Archive for the ‘saint’ category

HUNCHBACK REDUX

April 27, 2017

 

Anybody remember who this man was?

jimmy pic

He was a celebrity, to be sure,  but he was a kind and wise fatherly figure to me . .  .

Well,  wait a minute.

_____________________________________

Yesterday I wrote to you about two ugly people,  hunchbacked, blind, hobbling around, apparently useless — indeed,  rejected by society.   The story of the  first one, the hunchback who lived in Notre Dame cathedral, packs a powerful punch and it takes courage to read that book.

The second hunchback is a real person,   Margaret of Castello,   and her story will fill you with outrage and pity –  and astonishment.

The first figure displayed heroic Christian courage,  constancy,  loyalty,  love and tragic action. marg  The second figure,  Margaret,  all her life showed wondrous Christian  love and forgiveness,  wisdom,  virtue,  goodness and kindness.

I wanted to revisit their stories a little bit because I’m not sure if I told their story well enough.    The one common point that these two figures have is that their interior lives were both made good and wonderful and valuable by the power of God which they allowed to work in them — in spite of great difficulties. 

Our world is full of serious, even life-threatening problems,  and maybe in our personal lives we have serious problems.    That old saying is pertinent for our difficult world:  “Change the world?  Change yourself.”

The effect that Margaret of Castello had on her surrounding world was profound and life-changing for many, many people.

Okay,  the man in the first photo above?     Jimmy Dodd!

jimmy

Even as a child I could tell that he was a good man,  a wise man,  and that he genuinely cared that we grew up to be good and caring people.  He sang to us, as he taught us and he taught us his lesson by teaching us to sing.  Here is “Doreen”  from  the original (and very good)  Mickey Mouse Club singing his song.     It’s less than a minute:

 

 

“Beauty is as beauty does.”        To the one who follows Jesus —   who knows Him and loves Him, and so therefore follows Him,  there is a real change inside,  no matter what the outside appearances are.

It comes out like this:   (Galatians 5:22,  23 ) –  “. . .   the fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity. “

A follower of Jesus gets some “gifts” too.  Among them are wisdom and understanding, discernment.    With these we can help solve the problems around us.

Here’s Blessed Margaret of Castello now:

marg incorruptible

Her body is incorruptible after several centuries.  But it doesn’t matter what her body used to look like.

She’s no longer ugly,  hunchbacked, and blind.

She’s beautiful.

 

 

 

March 28, 2017

winking
(I hope I didn’t melt any Snowflakes in that previous posting ) 

I really was just musing about how important that “warrior” spirit is to building up and maintaining a  ccivilization.      Included in that term “warrior spirit”  is a very high system of ethics and morality,  without which warriors would devolve into barbaric free-for-alls.   Might makes right, etc.

In a nice serendipitous point on our calendar,  we are directed today to look at St. Gontran.   I never heard of him.  (Or I probably read about him before as I cycle through the yearly saints – I simply don’t remember him.)

St Gontran de Bourgpgne
In that last post,   I had just referenced my study of Merovingian kings,  and here is one for today!    Gontran was the son of that first great Merovingian king,  Clovis, a pagan Frankish warrior  who converted to his wife’s Christianity to save his life in battle  and then went on, with God’s help,  to establish a stable Frankish kingdom which contributed to the development of Western Civilization as we  know knew it.

His son, Gontran, was raised Catholic from  birth and probably had an even  better understanding of Christianity than his father.    He was devoted to Christ,  and when grown was given the land of Bourgogne to rule,  that is,  the big area we call Burgundy,  which played such an important role in our  history.

St Gontran king of lotsA dignified and respected leader, King Gontran

Although King Gontran has an interesting biography,  I’ll just give you this partial  summary   from  Butler’s . . .  “The prosperity of his reign,  both in peace and in war,  condemns those who think that human policy cannot be modeled by the maxims of the Gospel,  whereas, in reality,  nothing can render a government more flourishing.  . . .  He was the protector of the oppressed and a tender parent of his subjects.     He gave the greatest attention to the sick.   He fasted, prayed, wept, and offered himself to God night and day  . . .    He was a severe punisher of crimes . . .   and by many wholesome regulations he restrained the barbarous licentiousness of his troops.”   He lived to 68 years of age, after reigning for 31 years –  a great long life span!

Note that this freedom from the godless barbarism of the day came with the application of the Christian notion of the warrior of high moral conscience.   Fighting for what is right.      Only a people who are willing to be free and who are willing to defend their freedom will be free.

Now, today,  as we saw,  that warrior spirit is on beer bottle labels.    Or we put our warriors in the land of make-believe and give them  imaginary, unrealistic and superhuman faculties, confining them to  movies or games.     If  warrior spirits dare to emerge in elementary schools,  we suspend those young boys.   Even if their “weapon” is a munched-on Pop-Tart!  College males go around apologizing for who they are.   We’re content to come home from work or school,  kick off our shoes,  and rest in an electronically induced somnolence, while our Rulers silently consolidate their power over us.

deep

Again,  freedom isn’t free.   Freedom didn’t come to us for free.    “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”   Not just a sentimental phrase from history.  And though we don’t know for sure who first stated it,  the truth of the matter is that  we won’t keep our freedom without paying a price.     Perhaps we only need to pay attention – and do our duty appropriate to our station in life and to the circumstances around us.

Perhaps we’ll be called on to do more.

Not necessarily with battle-axe and sword.

So,  I’m not sure,   but it would seem that  if a  foreign “warrior spirit”  threatens our freedoms or even our very existence, . . .

Slay and Butcher

        . . .    then it ought to be matched by an equal or great warrior spirit coming from us.

Unless our culture is suicidal.

History will record . . . .

WIKI AND THE SWORD OF DESTINY

March 17, 2017

 

(I have to repeat this yet again:  “There is something wrong with the passage of time!  It is speeding by too fast” —  too fast to take in all the things that each week offers us.)

And so this post is still thinking through the things of March 15 . . .

_________________________________

March 15,  on this day we remember the life and martyrdom of St. Longinus –  the name given to that Centurion who thrust the spear into the side of Jesus after He had died on the Cross.

Longinus Card 220

      The story makes sense:    The Jews in Palestine at the time knew the Law:  “Cursed is anyone who hangs from a tree”  (i.e.,  a criminal, executed);     and if the criminal is allowed to hang there overnight,  then the whole land is cursed.

       The three men executed had to be killed before sunset and taken down from their  “trees”     or else the large Jewish population would revolt against the Roman authorities.

      The Jews in Palestine would also have known that any lamb to be sacrificed had to be perfect,  unblemished,  and never to have any broken bones, before, during, or after.

To fulfill the Law,  then, the Roman authorities sent out the order to the Centurion in charge to break the bones of the three so that they would die quickly, before sunset that day.    But the Centurion found Jesus already dead.   Probably.   It looked like it.   To make sure,  he thrust his spear into the side of Jesus.

The Catholic Church was born that day,  from the water and blood,  (the spiritual meaning of the Water and Blood)  that gushed out of the side of the dead body of Jesus.*      Eerie, un-explainable phenomena had taken place in the natural world that day;  and now at the sight of this Water and Blood,  it was remarked, then,  “Surely this   (actually) was the Son of God!”

All parts of this Day have been preserved and recorded –  including  the part that this Centurion played and the lance that he used.    The tale was told in Greek and Latin and in subsequent languages of Europe.    Thus, in Greek:   λόγχη   –   meaning “lance”  which is not too far from the name  “Longinus”  now given to this Centurion.  For his part and for his conversion to the faith of Christ,  he is called St. Longinus.      The remark attributed to him,  (surely, this was the Son of God!)  has confirmed the faith of many.

It’s a tale well worth pondering – and internalizing.      My Roman Martyrology for March 15th begins with this short statement about him:  ” At Caesarea in Cappadocia the martyrdom of St. Longinus who is said to have pierced our Lord’s side with a spear.”   

____________________________

SED CONTRA   (but contrariwise):    (just in case you haven’t joined the cynical modern-day scoffers,  religion-wiki offers you that chance!)    —

I had time to look around on the Internet for some more information –  and eventually came to the odd and sometimes untrustworthy site of Wikipedia,  which carries the predictable words:  doubt, doubt, doubt,  unreliable sources,  apocryphal,  legend, pseudopigraphical,  perhaps,  been asserted to,   folklore,  local tradition, etc., etc.

And then this odd statement:   In the Roman Martyrology he is mentioned, without any indication of martyrdom, in the following terms: “At Jerusalem, commemoration of Saint Longinus, who is venerated as the soldier opening the side of the crucified Lord with a lance.”

Wait!  But my Roman Martyology  said he WAS martyred.

He was mentioned along with an indication of his martyrdom . . . .

It’s not a big thing, except as it is part of a subtle rewriting of the history of Western Civilization that is going on all over, all around us, and at breathtaking depth and speed.

We truly live in an age of Fake News,  Fake Information,  just about Fake Everything.  There is a reason for this,  a methodology,  but that’s not my point here.      Right now, these days,  I am more concerned with something called The Tipping Point,  as well as the growing  movement towards Totalitarianism.

The stakes are high.

spear of destiny

We have this spear from almost two thousand years ago.      It was the “Spear of Destiny” given all sorts of supernatural powers by those who believe in . . .   anything.    (“When one stops believing in God, one doesn’t believe in Nothing;  one will believe Anything!”  (GKC))

And such we have personified by the man who last led a portion of our world into Totalitarianism.    Hitler.   He truly believed that the two   “spooky, supernatural”  items from the time of Christ  (the Christ Figure, I suppose),  which are the Spear and the Holy Grail, would give him the godlike powers he tried so hard to attain.

The bridge to our day and a new totalitarian way of thinking?

Hitler (and his companions) were masters at managing the attitudes and enthusiasms of millions of people.     He was a master of propaganda  and mass mind control (of the “scientific”  or “psychological”  kind – I’m not referring to any spooky supernatural mind-control),   and of manipulating the minds of crowds and masses of German people.  There were subtle changes made to their history,  their culture,  their “destiny.”

Studying the minute details of how this was accomplished day to day in Hitler’s Germany will reveal chilling similarities to what is being accomplished today.    From  subtle and not-so-subtle changes in our textbooks and other sources of information,   to entertainment which entices us to enjoy the new morality and agree with the new mindset,   to  Fake News that knows it’s Fake but also knows its lasting effects even when it gets caught out,  to the “children” on campuses who will not allow any other opinion but the one they’ve been propagandized with – and will become violent to shut out any diverse opinion . . ..

We have it all – and so much more.

I watch this growing trend towards the Group Think of the totalitarian mindset –  and I wonder:  When are we going to reach that Tipping Point – and experience the fulfillment of consequences that we didn’t even realize we were forming.

The Tipping Oint towards the full reality of Totalitarianism.

Bar Cross in middle

.*    It was His death that was the Sacrifice, offered to the Creator,  God the Father,  that enabled the many benefits of salvation and grace to pour out into the world.      (This Teaching has been a bit mangled in the last few decades – but that is our fault,  it’s not the Teachings that have changed.)

  To Abraham it was said that one of his descendants would bring Blessings upon the whole world.”    These Blessings refer to the future one-time Sacrifice of Christ which effected the  sure possibility of Salvation offered to anyone in the world who wants it.     Thus, at the time of His death,  Christ’s Church begins.

Quicumque !!!     

QQ 150

  (for those of you who have visited my house and seen the wall above my computer!)

………

A BIRTHDAY & A SAINT ALMOST MURDERED

May 22, 2016

The birthday celebration table:

BDay  Tab;e sr

Steaks.  Salads.   Presents.  Card.   Cake.   (  . . . and a big arm waiting.)      It’s fun putting on a birthday spread, especially for someone very important!

It was Son’s birthday this weekend.    (Oh, yes – the whole weekend;  three-day weekend, as a matter of fact.   Since his profession requires him to work some weekends, and since  so many people wanted a piece of him on his birthday the celebrations will take  three days. )

Which brings me to my point:  so many hours worked!   So many people to see!    Oh,  Son is not complaining,   but I do observe  people who have busy-busy lives.  I once had an impossibly busy life too.

Has time speeded up or are we trying to cram more into our days?

Or are we trying to avoid facing the deeper issues of Life by activity?

Or all of the above?

But this question is nothing new . . .

Complicated

Human life has long been busy and complicated with great challenges and no easy answers.     Many times everyday life prevents us from sorting out Good and Bad;  Right and Wrong;    Duty;   Virtue;  our relationship to God and each other.    We are distracted, willingly or not willingly,  from the serious issues of Life.

Son is an intelligent person, and sometimes he perceives this dilemma too.

Appropriately,   the saint we remember on the day of Son’s birthday is a man named St.  Hospitius.   (“hoss – pish – us”)      He left the high (and complex, busy) culture of Egypt, sometime after the fall of the Roman Empire, in order to find a quiet  place to understand the meaning of life and to work out his relationship with God.

He traveled to the less populated regions of Gaul,  what we’d call France,  today.    He needed time to think and to figure things out.   He chose to live in the ruins of an old tower where he hoped to see not very many people.      Peace and quiet and freedom.

st h and tower ruins

He had quiet time alone, away from people;  time to think, to learn, and to pray.      He knew this much:  that he was certainly a sinner before God, and he wished to atone for his sins,  to do penance,  and to develop a deep friendship with  his Savior.

And as often happens:  we seek,  heaven rewards.     St.  Hospitius was eventually rewarded with wisdom and understanding,  and the power to prophesy and to work miracles.  Once he warned the villagers around him that they had better flee,  because the fierce tribe of Lombards were on their way to attack, pillage, and destroy.

They left,  but he didn’t.   A small group of barbarian Lombard soldiers found him and saw the chains that he usually wore around his waist, to remind him of what a great sinner he was.   The soldiers thought he was some kind of criminal.

He agreed with them!     Yes!  In the eyes of God I am a criminal.    A great sinner.”   So since he was a self-admitted “bad guy” and an obvious outcast,  they were free to kill him.

Stospitius in chains

A soldier raised his sword to strike,   but the soldier’s arm became paralyzed.   St.  Hospitius made the sign of the cross over him —  the soldier’s arm became “un-paralyzed”   — and the soldier realized this is a holy man of God, and soon converted to Christianity, along with his (military)  friends.

His life is over now.   He died in 581 A.D.      But the relentless demands of busy, everyday life is still with us, as well as the serious need to sort out  Life and Death issues and make our peace with our Creator before we die.

St.  Hospitius is in Eternity right now.    Our Eternity is still before us.  It’s coming.

 

JOHN WAYNE AND GOOD ST. NICK

December 6, 2015

JohnWayneI saw a small portion of this movie today,  between football games.    It’s called The Quiet Man, a classic,  and a pretty good study of character,  with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara.

john wayne pow

John Wayne plays an American who inadvertently kills a man during  a boxing match.   He comes to Ireland, his homeland,  to find peace, but finds Maureen O’Hara instead.   The two have a turbulent relationship at first, etc., etc.

In the “turbulence” and fighting right during the celebration right after their wedding,   her dowry of gold coins gets knocked over and spilled, but the new husband, young and proud, just wants to take his bride out of there, without stopping to gather the coins.

gold gift

She is distraught beyond reason, or so it would seem to us Americans.   After all, this isn’t an American tradition, so it’s hard to understand why she was so upset. She bewails all the things she will no longer be able to buy for her new home.   She will be poor, now, even in marriage.

A dowry.    Who would want to even marry a girl who is without a dowry?    It used to be a very important issue.   And so it was in the Near East, many centuries ago, when  three young sisters of marriageable age had no dowry, no hopes of  a decent marriage, and most likely, a life of  abject poverty and probably prostitution where they would be given money in exchange for their honor.   Their father was beyond hope for them.

It so happened that their bishop was known for Christian love and compassion and generosity.

St Nich golden bags

When the plight of this family of three daughters came to his ears, he one night, without letting anyone know,  carried a bag of gold to their house and threw it into the open window.  The first daughter now had a dowry to present to a husband.

He did the same thing the next night,  and the next.    In a sense,  he ransomed these three daughters from a seemingly hopeless future.

gold pawn

( This is why three golden balls are the sign of a pawn shop –  one temporarily sells one’s possessions, with the thought of “ransoming” them back again some day.)

There are many more accounts of this bishop’s kindness and self-sacrificing generosity.   His name is Nicholas.  We call him St. Nicholas, in one form or another,  and today, December 6th, is his feast day.

He is a favorite, even among children, and his Christian love  is often expressed in material gift-giving.   But what is really more important, to those with adult maturity,  are  the examples of his strong faith,  his keen understanding of Catholic teaching, his courage in the face of imprisonment by a secular world,   his  firm love for  people, and  personal kindness.  Those  are his gifts to each of us.

st nick with children

I wrote in the last post about working and being productive and useful — keeping that in mind even while watching football!

st nick and angels

The loss of a dowry in The Quiet Man and the lack of a dowry centuries ago when St. Nicholas was alive represent very real deprivation and dangers that many people face in this world.   There are material needs which Christianity teaches us to alleviate wherever possible.   And there are also needs for friendship, comfort, compassion,  encouragement,  teaching, counsel.

The needs are abundant.   “Work!  for the night is coming….”

St.  Nicholas’s time for working is over,  but what rich gifts of examples he left behind for us!

We give each other “gifts” at Christmastime.

 

 

 

LIGHT GROWS

November 5, 2015

SAMSUNG A few days ago we celebrated All Saints Day, and a few posts ago I wrote about saints.   Like the light that shone within the tree across my street,  so does the Light of Heaven,  the True Light of God,  shine inside each saint.

I had written that the saints are our models to show us just how to live in that Light.  We’ll need good models if we expect to live in that perpetual, holy Light which is in Heaven.

So here’s a saint who died on November 3rd, a few centuries ago,  but there are plenty of people who are born just like him in today’s  world..

Porres brown robeBorn of a black woman, a former slave,  and a white man –  who were never married.   Illegitimate.  Half-breed (or do we call them “mixed race”  today?)   Father ran off for good when a second child was born.   Poor and disrespected.    Lived in abject poverty before there was any welfare state.

Went to work at 12 years old for the town barber. . .  but learned the trade, both haircutting and bloodletting,  two activities of the professional barber.    He’d be able to support himself as he grew older.

But there was more to him than that.    He had been taught the teachings of the Catholic Church, and believed in God.    He sought out good company,and rejected the crime common to desperate people.   By age fifteen he was helping the local Dominican missionaries. He worked with them among the poor, the poorest of the poor, and among the sick,  the sick and the dying.

But there was more to him than that.  He was not a glorified social worker.

Porres and  man

He turned his thoughts to God and to God’s greatness and glory and holiness, and worshiped and adored.   He prayed often throughout the day.   God’s majesty was always in his thoughts, and he lived in true humility before God and in service to other people.    This is what a saint chooses to do;  this is how a saint chooses to live.    These are choices we all can make.

For the sake of God he continued to use his talents to serve the poor and the sick all around him,  both from the city and in the Dominican residence where he lived.   He became known for his skill with the sick and also for his personal kindness and holiness.  People sought him out and found wisdom in his words.

His name is St. Martin de Porres.

The Light of God was within him and he nurtured his faith and the Light grew.

Porres and lightIt is said that at times people could see him surrounded by a light.   He is said to be able to appear where he was needed, even through doors that were thought to be locked,  even when he was thought to be elsewhere at the time.

He need not have become a great saint.     He started off with much less than most of us have;  he came from a broken home and he endured the ridicule and insults from his own society because of his mixed race.    And yet, we have the same choices to make as he did, and we have the same opportunity to become great saints.

God is good.   November is good!   It’s the month set aside to remember all those saints and all those believers who came before us.   It is a great communion of friendship.    That  Light of God is ready to grow within each of us.

THE FORGIVENESS PART — FOR WHAT PURPOSE?

June 22, 2015

Although I just wrote in the last post that the issue of what goes on inside a murderer is “complex,”  and although I watched carefully the face of Dylann Roof while he heard his victims’ families forgive him,  I do not mean to suggest what his fate should be.   However, a duly-constituted*   State authority has the right to impose the death penalty on a man convicted of a serious crime against society.

This is permitted because it’s the State’s duty to protect the rest of society.    But an execution?   To what effect?

African-Methodist-Episcopal church building:

ame

The families of the victims in Charleston forgave Dylann Roof.       Although their denomination split off from a denomination which split off from a denomination which split off from the Church,   one of the things they  carried with them is the effect of forgiveness upon the forgiven person.

A historical example:

About 113 years ago  (our modern era, actually)  three women were found dead in an apartment in Paris, France.    Well, two women and a young girl.     I’ll spare you the photographs,  but they were savagely murdered and mutilated by a jewel thief.   Here he is:

Henri PranziniHis name is Henri Pranzini.  He was quickly caught, arrested, and convicted, and sentenced to death.

Henri convicted

His crime was a newspaper sensation.   (Nothing has changed much, has it!)

Pranzini headlinesAll the media at the time (newspapers)  picked it up, even the New York times.

Everyone talked about it!

Henri affair

Among the followers of this crime story was an innocent, holy,  somewhat sheltered young teenager,  14 years old,   known to us now as St. Therese Of Lisieux.    She was a normal, happy, healthy young lady in every way, but in addition,  she felt the call of God, the call to holiness, and more importantly,  she answered that call.

Henri's therese

She didn’t follow the story of Henri Pranzini for the sake of the sensation;  she followed it because she had compassion on him and prayed for his conversion.   She, too, knew Hell is real and final.   Here are her words explaining her interest in this man, a stranger to him in every way, as she wrote in her autobiography:

“Everything led to the belief that he would die impenitent. I wanted at all costs to keep him from falling into hell, and to succeed I employed all means imaginable, feeling that of myself I could do nothing. I offered to God all the infinite merits of Our Lord.”

Indeed, Pranzini was a gruff and unrepentant man.

St. Therese was a concerned and persistent young lady!

Her prayers were for his conversion to God,  not for escaping his punishment.      But it seemed like a lost cause.   The media reported that Pranzini refused to talk to a priest, right up to the end.  St. Therese prayed all the harder for him.

On August 31, 1887,  Pranzini was led up the steps to the guillotine which would take his life.

guillotineTherese read about his execution the next day in the newspaper.     Eyewitness reports said that Pranzini bent down, began to put his head under the blade — and then quickly turned aside to the priest that was assigned to him, and took the crucifix, kissing three times the wounds of Christ in a heartfelt sign of his trust in Christ and in Christ’s forgiveness — even for a hardened, guilty sinner like he.

St. Therese, even at this age, took this to mean that he had repented and accepted forgiveness, and she wrote of him as her “first child” — the first conversion her prayers had brought about.    It appears that this “terrible” man is going to Heaven!

Jesus answers prayers.   Jesus forgives the best of us and the worst of us.     And followers of Jesus must do as He does, or we are no followers of Him.   Yes, I think I understand the families who forgave last week, and I understand the power of prayer to bring someone to forgiveness.

Intercessor or victim or criminal:   forgiveness is everybody’s business.

bar simnple graded gray lines*   Duly-constituted governmental authority,  whether democratically elected or monarchy,  but not a governing force created by revolution and imposed on the citizens.    Revolutionary governments, though powerful,  must kill off their ideas of political enemies,  as for instance in the 20th century where the murder tally of revolutionary governments exceed one hundred million.    This is not “capital punishment,”   this is murder-by-government.

JOSEPH, WHO IS WORTHY

March 19, 2015

Today is a rather big day in Christendom:  It’s the feast day of St. Joseph, the man given the responsibility to be the guardian, the protector,  the provider, and the head of the Holy Family.

jOSEPHE jESUS CHEEK

Could we not look for a moment at the man chosen for this role and wonder about his qualities?

The man who protected the Madonna during her young motherhood —

who protected the madonna during her young motherhood

Often shown with lilies,  a symbol of purity.    It is a great thing to be associated with purity.   Hard to remember nowadays what that even means, and yet there has been only one Holy Child.   Pure.     Purity recognizes Purity.

pure enough

Purity in love,  St.  Joseph,  a man who could truly cherish the Christ Child:

who cherished his

Ever present in his family’s life:

who protected

The original  “home schooling”  —  all members of the family present for each other,  in harmony, at work and play:

home schooled parents present

St. Joseph, the man entrusted with the raising of the Child Jesus —

who taught Him a trade

St. Joseph, watching over the prayer life and education —

who taught Him how to pray

We can  speculate, to our benefit,  about the qualities of this holy man.  We can meditate on his life for our sure example.   We can invoke his example and his intercession as Patron of Family Life and Households.

We do not know when Joseph died,  but we do surmise , in faith, and with logic,  that at the time of his death he had the Blessed Virgin Mary truly at one side and the Son of God at his other side.   Again, in faith,  we believe this is a companionship in death that is attainable by all humans.   Not a certainty,  but attainable,  depending upon how one has lived his life — and with Whom.

It is a big day in Christendom.    It’s like a Treasure of knowledge that is waiting to be picked up and possessed.

crossThe artwork above is artwork,  not photographs, not history.   It is meant only to convey what is truthful, in beautiful images that speak to mankind.

 

 

A VERY UN-IRISH ST. PATRICK’S DAY

March 18, 2015

Scotch Shortbread from my oven:

SAMSUNG

I know.   They’re not Irish.

Slow down and have an un-Irish St. Patrick’s Day with me.

shamrock

A very strange St. Patrick’s day it was….  I felt quite estranged from all the happy little traditions of the past.   It’s innocent fun “to be Irish” on St. Paddy’s day, of course.  Get a pinch if you don’t wear green.  Hear the Irish music played on the radio.   See an Irish movie or two.  Drink something green.  Eat corned beef and cabbage and make some good Irish soda bread.

None of these things have anything to do with St. Patrick,  but they’re so fun and innocent anyway.  However, I did none of those things this year.

The times have changed.  We’re not a happy society,  at peace with who we are,   and fun is rarely “innocent.”     Never before have I seen such a divorce between a holiday on the calendar and the reason for the holiday.

So I baked what I wanted to bake.

SAMSUNG

And, yes, that’s 1:04 on the clock.  After midnight.  My friends know my body lives in the “Hawaii time zone.”    I still have a few hours left.

I’ve been making shortbread all my life, but this was a new recipe.  A new recipe for new times, I guess.  At least I kept thinking about the loss of this fun, family holiday;  it’s gone, and so why not move on…  with someone else’s recipe.

Cold dough from the fridge:

SAMSUNG
We don’t really celebrate the nice things of America’s past anymore.   Ireland is no longer Catholic.   The big Boston “St. Patrick’s Day Parade”   has been stolen by those who are opposed to the teachings of St. Patrick’s  church.    Those who drink green beer couldn’t care less about the part of Christendom that the Irish represent.  Not just for this day,  but for always.

tea cup

Nothing like “tea and shortbread”  to soothe the nerves.

So,  I’m thinking this new development is kind of sad in a nostalgic way;   but, on the other hand,  the Church still has the real St. Patrick.    He was just a teenager when he was kidnapped,  brought to a  rough pagan country and enslaved there.  Then followed years of 24/7 workdays,  out in the open with herds of sheep,  never enough food,  enough clothes,  enough protection from the weather, enough human companionship.

It “ruined”  his teenage years, we would say today.   But God didn’t abandon him, and more importantly,  Patrick didn’t abandon God.   When he was released and found his way home,  he instantly entered rigorous training so that he could bring – in an official capacity –  the Gospel of Christianity back to the land of his captors.   What an abundant field of souls he saw that were ready to learn about the One True God!

We can stand side by side with the real St.Patrick today,  and have faith in the same Christ,  love for his same Jesus.  We can read his writings,  read his biography,  read about the strong faith of the Irish people which started with him.   We can be happy for the good work he did, and we don’t need green food and green noisemakers.

Yeah, this was an okay St. Patrick’s Day.   There’s still time left to read a prayer that presents St. Patrick’s faith.   It’s  one  I read often,  nearly every day.   No wonder this kind of faith has lasted through the ages!

bar simple green divider

If you have time, enjoy the language.  Observe the strength of Christian faith.

St.  Patrick’s Lorica  or:  The Deer’s Cry

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

bar simple green divider

Legend says that this powerful prayer was composed by Saint Patrick in the year 433. He was aware that there was an ambush to try to kill him and his group en route to the King’s court. It was during the march that they chanted the sacred Lorica or Deer’s Cry – later known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate.

As the druids lay in hiding, ready to kill, they saw not Patrick and his men, but a gentle doe followed by twenty fawns.

St. Patrick and his men were saved.

There are different versions of this, of course, and the modern ones seem to lack rhythm and depth, so I give to you the traditional version.   Copy and paste it somewhere for your own use.   Honor St. Patrick, really.

ANCIENT BEAUTY CALLS IN WINTER TWILIGHT

March 8, 2015

I wanted to say that this beautiful snow white curve caught my eye and stopped me in my tracks one day.  I wanted to write about it —

SAMSUNG

—    how I had just gotten out of my car and was rushing into the house with an armful of stuff,  full of plans for my next errand,  and how I almost missed the pleasure of light and shadows on my snowy front yard.

Just low sunlight and shadows and crusty snow that seemed to glow.

SAMSUNG

I wanted to say something about Beauty being everywhere, if you only took time to look, and the pleasure of Beauty can draw you to the Source of Beauty,  Beauty Itself.
SAMSUNG

But the memory of the words of a man who lived before me overshadowed my relatively small thoughts, and his words lifted me even higher than I could have gone by myself.     He too was stopped in his tracks by Beauty, and he cried with words of sublime longing for union with the Source  — and with regrets for how much time he had spent looking for It elsewhere. . .

His words:

“Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you.”

From errand to errand I rushed around that day, thinking I was doing good, doing well;  but I was only preoccupied with the things of this world,  using up lots of the precious time allotted to me in this life.   “You were with me, but I was not with you.”

“Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all.”

The created things of this world  keep me from their Creator.   This man knew what the ancient Greeks knew,  that everything is sustained within the Creator,  the Source of Beauty holding everything from moment to moment in a state of existence.

I crunched around in the crusty snow of my front yard, finding the right photographic angle:

SAMSUNG

“You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.”

This is the strong cry of a man for his Creator, and after that first taste, the courageous cry for more, the manly willingness to hunger and thirst and  long for his Creator.   (I’ll give you his words all together in a minute here.)

The man’s name is St. Augustine,  and I took his mother’s name for my name as I entered the Church.    Because I too have a son.   So similar in many ways.
And my son was experiencing the Beauty of the same day’s twilight from within his own home.  It wasn’t snow white and contrasting shadows,  it was a beautiful Purple light that poured through his windows, and landed on the floor in amethyst.   It must have been remarkable in person.

Purple ed
St. Augustine:    “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you.    Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all.     You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.”  (from  Confessions)

cross

My dimwitted intellect can hardly break through my daily tussle with created things and see beyond,   but sometimes something points to the wonderful Beauty that must wait for all those who long for God,   “Ancient Beauty.”

“Thy altars, O Lord of Hosts, my King and my God!  Blessed are they that dwell in Thy House, they shall praise thee for ever and ever.”     (Prayer said on the Third Sunday in Lent during Holy Mass. )

WHAT … MOON IS IT?

January 5, 2015

What time moon is it?    Well, it’s a Full Moon tonight.   Did you know each full moon has a name?    People before us who lived closer to nature often gave the full moon of each month a name appropriate to the season’s activities.

moon tonight

There are several traditions of naming,  but the most common and the one I like the most are the names that were used by the North American Indians, for a long, long time, before the Europeans  wrote about them in the 16th century.     I also have a great respect for and devotion to St. Isaac Jogues, who was martyred by some in the Huron Nation in the 17th century, and so these Indian names keep their memory and St. Isaac Jogues faith alive in my mind.  ( Hmmmm.  I thought I wrote more about him.   I plan a summer trip to the site of his martyrdom this year. . . .)

It’s extremely cold outside my house tonight,  and we’re having intermittent clouds;  Lake Effect snow from a Lake that is over a hundred miles away.    Most often I look out my window and see only this:

SAMSUNG

Not much through a lens but it’s . . . nice.  Nice to see a full moon.    Tonight’s extreme cold reminds me why January’s full moon is called the Wolf Moon — everyone was hungry by now, so far from harvest, so deep into winter, so cold that game was scarce and even the wolves were hungry.    The howling packs of hungry wolves name this month’s full moon.

Here are all the traditional names, for the use of your imagination:

January:  Wolf Moon,  for the common sound of howling, hungry wolves

February:  Full Snow Moon, named for the often heavy snowfalls experienced in the northern United States.

March:   Full Crow Moon,  because as the winter weather moderated a little bit,  crows were heard

April:  Full Pink Moon,  because in April the  herb moss pink ( wild ground phlox)  began to be seen as the snow melted

May:  Full Flower Moon  for the abundant Spring flowers.  What a happy sight that must have been!

June:  Full Rose Moon,  named after the color of the strawberries that grew during their short but important season

July:  Full Buck Moon   This is the month that antlers grew out from the heads of the bucks, soft and velvety,  itchy and irritating!

August:   Full Sturgeon Moon     The sturgeon became easier to catch during August in all the Great Lakes

September:   Full Harvest Moon,  because this is when the corn can be harvested, and the moon late at night extended the light for longer harvesting times.

October:    Full Hunter Moon  (also a European name) because now is the time to store up food for the coming winter

November:   Full Beaver Moon.  Time to set your beaver traps!   The beaver get busier now too to prepare for winter

December:   Full Long Nights Moon.      This is the Cold Moon or the Long Nights moon,  both describing the moon’s trajectory during undeniably winter nights

Usually there is one full moon for each month, but sometimes February doesn’t have time to have a full moon, and sometimes the dates fall just right so that there are two full moons in one month.  The second moon in the month is called the Blue Moon.    And because the Harvest Moon is tied to the autumnal equinox,  sometimes it has to occur in the month of October.

God grant that knowing the names of the full moons is just an interesting option for us and never becomes a helpful necessity.

 

 

A TEXAN, A SAINT, AND A BRIGHT RED JAG

October 6, 2014

First of all, a message to my friend in Texas:

redskins

It’s a real pleasure to watch the Redskins this year, especially with our Kirk Cousins at QB.

krik

I know he’s young but he did all right for us! Hope you grow to like him, even after RGIII returns to the game.

MSU in action:

SAMSUNG

It’s that time of the year.    It’s that time of the year when the world’s temporary  pleasures call my attention down from  important and eternal things.

St. Francis de Borgia sits ever heavy on my shoulders, leading me to imbalance, teaching me that one cannot live with the world and heaven in equal proportions.  I know that.

St Francis Borgia and skull

He might seem like a very severe and stern saint to choose to listen to in this modern age of pleasure seeking, but, really,  he only wanted to always do what is exactly right and pleasing to his Lord Jesus.    Since I would like that too,  I listen to him, learning from his life and his example.  He was a good man and a good teacher.

And besides,  in his younger life,  he started out really liking ball games!  I shall deal with football in my life — as he did.

Which brings me to the bright red jaguar.

red jag

I had a really strange encounter on Sunday morning, with a man and his bright red jaguar.    Believe me, that photo does not do it justice.   Seen in person and close up,  that car is a work of art!

This car was parked right across the street from mine on Sunday, after “church,” and the man who owned that car and I arrived at our parked cars   right at the same time.   Since I could not drag my eyes away from his car, I gave him time to notice me staring at his car.   I said something, like, “That’s a real beauty.”    And I meant it.

But he has apparently dealt with his beautiful car before, and on another level.   He said thanks,  but he went on to explain that he knows how expensive it is, what a luxury, what an indulgence,  but he said, “I donate lots of money to places like Haiti. . . .”    putting his purchase, I suppose, in context.

I don’t mind at all that he has lots of money for big donations to poor people in Haiti and still have enough left over to buy a beautiful jag.   I didn’t doubt his generosity at all.    Then, since he had mentioned Haiti,  he opened his gray sports coat and pointed to his beautiful black sweater and said it  cost   $xxx   (but I don’t hardly believe a sweater could cost that much!)  and he said he knows that is more than most people in Haiti make in a year, but . . . .    I’m not sure what he said next, but since I didn’t find any fault with him at all,  I agreed that God had been very good to him in material things and although it’s a good thing to share with the Haitians,  I also assured him that God has given Americans a different set of challenges.    He seemed to understand what I meant.

Nah….  I didn’t sound all schoolmarmy  like that  —   it was a natural and very short conversation.   I thought about that conversation all the way home on Sunday – and beyond, apparently.

I’ve just begun to make big changes in the house I live in.    I didn’t realize how shabby it had become after 40 years of neglect.   Well, I knew it was old and shabby,  but I didn’t know how bad that was.  And now I have to put a lot of money into my house,  more money, of course, than a typical Haitian makes in a year.

I suspect, like many of you,  I don’t worry about staying warm this winter or where my clean water will come from.   I’m grateful for all of that,  for a safe house and for a reliable car, even though it cost one-fifth of that red jaguar!    I do have material riches, relatively speaking,  but there are other, very serious, challenges to sort out.

And that’s where St. Francis de Borgia returns.    Wealthy, handsome, noble son of Spain — he had everything this world could offer, and he knew that nothing this world could offer was of lasting value.

For a human being,  for a created creature, nothing is more important than the Two Great Commandments:   Love the Lord your God (your Creator) with all you heart and mind and strength;  and love your neighbor as yourself.

Material wealth is immaterial.   In a hundred years, we will all know what was important here on earth.

CULINARY ROAD TRIP – WITH FASTING

August 9, 2014

Well,  my road trip eventually included a Sunday.    And based on my experience in the Far Far North that day,  this will be a beautiful but sad posting.

It starts with  a parking lot!

SAMSUNGI “had to”  park  alongside beautiful Lake Superior.    It was a bit of gray day just then, so the Lake seems less blue than my car, but usually it’s the other way around.   (I’ll show you that in the next posting!)     So, this Sunday started with a parking lot, but it continued with the nearby cathedral.

I love cathedrals!

SAMSUNG

I love the size and the beauty and the art work and all the soul-enriching things that I’m not wealthy enough to surround myself with.    This cathedral is made for everyone to enjoy in all its immense-ness.

SAMSUNG This is the home of the very brave and hard-working, holy man we know as Bishop Baraga.    He walked all over this territory in the Far Far North,  bringing the knowledge of Christ to the Native tribes who lived up here.    Many were receptive to the Faith and freely entered the Church.    I personally know some of their descendants today.   Those that have kept themselves inside the Church have become well-educated, self-sufficient, decent citizens, who love their families and work for their communities, both in their professions and in their personal time.

Other  descendants of these first Catholics have left the Faith.   Many are wards of the State… we support them with our tax dollars.    I wish they knew who Bishop Baraga was.

There is a sign on the side of the cathedral building, telling us a little about the good bishop.

SAMSUNG

And there is a statue of him on another side.

SAMSUNG

It’s tempting to just walk by,  thoughtlessly.

Around the back of the cathedral I noticed a little chapel dedicated to Bishop Baraga:

SAMSUNG

It was peaceful back there.  Restful.   It was Sunday,  a time to slow down a little.  I peeked inside the glass windows, then put my camera up to the glass:

SAMSUNG

Accidently left my flash on,   but you can see a nice stained glass window telling a little of his story, and there, by the other stained glass window,  is the place where his body has been respectfully laid.    There are kneeling benches in front,  in case you’d like to linger, and think, and thank. . .  .

I didn’t enter into the cathedral by those big front doors.  I chose the modern entrance.

SAMSUNG

Garden.  Nicely done.

When I finally got inside,  my thoughts came to a stop.    SAMSUNGIt was dark inside, but very beautiful.

It was time to experience the presence of God.     And pray a little.    Me and God.

And it was time to wait.    I felt pretty happy.   This is what I came for.     To commune with God.    To receive the Son of God into myself as Jesus said to do it.      That was the reason for the fasting.    You don’t mix something important and holy with. . . .ham and eggs.     You know?    So you fast for a  while.   Until a bit afterwards.   “Man does not live by bread alone,”  Jesus said.   It’s a  “culinary road trip,”  but food is not always so important.

Other people were there.    We all waited in the beautiful church.   The beautiful dark church.

The lights never came on for us.    The clock went past the time that we were here for.     I said this was a beautiful but sad posting.    Ten minutes.  Twenty minutes.   A  half hour.   Oh, we were quiet and patient.   We read our Readings for the day, we read our missals, we prayed…. and some of us began to make a “spiritual communion” — it’s what you do when you can’t have the real physical communion.

Eventually, the people began leaving.

It was like we were fasting not only from physical food,  but from our spiritual food.

Some were sad and quiet, some were annoyed,  but none of us were really surprised.    We were going to worship in the way people worshiped here at the time of Bishop Baraga.  The same way our grandparents worshiped.  And their grandparents.  All the way back in time, the same way of worshiping,  all the way back to the first century after Christ.   But these beautiful cathedrals have been taken over now by people who worship another way.    They sometimes make room for what they used to be,  but sometimes . . .  things happen.    They’re not too particular.    They’ve abandoned what was.

SAMSUNGI looked up at a statue of St. Joseph, reminding us of his loving care for the child Jesus;  reminding us of all the good qualities he had that made him a good choice to be Foster Father of the child Messiah.   Patron saint of families.   Help of families.  Protector.   Provider.   Father.    What would he think of the Child he loved and cared for being abandoned today?

Then I saw the Mother:

SAMSUNG“Blessed is the fruit of your womb!”  her cousin cried out.  “And blessed are you among all women!”        And Mary understood:    “Behold, all generations shall call me blessed.”   And I understand a little too.  I understand that she was made especially to carry the Incarnate Son of God.   A privilege, a joy, a piercing sorrow.     How sorrowful would she be today to see her Son abandoned by a different sort of generation.

It was not a “lost” day,  though.

A little boy came up to me, next to his parents.     He was about six years old.   He looked like he was trying to be mad.      He said to me, “We drove all morning to get here and then there is nothing!   I wanted to see Jesus!”    I looked at his parents.    They said it was a 3 1/2 hour drive to get there that morning.   (Yes,  there are great distances between places in the Far Far North.)

I told the little boy that it was okay.   “Jesus knows you came here and you tried.”        The little boy brightened up and said, “Oh yeah!   He can see me!”    He went away,  happily, to watch his mom take photos of the interior of the cathedral.

Sad, indeed.   Disappointing.    But all was not “lost.”    We hadn’t fasted for nothing.

 

A VISIT WITH AN ANCIENT WISE MAN

July 21, 2014

Here are some lovely beauties for us to consider today.  (“Consider the lilies. . . .”)

SAMSUNGI had arrived a little early at my friend’s church, and while I waited for him to come out so I could take him home,  I noticed these really cheerful flowers along the outside wall on the side of the building.   I hopped out of my car to get a close-up photo.

Lilies are usually associated with Easter, right?      Or with unearned grace.  (“The lilies neither toil nor spin, yet your Heavenly Father clothes them with such beauty!”)        Or with St. Joseph.    Or with St. Anthony of Padua, and probably many other saints because they  are a symbol of purity.

Deep down inside of us we have an understanding of “purity.”    It is rare, much to be desired,  and not above the reach of any of us, actually.

I was reading the portion of the Rule of St. Benedict appointed for today, and then I had time to read the Meditations that are read by  Benedictines on this day.   I can’t give you any names of these readings right now because they’re in my big computer which is “resting” from a series of power outages this evening –  but the names aren’t really important.

The short reading told us of St. Benedict, when he was young, before he had developed his system of monasteries which are credited with preserving civilization while Rome fell apart.    He and another young companion decided to visit a very old wise hermit and ask him for some counsel.      The ancient hermit was reluctant, because he wasn’t sure if these two young men were really sincere.  Perhaps they just wanted to hear something different and then they would go away thinking they had really learned something.  Precious wisdom, obtained with difficulty,  thrown away on superficial youths.

They begged and pleaded and made it clear that they were earnest.   (The old hermit didn’t know this was the future great saint, St Benedict.)

The old hermit told them that it’s important to be totally dedicated to your goal in life and he gave several examples of, say, a soldier, a farmer,  a merchant, all who  must arrange their efforts to obtain their desired goal.    Then he asked the young men what they thought the most important goal in their lives were.

The two young men confidently and proudly told him, “To obtain eternal life with God in Heaven!!”

The old hermit wisely and skillfully helped them to understand that it was good to have an ultimate good goal like that, and they had spoken well,  but that it was also important to pay attention to a more immediate goal,  life on this earth too,  a life which would lead them toward their ultimate goal.

The young men eventually asked,  then what is the most important immediate daily goal they should have before them.

The wise and holy hermit told them:   “Purity of heart.”

2. THE MONTH OF JUNE 1 – 2 – 3

June 3, 2014

Christendom dedicates each month to some special devotion.    It’s kind of a way to acknowledge the sacredness of the time we live in, and it tells us to slow down!  Slow down and concentrate on the great insights of the Church,  giving adequate time to the very most important ones.

So –  June is the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

And this is the image which almost kept me out of the Church!

scred heart,,Sentimental!   Overly sentimental!   So. . .  so . . . non-Scandinavian!!

But I get it now.   This image is more an icon than a portrait.    It’s meant to teach and to convey meaning, not to describe.

More than four centuries ago, urgent insight came from the Heavens – not, as recently, to admonish society for its sinning   and not, as now,  to warn of the coming consequences of continued sinning –  but rather  the insights were meant to address a certain “coldness’  in man’s heart;  an indifference about spiritual truths;  a losing firm hold on the Truths of Christianity.

“Heaven” saw the problem developing and offered a remedy.

The remedy came in the form  of a more specific and formal devotion to the Sacred Heart:   Location of the fervent love of God for each human soul.

Although an understanding of the Sacred Heart had existed for many centuries, the new insights given through  St. Margaret Mary Alacoque would produce a deeper understanding through concrete images and fruitful devotions.   If you actively love Someone,  your love will grow.

Simple.   A devotion for the humble who simply love God.  Most of us our pretty unimaginative when it comes to showing our love to God.     I get it now.   I who am so busy and unfocused sometimes,  though I mean well,  I experience the great freedom and eagerness to love the Lord more through devotions to His Sacred Heart.

Freedom and joy!

The month of June.

 

HUMBLE, HOLY MARCH FOCUS

March 1, 2014

Each month Christendom hands us a new reason to look up! SAMSUNG

Each month that arrives has its own special concept, and here, in this new month of March,  we focus on a person, a human person, who was called a Just man;  faithful and true, pure and  strong, patron of those who toil for their living,  protector and chaste spouse, guardian and foster-father.  

He teaches us to Look up!   as we live our daily lives with family and work and quiet times of leisure and enjoyment of the good things of this world.

(A reminder in  my winter garden)

SAMSUNG

This is Joseph.   St. Joseph of the Holy Family,  their guardian and protector, teacher and trainer of the Son of God as He, Jesus, “grew in wisdom and age, and in grace with God and man.”   (Luke 2:52)

If that’s all we knew of Joseph,  we would still marvel at what kind of father he must have been to the boy Jesus.   Luke tells us that Joseph was a “teknon,”  the Greek word for a builder or constructor of things;  houses?  furniture?  bowls, casks, and containers?   tools and farm implements?

It is enough to start with the thought that he was a maker and builder.   He constructed a good character for himself.   He built a life of faith, quietly and humbly.   He made a secure and holy home for his wife and child.   And he presided over the maturing of the Son of God.

For how many centuries have Christians looked to Joseph in this month of March!  

As my mind approaches St Joseph this month, I wonder if I would fit in as a guest of his home.    Would I be deserving of a welcome?      “All for Jesus.”   St.  Joseph did all things for Jesus.     There is so much we can learn from the pattern of his life.

NO NO NO NOOOOOOOOO

December 1, 2013

I promise to write about Advent in a few hours….what can be more vital?

But for now…let me just mourn awhile.   How painful. . .

bear dead

. . . this intense afternoon of prolonged tension, of high hopes, hopes dashed, surprising misses,  unexpected calls – things the referees see that no one else saw….

Life – ugh.   You think you’re doing all right,  you think you did okay — and then someone points out something you missed and before you know it — the ball is taken away from you.

I knowIknowIknowIknow….   St. Francis de Borgia,  the saint who has his heavy hand on my shoulder,  caring that I don’t stray too far.   In his youth he really loved his country’s 16th century version of football.    And he tells us the reason that he gave up attending football games:     As he matured, he understood there was a bigger prize, a bigger game to win,  and he turned his attention to the Only Game In Town, and away from the lesser games.

And what did it matter in the end?  Does anyone in his country, today,  even remember the names of the teams that played in his century?    Do we even know which team was his favorite?

bear losing

Does it even matter?

We must not let the ball be taken away from us.

I suppose.

ALL SAINTS DAY – JOINING IN

November 1, 2013

 

saintas beatific

That we have saints at all is completely due to the goodness and kindness of the Creator towards us humans.   That is, it’s His goodness, kindness, compassion, His many gifts and graces, the offer of His companionship that draw us toward Him;   and then it’s His grace and power, given to us, that enable us to make that move. . . .

It’s always our choice,   but our choice is so richly rewarded,  beyond what we had anticipated.

saint

It doesn’t take much on our part.    Just send up a little question mark, a fragile, little “question mark,” upwards towards what God “might” be.   Your question will be noticed. . . and rewarded.

Do it again. Send up a little more based on that experience, and you will be able to receive back even a little more.

Repeat.   (Your choice.   This is an act of your free will.)

It can’t be this good!

Somewhere along the way you will say:  Oh my goodness!      God can’t be this good and perfect and attentive!     But He is.

All His Creation is an expression of His glory.    The glory of the Light of the stars is the same Light that is meant to be in us.

stars and all

Here are the words of Baruch, the prophet, more than 2500 years ago, giving testimony to this God calling all things to His glory.

“He that sends forth light, and it goes: and hath called it, and it obeys  Him with trembling.  

And the stars have given light in their watches, and rejoiced: 

They were called, and they said: Here we are: and with cheerfulness they have shined forth to Him that made them. 

This is our God, and there shall no other be accounted of in comparison of Him.”      (Baruch 3:  33-36

“With cheerfulness”  the stars shine out.   With cheerfulness and great joy humans were meant to shine out with the glory of God.

The Church gives us today and a whole Octave of days to celebrate what that means!

THE RESTRAINING HAND OF “NUNCA MAS! ”

October 10, 2013

Last time I wrote about the “restraining hand”  that governments and citizens are both subject to in public life; that is, the restraining hand of universal moral law.   If it’s not there,  the power of government increases until there is only the law of barbarism – “might makes right,” and our Rulers can command us, now, even to violate our faith and our consciences.   Barbarism in the spiritual realm as well as the physical realm.

SAMSUNG

Today I pay homage to a restraining hand in my own life.   It is the feast day of St. Francis de Borgia, a saint who teaches, commands, and governs by the example of his personal and public life.

St Francis Borgia, sttingBorn to a distinguished noble family in Spain, Francis was a good man, intelligent, self-disciplined, well-educated, devout, and highly esteemed for his honesty and devotion to duty.   He danced and sang and wrote music and loved poetry and sports competitions.      I can identify with this man!

Through it all he endeavored to serve Christ well.  He was severe on himself in prayer and penance and aiding the poor and the unemployed in his region. Those who owned land and large estates governed their own households well, keeping in mind the welfare of their descendants, but they were also obliged – by Christian duty – to care for those nearby who were without material advantage.

The people loved him and trusted him.

Queen Isabella bl wh

This was the 16th century.  Ferdinand and Isabella were king and queen.     When the beloved and beautiful Queen Isabella died, the royal family gave to Francis the sad and solemn honor of accompanying her body to Grenada, to the royal burial place.   The purpose was to guard the body and assure that it is she who is really being buried.

Imagine this.   It’s sunny Spain.   A journey of many days for the dead body.   And then – Francis had the “honor”  of looking into the coffin and verifying that it is the body of the queen.

At Grenada, no one could even enter the room where the coffin was placed.   The odor of physical decay was overpowering and sickening.  But Francis had to do his duty.

He approached.  He opened.  He peeked.  But he couldn’t identify the horrifying mess that was the face of his queen.   He verified only on his honor that he had never stopped guarding the coffin.

And he was changed.   “Nunca mas!”  he said.  “Nunca mas servir a senor que se me pueda morir!”

The horrifying realization that gave rise to this exclamation makes me shudder, deep down, where I understand this;  I understand this turning away from “serving a master which leads only to  death.”

From then on,  more single-mindedly, more fervently, he intensified the care of his own soul.   The things of this world, the things that matter here, all end in death and horrifying putrefaction.   All things here…come to this end.

I hear his words:  Nunca mas!  (No more!  Never again!)    Deep down,  where I understand this,  I know it’s time for me to “grow up”  and get serious about serving the Master who offers everlasting Life and Beauty and Health and Joy.

Francis is an acknowledged saint now.   He served his Lord Jesus Christ who died for us all to give us Life and so that death and decay will not be our final end.

Francis served Our Lord  with a joyful, but sober and vigorous devotion.

It is his example which keeps pulling me back to the Path of Life.   His words remind me to act wisely.   He is a “heavy hand” on my shoulder, sometimes,  but i am grateful because  that which remains of him, proves that the lesson he learned is a real one:

SAMSUNG

Thank you to a kind Christian friend who gave me this tangible piece of St. Francis’s life, a relic from something he doesn’t need anymore,  a third order relic, in the tiny little circle, which speaks to me as soberly as “Nunca mas!”

 

 

 

12th SUNDAY P.P. – CONFIDENCE!!

August 11, 2013

When Son and I traveled to the Far, Far North a few weeks ago, we walked in the forest, and I fussed about the black flies getting stuck in my hair biting and hurting, leaving behind very itchy, bloody bite marks;  and I still have some welts left on the back of my neck.   And mosquitoes. . . .

isaacBut here is a man who really knows the bites and stings of black flies and mosquitoes.   And other buzzing, swarming things.   And lice.  And other vermin in his clothes and blankets and robes.   Snakes, worms, and maggots.   Foul water and stale food.   He tramped off into the deer paths of the northern forests in Quebec, Ontario, and New York state, up and down hills,  slipping and sliding on the wet leaves, the mud, the uneven ground, fording ice cold streams with soaking wet shoes and wet, muddy leggings, and skin shredded by the thorns and scratchy underbrush.

15, 20 miles a day.    He must have had a powerful reason to continue on that way.

It was to get somewhere,  to get to the villages of the American forest dwellers, because he had something wonderful to tell them.

He didn’t write about the itches and bites and cuts and infections, discomfort and fatigue.   Instead,  his words are full of eagerness and happiness.    He tells of joy and  light and the wonderful Truth that gives to each man eternal life, eternal peace with God, and he could hardly wait to tell the Huron people and the Algonquins and the Iroquois nations.     He knows that they are just as likely to take him prisoner as to hear what he has to say, and the imprisonment would be surely followed  by days of extreme torture and then being burned or sliced to death.

And this all eventually happened to him, but he never lost his confidence in God’s loving care, nor his confidence that some, just some, of the forest people will hear him and believe, and their souls would come to know the love and peace and joy of God’s saving grace.

And that’s the story that went through my mind today as I heard the beginning of our Readings,  which are the same Readings that this man,  St. Isaac Jogues,  would have heard on this same Sunday:   “Brethren!”  (St Paul writes)   ” Such confidence we have through Christ towards God.”   (II Corinthians 3:4)

He was called to be a missionary, and I am called to a different station in life,  but here is the same confidence we should have that Christ has made peace with God for us, and wherever we go,   we need not be timid to speak nor ashamed of what we know.

St Isaac Jogues heard these words and made it a part of his character – to speak to people with confidence in the words he was speaking.

We have the same Faith.

He lived as our nation had just the earliest possibility of developing and growing,  with all its new and raw and dangerous problems.   I live as our nation has given up all the wonderful things it had, and is now content with devolving and dying, with all the dangerous and deadly problems that that produces.

But we have the same Faith.

I’ve been in a little funk lately, as I wrote last time….concentrating on the bug bites and fatigue, so to speak, getting lost in the problems.     Now, thanks to our  Readings today,  I remember that I also have  the Faith,   the answers,  the wonderful Truth of Light and Life and Peace and Hope, and there is no reason I can’t approach these problems with confidence.

The same confidence available to all.