Monday, March 31, 2014


Almost twenty years ago, I read (in fact I think I discussed in a group) an article by Regina Doman in Caelum et Terra magazine. The article was then called The Seven Dress Wardrobe, but I see it's been changed on the blog I linked to. It's now called Liturgical Dressing and that's basically what it's about. The author was trying to find a way to simplify her wardrobe and she decided to dress in the liturgical color of the day.

Now, I'm not a person that spends much time choosing my wardrobe. My MO when buying clothes is to find something simple that I like and buy it in three colors. However, I knew right off the bat I could never do the liturgical dressing business because I could not bear the idea of wearing green almost every day for months on end. Still, I remembered the article.

Then a couple of years ago I decided that as a sort of penance, I would wear something purple every day in Lent. I don't wear ALL purple, just a sweater or a shirt or something. I have to say, it's a great penance, and it gets to be more and more penitential, not just for me, but probably for everyone around me. I was about to write the First Lady and ask if she would start a campaign to ban the color purple, but then, thankfully, Laetare Sunday arrived just in time. Nobody was ever quite as happy as I to wear pink to Mass. I'm thinking I might be able to hold out now.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Call

This morning in our class after Mass, the topic of the video was the call of Jonah, and the call that God sends to each of us. The question arose as to how we can discern what God is calling us to do. Jonah, of course, didn't have this problem. He knew what God was asking him to do. He just didn't want to do it. But God doesn't always speak quite so clearly, or so it seems. And so we have to get very still and very quiet and listen, and we have to listen frequently, sometimes for good long periods of time, because the main call on each of our lives is to move deeper and deeper into the heart of Jesus. This is the only place where we can learn to grown in charity, and in the same way as we slowly learn to see our spouses more clearly as we live together and and grow in love for one another, we will begin to see more clearly what Our Lord is asking of us.

How then do we move deeper into the heart of Jesus? By moving deeper in the heart of the Church, His Spouse. She is Mater et Magistra, Mother and Teacher. She feeds us and leads us to the truth. Not only does She give us the Mass and the Sacraments, which in themselves would be enough, she provides us with 2000 years worth of the Goodness, Truth, and Beauty that follow in the the wake of her children.

I was wondering whether or not I should write this, and had all but decided not to, when I found this quote by Bishop Donald Hying in my newsfeed: "How different our vision is when we pray consistently, participate in the Eucharist, and study the Scriptures. We start seeing God’s order and patterns everywhere." And in doing so we can see our place in His order and patterns.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Joy in the Mourning

Last spring, I got out of my car and noticed a bird that was unfamiliar to me sitting in a tree, although I assumed it was a dove, and I was correct. It was a mourning dove, and it's amazing that I had never noticed them before because they are everywhere. I also had a recording of a dove on an earlier post, but it has disappeared without a trace. Eudora Welty describes it in Delta Wedding, "Over and over from the bayou woods came the one high note, then the three low notes of the dove." I wish you could hear it, but if you are interested, there's a recording here, along with a lot of other interesting information about the mourning dove, such as that it is the most widely hunted game bird in North America, and that even though 20 million are reported killed every year, there are still 350 million in the U.S., and that the oldest known mourning dove lived for more than 31 years. Some of those birds I see by the side of the road could be older than my youngest daughter.

After I noticed the dove in the tree, I saw them constantly. They sit in rows on the telephone wires or along the side of the road. They sit in the middle of the road and fly up just as you are about to run over them. They are certainly hunted around my home. I'd always heard when dove hunting season came around, but I never realized that these were the birds they were hunting.

When we had to move to the condo in July, they were a consolation to me, a bit of home in a strange land. I'd sit on the third floor balcony and they would fly around me. Sometimes one would fly right past my face. There were trees with heavy foliage very close to the balcony, we could probably have reached out and touched them, and the doves would sit in the trees and coo. Bill and I sat and watched one fly down to the ground and pick up several twigs and reject them before she finally found the perfect one, and then fly back up to the tree and do something with it there. Unfortunately, she did this behind a clump of leaves, so we couldn't watch. This happened over and over.

I tried and tried to get a picture of one, but they are so well camouflaged that they disappear into the scene around them. The picture above was taken by my friend MacBeth Derham in New York shortly after the poor bird had had a run in with a cat and lost it's tail feathers. As you can see, the ice and snow didn't chase them away, but it chased me inside, so I didn't see them in the winter, but now they are everywhere. I hear them cooing, and their mournful cry makes me happy. 

There have been many, many changes in our lives in the past year, and many surprising events--some very nice and some very unpleasant. People we love have come into our lives and people we love have gone out of our lives. And even the happy things, like my wonderful job, take a little toll on us because they require an adjustment. I am at peace, but I am exhausted. I think that little dove who survived the cat but lost a little bit of herself might be a good metaphor for the way I feel sometimes.

At the end of January, I attended a much-needed retreat at the retreat house that is pictured on the top of this page. It was amazing. It seemed as if the entire retreat had been written for me. Every topic, and many things that were just incidental, dove-tailed exactly with everything that was going on in my life. For instance, it was an Ignatian retreat, and though I had not know this beforehand, the last thing I did before leaving home was to download the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius onto my Kindle to read during the breaks. And the last meditation ended with this.

Come then my Love
My beloved rise
For see, winter is past
The rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the land
Glad songs burst forth
And we hear the voice of the dove.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up,
and did not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, 
I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.
O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol, 
restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.
Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones, 
and give thanks to his holy name. 
For his anger is but for a moment; 
his favor is for a lifetime. 
Weeping may linger for the night, 
but joy comes with the morning. 
 As for me, I said in my prosperity, 
“I shall never be moved.” 
 By your favor, O Lord, 
you had established me as a strong mountain; 
you hid your face; 
I was dismayed. 
 To you, O Lord, I cried, 
and to the Lord I made supplication: 
“What profit is there in my death, 
if I go down to the Pit? 
Will the dust praise you? 
Will it tell of your faithfulness? 
Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me! 
O Lord, be my helper!” 
You have turned my mourning into dancing; 
you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, 
so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. 
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
                                                           ~Psalm 30


Friday, March 28, 2014

Memento Mori

This has been a rough few weeks and I am exhausted, so instead of driving all the way home to pick Bill up, and then to church for Stations of the Cross, we decided to just stay home and pray them together. The booklets that I have are the prayers of St. Alphonsus Liguori (appropriate I guess because we live in a house built by a man named Alphonso). I used to use them with my PRE students, and, I think, with my youngest daughter and granddaughter, so I'm very familiar with them, but sometimes you see something in a familiar text that you seem not to have noticed before.

I mentioned in the reflections on the Stations that I wrote a couple of years ago that the Fifth Station is my favorite because I relate to Simon. I carry the cross with reluctance, but am, mercifully, changed by that portage nonetheless. As I read the prayer for that station tonight, I realized that I must not have ever paid much attention to the words before.
My most sweet Jesus, I will not refuse the cross as the Cyrenian did; I accept it, I embrace it. I accept in particular the death that Thou hast destined for me, with all the pains which may accompany it.
Now that is a scary prayer, especially as my death, however it may come, seems to be approaching very swiftly. Sometimes I wonder how the authors of these prayers had the courage to commit prayers like these to paper. It's silly to think of it that way, though. I'm not actually asking  for a horrible, painful death, I'm just saying that whatever comes, I will accept as coming from the Lord. 

And then there's the end of the prayer which I pray several times a day all during the year. 
I love Thee, Jesus my love. I repent of ever having offended Thee. Never permit me to offend Thee again. Grant that I may love Thee always, and then do with me as Thou will. 
It's all contained in that prayer anyway--life and death--whatever comes. It just isn't spelled out in such stark detail.

 I read somewhere yesterday that Lent is more than half over now, and since Easter is three weeks from Sunday, I guess that must be right. I'm not quite ready for Easter because I keep hoping to somehow get Lent right, although I'm not really sure what I mean by that and for all I know I'm already getting it right, and maybe sometime in the next three weeks I'll really mess it up. But even if I do, I know Easter will come.

On that note, I see by my Current Moon app that the moon is a waning crescent, only 4% of full. Soon it will disappear, but then it will began to wax again, and when it's full, it will be the first full moon after the Spring equinox, the harbinger of Easter Sunday.


P.S. And you can watch it happen right here on my sidebar, or maybe even go outside and watch.

P.P.S. Now it occurs to me that if it is more than halfway through Lent, I have managed to post something everyday for more than half of Lent, even if one day was a sort of cheat. I'm pretty surprised.

Becoming Other Christs--Very Slowly

I originally posted this last February, but somebody looked at this page today, so I looked at it see what it was, and it was so much what I needed to hear, that I thought I'd post it again in case anyone else is in my sorry state.

Because he has made us "other Christs," because his life continues in each one of us, there is nothing that any one of us can suffer which is not the passion he suffered. Our redemption, although it was achieved completely by our Lord, does, by a special loving mercy of his, go on in us. It is one unbroken act which goes on in the mystical body of Christ on earth, which we are.

These things are mysterious, we can't understand them with our brains, but now everyone is going to learn to understand them in sorrow, in courage, and in sacrifice. Now the time has come for each of us to prove our Christhood.

Not one of us is alone. All are one in Christ, and we can be strong in the realization that we are together and that we share in all and every grace of one another. We are one, not only with each other, but with all the Church, the saints in heaven, the faithful on earth and the souls in purgatory, and we have, all of us, the strength of our adored King, Christ, as our sword: his strength and his meekness, his love and his forgiveness.
This War is the Passion, Carryl Houselander

In this passage Caryll Houselander is writing about World War II. The English people to whom she writes are undergoing trials, both physical and spiritual, that are more devastating than most of us have ever had to endure. I don't want to sound like I'm trivializing their experience, but even though our day-to-day lives are peaceful in comparison, every day is a little war, and if we are making the slightest effort every day in Lent is a bigger little war. The enemy of our souls knows that this is a time when grace abounds, and when we can make great spiritual progress, and he is determined to keep that from happening. Sometimes it reminds of the barrage of opposition that C. S. Lewis describes in his fictional journey to Elwin Ransom's house in Perelandra.

So, I wrote this say that the next time you are experiencing little Lenten sufferings or you are tempted--although sometimes it doesn't even seem a temptation, but more like an excuse--to do that which you have committed yourself not to do during Lent, or to stay home when you had planned to go to stations, or when you pass the restaurant that smells so enticingly of barbeque on your way home on Friday, just remember. "Not one of us is alone,"  and that this is the acceptable time to "prove our Christhood."  We're all there together and I am praying for you and, the whole communion of saints is praying for you, and oh please, pray for me because I am having a heck of a time.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Going Gaily in the Dark

This morning as I was reading the first reading from Jeremiah 7, I was thinking that it sounded pretty familiar. It reminds of the sort of thing that people post on Facebook.

But they obeyed not, nor did they pay heed.
They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts
and turned their backs, not their faces, to me.
From the day that your fathers left the land of Egypt even to this day,
I have sent you untiringly all my servants the prophets.
Yet they have not obeyed me nor paid heed;
they have stiffened their necks and done worse than their fathers.
When you speak all these words to them,
they will not listen to you either;
when you call to them, they will not answer you.
Say to them:
This is the nation that does not listen
to the voice of the LORD, its God,
or take correction.
Faithfulness has disappeared;
the word itself is banished from their speech. 

It could be a bit depressing, but then we moved on to Psalm 95.

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him. 

And this, of course, is what we are called to do every day. Every day we see that evil threatens to overcome us, and there's very little chance that many will listen to the Gospel. But that's not our worry. Our job is turn our faces to Him and joyfully sing His praise. It reminds me of Mary's words to Alfred in Chesterton's Ballad of the White Horse

“The men of the East may spell the stars, 
And times and triumphs mark, 
But the men signed of the cross of Christ 
Go gaily in the dark. 

“The men of the East may search the scrolls 
For sure fates and fame, 
But the men that drink the blood of God 
Go singing to their shame. 

“The wise men know what wicked things 
Are written on the sky, 
They trim sad lamps,
 they touch sad strings,
 Hearing the heavy purple wings,
 Where the forgotten seraph kings 
Still plot how God shall die. 

“The wise men know all evil things 
Under the twisted trees, 
Where the perverse in pleasure pine 
And men are weary of green wine 
And sick of crimson seas. 

“But you and all the kind of Christ 
Are ignorant and brave, 
And you have wars you hardly win 
And souls you hardly save.

“I tell you naught for your comfort, 
Yea, naught for your desire, 
Save that the sky grows darker yet 
And the sea rises higher. 

“Night shall be thrice night over you, 
And heaven an iron cope. 
Do you have joy without a cause, 
Yea, faith without a hope?”

Of course, we know Alfred won, and it looks as though it may be a long time before we have any victory over the ills that presently beset us. Still, any worldly victory is only a reprieve, and any seeming defeat can be redeemed. In fact, any defeat in the cause of Christ will be redeemed, which, I suppose, is what keeps us singing.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Taking the Easy Way Out

Well, we left the house early and just got home, and I have driven probably 150 miles today just getting us where we needed to be, and it's bedtime. If I tried to write what I was planning on writing, I would do a terrible job, so I'm taking the easy way out.

First I will show you what a fun time my husband had at the hospital yesterday. He gave me permission to do this. In fact, he almost encouraged me to do it. So here he is before the operation.

That black smudge above his eye is not left over from Ash Wednesday. It's the mark the doctor made so that she wouldn't operate on the wrong eye by accident. I will say, however, that that is almost exactly what my ashes looked like. I felt quite lopsided.

And here he is after...

...with his evil wife using him as grist for the mill which is her blog, which is pretty much the way she treats everything in her life.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
On a more serious note, here is a link to a wonderful Lenten reflection by Cecelia O'Brien. Within that reflection, you will find another link to a poem by her husband, Joseph, which is also wonderful.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And then there's this. If it doesn't make you smile, you are too grouchy.

And now, goodnight.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Be It Done Unto Me

And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin' s name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
And the angels words have echoed across the next 2000 years. Every day they are sent heavenward millions, or maybe billions of times from every corner of the world. I would imagine that the Hail Mary is easily the most frequently recited prayer, and if a person says a daily rosary, he probably repeats those words more often than any other thing that he says in a day.

Then there is the Angelus. I wonder how many people pray the Angelus in a day. I think it's my favorite prayer. When I was in grade school, we used to have recess around noon, and when the bells rang for the Angelus, we would all kneel down on the playground and pray. I try to pray it three times a day. Morning and evening are easy to remember because I pray it before and after work. I used to forget at noon, but now I'm next to the bells again, and am able to run over to church. 

Sometimes I've heard people say that if you don't pay attention to what you are saying when you pray, if you don't really meditate on the mysteries of the rosary for example, you are just wasting your time praying. I can't believe this is true, and it's my experience that it is not true. I'm sure that over the years I have said the Angelus many times without thinking about what I was saying, in fact that has probably been more the case than not. However, looking back I can see that those prayers have done their work in me. Mary's fiat has become the central theme of my life, and when I pray it now, I'm almost always paying attention to what I am saying. It's a scary prayer really. It like the picture above with the angel pointing down that long corridor to who knows where.

After we moved back home in October, I wanted to get a print of Fra Angelico's Annunciation to hang in the room where I pray. But when I got ready to order one, it proved to be a much more difficult decision than I had thought. Did I want the one above, or this one?

I like seeing Adam and Eve on the left side. It's like you get the whole story. But then, this one is so nice.

And Mary's face is so nice in this one.

But this one has the nice frame and a little Adam and Eve in the upper left hand corner. And little gold words from the angel's mouth.

And then there are more. Some of them are very similar with just small differences in color, or different trim on the clothing. I'd like to know how many there are. So this is why I don't have the picture yet.

I pray that you will all have a blessed feast day, and that the Word will continue to dwell among us.


P.S. I have been writing this in a hospital room while waiting for my husband to have his second cataract surgery. He is back in the room now, doing fine, and I imagine he's pretty hungry.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Call of Matthew

I wrote a bit about this picture on the feast of St. Matthew, after which followed (not on the blog) a conversation with my husband and someone else about which of these men is really Matthew. My husband said the man that is pointing to himself. I thought that man was pointing to the young man at the end of the table. I could have sworn that I talked about this online somewhere, but maybe I'm mistaken or hallucinating or something.

The reason I'm posting it now is that yesterday in the group that is watching Fr. Barron's series after Mass, Matthew was the subject of the video, and Father talked a lot about this picture. Fr. Barron agrees with Bill about which man is Matthew, and he's almost convinced me, but what struck me most was that Father said that Caravaggio deliberately painted the of Jesus to look exactly like that of God in the Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel. At first that seemed plausible, but I didn't have anything to compare it with. However, when I was trying to find pictures to illustrate this, I saw that what that hand really looks like is the hand of Adam. This makes perfect sense--Jesus, the new Adam, calling forth instead of being called forth. 

Father then pointed out that you can barely see Jesus because Peter (I never thought of this being Peter before.) was standing in front of Him, and that Caravaggio was trying to show that we have to go through Peter to get to Jesus. Well, this is plausible enough, and what I noticed is that Peter almost looks as if he is practicing to make his hand be like that of Jesus.

I looked around to see if anyone else had written about Jesus's hand, and I found that, yes, more than one person has and here is one of them. Lo and behold, he said the same thing that I was thinking about Adam (obviously an intelligent man). There are a lot of articles and opinions about this picture floating around the internet, but I will leave it to you to find them if you are interested. I find the whole subject fascinating.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Couple of Things

Every day I leave the house without my coat in the firm belief that if I don't wear a coat, it won't be cold. Every day, I'm proved wrong. We've had some warmish afternoons but every morning is chilly and damp and even though I was determined to get through the daylight hours without turning the heat on, I just gave in. Still, it looks like Spring outside. There are lots of daffodils, the forsythia is blooming, the fields are purple with henbit and purple deadnettle, and the pear trees are showing white. After the ice and snow and record cold of this winter, I thought it would be the perfect time to post this hopeful song by Gillian Welch.

I can't really complain too much about the winter because even though it did get very, very cold, and though we had snow and ice far more often than usual (usual is once--maybe twice), we seem to have had it pretty easy in comparison to those both north and south of us. We only missed one day of work, and the electricity never went off, so I'm quite thankful.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
During the time that St. Martin de Porres was alive, there were five now-canonized saints living in Peru: St. Francis Solano, St. John Macias, St. Rose of Lima, St. Martin, and the man on the left, St. Turibius of Mongrovejo, Archbishop of Lima. It was St. Turibius who baptized both St. Martin and St. Rose. I first read about St. Turibius when I read my daughter St. Martin's biography about 20 years ago, but I always forget his feast day until I see it on the calendar after it has passed. Today, the folks at apparently forgot that this being Sunday, they should have removed the page that says that it's an optional memorial of St. Turibius, but that's okay with me because it refreshed my memory. The paragraph there also states that he founded the first seminary in the New World, and that he had a great concern for the indigenous peoples. He learned their language, Quechua, and required all his priests to learn it also. 

BTW, for those of you who are in my book club, this was the language that the Elliots learned to prepare themselves to do missionary work in Ecuador. I wonder if they had any idea that they were following in the footsteps of this Catholic bishop.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

What I'm Doing Today

This evening I am going to meet with a group of people who will be discussing Books 6-8 of St. Augustine's Confessions, and today I am trying to read Books 6-8 of said book. Actually, I think I read all of 6 last night. I know you will think me a mere Philistine when I say this, but it shows the depths of my affection for these people that I am willing to persevere in this effort just so that I can spend the evening with them. 

The group has met twice before, but both times I had some conflict that kept me from being able to be there, so of course, I used that as an excuse for not keeping up with the reading. I tried yesterday to begin at Book 1. I have probably tried to begin at Book 1 at least ten times in the past several years. Once, I even signed up for an online class on Confessions but I didn't get past the first group discussion. Since I really desire to have read this book, I hoped that the current group, made up as it is of intelligent, perceptive, witty and well-educated people, would spur me on to excellence, but so far it has failed in it's purpose.

I hope I don't offend anyone, but this is
the absolute worst picture of Augustine (and
Monica) ever. If I saw these people on a train,
I would move to the next car.
As I said, yesterday I tried to get started. I read and read and read and read and after quite a while, I realized that he was still a babe at the breast, and I probably wasn't going to get through all eight chapters in two days. Also, I had a translation that was filled with thees and thous, and while I generally like them well enough, and like them very well in prayers, they were definitely impeding my ability to progress. And again, I hate to have to say this, but sometimes I think that Augustine might have profited from an English Comp I class on unity and clarity, although I think the problem lies in this particular work, as I never have had any trouble reading anything else he wrote.

So here I sit (Yes, I did learn in English Comp I that I shouldn't start a paragraph with so but I am rebelling.), having read Books 6 & 7 in a different translation. It's going well, and it's much more interesting than the part where he was still in utero. It is seriously difficult for me, though, to read through Augustine's tortured thought processes about God, because it's the exact kind of thinking that kept me awake with the horrors from the time I was about 8 until I was in high school, and left all that to think about clothes and boys. I didn't have any doubts about the existence of God or the teachings of the Church, so far as I knew them, but I was almost paralyzed by the implications of infinity and eternity. I mean, where does it all end?

Well, it's time to move on to chapter 8. See you tomorrow.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Near the Cross

I will be going to the Stations of the Cross directly after work, and then a Knights of Columbus fish fry, so I won't have time to write this evening, but here are a couple of things that are in the spirit of the Stations. This morning at Mass, the organist was playing this hymn during Communion. I love Fanny Crosby's hymns. They're so elemental. And Alison Krauss's voice is so pure. Sorry about the poor quality of the video. It might be best with your eyes shut.


Then I came across this quote:
The first thing that shakes you up about sickness is that it hits us without any warning and at a time we do not decide. We are at the mercy of events, and we can do nothing but accept them. Grave illness obliges one to become aware that we are truly mortal; even if death is the most certain thing in the world, modern man tends to live as if he should never die. 
In sickness you understand for the first time that life on earth is but a breath, you recognize with bitterness that you have not made it that masterpiece of holiness God had wanted. You experience a profound nostalgia for the good that you could have done and for the bad that you could have avoided. You look at the Crucifix and you understand that this is the heart of the Faith; without sacrifice Catholicism wouldn’t exist. Then you thank God for having made you a Catholic, a “little ” Catholic, a sinner, but who has an attentive Mother in the Church. So, grave sickness is a time of grace, but often the vices and miseries that have accompanied us in life remain, or even increase [during it]. It is as if the agony has already begun, and there is a battle going on for the destiny of my soul, because nobody can be sure of their own salvation.
This comes from an interview last October with a Professor Mario Palmaro, who died on March 9 at the age of 45. I came across it on the Korrektiv Blog. I can't say that I agree with everything in the interview or on the blog on which it was posted, but this quote is both powerful and truthful. 


Thursday, March 20, 2014


I started writing this yesterday on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, but didn't have time to finish.

I've been thinking a lot lately, and praying but not enough, about the fact that I would like feel more relaxed in my relationship with God the Father. I'm not saying less reverent, I'm just saying that I'm here doing all the things, not out of love but out of a sense of responsibility, and also a bit out of fear. I'm never quite comfortable in the presence of the Father because I'm always waiting to hear what I'm doing wrong, and what I need to change before I can be acceptable. I know this is wrong. I believe this is wrong. I know and believe that God the Father loves me and wants to be close to me, but my own experience is that fathers love you and provide for you, but that you don't have comfortable chats with them, and they are very critical. My father wasn't a bad father. He just seemed to think that parents and children lived in separate worlds. That's probably what he saw when he was growing up. So, I'm not griping; I'm just explaining.

I was thinking about all this during Mass on this Solemnity of St. Joseph, and realized that here is an example of an excellent father, and intercessor, and then I remember the statue pictured above. The statue is in a niche in the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe in Orlando, FL. You approach it from the aisle on the left side of the church. It's a big church and the niche is actually further back than the altar, next to the chapel of reservation, which is behind the altar, so it's a long walk.

The first time I walked down that aisle and saw that statue, I began to tear up. The closer I got, the weepier I got. By the time I reached the little alcove, I was having trouble keeping from sobbing. I didn't know why for sure. I remember the statue as being life-size and it's very touching. I felt as if I was right there in room with Joseph and the young Jesus. The relationship between the two was palpable. I have seen a father and son talking in just this way, and it way lovely. This is the way I would like to talk with God the Father.

I have never had much of a devotion to St. Joseph. Well, to be truthful, I don't think I've ever had any devotion at all. He's just the third character in the Nativity scenes. I have always admired the way he answered God's call to take on his difficult role as husband and foster father, but that's about the extent of the attention I've ever given him. 

Now, I am going to start looking for some prayer to him. Several friends of mine pray a novena to St. Joseph that they dearly love, and which to me is so overly-sentimental that I just can't get the words out of my mouth. Prayers to St. Joseph tend to be that way, but hopefully I will find something, and if I don't, maybe I can write something. Here's the collect for the solemnity.
Grant, we pray, almighty God, that by Saint Joseph's intercession your Church may constantly watch over the unfolding of the mysteries of human salvation, whose beginnings you entrusted to his faithful care. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, pray for us.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Shootin' the Blues

I took this one at Steve's birthday party. His
are lots better. 
I started a post earlier today, but I'm just not going to have time to finish it tonight because I just got home and bolted my dinner, and now I have to leave in about 20 minutes, and won't be home 'til time to fall in bed. Serendipitously, while checking Facebook, I found something for you to look at.

My good friend Steve Likens knows more about music in this area than almost anybody, and he also has a great photographic eye and a new website. There's lots of pictures from local blues festivals (I had no idea how many there were before I met Steve.), some beautiful pictures from his home in rural Mississippi, and even a candid picture of my husband, which is a real rarity.

I hope you will go take a look.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What I Didn't Write About

Sometimes when I'm writing a post, I realize a whole paragraph or two just doesn't fit in and I delete it. Sometimes it happens that the topic of the part I delete was supposed to be the topic of the post, but it gets overrun by something else. This, of course, is always a surprise. Sometimes I have to change the title of the post. Then there are times when I mean to say something and I just plain forget, so the following is a mishmash of things that I've forgotten or deleted lately.
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The post entitled Giving In was originally called Choice. In talking about the rich young man who went away sad, Fr. Barron said that Jesus had offered him a choice. Then he said that our society today is very pro-choice, not just with regard to abortion, but across the board. We believe not only that we have a right to make a choice about everything, and that the only criteria for making the choice is what we think is best. There is in this view no object standard for right and wrong. It's just my choice. I came face-to-face with this today in front of Planned Parenthood when I was talking with a man who was passing by. I thought he was the same man who yelled at us last week for holding f***ing signs when we probably bought stuff (not his word) from Communist countries that exploited children. (I failed to tell him that I live in a country that exploits children.) But today's man said, no, it had not been he. He thought everybody had a right to their own opinion. Then he told me about how some other people were wrong about something they were doing to him.
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When I realized that I had illustrated two posts in a row with Asian pictures, it reminded me that for some time I have been meaning to recommend the work of Daniel Mitsui. You could spend a lot of time on the blog looking at his work, in fact, you could spend a lot of time looking at just one of his pictures. I greatly desire his Mysteries of the Rosary, but unfortunately (probably fortunately for my meager finances) they are not for sale. 
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I've been thinking about this scripture for a while now and since it was today's first reading, I thought I'd mention it. It's Isaiah 1:18.
Come now, let us set things right, says the LORD: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; Though they be red like crimson, they may become white as wool.
What strikes me about this verse is that it says your sin may become white as snow--not your soul, but your sins. I looked up a lot of translations and the only one that worded it in a way that didn't make it sound like the sins themselves were becoming white was The Good News Bible which isn't even a really translation, but only a paraphrase. Of course, it would be nice to be able to look at the original text but since it's in Hebrew, that will never happen for me. If I had time, I would try to read some commentary on it, but alas, that I do not have.
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My dream about the living water reminded me about a scene in Inception that I love because I think the images are beautiful. It's the scene where Cobb and Ariadne are in Limbo and he is showing her the houses where he and Mal used to live. It's not as lovely here as it was in the theatre--in think you got a wider view on the big screen--but you will remember it if you saw it, and if not, this will give you some idea of what it was like. The part I'm talking about is at 2:58 and is fairly brief.

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At work the other day, I heard someone say, "If thus-and-so doesn't happen, I will have wasted the last 12 years of my life." At first I wondered what she was talking about, but then I started thinking about the implications of that statement. I'm pretty sure that if we are really trying to do whatever it is that the Lord wants us to do in our lives (and I'm almost positive this person is), we cannot possibly waste 12 years of our lives, even if we make a million mistakes, mess it up terribly, and see it all come tumbling down. Nothing that's given to the Lord is wasted, and we have no idea what good may come of all our shattered dreams. C. S. Lewis quoting Charles Williams said in an interview, "The altar must often be built in one place so that the fire may come down in another place." For all we know, that fire may already be raging in some place that we will never see in this life. Our job is just to keep our eyes on the Lord and work for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Living Water

I came across this picture one day while I was looking for clip art to use in the bulletin for an item about the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The title of the picture is Hatsuhana Doing Penance Under the Tonosawa Waterfall, and it is a 19th century woodblock print by a Japanese artist named Utagawa Kuniyoshi. If you are interested, there is a bit more about the print here, but what I thought when I first saw it was how well it represented what happens to us in the sacrament. That living water rushes over us washing us clean.

I've been thinking a lot about living water recently after having had a dream about a city in which water was flooding the streets. It was so beautiful. I realized that the water was approaching the doors of the house, but I was sure the people wouldn't mind because it was so lovely. And I thought, "living water"--like the water that, "become[s] in [us] a spring of water welling up to eternal life (John 4:14)--like the "rivers of living water [that] will flow from within [him, who believes in the Lord.]" (John 7:38)
Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love; in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions. Thoroughly wash away my guilt; and from my sin cleanse me. -Psalm 51:3-4

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Giving In

I mentioned last Sunday that we are watching Fr. Robert Barron's series on conversion with a group of folks after Mass on Sundays. This morning's talk was on Mark 10:17-31, the story of the rich young man who went away sad because the Lord told him to sell all he had and give the money to the poor and then follow. Almost every time I have heard a homily on this text--well, every time--the priest has talked about the young man as though he made the wrong decision. They seem to be assuming that since the young man went away sad, he had chosen not to follow Christ. But we don't know, and thank goodness Fr. Barron said that we don't know.

One thing I do know is that when the Lord asks me to give up something that means a lot to me, I am sad. I will do it, although sometimes I take my own sweet time about doing it, but that doesn't mean I'm not sad. I'm not talking about things that are sinful, but things that are good in themselves. Objectively, it's hard sometimes to understand why you should give them up, but the fact that He asks is reason enough. And the fact that it's an objectively good thing is reason enough to be sad. But sadness doesn't imply disobedience or even unwillingness.

I also know that once that young man walked away, he may have chosen not to give up his riches, but he never could have looked at them in the same way again. Once the Lord has asked us for something, He has asked, and since His word never returns to Him void, the request is never withdrawn (or if it is, I think we are in quite a lot of trouble). You may be able to keep from thinking about it for a while, but when you have a quiet moment, He's always there. I always get the sense that He's just looking at me, and that look gets to be quite a burden after a while, and whatever I'm supposed to be giving up gets to be an even bigger burden. So, I hope that the rich young man eventually gave in.


Saturday, March 15, 2014


For some reason I've been thinking today about slavery. I have no idea what errant train of thought brought it to mind, but I was thinking about the sort of slavery that one usually thinks of when one hears the word, e.g. slavery in the American South or in Pharaoh's Egypt, and how it was different than the sort of slavery which is described in detail in the Old Testament in which a person who has no means sells himself into slavery, but in which there are very strict parameters limiting the power of the master. Then I was thinking about how we who work for other people, are similar to the latter. I could say more about all this, but it's not really the subject of this post. It's just the train of thought that brought me to the subject of the post.

Terrible as slavery is, the only slavery that will matter in the end is that which we bring upon ourselves by our sin. We see sin and find it attractive. We become attached to it. We wrap our arms around it and embrace it, thereby creating the bonds that hold us captive. By the time we want to let go, we think we can't. We know, though, that with grace we will be able, but grace doesn't necessarily make it easy. And when we finally do let go, we can't be sure that we will never find ourselves in the same bondage again.

This week in the Office of Readings, we have been reading about the ten plagues, and Pharaoh's refusal to let the Israelites go to worship the Lord. After a plague, Pharaoh would tell Moses to go, but then he would change his mind. In a way, we are Pharaoh. We decide that with the Lord's help, we will set ourselves free, but then we change our minds and return to our captivity. It may be that at times we will not be able to let go until we, like Pharaoh, are struck to the heart with some great loss. 

It may be that at some point in our lives, we finally become so closely united to Our Lord that the attachment to sin may fall from us forever. I hope this is true, although I certainly am not there yet. At best I can only say that my awareness of sin, and my repugnance for it are greater than they have ever been, and my attraction to the heart of Jesus seems to be growing. I pray that this will continue for all of us and that this Lent may move us further along this road.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Oh Dear

It's 9:00 p.m. and I just got home from Stations and a quick shopping trip for a shower I am going to tomorrow. I've been looking around Facebook and a blog and checking my email, and it just occurred to me that I am supposed to write something. Let's see. Nope. Nothing there. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014


This is the way my  week began. I woke up at 3:30 a.m. (which, of course, was really 2:30 a.m.), and couldn't get back to sleep. It was okay, though, because I had to get up at 4:00 a.m. (which was really 3) anyway, so that we could leave the house by 6:00 (5), so that I could take Bill, who currently cannot see well enough to drive, to work. I work about 35 minutes from here and have to be at work at 7:30 a.m., which means we have to leave pretty early even when it's not the second day of DST. Bill drops me off and then drives another 25 minutes or so to work. So, I had to drive him to work and then 25 minutes back to the parish. In case you haven't been keeping track (and you are still reading), that's pretty close to an hour and a half. I was tired, and I didn't have the best day at work, but I won't burden you with that. And then I did that over again 3 more times, but it's gotten better as I've gotten accustomed to getting up earlier. The upshot of this is that while I may not be, like Winnie the Pooh, a bear of very little brain, at this point I am the bearer of very little brain, and so am incapable of trying to put together anything like a cohesive post, so I'm going to ramble.

Today, I got a comment from an anonymous reader who says that he/she reads my blog every day at lunch time while drinking a cup of coffee. (Coffee-holding may explain the typos.) He/she loves the content. And also, he/she has a blog where one can buy handbags. Well, I need a handbag, really, but I think I'll pass. I mean, his/hers might have coffee stains. I almost let the comment through because it was, after all, a comment, but no.

To remove this comment (please don't think me ungenerous), I had to get into the "Design" part of the blog where, if one is very foolish, one may look at the stats. One thing that I noticed is that I will soon have had 50,000 pageviews (whatever they may be), which I don't think is very many, but then I never hoped to be the next Amy Welborn. Anyway, when I started looking around at the total number of pageviews on my blogposts and pages, I found that almost 10,000 of them were on the page with the novena to St. Martin. I knew that that was the most frequent search, but I had no idea how frequent it was. That's 20% of all the traffic on the blog.

The next most visited post is called Providence, Smoke, and Faith, and has had almost 1800 pageviews. I've tried to figure out why this might be. I thought maybe bots linked on to one particular post and used it to do something to the blog. That might be dumb, but I'm not very knowledgeable about the way those things work. I had also noticed, though, that the greatest number of searches that led to the blog, after those for St. Martin of course, were for smoke. I would do a search for smoke and my blog didn't show up anywhere in the results. Then I realized that people were looking for pictures of smoke, and my granddaughter's excellent picture, which is in that post, shows up on about the twelfth line of smoke images. It's far down, but it's the first one that isn't staged, so that explains it's popularity. Then I found a link to the picture in Japanese, and ultimately found about 8 uses of the picture on blogs, each of which was in a different language.

Compulsively checking the stats is one of the moral perils of blogging, and very difficult to stop--at least for me. It diverts the whole purpose of blogging from whatever goal I might have begun with into some sort of ego-building/ego-destroying exercise. Or it's like pulling the arm on a slot machine until I hit the jackpot. In other words, it's like any other addiction that people use to fill that emptiness that can only really be filled by the love of God. 

I visited Heather King's blog, Shirt of Flame for the first time in a long time yesterday. I found there a long passage from Karl Rahner in which he says:
You shall see that you should not try to run away from your empty heart, because [God] is already there, and so there can be no reason for you to flee from this blessed despair into a consolation that does not exist.
It simply doesn't exist. There is no consolation out there anywhere. There is only He Who is already within.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014


St. Martin performed many miracles during his life and after his holy death. We can go to him with confidence for he will obtain our petitions if they are for our true welfare. His great heart loves to help us in every way. We have only to tell him our troubles and to ask him to help us. If we do our part, we can be sure that our friend St Martin will do his part.
I finally found my book, and I'm a bit glad that I lost it because while I was looking around, it occurred to me that I didn't want to start with the first day, but the last. I want to write about St. Martin's miracles first, because I will be referring to them in the future.

Unlike St. Josephine Bahkita about whom I wrote earlier, and despite his attempts to keep it a secret, where miracles were concerned Martin's story has all the bells and whistles. His most well-known miracles took place in the context of his job as infirmarian. He worked many miracles of healing, although he tried to mask the fact by always providing some medicine or treatment to which he gave credit. Nothing kept him from the patients who he knew needed him. If the door was locked, he went through anyway. He always knew which patients would get well, and which ones would die. If Martin didn't visit you when you were sick, it was a good sign. It was because he knew you would get well. He was even known to raise the dead. 

He had no theological training, but he had infused knowledge. He was known to explain complicated theological concepts to the students. He could communicate with animals. He could bi-locate. He was frequently seen levitating. He physically fought with demons. He predicted the day of his own death.

The novena prayer says that Martin "performed many miracles during his life and after his holy death." As Martin's body was lying in state, thousands of people paraded by. They brought the sick and some were healed. Two days after his death, Martin appeared to one of his brothers at the monastery who lay dying of the same fever that had felled Martin, and the brother was healed, as were many others. 

There was testimony given of miracles of healing at the original investigation of his life about 20 years after his death. There were also many miracles attributed to him around the time of his canonization in the 1950s and 60s. I read about one in the letters of Caryll Houselander. I used to have that book at home for months at a time because I could check it out of the seminary library and not have to pay fines because I worked there. One of the few drawbacks to not working there is that I can't get a hold of it anymore, and so I'll have to just relate what I can remember reading a couple of years ago. Miss Houselander had a friend who had some very serious illness, and who had been sent an envelope with dust from St. Martin's grave. She put it in some water and drank it. I think she was rather embarrassed about doing this at the time, but her case was desperate, and so she gave it a try, and she was healed. She wasn't the first to be healed by the dirt from the saint's grave.

In 1664, about 5 years after Martin died, his body was moved from a crypt under the chapter room of the monastery to a more public area where people could come to venerate his remains. At that time, a man named John Criollo had been suffering from a persistent fever. One of the brothers who had helped to move the body gave Criollo some of the dirt from the grave in water to drink and a couple of days later, the doctor pronounced him cured. It's a wonder they could keep the man buried at all.

As marvelous as all these miracles are, I'm sure that they are not what Martin would have wanted to be remembered for. I doubt if he would have wanted to be remembered at all. His whole life was directed towards his Lord, and I'm sure that he would have us look beyond the miracles and the instrument whom the Lord used to the mercy of Him Who granted these favors.
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The picture of the statue above was taken at the Shrine of St. Martin de Porres in Memphis, TN. The facts above were taken from Giuliana Cavallini's biography, Saint Martin de Porres, Apostle of Charity.
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The moon is currently waxing gibbous and 83% of full. As it is a lovely, clear night, I shall now go verify this with my own eyes.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Bit More About the Martyrs of Sebaste

If you went to this blog that I linked to yesterday, you read that when the men were in the freezing lake, they prayed for relief and the following happened.
Their prayer was heard. In the third hour of the night a warm light bathed the holy martyrs and melted the ice. By this time all but one of the guards had fallen asleep. The guard who was still awake had been amazed to witness the death of the soldier who had fled to the baths and to see that those in the water were still alive. Now, seeing this extraordinary light, he glanced upward to see where it came from and saw thirty-nine radiant crowns descending onto the heads of the saints, immediately, his heart was enlightened by the knowledge of the Truth. He roused the sleeping guards and, throwing off his clothes, ran into the lake shouting for all to hear, "I am a Christian too!" His name was Aglaius, and he brought the number of martyrs once again to forty.
It made me wonder a bit. Why did the Lord send the warm light to melt the ice when they were going to die anyway. You might say that it was for the sake of Aglaius, you would have thought the light and crowns would have been enough.

The more I thought about this, the more I realized that although we seldom experience anything this dramatic--well, probably never--but this is what happens to us in our own lives. In the midst of the worst times, the Lord breaks through for a time, maybe a very short time, and it's by holding on to these little epiphanies that we are able to persevere. It got me thinking about the Transfiguration.

I wrote on the feast of the Transfiguration last year that when I prayed the Mysteries of Light, I never quite knew what to do with the Transfiguration. I prayed that I would be transformed, but that didn't seem quite right. Then about a month ago it occurred to me that when Peter, James, and John went up on the mountain, it wasn't to be transformed, it was to be prepared for the crucifixion, and for their own suffering. After experiencing this overwhelming vision, they could no longer wonder if Jesus was Who He said He was, and in all the dark moments to come, they would have this to sustain them.

We always want to build our tent on that mountain. We want to experience that warm light that melts away the frozen world that surrounds us. In this world, we never can, but we can still our hearts for just a moment and remember, and then go out and face whatever may come.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Two Years

Today is the second anniversary of this blog. It's funny because I thought it was the third anniversary. I guess it was just a really long two years--or maybe just a very eventful two years.

Many thanks to those of you who have stuck around even when I went long periods of time without posting, and thanks to all the encouragement I've gotten from readers--mostly NOT on the blog. And many, many thanks to those who have made comments.

When I started the blog, I wasn't really sure what it was going to turn out to be, and I'm a bit surprised at what it has turned out to be. I don't think I had any intention of it's turning out to be so serious, or so frequently spiritual. And I'm not sure what it will turn out to be in the future.

You may wonder what that picture has to do with the anniversary of The Three Prayers. Well, I was thinking that I would like to find a saint whose feast day is today so that he might be a kind of patron of the blog. There are many saints to choose from, none of whom I have ever heard of before, and I didn't recognize the name of the men above, either, because they are listed as The Martyrs of Armenia, and I have always known them as The Martyrs of Sebaste

I first learned about them when I was a little girl and I always loved their story. In brief in case you don't know them, the 4th century Roman Emperor Licinius demanded that these soldiers renounce the Christian faith or be killed. They refused, and were made to standing in a freezing lake until they died. When I was little, I always pictured them in full armor lying on the ice, which may have been even more uncomfortable than was actually the case. I had a very vivid picture of them. To tempt them to apostatize, there were warm baths by the side of the lake. One of the men gave in and ran to the bath, and immediately dropped dead. Later, one of the soldiers guarding the martyrs,  after witnessing a miracle that took place and remembering the man who died, ran out to take his place. You can find more about them here--and on many other websites. If you go to the link, you will see that the feast was yesterday, but that's in the East. In the West, the feast is March 10.

A few years ago when I took an Art class, I wrote an essay about the icon pictured here, which was then on exhibit in a Russian museum. This is the best image I can find online now, but at the time the museum had a wonderful website featuring the items in the exhibit, and there was a very clear and detailed image of the icon. It's a portable icon, and I seem to remember that it was about 12" tall, or even smaller, maybe 8". The pieces of glass that make it up are very tiny, and you can see even on the rather blurry picture, how intricate the picture is. Everyone of the forty faces is different. It is truly amazing. When I see works of art like this, I always think, "That's what people had time to do before television and computers."
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On a completely different note, if you look on the sidebar, you will see that I have added a widget that gives the current stage of the moon. As I write, it is waxing gibbous and 72% full. I think the man who offers this widget to bloggers is trying to sell something else, but that's okay. I find it rather exciting to watch the moon change and can't wait for it to be full. When I added the widget, it was at 58%, and then 63%, and now we are so close!
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I will close with this poem by e. e. cummings because it's the way I feel today when, after a miserable winter, we are having a perfect spring day.

i thank You God for most this amazing

i thank You God for most this amazing day:
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees 
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay 
great happening illimitably earth) 

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no 
of all nothing–human merely being 
doubt unimaginable You? 

(now the ears of my ears awake and 
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
                                         e.e. cummings


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Gang Aft Agley

In case you don't know what the title of this post means, it's what Robert Burns says happens to "the best-laid schemes o' mice an' men." I had meant to write about St. Martin today, but I seem to have misplaced the book, so I'm going to see if perhaps it is buried under the mountain of paper on my desk at work. I might have taken it there with some misguided idea that I would find a few stray minutes to write, but that is unlikely to happen. So in the meantime, I will talk about monkeys.

This morning after Mass, a group of us began watching a series by Fr. Robert Barron called Conversion: Following the Call of Christ. One of things he said was that our ego is like a monkey on our back--a burden that is constantly turning our thoughts to ourselves instead of allowing us to look outward to the needs of others. This caught my attention immediately, and I have, unfortunately, been reminded of it several times during the day, and it is an intolerable burden. It's a useful image, though, and I hope that I can keep it in mind throughout Lent.
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Looking around for something else on the blog today, I came across this post from last Lent which also mentioned monkeys, but in this case, they were being distracting instead of being a burden. I can't say that they are being completely quiescent now, either.
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Friday, March 7, was the feast of Sts. Felicity and Perpetua, and my friend Deirdre posted this picture on Facebook. I liked it so well that I wanted to post it here, but I just didn't have time. Here is a link to St. Perpetua's account of the days preceding her execution. I had read the account of her martyrdom before, but not what she wrote herself. It's very touching and seems so immediate, as if she wrote it yesterday.  (In case you wondered, this part wasn't about monkeys.)

Well, I guess it's time to catch up on my sleep.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Everybody Talks About Daylight Savings Time, but Nobody Ever Does Anything About It

With apologies to Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that short night.
Our age should burn and rave this lessened day;
Rage, rage against this ludicrous Spring rite.

Though we are pow'rless over wing'd time's flight,
Our Time Lords shun the rule of old Sol's ray;
Do not go gentle into that short night.

Aurora wonders at sad mortals' plight,
What dawns on men who think to hold time sway?
Rage, rage against this ludicrous Spring rite.

And Helios in his chariot laughs outright.
Shouts Sol Invictus who bids longer day,
“Do not go gentle into that short night.”

What fools those men who think that they have might
To quicken pace of time or it belay.
Rage, rage against this ludicrous Spring rite.

And you who slumber sound, your given right,
When you are 'wakened when you still would lay,
Do not go gentle into that short night,
Rage, rage against this ludicrous Spring rite.

                                                 Janet Cupo
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The clock pictured above belonged to my father, and hangs over the mantel of my resurrected living room. If you look carefully, you will see that it does not show the same time as the anniversary clock on the mantel, which was given to us when we married 42 years ago. At this point, both of the clocks are correct twice a day. The anniversary clock stopped shortly after our first anniversary, but that, fortunately, was not prophetic. (Well, after all, it is an anniversary clock and not an anniversaries clock.) The big clock works, but it makes a loud sound. My husband likes this. It makes me crazy.

I wish you could see the marquetry on the clock better. If you click on the picture, you can see it a bit better.


Friday, March 7, 2014

St. Martin de Porres

Most humble Martin de Porres, your burning charity embraced not only the poor and needy but even the animals of the field. For your splendid example of charity, we honour you and invoke your help. From your place in heaven, hear the requests of your needy brethren, so that, by imitating your virtues we may live contentedly in that state in which God has placed us. And carrying our cross with strength and courage, may we follow in the footsteps of our blessed Redeemer and his most sorrowful mother, so that at last we may reach the kingdom of heaven through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
As some of you know, I have a link to a novena to St. Martin de Porres on the sidebar. Every single day that I've ever checked the stats, there has been at least one person who has reached this blog by doing a Google search for St. Martin--often there will be 6 or 7. Even when I go long periods of time without posting, I get comments from people about St. Martin--usually something brief. Up until recently, most of what I knew came from a children's biography that I read to my daughter, St. Martin de Porres, the Story of the Little Doctor of Lima, Peru, by Mary Fabyan Windeatt, and various things that I've read online.

Then, a couple of months ago I finally read a book that I picked up at a book sale long ago, Saint Martin de Porres, Apostle of Charity, by Giuliana Cavallini. While I was reading the book, I couldn't help but notice that Ms. Cavallini refers to St. Catherine of Sienna constantly, and so it was no surprise to me to find that she was chiefly known for her scholarship concerning St. Catherine. She was apparently very well know in her field, in fact, there is a letter to her on the Vatican website from John Paul II congratulating her on an award that she had won because of her research.

Her study of Martin is drawn from the testimony given during his canonization process. There was a great deal of information because even though he was not canonized until 1963, there were official investigations into his sanctity very soon after his death when many people who knew him were still living. I had wondered when I read the children's book about St. Martin if it was accurate, and I find that in every case it was.

I started to write this post two or three weeks ago, but there was so much I wanted to say that it was overwhelming. Then the other day, it occurred to me that instead of trying to write it all at once, I could use the novena prayers as a spring board and talk about one aspect of Martin's life every day. I probably won't write about him on 10 (including this introduction) consecutive days, but who knows.

The prayer at the beginning of this post is the prayer that begins each day of the novena. Bill and I have prayed this novena over and over again on our way to work in the morning ever since 2008, so I have said this prayer hundreds of times. It sounds like you typical novena prayer, but it wasn't until I read Ms. Cavallini's book that I began to understand how splendid his example of charity really was, or how very difficult it would be to imitate his virtues. Likewise, the daily prayers seem pretty standard, but I've come to see that they barely give one a glance of St. Martin's life. I hope that what I write in the next couple of weeks will bring him to life for you a bit.

The above picture is over the door which separates the sanctuary of St. Peter's Catholic Church in Memphis from the Shrine of St. Martin. The painting is based on a statue that's in the chapel. I don't get to go there often because it's 40 miles from my home, and it's almost always locked except for the the daily Mass at noon on weekdays. It's a very lovely little chapel, very simple and conducive to prayer. If any of you ever come to Memphis, I will take you there.