Archive for the ‘Faith’ category

41

December 5, 2018

My poor words can add nothing at all to the power of the magnificent Christian and Patriotic ceremony we saw today on television,  the funeral of George H W Bush.

The audience witnessed sincere,  touching personal  stories, firmly Christian prayer, beautiful and uplifting music.

Most of all I want my grandson to hear  all the words that were said today.   They were words of courage, faith, duty, love and gentleness, hard work, friendship, generosity, family values, respect for our military services, and love for country.   These are the kinds of things I wish were still taught to American children.

These are the kinds of things that should continue to mold our character.     (And still can if we believe in them.)

We, the audience,  also experienced the finest performances of oratory and music and architecture.

(I had forgotten about the spectacular, soul-stirring voice of Ronan Tynan.  He is God’s gift to our ears, nourishing our spirits.   He will be a part of my music listening  now.) 

________________________________________

I almost missed all this.  I almost thought the funeral wouldn’t have anything new to offer.     Why?

  1.   The entertainment-news media on the Far Left disliked this man, mocked him, ridiculed him, and generally denied or  ignored  his achievements.
  2.  Those on the Far Right were deeply suspicious of President Bush’s endorsement of and involvement with “The New World Order,”  although it seems unlikely that he didn’t understand the truly anti-Western World, anti-Freedom,  anti- Christian nature of a one World governance.

The entertainment-news media has a definite depressing, mind-numbing. and paralyzing effect on our thinking.  I’ve been staying away from it for a while, and so I was able to put aside its powerful influences and make the decision to turn on the TV “just to see what the funeral is going to be like.”

So glad I did.

And I don’t want to hear what “they” have to say about the funeral.   I want my own thoughts.

RIP

.

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BIG IMPACT! — AND WHY

November 7, 2018

So,  whew!  It’s over.   No more annoying  floods of pseudo information about political campaigns from the mailbox, the radio, and the television.    It’s over and done with!   You win some, you lose some.

__________________________________________________________________________

But that’s not the “Big Impact”  I’m talking about.

Have you ever walked out after seeing a movie and were nearly speechless because the movie had such a big impact on you?

That was me last night — and Son.     I’m writing only for myself,  but I think he shared my reactions.

Hunter in ice

The movie is “Hunter Killer,”    one of the most action-packed,  realistic,    truthful,   engaging adventure movies I’ve ever seen.

Takes place among the icebergs and frozen fjords of the northern Russian coastline.  Here is a picture of another submarine in the  Hunter Killer class —

Hunter sub

It is during the movie when the sub is in motion that you experience the power and majesty of ocean depths and the power and force of our modern submarines.    This is not “Hunt For Red October,”   though with a few necessary similarities.

Hunter explosions

Explosions,  not “sunshine” through the waters

The action takes place in the context of amazing technological capabilities in communications, detection,  facial recognition, and surveillance that is (sadly)  true to life.   It’s what we have now.   And the action is also in the context of   the very real and current Russian encroachments into Canadian, American, and northern European coastal waters.

(Was it the Canadian parliament which just recently approved of the construction of another listening complex off their Arctic coastline?)

I don’t need to tell you the story line,  you can look that up – but I can tell you that the story line does not prepare you for the impact this has on the viewer.

Here’s the “Why”  —

It’s a story of goodness, and of evil.      Of Power that transcends Authority.      It’s about the illegitimate transfer of Authority.

It’s about good men rising up to stop evil:

Hunter men

Rising up with all their might,   all their courage, all their training.

There is something good to fight for!    You or I don’t have to be submariners to make that fight.   There is plenty of evil, in us and in the world’s systems,  to fight against.

The Enemy would want us to forget the Two Great Commandments from our Creator:  To love God first of all,  the Giver of all Good and Perfect Gifts;  and our Enemy would like us to forget our own worth and dignity and our necessary return back to our Good and Holy Creator.   The Enemy would like us to ignore the fact there there is goodness and worth even in our enemies,  because no human needs to be an enemy of God.

Fight.

Fight the good fight of faith.    (“Fight the good fight of faith.  Take hold of the Eternal Life to which you’ve been called.   I Timothy 6:12)

 

poppies

A Poppy Field

Veterans Day is coming up soon.     Armistice Day, as it used to be called.   The day the world made its best attempt to stop war and make peace.     “Hunter Killer”  is a good movie to see in honor of Veterans Day.

There are good strong men still fighting for us.

.

 

 

TOLD YOU SO

October 22, 2018

bear paw bracelet

 

I told you,  I told you, Dear Readers, I told you I told you about the Bears. 

bear talking to you You go along in your everyday world,   doing everyday things,  handling everyday issues,   everything is ordinary and everyday — but all along you don’t know, you didn’t know,  you were being stalked by a “bear.”

 

And it sometimes decides to jump out at you — and then you know you’re no match for the bear.    Or as my Dad and Mom and I found out,  Dad’s  .22 rifle was no match for an angry mother bear who jumped out at us during a nice walk in the woods.

Bear Brown snarl 350

Well, we weren’t eaten,  but I learned a lesson back then when I was just a child:  Bears can jump out at you anytime.

Bears are metaphors for the unexpected bad things in life.  Everyone is stalked by bear.  They don’t always attack — but they always could.

There are little bears too.  And sneaky bears.  And maybe . . .  cute? . . . maybe cute bears if you’re not around to see what they’re doing.   Cooper’s World got visited by bear a few weeks ago.

Bear Pair Looking

Cooper is my grandson.  He lives in this house in  the High Sierras of California,  on Donner Lake, specifically.   A neighbor took these photos one afternoon when Cooper and his mom and dad weren’t home.    That’s the deck on the side of their home.

They relax there.

They give parties there.

I’ve relaxed on that deck at times.

Cooper and his mom and dad were away doing ordinary, everyday errands.

This pair was on a mission:

Bear Mission

They knew where the goodies are kept, all locked up in an airtight refrigerator.

But not locked up enough;  not airtight enough:

Bear Mission Accomp 380

Yep,  they found the”beverage” supply.   Beer beverage.   Wonder if that was Baby’s first taste.

Bears do cute things.    They’re . . .  cute, maybe.     But I remember sitting in that nice pink chair on their deck, with my eyes closed,  enjoying the brilliant mountain sunshine.

Bears are there.   “Bear” are everywhere.    In my difficult, mixed-up, dangerous, deadly, and almost deadly world of my past four months,   “Bear” have been all over this place.  Deaths,  disease,  disappointments, distrusts,  dying cars and dying TVs, schedule conflicts and extra repair time, self-inflicted injury  —  I think I’ve had them all.

Strength.  Resilience.   Coming back for more like a little Weeble-Wobble.   Faith.  Hope.  Trust that the Bears will let up for a while.   And the certain knowledge that we are not meant to be happy in this life,  but in the Next.    (That is Christian teaching.)

SAMSUNG

I told you there were Bear in this world, ready to surprise you with an attack.

But so did Jesus.    He didn’t promise us an easy life,  but He did promise us He wouldn’t leave us as orphans.   And: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”    “I will send you the Comforter,  the Holy Ghost . . .”    “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.”

That means some day the Bear will be gone,  but God will remain for us.

 

Bar Cross in middle

 

I guess I can handle all the Bear. 

weeble wobbling

 

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NOT ALONE ON OUR JOURNEY

October 11, 2018

“After a Funeral;  after a Death.”

Hope and Consolation comes in many forms,  but the quiet beauty of a thoughtful poem gives us the time to truly take it into ourselves.

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Jesus,  “Rabboni,”   Teacher,   Master,    told us many things.  He instructed us,  admonished us,  warned us,  and prepared us to understand why He came to die for us.

But He couldn’t tell us everything.   We are not capable of understanding everything.  When He told His closest disciples that He was soon returning to the Father,  He said this:     I will not now speak many things with you. For the prince of this world comes, and in me he hath not any thing.   But that the world may know, that I love the Father: and as the Father hath given me commandment, so do I: Arise, let us go hence.  .  . (John 14:30, 31)

“I will not now speak many things with you:     For  (Because)  the prince of this world comes . . .

The spiritual ruler of this world is (for now)  the Enemy,  commonly called Satan.  Maybe you think of him as the devil.    This powerful creature will bring about the death of Jesus (through our actions),  but yet has no power over Jesus   ( and in me he hath not any thing.).  They are diametrically opposed to each other, and that “commandment”  that Jesus refers to in this passage is God’s commandment that Jesus come into this world to die for the world, breaking the power that this evil prince of no love has over us.

So it is:  We all must choose either God our Savior in Jesus Christ;  or Satan and all that this world offers.

No matter which you choose,  you and your loved ones will experience that great and terrible consequence of human rebellion against God:  Death.

(And all the things which accompany our  Death:   sickness,  pain,  loneliness,  bad feelings towards ourselves and others,   lovelessness,  doubt,  uncertainty,  sadness, anger . . .  all these things contribute to our Death.)

And so we here in the Spruce Tunnel experienced the Death of a dearly loved one,  our own Meghan.    And here is the Bright Spot:   If we can hear through the spiritual clutter of our lives, through all that strong, insistent chatter from the Enemy,  we can hear words of  Life and Comfort — and Hope that we may be united once again, everyone who lives within the Love of Jesus.  Some day.

Jesus alone has power over life and death.  He said He has the power to lay down His life and to take it up again,  and as surely as He resurrected from His own death,  so  will He do the same for those who live in His friendship.

No easy thing with all that spiritual clutter!   But it can be done.   And we can have real Hope and real the Comfort that we are not alone on our journey.     Some people can testify to this beautifully.     Beautifully in poetic form so that we can enjoy and savor each thought:

 

What God Hath Promised
 
God hath not promised skies always blue
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
 
God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptations, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
many a burden, many a care.
 
God hath not promised smooth roads and wide
Swift, easy travel needing no guide;
Never a mountain rocky and steep,
Never a river turbid and deep.
 
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.
 
Annie Johnson Flint
Learn it.  Its words are true.
For this poem of Comfort:   thank you to my Recorder-playing  friend who has brought beauty into my life through our shared music,  setting a beautiful  table afterwards,  and always beautiful thoughts.
Deo gratias.
.

HIM AND THE HURRICANE

September 12, 2018

We’re all looking at the hurricane charts and diagrams now.   (I’ll get to “him” in a minute).

Experts estimate that at least 20 million Americans will be affected by Florence’s arrival.  Perhaps you know someone in her path.

FLORENCE

Objectively speaking,  it’s  a gorgeous, well-formed hurricane.   I am safe here in the Far North;  I can be fascinated with the development and progression of Florence,  but just recently I received a text from my young friend V in Virginia who does not feel so safe.

I’m very fond of her.   She has a husband, a daughter,  another family member or two living with her and a house and a home —  and all will be very much affected by Florence.  Though probably not in the direct pathway,  she’s close enough that there could be some terrible damage.

My young friend V has asked for my prayers.   I’m  honored; and I am asking and will continue to ask for intercession on her behalf.     “Prayer changes things” as the saying goes.  It changes things physically,  personally, spiritually,  and prayer can change the course of people and things.

V is a believer in Christ.  I will be merely adding my prayers to hers, but I hope her faith and hope and courage will be increased, and that she is sheltered in this storm.     It is at the worst of times that Our Lord will take us by the hand and “lead us on.”    That’s not my idea!    It’s the experience of countless Christians throughout the centuries.

A beautiful hymn has been humming itself in my head.   I finally had to look up those wonderful and meaningful lyrics which I learned as a child.   I found them.

And that leads me to the “him.”    The King.    I will let “him”  sing them for you:

I hope you will remember this song for our fellow Americans during their encounter with Florence, perhaps, as I had said,  it will be someone you know;  and I hope you will recall this song when you find yourself in the eye of some storm or other.

Humans don’t live in paradise anymore!

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If you can’t view the video,  here is its URL (remove the spaces)  – and there are many other fine singers who do a good job on this hymn:

https : // youtu.be/ThsYX4RBtbw

 
“Take My Hand, Precious Lord”

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m worn
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When my way grows drear precious Lord linger near
When my light is almost gone
Hear my cry, hear my call
Hold my hand lest I fall
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When the darkness appears and the night draws near
And the day is past and gone
At the river I stand
Guide my feet, hold my hand
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m worn
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

 

 

THINKING HIGHER

June 13, 2018

cloud

cloud formation above a Florida parking lot

 

Well, it helps to look up,  look above;  have your head in the clouds . . .   really,  above  the clouds,  beyond the clouds . . . .

I didn’t drive this far south for my own entertainment.  My sister who lives here is ill and will not get better.    She’s way too young for that . . . .  but that’s what’s been on my mind during these last few days of absence from The Spruce Tunnel.

There are a lot of things to consider, decisions to make,  conversations to have, comfort and companionship to give, actual physical help to give . . . .  And all  because a young women has a destination,  “above” those clouds.

Your perspective changes drastically when a lifespan is spoken of in terms of “weeks”  by a doctor who can’t help any more.   It will come to all of us some day, because most of us won’t die suddenly and instantly somehow,  we’ll die with time to think about the certainty of what’s coming.

All of us live here:

earth 390

I don’t mean on that blue-marble earth,  I mean — well, see that very thin blue outline in this NASA photo around the planet?  A very, very thin, solid blue line.

That thin blue line is a photo of our atmosphere.  That’s the whole extent of  all the miles of air we must live in to breathe.    That’s where we live our lives,  between the earth and the bottom part of that thin blue line.

That’s all we’ve got.   A thin blue line around the earth and one short lifespan is all we’re given.   It seems a little precarious.

It just does really  matter that we live with our “heads in the clouds.”  Above the clouds.  Beyond the clouds — all the way to the Creator of clouds, of earth, of us.

pink 400

a random pink cloud floating above my hotel

God thought each of us up,  loved the idea of us, then put us here for a very  short time to watch and see if we are making our way back to Him.    Today I can see for sure what I always suspected:   when you have only months or weeks to live,  your body is too busy working at staying alive and feeling miserable for your mind to be able to think about where you might be going,  and doing something about it.

My sister didn’t wait till the last minute –  that is a comfort to her and to me.    Comfort is going to be sorely needed . . . .

We’re all right now, together.   My sister is just going on ahead of me.

“Up above,”  as we commonly say.

 

 

 

OPEN ROADS

June 4, 2018

 

“Back in the saddle again . . .”

 

Open Roads

 

Open Roads.

With a Hat Tip to Gene Autry,  I am back in my favorite “saddle” again –  enjoying the open roads!

And with Hat Tips to Cole Porter and Robert Fletcher,  I’m humming along with one of my favorite childhood songs:  “Don’t Fence Me In”  !

 

That’s all.  I’ll check  in later . . . .

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   But just one comment:    Funny thing –  I can pray here,  far from home, with confidence that God knows where I am.    Hundreds of miles from home – I am not lost to Him.     He knows my whereabouts,   the concerns I face of long-distance driving,  and all the other needs I have . . .  still have . . .

I’m  here in time and space,  but I can touch Eternity at any time.

Deo gratias.

 

 

POLITICIANS, PRIESTS, AND BILLY GRAHAM

March 5, 2018

It’s always dismaying to read (or write) about “the state of the Church” — and especially on a Sunday.

Since giving up many of the teachings, traditions, and now even doctrines of 2,000 year-old Christianity,  the Modernized Church has weakened, stumbled, fell, skinned its knees, dirtied its face, and is  limping along towards further trouble.

How far along has this process gone?   All the way, I’d say.    Recently, in a church near me,   a priest was acting like a politician and gave a sermon that instructed the people on gun control, border walls, and racism.    Whatever you think of these Hot Button Leftist Talking Points,   most people would instinctively know that this is not what sermons should be about,  nor is it the role of the priest to act as a politician.

Don’t Leftists believe in “separation of church and state”?    (That’s a mild jab from me, with a smile.)

Before I go back to What Happened Next in that church,   here is what the role of a priest traditionally is,  Church teaching from St. John Eudes:

The priest is an evangelist and an apostle whose
chief work is to preach publicly and privately,
by word and example, the Gospel of Jesus
Christ; to continue and perpetuate the functions
that the apostles were commissioned to perform
and to practise the virtues that they practised  
His duty is to make them worthy to possess in eternity
the very kingdom of the Sovereign Monarch of
the world.
In a word, the priest embodies a world of grace
and benediction for the entire Church, but
especially for that portion which God has called
him to govern and guide.

 

The words were printed in the Scottish newsletter*, so that’s why the spelling of some words is different. This portion is just a small part of the saint’s teaching about priests,  but it’s an example of how far from secular politics is the duty of any Roman Catholic priest.

The duty of a priest is the things of God.  However in the local church that I began to write about, the words of that priest were so emotionally incendiary (patterned after the reporting presented by our entertainment-news media:  arouse the people!!),  so arousing, that a man got up in the back of the church and shouted out  his disapproval to the priest and then left the building.

Now, according to reports,  the word “panicked”  was used at least three times.   The people in the church “panicked”  because of the shouts (of the man who had quickly left) and police were called, reports were made, etc., etc.

So –  divisive politics strikes close to home.    I wonder about that scene.    I wonder about our society that has produced people so easily “panicked,”  whatever that meant.   I wonder about the psychological soundness of people with weakened faith (maybe through no fault of their own – living in such a changed Modernized church) –

Opposed to this scene is the teaching of the Church:     For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  (II Timothy 1:7)       

As much as I’d like to comment on that verse,   it brings me to Billy Graham, whose biography I saw tonight in a documentary, which happened to be on TV after NASCAR!  (Happily for me.)

However many ways you can look at the man, Billy Graham had greatness and he was important to a wide variety of Americans.     His words changed lives.      As I listened to this documentary,  I was struck by how firmly he stuck to his message:

1.   Every man, deep down is longing for something; he has a hole to be filled:   “Everyone is born with a God-shaped hole in his heart.”   “The heart is restless until it rests in Thee.”  (St. Augustine)    Or listen  to Blaise Pascal about the abyss in our hearts:

What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”
– Blaise Pascal, Pensées VII(425)

2.   From there Billy Graham goes on to state that  not only do we all feel an emptiness,  but we also know, deep down, that we are sinners.

3.   God loved the world so much that He sent His Son to die for us, to “take away”  our sins, to give us new life, and to create a soul worthy of Heaven, sharing in his divine life.
Period.

4.    “If you want to have peace with God, come forward . . .”    in those big crusade auditoriums.     Don’t misunderstand me,  I’m being respectful.

With God (the Third Person of the Trinity) living in you,  you have  increasing faith, which leads to peace and spiritual health, strength, and a sound mind.

I think that factors in somehow to wondering about a “panicked”  congregation whose emotions were so stoked that a shout from the back of the room led to  fear for personal safety.

Fear does not come from God.   (Direct quote from Malachi Martin!)

But “Panic”  comes from the god Pan, according to the Greeks.   In other words,  from evil entities in enmity with God and man, all flourishing in a time of a weakened Church.

  _____________________________________________________

 

There are some priests who strive to resemble St. Eudes’  description as partially quoted above.    All is not lost.    The priest I see each week reminds us frequently that it’s his job to  help us live holy lives –   he’s rather young, he works hard at it, even to the detriment of his own health, as I’m observing.        Just thought he deserves some praise.

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.*  CatholicTruthScotland

 

 

 

 

 

AN UPLIFTING WAY TO PRAY!

February 5, 2018

“Walking with Christ through Lent”  —

Among some of  the best ways of praying is to pray through the Gospels.   Not read them every day, but  to prayerfully meditate on  them every day,  staying close to the Lord we wish to follow.      A joyful and uplifting way to pray!

Uplifting.   (ahem):

01

Pretty, floaty balloons.

Lots of hands involved:

02

Children love to participate.

03

 

“Many hands make light work.”

04

It’s an “uplifting” project that needs to be kept untangled – and free:

05

 

The tendency is to float – upward, of course:

06

 

And all the people let go!

07

 

Up, up, and away!

09

 

Into the Heavens:

08

Where our prayers are heard!

Credit to the Papa Stronsay blog site ( http: / / papastronsay . blogspot. com/  —  Remove spaces, of course.)     Papa Stronsay is the name of the larger of the Stronsay islands, north of Scotland, where a joyful community of Christians live and work and pray.

 

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About the “repetition of prayers”  in the Rosary:

When I was a child,  the Bible that was given to me lied to me.   It kind of made it sound like you were never to say a prayer “more than once.”    Prayer should  “come from the heart” – i.e.,  it should always be extemporaneous.

(Saying “The Lord’s Prayer'”  again and again was a contradiction that I couldn’t ask about – and expect a satisfying answer.)

If you did repeat a prayer, or prayers,  it was called “vain repetition.”    My contradiction problem was relieved when I learned when I was older that the words “vain repetition” was a deliberate and deceptive mis-translation of the original Greek words regarding the manner of prayer.   In other words,  the men who wrote that particular Bible lied – with what they thought was good reason.

They were breaking away from the Church,  starting their own version of Christianity,  so they had to reject as much as they could that came from the Church.   And they had to write all kinds of reasons why they were right, including changing the words of the Bible.

WORTHY

February 4, 2018

 

A brief interruption in my Sunday-Christian theme writing  . .  . or maybe not.

The Patriots didn’t win today.   That’s kind of okay, because the Eagles played like they were worthy to beat them.  They played well,   They were gutsy and surprising and skillful and determined.

Nick Foles

And they had Nick Foles.  Quite a young man.   MVP for football this season — but more importantly,  a Most Valuable Young Man not only for the sport, but for his generation, and for our country.   An unabashedly  Christian American  family-man  leader of his team.    Worthy of being a  Most Valuable Role Model.

__________________________________

What is going on here?  I’ve never seen so many men in on-camera, after-game interviews who gave credit and honor to Jesus Christ.       So many famous football names, Nick Foles,  Carson Wentz, and others . . .   leading Bible studies,   taking part in Bible studies . . .   Could these young men be emblematic of a whole new generation of Americans?     The quiet, strong, new leaders that the entertainment-news media doesn’t pay any attention to?

Nick Foles, et al.   I’m going to keep my eye on them in the coming years.

And I’m NOT going to have to give up on football!

 

ONE LOVELY FURTHER WORD

November 28, 2017

Heavne's turquoice blue

____________________________________________________________

Before I leave the Sabbath Rest
By which all Christian souls are blest,

Before I write of harsher deeds
The Spruce Tunnel notes a truth it heeds.

So, just one more Little Nellie word
Which witnesses both saw and heard:

_____________________________________________________________

The Point of the Post

Yesterday I wrote about Little Nellie of Holy God and how her experiences intersected with my  anticipated “Sunday Encounter.”    (BTW –  the “Encounter”   happened.    So amazingly . . .  um . . .  )   I really meant to convey that Nellie’s Innocent Faith and her Lovely Holiness are things that are within the reach of every single human soul.

We only need to keep an accurate model before our eyes.

Such  holiness is for Heaven, where “Holy God”  is.    It’s rather sobering to remember that the book of Revelation, that Final Book of the Bible, says that “no unclean thing,  nor anything that makes a lie,  nor any that does abomination, nor anything that defiles . . .”  can enter Heaven.      Only clean, pure, holy souls will be in Heaven.

The Beauty of Holiness

Little Nellie’s life was so occupied with Love for God that there were times when her face was transformed into one of unearthly light and beauty.    She saw the holiness surrounding her Holy God, which it was determined the name she gave to Jesus. She saw  and felt His presence and responded with adoring love.   This holy joy is what gave her face that attracting beauty.

This was unexpected by all around her because she had always suffered severe pain from a  bone  disease.   She was too tired and too weak to walk, it was too painful to sit upright in a chair. At times her face showed a grayish pallor from just the fatigue of breathing as well as the ravishes of the cruel disease. Her jaw was crumbling away, and at times small chunks of bones would fall off.

She should not have been so full of joy and she should not have looked so radiantly beautiful at times.      (My own problems, even my diseases, pale in comparison.   That’s why she should be always in my mind.)

Lovely Beauty in Mind

When I was a girl, there is a hymn we used to sing in that basement Sunday School room in a church in Chicago.   It was a slow,  beautiful melody; thoughtful, and instructive. The first line goes like this:

“Altogether lovely;    He is altogether lovely;   and the fairest of ten thousand is this wonderful Friend of mine . . . .  ”

As I sat there, singing with the large group of boys and girls, my almost-a-teenager-me absorbed those words, and while the nasty dirtiness of the Sixties and the Degraded Seventies and the Self-Centered Eighties washed over me during the next decades,  there that song was, deep in my mind, always calling to me.

And making me understand the Beauty of that little holy child,   Little Nellie.

 

Where is Little Nellie right now?

Where will I be?

 

 

SUNDAY “EVE”

November 25, 2017

Sunday Eve.”    Well, that would be the evening before a Sunday.     In preparing myself before the “Encounter” at Mass tomorrow morning,  I came across one of my favorite people who ever lived;  she is a kind of teacher to me.  A mentor, perhaps.   Her life is a guide . . .

Do you remember a little of what it was like to be four years old?

Here she is at four years old, just before she died.

Nellie in bed

She’s known as Little Nellie of Holy God.    There are only two or three photos of her.  She came to a Catholic orphanage, frail, very sick, and having just lost both her parents.    When she got better occasionally,  she could join the other little girls in the orphanage’s  school and was fun-loving and beloved by her friends and teachers.

What would it be like to think and feel as you did when you were a little child,  open and sincere and trusting?

She was sweet,  innocent, pure, loving,  generous by nature, and “very sorry” whenever her childish impulses took over and she did some small wrong.

Like a child, who is unspoiled by the modern world.   The way Jesus would want us to raise our children:  sweet, innocent, loving and open to goodness and truth.

Jeus and children

We all have heard that Jesus said “Let the little children come unto Me.”  He said that when the grown-ups tried to prevent the children from interrupting the “grown-up”  conversation.

Jesus and child

Jesus, in His wisdom and knowledge about human beings,  knew that children could hear and understand His words, and He set the children to be an example for us.

Children can grow in the knowledge of Jesus and trust Him.

It is said that Little Nellie spoke of seeing Jesus by her bedside.

nellie and jesus

Little Nellie delighted in the flowers that “Holy God” had made for her and for the whole world.  She always requested that fresh flowers be kept near the crucifix in her room.  As much as her failing strength allowed, she insisted that the “dirty flowers” be taken away –  those that had dried up and withered.

That’s really not a “childish” idea.  She had a natural understanding that we give our best to God.  (Our simple best,  little things  from  our own world around us.)

Jesus also said:  “Unless you become like little children,  you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”       So, not “childish,”  but childlike.  

Just as little children can grow in the knowledge and understanding of the things of Jesus, so can we grow in our understanding of what it is like to be the child we once were.   It is possible.

Little Nellie loved God, and she learned about Jesus and why he had to be on the Cross.   She quickly began to ask question after question, astonishing her caregivers and the nuns with the perception and spiritual understanding implicit in those questions.

If we become like little children —  that is,  if we become more and more like the child we started out to be in this life,  we will not become dumb and ignorant,  we’ll become observant and perceptive.     And, therefore,  docile to spiritual truths.     Docile just means  “teachable.”

Little children know they are not smarter than God. 

It is certainly possible to put away all the sophisticated “adult”  things in your life,  the complicated, complex,  frustrating concerns,  and then just remember (or imagine) how you, as a very young child would fill your time with  learning,  delighting in things,  doing your duties,  knowing your place in the world, accepting that perplexities do exist and we can’t know or control everything around us.

In the end,  we are not in control of everything.  We can’t stop all the Bad and we don’t create all the Good.    There are many things that we must do,  but through it all, we can rest in Him.

Jesus with sleeping child

He sees us as children of God,” He knows our “infirmities” and our weaknesses,  inside out, because He took on our human nature.

My “Encounter” with Him will come during Mass tomorrow morning.   Philosophers can explain it with terms of Substance and Accident,  and with discussions of the Immensity of God, which does not refer to place or space, but rather to an aspect of Omnipresence which intersects with Eternity,  which itself doesn’t refer to time or length of time.

Little Nellie would have pierced right through all the philosophy because she knew that “Holy God”  is present in every Consecrated Host (properly consecrated) — and she had the uncanny ability to tell whether a Host had not been consecrated, and was a mere shape of flour and water.

So sensitive was she to  “Holy God”  that she could tell when someone had just come from  Holy Communion  (properly done) and had Holy God in them.

She was blessed with special graces which inspired those around her and which have strengthened the faith of many;  of many others with childlike faith –  not too sophisticated or too smart for God.

Don’t lose the child in you.

“Of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Nellie

 

Little Nellie Organ, of Ireland,  of Holy God.

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THE OLD LADY &THE MASTER PASTOR

November 22, 2017

Yeah, well, this time maybe I am the “Old Lady.”

But here is the “Master Pastor’ —

Sheen and blackboard

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen,  for whom not too long ago all of America — just everybody — stopped what they were doing on a Sunday evening,  turned on the television,  and watched and listened to this man,  Protestant, Catholic,  non-believer alike.

Whatever you may or may not believe in,   one cannot deny his God-given gift for speaking truth,  right to the point,  succinctly, and with good humor.

I was writing yesterday’s post in a spirit of self-mockery,  because I was observing myself, and while I was trying to “enjoy”  a bad mood,  every time I passed my refrigerator,   I’d see the newspaper article taped up there of “Alice Smith,”  the old, old lady who has such a wonderful, optimistic attitude,  and who at 92 years old loves her job as a burger flipper in a nearby McDonald’s.

Thus ruining my really good bad mood.

tundra

I’m good at deep dark Scandinavian-strength funks.  My whole family is.     I’ll bet she isn’t!

So late in the evening,  at the end of my dark, gloomy day,  I picked up a few books and meandered randomly through them.    One is called “Simple Truths.”    By guess who –  Bishop Sheen.   I don’t usually like books that are “just” series of short quotations,  but that’s about all I was in the mood for.

. . .   Found my bookmark,  and the first thing I read was this:

    The astronomer doesn’t give up his science just because he doesn’t find a new planet every day.  The poet doesn’t give up poetry because he cannot write brilliant verses every day.     But the ideal of science and the ideal of  poetry remain.     So,  virtue, faith, and the abiding resolve to save one’s soul remain,  even when one does not “feel”  like saving one’s soul.

     Ideals must never be left to the stomach or the glands.  They reside in the will.   Hence, the Divine Truth reminds us that “he who perseveres to the end will be saved.”

Feelings.   Feels come and go;  they are up and down;  they make us like or dislike something;   feelings give birth to our opinions.

Feelings are alongside our daily activities,  generated by many factors, some we don’t even know about.   But human life –  humans – are made to  live from their Intellect which corresponds to objective reality informed by  our five senses.    Our intellectual activity is made to conform to objective reality, and next comes our will, at the command of our intellect.

Our well-being comes to a skidding halt when we put feelings and opinions in command of our decisions.   We short-circuit our  main purpose in life.

Which is?     Why were you born?      Something else Bishop Sheen taught,  from the catechism:  Why were you born?  To know, love, and serve God in this life,  and to be happy with him forever in the next.      This is the “resolve to save our souls”  that Bishop Sheen spoke about.

going to Heaven

Ask any old lady, Mrs. Smith or me (when I catch up to her age):      “Are you thankful for a good, long life?”    The answer will be:    “It wasn’t long!”   


The next life will be “long.”   Not this one.     Bishop Sheen would say now is the opportunity to see to the health and life of our souls, now is the time to save our souls.  Our “ideal” is salvation.

Feelings be damned.

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CANDY PHYSICS

August 19, 2017

Friday?     It’s been Friday today?     I haven’t been here for four days?    Oh, I’ve been to the Spruce Tunnel,  just not this one.   (See next post)

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I’m in full CleaningOrganizingSortingDecidingPacking mode.      Cleaning and poking around where I haven’t been for a long while.

I’m finding some really random, interesting stuff around my house . . .

M2

 

They’re real and they’re delicious and I can’t finish them off because they’re not mine.

But it’s kind of fun to combine physics and candy.

E   x    p      a       n        d       your thinking.     We’ve been placed in a fun world, full of joy.

LIFE’S A MESS — TAKE HEART

August 14, 2017

(A message  – to me  –  about lambs and lamb’s wool . . .   and death to come.)

Sometimes life seems a mess,  a complicated, tangled mess.    We get to feeling like that once in a while.     We get a lot of “cares”   and loose ends swirling around in our minds.

Alligator Wrong Side

Doesn’t take much sometimes.    As we work and learn and think —  still, everything doesn’t fall into place, and those loose ends don’t get tucked neatly away,  not even at the end . . . .     Most of us will come to the end of our lives with not all things fitting together and making sense.

Alligator Inside Out

 

Of course,  our Maker is seeing a different pattern developing.

Alligator Right Side

Cute little alligator sweater for Cooper!

I didn’t create the pattern or write the directions for the alligator.     I needed a chart for  guidance.  I needed Guidance.

It’s very soft.     I’m using something similar to lamb’s wool.

But I myself am no smarter about life than a little lamb, soft and vulnerable, in the middle of a great green pasture.

Lamb in pasture

I didn’t make the pasture,   I didn’t even put myself here,  and I don’t know everything that I’m supposed to do here,  but my Creator is the One who, with a gentle shepherd’s hand,  made me and placed me here . . .  and watches to see what I’ll do.

Everything will be provided —

lamb and water

Delicious green grass,  water,  companionship,  and Guidance.

I don’t have to solve the problems of the whole world.       I don’t even have to anticipate everything that’s going to happen.     (“Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength . . .”   Isaiah 40:31)      Even when   Especially when I don’t understand certain things,   there will be strength to go on.

The Good Shepherd is looking down on the life He gave us, with great care and attention, so when things get complicated  we need to just “stay where he put us.”

lamb waiting

 

Although for us humans that means being active, learning, doing, walking in His ways,   and it might look like we’re making a mess,  He is seeing our pattern forming,  from the “Other Side,” so to speak,    and when He sees that we have made our choices,  for or against Him,  with or without Him,  He’ll know when our time is up —  we are who we are going to be.

 

lamb no lamb

 

—  and we’ll be taken out of this beautiful pasture Earth.

And then stand before Him . . . .

 

“REACHING UP TO SLAP GOD’S FACE”

August 13, 2017

(Pardon the slightly blasphemous metaphor —  truly  random, rambling Sunday talk today):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bozeman Trail

The whole quotation (in the title of this post)  is  spoken about a man who held himself apart from the group,  his opinions,  his rights,  a little more worthy than the others, he thought:  “Look at him,”  said Rusty Karnes under his breath, “if he could reach high enough, he’d try to  slap God’s face.” 

boseman trail

(We saw people like that in Charlottesville yesterday –  people who think they are so right that they can throw rocks,  fire, pepper spray and tear gas,  and foul liquids at those whom  they disagree with and want to silence.)  

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God does NOT change.    The world doesn’t change.   Right-and-Wrong doesn’t change.   Honor doesn’t change.   Men don’t change.    And Danger doesn’t change.

bozeman exposed

Exposed on the Bozeman Trail

We’re all mighty vulnerable in this world.    Even when we band together with a few friends and relatives,  we’re always a small band facing the forces of evil and random uncertainties that the world gives us.   It’s a humbling thought.

Bozeman single

We’re alone,  with only one guidebook and only one Church —  a thought for those who don’t intend to “slap God in the face.”

Along the Bozeman Trail you had to deal with snowstorms,  thunderstorms,  lack of shelter or water, Indian attacks, accidents with your horse or wagon wheels,   assorted outlaws and thieves waiting for their chance at you,  and the possibility of losing your way and making the wrong decisions.

I’ve crossed the Bozeman Trail several times – in my car – and I plan to do it again this month.  I’ve dealt with snowstorms,  black ice,   concern about thieves or muggers (as a woman traveling alone),   strong summer winds blowing such hot air that you feel you’re being sucked dry just trying to put gas in your tank;  and I’ve made some bad decisions about which way to go – that turned out all right.    No problem with the Sioux or Pawnee, though.

B protection

Modern times,  about a century later,  there are still perils in our world, and especially now in these times we must think clearly about our “traveling” companions in life.    That is,  who and what values and what attitudes will accompany you?

You must choose your companions wisely.   You want to be sure that the ones who are with you are true and honest and have the ability to protect you.

Bozeman Wagon box

You don’t want your “traveling companions”  to be those who are so sure of themselves that they can’t see any other point of view and cannot allow anyone to think differently;  leastwise you.    You have a right to think things through in your own way.

 

Micah 6:8  —  He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.        And what does the Lord require of you?    To act justly and to love mercy   and to walk humbly  with your God.

One way of looking at it,  there are still only two postures:    (1)    “walk humbly with your God” – or “before your God,” as some versions put it,  knowing that you don’t know everything on this journey through life but you’re on a journey to meet Him and He’s given you a Guide.   Or   (2),  try to reach up to God and tell Him you’ll do it your own way,  the “slap in the face.”

A book and a little story:

Here’s the book I’m reading –   plain, clear  thinking  in it . . .

Bitterrot Book

I might not go all the way to the Bitterroots this month,  way up north in Montana,  but I’ll remember the things I’ve learned from this book.

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Here’s the story I love to tell – and you don’t have to read through it,  I just really like to think about it:

The word “faith” is important to a lot of Christians, and the Bible tells us that the Pillar and the Foundation of our faith is the Church   (not the Bible).      Took me a while,  but I studied that Church and  understood enough to know that that’s where I belonged.

So one day,   a particular holiday that we all must recognize,  I went to church,  went to Mass, along with many hundreds of others in that church building.   Standing room only by the time I got there!   That meant kneeling on the hard stone floor for quite a while.

The crowd had pushed me, elbow to elbow, next to a man whom I recognized as the governor of our state!     There he was, kneeling on the stone floor,  next to me.   Except for a nod of recognition,  I didn’t speak,  and neither did he,  because we were both silently kneeling at that time to  the Lord Jesus,  the Son of God, Who  was present on the  altar, way far away in front of the church.

kneeling

That’s it.     That’s the story.    I disagreed with that governor on a few things,  but we seemed to be both on that same  “trail” in life,  humbling ourselves before our actual, present God.

Neither of us, nor anyone in the church that day,  appeared to be telling  God that we’ll do it our own way,  reaching  up to His face and . .  .  you know.

Our souls are safer that way.

 

July 17th

July 18, 2017

(One more thing to say, while it is still “July 17th”  somewhere in the world tonight.)
I want to pay tribute to some very dear young ladies,  innocent,  pure,  sweet, and very, very courageous.

France gave us the first example of a modern European totalitarian state.  They cried out “Liberty!  Equality!  and Fraternity!”   to make people think they were benign.  They gave us the modern terms  “Left”  and “Right”  when it comes to political opinions, and acted as though “Left”  was the only legitimate way to think.

And if they could not convince you of their arguments  (and their arguments are indefensible),  then they used the force of the law against you.

(In America this has recently shown up as:  “You don’t think the State should decide who gets health care, when,  and how much???  —  Then we’ll just write some laws and a stack of regulations six feet high that make it illegal for anyone to not have State-run health “care.”)     

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Back to France,  if you don’t agree with the State, as it formed in 1789,  then there are laws against you – enforced by the guillotine.   

You know the story.

Here are the names of the innocent young ladies,  singing sweetly, testifying to their hope in Jesus Christ alone,   all the way to the top of the stairs where they knelt down under the blade:

* Madeleine-Claudine Ledoine (Mother Teresa of St. Augustine), prioress, b. in Paris, 22 Sept., 1752, professed 16 or 17 May, 1775;

* Marie-Anne (or Antoinette) Brideau (Mother St. Louis), sub-prioress, b. at Belfort, 7 Dec., 1752, professed 3 Sept, 1771;

* Marie-Anne Piedcourt (Sister of Jesus Crucified), choir-nun, b. 1715, professed 1737; on mounting the scaffold she said “I forgive you as heartily as I wish God to forgive me”;

* Anne-Marie-Madeleine Thouret (Sister Charlotte of the Resurrection), sacristan, b. at Mouy, 16 Sept., 1715, professed 19 Aug., 1740, twice sub-prioress in 1764 and 1778;

* Marie-Antoniette or Anne Hanisset (Sister Teresa of the Holy Heart of Mary), b. at Rheims in 1740 or 1742, professed in 1764;

* Marie-Françoise Gabrielle de Croissy (Mother Henriette of Jesus), b. in Paris, 18 June, 1745, professed 22 Feb., 1764, prioress from 1779 to 1785;

* Marie-Gabrielle Trézel (Sister Teresa of St. Ignatius), choir-nun, b. at Compiègne, 4 April, 1743, professed 12 Dec., 1771;

* Rose-Chrétien de la Neuville, widow, choir-nun (Sister Julia Louisa of Jesus), b. at Loreau (or Evreux), in 1741, professed probably in 1777;

* Anne Petras (Sister Mary Henrietta of Providence), choir-nun, b. at Cajarc (Lot), 17 June, 1760, professed 22 Oct., 1786.

* Concerning Sister Euphrasia of the Immaculate Conception accounts vary. Miss Willson says that her name was Marie Claude Cyprienne Brard, and that she was born 12 May, 1736; Pierre, that her name was Catherine Charlotte Brard, and that she was born 7 Sept., 1736. She was born at Bourth, and professed in 1757;

* Marie-Geneviève Meunier (Sister Constance), novice, b. 28 May, 1765, or 1766, at St. Denis, received the habit 16 Dec., 1788. She mounted the scaffold singing “Laudate Dominum”.

In addition to the above, three lay sisters suffered and two tourières.

The lay sisters are:

* Angélique Roussel (Sister Mary of the Holy Ghost), lay sister, b. at Fresnes, 4 August, 1742, professed 14 May, 1769;

* Marie Dufour (Sister St. Martha), lay sister, b. at Beaune, 1 or 2 Oct., 1742, entered the community in 1772;

* Julie or Juliette Vérolot (Sister St. Francis Xavier), lay sister, b. at Laignes or Lignières, 11 Jan., 1764, professed 12 Jan., 1789.

The two tourières, who were not Carmelites at all, but merely servants of the nunnery were: Catherine and Teresa Soiron, b. respectively on 2 Feb., 1742 and 23 Jan., 1748 at Compiègne, both of whom had been in the service of the community since 1772.

 

I think we should remember them.  I think we should know their names.     They were somebodies’  sisters and daughters.    I think we should pay some small tribute to them,  victims  of the first  Big  Atheistic State Government in Europe.

I told their story before in The Spruce Tunnel.  You can see some pictures here in “One Last Small Song.”

Guil

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HIS LIGHT IS LIFE

July 2, 2017

(Where I am on Sundays)

There are four Gospels in the Bible, each Gospel represented by an icon:  a man, an ox,  a lion, and an eagle.

Gospel 4

At the end of every Mass we are privileged to read and to hear  the first part of chapter one of the Gospel of John.   Every Sunday, over and over.      The words we hear each Sunday demonstrate why John is the Eagle, whose thoughts soar over and above this earthly life and point us to eternal things:

John 1: 4,5  (speaking of Jesus,  the Son of God,  the Word of God, come into the world)  (4) In him was life, and the life was the light of men.     (5)   And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

His Life is the Light of men!

Heaven smaller

No other source for  our  Light-filled Life that enlivens and blesses our everlasting souls!

Made possible for us,  of course,  by the sacrificial  act of Jesus on His Cross,  which we can enter into, like refreshing nourishment for our souls  —

—  which is why I too enter into that sacrifice to the Eternal God –

ALTAR Only One Reason for the Mass

All for Him.

Sometimes there is an astonishing flood of holiness into a person during the Mass . . . a sense of that Light which Christ truly shares with us.

Verse 5  says   “. . .  and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

Of course I cannot fully comprehend what happens.

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But that is very different from the world refusing to comprehend it.

A man can live in pleasure and ignore the great Source of Light and Life.  Men can turn churches into restaurants,   but it will not go well for the  world.

Things will end badly

Things will end badly.

In darkness,  confusion,   despair,  and death.

 

Gospel 4 in glass

( You can check with this guy.)

 

 

 

A HEARTBEAT AWAY

June 9, 2017

(Blogging has given me some bad habits;   it’s created an urge to take a picture of everything and blog blab about it.)

We’re  all only a heartbeat away from a very serious crisis —

Hospital cr

Chances are you’re having  ordinary days right now;  some good days and  some bad days in which you have to deal with a flat tire,  a lost checkbook,  a missed text,   a bad attitude from a friend . . . .

Today we here in The Spruce Tunnel were struck with a very serious crisis.   Someone we love, someone so close to our family she may as well be a part of it,  someone far too young to be in critical condition,  is on a ventilator and many other machines in the photo,  seemingly  overnight.

Cause soon to be determined.

One day she is interviewing for a brand-new job;  less than two days later she’s in ICU fighting for her life.

Out of the blue,  unexpectedly, we are all reassessing our lives,  our relationships,  our loves,  and what’s really important.     We have a God-given need to make sense out of things.

And the honest quest for answers will lead back to God.

 

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Please pray for the young lady.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JANUARY 20 – LASTING IMPRESSION

January 20, 2017

From what I’ve seen and heard on this day I can’t escape the one final and lasting impression:   we have a president who seems to be genuinely proud of his country, the United States of America. 

And all it stands for.

amer-liberty

All its history.

amer-betsy

All its beauty.

amer-mountains

All its geography,  “from sea to shining sea.”.

The Moorings Village Pearl of Florida Keys resort, Islamorada Key, Florida Keys, Florida USA

All its ordinary industry and small family enterprises.

amer-seaside

All its abundance.

amer-grains

All its normal, everyday people.

amer-city

All its goodness and faith.

amer-church

All Americans.

america-all

I saw all the new people coming into the government, and they seemed to be glad and proud that they are one of us, among us.     I think they’ll do their best.

Makes me want to be a good citizen.

These new ones have their job, now, and I have mine.