Archive for the ‘Month of May’ category


May 31, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

anemone blue
What is Unity?

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

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

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

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

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

(Okay, maybe one little clue):

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



May 30, 2015

Pure beauty!

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

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

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

Some reddish Camellias:
cam bush

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cam water

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

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

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

Camellias for the Virgin Mary!


May 29, 2015

This one:

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

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

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

How much Our Lady cherishes . . . .

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


May 28, 2015

The honeysuckle:

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

Like you’re “trumpeting” your cause.

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

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

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

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

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

honeysuckle red

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

Figuratively speaking.


May 27, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A “hint”  about Education:

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

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

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


May 24, 2015

The fervent red poppy.

poppy red

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

It’s only logical.

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

poppies red

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

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

poppy witnesses

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

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

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

poppy jes

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

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


May 24, 2015

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

Bluebells to remind us of Our Lady today:

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

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

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

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

But there’s more here.

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

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


May 22, 2015

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

buttercup field

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

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

All of which is, I suppose, the Point.

buttercup flower of five

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

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

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

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

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

Need some “complexity” ?  —


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

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

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

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


May 21, 2015

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

The periwinkle:

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

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

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

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

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

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

It would help to purify our intentions.


May 20, 2015

May 20, geraniums.

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

gernaium pink pot

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

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

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

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

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

How to be a geranium.

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

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

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


May 20, 2015

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

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

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

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

That leaves us with two problems.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An existence apart from a Holy God.


May 18, 2015

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

A lavender field  —

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

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

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

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

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

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


May 17, 2015

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

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

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

lilac trees

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

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

naz home

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

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

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

“Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”


May 16, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The lily of the valley:

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

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

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

I know so little.

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

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

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


May 15, 2015

Generosity is the quality we associate with Mary, the mother of Christ,  today.    This quality is suggested by the little mimosa flower.

mimosaThey are made of many little petals reaching out, giving a sort of soft, puffy appearance.

A close-up  —

mimosa close upI’m not able to write much tonight,  so I will just remind us all that generosity is not measured by how many checks you write to help other people;   nor by how many dollar bills you may hand out to the needy;   nor by how unselfish with your time you are when people need your help;  nor by any act which can be seen, felt,  quantified, or marked down on a ledger — not even the invisible one that the angels are said to be keeping of our deeds.

My thought for you and for me tonight is to remember that generosity refers to a  natural responsiveness  within us that makes us ready and easily willing to give ourselves to others, without even a first thought.   Generosity of spirit resides so deeply and naturally within us, that we are generally unaware of it.   It’s a way of life.   Generosity is a gift from God,  a gift for those who are His and are able to receive it.

Here’s a pink one:

mimosa pinkThere is a warmth that comes forth from generous people.   A soft loveliness,  a safe feeling, because they are the right hand of our good God.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

And now I shall go back to bed again to fight the unwelcome virus that has been so generous to me. . . .


May 15, 2015

Passion:  from  the Latin word “pati”  —    to endure; to suffer (usually physical);  to endure suffering;  to be acted upon or to receive action which produces strong sensations or feelings.

passion spikesI can’t get a satisfactory picture of the Passion Flower.   They don’t seem to make sense to me.    But they all seem to have in common a circle and sharp spikes.

In common English,  “passion”  seems to mean strong feelings that an experience gives you;  or strong feelings that a desire gives you.

Another Passion Flower.

passion mess These “strong feelings”  occur when what we are experiencing brings us to our limits,  and takes us beyond reason.

Really?   —

passion rainbowWhen we give one of these flowers to Mary in the Month of May,  we mean to honor the Passion of her Son,  the Christ, which he endured for our sakes, but which, as His mother,  she felt more keenly than we could understand.       As his life anticipated His Passion on the Cross,  her life experienced this anticipation as well,  through her motherly love,

I can’t understand what Jesus endured on the Cross,  but I can know — and ponder — the great Love it took to come to earth and willingly undergo it all for our sake.    Mary’s whole life honors His Passion by standing by and enduring and experiencing it in the way a mother feels what her son feels.

A very sorrowful flower indeed.


May 13, 2015

Busy today.   Tired now.    Did hours of mind-bending studying.   Prepared notes for my classes.   Did enough outdoor work to make me feel physically tired.    So I worked hard,  did what I had to do.

And now I have to write about a flower.

laurel pin kThe Laurel.

All  these flowers this month are chosen to represent a quality that is associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary.   The Laurel  represents Duty.

Well,  it’s probably appropriate because Mary actually did all that was required of her.   She probably did her Duty and didn’t complain about either . . . like being tired at the end of the day.

laurel stripesThis looks like a sturdy plant,  cranking out perfect little flowers,  like it’s supposed to.   Perhaps that’s why it’s chosen to represent Duty.

There are many varieties of laurel, many different appearances,  and then there is the Crown of Laurels that was awarded to those who won the  serious physical Games played by the ancients.    Was the crown made of the leaves from this same plant?

laurel crownThis is a gilded laurel crown,  but the real one, the one you wanted to win,  was made of leaves.  the leaves will wilt and fade away quickly, and there was a message in that.   Whether you are an athlete,  a general, or a common worker, it is noble to do your duty and to do it well.    “Virtue is its own reward.”

Doing your duty is hard work sometimes,  but you must do what you must do, and to fulfill your duty,  you must do it well.

Come to think of it,  that’s why I’m so tired tonight.   And rather than complaining,  I can remember there is someone else who did her duty.   We can all have recourse to her when we’re weary, and our life’s work is not over yet.   Mary,  the Mother of Jesus;  she’d understand.


May 12, 2015

From the genus Epacris,  meaning “upon a hill,”  the heath flower is offered to Mary today.

HeathflowerThey come in pinks, whites, and creams,   and are thought to grow best on a hillside, thus looking downwards towards the world, as though in a state of recollection.

Certainly Mary was recollected, and she is our model to be recollected in all things, all circumstances.  Thoughtful,  but a kind of wise thoughtfulness.

So, have you ever walked along a sidewalk – or better, walked along a quiet pathway in a park?    So much to look at!   But imagine yourself walking along, and now you put your head down …. and walk ….  what happens?  You’ve pulled your attention in, closer around you.  You’ve contracted your “aura,”  so to speak.     You are “in your own world.”

Now the  unsettling, puzzling, busy, chaotic, confusing, demanding things of the world around you are further away.   Walk along, thinking,  but thinking your own thoughts now.  You have inner wisdom, inner strength, inner thoughts to ponder.

heath epacrisWith eyes cast downward,   the “input”  slows down,  and you can sense a bit of peace.  In this state,  good insights can arrive,  good thoughts can sort themselves out,  and your Inner Spiritual Reality can be tended to.

Mary, the Mother of God,  “pondered these things in her heart,” —  and the results of her pondering served her well, all throughout her very sorrowful life.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee. . . ”   (Isaiah 26:3)

The heath flower.  Recollected.


May 11, 2015

Jasmine 1Jasmine is the flower we offer to Our Lady today, the tenth day of May,  because of its very sweet fragrance.    When we look at  a well-done portrait of Mary, the Mother of Jesus,  her sweetness is made evident.

mary at prayerWhen we describe someone  as  sweet we mean they are pleasant, kind,  nice,  gentle,  and good.    There is no meanness or coarseness in that person – nor is there meanness  in the one doing the describing, at the time he is describing.  That’s important, because to recognize sweetness elevates  a person into a higher state of refinement.

Jasmine 2

This kind of sweetness is attractive, because it is true kindness – a better way to interact with people.   Gentleness is a better way to interact with people.      Pleasantness, goodness, all these are  better ways to interact with people.    It treats people as though they were valuable, and that makes you a valuable person too,

We are all “sweet people”  in the making,  whether male or female.   Budding sweetness —

Jasmine 3Have you ever done something nice for someone, and in appreciation the person spontaneously says:  “Oh, that was so sweet!”     We’re all capable of doing something sweet.   We’re all capable of copying the sweetness that Mary modeled for us. We just need to look for sweetness, to recognize sweetness,  to appreciate sweetness, to be consistently nice and pleasant and helpful and generous and gentle . . .  .

Jasmine is  used in perfumes and in teas.    It’s nicely sweet,  but the surprising thing about jasmine is that it never becomes “too” sweet or “sickeningly” sweet.  It always seems to be refreshingly sweet, and just right every time.


May 9, 2015

Nothing spectacular or delicate about this flower,  it’s easy to overlook when out in the wild, common along rocky shores of the eastern Mediterranean, now in gardens everywhere.

mignonetteBut very close up the mignonette has a wonderful spicy sweet fragrance that makes it worth a second look.   The fragrance is quite attractive and compelling, according to those who know this flower, but you have to get up close to the flower.   For that reason,  it’s chosen to represent the practice of hidden virtues,  exemplified so well by the Mother of Jesus, and so we offer the mignonette to her today, on this ninth day of May.

There are not too many words in the Bible spoken by Mary, nor, for that matter,  not too many words about her.   She led  a life hidden from us, her would be audience,  but a life of virtue, faithfulness  and love,  hidden in God.

They say Character is what you choose to do in private – when no one is looking, or no one will ever know.    Your true character will come out.

For my classes, I call that your Inner Spiritual Reality.   It is that Reality which you will take with you when you stand before your Creator, at your death.    Now, while you’re still alive, is the time to carefully create and cultivate that Inner Reality of the spirit.

Strengthening the practice of Hidden Spiritual virtues is a good way to create a holy and beautiful Inner Reality.    Although Mary was created and saved all at once, and was always beautiful and  sweet and holy,    it’s all right if it takes us a “bit of time” to become like her.

Like Mary, who showed us the way,   we must practice the virtues, hidden, to please God only.   We may not look much like on the outside,  but it’s the beautiful fragrance of our inner lives that matter.  Like the mignonette.