did you say?  Who?
My name is Faith.
Who, oh never mind, what do you want?
I’m selling …
No, I’m not interested Fay.  Thanks, goodbye.

And so it went until I made a mistake on my college application.  When filling out the application I accidentally put my last name, middle name and then the first name.  The school enrolled me as Donna Faith.

I kept my mouth shut. And  I started signing my papers “F. Donna.”  Hey, if F. Scott Fitzgerald could do it, so could I.  At first, I reveled in my anonymous name.  I didn’t stick out.  I didn’t have to go around spelling my name, or listen to banal jokes, e.i., “Do you have two sisters named Hope and Charity?”

However, once in a while someone asked me what the “F.” stood for.  When I told them Faith, I had to listen to what a pretty name Faith was, why didn’t I use it?  In fact, after a year or so, I regretted not using “Faith.”

Why couldn’t I have a regular boring name that I didn’t have to explain or spell?

But life went on as Donna—college, marriage, and work until I started working as a real estate broker in Boston.  The day my business cards arrived, my manager saw my inscribed name and asked what the "F." in “F. Donna Flaherty,” was for.  When I told him, “Faith,” he looked at me incredulously.

You are selling real estate in Boston.  You know the name of the game is name recognition.  You know most of your clients are Boston Irish.  You realize you want them to remember your name to come back to you to sell and buy.

And you chose Donna over Faith?  Are you stupid?

From that moment on I’ve been going by my first name.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Correctional Officers Need Love Too

Here's a must-read for all of us involved in prison ministry.  It's an article by Eve Tushnet in America magazine, entitled, "You have heard it said; Visit the imprisoned.  But what about their guards."

Never, not once, have I ever thought of them.  I've prayed for them to be just, but that's about it.  This article has viewpoints from prison guards
and their families. I never realized the stresses they are under.  It is not unusual for correctional officers to be lonely and isolated because they become suspicious of everyone.  Their suicide rate is high.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Maine bishop had 'no alternative' but to leave state ecumenical group

ON: ,   , IN: 
Maine bishop had 'no alternative' but to leave state ecumenical group: Portland, Maine, May 31, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- After the Maine Council of Churches changed its decision-making process earlier this year, the Bishop of Portland was forced to withdraw from the group.  He withdrew because the group could vote for something contrary to Catholic teachings.  This seems reasonable to me, what surprises me is the question of why don't the other members see this change of process a problem for themselves, also?

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Elizabeth the Prophet

John the Baptist is sometimes called the last prophet in the Old Testament, or the Bridge Prophet, because he links the Old and New Testaments. This morning, Monsignor Moran called our attention to John the Baptist's mother, Elizabeth.

Consider what she said to Mary, in Luke 1: 41-42, "...Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!'" 

You can always tell a prophet, Monsignor told us, because they don't talk about themselves, but rather they speak of God.  If it were you or I, we'd say, "Guess what happened to me today."  Elizabeth calls attention to the Lord.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A Miracle

Drawing by MEK
Once a month my library holds a book sale.  During the month, library patrons donate books for the book sale.  It is amazing how many books are donated--and every single month!  We raise quite a bit of money for the library this way.  The books are a bargain, selling at one dollar for hardcovers and fifty cents for paperbacks.  And this is where I need to begin.

What attracted me to the purchase was it's wrapping.  I know.  I know.  You can't judge a book by its cover, but at a dollar a book- it's worth taking a chance.  Besides, it's cover was new--unopened, in fact.  It was a package deal, i.e., a DVD and a guidebook wrapped together in cellophane.  It was a course from "The Great Courses".  It contained 24 lectures/30 minutes per lecture.  The lecturer was Professor Bart D. Ehrman, a scripture scholar.  (I repeat; the price was one dollar!)  It was practically calling me by name!

The course was From Jesus to Constantine: A History of Early Christianity.  Since I enjoy reading scripture and history, I knew I would enjoy this course.  The lecturer seemed to be well known and respected.  I popped the DVD in, as soon as I arrived home, and opened the Course Guidebook.  I only listened to the first lecture, which was an introduction explaining the topics the lectures would cover.  However, this is all I watched.  In a way, Dr. Bart Ehrman was over my head.  He was asking questions I never heard before and I wasn't comfortable listening to his lecture.  I am not knowledgeable enough to question and I wasn't sure I was understanding him.  Dr. Ehrman questioned what Jesus actually said.  He said we don't know if Jesus claimed to be divine.  Modern historians have tried to reconstruct Jesus' life when Jesus is best understood to be a Jewish prophet calling the Jews to repent.  Dr. Ehrman asks how did the religion of Jesus become a religion about Jesus?

I stopped watching and reading.  I'm sure the lectures are excellent but I'm only a simple old lady fingering her rosary beads, who just couldn't follow along.

This is not the end of the story.  Not long after I gave up, I received a surprise in the mail.  It was a book with a note.  The note said, "You are the winner of our drawing ...!"

Yes!  I won something.  It was a book entitled The Case for Jesus by Brant Pitre.  I was thrilled but on second thought, "Jesus, again!  Will this be over my head, too?"  But I can take a hint (two books about Jesus).  I will have to try to read this book.

I didn't need to worry.  This book is not over my head.  It is simply written and clearly organized step by step proving (guess what) that scripture scholars like Dr. Ehrman are wrong.  I learned that there is a school of biblical interpretation that argue about the reliability of the Gospels, of which Bart Ehrman is a proponent.  It's a school of thought that endeavors to demonstrate that the disciples of Jesus weren't taking dictation, so by the time the gospels were written, the stories about Jesus were distorted, much like the original message in the children's game of Telephone.  This is called the form-critical approach.  In this school of thought, Jesus is not the Son of God, true God, and true Man, but just a teacher, a rabbi, an activist, and a good man.

No wonder I felt uncomfortable watching Dr. Ehrman's lecture.  He was introducing something new to me.  I didn't get it.  Reading Dr. Pitre's The Case for Jesus explained what Dr. Ehrman was proposing.  Of course, Pitre is refuting Ehrman, but in so doing Pitre has to explain what Ehrman is teaching. I finally understood Ehrman.

But it was Brant Pitre's clear, organized presentation that helped me understand both schools of thought.  I liked how Pitre gave his background in the opening chapter.  Like me, when he started studying religion at Vanderbilt he was so confused he graduated an agnostic/atheist.  But he didn't want to be.  He drove into learning Greek and reading the early church fathers. He continued learning until he ended up with a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies.  And he thinks the form-critical approach is wrong.  The Case for Jesus explains Pitre's thesis.

Dr. Pitre explains and uses internal and external evidence. He also interprets Jesus' words and deeds in a first-century Jewish context. Pitre proves Jesus was divine, He really was crucified and resurrected, He fulfilled the Old Testament prophesies, and the Gospels do actually record the substance of what Jesus said and did.

I found it fascinating.

I also consider winning The Case for Jesus, proof of divine intervention. Deo Gratias. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Elusive Spirit

In his Pentecost homily, Father Peter related his spirit story.  I'd post it but I'm sure I've already done that.  (Although I can't find it.) In the blessing, "In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit," Father Peter states how easy it is to picture the Father as an old man; the Son is a younger man.  But the Holy Spirit? What do you picture?

Father Peter just couldn't envision an image. Then one day, in Philadelphia he saw the famous picture of the Spirit of '76, by Archibald Willard.  He then realized that the Holy Spirit can be best represented in art, which many artists have attempted.

But my story is interesting, too.  As I was looking for this picture by Archibald Willard, I came across the story of Ann O'Delia Diss Debar.  It seems that this lady and some others hoodwinked people into believing that they could get a deceased famous artist to paint his pictures AGAIN. Picture a seance atmosphere.  A blank canvass was produced.  The dead artist was asked to come back and miraculously paint his masterpiece.  Buda bing buda boom!  With one swipe of the arm, the painting appeared.

They were called "spirit paintings."  It was a magic trick.  In the chemistry of the painting was a white film that could be wiped off with a sponge to reveal a painting underneath. Copies of famous paintings were made and then covered over with this whitewash.  Then when the "spirit painter" swiped her hand of the canvass, the painting underneath was revealed. 

Needless to say, the crooks were caught.

Monday, May 21, 2018

From the Ferocious O'Flaherty's O Lord deliver us!

From the Ferocious O Flaherty’s O Lord deliver us
— Plaque on the walls of Galway City

My husband is a Flaherty so I have heard this slogan before.  In fact, last year when we visited Ireland we had to visit Aughnanure Castle, which is considered the O'Flaherty castle, I heard and read this quote often.  I also remembered when I toured the castle and read the historic plaques that decorated the walls, that Donal O'Flaherty married Grace O'Malley.  They had three or four children.

Grace O'Malley is a famous pirate.  One of my hiking friends, Mary Connors, told me she was related to Grace O'Malley, so we consider ourselves related through mutual interest, if not blood-related.  During one of our hikes, she excitedly related the story of someone tracing their family back to Grace O'Malley.  Evidently, she had been to a Talk by an author who had just written a novel that interwove tracing his Irish family history to a genealogical mystery.  She was so animated that I caught her enthusiasm.

After our hike, she gave me the book.  The author is Richard T. Rook and it turns out, another of our hikers knows him.  He said Rook lives in Sheldonville and you could easily bump into him at the Sheldonville Post Office.  You can "friend" Richard Rook on facebook.

The book is Tiernan's Wake.  It is a nice, easy read.  Anyone who has done any ancestry genealogy can follow Michael Tiernan's research.  Tiernan is a major character and his well drawn.  Another protagonist is Aedan Burns. Aedan is a hoot.  He has the money to be fun.  He funds Tiernan's search to follow Grace O'Malley's family tree.  Anyone who is Irish will love this novel.  Anyone interested in genealogy would enjoy the story.  So would a mystery lover.  Did I leave anyone out?  It's for everyone.

Although at first, I was annoyed by Tiernan's irreverence to the Catholic Church.  I was all set to write a scathing reprimand to the author, for his misrepresentation of Catholic theology.  Did he stop his study of religious education in the sixth grade?  His view of the Catholic religion is adolescent ridicule.  Although, there are enough people with only an adolescent's theological understanding to think Catholic bashing is humorous. Making fun of what some people hold sacred is just plain mean.  One character, Mrs. Carty, was the victim of ridicule.   Her piety and general "do-good" personality were easy to mock.  Bullies find that wit funny.  I don't.

For your penance, Richard T. Rock, you must write another novel about trying to find out what happened at Knock.  And there must be a conversion in the plot, from agnostic detective to a devout monk.

But I never did write that letter.  In fact the next day, I felt differently.  After all, Rook is Irish.  Irreverance is bred in the genes.  Catholic bashing sells.  


Yes, I still recommend the book. Tiernan's Wake is available on Kindle for just $ 3.99 and on Amazon for $ 14.33  Lulu has the same price, too.  It has gotten excellent reviews, five stars!  Mystery lovers will enjoy the plot.  Of course, genealogy fans will relate.  And those who love reading about local venus will love the Boston references, as well as the Irish settings.  Everyone will enjoy the story, except maybe the Mrs. Carty types.  Oh all right!  I enjoyed it too.  And I forgive Richard T. Rook.  I am only codding.

Friday, May 18, 2018


I could get on the swing but I couldn't
stay on.  It was too tippy.
Back from the retreat in Maine.  People from Massachusetts affectionately call people from Maine, Maniacs.  Of course, the Maniacs reciprocate by calling people from Massachusetts Massholes.  Now we're even.

This retreat was different from any retreat I have ever been on.  The spirituality wasn't stressed.  The purpose of this retreat was to build community.  It was a retreat for the parish, after all.  So mostly it was fun.  Too much fun--I gained 3 and a half pounds!

My heart shaped rock.
What was different was the scavenger hunt we were sent on.  We were all given an empty bottle that said Holy Water.  We had to go down to the beach and fill it with sea water.  We also had to find two special rocks.  One that looked like a foot and the other like a heart.  We had three meditations during the day that had to deal with "water," "hands and feet," and "hearts."  Here are some pictures.

The stained glass window in the chapel at St. Francis retreat house.  This is Our Lady of Siluva, or Our Lady of Lituania.

St. Casimir - Patron of Lituania


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