Archive for the ‘Holy Days’ category

A “41” IN THE 4TH CENTURY

December 7, 2018

It’s just a couple days after eyewitnesses gave testimony to the (hitherto) hidden virtues of George Herbert Walker Bush, a Christian (of the American style).    Whether intrigued or astonished,  the many anecdotes from this man’s life inspires Americans with an open mind, and an open heart.

You’d remember the adjectives:  kind, gentle, generous,  giving,  good,  decent,  true friend, loyal,  self-effacing,  and also competent, smart, ambitious, competitive,  constant,  courageous, and unchanging in his beliefs.   .   .  all this with a firm faith in Christ.

He is known as “Bush 41,”  the 41st president of our country.   We of his contemporaries know him well;  his enemies know him far less well,  (but that’s all right.   Negative people have closed minds and will not accept any new thing outside of their safe enclosure).

I’ve almost missed December 6th.  I knew what it was, but I got too busy to visit up here in The Spruce Tunnel.  Sorry about that.    There is an important  Feast Day on December 6th,  an important and noteworthy man to celebrate, to be intrigued by, to be astonished by, and to learn about with an open heart:

 

St Nicholas

It is St. Nicholas of Myra.    He lived mostly in the 4th century, and as the title of this posting hints at,   he has much in common with Bush 41 —  although I don’t mean to imply that they are of the same kind,   simply  that there are similarities.    Bush 41 will never become a saint;  St. Nicholas became a saint for many, many reasons.

The most commonly known deeds of St. Nicholas  is his generous giving  of dowries to three young sisters, whose lives would be ruined without his largess.

 

Here is an image of him, in his bishop’s robes,  shown with three bags of gold:

gold image

Each of those three “bags” of gold, given anonymously to each of the three young sisters, when each had achieved the age to be married, saved the sisters, one by one,  from a life of wretched poverty or immorality.

This ancient act of generosity gives rise, through the twists and turns of historical customs,   to the use of three golden balls as the universal sign of a Pawn Shop!

gold pawn

But I’ve written about that many times before in Decembers’ postings.

There is so much more to his life than this act of anonymous generosity!!   He had been giving away his money to needy people all his life.   His way of life was generosity!  He did not hold back money, nor time, attention, prayers,  counsel, admonition, nor his love.

And he was beloved, in his times, in return.

He appeared to emperors and governors, to set them on a more correct course,   to soften their hand, and to release prisoners unjustly imprisoned.    He appeared to many others, to heal them, and once, excitedly reported by eyewitnesses,  raised a man who had died —   I wish we knew more of this story:

Once,  a prosperous and devout Jewish man had much of his fortune stolen from him.    The thief, as luck would have it, died soon after.     St. Nicholas, as bishop, was made aware of the theft, and came to that city.   The outcome of St. Nicholas’ attention is that the thief was raised from the dead,  confessed,  received forgiveness, and  gave back the money.  the Jewish man . . .  converted to the Catholic faith,  a miracle also.

And once, Mariners who were caught in  a terrible  life-threatening storm appealed to St. Nicholas for help, knowing his virtues and his close life with God .    They attributed   the sudden calming of the sea to their appeal and to his intercession.

 

oil

One more thing to mention here:   After St. Nicholas was buried in the city which loved him as their bishop,  there came from his tomb a kind of oil, or clear liquid,  which had a lovely smell and which applied to people who were very ill, cured the diseases.

And this went on for many, many centuries.   His bones have been moved,  dug up and moved and re-packaged (or whatever they do)  and yet the bones themselves after almost 17 centuries still give off some kind of clear liquid,  not a lot  (about 50 ml. per year).    A clear liquid with healing properties.   “Clearly”  a holy liquid.

 

The life of St. Nicholas is not, however, centered on physical health,  but on spiritual health.   The revelation by God to us of His existence as a Trinity,  implied in the Old Testament,  more explicit in the New,   made necessary a striving after understanding of what Trinity means.

Bishop Nicholas of Myra was one of the 318 bishops who gathered at Nicaea to affirm the Triune nature of God, and more importantly the dual natures of the Son of God the Second Person of the Trinity,  one in Substance,  but two in Natures:  human and divine.

Thus was affirmed   the  teaching that the Virgin Mary is Mother of Jesus,  Mother of the Christ,  Mother of God,  who is both Man and God.

The salvation of souls was St.Nicholas’s primary concern.    But he worked through his own kinder, gentler, attentive,  generous,  loving actions to give us an example to follow.

What a wonderful way to begin our Christmas thoughts — 

gifts

“For God so loved the world that he  gave . . . .”\.

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A LITTLE GIRL AND AN OLD MAN

April 21, 2018

Ark in Heaven

(Revelation 11:19 – 12:1)   

I’ve observed that the new, modern version of the Church doesn’t seem to present the saints very well,  nor to teach us the important things they  have for us.    We shouldn’t lose knowledge of them,  because then we really will be “orphans of history.” 

They are there.

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bernadette youngLast Monday we remembered a young, ordinary, unimportant, not well-educated,  poor and unhealthy French girl named Bernadette.   Bernadette Soubirous.*         And today  we remember a very well-educated and venerable old man who defied kings and wrote books  which we still read and marvel at today.    He is St. Anselm  (Anselm du Bec). anselm

As I read  (re-read)   some of his writings today I was amazed at how much I’d forgotten what it was that he taught.     I knew this stuff but I forgot that I knew it – and it’s important “stuff.”  ( Pardon my vernacular.)     It’s not old age.   It’s just . . .  well, one thing is I’ve put so much other “stuff”  into my brain, so much unworthy stuff  that  there was nothing to build upon from St. Anselm’s writings.   (mea culpa)

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Besides being canonized saints, what do these two –  separated by 800 years! –  have in common?

St. Anselm,  amidst all his sanctity, his learning and writing and teaching,  his exemplary life and holding firm against  two kings of England  who tried to exert their legal control over religion  —    amidst all that he received insight and firm knowledge about the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Mother of God, and he advocated for a feast day of celebration for that attribute of Mary.

St. Bernadette,  in 1858,  amidst all her poverty and ill-health, and ignorance received knowledge of the Immaculate Conception in a series of visions, or visitations.    I do not say she received “insight,”  because she had no idea what those words even meant,  but her own Church authorities were amazed that she spoke of something which the Church had just recently defined  into safe and secure, understandable dogma,  something she could not have known or understood.       The vision she received confirmed the Truth of this teaching.

Ark with HS present

The Church has always believed that Mary,  conceiving the Son of God in her womb by the action of  the Holy Spirit of God,  was herself created, made, constructed, conceived in such a way  so as to be the only human able  to hold the Body of Christ from His own conception to birth.

Constructed of fine, beautiful acacia wood and covered with pure gold,   untouchable from then on by human hands  (upon pain of death;  see Uzzah’s experience)   and containing those foreshadowings of God:  the Word,  the Bread,  and the Staff budding with Life —     again,  never to be touched by man,  Ever-Virgin   —  **

This is the Immaculate Conception that we remember, a couple thousand years later,  because the full meaning is still impacting us today,  and whether we are wise and learned  or   uneducated and rather ordinary,    we belong to those succeeding generations of  “two thousand years later, ”  of which Mary spoke:

“Behold, all generations shall call me Blessed.”

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. *    This is the same Bernadette Soubirous who had her vision at Lourdes, the source, now, of a fountain of physical and spiritual healing:

lourdes

 

.  **   The Ark of the Covenant was a foreshadowing,  a Type, of the Virgin Mary.

holy of holies

The Jewish people of the Old Testament  venerated the Ark with fear and awe at its power and the glory that came from it (at times) and treated it with utmost respect,  respectfully concealing it  from the eyes of worshipers behind the veil of the Holy of Holies,  because of what was inside the Ark..

 

 

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A short excerpt from a sermon by St. Anselm  (Oratio #52)   as an example of his writing, for you:

 

To Mary God gave his only-begotten Son, whom he loved as himself. Through Mary God made himself a Son, not different but the same, by nature Son of God and Son of Mary. The whole universe was created by God, and God was born of Mary. God created all things, and Mary gave birth to God. The God who made all things gave himself form through Mary, and thus he made his own creation. He who could create all things from nothing would not remake his ruined creation without Mary.
God, then, is the Father of the created world and Mary the mother of the re-created world. God is the Father by whom all things were given life, and Mary the mother through whom all things were given new life. For God begot the Son, through whom all things were made, and Mary gave birth to him as the Savior of the world. Without God’s Son, nothing could exist; without Mary’s Son, nothing could be redeemed.
Truly the Lord is with you, to whom the Lord granted that all nature should owe as much to you as to himself.

(“Hail,  Full-of-Grace,  the LORD is with you . . .” )   (spoken by the Angel Gabriel as recorded in the Bible by St. Luke)

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QUASIMODO SUNDAY – BEGINNINGS

April 9, 2018

Actual Christians are Quasimodo today:

So many times in the Spruce Tunnel I’ve written about the meaning of this Sunday,  this Octave Day of Easter. *    It’s not named for the happy singing hunchback of Hollywood musical fame:

quasim

That cartoon character doesn’t even faithfully portray the hunchback in the classic Victor Hugo  novel,   which is, by the way, worth reading for the insights into human behavior and motivations that a reader gets.

The true origin of that ugly abandoned baby’s name is the fact that he was dropped off at the door of Notre Dame cathedral  on  Quasimodo Sunday.     Might as well name him for the holy day upon which he was found.

But there is something in common with that day and that baby:   Certain qualities of newborn babies are also experienced by those who come into the Church, throwing in their lot, their safety, their future with Christ.   Both the baby and the Christian receive a new beginning in life,  and both have a hunger and a thirst to find out more about this new life.

Jesus,  the Crucified and Risen One,  has the power to give  new, clean, “innocent,” wonderful full Life that lasts for ever.  Everything  is changed in a person’s life;  everything has meaning and importance; the person understands his actually worth and dignity;  the person knows beyond a doubt that he is loved, forever.

teacher

The Church opens every Mass with a prayer called the Introit.   From ancient times, today’s Introit  begins with the words   ” Quasi modo géniti infántes allelúia . . . “      (Or:  ** Just as newborn babies,  desire sincere  (rational,  health-giving)  milk . . .  ( teaching from God which  is the Word of God).

Okay,  lots in there,  but it’s in this prayer we’re reminded that once we believe in God, we need to act like it;  we need to nurture our faith,  hungrily taking in everything we can possibly learn about God, “just as a newborn babies” greedily suck down that life-giving milk.

The Word, the milk,  give strength as well as growth.

It’s not something you can safely  disregard.    Things are going to get bad,  really bad, in the world according to some.    We’re going to need all the strength we can get —  because our Faith has to endure until the end of our lives.    At each moment,  if you’re not on your way to Heaven,  chances are  you’re not going to be “on the way”  at the last moment of your life either.   

 

 

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.*     You can use the Search engine here and type in Quasimodo for fuller explanations.  Here are a couple Spruce Tunnels on this day:

https://thesprucetunnel.wordpress.com/2017/04/25/the-hunchback-has-his-day/

https://thesprucetunnel.wordpress.com/2010/04/11/quasimodo-sunday/

 

.**     The Introit is from I Peter 2:2 in the Bible

 

 

 

 

 

THE DRESS CODE FOR HEAVEN

March 30, 2018

 

“Nothing impure will ever enter (Heaven).”

She was there, at His birth:

Mary and child

She was there, all the way until His death:

Mary at the cross

And in between,  she made Him a robe, without seams:

Mary sewing

She was present throughout his life, at Nazareth, during His teaching ministry,     then during his sacrificial work at the end.    Jesus wore that robe, that seamless garment,  so rich in symbols and meaning.

He wore it all the way to the Cross, where He didn’t need material garments anymore.

lots

But the soldiers who kept watch around the crucifieds that day thought it was a shame to tear up the seamless garment so each could  take their share of it;     so they  “cast lots,”  with dead men’s knuckle bones,  pierced with holes.

 “Dice,” today.     A gamble with fate.     A foreshadowing of  Pascal’s wager. 

And one of the soldiers won possession of that seamless garment.   He represents us,  all human beings; using our money for a soldier’s entertainment:  drinking,  gambling,   buying women  . . .

Well, maybe this list:    eating and drinking for pleasure,    going from one entertainment to another,   annoyed when something doesn’t please us;   finding friends that make us feel good about ourselves;    finding ways to distract ourselves from the serious issues of Life.

And all of us deep in familiar, enjoyable sinning.

The Robe

This is the kind of  a man who placed that Seamless Garment upon himself.

The famous movie called The Robe may be only a sentimental romantic notion,  but beyond that,  we see the undeniable supernatural qualities that so affected the Centurion.

The Seamless Garment  represents the holy covering of Christ,  just as an artist would represent His holiness by drawing a halo around His head.      The Divine qualities of God,  His Holiness, Goodness, Peace,  Sacrificial Love,  Everlasting Life . . . ,   represented in that Seamless Garment,  is meant to cover us with  Christ’s righteousness and justice and penetrate our Selves, without separation or seam, so that we can be made worthy candidates for heaven.

The soldier who won the garment is us.     The Holy Love of God which it brings is meant for us.

So, yes, there is a kind of Dress Code for entering heaven.   You are admitted   (to that everlasting Banquet)  if you wear the correct clothing,  which is that  Seamless Garment,  put on by that sinful soldier representing us and our possibilities,  and which makes us a completely new person,  fit for Heaven:

The book of the Apocalypse,  Revelation,    21:27     tells us about Heaven:  “Nothing impure (or unclean)  will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

We can be sure that is possible;  Jesus’ last words on His Cross were:

“It is consummated.” 

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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LENT BEGINS WITH A SWORD

February 5, 2018

(The season of Lent begins with the contemplation of a Sword):

I didn’t write about this right away, and then I left another related issue unfinished – so I’ll have to tie up some loose ends today;  rather important loose ends.

It’s starts with a Prediction and a Sword.

roman sword

This is a Roman gladiator’s sword,  used around the time of the Prediction.    It’s meant to kill by piercing . . . .

A few days ago,  February 2nd, we remembered the events when the Child Jesus (Infant)  was brought into the great Temple at Jerusalem and certain sacrifices and  rites were performed according to the Law.

old prophet  Living in Jerusalem at the time was a man named Simeon,  an old man who visited the Temple every day with a special desire – to see the long-promised Messiah.   He had a long, long wait,  a lifetime of waiting expectantly.     When he saw the Holy Infant Jesus,  he knew immediately  – internally –  that this was the Messiah.

He adored.  He thanked God.  And he had a revelation that shook him with the power of its inspiration.    He saw here before him  a  contradiction of Israel’s expectations.   “This child is marked out to produce the Fall and the Rising of many in Israel.”

That’s one way to put it.  “He came unto His own and His own received Him not – but as many as received Him,  He gave power to become the sons of God, even to them who believe on His name.”   

But then the sword came into play.   Old Simeon looked at the Mother and said –  And thy own soul,  a sword shall pierce,  so that out of many hearts, thoughts shall be revealed.”   (Luke 2:35)

And this Mary pondered:

sword pierced with asword

Truly, a mother feels her son’s every pain.  Every disappointment, every slight,  every indignity, every unfairness,   every time he is misunderstood, rejected, and hurt . . .  even unto death.

Mary had a few more years to “ponder,” the birth of her Son, her Savior,   but soon, three decades later,  she would start in motion the events that would  lead to the Passion of this Christ, her Son.

She had brought to Him the needs of the people at the wedding in Cana –  and for a moment He asked her “what does this mean to you and to me?”   And she went ahead anyway   —   Every love and joy would be accompanied by a sword in her heart.

So much to ponder each February 2nd.     Around that time we enter into the three Sundays that anticipate Easter:  Septuagesiman,  Sexagesima,  and Quinquagesima.    That is,  Seventy and Sixty and Fifty days before, and then starts the Forty Days before – the Forty Days we call Lent.

The three Sundays are like taking a deep breath before the serious  ponderments of Lent.

No Christian would not consider the seriousness of these next few weeks.

 

 

FRIDAY’S “SCHEDULE”

February 2, 2018

 

In ascending order of importance to us as individual souls:

February 2nd –      Ground Hog Day, of course.

Groundhog

Restless last night, so I got to hear the report from  Gobbler’s Nob right as it was first announced.   (Guess they call that “morning.”   It’s going to be a long day without sleep.)  And so, according to the Prognosticator from Pennsylvania,    (one of his official titles) our winter will be –  six weeks longer.

“Thanks”  from the Far North where it is current  9  degrees, with snow predicted all weekend.    At least we were also told that the Ground Hog is right 39% of the time.

football happy

February 2nd –  Time to be thinking about what to have for your Super Bowl experience, whether it’s a party or simply private enjoyment before a fireplace and a big screen.      corn Looking at email newsletters from Kraft,  all grocery store flyers,  and I suppose television ads,  you’d  think there was only one meal, ahead of us!

I have my favorite team.   Predicted to win by four points, and it’s not the underdog.  I hope those prognosticators have a better than 39% record.

statue

February 2nd –    The day of the publication of the Summary of wrongdoings and questionable practices in the collusion between the Justice Dept. and the political appointees at the FBI,  erroneously called The Memo.

Who is it that famously said  governments fall from within?     Well known to historians is the fact that  republics last an average of 200 years.

I hope we Americans can prove both “prognostications”  wrong.

dec

Are we serious about this?   Are we happy that we Americans are (supposed to be)  self-governing?  That means self-correcting too.   Read what it says:  we have the DUTY  to overturn our government if it becomes a tyranny.    It’s our responsibility to be on the watch for signs that it is becoming a tyranny.    (Lois Lerner anyone?  Weaponizing the IRS against the political enemies of the radical Left?)

We have plenty of catching up to do.

February 2nd –  A busy day in Christendom!   It’s Candlemas today.   Candles are blessed in church today, a token of our acknowledgement that something Supernatural and Sacred is possible and existent in our world.

presentationThe Presentation at the Temple,  Jesus and Mary.     

Yes,  it’s an actual, historical event.

Mary has given birth 40 days ago, and this is the day she presents herself at the temple for the formal end of her  ritual seclusion from public and religious activities.

(Can you imagine how kind and gentle it is to allow  (to require) a woman who has just given birth to stay at home,  rest,  recover,  and have time to bond with her new child?!

When my Filipina friends told me how kindly the Christian culture there treated their new mothers,  I nearly cried for joy.   How they honor the one who labored to bring new life into this world!

Do not let the God-haters tell you that women who give birth are shamed and isolated and are looked down upon as “unclean” (as American s understand that word)  until some “white male priest declares her all right again.   Rather,  this whole ritual is an affirmation of the sacredness of the whole, process of the co-creaion of  a new human being.

The second thing that happened back then   – that we remember, for our instruction –  is that Jesus was presented to the Temple –  with a sacrifice of a lamb and a little bird.  Id you were too poor, the family could substitute a second little bird    (usually a dove)  in place of the lamb.

You have a baby,  you make sacrifice to God to  acknowledge all life is in His hands.  Sacrifice the dove, not the baby.    You GIVE the baby back to God –  but you can Redeem him for a small price and raise him as your own.     Jewish people will recognize this as the ceremony of Pidyon Haben,  which is returning to modern practice in many places.

pid

Ceremonial coins for Pidyon Haben

Two very old people who were living at the Temple at the time of the Presentation saw and recognized the Messiah they had been waiting for all their lives.

Their  words  deserve a post of their own.

 

Meanwhile —  it’s a busy Friday!

“DOING” SOMETHING – LIKE THIS

January 7, 2018

 

Well, yesterday’s post was a little complex – and serious.    I still mean every word – even all the words I didn’t write  so it wouldn’t become extraordinarily long.

holy family the

Feast of the Holy Family

I meant just to say,  “Look around you, look at the world around you – and although there is much to learn and study and analyze,  yet still in a small way,  each of us is called  to actually act upon what we know.

Today’s remembrance within  Christendom centers on the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, put before us as our model of family life.   Our sermon was about what makes up a family in general;  I would have wished to hear more about the qualities of the Holy Family, but that’s okay,  that was his choice,  and nothing stops me from finding out more writings about these qualities on my own.

 

st theres familyThe family of St. Therese of Lesieux –

 

But that’s my point from yesterday, I guess.   Find out something in society that is good, that makes life strong and stable, and since we can all acknowledge that we don’t have that commonly anymore,  find out what went wrong, and what  can be done about it.  That’s a doable task for each individual person.

Take “family,”  for instance,  the theme for this day.

 

her whole family

The entire family of St. Therese, mother on left, father on right.

 

I’ve had lots of decades of TV viewing under my belt.   (Lots!)    I can truly say with sorrow that I’ve witnessed the disintegration and degradation of TV families,  so until now we hardly know — or rather we hardly dare define what a family really is.  We must be “politically correct” and “inclusive”  — so “they” tell us.   *

But “they” are wrong.   I’ve witnessed the sorrow and regretful longing implicit in so many movies and television series of the past two decades . . .  almost as though the writers know they are missing something precious, and this society can never have it  back.

HOLY FAMILY and st therese

(I have this painting at home,  but this photo  is apparently from “Restored Tradition.”   It shows St. Therese visiting the Holy Family – to learn as well as to pay homage.   Of course, she is separated by many centuries from the Holy Family,  but there is truth here:  we can all “visit”  this model of family love,  and also learn.  But as she,  the visit must be on bended knee.)

It’s not just sadness among  young adults because their family was messed up.      There are serious and dangerous society implications too,  all reflected in our entertainment that seems rudderless, pointless,  and rather despairing.

How do we turn around the loss of Family?    Can we repair this mess we’ve made of family life?       We need a model.    What is the “real dollar bill”  and what is the counterfeit?   We need to know the difference, and we need to know what difference it makes.

Then in our small way, one person at a time,  make our family a good one, perhaps modeled after the Holy Family.

 

_______________________________

.*   This presentation of devolving family life is also seen in children’s books, especially their school “readers.”      My Grandson Cooper loves reading the Dick and Jane books of the 1950’s;  he finds them interesting and logical,  fun and safe.     By the time I was teaching school, “they” had taken away wholesome family life and substituted all the politically correct wrong ideas about what the word family could mean.

That generation of children grew up imitating the broken families that they had read about their schoolbooks.

Their children know “something” is wrong with the way their parents lived, lived apart,  broke up their families,  blended new groups together . . .

And their children’s children wish to do something about it.

2018 – FIRST DAY

January 1, 2018

No one wants to put the first mistake onto a brand-new  sheet of blank paper.   No one wants to let the first drip of spaghetti fall onto a clean white shirt .    And no one wants to goof up the first day of a New Year.

But I did NOT want to get up this morning in the middle of a deep sleep,  super physically tired, feeling  like I might be coming down with something, and  feeling slightly depressed after saying good-bye to Cooper at the airport, and then facing a long drive to church in 3 degree morning temperatures    . . .

But I also didn’t want to  miss the first Mass of the year.

According to my last post:

New Year’s Resolution #3 is  foundationally related,  simply to put forth God,   God’s Christ, and God’s Church . . . . throughout this Liturgical year –  365 days, each with a reason  — 

So.    It’s January 1st.    Christendom unites in celebrating the Feast of the Circumcision,  which falls eight days after the birth of Jesus – of course.

circumcision

On its surface,  the rite of circumcision welcomes the child into the nation of Israel.   The child is an Israelite.  The child is a Jew.

A little deeper –  the separating away of  the flesh is an outward sign that  the child (the man)  is separated  away  from the world,  separated unto God.

A little deeper still,  circumcision on the eighth day is a physical symbol of the separation of a man’s heart from sin,   prefiguring  that complete cleansing from sin that will occur after his Resurrection, and thus circumcision is connected to our Judgment.

Circumcise yourselves to the Lord,      circumcise your hearts,
    you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire     because of the evil you have done—
    burn with no one to quench it.     Jeremiah 4:4

The act of circumcision is used this way in both the New and the Old Testaments.

In the Church’s Feast of the Circumcision, we remember that Christ Himself was subjected to circumcision, not to separate himself from any  actual sin,  but to demonstrate that He has come to fulfill every part of the Law of Moses.

And furthermore, more deeply:    A small amount of blood is shed during a circumcision.     This is the first time Jesus, the Son of God, shed His blood – a foreshadowing of  pouring out His lifeblood on the Cross for all  human souls.   

One more thing happens at a Jewish circumcision:  you are given a name.

“Jesus.”    (The meaning is “Savior.)     Or:   J’shua   (  God saves.)

motherhood

Closely related to remembering the Circumcision on this day is remembering the Mother of the Child who was circumcised –   Mary,  the Mother of Jesus,  the Mother of the Son of God,  the Mother, therefore, of God.

Her   Yes   to God  (“Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.“);   her faith and love;  her role;  her total giving of herself;  her motherhood;  her universal motherhood, as her Son would have it from his Cross.

Yes, I’m glad I didn’t put the first stain on this bright and blank New Year.    I’m  glad – pretty joyful –  that I had gotten out of bed and driven through the deep freeze, and that I had united myself to all this in the Mass of this day.

In fact,  there’s a lot more here that can be contained in just one Mass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOLY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL

December 27, 2017

Wise Shepherds watch and Wise men seek . . . .

WISE MEN Invis Blue

 

There are Twelve Days in the Christmas Season for us to experience  . . . .

“DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC?”

December 12, 2017

Nah, I just wrote the title that way because it’s the name of a song . . .   Really:  Do you believe in the supernatural?    That would be the name of this little story,  for you.

a rose

Is there really a supernatural, a God, a Heaven,  saints, a spiritual dimension alongside ours?

Think  about a “painting”  of a beautiful young pregnant Lady which was so well done and detailed that scientists who use a microscope can see the reflection of three or four men in the room looking at her — in the pupils of her eyes!!!

pupils

 

How about the beautiful blue robe that Lady is wearing had been “painted” with stars on it, showing the accurate position of stars and constellations right above the location of that painting — almost five hundred years ago.

stars

 

How about that “painting”  showing up in a place in Central America that just happened to contain all the icons and symbols and colors and elements of the pagan religion of the area – being trodden under foot by that Lady.

How about that “painting”  was done on some cactus plant fibers that crumble and disintegrate after ten or so years, at the most,  but somehow still fresh and new-looking after almost five centuries.

How about a bomb that  detonated in the building where this “painting”  is kept out in the open, no protection –  and the bomb blast broke windows and benches and walls around it,  but there was no damage at all to this portrait of the young pregnant Lady,  nor was there sign of scorching or smoke on it.

And how about a “painting”  that shows no sign of paint or vegetable dye or any other known way of putting color on fibers that today’s forensic scientists can discover, and yet the color looks fresh and new and seems to float somehow just above the cactus fibers.

That is supernatural.

Today is December 12th, the day the Church reminds us to think about this cactus fiber tilma  (like a poncho)  that belonged to Juan Diego in the 1530s who spoke with the young Lady in the portrait, and who told him to go to his bishop and tell him to build a chapel there where the young Lady appeared.

Of course this peasant man was not believed by the bishop!

But that winter day he went back to the place where he saw her a couple times, and was amazed to see roses growing on the hillside.   He took it as a sign . . .  he picked the abundant fresh and beautiful roses,  made a sort of pouch or apron out of the tilma he was wearing . . .  and carried the roses to the bishop.

“See?”   he was going to say.  “See –  these are roses blooming in the winter, out of season, so something special did really happen  –“

OLG and crescent

But the bishop and his assistants weren’t listening.  They were staring in awe at the tilma that Juan Diego had opened up for them, and what they saw was this beautiful picture of the young pregnant Lady, whom the church officials recognize as Our Lady,  the Virgin Mary, so beautiful, so well-portrayed,  so full of information about Church teaching and about the local Mexican culture.

And the amazed Church officials dropped to their knees, knowing who it was they were looking at.

True story?

Of course.

No doubts,  because you can travel down to Mexico City,  and you can view the actual tilma owned by Juan Diego with the wondrous image of Our Lady,  and displayed for almost five  hundred years.     It’s there.  It really exists.

church

If you’re a scientist of some sort, you can get permission to perform yet more tests  on it;  but you will not find any explanation for the portrait.

Or you can read books about some of the scientific findings on this miraculous tilma.

December 12th,  Our Lady of Guadalupe, a word that sounds almost identical to the early Mexican-Aztec language for “slayer of the  serpent god.”   The pagan winged serpent.  the one that will be once and for all finally crushed by the heel of Our Lady through her Son,  Jesus Christ, along with that crescent moon god symbol under her feet.    Hmmmm.

.

 

HOLY DAY DEMO, HIDING IN JERUSALEM

December 8, 2017

Not  24 hours ago I wrote about   Jerusalem,  King David’s capital city of Israel,  3,000 years ago, and the U.N.  vote to create Israel in the 20th century, with Jerusalem as its capital;   and then Bill Clinton’s Act to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Jerusalem:  “over there.”

I never thought it would have anything to do with me,  over here!

IC words

Today we must go to Mass to recognize (and to honor)  the Immaculate Conception of Mary –  because if we don’t, we will surely diminish its importance and eventually forget.  We humans are like that.

So, on my way,  leaving my house just in the nick of time, as usual,  and driving through our local Big Ten campus,  I saw a “disturbance up ahead.

Demo up ahead

Stop and go traffic.   (Just so you know, I took that photo when I was stopped.  Don’t scold me when you see me next.)   We crept up ahead ten feet at a time.

Demonstrations are fairly common among the college kids, though not like it was during the Sixties.  I wondered what this one was all about.  It was pretty cold out there, just over 30 degrees.

Demo flag

Well, so, it’s an arab-type flag up there.   Hamas?  Palestine?   Something like that,  because the signs said something about “occupation.”     One sign must have said  “Honk if you like —- “  (fill in the blank)  because there was one honk, and the crowd broke out in applause and cheers.

Only one honk, kids, among many hundreds of cars.     Car stuck   in your traffic jam.

I got to church just in time,  breathing loudly after my run from the car, knelt down in the quiet church, and whooosh!   Mass began right then.   But it was a good Mass.

in case you don’t know what we are really celebrating today,  just think of the beautiful, powerful,  holy,  golden Ark of the Covenant.

ark

Moses was told to have it built just so, with the fine-grained, precious acacia wood, totally covered in pure gold, and then holding the three signs of God-Most-High:  the mysterious “food from Heaven” called Manna which sustained the Israelites in their wilderness trek;    The stone tablets that contained the Ten Commandments, which is the Mind of God;  and then that staff of Aaron’s which came alive and budded, proving that God works through priests and Aaron was God’s chosen first priest.

Though the Presence of God inside was a powerful and mysterious  miracle,  the Ark  was also holy  and precious,  made just so, so as to be a worthy container, and  able to hold those three mighty signs of God’s Presence.

No   human on earth will ever be holy enough to stand in God’s presence – not until Heaven.   “See God and die,” as the Bible implies.   Instant annihilation.     But the Virgin Mary had to be able to hold within her the Son of God;  so she was created at the instant of her conception in such a state so as to be able to hold within her God in His Incarnation, taking on human nature to be able to reprise all the stages of our development . . . .

IC

Mary was “saved,”  so to speak,  at the instant of her own conception.   Saved and made  holy, without original sin, well-prepared to give birth to her own Divine Savior.

Needs more than a few paragraphs in a blog to contemplate that.  More than a blog, more than one day,  more than a book or many books,  more than . . .  a lifetime, I guess.

So.    Good thing I “had to” go to Mass today.   I would have missed a lot, left to my own decisions.

CAPITOL PARKED UNDER

Afterwards, I found my car, parked under a lovely late Fall capitol dome.

The whole little city is getting ready for Christmas and looks “lovely” too.  I drove around the front of the capitol building.

CAPITOL FRONT

Pretty ride home.  Pleasant thoughts of Mary, the Immaculate Conception, to accompany me.

The demonstrators were no longer in front of campus,  but the grassy median area where they had been was covered in litter,   paper cups,  papers,  parts of posters . . . .    Not very “immaculate,”  but I suppose they went home happy,  thinking they could change 3,000 years of history.

.

_______________________________

That’s all for a couple days;  big Christmas party at my house tomorrow.

 

 

 

NEW . . .

December 4, 2017

 

thinka nd do llue

Some of you may remember the old Think and Do workbooks that we had in school to help us learn how to read.      It was an excellent way to learn reading skills such as phonics,  spelling, and composition.      It taught us to take time with the details.

_________________________________

Well,  I think I’m having a “Write-and-Do”  problem –  I’ve been doing so much, I haven’t been able to slow down and write . . . .

_________________________________

Clip Advent 1   However, I cannot let the start of this New Year go by!   St. Augustine has praised God with the phrase:  “Ever Ancient, Ever New.”      Exclamation point, I think,  because as a grown man,  he was deeply astonished!  to discover the reality of God and of all His attributes as taught to Him by the Church, when Augustine lived, 1,600 or so years ago.

Ever Ancient, Ever New!       God-Most-high, Ancient of Days,   is also Ever New to every part of His creation, at every place, at every moment.    And we poor humans,    living in time and space,  must take God in each new day, each new year, and hence –  the cycles of the Liturgical Year,  which emphasizes God’s closeness and the necessity of a response from us.

Advent begins the Liturgical Year,  and so today was the first day of this new year.

For what purpose?      Advent is ad + vent;   that is, ad ( to, a movement towards)  and vent/ venire (  He comes,  He comes to,  He arrives).      God, Ancient of Days,  yet Ever New,  comes (again)  (and again and again….)   to each person, as prophesied  by the ancients,   as foretold by the great prophets,  in a threefold advent:

Always moving towards  each  human born, as individuals:

One time, moving towards us by His incarnation, taken on our human nature to teach and to act for us;

And in the future, sooner or later,   very soon or a little bit later,    to enter this world once again as Great King and Judge,  ending this world system, putting all things to rights.

Advent,  but a Threefold Advent.    Moving towards us;  unstoppable.

We have more than three thousand years of witness to this movement-towards-us, and much written down for us to read.

The first day of Advent –   time to start.     Time to learn the details.   But there may not be much time left!

 

 

“CHRIST THE KING” DAY – FOR SURE

October 29, 2017

 

Today, all of  Christendom celebrated the Feast of Christ the King.

Christ the King

From the ancient times of  King David,   people understood that the Messiah would be King over all the kings on earth.    From all Eternity He was Sovereign King, and when he came to earth,  then Jesus the Christ was hailed as King of Kings  –  over everything and everyone.

Many didn’t understand.    Or they couldn’t.     Or they didn’t want to.

Today,  the world in general doesn’t understand either:

christ world doesn't understand

And so, rejecting the Supreme and Sovereign King,  the world gives Him a crown in the worst way it can:

christ diff crown

 

God is Love, and tends His Love towards us.   He radiates His Love towards us.

And we have a King to draw all men towards Himself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW MOON, NEW LIFE, AND BIRTHDAYS

September 20, 2017

Been distracted lately.  Too many hurricanes;  too many earthquakes;  too much end-of-summer physical work on your property!  

Spent the day today outdoors,  digging,  hefting a shovel,  throwing dirt around,  moving a wheelbarrow around,  raking,  hoeing,   leveling new surface soil:

New Moon front

 

(And just how do you know when the surface is level?    Level enough to plant new grass?     Will have to try again  tomorrow.     Maybe then I’ll be satisfied.)

And planting:

New noon back

That’s an ugly picture!   But there’s nothing wrong with my grass.     Small areas of thin grass have been given a shovelful of new topsoil, grass seed laid down,  and straw laid on top of the seed.    Not a pretty sight,  but some day it will look nice!

While I was doing all this back-breaking work today   ( I know why they call it back-breaking!)  I was letting my mind go free.

Hey!    There’s a new moon today!     Good day for planting.    0 %  light from the moon, but as the moon grows a bit bigger each day,  new life from the seed is drawn out and grows larger and larger.    At least,  that is ancient wisdom.  Plant your crop during a new moon.

New moon

New moon – in September!     Today, then, is Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish New Year!   And the first day of  Jewish High Holy Days, ending with the joy of penitence, the offer of reconciliation to one’s neighbor, acknowledgement of sins,  and the joy of God who has made a way for forgiveness   (Yom Kippur).

This also begins my  “new year”  too.   In one week I will have a whole new possible year laid out for me,  and, God willing, I will live it.    That is,  my birthday,  which often falls within the Jewish New Year festivities.

One more week to be this “age.”     I don’t really care what number anymore.  I’m already old enough to go to school,  to drive, to  drink, and to vote.   But I rather like ages that end with a zero,  and there are only seven more days for this one.    I might have only a couple more “zero years” in my lifetime,  so I tried to consciously enjoy this one from time to time.

Here’s something about birthdays I’ve noticed as the years pass:  When you’re young,  other people celebrate your birthday for you and then with you.   But the older you get,  the  more you celebrate your own birthday,   with an appreciation for all the good things that make up your life,  things that only you know.

birthday

Your parties may look the same throughout the years,  with cake, gifts, cards, friends and family,  candles, singing, decorations – more or less from year to year.

And it’s all fun.   

But inside,  internally where you “live,” where you think and observe and feel and plan and know . . .  inside yourself,     when a birthday comes,   it’s you yourself that makes good cheer for the day that is your day,  special to you alone.

THE UNKNOWN ASSUMPTION

August 15, 2017

What I wouldn’t give to  know for sure that I’d be reunited with my own son in Heaven some day!!!!!

Bar Cross in middle

 

To “assume”  may mean to make a mental leap,  an educated guess;  but it can also mean something in the physical world.   That is, the physical taking up of something.

This Assumption is largely unknown outside of Christendom,  and rapidly disappearing from even the vestiges of Christianity.    But there are those,  surprisingly many,  who still choose to recognize the Assumption on August 15th.

The Assumption of Mary:

assumption

There are so many beautiful works of art about the Assumption of Mary –  Centuries and centuries of trying to get it just right!    I like this one because it shows movement.   The Virgin’s hair seems to be moving, or flowing,   because of the upward motion,   and people seem to be reaching.

The Church doesn’t teach one way or the other whether Mary, the Mother of Jesus actually died or if she  “fell asleep”  and was taken up in to Heaven,  but it doesn’t matter.   The teaching,  based on contemporary writings, is that her body totally disappeared from the place where she lay in a deep trance?  coma?  sleep?

Everything about her physical presence is just gone.  No relics.    No pieces of cloth or hair.  No “bones.”  No vials of blood.   Nothing.  Most unusual, for even the least of the martyrs had some relics saved.    It’s what they did in those days.

The Assumption of Mary into Heaven is clear.

assumption crown

Just as we will go “some” place when we die,   so did she.

The Love of God in each lover of God unites,  and separation is only temporary.

So  just as Death will not end our love and will not separate us from our Loved Ones,  in and among this wonderful Community  of Saints,  dead and alive,  we will still love and care for each other,  and so does she . . . .

mary nearby

Heaven is not a matter of time and distance.  It’s Eternity,  an eternal now that permeates the physical world.

When Jesus (on the Cross)  gave His mother to be ours,  He means now.

 

 

ASCENSION CONSIDERATIONS

May 26, 2017

Ascension Thursday this week.  40 days after the Resurrection.   (40,  not 43.)  It’s a Feast Day of Hope.

The older I get,  the more I realize “I’m not getting out of here alive.”   I’m leaving this planet via my death.   Here’s that picture again:

“Will this be me?”    —

SAMSUNG

I’ve already been the one sitting at the bedside of a dying man,  worrying and praying.   Soon, possibly,   it will  be my turn to be the one in bed.      And yours too.

(Sometimes some of my friends hear me say  “Pray for my healing; pray for my health.”   I say it offhandedly,  but few realize how serious I am.)

But though I am a Christian,  and my health matters aside,   I live a somewhat safe life in this country.    My Christian brothers and sisters around the world are not so “lucky.”

A little while ago in the Philippines,  where lovely, peaceful,  beautiful,  friendly Christians live in a sort of tropical  Paradise,  nine Christian  men driving in  cars  were stopped by the   Muslim-“extremists   who are gaining power-by-force on their  beautiful islands.   They were stopped,  dragged out of their cars,   their hands were all tied together,  and the nine men were shot to death.

Youd better believe

See their hands all tied to one another?

They were executed because they were Christians who happened to be on the road at the same time as these Muslims  (who were carrying ISIS flags).

The government is trying to  stop the violence and to stop the drug money that finances these Muslim terrorists.

what war looks like

Sometimes strong and forceful  (violent)  measures have to be taken to eradicate the murderous Threat that has taken hold in a country.  This is what such a “war”  would look like in such a country.  The civilian cars must give way so the military can do its duty to protect.

It’s what a government is supposed to be doing:  protecting its citizens with resources that only it,  the government,  can assemble.

Today,  the head of our DHS  (Dep’t of Homeland Security)  stated publicly:  “If you knew what  I know,  you would be afraid to leave your homes.”   If we had his information about the actual  threats we were under . . . .

Again,  so far  I  live in such seemingly safe circumstances that I can afford to stay ignorant of the severity of the danger.   I can ignore it,  if I want to,  even as more and more people are saying things seem to be spinning out of control,  and  it feels like “something”  big is going to happen.

So,  I’ll just repeat:   I’m not going to get out of here alive!

Jesus did not.     Jesus did not “get out of here alive.”     He laid down His life for us;  He took up His life again at His Resurrection.   And He took His Resurrected body  “up” into  the “heavenly  places.”

He who was seen by many is now unseeable.

But Eternity is all around us.  It penetrates this world.   Or, as I kept saying this morning to my class:  Eternity interpenetrates our world.    The spirit in us is able perceive this presence of Eternity.    That is,  Jesus,  Eternal, can now be perceived by everyone, not just those who stood next to Him so long ago in one small part of this globe.   All  of us can,  “whosoever”  wants to.

Ascension

As  He ascended,  He took with Him something very important:  His human nature.   The same as our human nature.    He made it possible for all  those creatures with a human nature can also enter into Heaven.

It’s possible.

I dearly hope those Christian children and mothers on the school bus today and  those  young Filipinos with their hands tied together took comfort in the meaning of the Ascension as they lay dying.

Christians are those who have chosen to follow Jesus,   through whatever and wherever  He leads us.    It’s our cross,  the way that leads us to Heaven.   Executed.   Blown up.   Needless accidents.   Sickness.    Ascension Day tells us that we can follow Him into glory.   It’s possible.

Follow crosses to Heaven

“It’s needful for you that I go.”     Behold,  I go to prepare a place for you.”     “In my Father’s house are many mansions.  If it were not so,  I would have told you.”

We can pray for the souls of our Christian brothers and sisters who’ve left this world so violently.    And perhaps  “before their time.”  And for their loved ones,  left behind to mourn.

 

 

A DIFFERENT KIND OF LIGHT – 100 YEARS AGO

May 14, 2017

 

“Like crystal,  when the sun shines brilliantly through it.”

It was hard for the little children to describe the brightness and purity of the whiteness,  the white light that the Lady was made of,  like she was made of the sun, but it didn’t hurt their eyes.

OL Fatima

As you’ve probably heard,  this is the 100th Anniversary of the First Apparition that occurred in Fatima, Portugal.    I’ll write much about it in the days to come;  six months we  have.   The Apparitions came once a month for six months,  with one big Fireworks of an ending!

fatima people

That it happened there could be no doubt.  In fact,  among the many in the photograph above who were there on that last day were many, many doubters, skeptics, mockers, and downright nay-sayers.    They were there to ridicule the so-called pious believers who believed the children’s tales.

But for  even those who were convinced nothing would happen – something happened to them!      Why were they so convinced nothing was going on?      Because the ones who were able to see or hear “something”  were the innocent,  the pure in heart,  the honest,  the open,  the pious, and the humble before God.

There were a few, even in this atheistic country!

According to the heart of each person,   some heard only a soft buzzing when the Apparitions occurred.  A few heard the booms.  A few saw the bright flashes.   Some saw a small, soft white cloud.    Two of the three children heard the words of “the Beautiful Lady,”  but all three saw her.

And that was exactly how they described her.    This Beautiful Lady, who was really appearing,   was a Lady with a face and with hair and eyes and clothing, but nevertheless “all made of Light.

In fact, later,  when Lucia, the eldest, was pressed to describe her,  she said even her gown was made of Light.  It was not “folds of white cloth,”  but where there would be folds, it was like the Light was thicker there,  the Light was draped in folds, and at the edges of the  Lady’s gown,  the brilliant white Light became golden,  like an outline of golden Light.

a white

The Beautiful Lady would not identify herself until October,  her sixth visit.

But remember –  she was made of Light.  Clothed in Light.  A Light that made everything beautiful and brought with it the presence of God,   Who is the Source of Majestic Light –

I Timothy 6:16 –  (God) . . . who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

 

DOWN FROM MY EYRIE

April 24, 2017

 

It’s been an intense and  “difficult blessing”  lately, here in my eyrie:

Here:

Panagia_Sumela_monastery_in_province_of_Trabzon,_Turkey_

I’ve been “up there”  for a couple of weeks and I’m so reluctant to leave.

eagle nest

The eagles build their eyries high up in tall trees or on the side of a mountain so they can be still and safe and alone while they participate in the (pro)creative work of their Creator.   They are isolated and productive.

 

eagle soarer

The  eagle descends so swiftly and smoothly, down from his hidden home– but for me, these last weeks have been a slow and reluctant climb downward,  with frequent looks backwards . . . .

 

All this,  a metaphor, of course.    I had an intense and deeply personal  Holy Week and Triduum,  followed by a surprisingly glorious Easter and following days.   (It’s still the Easter season,  I suppose just for experiences like this . . .  we need a couple of weeks to take it all in.)

I tell my classes   “The better Lent that you have,  the better your Easter will be.”    Well, that backfired on me this year.    I mean,   the words just turned around and fired right back into me.  But  this is not unique to me.

We are all so much more than our everyday lives!

We are all capable of experiencing, knowing,  being so much more than we’re used to!

eagle soar

Two births:

We who are born alive can know and interact with many things,   (We can read, for instance.)     And we know that from the moment of  birth we do, in effect,  begin to die.  Might take six or seven or eight decades,  but we’re on the pathway to our deaths.

One day, an intelligent, well-educated man on the leadership council in his society learned that there is another birth – an actual, real, second  birth into full and abundant life.   His name was Nicodemus,  and being a private person and maybe a little embarrassed,  he came to Jesus one night, in the cover of darkness,  to ask some questions about this true life.

He was surprised to learn that to enter Life one must be born again and from above,  it is God’s work in a man –  and without it,  the man simply proceeds with a dead spirit on to his own death — living  his everyday life, enjoying the ups and suffering the  downs, but proceeding on to his death.  Into deep darkness.   A just and deadly separation between God and sinner.

But Jesus went  on to explain  that a man receives this new birth by the work of the Holy Spirit,  through the means of water,    hereby indicating baptism –  which soon the young Church will understand to be a  re-birth of the already naturally born person into new and actual,  abundant life –  truly and everlastingly alive.    The “dead” spirit of the person is vivified!

The person is no longer on his pathway to  death and everlasting separation from God.  A person, then, is capable of so much more — more Life! —  than before.

And it all doesn’t work unless there is  a Good Friday and a day of Resurrection.

That is why these recent holidays are called the defining event of Christianity.

 

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I needed to go up into that truth,  way up,  into a personal eyrie to experience more of that truth,  because  it’s necessary for us  humans to remove ourselves from this world and its turmoils and noise and complex confusions; to  find a  place of solitude where you can hear the voice of God.

You might not choose that  beautiful monastery in Turkey in the first photo above,  high up in the mountains,  but your imagination is capable of creating another place of quiet beauty where it’s safe for you to . . .  think . . .  to grab onto that second birth.

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Down from my eyrie,  observing, once again, things going on around me.

 

 

BY MEANS OF MEN

April 14, 2017

(At the 9th hour):        “It is consummated.”           It was.

CROSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

“By means of men and their actions,  God governs the world.”*

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.*  “What Jesus Saw From the Foot of the Cross”

by  A.G. Sertillanges