Posted tagged ‘Faith’

A HEARTBEAT AWAY

June 9, 2017

(Blogging has given me some bad habits;   it’s created an urge to take a picture of everything and blog blab about it.)

We’re  all only a heartbeat away from a very serious crisis —

Hospital cr

Chances are you’re having  ordinary days right now;  some good days and  some bad days in which you have to deal with a flat tire,  a lost checkbook,  a missed text,   a bad attitude from a friend . . . .

Today we here in The Spruce Tunnel were struck with a very serious crisis.   Someone we love, someone so close to our family she may as well be a part of it,  someone far too young to be in critical condition,  is on a ventilator and many other machines in the photo,  seemingly  overnight.

Cause soon to be determined.

One day she is interviewing for a brand-new job;  less than two days later she’s in ICU fighting for her life.

Out of the blue,  unexpectedly, we are all reassessing our lives,  our relationships,  our loves,  and what’s really important.     We have a God-given need to make sense out of things.

And the honest quest for answers will lead back to God.

 

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Please pray for the young lady.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE HUNCHBACK HAS HIS DAY

April 25, 2017

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

hunchback

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

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

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

notre dame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

castello

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

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

margaret

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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(more…)

DESTINATION – WHERE HIAWATHA LIVES

July 21, 2016

The Spruce Tunnel has reported many times that our Land,  this USA, is so empty.  One can drive for hours without seeing anyone, and many times during this past week I’ve been the only car in my lane for a half hour, sometimes  an hour at a time:

Hour W out cars

HIAWATHA’S LAND:

But it  is  beautiful in the Far Far North where Hiawatha lived (lives).

GG Driving Island  Sunlight through the forest,  Nature speaks deep within you with concepts of Beauty:   colors, pleasing proportions,  compositions, contrasts, harmony . . .  all the classic elements of Beauty, which testifies to its Creator.

GG Driving 2 400

Curve after curve,  Hiawatha’s forest views.

But of course he didn’t have a car to ride in!  So I went into the forest –

GG Forest floor 400

Ferns on the forest floor.    Easy walking, because ferns aren’t really thick underbrush.  They’re very soft when you walk through them.

GG Forest path and wild 400I found pathways.   I’ve walked miles along these pathways during this past week.   All the time I was thinking about Hiawatha’s small village,  one of many, many, maybe countless villages that existed throughout this Land.    Many millions of people lived in this Land, long before the Vikings and the Italian exploreres came to it.

I kept “seeing”  these villages:

BR new goods

And wondering who was “seeing” me:

BR coming

Hiawatha’s forest was not only a location, of course,  an “address” for his home;  it also gave to them everything needed to sustain life.

GG Forest Deer 400I drove by these deer one afternoon.   Probably descendants of the 17th, 18th, and 19th century deer that provided many necessities for Hiawatha and his people.

I couldn’t help taking a picture of this:

GG Forest Birch

We all know that the white birch  has bark that is stripped off to make canoes.  What I learned this time is that each strip of bark has five, six, or seven layers, and each thin layer is waterproof and very strong,  perfect for making  a lake or river canoe, among other things.

GG Canoes from Birch When I was a child I tried making a small toy boat with birch bark.  I also tried making “paper”  with the birch bark.   I failed.   I really didn’t know about the “layers”  in a strip of birch.

But it was important to know these things for Hiawatha because his land borders the Great Gitche Gumme,  and I walked many pathways to get to that Lake.

GG Forest Edge Path 400

If you could see across that Lake,  you would see the shores of Canada.

Gitche Gumme claims the land, in a constant tussle between land and water.

GG Forest Edgge Dropoff 400

The pathway along the edge seemed to be about a half mile long.  Finally,  I got to my destination,  the destination for this whole week-long, more-than-400-mile journey:

Black Rocks 400

It’s here.  This was my destination.    It’s an area called Black Rocks,  a singularly unromantic name for an outcropping of “rock”  that is estimated to be 1.3 billion years old.  This is some of the oldest known rocks on the surface of the earth.

On the shores of Gitche Gumme
By the shining Big-Sea-Waters

Yeah,  here is where I needed to be,  I thought.    These were the first waters I saw at the very beginning of my life . . .  and now,  with the end in view,   I needed to see these waters again.

Black Rocks into lake.

It was the end of land of the Far Far North in view, anyway.

Black Rocks far 400I climbed all around Black Rocks,  and finally looked for a place to sit.

Black Rocks Seat

And I did it.   I found a good rock ledge to sit on and I put my camera away, and then I began to . . .  well,  brood.   I divided my life into five-year segments . . . .

And, well . . .  with each and every scene from my memory huge wounds of negative emotions leapt out at me.    Private, powerful emotions.

It would have been tough that day . . .  it would have been a tough whole life . . .  but for one thing.     With each sudden emotional blow,  I asked myself,   “Well,  what did God want me to learn from this hardness?”     And why is it that each emotional “blow” I felt seemed really rather feeble in my memory?    And how is it that I’m not unhappy,  but indeed,  full of hope and joy and love for those whom I know?

“What did God want me to learn…?”    There was a lesson in each stage of my life.   I suppose.    But I wasn’t that broody, actually.   I probably was taught something during each stage, and then incorporated the learning into my assurance that God was in control.

And so I don’t need to know any “answers.”  I don’t need to come to any conclusions.

What I learned from my brief three hours of “brooding”  sitting on those rather hard rocks is that,  in a big way,  I’m not that baby,  that toddler, that child,   that adolescent,  that young adult . . .  anymore.

I am “me”  only in this Present Moment.  That’s all I ever can be:  Me  Now.     I am identified by what I am Now.

In a big way,   what matters is what kind of person I am Now.

Forgiveness  and Forgetfulness available for the past;   hope and healing available for the future.

That’s the way Gitche Manito works.   Ever Present- Ever Now.     What’s NOT to be joyful about?!

I think I actually did reach my “destination.”

Deo gratias.

 

(Next post:  Why Hiawatha knew this too.)

GITCHE MANITO SPEAKS ON JULY 17TH

July 17, 2016

The French Revolution was a war against Christianity, Reason,  Logic, Civility, Peace, and Individual Freedom .

July 17th.    Christendom remembers the small group of Carmelite nuns who met their death on July 17, a couple hundred years ago during the French Revolution.

BTR1

Young ladies,  some just teenagers,  quiet, devout, pure and moral, singing a Te Deum in a lovely choir of feminine voices, a choir that got thinner and thinner as the nuns, one by one,  took their place on the guillotine, until one voice was left, and then none.

The painting shows one by one they met their death, passing from this earth to the one at the top of the painting, into the waiting arms of their sisters who had met the guillotine moments before.

Their crime was that their religious faith was different from the “religion”  of the new republic of France which included a new moral code.   New laws, and new interpretations of laws made their faith in Christ a crime.   They had no right to the quiet, personal expression of their faith.

Similar storm clouds on the horizon here in this country too.

Today’s weather:

Cloud Over 1

And, July 17th, today, the latest example in our nation of the hatred against a Christian (and previously Christian )  society.   The shooter in Baton Rouge today  was interested in the Nation of Islam.  Previously, in Nice, France, a man driving a great white truck into crowds shouted out (his)  “god is greater”!    The common cry of Islamist warriors.

Menacing clouds arise:

Cloud Over 2

There will always be July 17th’s ahead.    And other dates too.    Because if we don’t work to spread goodness and to check the evil,  evil will grow.

TWO DAYS IN A ROW up here in the  Land of Hiawatha I was here, in this small private chapel, when strong storms arose outside:

GG chapel indoors 400

The first time there was such a loud crash that I thought a construction crane outside had fallen over on top of the roof of this stone chapel which was located inside of a larger stone cathedral!  I looked up for cracks in the ceiling!

Storm clouds.    Evil on the horizon.    Approaching.

Everyone seems to be talking about “something”  that’s coming.    I don’t know what that could be, but I know it could be a lot of things;  things that have happened before at the hands of evil governments, evil ideologies.

Once, long ago,  Hiawatha turned to Gitche Manito, the Great Spirit-Father above, and he sat and pondered these things seriously.

You shall hear how Hiawatha
Prayed and fasted in the forest
Not for greater skill in hunting,
Not for greater craft in fishing,
Not for triumphs in the battle,
And renown among the warriors,
But for profit of the people,
For advantage of the nations.

First he built a lodge for fasting,
Built a wigwam in the forest
By the shining Big-Sea-Water . . .

For days he prayed and fasted, just as we could do . . .     He thought of all the things around him that are important to his physical well-being and safety, and he cried out:

“Master of Life!” he cried, desponding,
“Must our lives depend on these things?”

Finally, after several days,  Gitche Manito sent to him a strong and handsome youth, “dressed in garments, green and yellow,  coming though the purple twilight, through the splendor of the sunset . . .”

Because Hiawatha had prayed sincerely for the well-being of his fellow man,  and not just for himself,   his prayers had been heard.   Hiawatha will be told how to improve the society that he lives in.

Said this youth, O Hiawatha!
All your prayers are heard in heaven,
For you pray not like the others . . .
But for profit of the people,
For advantage of the nations.

From the Master of Life descending,
I, the friend of man, Mondamin,
Come to warn you and instruct you,
How by struggle and by labor
You shall gain what you have prayed for.
Rise  from your bed of branches,
Rise up and wrestle with me!”

“How by struggle and by labor you shall gain what you have  prayed for. . . .”

Oh, yes, bring our woes and worries to Gitche Manito, the Master of Life.    Go into a chapel or into a wigwam or into your own private room.    Begin with prayer;  begin with praying;  learn to pray if you’re out of practice — but then be prepared to continue your prayers with labor. “By struggle and by labor.”    The Master of Life works through our hands.

This part of the Epoch of Hiawatha then goes on to describe days and days of wrestling with this strange youth, sent from heaven,  to test and to strengthen and prepare Hiawatha for the serious struggles against evil.

(Monamin left a gift for Hiawatha and all his people.   Monamin’s wrestling  had prepared Hiawatha to recognize it.     The gift was “green and yellow” and it  promised peace and plenty for all, because Gitche Manito is really very generous.     You may know what it is or you may not,  but  I won’t name it for you because  it’s just one symbol of the abundance of goodness available for all men,  if we just knew it.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WORD: Bewilderment

March 8, 2016

Bewilderment.  It happens to all  of us, sooner or later, more often than not.   But the ultimate “bewilderment”  comes to people who are being honest with themselves,  when facts seem  to be pitted against facts.

Bewilderment can be a good starting point.

The thought came to me in a movie theater tonight:

SAMSUNG

My goodness!   When did theater seats get so comfortable???     Just a  $5 movie ticket,  and I nearly sank into these soft seats, enfolded in soft leather-like cushions that held me in a gently reclining position.     More for sleeping than movie watching.

Seems like I’ve been recommending a lot of movies lately.  The Revenant – chock full of Catholic-Christian values.     The Thirteenth Warrior – chock full of manly virtues of courage, honor, intelligence,  bravery, strength,  defense of one’s tribe,  protection of family, refinement . . . .

And now:  Risen.    An excellent portrayal of honest bewilderment.     Or the necessary bewilderment of an honest man.

The movie begins  right  directly after the death of Jesus.  That very day.

Fact:  The Centurian Clavius saw the  Man dead on the cross.   Then,  dead and buried.

Fact:   After this, Clavius saw the Man Jesus alive again.

It was interesting to see the power of the Romans among these native people of provincial Palestine.   That, too, was historically accurate and well-portrayed.    One gets out of the way of a Roman!   They had the power of life and death over people, and they carried out the death of Jesus.

And this Roman  Clavius  was tasked with the job of finding the dead body of Jesus after it became undeniably missing.

Then,   Clavius,  with power and intelligence and authority and common sense,  saw Jesus alive with his own eyes, after His death.    And he was justifiably bewildered  with an honest,  necessary bewilderment.

As the movie progressed, I saw Clavius cast off his  power, his authority,  his knowledge of the way things ought to be,  his manly pride,  and the strength of his own will.

As that happened,  his bewilderment became irrelevant.

He became even stronger and more sure. . . .

It’s the way it has to be for all of us.   Jesus didn’t come for the intelligent classes,  the well-educated,  the powerful,  those with authority,  those satisfied with themselves,  those sure they’re right,  the winners.

He just came for . . .    us.

Again,  fact –   He really walked among us – then was crucified.

sandals

Fact:    –  He really lives again –

Heaven smaller

No one needs to remain in a state of bewilderment.

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UNREASONABLE – TO NOT WANT REVENGE

February 17, 2016

If I go back to bed I’m going to know how much I hurt all over…   it’s not just “laryngitis”  — it’s whatever comes with a 101 temperature – and it’s not coming down yet, and so I just want to go away from my bed where I feel so terrible.

Might do a little feverish rambling tonight.    But this posting has been waiting,  and I’m going to mean what I say.

Have you seen the movie yet?      The“Revenant”?   I highly, personally recommend it.  (As long as you have a strong stomach —except, you’d better,  because the themes in this movie are as real as real life and we all must deal with them,  eventually.)

You know the movie has a grizzly bear in it:

Grizzly Drawing

I saved this picture because it’s a drawing, and I want to draw.   Draw a bear.

But those of you who know me,  know my history with  bear attacks, and you know why I consider bears to be  a metaphor for those things which stalk us, and then all of a sudden rush out and attack.      (Like a few million viruses in me right now.   Trillion?)

bear talking to you

You can’t always see the bear,  but by the time you do,  they’ve decided that you’re prey.   You’re the victim.

No way to fight:

Bear Trees a Man

Just endure,  for the duration.     Whatever the “bear”  are in your life.

Now, you know the story behind the Revenant movie is a true story.   There really was a Hugh Glass,  he really was a trapper;  he really did get attacked by a grizzly,  and two of his friends were really ordered to stay behind with him until he died (real soon), in order to give him a burial.

cowboy  Glass was featured in a recent issue of my Cowboy magazine:

Since the two companions were hungry and cold and being pursued by a small group of Indians who were intent upon revenge,   they really did leave Hugh Glass out there in the wilderness,  more than half dead.   And they buried him, slightly,  and moved on.

A lot of the movie is spent on Mr. Glass kind of getting himself out of his grave,  and then with determination and grit,  motivated by revenge and hatred for the men who left him behind,  he crawled and then limped his way to Fort Kiowa,  where he’d find out where those men are – and go after them.

If that’s all you see in the movie,  then it’s a pretty good,  sort of an okay adventure movie  with beautiful scenes of the wintry rugged West.  (Mostly Montana and South Dakota.)  I’ve driven through there.  It’s all true.   The scenery is beyond description.

(Not South Dakota,  but the scale is right.) —

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But along the way there are some pretty powerful Christian themes.

For those of you who know the Bible,  doesn’t St. Paul say that this life is a very hard journey,   and you have to undergo many hardships and much pain and loneliness,  and you’ll have many enemies in this world, who’ll wish to do you harm.   We suffer in our Christian life as Christ Himself suffered,  humiliated, abandoned, and bruised.     (Is the servant better than the Master?)    If we don’t have it so bad,  we just shake our heads at how really tough and desperate some people do have it.

Hugh Glass just keeps living.  He just keeps going.  A lesser man would have laid aside his goal . .  . .

But beyond that just general and vague sort of metaphor,   there is the accompanying theme in this movie of revenge – and the choice between revenge and forgiveness.  That conflict actually drives the images and the action in the movie.

Hugh Glass was married to an Indian woman.   One of the more peaceful tribes.

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Their enemies were the French trappers and soldiers,  the English (Americans),  and most of all, the other Indian tribes who bore down on them in frequent massacres.   The more violent tribes were in the process of driving out the gentler tribes during this time.

And so his wife was killed.   But she didn’t “leave” him.   She was a gentle soul, loving and  protective of him, and– she was taught by the Catholic missionaries.   She often “hovered” over him during his trek back to Fort Kiowa,  whispering to him both encouragements and restraints on the hatred in his heart.

Unreasonable!   Unreasonable to not want revenge!  After all,  that was the only thing that kept him alive.

And then she came to him once in a vision;  and this time she brought the unconditional love of God, the deep love upon which their (sacramental Catholic) marriage was based.     His vision took place in the ruins of a Catholic chapel – right out there in the midst of the wilderness.

 

desmet ruins

When his wife led him further into the ruins,  (they looked worse than this in the movie), he had eyes only for her,  but behind him you could see the ruins of beautiful and instructive paintings at the front of the church –

Michelangelo frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, Rome

You could see the crucifix,  in dark, faded paints,  Jesus,  angels,  Mary nearby, and many other images that help us remember and meditate on our teachings.   I knew instantly that this was a ruined mission chapel left behind by Father DeSmet.

(It’s worth taking the time to learn about this episode in American history:   Some of the Plains Indians had received powerful visions from the Great Father Above.    He told them that He would send men who came from far away to teach them the “whole truth” about Him.  The “rest of the story,”  as we say.    The Great Father Above showed them what the men would look like:  they would be dressed in black,  black robes,  and they would wear crucifixes on their chests.  The Plains Indians kept this in their memories and in their drawings.     Many generations later,  some English  (American) missionaries came to them,   ready to teach them,  but the Plains Indians rejected them.   They had a “book”  but they didn’t have a crucifix.   A little later,  Father DeSmet and his companions, from Belgium,  came to the Plains Indians.  Father DeSmet was instantly recognized and received,  and many Plains Indians became Catholic.   — And this was before the routine slaughter of the Indians by the  . . .  Americans.   They took out many Catholic missionaries too. )

So there, in the movie,  was the evidence of Father DeSmets’ visit and of the beautiful wilderness chapels that were built,  and evidence of the gentle, Catholic teaching of forgiveness, coming through the vision of his wife’s “visit.”

While I watched the movie I saw this loving, too-gentle teaching of his wife who was accompanying him on his terrible journey,  and I also saw the determination for all-too-human revenge inside of Hugh Glass.

As the movie ended,  he had his opportunity, and no one would have faulted him for what he was about to do.

A parallel story of revenge among the savages was playing out too, at the same time.   The movie brilliantly brought together these two parallel stories.

“Do  not   take   revenge.    Put   it   in   the       hands   of    God.      Justice    belongs    to   Him,    not     to   mankind.”    

Father DeSmet brought Catholic teaching to the Plains Indians.    Glass’s wife lived out those Catholic teachings for her husband.     And the savages were the Hand of God.

The word “revenant’ refers to someone who has returned from death, or just as good as death.     He has revived.   Been resurrected.      But see:  what did he “revive”  from?   The physical death he should have experienced,  but for his hate-filled determination?

Or did he revive from the spiritual death that had made him hate-filled and full of vengeance in the first place.

Sure would love to “teach” more about this movie —  but I think you can do your own thinking.

I’m all in . . . .

Bed is looking a little better . .  . .

 

 

 

LENTEN LESSON: GOD AND ONYX

February 13, 2016

37 more days:

Lent 37

When I was in high school, one of my friends received for a present a  beautiful onyx ring, set with a little diamond in the middle.  I thought it was so beautiful.   I never did manage to buy myself a pretty onyx ring like that,  gleaming black stone in a silver filigree setting – with that shiny little diamond . . . .

Ever since,  I’ve thought of onyx as being black.    Gleaming black.   Hard, impenetrable black.

onyx for ring

So I was interested, as an adult now,  to read more of the story of the Exodus and discover that onyx plays an important part in the relationship between God and man – and it’s not hard and black!

We all know that it was atop Mt. Sinai that Moses received the?   . . . Ten Commandments, of course.   But he also received many other “commands” and instructions regarding social interaction among people, as well as the proper worship of a God so utterly “other” and majestic and holy  that He had to reach down to mankind in order to communicate the Truth.    We couldn’t guess it ourselves.

Moses was told to instruct the people to build a proper place to worship,  what to do,  what kind of vessels to use,   where to place things,  what the priests should do,  and how they should be dressed.

threads

It was the amazingly detailed and beautiful garments of the priests that would put forth into our minds the glory and beauty of God.   It was the best we could do.

The out garment was to be embroidered with threads that were double-dyed, red and gold and blue, violet, scarlet  – each color had meaning –  threads of gold . . . .

 

Here’s another was to think of these garments:

threads 2

Now, over the breast was to be placed an object with twelve gems, arranged in a square, representing the Twelve Tribes of Israel — but what is often overlooked is that over the shoulders of the priestly robe two onyx stones were to be taken and the names of the Tribes were to be written on them,  six on each side.

[9] And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and shalt grave on them the names of the children of Israel: [10] Six names on one stone, and the other six on the other, according to the order of their birth.    [11] With the work of an engraver and the graving of a jeweller, thou shalt engrave them with the names of the children of Israel, set in gold and compassed about: [12] And thou shalt put them in both sides of the ephod, a memorial for the children of Israel. And Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord upon both shoulders, for a remembrance.   (Exodus 28)

Maybe like this?

shoulders

Or maybe much more beautiful.

You see,  an onyx is not only a gleaming, hard, black stone.   It can also look like this:

onyx green

And like this:

Onyx

Quite beautiful and swirly and mysterious and deep.    Almost alive with warmth!   The placement of these onyx gemstones with the names of all the Tribes  (families)  of God’s own people on the shoulders of the priests, representing truths and mysteries and the thoughts of God is really quite remarkable.

Touch your shoulders.   (You have to cross your hands.)  Or think of a time when someone came up from behind you and caressed your shoulders.   Or, okay,  just rubbed your shoulders.   These are all pretty intimate acts because your shoulders, on top of your chest,  guard your heart.

Symbolically speaking,  God is bearing His people on His shoulders because He loves them, He desires closeness with them.   He will bear them up on His shoulders, taking them on, all of them,  even some day bearing their sins while the Cross is placed upon His shoulders.

holy cross

And that is the Lenten-Lesson part.   From the time of Moses we see the detailed, complex,  many-layered love that God has for us, His people, as He bears us on his shoulders (through the medium of the priests and their holy garments);  He “wears us” close to His heart,  and He gathers us all up into Himself.

He guards, guides,  protects, and instructs.

And during Lent,  we examine ourselves . . . to see how we’ve responded.

Our honest answer leads us to Calvary.

.

 

 

A PAIR OF H-WORDS

January 30, 2016

 

Yes, times are . . .  complex.  

Rube

 

Figure it out.

All the instructions are there.

And it makes about as much sense as what we get from our culture — with “instructions”  from the entertainment-news-media.

The only thing is,  this is the only life we get.     How we figure things out is a matter of life and death –  eternal heavenly life,   eternal hellish death.     And if you haven’t noticed yet,  you really won’t get answers from the world around us.

Meanwhile,  I can highly recommend a little humorous take on the world around us from this interesting Website:   http://moonbattery.com/              I’m pretty sure he won’t mind if I link you to him.       He has short, to-the-point,  hard-to-argue-with frequent little postings.    Like  little vitamin pills  for the mind.

So, yes,  Humor clears the mind.

And then you’ll know where to find an answer.

The Answer hasn’t changed in almost 2,000 years.    We just have to be open-minded —  but being open-minded isn’t going to be very helpful if we’re not Humble.

Because when a person is open-minded without humility,  all that happens is the person steps onto his own stage – front and center!

If that’s good enough,  then you’d be able to figure out the diagram above!

It’s Sunday tomorrow.   Sunday presented to you for a reason.

 

WALK WITH ME

January 23, 2016

 

I don’t know what made me visit The Spruce Tunnel this day.  It had been a nice but challenging class this morning, but I was tired now  and very hungry,  and it was a cold, crisp day in the Far North.   But I found myself making the stop, thinking the  fresh air would feel good.

So unexpectedly I stopped the car and started off  down the familiar entrance pathway to the Tunnel.

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No skis this time, even though it was winter.   And there were plenty of other  footprints to show others had  left their skis at home too.

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I once did a photo-study of all the patterns made by boot footprints in The Spruce Tunnel.  Fascinating.   Sometimes you find interesting things when you look down, when you stop and focus on what’s very close to you.

I was wearing my warm fur-lined “short boots.”    But my friends say they look like bedroom slippers.

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Well, hmmmph!   I bought them from the Boot section of the shoe store.   They’re boots!   They keep my feet warm!

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I took a deep breath, feeling the (cold) oxygen fill my lungs.  It felt good all over.   I thought:  I could have been driving the car right now –  breathing stuffy, heated air.  I could have been home by now:  breathing dry air.   This was nicer.

I looked way up at some of the deciduous trees, bare now in midwinter.   Kept my eyes up there,  just like a kid would do,   until I was done looking.

It was peaceful, but it wasn’t quiet.     There were many interesting sounds:    little peeps, squeaks,  creaks,   lots of bird sounds.   “Someone”  was scolding me  as I walked through.  Maybe my peace was  disturbing his peace;  maybe a bird, maybe an irritated  squirrel.    Sorry, little critter –  I wasn’t intimidated;  you just sounded funny.

But I share this park with other living things.   I know.

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I saw an interesting log.

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Nobody’s home, I guess.

Questions, questions, questions.   What was I doing here?   What made me come?

And then another unexpected, decision:   of all the pathways I could have chosen to enter the Tunnel,  I chose this one, rather than my usual eastern approach.

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I was entering now a deeper stillness,  when the “peaceful feeling”  becomes a little eerie.    A  peaceful feeling becomes a spiritual feeling.   The many duties and concerns that had kept my mind so busy fell completely away, and my mind seemed to become clear and open.  I thanked God for . . .   I don’t know.  I just felt thankful.

Whatever impulse had driven me here was a good one.

And then I discovered “why”  I had come.   An unexpected purpose.   And just
as I was wondering about the wisdom of being here, alone, in a great big park
with no other person in sight,  and with no protection (whatever that would
be),   I heard  two people up ahead.

It was a man and a woman.  They were enjoying the park together.  They seemed happy, although they looked cold.    When I got closer, and smiled to them,  they asked me if I knew how much further they had to go to get to the end of the trail.   “Not far at all.”

If I had entered the Tunnel from the other way,  I wouldn’t have seen them.  So . . .  glad I could help.

8.5 two eaglesBut then our conversation began.   The lady,  the wife as it turned out,  came over to me to show me the beautiful pictures of a pair of eagles that she had recently taken.  And nearby!    The eagles were obviously a happy couple too, impersonating a pair of lovebirds.  How interesting.  I was impressed.  Such an image of majestic strength –  and yet —  life, love, bonding, babies;  just like all life on this earth.    “Abundant life!”   “Be fruitful and multiply.”

The lady went on about  her pursuit of certain birds for further picture taking, an obviously well-liked hobby of hers;  and how often she just seemed to be “led”  to the location of certain interesting or rare birds.

I learned about their motorcycle riding and an accident, one of seven, was it?   And how they were so protected that they each had only bumps and bruises,  even though their motorcycles were trashed.  And how the accident led to the fortuitous discovery of impending blindness.

They both shared many other things, all the while expressing their thanksgiving to God.  It was evident that they lived their Christian faith daily,  at every moment.

I felt a little shy, and I shyly asked them if I could take their picture.

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I wanted to remember them, to remember that this delightful encounter had really  happened.

Then it was time to go.   Just standing there had made us all feel the cold.   We said our good-byes and “God bless you”s.

There was the end of the Tunnel waiting for me, and I took one last look at the tall black spruces:

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And further way up high:

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The Spruce Tunnel is indeed a place of great beauty, deep feeling, and lofty thoughts.     I’m so glad I had made my unplanned stop here.    I felt different – and better – after the chance encounter with that happy couple.  Their bright happy spirits lifted me up and made a happy walk in the park even happier!

I’ll never see them again,  but I’ll always remember their effect on me.  And I hope I’ll try to have the same positive, unselfconscious faith-filled effect on others.

We who are believers  manifest Christ for the world around us.  We are witnesses to His love and to His Resurrection.   We show the world what Jesus is like.

Or so we should.

Leaving the Tunnel,  walking out into the wide world  —

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Finding my way back into the “normal” world —   where I hope I’ll take this experience with me and I hope it will change me, just a little.

 

 

LIVING WELL IN 2016

January 4, 2016

(Just a very short note;  still “recovering” from the holidays.)

I forgot who wrote this, but I come across it once in a while:

“HE LIVES WELL WHO ALWAYS HAS OWN DEATH BEFORE HIM.”

I could elaborate on that.
But so can you.

 

THE BABE AND THE HAZELNUT

December 27, 2015

 

They’re quite small —

Hazelnuts at chrstmas

Of all the nuts we can buy at Christmastime,  the hazelnut is the smallest. Maybe one third the size of a walnut.   Most people don’t even think about hazelnuts and other little things like that.

But at Christmastime,  something big happened to our world,  something “earth-changing.”

julian earth dawns

We understand that God is Love,  loving, and full of love for us;  and that He is Great and we are so small but He came down to Bethlehem with  power on our behalf.

We celebrate that first Christmas in many ways —  many busy, tiring,  schedule-disrupting ways!   —  and then it’s over,  it happened —

after christmas

The difficult things fade from our minds,  and  we have a few  good memories,  and now things slow down — slowly but surely,  things slow down.

The Church, in her wisdom for us,  gives us Twelve Days of Christmas in which to absorb all the things we’ve thought about and learned.  Each year we are given  time to process some hopefully more mature insights.

What was all this about?     We’re told, today,  that the world is just an unimportant third-rate planet, somewhere near the outside edge of a somewhat insignificant galaxy.  And the inhabitants of this planet?

Physical,  “galactic”  forces so great surround the “insignificant’  inhabitants of this earth — one of several  “species.”

A little while ago,  a few centuries ago, actually, but what is that in “cosmic” “galactic”  time?   . . .   a few centuries ago,  a lady named Julian sat and thought about just these things.

Julian and Hazelnut

She pictured herself holding something small — like a hazelnut — in her hand.  Small and fragile — she could drop it at any moment.    It could shatter,  and who would care?

She had been very sick and almost died — and who would care?

And she received the insight that the whole world lies like a little hazelnut in the hands of God.

Julian 4  and world

Just small and insignificant and breakable — and there are plenty of other worlds.   Who would care if this world shattered?

A shudder of vulnerability passed through her.  The world’s people are broken and sinful and confused, and can’t ever seem to do anything much about it.

S0 . . .   toss the hazelnut?

But the One who was teaching her these insights showed her Love,  the eternal Love that He has for mankind in this world.   And in His power,  He came to earth at Bethlehem to search us out, to invite,  to “seek and to save that which was lost.”   To seek us out.

Here is something St Francis de Sales taught me,  in his writings:   We always want the ones we love to love us in return.     The One who loves seeks to be loved in return.  This is what Julian of the  little city of Norwich learned too. That’s how much we mean to Him.  He wants us.

God won’t let that little hazelnut go.   He has the desire and the power to keep it safe.   And “all will be well for that little hazelnut.”

Julian and all well

“I shall keep my word in all things, and I shall make all things well.”

That plan to give us hope and assurance began at Christmas.   The Christmas Baby grew up and sought us out:

JESUS  and child

Small and fragile, understanding no more than a little child, He seeks us out and shows us His love and care,  and assures us that through Him and in Him,  all will be well for us.

Love came to earth to conquer evil and disorder and danger for us, and to assure us that — in Him —  we will be “all right.”

Here are some of the  words of Julian of Norwich —

     I saw that [our Lord] is to us everything which is good and comforting for our help. He is our clothing, who wraps and enfolds us for love, embraces us and shelters us, surrounds us for his love, which is so tender that he may never desert us. And so in this sight I saw that he is everything which is good, as I understand.

    And in this he showed me something small, no bigger than a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand….

    In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it, the second is that God loves it, the third is that God preserves it. But what did I see in it? It is that God is the creator and protector and the lover. For until I am substantially united to him, I can never have perfect rest or true happiness, until, that is, I am so attached to him that there can be no created thing between my God and me.

    Sin is necessary, but all will be well, and all will be well, and every kind of thing will be well.

 

Something good to know during these Twelve Days of Christmas.

 

 

 

SILENT NIGHT – 1

December 24, 2015

Christmas.

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It all comes down to midnight.    “when the night was in the middle of her course.”      One midnight, long ago, “when all things were in quiet silence.”  (book of Wisdom, chapter 18)

At midnight, in the still of the night, in silence,  the Christmas Baby was laid in a manger, in a shelter for animals, a cave, a stable, whatever.

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It was Jesus:    Victor, Savior, Conquering Hero,  King of All the Kings, come down to Earth in the guise of a Baby.

How perfect!

In the midst of a busy, bustling, striving,  fidgety world,  we often stop to look at a baby.

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An innocent baby gets our attention — a baby is so much outside   our usual busy activity, and is so much not a part of the concerns of the adult world.  What does a baby know of all the things that keep us adults on edge?   We look in wonder at the peaceful innocence.

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I took a walk one night at the end of a long busy day with too much to do,  too much to think about,  to much to worry about.   In the dark, along the edge of the streets, the Christmas lights around the neighborhood seemed to float in  the darkness.       It was a windy, slightly drizzly night, undecided whether to become good weather or bad weather.

And I took the worst photos ever  of Christmas lights as I walked along.   The wind was pushing me around and it was too dark to see where the edge of the road was, so sometimes I stumbled and the pictures aren’t too clear.

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But the lights drew my attention.

It was Christmas everywhere,  outside people’s houses and inside their houses.

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The “Christmas Baby”  has drawn our attention.   In the deep darkness of this evening,  everything was still,  and I heard only my own footsteps,  only my own thoughts . . .  which were slowing down now, after my busy day.

Soon all the preparation for the holiday will be over,  no more time to do “more,”  only time to experience the remembrance of Jesus, come to Earth to be with us.

sil

The long-awaited beginning of Everything.

 

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.

 

 

 

ASK QUESTIONS – BE BRAVE

October 1, 2015

Concerning the “unnamed shooter”  —

In that great Christian classic which has helped so many souls live on this earth —

imitation     —    that would be The Imitation of Christ,  a book so good that it’s been memorized by more than one Christian,   there is a sentence, a very helpful sentence:    “Do not concern yourself  with things that you cannot change.”    It comes within the advice to not seek after “much information,”   to not be overly curious about things.   “Do not concern yourself with things that you cannot change.”

But we live in an information age.   It’s easy to get caught up in the nasty emotional dramas that current events offers us. And maybe, as citizens,  there is something we should be doing.     At least maybe we should know what dangers are out there and plan how to protect ourselves should the danger come our way.

Or maybe not.    What we should concern ourselves with is having the faith  and the courage to live and to believe as we are supposed to.      Death is not the worst thing that could happen to us.      Faith and courage in the Living Christ will see us through,  even to our deaths and into the next life.

We’ve been told today that the killer at the Oregon community college shooting first asked his victims “What religion are you?”

He didn’t.

He asked them:  “Are    you    a     Christian?”

ARE YOU A CHRISTIAN?

Are you a Christian?

Oops wrong answerOoops.   Wrong answer.

Today, in Oregon,  according to an eyewitness,  if you said “No, I’m not,”  you got shot in the legs.   If you said “Yes,”   you got shot dead.

American citizens, so far, have a First Amendment to protect them.    But not everyone honors our First Amendment, even within our own country’s borders.

 Are you a Christian?

He tried free speech

The Rulers of the United States do not protect Christians,  and they have made a point to declare to the world that they,  our Rulers, and the Barack Hussein person they gave us,  will NOT help any Christian refugees seeking asylum from the Middle East.   In fact,  if you are here as a refugee but you are a Christian,  you are going to be deported back to the Middle East, or wherever else you would be accepted.   (This is stated public policy now.)

But if you are a Muslim refugee —   welcome.     The American citizens will pay for anything you want.    And no questions asked pertaining to your political viewpoint,   goals,  training, and experience or murderous prejudice.

Don’t agree with “transforming our nation”  into a Muslim paradise?      If you don’t,   they have a way . . . .

But if you don't run awayAre you a Christian?

Who wants to know?       Christians don’t shoot other people for not being Christian.    Jews don’t shoot people for not being Jews.      Hindus shoot Christians,  but mainly just in India.     Who else?

Of course,  we mustn’t assume too much.     Every Christian death is singular.

“Are you a Christian?”

If you answer yes,   then:  “Take up your cross and follow Me.”       Christians know Who said that.

crucifixion

“The servant is not better than his Master.”       

I hope you are beginning to read The Roman Martyrology that I wrote of a few posts ago.

book frontWe are not the first generation, of course, to experience hatred directed at us because we are Christians.    It’s just that it’s a new thing for American citizens.   Regular reading of the Martyrology connects us to those who have come before us.   This helps us to remember those who live  the authentic Christian life will be hated by the world:  “If the world hate you, know ye that it hath hated me before you.     John recorded this in his Gospel.    Those are the words of Christ to His followers.

Later,  when John was writing a little letter to some Christians,  he said:     ” Wonder not, brethren, if the world hate you.”   Because,   as John’s Master had said,   the world hated Jesus long before it hated us,  His disciples.

Bar Cross in middle

By the way,   this college campus, according to some reports was a “gun-free zone.”    That means that the home state of the Mighty Ducks  is the home state of some Sitting Ducks.   One or two security guards on campus.   Unarmed.    Then a former official of that college said into his microphone “We have prepared ourselves for this kind of emergency.  We’ve done everything we can.”

Good will stops bullets,  don’t you know.

As Son remarked:    “If the campus was a “gun-free zone.”  then how did the shooter get a gun in there?

A JEW, A GENTILE, AND A CONFIRMATION

March 14, 2015

(We are all one family,  human;  and our Creator is alive.)
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Those of you who know what these flowers signify,   will understand when I say that these words I will write are words of amazement,  of confirmation,  and of life-changing gratitude which I must express publicly.

It was 10:00 this morning when my doorbell rang.   I was “not quite ready for prime time,”   but when the doorbell rang a second time,  I moved to the front door without really planning to do so.

There was my next-door neighbor,  beaming with joy,  holding a bouquet of yellow roses.   My neighbor is a man a little bit older than I am,  he is married,  and he is a Jew, and I am not.

He couldn’t wait to thrust these flowers towards me, saying, “These are for you!  It is such a lovely Spring day!”

I had never seen him so happy,  happy from the inside out, and pouring forth good will and joy….

therese face  I knew in an instant the Source of these yellow roses – for they could be only yellow roses, and a good thing it was that I was in such shock or I would have collapsed there on the spot, and perhaps alarmed him, for he himself could not know what he was doing.

He just couldn’t have known.

yellow rose and hand

He is a Jewish man, a business man whose business takes him frequently to Manhattan, the center of commerce, and back here to “fly-over country,”  where he teaches business things at our local Big Ten university.   But he is a Jewish man first.   And though he doesn’t speak of it often, he walks with the knowledge that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob watches over him and walks with him.

As I do.

Both St. Paul and Moses wrote of the Great Mystery which will some day not divide us.   St. Paul said:   “… and so all Israel should be saved,  as it is written:  There shall come out of Sion He that shall deliver and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.  This is to them My covenant, that I shall take away their sins . . . they are most dear for the sake of the fathers.”

Previously,  the Prophet Zachariah had told the Jews that one day “all Israel shall recognize Him whom they had Pierced,” long before they actually did that piercing in Sion.

The Jews held the knowledge of mankind’s Salvation, and Salvation is for them too.  There is no division within “the One who came out of Sion.”

And now,  the confirmation(s):     That the God of Jacob lives still.   That the One who came out of Sion was really, actually sent to this world.    That all the saints are in spiritual communion with God and with each other.  That even death does not break the communion and mutual love and aid we desire for each other.

(One young small soul in communion with us)

therese let fall

Confirmation,  that one tiny little soul,  taken from this world “too young,” promised to spend her time in Heaven doing good on Earth,  showering down blessings like flowers on all who call upon her for help, to bring souls to God.     Her trademark is yellow;  yellow roses.

It should not have happened that a Jewish man should have come to my door this morning, “out of the clear blue sky,”  and given me a bouquet of Yellow Roses.    It need not have happened that God answered my prayers.

I cannot even express my gratitude to God with plain words.

So . . .   (sorry for the ad)  …   take time to listen:

I know.  The song is too big.   It’s just me.   Just a small little life, currently overwhelmed with difficulties and uncertainties,  just enough little faith  to plea for help; and an impossibly personal and definite confirmation from above.

LENTEN LEARNING ALONGSIDE LAVRANS’ DAUGHTER

February 24, 2015

I am singularly uninspired tonight, battle-weary and fatigued, but I have to write about my Lenten reading:  I said I would. And in spite of this blogger being a woman, and in spite of the book being “about” a woman, this is actually a man’s book about real men, about being a good man – or, by contrast, realizing what a defective man is.

(Later, I shall direct you to a “Gentleman” to tell you more.)

Sackcloth

Among the things we do during Lent — fasting, abstinence, extra almsgiving, extra praying, penitential acts ( just “in case” we’ve ever sinned!), mortifications, and extra spiritual reading, it is the extra or additional spiritual reading that will probably last the longest in our memories when Lent is over.

So I’ve added to my normal Lenten reading an important book this year, one I’ve read before and “liked” but I was only a teenager, and I missed all the significance this book has to offer.

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The book is Kristin Lavransdatter. That’s a photo of my old “genuine antique” clothbound copy of the book (Archer translation, if you know these things) – a gift from my sister, long ago.

Kristin lived in 14th century Norway, and this is the story of Life through her life, as she experiences people, death, the men around her, death, much death, the common dreadful challenges of life in the beautiful, natural Scandinavian world of greens and grays and blues and white — fields and mountains and sky, ocean and snow.

I read it long ago because I too was a young Scandinavian woman, (Lavrans’ family was from Sweden, after all); I must have looked like her, I was familiar with the names she knew and the personality traits of those around her. We seemed to have so much in common, but I was depressed and disturbed by all the harsh things that happened to her. Is this what Life is going to be like? And the ending almost didn’t seem to belong to the rest of her life.

But Kristin had one thing that I didn’t have when I was a teenager, and that is she had the Catholic Faith that put it all together and gave purpose and significance to life as she lived it and to death as it happened all around her and finally to her.

I’m eager now to read it with “Catholic eyes” — because I know this is a significant book in Western Civilization and, more importantly, it’s a book with meaning for the whole human race. I don’t think I’m overstating it; the author, Sigrid Undset,  won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

I’ve just begun the book, but the author is so skilled that I feel I’ve entered Kristin’s world.  I am already humbled.

I need to make clear that Kristin was a woman because the men around her were real men.   A case could be made that this is actually a book for men — “it will grow hair on your chest” as one man puts it.

With wonderful funny hyperbole, this man makes the case for this book better than I could:

(He says) Kristin Lavransdatter will make you weep and shout and stay up way too late with eyes as big as saucers. But you will sleep like a baby, and in the morning you will wake up with a bonfire in your heart. “That’s right,” you’ll say, your voice husky from drinking mead with kinsmen after a long Alpine hunt. “Real men read novels.” You’ll make your morning offering and kiss your brown scapular, and then you’ll drive to the jobsite…with your tear-stained copy of Kristin Lavransdatter tucked somewhere between your toolbox and your Stanley thermos.”

Here is a link to his wonderfully funny but important reasons for reading Kristin Lavransdatter:   “Be a man”:    The Catholic Gentleman.”

Her epic trilogy is a call to arms. Do not be content to watch from the sidelines. . .”

Enjoy.   He writes so much better than I.

 

NOT MY 2015

February 8, 2015

I have a lot to learn from my grandson.

This was Cooper’s New Year’s Eve:

Cooper with 2015

He was on “California time”…three hours behind us.  Staying up past midnight had been easy for him for the past five days at Grandma’s house.   And then it was News Year’s Eve and we planned a big noisy funny happy party,  mostly for his enjoyment.

happy 2015

While we were getting everything ready,  Cooper picked up his iPad  (yes, his very own)  and got to work.  (Play is a child’s work,  you know.)    A little later we were all astonished to see him fast asleep, still holding his iPad!    What?  Way too early!  He knew something big and happy was coming.  He even explained to us that this is going to be a whole new year for good things to happen.    (We don’t know where he got that idea;  we think one of his teachers must have told him that.)

 

He was sure of it.  He was sure his Mommy and Daddy were happy that night. He was sure he was loved and respected and listened to.   He was sure and confident.

Why not sleep?

It was supposed to be just a cute family photo of him sleeping there;  but it sticks in my memory — as an admonishment.    So far my 2015 has given me more trials and challenges than I could handle, and I’m not confident about the future.

The two things “out there” that mean the most to me,  my Church and my country,  have both been taken over by foreign elements who are proceeding to raze-and-revolutionize”  us into their own image,  to align with the needs of world governance.

one world church and state

Interestingly,   both Church and country are being “transformed”  by the same agenda.  When I read the news,  I can think either Church or State, because the same thing is going on within both, and  with the opposition of its members,  but it’s happening anyway, because self-defense has been carefully bred out of us.

No Global Warming

No Global Warming

(A joint encyclical about the spurious climate change?  Good grief!)    Soon one-world state interests will be perfectly aligned with one-world religious interests.   It won’t be pretty.   (See Revelation chapters 8 – 13.)

Knowing all this,  knowing what’s coming,   it’s ironic that I ended that last fireplace” posting with Psalm 4:8:   I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep,  for you only, O Lord,  make me to dwell in safety.

Time to actually practice my faith, I guess.    Rest in peace, in God.    Maybe I could have Cooper’s kind of 2015.

I could learn a lot from my grandson.

ON THIS DAY, 2,000 YEARS AGO

February 2, 2015

“Behold,  all generations shall call me blessed.”     And so they have for nearly 2,000 years.   

mother and child
“Blessed.”    Not for her sake,  but because of her Son.

I’m a “subsequent generation”  and I’m just still learning about this beautiful woman, perfect mother. and why she is indeed blessed.  Created that way by her own Son,  her Creator and ours,  her Savior and ours.

Nevertheless:
presentation

This was a busy and significant day about 2,000 years ago.  The Christmas Family traveled one day from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, where they entered the Temple in obedience to the Law.     two doves
The Law says that there is a ceremony to be performed 40 days after a woman gives birth to a son.  This family offered two little birds for the sacrifice part of the ceremony.  Sins symbolically cleansed,  the new mother is now ritually pure, in  a way which we can scarcely comprehend today,  so prejudiced can we be against people who lived before us.   Nevertheless,  this perfect mother is now accepted as ritually pure.

pidyon haben

This Son was her firstborn child.   When a firstborn is a male,  he belongs to God the Creator,  but in a charming little ceremony, the family can “ransom back”  or “buy back”  the little child from the Temple…

This ceremony of Pidyon Haben today:

pidyon haben today

…  and so keep their little son with them, to love and raise and cherish.

On this day, about 2,000 years ago, in the Temple,  this is what the Mother,  her spouse Joseph,  and the child Jesus did.

But then:

swords
This Child was not just any child.    He is the Son of God, who has just taken on our human nature,  and He came here on a mission.  Not to teach us.  Not to set up a religion.   Not to tell us how we should live.

He came here to die.

And the perfect love of a perfect Mother?

Upon hearing of an unspeakably horrible destiny for her Child,  she was not spared.   She was told that her sorrow would be so strong, it would be like a sword had pierced right into her heart.

Is she willing,  willing to go on with it?

As always:  “Fiat mihi,  secundum verbum tuum.”

Yes.

And so today,  Christendom celebrates Candlemas.   This child is “the Light that would come to enlighten the Gentiles”  too.   It’s why candles are blessed on this day, for the spreading of this Light in ceremonies throughout the coming year.     And we turn now from Christmas thoughts  to thoughts of Mission for which the Christmas Child came.  

 

A GOOD MAN FOR CUBA

January 8, 2015

I will miss my Tuesday Tributes to our Rulers who manage the outcome of our elections for their purposes,  but I’m not going to continue them on into 2015,  and the following epitaph plays an important part in my reason:

“I have loved justice and hated iniquity; therefore I die in exile.”

St-Anthony-Mary-Claret   These words are on the tombstone of St. Anthony Mary Claret of Spain, a very great man, a skilled administrator, a helper of the poor and oppressed, and though he was repelled by power-hungry government officials,  he was much sought after to settle political problems.    He loved God’s justice and he hated man’s iniquity towards other men.

Because the times were difficult and full of revolutions,  he tried to avoid becoming entangled with the parties.   He was full of love for the poorest of people and became a missionary priest.     Eventually he was raised to archbishop and sent to Cuba.

 

He  fell in love with the Cuban people.

cuba

For six years he traveled across the island, on foot, up and down the beautiful green mountains in the interior of the island, and he visited just about every small village he could find,  stopping off at hospitals and jails, defending the poor against oppressive local rulers. and teaching in the little churches.

church little

I’ve read his autobiography a few times and am always impressed by the physical hardships he endured while traveling in Cuba,  but how happy he was to come to the next little village and how much he loved the people he found there.

According to his biography,  he confirmed 100,000 Cubans and performed 9,000 marriages.  Thus he helped form the Christian conscience that is deep within the oldest Cubans who are alive today.    He is part of the Cuban heritage.

church cuban

He was called back to Spain and reluctantly but obediently left the island.    So great was his reputation, that he was next called to be the confessor to the Queen of Spain.  He was now closer to political strife and the various parties declared him their enemy.       The exile spoken of on his tombstone was not only his exile away from Spain that he had to endure but also a self-imposed exile away from politics which he attempted throughout his life.

And so,  in a minor way,  I weakly  imitate this great man and turn away from weekly “tributes”  to our Rulers who have taken over the governing of my country.  I hope it is only temporary and the unknown man who was raised a sunni socialist and given a someone else’s social security number will soon go away —  but, really,  they also took away the government of St. Anthony Mary Claret’s Spain and replaced it with a revolutionary . . .  substitute that proved unworkable in the long run.

How great is Spain today under a socialist government which is under the umbrella of a socialist superstate?

St. Anthony Mary Claret sought to serve God with personal holiness and by easing pain where he found it and teaching souls to love God and each other.     That is a worthwhile life to imitate.

What will be on my tombstone?

“Tribute to Tuesdays”  —  Good-bye!