Archive for the ‘Liturgical Year’ category

ST. PATRICK’S DAY IMAGININGS

March 17, 2019

edu pat in glass

If you study a little philosophy (the real stuff, not the modern stuff) you will discover that Imagination is one of the faculties of our God-given Intellect.     Fun!

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So.      Imagine a four lane city street, divided in two lanes each way by a lovely boulevard down the middle,   with green grass, small trees, and statues;  and imagine that street going right next to  a Big Ten campus.    

edu people   Now imagine that street, that grass, and that campus, as far as the eyes can see,  thousands of students,*   decked out in green and orange and checkered pants and leprechaun hats with jaunty green feathers!   

Yep.    That was my challenge (and my delight)   driving home from church today. 

Not my own photos, sorry.  I left my cell phone at home.  I wasn’t planning to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in any special way.       My mistake.

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I’ve written about the “real” St. Patrick many times before in all the years of this blog’s existence, so I won’t do it again this year.  ( He’s there in the archives. )

Just keep in mind who and what we’re really celebrating today – or if you can’t celebrate,  then at least acknowledge, for this day has been on Western calendars for many, many centuries,  long before you or I came about.

So.     Imagine a young teenager living in   Scotland, kidnapped from his family’s estate and sold into slavery by Irish pirates.   Kept in slavery for many years. . .  more than half a lifetime to one so young.

Now, just as when a soldier is captured by the enemy,  his first duty to his country is to escape,  so  I can imagine that young Patrick’s daily thought was returning to his home.  Somehow.  But he didn’t know where he was, he had no money or means, and he would have to escape through lands owned and watched over by his master’s warriors and servants.

So Patrick’s years passed;  tender years, growing into manhood.     Although he slowly learned the language and the customs of his captors,  he also turned back to his Catholic prayers and met God daily through them;   all throughout the day,  growing in  patience and trust and firmness of faith.

Just imagine all that.   You know “The Rest of the Story.”

edu hill

A hill worth climbing;  a life worth knowing.

 

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So.     Now I imagine that my last-minute decision to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a traditional Irish meal will turn out all right!     I hadn’t bought any of the food until late last night  –   just on a whim.   (Good prices and all.)  

Instead of boiling everything together,  as is traditional,  I’m roasting everything.   I did have that packet of spices that comes with corned beef,  but I’ve amped it up a little with extra cardamom, dill, allspice, cracked pepper and garlic.  

Five hours from now,  I’ll find out if reality meets my imagination. 

corned beef

Kind of like this.

st patrick's day greetings

 

Banner St Patrick's Day

 

“Everyone’s Irish today!!!”

.*   Imagine!      Young adults,  trained by our socialist college professors that “nationalism is a bad thing,    especially   “white nationalism”   have come out in the thousands to celebrate a nation’s culture and to honor its (Christian) patron saint!!!

One would think St. Patrick would be on their Naughty List,    white, Catholic, male,  and loving the people of one country!

 

 

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DON’T

March 6, 2019

Don’t.

Lent.

Don’t.

Just don’t.

It seems like everything about Lent is just what you’re not supposed to be doing.   And that’s supposed to be good for your soul.     The Church gives us Lent —  which is supposed to make us closer to God . . . .

DONT LENT

“Reverend Fun” isn’t a Catholic,  but I guess he knows about Jonah whose main claim to fame is that God told him to do something  –  and he promptly ran away.  Went in the other direction, as a matter of fact.      (God found a way to bring him back.)*

mg whale

 

So . . .  none of us really have to think about Lent:

MG beads

I’ve got a pile of those beads in my house, that I’ve saved from past years.  (But, no, I didn’t get them in the “usual” way.    I wouldn’t do that.)   

MG Beads down

Thanks to Son and to Grandson in various years,  I have some beads and I treasure my little collection.    They’re just fun to have.

It’s fun to watch the live webcams too.    Right now I can hear a siren, but the camera isn’t picking up whatever it is.  

The streets of New Orleans are just beginning to thin out now.   

MG sdtreets

At the stroke of midnight,  it gets pretty quiet, and empty down there.

Paczki Haven’t had my Paczki  yet this year.

I suppose I shouldn’t.    But I still want one.    Here are the rules of fasting during Lent:   One whole meal,   then two more  little meals but that don’t together add up to another whole meal.     Abstinence means you don’t eat meat that day.      (Says nothing about  Paczkis,  although one has enough calories to equal your one “whole meal” for that day.)

Don’t, don’t, don’t –  about eating.   Don’t indulge in your bad habits.   Don ‘t gossip.   Don’t watch  much TV.   Don’t be on the Internet, unless it’s something you need to do.   Don’t  swear.   Don’t take sugar in your coffee.    Don’t . . .   whatever else makes you comfortable . . . .

What’s the point?    

The Church gives us Lent;  why shouldn’t we “run”  from it?    Well, of course it prepares us for Easter —  the true meaning of Easter.     If you don’t have a good Lent, you won’t have much of an Easter.  

But as far as the Don’ts of Lent — “Lent is a time for us to learn to love our souls more than our bodies.”

Our bodies,  our physical world, our life on this planet,  all this is temporary:

ship

If we intend to end up in a good, holy place when we die, we need to start working on that now.     Death does not confer holiness  on anyone.    It is God who confers holiness, His holiness, that makes us fit for Heaven.

But we need to dispose ourselves to the holy work of God in us.    We’ve been taught some ways to make us open to God:

  1.   Voluntary amendment of our life.
  2.   Do acts of Penance  (better now than after we die!)
  3.   Do works of charity.

We  have the period of Lent to work on all this.    I can write more about them in the days ahead.   By doing these three things,  you would be showing God that you truly do “love your soul more than your body.”    

It’s a lot of work.  It’s an interruption into everyday life.     It’s easy to forget about it,  to “run away”  from Lent.

“Don’t.”  

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  •   (It wasn’t  a whale.)

 

 

 

 

SEXAGESIMA SENSATIONS

February 24, 2019

All kinds of “sensations”  on this Sexagesima Sunday.

First of a mild remorse because I have missed so many “dates” on the liturgical calendar.  ( It’s that calendar that propels us through the year, on towards a deeper understanding of God — and our souls, and our own soul’s  destiny.)   I’ve written about them all in past years,  but that doesn’t take care of the present.

So we are in the third Sunday of that set of Sundays which gently prepare us for the more sober time of  Lent.   (Lent should not take us by surprise – )   Septuagesima,  Sexagesima,  Quinquagesima;   “seven,”  “six,” and “five,” Sundays before Easter.

So, remorse,  I let you down.

Next ‘sensation”  is one of pain. Lots of pain.  I do NOT have back trouble, and I have little comprehension of those who go around with groans, and sighs, cries,  grimaces and crippled  movements because of their back pain.

I comprehend now.  I hurt my back on Friday while lying on Son’s couch.    I am pet-sitting for him,  the pets were off to their own nap times,  and I turned on local late afternoon news – and promptly fell asleep, which is odd, because I don’t sleep in the daytime very often.

I woke up to the sensation of being stared at.  Intense staring!

Staring 380

I have no idea why they were watching me like that, but even after I opened my eyes, said “Hi, guys,”   the staring continued.  I grabbed my nearby camera and attempted to get up –   and their eyes got bigger.  (Maybe I said something then as the pain struck.)

Though it subsided somewhat on the next day,  on the next day when I as at Son’s house again,  I reached into the pantry for something and hurt that place again,  even more.   Wow.

(What can a  couch  do  to a nice, strong lady?)

Well, that’s all I can say about that.   Except I’m glad I live alone so no one witnesses my “groans, and sighs and cries and grimaces.”      I’ll get better quickly.  After all,  I do NOT have back trouble.

 

wind

Third sensation of this Sexagesima day:   Overwhelming forces of Nature going on outside my house today.    The winds are literally roaring through the trees,  howling around objects, and whistling through the sides of  windows that are apparently not sealed shut.   Outside,  the tall trees around my house are swaying,  each dancing their own dance according to their size and strength and their place inside the wind gusts.  52 m.p.h.  gusts right now, but the weather service promises even  stronger gusts later today.

It’s fun,  but there is that sensation of being “under siege.”   It’s supposed to continue until 7:00 A.M.  tomorrow,  by which time we will probably have the sensation of Silence – our power will be out.

(Storms of winter, followed in less than a month by Spring.   Storms of this life,  followed very soon by the next life,   hopefully of  eternal Spring for us.)

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Sensations all around us, all the time; physical and mental and spiritual sensations,  should we but choose to listen.

I’ll atone for my previous negligence by writing a little about the Sexagesima Readings all  this week,  but I want to start with the Epistle Reading,  epistle being “letter,”  and this epistle being written by St. Paul,  recounting the many “sensations” he willingly endured for the sake of getting the message out there. *

He writes  —  and yet just reading it doesn’t do him justice.  We need someone to explain and to reveal the depths of what Paul is saying to us,  so I’ll turn to St. John Chrysostom —

He (St. Paul)  endured shipwreck,  so that he might stay the shipwreck of the world.  (Yes, we are a shipwrecked world,  going under, being destroyed — that’s how God sees us.)

He says: “A day and a night he passed in the deep  (the deep waters of the Mediterranean,  having been literally shipwrecked himself),  so that he might draw up the world from the deep of error.

He was in weariness that he might refresh the weary  (and strengthen us along the way).

He endured smiting  that he might heal those who have been smitten by the devil (and yet, sometimes the “blows” of the devil seem so easy, so attractive . .  .Paul writes so that we would want to be healed.)

He passed his time in prison so that he might lead forth into the Light those that have been in the darkness of prison.

He was beaten with rods, so that he might bring them under the “rod and staff” of Christ (“thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me, Psalms  22 {23} ) .

He was in the wilderness, so that he might take them out of their wilderness (the person who is apart from God).

He endured hunger and thirst, so that he might deliver them from a more grievous hunger.

He experienced “nakedness” so that he might clothe their unseemliness with the robe of Christ.

He was set upon by mobs so that he could extricate them from the besetment of fiends.

He burned so that he might quench the burning darts of the devil.

He experienced constant journeyings so that he  might stop our wanderings and  show the way that leads to heaven for us

 

That was St. Paul,  recounting all the trials he willingly endured in this life, to get the message out to us.

“He who has ears to hear let him hear…”  Jesus said.

Humans are body-and-soul creatures,  all sensations go together and communicate back and forth between the physical and the spiritual realms.   We stand in the middle, belonging to  both.

There is a kind of “life” and “death” in both realms, and it’s the soberness of Lent that allows us to contemplate these two things more fully.

No matter what happened to St. Paul, and the other Apostles, and to many, many of those early Christians,  they understood what really mattered;  and that is the life of our own soul, that must be fed and nourished and worked for.

“Work out your own salvation in fear and trembling,”  St. Paul also says.

 

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Found in the Bible in the book of II Corinthians,  chapters 11 and 12);  that is Paul’s second letter to the Christians of Corinth.

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LIBERTY AND DEATH (Sunday Thoughts)

January 13, 2019

“Willingly giving our lives for something or Someone is the ultimate expression of our Liberty.”

My ongoing 5G technology thoughts have a lot to do with our Liberty,  but I don’t want to make that connection right now.  It’s Sunday.   The day is set apart, if you choose to be a follower of Christ.   I do.   So I’ll stick with “Sunday Thoughts.”

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liberty or death

Every American is —  (used to be)    familiar with this phrase:  “Give me Liberty or give me Death!”   We cherish our Liberty, those of us who have been taught what Liberty actually is;  and many step forward, willing to die to retain our Liberty.

God gave each of us uniqueness, individuality,  free will, worth, and dignity,  and our Founding Fathers pointed out that these qualities endow us with certain Rights which are “inalienable”  from us in order to truly live and become the people we were each meant to be.

Of the several enumerated Rights,  one is the Right to Freedom of Conscience,  freedom to worship the way we want to worship and to freely speak out what we believe and hold dear, without reprisals from our Rulers.     No one has to hide what he believes.

But we’ve seen recent  attempts  to erode this particular Right.  We’ve watched several video clips of  nominees for public office being interrogated by Senators whose inquisitorial questioning reveals their contempt and suspicion for anyone who adheres to a religious conviction.    “How can you convince me that your religious beliefs will not interfere with your public duties?” 

(As though that Senator does not have his own set of religious-type beliefs, based upon Humanism,  Marxism, Secularism, or any of the other “isms”  that oppose themselves to Christianity today.)

SAMSUNG

(Our evening Bible study location watched over by our State capitol building)

No,  it’s the Christian religion which is under assault, and few Christians seem to be aware of the assault.  Can we win the war if we don’t know we’re fighting?

But thus it always was, from the very beginnings of Christianity.  This is not new, nor should it be a surprise.    Jesus told us that the World will hate us because it hated Him.  We are not “above” Him, or more privileged or protected than He was.

jesus arrested

And yet, we must not sit back and wait for our own arrests.     We have a job to do, to make the world a better place, a place where all mankind is able to know  to consider, and then to freely choose to come to the Gospel.

china extreme persec  We know that today Christians are being persecuted and killed around the world.   The Chinese government has recently been given complete control of all churches within China,  unfortunately with the full cooperation of the head of the Catholic church who seems to be unaware of  the consequences of his political machinations.  At least I hope he is “unaware.”

If he knows what he’s doing, then that is of the highest evil . . .

We all  know there are some “unconstitutional”  laws in place in our country which force Christians to pay for some very unchristian-like government-sanctioned acts of murder and immorality.   We know certain jobs and certain Internet sites do not welcome  beliefs based upon Christianity.

So, it’s interesting that during this season of Christmas and Epiphany,  two of the saints that are honored are  (1)    St. Thomas à Becket,   that close  friend of King Henry II in England . . .  until Henry II put him in a place of high government office.   As Shakespeare describes the conflict,   Henry became so aggravated over St. Thomas’s refusal to appoint as bishops his own nominees that he peevishly uttered that damning statement:  “Aaaargh!  Who will rid me of my enemy?”

becket

Well,  Shakespeare and TS Eliot and Lord Tennyson all said it better than that,  but however that question was worded,  the king’s friends got to work to “eliminate”  Thomas à Becket,   right in his own cathedral.

Saint Thomas à Becket is a martyr for the Liberty of the Church and her freedom from control by any State or King or Empire or Ruler or Supreme Court.

(2)  On January 14th the church honors another man whose courage and stalwart faith encourages the Church in her fight for freedom from any earthly control.  This is St.  Hilary of Poitiers.

hilary  Beloved bishop,  admired and beloved for his personal holiness, wisdom, and administerial skill,  he ran afoul of not only his emperor(s)  during his lifetime,  but also of factions within the Church who were very “slightly”  changing the teachings that had been passed down to them from the time of Christ.

“Just a small change in wording.”  “Just a simple nuance of meaning.”   “Just a little difference in the way of doing things.”     It’s not something to split the church over,  is it?

But such changes in wording, thought, or meaning do bring corruption and death into the Church and the Arian Christians knew what they were doing.   Temporarily in power and allied with the Roman government,  they sought to move away from the revelations from Christ.

creed

 

Control of the Church by government or by smaller factions within the Church –  St. Hilary fought against them both, at the cost of his life.

He is another martyr for our Liberty.

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(Sorry for the length . . .  I’ve edited it downward but,  even so,  it’s longer than I wanted it to be.   I hope you don’t have to “rush” through your Sunday with lots of commitments and activities.   I hope you can use the day to take time . . .  to think;  and to see where we’re going,  where we should be going, and why.      We need all the intelligent,  thoughtful, and “woke”  people we can get!)

A DRUMMER BOY PREPARES

January 8, 2019

Had no “dog in that fight,”  Clemson vs. Alabama,  so I’m okay with the outcome.   I’ll listen to the Truckers debate it all night on the radio.  I did have more free time (away from football ) this weekend, a big weekend in Christendom, but I’m behind in my reporting on that. . . .  Next post.

Meanwhile . . .   I have been busy.    And not unmindful of this weekend of Epiphany, which apparently brought  out in me an urge to “clean.”

silhouette three wisemen at manger

I cleaned everything I could.     Took care of mailing mail, packing up packages;    getting rid of old holiday food, bringing in new food;  doing the guest laundry and making up the beds;    organizing library books, bringing books back, bringing new reading projects home . . .   Even  doing special, long-put-off projects —

f floor

Yes,  scrubbing the grout.   I have a big kitchen floor, new tile with lots of grout.  Light colored grout.    And a whole big foyer of ceramic tile.  Light colored tile – with  lots of grout.

Which is light-colored once again.   Ugh.

And as I cleaned and scrubbed and made the grout look new again,  I had lots of time to think.   Philosophically,  as my habit is.    As “muddied up” as my grout looked,  so did my mind feel “muddied up” and a bit muddled.   Things were no longer “light.”  Things in my mind were rather tangled and . . .  some things were wrong.

As I worked on the floors, I understood it was time to work on my inner self too  — time, that is, to go to Confession.

Because Epiphany was approaching.    We all know that’s when we “think about” the Three Wise Men.   “Three,”  by tradition, from somewhere in “the east.”    They had studied for a long time their own histories and prophecies, and then understood, these particular students of prophecy,  that the time was Right.   The  King had been born, and they had to travel to a town in Palestine to pay homage to Him.

They’re called three “kings.”     Three kings of the Orient.    They certainly worked in royal circumstances,  in the royal households,  the royal libraries;  they’re pictured wearing “crowns”  and carrying royal gifts:

f king gifts

Gold,appropriate to give to a King;

Frankincense,  appropriate for a priest, as this Infant King would stand as priest between God and Mankind;

Myrrh . . .  a costly, bitter “perfume” – appropriate for burying a royal body.

 

I continued to clean the whole darn house that had gotten so dirty during the holidays!

fire and clean

Scrubbed the fireplace next.  As Son says,  the fire seems to burn better when you start with a clean fireplace.   Sometimes we can skip that step, a time or two,  but you get the best fire if you start out clean, and his comment gave me no excuse to skip this step of preparation.

The three Wise Men Kings certainly prepared for their journey to Bethlehem.

f wise men finery

Their minds were prepared by devoted study;  their hearts were ready to meet this One and Only, Long-Promised King;  and their bodies were clothed with their finest raiment, showing both self-respect and respect for the Holy Infant whom they will visit.

I’m not sure all my cleaning was done consciously to prepare for Epiphany,  but it all worked together.   I’m glad my house was clean for Sunday.    And a  good Confessor  can help out with some really needed insights and “clean up” some of the mud(dle)  that has been collecting on your soul for a while.   “Inside,” too, I was ready.

And then I had time to think in front of the fireplace  . . .

fire and foot

Being “clean”  doesn’t change the whole world,  doesn’t make things that much easier.   I had to continue to work hard to get that fire going.    I’m beginning to believe that all those  boxes used to start a fire are made from inflammable cardboard.  And the kindling –  it must have been wet from all our rain . . .

But as I was working hard trying to keep the fireplace lit,  I was thinking about those Wise Men who worked hard all their lives, studying,   preparing, traveling,  desiring that one necessary thing,  that glorious meeting with  Christ Jesus, the Infant King born in their Day.      It  would be worth it all.

 

fire going 380

Finally got a nice big fire going.

I had time to sit back and remember, now,  what I had heard in our sermon on the day of Epiphany.       It was remarked that the Wise Men  visited the Holy Infant with hearts prepared;  minds prepared;  best clothing prepared.        And we?  When we think about Jesus . . .  what have we prepared for meeting Him?      How do we come to Him?    I have no royal clothes.  I have no crown to wear.  I have no “wisdom.”   I’m not even very well studied.

I’m never going to be more than just “me.”

f drummer

If all I have is a drum to play,  then that’s all I can do, is visit Him and  play for Him.   And show Him I want to be there with Him.

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It’s just not “January 6th” on the calendar and “let it go by.”     There’s an opportunity here.

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 . . . .”\.

“CLOTHING” FOR ADVENT

December 2, 2018

lavender splotch

(A necessary “pause”  from current events today.)

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A giant turn of the wheel on this day in the Christian calendar;   a big click!  into  the notch that brings the rotating gear back to its beginning point.

gear

As you guys know,  a gear is for turning.  This may be a cog wheel, but I don’t really know the difference.    Things act on it and then it turns, notch by notch, each notch slipping for a moment into its proper (and useful) place.

And as we all know,  today is the first day of Advent.   Christians follow a Liturgical Year not too far in concept from a gear:

Liturgical Calendar Worksheet Worksheets For All | Download And with Blank Liturgical Calendar Wheel

As the world revolves around the sun, so have we devised calendars to mark the passing of time – with religious significance.    God, through various instruments, acts upon the universe, and with each revolution of our calendar year, there are stops or pauses as these divisions rotate to the top, and they are useful to us.

I put a blurry black dot at the top of this circular calendar where that dark vertical line is.   Proceeding clockwise,  this upcoming season is called Advent, represented by the four candles.

On this first Sunday in the Advent season, we light one of the candles on an Advent wreath.

Clip Advent 1

Just one candle.   It’s just the first week and there are many things to experience, to think about, and to learn during this first week of Advent.  You’d miss out if you don’t keep Advent.   You’d miss out on all the new insights and  wisdom that you could receive . .  .     You’d miss out on the possibility of having having faith,  increasing your faith, enjoying your faith in God.

So don’t.     I care for all of you.

You’d also “miss out” if you lump the whole season together without pausing at each week to see what the Church presents to you.

It can be  “clothing” I think, this week.   Advent (meaning the Coming)  is a purple (penitential) time to prepare ourselves properly for the First Coming of Christ.  According to the Readings from the Bible, we are to “clothe ourselves”  with Jesus Christ Himself:   “Wake up!  Pay attention!  The End is sooner than we thought!   So cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of Light.  .  .  Walk honestly,  not in immorality and sinfulness but put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

put on Christ

That’s what we heard in church today.   “Put on”  refers to an act like that of “putting on”  clothing.

What are we to wear now?

 

put on christ 2

Both the word “Light” and the words “Lord Jesus Christ” refer to the same Being,  the Second Person of the Trinity —  “I am the Light of the World.”

 

learn christ

Learn who He truly is.

If any of us are going to call ourselves a Christian and claim  safety and salvation at the end of our life,  then now is the time to learn of Christ,  learn what He is truly like, get to know Him,  form a relationship with Him so closely  that it is like we are “wearing” Him every day.

Because,  even though this is the “beginning” of a year and it seems like we have a whole year ahead of us,  we don’t.   In the full words of the beginning of our Reading today:

“Brethren, knowing that is is now the hour for us to rise from sleep. For now our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is past and the day is at hand…” 

 

apoc

We’re really kind of just about out of time.   The Gospel Reading for today makes that very very clear.

That apocalyptic picture means that the Second Coming of Christ is approaching:

seeing his coming

It could be good — if you have a good Advent!

.

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.

 

 

EPIPHANY: DO SOMETHING!

January 6, 2018

“Or else then it will be too LATE!”     I’m not sure how helpful a memory generated by fear can be,  but those are the words that my father often spoke to me.    “Look at the situation; and act;  do your duty while you can or else  then it will be too late!

Yeah ,  little girl being taught (and taught well) by her big giant Marine Corps daddy with Viking fury blazing out of his deep blue eyes.

Sounds too tough?   Well, I got through my father’s parenting, and the older I got the more I was really, really glad I learned  some of   his lessons.     Every word was spoken out of love.

Do something about it!” 

“While you still can.”

gulag campfire

I am reminded of  Solzhenitsyn of the newly formed Soviet Union and his two friends crouching around a small fire in the freezing cold of a Siberian gulag,  discussing with regret that they should have seen this coming.  But they had done nothing but speak and write and discuss  political hypotheses,  as though the danger were not  real.

So what do all these dire  thoughts have to do with Epiphany today?

WISE MEN Invis Blue 280

There are wonderful, important, life-and-death,  eternal lessons to learn from the actions of the “three” Wise Men from Persia: seeing a star,  knowing its meaning,  and traveling towards it.    The Spruce Tunnel has written about the religious significance on other Epiphanies.

This year there seems to be some urgency.

The Star heralded the birth of the Anointed One from God-Most-High  come to earth to save the people from their sin;     to bring blessing and aid to the humans who are so divinely loved.     For 2,500 years,  more or less,  scholars had been reading of this  promised  Christ — they didn’t know when,  but there would be signs that indicated His coming.   These Magi from Persia saw the Star –

–    and they  did something.

They studied their own times,   they studied the wisdom of the past,  they saw something new in the sky;  and they concluded that now was the time to act – to actually act, not to study it more,  to think about it more,  to be “happy” about it — but to act.    In so doing,  the eyes of these non-Jewish Magi beheld and accepted the Messiah that had come for Jews and Gentiles alike.

The Door has now opened to the whole world.

Wise men afar

Epiphany presents the Actions of God for us;   the actions of faith from us;   and a request for an act of commitment to the Christ-Child,  forever rejoicing in the Light of Life.

Has there ever been any century when the Forces of Darkness did not work through the hearts of men?    Our times, maybe?       Have we shown that we can save ourselves?  make the world a better place?   on our own, without the need for God in our everyday lives?

Of course there’s  a “fun ” side to Epiphany.  Wise Men with  gifts and “We Three Kings of Orient Are…”;   and it’s the Twelfth Day of Christmas;  and we get to put our Christmas decorations away . . . .   but let me show you what I just read today:

The Marquis de la Force in France,  late 18th century,   was a modern and successful man,  up-to-date with the latest in liberal thinking.  All the liberal philosophies that were forming made sense to him and to his society which was in the process of throwing off the old ways, and especially that superstitious enemy of the modern world, the Catholic Church.

And his lovely young daughter entered a Carmelite convent.

And his countrymen began a revolution that ended in regicide and the bloody overturning of his own society.

rev terror

The  philosophical wanderings and  political dallyings of de la Force and his trendy friends had led to bloodshed and chaos and changing alliances, so that soon no one was safe.

rev guill

This political party,  that political party,  in and out of favor,  no compass, no guide,  no restraint —  just “the politics of personal destruction  and rule by public opinion — and lives destroyed on the guillotine.

Including his own lovely young daughter,  who was one of the Carmelite nuns of Compeigne,  led one by one up the stairs to the block, under the blade.

com 2

The nuns sang sweetly as they waited,  the Veni Sancte Creator, I think,  and as it happened,   little Blanche de la Force’s voice was  the last one left singing before she was executed.

We know this from history:    the French blithely tossed away  the Catholic Church and  then lost their foundation of moral law and truth and justice.    What takes the place of the Church are the Forces of Darkness, ready to rip through the hearts of men.

Her father spoke these words:

“This outrage is intolerable!   Something ought to be done about it!   Religious people should see to  it.  I’m told that they still exist in sufficient numbers.   I hope they will increase.   These circles are indispensable for law and order.   Why don’t they do something!”   *

We don’t know much about what happened to the Marquis,  but, as the author of this little book says:  “Life took the initiative . . .  and as far as I can see,  the actual events were the logical consequences of his (political)  beliefs.”

So here at Epiphany  with the Wise Men,  and now,  and  there at the French Revolution with all its faith in a society without the Church,  and later at the Soviet Revolution,  with its determination to create a perfect society without God,   we can witness great ideas that influence mankind,  wise men who put the good ideas into action,  and others who just let the Forces of Darkness steer the events of this world.

There is a present meaning for us  in Epiphany.    With the Light it brings,   with the epiphany it creates in our minds,   I hope we can do something to head off the Darkness that is coming  —  or then it will be too late.

 

(I feel  like a little girl again.)

“This outrage is intolerable!   Something ought to be done about it!   Religious people should see to  it.”

 

.*  The Song of the Scaffold,  by Gertrud von la Port

2018 = 1,440 X 365

January 1, 2018

Just thinking here.

I love “receiving” a whole new year.   Or at least receiving the possibility of a whole new year of life;  none of us can know that we will make it through the entire year.

Nevertheless,  each new year gives us the gift of 365 days divided into  1,440 segments.   That seems like a lot of opportunities.   So my New Year’s Resolutions – if I were to make any –  would be, first, to not waste any of those 1,440 “gifts,”  leaving them at the end of the day like so many unopened presents under an old Christmas tree.

The 1,440 gifts are tools to use in the furtherance of a purpose, the reason each of us were made.     The purpose may or may not be related to  the skills and talents and inclinations we have, but we do the best we can with what we seem to know.   1,440 minutes each new day, like 1,440 little tools – the time to do what we should.

So, for me,   New Year’s Resolution #2 has something to do with making the Counter-Revolution known – the rising up of people all over the world against their Revolutionary Rulers who themselves previously tore down Western Culture and trampled on our values – and then became the ruling Establishment,   silencing us with political correctness and rather oppressive laws.

(Do you have any idea how free people were back in the Middle Ages?  How much free time?  How much freedom from taxes?)

Just think “the old, aging Sixty-Eighters,”  who fought the Cultural Revolution, peaking in 1968, and then worming their way into every power structure in the Western world, and entrenching themselves into a new kind of self-perpetuating establishment.  It is those Revolutionaries we must Counter – or we all descend into some kind of  barbaric chaos where Might Makes Right  and we’re controlled by some contrived  consensus created by fictional opinion polls to keep us compliant.   We’ve got to fight back!

For what “purpose”?      To Restore Western Values —  the values that created a strong, stable, prosperous civilization which not only worked but was actually quite self-correcting.

“Politics determines how we’ll live in this world;  religion determines how we’ll live in the next.”    (Not a perfect motto,  but there is some truth to it.)

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      . . .  1,440  minutes in each of those days,   each minute with a reason and a purpose.

_______________________________

 

Not to say that I’ll be blogging twice a day this year . . .  and probably not even once a day.

 

GOING ROUND IN CIRCLES

May 1, 2017

(Good Shepherd Sunday this week)

Every once in a while, when I get into a discussion of sheep,  someone in the group tells me the story of the farm boys who tease their father’s sheep by getting them to follow each other — around in  a circle!

(Here’s a sketch; sorry it’s so light. I used mainly a grey pencil.)

good sh in acircle

Around and around and around;  “because sheep are so dumb they’ll just keep following the one in front of him”   —  around and around  .  .  .   Great joke!     Then the farm boys would get into trouble because — well, it’s just plain mean to take advantage of dumb animals.

So is that story ever true?     Really?     That dumb?

But maybe.

I’ve read about sheep.  Here are two great classic books describing the behavior of actual sheep with the not-so-subtle suggestion of the many ways we are like the sheep too.

good shep books

The books are entertaining.   The author is a real shepherd and has intimate and detailed knowledge about the care of sheep.    What a job!  They can’t take care of themselves like, say, a herd of beef cattle.    Or trout in a trout pond.    Chickens in a coop . .  .

Sheep stray.   They have no idea how to find their way back.   They eat things they shouldn’t.   They get pretty sick and easily  die.  They get thirsty, but have to be led to the nearby watering hole.    They don’t wander home when it gets dark.

good shep on a hill

The shepherd pretty much has to do all the thinking for his sheep and lead them along, staying alert and attentive.

But he has to lead them gently.   They spook easily.   A harsh voice will spook them.   They get confused easily.    A stranger’s voice will spook them.

One spring day when I was a teacher,  a student’s mother brought in a baby lamb.   She warned me ahead of time that lambs are extremely sensitive to sudden noises, bangs or shouts.  Any sudden change in volume would be enough to shock the little lamb to death!

god little lamb

She said it sometimes happens in their barns.

Try keeping 32 seven-year-olds   still and quiet when a  tiny little lamb appears in the classroom!     That day is impressed deeply in my memory, I was so worried.   (Nobody died that day!)

We are taught that we are like sheep.  We people.   We who think we know so much.  We who think we know what we need.  We who think we know where our lives are taking us.   We who think we can find our way,  but, really, we’re merely following.

Here’s what the Good Shepherd would like us to know about ourselves:  “All we like sheep have gone astray.  We have turned  everyone to his own way.”    He told the great prophet Isaiah to teach us that.    We have a fatal flaw;  we’ve strayed away from the One who made us and  turned to our own ways.

In all my decades of life,  I’ve never found that not to be true.

The Good Shepherd knows everything.     We’d all be lost in the end,  if we didn’t have a Good Shepherd inviting us to follow Him.

good shep holding little one

The pathway is Narrow.   Cliffs and quicksand,  cunning wolves,  sheep rustlers   (thieves),   bad weather and misfortune,  hunger, thirst, and sickness, enticing shadows, fake shepherds  — all  distract us and lie in wait for us.

Think how dangerous it would be for these sheep to leave their Shepherd!!

“I am the Good Shepherd; my sheep know my voice and I know them.”    Nobody can get to Heaven without Him.

 

 

 

 

THE HUNCHBACK HAS HIS DAY

April 25, 2017

Yes.  Well.     Back to the real world.   But let’s go into the real real world, where sometimes bad things happen and bad people exist.    What then?

hunchback

Sometimes babies aren’t born perfect,  and in an imperfect (Fallen)  world,  the imperfect baby is not loved.   In fact, the birth of this hideously deformed baby boy horrified his parents.    Hunchbacked and mostly blind.

The hopeful young parents had waited so long for this baby to grow in the womb and be born — and then . . .  this –  this unspeakable thing was born!   Its presence would be a curse on the poor parents and on everyone around them.   What to do with it?

You can’t just kill it because it’s “human.”   And so, since it’s human,  just throw it on the Mercy of God –  throw it back where it came from, so to speak:

notre dame

And so on Low Sunday the ugly baby was found on the doorsteps of Notre Dame Cathedral.

We often name our Sundays after the first two or three words of that day’s Introit,  the opening prayer as the Mass begins.   Here is the Introit for Low Sunday,  the Sunday after Easter:

Quasi modo géniti infántes allelúia: rationábiles, sine dolo lac concupíscite, allelúia, allelúia, allelúia.

Or  (English):  As newborn babes, alleluia, desire the rational milk without guile, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

“Newborn babies” ?  What to call that abandoned newborn baby?   Call it by the name of the Sunday on which he appeared:  Quasimodo.

Little Quasimodo found mercy and love among the Christian hearts within Notre Dame’s walls.   He was fed and cared for and as he grew he  joyfully fulfilled the task of ringing the bells in those great towers.

Victor Hugo wrote the fictional story of Quasimodo and made it a deep study of love and hate,  of rejection, betrayal,  rescue,  hypocrisy,   innocent love and cold-hearted lust — and of the noblest act of self-sacrifice.   Even though we may know “what happens” in the story,  it’s well worth reading, especially as we grow older.

A few days ago it was Quasimodo Sunday.  We didn’t hear about The Hunchback of Notre Dame in the sermon,   but we  did learn  to become like the little children that Jesus held up before us as our models;  and we did learn to become eager for the new, nourishing milk of the whole story of the Gospel.  Every bit of it!

Yes,  we should want Him that much;   in the same way as (quasi modo) that a newborn baby wants his mother’s milk,   because it’s there that we find  mercy and peace and life that doesn’t end.

A fictional story that demonstrates the love of God?     How about a factual story of the same kind that also demonstrates the power of the love of God?

Once there was born an ugly little girl baby –  deformed,  hunch-backed,  and blind.    True story.

castello

Her parents were wealthy nobles and her birth would bring shame to them –  if anyone ever saw her.    The little baby was named Margaret and she was kept locked in a back room of her parents’ castle – out of sight! – with only a maidservant to care for her needs.      And because she was human and because this was a  Christian  country,   they sent a priest in to see her at times.

Like the good people in Notre Dame Cathedral,  this priest took care of her spiritual needs,  taught her the truths about God’s love and mercy –  and Margaret grew up to be kind and loving – and forgiving,   trusting in God.

margaret

Not so her parents.    When they thought she was old enough,  they took her to the nearby town  for a “shopping trip.”       And they abandoned her there.   Cold,  hungry,  weary of waiting for her parents all day,  she was taken in by various families, until months later finally she was brought to a convent –  which was a bad one!     Being blind and crippled,  she brought them no money so they soon  kicked her out,  back onto the streets.

But remember,  she had been taught right from wrong by that loving priest in her early life.  She knew how God wants us to live – with kindness and forgiveness given freely to all.     She chose the love and mercy of her Heavenly Father and never wavered.  Her life was an instruction to everyone,  to everyone who would see.    Good people loved her.

(You can read her story in the “Read the rest. . .”  part below.)

These are two examples for us who are “blind” in some areas;  who are unformed in good works and deformed in our actions;  crippled morally in some small way;  who secretly feel we could be rejected if people knew the truth about us . .  .  .

Blind and deformed and crippled.   Quasimodo knew and Margaret of Castello knew —  that it’s  for these kind of people that Jesus died  (Good Friday)  and rose again  (Easter) that they may become His followers, like dear children (quasi modo . . .)

The real world that we live in can be ugly and unfriendly and dangerous.     But the Real real world can also be a place to dwell in God’s unchanging love.

 

______________________________________________

 

(more…)

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.

 

green

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.

____________________________________

 

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

 

 

AT LAST!

April 16, 2017

 

The other Easter joy:

 

peeps one gone

 

(once a year)

ALIVE! – WHAT TO SAY

April 16, 2017

HAPPY EASTER TO THE WORLD!!!!

akive

 

What can we say to the God of Love, Our Father,  who planned this all along so that it would be possible for us to enter into His Heaven?

It was so unexpected.  It is so above our means.

jesus risen

 

 

We say this prayer.   Repeated throughout this day.     Repeated throughout our lives.  This prayer of gratitude:

 

Adoramus Te, Christe, et benedicimus Tibi,

Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.   Amen.

 

English:

We adore Thee, O Christ,  and we bless Thee,

For by Thy Holy Cross thou hast redeemed the world.   Amen.

________________________________________

 

And to each other:

“Christ is risen.”

“He is risen indeed.”

Happy Easter!

 

 

 

 

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.”*

___________________________________

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

by  A.G. Sertillanges

JUST . . . LOOK UP

April 13, 2017

The “beautiful thing” of this week:

3 Moon 1

Moon and moon-in-pond.

My camera could not capture its lovely golden color.  

3 Moon 3 with effects

 The Paschal Moon shines down through my back yard trees.

The first full moon after the first new moon of the first month of the year, Nisan.

The Paschal Moon shines down on all of us this week, because once, 2,000 years ago,  it rose over Jerusalem:

3 moon above.

And Jesus died.

 

 

 

 

TWO REALMS OF LIFE

April 13, 2017

I wrote yesterday that some   “happy, beautiful”  things happened to me.  Well,  here is the “happy” thing and what it showed me:

4 recorder j

As humans,  there are two realms put before us at each present moment:      One of great beauty and life;  one of ugliness and death.   And so on Wednesday of this week and Thursday we are reminded that these two realms are set before us.

Adherence to Rituals and Rules

I came to my friend’s house  yesterday,  and this is what greeted me —

 4 table set

It was time for our somewhat regular recorder practice on Wednesday.  The “ritual” is that we  seat ourselves in front of our music stands, allow a little  light conversation while we play our first pieces, and then we get down to some serious musicianship.   Then we begin to feel that our session is over, and we proceed to tea.

Always an absolute delight at my friend’s house; beautiful, seasonal, whimsical.   A thoughtful table for tea.

4 Napkin

My friend served mille-feuilles in honor of a book we’ve both enjoyed.

4 mille

(Also known as napoleons.)   There was a Reality at work here in our friendship and in our music,  a beautiful  Reality that flows out of one realm and into the other.

_________________________________

We did not mention that yesterday was Spy Wednesday  –  but it was:

4 thirty pieces

This Wednesday is called “Spy Wednesday”  because on this day the Jewish leaders met with  riff-raff.    They who were  the righteous arbiters of Ritual and the Law, had to deal with this common man, Judas Iscariot, who was willing to betray his own Friend with secret reports of His whereabouts.       With great distaste,  these religious rulers finalized their plans and sealed the deal with  the 30 pieces of silver that was foretold so many centuries ago.   But one does what one must to achieve a higher goal.

The religious rulers as well as the Romans lived in the one, material realm.

Statues,  unquestioned authority,  riches,  gold and silver, impressive robes and long fringes;  in this  material realm the use of  power of this material world could establish a kind of peace, ruling over all the rest.   This is a kingdom not founded in love and friendship, faith and true  piety,  but on Rules and Rituals to keep people in their proper places.

It is a kingdom, a realm,  that is ugly and leads to death.

So the culmination of all this spying and plotting came on a Wednesday,  but it is for Thursday to carry it out

Material Reality and Spiritual Reality

Material Reality alone fails.    There is a Spiritual Reality which gives beauty and life to our  Material Reality,  but we can’t”measure the spirit  by  material means.

 Can we measure the material worth of Friendship?   of  Honor?   of Courage?  of Love?  What is the price, in material goods,  of your love for  each of family members?     4 ruler

How many miles long is your Truth?    What color is the Respect that people have for you?   4 scales How many pounds does your Faith in God weigh?

 But these things exist.

And yet, some things can be seen and weighed and measured and physically compared. We can’t lose sight of the material world that we live in, nor of the spiritual world which give Life to it.

 _____________________________________

Just as our tea table yesterday contained a tea pot, cups, saucers,  hot cross buns and milles-feuilles,  and you could have recorded the sound of a lovely music CD, our voices,  the telephone ringing,  chairs squeaking, footsteps . . .   you could not have measured the intangible things of the actual Spiritual Realm (mutual love, friendship, respect,  faith)  which accompanied us and penetrated all our material  “noises.”

Both existed.   The material realm and the spiritual realm met and  co-existed.

This is not “above” human beings to  understand.

4 last supper reclining

Jesus met with His friends  at His Last Supper with them,   It was a supper determined by Rituals with  prophetic meaning.   It was a time for the last bit of teaching,  last time to show the means of Loving which is self-sacrifice and servitude,  last bit of instructive and loving prayers, and one thing more:

4 l;ast supper jess

With God’s creative and sovereign will,  here was the first Transformation of the material aspects of that Supper into an eternal, spiritual union with the Creator –  present from now on,  any time,  any place that this “ritual supper” is recreated.

From the earliest beginnings of Christianity,  this Last Supper was not meant to be merely copied by our actions, nor imitated.   The Last Supper,  within these last 24 hours of Jesus’ life on Earth,  was meant to be entered into  spiritually,  really,  actually — and perpetually,  until He comes.   Matter and Spirit.

These last 24 hours are completed at Calvary.

The Last Supper which then  becomes the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

PRESENT!

April 11, 2017

palms

“Live deliberately, ”  I tell my classes.  “Make deliberate,  conscious choices.”    (So during this Holy Week,  I choose to direct my attention more often to the cosmic, eternal events which makes this week so full of opportunity for us.)

 “Be present.”

This week begins with the familiar story of Palm Sunday.  

 

road to jerusalem

It had been a pilgrim’s journey to Jerusalem, where observant Jews can be  present for Passover.   Jesus had been making the  journey to this Passover in Jerusalem for a few days, and He made a few stops along the way.

Did you know that once Jesus was scolded for not being “present”?

There is a city along the way to Jerusalem called Bethany.    A man named Lazarus lived there with his two sisters.    He became very sick and was dying.  The sisters sent word to Jesus to come quickly and heal him.  

(Here is an aerial view of Bethany’s location, down in the corner):

aerial view

But Jesus did not arrive quickly;   Lazarus was dead by the time He got there.

The sisters  scolded and said,    “If you had been here sooner,  you could have done something for him!”     ( If you had been  present here,  our brother would not have died.)        But Jesus had not been present when needed,  or so they thought.  We know what Jesus did for Lazarus.    The sisters are united with their brother.

marthaThen it was time to take care of their Guest, a Guest who is now present.   But Martha scurried away to get the food and drink ready.   Only her sister Mary remained  present at the side of Jesus to hear every word He had to say.

One present at His side,  one not;  and Jesus said that Mary had chosen the “better part.”   I don’t need to point out that being present for Jesus at every moment is indeed the better part.     How much you can miss when you’re scurrying about with other duties and other thoughts!!

Then,  on the first day of the week,  Jesus walked all the way into Jerusalem– and was met by many people who had anticipated that He would be present in the city!

Palm branches

Yes,  it’s ironic that the same population who was heralding Him as their  Blessed King “who comes in the name of the LORD”  is the same population that cried out that they have no king but Herod — so crucify this Man!

But for now,  on this Palm Sunday,  they rejoiced that He was present in their midst and that they  themselves were present to sing highest praises of hosannas in His presence.

And after this day of palms?    The next day He made Himself present to the people of the city He loved.         He was present and exposed to anyone who wanted to make a case against Him.

He walked around,  He talked,  He healed,   He answered questions,   He was out in the open,  totally present to anyone who wanted to find out about Him.

Again,  present, as He is for us today,  without us  having to buy a ticket to fly to Jerusalem.

___________________________________

So being present is a two-way phenomenon.   Someone is present for you;  and you make yourself present to Someone.

Same way it always was.

 

RADIATION AND PERTURBATIONS – I

April 9, 2017

 

Sorry I couldn’t get back here right away after the storm.  I’ve been “perturbed.”

But we’re still here:

2nd Tree and moon

That tall tree that twisted and turned so menacingly in our big storm is still standing.  The sky the next day was gloriously blue.  Innocently blue:  “What?  What storm?”   The pond level remains high but the raging torrent has returned to a normally high spring-level creek no longer uprooting trees and gouging out the creek bank.

Nature is calmer,  but this week becomes one of “perturbations”  and turmoil in the spiritual world,  during which Christians try to enter into the experience of Holy Week,  Jesus’ last week of life on this earth.   Try to enter into;  try to figure it out;  spend time  uniting in the experience, the story, the details.

The time approaches.

2nd Tree and Fist

 

Next to the photo of the top of the tree is a moon becoming full.  Not just any full moon;  the Paschal Moon,  for it is always full on Passover, and therefore on the Thursday of this particular week.    I put up my fist to measure the height of the moon.   One fist = 10 degrees.  The moon was about 50 degrees high in the sky.   As Thursday evening comes, it will be about that high,   but it will be just about at its highest point later in Gethsemane,  where Jesus had his  unspeakable agony,   sorrow beyond our understanding.

“Perturbations” 

2nd Waves

So, the storm that Mother Nature gave our area is past, but the wind still blows little waves and ripples across the pond to accompany our unsettled feelings during our Holy Week meditations.

And now there is the storm our politicians are giving us in international affairs.    “Russia threatens war,”  the new headlines say.     Well,  yes.   We attacked a sovereign nation.   One which Russia was working with to defeat ISIS.   They would be “perturbed.”

And   “Perturbations in Egypt.”     Palm Sunday today, and 43 Christians were killed in their churches by Islamic bombs.    “Innocent children and women  should not be killed in that manner”   . .  .  to use the words of the American president commenting on events in Syria.    I hope he is not so perturbed that he takes advice to retaliate against Egypt.   And if not,  why not?

(Maybe an unnamed “chemical gas”  is supposed to perturb us more than a more familiar bomb-attack.)

“Perturbations” as Islam advances apace in the Western world.

This week, after a few months of listening to a lecturer from Yale present Late Ancient and Medieval history,   he suddenly began giving lectures falsifying  (and sanitizing)  the history of Islam —  I could have thrown fifty books at him that tell a very different  history,   and consistently different throughout the centuries of experience with Islam,  some of these books written long before this man was born.   I suppose he has to agree to say these things or else lose his tenure.

But, gee — if you can’t trust a history professor from Yale,  who can you trust?   (That’s a joke, my friends.)

But again, “Islam advances apace.”     Look up that word “apace.”