Thursday, December 26, 2013

About Those Catholics....

It's been years since I went to a Christmas morning mass. I prefer one of the masses offered on the Eve and usually the one with where a traditional choir sings. The other Christmas Eve mass is the one they call the children's mass with contemporary music...but I shan't go into that right now because the visions I have dancing in my head concerning children's masses are not of sugar plums.

Normally on Christmas Eve all is planned and that includes mass but this year things turned out a bit different making it impossible for me to attend until the Christmas morning. We had last minute changes in plans for the Eve but no matter, as long as I was able to attend mass on Christmas morning I could go with the flow.

It was apparent that most parishioners had gone to mass the night before since the pews were more empty than not at the 10 A.M. mass. There were many unfamiliar faces at the mass and sometimes it's too easy to see these people as Catholics who only go to mass on Christmas and Easter. Were they all CE Catholics? I have no idea and quite simply I don't even know if any of them were CE Catholics at all. One thing I noticed about a lot of the strange faces is that they were sitting alone in the pew with no one around them. I include myself in this. Without going into it, I have been attending mass by myself for several years now. I wish it wasn't so but it is.

The priest mentioned at the start of his homily that he was very pleased that we had taken the time out of our morning to see the importance of celebrating the birth of our Savior by our attendance at mass. When I looked around again and saw those people sitting alone a thought came to me. Yes, some Catholics only attend Christmas and Easter masses without bothering with all the other Sundays and Holy Days of the year, yet if some of the strange faces I saw this morning were CE Catholics then something didn't make sense.

Why did they bother coming if they were in fact CEC's? They were sitting alone with strangers around them so there was no one to impress with their attendance. Obviously attending mass on Christmas wasn't a family tradition for them since they had no family member sitting with them. They could have told their families they were going to mass and skipped out for an hour to go have breakfast and return home pretending to have been a good dooby by going to mass. Could it be we assume to much by what we see without knowing the full story?

It became obvious to me that these solitary worshipers were probably not the CEC's I assumed they were, since someone else seeing me alone in the pew could have come to the same conclusion that Christmas mass would be my last mass until Easter and it would not have been true. Yes, we sat alone and worshiped with strangers that morning because we made worshiping God in the Eucharist a priority, the priority this morning. As I said, they and myself included were not there impressing anyone with our Christmas attendance for no one would have known otherwise if we had not come. Did we all attend mass every Sunday? I have no idea but one thing I found is that they deemed it important enough to be there that morning.

Perhaps this was the day they decided to turn over a new leaf of repentance by attending mass. Perhaps it was the last vestige, the last thread from their conscience telling them to come. Perhaps they were there alone because they were visiting family and friends for Christmas and they made a point of seeking out a parish to make sure they attended mass even if no one came with them as part of their Christmas celebration as practicing Catholics. The point is we don't know their whole story and should give them the benefit of the doubt. Yes, we all know CEC's and yes, we see them going up to communion, but assuming that most of the ones we do not recognize, especially at Christmas mass, are CEC's is not being charitable. As a matter of fact we should all be kneeling there beating our breasts asking God to "...have mercy on me Lord, a sinner." instead of assuming the worse of those around us. 



Sunday, December 22, 2013

Shopping for Christmas and Being Pleasantly Surpised

Like many others I found myself at the department store this weekend looking to buy some gifts for the family. It was so packed with people that I considered turning around and going back home before I even parked the car. I think I lost three pounds just walking from my parking space to the store entrance just from the distance. This was my third stop of the day on my shopping excursion and my last. I walked around erratically about the store with no clue as to what to get anyone. Once in a while I would eye an equally lost shopper and our gazes would meet and acknowledge silently our futile attempts to find that perfect gift. We would smile a bit and shake our heads as we continued forging new ground in the hunt.

I expected to be jostled around carelessly in this throng of people as someone reached for this and that unaware that someone was at their elbow. Not this time. People seemed to be more considerate of those around them this year so as not to be offensive in act or word. Actually the shoppers seemed subdued, not with the fatigue of shopping, but from some underlying feeling that things were different this year. I can't put my finger on it as to why it seemed like this, but it was.

More often than not a 'Merry Christmas' was heard from one shopper to the next. I helped one woman get an item she could not reach and as we parted she said 'Happy Holidays' to me and I replied with a smile 'Happy Holy Days'. She looked at me for a moment and replied 'Merry Christmas', also with a grand smile. This was turning out to be a day I hadn't expected. No frenzy, no dour faces and above all a seeming gentleness towards other shoppers.

I've made a point of saying Merry Christmas to people even if they wish me Happy Holidays and I find that there is a kind of sigh of relief when they hear it and repeat it to me, especially if they are employees of the department store. I'm sure they've been made aware to wish people a Happy Holiday rather than Merry Christmas for fear of offending shoppers. Maybe that's it. Perhaps people are tired, but not from the shopping but the fear of offending others with their own belief and celebration of Christmas.

I look at it this way. People are offended by all kinds of things, legitimate or not, and I will not let my life be controlled by overly sensitive people simply because they do not believe as I do. If in wishing someone Merry Christmas I encounter someone who tells me that they do not believe in Christmas I have a ready answer. I will tell them that I DO believe in Christmas and what it means to me and I wish them the peace that I have found in this celebration of His birth. If they are still offended by that then there is nothing I could ever say that will please them. I move on.

If we are to evangelize then Christmas shopping is the perfect place to start. After all, we are buying gifts not just to reciprocate with another for buying one for us but to represent the gift of His son to us and this ultimate gift can be given to others with a kind act or word said with a smile. We are being coerced to keep silent in our faith. That is the PC thing to do we are told. God tells us to go out and teach all nations. He never said it would be easy or that we would have an attentive audience but just go out and teach the Good News. I did that yesterday.

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How Much Trust Did We Place In The Holy Spirit?

Last spring I posted here , a warning of sorts for all Catholics who were highly critical of Francis the new Pope. At the time I sensed a lot of anger and bewilderment over Pope Benedict's abdication of the Seat of Peter and much of this anger seemed to had spilled out and targeted the new Pope Francis. All undeserved in my opinion. There were rash judgements and condemnations of the new pope that made me squirm so uncomfortably as a practicing Catholic. Many traditionists were quick to write and blog their resentment and made no bones about what they saw in Francis. In a nutshell some of us loved the new Pope Francis. Others, such as myself, eyed and listened in quiet concern at some of the things he did and said while making no judgements about him, but keeping a wary and discerning ear to the ground. And others, to whom my warning went out to, were ready to hang him from the highest pulpit for being a liberal cleric.

My questions to all of us and in particular, to the less than diplomatic critics who in my opinion disrespected not only Pope Francis the person, but the very head of the Church who now sits on the Seat of Peter itself with their bombastic, kneejerk criticisms are these: Did you not trust the Holy Spirit to protect our Church? Do you still not trust the Holy Spirit to keep us safe in allowing Francis to be elevated to his office, or even perhaps personally choosing Francis Himself?

What is it about the "powers of hell shall never prevail" do you not understand? We've had bad popes and anti-popes before. How many of them officially changed Church doctrine and allowed errors to enter the Church? How many? Why did you or do you continually vilify this Pope? I'm sure that all of you who are so knowledgeable would have been a shoe in and fully trained in being a pope of over one billion Catholics in just a couple of days correct? The man could not even begin get his sea legs under him as leader of our great Catholic Church and people were ready to keel haul him. This man Francis who is Pope has said things in the last several weeks to even a few days ago that does not sound even remotedly heretical as some of you critics proclaim but extremely orthodox in nature to our Faith. Why did you not give him time to adjust, exercise patience and even a bit of humility before slinging your arrows at him?

Are we now going to hear any apologies or are those beneath you? Oh Ye of little faith. If Francis turns out to be the bad man you've made him out to be, then deal with it. If the Spirit saw fit to allow him to be Pope, then we deserved it and it is part of our healing. If you were all wrong about this man what say you then? Why don't you trust the Holy Spirit to do what our Lord has promised?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Miracle In This Culture of Death

Yesterday morning I received a text from my eldest son. It was 4:50 A.M. and all the text said was, "Up?". Immediately I shot off a reply telling him yes, I was awake but also asking him "Whats wrong???". It was too early in the morning to receive such a text with having some concern as to why he would be texting me at that hour.  Of course all kinds of scenarios, mostly bad, were working through my mind as I awaited his reply. It came in short order. His wife was about to give birth. This is not unusual in itself but she was a month early! His texts came in a staccato like fashion, unable to write out full sentences because of the time limitations he had between letting me know what was going on and being there for his wife.

In that second text, he not only told me about the imminent birth but with the request of one thing: pray. I replied that of course I would and told him when he was able to, to send me an update. For an hour I waited for the news when it finally came. It was a boy. He was healthy as the dickens with no complications and Mama was doing just fine though exhausted. I thanked him for the information and asked him to call me when he had the chance later that morning.

I've had 5 children so a birth is something I am very familiar with but at the news of my new grandson I felt my eyes welling with tears off and on for the next hour or so. It wasn't because this new life was my son's first, or even that it was my fourth grandchild that caused my eyes to tear up though that would be very normal for me in these cirucumstances. No, it was something else that brought these tears of joy.

It was the fact that in this world where human lives are so easily snuffed out especially for the unborn, a new life was allowed to emerge. Though I never thought my son and daughter-in law would ever abort their unborn child the choice had been given to them and sanctioned by the government. To them, choosing anything but life never entered their minds, but to many others having the right to choose to kill their own unborn child  is sacrosanct. The government says so. The government gave them that right.

I hear much about how a decision to abort is heart rendering for a woman and I've always wondered why it would be so if the unborn were only a mass of tissue as they are told and not a little human baby. A person. No. It is heart rendering for many because they know, deep down, even when they are told differently by a medical "professional", what it is they are killing. Terminating. Snuffing out. They know.

Today my daughter-in law is holding her little bundle of tissue and loving it more than her own life. Giving birth to a new life is more of a miracle today in this battlefield we find ourselves in than it ever was. God touched my family yesterday morning at 6 A.M. and I thank Him for that.


Monday, June 10, 2013

What did St.Joseph think about?


I've not had much inspiration to blog for a few weeks. Oh, I've got more than enough to write about but the things going through my mind lately with all the news (mostly bad), scandals rocking D.C. and the perilous position our Freedom of Religion seems to find itself in sickens me. I've let other bloggers do the job of posting their thoughts on these issues because what I would write would not be positive nor helpful.

So what I thought I would do is post about my hobby of furniture building. To be honest, I've not had much time in building anything lately but now I've got the itch. It's come back. I think my next project will be a pantry for the kitchen. I've wanted one for such a long time to put my canned and dry goods in and free up some space in my kitchen cabinets. Besides, the cabinet shelves have always been too high for me. You see, I'm like Zacchaeus. I would have to climb a tree to see Jesus coming down the road just as he did. Which brings me to St. Joseph. Just for kicks I've asked myself if St. Joseph would have blogged if he had had the chance as well as being a woodworker. Personally I don't think he would . Blogging takes time and woodworking takes time, but unlike me St. Joseph built things to earn a living and support his family.

Did he speak his mind? Was he a passionate man in matters that affected him and his family? Yes he was and Egypt was an instant of that passion to protect but I would think he went the opposite way as far as expressing himself. I sense that he was a quiet man, always in thought and with a deep faith and confidence that God would look after his family. I do know that while building a piece of furniture it frees your mind as your hands move to do their work. You think of all kinds of things, profound things and that's where I think St. Joseph found himself. It is there God would speak to him. St. Joseph experienced strange and marvelous things once he was betrothed to his little love: Mary. So...

What is it like to create something from scratch and see it grow from an idea to reality? Very satisfying. I can see God looking at his creation and saying, "It is good." With this in mind, I will share with you pieces that I felt very satisfied with at their completion. Enough so that I can say "It is good."

The above piece is a kitchen island that my son had me build for his wife for Christmas one year. He gave me the dimensions that he wanted and the colors he thought would go well with their decor. This is what she got.

Below is a wine cabinet that again I built for my son at his request. It was actually one of the very first pieces of furniture that I ever built on my own.

Next up are two buffets that are very similar except for the legs, a few changes to the doors, and the interior shelving which unfortunately cannot be seen in these two pics.



I don't build built-in kitchen cabinets nor do I install them, but I do build free standing cabinets for kitchens such as the ones below that I built for a customer. They owned a Victorian house with a lot of bead board wainscoting and wanted two custom made bottom cabinets to match the bead board. They supplied the counter tops. The cabinet on the right is interesting in that I built a trash receptical in the unit. This was my first. I checked out Home Depot's cabinets to get an idea of how to go about it. It's not a very good picture but then again, I'm not a very good photographer :)



Here is the toy box I built for my grandson Drake. It has the safety hinges so the top doesn't slam shut on his wee finners. I forgot to take a pic after it was finished but here it is unfinished just to get an idea.


When my oldest daughter got married all she asked for was a cabinet similar to the one pictured below but with out the images on the doors.


This next picture is what the final product looked like. I had a piece of antique pine board that I used for the top. It is exquisite. Antique pine is totally dry, free from all resin and holds a stain like nothing else. It came out so rich that I almost kept it for myself! I also "antiqued" the hinges to give them a more authentic, old, country style. You can see the "antiqued" hinge compared to another piece of hardware that is brand new. Funny what a propane torch and flux will do to shiny stuff eh?




Tuesday, April 23, 2013

In My Room

This is a song by the Beach Boys that was written in the sixties I believe and it's a song I always loved because of the melody. It was so slow, harmonizing and just soothing to listen to. I never gave lyrics much thought in my youth because as a guitar player I was always listening to the instruments and the music itself, but  then I found this a few weeks ago. Here are the lyrics for In My Room.

Songwriters: MARTIN, ERIC WILLIAM / USHER, GARY L. / WILSON, BRIAN / GAYLE, MICHELLE PATRICIA
There's a world where I can go
And tell my secrets to
In my room
In my room

In this world I lock out
All my worries and my fears
In my room
In my room

Do my dreaming and my scheming lie awake and pray
Do my crying and my sighing laugh at yesterday

Now it's dark and I'm alone
But I won't be afraid
In my room

God speaks to us in so many ways. When this song was written it was during a tumultuous time in our world, where authority was questioned, religious as well as traditional secular institutions were rejected and it was the beginning of what I would call societal chaos and I believe the end result is what we are witnessing today and with more to come. When looking over these lyrics for In My Room, I began to wonder if God was speaking to us, the younger generation through this song, telling us to be careful and not to despair for what was to come. We all have our 'little rooms' where we go to be alone with Him and think things through. How better for God to reach the younger generation than through one of the most popular bands of the time? Just sayin' .

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Want To Be A Liberal? Learn The Lingo

Now I know some of you may be closet liberals and really want to come out and live life as your true selves yet you don't know how to project yourselves so you sound convincing to others that have already liberated themselves. Don't worry. With a little practice and an expansion of your vocabulary to include certain liberal "isms" you too can pretend to sound as if you care about others more than those rascally conservatives. The good thing is, you don't have to try hard at all.You don't even have to like people. The trick is to sound as if you do care when you really don't. It's all in the speech. An array of different colored ribbons to wear on your lapel wouldn't hurt either and they will probably make you a shoe in. So are you ready for your new bad self? Alrighty! Get crackin'!

Diversity-   Doesn't matter if it concerns vegetable matter, animals or people. When you use this word liberally hahaha, sorry no pun intended, it makes you appear open-minded and that you are willing to include everything and anything into your little circle of life. Of course you don't really have to include anyone or anything into your life. Just say diversity often enough and this word alone will convince many. Christians are automatically expelled as a diverse group so don't worry about people misunderstanding your use of diversity.

Go Green - It no longer means a color only but includes an array of pagan religious beliefs that shows you care about Mother Gaia more than that Neanderthalic imbecile next door who insists on polluting your own backyard with the noxious smoke from his bbq while searing the meat from an unfortunate animal that suffered needlessly to satisfy his savage appetite for flesh. It also will include you in that prestigious company of U.N. climatologists that almost convinced the world that global warming and the world's destruction was at hand; that is until a denier hacked into their computer files and exposed the lies and unscientific methods they used to come up with falsified data. I know it sounds unethical, but we're talking man-made global warming here! Drastic measures have to be used at times, even lying to convince some people of the truth!

Victim - Remember. EVERYONE is a victim whether they know it or not. Use this word often also. No one likes to hear of someone being a victim and you win the sympathy of many with this one. Once in a while you may come up against someone who insist he or she is not a victim of anything, but with a little elbow grease and research you will most likely find a connection between your intended victim and Big Oil or Big Pharma. That makes them a victim whether they like to admit it or not. You win. They lose. You have your victim.

Hero - This word was used in yesteryear to described an ordinary person performing an extraordinary act of bravery at the risk of his or her own life for the sake of another life. No more. Why should the word hero be designated only to a certain few individuals that are special? Everyone is special today so everyone can share the claim of hero. When you visit your bakery, call your baker a hero for providing the staff of life. He'll feel good about himself. That's the goal. To feel good about yourself. See that lineman climbing the phone pole? Call him a hero too for making it possible for people to communicate with each other worldwide, creating a smaller and more loving world. He'll probably tighten the connection on your wires with an extra twist. Don't however, call anyone connected with Big Oil or Big Pharma a hero, or a rich person for that matter. You run the risk of exposing yourself as a fake liberal. That! you don't want to do. The goal here is to pretend to your liberal friends that you have not slipped over to the dark side.

Closure - This is always a good one to use. It gives you the cover that you are a profound thinker that received his wisdom in Tibet from some 500 year old hermit. Use closure in this manner:

Victim: "I can't believe how no one cares about separating their trash to save the earth! I mean come on!"
You:     "I understand (nod a lot) but not all people are as enlightened as we are. Give them time. Patience is
             is key here my friend."
Victim: " I know, but how can I live like this knowing we are about to die while my wife put that Pepsi can
              in with the newspapers?? She just doesn't care. I'm getting a divorce.
You:       "Wise decision and then find some counseling that will help you find the peace and the closure
                that you so richly deserve."

Got that? Good. Practice makes perfect.

The Extremist - Oh baby. This word will make you the sweetheart of the ball.  You know the person that annoys you to no end? Just call him an extremist. You don't have to say why he is an extremist or of what, just say it, and make sure you call him that in front of other liberals. This is important. For added measure, use the full term of Extreme Right Winger and watch your annoying little man being shunned by the others in quick order. Goal? Getting rid of that annoying little man. Done

Hateful - This is a good word to use in a debate that you are quickly losing. Pick the right moment and when the person disagrees with your position again call them hateful for not being sensitive. Watch them cower in the corner. Call them an hateful extremist and chances are they'll fall and curl up in a fetal position sucking their thumb. You win the debate. See how easy it is especially when you use your imagination and combine two liberal "isms"?

Judgmental - Another one of those "isms" that will stop a debater dead in his tracks. It won't matter if the other person is right of course, your goal here is to win the argument and destroy your debater in the process. This word is ESPECIALLY  effective on Catholics. (see below)

Catholic - This is especially a good name to call someone at a dull and boring party. Mingle around, see if you recognize someone that is Catholic and call him out. Say something like "Hey Dave! Aren't you a Catholic?" Chances are he will admit he's Catholic, especially if he is a practicing Catholic and watch the party explode in laughter. The ridicule and one liners towards the Catholic will liven up a party toot sweet. Again, you'll be the sweetheart of the ball.

These few liberal "isms" will get you started on your road to liberation. Once you're known as a liberal and your friends invite you over more often, just listen as they talk and you'll pick up a few more isms. It's easy and training in ethics nor superior intelligence is required. You just seem that way to your new friends. 










Monday, April 8, 2013

Going Beyond Grudges and Laying Them To Rest

Probably one of the most difficult things to deal with in life are grudges that we hold against another person and the ones they hold against us. However difficult they may be we seem to be able to justify the grudges we hold and not even see them as such, after all we aren't the ones who initiated this feud, in fact it was the other person who did or said such and such a thing against us! We are only defending ourselves aren't we? Are we suppose to allow others to ride rough shod over us or make our life miserable? After everything we've done for them and they do this to us or bad mouth us?

We do seem justified in holding grudges against someone though we may not see it as that. We think ourselves better than that. We tell ourselves, "See? I've not said one bad thing to them even after what they did to me." Right. The reason I've not said anything bad is because I haven't said anything to them at all! I've avoided them, shunned them and pretended they didn't exist. That isn't releasing a grudge but masking it into the unrecognizable so that even we don't see it for what it is anymore.

We go merrily along in life and one day memories flood back about a certain person we had a grudge against and the bottom falls out of our own self-deception. We roll back the tape and begin recalling conversations or arguments we've had with them, or see so clearly the things they did to us that initiated the grudge that we supposedly let go in the first place. Then, within those memories we begin to make up "conversations" with this other person and most times than not, the script that we give to the other person is worse than the original offense. We continue to imagine conversations that never existed and let ourselves feel even more justified in believing that it was the other persons fault to begin with. We feed on it. We eat from this trough of newly imagined offenses until our hearts become so bloated that any affection or love that we held for this person seems to be squeezed out. As one person said to me recently, it is a sick way to live. I agree.

We take pleasure in grudges. Yet, it is a perverted pleasure that is self-destructive. Why should I give in first? Why should I let them think they are right and I am wrong? Pride rears its ugly head once again.Our pride hates having to give in first, to lead the way in righting a wrong especially if we've been wronged.
Reconcile? Sure, if they apologize first. If every time we are wronged we wait for the other person to apologize before reconciling, then most times we'll have a long wait. Grudges can become so entrenched within our hearts that vengeance against the offending person starts to creep in. It doesn't have to mean a physical retaliation but even a sort of yearning that one day they will regret it. One day they'll be sorry for what they did to us and if not in this life then in the next one.  Wow. Do we understand those implications? Really understand? If we allow our grudge to get to that point, what we are basically saying is "Yep, next stop hell for them." or some major, painful purging in purgatory.

If there was anyone that could have justified holding a grudge it was Christ. He was human as well as divine. We know he was tempted in the desert. Satan also tempted him through Peter which prompted the reply, "Get thee behind me Satan!" from Christ. Can  you imagine what played through His mind as he was on His death march to Golgotha? Can you just imagine Satan's little whisper of a voice inside our Lord's head saying,  

"Why bother with these ingrates? Are they really worth your life? Your going to die an excruciating death and for what? Them? THEY are the ones that offended. THEY are the ones that should be punished not you. You know that don't you? Do you really think they'll appreciate what it is you are doing for them never mind understand? You know they'll continue to offend your father so why let them off the hook? You've done nothing to offend these people and look at what they are about to do to you. Do it some other way. Wait til they are sorry and ask for forgiveness. You realize how weak you'll look to them if you die as a common criminal?"

As was said, Christ is a man with feelings we all share, the same emotions, the same temptations that we have. Yet what did he do? He set aside what ever he may have felt or had been tempted to feel and continued to do the will of His father. He went through the motions despite the emotions.

When memories flood back and we think uncharitable thoughts of a person who may have wronged us it becomes easier and easier to have these bad thoughts about someone if we do not fight them as soon as they enter our minds. It is practiced behavior and with practice comes perfection. However, the opposite is true also. Once at confession I told my priest of these thoughts that kept coming back and how difficult it was for me to fight them off. I had confessed my grudge a long time ago and in order to make amends for having held this grudge was to have a Mass said for this person. They had died a few years earlier and there was no way I could now reconcile with them. I prayed for them and still do yet the memories, the conversations kept coming and never relented. I kept fighting them off and many times to no avail.

The priest told me that memories can be a blessing or a curse. We were given memories and within them are good and bad things. He suggested that when past offenses done by another show themselves in our memories, we need to think of the other person in terms of love. To do things in terms of love and to say things in the same way. It is so very hard to do, yet as I wrote above where it becomes easier and easier to think badly of someone when we allow ourselves this so called luxury, the reverse is also true. The more and more we try to think of the other person in terms of love it then becomes a learned behavior  and it becomes easier to love. We may never rid ourselves completely of uncharitable thoughts, but we can keep from dwelling on them with thoughts of love. Though we may feel as hypocrites at first, we need to set that aside as Christ did and go through the motions despite the emotions.

You go through the motions despite the emotions. You do what you know is right despite what you feel at the time. Grudges play heavily on our emotions and if we let them control our lives and the love we should have towards someone then we lose. And if we continue to hold a grudge against someone who is no longer here...we lose big time. 













Sunday, March 31, 2013

Did Pope Francis Really Provide Justification For Progressive Catholics?

There seems to be a big concern of Pope Francis' seeming disregard of rubrics, or the bending of the rules at least, and that it will justify the thoughts or actions of those that never held laws or rubrics in high regard to begin with. The fear is that those with a liberal bent or who have a mentality of dissension against Church laws and rubrics will be disposed to say, "See? If the Pope can do it so can I." and feel that they too, can continue to disregard the guidelines and laws of the Church as they have done so in the past. The Pope being what he is, the leader of a billion or so Catholics, does have a great influence over the faithful and should serve as a model of Catholic fidelity and obedience to what has been set forth in the past by the Church, with this I will agree to a point.

Patrick Archbold of the Creative Minority Report posted his concerns of this problem here   and I want to say from the outset that his concern does not seem to be a knee-jerk reaction to this controversy regarding the Pope's washing of women's feet on Holy Thursday. Generally, I've always enjoyed reading his blog and this time, on this subject, it is no different though I do not entirely agree with his fears. His article also provides a link to Father Z and Dr. Edward Peters who discuss the questionable validity of what Pope Francis did. Archbold does not attempt to answer whether the Pope broke the law concerning his actions on Holy Thursday leaving it to the two aforementioned to explain all of that, but he does voice his concern for the example that the Pope may be setting for Catholics.

Archbold examines two camps of thought concerning Church law and rubric and how they are or may be perceived by what he calls the popular mindset. I can only take his definition of "popular mindset" as meaning liberals or progressives within the Church. If I am wrong correct me please. What follows is how he believes the Pope's actions are being framed by them:
If you think that law and rubrics are there for a reason, the reason being the order and good of the Church and the faithful, and you are troubled about the violations then you are part of the problem. You are one of the inwardly focused people that the Pope is trying wrest the Church back from. If you think that law, rubrics, and tradition matter, you are the other--you are the problem. You are not humble and simple like the Pope. You are the past.

This is a no-brainer. This is classic, progressive mind-vomit that we've heard for decades. In other words tradition is bad and those that hold to tradition are dinosaurs that need to succumb to extinction, allowing for a new species of ideas to evolve. The old suppresses the human spirit while new, progressive thought seeks to unshackle and free the oppressed spirit from the big, bad Church and her out of touch doctrines and laws. Archbold continues with his analysis:

If, on the other hand, law, rubrics, and majesty in the worship of God have never been your thing, then life is good. The Pope, by example if not by word, is validating your worldview. You have never really cared about such things and have often violated them. The Pope has just shown that, as you always suspected, these things don't really matter, that things like law, rubrics, and majesty hinder evangelization and are simply the products of an inwardly focused Church. You are part of future Church.
 
 The following line is the crux of it all and why I am not as fearful as some are concerning the Pope's actions.
 You have never really cared about such things and have often violated them.
Through out human history there have always been people predisposed to doing things that are contrary to acceptable behavior or indifferent as to laws guiding society. No matter what example a leader sets, in this case Pope Francis, people will do things their own way whether the example shown is right and just or wrong and evil. They have their own moral guidelines which they see as superseding all others and set their course in life accordingly without regard to whether their own guidelines are skewed by a selective thought process. The Gospel story of the woman caught in adultery is a perfect  example of what I mean. Everyone agrees that Jesus is merciful and that his mercy was shown to the woman who was presented to Him as an adulteress that according to the Law of Moses, should be stoned to death for her sin. The conclusion of this story was that the Pharisees could not condemn her without exposing their own sin and Jesus also did not condemn her but showed his mercy towards her, sending her off with the admonition of "go, and sin  no more." 

Those with a selective thought process only see our Lords mercy and dismiss his warning of "sin no more" because to them the sin doesn't matter even if she continues in this sin. The only thing that matters to them is their perception of mercy and the lack of being judged by Jesus. Continuing in sin does not matter to them and if one points it out they are being judgmental.  As a matter of fact they will ignore that last line of sin no more as if it isn't pertinent to the story. Using this process they are able to ignore rules or rubrics if you will and merrily continue down their own path fully justified in their minds.

We will never be entirely sure, unless he tells us his reasons, why the Pope thought it more important to place the washing of the women's feet over the rubrics, but I can guarantee you this. His reasons will not be the same as those people that Archbold think will feel justified by the Pope. Those that have always violated the rules  do not and will not need justification. How many popes before Francis washed a woman's feet? None that I know of, yet did their example of following the rubrics stop other priests and bishops from washing the feet of women? Nope. They did what THEY felt was right in their own minds and they will continue to do so no matter what example is set for them.

Patrick concludes with this: highlight is mine.

[Note. I love the Pope and want him to succeed. I think renewed focus on the poor is wonderful and I support it wholeheartedly. But I do not accept, as some would have you believe, that law, rubrics, and tradition must be thrown overboard to achieve this renewed focus on the poor. I don't think the Pope supports this either, but I fear some of his actions give encouragement to those who do]
I wouldn't  go as far as Archbold when he says  that law, rubrics, tradition are being thrown overboard. As I wrote earlier I believe the Pope had his own reasons for doing what he did,  and I also do not believe he would support a wholesale disregard of laws and rubrics, though in this case he did so for reasons known only to him. We live in troubled  times in our faith or lack thereof and the Pope is fully aware of this. He had a lesson to teach Catholics with the washing of the women's feet and we need to try to understand it. I believe he was fully aware of the controversy he would initiate by bending the rules as he did but he obviously thought the lesson was more important than the rule this time. Rule breaking will encourage others to break the rules? Nah, they are already breaking the rules when they want. They never needed encouragement from anyone except those of their ilk.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Some Of Us Are On Thin Ice Regarding Pope Francis

Okay. This isn't going to be pretty. As a matter of fact I may have to schedule an appointment for the Sacrament of Reconciliation by the time I post this. Now, I've come to expect the MSM and secular society to try and decimate the Pope and the Catholic Church every chance they have. They will try to sow the seeds of controversy where there is none and where there is a legitimate beef such as the recent clerical sex scandals, they will continue resurrecting the same stories over and over again trying to convince their readership that nothing has changed with the Church. Fine. The destruction of the Catholic Church is their agenda. We know this, we see it, we've experienced it and we should expect it from them. We also know that dissidents within the Church also have their own agenda and that is to re-create the Catholic Church into their own image. It is not hidden or done in secret. It is blatant and there for all to see. Again, we should expect it from these people. They've never disappointed us on that score.

Since the elevation of Pope Francis we've seen praise and criticism from the above detractors. They are still not sure what to expect from this pope and many are treading lightly with the criticisms and praising him for his simplicity as they see it. Don't worry, the praise won't be there for long and their onslaught of hate filled criticism for the Pope and the Catholic Church will be coming. They will not disappoint for they are consistent in this manner if nothing else.

However, what has me peeved with a heavy dose of anger thrown in for good measure is the way Pope Francis has been attacked, criticized, though in veiled attempts at times, by those purporting to be faithful Catholics. I read all the time how Catholics should be faithful and loyal to the Pope and the Magisterium if they consider themselves true Catholics. So what happened fellow Catholics? Wasn't the Holy Spirit's influence in the last conclave good enough for you ?  Are you still ticked off that Benedict stepped down and that Pope Francis is now playing second fiddle as far as you're concerned? Is there ANYTHING Francis will do that will seem good and right to you?

News flash people: Benedict was not Francis and Francis is not Benedict. We have all been created as unique individuals with our own God given gifts, gifts to be shared amongst each other, and other gifts given that only God knows we possess. To expect each and everyone of us to be exactly the same is not only unfair but unjust. Pope Francis is not a clone of Benedict so get over it. I too love Benedict and was saddened to see him step down, but now another had to take his place and he has; Pope Francis. Are you now going to tell me that the Holy Spirit dropped the ball on this one? Really?? Are your criticisms however veiled, against Francis or against the Holy Spirit who chose or allowed this pope to be elected? Which is it? Did you ever think that possibly the Holy Spirit chose this pope for the good of the Church, or allowed his election, good or bad, because we deserve it and need to have our faith tested?

I've read the blogs and the comments that follow whenever the Pope seems to even THINK of doing something that some believe will set whatever reforms Benedict wanted to initiate back a million years. They are disgusting. They are vile. They are unworthy of any Catholic to utter and certainly not fair to this new Pope. This papacy is still in its embryonic stage and already we are trying to abort its mission? Come on!

Are we the  new Israelites that grumbled against Moses everytime something was not to their liking? Some of the blogs and comments have become a soapbox for a bunch of baby waaaa waaaas, whining and complaining about Pope Francis' every move. It seems that even if he hasn't done anything to stir controversy some are already warning him before hand: "Don't even think it!!" Do some of you think the conclave elected and resurrected a new Borgia??

Black shoes, red shoes, traditional vestments, plain white vestments, women's feet, men's feet, feet, feet feet!...and the list goes on, and concerning Holy Thursday and the washing of women's feet: what part of our Lords model of serving one another did the Pope destroy that day? I read a comment by someone complaining there were not enough Catholics having their feet washed by the Pope. Really?? Did they ever think that perhaps it was because he meant it as a lesson to CATHOLICS? A lesson in humility and how to treat others that are different than we are? Someone washed our Lords feet one time with tears and poured expensive perfume on him and was roundly criticized....by Judas. Careful people. Oh yes....he disregarded the rules when he washed the women's feet...as Jesus and his disciples did when they plucked grains of wheat to eat on the Sabbath? "But the Sabbath was made for man not the other way around!" Yes that's true...so I ask again, what part of our Lords model of serving one another did the Pope destroy on Holy Thursday?

Look at what our current Pope has to deal with today: Forty years of abuse of the true spirit of Vatican II by malcontents. JPII and Benedict XVI fought this abuse also in their own way. Now it's Pope Francis' turn and already we've given him an 'F' on a test that he hasn't even taken yet. Yes, we've had forty years of wandering in the desert, but make no mistake, many of us are also responsible for what we are reaping today. Sure, many clerics contributed to it, but how many of us screamed bloody murder to our bishops and priest forty, thirty even twenty years ago that this be stopped? How many of us prayed daily for our priests and bishops? How many us had Masses said for them in the last forty years? More importantly, how many of us just went along for the ride until recently?  So in the last ten years or so, we've finally seen the light and have said enough of this abuse. We washed our hands and cleaned our fingernails, scrubbed behind our ears and now we are pure and white as the wind driven snow. So pure and so righteous that we know better than the popes and we've earned our right to criticize them. Him. Francis. Seems to me that Peter had it easier when he was admonished by Paul, than Francis has today with bloggers and comments.

Agree or disagree with him, either way he is still our Pope. This time however, the shepherd's own loyal flock has turned against him. We've stepped out on thin ice this time people with our open criticisms of the Holy Father, Pope Francis. Our Church is ridiculed to no end by the world and we are going to provide more fodder for their ridicule by this bickering and back biting from supposedly faithful Catholics?

I have only one warning for us pewsitters. Be careful. Be very careful in our criticisms of the Pope and carefully examine our reasons for them for as Gamaliel said in Acts paraphrased; Take care you don't find yourselves fighting against the Holy Spirit as well as our Pope Francis.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Shroud of Turin: Yes or No?

One day during my high school years a friend and I went to the home of another of our classmates to listen to music and just hang out. It was there that for the first time I saw a poster of Christ's face hanging on his wall in the bedroom. It wasn't the ordinary, artist's rendering of Christ's image that caught my attention for I had seen many pictures of Christ before, but something totally different. It was black and white and very crude for the lack of a better word, but also it looked like a photograph. It was years later that I found out just what this image was, or where it came from. It was the image that was taken of the Shroud of Turin by a photographer, and as I researched more about this shroud I realized that many had come to believe it was the burial cloth of Christ. Just as an aside, my classmate did not have this poster hanging in his room because he was a believer. He, as well as many of us in those years, had picked up this poster only because it looked 'cool'. It hung on his wall among other posters of Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Winter, The Doors and the like.

The more I read about the Shroud of Turin the more I began to wonder of its authenticity or lack thereof. Most of the theories about the image and its history started weighing heavily in favor that it was the real thing, at least for me and for many others as I found out in my research. Questions as to its origin, how the image got there, why it was actually a negative image instead of the positive that any artist would have rendered, how it could have been done without pigment, and the piece de resistance, how the image was actually rendered as a 3D image really got me thinking  about what it was I was actually looking at. I know it depicts a man who was flogged and crucified as Jesus was and its history seemed to indicate that it originated from the 1st century, but was I really looking at the face of the crucified Christ? Could it be possible?

Then in 1978 scientific tests were done by a team of international scientists to determine its age with carbon 14 dating. The results were in: the cloth was determined to be no more than about 800 years old. In other words, it could not have originated from 1st century Israel, and it began to be seen as more of a medieval hoax than anything else. Yet, despite these tests the big question was still unanswered. How did this image come to be? Photographic, negative images were not known 800 years ago, yet here it was, unknown of its negative qualities until the 'positive image' of a photograph had been taken. There was absolutely nothing to indicate how a man or woman could have created this image with the techniques known during medieval times or...in our time. Yes, there is speculation, but nothing concrete. Scientist just don't know how it happened.

Now it seems that a new discovery has been made. I've known of a study conducted a few years back that determined the pieces of cloth on which the carbon 14 dating had been done had actually been rewoven in order to repair damage to the shroud during the Middle Ages. Within the test pieces were cotton fibers from medieval times interwoven in the cloth that now has scientists wondering how skewed the carbon 14 tests in 1978 actually were.

Though I never really committed myself in fully believing or denying that the Shroud of Turin is the burial cloth of Christ, the results of the 1978 testing left me a bit disappointed but certainly not in despair. I have to be honest. I wanted the shroud  to be real. I wanted to believe that I actually looked into the face of Jesus when I saw the photograph on my classmates bedroom wall,  the image of this man who had been tortured to death on a cross. I know what the testing concluded, yet there was something within me that still believed that it was authentic despite what science said.

I am a faithful Catholic and contrary to popular beliefs about Catholics, I have no problems with science except its insistence by some scientists that God had nothing to do with the universe as we have come to understand it and the belief that science has license and the ability to change life down to its genetic level for reasons contrary to what God intended, I believe is a grave error.  Other than that I love what science teaches us about our world and all its different facets. With that being said I know that scientists can err. Scientific tests are conducted by humans and the results are interpreted by humans and humans make mistakes. Were the results of 1978 an error on the part of scientists? No, I don't believe so for they tested a piece of the shroud as they wanted and in a scientific manner with more than one scientist present, but if their carbon 14 tests were done on material that was not part of the original cloth, then as the new studies attempt to show, the cloth's origin is again up in the air.

Again, in being honest, I am more than elated with the prospect that the shroud could again be the cloth that was wrapped around Christ's body after the crucifixion in preparation for his burial. Though science may prove the cloth is indeed 2000 years old and from the area around Jerusalem what will it do for my faith? It still won't prove that the image is of Christ. It could be the image of someone else, but with everything taken into consideration as to how the image came to be, its provenance and if finally the cloth is proven to be from the time and place of Christ's crucifixion, to me at least, it would give me another physical connection to the object of my faith.

The Catholic Church holds many relics in its possession that helps us in our faith and it is possible that the Shroud of Turin is one of those true relics. At least Pope Benedict thought it was authentic. I have not dismissed its authenticity out of hand. In fact, I've come to believe more and more that the picture of the man I saw on my classmates bedroom wall is the actual face of Jesus.

What if it's all a wash? What if there is conclusive proof that it could not be nor could it ever have been the shroud to cover Jesus? What will it do to my faith? The answer to that is nothing. Nothing at all. The faith I hold in God will continue and hopefully continue to increase as it always has. The object of my faith does not lie in a shroud of death, but in the Author of Life.




Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Church in Decline

If one is to believe the MSM, the Catholic Church's heyday has come and has already gone. She is now in her death throes along with her ability to influence people with her moral stances that contradict those of the world. The Truths of the past that she continues to teach is so out of step with our changing times that it makes one wonder how she could have survived this long. According to the secular world, her inability or desire to change and accept that the world view on abortion, homosexual acts, euthanasia, contraceptives, women's ordination etc., have now become good and necessary things in the fight for human rights in the world, makes the Catholic Church's death or insignificance in the world only that much more painful for her.

It may come as a surprise to many practicing Catholics that we are now experiencing  her death spiral. Yes, many defy her teachings on abortion, contraceptives and gay unions erroneously called marriages, but history has taught us that the world's defiance of the Truth has been part and parcel of its war against the Church and against God in general. Why would it be any different in our age? Many think that because of the sexual abuse scandals, the Church has lost all authority and integrity as a moral agent in this world, hence, the world would be better off without the Catholic Church. If this is true, then we need to bring this thought to its logical conclusion, that is, since thousands of public school children have been sexually abused by teachers, principals, teachers aids, volunteers and coaches, then we should also eliminate the Dept. of Education and close our public schools. Makes sense doesn't it?

Attacks against the Catholic Church and its faithful are nothing new, yet if we are so backwards, so out of touch, homophobics, and  misogynists why bother with us? Why expend so much time and energy attacking us through legislation, persecution, ridicule and the like if the Church's moral influence is waning as we are told it is? This is the equivalence of kicking someone that is already down on the ground with no prospect of being able to get back up. So why bother?

Indeed why bother. First of all the Church may be experiencing worldwide persecution on an alarming level, but that doesn't mean her demise is imminent. What it does mean is that the Church's mission and message resonates with many and it scares the hell out of secularists. In some parts of the world, Catholics and Christians in general are being martyred for their faith, while in the more "civilized" industrialized west a subtle and not so subtle agenda is being promoted. Martyrdom is a messy business for many elites of the west, so other methods of attacking the Church are employed such as silencing her through legislative means, public repudiations and ridiculing her for her teachings on morality. But again. why bother shooting an already dead horse?

The dirty little secret is that the Church is far from being dead. Ill maybe, but not dead by any means nor is it ready to die. Despite the MSM's claims, the Catholic Church is very influential and the secularists know it. The Catholic Church IS the moral voice of the world, its conscience, and the only way to rid the world of this little "voice" is to eliminate the one with the voice: The Catholic Church. Yet, in their ignorance they unwittingly give voice to the Church, an institution that is presumably out of touch.

Look at the media coverage of the elevation of Pope Francis. The media was besides itself in covering every angle possible of this event. They dug deep into Vatican protocol, rooted out the most probable candidates for pope, declared almost assuredly who would be pope, and those that weren't as sure of the victor, tried to influence the outcome by telling us who they thought would be best to lead our Church in today's world. That would be like the fox telling the farmer which chicken should be guarding the coop. The media scraped every corner of the world in their search for a Catholic commentator so as to give them credence in their coverage of the papal election. Yet despite their best efforts to influence the conclave, the Holy Spirit again confounded the media in giving us Francis.

In their total ignorance of how the Catholic Church works and what role the Holy Spirit and the Pope plays in all of this, they sought to influence the public view by telling the unsuspecting what kind of man the Pope should be if the Church was to survive. Why should they be concerned with its survival at all? The Pope can only uphold and defend the Truths that the Church has taught for two thousand years. He has no power to change any of that, no matter who he is. That is the ignorance of the secular world.    And all the secular speculation of how Pope Francis will pan out as head of the Church is enough to make one vomit. That's a lot of news coverage of an event in the Catholic Church, a church they already view as a corpse isn't it?

Why is it so important to feminists and homosexual activists that the Church change her teachings? We are nothing in their eyes or is she more important than they care to admit?  The MSM, feminists, homosexuals and the heretics within the Church want, nay, need the Church to change her views to theirs in order to justify their lifestyles. They know that is the only way to validate their defiant voices.

As I said earlier, the Church is no stranger to outside persecution and she knows how to deal with it. Our two greatest enemies are the "dictatorship of moral relativism" and the heretics within our walls. No, neither one will be the end of the Catholic Church though she is greatly weakened by them. The Church is here to stay and stay she will, continuing with her mission of saving souls until the second coming of her founder: Jesus Christ, the son of the ever-living God.

Oh yes, the Catholic Church is a big deal to these people otherwise we would be left alone. We better be ready for the onslaught of persecution and prosecution that is coming. The line between the world and the Church has been clear for ages, but the lines between the defiant and the faithful in the Church, though murky at times are now absolutely clear for anyone with eyes to see. See you on the other side.










Saturday, February 23, 2013

My Wretchedness and the Litany of the Saints

I mentioned to a good friend of mine that once again we would be hearing and praying the Litany of the Saints on the Easter Vigil and how I loved it so much. She said that she also had a fondness for it and had just watched it on You Tube recently, so I went to the site and opened one of the videos containing the Litany. This was during a Mass of ordination. Here

There has to be something seriously wrong with me. The cantor had just barely started invoking the saints when the tears came. I just.could.not.stop.them. I felt so small, so insignificant, so wretched, yet at the same time I felt overwhelmingly loved by God and the hosts of heaven to whom the Litany was directing its prayer to. It is this love that brought the tears. There is only so much love that I can take at one time without losing it and this was it.

Think about this; All those Saints to whom we pray, who are at our beck and call to aid us in the worst of circumstances are just waiting to help us. God gave them to US! That is the love God has for us. He allows Himself to be swayed by the prayers of his heavenly saints that held on to their faith and love of God through their time on earth. The simple point is, no matter how alone we feel in all that is swirling around us, how frustrating it is, how so desperate times may seem we have friends in heaven that have gone through exactly what we are going through and are begging us to ask them for their aid. That is the Church Triumphant.

I felt so small, wretched and insignificant because of what I KNOW of  myself...what I think...what I do and what I say and very seldom is any of  it very good, yet I am still loved by my Father. He always gives me a chance to return to Him.  How wondrous and unreal is that?. And I am to love others like this?? Another reason for my feelings is that I am one, just one person in six billion people on this earth, with countless that have gone before us and I am as important to Him as any of them.

If I had to go through my daily life feeling what I am feeling right now because of this unbelievable love, I could not function. Sometimes we think how wonderful it would have been if we had lived during the time of our Lord, seeing Him,speaking to Him, touching Him, yet that wasn't enough for the apostles...they all abandoned Jesus despite being with Him for three years!!. One betrayed Him, one denied Him and all left Him in the garden. Do we really think we are so different? Do we really think we would have stayed and perhaps have been arrested also?

Back to the Litany. I know what will happen when I go to the Vigil this year and we begin the Litany of the Saints. I will choke up and my eyes will well. Thank goodness the lights are off during this time and the sanctuary lit only by candle light. His light. God is merciful is He not?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Not In Control

I am as surprised as any about the resignation of Pope Benedict but my reaction is not anywhere near being shocked by it. Most things are out of our control in this life yet at the same time all things are in God's control. God saw fit for the Pope to step down. It is the Holy Spirit that protects His Church and though we may not always understand the ways of the Church we know that God is there guiding us.

We are not in control. When we are asked to obey and follow the teachings of the Church there is a certain amount of comfort in this for me. Without the Church we would be left to believe and make decisions in areas where most of us would not have a clue as to where to begin. No? How many of us by this time would have already followed the world if the Church had not taught us about the evils accepted by the world such as abortion, homosexual acts, euthanasia, marriage et cetera? In these cases, the world seems to have the upper hand but it doesn't. The Truth always wins out.

Many are dismayed by the Popes resignation. Don't be. We are not in control of God's plan and I know with an increasing comfort that God knows what He's doing and He's doing it for the love of His Church. There is no fear to be had today but comfort,. at least for me because my Father is in control of the Church..

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Failure To Love


1 Corinthians, chapter 12

"Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, it is not pompous,
It not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things."


I was dumbfounded as I sat in my pew during Mass yesterday listening to these verses as the Word was read to us. I had heard St. Paul's litany on love many times before but for some reason, it was if I had heard it for the first time. Re-reading this verse, I could not help but feel how much of a failure I was when it came to love, Christian love. If there is any one of these attributes of love that I can possibly say I succeed at to some degree, it is in not rejoicing over wrongdoing, but all the others? Nope. I fail big time.


How can I even call myself Catholic when I can't even get love right? If I have any love at all then it would have to be love of self and even that I call into question. If I truly loved myself I would more patient amidst all my failings but I'm not, and it leads to my being quick-tempered. That is pride. It means I believe myself better than what I really am. I don't bear things, bad things well nor do I endure hardships that I encounter very well either. Brooding over an injury? Ha! I take the cake!


But you see, it does not stop there. I am so hard and expect so much of myself that it reflects on others and what I expect of them. That is the farthest thing from love of neighbor. Yes, I've been able to love at times as St. Paul has described, but my lack of it far outweighs the times that I do get it right. So why is it that it is so difficult for me to love others? Because I have to deal with people like me. Is someone I work with obnoxious? So am I. Are people I deal with mean and jealous? Vengeful? Yep. I am too.

We are asked to love each other despite all these things. There is no qualification that they have to be likable. Are we likable to God? Probably not most of the time, but we are lovable to Him. That is what's hard about love. It's easy to love another if they are nice to us or just nice in general. But as soon as I meet someone that is unlikeable, someone like me, then loving them is like pulling teeth.

Loving our neighbor is not like being in love with someone special. It is not like falling in love either. It is way more than that. It means caring for that person's health and well-being of body and soul despite their personality or character traits. If we only love those that will love us back, then we are no better than pagans as scripture says. The true test of love is caring for someone who despises us, hates us and wishes us harm. That's the kind of love our Lord has for us. Think about it. He didn't die just for the goody, goody two-shoes, but also for people like me. He gave Himself in our stead while we were still steeped in sin.

He died for Judas, the soldiers that crucified him and those who mocked him. He died for the Pharisees, the thieves who died that same day on each side of Him. He died for pedophiles and for those that rejoice in abortion. He even died for me. He knew the person I would be, the sins I would commit, yet he loved me anyway and died so I wouldn't.

That is divine love. How can God expect me to love others like this? He doesn't, not without His grace that is. God's grace is the only way we can love as St. Paul describes. I fail miserably because too many times I try to love my neighbor with a love that is not the love of Christ. My love is a give and take love. You love me, I'll love you. Left to my own devices, I will never be able to love my neighbor as Christ loves us. I need help to do that. I need His constant grace. I pray for that.

Lent is almost here. Loving others in a more Christ-like way is what I will try to achieve these coming forty days and the grace to accomplish it. Pray for me.











Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Is Anyone Really Watching?

I had a strange daydream the other day. I was daydreaming about what I would need to survive if something ever happened to this nation. What I mean is this. What would happen if things such as the economy got so bad that tens upon tens of millions lost their jobs? What would happen when these people find out that there is no money to be had either from work or from unemployment benefits because of an economic depression much worse than was witnessed in the 30's? Where would they go or turn to for food and shelter. To survive? Would they turn on neighbors and take what is theirs? Kill them for food?

Along with that, I began to "dream" about what would happen if, as is quite apparent now, we begin to lose certain freedoms as citizens? If we are called to turn our guns over to federal collection centers, what if many just refuse to do this? What would happen if the government tried to force these individuals who believe they have the right to bear arms? Or, in the case of our Freedom of Religion, what would happen if we as the faithful refuse to remain quiet in the public square when laws dictate that we say nothing about certain evils in our nation that are now endorsed by government and is considered hateful speech? Attacks on certain speech by individuals or institutions that criticizes government such as Fox News and Limbaugh that the President stated by name except that instead of making the news it becomes a crime to criticize?

Anyone with half a brain can see what is occurring in the United States under this administration and to say or think that the list above is not possible would have to have their head in the sand. Those of us that cherish this nation feel this weight upon us. We not only sense urgency but we are now beginning to see things unfold quickly with each new day and every new order from the Commander and Chief. The signs are ominous.

So I thought, what should I prepare in case things just crumble? If we had to leave our homes suddenly, what would we pack that is of the most important? Funny isn't it? The first thing I thought of as important was where would I go to Mass?? Yeah. I remember thinking clearly and asking myself if I would risk life and limb to make it to Mass if Catholics were outlawed. Don't laugh. I see it creeping slowly towards us as I write.

In this ''dream" I saw myself buying hundreds of yards of fishing line, hundreds of fish hooks and lead weights, two or three heavy hunting knives, dozens of Bic lighters, boxes of wooden matches, two or three bows, arrows as well as wooden shafts, feathers, notches and arrow heads to make more arrows if need be. I don't own a gun so that was out. I have thought about buying a couple lately, but that would probably mean I would use them if the time ever came and I'm not talking about hunting. The thought of putting another man down in this manner nauseates me. I've never even struck another man out of anger or otherwise. I also saw myself buying tents and canvas material and bags of seed for planting and water purification tablets. The way I see it, I would need a U Haul just to cart this stuff around. Another worry would be how to defend my family and possessions as meager as they would be from those that would seek to take them from me.

I know I sound paranoid, but what were mere whispers several years ago are now being confirmed from sources I respect. Billions of rounds of ammunition have been bought by the government in the last couple of years. Many of these rounds have been designated to certain urban areas around the country. From another source, reports of a litmus test for military commanders would be whether or not they would have the gumption to fire on citizens if the need arises. If not, they are retired or fired. FEMA camps with barbed wire and guard towers built in the last few years around the country. Barbed wire for refugees of natural disasters? Really? I never gave these reports any time until I began to hear them in more respectable sources I've come to trust. Still I hesitate to believe them. In this country? What I used to consider impossible for our nation just five years ago, I can now see it as not only possible, but maybe even probable.

What has this nation become for me to even contemplate and initiate such a day dream? That is what scares me. Unbridled rights to abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicides...death. So much death and this man is re-elected? Makes no sense does it. The oddest warning of all concerning guns is one that surprised me. The Pravda, newspaper of Russia and state run under the Soviet Union told American citizens never to give up their right to bear arms and never turn in their guns. Imagine? Here is the article .

Okay, enough daydreaming for me, yet it seemed to be more than just a daydream, more like a vision of sorts with tendrils of truth floating amidst imagination. In any case, it was disquieting to say the least.