Saturday, July 31, 2010

Vanity of Vanities, All is Vanity

From the Book of Ecclesiastes come these often-pondered words. What do they mean to me? When we worry about the things of this world to the point where we are distracted and restless, are we putting our faith in God? Something really stupid happened to me this week that caused me to lose my temper and be momentarily driven to distraction. My ticket to Heaven, otherwise known as my spouse, informed me nonchalantly that he had lost the keys to my car. Not recently, mind you, but some weeks ago, and he was just getting around now to letting me know. I lost my temper and shrieked at him in exasperation. It was the voice of a child that called me back to reality. "Don't sweat it, mom," my youngest told me "just say a prayer to St. Anthony to find them."

The keys turned up yesterday, but not before I fretted and fussed over what would happen if we couldn't find them, since they're the only spare set and we're leaving for the shore in a few days. Would it have been the end of the world not to find them? No, but you wouldn't know that by the way I reacted. Life is full of practicalities, and God knows this, but how silly did I appear in His eyes getting hysterical over car keys?

There is a Franciscan brother I know who has decided that the only possessions he will have in this world are the clothes he wears every day. He lives a much happier life than those of us who run ourselves into exhaustion trying to acquire the things this world tells us we need. Every night when I take my walk, I pass by two gentlemen who sit on the front steps, enjoying nothing more than each other's company and occasionally, a soda or pint of ice cream from the nearby corner store. Both are very religious men, one of whom is the sexton at a church where he begins every day unlocking the doors and lighting the candles on the altar and ends it by watering the flowers and sweeping the sidewalk. Simplicity of simplicities! A life dedicated to the service of Our Lord and free of the worries that are attached to the things of this world.

The path to holiness means not only giving up attachment to the meaningless possessions of the world, but also the attachment to selves that causes us to do things like shriek over a lost set of car keys. Lord Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

St. Martha

Just had to share this comment with you, which was made by the priest who said Mass this morning. "I'm a lazy man stuck in a busy man's job." It's hard to imagine this priest could afford a single moment of sloth given the expanse of the parish over which he presides. His point is that most of us would prefer to enjoy the gifts given to us by God rather than work ourselves to the bone. "We don't live to work, we work to live."

Although St. Martha is oft-remembered for whining to Our Lord about doing the work all by herself, she has another, more important place in the Gospel when Jesus is about to raise her brother Lazarus from the dead. “If you had been here, my brother would not have died, but I know that, even now, whatever you ask of God, he will grant you….I know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day….Yes, Lord…I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.”

He is still in the world with us, and may we never become so preoccupied with our occupations that we neglect Him, even for a single moment.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Here is a photo Rebecca took of our share from Bud's farm this week. There was also a sugarbaby watermelon that we forgot to include in the picture. The corn was so sweet I ate a few raw kernels before I dropped the ears into the water.

A gift of grape tomatoes for the neigbhor brings the offer of figs over the garden gate. We swap herbs from each other's gardens. Sage and mint in exchange for a sprig of dill and a handful of basil. And then we go about our way.

I truly love all four seasons, but summer is simply unmatched for the gifts God grants us at this time of year. As the light gives way to darkness, the western sky is nearly breathtaking. The first stars of night shimmer like diamonds against the black and blue backdrop of a summer night. And I think of the words from Habukak. The Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.

Friday, July 23, 2010


"There's a good reason", my friend explained, "why I keep the 9th Station of the Cross where I can see it when I wake up every morning."

Just when you think you are coasting along on the road to Heaven, something is bound to flatten your tire and test the shock absorbers. Last night, my son broke a rule I have established that he is never to call me to ask if he can bring someone home for dinner while in the company of the person. If he wants to ask, he has to ask me privately. Needless to say, I was less than overjoyed when he called last night about two minutes before he was due home to ask if a friend could spend the night. I have met the friend in question. He appears to be a sweet and gentle person, but our house isn't set up for overnight guests and I didn't want a stranger in the bedroom adjacent to my young daughter. I said no. My son kept insisting, and I firmly told him no and to come home. This morning, I found out why he was so insistent.

"You know mom, his family is very poor. The don't have any power right now and they're living with a friend of theirs and "H" just isn't happy there." I started thinking about being in a home with no fan and no air conditioning in this type of heat. Would I not want someone to extend kindness to my son if he was in a similar situation? We probably could have worked out something. Of course, it would have been nice to get a little more notice so we could have thought this out, but again, I feel like a child in need came to me through my developmentally slow son, and I let that child down.

I have noticed that "H" is spending more and more time at our house. Sometimes I ask him to stay for dinner but not always. I often don't even know what we're eating until about 5 minutes before it's on the table, and it's not always something "H" finds palatable. Our house isn't posh by any means, but it's probably a palace in comparison to where this boy has lived. For awhile, he was staying with relatives, but they moved out of state, and he had to move back with his single mother. Then they had to move out of their apartment and in with a friend of hers. Only God knows the rest of the story. But God knows what He expects of me. What must "H" think when he comes to our home, sees all the statues of the saints, the crucifix, etc. and then hears that he's not welcome to spend the night out of the sweltering heat?

Just as with the homeless lady at the gas station a few weeks ago, God may be generous enough to give me an opportunity to assuage my guilt. I knew I would be in for some heartache in life because of my son's disabilities. What I didn't expect is how much of it would come not from him, but from the company he keeps. Whatsoever you do to the least of these little ones......

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Call

It's there, in the oxidized copper of a steeple; in the distant gong of a bell; in the flicker of a votive light caught in a glimpse of a darkened church through a stained glass window. It's a longing and an ache, but it is not unrequited love. It's not an it, but a Person, waiting in the guise of bread, St. Therese's Divine Prisoner of Love. Jesus in the Eucharist calls out from His gilded prison in search of our company. The church is locked, so what to do? A simple nod from the sidewalk toward the direction of the tabernacle and an ejaculaion of "Lord Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary, have mercy on me, a sinner." And then continue home.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Choosing the Better Part

An exasperated Martha, left to do the serving all by herself, admonishes our Lord to make Mary, who is listening to His words of wisdom, help her. "Mary has chosen the better part, and it shall not be taken from her."

How many times do we stress ourselves out running from one activity to another, racing to complete one task after another that, very likely, will have no bearing on our eternal salvation? It's a good thing to keep a clean home and keep our children active and involved. But we're not doing ourselves or our families any favor by giving priority to activities of daily living while neglecting activities that will ensure eternal life.

When children are very young, psychologists tell us that their play is their work and is an important part of their development. By the same token, prayer and contemplation is our work, and without it, we fail to develop spiritually. We can become stagnant, doing the bare minimum and treating the Lord as though He is just another chore that we'll get to when we can. Where is prayer in your life, and more importantly, what is prayer?

Last night, Father Gleason reminded us that LISTENING to God is as important as TALKING to Him. It's a noble thing to say we will offer our work and all our activities to God as a prayer offering, but it's not so good when we choose to put Him last, especially when we have the ability to put Him first.

Where is God in your life? Is the focal point of your day, or an afterthought? Every so often I'll see a somewhat hokey little saying on a Protestant church marquis, but here's one I saw that really does ring true. "Give God what's best, not what's left." Resolve to do something every day, without fail, that enables you some quality time talking to Him and listening to Him.

I am astounded at how many Catholics still do not pray the Rosary every day. I am amazed at how many do not take advantage of the incomparable privilege of receiving Jesus in Holy Communion more often than once a week. If you're only giving God what's left, take some stock of where you are and how you can get where you should be. Give Him what's best, not what's left.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

Flower of Carmel,
Tall vine blossom laden;
Splendor of heaven,
Childbearing yet maiden.
None equals thee.

Mother so tender,
Who no man didst know,
On Carmel's children
Thy favors bestow.
Star of the Sea.

Strong stem of Jesse,
Who bore one bright flower,
Be ever near us
And guard us each hour,
who serve thee here.

Purest of lilies,
That flowers among thorns,
Bring help to the true heart
That in weakness turns
and trusts in thee.

Strongest of armor,
We trust in thy might:
Under thy mantle,
Hard press'd in the fight,
we call to thee.

Our way uncertain,
Surrounded by foes,
Unfailing counsel
You give to those
who turn to thee.

0 gentle Mother
Who in Carmel reigns,
Share with your servants
That gladness you gained
and now enjoy.

Hail, Gate of Heaven,
With glory now crowned,
Bring us to safety
Where thy Son is found,
true joy to see.

Flos Carmeli
Translator unknown

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Kitchen Sister

Today I picked up my share of veggies from the CSA I recently joined. I decided that nothing would give me the impetus to cook and eat healthy food like paying for it up front, so I bought a half-share of vegetables from a farmer who grows certified organic produce, including herbs. Every other week I head over to the host site a few blocks away to pick up my bounty. This week's share included heirloom tomatoes, candy onions, carrots, beets, potatoes, green beans, squash, and cucumbers.

CSA, or community supported agriculture, enables urban dwellers to partner with farmers who have made the commitment to grow organic vegetables. This enables families to enjoy fresh, nutritious produce that's grown locally on family farms and it guarantees the farmer a dedicated group of customers. When the crop is better than expected, so is your share. When it's disappointing, you share the farmer's luck. It all comes out in the wash.

I haven't had the pleasure of meeting Farmer Bud yet, but he communicates by email every Saturday night by letting us know what we'll be getting. He often includes recipes, particularly for the more unusual items like garlic scapes. When I arrive home with my bounty, my husband and I look in awe. I have never seen such pristine vegetables, even when my own parents did a little bit of organic gardening at their home in the Poconos. I feel horrible about wasting anything, but the beauty of the CSA is that your vegetables are picked the day before you get them, not days or even weeks before. So everything keeps very well for a week or even two in the refrigerator. The vegetables are so beautiful that I couldn't bear to discard of even the peelings and roots, etc. so I invested in a small composter.

Roasting in the oven right now is a casserole I made with Bud's potatoes, carrots, onions and beets. You peel and slice the carrots and beets, wash and quarter the potatoes, and add thick slices of onions. I also added a few cloves of garlic that I got from Bud last time around. You sprinkle some salt on the vegetables, coat with a little olive oil, and bake at 375 for an hour. The beets and carrots impart a sweet flavor to the potatoes and the result is a delicious dish that my family has come to really enjoy. Now if I served carrots or beets individually, it would be a different story with a few turned up noses!

I can think of no profession that allows man to see God's generosity and the wonder of creation more than farming. And I've never met a farmer who didn't believe in God.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The not-so-good Samaritan

Nowhere in today's Gospel is the Samaritan described as good. This is something implied by his actions. I had my own opportunity to be a good neighbor on Monday, and I blew it.

My husband insists on buying his gas at a station that is in a not-so-nice area. We are often swarmed by people begging to pump gas for some change or who are simply asking for a handout.

Sure enough, I heard a high-pitched voice ask him for something and his response of "sorry Man." However, the man was actually a woman, and a decrepit one at that.
"I'm hunnnnnnngry," I heard her whine. When I looked at her, she was filthy and she appeared to be missing an eye. She was dressed way too warm for the 95 degree heat.
My husband finished fueling and got in the car. I asked him if he thought we should give her something but he pointed out two other groups of people who were begging and he thought it was better to just leave. However, that image haunted me all day and night. The next morning, I took a walk to the gas station, but the woman was nowhere in sight. I prayed she wasn't dead because I would be doubly eaten with guilt.

The day after, I was taking a walk in the area of the gas station when I heard that same high-pitched voice. "Sweeeeetheart, you have a little something for me? I'm hunnnnngry".

Thank you Jesus! Another opportunity to make up for the one I missed. OK, for all I know, she did go out and spend the few bucks I gave her on booze or drugs, but like the woman I wanted to judge because of her skimpy clothing, it's not my place to make those kind of assumptions. The next time I might not be so lucky to have a second chance to offer someone a little bit of relief on a scorching summer's day.

Prayer and Penance

The following is recounted from "Thoughts and Sayings of St. Therese" from Tan Books. (Many of the conversations were recounted by her novices).

One day a novice lingered on the pathway en route to prayer to when St. Therese overtook her. "Is this how a mother with children (souls) to support hastens to work?"


I was reminded of this today at Mass. The air conditioning, which we are most fortunate to have in the first place, seemed to have concentrated all its efforts elsewhere in the church as it was nearly suffocating where I sat. I'm ashamed to admit I couldn't wait until Mass was over. At one point, the mantilla was driving me crazy and I was convinced if I took it off, I'd feel better, but I didn't. If I couldn't even stand a little discomfort and found it so difficult to unite myself to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, how on earth could I ever think I have anything in common with the Saints, who at the height of their tortures, never lost sight of Christ crucified?

At Fatima, Our Lady beckoned that we should make many sacrifices and endure penance for the salvation of souls, including our own! Forgive me Lord, for not making the most of the opportunity You gave me today. The discomfort of the Church on a hot summer's day has nothing to compare to the torments of hell.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Plenty of excuses, but no good reasons

A recent conversation with someone who doesn't practice their faith but will go to Holy Communion knowing they are not in a state of grace if they're at a wedding or funeral....

"I would only go to Communion if I were at a church were no one knows me because I think you are only making things worse with the hypocrisy."

"Let me get this straight: you'd receive Communion even though you haven't gone to confession so long as people don't know you're not in a state of grace?"


"Let me ask you this: would you ever take the Host and throw it in the gutter?"

"Of course not!"

"Well, that's what you do every time you receive Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin."


Get to confession. If you haven't been there in ages, ASK ME and I will refer you to a priest who will be happy to hear your confession and where you will not be yelled at, screamed at or thrown out of the confessional. By the same token, where do we get the notion that we're too good for a little chastisement? Our society thrives on hearing what it wants to hear, not what it needs to hear, and this is so true for many people who avoid confession but have no problem marching up to the altar to receive Jesus with clean hands and a filthy soul. C'mon people! At the heart of the reason why so many people have neglected their duties as Catholics is laziness and an over-developed self esteem. When people don't get it that they are not more important than their Creator, and the result is empty churches and more time spent in idolatry of false gods. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also! (St. Matthew, chapter 6)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Thirsting for Souls

A common theme explored by both St. Therese of Lisieux and Blessed Mother Teresa is that of Jesus suffering thirst. When He cried out "I thirst!" from His agony on the cross, human nature prompts us to associate His plea with the need for a drink (especially in this heat!). The Saints, however, knew that He thirsted for the souls of all generations and that a good deal of His suffering on that first Good Friday was the knowledge of how few would respond to His call.

What am I doing to cool His thirst?

Do I cause people to look at me and say "if that's what being a Catholic is all about, forget it!"? Or do I project enough joy that I make people at least curious about what it is I've found that has caused such a conversion in me?

Do I denigrate people who disagree with me, or do I respectfully point out the error of their thinking with love?

A story has been recounted about Mother Teresa lifting a man from the gutter in Calcutta. He spat in her face. Without losing her composure and without missing a beat, she said "OK, that was for me. Now what do you have for Jesus"? The man is reported to have converted on the spot. We never know what profound impact a simple word or gesture will have on someone else. "We must not let slip even one opportunity to sacrifice for Jesus!" cried St. Therese. "Pick up a pin from a motive of love, and you may save a soul."

Can any of us ignore the plea of a human being crying out in hunger or thirst? Then we must do no less for Jesus. If it means setting aside anger, jealousy, resentment, humiliation, all the better.

One final I felt a twinge of "oh,no" recently when a long-winded priest who was to celebrate Mass at a certain church came out of the sacristy, I thought: "Maybe someday you'll have NO priest to offer Mass and you'll rejoice at the sight of Father X". And I thought of the rich man begging for Father Abraham to allow Lazarus to dip his finger in cool water to cool his tongue. As much as Jesus thirsts for us, I should thirst for Him and take advantage of every opportunity to get to Mass and spend time with Him in Adoration. And never again should I even THINK about groaning inside about who shows up to celebrate Mass!

Thursday, July 8, 2010


I was fortunate to have the same priest for Mass two days in a row, and he expounded a bit on his sermon yesterday concerning our judgment of others. Today, he talked about how none of us has the benefit of knowing what God knows and how it does matter what decisions we make in life. We have free will, so if we're on the wrong path and headed toward disaster, God allows us to turn around. However, He doesn't make us do anything. That's up to us.

Someday, I will know whose prayers got me to make a u-turn on the road I was headed down. Until then, I owe it to that person or persons to make the most of the opportunity I have before me. That means doing everything for the glory of God and not myself and for making every sacrifice, no matter how seemingly small, for Him and for those who have not had the kind of conversion I have had.

"God does not look so much on the greatness of our acts but on the love with which we do them" - St. Therese of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Kitchen Sister

I love to eat and luckily, I also love to cook. Being home on a "Stay-cation" this week has given me some added time to experiment and prepare healthy but tasty dinners for the family. Maybe I'll even get around to posting some photos.

My favorite method of cooking is, without a doubt, grilling. I don't approve of gas grills, at least not for my personal use. The possibility of causing the propane tank to explode is something I'd rather not chance. Plus, the job of filling the tank would fall to the hubby, who has enough problems making sure there is adequate film in the camera for special occasions.

For the second day in a row, the temperatures reached 100 in Philadelphia. Since we don't live on a farm, we don't have the luxury of a summer kitchen. Back in the day (before gas stoves) the family would move the kitchen to a free-standing structure known as the summer kitchen. The purpose of the summer kitchen was to keep the house cooler for sleeping on hot July nights. Even with air conditioning, it's mind-boggling how quickly the stove-top and/or oven can heat up the house.

So, on this second scorching day, it was time to light the grill. We use wood coals on a modified kettle grill with air vents and a vented lid. The wood coals are placed in a metal chimney that has a small barrier or shelf with holes at the bottom of it. The upper portion is filled with coals, while the lower chamber is stuffed with a sheet or two of newspaper. The chimney is set upon some bricks and the newspaper is lit with a lighter. In about 10 minutes or so, you have glowing hot coals ready to be poured into your grill. And you don't have the awful smell of lighter fluid.

We have neighbors that don't like the smoke created when the chimney is lit, so my husband gives a courtesy call so they can close their windows if they choose. On a day like today, their AC was running full-blast but we still gave them a ring. I had some things that had defrosted in the fridge sooner than I'd expected, so we had pork short-ribs and a chicken I picked up from an Amish farmer at the Farmers' Market this past weekend. Both the ribs and the chicken were smothered in a barbecue rub from Frog Park Herbs, who we visit every year at the Kutztown Folk Festival. I set the chicken in a rack that is designed to hold either a roast or, upside down, several racks of ribs. This creates plenty of space between the chicken and the coals so that the skin gets nice and crispy without burning. The ribs were set on the perimeter of the coals and slow-cooked. I added a handful of applewood and hickory woodchips to the hot coals to impart a sweeter flavor to the ribs, and then added my own barbecue sauce before the taking the ribs off the grill.

On a separate but smaller kettle grill, I cooked baby Yukon gold potatoes with fresh onions and garlic. The potatoes and the garlic and onions were from a CSA we joined about a month ago. We never know what vegetables we're getting til a few days before but everything is remarkably fresh and pristine and even when I get something I'm unfamiliar with, the farmer sends a recipe. It's a good way to learn to eat more of a variety of vegetables as well as a way to directly support the family farm. More on that some other time....

I cook with the lid down, but I noticed that the fire, which was initially white-hot, had died down some, so I left the lid open for awhile to stoke up the coals. I think on a day that is so hot and humid, there simply isn't very good airflow to ventilate the coals so you have to tweak it a bit. Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, I chopped up Kirby cucumbers (or pickles), juicy red tomatoes and some green onion-tops. I added a little bit of fresh chopped cilantro and a touch of salt and olive oil and then set that aside to make its own juices. There's nothing like sopping up tomato salad in summer with Sarcone's bread. Once the tomato salad was finished, I chopped up some fresh Swiss chard and sauteed it along with the garlic we got from our CSA.

Sometimes when I'm grilling, I take out the Rosary I keep in the pocket of my apron and try to squeeze in a decade or a chaplet. Our kitchen is not air conditioned because our window unit is in the dining room so even if I don't have an opportunity to pray, I offer the sauna I'm soaking in to God in thanksgiving for His bounty.

There, But For The Grace of God.....

Yesterday, I was stunned to see the lector at Noon Mass approach the altar in a dress I can only describe as beachwear. I found it difficult to look at the woman who was doing the readings and instead turned myself in the chair so that I could hear her but not see her. What's wrong with people, I thought to myself, that they think it's ok to come to Mass dressed that way? Such disrespect for the Blessed Sacrament, I thought. I asked God to forgive me for being so judgmental and as I reflected on this later in the day, I thought how uncharitable I was to react this way.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying there isn't a wrong and a right way to dress for Mass. But I have no idea what this person's station in life is. Perhaps she is a convert to the faith and had no catechesis to teach her a respectable way to present herself at Mass. Maybe despite the way she was dressed, she's a more faithful and charitable Christian than I am. Maybe she never had parents to show her a right and a wrong way. There, but for the grace of God, go I!

How timely then, that the priest's homily today centered on all of us being called to follow Jesus and how He shook the religious establishment in His time to the core by eating with sinners and tax collecters. Father went on to explain how we are not capable of seeing "the big picture" as God does, and therefore, we should leave the judgment to Him and concern ourselves with our own spiritual well-being. Something in Matthew made Jesus call him to be one of His disciples though he was considered one of the lowest forms of life in that society. Was I much different than the skeptical and judgmental Jews who would sooner spit on Matthew than look at him when I found myself repulsed by the lector?

None of us have the ability to look into another person's heart and see what God sees. There must be something very good about a person who would brave 100 degree heat to walk to church to read. A person isn't drawn to making that kind of commitment because they're an exhibitionist and they just want to scandalize people at Mass, right? Could it be that this woman is simply in love with the Lord and has no idea how offensive her manner of dress is? In the proper time, one would hope that someone could charitably instruct her in modest dress for Mass, but until then, I need to concern myself with my own lack of charity. There's plenty I need to fix before I have the audacity to think I can instruct another.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Having Friends in High Places

This past weekend, against my better judgment, the oldest progeny decided to go on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Vermont to spend the weekend at a friend's cabin. The friend's father built the cabin with his own hands when he was in his 20's and he allows his daughter to use it on occasion with well-behaved friends. My oldest is leaving for Peru in a week, another trip she's taking against my advice, and I thought it was too much to cram so many things into a short period of time, especially since she had just spent some time in the Hamptons with another friend.

I awoke Thursday night around 1 am with a very bad feeling. Disturbed to the point where I had to get up and make sure everything was ok, I checked the caller ID to see if the Vermont police had called me. When I saw that they did not, I went back to bed but still feeling not quite right. Friday morning I got the email that a deer had run into my daughter's car on the highway and had done a lot of damage. Thank God, no one except the deer had been injured. With 2 1/2 hours of traveling to go, my daughter called the police, our insurance company and AAA and had the car towed to the nearest AAA garage. A mechanic went to work to make the car driveable again (luckily, no engine or other internal damage - and let's hear it for mechanics on the job at 1 am!) and the girls got to the cabin at 5 am. Another lesson learned the hard way.

When I saw the car with my own eyes Sunday evening, I could only repeat "thank you Jesus and Blessed Mother" to myself over and over again. An instant sooner they would have hit the deer and it may have gone through the windshield. As a nurse, I've heard horror stories of what happens to drivers and passengers unfortunate enough to have a deer catapult through their windshield. An inch more and engine damage could have been done and the car totaled. As it is, the grill is gone, the front bumper is gone and the hood is dented, but my daughter and her passengers are unscathed. I only hope they are as thankful to God as I am and realize how His paternal protection saw them through what could have been a tragedy.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

True Freedom

Happy July Fourth holiday! Our family is going to enjoy a backyard barbecue with grandparents and aunts and plenty of delicious food and dessert. While we observe this national holiday on the Sabbath this year, let's think about freedom in some ways we normally don't associate with this national holiday.

True freedom is that which is found only in Christ. Freedom from attachment to our will. Freedom from attachment to the allurements of this world. Freedom from attachment to sin and vice. Freedom from attachment to things that enslave us, whether they be tangible items that cause us to live beyond our means or ideas which prevent us from living as faithful Catholics.

If you've paid any attention at all to the news in these past few months, it does make you wonder what's happening to our world. The more God is shoved aside, the more disaster strikes, both natural and man-made. The Gulf of Mexico has undergone a catastrophic disaster caused by man's greed and lack of foresight. Working people dependent on the Gulf for their livelihood are struggling to make ends meet just a scant few years after surviving Hurricane Katrina. Sharks have been seen in the Atlantic waters in places they're not normally observed, perhaps related to having their habitats fouled by oil. Unemployment is still rampant and many who have been unable to find work will see their benefits end soon. The disaster in the Gulf will mean more jobs lost, perhaps never to be regained, and the economy will continue to suffer. Earthquakes have rattled Haiti, Chile and other places. Volcanoes have interrupted international travel. A sudden and violent thunderstorm knocked out power to our region during an especially stifling heat spell.

While we pause today to enjoy the traditions of the July Fourth holiday, let's also think about the path our world is headed down and what we individually are doing to change that perilous course.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Glorious Intercession of St. Therese

Some recent good news for those for whom the novena to St. Therese was offered.

Baby Juliet was born in May, a few days early but healthy and beautiful. Her mother struggled with infertility and a novena was offered on her behalf that, if it be God's will, she would conceive a child.

Kiki continues to do well despite a dire prognosis not very long ago and there is no sign of the cancer that was ravaging her little body.

Terri has made a remarkable recovery from her breast cancer surgery and is returning to work two weeks earlier than expected. There was no sign of cancer beyond the one tumor and all of her lymph nodes were free of the disease as well.

Sadly, I did not know that a family friend was ailing and he passed away in October, which we just found out. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Mark, who was a beautiful soul for the short time he was on this earth and who I pray is in Paradise with Jesus this very day.

Thank you, Jesus, for heeding the pleas of your servant Therese, to whom You will refuse nothing because never did she refuse You anything.

Dealing With The Witnesses

I live a block away from a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. They're very friendly, polite, always well-dressed and committed to their faith. They can also be a pain in the derriere. I admire their tenacity and the fact they wear their faith on their sleeves. They subject themselves to rejection and humiliation with a smile and a kind word. Still, how many times do I have to explain to the same people over and over again that I'm very happy in the Catholic church and have plenty to read. I've even offered to give them some books that have the imprimatur sign of approval. They're not interested.

This morning, I was on my way to First Saturday Mass at St. Rita's when I encountered a friendly couple at the corner of Broad and Federal. "Good morning, can I offer you some inspiring words from the Holy Bible?" I always feel that I should be polite but at the same time, not miss an opportunity to stand up for the One True Faith, so I answered, just as politely: "No, thank you. I'm on way to St. Rita's to get some inspired word of God and the Body of Christ." The gentleman mildly chastised me and said "You need to make sure what you're getting is really in the Bible." I kept walking in the interest of time, but I should have asked him what part of the Catholic Mass ISN'T in the Bible? People are entitled to their beliefs, but I'm entitled to mine without being badgered every Saturday morning.