Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Patron Saint of People Suffering

Lectio:                                           Job 7: 1-4, 6-7
MEK drawing

Job spoke, saying:
   Is not man's life on earth a drudgery?
   Are not his days those of hirelings?
   He is a slave who longs for the shade,
      a hireling who waits for his wages.
   So I have been assigned months of misery,
      and troubled nights have been allotted to me.
   If in bed I say, "When shall I arise?"
     then the night drags on;
   I am filled with restlessness until the dawn.
   My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle;
      they come to an end without hope.
   Remember that my life is like the wind;
      I shall not see happiness again

Studium:

Job is going through many tribulations.  In the beginning of the Book of Job we learn that Job's sufferings are caused by Satan.  Satan claims that Job only appears righteous because he was comfortable, healthy, and carefree.  If all Job's well-being were taken away, he would curse God. So we see what happens when Job's good fortune is reversed.  These specific verses are really part of Job's replies to his friends, who suggest that God is punishing him.  As we read here, Job says his trials are just part of life.  Everyone has them.  God has nothing to do with suffering.  Job never turns on God.

Meditatio:

Job is the patron saint of people suffering. Whenever people ask, "Why did God send this disaster?"  "Why did God allow this to happen?"  "Why do bad things happen?" "What kind of God would do that?"  And of course, God does none of these things.  It's all part of the human condition.  Remember we were kicked out of the garden of Eden? We, humans, are in charge of this world.  God gave us dominion over it, remember?  Otherwise, if everything were always honkey dorey, we'd be living in paradise, not here.  Like Job tells us, life is like the wind.

Oratio:

Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Job, our lives are nothing without You.  This life is drudgery, work and then you die.  Without You in our lives, life would be unbearable.  You make this life bearable.  Always hold our hands.

Contemplatio:

Lord, hear our prayers.




Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Job Interview



She wore flip flops
as an introduction

Bracelets bangled
bongo beats

Gum snapped
and popped.

Across the table
sat black suits

White shirts
solid red ties.

Number crunchers
accounting types

Her MBA with 4.0
Valedictorian

But rainbow hair
and eyebrow rings

                                                                 Clashed with décor
                                                                 offending clientele  

Monday, January 29, 2018

Favorites

There are many times where I thank God for being in the twenty-first century, i.e., internet, cell phones, etc..  But it occurred to me this morning, as I read Genesis, that the concept of propriety and sensibility was extremely different. 

Imagine how everyone in the family must have felt about the firstborn. How would you have felt if you were Leah on the morning after, when Jacob found out you weren't Leah's sister?  No matter what Leah did, it was never enough.  Didn't you feel sorry for Hagar?  Think of all the trouble Jacob's favoring Joseph caused.

Sure I acknowledge that it is part of being human to have preferences.  But I like to think that today we are kinder.  We try not to hurt people's feelings.  We try to be fair.

Don't we?

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Imperfect Tense

Msgr. Moran this morning gave us a lesson on grammar.  He explained that the imperfect is a verb form that Mark has Jesus use, e.i., Mark 4: 26-34.  The imperfect is perfect for Jesus because the tense combines the past actions to a continuing or repeating state.

The parable of the mustard seed is the perfect example of this imperfect use.  The Kingdom of God continues on, as that little speck that got lost in the dirt and forgotten.  That seed grows and grows to be a great bush so that even the birds can hide in its largess.  God's kingdom is even greater.  We will experience its reality and power, someday. 

May God's kingdom come.



Thursday, January 25, 2018

Too Good to Miss Out (Spoiler Alert)

I loved this book.  But you may not think so.  The book is The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb.  I give my books away but not this one.  I have to reread it.  Why?  Because I'm impatient.  The book was too long and if the story wasn't on my favorite character, I skimmed ahead. 

The main protagonist was Maureen, married to Caelum.  But none of the story would have happened were it not for Maureen.  I got hooked on Maureen.  I wanted to know what happened to her.  I fell asleep with the book in my hands because I couldn't put the story away.  Unfortunately, nothing else interested me.  Her husband, the other main character was just in the way of my reading.  Much of the book was on Caelum's genealogy and history.  To tell you the truth, I couldn't tell who was whom, when it came to his grandmother, aunt, lady friends and Cailum's biological mother.  I didn't care; I didn't want to read about them.  So I skimmed until I came back to Maureen.

Much of the last third of the book was on another book.  It was the history of Caelum's farm and his female relatives.  I can't be more descriptive than that because I didn't read it.  Every time the font changed to indicate that old book, I skipped over it.  It was a distraction to my seeing what had happened to Maureen.

Maureen was the school nurse at the Columbine tragedy.  She was hiding in a cabinet in the room where the killing took place.  She was traumatized and life was never the same.  Maureen was too affected to work.  She actually was in physical pain, besides emotional.  Never mind work, she could barely get through a day.  She and Caelum moved back east, to his family's old homestead.  She went through hell trying to cope.  Finally, with the help of some good drugs, she could work.  But she was addicted.  Being a nurse, it was fairly easy for her to get her pills.  On her way home, she accidentally hit a teenager.  She tested positive for drugs.  The result was a prison sentence.  Maureen's life in prison was another story.  (Please Mr. Lamb, write another book on Maureen's life in prison.) 

At the end of the book, the prison was having a "family and friends" event and Maureen, right in front of Caelum and friends had some sort of cerebral hemorrhage and died.  (There's the spoiler.  Sorry.)

Ugh.  So that's the end of Maureen.  Now I know.  Now I also know that I missed out on a lot of Caelum's story.  After all, The Hour I First Believed, is about Calum's faith journey.  And that's why I am now rereading the book.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

My Refrigerator


It’s weird, definitely weird.  I’ll step out and even call it a modern era phenomenon.  I know I’m not the only one.  Most people have one and do it, too.  If not, they know many people who do.  I’m talking about the refrigerator.  Specifically, the door of the refrigerator. 

My refrigerator door is a collage of….well…I don’t know how to pinpoint its focus.  It’s family, personal, silly things, reminders, etc.  I guess I’ll describe it as a personal memoir/note/calendar/family album.

The front has family pictures, postcards, medical appointments, grandchildren’s art, holy cards, an obit, the Patriot’s and Bruin’s schedules, a bottle opener, school photos, etc.  One side has a calendar, medical appointment cards, emergency phone numbers and extra magnets.  The other side kisses a wall; likewise the back.  Too bad, that’s wasted space.

Many years ago, the thought occurred to me that all that paraphernalia on the refrigerator was a mess.  So everything was taken off, and the door and side were washed clean.

The kids were young then and freaked out.  “Ma, it’s creepy.”  “It’s scary.”  The refrigerator looks dead.”  “I can’t take my eyes off its nakedness.”  “I can’t get used to it.” 

No one needed to worry.  In no time at all, it was soon filled with new children’s artwork, greeting cards, favorite sayings, newspaper clippings, and favorite photos of all we knew and loved.

What can I say?  Do you think all that stuff defines me?  Am I an eclectic individual or a nut case?

The top of the refrigerator does have a lineup of cracker boxes.  Goldfish, Ritz, saltines, and potato chips are all within easy reach.  Hiding behind them are some of the Grandchildren verboten: scissors, scotch tape, candy, and gum.


If the outside of my refrigerator defines me, just wait until I describe the contents inside.  But I think I’ll leave that for another day.

Monday, January 22, 2018

A Heartbreaking Meditation


My "cloistered brothers" and I were in a meditation group, today.  The scene was set.

You're on the beach alone.  The weather is warm with a cooling breeze.  No one is in the water and no one is on the beach.  You take a deep breath of refreshing salty air.  You can feel the salty breeze and a little ocean spray, once in a while.  You take another breath of fresh air and open your eyes and look around.
     Off in the far distance, you see a black dot.  You think it's moving.  Yes, it is moving closer and getting bigger.  You calmly watch the black dot walk into being a person.  The person becomes an adult male.  Gradually you can distinguish hair and clothes.
     You somehow just know that it is Jesus Christ.
     You wait for Him to reach you.  His eyes are sparkling and He is wearing a smile.
      He speaks.  What does He say to you?
       ???????????????????????????????????????????????
       What do you say?
       Then Jesus nods in understanding, turns around, and slowly walks back to where He came from.

I loved this meditation!  I pictured the dot walking to me and the minute I recognized Who it was I ran to Him ... and jumped His bones!  He said, "Good job."  I said, "I did my best."  Then when He turned around, I followed Him.  I was right behind Him.  He wasn't getting away from me.

But...

One of my "cloistered brother's" meditation saddened me.  He said, Jesus never came close to Him.  He never reached him.  Jesus walked and walked and walked and walked and walked and ...

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Just a Picture

A friend gave me a book last year, that his parish was giving out to everybody.  It was a book about the apparition at Fatima.  2017 was the 100th year since the event.  The book is Meet The Witnesses OF The Miracle OF The Sun, by John Haffert and it was published to honor the centenary celebrations. 
The book explains what happened and has eyewitness accounts.  I've been reading a few pages a night, until a friend told me he was going on a trip to Portugal and Fatima is on the itinerary.  Then he asked if there were anything I wanted him to bring back for me.  I hurried up my reading so I could give my friend the book.

I've been thinking about what I'd like him to get for me, and I've decided that all I want is a picture of the real apparition statue of Mary--not the Fatima Pilgrim statue.  See the post where I explain the difference between the two statues.

I think I'll enlarge his picture and frame it. 





Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Home Sweet Home

How do you like that!  Immigration, refugee, and political problems are in Genesis. It's just not today's problems.  I guess we've had them since the beginning of time.

In Chapter 26 of Genesis, Isaac brought his people to Gerar.  The Philistines lived here and Abimelech was their king.  God told Isaac to go there because there was famine in their country.  God blessed Isaac and his people with good crops and plentiful livestock.  Soon the Philistines became envious.  Trouble ensued.

Isaac's wells were stopped up with dirt.  When Isaac complained to King Abimelech he told Isaac to go to Wadi Gerar.  Isaac's father had dug wells there, so Isaac opened them up and used them.  Again the Philistines stopped them up.  The Philistine shepherds argued that the wells were theirs alone.  So Isaac dug up another well.  That too was the source of contention.  The same thing happened again.

Eventually, Abimelech came to Isaac.  The king told Isaac that he could see how blessed he was in God's eyes.  But Isaac and his people had to move on.  Abimelech and Isaac made a peaceful covenant.

Why can't all immigration problems end in a
peaceful covenant?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Today I am unabashedly promoting my friend, Lowell's craft business.  He's a good guy.  He's one of my cribbage partners.  We both belong to the Trail Hikers and he's taking beginner's Spanish with me. 

One of our friends' had a fire in his house.  Lowell asked me if a wooden cross he made, would be an appropriate gift.  Crosses are always appropriate and I think our friend would love one.

Lowell's going to help me start a bonsai tree, too.

Clever isn't he?

Monday, January 15, 2018

Dream Interpreters Wanted

What does it mean?

I was babysitting and while my granddaughter was taking her nap, I thought I'd use the time to pray a rosary.  Today's Monday, the sorrowful mysteries are prayed.  Somewhere from the second decade to the fifth, I nodded off.  I woke up after the Holy Spirit crashed through the window.

Not physical reality, in my dream.  I was at Mass, right next to the altar. I don't know who the Mass celebrant was, but all of a sudden a bird crashed through the stained glass window.  I looked and saw a white bird flying around and thought it was exactly like pictures of the Holy Spirit as a white dove.

OK.  What does it mean?

Friday, January 12, 2018

Culture Shock

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a book review on The Revenge of Mothers by Jim Fergus.  I loved that book.  And it was a sequel.  It was a sequel to One Thousand White Women.  Since I loved the sequel so much I read the first book, One Thousand White Women.  The book did not disappoint me.  It is a page-turner.  I learned a lot of history.  I did a lot of googling searching for people and events. Even though it's fiction, it's historical fiction and rings truer than truth.e

The women were an experiment.  The US government gave the women to the Indians in exchange for horses.  What could go wrong?

People gum up the works.  Love, hate, and revenge, etc. take turns rearing their heads.  The women adjust to their new culture, for the most part.  They may even love their new husbands, but forces beyond their control run them over.  What can I say without spoiling it for you? 

The characters are nicely drawn out.  You'll know them and make friends with them.  You'll care what happens to them.  The events will draw you in.  You'll be googling like I did. You'll also close the book with sadness.  Too bad I read the sequel, first.  Now, I can't continue the story, because I want to read more.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Argonauta book club meets this Thursday and I finished our book, early this morning.  Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue is about undocumented immigrants or dreamers

The story is about the Jonga family.  Jende lies to get in the country and has a lawyer who has concocted a story about Jende's life will be in danger if he returns home to Cameroon.  Jende works two years before having enough money to send for his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son Liomi.  Neni gets a student visa and also works.

They do work hard and save even harder.  They are not lazy welfare recipients sponging of the system.  Things get better when Jende gets a job as a chauffeur for the Edwards.  Clark Edwards works for Lehman Brothers.  The Edwards family is quite a contrast to the Jongas.  Rich and the poor--the working poor.

But you know what happens to Lehman's.  The brokerage firm goes bankrupt and everyone's life changes. 

Jende loses his job.  Neni has a baby.  Cindy Clark takes to drugs. Vincent Edwards, the oldest son quits law school and goes off to find himself in India, thereby rejecting all that the Edwards have worked for.  It's incomprehensible to the Jongas.  What they dream of and work hard at getting, Vincent has thrown away. 

There are casualties--the children.  The Edwards' youngest son, Mighty witnesses this traumatic change in his family and is helpless to do anything about it.  Liomi's dream of becoming a successful American businessman is threatened.  But the baby, she is a bona fide American and entitled to all that label encompasses.

In the end, Jende can't take the stress of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) breathing down his back, besides the two dishwasher jobs, which are the only type of work he can get, are taking their toll on his health.  He decides to go back to Cameroon.  But Neni, you won't believe the struggle she gives.  First, she wants to divorce Jende for awhile and marry someone else to get that coveted green card, then divorce him to remarry Jende.  Worse, is her idea to give her son away to be adopted by friends, just so he will gain American status.  She really wracks her brain to come up with something, ANYTHING, to stay in America.  She loves New York and digs in her heels.

What to do?

Is that enough tension for you?  Read the novel.  It's a good view of today's immigrants and what they go through and feel.  But don't worry.  It really isn't all that bad.


Friday, January 5, 2018

Adventure in Bereavement Land

Adventures in Bereavement Land by Kathy Salzberg is my latest book.  The author is in my writer's group, The Senior Scribblers.  Here's her website: http://www.kathysalzberg.com/     She has written quite a few books.  I hesitate to list them because it may not be complete (she might have completed another one).

Confessions of a Mad Groomer
How to Start a Home Based Pet Care Business
The Everything Small Dog Book
How to Start a Home Based Grooming Business
The Dog Bible
Adventures in Bereavement Land

She is a busy lady.  She is also very funny.  Everyone enjoys her.  She always tries to find the humor in situations.  She was telling us a riotous story about the tenants above her apartment.  She had us in stitches.  Someone said that she would have told the management.  But Kathy sees the humor in the situation.  She said when it bothers her, she and the cat talk about the giants upstairs.

I thought I would read one of her books.  Since I don't own a dog, the only one left was Adventures in Bereavement Land. I recommended the book to the parish nurse, who facilitates a bereavement group.  I hope she didn't recommend the book to the greaving people in the group because it would have been inappropriate.  I hadn't read the book before I recommended it.  Not that it's not a good read.  On the contrary, it's very good.  It's that I thought Adventures in Bereavement Land would give advice on the stages of grief that people go through, a la Elisabeth Kubler Ross.  Instead, the adventures are about the search for love, both physical and emotional.  It was presented very tastefully and humorously, but it definitely wasn't for a church group in the first throes of grief. 

The author draws her characters very well.  Aunt Irma and her guy, Lefty, are sweethearts.  Aunt Irma was always upbeat and positive.  She was the perfect go-to person for advice and a pep talk.  She was my favorite character.  I also was happy that the ending was positive.  The ending offered hope.  It.  was an easy read, too.  Just perfect.


Thursday, January 4, 2018

People Don't Change


Of course, individuals change.  I personally know too many people who have changed their lives for the better, to believe that people don't or can't change.  I talking about people in general--the human race.  People are people.

This morning's reading from Ephesians made me think of the present times. Paul is scolding the Ephesians:

...you must no longer live as the pagans do--their minds empty, their understanding darkened.  They are estranged from a life in God because of their ignorance and their resistance; without remorse they have abandoned themselves to lust and the indulgence of every sort of lewd conduct.

Doesn't this passage sound like the people of today?

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Man Who Walked With God

Lectio:            Genesis 5: 18-24             


When Jared was one hundred and sixty-two years old, he begot Enoch.  Jared lived eight hundred years after he begot Enoch, and he had other sons and daughters.  The whole lifetime of Jared was nine hundred and sixty-two years; then he died.
   
When Enoch was sixty-five years old, he begot Methuselah.  Enoch walked with God after he begot Methuselah for three hundred years, and he had other sons and daughters. The whole lifetime of Enoch was three hundred and sixty-five years. Enoch walked with God, and he was no longer here, for God took him.

Studium:

Gen 5: 22-24 -- "Enoch walked with God" implies that he did not die, but was taken up to heaven to be with God.  It is said explicitly in Hebrews 11: 5-6, "By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and 'he was found no more because God had taken him.'  Before he was taken up, he attested to have please God.  But without faith, it is impossible to please him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him."
       Enoch believed with his whole heart and mind.  For this, he was rewarded by being taken directly into God's presence without experiencing death.
       In regard to the genealogy, experts have different theories.  But I figure, if they can't agree, who am I to state an opinion on Genesis 5?  I will use the genealogies as mentioning important people.  They probably reflect political and social importance.

Meditatio:

For some reason, I never paid attention to the name Enoch. In fact, I remember discussing the Assumption of Mary when someone said that Elijah and ????? didn't die either, but were taken directly up to God.
       Enoch's name went into one ear and out the other.  Lord, I am so stupid.  I thank you for enlightening me today, in this reading.  I thank you for this opportunity to learn.  I would like to learn more to get closer to You.

Oratio:

Lord, like Thomas Aquinas, all I want is You.  Like Solomon, I ask for the wisdom to get to know You, to learn what You want of me, to learn how to love You, to become like You.

Contemplatio:

Lord, let me walk with You.



Monday, January 1, 2018

Midrash

At this time of year, the birth stories from Matthew and Luke that we read, are not historical texts.  They are called Midrash.  Luke 2: 1-20 and Matthew 18 - 2:23 are the birth narratives.

Midrash according to the American College Dictionary is what Jewish interpretation of scripture is called.  It doesn't seem to be an exact science.  The author is describing the significance of what happened.

I can identify. When telling the story, I am annoyed when I am interrupted by someone to correct a detail.  To me, the detail isn't relevant.  The significance of the point I'm trying to convey is what is important. 

Does it matter whether Jesus was born in a manger or a cave?  No, the significance is that his birthing took place in poor surroundings.

Do you care whether among Jesus' visitors were shepherds, angels, and/or magi?  I don't think the guest list has any effect on whether or not He was born.

Jesus was born.  It happened.  What is important is that the fulfillment of mankind's hope was born.


Ouch!

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 par...