Friday, May 31, 2013


On the bulletin board at the seminary.

This doesn't require much comment, it really has it all: Mary, Psychological Investigation, the UCC, and the $10 (unless you are under 18). If you click on the picture, you should be able to read the flyer.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Please pray for a special intention. Most specifically please pray for wisdom, and that if I have to make a decision, and I'm almost certain I will, I will make it based on the right criteria.



More Newman

God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. 

 He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work. 

 I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments. 

 Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.

St. John Henry Newman

Monday, May 27, 2013

What We Did in May

This weekend, our almost-eighteen-year-old granddaughter moved in with us, so, of course, we took her to the casino.

Now, I have never been to a casino before, but I've had a certain curiosity about them ever since they were built about 20 years ago, so when the opportunity arose, I went. It came about like this. The group of priests that serve our parish also serve 3 other parishes in north Mississippi, and about five years ago, they built a new church in the casino area. A friend of mine wanted to see the church, so she suggested we go to the vigil Mass there and then go eat at the buffet at the casino, so off we went.

I'm a bit disappointed in the lack of glitz at the casino we chose. I'm wondering why the name, Sam's Town isn't on the front of the building and I'm thinking maybe they are remodeling or something. The other casinos were much fancier. Basically, what we have here is miles and miles of empty fields with casinos plunked down in the middle of them near the river. It's very odd.

So, Mass is always good, and the company was good, and the food was good enough. I wanted to go into the casino itself just to see what it was like, and I have to say that had Dante been with me, he would have gone home and burnt the Inferno and been ashamed that he did such a sorry job of envisioning Hell. I've decided for sure that if I decide to acquire a new addiction, I'm going to pick something quiet and solitary like drinking.

When Bill's father visited Memphis for the first time, he wanted to see the Mississippi. We drove down to the river, and got out of the car, and walked a bit down to the river. He took one look at the river and said, "Well, I've seen it," turned around, and walked back to the car. That's about how I feel about the casino.
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Here is a picture of my birthday present.

My birthday was in November, but as you can see, that pole is pretty high, and we had to wait until a friend with a tall ladder could come help Bill put it up (help = do the entire job himself). He is also much younger than we are and more adept at climbing tall ladders with large, heavy items. 

There had been another birdhouse like this one (This is a purple martin house.) on top of that pole before we owned the house, but by the time we got here only the front and sides were left, and I have always wanted to get a new one. This one was made by the son of a friend in what used to be my homeschool support group. I don't know if there will ever be any birds in it--there certainly won't be any this year--but I am happy just to look at it.

This is a purple martin. I've never seen one in my yard, but I see them occasionally in the hedgerows when I'm driving around.
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And speaking of birthday presents, here is something that you just might like to get for your birthday.

Now, I don't know about y'all, but I can't think of anything nicer than lying down at night and snuggling up to something that shoots light into your eyeball all night long. It's almost like . . . well . . . sleeping in a casino! It says, "As seen on TV" on the box, so maybe you have all seen them before, but we don't watch TV for some reason. 


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Love is Obedience

It's odd, but this time what I went through was a double thing, two strands twisted together of black and gold. There was the bad thing, fear and darkness pressing in, and there was the glad singing of love, the "Yes I will" that is my song. I had not known before that love is obedience. You want to love, and you can't, and you hate yourself because you can't, and all the time love is not some marvelous thing that you feel but some hard thing that you do. And this in a way is easier because with God's help you can command your will when you can't command your feelings. With us, feelings seem to be important, but He doesn't appear to agree with us.
The Scent of Water, Elizabeth Goudge


Wednesday, May 22, 2013


From Invisible Light: A Priest's Encounters with the Supernatural by Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson
"You see the iron gate," the old man went on, pointing. "Well, right between those posts, but a little above them, outlined clearly against the chestnut tree, beyond, was the figure of a man. 
"Now I do not know how to explain myself, but I was conscious that across this material world of light and colour there cut a plane of the spiritual world, and that where the planes crossed I could look through and see what was beyond. It was like smoke cutting across a sunbeam. Each made the other visible. 
"Well, this figure of a man, then, was kneeling in the air, that is the only way I can describe it--his face was turned towards me, but upwards. Now the most curious thing that struck me at the time was that he was, as it were, leaning at a sharp angle to one side; but it did not appear to be grotesque. Instead the world seemed tilted; the chestnut tree was out of the perpendicular, the wall out of the horizontal. The true level was that of the man. 
"I know this sounds foolish, but it showed me how the world of spirits was the real world, and the world of sense comparatively unreal, just as the sorrow of the woman behind me was more real than the beams overhead."
I just finished reading this book and really enjoyed it, but the reason I posted this quote is that it struck me as being very familiar. Anyone who has ever read C. S. Lewis's Out of the Silent Planet (and I think it's also mentioned in Perelandra), will recognize this vision of a being that seems to be oblique to the world, yet reveals its own position as the normal one while the natural world is tilted, as being exactly like Lewis's description of the eldila, the angels of his space trilogy. So is this a coincidence? Did Benson and Lewis both have this idea of the supernatural as being at an angle to our world? 

Lewis was about three years old when Invisible Light was written, and Benson was a very popular author. Lewis's father had books stacked up in piles all over the place, and Lewis was allowed to read whatever he pleased without supervision. It isn't at all unlikely that Lewis had read Benson's book, and Lewis wasn't shy about borrowing from other authors. If you think I'm wrong, read The Aunt and Amabel which you can find in a collection of stories by E. Nesbit called The Magic World.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

This Year's Bumper Crop ~ 2013

You may remember that last June I wrote a post called This Year's Bumper Crop. Well, having figured out what the bumper crop for 2013 is, I thought I would write a sequel. To tell you the truth, I couldn't even remember what last year's crop was, and so was very dismayed to find that it was ticks. The reason that this is so dismaying is because I have to report that this year's bumper crop is ticks. I mean, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, we have ticks. We have them crawling all over us, latching themselves onto us, and generally driving us crazy, because even after you get rid of them, you still keep thinking you feel one on your leg or arm or somewhere. I makes last year seem like a stroll in the park without ticks. I have seen several people talking about the blood-sucking fiends on Facebook, too, so I will consider that independent confirmation.

There does seem to be another bumper crop, and this representative was nice enough to stop and let me take his (or her) picture. I wish you could see in this picture that his head was bright orange, (much brighter than that), but the larger I make the picture, the less orange you can see.

Bill saw a big one trying to get in our pool the other day, and there are quite a few that sit on a stump in the lake around the corner. There are tons of turtles running around, uh, well, there are tons of turtles around here. Unfortunately, most of them are not running, or even crawling, but taking their rest on the side of the road. When I walk along the road by the side of the swamp to take pictures on Saturday mornings (more about that later), it is hard to put foot to ground without desecrating the last resting place of some chicken-emulating reptile that could have grown up to be a Ninja warrior or Renaissance painter, but now has been reduced to being some buzzard's dinner. One of these days, turtle mothers are going to learn not to read The Tortoise and the Hare to their babies, because, obviously, slow-and-steady does not always, if ever, win the race on blacktop.

Another abundant species this year is the mourning dove.

On the day I wrote the post with the recording of the birds in my yard, I saw one of these in a tree on a branch right in front of my face, but I didn't have my camera. I remember thinking that it was the first time I had seen a dove in my yard, or noticed a dove around here anywhere. Since then, I have been hearing them everywhere, and seeing them every time I drive down a road, but I cannot get a picture. These guys love to play chicken. They run out into the road in front of the car and then when you think you can't help but run over them, they take off. But they don't sit still, and they are hard to see until you get right next to them, so you can't get close enough to take a picture. 

The reason that I have been wanting to get a picture to show you is because I have, I am sorry to say, misled you. The sound that is about 20 seconds in on that recording is a mourning dove and not an owl, as I said. So I thought I would get a recording of the owl and a picture of the dove and apologize for my mistake, but it's been hopeless. 

So, if you want to see a lot of any of these things this summer, come see me--but bring some insect repellent and a pair of tweezers.


Friday, May 17, 2013


After groggily dragging myself to work coughing, and hacking for three days, I decided that today I would give up and stay home. Here, it feels like the most southern of southern days. I wish I could describe what I mean or capture it in a picture, but it would be impossible. The curtains are billowing, and the rain steadily beating down, and there is greenness pouring in at all the windows. Every year about this time the grass wages a war on my husband and more or less defeats him. He can spend hours and hours and hours on the riding mower, and then the rains come down and grass grows up, and up, and up, and more than obliterates everything he has accomplished. Everything in the yard looks wild and scraggly and determined in its effort to grow as fast as it can in every direction.

As I pad through the house barefoot in a cotton dress, I feel somehow connected to the woman who lived here a hundred years ago. The woman whose husband built my home. She had a cistern where I have my back porch, and a smithy on the other side of the driveway, and raised 12 kids who slept in the loft that has become my attic. By our standards, she must have had a hard life, but she lived her life here, in our home, and she knew this land in a way that I never will. She didn't have to jump in the car every morning and drive for an hour to live her life someplace else.

Sitting here, alone, on this day stolen from my day-to-day life, I yearn to stay here, to stay at home. I want to get up every morning thinking about what I am going to do in my house and my yard, and the rest that I will take here in the still evening. I want to be able to pray without watching the clock and have time to sit and listen to the birdsong in the morning, when it begins with a few scattered notes and builds to a great crescendo. I hope that this will happen some day before I'm too much older, but for now, it doesn't seem to be possible. I think there are other things that I'm supposed to be doing. I hope that I can learn with St. Paul to be content in any and situation, and for the most part, I'm happy with my job, but still, whenever I think on whatever is true, honorable, pure, lovely, and gracious, I think about being at home.

This is the original cabin that was built on our property in the late 19th century.  When Fonzie Scott, who built this cabin, built our house, he moved the cabin to its current location and built a barn around it. Those vines are all very green and leafy at the moment.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

For Amy

A cheering up song.

Children should move to other cities.  AARGH! That was supposed to say, they SHOULDN'T move.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Two Pictures

About a year ago, I was at Saturday morning Mass and I glanced down at the seat in front of me where I saw this picture on the cover of Magnificat.

When I went home, I immediately emailed someone who subscribes to Magnificat  and asked him to look and find the name of the artist (Marianne Stokes) so I could find the picture online, and I put it on my desktop at home and at work. I love the color, and if you look at it enlarged, you can see that all the fabric, even that thin veil has a pattern in it. Most of all, though, what attracts me is the way that Mary and Jesus are looking at you.

I was thinking about the painting yesterday while I was praying, and it occurred to me that Mary is not just revealing the infant Jesus to us, she is modelling for us what we are all called to do. She isn't worried. She isn't arguing, or pushing. She doesn't put herself forward. She doesn't insist. She just reveals the Truth, and leaves it to us to decide whether to accept Him or not. And He just waits patiently for us. 

Then, when I looked up from my prayer, I saw this picture on the wall.

Now I know that artistically this isn't the greatest picture in the world, but I love this one because I bought it when my son about this age, and it reminded me of us. I remember this time in our lives as one that was filled with peace. He was perfectly content to just rest in my lap, and I was perfectly content to just be there with him. When I was holding him, I could just relax and not worry about anything else, and, of course, he felt completely safe and loved. 

In comparison to this, I was thinking about how lately I have had a hard time concentrating while praying. My mind is filled with distractions and always running ahead to everything I have to do when I get up from my prayers. So, I think this picture is a lesson to us all, too. If we want to be like Jesus, we have to emulate Him, not just in His prayer, and good works, and suffering, but in this simple act of becoming small and resting in Mary's lap, and trusting her to take care of things. 

Yesterday when I first thought of writing this, I didn't occur to me that I would be posting it on Mother's Day, but I guess it's pretty appropriate. So I'll close with the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Deigo.
Hear and let it penetrate into your heart, my dear little son: let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you: let nothing alter your heart or your countenance. Also do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else that you need?
May the Lord bless all Mothers, and help us to be like His, and may we all learn to rest in the crossing of her arms.


Friday, May 10, 2013


I don't know if any of you read Hyperbole and a Half, a blog with drawings which is usually very funny. The blogger, Allie, has been gone for a while and came back a few days ago with some posts about depression. The first is here and the second here. I've experienced this twice. The first instance lasted about 6 months but wasn't as bad; the second was shorter in duration, but really terrible. If you have never been depressed in this way, you think of depression as something that happens because of events in your life. You are depressed because you lost your job, or you're fat, or your marriage is bad. You think that if your circumstances change, you will be happy. Once you experience what Allie is talking about here, you know that wasn't depression at all. You don't have any reason for feeling (or really not feeling) the way you do, but you can't imagine ever being happy again even in the best circumstances. Anyway, it's worth reading because when you do come across people who are depressed, it's good to know what she writes about.

I may add something here later, but I have to work.

And please pray for this young woman.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Blessed John Henry Newman on Music

 Is it possible that that inexhaustible evolution and disposition of notes, so rich yet so simple, so intricate yet so regulated, so various yet so majestic, should be a mere sound, which is gone and perishes? Can it be that those mysterious stirrings of heart, and keen emotions, and strange yearnings after we know not what, and awful impressions from we know not whence, should be wrought in us by what is unsubstantial, and comes and goes, and begins and ends in itself? It is not so; it cannot be. No, they have escaped from some higher sphere; they are the outpourings of eternal harmony in the medium of created sound; they are echoes from our Home; they are the voice of Angels, or the Magnificat of Saints, or the living laws of Divine Governance, or the Divine Attributes; something are they besides themselves, which we cannot compass, which we cannot utter,--though mortal man, and he perhaps not otherwise distinguished above his fellows, has the gift of eliciting them.

Oxford University Sermons, 1826-1843

I found this quote in The Evidential Power of Beauty: Science and Theology Meet, by Thomas Dubay, S. M.. Fr. Dubay says that, "Melody and harmony lie at the border of the material and immaterial," which I was glad to read because I have always thought that music is the closest thing to spirit that we can experience with our senses.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Who Celebrates?

We came across this passage in our reading of the Catechism this morning. It's in the section named Celebrating the Church's Liturgy and the subsection named Who Celebrates?
1136 Liturgy is an "action" of the whole Christ (Christus totus). Those who even now celebrate it without signs are already in the heavenly liturgy, where celebration is wholly communion and feast The celebrants of the heavenly liturgy
1137 The book of Revelation of St. John, read in the Church's liturgy, first reveals to us, "A throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne": "the Lord God." It then shows the Lamb, "standing, as though it had been slain": Christ crucified and risen, the one high priest of the true sanctuary, the same one "who offers and is offered, who gives and is given." Finally it presents "the river of the water of life . . . flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb," one of most beautiful symbols of the Holy Spirit. 
1138 "Recapitulated in Christ," these are the ones who take part in the service of the praise of God and the fulfillment of his plan: the heavenly powers, all creation (the four living beings), the servants of the Old and New Covenants (the twenty-four elders), the new People of God (the one hundred and forty-four thousand), especially the martyrs "slain for the word of God," and the all-holy Mother of God (the Woman), the Bride of the Lamb, and finally "a great multitude which no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes, and peoples and tongues." 
1139 It is in this eternal liturgy that the Spirit and the Church enable us to participate whenever we celebrate the mystery of salvation in the sacraments.
It reminded me of this.

Paul gave me the address of a website once where you can look at the entire Ghent Altarpiece magnified beautifully. Unfortunately, I've lost the address. Maybe if he looks in, he will tell us what it is.

UPDATE: Okay, my daughter gave me the link. Thanks, Lisa.

This is only the centerpiece of 5 panels, so more adorers are coming in from the right and left.