Posted tagged ‘Lent’

DON’T

March 6, 2019

Don’t.

Lent.

Don’t.

Just don’t.

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

DONT LENT

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

mg whale

 

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

MG beads

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

MG Beads down

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

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

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

MG sdtreets

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

Paczki Haven’t had my Paczki  yet this year.

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

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

What’s the point?    

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

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

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

ship

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

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

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

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

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

“Don’t.”  

___________________________________________________

 

  •   (It wasn’t  a whale.)

 

 

 

 

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ASHES TO ASHES

March 1, 2017

An almost two thousand year-old practice . . .

ashes-lent

. . . in an almost two thousand year old time-tested, time-proven  Church.

Why ashes?   Because we’re all toast!     We’re all already toast anyway.    As in burnt toast,  burnt-to-ashes toast.

That was our choice, as a human race.

earth-circle-destroyed

That choice resulted in a cosmic breach between the Creator and all of Creation.

Doesn’t matter if it happened last week or if it happened aeons ago.    Each son or daughter  is born into an already condemned human race onto a cursed planet.

Ashes.    In the wisdom, might, and just judgment of a holy God,  we have separated ourselves from Him and He;s given us our wishes, sadly and reluctantly.    The resulting “separation”  is described in human terms as an agonizing sense of never-ending fire . . .  burning . . .  ashes.   The intense pain of a soul separated from God.     Forever.

The Church carries the Means of Healing this separation for me.

ashes-man

But first I must acknowledge that God is right,  and I am wrong.

Sure, I’m part of that today, with ashes on my forehead.

____________________________

 

 

 

LENT . . . THE REASON

February 11, 2016

Ashes Lent

(A brief thought after Ash Wednesday):

 

Lent Himself  Black

 

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Lent 39

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LENT, BECAUSE . . .

February 11, 2016

 

Lent —  because we are beings which are both physical and spiritual.

We are Body-and-Soul together;  everlasting.

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And because our time on earth will be up . . .  soon.

One of us at a time.

 

 

 

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.

 

WELCOMING ME HOME

February 23, 2015

If you lived where I do,  you’d know what a welcome sight this is!

SAMSUNGThis is the front wall of my garage, and I park my car up against that woodpile.

(A huge, grateful thanks to Son for all his work!   I know it was hard work, but it looks almost like a work of art.)

A few weeks ago I wrote that our Weatherman wasn’t being too generous with his “Fahrenheits” –  we were experiencing a severe cold spell of single digit temperatures.  Well, two or three “cold spells” later,  our Weatherman is now subtracting Fahrenheits from us.     That is, I woke up this morning to   -12 F —  not wind chill,  just the temperature.     Twelve.  Degrees.  Below.  Zero.

I know we’re not the only ones in America with the extreme cold, and we live here in the Far North – no complaints from me.

And it’s the season of Lent;  does one dare to complain about a  lack of creature comfort?

I’ve been dealing with some personal challenges,  mostly involving identity theft.  With Hubbie gone now,  I don’t have his steady optimism to strengthen me.    I don’t have his manly confidence to absorb into the place inside me that tells me things might be, ultimately, okay.     But I’m learning how to deal with this, and with some pressure off, I can focus on the season.

So, I came home from my class this afternoon, opened the garage door, and saw that welcoming sight:  all that firewood waiting for me.  A little optimism for the evening hours.     Supper;  Lenten devotions;   social duties;  Lenten reading.     I am a “product”  of Gustav Vasa.    King Gustav I Vasa.     His actions long ago molded the world I was born into.   On that basis, I chose my Lenten reading for this year.

Not too long a  post tonight.    Just wanted to check in and say:  No matter how bad, how complicated, how uncomfortable your life can become,  it will lessen,  it might pass,  you will cope,  with the strength of your loved ones around you —  and be upheld by the God who made you — although I think you have to call out to Him first.

He that dwelleth in the aid of the most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of Jacob

He shall say to the Lord: Thou art my protector, and my refuge: my God, in him will I trust.

. . .he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways.

He shall cry to me, and I will hear him: I am with him in tribulation, I will deliver him, and I will glorify him.

I wasn’t smart enough to think of those verses from the Psalms by myself,   but  I was reminded of them on Sunday.      The short prayers given for the First Sunday in Lent came from the Psalms and seemed to talk directly to the prayers I had been sending up.      Sending up frantically, I might add.   Here is one of the short prayers for this Sunday:

The Lord will overshadow thee with His shoulders, and under His wings thou shalt trust: His truth shall compass thee with a shield.

I can’t have Hubbie’s arms around me,  I know God’s arms are stronger,   but “under His wings”  is where I had been needing to be these past weeks.   I was very affected by that little prayer.   How could I be needing and asking . . .  and then the response is forced into my attention right during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!

And that brings me back to King Gustav — a man of legends;  a man of great violence and cruelty;  a charismatic young man;   a man who is the “father” of modern,  independent Sweden       —  Oh, here he is:

Gustav Vasa

—  A man who manipulated the world around him to increase his power and to increase Sweden’s economic influence in Europe;  a man who “saved”  Sweden.

A man who took away the Faith from my ancestors,   not by a stroke of his pen,  but by his sword — many swords.

Which brings me back to my Lenten reading, which I promise to present in my next posting, even though it’s not about this king and even though it’s a very manly book, and I’m very much not.

 

Firewood Art:

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THIS ONE CAN SAY THE WORDS

February 19, 2015

“Pulverized”  into dust.   “Pulvis.”    Remember, O man —   “Memento homo, quia pulvis est, et in pulverem reverteris.”

ash be there when you die

The priest of the Church can say those words.   He can honestly tell you that you were made from the “dust” of the Earth, and you will revert back to dust some day.      

A good priest, a true priest, can tell you that you are just a pile of dust . . .  for now.

Ash Wes sign

Our death is the hard truth of Life.

 

Lent – to get ready. . . .

SPY WEDNESDAY – GOING ABOUT OUR BUSINESS

April 17, 2014

purple bar

This is Holy Week for Christendom, of course you’ve heard. . . a solemn, somber, heavy drag on our attention that gets deeper and deeper as the week goes on and we remember with more detail and devotion the last movements of Our Savior here on earth.

From Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday we know pretty much where Jesus was each day of this week,  but for most of us,  life goes on.  We go about our business, especially during the first part of the week.    We work;  we play;  we think. . . .

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Son got to work on Spy Wednesday.  With chain saw in hand he was actually doing what we call a Corporate Work of Mercy –  helping the older people next door get rid of a tree that had fallen in their yard.    It was a win-win-win:  clean yard for them;  firewood for me;   good works done for Son’s soul.

Meanwhile – indoors,  Gravity was creating some work for me to do –

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That was a pretty old book shelf, being asked to do some pretty heavy work.   The wooden pegs holding up the shelf just gave way.   Life’s little problems.    Life goes on — on Spy Wednesday.

And about 2,000 years ago?    Same thing.   Jesus had Twelve disciples, but eleven of them were from up north, in the hills of Galilee.   Only one other was born in Judea – from whence the Messiah was to be born.

That one other went about his business on the Wednesday of this week too.

judasThat’s a portrayal of Judas.   We know him from the town he came from,  Kerioth, which is most likely in Judea.   We give him the last name of Iscariot.   What was in his mind that Wednesday?    What made the “business” that he went about so different from what we do . . .   when we “go about our business”. . . not thinking more about the end of this week?

There’s a very fine line there.    He thought he was going  about God’s business.

It was just not Jesus’  business.

Not in the way Jesus would have things done.   God – yes.  Jesus – no.

It didn’t end well for Judas.

 

 

LENT: THE EVIL WE FIND

April 8, 2014

Just thought I’d expand on one of my sentences from that last posting:  “During Lent we acknowledge and grieve for past failings. ”

purple bar

It can be said that in some way, small or large, we contribute to the moral fiber of the nation we live in, so our private good or bad moral behavior is of social consequence.   Lent is good for the soul;  Lent is good for the nation.

So let’s look at what kind of “failings”  a nation can have:   Violence.  Hatred.   War.    Sexual immorality.    Injustice.    Lawless Leaders      We can all name even more.    Sound like a nation you know?    Now multiply the intensity of all that by a hundredfold –  and you have the ancient people of Assyria, at a certain time of their history.

I knew this from my university studies,  but one time, more recently, one of my classes was studying the book of Jonah,  so I needed to do some more research on just why Jonah was sent up to Assyria.

Assyrians

What I learned still sickens me.    Don’t even use your imagination.   Once those images are put into your mind,  it’s hard to live with them.

The Assyrians made many recordings of their atrocities, the better to intimidate their enemies.

Assyr horses

A good question for us today during Lent is  why can people hurt each other?  Why does such evil exist?   Or, as we ask today:   If God is good, why does He permit evil in the world?      The horrifying evil committed by the Assyrians was spreading throughout the region.   It was increasing, not lessening.  Whole populations were being mercilessly wiped out – the only way to be “safe” was to become part of the Assyrian war machine –  and participate in the evil.

Couldn’t a Good God put a stop to this?    Yes, that was the plan.   But He didn’t carry it out just then.    The Reading given to us on this particular Monday in Lent tells us that God gave them “a chance.”    “To know, to acknowledge, and to grieve”  for their past “failings,”  just as we must do during Lent.

as prophet jonah

So he picked a guy, one from among His Chosen People.   His name was Jonah but forget the “whale”  – it wasn’t a whale and that was only a minor incident showing that God wins – you can’t run away.

as ninevah

Jonah was sent right into the “heart of the monster,”  to Nineveh,  the beautiful capital city of Assyria.  It was so large that we’re told it would take three days just to walk across it from one end to the other.     And Jonah preached to them….dumb as it sounds,  he really did say the words, right out in public,  that God wanted the Assyrians to hear.    “This is how awful you are,  this is what I will do, unless you repent and show your sorrow.”

as sackclothAmazingly, they did.   Sackcloth and ashes.  And they received another 40 years of strength and prosperity, much less violent and evil now –   40 years,  until their children grew up and became forgetful and ungrateful and fell back into the former ways of their parents, and God did away with Assyria.  For the next  2800 years,  this is what Nineveh looks like  –

as ninevah now

But this isn’t a history lesson about Nineveh.  It’s a story for Lent and how it works.  In the little time we have left of this year’s Lent,  we can remember:  evil does exist, and sometimes we’re responsible for a little part of it.   God really does hate for us to do bad things, but He offers us a chance, first.    It’s called our Lifetime.    A chance to think,  acknowledge,  be sorrowful,  repent and do penance.

God is good.

Deo gratias.

 

 

TRIBUTE TO TUESDAYS (FROM A DX’ER)

April 8, 2014

During Lent we acknowledge and grieve for past failings:

purple barAnd we try to have a resolve to do better;  that is, we make definite, specific plans to do better, so that this isn’t just an academic exercise.

But. . . uh. . .  people can feel that way about other things in life too.    It’s Tuesday,  the day I often write another “Tribute”  to the victors on that Tuesday,  11-06-12.    I wasn’t going to do it again today because I did something that was  a lot of fun today, and I didn’t want to spoil the mood,  but then, when I came home,  I listened  to a shortwave radio discussion, and heard something that made me remember, oh, yes, it’s Tuesday…   Heck of a Hoax Day (Cont.) –  Part 2.

So what did I hear?  The two men on the radio were discussing current affairs in general,  international politics and economics.      They were informative and in a jolly mood even though the threat of Deep State Tyranny was their topic.  As they were discussing how that developed, they chuckled and said “Isn’t it funny how mystified the Americans are!  They know something doesn’t sound right,  but they don’t know what’s going on.” 

Well, some of us do, and more and more of us are beginning to dig in to the background of .  .  .  things.    Briefly,  I wondered along with them about why we are letting this happen to us, but I realized that one of the reasons was staring me in the face.   My radio.  Specifically,  my shortwave radio where I can hear news and information reported with detail, with background, with context, and with intelligence from around the world.    Then I remembered,  I’ve been a DX’er since I was a young teenager, as I’ve written here before.   I used to be able to listen to The Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, and these good radio services from the U.S. enabled  people in socialist countries  to learn what was going on in the rest of the world with (clandestine)  shortwave radios.   It kept the hope of freedom alive in many people.

Now the situation is reversed.    The erstwhile Free World is no longer free, and the former socialist tyrannies are beginning to state their support for the moral values that had made the West free and safe  at one time.    Now there is so little information flowing to us that these two people on the radio tonight could openly discuss the clueless Americans who are wondering “what happened” to them.

You might not want to read any more.      If you think our Constitution is outdated and can be rewritten  (as a sixth grade Common Core textbook exercise has it) and if you think the State is the one who provides “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for us,   then you could stop reading right here.   But if you wonder what I’m talking about and if you want an example,  I’ll risk a visit by these little digital critters . . .

SpiderBots

. . . .whose job it is to search out and identify  “key words” that . . . you know.

But since that’s “not true”  – right?  –  then I will put in here some lines of a recent article that I read from The New American journal.     Because –  Because –  Because  I’m quite sure this wasn’t reported by the American  entertainment-news corporations,  because there’s a lot of information here:

I read the words in blue.     But I offer no personal opinion.   ///

At the conclusion of the U.S.-EU Summit held this week in Brussels, President Obama and his European colleagues released a joint statement reaffirming their common commitment to civilian disarmament as mandated in the United Nation’s Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

 

A US-EU Summit last month.   Good, huh?   Make nice with your friends.

While globalist and establishment media reports focus on the summit’s attention to the events in Crimea, there is a provision at the end of the statement that is of much greater concern to Americans aware of the crescendo of calls for restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms.    Paragraph 33 of the declaration released on March 26 states: “We reaffirm our joint commitments on non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control.

 

Non-proliferation of big nukes?    Nope.

Article 2 of the treaty defines the scope of the treaty’s prohibitions. The right to own, buy, sell, trade, or transfer all means of armed resistance, including handguns, is denied to civilians by this section of the Arms Trade Treaty.

 

And then, how about an innocent-sounding objective like “registration”?   After all, don’t we register our automobiles?

Perhaps the most immediate threat to the rights of gun owners in the Arms Trade Treaty is found in Article 5. Under the title of “General Implementation,” Article 5 mandates that all countries participating in the treaty “shall establish and maintain a national control system, including a national control list.”

 

Now you may understand why the man who presently occupies our wh  it  e  ho   use   announced in a speech this week that he is authorizing Congress to implement a plan for RFID chips for anyone who owns a gun…a bracelet or a chip….(Or maybe you weren’t told about that speech.   All the attractive young newsreaders seem to be for  the UN/EU National Socialist gun confiscation idea.)

In very clear terms, ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty by the United States would require that the U.S. government force gun owners to add their names to the national registry. Citizens would be required to report the amount and type of all firearms and ammunition they possess.

Section 4 of Article 12 of the treaty requires that the list be kept for at least 10 years.

The first act of the national socialist party in Germany to gain effective control  was to confiscate guns…..  (oh, you already know all the countries where that took place….)

According to the Common Core Social Studies texts being implemented more and more for our poor children,  “The 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution requires gun registration for every citizen.”     (Or, alternately:  “The 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution allows only duly registered militias to have guns.” )     I’m a former public school teacher;  I take great offense at teaching lies to our children.

So, there you are.    Information that is very hard to come by.   Maybe we need a “Radio Free United States.”     “The Voice of . . . the Free World.”   And then you’d need to buy a shortwave radio…or use your Internet radio services.   And then we’d need the spirit of Lent to inform our entire lives.  Let’s see where we’re going wrong –  and resolve to do better.

Tribute to Tuesday!!   Hats off to our Rulers!!   Very, very  cunning.

_________________________________________________________________________________

 

Oh,  to my non-American readers:   America already has strict gun laws:   guns cannot be owned by felons or by people with mental illness, for instance.    The shootings you hear about are largely committed by criminals,  gangs fighting over drugs, turf, or revenge, and in many urban areas,  the perpetrators are not even American citizens.      And the “mass shootings” you hear about are 100% committed by people with mental illness on SSRIs,  powerful psychotropic drugs that produce such things as paranoia and murderous ideations.   (It’s on the drug labels.)

You also don’t hear about the numerous crimes that have been STOPPED  by nearby citizens who own guns legally and have a permit to carry and who happen to be able to bring the violent crime in progress to a halt – saving many, many lives.

 

 

GEMüTLICHKEIT UNDER THE PINES

April 5, 2014

Gemütlichkeit  in Lent !!

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It’s been “one of those days”  for about four days this week.     And then on Friday,  I had plans  to meet with some friends for a Fish Fry.     On my way in, in the parking lot,   I stopped for a moment under these lovely pines.   I watched their tips swaying back and forth, hearing the soft winds ruffle up the pine needles,  breathing in the cool, fresh air.

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The three of us finally found each other , paid for our meals, and then we made our choices – something like this:

 

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Choices of fish,  choices of potatoes,  choices of cole slaws, and choices of desserts!    You’d have to try hard to not be happy with something.    These photos are not from all the same Fish Fry because, actually,  I forgot to take more pictures that evening!

I fussed about that for a while.  I tried to find old photos of this very same location during past fish fries,  but I couldn’t.  Finally I realized that I didn’t want to write about the food or the room or the exact location;  I wanted to testify to the  companionship — the friendship,  the conversation,  the trust we’d feel in each other,  the knowledge that we are known by friends,  the enjoyment of being together.    We’re not the only friends each one of us has, but for that evening we did indeed share friendship . . . and I think we all enjoyed each other’s company.    This is gemütlichkeit,  that wonderful German word that describes the warm and happy companionship, comforting and energizing at the same time, good-natured and pleasant.

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See?  A fish fry is not about food.    It’s a bout friends and understanding.   It’s about friends who understand the same thing you do about fish fries and why we have them and why fish on Fridays, and why Lent, and why did Christ have to die, and why there must be a response from us –  repentance;  penance;  prayers;  sorrow;  hope; anticipation;  and Joy.

Joy from our companionship with Christ and with each other.      And there is pleasant companionship among friends who understand all that.

There is one more Friday left in Lent.   I hope some of you may find a fish fry somewhere.   You don’t have to “know” someone.   I’ve gone to “strange” churches on their fish fry day – all alone –  but I still felt that I was part of something far bigger than I am.   I passed those pine trees, again, on my way out.  They made me look up, again;   up all the way to remind me to give thanks for it all.

 

 

 

THE MOUNTAIN WITHOUT SLIDING ROCKS

March 29, 2014

purple bar

Still thinking of the fun I had on Pike’s Peak (that I wrote about yesterday).

pump organ 2
But today is today,   a Saturday in Lent, so I went to the piano and played some thoughtful Lenten songs.   I came across a song my Grandma and I used to sing, side by side, at her old pump organ, (Grandma had a bench, not a little stool like in the photo);  and then the words jumped right out at me as a kind of antidote to what I had written in the last posting about living on the “sliding rock pile”  of today’s uncertainties.

I give you tonight just the lyrics about, not Pike’s Peak,  but a different mountain:

There are things as we travel this earth’s shifting sands
That transcend all the reason of man.
But the things that matter the most in this world
They can never be held in our hand.

I believe in a hill called Mount Calvary
I’ll believe whatever the cost.
And when Time has surrendered and earth is no more,
I’ll still cling to that old rugged cross.

I believe that this life with its great mysteries
Surely some day will come to an end.
But faith will conquer the darkness and death
And will lead me at last to my Friend.

I believe in a hill called Mount Calvary
I’ll believe whatever the cost.
And when Time has surrendered and earth is no more,
I’ll still cling to that old rugged cross.
The song is sung slowly, thoughtfully, like a meditation, until you can finally realize that “cling” is a good word,  not a bad word;  it’s a good word that requires a lot of courage,  much like Rudyard Kipling wrote:  “If you can keep your head while everyone around you is losing theirs. . . .then you’ll be a man, my son.”      Courage, to think for yourself and choose not to follow the crowd, that has nothing solid to grasp on, slowly sliding down the mountain.

If you don’t know the melody and would like to hear it sung,  I can’t recommend any group better than the Gaithers.  You can find them on YouTube here.  

Enjoy!

____________________________________________________

 

 

“If”    (By Rudyard Kipling)

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

THE LOGIC OF LENT

March 5, 2014

Ash Wednesday today.

Purple Ash Wednesday

Whether we hear it in a church or we hear it from the movies,  we’re familiar with the phrase “ashes to ashes, dust to dust…”    Meaning our bodies are composed of the elements from the earth, i.e.  dust, mud, various minerals, etc.     Meaning, also,  when we die, our bodies will decompose back to its elements. . .

But there is a philosophical logic at work here.  We were made —  and never mind the exact “process” for now —  we were made from out of the “dust” of the earth, and after the willful Fall of Adam,  part of the consequences of our failure is that we go back into the earth, literally and materially.

From out of the earth;  then back into the earth.   

The same logic pertains to fasting and penance during this season of Lent.   Using Biblical language, the first act of prideful defiance manifested itself when Adam and Eve  “ate” from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.   This first great sin was accomplished by “eating.”    If we are to show our sincerity in repudiating prideful disobedience,   then we “oppose”  our sinful tendencies by fasting, which is the opposite act.

Indulging in our “eating” desires;  or refusing to give in to our personal desires.

Again, we have penance and mortifications (little self-denials):   we sin with the use of our physical bodies;  and so then we deny our bodily impulses, bringing our desires under control, freeing us, then, to listen to a higher calling from the One God-Most-High who calls us back.

Deciding to be a better person, deciding not to sin,  is a nice human thought.     But “resolve” itself accomplishes nothing.     Strength is needed , persistence, and manly courage.      There is stern, hard work involved to produce the Good Soil in which the Word that the Sower sows can take root in us.

 

KIND OF FUNNY; KIND OF NOT

March 4, 2014

I had to “go into town”  one day recently.

SAMSUNG

Notice anything funny about that road?     The snowplow driver kindly gave me a track for my right tires and the middle track for my left tires.   And the oncoming cars have a track for their right tires and . . .  the same middle track for their left tires!

We were given a  road with three tracks.    No problem with “all that traffic,”  but eventually a car will come along and we’ll both have to make some adjustments in where we thought we could drive.

I’m glad I took that photo.    Most of the time it makes me smile.   But I get thoughtful too.   My classes and I have recently been discussing how much like a journey our lives are meant to be.   We’re moving forward on whatever kind of road we’ve been given, and it is well that we stay alert and make “adjustments” as things come our way so that we stay on course and reach our goal.

I’m not the king of the road!

Our roads are taking us into Lent now.  Maybe that’s why I feel pensive tonight.    Lent offers much  for us to learn about becoming a good driver.   I don’t want to wreck my “car” and wind up short of the goal.

Standing at the “end of the road” surely is the Son of God who waits for us:  “And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come.  And he that hears, let him say, Come.   And he that thirsts, let him come;  and he that will, let him take the water of life, freely.”      (Thus reports the fifth to the last verse of the whole Bible.)

The road of life upon which we make our journey.    Come along.    It’s kind of fun;  kind of funny;  but kind of serious too.

UP FROM THE SLOUGH

February 24, 2013

The words of the Gospel for this 2nd Sunday in Lent are so tragically foreign to us in this culture, in these times.

transf

“After six days….Jesus took Peter, James, and John…..and went up to the top of the mountain….where He was transfigured…before their eyes….”    From about 50 A.D.  to about 1950 A.D.  we’ve had good teachings which delve into the supernatural and spiritual meanings of this event.  Such teachings are able to nourish our souls and help sanctify our lives

We can still find these teachings, but we live in a difficult world today.   We live in a darkened, cynical, wicked, despairing world.    If the Transfiguration occurred on a mountain top,  we live today in a polluted moral pigsty that depresses our souls, our minds, our emotions, and our hopes.

We live in a slump.   A swamp.   A slough.   The Slough of Despond.

trans slough

The phrase is, of course, taken from a classic piece of English literature.    To know this literary work is to understand much about the greatness our country was known for.    No need to avoid it because of your politics or religion;  it transcends both.  This literary masterpiece is the allegory called Pilgrim’s Progress.

And the Slough of Despond affects us all and we need to climb out of it or else we will be destroyed, painfully.

“After six days…”   The six days of Creation gave us a beautiful world with many delights that link us to the power and glories of our Creator.   After our Fall and the pollution of our souls and our world,  the Gospel news is an even more beautiful link to our Creator-Redeemer.

So, in the Gospel today,  “after six days” we are asked to ascend upward with Jesus and to see Him no more as a man, a great prophet and teacher, but to see Him in His glory, as we move our minds from this physical world upward to the spiritual world that exists around us.

transf mt

There is Mt. Tabor in the distance, where the Transfiguration likely happened.  It seems so far away to our eyes, in the distant misty horizon — yet it exists!   It’s worth the mental effort and the spiritual climb.  It will enliven and then nourish our souls, and prepare us for a happy future life everlasting.

We’ve become familiar and comfortable with the life below, on the plains in front of the mountain, but there is a consequence:  that’s where the Slough of Despond is — and the name of those plains is Megiddo.

Where the battle of Armageddon will be fought.

MARC ANTONY’S TWINS (3rd Sunday Lent)

March 27, 2011


The political and military maneuverings of Marc Antony of Rome  used to be considered worth studying for examining the character of the man as well as for understanding the rise and fall of empires.    

I’m glad St. Francis de Sales had an opportunity to contemplate the life of Marc Antony during his formative years.   Later, drawing from his knowledge of this historical figure,  St Francis was able to illustrate a point of the Gospel given to us on this Third Sunday of Lent.

Here’s the story about Marc Antony, as St. Francis tells it:   Marc Antony once purchased two young slaves who were brought to him by a trader.   These two children resembled each other so well that the trader tricked him into believing that they were twins.   That was such a rarity that Mark Antony valued them greatly and paid a very high price for them. 

But when he brought them to his house, he found  that each spoke a different language.  It was discovered that one was from Dauphiny and the other was from Asia, places “incredibly distant” from each other.  Marc Antony flew into a rage  and became incensed with the person who had sold them to him.  

But a certain servant in the household convinced him that their resemblance was that much more remarkable inasmuch as they were from different countries and had no connection with each other.   That calmed Marc Antony and he began to value the twins even more.   

The Gospel we are given today is Luke 11:14-28.  Jesus had just been criticized for casting out a demon from a man.   They said Jesus must be in league with the demons in order for them to listen to Him.   Jesus pointed out that this is illogical:   “a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.”
 

No, St. Francis had commented a few hundred years ago;   a kingdom must be in concord with itself in order to survive.  The king and the people must be at peace with each other and love each other.   And the people of the kingdom must likewise be at peace with each other and love each other.  

These are the two Great Commandments, to love God and to love one’s neighbor.   St. Francis explains that this is accomplished by loving God and then – remembering that each person is made in the image of the God we love – by loving the image of God in our neighbor;  by loving the person next to us because God loves him and made him in His own image.  

So even though God and man come from “two different countries” and are found not to speak the same language (so to speak),  by perceiving the image of God in each person we value each other highly because we see the “twin” of God’s image.

Don’t worry about what the person next to you “did” with the image of God within him.   It’s enough to know that the person next to you was indeed created in God’s image.   And it’s enough of a task for each of us to try to resemble that image in our own lives. “Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

Or else – it might be discovered we aren’t twins from the same country after all.

QUADRAGESIMA

February 22, 2010

First Sunday of Lent.    Also known as Quadragesima, for the  “forty” days before Easter.  So important is this day on the Liturgical Calendar, that it is one of those Sundays that takes precedence over anything else that might fall on this day.   

We are now in Lent, and this Sunday provides a  foundation.

Although the Readings were familiar, the sermon brought out some new ways of looking at the Temptation of Christ.   The Temptation comes, of course, at the beginning of Jesus’ “journey to Jerusalem,”  the reason for which He was born.   This was compared to our own journey through life.   We were told that we must unite our journey with His.   

That’s a nice insightful way of putting it.   “Take up your cross and follow Me” — and unite the journey of your life  with Mine….both are the Way of the Cross.     

Hubbie and I will soon be in the car for a “journey” to Florida.   We’ve got to consider just what we will take with us because once we leave, we will continue our journey until its end.  We won’t be able to come back and re-do our preparations.  Once we’ve set out on our course, the two of us will be united in our daily efforts.    hmmmm

Another thing we heard today in the sermon is that the three Temptations can be categorized as temptations from (1) Materialism, having a material outlook on life which blocks our path to Jesus;  

 (2)  Temptations from Pride (or Ego);  we want to do things and experience things that make us feel good and special.  We want to have great miracles that show that we are important.  But, as we heard today,  Jesus did not come to dazzle us, but to “serve”  and to die on the Cross;    

And then (3),  our way to Jesus is blocked when we place value on status, power, or  money.  We want to climb up some ladder, corporate or political or financial, or just be successful as we can in our own smaller world, but, we were told today, that ladder won’t take us up to God.  

So, the Readings invite us to look at these three kinds of temptations that are espcially prevalent in our own culture, and then watch how Jesus dealt with them. 

He said a lot more in his sermon today, but first I’ve got to recopy my notes and dig out some more of his fatherly lessons for us.

And practice my handwriting.

DESOLATION

April 11, 2009

irma-s-cloud-bank-ridge1

Saturday.   We are suspended between what happened yesterday on Good Friday and what we know will happen tomorrow on Easter morning.  

But it is still today.    Can we feel the desolation?   The loss?   Can we feel with the Disciples their loss and doubt and fear and uncertainty?   And can we feel their mixture of hope and faith and trust in their Lord Who has just left them in this horrible manner? 

I think that the degree to which we have united ourselves with Jesus, in each step of His Passion and Death is the degree to which we are able to feel that this day, Saturday, is different.   Lent has been preparation.

Hang on!   He will not forget any of His promises!

HE DESIRED THIS

April 9, 2009

 

upper-room-south-wall2And He said to them:   With desire I have desired to eat this Pasch with you, before I suffer.”   (Luke 22:15)

You can still visit this place of His last Pasch today.

 

He had sent them out to find the man with the pitcher of water;  and the man showed the disciples where to prepare for this evening’s meal.

Everything is made ready.

NEOMANIA

April 1, 2009

moon-sliver-320

PASSION SUNDAY IS NEOMANIA (NEOMENIA) SUNDAY!

Every year – same old thing .    Not long after we get a new year’s calendar eventually we’ll have to check:  “When is Easter this year?”  

How do we know when to celebrate the Resurrection?      Well, from about the 6th century on, the timing of this  Christian feast day  is tied to the timing of the Passover celebration.      And that timing is regulated by that  New Moon  which designates the first month of a new year on the Jewish calendar.    (with rare, occasional variations)

That first month is called Nissan (in our language, with our alphabet).   Then, two weeks into the month of Nissan, of course, the moon has become a Full Moon.  That falls on the 14th-15th of Nissan.   That is the day that begins Passover.

The Christian celebration, then, is appointed for the  Sunday that immediately follows Passover.   Look for the Paschal Moon on Holy Thursday!   It will be a lovely spring full moon.

Now, back to last Sunday, which was called Passion Sunday because the events we hear in the Gospel and the meditations now concern the impending Passion and Death of Jesus, our Passover Lamb.

We recognize that all the events of His last two weeks are tied closely to Passover and are timed to the scheduling of Passover in that year.   To repeat:   The timing is regulated by the first New Moon of the year.   And so:   Neo is new;  -menia refers to month (moon).  Neomania  (or Neomenia).

I hope this word doesn’t  disappear from our memories!   It directs us to rich and important theological meaning beyond the astronomical timing.   Full Moon in a new month.      Full Moon – fullness of time.   New Moon – Life anew (born again!).

P.S. –  I realize that is not technically the newest phase of the New Moon.  That would be an entirely dark circle.   It’s nice to see a little sliver forming.