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Monday, November 29, 2010

Advent Reflection 1: There is Only One Sin

Advent has begun and I breathe a sigh of relief, for it is indeed a new liturgical year and a new beginning.

Advent is a chance to take a step back, retreat into silence and penance, reflecting on our sins so that we can be rid of them and make way for the Savior to come. Even as we recall the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was made incarnate at His conception, we look toward His second coming, knowing that one day we must stand alone before Him in our own particular judgment.

It is so easy to get caught up in our lives, to argue that we need this or that knowledge from our jobs or those things for our children (if we are parents). We need to calculate our budgets and remember all the activities that pertain to our loved ones so that we can either get others to those points or get there ourselves. It is so easy to say that our spiritual lives aren't important in the face of all the things we have to "know" to get by every day.

We forget that were it not for God's grace, we would cease to exist. Were He not holding us, breathing life into us continually, none of our paltry concerns would come to fruition. Were it not for our final ends, the moment we forget God, we would fade away.

We need Advent, for Advent forces us to take stock of the condition of our souls, to step back and recognize those things that make us impure, and calls us to especially return to Confession with a strong intent to make amends and start afresh, keeping in mind our final ends.

Recently I watched the movie, "The Kite Runner" and was especially struck by a short monologue from Baba, Amir's father:

“There is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft. Do you understand that? When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife’s right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness. Do you see?”

I first saw this movie while working on my Master's degree, and spoke of it with the Director of our program, a theologian of note.

I told him I hadn't considered sin in this manner, and knowing it came from a Muslim philosophy (as the characters in the book follow Islam) I was especially struck by the Truth of the statement.

My professor agreed: Yes, every sin is theft.  

Truly, when we tell a lie, we are depriving another of the truth to which they are entitled. (See St. Thomas Aquinas for more commentary on this.)

Truly, when we kill another, from the womb to old age, we are stealing life.

When we disobey our parents, we are stealing the honor and respect due to them.

When we refuse to go to Mass on Sunday and every Holy Day of Obligation (of which we have so few), we steal time and worship from God Himself.

Yes, every sin is indeed a variation of theft; I agree with this, and I've stolen a great deal in my life. I begin Advent with a reflection upon this spiritual and actual crime, and pray not only for forgiveness, but for the grace to recognize all my instances of theft so that I can eradicate them and be reconciled to the Infant Christ who invites us to receive Him if we are "worthy" to do so.

I am far from pure, but thank God for the gift of self-knowledge that brings me to His Throne of Mercy.

I bring to Him this one sin in all its facets, and pray for the grace to overcome them all in accordance with His Will.

Blessed Advent to you all, and may you respond to the call of spiritual renewal in union with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, experience the grace of conversion, and be open to receive the Infant Christ in your heart and soul when we celebrate His birth on Christmas Day.

Just Ducky!

It's possible that some of you are waiting with bated breath to find out whether I burned the house down when roasting duck for the first time. Since I brought it up, I thought maybe it would be nice to share the result with you.

The image you see is the finished, freshly-glazed duck roast, complete with spicy soy glaze, the result of nearly 6 hours' work. 

As this was my first duck, I took photos throughout the process, wanting both to learn and compare what I was doing to the recipe I used to do it! 

In the end, the finished product was nearly divine, there was NO fat on it, it was yummy, wonderful, and I had enough meat to make it into a nice stew.

I will absolutely do this again, but next time I'll do a better job on timing. It took about 6 hours, considering the prep time (scoring and pricking it, trussing, cleaning, etc), then the time needed to remove it from the oven every hour to flip it over and prick it, then the finishing touches designed to crisp it up and set the glaze.

It was well worth the time and effort and, well, can I just say...yum!

If you're interested in how I did it, I used this recipe at Hungry Mouse, by far the best tutorial available. (My duck was a different brand and less fatty, but the technique still worked perfectly. Please note that she wasn't kidding about making sure you use the sharpest knife on hand!)

We didn't do this for Thanksgiving dinner (in case I wrecked it) but the day after, and used the leftover sides to accompany the duck. We also served it with a nice Pinot Noir which paired perfectly.

Yesterday I boiled the carcass for stew, strained out the bones, used the left over glaze for flavor, added celery, carrots and onions (which I'd sauteed in bacon fat), more rosemary, thyme, celery salt, and pepper, along with a bit of Worcestshire sauce. The end result a nice yummy stew that's going into my freezer, and the duck fat - the stuff of liquid gold for cooking - that'll come in handy with other recipes! :-)

I admit it; I'm a little proud of myself on this one because it intimidated me so much and given the price of duck ($3/lb), I figured it would be a huge waste of money if I messed it up. Instead I was able to provide a nice treat to my family, and they contributed, too, by way of extra hands to hold the pan, advice on carving, and of course...enjoyment of the finished roast!

I place this in my highest category:  Food I would serve Jesus. (The odds are that if Jesus came to my house He wouldn't have 6 hours to wait around for me to cook, but hey, if it was there and on hand, He would get the first slice!)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mid-Western Farm-town Diner


Every farm town has a diner. Those old towns that rise from the Midwestern prairies aren't governed from marble towers, but around old tables and Naugahyde chairs in the midst of the scent of frying bacon, mouth-watering burgers and fresh coffee.

Every so often I remember the little town I used to call home, and which may forever be my "hometown", for something about it draws me back, again and again even though the last time I saw it I was at the threshold of my teenage years. It is but a shadow, but a vivid one indeed, that occasionally comes to me and calls me back to it through all my senses.

Our little town had a very small "downtown" only two blocks long, if that. The barbershop had a twisting pole, the Ben Franklin had a big sign running the length of the store upon its false front, and the sidewalks were covered intermittently by the ports over the doorways, inviting people in simply by providing protection from the elements, be it the heat or rains of summer or the snows of winter.

Some businesses, though, by their very being and the scents wafting from their interiors invited us in, and indeed, that was Ma's place in our town, the only diner, a timeless place of burgers, fries, and farmers.

I could be describing any small town diner here:  You open a creaky partially-rusted screen door complete with peeling white or grey paint, and let it slam behind you as you enter the low roar of the diner. Depending on the time of day, you're greeted either with the dominant scent of bacon or  burgers, and always, always always the inviting aroma of coffee, visible while it brewed: the brown rims were calf-inated, the orange were de-calf.

I never did understand what calves had to do with coffee, but after all, it was farm country and there was a lot I couldn't grasp. Even so, I loved entering the diner and seeing men just like some of my uncles, taking a break, eating together in their John Deere hats and overalls, smelling of the barns and fields no matter how cleanly they tried to be.

There was a homeliness about the place, with its counter running the length of one side and booths on the other. All the tabletops were a type of yellow-creme color, while all the chairs were a variation of ripped Naugahyde of red and black.

Oh Give me a Home...

You can walk into such a place in Anytown, Mid-Western USA and find a seat, and the same kind of  friendly waitress will come to your table, pad and pen in hand, pouring coffee, asking to take your order. She'll set tall glasses of ice water in front of you in cloudy old plastic glasses, and for the kids, she'll take straws out of her apron pocket with a glint in her eye, knowing you'll rip off one end and blow them at your sibling.

But it's worth it to her to pick up those stray straw wrappings because she remembers doing it, too, and in fact, does it herself when she and her co-workers clean up at the end of the shift.

She hands you a Naugahyde-backed menu clad in cracked clear plastic detailing the fries, malts, burgers, sandwiches and desserts common to the venue:  fries, onion rings (maybe), vanilla, chocolate or strawberry malts, hamburger or cheeseburger, chicken or pulled pork sandwich and a slice of pie for dessert, or maybe a scoop of ice cream or a Sundae.

You never have to order ketchup or mustard, because they are already at your table, in opaque plastic red or yellow containers; red for the ketchup, yellow for the mustard, right next to the metal thing that holds the napkins, salt, pepper, sugar and jelly.

The burger comes on a plate with dill pickle spear on the side, the bun is buttered and if you ordered cheese (like my brother always did), it's melted perfectly. The fries come in a little red basket lined with wax paper, and you always have to check the cap of the ketchup bottle and the salt/pepper shakers to make sure the lids are on tight before you tip them onto your burger and/or fries.

The malt comes in the metal container in which it was mixed and the waitress pours it into a tall plastic glass for you, gives you another straw and then sets the container down so you can pour in whatever is left after you've drained your glass a bit. Because it's so cold and thick, you can't drink the malt but instead scoop it up with your straw and lick it off the end. The malt usually comes before the burger and Mom always has to warn you to slow down on the ice cream so that you have room to enjoy the burger that is still coming.

The place mats are simple white ones with "ruffled" edges that look like a child's drawing of a cloud, and Moms everywhere offer pens and pencils as entertainment. It's not always necessary, though, because the shellacked photos in the diner are fun: they are photos superimposed upon a wooden border matching the same cloud-shaped border design as the paper place-mats, but the photos are of children dressed like farmers and saying mysteriously adult things such as, "You been farmin' long?"  In the photo, one child-farmer appears to be wryly amused while the other kicks at the gravel in dejection.

There was always a hum of conversation, a homey-ness of a home kitchen and a familiarity between the farmers and servers in the diner my family couldn't quite touch, even though we were "regulars" there, too. It was a treat to go to Ma's.


In the summer we'd arrive and step over the rust-stained, watery sidewalk where the air conditioner drained, avoiding the drops as it sucked the humidity from inside. We'd enter the relative coolness, only to emerge after our meal or  malt break into the furnace-blast of a hot, humid summer day. In winter we'd traipse across the icy sidewalk, beneath the silence of the air conditioner and enter into the humid, fragrant warmth of the diner, welcoming us into any seat in the house, only to emerge later into the winter desolation from which we'd received only a friendly respite.

Ah, yes, the farmtown diner, a staple in any community, the place where the problems of the world are left behind in favor of the greasy goodness of a perfect hamburger, basket of fries, and thick malt.

A place where we could sit and meditate on pictures like "Keep On Truckin" right next to John Deere advertisements and listen to the NPR Radio in the form of conversation of the everyday family farmer, the salt of the earth, in one of the most decent places in the world.

I never used to understand that old photo, "You been farmin' long?", but now, more than 30 years later, I understand it far more deeply than I ever sought, and now I understand the sympathetically wry smile of the kid in the red hat and the sad dejection of the boy in the black hat.

Somewhere in my distant memory, I remember the dog days of summer, the hot blast of Illinois summer heat when the screen door of Ma's slammed behind me for the last time, leaving me on Main Street side-stepping the drip of the air conditioner; but the sound still rumbles in my ears and I can still smell the scent of fresh burgers on buttered buns, and I can still see the frost coating the exterior of the metal malt mixers as they were set on our table.

Most importantly, I can still remember the farmers talking shop, the endless fields, and the land that is the heart of our country.

That is where my heart beats.

Friday, November 26, 2010


It's been a busy few days.

Finally after several very difficult weeks at work, made worse by a lack of consistent time off, work schedule, and some really emotionally trying events, I have had a series of days off. Ahhh...blessed, blessed Thanksgiving weekend!

I missed my mother's birthday because I had to work, but we've more than made up for the time this weekend. My brother and I are up to our old shenanigans, and my dog is content as content can be with the exception of the fact she is not allowed on the furniture at his house.

And today, I will be roasting duck for the first time. We've been planning this for months now. The original plan was that I'd take his roasting pan home with me and experiment there, but I decided I want some help the first time I do this, so I picked up a frozen young duckling on Monday and now it awaits the oven, completely thawed.

I just hope I don't start a fire.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I Am the Dog, Baby

I was going to write about something else tonight, but instead, I have a rant. Sit down and hold on to your hats.

A few years ago, a reporter wrote an article in the Religion section of the local paper and by the wording, made it sound like a decision of our Bishop was "personal" (note the spelling). There was a HUGE outcry in the blogging world as everyone slammed the Bishop for making a "personal" decision with regard to a certain popular priest.

I went to the article itself, found the phone and email of the religion reporter and CALLED her to ask about the quote generating so much bandwidth. Was it "personal" or "personnel"? Which?  The spelling made a huge difference.

She returned my call and explained it was an editorial error: it wasn't a "personal" decision of the Bishop, but a "personnel" decision belonging to employer/employee, and that meant all the bloggers having hissy fits were hanging out with egg on their respective faces.

I think I actually made that phone call and got the answer while in the presence of actual bloggers, but it was so long ago I can't remember. I'm getting old. Memory is second to go, they say.

Refusal to Reason

I've noticed a pattern, and I've been a part of it myself.

We go to Mass, at this or that parish, and not always our home parish. Whether it is "home" or some other, with the ability to speak to our "online friends" through Social Networking, we often bring our complaints. This alone is legitimate. We often experience liturgical abuses and need to vent, ask questions to see if what we noticed is legit or an abuse, or maybe we have nowhere else to go to explain our frustration with the lack of reverence we may witness in a given Mass.  It is legitimate to vent those frustrations, as long as we don't let those frustrations, or worse, anger, control us.  We should be asking for help not to further our vice of anger, but rather, to help us overcome our vices, to affirm what is wrong and help us to do or react in ways that give glory to God.

All too often, all I see, or all I do is "vent", slam, and yes, even calumniate.

All too often, when others do so, when questioned, they tend to either back down or refuse to go to the source.

My friends, this is not reasonable. It is, officially a sin, for it is contrary to the intellect and will, and therefore, it is an offense against God.

We really need to examine our own consciences regarding our intentions when we use social networking. Even tonight a friend of mine brought to issue a reasonable question for which that person refused to seek the truth.

The incident called me to look into my own online affairs and question how many times I have sought "answers" while refusing to ask the questions of those who so offended us all. It really is so much easier to go to others of our own mind than directly ask the questions of those we think are offending.

It really is easier to run away like Judas than confront offense as directly as Christ.

Matthew 18:15-17:
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refused to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him to be you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Canon Law follows this procedure, requiring that the person (usually a priest or bishop) allegedly offending is first confronted before the person making the complaint goes to the Bishop or other proper authority.  There is great reason in this: it is to prevent the sin of defamation of character, to keep from someone being slandered in the eyes of others. The procedure itself, via scripture or via Canon Law (which is one and the same in this case) is to ensure the examination of conscience and purity of heart in the one making the accusation.

Online Danger of Calumny/ Detraction

Too often, online, we tend to vent our frustrations without actually seeking a response and without actually wanting to go to the work of confronting an offense.

As a parish worker, I relate to this on two levels: as a blogger and as a parish worker who sees offense but doesn't have any official capacity to correct it.

It IS very frustrating, but more and more, I am becoming aware of the damage done by those with a voice who either don't know or won't follow the charitable procedure of confronting the offender directly.

Too often, names and situations are smeared through Facebook, Twitter, Plurk, and Blogs, without the person speaking ever to bother to go directly to the one being "confronted" to address them directly.

All too often, those using Social Networking (again, I am guilty, too) fall back on our own laziness so as to bitch and complain without any real intention of correcting a problem.

Recently a friend, one both online and in real life brought up an issue in a parish she attended. She asked a good question, and one that needs to be asked and addressed according to the theology of the Church.  The question asked is one that could be charitably sent to the "offender" and perhaps answered. This friend refused to do so and made every argument not to, even refused to let me send the (charitable!) email or note, and then told me that I "didn't have a dog in this fight."

What "fight"?

If there' s a battle involving the liturgy that is Universal, if there's a battle involving the Theology of the Church, e.g. the Truth of Christ, I AM the Dog, Baby.


Telling me that I don't have a dog in this fight means that you're telling me I'm not Catholic.

Are we not the Mystical Body of Christ?  If one of us suffers, do the others remain immune? If you experience a horrible liturgy at one place and refuse to tell anyone, do I suffer more or less than you do if I attend there after you have passed by and refused to do nothing about it, saying that I "don't have a dog in this fight."?

If a heretic farts in the wind, aren't we ALL downwind? 

Doesn't that happen every day and aren't we all sick of the smell?

Listen, ya'll, whether we know each other personally or not, we're all together in this mess. If we are Catholic, we are members of the Mystical Body and if there is a public offense against theology and liturgy, it hurts us all and we have a duty, obligation, and right to question it.

Don't EVER tell another Catholic that they "Don't have a dog in the fight" or that their concerns regarding an objective theological/ liturgical matter are insignificant.

To do so is an insult to the entire Body of Christ.

Y'all, you ARE the Dog, and if you're not in the fight, Christ is not your King.


Friday, November 19, 2010

The Humor of Flannery O'Connor

Finally, I've had the time and found Flannery O'Connor's "Habit of Being" on the shelf of my local library. My only regret is that I don't own this book. I've half a mind to mark it up just so I can bring it back to the library and explain I've "defaced" it therefore need to purchase it.

It is truly difficult not to get out a highlighter as I go through it, and mark the pages with little stickers. Certainly the stickers can be removed, but really...once placed, why would one EVER remove them? Really?

Alas, this is something I must offer up, as we were taught by our mothers, and alas, I will have to bring this delightful tome back to the library and there relinquish it, unmarked.

Such a tragedy!

I have a sense that dear Flannery would understand.  For a glimpse into her mind and her humor, I will present a snapshot below. Know that she suffered not only from lupus, but other conditions and happened, in this particular time, to be on crutches because of a deterioration of her hip (not related to lupus). Her life still demanded that she travel to some degree and so she worked within her disability and as you can see, found the humor available to her through her very own suffering, but never without her sharp wit and take on the humanity around her:

I have decided I must be a pretty pathetic sight with these crutches. I was in Atlanta the other day in Davison's. An old lady got on the elevator behind me and as soon as I turned around she fixed me with a moist gleaming eye and said in a loud voice, "Bless you, darling!" I felt exactly like the Misfit and I gave her a weakly lethal look, whereupon greatly encouraged, she grabbed my arm and whispered (very loud) in my ear. "Remember what they said to John at the gate, darling!" It was not my floor but I got off and I suppose the old lady was astounded at how quick I could get away on crutches. I have a one-legged friend and I asked her what they said to John at the gate. She said she reckoned they said, "The lame shall enter first." This may be because the lame will be able to knock everybody else aside with their crutches.


I think that old lady attends my parish. Or maybe her grand-daughter  might be the same one who, mistaking me for the mother of several active children, directed me to "have lots more!".

In any case, I love Flannery's take. A woman after my own heart!


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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Exercises in Humility

Sometimes God throws curve balls, not just to keep us on our toes, but also to remind us Who is really in charge, and to teach us to depend a little more on him. These experiences, although often painful, sometimes embarrassing, sometimes humorous (or all three) have other side effects, if you will:  gratitude, fortitude and of course...wisdom. 

This morning as I got ready for work, I was planning my day. I have a lot to accomplish with an event this weekend, and since I'm off tomorrow I need to be certain all my ducks are in a row so that I don't walk into a disaster on Saturday morning.

As I left my house, I grabbed a couple things to have for lunch, considered getting an oil change (I'm way overdue) and realized that I had to stop and get gas - not something I could put off any longer.

I locked  up, got into my car, set my bag of stuff on the seat next to me and as the car came on, so did the radio, tuned to Classic NPR and playing my favorite flute concerto. Normally I begin praying the rosary as I leave my driveway, and if I have to get gas, I get it from the station around the corner. But this morning, because that music was playing, I decided not to stop for gas. I evaluated the gauge and judged that I probably had enough juice to get me to a gas station near my work. That left me free to enjoy the incredible music.

Exercist  #1:   I wasn't free

All the way to work, I kept staring at the gas gauge, wondering if I should get off this or that exit to a nearby gas station. I began to "plan" what to do if it dropped lower than I expected. Surely enough, as I neared my possible exits closest to work, the gauge dropped and I "knew" the gas light was going to come on at any moment. That was the first time I began to pray since I'd entered the car.

"Please, God, just let me get to the gas station...give me enough to get there."   I watched the gauge bob up a little bit, as if a little injection were just given. I drove conservatively, doing all I knew to preserve what I had.

My prayer did not cease until I turned into the gas station lot and pulled up to one of the pumps. I turned off my car, breathed a sigh of relief and turned off the car.

Exercise #2:   Poverty

That's when I turned to my bag and reached in for my purse - which wasn't there. 

I stared into the bag, seeing my Liturgy of the Hours, a binder, my work keys, my lunch - but no purse.

It was slowly dawning on me that I had no money, no cell phone, gas.

Uh oh!

I looked at my watch. I knew my supervisor was going to a meeting, one I had decided not to attend because of things I needed to accomplish in the office.

I was going to call her, but then recalled that without my cell, I didn't have her phone numbmer.

Uh oh!

What to do?

Exercise #3:  Humility

Taking a deep breath, I walked into the gas station and got in line. I had only a little change, not enough for the pay phone and certainly not enough for multiple calls.

I explained to the clerk that I had a bit of a weird problem and needed assistance. No purse, no money, no cell, no gas. She called her manager to the front and I explained the predicament to him, greatly embarrassed.

Although I grew up poor, I'm not sure I ever "felt" our poverty so much as I did in that very moment. I was walking into a business I had intended to patronize only to hold out my hand and ask for spare change.

I explained where I worked and that I just needed to use the phone to contact them to ask for help both to reach my supervisor's cell, or to ask one of them in the office to come help me.  I tried to hide my interior cringe, realizing how far this little episode was already spreading.

Thankfully he was very helpful, gave me the store's cordless phone and stood by while I called 411 at his direction (they didn't have a phone book that had my work city in it & I don't have the main number memorized!). 

I called the front desk, explained to the receptionist my strandedness and poorness, and she gave me my supervisor's cell number, but also told me to call her back if I couldn't reach her. She said that someone in the office would be able to help. I thanked her and tried twice to reach my boss - no luck, and it's not as if she could reach me where I was! I did explain the "back-up" plan and told her not to worry if we didn't connect, just said I'd try later. Which I did - no luck.

I called the parish office back and told the receptionist I was still stranded. She transferred me to the business administrator who said he'd come to the gas station to release me from gas station purgatory. (My words, not his). 

I handed the phone to the clerk and thanked her for their help and said my assistance was on the way.

Upon returning to my car, I continued to stare at my bag, wondering how I could possibly NOT have my purse? How could that be? How did I leave it home? WHERE WAS IT?


My "savior" soon arrived, filled my tank and told me to just write him a check when I next returned to work (ostensibly with my purse this time). He said that he'd been in a similar boat before and thought it nothing to offer a little assistance.

When I arrived at work, I had a message from my boss who had called the parish office and learned I was already being assisted. She told me that she was going to start sending me messages to remember my stuff every day. (Yesterday I left my work keys home).

Yes, that's life.

Obviously God judged that I was in need of humility today. But because of that lesson, I'm also incredibly grateful that I have people in my life so willing to come to my assistance, that I didn't run out of gas on the freeway with no ability to call for help along with the money to pay for it, and that, well, I have a job, for even though I am poor, at least I (usually) have enough for what I need without having to beg every day.

Thank you, Lord.

Stop laughing! 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Verbum Domini

During my Master's studies, our professors, especially our scripture professors, spoke of the Synod taking place regarding Holy Scripture. We studied the various methods of study, critiqued them, used them and learned from them, although, of course, we learned primarily from God Himself.

Our texts regarding Sacred Scripture came to us primarily through Dei Verbum (Vatican II), The Pontifical Biblical Commission, and Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger). We couldn't help but fall in love with our dear Papa's scriptural tutelage, and greatly lamented the state of scriptural "scholarship" which has been dominated by either near or outright heresy for the last 40 years or so.  Jesus of Nazareth was a breath of fresh air, a rock to cling to in an ocean of "scholarship" seeking to deny the divinity of Christ, or to at least separate His divinity from his humanity.

Although we did not study these dominant academic dissidents in our program, all of us had been exposed to them, and a few of my classmates had been trained under them and inflicted with their disassemble-ship of Christ through the scriptures.  They were sincerely traumatized and confused, having to see the study of the Bible through entirely different eyes. They were eyes they desired, but their confusion arose from the twisted "scholarship" that has so lead people astray and destroyed their faith (quite literally) for a very long time.

In scriptural studies, Redaction criticism may have a place, but not a dominant place. Historical-critical methods have a place, but not if used in isolation. As our Holy Father pointed out in Jesus of Nazareth, and now, again, more feverently in the Apostolic Exhortation, Verbum Domini, the methods of scriptural interpretation and research need to be taken in proper context of the WHOLE of scripture and Divine Revelation.

As I read the first section of Verbum Domini, I realized it was nearly a complete synthesis of my Master's program. I considered writing to ask Pope Benedict XVI if he had patterned our education after this introduction, but rather, I see it as the work of the Holy Spirit: it reveals that those who taught me were well within the mind, heart, and soul of the Church and formed us accordingly.

As I began the second section, I found myself deep within Ecclesiology and through all of it, deeply entrenched in our Catholic Theological Tradition.  Pope Benedict XVI operates through the hermeneutic of continuity, finding the foundation for us all and bringing it to light through the Church Fathers (Patristics). He knows he cannot speak of scriptural interpretation apart from St. Jerome.

Although I have not completed my study of the Exhortation, one of the passages that has affected me most deeply came from Pope Benedict XVI himself, and I hope it is a passage that fuels your own prayer as well.  I pray most deeply that you will read it and decide to enter into this Apostolic Exhortation. By definition this document is a re-presentation of known Catholic Doctrine, "exhorting" the faithful to follow what the Church in her wisdom has ALWAYS taught as Truth.  Take this document to heart, let it enter your soul, and let it draw you ever closer to Our Lord.

As the cross of Christ demonstrates, God also speaks by his silence. The silence of God, the experience of the distance of the almighty Father, is a decisive stage in the earthly journey of the Son of God, the incarnate Word. Hanging from the wood of the cross, he lamented the suffering caused by that silence: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mk 15:34; Mt 27:46). Advancing in obedience to his very last breath, in the obscurity of death, Jesus called upon the Father. He commended himself to him a the moment of passage, through death, to eternal life: "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit" (Lk 23:46). 

 This experience of Jesus reflects the situation of all those who, having heard and acknowledged God's word, must also confront his silence. This has been the experience of countless saints and mystics, and even today is part of the journey of many believers.  God's silence prolongues his earlier words. In these moments of darkness, he speaks through the mystery of his silence. Hence, in the dynamic of Christian revelation, silence appears as an important expression of the word of God. 



Monday, November 15, 2010

Murder in the Heart

Tonight I watched the movie "The Quick and the Dead" (1995), a movie I thought I'd seen before, but it turns out, well....I hadn't.

It's not the kind of movie I normally watch, but tonight I did so with theological themes in mind, and I have to be honest; under the influence of the philosophy of Flannery O'Connor. I can't explain exactly why, but I think she would have loved this movie.

While there are themes of vengeance and outright violence, it takes place in a town seemingly-improperly named: "Redemption".

The characters are all fallen, none are necessarily likeable (outside of the little girl who suffers an unspeakable offense), and even that child displays the concupiscence of the world that surrounds her, yet none of the protection given to other children her age.

The film juxtaposes those who are murderous by nature, those who have reformed and are trying to overcome their nature, and those who are there by choice but truly have a more benevolent nature. All are fallen, all have sinned, and in the same way, but not all share the same level of depravity.

The lone voice of reason and holiness is quiet (but far from silent), is vilified by all sides and even falls himself, seemingly a discredit to his own attempted reform. In this movie, that which is holy is chained, disarmed except to be armed for battle for the enemy, and then forced into that battle, forced into a temptation so strong he cannot overcome it.

The protagonist enters with a vengeance, but in the process, learns the soul of the antagonist and seeks to flee. She is bolstered by a voice from the past, the only one who knows who she is and what she seeks. That, too, is a temptation, and she returns to the  battle, only to learn that her chance to stand down is gone. It is a metaphor, at this point, for addiction.

"Your chance to back out is gone."   The words of evil Herod are clear.

The duel scene between Herod and his son, "The Boy", are the antithesis of the Gospel, for in this movie, the Father not only directly kills his son in a town named "Redemption" but does so for his own glory, and then denies his patronage to the deceased boy. The Boy was somewhat of a town hero; if anyone should have won the duel, it should have been him, but in Redemption, evil holds court, reveling in a taste of Hell that just continues.

It's no surprise that the Woman, the protagonist, deals the killing blow, crushing Satan beneath her heel, and in so doing, passes on the star that represents the Law into the hands of the Holy Man, the lone representative of moral law.

I don't know if the author of the original story, Simon Moore, is a Catholic, but based on this movie, I see Catholicism, I see Christianity.

Now, before you object, I am not saying that the moral play-out of this movie is Christian, or that what the characters did was right, or that it didn't twist Christian themes a bit. However, I do see an allegorical nature to it and think we might legitimately take notice and use it to examine ourselves.

Examination of Conscience

The protagonist, the female gunslinger, came a bit too close to home for me, although I'm not willing to express all the dimensions of that. Certainly, as a woman who once ventured into law enforcement and worked hard to harden myself to the world around me, the main character here could "speak" to me.

In all honesty, I sought to be what she was:  cool, collected, tough, and a great shot. She could play with the big dogs and still maintain her femininity while placing them at bay.

Tonight, as I watched the movie, though, the scene that most stood out to me was her response to the vermine that stole the innocence of the only innocent character in the movie. She struggled with justice and mercy, opted for mercy even as "Satan" egged her on, then found herself in a position of self defense. She was triumphant, but struck to her very being. She was not innocent and had entered into this walking her daddy's line.

I'm no different.

When she blew the pedophile's *ss away, I said to myself that I would have done the same thing, but I would have had no mercy.  I would have taken him out piece by piece, slowly and with great relish to ensure he suffered as slow and painful a death as possible.

That's murder, folks.  That's murder in the heart, and yes, I'm capable of it. I hold a hatred and anger so deep within myself that I could look you straight in the eye and tell you in person what I stated above, and I'm neither the victim of such a crime nor the relation or friend of one who has suffered it (to my knowledge).

But oh, yes, I know it is within me and in that knowledge, I am brought to my knees by the words of Christ, who, in Matthew, 5 asserts that sin in the heart is as real as that sin made manifest. As we give life to temptation, so that temptation becomes sin and therefore palpable in the eyes of God, even if not physically committed.

Yes, I have committed murder in my heart, I did so tonight and have done so many times before. Too many to count.  I know I could and will kill in hatred and vengeance; my own conscience tells me  it's possible. What I learned in psychology tells me this: That which we can conceive in our imaginations we have the propensity to commit.

I recall standing in the early morning corridor of an apartment building, a gun in my hand, loaded, pointed at a man who had just drawn on us. I did not want to kill him, for truly, he was just being stupid and had no intent, on his own part, to kill anyone else, certainly not us. We were to learn he was a regular guy, if a not-so-bright-one and in my professionalism, I had no desire to pull the trigger. Although I knew I might have to kill, I had an innate sense that the level of force we offered was sufficient.

I can't say, though, that if I was emotionally involved I would have the same restraint.

Yes, I have it within me to pull the trigger. I have it within my fallen nature to take a life.

I have it within my nature, for I have, through the trials of life, been formed in a murderous culture that fed into my own propensities, making it possible to give license to such murderous evil.

I have had murder in my heart, and therefore, in God's eyes, I have been guilty of murder.

Lord, have mercy on me, and defend me from evil.

Sed libera nos a malo. Sed libera nos a malo....

Saturday, November 13, 2010

New Beginning

November is such a deathly month.

The festivities of All Saints' Day leads into the remembrance of all those who have passed on the Feast of All Souls. We the faithful are encouraged to visit cemeteries and pray for the dead, those Holy Souls in Purgatory, and in the meantime the skies tend to be darker, the sun gives less light, we rise in darkness and work the only light of the day away while we are crammed into stuffy offices.

The physical darkness also leads to a darkness of the soul, in a sense, as well. Recently when I went to Confession the priest observed how the temptations seem to crouch and attack even more vehemently as we descend into this dark season, and we must be that much more on our guard.

When we fall into sin, especially when we refuse to repent, our intellects become darkened as well, we begin to lose our way all too easily, and this makes it that much more necessary to cling to Our Lord, to keep our eyes on Him, and to stay close to the Sacraments.

I've been wandering around in a fog myself of late. Ever since the time change, rising with a kiss of light in the sky but leaving work in darkness, I'm discombobulated. Earlier this week I was sick with food poisoning and struggling against a mini-depression. (Not speaking in the clinical sense).

I'm always a little frustrated during this time of year, because the trees have given up their glory to the encroaching season, their skeletal branches reminding us all of death. The parks no longer draw crowds, instead they are taken over by Canadian Geese that leave their droppings as payment for the layover. We cannot walk in the evenings because it is so dark and there aren't enough street lights. There is always a feeling of danger, so I opt to remain close to home where I can control some of the light that shines through the darkness to light our way.

Today, though, I woke up to snow, and I actually breathed a deep sigh of relief.

Although for years I have dreaded the first snow, a conditioned response from my years working in Insurance Claims (even as I worked as an Investigator snow was a nightmare to my ability to do my job effectively), and last winter was spent on mostly-bald tires, this year, for some reason, I'm relieved.

While I'm not quite ready to sing praises to snow, I am grateful for the light it brings and reflects. Now I may choose to walk the dog in the evening, for the whiteness of the snow absorbs and reveals the lights of the city, or if it is clear, the light of the moon.

It is like a new beginning, this advent of winter. Just as we recognize human death as the beginning of eternal life, so is the coming of winter in November a revelation in some way, of the promise of eternal beatitude. It is one of the reasons I so love the seasons here in the North, for even in the darkest time of the year, we are surrounded by light, should we choose to see it.

Monday, November 08, 2010

God Loves Single Women

Sit back, relax and have a cup of hot cocoa or something. It's Story Time With Adoro

I lived in Minneapolis when I celebrated my 24th or 25th Birthday. Maybe it was my 26th? Who knows?

In any case, I got together that evening with some friends who picked me up at my house in south Minneapolis and we went out to dinner at the Green Mill on Hennepin Avenue in Uptown. (For those not local, that's an area just "south" of Downtown Minneapolis, filled with restarants and nightclubs and to-die-for apartments and homes of high value but no parking. I'm sure it's the Greenwich Village of the Midwest.)

We were a small group, planning to meet a few other people later on that evening at a club downtown. Our plan was to go to South Beach (which would be host to a deadly shooting a few weeks later), and then meet another friend at The Quest nightclub a block or so away sometime around midnight.

As it turned out, we had to split up because a few people couldn't stay out the whole night, and one friend had to leave around midnight. So my friend who had agreed to meet her boyfriend at The Quest left with our other friend, Heidi, and I walked my friend Marie to her car in the parking garage. Then I headed to Quest and stood in line, hoping to get ID'd in time to get my free birthday drink.

I'm not sure if it's true anymore, but at the time, Quest was primarily a destination for those of African-American descent. It was a very popular and very cool place, they played great music with the unfortunate side effect (as in the case of several Downtown Minneapolis clubs) of playing host to the occasional murder.

We who lived there were used to the street warfare and realized that if we never went out for fear of getting shot, well, we'd never go out. Ever.

Seriously, part of a great night on the town meant risking getting caught up in the warzone antics of a few sociopathic malcontents who like to make city living miserable for their targets and anyone standing anywhere in their vicinity.

So there I was, alone, in line at the Quest. Just to set the scene, I was wearing a short little black skirt and a form-fitting top, both of which revealed my figure and my great-looking legs. (* sigh * I miss them) While I've never been a great beauty, I was quite easy on the eyes at the time, and fit in quite nicely at this dark, bass-thumping nightclub.

Indeed, I came in just in time to get a drink...but there were no birthday deals, so I paid to enter the club and for a rail drink. A screwdriver or rum and coke, I think. It doesn't really matter.

I wandered through the crowds, searching out my friends, who were supposed to be there. I coudn't find them, and was beginning to panic. Was I blind? Where were they?

I don't know why, but I've always had a fear of being left alone someplace, or being "stood up" somewhere. That night, that fear became somewhat of a reality. Although I knew that my friends would not intentionally  abandon me someplace like the Quest, of ALL places! What happened?

At some point, I met a guy who was either there with friends and got bored, or arrived there by himself in hopes of finding some sort of entertainment. He approached me as I was standing alone and clearly searching the crowd, and we struck up a conversation. This man was a complete gentleman, and in fact, helped me search the club for my friends. And no, he wasn't white. I'm pretty sure I was the ONLY white chick in the entire place at the time, which is part of what concerned me with finding my friends...they were white, too. They should have stood out!

This gentleman in his kindness basically became my escort (the good kind!) and talked me into standing still for awhile, with the thought that my friends might ALSO be looking for me. He logically pointed out that if we were all roaming on the opposite sides of the club, we might find each other if one of us takes time to stand still. I saw his logic so stood talking with him for a bit, hoping one of my friends might happen past, at which time I also planned to invite this kindly stranger into our own mix.

When the man left for a moment to either head to the bar for a water or coke or something, I remained where I was, and some gangsta-type guy walked up to me and said in a low voice, "The Brotha wants to talk to you."


He wouldn't look at me. He was just a messenger. "The Brotha wants to talk to ya." And he signaled with his doo-rag clad head that I should follow him. 


Now, mind you, I was still in a bit of a panic, I'd had a few drinks (although not that many that evening, even though it was my birthday), and in my distracted illogic, I had some hope that this guy was really an emissary of my friends. Never mind that my friends would not send a stranger to bring me to them.

Just the same, I went into a darkened corner with the guy, and there I was brought to the "throne" of another guy who was clearly in charge of the bunch. No one was looking at me. The "Brotha" had his hand partially covering his head in quite the kingly manner, and as I approached, he addressed not me, but his henchman who had brought me to him. He did not speak, just waved his hand in a "shoo-ing" motion.

I was largely ignoring him, instead, looking for my friends. I didn't know who this Loser was, but realized as I was there that I was in the besotted lair of some kind of local gang. The Crips? The Bloods? The Rolling 30's? Who?

Who cares?

In any case, the henchman pawn that led me to his king basically told me I was dismissed, (to give him credit, he didn't seem real thrilled with his role and actually had a sense of sympathy about him,albeit misplaced) and because I didn't really give a rat's ass anyway, I walked away. It wasn't as though they were holding my friends hostage. I wondered how many of those guys were packing heat, though, and how they'd gotten through the metal detectors.

Having left unscathed the pathetic Lair of the Gangsta King, I was happy to find my "savior" waiting for me. 

I told him what had happened, and he just shook his head. It was around that point that I realized I'd just been a sow on display and had been "rejected". And you know...I've never forgotten it. I've come to realize that The Quest was that  particular Gangsta Loser's own personal sow arena.That horseapple in a do-rag was sending his gangsta pawns out to find fresh meat for his approval, and if they didn't meet his image, in other words, if he didn't want to "tap that" then they would be dismissed.

Hi, I'm a cow. Like every other woman in the club that night, according to that jerk. Better a living cow than a horseapple, that's what I always say. 

How I wished I had hooves so as to trample such carrion into the manure they choose to imitate.

But really, never mind. That's an old story that will never die in any age.  The nice guy who befriended me and I both realized my friends weren't there, and so he actually gave me a dime to complete the fee for the payphone so I could call my friend. She didn't have a cell so I called her home number, hoping she'd check messages. She answered the phone!

Apparently, they had gone to Quest, the boyfriend of our other friend wasn't there so they returned to South Beach to pick us up...but Marie and I had already gone!. So she went home, not knowing what else to do since I didn't have a cell and it was plausible that I had gone with my other friend. Well, when I called she agreed to come back and get me, being I was stranded and all, so my new friend and I walked out and stood on the corner, waiting. It was a warm and pleasant June evening, and I was happy this guy really seemed to have no interest in hitting on me. He was legitimately a nice guy.

(How RARE!)

I learned during our sidewalk conversings that he was an Entymologist who had, until recently, lived in Chicago. He told me he was concerned with what was happening at the Quest, because, just after we'd walked out the door, there was a fight and a massive police response. Traffic downtown was gridlock. He said that clubs that catered to the black population in Chicago had been shut down because of crime, and he didn't want to see the same kind of segregation in Minneapolis as that which exists in Chicago. He liked the fact that a woman such as myself, and others of my friends (which I'd told him were also white or varying races) could come and go in such clubs, and that the main clientele of the Quest would come and go in the other Downtown nightclubs as well.

Among my friends, for our part, we thought nothing of it; although there remains a certain amount of segregation in every big city, in my observation, Minneapolis doesn't even come close to what is experienced in Chicago. I regularly hung out with a mixed crowd, and was comfortable in doing so. Perhaps the greatest evidence of this was my presence that night at The Quest; even though I never saw another white face, no one paid any mind to me or I to them. No one cared. Neither of us was "threatening" to another.

So it was that my new friend waited with me until Heidi pulled up in her Jetta. I had his phone number, but never called afterward because I "wasn't the kind of girl to meet guys at the bar". Yet, I have to say, I've never forgotten him, an oasis in a desert of immorality. A gentleman among creeps.

To this day, I believe that God sent this man to me to protect me, to help me get out of a bad spot, and to give me companionship in a place where a woman alone would have been in a very dangerous position.

The Quest is still in existence, and has hosted groups such as the bluegrass-influence group, Nickel Creek (one of my favorites). But I don't know what it's like now on an average Friday or Saturday night. I think, other than attending a concert, that was the last time I visited The Quest.

God looks out for Single women, I am absolutely convinced of that. 

No, I don't think the guy who befrended me was an angel, but he continues to serve as a reminder to me that God often uses us all to provide protection and comfort for strangers, and we should follow that call.

So I ask you to pray for the man who helped me that evening...may God bless and keep him, and raise up more men like him! He was the very image (spiritually) of St. Joseph. I wish I could meet him again, if only to thank him for his simple assistance to a young woman out of her element and without the protection of her friends.

I continue to believe he was motivated out of true good will, recognizing a woman alone, out of place, and out of her element. I've always felt bad about not calling him back, but at the time I was not looking for a boyfriend, I felt he was too old for me, and, well, I had met him at a bar (never mind we were both sober).

I trust he is likely now happily married and watching out for his own little girls. I hope he didn't feel too slighted by not hearing from me (for some reason I don't hear the earthquake of a breaking heart), but just the same, I remember him well, whoever he was, and hope that all mothers and fathers raise such good sons. He did their parents proud and I will forever be grateful.

My only regret is that he is not a friend of mine today.

Ladies, God takes special care of single women and often sends help even when we don't know we need it.

Gentleman, please look upon this example of how God uses men to protect His beloved.

It isn't rocket science; holiness is pure common sense, willing the good of the other and always living in the light of knowing we find our ends in God alone.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Musical Contemplation

Elgar's Cello Concerto in E Minor, originally composed against the backdrop of post-WWI chaos, is a heavily emotional and contemplative piece. As today is a 1st Friday, perhaps it will aid you in your on contemplation of the Passion and Death of Our Lord, and the perfect love with which He went to the Cross for us.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

News of the Intercessor Relief from the Omaha Archdiocese

This is the 1st time I've weighed in on the topic of the suppression of the former "Intercessors of the Lamb", but today I received an important email from the Omaha Archdiocese and those who are obedient to the Bishop and taking steps to discern where God is calling them.

They're in a difficult place and I felt it would be worth sharing this information for the former Intercessors are indeed in need of assistance. Please read the text provided below (I omitted the old news of the suppression, etc, all of which can be found on the Diocesan website).

My Dear Friends,

Many of you have been emailing and phoning over the past several days with questions and concerns for the 56 former Intercessors of the Lamb, who under the guidance of Archbishop George J. Lucas, are beginning a time of community discernment as they look to the future. I thank you for all of the prayerful support you have offered to them in this challenging time.

Attached to this email is a letter and a photo of the former community members and a letter from Archbishop George J. Lucas which will help answer your many questions about these faithful individuals as well as address questions you have regarding the teachings of Nadine Brown and the status of the BellwetherOmaha website.
Thank you for your continued prayers and financial support for these devoted and obedient men and women of God.
In Christ,

Rev. Gregory P. Baxter

Archbishop’s Delegate


Dear Companions and Friends,

May the grace and peace of the Risen Lamb be with you. We would like to thank all of you for your love, prayers and intercession. As you can understand, this has been a difficult time for all of us. Questions and concerns have been pouring in from all over, so we wanted to update you at this time.
Due to the tremendous compassion and generosity of Archbishop Lucas and the Archdiocese of Omaha, we are currently being cared for in a retreat center outside of Omaha. It has been a time to pray, to grieve, to reflect and to rest as we try to come to terms with this great loss. We are deeply moved by the love and support that has been pouring in from all of you and we know that this is what is carrying us right now. The Lord promises us in Jeremiah 29:11 a future full of hope. The weeks and months ahead will be a time to heal and discern the future that the Lord intends for us. Please continue to lift us up in prayer. Pray that we will receive the grace to understand His vision and move forward in His will for us.
Many of you are writing to ask if there is anything that we need. Other than your love and prayers, we need your financial support right now. The cost of finding a home for 50+ people is monumental. Like the Israelites in the Exodus, we left with very little. The Archdiocese is helping us to look for a place which would house our community, so that we can continue to live and work and pray together, and from which we can, once again, begin to communicate with all of you on a regular basis. Our monthly expenses will be approximately $25,000 which includes housing, utilities, food and basic living expenses such as gas and phone service.
VERY IMPORTANT: Checks should be made payable to “Archdiocese of Omaha” with a notation in the memo field for “Intercessor Relief,” and mailed to:

Intercessor Relief
c/o Archdiocese of Omaha
100 N. 62nd Street
Omaha, NE 68132

An urgent reminder: Any donations to “The Intercessors of the Lamb, Inc,” will not be used to support a Catholic organization. If you choose to donate to anyone, personally, whose name does not appear on the list at the end of this letter, you may be running the risk of supporting Intercessors of the Lamb, Inc.
A financial report of donations and expenses will be posted on our website at appropriate times. It is our desire to have full transparency and accountability for all of the generous funds contributed for our support.

Statement from Fr Baxter...with given permission to pass on to former Companions)

The bellwetheromaha web site ( is no longer affiliated with the Catholic Church and should be avoided by all Catholics.

I am working with 48 former Intercessors and will continue to do so as they discern the possibilities of forming a new community. If any one wants to make an “authentic” donation to help the former community members you can let them know that only those checks payable to the “Archdiocese of Omaha” with a notation made in the memo field for "Intercessor Relief" will go to support these former Intercessor members. They can send a donation to:

Intercessor Relief
c/o Archdiocese of Omaha
100 North 62nd Street
Omaha, NE 68132

These would be tax-deductable gifts.

Please feel free to forward this to those who may interceded in helping.

Thank you and God bless you.

Fr. Baxter


Once we settle in, we will need the following items:



Cars, trucks, vans

Possibly some furniture

Phone cards to assist with long distance calling

Gift cards so that we can purchase household items

Please understand that we need some space and privacy to grieve and work through all that has happened. We realize that we are all grieving together, and we carry you in our hearts. We realize that many of you have questions and do not understand what has happened. Even to us, this is quite a shock, but we are all in agreement with the Archbishop and support him 100% in his decision.
It is very important that you know that the canonical visitation with Fr. James Conn was not the reason for the suppression of the public association of the Intercessors of the Lamb, nor was it due to problems with the charism itself. After the canonical visitation, the majority of the community was excited about Archbishop Lucas’ desire to help us grow in various areas of our community life. With the help of Fr. Gregory Baxter, that process was underway and things were actually going well…we began to feel excitement about the future. There are 56 brothers, sisters and priests who, along with the vast majority of our local lay community, remained obedient to the Archbishop throughout that entire process. The suppression came because of the unwillingness of Nadine Brown to cooperate with Fr. Baxter, the Archbishop’s trustee, and the unwillingness of the majority of the “Intercessors of the Lamb, Inc.” civil board to comply with Archbishop Lucas’ directives that would put the civil board in conformity with the Canon Law of the Catholic Church and allow us to move forward as a community within the Catholic Church. We thank those on that board who did comply with the Archbishop.


The best sources for accurate updates during this time can be found on the Archdiocese of Omaha’s website on the following link, called “Intercessor Update”:
Our mailing address is:

P.O. Box 31457
Omaha, NE 68131

Our email is:

We are so very grateful to all of you who have expressed your concern for us and who have sent in donations to assist us so far. Your kindness and generosity to us at this time of great need will not be forgotten!

It is very important for all of us here to let you know that all of the former Intercessor of the Lamb priests have remained faithful to the Archbishop, along with the vast majority of former sisters and brothers. We have listed below the names of all of us who are standing in firm obedience to our Archbishop and to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. We are:

Name  -  Former Religious Name

Father Mark Nolte Father John Mark

Father Kevin Joyce Father John Paul

Father Walter Jong-A-Kiem Father Paschal

Father Christopher Onuoha Father Christopher

Father Michael Voithofer Father John Michael

Father Les Valerio Father Francis

David Hennessy Brother David Marie

Charles Beck Brother Paul Marie

Ryan Waddell Brother Francesco Diego

Sean Tobin Brother Simon Mary

David Simon Brother Noah Michael

Michael Nolte Brother Michael

Edward Wamala Brother John Marie

Deacon Gregory Lies Brother Jerome

Anthony Kote-Witah Brother Anthony of the Lamb

Matthew Bomm Brother Matthew Thomas Mary

Thomas Todt Brother Jeremiah

Bob Newell Brother Raphael

Bill O’Connor Brother Peter

Agnes Bitature Sr. Cecilia Marie

Angelina Pang Sr. Angelina

Angela Lee Sr. Angela Mary

AntoninaForteza Sr. Mary Antonina

Barbara Lund Sr. Barbara

BenedictaQuainoo Sr. Benedicta Therese

Carmen Ramos Sr. Pia Therese

Catherine Mackid Sr. Agnes Anawim

Cecilia Becker Sr. Maria Rosa

Chris Gerien Sr. Catherine Marie

Cindy Iglesias Sr. Carmela

Cristina Guevara Sr. Mary Cristina

Danielle Tayabas Sr. Mary Angelus

DanikaBoever Sr. Mary Danika

Elisabeth Ng Sr. Mary Natalia

Gloria Erickson Sr. Gloria

Holly Dow Sr. Holly

Jacqueline Bocklett Sr. Anna Marie

Janice McGrew Sr. Mary Hope

Jean Felber Sr. Jean Michelle

Jenny Mansingh Sr. Rosalinda Marie

JuliannaKoh Sr. Therese Marie

Kate Casale Sr. Mary Rose

Kathy Hawkins Sr. Miriam Agnes

Lily Ogbulafor Sr. Mary Uchenna

Linda Roach Sr. Gabriella

Linda Marie Neuhoff Sr. Elizabeth Marie

Lindsay Brennan Sr. Lucia Therese

LouellaColburn Sr. Louise Marie

Louise Edwards Sr. Louise

Lynne Keating Sr. Judith Marie

Rebecca Wunderlick Sr. Rebecca

Rose-Mary Roy Sr. Rose Virginie

Rita Gatt Sr. Rita Therese

Rita Bazzi Sr. Mary Rita

Sherraline Lewis Sr. Petra

Vilma Gomez Sr. Evangeline

Those who have decided to return to their homes and to their lives in the world are:

Donna Fleming Sr. Mary Magdalene

Marianne Bell Sr. Margaret Mary

Mavis Stowers Sr. Mary Faustina

Wade Marsh Br. Francis Ambrose

Once again, we thank all of you who have been so kind and supportive to us during this time of trial. We repeat our promise to pray for you, for your needs and for all the intentions of your hearts.

Gratefully, in the Heart of Jesus and Mary,

(signed by the former Intercessors)

Please note that I was not a "Companion" and do not share the charismatic spirituality, however I do support these good men and women who had a community one day and didn't the next. We are all edified by their obedience as they pass through this trial, and they do certainly deserve our support and prayers. 

Other than that, I really don't think I have anything else to say about it. Please keep the former Intercessors in  your prayers as they discern their future.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Never Forgotten - The Feast of All Souls

November 2nd is the Feast of All Souls, and all of November we are called to especially remember the dead, those who have left for eternity and may be suffering the agony and ecstasy of Purgatory.

Yes, the Doctrine of Purgatory is alive and well, although many funeral-goers in our day and age may be missing this teaching. It has become common for many who come to Catholic funerals to be subjected to the Eulogy line-dance of nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, children and friends of the deceased offering their varied tributes to the guest of honor, none of which actually ask for prayers for their soul.

There are those who don't understand why such a display is inappropriate to a Catholic Mass, and this lack of understanding is scandalous because it does not only betray an ignorance of the doctrine of Purgatory, but also of the reality and holiness of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which is nothing other than the entire life of Christ and most especially, the Sacrifice of Calvary made present right through the Resurrection.  *deep breath* 

The Catholic funeral is to call to mind, most especially, the death and resurrection of Christ, the hope of salvation, the reality of purgatory and the necessity of prayers for the deceased.

The liturgical and devotional practices of November are to call us to remember the dead, pray for the Holy Souls and reflect upon, in this season of death, our own future particular judgment. One day we will all stand alone, naked, before God, our entire lives, actions and omissions up for review. Heaven is not a guarantee. We do not get there by being merely "nice people".  We are called to be HOLY which is NOT the same thing as, "a nice guy".  I know a lot of "nice guys" and "nice gals" living a life of utter rejection of God. And I used to be one of them.

If I'm not careful, I could return to such a state, for I, too am weak. I, too, will face my Judgment and it will NOT be pretty, for I have much to atone for already, and my life is not  yet over.


There is always debate about what Catholics believe with regard to ghosts.

Yes, I believe in ghosts, but my belief as a Catholic does not usually match the popular portrayal of them.

We, as human beings, are body and soul, and we believe in a future resurrection. When we physically die, our souls go on, either to Purgatory to be purged of any impurity, or we go straight to heaven, if, in fact, we have attained a state of holiness that allows us to bypass the necessary purgation.  This is what the process of canonization reveals; whether a person has truly lived such a holy life.

What are ghosts?

Recently I read a tale of a little girl who inhabited a cemetery and a trail nearby, as well as other adjacent domains. Many people describe the apparition, what she is wearing, how she sounds when she speaks, and some paranormal investigators tried to locate her own cemeterial domicile.  In their findings, they thought this spectre might belong to a Protestant corner of an ecumenical cemetery, given the documented sightings.

As I read the story, I was struck not only by her plaintive attempts at communication, but also by her suspected origin; the Protestant corner (vs. Catholic, Jewish, or non-religious).  I realized that this little girl might be in purgatory for, as a protestant child, no one is praying for her soul. I began to do so, in hopes that perhaps all she was seeking in her appearances was someone to notice and pray for her.

Yes, I notice.  All we Catholics notice.

Well....maybe. After all, if Purgatory is not preached in our own parishes, how many are actually praying for souls?

How many pray for even their own dead?

I confess that I rarely pray for even my own family's souls. I am ashamed, but this day every year gives me a fresh reminder and holds me to account for my own sin of omission, for yes, it is a sin to not pray for the dead!

It is for this reason that, this year, I want to especially focus on prayer for the deceased. We cannot know their judgment, so we look to the resurrection, to the mercy of God, and we know that each and every cemetery reveals an opportunity for grace and is, in and of itself, a sign of hope.

I've been looking, therefore, for nearby cemeteries, to include inactive ones still containing their dead, for I hope to go there to pray most especially for those souls that have been forgotten. I encourage you all to do the same in your own locale.  For those in Minnesota, you may begin your light "research" here.

How many have been forgotten?

How many souls roam about the earth not to haunt, but only to be noticed in hopes some generous and compassionate soul will pray for them?

Last weekend I visited a cemetery and saw many broken, abandoned tombstones. Perhaps their family has died and gone away. I am reminded of my own father's tombstone, which I have never seen and now, no one lives close enough to visit. I have never seen where my grandmother was buried, and know that her Protestant daughter and son-in-law do not pray for her for they do not believe as we Catholics do. I don't think I've ever been taken to my Grandfather's grave, likely in the same cemetery.

I feel guilty because I have never been there and know that my own family's graves are abandoned, but I find one consolation; better the grave site be abandoned than their souls.

Still, I cannot help but be struck by obviously abandoned graves, knowing from observation and experience how few people really visit graveyards outside of the burial, and if they do, it is for sentiment and not for pious prayers for their beloved deceased.  It is a joy to behold flowers decorating a grave, for it tells me that person was and remains loved.  However, does that love always translate to ongoing prayers for their eternal souls? We cannot know; we can only examine ourselves, not the motivations of others.

Let no soul be forgotten; let us always pray for them, remember them, and  ensure that no soul ever spend their purgatory begging to be noticed.

Do not let the spiritual bouquet of prayers be only plastic replicas, but give those Holy Suffering Souls the living flowers of prayer and penance; one day you will be where they are, and you do not want to be one of the Abandoned.

REQUIEM aeternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen.
ETERNAL rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.