Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Descent Into Hell

From An Ancient Sermon on Holy Saturday: Author Unknown

Something strange is happening - there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all”. Christ answered him: “And with your spirit”. He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light”. 

I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden. 

See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree. 

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you. 

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My Interview With CINO Chris Matthews (Imaginary, of Course)

Chris:  So,  what business is it of yours if two people who really love each other want to marry?

Me: It's none of my business what two people do in the privacy of their homes but it is my business when society decides to sell what is essentially a disordered lifestyle as something normal.  This is compounded by the fact that schools will be compelled to teach that this is something morally acceptable when in fact, it is not   in the eyes of God.  I don't want my children exposed to this kind of thinking.

Chris:  So you think the divorce rate and people shacking up together is something morally acceptable in the eyes of God?

Me: I do not, and I freely acknowledge that the laxity on these issues has opened the barn door for the horse to get out.  So (Chris interrupts)

Chris:  So you admit these things are, at least in your eyes, morally unacceptable, but I don't hear you protesting them in front of the Supreme Court.

Me:  Your argument is analogous to saying that because we didn't do anything about guns after Columbine we shouldn't do anything about them after Sandy Hook.  To use my previous euphemism, just because the horse has left the barn doesn't mean we can't lock it to prevent the rest of the herd from following.  Two wrongs don't make a right.

Chris: Who are you to say that two people of the same-sex loving each other is wrong?

Me:  My basis for whether ANYTHING is right or wrong is grounded in Jesus Christ, not that which society decides is OK.  Society has very little problem with fornication, adultery and pornography, too.

Chris:  So you're comparing two people of the same-sex who love each other to pornographers?

Me:  I've known some pornographers in my life who on the surface seemed like pretty nice people.  For all intents and purposes, they were,  but their wares do nothing to make someone a better person  or help anyone on their journey to eternity.

Chris:  I see, this is all about you shoving your religion down other people's throats.

Me: No, this is about you trying to shove your immorality down my children's throats and then decrying my right to protect them as hate speech and bias.   This is about people like you selling poison and disguising it as nectar.

Chris: What about the children of gay and lesbian couples?  Don't they have a say in this?

Me:  I'm glad you brought that up.   If you are brought up in a household which only associates with other households that are like yours, you might be inclined to believe the rest of the world lives as you do.  Children who grow up with alcoholics but only ever see children of other alcoholics could conclude that it's normal for parents to drink excessively, with all the problems inherent in that.   But let me ask you a question:  How many of those gay and lesbian parents are both biologically the parents of those kids?

Chris:  That's a ridiculous question that you know the answer to. So what you're saying is that the ability to have children is the only reason people should be permitted to marry?

Me:  While it is is the foundation of marriage according to my faith, no it is not the only reason.  But the manner in which gay and lesbians obtain children is itself a good indication of the disordered nature of their relationship, and this brings me back to other anomalies in society among heterosexual people that are treated like something normal.  Manufacturing children in test tubes, and surrogate parenthood because of the infertility of one member of a married couple is also disordered and against the natural law predestined by God.  That we have embryos sitting in deep freeze in laboratories isn't bad enough, now we have them manufactured so people for whom it is biologically IMPOSSIBLE to have children can insist that their relationship with one another is normal and then bringing children into the world through non-conventional means is their right.   Some couples are infertile because one or both members have a broken system, if you will, for which reproduction is difficult to impossible.  With two members of the same-sex, reproduction is ALWAYS going to be impossible, and that physical impossibility is the basis for why same-sex marriage is impossible.  With heterosexuals the possibility at least exists.

Chris:  I'm sitting here listening to this come out of your mouth and I have to tell you it's frightening to me that there are people like you in the world.

Me:  I'm sitting here listening to you and I have to tell you I find it astounding that you call yourself Catholic yet know so shockingly little about your own faith.

Chris:  Do you think you can speak for God on this issue?  Do you really think so long as two people love each other and are productive members of society, that God condemns them?

Me: It is not for me to say who is and who isn't condemned.  It is for me to make my relationship with God the most important relationship I have.  My faith tells me it would be most displeasing to Him if I decided to take up with my neighbor because he is more attractive than my husband.  My faith tells me  it would be most displeasing to Him  if I engaged in self-gratification whenever the urge struck.  My faith tells me it would be most displeasing to Him if I married over and over again.  My faith tells me it would be most displeasing to Him if I made anything or anyone more important than Him in my life.  And I'm not going to apologize to you or anyone else for that, because I'm sick of the way people like you have twisted every moral issue in our society to your own benefit while completely disregarding God.  People like you, who incidentally call themselves Catholic, have sold society on the notion that killing your own offspring is normal.   Now you want to persuade us that two people of the same-sex fornicating, if you can call it that, is normal and that I'm a hateful person because I see it as disordered.  Let me ask you a question.  If someone in your family was drinking themselves to death, would you intervene, or would you say: "It's none of my business, his drinking isn't hurting me any?"

Chris:  Wow, now you're comparing being a drunk to gays and lesbians wanting to marry.  All I can say is how shocked I am.

Me:  I asked you a question, would you intervene if someone you know, whose life has no bearing on yours, was doing something to destroy himself?   If your neighbor decided to jump off a building, and you could possibly talk him out of it, would you say: "Oh, well, it's his business if he wants to kill himself, his death isn't going to affect me" or would you at least make an effort?

Chris:  What could someone physically destroying themselves possibly  have to do with gay marriage?

Me:  Same-sex sexual relationships are as destructive to the soul, and sometimes even the body, as drinking one's self to death or hurling one's self off a building.  You know, once again, I go back to the fact that you often brag on this show that you are a Catholic.  If you belong to the Church, you belong to the Mystical Body of Christ, and what hurts one of us hurts all of us.  My prayer for you Chris is that you realize this and get off this collision course you're on with imperiling your soul and others who listen to you.

Chris:  You're a hateful dangerous person and I don't know how you live with yourself.

Me:  No, I am someone who knows that love is a choice, not a feeling, and sometimes love is tough, like having to watch a child receive a painful injection to protect them against a disease, or cutting a child off financially because they're spending their money on drugs.  I'll stick with my definition of love and marriage and pray  for your conversion.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

He Looks on His Accusers With Compassion

As I was sitting in the ER with my knuckle-head son in the early hours of the day, a sympathetic nurse came in and handed me the remote to the television.  "You're going to be here for awhile, you know, so in case you want to watch the boob-tube, help yourself."  My son, who does not function on as many cylinders as the rest of us and doesn't have a mean bone in his body, was asleep thanks to the morphine, his face swollen and distorted.   I had sent my husband home with instructions to be alert for "the call" that we would be ready to come home and resigned myself to spending some time in a busy, noisy trauma center.

I've been around hospitals long enough to know that we were looking at least at an 8-hour visit, so I pulled out my Magnificat for Holy Week and started reading.  I was mesmerized by Caracci's The Mocking of Christ, which was accompanied by a beautiful meditation.  Without even reading the explanation of the painting, I was struck by the contrast between Christ's expression and that of His persecutors.  Even after being subjected to an inhumane beating, He looks at His torturers with love and compassion.  To me it's as if He's saying "Oh, if you only knew!"

If you have the Magnificat for Holy Week I urge you to take a look.  And if you don't, allow yourself to be lost in this exquisite portrait of the suffering Christ and gain the strength you need to carry your particular cross fortified by contemplating His Passion.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pray for our Beloved Holy Fathers

It should be clear to anyone who watched the video or saw the photographs from the meeting at Castel Gondolfo that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is in markedly different health than he was when he announced his resignation from the papacy.  The white quilted coat over his cassock, worn even indoors; the tenuous gait assisted by a cane; the obvious change in his posture - all reveal an almost shockingly frail man and hopefully go to convince the conspiracy theorists that his failing health was certainly the reason for his decision to step down.   The affection he and Pope Francis have for one another will hopefully quiet the Vatican fashionistas who pay an alarming bit of attention to the newly-elected pontiff's every wardrobe detail but shockingly little to his resemblance of the Christ Who charged us with caring for the sick, the poor, the imprisoned.  One of the busy-bodies at Rorate asks: "Did anyone else notice that Pope Francis wasn't wearing (fill in the blank)? "   Why, no, I didn't, I was too busy paying attention to the bittersweet beauty of the current pope greeting the former and kneeling with him in prayer.  I was so struck by how youthful a 76-year-old man suddenly became next to the older and more fragile Pope Emeritus that I scarcely noticed anything else.

My prayer is that this meeting today will soften the hearts of the kill-joys at least to the extent that they will keep their mean-spirited observations to themselves.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Charles Untz Anniversary

I was remiss in mentioning that yesterday was the anniversary of the passing of this extraordinary soul from this life to the next.  You can read about Charles here or you can visit the page set up in his memory by his family here.  I have recommended several intentions to Charles' intercession.  I will continue to do so regardless of whether or not the Vatican takes up his cause for sainthood.

Charles, please pray for us that we may love Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary as you did when you walked on this earth.  Intercede for us that God may grant us the necessary graces to serve Him in this life so that we may be happy with Him in the next.  Ask Him to grant the favors we beg of Him through you if they are for our greater good and in conformity with His Holy Will.   We promise to make known your favor for the greater glory of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Are We Poor Enough?

Well,  when one of the fashion editors of the Philadelphia Inquirer weighs in on the new pope, you knew it had to happen.

Out - Majesty and grandeur

In  -  Bare threads and simplicity

Okay, so that's not exactly what one fashionista said, but in so many words, she kind of did.  I have to tell you that I don't know who's worse - the PETA person who wrote a letter yesterday extolling the virtues of St Francis as an animal lover and who expressed hope that now God's four-legged creatures would get the respect they deserve.  (Not a word about the babies Kermitt Gosnell butchered (his trial opened this week) - nope, not one.)  Or the rad-trad who trashed the new pope because of the color of  his wardrobe under his cassock and his so-called sloppy appearance.  Same alley, different street when you think about it.

We are going to be hearing a lot about poverty, but what does it really mean?  Things are a bit precarious in our household these days because my job has gone by the wayside and my husband's livelihood requires two good arms, a bit of a problem when you need not one but two total shoulder replacements.  With the wedding coming fast and furiously, this didn't happen at an ideal time, at least not to the ordinary thinking person on the street.  To me, the timing could not have been better.  Why?

Well, for one thing, I can now assist at a properly-offered Novus Ordo each day and at least for the time-being, will not be subjected to Improv at the Altar.  I can get to Adoration every day, too and I have a choice of several chapels at which to do it.  I don't have to rush from the dinner table (that was wreaking havoc on my system, believe me) to evening Mass because now I have the choice to go in the morning.  I can keep my house in the kind of order I like and I can prepare an evening meal that my family looks forward to eating, with leftovers for school lunches.  I can go to the market in the morning, listen to beautiful Gregorian chant while I go about my work in the house, and I can feed the birds and walk the dogs.

These should not be luxuries in life, but to me, they are, because I've only ever had rare glimpses of them.

Also, I can't help but think of the timing as fortuitous so far as the election of Pope Francis was concerned.  I didn't have to find out about it via text message or clandestine computer screen at work.  I could watch it from the comfort of my living room, and then have the time and the ability to go before the Blessed Sacrament and offer prayers for the new pontiff.

Most of all, I am able to spend these final days of Lent as I like.  When I was working, it seemed almost assured that I would not be able to sign up for a single Holy Hour at my parish's Forty Hours Devotion.  Then, just like that, I was free to fill in all the hours no one else wanted. Just me and the Lord in a beautiful but empty Church save for Him and me.   Now, when I go to Adoration every day (and when I often find Him all alone) I am not so pressed for time that I have to pray for someone to come in a relieve me.  If no one else comes in, I have nowhere pressing to be except right there, in front of Him.

I have never prayed so much in my life, I don't think, nor have I had as many intentions for which to pray.

My son, who was not blessed with all 4 cylinders like the rest of us, will ask me for money every Friday, and every Friday I've had to tell him there is none.  Kids don't like to hear that sort of thing.

"You have none?  What do you mean you have none? Can't you just take some out of the ATM?"

I explained that I am conserving what money we do have for necessities, just in case this "hiatus" turns into something more lengthy.

The other day I caught the youngest counting her cash under the  covers.

"What are you doing?"

"Just seeing how much I have, in case we really are poor.  Are we poor?"

This is when I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry.  How do people with running water, functioning electricity, cable, internet, gas heat, a roof over their heads and a hot meal every night have the nerve to think they are poor?

I pat her on the head and tell her she has no idea what poverty really looks like. "You should never mistake frugality for poverty," I tell her. "Our dogs eat better than many people in this world."

I believe this bit of misfortune, if you can call it that, was directed by the Hand of God. Here are just some of the reasons why:

1.  For some time now, He has been calling me to a different kind of life, but one which has been hampered by my profession.  Now, it seems He has forced my hand to try a different approach.  And I think He knew I desperately  needed a rest.  When you contract one illness after another and have to drag yourself to work, it could be your body is trying to tell you that enough is enough and it's time to make some serious changes.

2.  He wants me to take account of my life and see all the extraneous matter that is bogging me down, even though I don't realize it is.  Mind you, I wear a winter coat that has reached its 20th birthday and have a minimal wardrobe that causes my oldest, a stunning beauty in her own right, to cringe. ( "Please, STOP trying to look like a nun". She has no idea.)  No, it's not the clothes to which I refer, it's the other stuff - the cell phones, the take-out meals, shopping at Whole Foods or Trader Joes instead of someplace cheaper, taking country rides and burning gas, owning two cars when with a little bit of strategy we could get away with owning one - those are the extraneous things of which I'm speaking.

3. He really wants me to think about how the way I've spent the last 8 years of my career have taken a toll on my health and my marriage.  Whether you manage a CVS, a 5-star restaurant, or an operating room the way I have these past years, the stress is the same - you are responsible for everything and everybody and expected to be available all the time, no matter what.  That is no way for a mother and wife to live.  Why didn't I realize that and do something about it sooner?  Better late than never, He says.  Now is the time to act.

4. Why is my cross so heavy anymore, and why does it seem to get heavier?  With amazing clarity, before Him in His Monstrance I clearly understood: I have not just been carrying my cross, I have been carrying my spouse's cross as well.   The result is that I'm dragging both of them.  And this has not helped my spouse to spiritually progress.  This break in the work action has afforded me more time to spend with my spouse and to see some things I had overlooked, like how alarmingly bad his memory is and what he does during the day when no one is around.  I'm not exactly playing drill sergeant but I am holding him to a more healthy regimen, for both of us as well as our marriage.

5. Lack of sleep combined with the frustration of limited time for daily Mass and prayer and a job that was  demanding nearly 60 hours of my time each week was also taking a toll on my marriage and my relationship with my kids.   Last week, my son, in his inimitable style, said to me: "Mom, how come since you're not working anymore your face is prettier?"  Good question, son.

6.  I didn't form the best foundation for my marriage and my family by taking on so much of the load.   When  I first got married, my mother-in-law, God rest her soul, pulled me aside and told me: "You do too much for your husband.  Don't make the mistake I did.  Let him figure some things out for himself or you'll be doing everything for him, including the things that are his to do."  How I wish I had listened harder.  On Monday, I accompanied my husband to a medical appointment and was appalled at how he floundered with even the most basic things, like signing in for registration, etc.  I have a prayer book to St. Raphael that I often like to read and one of the meditations has to do with a man and a woman each having their own role in a marriage, and how if the wife takes on that which is the domain of the husband,  she will soon find herself doing his job and hers.  This is not good for either one of them, and I know this first-hand.  Like the laborers who arrive late to the vineyard, there is still time to reverse course.

7.  I like to believe that as much as I missed Him, Jesus missed me even more.  While I know He was always with me, it's not the same as  being able to sit with Him in adoration.  Maybe, just maybe, the message here is that my most important work that I can do right now is pray and that it's time to find a way to pay the bills around that commitment.

8.  Finally, I think the message is that as much as I think I lean heavily on God, I still rely too much on myself to progress and not enough on Him.  When you are brought low, you sometimes have no choice.  You are left devoid of pride in even the simplest things.  And you learn what a nothing you really are and that whatever worth you do have is rooted solely in Him.

Anyway, the election of Pope Francis, with his love for the poor and his affinity for simplicity and humility, could not have come at a better time for me.  I was thinking back to the movie The Nun's Story when Sister Luke is confronted with having to give up the pen to which she is so attached.  I was trying to think if I owned anything to which I was so attached and I couldn't think of a single thing.  No reason to pat myself on the back because in the "poor in spirit" category, I would get an F.  Before Mass even began yesterday, I committed at least 3 sins against charity. I was provoked, to be sure, but if I can't even sit through Mass without a sin in thought, word or deed, I have serious work to do.

So, the next time one of my kids asks me "are we poor?"  I think my answer should be this:

We are not poor enough

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Word About Comments

Dear Readers,

Thank you so much for leaving comments. I know it's a pain that  I leave comment moderation on, but believe me, it's for good reason.  I love the exchange that comments permit us to have but please know that I would hate for anyone to feel obligated to leave one.  Please don't ever feel that way when you visit here because I would write what I write anyway, with or without commentary from my dear readers.

In an effort to spend less time on blogs and the computer in general, I allocate less than I formerly did to reading so I don't always see a post when you first publish it.  I, too, in recognition of the generosity of my readers and as part of the desire to have an exchange, like to leave comments for you as well.  Just know I don't always get around to it as quickly as I'd like.

The most important thing we can do for one another is pray, and I never fail to do that for you.  I know that you do the same for me.  So please, if you are pressed for time or just not moved to say much, do NOT feel obligated to write anything.  Your prayers are what's most important to me anyway as well as the knowledge that you love Our Lord as much as I do.

And let us not cease to pray for our Holy Father Pope Francis.
God bless us all!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Glorious St. Joseph

Prayer to Saint Joseph Before Mass

O Blessed Joseph, happy man, to whom it was given not only to see and to hear that God Whom many kings longed to see, and saw not, to hear, and heard not; but also to carry Him in your arms, to embrace Him, to clothe Him, and guard and defend Him.

V Pray for us, O Blessed Joseph.
R That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

O God, Who has given us a royal priesthood, we beseech Thee, that as Blessed Joseph was found worthy to touch with his hands, and to bear in his arms, Thy only-begotten Son, born of the Virgin Mary, so may we be made fit, by cleanness of heart and blamelessness of life, to minister at Thy holy altar; may we, this day, with reverent devotion partake of the Sacred Body and Blood of Your Only-begotten Son, and may we in the world to come be accounted worthy of receiving an everlasting reward. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Roman Missal

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Humble Prayer Request

May I ask all of you who are so inclined to please pray for an urgent personal intention for me? I would be so grateful if you could ask St. Joseph to intercede on my behalf.  Thank you and God bless you and know that I pray daily for your intentions as well.

Note to Followers of This Blog

I do my best to try to reciprocate and visit other blogs, if not daily, at least once or twice weekly.  However, certain blogs just don't seem to want to open for me when I click on them, so I apologize to their administrators for not popping in and/or commenting more often.  Unfortunately, I don't seem to be able to get The Jarrow Scriptorium to open at all, and Totus Tuus Family has been giving me fits of late as well. It probably has something to do with my ancient laptop.  If anyone else has had this issue with these two very fine blogs, please let me know.  Or, if you know how I can correct this problem, drop me a line as well.

Thank you and God bless you!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Whited Sepulchres

Given the nastiness going on in at what should be a joyous and prayerful time in our church, I thought we could all use a little reminder.   One wishes the Cardinal Mahonys and Rorate Caelis alike would zip it already.  Go here to see the reminder to which I refer.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Wide Phylacteries

Some people are apparently not happy with the simplicity of dress Pope Francis has chosen in the first days of his pontificate.  They are pining for the days of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI,  disappointed that the new Holy Father has not worn the heavy stole, etc etc.  A few are ready to dismiss his papacy because he has not appropriated the regalia and adornment to which he is entitled as Supreme Pontiff.

Truth be told, I love the Traditional Latin Mass.  But my world is not going to come crashing down without the magna cappa or the fanon.  My  faith in the God Who humbled Himself to share our humanity tells me that in the end,  these things will have had no bearing on my salvation or anyone else's for that matter.

Watching Pope Francis and listening to him speak, one thing is clear:  We may never see the papal tiara upon his head, but we have already seen the mantle of humility on his shoulders.  His humble and unassuming way and his embrace of the outcasts of society are not well-staged  photo ops.  They are visible indications to us that he has heeded Christ's call to feed the hungry, visit the sick, and so on.   His choice of papal title alone speaks volumes about how he will comport himself throughout his pontificate.

When I heard what name he chose, I thought back to my childhood, and being asked what name I wanted for Confirmation.  I tried to imagine the reaction of the cardinals when he announced his choice to them, and wondered if they were as touched as I was.

 I think Pope Francis talks the talk and walks the walk.  Get in line behind him or get out of the way.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Trads Gone Wild, But Not Everywhere, Thank God

Last night, I had to get off the computer lest one more diatribe of hatred and ridicule toward our new pope cause me to sin.  A traditional blog I link to, but will probably drop from the roll, went so far as to refer to our new pontiff as a mule, but in far less polite terms.  My youngest, reading such trash over my shoulder, remarked that this was as bad as the other extreme of the church that clamors for women's ordination and a wink and a nod at mortal sin.

Truth be told, I was hesitant to log on to the blogosphere today but I'm glad I did, because Father Z said what needed to be said in a way that only a man as gifted as he can.   Father MacDonald over at Southern Orders also had a brief but pointed reminder of the value of liturgy that is long on tradition but short on love.  Those of you who  have thrown some pretty uncharitable tantrums since the election of Pope Francis would do well to go read both of them.

Would I have preferred a pope with a known inclination toward the Extraordinary Form? I cannot tell a lie.  Of course I would have, but I am a sinful, weak human being who too often would rather see my own will be done than that of my Father in Heaven.  I have seen nothing but gentleness and humility in Pope Francis and I   feel assured that he won't compromise on the intrinsic teachings of the faith.  In the meantime, I still have a TLM to attend every Sunday and an orthodox pastor who offers a liturgically correct, valid and most reverent Novus Ordo each day.

For the love of God and all that is sacred, give Pope Francis a chance before you hang the crepe of mourning on your balcony or, worse yet,  disparage and ridicule the Vicar of Christ before he's even installed.

BTW, I just love that the Mass of Installation will take place on the Feast of the Spouse of the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, the foster-father of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

That's all.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

NLM on Pope Francis

One of the more interesting takes on the man we now know as Pope Francis.   You can read it here.

God Bless Pope Francis

What If?

In some more conservative circles there is genuine concern that Cardinal Sean O'Malley or Cardinal Timothy Dolan  really might be elected Pope.  I have shamelessly voiced my opinion that I would love to see Cardinal Raymond Burke elected, but if that doesn't happen, who am I to complain or criticize?  Electing a Pope isn't like electing a president or picking the winning contestant in a beauty pageant, so believe me when I tell you that I should slap my own wrist for even thinking about who I'd like to see succeed Papa Ratzinger.  Still, if we accept all that our faith teaches, we accept the decision of the Conclave of Cardinals and believe that it was directed by the workings of the Holy Spirit. Don't we?

So, what if a cardinal who has been the on the receiving end of a constant wave of criticism is elected?  Does the criticism come to an end?  Do we presume to know better than the Holy Spirit?  Or do we pick and choose which Popes we think were elected by the work of the Spirit and those elected, God forbid, by an infiltration of the Enemy?

Part of me would like to see a Pope who talks softly and carries a big stick, someone who won't mince words and will drive the heretics from the Church the way Christ drove the mercenaries from the Temple.  The other part of me thinks there are an awful lot of souls that need saving, and yielding a whip might not be the answer to leading a greater number of them to salvation. 

It seems to me that perhaps the greatest injustice we can commit is to give up on souls who appear to have wandered off the narrow path.  Would the world come to an end if either of the men I mentioned above are elected to be the Vicar of Christ?  

It will end one day.  How many souls will be grasped from the jaws of Hell before it does?

I don't have an answer, I'm just thinking out loud and would enjoy hearing your thoughts as well.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Look at Him

Note to self:

Look at Him, the Divine Prisoner of Love Who awaits you in His gilded prison.  There is no need for anything else at this time.  Leave aside your sadness, your worry, your anxiety, your anger, your disappointment, your resentment, your jealousy, your desire for revenge.  Forget about your shortcomings, your failures, your misery,  your falling down over and over again.  Look only at Him and consider the love with which He welcomes you, poor and miserable as you are.

Do not look at your neighbor, though he may be causing a distraction. Do not concern yourself with the dress or behavior of others. Do not look around the church to see who you can see or who you may be seen by - simply look at Him and allow His unfathomable love to penetrate your heart so that it may become more like His.  If you would fix your gaze upon Him steadily, you would not be mindful of the faults of others.  You would not even be conscious of your own faults, of which He is well aware for he needs no reminders from you about your sinfulness.  If you want to know what He does about your sins, simply look up at the Crucifix.  The Master has no need or want of your self-flagellation.  He desires only your love,  which you cannot give fully give Him until you have left yourself behind.

You will not have left yourself behind so long as you call attention to yourself.  Reminding Him of your faults or your strengths is one and the same: a preoccupation with yourself.   When you have learned to forget yourself, only then might you be ready to accept all and any trial He wills to send you.  Only when you have emptied yourself of all self-attachment will  you be a vessel capable of accepting His Graces. Without His Graces, you will continue to wallow in self-pity, stalled along the path of spiritual progress and destined to repeat the same errors over and over again.

Once you let go of all of you stubbornly cling to,  you might finally discover your soul, which finds its life in Him and Him alone.  You will rejoice at every injury, every slight, every unkind word or deed.  You will delight in being deprived of even that which you think you can not live without.   You will discover a joy known by His saints, who plead your case to the Master without you even knowing it.  You will begin to know what it means to love Him for Who He is and not for what He will reward you with if you follow His precepts.

So, when you enter into His Presence, look at Him, and do not divert your eyes.  Your eyes are the window to your soul, and if you constantly shift them from one distraction to another, how can your soul progress?  Fix your gaze upon the Divine Prisoner of Love and He will do all.  And when you must finally take leave of Him, go forth doing the same for others - loving as you are loved.

End of note to self

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Carmelite Inspiration and More

It is amazing to me how God's grace works through those we encounter in life.  I confess that I don't get to read all of my favorite blogs on a daily basis, but it always seems that just when I need it, I'll find a gem like this one that I would swear was written just for me.  Theresa does not accept comments so I hope she won't mind me posting the link here and saying how much I love this series she has been posting from time to time.

Last night, I found this little gem on Caroline's blog and it, too, seemed so to speak to me, just when I seemed to need it most.

My life is somewhat upside down as we speak but while there is the constant threat of anxiety, there is also peace.  As another favorite blogger told me, it seems that it is at times like this that God does some major work on our behalf and helps us reshape our lives so that they are better directed toward Him.

A life that does not have Christ at its center is not a life well-lived.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Giving Alms When You Are Strapped for Cash

I often hear people fret about giving alms during Lent.  This is a tough economy, which is hopefully getting better, and I know that many people are hurting.  But we can still give alms without ever reaching into our pockets.  We have only to reach into our hearts and offer prayers for those who need them.

It would be a most generous act of charity and mercy to offer any indulgences you might gain during Lent for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.  For instance, you can gain a plenary indulgence during any Friday in Lent by the usual conditions if you pray the Stations of the Cross and then pray the Prayer Before the Crucifix.  I can't think of a greater sacrifice than to take something which would benefit ourselves and instead offer it for a soul thirsting for God in the flames of Purgatory.

In your charity, may I please ask you to pray for the repose of the soul of my dear friend's father?  He passed away peacefully today a few minutes past Noon with his loving family at his bedside.  My friend had spent nearly every night this week in vigil at her father's bedside and we communicated in the wee hours via text.  My friend has kept me afloat these past months with her prayers and encouragement as I have feebly endured some trials and she was the inspiration behind the Rosary prayer group.  I would be so grateful if you could keep her and her family in your prayers at this time.

I would also beg your prayers for me to know what God's will is for me in my life.  It is always so hard for me to know. Sometimes, I believe He wants me to pick up what I think is a heavy cross, and then when it's too late, I realize it wasn't what He wanted at all.  I know that what doesn't kill us can make us stronger, but I just want to make sure I'm doing the right thing by the Lord.  I thank you.

If anyone has any prayer intentions that they would like the Rosary group (or just those who visit the blog occasionally) to pray for, you are invited to post your intentions in the comments.  If you have an urgent prayer request but wish to remain anonymous, just say so and I won't publish the comment.  As a healthcare professional, I have lots of experience protecting the privacy of patients and I will do the same for anyone who needs our prayers but requires anonymity as well.

Thank you and God bless you!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Yes, Father, There Really Is Black and White When It Comes To Sin

Father, you know who you are.   What you did and said today wasn't very nice.

When you have a captive audience who are expecting a homily but instead get your diatribe on traditionalists, it's pretty brave to stand up there and ridicule.  How many people will go to Heaven because of your homily today?  Essentially, you told us that there is "no black and white" and no Biblical basis for mortal sin.  You stopped just short of calling traditional Catholics Pharisees.

I have a feeling I know why you are so angry.  You know that the College of Cardinals is stacked against the likelihood of choosing a Pope who will tell us that so long as we don't hurt anyone's feelings, anything goes and everything is OK.  Women's ordination, same-sex marriage fornication.  All the things the moral relativists you hold up as "thinking people" embrace.

That tradition you poked fun of today,  abstaining from meat on Fridays?  It's more than just tradition.  It's called Canon Law.  Not even the Spirit of Vatican II, which you so heartily embrace, could overturn it.  I'm surprised you didn't pick on women wearing veils, but perhaps you're saving that one for another day, eh?

Speaking of Vatican II, have you noticed what happened when "thinking people" like yourself took liberties with the Mass, morality and just about everything else?  The pews emptied, divorce became rampant, babies started piling up in medical-waste containers and America proceeded down a path of moral decay that could rival Sodom and Gomorrah.

Yes, there are traditionalists who are hypocrites, just as there are liberals and progressives who are as well.  You know the kind I'm talking about, don't you?  The sort of Catholic who is rightly outraged about gun violence but who turns a blind eye toward the scourge of abortion?

So my dear Reverend Father, before you decide to compare Catholics who are faithful to the Magisterium to Pharisees again, please think twice.  The path we follow will never lead anyone to Hell.  We're just too polite to interrupt your homily tantrum about the next Pope to tell you that.

If you'd like to see what real sanctity looks like, go here.  This is what our faith is about.  And works without it will not get anyone into Heaven.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Giving Up for Lent

I work with a group of what I'll call immature Catholics.  For them, Lent seems to be all about chocolate and sweets.  The non-Catholics also get into the act.

"Tell Joyce what you gave up for Lent".

 If I hear that again, I may very well scream.

If I were to tell you how many of these chocolate-starved folks go to Mass or know anything at all about their faith, you would be revolted.  Cultural Catholics most of them, like so many others in the world.

 I understand now why some more learned Catholics than I think that giving up chocolate and other sweets is child's play.  If that's the extent of sacrifice and effort, the point has been missed.

As soon as I resolve to do anything, particularly if I resolve to do so publicly, I have already lost the battle.  I don't know the reason for it but it's true, so what I resolve to do from now on is simply give up altogether.  Give up the focus on myself and what I want and what makes me happy.  Give up any resolution of doing this thing or that for Lent.  Give up declaring what my latest spiritual endeavor will be.  Simply give up, and let Christ take over as He sees fit.

Once again borrowing from the Little Flower, that might be a kind word when none presents itself, appearing interested in someone or something that bores me to tears, an act of kindness where one might be least expected.   It might involve my spouse, and not the street person who comes up to me on the corner and then fades back into oblivion after an exchange of alms.

I need to live Lent minute by minute and, in imitation of St Therese, not let too many of them pass "without a single loving thought of God."  And not dwell on the falls so much as the getting back up again.

Friday, March 1, 2013


Sorry I haven't been responding to comments/posting entries much this week.  I have the sinus infection from H  - - - and finally gave in to it and stayed home today, which my body was practically begging me to do all week.  If you've ever seen the Snickers commercials where irritable people morph into whiny comedians or volatile movie stars (like Joe Pesci) you have some idea of what it's been like for everyone around me this week.  Yesterday, someone at work who is obviously oblivious to social cues hounded me the entire day until I nearly shrieked at her to please cease complaining to me.  When someone is pasty white, clammy, and eyeing the trash can as a good receptacle in which to heave, it should be apparent that they're not in the best shape to listen to a litany of complaints, etc.

This isn't how I planned to spend the second week of Lent but it is what it is.  I will be in touch when I rejoin the human race, hopefully soon.  Thanks for your patience and prayers.