The Fourth Joyful Mystery

The Fourth Joyful Mystery of the Most Holy Rosary: The Presentation. Joseph and Mary took the Child Jesus to the Temple and offered the sacrifice demanded by the Mosaic Law. It was a sin offering. Why would they do that? There was no sin involved. Joseph had done nothing wrong, the Blessed Virgin had committed no sin, and the Divine Child was Innocent. Why make a sacrifice for sin when there was no sin? Sometimes its good to do the next right thing, not because its obligatory, but because it is the next right thing. Paul shaved his head so as to not offend the Jews, Blessed John Paul II took off his shoes when entering a mosque. Both are good examples of the gentle way of the Gentle Jesus. We are so fragile in our human weaknesses that a gentile touch is often required. And, when our faith isn’t compromised by the act, the act becomes an example of the Love of God. So Joseph and Mary, with Jesus, made sacrifice. Not because it was needed but because it was the next right thing to do. And what was the result? How did doing the next right thing, even tho it wasn’t necessary, effect those around them? Simeon and Anna got to see Jesus. Doing the next right thing, even when it wasn’t absolutely necessary, was all it took to bring Jesus into the lives of Simeon and Anna. How many times have I not done the next right thing just because I didn’t HAVE to? And how many people have been deprived of meeting Jesus as the result?

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Published in: on May 28, 2011 at 1:49 pm  Comments Off on The Fourth Joyful Mystery  

The Nature of True and Lasting Disability

Wonderful topic. I have lots of ’em. Allow me to share … I have, according to the chiropractor, three shot discs. Lower back, mid back, upper back. The one in my lower back is the worst. An M.D. told me that surgery was not an option, probably make it worse, maybe put me in a wheelchair. Five to ten pounds of lifting is my limit, and there are times when that’s too much. Regular chiropractic adjustments seem to help keep things in line. I have nerve damage in the left leg and the right foot. Pinched nerves as per the shot discs. Not so bad currently, I can still feel them. I do require a cane to walk. A little worrisome though. If the numbness gets worse its conceivable that if I cut myself there I’d not know it. That thought is rather scary. I’m legally blind in one eye. Glasses take care of that. I have stomach ulcers brought on years ago by a stomach virus. No big deal really, a simple medication and a watchful eye on my diet ( not so many hot peppers ) keep the ulcers at bay. They are, however, a concern due to my cancer. One of the ways you die with CLL ( chronic lymphocytic leukemia ) is internal bleeding that they can’t stop. So there is the CLL to tend to. To date chemo has put that into remission. Remission is not cure. It’s still there, lurking in the background some place. One side effect, a lasting one, of the chemo has been high blood pressure. Medication takes care of this too although it needs to be tweaked fairly often. The chemo seems to have done a lasting job on my stamina also. It has become non-existent. And what little there is remaining seems to be waning. So I’ve learned to pace myself. Over, and over, and over. I can walk a few feet at times and be out of breath. No way of telling when or where this will happen so I tend to stick close to home. About 15 or 20 minutes worth of anything is about all I can stand. Theres water retention for whatever reason. Another pill takes care of this also. The first medication I took for this caused horrendous cramps which threatened to put my back out. That was an entertaining period. I have allergies. One ingredient in some hand lotion makes me turn bright red, itch all over, difficult to breathe and if I don’t get the right med fast, well, some other rather unpleasant symptoms kick in. My body trying to throw off the violating substance. Sometimes, even getting the med in time, this wipes me out for several days. Then there’s my right rotator cup that was crushed years ago. Caught it between a door facing and an upright piano while moving the piano. Never did learn how to play the piano. At its worst I have to use my left hand to lift my right hand above gut level. Chiropractic helps with this too. My knee, the right one, is odd. Takes very funny x-rays. An M.D. showed me the x-ray once and said, “Ever see anything like that before?” I used to work at a hospital and am familiar with x-rays. I said, “No.” He replied, “Me either. Take care of it. If it gets worse it’ll require surgery.” Back to the chiropractor. Then, my own diagnosis here because no doctor has told me this, but I think I have a touch of chemo brain. A little like an alcoholic wet brain. I just don’t think like I used to. I forget. A lot. I mean a lot a lot. But I’ve learned that I only need remember two things: #1: Write it down. #2: Remember where you wrote it down. So I keep a personal calendar and adhere to a routine that takes memory, in large degree, out of the equation. Simple enough. This isn’t exactly the entire list. I had a surgery as a result of a side effect to a med I took because the chemo would stop my immune system and I’d need that med to kick-start the immune system again. I won’t even go into that. Suffice it to say, “Ouch.” A few days ago I found out I have a sleep/breathing disorder. I go to hospital next week to have a test run. Probably get to sleep with a machine after that, but I’m hoping for another ( underline “another” ) pill instead. ( Hmmm. My Grandmother used to tell me I was a “pill”. Maybe this is pay back? lol ) And there are a couple other things that are just to personal to post. *sigh* Know what? I’ve had folks say, “Oh, I’ll pray God heals you.” Know what I say? “Oh, please don’t do that. If you want to pray for me pray that I go in the right direction when I die. Pray I die a holy death. I’m gonna die at some time anyway. What good would it do me to be healed and live another twenty years if I die and go to hell?” Now THAT would be disabled. 😉

Published in: on May 26, 2011 at 5:14 pm  Comments Off on The Nature of True and Lasting Disability  

Chimayo

This is an easy post. 🙂 Something beautiful to share. There is a wonderful place, much blessed by God, located in New Mexico. It has been called the Lourdes of North America. The pity is that most Anglo folk don’t know anything about it. It’s a place of pilgrimage for many, many Native Americans and Hispanic people. It is the Sanctuary Chimayo. For some reason that I’m not able to explain it has great meaning for me. I’ve never been there, will probably never be able to go there. I treasure the spot none the less. Makes me want to share it with others. And so I do that, gladly, now. Its well worth a web search. To start … http://www.elsantuariodechimayo.us … Enjoy the blessing. 😉

Published in: on May 23, 2011 at 7:24 pm  Comments Off on Chimayo  

The Five Holy Wounds of Christ

Tradition. The Five Holy Wounds are listed as the right foot, left foot, right hand, left hand, and the wounded side of Jesus. For my part I’ve always thought of them a bit differently. And so I share my thoughts here …

The Feet: Where did His feet travel? How many times have mine refused to go forward or turned around and gone in the wrong direction?

The Hands: How willing were His hands to do the work of God? How often have mine been shoved into my pockets or put behind my back? Worse yet how many times have I lent them all to willingly to ungodly tasks?

The Back: He willingly gave His back to those who would strike Him, and this for my sake. How is it that I so easily turn my back on Him and His will for me?

The Brow: The crown of thorns, humiliation. How I run from even the thought of being humiliated. He deserved none of it, I deserve more than the world would be able to give.

The Side: How His heart bled for me. How I guard mine from bleeding at all cost, as though mine were more precious than His.

How giving, all giving, He was and is. How selfish and self-centered I am.

Published in: on May 22, 2011 at 7:51 am  Comments Off on The Five Holy Wounds of Christ  

The Vocation of Votum

Vocation. We recognize the vocation of the priesthood, of nuns, and of monks. These are “old hat” so to speak. Been around for so long that they’re a given. After Vatican II things seem to have changed a bit in the way or ways folks perceive vocation. And this change, I think, has been a very positive one. Vocation has taken on a broader meaning. The lector at Mass is one example. Being an usher. Being on a call list that helps the parish office pass along needed info (“No Mass in the morning, Father said its supposed to get icy tonight. No broken hips in our parish!”). The list could go on but I think you get my point. A vocation is, simply put, a job God calls you to do. And if He calls you to do it you can bet on one thing … It’s an important position or it wouldn’t need filling. No vocation is “small.” And that’s because God doesn’t do small things. God is great and therefore all of God’s actions are great. Paul talks about vocations and those that seem “small” to us when he describes the various parts of the body and how all are needed for the body, aka the Church, to be complete and functional. If every member of the body was an eye where would the smelling (nose) be? If everyone was a reader who would seat the people coming in? So God gives different jobs, different vocations, to different folks. It’s important to remember that God never asks the impossible of any of us. If He does ask it then He also makes the way. If a persons only phone is a cell phone and their income limits their ability to purchase minutes then He won’t ask them to be one of those folks on the call list unless He gives an increase that allows them to get the money/minutes/phone to do that. I’ve never seen a blind traffic cop. God doesn’t build the Body of Christ that way, or at least I don’t think He does. Maybe I’m wrong but I think God makes an appropriate way in His own way. Having said all that … There are some folks who have limited income, limited mobility, limited talent, limits put upon us as per our health. Hey, we’re human. We have limits. Some more than others. That’s all part of Divine Providence too. God knows best and its ok. But when we have lots of honest limits (Suddenly I’m reminded of Henry David Thoreau’s statement that, “I wouldn’t talk about myself half so much if I knew anyone else half so well.” lol) and it doesn’t look like God’s going to change them anytime soon what are we supposed to do? Whats our vocation, our job, when we can do next to nothing? I believe it gets to be pretty obvious. There is one thing that the priesthood centers on that you needn’t be a priest to do. It kinda out ranks the other things I listed above because without it those other things would be largely unnecessary. And of all jobs it is the one that the world considers to be the biggest waste of time. The world at best gives it lip service, at worst it suffers the disdain of popular thought. Again, a total waste of time and effort. And still it is the most powerful of all vocations. The world has been taught by Satan and his followers to hold it in contempt because the devil fears it so much. It is the vocation that calls people to the priesthood, to the convent, to the mission field, to be a lector or an usher. It is the power that provides the impetus to all of these. And it is God-given. It’s the vocation of votum. Votum is the Latin word for prayer. Had there been only 10 prayerful people in Sodom and Gomorrah God would’ve spared those two wicked cities. It was prayer, a pleading with God the Son, that brought the blind man to Jesus. It was Mary’s prayer, her “Yes” to God, that brought the Savior to the world. It is always prayer that is behind vocation. And it is always God who is behind the vocation of faithful prayer. http://www.comepraytherosary.org

Published in: on May 15, 2011 at 2:42 pm  Comments Off on The Vocation of Votum  

There’s a reason …

“For ev’ry pain that we must bear,

For ev’ry burden, ev’ry care,

… There’s a reason.

For ev’ry grief that bows the head,

For ev’ry tear-drop that is shed,

… There’s a reason.

For ev’ry hurt, for ev’ry plight,

For ev’ry lonely, pain-racked night,

… There’s a reason.

But if we trust God as we should,

It will work out for our good.

… He knows the Reason.”

The above poem is taken from the prayer-book, The Precious Blood and Mother, published by the Sisters of the Precious Blood, Monastery of the Precious Blood, 700 Bridge Street, Manchester, New Hampshire 03104. Its one of the best little prayer books I’ve seen, just the right size for pocket or purse, and sells for $1 each with some extra for postage, etc. The book is worth much more than that and the good sisters are deserving of support, living as contemplatives and making their own way financially by repairing damaged religious statues. Having said that …

I like the above poem. I don’t suppose it will threaten to overthrow Robert Frost’s rank as a poet extraordinaire but there is more to real, true poetry than structure and the mechanics of rhythm and rhyme. And, being familiar with Mr. Frost, I am sure he would agree. One definition of poetry, as opposed to verse, is that poetry, unlike something consisting of only verse, even structurally perfect verse and nothing more, is that true poetry evokes emotion. Verse doesn’t do that. So the above little poem is poetry for me because it strikes a chord.

The chord …

At one point in my life I was filled with questions. Why this, and why that, and why this and not that, and why, why, why? All of that’s ok. It’s ok to question. I do believe that its important to ask a question with sincerity and in honesty. Otherwise, well if there’s an ulterior motive, maybe its best not to ask. But that’s fodder for another post. I’m thinking of an honest, heart-felt question here. One with a real need to know attached. I had one of those, years ago. And, late one night, alone with God and tears, I asked. And I received. Answer. It was wonderful. It was a burning question for me. Asked in simplicity and honesty and with a real need to know. I think those are the questions, when we bring them to God, that get answers. And mine got its answer. It changed my life, gave me a reason for pains, healed a horrible wound that had festered for decades, and brought an end to a situation and a peace to my heart and mind that, concerning that issue, reside with me still. All of this transpired many, many years ago. What was the question? What was the situation? Well, no ones business actually. Those things aren’t the point. Even the healing and peace aren’t the point. The real point is the lesson learned. I learned this: When a question is asked honestly and with a real need to know there IS an answer, and I can trust God for that. Always. Know what added benefit went with this little insight? The need to ask. It left. It was replaced by trust. I don’t need to ask. I don’t need to know. Its ok not to ask or know. Because now that I know there ARE answers I can TRUST God to let me know when and if I need to. And that’s His judgement call. I am content with that. It’s answer enough.

Published in: on May 11, 2011 at 2:29 pm  Comments Off on There’s a reason …  

Fr. Herman Laux O.S.B.

I first met Fr. Herman when I was about 18. Been long ago now. Fr. McGuiness had gone on vacation and Fr. Herman was at Holy Redeemer to minister in the mean while. It was Fr. Herman that gave me my first taste of the Benedictines and is largely responsible for my being a Benedictine Oblate now. I remember that Father was rather round, smoked a pipe, and repaired broken rosaries that folks gave him. And he laughed … a lot. That he smoked a pipe, laughed and told jokes made him human for me. I understood that to be religious didn’t mean being stuffy or aloof. It meant to be fully human. Fr. Herman taught me by example. I’ve always learned best that way.  I was so impressed that I actually went to see Bishop McDonald to get his input concerning my going to Subiaco Abbey and becoming a Brother. ( Bishop McDonald was very kind to the kid who showed up in jeans and a tee-shirt and no appointment. 🙂 ) I remember Fr. Herman showing me a photo of his dog at the monastery. Then he smiled and said, “He’s not really my dog, he’s all our dog.” He told me in a letter that God would not send an angel to set on my shoulder to tell me if I should or shouldn’t enter the monastery. He helped me know that some things I must discern by myself and with the help of spiritual directors. Direct Divine Intervention isn’t that common. All in all Father taught me very much. I don’t travel so much any more and it’s not often that I get to Subiaco Abbey but when I am able to be there one of the first things I do is to go visit Fr. Herman’s grave. He passed away in the early 1980s. But he is, believe me, neither gone nor is he forgotten.

“Three nuns were discussing which of them had the hardest job in the convent. The first said that she did because she washed the dishes and that was a very hard job. The other two said that wasn’t so hard and the second nun said her job was harder because she had to scrub the floors. The first two admitted that this was a hard job but the third nun insisted that her job was the hardest of all. The first two sisters asked her what she did and she replied that she washed the chapel windows. The first two both said that they thought this was the easiest job of all in the convent. At which point the third nun replied: Really? Have YOU ever tried getting the stain out?”

Fr. Herman told me the above joke. I still like it. 🙂

~ Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen. ~

Published in: on May 7, 2011 at 5:04 pm  Comments (2)  

“There is power, power …”

“There is power, power, wonder-working power in the blood of the Lamb! There is power, power, wonder-working power in the precious blood of the Lamb!” So goes an old Protestant hymn. Now this blog is Roman Catholic, as am I. And, bluntly, I’m not real big on anything other than old-fashioned Roman Catholic church music. (Hey, that’s just the sort of hair pin I am.) But it’s rather hard to argue with the above truth. Truth is, after all, truth regardless of where it resides. And I can attest to the above truth, not through academic polemics, but through personal experience. In an earlier post I mentioned having drank from the cup at Mass for the first time in my life. This has been only a few short weeks ago. I had very personal reasons for never having done so before. I had very strong reasons, aka God’s grace and a very potent moment of it, for having done it now. And now I am here to testify to its healing power. I know now, at least in part, why it was that I was given to know that I should drink the blood of Christ. In the Old Testament we are told, as one translation puts it, that, “by His stripes we are healed.” What flowed from those stripes, those wounds He received as He was beaten at the pillar? His blood. It was potent to heal at that point in time and is no less potent now. This is personal and so I understand its reality right well. I don’t think its going to translate well here, but I feel obligated to try. Its His due and I owe it. With out getting very involved, because I am a private person, I’ll say simply this: For decades I’ve been wrestling with certain issues. They have been there for years and been there constantly. They have never subsided. They were composed of the world, the flesh and the devil. They were relentless in pursuing me. And after I partook of His blood, the precious blood of Jesus Christ the God-Man, they were for the first time in over 40 years … lifted. This is my poor way of giving Him, Jesus, my Lord and my God, honor, glory, thanks and all of the credit. Of myself I am nothing. By His blood and His grace I can do all things via the One who strengthens me. This is in no way due to my strength or in any way creditable to me. Its Jesus. Him, Him alone, all Him. Thanks be to God. Amen

Published in: on May 5, 2011 at 6:18 pm  Comments Off on “There is power, power …”  

Loneliness and Vocation

Loneliness. It seems to go with religious vocation. Seems to. Giving up family, friends, personal will, personal tastes, personal space, time, talents, everything. The giving away of, the giving up of … self. To whom and for what? To God. For love. But the “giving up”, being sacrificial in nature, is of necessity painful. Sacrifice, real, true sacrifice and pain go hand in hand. Look to the sacrifice of the cross, to the aloneness of the unvisited Tabernacle. These are examples of both pain and sacrifice. And joy. Joy in the love expressed for those He gave Himself for. And there is my example and the cure for loneliness in religious vocation. You see I’ve really given up nothing. It only seems that way at first and hence the pain of supposed sacrifice on my part. Its sacrifice true enough, but it’s also a learning process by which I begin to see, not what I set aside for love of Him, but what I gained by that setting aside. I gained more time, more room for Him. And all of those things I mentioned above? They are not lost at all. For anyone who has given up family or friends, property or position in this life is, in this life, given yet more and more. The family bonds and friendship of others with vocation, the properties of monastery and convent, the position of son or daughter of God. All shaken down and returned a hundred fold. All in this life. It hasn’t been realized, yet, those glories of the next. All these things in the here and now being only reflections, feeble as they are, of the Divine Perfection that created them, well, who can imagine the glories of the life to come? Pity, given my own circumstances, that there isn’t more to give Him.

Published in: on May 2, 2011 at 3:38 pm  Comments Off on Loneliness and Vocation  

The Domestic Church: A sweeping challenge.

Hierarchy, chain of command. “Trickle down” authority. We’re all under obedience to someone in someway. Human nature, fallen human nature, balks at that. But that’s only because its fallen and therefore out-of-place. Being under no authority is to be out-of-place, out of the natural order of the universe. To be without authority, to not be under obedience to anyone, is to be out side the realm of God’s grace. To be … in sin. Authority, rightful authority, is a very good thing. To be respected. Enter the “trickle down” part I mentioned above. There is God, there is our Holy Father the Pope, there’s the magisterium composed of the worlds bishops, there are the parish priests and their associates, and then there is the family unit. Also known as the domestic church. Normally the parents in a home would be counted as “head” of this form of the church. In my household, consisting of myself and the cat, I win by default. True, cat debates this point and takes me to task over it from time to time. But, tag, I’m it. The domestic church. I love the concept. The idea that my home, too, is church. And I try to live that. It is in the living of it that I am met with a rather sweeping challenge. The church, well, whose house is it anyway? All I have/has been/is given me by God. Its His house and ultimately He is Head of the Church regardless of what form it takes. There is no Tabernacle here, and yet this heart of mine ought to be His resting place here with me, at home. So this house? Its His house. It’s not so much that He lives here with me but rather that I live here with Him. Back to the sweeping challenge. If its His house, His gift to me, how ought I to treat it? Well, keeping all of what I just said in mind a wonderful thing transpires. I don’t keep house for me. I keep house, His house, this house, for Him. So when I sweep? I try to do it throughly and with love. My broom provides the challenge. How I respond to that challenge depends upon how tidy I keep His Tabernacle here.

Published in: on May 1, 2011 at 7:29 am  Comments Off on The Domestic Church: A sweeping challenge.