Friday, September 29, 2006

Being Raised Catholic

I am one of the minority of people my age who was raised in an abuse-free, relatively peaceful home. I was raised as an only child by my paternal grandparents who loved and treasured me to the point of spoiling me rotten. They raised me on a small living, and although most of clothing and toys were thrift store bargains, I never suffered for lack of feeling wanted and enjoyed.

They were always home when I came home from school and there was always something cooking on the stove. The house was modest and clean. They always dropped what they were doing to ask me how my day was. They fed me well and taught me to play Canasta and always looked me in the eye and paid attention. They were amazing parents and what made them amazing is that, at retirement age when other folks chose to travel and relax from raising children and the daily drudge of family concerns, my grandparents chose instead to raise me.

Living with older folks can be an adventure. I went to kindergarden thinking the fridge was an "ice box" and the couch was a "divan" and knowing all the words to songs like Mac The Knife. I knew who the Maguire Sisters were but had never heard of the Pointer Sisters. This made me feel special, like knowing a secret language no one else my age knew. But as I grew older and hit the teen years, my grandfather passed away and my poor grandma was left holding my rebellious hand alone. We both survived somehow. My gram is now closing in on 92 years and I am at my 36th birthday. She has been at my side through the birth of my eldest daughter, my marriage and divorce, and has seen me through personal suffering that has broken both of our hearts. She is an amazing lady and still my gentle, peaceful and very Catholic best-friend, even though we live across the country from one another. The greatest gift of all the countless gifts she has given me is my Catholic faith.

My grandmother made sure I attended Sunday Mass and even though she could not afford to send me to parochial school, she did make sure I went to CCD, and "made" all the sacraments. It is through her sacrifices that I learned about the work of love and that it is often difficult and feels unrewarding. It is through mothering my own children thatI have learned about loss and carrying our crosses daily. And with this, something the saints have always written about and what confuses so many good non-catholic christians, is the joy of giving of yourself, loving until it really hurts.

Real love does not require recipriciocity, nor does it expect it as a reward. It's fufillment is in loving itself.

Monday, September 25, 2006

"True obedience is a genuine act of love. Obedience makes us practice the other virtues. It likens us to martyrs, for it is a much greater martyrdom to persevere in obedience all through life than to die in a moment by a stroke of the sword." ~Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta~

Friday, September 22, 2006

Luke 8: 1 - 3

1 Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him,
2 and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Mag'dalene, from whom seven demons had gone out...

Recently, I had lunch with one of our parish priests at a well-known buffet. Fr. William is Nigerian and his skin is beautiful and very dark- almost as dark as his black shirt and pants. His white collar in contrast looks like a beacon from yards away and there is no mistaking him for a delivery guy or a construction worker. As we clutched our melamine dinner plates and moved bovinely toward the buffet tables, smiling and talking, in front of us was a young mother herding 3 rambunctious blond-headed boys, the youngest of which was no more than 3 years old and had the unfortunate name "Evil".

"No, Evil! This way!" the mother barked, as the boy began to wander away from the trough. She poked him for emphasis. Immediately I thought of that grand 70's stunt guy, Evil Kinevel and imagined she was a fan or perhaps a relative. "Hold your plate UP, Evil!" the mother yelled, exasperated, as the food she had been lopping onto his plate slid off and onto the floor. Evil grinned at us, showing two missing front teeth. Upon noticing Fr. William, his mother's eyes opened wide in suprise. She looked at us apologetically and said, "His name isn't really Evil. It's Levi. But sometimes I wonder if I just spelled it wrong."

I wonder about those seven demons that were cast out of Mary Magdalene. Catholic tradition groups her with the woman who sat at Christ's feet and wept in repentance, washing His feet with her tears and drying them with her hair. She had been a prostitute and apparently well-known. To me, Mary Magdalen is representative of each one of us. We whore ourselves out to the world and in exchange for it's goods we pledge ourselves to it, at least for an interval of time. We make all kinds of "deals with the devil". Along with this, we practice greed, gluttony, lust, envy, anger, sloth and pride. When these things no longer satisfy or, as in Mary's case, when we come face-to-face with Christ and experience a true conversion, we also come face-to-face with our own sinfulness and thus repentance.

Mary's demons were the demons that afflict every soul, the passions that throughout the ages the great saints have extolled us to master in order to possess the Kingdom. It follows that if indeed the Kingdom of Heaven is within us and we are to seek it first and know that all things will then be added unto us that we begin our work in releasing these seven demons and casting them out, purging ourselves of the weight of the world. This is hard work and cannot be done without Christ, who strengthens us and through Whom we can do all things. Basically, it starts with us saying "Yes, Lord". It is also a continuous process and not a destination for as long as we are human we are constantly in battle against ourselves and the spirit of the world which is contrary to and works against the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Catholic Carnival For the Week of Sept 18

Hey, check out this week's Catholic Carnival at Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering. Sarah was cool enough to include my last post, even. Which means I can forgive her for being an Ohio fan. (Go VOLS!)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Don't Get Me Started: On The Offensiveness of Being Offended

I am reading today about Pope Benedict's recent remarks regarding Muslims and the terribly predictable outrage from the Muslim people in response. Pope Benedict then issued a "sort-of" apology, which again outraged the Muslims. The Pope then again apologized. Yep, the Muslims are still outraged.

I guess the gist of this story is that the Pope quoted a 14th-Century Christian emperor who said Muhammad had brought the world only "evil and inhuman" things. Now an AL-Queda group is vowing to take over Rome and burning pope pictures. In a related event, I havent gotten any mail for the last 3 mail days.

The lady next door is in a tiff with our Post-Mistress (although I suppose since the woman who brings the mail is over 40 she might actually be a "post-Maiden". Sorry. Couldn't help it.) The argument stems from my neighbor's and my shared porch, which sits in between our two apartments. Although both the neighbor and I have completely different street numbers as addresses, we live in what is commonly known as a four-plex. She has 4 stairs that lead from the sidewalk to her door and directly to the left of her door is her mailbox. My apartment is the same. In between our doors is a small porch that measures roughly about 5 feet long by 3 feet wide. The landlady has placed 2 forest green plastic arrandack chairs in this area, for our use. Alas, herein lies the problem.

Apparently the Post-Mistress is getting tired. Either that or she has bad knees. At any rate, she has apparently decided to use the porch between our apartment doors as a sort of "short-cut" between our mail boxes. This saves her having to climb the 4 stairs to my neighbor's mailbox and then decend them, walk 5 feet to the right, climb my 4 stairs to my mailbox and then decend them. I came outside to gather my mail one day last week and found a notice from the post-mistress stating that she was unable to deliver my mail because of "an obstruction in her path". I looked around in bewilderment for this obstruction and found none, except he same 2 green chairs that have been on our porch for 3 years. Because of this, coupled with the fact that the notice was, ironically, IN my mailbox, I became ...well, I was rather outraged.
After all, I need my mail.

On Saturday, early in the morning, I stepped out onto my porch with my 11 month old son in my arms and found a representative from the local post office at my neighbor's door. Upon asking if I might be of some help, she stated that the green chairs had to be removed. Tossed. They had to just disappear. The Post-Mistress had been authorized by the Post Office to use "any and all available short-cuts on her route" and our two green chairs were an obstruction.
I was offended. I became... well, I was rather outraged. I protested, saying that the porch was actually a seating area. The woman shook her head and stated that there were 50 thousand gazillion addresses that had to be delivered to daily and that those extra 4 stairs were seriously compromising mail delivery. My son gasped in my arms. I believe he was...well, I swear I could clearly see outrage on his tiny brow.

Shifting his chubby girth from one hip to another rather abruptly, I told the representative that I felt she was in error, as my neighbor's numeric address is 125 and my own is 123 and not simply one address with 2 separate apartment numbers. She shook her head. I stated that if there were, say, a partition between us, the post mistress would have to ascend and descend the 2 sets of stairs anyway. She shook her head. In almost desperation, thinking selfishly of my subscription to Woman's Day and the killer Halloween Crafts issue forthcoming, I stammered "But...but what about the whole" through rain and hail and sleet and snow" and ...all that? I mean, isn't it illegal to with-hold our mail simply because the post person is LAZY???" She pursed her lips and shook her head. I was, by this time, really, really outraged. I actually was considering storming the post office with my infant twins and burning a copy of the post office delivery persons hippocratic oath or whatever it is they vow when they take the mail bag exam.

My son began to cry. I felt my own bottom lip beginning to tremble. The representative looked at my slyly and leaned forward in a confidential "just between you and me" manner. In a hushed tone she said,"I think I can solve your problem." She then, very carefully, slid both green chairs against the wall, leaving about a foot and a half pathway along the outer space of the porch. "Good day." She smiled coyly at me, and left. My son stopped crying. The sun suddenly burst out from behind some clouds. I think I actually heard birds singing.

Maybe I will get my Woman's Day Halloween Edition after all.

On my way to where I was headed, which just happened to be a local "Walk For Life" Pro-life event, I thought about how easily offended we can be, what babies we really are, when someone says or does something we don't like. I began to take inventory of where my own personal outrages lie:

I am outraged that 4400 people every day are murdered in this country before they even have the chance to take their first breath outside the womb and have no laws protecting or ensuring their safety or survival.

I am outraged that, according to Kevin Bales of "Free the Slaves", an international organization and lobby group that fights modern slavery, although exact numbers are hard to gauge, there are an estimated 27 million human beings held in slavery around the world, including the United States.

I am outraged that there are up to 3.5 million Americans who will experience homelessness each year and that fully 40 percent-nearly half that number- are children. This is in a country that brags to be the richest country in the world.

These, to me and in my humble opinion, are far greater outrages and call for action far more loudly than an opposing religious opinion QUOTED no less from an ancient document in the press. I understand the Muslim people feel they have been mis-represented by the Pope. The Pope quoted the Christian emporer as stating "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." Now they are burning the Pope's picture and vow to storm Rome and over take it. Wait...isn't that JUST EXACTLY what the Pope quoted?

By the way, last night I moved the chairs back to their original positions. I am one who is willing to suffer hardships in order to prove my point, thank you very much. After all, outrage is outrage. I am going to go and buy my Woman's Day Halloween Crafts Edition at Wal Mart and then I am going to sit on my green chair on my porch and read it cover to cover while I wait for the Post Mistress to show up. I want an apology, darn it.

Well, that and my phone bill should be coming in the mail.....

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Good Weekend

It was an interesting and faith-affirming weekend for me. Saturday the twins and I participated in a "Walk For Life" held at a local pro-life pregnancy clinic here in town. Today I made it to 10 am mass and spent a few hours helping Barbara organize her craft room at the church. Tonight I had dinner with Lynn and the babies were in such good moods all day long. I didn't even take a nap today (whoa nelly!) and it is 10 pm and I'm still going.

I am still doing my novenas and Liturgy of the Hours. Getting ready to try and quit smoking again. I added the Novena to Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta to the list.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Spiritual Progress

So soon as thou shalt firmly resolve to mortifie thy external senses, that thou may’st advance towards the high mountain of perfection, and union with God; His divine Majesty will set his hand to the purging of thy evil inclinations, inordinate desires, vain complacency, self-love and pride, and other hidden vices, which thou knowest not, and yet reign in the inner parts of thy Soul, and hinder the divine union.
43. Thou’lt never attain to this happy state, though thou tire thy self out with the external acts of mortifications and resignation, until this Lord purge thee inwardly, and discipline thee, after his own way, because he alone knows how secret faults are to be purged out. If thou persevere constantly, he’ll not only purge thee from affections and engagements to natural and temporal goods, but in his own time also he will purifie thee with the supernatural and sublime, such as are internal communications; inward raptures and extasies, and other infused graces, on which the Soul rests and enjoys it self.
44. God will do all this in thy Soul by means of the cross, and dryness, if thou freely giveth thy consent to it by resignation, and walking through those darksom and desart ways. All thou hast to do, is to do nothing by thy own choice alone. The subjection of thy liberty, is that which thou oughtest to do, quietly resigning thy self up in every thing whereby the Lord shall think fit internally and externally to mortifie thee: because that is the only means, by which thy Soul can become capable of the divine influences, whil’st thou sufferest internal and external tribulation, with humility, patience, and quiet; not the penances, disciplines and mortifications, which thou couldest impose upon thy self.

~”Spiritual Guide Which Disentangles the Soul” by Michael de Molinos 1628-1696~

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Still Smoking....

Well, I am on the 4th day of my Novenas. I am still smoking, but not disheartened. I figure this attempt to quit is just one in what will be a long series of attempts to quit- eventually I will get so tired of failing to quit that I'll quit for good. Or something like that. Anyway, I haven't given up and will try again when I feel I'm mentally ready.

On a brighter note, I have written my own Novena to God the Father to begin the 126 day Novena schedule, mainly out of necessity as I couldn't find one on the net, aside from the Divine Mercy Novena. Yesterday, I met a woman at church who is directing the yearly "Walk For Life" this Saturday. I am going to be walking with the twins and maybe eventually working with her making baskets and drying flowers for sale for fundraising. I even got 10 minutes in for Adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament; the babies took a short nap while I picked up forms and dropped off some food for donation (yay)!

Last Sunday, I ended up going to lunch after Mass with Ed's mom, brother and Fr. William from St. Mary's. Don't think Ed and I are going to last, but it was nice to meet his mom and one of our priests.

Friday, September 08, 2006

14 Novenas In 18 Weeks

I am trying to psych myself into quitting smoking. I've got the right motivation, but I am really surprised at how frightening the idea of being without my cigs is. I know it is a psychological thing- I started smoking when I was 13 and they have been through thick and thin with me. Thing is, I know they are an obstacle in my spiritual life. I depend on them for relaxation and comfort, when I should not be placing anything above Christ. Secondly, I know how much damage I am doing to my body by smoking. Not good for the kids to see me or be around me smoking. And then there is the cost- why am I paying money to kill myself?

This Monday it will be 5 years since the 9/11 attack on New York. On Monday, in remembrance of the 3000 people that died (and all those who have sufferred torture and terrorism), I am going to start a series of 9 day novenas and "fast" from smoking. It will be an 18 week prayer schedule that will lead me through Advent and into the new year. By January 15 I hope to have completed 14 Novenas and 126 days smoke-free.

My Novena schedule:

1. Monday September 11 through Tuesday September 19: Novena to God the Father.
2. Wednesday September 20 through Friday September 29: Novena to The Sacred Heart.
3. Saturday September 30 through Sunday October 8:Holy Spirit Novena
4. Monday October 9 through Wednesday October 18: Novena to The Immaculate Conception.
5. Thursday October 19 through Friday October 27: Novena to St. Joseph.

6. Saturday October 28 through Sunday November 5: Holy Souls Novena.
7. Monday November 6 through Tuesday November 14: Novena to St. Max Kolbe.
8. Wednesday November 15 through Thursday November 23: Novena to St. Edith Stein.
9. Friday November 24 through Saturday December 2: Novena to St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
10. Sunday December 3 through Monday December 11: Novena to St. Francis of Assisi.
11. Tuesday December 12 through Wednesday December 20: Our Lady of Guadalupe Novena.
12. Thursday December 21 through Friday December 29: Holy Family Novena.
13. Saturday December 30 through Sunday January 7: St. Terese of the Child Jesus.
14: Sunday January 8 through Tuesday January 16: Novena to Padre Pio.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Human Rights

"When all the prisoners of the land are crushed under foot,
when human rights are perverted in the presence of the Most High,
when one's case is subverted- Does our God not see it?
My eyes flow with rivers of tears because of the destruction of my people.
My eyes will flow without ceasing, without respite, until God from heaven looks down and sees." Lamentations 3:34-36, 48-50

On The Sinful Woman ~Ephraim the Syrian~

ON THE SINFUL WOMAN. 1. Hear and be comforted, beloved, how merciful is God. To the sinful woman He forgave her offences; yea, He upheld her when she was afflicted.

Simon invited Him to the feast, to eat bread in his house.(3) The sinful woman rejoiced when she heard that He sat and was feasting in Simon's house; her thoughts gathered together like the sea, and like the billows her love surged. She beheld the Sea of Grace, how it had forced itself into one place; and she resolved to go and drown all her wickedness in its billows. 2. She bound her heart, because it had offended, with chains and tears of suffering; and she began weeping(with herself): "What avails me this fornication? What avails this lewdness? I have defiled the innocent ones without shame; I have corrupted the orphan; and without fear I have robbed the merchants of merchandise, and my rapacity was not satisfied. I have been as a bow in war, and have slain the good and the bad. I have been as a storm on the sea, and have sunk the ships of many. Why did I not win me one man, who might have corrected my lewdness? For one man is of God, but many are of Satan." 3. These things she inwardly said; then began she to do outwardly. She washed and put away from her eyes the dye that blinded them that saw it. And tears gushed forth from her eyes over that deadly eyepaint.(1) She drew off and cast from her hands the enticing bracelets of her youth. She put off and cast away from her body the tunic of fine linen of whoredom, and resolved to go and attire herself in the tunic the garment of reconciliation. She drew off and cast from her feet the adorned sandals of lewdness; and directed the steps of her going in the path of the heavenly Eagle. She took up her gold in her palm and held it up to the face of heaven, and began to cry secretly, to Him who hears openly: "This, O Lord, that I have gained from iniquity, with it will I purchase to myself redemption. This which was gathered from orphans, with it will I win the Lord of orphans." 4. These things she said secretly; then began to do openly. She took up the gold in her palm, and carried the alabaster box in her hands. Then hastily went she forth in sadness to the perfumer. The perfumer saw her and wondered, and fell into questioning with her; and thus he began to say to the harlot in the first words he spoke: "Was it not enough for thee, harlot, that thou hast corrupted all our town? What means this fashion that thou showest today to thy lovers--that thou hast put off thy wantonness and hast clothed thyself in modesty? Heretofore, when thou camest to me, thy aspect was different from today's. Thou wast clothed in goodly raiment, and didst bring little gold; and didst ask for precious ointment, to make thy lewdness pleasant. But lo! today thy vesture is mean, and thou hast brought much gold. Thy change I understand not; wherefore is this fashion of thine? Either clothe thee in raiment according to thy ability, or buy ointment according to thy clothing. For this ointment becomes not or is suited to this attire. Can it be that a merchant has met thee, and brings great wealth; and thou hast seen that he loves it not, the fashion of thy lewdness? So thou hast put off thy lewdness and hast clothed thyself in meekness, that by various fashions thou mayest capture much wealth. But if he loves this fashion because he is a chaste man in truth, then woe to him! Into what has he fallen? Into a gulf that has swallowed up his merchandise. But I give thee advice, as a man that desires thy welfare, that thou send away thy many lovers who have helped thee nought from thy youth, and henceforth seek out one husband who may correct thy lewdness." 5. These things spake the perfumer, in wisdom, to the harlot. The sinful woman answered and said to him, to the perfumer after his discourse, "Hinder me not, O man, and stop me not by thy questioning. I have asked of thee ointment, not freely, but I will pay thee its value not grudgingly. Take thee the gold, as much as thou demandest, and give me the precious ointment; take thee that which endures not and give me that which endures; and I will go to Him who endures, and will buy that which endures. And as to that thou saidst, about a merchant; a Man has met me today Who bears riches in abundance. He has robbed me and I have robbed Him; He has robbed me of my transgressions and sins, and I have robbed Him of His wealth. And as to that thou saidst of a husband; I have won me a Husband in heaven, Whose dominion stands for ever, and His kingdom shall not be dissolved?" She took up the ointment and went forth. 6. In haste went she forth; as Satan saw her and was enraged; and was greatly grieved in his mind. At one time he rejoiced, and again at another he was grieved. That she carried the perfumed oil, he rejoiced in his inward mind; but that she was clad in mean raiment--at this doing of hers he was afraid. He clave then to her and followed her, as a robber follows a merchant. He listened to the murmurs of her lips, to hear the voice of her words. He closely watched her eyeballs(to mark) whither the glance of her eyes was directed; and as he went he moved by her feet(to mark) whither her goings were directed. Very full of craft is Satan, from our words to learn our aim. Therefore our Lord has taught us not to raise our voice when we pray, that the Devil may not hear our words and draw near and become our adversary. So then, when Satan saw that he could not change her mind, he clothed himself in the fashion of a man, and drew to himself a crowd of youths, like her lovers of former times; and then began he thus to address her: "By thy life, O woman, tell me whither are thy footsteps directed? What means this haste? For thou hasteth more than other days. What means this thy meekness, for thy soul is meek like a handmaid's? Instead of garments of fine linen, lo! thou art clothed in sordid weeds; instead of bracelets of gold and silver, there are not even rings on thy fingers; instead of goodly sandals for thy feet, not even worn shoes are on thy feet. Disclose to me all thy doing, for I understand not thy change. Is it that some one of thy lovers has died, and thou goest to bury him? We will go with time to the funeral, and with thee will(take part with thee) in sorrow." 7. The sinful woman answered and said to him, (even) to Satan, after his speech: "Well hast thou said that I go to inter the dead, one that has died to me. The sin of my thoughts has died, and I go to bury it." Satan answered and said to her,(even) to the sinful woman after her words: "Go to, O woman, I tell thee that I am the first of thy lovers. I am not such as thou, and I place my hands upon thee. I will give thee again more gold than before." 8. The sinful woman answered and said to him, even to Satan after his discourse: "I am wearied of thee, O man, and thou art no more my lover. I have won me a husband in heaven, Who is God, that is over all, and His dominion stands for ever, and His kingdom shall not be dissolved. For lo! in thy presence I say; I say it again and I lie not. I was a handmaid to Satan from my childhood unto this day. I was a bridge, and he trode upon me, and I destroyed thousands of men. The eyepaint blinded my eyes, and(I was) blind among many whom I blinded. I became sightless and knew not that there is One Who gives light to the sightless. Lo! I go to get light for mine eyes, and by that light to give light to many. I was fast bound, and knew not that there is One Who overthrows idols. Lo! I go to have my idols destroyed, and so to destroy the follies of many. I was wounded and knew not that there is One Who binds up wounds; and lo! I go to have my wounds bound." These things the harlot spake to Satan in her wisdom; and he groaned and was grieved and wept; and he cried aloud and thus he spake:--"I am conquered by thee, O woman, and what I shall do I know not." 9. As soon as Satan perceived that he could not change her mind, he began to weep for himself and thus it was that he spake: "Henceforth is my boasting perished, and the pride of all my days. How shall I lay for her a snare, for her who is ascending on high? how shall I shoot arrows at her,(even) at her whose wall is unshaken? Therefore I go into Jesus' presence; lo! she is about to enter His presence; and I shall say to Him thus: "This woman is an harlot." Perchance He may reject and not receive her. And I shall say to Him thus: "This woman who comes into Thy presence is a woman that is an harlot. She has led captive men by her whoredom; she is polluted from her youth. But Thou, O Lord, art righteous; all men throng to see Thee. And if mankind see Thee that Thou hast speech with the harlot, they all will flee from Thy presence, and no man will salute Thee." 10. These things Satan spake within himself, nor was he moved.(2) Then he changed the course of his thought, and thus it was that he spake. "How shall I enter into Jesus' presence, for to Him the secret things are manifest? He knows me, who I am, that no good office is my purpose. If haply He rebuke me I am undone, and all my wiles will be wasted. I will go to the house of Simon, for secret things are not manifest to him. And into his heart I will put it; perchance on that hook he may be caught. And thus will I say unto him: By thy life, O Simon, tell me; this man that sojourns in thy house is he a man that is righteous, or a friend of the doers of wickedness? I am a wealthy man, and a man that has possessions, and I wish like thee to invite him that he may come in and bless my possessions." 11. Simon answered and thus he said to the Evil One after his words: "From the day that (first) I saw Him I have seen no lewdness in Him, but rather quietness and peace, humility and seemliness. The sick He heals without reward, the diseased He freely cures. He approaches and stands by the grave, and calls, and the dead arise. Jairus(2) called Him to raise his daughter to life, trusting that He could raise her to life. And as He went with him in the way, He gave healing to the woman diseased, who laid hold of the hem of His garment and stole healing from Him, and her pain which was hard and bitter at once departed from her. He went forth to the desert and saw the hungry,(3) how they were fainting with famine. He made them sit down on the grass, and fed them in His mercy. In the ship He slept(4) as He willed, and the sea swelled against the disciples. He arose and rebuked the billows, and there was a great calm. The widow,(5) the desolate one who was following her only son, on the way to the grave He consoled her. He gave him to her and gladdened her heart. To one man who was dumb and blind,(6) by His voice He brought healing. The lepers He cleansed by His word; to the limbs of the palsied(7) He restored strength. For the blind man,(8) afflicted and weary, He opened his eyes and he saw the light. And for two others who besought Him,(9) at once He opened their eyes. As for me, thus have I heard the fame of the man from afar; and I called Him to bless my possessions, and to bless all my flocks and herds." 12. Satan answered and said to him, to Simon after his words: "Praise not a man at his beginning, until thou learnest his end; hitherto this man is sober and his soul takes not pleasure in wine. If he shall go forth from thy house, and holds not converse with an harlot, then he is a righteous man and no friend of them that do wickedness." Such things did Satan speak in his craftiness to Simon. Then he approached and stood afar off, to see what should come to pass. 13. The sinful woman full of transgressions stood clinging by the door. She clasped her arms in prayer, and thus she spake beseeching:--"Blessed Son Who hast descended to earth for the sake of man's redemption, close not Thy door in my face; for Thou hast called me and lo! I come. I know that Thou hast not rejected me; open for me the door of Thy mercy, that I may come in, O my Lord, and find refuge in Thee, from the Evil One and his hosts! I was a sparrow, and the hawk pursued me, and I have fled and taken refuge in Thy nest. I was a heifer, and the yoke galled me, and I will turn back my wanderings to Thee. Lay upon me the shoulder of Thy yoke that I may take it on me, and work with Thy oxen." Thus did the harlot speak at the door with much weeping. The master of the house looked and saw her, and the colour of his visage was changed; and he began thus to address her, (even) the harlot, in the opening of his words:--"Depart thou hence, O harlot, for this man who abides in our house is a man that is righteous, and they that are of his companions are blameless. Is it not enough for thee, harlot, that thou hast corrupted the whole town? Thou hast corrupted the chaste without shame; thou hast robbed the orphans, and hast not blushed, and hast plundered the merchants' wares, and thy countenance is not abashed. From him thy heart [and soul] labour [to take]. But from him thy net takes no spoil.(1) For this man is righteous indeed, and they of his company are blameless." 14. The sinful woman answered and said to him, even to Simon when he had ceased "Thou surely art the guardian of the door, O thou that knowest things that are secret I will propose the matter in the feast, and thou shall be free from blame. And if there be any that wills me to come in, he will bid me and I will come in." Simon ran and closed the door, and approached and stood afar off. And he tarried a long time and proposed not the matter in the feast. But He, Who knows what is secret, beckoned to Simon and said to him:--"Come hither, Simon, I bid thee; does any one stand at the door? Whosoever he be, open to him that he may come in; let him receive what he needs, and go. If he be hungry and hunger for bread, lo! in thy house is the table of life; and if he be thirsty, and thirst for water, lo! the blessed fountain is in thy dwelling. And if he be sick and ask for healing, lo! the great Physician is in thy house. Suffer sinners to look upon Me, for their sakes have I abased Myself. I will not ascend to heaven, to the dwelling whence I came down, until I bear back the sheep that has wandered from its Father's house, and lift it up on My shoulders and bear it aloft to heaven." Simon answered and thus he said to Jesus, when He had done speaking:--"My Lord, this woman that stands in the doorway is a harlot: she is lewd and not free-born, polluted from her childhood. And Thou, my Lord, art a righteous man, and all are eager to see Thee; and if men see Thee having speech with the harlot, all men will flee from beside Thee, and no man will salute Thee." Jesus answered, and thus He said to Simon when he was done speaking:--" Whosoever it be, open for him to come in, and thou shall be free from blame; and though his offences be many, without rebuke I bid thee [receive him]."
15. Simon approached and opened the door, and began thus to speak:--"Come, enter, fulfil that thou willest, to him who is even as thou." The sinful woman, full of transgressions, passed forward and stood by His feet, and clasped her arms in prayer, and with these words she spake:--"Mine eyes have become watercourses that cease not from [watering] the fields, and to-day they wash the feet of Him Who follows after sinners. This hair, abundant in locks from my childhood till this day, let it not grieve Thee that it should wipe this holy body. The mouth that has kissed the lewd, forbid it not to kiss the body that remits transgressions and sins." These things the harlot spake to Jesus, with much weeping. And Simon stood afar off to see what He would do to her. But He Who knows the things that are secret, beckoned to Simon and said to him:--"Lo! I will tell thee, O Simon, what thy meditation is, concerning the harlot. Within thy mind thou imaginest and within thy soul thou saidst, 'I have called this man righteous, but lo! the harlot kisses Him. I have called Him to bless my possessions, and lo! the harlot embraces Him.' O Simon, there were two debtors, whose creditor was one only; one owed him five-hundred [pence], and the other owed fifty. And when the creditor saw that neither of these two had aught, the creditor pardoned and forgave them both their debt. Which of them ought to render the greater thanks? He who was forgiven five hundred, or he who was forgiven fifty?" Simon answered, and thus he said to Jesus, when He had done speaking:--"He who was forgiven five hundred ought to render the greater thanks." Jesus answered and thus He said: "Thou art he that owes five hundred, and this woman owes fifty. Lo! I came into thy house, O Simon; and water for My feet thou broughtest not; and this woman, of whom thou saidst that she was an harlot, one from her childhood defiled, has washed My feet with her tears, and with her hair she has wiped them. Ought I to send her away, O Simon, without receiving forgiveness? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, I will write of her in the Gospel. Go, O woman, thy sins are forgiven thee and all thy transgression is covered; henceforth and to the end of the world." May our Lord account us worthy of hearing this word of His:--"Come, enter, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom made ready for all who shall do My will, and observe all My commandments." To Him be glory; on us be mercy; at all times. Amen! Amen!

Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (LNPF II/XIII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.------------------------------------------------------------------- The electronic form of this document is copyrighted. Copyright (c) Eternal Word Television Network 1996. Provided courtesy of: EWTN On-Line Services PO Box 3610 Manassas, VA 20108 Voice: 703-791-2576 Fax: 703-791-4250 Data: 703-791-4336 FTP: Telnet: WWW: Email address:

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Gleanings From Today's Mass Readings 9/5/06

1 Corinthians 2: 10 - 16

10 God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.
11 For what person knows a man's thoughts except the spirit of the man which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.
13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit.
14 The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
15 The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.
16 "For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

Psalms 145: 8 - 14
The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.
All thy works shall give thanks to thee, O LORD, and all thy saints shall bless thee!
Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endures throughout all generations. The LORD is faithful in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds.
The LORD upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down.

Luke 4: 31 - 37

And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon; and he cried out with a loud voice,
"Ah! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God."
But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent, and come out of him!" And when the demon had thrown him down in the midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm.
And they were all amazed and said to one another, "What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out."

Monday, September 04, 2006

Stealing From A Priest...

Shamelessly stolen from Fr. David Hudgins' Blog The Great Commandment
(Rock on, Fr. Hudgins!)
I've always loved this meditation for Good Friday...
At the very end of time, just before the last judgment, all the peoples who had ever lived were assembled together before the throne of God, and they began to talk to one another.
And they learned that despite their many differences, they all had one thing in common—they all knew what it meant to suffer.
And as they continued to talk, their conversation became a murmur—because regardless of which nation had been their home, or which religion had been their faith, or which century they had lived in, they all began to ask the same question—
If God is all powerful, and God is all good, then why has he allowed such evil to occur down through the centuries?
One by one, the groups stepped forward to speak.
1) There were a group of Jews there.
Some had been persecuted, others had died in the concentration camps.
And they asked, “Why did God allow this to happen?”
2) Next came a group of slaves.
Men and women who had been bought and sold like property, shackled and branded like cattle, families that had been torn apart and abused, and they asked “Why?”
3) Next came a group of refugees, countless numbers of homeless humanity, who had been driven from their lands, made to live in fear, with nowhere to rest their heads, and they said “Why?”
4) And countless hundreds of other groups appeared as well, the sick, the deaf, the lame, the blind, those who had been abused and persecuted, and each of them in their own turn asked, “Why did God allow such evil?”
And gathering together, they formed a delegation.
Each group would draw up a charge on which to indict Almighty God.
Before He could judge them, they would judge Him.
And this was their verdict—that God should know what it is like to live on this earth.
And that He should be given no special privileges because of His divinity to protect him.
There specific demands were as follows:
• “Let Him be born a Jew, that He might know what it is like to be a member of an oppressed race.
• Let Him be born poor, that He might know what it is like to live in the agony of continual need.
• Let Him know what it is like to have to flee his own homeland for the sake of his life.
• Let Him know the burden of hard labor.
• Let Him know what it feels like to be rejected by the ones you love.
• Let Him know what it is like to be betrayed by a friend, indicted on false charges, convicted by a prejudiced jury, sentenced by a corrupt and cowardly judge.
• Let Him know what it is like to be abandoned, alone, tortured.
• Let Him know what it is like to die in shame.”
And as each sentence was read, a roar of thunderous approval surged forth from a vindictive and broken humanity.
One by one the charges were read, and the raucous approval rose to fever pitch, and the whole of humanity turned towards the throne of God.
• And suddenly, all of heaven was split by a penitential silence...
Because where there had once been a throne, there was now only a cross.

Phil 3:8-14

8More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,
9and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,
10that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
11in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

12Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
13Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Dead guys and dolls

Only 119 days til Christmas... is that why I suddenly want to collect all of these? *grin*

On a sadder note, the "Crikey!" Guy died!
Yeah, I'm bumming. Steve Irwin, that Austrailian crocodile guy with like too much energy died about a week ago from...get this...a STING RAY which apparently STUNG him. He was only 44. Ironically, next to this story was the story of a Mexican bullfighter who died at the age of 91. I wonder what the message is here? If you live in East Tennessee like I do, I suppose ..."It ain't them bulls that tar ya up, it's them dang ol' sting rays ya gotta watch out fer..."

Speaking of East Tennessee, as everyone eventually does, the Volunteers won last week, to my boyfriend's absolute happiness. I am football "ig-nit". He is a football freak. To the point where I get tears in my eyes as he gives me a play-by-play rundown of the game. Over and over again. And again.
And, yet, again.
Truth be told, he's cute and I'd probably listen to him sell boat insurance because he has this little way of spitting when he gets excited, and his eyes light up and get real mystical looking and glassy. And he drives a motorcycle, which makes up for a lot.
Like when he tells me the pac 10 suck this year and expects me to comment on it.
(What is a pac 10 anyway?)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Excerpt From "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek"

" Once when I was ten or eleven years old, my friend Judy brought in [ to school ] a Polyphemus moth cocoon... In a book, we found what the adult moth would look like; it would be beautiful. With a wingspread of up to six inches, the Polyphemus moth is one of the few huge American silk moths, much larger than say a giant or tiger swallowtail butterfly. The moth's enormous wings are velveted in a rich, warm brown and edged in bands of blue and pink, delicate as a watercolor wash. A startling eyespot, immense, and deep blue melding to an almost translucent yellow, luxuriates in the center of each hind wing. The effect is one of a masculine splendor foreign to the butterflies, a fragility unfurled to strength. The Polyphemus moth in the picture looked like a mighty wraith, a beating essence of the hardwood forest, alien-skinned and brown, with spread, blind eyes.

We closed the book and turned to the cocoon...As we held it in our hands the creature within it warmed and squirmed.

We were delighted and wrapped it tighter in our fists. The pupa began to jerk violently, in heart-stopping knocks. Who's there? I can still feel those thumps, urgent through a muffling of spun silk and leaf, urgent through the swaddling of many years, against the curve of my palm. We kept passing it around. When it came to me again, it was as hot as a bun; it jumped half out of my hand. The teacher intervened. She put it, still heaving and banging, in the ubiquitous Mason jar.

It was coming. There was no stopping it now, January or not. One end of the cocoon dampened and gradually frayed in a furious battle. The whole cocoon twisted and slapped around in the bottom of the jar. The teacher fades, the classmates fade, I fade: I don't remember anything but that thing's struggle to be a moth or die trying. It emerged at last, a sodden crumple. It was a male; his long antennae were thickly plumed, as wide as his fat abdomen. His body was very thick, over an inch long and deeply furred. A gray, fur-like plush covered his head; a long tan fur-like hair hung from his wide thorax over his brown-furred, segmented abdomen. His multijointed legs, pale and powerful, were shaggy as a bear's. He stood still, but he breathed.

He couldn't spread his wings. There was no room. The chemical that coated his wings like varnish, stiffening them permanently, dried and hardened his wings as they were. He was a monster in a Mason jar. Those huge wings stuck on his back in a torture of random pleats and folds, wrinkled as a dirty tissue, rigid as leather. They made a single nightmare clump still wracked with useless, frantic convulsions.

The next thing I remember, it was recess...Everyone was playing dodgeball in the fenced playground or racing around the concrete schoolyard by the swings. Someone- it must have been the teacher-had let the moth out. I was standing in the driveway, alone, stock still, but shivering. Someone had given the Polyphemus moth his freedom and he was walking away.

He heaved himself down the asphalt driveway by infinite degrees, unwavering. His hideous, crumpled wings lay glued and rucked on his back, perfectly still now, like a collapsed tent. The bell rang twice; I had to go. The moth was receding down the driveway, dragging on. I went; I ran inside. The Polyphemus moth is still crawling down that driveway; crawling down the driveway hunched, crawling down the driveway on six furred feet, forever." ~Annie Dillard "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek" ~

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Gleanings from today's Mass readings 9/2/06

1 Corinthians 1: 26 - 31
For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth;
but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong,
God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,
so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption;
therefore, as it is written, "Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord."

The foolish of the see now there is a topic I know all too well :) I had a friend who once described herself as "The poster child for 'Don't Do This...' ." She was right, actually, but then again aren't we all? Look at David, who had a man killed so he could sleep with his wife. Yikes! Augustine was a notorious ladies' man and even St. Teresa De Avila, the great doctor of the church described herself as a simple and stupid woman. God loves to shine in us, and shines ever more brightly in our dimness, so that he that does boast can only boast in the Lord.