Archive for the ‘Four Last Things’ category

PRAYER AND PERU — CRACKING UP

July 31, 2018

(Prayer over my sister Nancy) –

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The world around me is “cracking up.”     Jesus told us “Heaven  and Earth shall pass away but my words will never pass away. . .”       Normally, that would be comforting.

Peru crack 1

. . .  Comforting words because it means you can absolutely rely upon  the words of Jesus  (and that they have been pretty closely and faithfully passed down to us)  — but upon taking a second look,  Jesus has referred to the world “passing away.”   Not exactly rock solid ground we’re standing on.

Whether it’s the world of men we live in or the planet earth we live on,  we can’t trust that it will always remain the same.    Storms happen.   Tsunamis happen.    Tornadoes happen.   Earthquakes happen.

Here is a before/after photo of what happened this month in Peru:

peru crack 4 beforeafter

That was a pleasant, medium-size village in Peru on the left;  what’s left of it after the earth cracked apart on the right.

Peru crack 2

A close-up of one of the fissures.    In case you haven’t been paying attention,  there have been cracks and fissures in the earth all over our planet in recent years, happening with increasing frequency.    Sometimes they are preceded by immense  groans and howls and roaring noises from deep in the earth;  sometimes the strange sounds are reflected up into the atmosphere.

peru crack 3

The surface, the ground we stand on seems to be undergoing “some changes.”

My yard seems to be okay right now.

But not my life,  not  my world,  not the people in the world around me.   Because of what happened to my body in Florida,  I now have to see a doctor — that is an earthquake of a change for me,  one that keeps me up at night.  But enough of that.

Our dear young Friend (in Son’s life),  our dear young Friend M.,  must undergo surgery for a rather serious cancer.   This week.    We just found out.     Her health is no longer “firm ground” to be counted on, though she is so very young.

“Fissures”  and incisions:

Operating theater

 

Son is on his way to Florida to close out family business after my sister’s death.  We are her only surviving family.     Sorrow that he just missed seeing her alive.   Uncertainty, as he closes out her house,  makes thousands of little decisions,  meets new people,   perhaps attends a memorial service among people he doesn’t know — oh, yes, and all this in the extreme heat and unusual traffic patterns in that crowded little city, hopefully being able to afford a somewhat unplanned-for trip.

And worst of all —

plane off he goes

—  worst of all, he’s not driving.

I didn’t know it would happen,  but when you become a mother of a son,  every thought and action of that son,  every event,  every experience, good and bad,   squirms around in the mother’s heart.       What happens to him happens to me. *

Because I have a son,   I now understand the relationship between Our Lady,  the Virgin Mary,  and her son,  Jesus.     Even more  “better,”  I understand the Gospel  —   the Annunciation, Birth,  Passion, and Death,  Resurrection,  Ascension, etc.  of Jesus,  (almost) through the eyes and heart of His mother.

Both Rosary mine 70men and women who experience the prayers and meditations in the Rosary have been moved deeply,   broken,  during prayer;  broken,  fractured in their spirits,  cracked apart by the actions of the Holy Spirit,  in the process of being shown new insights,  and growing.     The rosary  can move you to a meltdown,   in today’s  vocabulary.

So —  sister,  son,  young friend,  and me:   my whole world cracks apart around me.   I’m standing on . . .  what?   What to trust?  What to count on?

In the last post I promised you I’d copy down the Last Words that my sister Nancy heard on this planet earth.   I have the permission of the speaker of those words now – with the condition that I do not give him credit for the words,  but that he was only speaking words from heaven that came through him..

Therefore,  these are God’s loving, comforting, encouraging  words to a dying person:

The . . . hospice nurse had the curtain closed, the lights dimmed and a soft, sweet, relaxing aroma in the air.  From Nancy’s ragged breathing and posture, we knew she was close to her journey.  I calmly reassured her that she has no unfinished business here.  (I)  am . . . good, (My Son)   is good, M.    is getting her treatments, Dusty has a home, it is only up to her.  It is okay to stop fighting, to go and join Jesus.  I know she could hear me, she just couldn’t respond.  So I read Psalm 122 to her.  Talked to her and stroked her forehead a bit, then read Psalm 23.   I prayed private prayers of encouragement to her, assuring her that everything she had learned as a faithful servant is true.  Jesus is waiting for you.  He won’t grab you and pull you, He will wait for you to reach out to Him.  There is no need to fight or be in fear of leaving the pain to go to the joy and peace Jesus promises us.  He is God and God keeps all his promises.  The only fear we have as Christians is that of leaving what we know and have lived, for something we cannot touch or even understand.  This, Nancy, is the ultimate display of your faith.  One day you will see all of us again.  And you will see all your friends and relatives who passed before you.

 

Oh, my.    Deep fissures and cracking apart again as I reread that.    Amidst all the uncertainties and during all the “bad” events in our lives,   the Good God does break in and show us that He is there, waiting for us to turn to Him.

Like the Prodigal Son,  there comes a time when we must  “come to our senses.”

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Please.  You have a soul that is everlasting.   You   ( your soul, your whole you)  are on a journey from this life to the next.    Read the words again . . .  that is the pathway that is Solid Ground.   It won’t crack apart and disappoint.

bar dissolve er

.*   Son is quite capable.  He is strong and intelligent and has resourcefulness and equanimity that will see him through.    I’ve no doubt.     But —  he’s still . . .  vulnerable.

 

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THE BOOK OF LIFE AND OTHER BOOKS

July 27, 2018

All time seems to be suspended.  Or all activity suspended while my sister in Florida struggles to die.

Death nis a Feather Rising

It doesn’t always come quickly.    Sometimes it’s a days-long process.   That little white feather rises upwards ever so slowly.

It flutters back down, rests awhile,  then flutters up again.   One time it will just keep rising.

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Though my sister has expressed her wish to have known different things,  known more,  done more,  made different choices,  still her life could fill a book, just as all our lives could be written into a book.

Horses would figure prominently in my sister’s life.

Nancy and Dusty 380

Nancy and Dusty

This photo was taken just a few years ago.  Nancy had always had horses.    I guess she got it from our Mom:

Mom on Horses 325

Nancy and our Mom on horseback,  both looking like teenagers.

There is much more to Nancy’s life, written in her Book.   It’s like the Book that is being kept on all of us —

book of life

A  “book” is a good metaphor for the record we are making while we live here on earth.  A record book that will be used in our Final Accounting.  And we hope we are written in the Book of Life.

Our lives not only could be written in a book,  our lives are being written in a “Book.”

We have been watched all our lives —

been watched

If our eyes were opened,  if the veil could be lifted from our eyes,  we would be able to see the spiritual world which permeates our physical world,  all around us and through and through.

Nothing is hidden from that spiritual world.

Of course our misdeeds and unkindnesses are not hidden,  but so too are all the other aspects of our lives an open  “book”  to our Creator and to all the intelligences of that spiritual realm,  including what we call the angels.   Nothing  hidden, good and bad.

It is a good idea to think about “writing”  a “book” about your life.    You could write it and rewrite it,  many times, until it feels right and until you know yourself and until you feel ready for your own Judgment.     Be prepared.

God is love —  but He is just.     You will stand before Love and Justice.

“Search me, O God . . . ”     Prove me, O God, and know my heart: examine me, and know my paths.    And  see if there be in me the way of iniquity: and lead me in the eternal way.    (Psalms  138:  23, 24  — or Psalms 139 in the Jewish numbering)

My sister Nancy’s book is just about all written.     She is nearly out of time to make amendments.

But that’s what our “Book” is for.    You are not the person you were years ago,  weeks ago, days ago —   you are only the person you are at this moment.     You have time to write your  Book the way you really want it to be when you return to your Creator in the  next life.

And I thank my sister for teaching me this lesson.

Angel sad 75

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THE NIGHT OF THE 39 CROWNS

March 10, 2018

(Story time):

I’ll try to do this story with a lot of pictures, but this happened before cameras . . .  and it’s only a side story to the main one,a story about one witness.

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“It was a dark and stormy night…”   Actually it was an eerie cold winter night, when the darkness is deep.   Like this:

NIGHT Pond 370

I woke up one night,  restless, and looked out my window at the snow and ice.  The night felt strange, and the “strange”  dark spots on my pond fed my imagination  that something was not “the same.”    Things can feel different in the middle of the night!

(They say, if only the Veil could be removed from our “eyes,”  we would be able to see the spiritual activity around us, the energy,  the forces,  the beings  and what they are doing, right now, to affect us.  When we partially perceive this spiritual world, it feels  eerie like something weird and other-worldly is nearby.)

40 spirits

On this night,  March 10,  “a little while ago,”  40 soldiers of the Roman army stood naked on the ice in the middle of a small lake.   Only a few torches lit the scene around a frosty little lake.   Strange enough!

What were those 40 men doing there?   After all,  they had been loyal soldiers of the Roman army.

40 const

(A necessary bit of history, especially for those of you who have been taught that the  Constantine,a pagan,  made Christianity the official religion of the Empire — which he didn’t;  and to make Christianity more acceptable,  he mingled pagan practices with what was left of the Christian  teachings,   thereby corrupting Christianity and causing  “The Great Apostasy”  (that actually never was).

 It didn’t happen.   (Constantine pretty much remained a pagan all his life,  being baptized as a heretic, not a  Christian,   just before he died.)   In fact,  shortly after that Edict of Constantine – which did happen – the other Ruler of the Empire more forcefully imposed his version of pagan religion onto vast areas under his rule.  

One needed to have a lot of courage to be a Christian (then —  and now, I  think too).

40 chr sold

These 40 soldiers in one of his armies in Asia Minor happened to be Christian, and after they had refused to honor the gods with a little pinch of incense on a little statue, they were arrested,  they were stripped naked in the cold winter air,  some accounts say flogged   —

40 for the whip

— and then forced to stand on the ice in the middle of the little lake until they froze to death.

At the edge of the lake was a steaming bathhouse,  promising warmth and safety to any of the soldiers who changed their mind and would renounce their faith in Christ.  If they were willing to publicly reject Christ  Jesus,  they could be comfortably warm and live on.

Many hundreds stood around to watch the execution:  fellow soldiers, families, and local village people.    It was a public execution, meant to instill fear of the government into  the people.

40 naked frieze

But in the darkness of night things got “eerie,”  as I said.    One man,  Aglaius,  was awake,  keeping guard over the prisoners, naked and bleeding,  huddled together on the ice in the middle of the lake.

As Aglaius watched.  he saw the first man falter, and break,  and run to the bathhouse.   Just as that man reached the doorway of then bathhouse, with its promise of relief,  he died.

40 naked

It was something to make you think.

And that’s when the night sky above Aglaius changed.  It revealed spiritual beings  holding 39 crowns, one for each of the soon-to-be martyrs.
And Aglaius was thinking.

40 crown and crown

What do these crowns mean?     The crown of the Christ these soldiers worship was made of thorns,  but the crowns the angels held were looked like shining golden crowns –  full of light and glory,  suitable for Heaven.

And why start out with 40 soldiers?     In the ancient world as well as in the biblical world, “40”  signifies  “Enough!”   Time enough or deeds enough  or  people enough to accomplish the intentions of God for that purpose.     It is completeness, a full testimony.

But now the angels brought only 39 crowns.

Aglaius  was deeply moved by the absence of one crown.    Whatever he had heard about Christ before,  whatever he had seen in Christian behavior and honor and love,  whatever he had learned about Christianity,  now worked inside of him touching his spirit, and he responded  to the spiritual aid that always comes down to us —
In a sudden, firm act of his will,   Aglaius bolted!    He ran toward the lake,.    Tearing off his clothes he proclaimed his faith in Jesus Christ and joined the martyrs.

Now Forty martyrs are crowned this day.

40 heaven giving crown

 

Not 39.  Not almost a strong testimony to Jesus Christ.     But the faith of these soldiers stand as a full, complete witness to the absolute Faith in Christ –  which saves.

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St John in his Revelation saw martyrs arrayed  in a privileged position around the Throne of God.     They were doing two things:

They were “casting down”  their golden crowns before the feet of Jesus Who alone had made their home in Heaven possible.

40 casting

Martyrdom is not the only way to gain a Golden Crown,  but the way in this world is difficult and sometimes dangerous.     Today, all over the world,  it is often dangerous.

The second thing the martyrs around the Throne of God were doing was praying, begging, interceding:  How long, O Lord,  how long —   “And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?”  (in the Apocalypse, chapter 6, verse 10)

There are things you can do to bring honor to Christ.        There are things you can do, however, to diminish the honor of Christ.    Join the Christian soldiers on the icy lake – and pray for the gift of Final Preservation!

March 10th.   An important day of instruction and remembrance.

 

Many around the world still remember in churches and monasteries.

40 bulgaria

  Church of the 40  Holy Martyrs,  Bulgaria.

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FOURTH SHORTS – Two Sets of Rules

July 4, 2017

A short little observation since I’ve had some  free time to get caught up on news reading  . . .

Although this is old news.

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We cannot have Rulers over us if there is only one set of rules.     Rulers don’t obey our rules.    This is the Fourth of July  —  and yet our Rulers think we will obey without question.

 

jRulers say J

“You must NOT build that wall.”

(That wall that would reduce the steady stream of invaders across our southern border.)

“But I can.”

O Wall

 

It seems our Rulers and we,  both,   understand the word “protection.”

flag

 

The  ideals of America offer equal protection before the Law.

The  promise of America  is  that all are treated equally,  even those who have been elected to office to serve for a time.

It’s not just a matter of political concern  that we’ve been too easy-going to preserve our freedoms.   It’s a religious matter as well.   “Spiritual,”  if you prefer.   Just as we are all brothers because we have the same Father,   so is it true that all of us will be judged by the same God and Father of us all,  in the same Judgment,  by the same measure.

That is true equality.

That is true integrity:  living your civil life as you do your spiritual life.

Anything less is insanity.

 

THIN ICE BENEATH OUR FEET

March 5, 2017

I woke up one day this week to this:

thin-ice

Thin ice!   We had thick ice earlier this winter,  a little bit of ice skating was possible,  but then we had a thaw . . .  and  then a slight re-freezing.     A little later that day the cold continued and the ice had completely closed up over the water.

But it was still thin ice.    I looked at it often that day and thought about that “one last heartbeat”   between us being alive – and then we’re dead.   A very thin boundary it seems between us and our final destiny:   “up,”  as we say,  or “down.”

Some of us, the Bible says,  will have to “pass through the fire” ;   the things we have done here in this life will be tried and tested , and the worthless things burned up out of us,  before we can go “up.”   .*

It is with a kind of wry  humor that I’m reminded of this every time I go to Mass or to class,  because I have to pass through the smoke    . . .  of burning heat below my feet!

purg-0

The city steam  pipes below the sidewalk are vented right near the entrance to our church!

In our art work, down through the centuries,  painters have shown  that the location of Purgatory is right below us,  right below the altar during a Mass;  so how funny that the smoke of Purgatory seems to be vented right nearby!

purg-2

 

And someone in the city decided that this would be a good opportunity for the children to display some artwork   . . .

purg-3

 

Except I don’t think they called upon young painters who understand much about the Four Last Things:  Death. Judgment.  Heaven.  Hell.

purg-4

Yeah,  maybe bad language is one of those things that will need to be “tried by fire” –  the hay, straw, stubble of their lives.

I thought it was  ironically funny,   but someone must have complained,  because one day I walked by and the steampipe was rather plain:

purg-5-new

The “pipe of purgatory”  had been “purged.”

One can find humor anywhere, I think,  as long as we take care of the major things,  have it all settled between us and God,  all, all, all settled;  and then do the right things.  Then you’re so free to enjoy life as it comes to you — and to see the love and joy and humor all around.

It’s soon becoming Sunday here in the Far North,  so I’ll leave you with one last picture that shows how   this all  works together.

suffering-and-fruits-of-mass-260

God the Creator,  Our Father, started it all;  the Son sacrificed His life for us,  which is made present to us at every Mass;   and every Mass touches Eternity and all the angels and saints in  Eternity.

And the souls in Purgatory,  beneath the altar,  are being made ready.

suffering-hand-in-purgatory

 

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. *  Found in:  I Corinthians 3:11-15    –    (A life of  …  gold, silver, precious stones?  Or  wood, hay, stubble:)      [13] Every man’ s work shall be manifest; for the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire; and the fire shall try every         man’ s work, of what sort it is. [14] If any man’ s work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. [15] If any man’ s work burn, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire. 

 

 

 

“Up” is unimaginable, indescribable good things that God has prepared for us;   and down is the pain of forever being “out.”    As I wrote  before,  intense pain,  like a physical pain, like a fire.

And it’s also one heartbeat below us,  waiting for us.

 

 

THE END.

November 20, 2016

I’m beginning to like my fuzzy moon pictures.   They have an interesting . . .  charm.

moon-lines

“Moon lines.”  Looks like a black and white Jupiter on edge.

I’ve got some “end of the year” resolutions to take care of soon.    I’ve got to accept my good friend’s offer to teach me something about photography.  Then I have to install my new editing software so I can do useful things with the photos.

I’ve got to get serious about  getting my summer and fall clothes packed away and my winter clothes out and ready —  and sewn!

sewing

I need a couple new vests.  Here’s fuzzy black velvety one almost made.  I had to create the yellow tissue paper pattern so the vest will come out with the right shape and length.   The sewing up will go fast but I need to bring  this  winter wardrobe issue  to an end.

I need to do the end-of-the-year holiday planning,  company,  decorating,  parties.

Lots of things are coming to an end now.   Autumn chores.   NASCAR.  Football season.

You can learn a lot about life from football –

end-at-the-end-zone

After all,  the whole game is a series of drives and the goal is getting to the  “end”  zone.     (The Bears made it this time!!)

And today we arrived at another end,  the end of the Liturgical Year:

lit-yr

We’ve come full circle, and have finished up the green patch at about 11:00, or 11:30.   11:59, actually.      Next Sunday we will be in the blue.

It’s an orderly way of keeping track of time,  which at the same time instructs us in keeping track of  our journey  throughout the year, with Our Savior,   as the major events of our Faith unfold,  one after the other.

It’s like a circular timeline.     And when we reach the end of the year,   the 11:59, so to speak,  it’s appropriate to think more on   those all-important “Four Last Things”  which we all will confront, at the “end”  of our time on earth.

I’m sure you’ve thought of them throughout the year,  perhaps without even realizing that these are “end time considerations” that are common to all.    The Four Last Things are:  Death.    Judgment.     Heaven.     Hell.

Obviously,  we’ll be intimately caught up in only three of those Four Last Things.

We all have common experiences with these things.

Death.    Perhaps you’ve known someone who has died this past year.  Or almost.    Or perhaps you had a close brush with death.    What might have, could have happened, if you didn’t get lucky.

Judgment.    Those twinges of guilt,  self-judgment,  an “oops, I shouldn’t have done that.”       All fundamentally pointing to the existential certainty that we will experience our last and final judgment.   Perhaps you think it will be a glorified self-judgment.   But,  nevertheless,  the judgment will result in . . .

Hell.     Perhaps.    You probably heard Hell referenced at least a few times during this past year without really thinking about it.  Someone nearby curses:  “Oh,  Hell!”    “Damn!”    It’s a curse word because . . .  well,  it’s a curse that is a reality.    It’s just that we don’t often “think about it.”   Why is the entire human race so “fallen”?    So damned?

Heaven.    A hoped-for glorious End,  but one which we’re entirely incapable of producing by ourselves.

Incapable:     Remember the miners in South America who were trapped by a massive cave-in?   All escape routes solidly blocked.   They had little water,  very little food,  no electricity, no light. 33 men trapped deep below ground.  And they were incapable of getting out of there.

They had no way of knowing that a multi-national effort was underway to attempt to reach them.   

But weeks went by.  Weeks with not enough provisions, not much oxygen.  

How do you think they passed that time, knowing they could not help themselves out of that deepest, darkest pit?

69 days later!   It took 69 days to reach them,  and miraculously  all the men were still alive.

Help had come from Above, by means of which the miners did not have,  by efforts that the miners were incapable of accomplishing.     Can you imagine how beautiful the sunlight must have seemed to them?      And they saw the Light and lived again!

The Fourth Last Thing:    Heaven.     Available for us,  by means of the Cross reaching down to us and reaching out wide to all mankind.

Advent,  next Sunday,  begins that process.