Archive for May 2015

UNITY IN AN ANEMONE

May 31, 2015

(Heh!  A bit of a tongue-twister there in the title.)

anemone red
I couldn’t describe an anemone for you because there seems to be such a wide variety –  but all united under the name Anemone.

anemone wh
Here we are at the last day of May with one last flower for Mary that follows all the flowers that came before.   Such a variety of flowers!  Such a plenitude of qualities that describe the beautiful and holy life of Mary.

anemone coral
Perhaps, then, with all that variety it’s appropriate to lift up the Anemone which stands for Unity with Christ.  

anemone purple
It’s true that Mary is full of virtues, “full of grace,” and any woman would be happy to follow her example and any man would be proud to respect her as his Lady,  and to protect her honor, and love her as Christ did.

anemone pink
But what made her so lovely and virtuous?   Her sole purpose is to make her Son known:  to present the Christ Child to us;  to direct our attention toward Him;  and to make Him attractive to our souls.   To honor her  –-“Behold, all generations shall call me blessed.”  — is to honor the Object of her efforts, her Son, Christ Jesus.      Her loveliness comes from the loveliness and beauty of her Creator, shining through a pure and innocent soul.

anemone blue
What is Unity?

“He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (I Cor. 6:17)

“Christian Unity”  is the created soul and its Creator,  joined together.    It is the most satisfying state of being for a human soul, because no one can love the soul more than the One who created it;  no one can know the soul more than the One who made it; no one can understand the soul more than the One who designed it.

For more than three thousand years,  this longing of the soul for its maker has been treated in psalms, poetry, songs,  Wisdom writings, exhortations, and prophecies, and then “in the fullness” of time,  came Mary who exemplified this Unity with God, and showing us how to be likewise united.

Especially abundant for us today are the writings of the great saints, largely  prior to the 20th century.   Look for them –  you’ll find them.

It’s just not appropriate for me to spoon-feed the meaning of unity into my readers.  It’s always an individual quest, begun by the individual’s initiative, because of the individual’s own longing.    “Ask and you shall receive.”   It’s helpful to read good books written before the 20th century, as I said, before materialism and pleasure-seeking  and atheism began to smother the human race and cloud its intellect.    Read the clear thinkers of past ages.

(Okay, maybe one little clue):

Perhaps a good start would be The Imitation of Christ, a small book that’s a constant companion of countless millions of people through the centuries, and for a good reason:    It’s the dialogue of a soul seeking unity with his Creator, calm, soothing,  logical, practical, and satisfying.

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THE CAMELLIA, THE CHURCH, AND THE SCIENCES

May 30, 2015

Pure beauty!

cam white pure
The Camellia stands for Perseverance.   One reason is that this is the 30th day of May, and it’s noted that you’ve come this far, nearly to the end of May in honoring Christ by bringing these meaningful flowers daily to His mother.    That’s perseverance!   On my part it is accidental perseverance;  I never intended to continue these flowers all throughout the month.  I didn’t think I could!

I hope you will practice some perseverance in reading this post, because there is much to think about.  Pick and choose what you like:

cam white
The Camellia is a beautiful flower that grows on an evergreen shrub that is scientifically a member of the tea plant.  That same bush or shrub which gives us tea leaves in the Far East is related to this bush, the Camellia sinensis.

Some reddish Camellias:
cam bush

The “tea Camellia”  is another glorious example of the beautiful flora that fills this planet,  flowers of so many kinds that we haven’t even seen or identified them all!    Each grass, tree, evergreen, bush, flower – whatever –  each one in its own way praises some aspect of its Creator.    That’s why we need an endless variety –  because the Creator is infinite.

We do have names for the plants that we know about, however, so how did the Camellia get its name?

GK Chesterton wrote shortly after his reception into the Church as an adult that “The Catholic Church is a lot bigger seen from the inside than it is seen from without.”    Like him,  I am astonished at the riches inside.  All that I knew before of the following subjects,  “Camellias”  and “The Church” and “Science”  seem like pablum for young children compared to what I have learned from my vantage point within the Church.

The Catholic Church teaches that “Science is the knowledge of things from their causes.”     So,  there is such a principle as Cause and Effect.   The material world can be known from our senses;  and our intellects have the ability to know objective reality.    All this makes Science possible, in its various forms.   No one was ever “put to death” or tortured by the Church in actual history because of Science.  The Church promotes the study of all sciences, even to the point of using the very “mysterious”  giant telescope on Mt. Graham of which so much speculation by outsiders  is made.

Armed with this intellectual training from the Church,  the Jesuit Linnaeus set out to categorize and describe —  well, all the plants he knew about.   (You’ve studied Linnaeus in high school science, I’m sure.)   When his friend  Georg Josef Kamel discovered what we call the Camellia,  Linnaeus named it after him:  Kamel – Camellia.    Father Kamel himself practiced perseverance as a Jesuit missionary in the 17th century.

Just from that short story,  one can spend a lifetime learning more about philosophy,  about cause and effect, about  the natural sciences,  botany,  about geography,   about the Jesuits,  about each of these men and the contributions they made —

Or you can just indulge yourself in the beauty of the Camellia.

cam walk
I first learned about Camellias during a trip to the beautiful Bellingrath Gardens in Mississippi.   It was a long, long time ago, but I remember the beauty and serenity of those Gardens.   Coming from the North —  a big city of concrete and tall buildings —  I had no idea that gardens of such artistry and magnitude had been created.

cam mounds
I walked for hours in hushed silence, amazed at the variety of flowers that existed.   Later, as an adult,  as I learn about St Therese of Lesieux, “the Little Flower,” I can easily visualize what she is talking about when I remember Bellingrath Gardens.

cam water

Now, if you’ve “persevered” this far,  I’m sure you understand  what value there is in Perseverance in general.  It always rewards you with something worthwhile.    Perseverance is a crucial quality,  whether it’s the academic  study of something, the practicing of some skill,  or fidelity to God right up to your entrance into Heaven,

Do not forget to pray for “Final Perseverance” !!

It is easy to associate Perseverance with Our Lady who, against what we might call “reason,” stayed faithful to the will of God and to His promises to her, and then stayed faithful to her Son,  right through His own horrible death and on into the glory of His Ascension and Resurrection, and through her own entrance into Heaven.

Camellias for the Virgin Mary!

THE GOOD ASTER

May 29, 2015

This one:

aster pinkThe Aster.  Someone thought this looked like a star or a starburst so they named it with the Greek word for star:  “aster.”

The quality associated with the aster is Goodness and we can surely describe the Virgin Mary as good..     God, the Creator,  created a Good Mother for the Son of God to be Incarnated in.   We’ve had almost a whole month of “good”  qualities associated with Mary, these qualities perfected in her, and we understand how she was the perfectly Good mother to bear the Son of God.

aster fieldNow, asters bloom in the late Summer and Fall and keep blooming  long after the other flowers begin to fade.   In your garden they will be practically the last flower left.    The association with goodness?   If you think of all your friends and acquaintances,  the ones the stay the longest after everyone else has moved on are the “good ones,”  the good friends; sometimes when things get tough for you,  they are the ones who stay beside you, because they care,  they have a good heart,   and are there with you because they are just purely your friend.

How much Our Lady cherishes . . . .

aster blue. . . . the goodness in the friends of her Son.

HONEYSUCKLE CONFIDENCE

May 28, 2015

The honeysuckle:

honeysuckle whiteEver notice that when you are confident and enthusiastic about something in a conversation that your voice gets a little louder,  a little firmer?     You don’t mind speaking right out about something you’re sure of.

Like you’re “trumpeting” your cause.

honeysuckle fewThe honeysuckle flower looks like little trumpets proudly pointing upwards.

Perhaps this is why the honeysuckle is given today for the quality of Confidence in God.    On this 28th day of May it’s certainly appropriate to present this confident-looking honeysuckle in tribute to Our Lady, for whose life ever showed so much confidence in her Savior, her Son!

honeysuckle trumpetsConfidence in God.  We struggle, sometimes, to have faith in God.  To believe what He has revealed about Himself.   To accept what great teachers and philosophers explain about God.

So, “faith,”  and “believe,”  and “accept.”    Good, quiet, internal, private  words.      When does the confidence come?

Ah,  confidence arrives after we’ve made a wholehearted choice to follow God wherever He leads, no matter what it takes, no matter what the results.      Confidence is the comes from out of a grateful heart that knows that God will never fail us, not even at our death.    Confidence follows experience with His goodness, knowing it will never change.

honeysuckle red

Stand up on  tiptoes, use your full, loud voice,  and trumpet out your confidence . . . .

Figuratively speaking.

FRED FLINTSTONE LEARNS A THING OR TWO

May 27, 2015

Fred 1I’ve done something like this.   Not my address,  but once in Florida, when I was visiting my parents way down there,   I chose a spot on the beach where the sand was good and wet and heavy, and I wrote my name in the sand.

And then I thought about it for a while.  Thought about “me.”

Until . . .

Fred 2The waves weren’t coming near me at first, but the third or the fourth or the fifth one came unexpectedly with a whoosh —   No more name,  just turbulent water!    Mud and foam to look at.

And when the storm passes?

Fred 3“Gone with the Whoosh.”

The things you counted on are all gone.   Scrambled, rearranged.    Or maybe not even “you” are left,  just incomprehensible little traces of you.

Lessons learned:

(1)    Nothing’s permanent, not even you.

(2)    What you leave behind won’t matter much to other people.

Fred may enjoy sinking his feet into the warm wet sand,  but this earth is no place to sink your life into.

Hebrews 13:14 –  For we have not here a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come.

Like the long rolling waves that come crashing into the shore,  so does Time come rushing against us, taking us away.

Oh!  But that’s a good thing!

“. . . but we seek one that is to come.”      It’s one that is good and right and holy and peaceful and everything makes sense – because the Creator of all that is there.  Now, today,   we have the opportunity to prepare ourselves for that Eternal City,  giving thanks to the One who came to our “temporary city”  to pay for our entrance with His Life.

VERBENA

May 27, 2015

On this 27th day of May the flower for the Virgin Mary is Verbena.

verbena bunchIt’s a lovely flower, but its associated virtue is Prudence.    No one seems to know why this association, but I can tell you that Prudence is one of the most strenuous of the four cardinal virtues!

Prudence is   “the exercise of right reason applied to practice.”     That’s pure Aristotle.

No,  better to do it this way,  let the great Fr. John Hardon speak:   Prudence is “correct knowledge about things to be done or, more broadly, the knowledge of things that ought to be done and of thing that ought to be avoided.”

And:  “It is the intellectual virtue whereby a human being recognizes in any matter at hand what is good and what is evil.”

That means we must know  (and in some cases learn)  what is right and what is wrong.   Then we must analyze the issue before us, using “right reason,”  and choose according to what is right.

Over and above opinion,  desire,  agendas,  intimidation,  political correctness, inclination,  emotions,  and mimicking the culture around us,  above it all there stands Right and Wrong and the Difference between the two.     Right and Wrong come from objective reality,  not subjective attraction to one point of view or another.

verbena pinkVerbena for Prudence, a virtue that Our Lady had infused in her, early.     For us, although it is very necessary, learning prudence would require attention,  intellectual work,  and educating ourselves.    A human must use his intellect — or be led around by others, and used in their schemes.     Takes  no effort at all.

A “hint”  about Education:

Before a child was ever taught scads of information about history, science,  arithmetic, etc.,  first came his instruction in logic.   Logic!     How to think,  how to discern what is objective truth  according to the principles of logic.  Then rhetoric and grammar –  how to express oneself clearly.   By twelve years old the child could be trusted to receive and use  information that others have discovered in the sciences and in history and literature.    This was common education.    (Why don’t we have an equal of Dante Alighieri  today?    Very few today are given such education.)

But such basic training in education is certainly possibly for children . . . and into adulthood, if you’re a little late at it.

It’s too dangerous for your soul to not use Prudence.

PRIMROSE LABOR OF LOVE

May 26, 2015

“Work for the night is coming . . . “

The primrose is not a rose,  but that’s the name we give to this lovely little flower of many varieties and many colors.

primrose colors
Apparently, it takes a lot of steady, patient,  detailed work to get an area of your garden to grow healthy primrose.  Maybe the work required isn’t difficult or tricky,  but it does take the persistent  work of attention to their needs.

primrose quick glance
For this reason, the primrose is associate with a Love of Labor.

primrose pink

Love of Labor,  of doing your Duty,  of carrying out the responsibilities of your station in life.    This is so counter-cultural today, isn’t it!    We send our kids off to school with a cheery  “Have fun!”     “Have a good day!”    How strange it would seem if we sent them off with a loving parental admonition to:    “Work hard today!”        How about if we see that we have a couple hours stretching out ahead of us and we think:  “Oh, good!  Now I can get to work!”   And I don’t mean work we do for payment.

Oh, sometimes we might say things like that,  but we are so often prompted to relax and take pleasure in our day that work seems like something we step outside of “normal” life to do!     And yet the extra attention we pay to something worthwhile or the extra work we put in to obtain a greater good never seems to be wasted time.

primrose white

On this 26th day of May we offer to the Virgin Mary all these lovely primroses, remembering that she did not take her rewards here on earth, during her life,  but that her whole life was a Labor of Love and a Love of Labor for all the souls that might look at her Son . . . and believe.

primrose dark pink

The Bible tells us to “work, for the night is coming, when no man can work.”    God lives not in time  but in eternity, and from this vantage point He can see that our “day”  will come to an end,  and then it will be “lights out” — we will pass through the darkness of our own death.

And then comes the wages for the work we have done for Him.

So smile.  Work.   Study the teachings that the Church brings to us.   Learn the Bible.     Practice the instructions in the Bible.  Obey the Commandments.    Do loving acts as He would have done.    . . .   Well,  if you keep your eyes on the “night that is coming,”   I’m sure you’ll find plenty of work to do!

DAFFODIL

May 25, 2015

The Daffodil for Devotion to Mary.

daffodil springDaffodils herald spring.    Springtime,  new life,  a long full  season  of abundant life ahead of us.

The connection to the Virgin Mary is that she heralded in New Life from God through Christ in her womb.   New Life is a second chance at life, for this one is messed up from the day we’re born, and we are as helpless as newborn babes to straighten ourselves up.

Helpless.   Enter the Promised One, Christ, in the womb of Mary — all the sweetness and hope of a new mother, all the power of a new life in the Baby — and then a springtime of new life offered to us.

There is an old saying that “If you get “Mary” right,  you’ll get what Christ is truly all about.”   She is Mary,  the Mother of God .   “Behold, all generations shall call me blessed.”     And for those who do call her blessed, in any generation, and  look at her carefully, admire her, love her usually  become devoted to her.   She has only one purpose:  to present Christ to us.

“Eternal Spring”

daffodil flower

And that’s why a whole month is given to understanding her qualities that made her so approved of God and a fit vessel for the Son of God.      Old life;  new hope.   New hope within the Son of the Virgin.   An eternal springtime offered to us.

MEMORIAL DAY – JAMIEL’S WAR

May 25, 2015

Memorial Day is Decoration Day,  when we make a point to visit the graves of our loved ones, those who have died in the military.   This is a respectful and righteous thing to do.

decoration day

Stop reading here if you want to remain “innocently”  patriotic.

bar simnple graded gray lines

Every  soldier’s  death  in war diminishes our world, our nation, and our own lives in some way.  The older one gets,  the more one realizes how this is true.

Lately, in America,  from the Korean War onwards,   we have fought and our men have died without there being a formal declaration of war.   I don’t think that’s okay, but there it is.

Since this is the case, let’s look at another war that has been declared on us, and although there is not a duly constituted national government that has made that declaration,  it has been stated as a war by the enemy combatants – a war against the United States of America –– and we are fighting it every day and Americans are dying every day because of this officially “undeclared war” that we all hate to think about.

The other war – I’ll call it Jamiel’s War,  because he exemplifies the war action taken against us.    (Remember,  they want us dead and conquered.)

First let’s look at the enemy soldier:

Part of a Dream Family, officially so-called — a Dreamer —   These are the people brought over here illegally to prop up the votes for the liberal parties.   Quid pro quo:  we let you stay in this country and give you food and housing and medical care and “schooling”;  you vote for us.

So once there was this Dreamer “child” — . . . .

He became a gang member.  I get the colors mixed up so I’m not going to name names.

(1)   As a teenager he was arrested and convicted of some gun charge,  let back out on the streets.  (2)    A second time he was arrested for shooting someone, given a trial,   the victim testified that that’s the man who shot me, and this teenager agreed, in the courtroom.   Felony charge again — but his vote is valuable, remember.   Light sentence.

(3)   Third time he was arrested on a gun charge, put in jail for a few months and released back into the “community.”

On the day he was released,  he was on a mission.  A mission of obedience to his gang. This is the mission:   ON THE DAY YOU GET OUT OF JAIL GO KILL SOMEONE,  KILL THEM DEAD,  KILL PEOPLE DEAD.

Why?  Why so vicious?    Because the gang members know that some young men might be rehabilitated and leave the gang.  But if they kill on their first day out,  on their first opportunity,  then that deed locks them into a life of serious crime and only their fellow gang members can protect him.

So this is what this young man did.    Pedro Espinoza,  21 years old.   A last name which alludes to Christian hope.   A first name after St. Peter.

First day out of jail,  so he got a young woman he didn’t know to drive him around.   He saw his target, a 17-year-old, accosted him with a loaded gun,  had him put his hands up

HANDS UP DON’T SHOOT

But the  17-year-old did put his hands up and he did get shot – right in the stomach.  He fell backwards with his hands still “up”  and then he got shot in the hand – got two fingers blown off.   And then he got shot in the head, execution style.  The shooter drove away and returned to his gang headquarters, and proudly announced to them “I’m a killer.”

Now let’s turn to the young victim. 

I’d be proud to have him in my family.  Father at home, working to support his family, loving and attentive ;  grandmother nearby, loving and  attentive;    Mother in the Middle East, away from the family . . . .   The son’s name is Jamiel.   Jamiel,  Jr.

Jamiel is a junior in high school and is a football star.  Three times voted MVP.  Recruited early by such schools as Stanford and Rutgers.

He was told to be home at 7:00 that evening,   and he was,  he was on his way home.  His father called him to check up, and he was nearing home.   Then the father heard gunshots down the street.

RACIAL HATE CRIME

Espinoza chose him for his target because he was out to kill Black guys.  That is,  his particular gang had an animus against all Blacks.

Why Blacks?      “Because White Americans stole land away from Mexico, and the Blacks benefited, so therefore Black people have to be killed.”

Of course this is senseless logic,  and it is by all definitions a hate crime based on race,   but it is carried out every day.   And the court system is so far from common sense and logic that much time was wasted on eyewitness impressions of the details of clothing:   all one color?  short sleeves,  long sleeves?    Those kinds of things.

And, oh, yes,   Jamiel was carrying a backpack.   It happened to be a certain color so the jury was told he was in a gang too.   Although that is not true,  our court system must allow the defense attorneys to  smear Jamiel in the eyes of the public.

So this is Jamiel’s War.  It was waged against him, it killed him,   it is being waged against us right now today.

It will not be over until we wage war back.   Declared or undeclared.

bar simnple graded gray lines

A FURTHER OUTRAGE

Where was Al Sharpton,  Eric Holder,  the Barack Hussein person in all this?   Where were all these usual  race baiters?

A Black man was murdered – by a  gun!    

The sent their delegates to check things out.   But then they found out that the father,  Jamiel Shaw,   was not an anti-gun person.  The grieving father told them that that gun did not kill his son;.   that Hispanic gang member did.   And then they realized Mr. Shaw did not choose to vote for liberal causes.

Silence.

Nevertheless,   this is a formally undeclared war, a war to kill Americans because we “stole” land two centuries ago.  It’s a war against Blacks particularly.   La Raza and other associations who meet the Barack Hussein person to obtain concessions have stated these goals publicly.

Don’t we believe them?    What would it mean if we do?

We must understand that this is not merely a racial war.  This is a war against our nation, all of us.

One newspaper report of this incident:   click here
Photos of Jamiel, Jr.,    click here

An example of erroneous, perhaps hasty reporting here.  Giving the  wrong impression by insidious suggestion:     click here

POPPIES

May 24, 2015

The fervent red poppy.

poppy red

The  poppies associated with this Memorial Day weekend honor those who have died in war to preserve our country.   The poppies we give to Our Lady are associated with Fervor for Souls, which resided in her heart.

It’s only logical.

The Creator of mankind was not only angry and offended when the first humans (and all their offspring)  rejected Him,  He was also greatly grieved.     “Grieved” is sorrowed.    So the Creator Himself becomes the Savior of His creation,  which, as you know,  involved the Incarnation  and   Mary,  the Mother of the Savior.

poppies red

With what grief she saw her Son crucified!   Therefore,  with what Fervor she would want that death to be for good effect for all mankind!

“For there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.”

poppy witnesses

That’s the Good News that Mary  fervently wants everyone to know, the Name of her Son Jesus..

“For there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.”

That’s the Good News that men  and women have carried into the mission fields — to tell all about the Name of Jesus, even at the risk of their own lives.

poppy jes

“For there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.”

That could be the cause of our fervency,  our fervency for souls.

THE POPPY FIELD

May 24, 2015

By an interesting coincidence,  the poppy is a flower given to Our Lady on this 24th day of May.

There is a spiritual quality that is associated with the poppy,  but I think on this Memorial Day weekend,  it’s good to look at a   distantly related association with the poppy,  one you may be familiar with.    (After all,  American school children used to memorize and recite this poem in school — in honor of those who died for us.)

In-Flanders-Fields

THE BLUEBELLS OF HEAVEN

May 24, 2015

(Busy today.   Birthday celebrations and other things.  Not much strength left for . . .   blogging.) )

Bluebells to remind us of Our Lady today:

bluebell fieldJust a beautiful glowing-blue flower.    Bluebells are known for laying themselves down in “carpets.”

bluebell carpetPerhaps that’s why they are chosen to represent the blue covering over us,  the heavenly skies,  the Heavens above, and for the particular quality of our Desire for Heaven.

bluebell vaMary was bereft of her Son at Calvary, and in another way at the Ascension.    She lived without Him, then, for another twenty years, approximately.   How she must have longed for Heaven — not to be in a wonderful, glorious  “paradise” beyond the blue sky,  but rather to be united with her Son again.

Understandable?   Of course.  A mother cannot live well without her son.

But there’s more here.

bluebell hangingHer Son was not just her son.    He was her Creator,  her Lord,  her God,  and her Savior.    As a human being,  she would have also had the same human desire to be united with the One who made us.   Then we will be “completely”  the person we were meant to be.  All will be well.  All will be peace.    We will be able to walk with our Holy,  Loving Creator.  It will seem so right.  So wonderfully right.

Mary.   A life turned toward God and with a strong desire to “be there” with Him.

THE LOWLY BUTTERCUP

May 22, 2015

The buttercup –  just obeys its mandate to reflect the glory of God.

buttercup field

I trampled on these things as  a child,  playing in the fields on the edge of the Illinois prairie.    Rode my bike right over them too.  And, yes,  when I was a small child I rubbed the buttercup flower on my chin to see if the yellow color – the butter – would rub off on me.    If it did,  that was a good thing.

We are offering flowers to Our Lady for each day of her month,  May.    I’ve never done this before.    “Too old for that.”   “Too educated”   for such sentimentality.     “Too spiritual”  for such unsophisticated ties to the earth.

All of which is, I suppose, the Point.

buttercup flower of five

The buttercup is lowly,  it’s able to be trampled on and still keep living,  and it is only for the  childlike and the uneducated and the unsophisticated to notice.

And that’s why it’s a perfect choice for the quality of obedience.

Obedience is simple, really.    Be open to God as He is,  and like Mary,  align your life with His will.

That’s it.    That’s the path to our holiness  which will take us into the next life.

However,   hanging on to our own desires and doubts would complicate matters,  so we need to  “calibrate”  our lives,  calibrate ourselves to match your Creator’s will.     Don’t tell Him what’s right or wrong.   Keep it simple.  Let Him tell you.

Need some “complexity” ?  —

Heaven

There is a God who is also the Creator of the entire material universe.  Men knew that even before the time of Christ.   Men knew that before the  time of Abraham.    I like to go back to the time after the glaciers of the last Ice Age melted,  about 12,000 years ago when we could recognize men like ourselves.   It’s just fact,  historical fact,  archeological fact,  that men knew of God.

We did the best we could, back then,  pleasing and obeying the God we knew, until slowly, over millennia, God increasingly revealed more and more about Himself.    We have the Law given to Moses.  We have His nature confirmed by the philosophers of Greece.  We have the Word come down to teach us more directly  :   Jesus, the great rabbi,  Sermon on the Mount, the parables, and more.

buttercup darkWell, that’s complex enough for now.  Study all that history,  study all those writings,  and then keep it simple:  just one step at a time,  when you make the individual choices —  again, one by one —  choose each time to obey God as He really is.

Uh….   I don’t think we have much time left.

PERIWINKLE

May 21, 2015

So,  I need to be brief tonight.  Here is information,  but not much explanation:

The periwinkle:

periwinkle purpleIt does come in other colors,  pink, for instance:

periwinkle pinkEasy to understand, simple, easy to draw if you’d like to doodle a flower.

The purplish periwinkle is chosen to represent Purity of Intentions, and is a quality associated with Our Lady in her actions and choices.

In this context, “purity” indicates Mary’s  single-minded, unadulterated focus on the God of her Fathers, without allowing any distracting influence.     Mary was always aware of walking in the presence of God.   He is always there,  He is always attentive,  He is always longing for her companionship — as He longs for us.

The reasons why we are doing something or saying something or thinking on something are  called our intentions.   For what purpose is this.   If we know God’s spotlight is always on us,   it’s hard to not care about pleasing Him,  for His sake alone.

That’s a powerful thought to be always and everywhere in the Presence of God.

It would help to purify our intentions.

HOW TO BE A GERANIUM

May 20, 2015

May 20, geraniums.

geranium redMy Mom loved geraniums.   Everywhere we lived,  there always seemed to be geraniums popping up — the result of my mother’s efforts, of course.  According to  an article I read recently, though first written a few years ago,   hot-houses,    (greenhouses)   raise a hundred million geranium plants for distribution all over the world!   They are well-loved!

gernaium pink pot

What’s the appeal?  They are hardy and vigorous and produce blooms of strong vibrant color.   The RED will hit you in the eye  — but so will the other colors.   (I don’t remember ever seeing a purple geranium,  but I like it.)

geranium purple
So why is this flower chosen for the soft and gentle Mother of Our Lord, “lovely lady dressed in blue. . .” ?

With its bright strong colors,  the geranium stands for Zeal,  and specifically Zeal for Souls.     That is Mary’s strong desire,  to show her Son to everyone, and to say, as at Cana:   “Go to Jesus;  do whatever He tells you.”

geranium very red
Zeal doesn’t have to be loud and noisy,   because zeal resides within a person   ( and not in a person’s  loud mouth).   And when zeal  has a spiritual good for its object,  such as love for human souls, then  zeal is strong and vigorous and ever ready to deliver  the news of our salvation  which is freely available to all of us.

Zeal knows that the consequences of rejection are too dire, too awful to contemplate, and will call out strongly  against rejection of the good God.

How to be a geranium.

(Good soil.    Good nutrition.   Good sunlight.   And  a good goal.)
geranium potting
Do you love people?  Do you “love” the world?   Do you love “all the people in the world”?   And but do you love the person right next to you?  Do you care if he will one day suffer those dire consequences of rejecting God?  Might he die in ignorance of God — because of you?

Zeal cares!      And the zeal of Mary for the souls that her Son died a horrible death for cannot be matched by any of us — especially by us who are a little “soft in the soul.”       We can but offer her geraniums today, and admire her zeal and imitate her desire for souls to know and understand her Son.

I wish my Mom were still here.   I’d like to talk to her about planting some geraniums. . . .

HAWTHORN – TOUGH CONDITIONS

May 20, 2015

The Hawthorn,  tree,  berries, thorns, and flowers —

hawthorn treeA Hawthorn tree in bloom –  lovely flowers but with thorns and often covered with little hair-like spikes around the flowers.

hawthorn redThe flowers can be red too, where it is easier to see the spiky  hairlike projections.

The tree or bush itself can grow in thin soil which would provide less nutrition than other trees need, and it blooms best when it grows where the winds   blow hard against it.    For reasons like these,  the Hawthorn is chosen for the quality of Mortification,  which we associate with Our Lady and with all those who are on the road to holiness.

That leaves us with two problems.

The first  problem is that  when we take a good honest look at what road we’re on, and when we take a  good honest look at ourselves,  the word “holy” would not automatically pop up.

The second problem is that repeatedly in the Bible we are told to “Be holy.”   Even a great man like the Patriarch Abraham is admonished by God to   “Walk before me and be holy.”  

And yet we are also taught that left to our own devices,  left to our own choices,  left to our own desires for comfort and ease,  we will not choose the road to holiness, because it is just too hard.   We are too attached  to the good things around us — and to the good we see in ourselves.   We have a “Holiness Gap.”

The Son of Mary, Jesus, knew this, and encouraged us with a paradox:   “Whosoever shall seek to save his life, shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose it, shall preserve it.”  (Luke 17:33)

“Saving our own lives”   is hanging on to what we are and how we are —   “I like what I like and I like to have it.”

“Losing our lives”  is putting God’s will for us before our own desires – and in this way only will we be preserved because God’s will for us is to become like He is —  holy in all that we do.    God is holy; everything around Him is holy;  and only those who are holy will be able to live forever with Him in Heaven.

The pathway to Heaven is through proper Mortification — the deliberate detaching yourself from trusting in and taking comfort from the world around you,  making it possible, then, to turn from yourself to the things of God.

hawthorn hedgeThis is a Hawthorn hedge.   It grows thick and dense and full of thorns that Hawthorn trees are known for.    The thorns represent the hardships you accept  that will give you strength.      Accept all things as though they come from your Creator — because He often sends hard times in order to grow your faith and strengthen your character.

This too is a kind of mortification.   It’s Mary’s example.   Think of all the opportunities she had to say No!  to God — and  how different things would have been for us without her Son!

“Save my life in this world”?   Enjoy all the comforts it can give me?        No, thanks.       Look where I’d end up!

An existence apart from a Holy God.

A SPRING RECIPE

May 18, 2015

Well.    I’ve always maintained that we were created with self-healing bodies   —  provided we give our bodies what is needed for good health.  Apparently my body has overcome the billions of little critters that brought me down for the past three days, and the body politely requested a spring meal.

After a successful  trip to the grocery store, obsessed with finding some fresh asparagus,  I came home to this favorite recipe of mine:

 That’s it!  That’s the whole recipe:   some asparagus spears, rinsed a little,   placed on aluminum foil,   some olive oil, and a light sprinkling of Himalayan salt.    Baked at . . .   well, I think 375, for . . . I think 35 or 40 minutes.  (I like them really soft.)

After I got back from the store and assembled this,  I was feeling pretty tired, so I’m not really sure what I did with them, and I bumped the heat control on my little toaster oven,  so I couldn’t really check what I had baked them at . . .  and I kept lying down so I’m not sure of the total time  . . . .

I guess you don’t have to be very specific when you make this.     Good food, healthy food, is the simplest food.

UNASSUMING LAVENDER

May 18, 2015

The 18th day of May,  lavender, for Our Lady.

A lavender field  —

Lavender fieldGentle,  soft,  pervasive misty purple across a field.

Someone once gave me some lavender sprigs.  They are good for making tinctures that you can flavor foods with (lavender flavored cookies)  and also use for imparting a subtle lavender fragrance to anything at all.

I have some left, I’ll use more again sometime, and I can’t find it now to take a photo of for you.   But here are some sprigs:

lavender sprigsMy lavender looks just like that in its little plastic bag,  only a bit more dried up.   The purple has faded,  but the fragrance is there.

So, we associate lavender with the human characteristic of Modesty  because of its gentle presence.    You don’t actually notice a genuinely sweet and modest person at first,  but when you do take notice,  you are pleasantly surprised and attracted. This is  because “modesty”  doesn’t mean timidity or vapidness or immaturity.  Instead it means that the person of good quality chooses not to push himself forward and is content to let others receive attention.

No wonder lavender was the favorite fragrance of truly feminine women of ages past.

LILACS

May 17, 2015

The common lilac, for Mary today;  representing the quality of Fidelity.

lilacs 2Fidelity to a cause.  Fidelity to your duty.   Fidelity to a Person,  (as in the case of Mary or every follower of Jesus).

The little petals, each one so  small and unremarkable,  grow in just the right place,  “faithful”  to the cluster that makes up the whole flower.   “The little petals group together in fidelity for a greater good.”      They put out a lot of color and a lot of beautiful, rich fragrance.

lilac trees

The lilac trees flourish in the northern climates with its harsh winters.  During winter the lilac can “rest” — it goes into a retreat and lies dormant for a while until called on to blossom forth in the Spring.    You can make analogies here:  stay faithful to your duties,   work hard,  shine forth,   then draw back to gather your strength for a while. . . .

But, be careful.   “Fidelity”  is not all about you  (or m)!   Fidelity is reliable faithfulness to something.  And it’s a quality that we know we would recognize in Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

naz home

We  hear of “The Hidden Years of Jesus,”  and some imaginations go wild with “possibilities.”   But during these more than twenty years of unrecorded history,   Mary too was “hidden”  from public view.

lilac petalsPetal by individual petal,  each of these three,  mother, father, and Son,    were doing the unremarkable duties of daily life,  pleasing only their Heavenly Father, day by day,  who alone knew the patterns of the clusters they were building.

It’s Fidelity to God.    Wherever He put us.    Not caring about the End result.

“Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

LILY OF THE VALLEY

May 16, 2015

At the beginning of this month of May,  I intended only to introduce to you the idea of the particularly charming devotion of offering a flower to Mary each day of this, her month.   (I speak of the tradition of many, many centuries,  well over a thousand years.  It’s what people did –  devoting the month of May to Mary, that is.)   But here I am, continuing on.

It is only in this past desolate hundred years, maybe a little less, that we are told we must reject what is past;  we must not put anything above this present time or hold anything higher than our individual wills — and the State will tell us what goods and what rights our wills should strive for.

We strive for their goals,  the State gets bigger,  and we are diminished because the State can give us only what a human idea of good is;   and thus we are  demeaned when we are disconnected from that which is higher than we are,   the Ultimate Good,   the good God Himself.

There are those who don’t want to raise themselves any higher than the thoughts of man.   or the “collective” thoughts of man, as though “collective”  makes a difference.     I guess,  go ahead.      But even the ancients knew that mankind could not give the answer to everything that concerns mankind.   They looked at, observed, contemplated,  considered how Nature works, and then slowly formulated the principles of Natural Law.

Through the next many centuries Natural Law was increasingly understood and applied, in harmony with what was known before.    Until, that is,  recently,   when Natural Law “became generally and widely  unknown.”

We are defenseless now against a rising tyranny,  a dictatorship of those whose will  is stronger than that of others.    We call it a spirit of lawlessness,  and it is a deadly force.   Our Rulers trample on our Constitution, which is based on Natural Law;   and activist courts further their agenda by upending laws duly created by constitutional processes.     The people vote;  the courts strike down their vote.   We are defenseless now and in danger.

So that’s why I continue with these little flowers, even after nearly two days in bed,  letting my body heal itself.,To present another flower represents  my determination to assert that there is Someone greater than I, greater than all of us, and that He is benign and loving and worthy of our worship.

The lily of the valley:

lily not weedsThese “things” grew wild in my garden.  Every year I did my best to pull them up so I could plant my flowers there.     I didn’t realize what I had.  (Aha!   Like Natural Law,  they were so easy to toss out!)

One day I was reading about flowers that are especially fragrant in the evenings because we had just put in new bay windows that could open;  and I came across a suggestion to plant lilies of the valley.     So.  okay.

lily closerBut when I saw what they are,  I discovered this is just what I had been trying to uproot every year.   The lilies are tamed now, they grow just where I want them to,   and they are appreciated.

I know so little.

Each flower suggests a quality for Mary – for us to emulate or to offer.    The quality for the lily of the valley is Punctuality.  I don’t know why.  I’ve so far found no logical connection, so it must be from a tradition that I’ve not heard of before.   In Chinese astrological traditions the lily of the valley represents “lucky directions.”   That makes no sense either.

Perhaps it’s not necessary to know.     So many people lived in this world before I came into it.  They had their reasons.   Hats off to them.

Perhaps the importance of Punctuality should keep my attention.    Punctuality doesn’t just mean it’s a good manners to be punctual to a meeting;  punctuality means that we should be prepared and ready for our face-to-face meeting with our Creator.