Sunday, October 29, 2006

Welcome to the Catholic Carnival #91

Hey fellow, Carnavalistas and stos...
I am the hostess with the mostest post-ests and I ain't afraid of no ghost-ests.
(hehehehe. I crack myself up.)

Welcome to the Halloween edition of the carnival.

Heading up this week's posts, over at The Simple Mind a great post on Genesis 1:31 by Hiyasmin R. Linatoc.

A parenthesis brings us two posts, a reflection after reading a book on St. Francis of Assisi and a book review on Catholic saints.

For a little pep talk before you hit the polls this coming election day, CatholicLand brings us a post on Voting .

HMS Blog sends along The Remnant ,
a reflection on the Mass readings for Sunday 10/29, focusing on the theological significance of Jesus’ healing of the blind man.

Writing to God, Sarah explores a difficult relationship in her life and the continuing journey of forgiveness with Letter to God and Reflection on Forgiveness . Sarah's way-awesome blog is Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering .

A Catholic Life brings us a post about the need to vote pro-life this Tuesday and information on pro-life endorsements for each state : Vote November 7th!" .

Nick over at phatcatholic apologetics writes about about the origins of Halloween, and about what the Church celebrates on and around this day. Here is Halloween and All Saints/All Souls Day.

Rifugio San Gaspare sent in this post titled A Time for Feasting . Fr. Jeffrey Keyes writes: "This week with the feast of St. Gaspar and the anniversary of ordination, it was time for feasting. The Party time concluded with the great Parish Annual Royal Feast of St. Edward the Confessor. I spent my ordination anniversary harvesting the remaining vegetables and herbs from my Garden and preparing a feast."

Surf on over to Peace! Be Still and read a rant directed towards this blogger's least favorite disfigurer of the floundering Culture of Life: Margaret Sanger: Founder of Planned Parenthood .

Wheelie Catholic writes about how God helps us find the time to do service work, even when we
think we are too Busy? with other things in our lives.

cehwiedel presents Should Catholics Vote in November? posted at Kicking Over My Traces.

Elena at My Domestic Church presents Praying for the Dead .

Christine writes: "I have two submissions for the Carnival this week. First, at Ramblings of a GOP Soccer Mom I have a post called Today’s Readings at Mass . (Original, huh?) In it, I contemplate a sentence from the second reading (Letter to the Hebrews), and ask for prayers for our priests and bishops. Also, at Domestic Vocation I have a post called Why I Have Not Left . In this post, I give reasons why our family is sticking by our parish, even if we are not pleased with the level of orthodoxy here." Blog ON, Christine!

Ales Rarus sends in Cardinal Wright Oratory Choir - Sicut Cervus. "I've posted some polyphony my old choir recorded a
couple years ago. The song I've provided the link to is one of my
favorites. The rest can be found in neighboring posts. I hope folks enjoy them all. :)"

Jay brings us two submissions, one at Living Catholicism entitled Taking a Day Off , a short meditation on resting with friends and how it can be beneficial to all and at Deo Omnis Gloria he brings us Stubbornness and the Christian Witness , Thoughts on being a good Christian witness courtesy of two little girls who understand stubbornness!

A Penitent Blogger posted Do not be deceived , a brief reflection on following Christ faithfully in a
world of rationalization.

From CatholicFire we have a special investigative report into the election campaign of Paul Morrison, "Catholic" democrat whose campaign is supported by the "blood" money of late-term abortionist George Tiller. Ironically, Morrison and his wife both serve in their Catholic parish helping prepare couples for marriage. You can read it here: Special Report: What The Secular Press Won't Tell You about “Catholic” Paul Morrison, Attorney General Candidate in Kansas .

Fellow artist Owen at Luminous Miseries finds it hard to imagine something there isn't a patron saint for. There's even one for pencil makers. More importantly, there's one for people like him; commuter bicyclists. Here's his take on it:
A saint for everything and now, this...

I had a great time hosting this week's Carnival. I wish you all a fabulous Halloween, and please remember the poor souls in purgatory and our glorious helpers in heaven this coming week. God Bless you all for sharing and evangelizing the faith through your blogs.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Some Thoughts on Suffering

I’ve been reading a lot lately about suffering. I remember reading “The Story of a Soul” when I was young, the autobiography of St. Terese, The Little Flower. It was the first time I had actually delved into the writings of any saint, and she being the patron saint of young people, the book was recommended to me. I remember marveling over her desire to suffer, her absolute love of suffering for the sake of Christ. Suffering to Terese consisted of the little daily torments of convent life, such as being annoyed by the sound of another nun’s rosary beads or falling asleep during contemplative prayer. She was barely in her 20’s when she died.

I think of her when I am tired at night and trying to wrestle four chubby arms into their pajamas and smile when four chubby hands grab my hair and try to rip it out. Or I am trying to button shirts that contain 22 pounds of giggling, laughing, squirmy, almost-toddler. When we have 10 dollars left and it’s still 5 days til payday. When my washing machine refuses to spin-dry properly and Im left with soggy, soapy clothing and a puddle on the floor.

Lately, I’ve been chewing on bigger sufferings and reading bits and pieces of titles like “Abandonment To Divine Providence” by de Caussade and Julian of Norwhich’s “Revelation’s of Divine Love”. (Both can be found online here.) Again and again, I read that sufferings and trials are the surest and quickest way to sanctity. I don’t feel very sanctified when I’m cursing my washing machine or my children’s father for lack of child support. But I do see the state of the world around me, and my own interior sufferings which are no small matter (no one’s are, after all…) and I am beginning to finally recognize a spiritual precept I never “got” until just lately. We are in exile here, this being a separation from Home. As we shuffle to and thro to work, to daycare, to home, to vacation, we are living a life that is temporal and filled with joys and trials and lessons that are hard on us. The trick it seems is to remain hopeful in all cases, whether our joy is great or our suffering is great- that we offer all things to God in the same spirit of trust.

This is impossible for me-but not for God. I had a friend who once told me that she wanted to learn everything there was to know. She felt that eventually she would hit a wall where there was nothing else to understand, that she would contain all knowledge and then they would give her a turban and she would be able to levitate and stuff. I don’t know who “they” are but I thought the levitation part was cool. What’s scary is when you realize there is no wall. You can’t know everything. But you still can come to a very dark place that offers you no explanation and no instruction except to trust in God.

I deal with interior attacks of voices and sensations and have for going on 9 years now. It isn’t fun, and it sometimes makes me feel like I live a separate reality than other people. Looking back, I can see where I have held my own intellect, my own pride, in far too much esteem. So now, as I am beginning to understand God’s great mercy to me, my intellect and how I perceive the world around me has been compromised. I was married and depended heavily on my husband emotionally and well, now I’m divorced. My financial security has become instead a circus where I must leap through one hoop after another and juggle the small amount I receive in return. People I have loved very much and trusted have betrayed and abandoned me. I have had to walk in dark places alone, holding my heart together in my chest by sheer will. Just when I start thinking that drinking bleach might be the answer to my problems, I read passages like this from “Abandonment To Divine Providence”~

“My dwelling is in the pure soul as in a paradise of delights, for which reason I cannot endure that she should lovingly and longingly attach herself to anything. But, from her very nature, she is inclined to pernicious lusts, and therefore I encompass her path with thorns. I garnish all her outlets with adversity, whether she like it or not, so that she may not escape from Me; her ways I strew with tribulation, so that she may not set the foot of her heart’s desire anywhere except in the loftiness of My divine nature. And if all hearts were but one heart, they would not be able to bear even that least reward which I certainly will give for the suffering endured by anyone for love of Me.”

And further… "We want first and principally to provide for our own interests, spiritual and eternal, and as for the glory of God, in our preoccupation we give Him only the second place. God sees this subversion with a jealous eye in souls He has loaded with graces, and by which He desires to be loved with a pure and disinterested affection! and, in order to make them return to this right order of things He sends them troubles, fears and interior agitation, seeking by means of these secret trials to destroy that self-love so harmful to them. He desires to induce them by degrees to think less of themselves and their own interests, and to occupy themselves quietly with Him alone by abandoning to Him the care and management of their salvation; and this is the meaning of those words of Jesus Christ addressed to many holy souls. “My daughter, think of me and I will think of you, busy yourself for My glory, and allow Me to occupy Myself with your interests and eternal welfare.”

And of course, I can’t forget about Hosea and his wife. In Hosea 2, God fully admits His jealousy for the house of Israel, and how He intends to “hedge up her way with thorns” so that she have no other recourse than to return to Him, her first and only true love. It’s kind of Harlequin-romance-novelly, erotic and fat with love, and anyone who thinks God’s love for the soul isn’t dripping with desire has never truly encountered Him. Those that suffer greatly may feel as if God has abandoned them, and the devil will use this as a means to further discourage a soul. But we are reminded in scripture, in the Psalms that “[God] tellest all my wanderings; put Thou my tears into Thy bottle, are they not in Thy book?” In reality (and indeed God’s majesty is evident all around us in reality, and not in escapism or fantasy) God is all the more near to us when we suffer interior and exterior trials and as Julian of Norwich put it so perfectly:

“For as long as He was passible, He suffered for us and sorrowed for us, and now He is uprisen and no longer passible; yet He suffereth with us.”

Friday, October 20, 2006

Sister Mary Martha's Blog

I think I'd like to nominate this lady for president. Or at least nun-of-the-year. Sister Mary Martha RAWKS!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Excerpt from "Little Book of Eternal Wisdom" by Henry Suso

CHAPTER XIII. On The Immeasurable Dignity of Temporal Suffering

The Servant.—Tell me now, tender Lord, what this suffering is which Thou thinkest so very profitable and good?

Eternal Wisdom.—What I mean is every kind of suffering, whether willingly accepted or unwillingly incurred—as when a man makes a virtue of necessity in not wishing to be exempt from suffering without My will, and ordering it, in humble patience, to My eternal praise; and the more willingly he does this, the more precious and agreeable it is to Me. Touching such kinds of suffering, hear further, and write it down in the bottom of thy heart, and keep it as a sign to set before the spiritual eyes of thy soul. My dwelling is in the pure soul as in a paradise of delights, for which reason I cannot endure that she should lovingly and longingly attach herself to anything. But, from her very nature, she is inclined to pernicious lusts, and therefore I encompass her path with thorns. I garnish all her outlets with adversity, whether she like it or not, so that she may not escape from Me; her ways I strew with tribulation, so that she may not set the foot of her heart’s desire anywhere except in the loftiness of My divine nature. And if all hearts were but one heart, they would not be able to bear even that least reward which I certainly will give for the suffering endured by anyone for love of Me. Such is My eternal order in all nature, from which I do not swerve; what is precious and good must be earned with bitterness; he who recoils at thus, let him recoil; many are indeed called, but few are chosen.

The Servant.—It may well be, Lord, that suffering is an infinite good, provided it be not without measure, and not too dreadful and overwhelming. Lord, Thou alone knowest all hidden things, and didst create all things in weight, in number and measure; Thou knowest also that my sufferings are measureless, that they are wholly beyond my strength. Lord, is there anyone in all this world who has constantly more painful sufferings than I? They are to me invincible—how am I to endure them? Lord, if Thou wouldst send me ordinary sufferings, I could bear them, but I do not see how I can ever endure such extraordinary sufferings as these—sufferings which in so hidden a manner oppress my heart and soul, which only Thou canst perfectly understand.

Eternal Wisdom.—Every sick man imagines that his own sickness is the worst, and every man in distress, his own distress the greatest. Had I sent thee other sufferings it would have been the same. Conform thyself freely to My will under every pain which I ordain thee to suffer, without excepting this or the other suffering. Dost thou not know that I only desire what is best for thee, even with as kindly a feeling as thou thyself? Hence it is that I am the Eternal Wisdom, and that I know better than thou what is for thy good. Hence it is that thou mayst have felt that the sufferings which I send are much more exquisite, and penetrate deeper, and operate better, for him who does them justice, than all self-chosen sufferings. Why then dost thou so complain to Me? Address Me rather as follows: O my most faithful Father, do to me at all times what Thou wilt!

The Servant.—O Lord, it is so easy to talk, but the reality is so difficult to endure, for it is so very painful.

Eternal Wisdom.—If suffering gave no pain, it could not be called suffering. There is nothing more painful than suffering, and nothing more joyful than to have suffered. Suffering is a short pain and a long joy. Suffering gives to the sufferer pain here and joy hereinafter. Suffering kills suffering. Suffering is ordained that the sufferer may not suffer eternally. Hadst thou so much spiritual sweetness and divine consolation and heavenly delight as, at all times, to overflow with the divine dew, it would not be for thee so very meritorious of itself, since, for all this together, I should not have to thank thee so much; it could not exculpate thee so much as an affectionate suffering or patience in adversity, in which thou sufferest for My sake. Sooner will ten be perverted and ruined in the midst of a great delight and joyous sweetness than one in the midst of constant suffering and adversity. If thou hadst as much science as all the astronomers, if thou couldst discourse as ably of God as all the tongues of men and angels, and didst possess the treasures of knowledge of all the masters, not all this could avail to advance thee in a good life, so much as if thou didst give thyself up, and didst abandon thyself in all thy sufferings to God; for the former is common to the good and the bad, but the latter is proper to My elect alone. If anyone were able rightly to weigh time and eternity, he ought rather to desire to lie in a fiery furnace for a hundred years than to be deprived in eternity of the smallest reward for the smallest suffering; for this has an end, but the other is without end.

The Servant.—Ah, sweet and dear Lord, how like a sweet harp are these words to a suffering mortal! Lord, Lord, wouldst Thou but cheer me thus and come to visit me in my sufferings, I should be glad to suffer; it would then be better for me to suffer than not to suffer.

Eternal Wisdom.—Now, then, hearken to the sweet music of the distended strings of that Divine harp—a God-suffering man—how richly it sounds, how sweetly it vibrates. Before the world, suffering is a reproach, but before Me it is an infinite honour. Suffering is an extinguisher of My wrath, and an obtainer of My favour. Suffering makes a man in My sight worthy of love, for the sufferer is like Me. Suffering is a hidden treasure which no one can make good; and though a man might kneel before Me a hundred years to beg a friendly suffering, he nevertheless would not earn it. Suffering changes an earthly man into a heavenly man. Suffering brings with it the estrangement of the world, but confers, instead, My intimate familiarity. It lessens delight and increases grace. He to whom I am to show Myself a friend, must be wholly disclaimed and abandoned by the world. Suffering is the surest way, the nearest way, and the shortest way. He who rightly knows how profitable suffering is, ought to receive it as a gift worthy of God. Oh, how many a man there is who once was a child of eternal death, and plunged in the profoundest sleep, whom suffering has wakened up and encouraged to a good life. How many a wild beast, how many an untamed bird, there is in human form, whom constant suffering has shut up, as it were, in a cage, who, if any one were to leave him time and place free, would do his best to escape from his salvation. Suffering is a safeguard against grievous falls; it makes a man know himself, rely on himself, and have faith in his neighbour. Suffering keeps the soul humble and teaches patience. It is the guardian of purity, and confers the crown of eternal salvation. There is probably no man living but who derives good from suffering, whether he be in a state of sin, or on the eve of conversion, or in the fruition of grace, or on the summit of perfection; for it purges the soul as fire purges iron and purifies gold; it adorns the wrought jewel. Suffering takes away sin, lessens the fire of purgatory, expels temptation, consumes imperfections, and renovates the spirit. It imparts true confidence, a clear conscience, and constant loftiness of mind. Know that it is a healthy beverage, and a wholesome herb above all the herbs of paradise. It chastises the body which, at any rate, must rot away, but it nourishes the noble soul which shall endure for ever. Behold, the noble soul blooms by suffering even as the beautiful rose by the fresh dews of May! Suffering makes a wise mind and an experienced man. A man who has not suffered what does he know? Suffering is affection’s rod, a paternal blow given to My elect. Suffering draws and forces men to God, whether they like it or not. He who is always cheerful in suffering, has for his servants joy and sorrow, friend and foe. How often hast thou not thrust an iron bit between the gnashing teeth of thy enemies, and rendered them, with thy joyous praise, and thy meekness in suffering, powerless? Sooner would I create suffering out of nothing than leave my friends unprovided with it; for in suffering, every virtue is preserved, man adorned, his neighbour reformed, and God praised. Patience in suffering is a living sacrifice, it is a sweet smell of balsam before My divine face, it is an appealing wonder before the entire host of heaven. Never was a skillful knight in a tournament so gazed at as a man who suffers well is gazed at by all the heavenly court. All the saints are on the side of the suffering man; for, indeed, they have all partaken of it before him, and they call out to him with one voice that it contains no poison, but is a wholesome beverage. Patience in suffering is superior to raising the dead, or the performing of other miracles. It is a narrow way which leads direct to the gates of heaven. Suffering makes us companions of the martyrs, it carries honour with it, and leads to victory against every foe. Suffering clothes the soul in garments of rose colour, and in the brightness of purple; in suffering she wears the garland of red roses, and carries the sceptre of green palms. Suffering is for her as a shining ruby in a young maiden’s necklace. Adorned with it, she sings with a sweet voice and a free heart a new song which not all the angelic choirs could ever sing, because they never knew suffering. And, to be short, those who suffer are called the poor before the world, but before Me they are called the blessed, for they are My elect.

From Revelations of Divine Love- Julian of Norwich:

And for every man’s sin that shall be saved He suffered: and every man’s sorrow and desolation He saw, and sorrowed for Kindness and love. (For in as much as our Lady sorrowed for His pains, in so much He suffered sorrow for her sorrow;—and more, in as greatly as the sweet manhood of Him was worthier in Kind.) For as long as He was passible He suffered for us and sorrowed for us; and now He is uprisen and no more passible, yet He suffereth with us.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Catholic Carnival For the Week of Oct 9

Catholic Carnival 88 has some great posts. Good to know I'm not the only one up in the middle of the night pondering...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Just When I Was Going To Stop Reading The Newspaper...

I like having the daily paper delivered. Besides the way-cool Sunday coupon inserts and the "Get Fuzzy" cartoon I am a raving fan of...( a guy and his neurotic dog and cat...ok, well, it works for me...) I do read the news, although after millioneth bad-news, multi-person, family homicide story, I started to wonder whether it was worth reading anymore. When I found myself in tears, on the floor, clutching my infant twins and praying for their safety in this chaotic world where, according to the newspaper, every outing to Walmart is a gamble where Joe Schmoe from Idaho could be planning a massacre with a variety of firearms, I realized it might be time to start checking out my cartoon on the Internet instead. But this morning I was actually INSPIRED by the news and not because the Tennessee Volunteers won (which they will tonight...because they RAWK!) but because of a little nun named Sister Mary Dennis Lentsch who came home to our town on a Greyhound bus after serving a 6-month sentence in Federal prison on tresspassing charges.

Sister Mary and about 30 others crossed a fence at Ft. Benning, GA during a protest against a training center they blame for human-rights violations in Latin America. She said she'd do it again if she had the chance. Did I mention that she is 69 years old? "I really believe that everything we do makes a difference," she said. "Sometimes it's something so little. We just have to keep working for peace and justice."

If that weren't enough to inspire me to "Be not afraid" in my own battles, I then read about the funeral services for five little Amish girls who were killed by a gunman who was "angry with God." I am inspired by 13-year old Marian Fisher who, bound by the gunman along with the other girls and her younger sister, asked that he "Shoot me and leave the other ones loose." It made me wonder how she could have been so brave, just a baby at 13 years of age. Reading further, I began to understand. One Amish woman told the Los Angeles Times "I am very grateful thatI was raised to believe that you don't fight back. You should forgive." According to Amish belief, you can't be healed unless you forgive. They believe that vengeance is indeed God's and that forgiveness is necessary. And compassion. 13 year old Marian Fisher was raised to believe in God's word and because of that, she faced death willingly in the hope that the other girls with her would be spared. "No greater love hath a man than this...than to lay down one's life for one's friends." When I think about how afraid I am of so many things, I think of christians like Sister Mary Dennis and Marian Fisher, both from different faiths, one 13 years old and the other almost 70, both strengthened by Christ and defiant of the adverse spirit of this world, knowing that through Him we can do all things.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away: God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices.
~St.Teresa De Avila~

Psalms 16: 1 - 2, 5, 7 - 8, 11
Preserve me, O God, for in thee I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, "Thou art my Lord; I have no good apart from thee."
The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; thou holdest my lot.
I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fulness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.

Galatians 6: 14 - 18
Henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.