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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Between Writer's Block and Too Much to Say - Story Time With Adoro!

So, this last weekend I returned to visit the religious community I hope and pray with all my heart and soul to enter as a Monastic Sister (and with their welcome and blessing, should God will it), and in returning home, I had a miraculous adventure involving the Wisconsin State Patrol.

But I don't feel like writing about that tonight. Instead, I'm going to tell you about my re-discovery of 21 Jump Street, a show I used to watch in high school (I think I was in High School...or was I in Jr. High? Dunno).

I remember now why I loved Johnny Depp so much and am really happy he has turned out to be such an amazing character actor. And yeah, I still think he's hot.

(Yeah, I'm gonna be a Nun, God willing, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate His work or that I have forgotten my adolescent hots for a celebrity I'll never meet and would probably be totally disillusioned by meeting the real guy. Because let's face it: most people pretty much suck, being of fallen nature and all.)

Anyway....Tonight's Episode: The Parting of the Red Sea:

Watching this show has brought me back to my High School days.  In my town, we had Jr. High, which ran from 7th through 9th grade, which meant that 9th graders were deprived of Title in our town. Titles began with 10th Grade, the Sophomore year.

What really sucked about that was the fact that the angst of being a Freshman was transferred to the know-it-all-year of being a Sophomore in a new place where swirlies didn't reign anymore and all those who thought they had power actually became members of the homecoming committee just so they could have the dubious honor of having their houses toilet-papered by scantily-clad, overindulged cheerleaders with too much makeup, too many hours in the tanning booth and no imagination.

But never mind all that. I was a band geek, and to make it worse, I was on the Flag Corps because it was more fun to wield an instrument of potential weaponry than to tie a huge unwieldy music stand to my arm and play my flute with a bunch of untalented people who couldn't walk and chew gum, much less play music and walk in step.

OK, that was unfair...I really couldn't do that either and actually, still go down in the record books as the only Flag Corps member to create a disaster out of something for which she advocated tooth and nail.

But that's a different story, from Senior Homecoming. Let's just put that aside, shall we?

Back to Sophomore year...

We were new, we were lost, and we were trying to find our way.

Our fall Homecoming game was wonderful and I loved Homecoming as a high school student, in spite of our weird nostalgic uniforms circa 1970.

By then, we sophomores had been there long enough to realize that not only were we mere amoebas on the relative ecological scale, but that mouthing off to Seniors, especially certain Juniors OR Seniors might well end in death.

At that time, I was a mere mouse of a geek, so far off the scale and so far beyond caring that finally, I was beginning to show a little personality even at school.

After the Football Game that night (American Football, for any readers outside the US, meaning "not Soccer")  a couple friends and I were waiting for our parents to pick us up. I was standing on a cement bench, mouthing off or maybe singing some obnoxious theatrical tune as my friends heckled and "danced" below, all of us laughing and joking.

Suddenly some guy came through the school doors and yelled to me to "SHUT UP!"

I stopped mid-note and, indignantly, shouted back, "YOU Shut up!"

Then I saw him stalking towards us, resolute, passing under the single light next to the flag pole...and I realized who he was: the ONE guy NO ONE talked back to in our school.

He was the football player who walked through the hallways quietly, yet even when it was the most crowded, it parted like the Red Sea.

It was at that moment, as he passed beneath the light, illuminating his personage, that he questioned me in shock, "WHAT!?"

I gulped, realizing I was in for it so might as well make it worth it. I stepped down to be at eye level with him...well...sorta.

"You heard me! YOU shut up!"

My friends stared at me in horror. Two of them were Juniors, fellow band geeks-flag-corps-members. it turned out, I made a new friend that night.

Rick thought I was cool because I refused to back down. We became friends that very evening.

That following Monday, he saw me at my locker and invited me to walk with him around the school, a typical morning tradition for most students. Think of Saturday Night Cruising...but transferred to a High School hallway. (Lame, I know, but that's what kids without driver's licences did at that time).

Me, the geek, holding my books for 1st Hour, went with him, amazed. He wasn't cute or attractive by any means...but he was powerful in that school.  And for some reason, he wanted to claim me as his friend. That made me automatically cool.

I was almost the Queen Esther of my High School.

So I walked with him, amazed to see the Sea parting in front of us, unconsciously.

Upperclassmen asked me about him, or to speak to him on their behalf.

They noticed.

I was uncomfortable with this. He was nice as a friend, and it was cool to watch the Red Sea parting, but really....I wasn't interested in dating him.

Then he asked me out.

Oh, crap. 

I told him I'd get back to him, and asked the advice of my friends. What I feared was this: retaliation. Would he retaliate?  He was "cool". If I turned him down, what were the repercussions?  If I I have to ...ick...KISS him?

I learned more than I'm willing to expose here.

Suffice to say my own gut feeling was affirmed by my friends, although they were a bit in awe of the invitation and waited with bated breath my response.

Then one day his recent ex-girlfriend, a girl I knew both from Theater and Band, one of those big-boned girls who carried a lot of her own clout, told me she knew of his invitation and asked me what I was thinking.

I was honest. I told her that I thought I probably preferred to just be friends.  A little sadly, without any animosity, she said, "Yeah...that really is best."

That night when he called me as was his habit, I gave him my answer: I only wanted to be friends, but thought he was a cool guy.

He was fine with that, but our morning walks around the school continued and I therefore continued to marvel at the daily phenomena of the Parting of the Red Sea.

I loved standing at my locker between classes, watching He Who Walks Between The (locker) Rows, the students unconsciously parting before him, leaving him room as he calmly stalked along, looking neither right nor left, giving occasional high-fives and other things to his team members and other jocks.
It was like dating-but-not-dating the Mafia.

He graduated, nowhere near the top of his class, and not long after, ended up in the papers in a non-flattering way.

Last I heard he was in prison.

I don't know where he is now, but I am grateful for the friendship we shared and really thank God I turned his amorous proposal down.  I'd say more but I'd prefer he keep his criminal record to himself. He has a right to it.

No matter what, I still remember him fondly and occasionally pray for him.

That guy had issues most students never knew about and when the news broke, I'm quite certain he was disowned by even his own family.

Someone needs to pray for him. Might as well be me, not that my meager efforts mean anything, so I'm asking YOU to pray for Rick, too, wherever he is.

Everyone needs and deserves prayer, no matter what they have done. Our Lord died for them as well as for us.

I never said this was an interesting story. I only claim it as mine and hope the moral is apparent to me as it is to you.

There you have it.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Garlic Soup Recipe

Well, my friends, we are into cold-flu season, so I am re-posting my garlic soup recipe. I recently had need to make it and although I'm thrilled to make this for pure enjoyment, I confess it really is a cure for sickness! you go, filed under the category of "Food I Would Serve Jesus"!

Creole Garlic Soup
(the name comes from the spice, not the culinary style)

Read before beginning:  The ingredients are on the consertive end; adjust to your own taste, and don't be afraid to add more garlic! (I usually add about a cup of whole cloves) I would advise using the old adage "less is more" the first time you make it, but once you have an idea as to what it is like, you can better adjust according to your own taste/needs. 

* 1/3 C. whole garlic cloves  (This is IMPORTANT:  note that you may NOT substitute mere minced garlic in a jar!) 
* 1 Tbsp minced garlic
* 1 Tbsp. roasted garlic
* 1 tsp fresh thyme, or 1/4 tsp dried thyme
* 1 tsp fresh basil or 1/4 tsp drid basil
* 4 cans of vegetable broth (or 2 32 oz boxes of Swanson's vegetable broth)
(( I recommend low sodium))
* 1 medium onion
* 1 bay leaf
* 1 Tbsp. olive oil
* 1/3 C. Half-and-Half (I use fat-free)
* 1/3 C. parmesan cheese - shredded
* Creole seasoning
* Day-Old French or Italian bread

1. Add onions and some of the garlic cloves to a large soup pan with the T. of olive oil. When the onions begin to turn clear or brownish (don't over cook!), add the broth, basil, thyme, bay leaf, and garlic. Bring this to a boil.

2. When the soup begins to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 40 minutes.

3.  In the meantime, make your croutons: Cube the bread, approximately 2-3 cups, and toast in the oven at 300 degrees. Remove from heat, place in a paper sack, coat with apx. 1 - 2 Tbsp. of olive oil and season with the Creole seasoning. (This is spicy- be conservative at first!). Set the croutons aside.


4. When the soup has simmered for the 40 minutes, add apx 1 1/2 C. of the croutons and stir in with a wire whisk until they have mostly dissolved. At this point, the whole garlic cloves should be "mushy".

5. Remove the bay leaf

6. Add the half-and-half and parmesan cheese and immediately remove the soup from heat.

7. If you have a hand-mixer, use this to blend the soup to a smooth consistency. You may also pour the soup into a blender.

8. Serve immediately and garnish with the remaining croutons, parmesan, and creole seasoning.


**** the half-and-half, parmesan and bread can be omitted for a thinner, healthier broth-type soup with all the great flavor!

**** You may also use large chunks of potato if you can't find the low-sodium broth or if your seasoning gets too salty.  Blending the potatoes into it instead of bread may also turn it into a thicker soup. Otherwise if you do use the potatoes, it's a great and easy way to make garlic mashed potatoes if you decide to reserve them to the side.

Any questions or comments, leave them below!  :-)  Otherwise..Enjoy! 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Grace in Humiliation

I gotta admit it; I am terrified to pray for the virtue of humility.


Every time I made the attempt, I was knocked so hard on my backside that to THIS DAY I still have not been able to recover! Just mention "humility" and I begin to shake and shudder and drool then foam at the mouth in sheer terror in anticipation of what anvil is next to drop.

God, of course, cannot be taken by surprise and so, in seeing such sheer terror, He finds other ways to reveal to us the true nature of humility, and in fact, finds gentle humiliations in order to best reveal to us the divine Grace available through such abjection.

The Unwitting Act of Offense

Recently, in a conversation with others, something I said was misconstrued. I did not know at the time that what I was trying to convey was being taken into left field without my permission or intention, but there it was; that is the nature of human interaction. I remember catching the expressions on a couple of those present and wondered about what bad thing they were smelling, but as they never pulled me aside to explain that I was the source of their sour expressions, I ultimately thought nothing of it.

A few days later, a friend who had been absent that day left me a voice mail, asking for a call back, explaining that party A and B (the same ones who had housed sour expressions) had spoken with her and said that I had dropped her name a few times but not in a pleasant way.

Completely taken aback, I hung up the phone and prayed. I recalled mentioning her name, but NEVER in a derogatory way. I racked my memory, trying to ascertain what had gone so wrong for some people to have taken my intention so badly.

Of course, I immediately called her back to ask what she had heard, and I was thankful that she did not sound angry, only....questioning. In fact, her own tone was joyful, forgiving and welcoming, not contrived but in total sincerity.

It didn't take long to sort out the misunderstanding and as it turned out, she completely understood my original intention and, in fact, AGREED with me!  We had a wonderful conversation, and, a few days later when we met again, she made it a point to seek me out to thank me for calling her back to reconcile the issue.


When I'd first heard of what others I'd thought were friends had accused me of doing (behind my back) I had felt very betrayed.  I wondered...why hadn't they just come to me or called me out on the spot?

Why?  Why didn't they ask me to clarify or even, if they were such good friends to that person, "stood up" for her if they thought I was insulting her?

I was taken aback that they had instead chosen to be subversive, both assuming the worst of me and my intentions, then apparently through their own actions, making it worse through gossip?  And wasn't their own indignant refusal to engage with me, the offender, an outright betrayal to THEIR friend?

It was in speaking with the "allegedly offended" friend and the subsequent reconciliation that I realized the Grace God had provided to us both, especially when we were in each other's company again.

Real Grace

When I had time to reflect upon the events of the previous days, and the links and even disunity in our relationships, I knew that what we had experienced wasn't anything new or rare or novel; it went all the way back to Genesis.

Sin always drives a wedge in between relationships, and usually that wedge is quite self-righteous. It's very easy for us to justify our gossip to another person about someone else. We claim we are "clearing the air" or informing someone of something they need to know about. (In this case, that applied, although they went in the wrong direction with it and the "offended" is the one who set it right!).  Oh, yes, we just LOVE driving wedges around, we sorry, fallen children of God. It's our favorite hobby, such that we can say it is our second nature to do so!

Think about it, though....when one person starts with something... where does it stop?

Read the Bible: it didn't stop. Even after the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, it didn't stop.  We were redeemed, but, well....the wound of sin continues even in those who try to be or believe they are holy.

We all struggle. We all fall. We all damage those we claim to love, and what is most horrible, we do so in the name of "Holiness" and "Truth"! What is often lacking there is "Prudence" and "Basic common sense", and actually, the Divine Virtue of, well.... CHARITY.

You know what really stopped me in my tracks, though, in this whole mess?  

The ONE friend, the one who was allegedly the "target" of whatever I had said, and thus the one offended, was the ONLY one to call me and ask for the truth.

No one from the gossipy peanut gallery who was offended FOR her called me out. THEY slunk away like Templeton and took their perceived but not edited-for-truth version to our mutual friend, telling her of my (apparently intended) insult to her.

Thankfully, that "offended" friend knew me well enough to question what she was hearing and was certain there had to be an explanation. Therefore, instead of wallowing in it as our other mutual friends had done, she picked up the phone and...[get this!]...CALLED me to ASK for my side of the story!

I was nearly in tears when I called her back, horrified that I had inadvertently done something to insult her in another's eyes. She didn't see those blinked-back tears, but I know she heard the horror in my voice and was nothing other than gracious.

I can't tell you how grateful I was for her understanding, and even the love apparent in her initial call. I can't tell you how grateful I was to have been forgiven the unintended offense.

The Heart of the Matter

It was beautiful to be forgiven, but what I really have had to take away from this experience was this:  I have to forgive, too. 

This is a message that came to me even in the middle of that mess, from another friend who knew NOTHING of the matter that so plagued me.

This other, unknowing, friend spoke of St. Therese' of Lisieux, who rejoiced upon learning her flaws, and spoke even more of the unexpected humiliations, of remaining silent in the face of unjust accusations and assumptions.

Ah, yes, she was speaking to me.

I was, even then, harboring resentment against those who had so dishonestly and subversively accused me of wrongdoing, assuming the worst of me, and taking that sordid tale to the friend who, according to them, I was TRYING to harm, and quite publicly at that.

It's hard NOT to harbor resentment when accused behind one's back.

Yet even in that initial conversation, it was clear my friend thought the best of them, and the best of me, and in so doing, was taking the advice of the Saints to heart:  to always think the best of others, and speak the best of them.

This is no easy thing to do, and yet, there I was, the offender (if without intent) yet still the recipient of such divine charity.

Who am I, then, to hold resentment against my own accusers?  Shouldn't I, then, think the best of them? Assume that their intent was not one of gossip but of charity, even if they, like me, carried it out imperfectly?

Should I not also be first in line to forgive an unintended offense?

Yet I didn't; I did to my accusers what they did to me, if in a different way.

And because our sins are hidden from each other, they can be reconciled at this point only through God, and healed only through God, and through our behavior towards each other, and our prayers for each other.

Perhaps I must go out of my way to ask them to pray for me; they are indeed prayerful people, good Catholics, people I want as my friends. I only hope they still want me as their friend as well.

Yes, there is grace in humiliation; were it not for this, I would not have recognized the strength of one friendship and the weakness in myself so clearly.

It really, truly takes only a simple act of friendship to save many relationships and to bring us all closer to Christ.

That's what holiness is all about.

I thank God for my friends every day. Whoever you are, wherever you are, please do the same. You never know who has your back until you are the one to be scourged.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Movie Review: Amelie

This evening, via Netflix, I watched the movie "Amelie".

Don't waste your time:  "Amelie" was superficially "artistic", morally bankrupt, plotfully without merit.

Uses color and filmatography to mimic meaningfulness which in the end, is nothing but smoke and mirrors.

You'll get more money's worth going to Scooby-Doo's famous haunted houses; bring Scooby-snacks. That way at least the dog leaves satisfied.

That's the best I can say about this piece of cinematic nonsense.

Real artists have good taste and create movies from plot, not from a line of film from a mall photo booth.

 The main actress was pretty in a 50's-mask-postcard sorta-way.  Glad no one is judging France as a whole by this disaster.

I'm going to bed, hope I don't dream about this movie; my own regular nightmares are at least entertaining!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Real Women Wear...

So this week, I was really scandalized to read "Pants - A Manifesto", followed by "Pants Pass", although not the posts themselves, but all the insane (and some insanely hifreakinlarious) comments from extreme crazies all over the interwebs.

Seriously, why does the question of "skirts versus pants" bring out all the insane extremists from all corners?

Listen up, y'all, I have a solution to this that should put an end to this "debate" once and for all! 

Some of you may recall the post I wrote some time ago, Real Women Wear Kevlar.  (If you're unfamiliar with it, go check it out so you can get the proper background on what I'm going to say next. And yes, I will know if you only skimmed over it because your comments will be typically insane, much like what poor Simcha experienced with her tongue-in-cheek posts!).

So! Here is my solution to the pants vs skirts debate:


There are those who would argue that pants are "immodest" and one really "you have to work hard to be this creepy" suggestion was that on a woman, pants "create an arrow to her crotch".

OK, what if that has merit? Let's consider that, for after all it is the extreme!  And it is related to the claim that pants in general induce men to lust after strange women. (Never mind if he's that fickle he's the one who is strange and sick.)

On the other hand, there are those who claim skirts are immodest and another creepy suggestion was that skirts provide "easy access" and therefore, incite men to lust.

Now, we are excluding from this conversation things such as painted-on pants that are tighter than skin, and we are excluding rubber-band skirts that are shorter and tighter than underwear. I think we can ALL agree that these things are not fit to be worn in public unless covered by a burqua.

OK?  OK then.

So! Armor it is!

Ladies, for your fashion pleasure and for the safety of men who apparently feel entitled to "enjoying your beauty" such that they forget about "custody of the eyes" being a part of THEIR responsibility, let me offer you a line of clothing that will satisfy everyone on all extremes!


First, we will have a cotton-lined, Kevlar-covered iron chastity belt. The covering over the iron will allow "breatheability" but we'll also be using a new, revolutionized process to create it out of ironwood with a lead core, ensuring that even the strongest of chainsaws cannot cut through it!

A special code will be programmed into it (in the most modest possible area) allowing for replacement, cleaning (only with a team of handmaids to protect privacy) and of course, upgrades and adjustment for size.

Married ladies will have a model that will allow only one person to have the code, that being her husband. He'll never have to worry that she'll cheat on him again!


Now, for those ladies who prefer pants to skirts, the armor worn by the Knights of yore would work very well. The addition to be made is a longer "skirt" of metal to cover down to the knees, but designed in such a way that she won't even realize that she's wearing anything resembling a skirt!

And the good news is that there will be no need of worrying about whether the pants are too tight or if they reveal too much, because metal is opaque! worries about "plumber butt" with those problems we ALL have with buying pants:  you know, if it fits in the hips it's monstrous in the waist, so if we sit down we reveal our butt-tattoos!

Bah! Those days are OVER with Pants of Armor (tm)!

These warm, comfortable Pants of Armor come in different sizes and with different types of inner padding, or, for you mothers, outer padding or spray-on coatings to ensure that your wet, sticky children don't become inextricably stuck to you on those frigid winter days. On the flipside, if that's the best way to get them to go somewhere, you can carry them around hands-free!


Now, for you ladies who prefer skirts, the solution is, of course, the Chain Maille option! The Chain Maille is handmade, lined with Kevlar and cotton, although it comes with a hair-shirt option for the most serious and penitential.

The delicate chain work flows quite naturally but as it clinks against your chastity belt, it will remind all men anywhere in your vicinity that you are most certainly not "easy" and, in fact, given that you're wearing armor, you can easily brain the nearest overzealous suitor with simply a practiced swish of your skirt!

Still not convinced?  

Then let me advocate for you the fitness benefits of this clothing line!

You know how easy it is to gain weight in that simple, light fabric we're so used to in this day and age. Everything "stretches", allowing us to "let ourselves go".  Not armor! Not only does it squeeze everything in, making it impossible to breathe or eat if we gain too much weight, but on hot days it becomes a sauna, helping to sweat off the pounds! Besides, given that each clothing item weighs anywhere from 15 to 80 pounds each, you'll have the strength of ten Wonder-Women within a week of wearing it!

Say goodbye to those expensive and prohibitive Health Club or Spa memberships - YOU WON'T NEED THEM ANYMORE!

But WAIT!  There's MORE!

Objection:  I can't wear chain maille - I don't shave my legs!

Answer:  That's OK!  If you leave off the Kevlar leggings for only a day, you'll never have to shave your legs again! The Chain Maille acts much like a day at the spa, but without all the heat, wax and immodesty!  Simply walk or move about as your normally would, or even when sitting in your chair you'll find that the maille will be able to reach even the most difficult places!  The Chain Maille used on the inside layer of the skirt is the finest and most delicate and you won't even notice when the inside of the skirt turns into a hair-skirt! Great for wear during Lent and Ember Days and all Fridays throughout the year especially when your legs are smooth as a baby's butt!

So! There you have it!  Are you ready to make your purchase?

If so, just go to and buy your new clothing line today! 

Ladies, whether you prefer pants or skirts, once you're clad in armor, you can be seen as "easy on the eyes" without ever been seen as "easy" ever again! 

Call 1-888-MODESTARMOR today

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Psalm 57:1

Have mercy on me, God have mercy, for in you my soul has taken refuge. 
In the shadow of your wings I take refuge till the storms of destruction pass by.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Why I Will Never Forget

This is a re-post from September 11, 2005, my first year of blogging. It tells the story of where I was that terrible day in 2001. Everyone has a story but back on that day, I was a Firefighter in Training, and on that day, we didn't just get a lecture on sacrifice; we became witness to it.

Let us remember in prayer our brothers and sisters whose lives were lost on this historic day.

Let us especially pray for mercy for those terrorists who are responsible for so many lives. Let us pray that those who plan similar events be converted and instead, lead people to Christ and heaven instead of the eternal damnation they are choosing.

I will never forget this day only 9 years ago

That Tuesday morning, I was a firefighter cadet at the ominous Training Tower, only a few weeks from graduation from the arduous course. The city that employed me had a long program of academics, followed by six weeks at "The Tower".

The tower days consisted of roll call and SOP's (Standard Operating Procedures), maybe a quiz in the morning, and a synopsis of the day's activities to come. On that morning, September 11, 2001, as we sat discussing "high fires", which refer to skyscraper fires, and the procedures utilitzed to fight them, the Deputy Chief of Training burst through the classroom door, carrying a TV set.

He apologized for the interruption, stated that a plane had just flown into the World Trade Center, and hurriedly set up the TV until there was reception. All of us sat transfixed as we watched the South Tower burn. Then, before our eyes, another plane hit the second tower.

We had had trainng in Weapons of Mass destruction, terrorism, and from our EMT class, lessons in triage. We'd practiced different types of rescues, but nothing prepared us for what we saw that day.

The training captains, recognizing in the midst of the attacks that this was indeed, a teachable moment, used this as an example of what we were to cover that day. They explained what the New York Firefighers were going to do as they approached, as they set up, etc. One captain emphasized the need to coordinate the evacuation of citizens from the towers, the mass response due to the 2 planes, and the understanding that this was a terrorist attack...this was no accident.

All of us realized that if this was no accident, there might be more attacks to come. What was the next target?

I remember asking the Deputy Chief, "At what point do they determine that it's time to leave? Who makes the decision that a structure should be evacuated?" I appraised the heavy fire showing in the upper floors of the tower, the fuel from the jets, the obviously collapsed floors which were directly affected by the planes.

The Deputy Chief admitted that he and one of the other chiefs had an ongoing agument about this; he believed that the tower would hold...the other chief believed that the load was too much and would not withstand the assault. He gave me a very general answer regarding the evacuation of fire personnel which did not satisfy me.

Finally they told us that we would be watching this for days and weeks to come and it was time to hit the apron to begin our day. Just as we finished our warm-up exercises outside, the Deputy Chief threw open the door to his office in the temporary building in the yard and ordered us over.

He revealed that a plane had just hit the Pentagon, and one crashed shortly after near Pittsburgh. He told us that the towers had fallen. 

The Dep. Chief's face was red; his voice shook with genuine emotion. He had tears in his eyes as he ordered us back into the classroom; our schedule for the day was changing; this was a whole new playing field, unprecedented at any point in history. 

The good Deputy Chief apologized for having initially sent us out as though it were a normal day.  He told us he had no idea this was going to be this big. Tearfully, he revealed to us that he had at least 20 friends with the New York department he knew had just perished beneath the weight of those buildings. He had to sit down as he discussed those he'd ridden with in the past; those NYFD collapse rescuse firefighters who had given him much of his knowledge. He apologized for his emotion, but without need; I think most of us were in tears already, men and women alike.

Others in our class also had friends and relatives in New York, and one of our training captains had family both in the city and in the Pentagon.

Those who were not directly affected still had tears in their eyes whether out of sympathy or just plain shock at what was happening on U.S. soil.

Our city was placed on alert, of course, ready for an attack. Even though we were cadets, for all practical purposes we were considered to be Firefighters, and in the event of an attack they would put us to work. We were not allowed to leave for lunch, but food was brought in for us, and we watched as Police Officers brought their dogs over to sniff all of our buildings and personal vehicles.

We did end up doing some traing that day, each evolution taking on a special meaning. We walked up the cement steps of our 6 story tower, carrying hose bundles and tools, remembering dead firefighters with every step. We sprayed water onto non-existant fires, remembering the futility of the same actions in New York. We dragged wet hoselines down and cleaned up, considering those who had died that day never got a chance to clean up. Indeed, many people would never be found.

We removed our turnouts and hung them in the shed, exchanged our air tanks, and finished our day, preparing to go home, realizing that somewhere around 300 firefighters were not going home to their families that day.

We gathered in the classroom for the end of the day summary, and one of the captains gave us this speech:

"All of you saw today what happened in New York. Consider how many firefighters died today. You will never be able to claim that you don't know what this job is about. Every single day you go out there you don't know what's going to happen or if you'll make it home. Those who responded today planned to go home after their shift...and instead, we're going to be watching funerals of firefighters for weeks. You know what this job is about and you know the risk. So after witnessing something like this, if some of you, or all of you, choose not to come back tomorrow, we will all understand."

With that, we were dismissed and there was never such a somber, silent exodus from the Tower. There was no joking; there were no plans for the evening. There was only the knowledge that many had died that day, and we were wearing a similar uniform and training to carry out the same job...and possibly pay the same debt.

And the next day, all 22 of us returned.

I will never forget where I was that day because I was standing in the very shoes of those who died. I wore a similar uniform and I had similar aspirations. I went through their same movements as we set up a response to a fire in a skyscraper and fought it. But training took on a new tone after that.

I was injured in training about a week later, and as a result, I am no longer a firefighter although I was sworn in with my class. I can't say that I'm disappointed to not be there anymore. However, that said, I will never forget where I stood, how I felt, or the weight of the turnouts I wore when I watched other firefighters die in a city far away. I'll never forget the pride when I saw the survivors respond to find either other survivors or recover their dead.

I will never forget the world turning to prayer, offering condolences, or their realization of the sacrifices real people made right under their noses day after day.

And so to all the firefighters and police officers, paramedics, EMT's, and other responders out there, I salute you, I offer my condolences, and I will continue to pray for your safety. Keep up the good fight! We would not be a community were it not for you. Perhaps I am not called to stand in your shoes, but I respect you so much more for I understand what it takes to be where you are, and to give what you are required to give.

And for all those who perished on September 11, 2001,  may you rest in peace in the arms of our beloved Savior, Jesus Christ, and may He comfort your families as you continue to grieve their loss.


Réquiem ætérnam dona eis Dómine;
et lux perpétua lúceat eis.
Requiéscant in pace.

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

Friday, September 10, 2010


Recently, my brother and I spoke about our interests as children.

I loved going out to the lake with Dad, and as I've written previously, learning to fish with him. I'll never forget the low clouds scudding across the sky, the gray waters of Lake Michigan lapping against the launches, or, during the summer vacation on the lake when we floated on those waves and I refused to be nauseated in spite of the stink of rotting fish in the rented aluminum rowboat.

I loved fishing. Early on, Dad taught me to be silent, for, he explained, noise scared the fish away.  "They can hear us!" he said, and whenever I exclaimed over something in my childish enthusiasm, he was first to SHUSH! me, and I was always deeply chastised, not so much because I cared about the fish, but because of my love for him.

Over the years, I became, in Dad's estimation, quite the "fisherman".  When we fished at Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis, I staked out my spot and caught fish after fish. Dad, upon seeing my success, would invariably follow me only to experience...nothing. I'd become annoyed and move on to the next tiny "bay", catching far more than I deserved, and again, he'd follow me to the miraculous grotto only to have his worm surreptitious eaten from his hook with nary a scale to show for it.

It became our joke and Dad's unspoken frustration;  he taught his daughter to fish so that she could leave him in the mud of the lapping waves!

My brother though, hated fishing with a passion. The only times I recall his presence, I also recall his complaints. I remember the first time a rod was placed in my hand, a sinker tied to my line, and a worm affixed to my hook.  I was content to sit silently with my line, contemplating the waves and the sky and sensing the movement of the fishing line. For once, Dad and Mom had to spend more time shushing my brother than me....where I was happiest, he was most dismal.

As my brother told me very recently, he found fishing to be a bore and a waste of time. "Why go fishing when I could have been listening to a new album?"

Ah, yes....the active versus the contemplative.

I was always the one given to reading and writing and, well...silence.

My brother was always the one given to action and noise.

I had never really considered it before, but I guess "contemplation" came more naturally to me.  Even the people I know in my professional life don't know my preference for silence and solitude, and this is well, for it is impossible to indulge such preferences in any job I have ever held.

No wonder I have been so miserable for so long.

For years, everything I have done has been against my nature.

I have always sought, perhaps, the solitude upon the eternal waves, the silence of the never-ending wind, and the shadows of the clouds chasing the sun's glow, in every moment.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Holiness and Humility

It's the right time of year for it, so today I watched "Charlotte's Web", one of my favorite stories.  In the more recent film version (2006), Wilbur questions Charlotte about the final word she wrote of him. He questioned whether it was the right word, for truth had always been an important definition within their friendship. In an important moment in the barn at the fair, Wilbur revealed that he didn't feel like he deserved ANY of the words Charlotte had written of him, and wanted this final testament to be, well....right.

"Then it's exactly the right word", Charlotte replied.

Although I've seen this movie more than once, today this scene really stood out to me.

I thought about the importance of humility in a life of holiness, and how few souls are truly humble. I certainly am not one of them!  I thought about my own ongoing pridefulness, my vainglory, if you will.

A spider would never call me humble. Even if said spider was the epitome of humility. (Charlotte herself).

In pondering further, though, I recalled the times I had asked for humility, and the painful experiences of humiliation that always followed. I recalled huge failures, true humiliations that occurred when I didn't even know about the virtue or that it would even apply!

I recalled how many times I have been knocked down, and I admit that when I think about "humiliations", I recall most often to mind the disasters in life, such as the day I turned in my badge and my gun and walked away from law enforcement forever.

It was a humiliation that sent me into a tailspin.

I recall the day I left the Fire Department, albeit with references, but it was still a humiliation as I had not been able to reach the goal I'd had since I was a little girl.

There are others, far more personal, that I have spoken of only to Confessors and Spiritual Directors and close friends.  Far too many others.

In meditating upon this, though, I realized something important:  the big humiliations are what pave the way for the little ones.

God knows us well, and He knows that when we built what we think is an impenetrable fortress, it must be demolished so that we can be dragged out from the rubble and our wounds tended to.

When the Saints speak of "humiliations", they are rarely speaking of something large, but rather, of those small moments of surrendering one's will in order that someone else might grow stronger.

We should not fear to ask for humility, for holiness is found in the small moments, the small humiliations that remain between the soul and God, and perhaps the soul's Confessor. The humiliations of the spiritual life that are truly part of a devout soul's journey in holiness are not the same as those that appear on CNN or the local news.

In looking back over my own life, it is clear that the very real and big humiliations I suffered were necessary only to create in me a wound that would allow the healing blood of Jesus to enter and bring me from death into life.  It was in suffering the most that I was finally brought to my knees, not in sorrow, but in love and devotion.

I need to thank God every day for those humiliations, for were it not for having been knocked down so hard, I would never have had the opportunity to even consider it possible to one day become truly holy and join my own blood with that of Jesus as we make our way, in this life, up to road to Calvary.

Thank you, Jesus.

Please give me the grace to sincerely pray for humility, and thank you still more when you answer the prayer, no matter what that answer may be. 


Sunday, September 05, 2010

Top Ten Surprising Things

I'm starting something new.

You know the meme that goes around:  "What are the 100 things you must do before you die?" Or, "What are the Top 10 Things you want to do before you die?"  Etc.

The other day I was thinking about this, quite humorously, I assure you,  and I thought back over my life and how my attitudes have changed.  I've done many things, and many were things that never would have made my list, for I would have thought them either impossible or impractical or, well, totally out of character for me. Or, seriously....who would ever PLAN for some of the crazy things we do or that happen to us???

I've decided, therefore, to make a list just off the top of my head, of the following things:

 Top 10 Things I Did that Still Surprise the Hell Out of Me:

(In no particular order)

1.  Become an "elite athlete."

2. Live in Mexico

3. Win a 4th place medal at a State Competition, competing in Downhill Skiing  (Giant Slalom). 2 years later, come within two-tenths of a second of qualifying for Nationals.

4. Rappel from the 6th floor of a building having to overcome a serious threat to my life on the way down.

5. Run in high heels through a series of dark alleys in downtown Minneapolis with a friend trying to escape a guy who was determined to follow her home.

6. Get kicked off of one of the most beautiful ranches in MN for reporting animal neglect, (and getting caught by the ranch owner).

7. Adopt a greyhound (finally!) only to lose him to bone cancer and have to drive him by myself to the vet to put him down.

8. Earn a Master's Degree in Theology

9. Write an Icon

10. Visit religious communities with the serious intent to enter one of them.

Coming up with that list made me think a little more. I used to have that previously cited "list of things to do before I die."  Well, now that religious life looks like it might actually happen, other than paying my debt off to make it possible, I thought I should make a different kind of list.

Top Things I Want to Do Before Entering Religious Life:

1. Visit friends in Ohio!

2. Visit friends in Montana!

3. Go skiing out west, in the mountains, and enter a Downhill race, akin to the Birds of Prey Downhill.

4. Make a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

5. Become a Jockey and ride a horse to victory in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes. The same horse, mind you!

6. Finish the novel I began when I was 12 and actually get it published.

7. Add blue streaks to my hair.

8.  Go sailing on the ocean

9. Go deep sea fishing

10. Buy a hobby farm, turn it into a domestic animal rescue, turn it into a Catholic retreat center for troubled kids.   (What????)

OK, I suppose I should tag a few people. Maybe they can't exactly cover my last "Top 10" but this part can be customized to the respondents proper state in life.

You're IT! GO!

The Crescat

Cathy of Alex at Recovering Dissident

Terry Nelson at Abbey Roads

Larry D. at Acts of the Apostasy

Joe at Defend us in Battle

Anglea at Where Angels Blog

Saturday, September 04, 2010


It's been a long time since I've done so, but tonight I'm participating in Elizabeth Esther's Saturday Evening Blog Post with, um.....well my most recent post, Red Zinfandel.

Go on over and check out all the others who have participated. You might find a cool new blog to follow!