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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Overheard in Adoro's World - Christmas Edition

I had a wonderful Christmas with my family - lots of fun, lots of laughs. As always, I was blown away by my brother's generosity and of course, friendship, especially as we re-hashed old times! (We didn't always get along....)  ;-)

However, one of the high points, I have to admit, was a simple comedic moment, one of those moments one grasps and savors, wishing it had been captured in all its context and bottled so as to be let out and enjoyed for years to come.

All weekend long, Mom was focused on cranberries and turkey - she was going to make cranberries and had forgotten to purchase them before she'd come to The Cities for Christmas.  As my brother and I had to run out on Thursday to pick up a few items, we put cranberries on the list.  Mom was insistent, for she was going to make cranberries to go with the Turkey soup my brother was going to make from (frozen) leftovers from Thanksgiving.

I was a bit confused as we were not having turkey for Christmas itself, but clearly Mom wanted cranberries, therefore she would have them!

We duly picked them up and assured Mom several times over the next few days that they were in the fridge, awaiting her ministrations in order to serve with the turkey she also apparently desired.

On Sunday evening, Mom suddenly recalled she had been going to make cranberries, and they HAD to be cooked or they would go bad. So it was that instead of getting ready for bed, she was in the kitchen, cooking.  She asked about the turkey and soup, wondering why he hadn't cooked it as originally planned. This became a very big topic as she had been going on about this leftover turkey all weekend yet, it had not emerged from the freezer.

My brother solicitously asked if he should get out the turkey for a late supper; he suggested that if she didn't want to wait for soup, he could heat it up for sandwiches to have with her cranberries.

A conversation ensued regarding the cranberries and turkey, Mom suddenly complaining about having to make the cranberries if we weren't having the turkey after all.

Brother:  "But Mom, I thought you wanted turkey and cranberries?"

Mom:  "No, I don't want turkey. I don't even like turkey!"

In the meantime, I was in the living room overhearing all of this, and at that bombshell of a revelation, nearly experienced wine shooting from my nose. Mom had no idea why my brother's girlfriend and I were laughing so hard.

My brother simply stepped out of the kitchen and approached, smiling, amused at our fits of giggles while Mom stood there, confused, proclaiming how much she hated turkey even though she was only making the cranberries to go with the turkey she so desperately hated.!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Come, Lord Jesus!

The season of waiting, of anticipation, is nearly over.

I find it to be a bittersweet ending, though, because this year Advent has been a season of the anticipation and experience of death.

I wrote a few months ago about a friend who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He is still with us but I know his family is planning his funeral and all of Advent I have known that one morning I might wake up to find he has gone on to the Lord.

This morning I woke up to just such news, but it wasn't him; another friend who has long been ill died last evening. I never met her in real life, but Lavona Rann became a friend via social networking, and prayers for her and her husband have also been present this Advent, especially in the last couple days, when we received word of her immanent death. 

Last week, as a result of the car wreck I described, I, too, have been pondering my own mortality, realizing anew that the Master can come at any hour, any time - are any of us ready to meet Him?

Of my two friends, the preparation is there, they had received the Sacraments and were looking toward eternity while in laboring at the end of their lives, the travail of all the years so proper in Advent, likely giving them a new understanding as well - only one far more real, far more concrete.

During Advent, the Church looks toward not only the celebration of the birth of Our Savior, but towards His second coming. The readings especially in early Advent are dark and violent, yet this is so proper, for death is violent by its nature. Death was not intended by God but was brought about by humanity through the violence of sin.

That original sin ruptured us and we continue to suffer that wound and the results of that wound. Christ was born and came to bleed for us to satisfy the blood that would not have been shed at all but for our own abuse of free will.

When we sin, we do violence to ourselves, to others, and to God.

So He came, softly at first, but his birth was still marked by violence of the world that did not want to receive Him and sought to kill Him such that it killed the Holy Innocents, the babies that were so representative of Him. Yet, look around: that hasn't changed.

We are called, in Advent, and yes, even in the Christmas season, to recall this violence, both that which was the Fall, and that which brings Redemption, to the degree that they day after Christmas we recognize the Feast of St. Stephen - the first Christian martyr.

Advent is about conversion. It is about recognizing who and what we are in the face of God, who created us out of love, for love, and wills only our good. It is about really opening our eyes and SEEING the mire we choose to live in in place of the holiness that will lead us to true happiness.

We are called to recognize that in order to truly follow Christ, to receive the Christ Child, we must do violence to ourselves by turning from sin, by severing SIN from our lives and casting ourselves upon the Child who came to ransom us and heal our relationship with God.

People don't like to hear about violence and death, and no doubt there are those who will criticize this post for being "fire and brimstone".

There is no better time of year, though, to hear about fire and brimstone, for sometimes we need that reminder to cause us to look towards the Light of Christ, to beg once again to see Him face to face, and fall in love to such a degree that turning from sin makes the agony of conversion into joy. When conversion is real it arises from love, not fear, and that is a gift from God to us - but He cannot give us this gift if we do not turn to him with open arms. If we refuse to look at Him, we cannot receive Him - and this is the greatest violence of all.

Today is Christmas Eve; still a day of Advent, and today, we are at the end of our travail. Our Lord comes; Jesus comes to us. The churches will be overflowing at Mass, with both those who have prepared and those who have not. There are those who will attend with great joy and enter into the Mystery of the Incarnation, and there are those who will attend as though Mass is something "to get through and over with" before the real festivities will begin.

Let us not approach the celebration of the Birth of Christ in this manner, but rather, when we approach the altar, let us lay our own lives down as a gift to Him, in thanksgiving and love for the gift of Himself to us.

There is no better way to celebrate the Nativity.

Come, Lord Jesus, and do not delay!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fire PSA and Warning

It's no secret that we here in the Midwest got a whole boatload of snow, everywhere, containing and followed by a whole lot of wind that created a bunch of really interesting drifts.

For the most part, the snow has been moved out of the way by the City or County or State (depending on where you live) but the government is not responsible for your own personal property.

I can't even COUNT the number of houses I have passed on residential streets in my last two weeks of travel about the Twin Cities in Minnesota, that have front doors blocked by those original drifts.

Look, Homeowners, I know what you're thinking:

You only shoveled your garage door or your ailing/elderly/young single mother's driveway because it's all you/they use and is critical to you/them.  I'm the same way...most of my coming and going is through my garage door, or, well, if I had a house with an unattached garage, I'd be using the door off the driveway.

Very few people actually USE their front doors, and as such, that door in a single family home is usually very neglected.

You're risking your life and the lives of your entire family to ignore that door.

Imagine This:

One night you wake up to the sound of your intact smoke alarms, and slowly, you realize the acrid scent being registered in your nostrils, tastebuds, and throat belongs to an actual fire in your castle.

You realize that the fire is coming from a burner left on in the kitchen, and while you don't recall leaving that burner on, nor does your husband/wife or children, there it was, and it has alighted some oil that was not cleaned off the stove, and that heat caught a picture on fire - one your daughter gave you tonight which you planned to hang on the refrigerator in the morning.

Instead, that picture acted as a wick and transferred the rapid oxidation to the curtains over the sink, which set the boxes intended for the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal alight...and their contents...and spread to the other curtains on the other kitchen window, the door, and the rug you purchased in Africa on your honeymoon.

That same fire sends a spark and alights your Christmas tree, blocking your exit through the garage door and/or side door while it sets the other continuous decorations alight.

Your only way out is the front door, and you go about waking and herding your family towards the front door - the only exit.

Yet when you get there, you are faced with a mountain of snow you never bothered to shovel, even though that storm was 2 weeks ago almost to the day, and it's completely blocking the door. You can toss your newborn out through the crack, but is that a GOOD idea when he sinks through the snow and then the heat from the house causes the tip of the drift to collapse upon him, covering him in an avalanche?

In the meantime...

The Fire Department arrives and approaches your house, watching as they hook up the Engine to the closest hydrant, which they have to take several minutes to locate and then dig out since neither you nor your neighbors did so.

It takes them awhile to do this, even as they try to lay a tank line to the most accessible door, including the consideration of the most likely place for survivors.  They look at the side door and lay a line there, but realize that if they open that door, they might actually directly cause the deaths of anyone inside, and of course, can't actually ENTER they look to the front door...which is covered by snow.

They can't hear the cries of the baby you tossed beneath the roar of the consuming fire. They don't know he's there no matter how loudly you scream because they can't hear you either, between the fire, the engines, their turnout gear and the sound of air from their tanks.

Realizing they have no entrance from the plowed area, they try to access the blocked front door,  and the windows...but they can't get there through the drifts and the powerful hose really just turns snow into powerful waves of ice in your front lawn, forming bars against your house while you kneel on the floor, pounding against what you thought was an exit, sinking further and further, trying to protect your children from the encroaching smoke and heat.

You gasp your last breaths as you watch the pulsating blue and red lights glow through the drift you didn't bother to shovel, and that's where you realize your children are now too late to save.

Across the Street

Mr. Neighbor a la Snowblower stands, in shock, watching the Fire Department try to access your home. He's the one who happened to be awake and called at 1:00 am, and he's the same guy you spoke with regarding the snowdrift blocking your front door. He has one to match, because neither of you thought it important since neither of you has EVER used the front door of your home but for an occasional formal event.

Yet Mr. Neighbor stands there, horrified, witnessing this sin of omission as the Fire Department labors through your front lawn to get to a door, a window, and the newborn encapsulated in a drift that should never have been present.

He watches the Fire Department labor through the stuff he could have eliminated, and watches you and your dead family being brought on stretchers through the snow, just as the light comes into the sky, and gives his testimony to the police and to the NEWS...all for want of a little flat tool that would have prevented that mass-family funeral he will attend  a couple days after Christmas.

And none of your family or friends will remember Christmas the same way again, for instead of the birth of Christ, they will remember the drift of snow over the doorway to life and they will forever recall your absence...your stupid, stupid absence.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Salvation by Catastrophe

One morning this week when I threw my bag into the passenger seat and made sure my cell phone was turned on, I did not know that only 20 minutes later I'd be standing at the side of the freeway, my legs coated in salt-infused snow, staring down at the remains of a very violent wreck, wondering about the condition of the occupants.

It started as a normal morning, and the drive was uneventful, until something made me take note of a car rapidly accelerating behind me. (Now...when I say "rapidly", I meanlike a bat out of Hell!)  There was an SUV behind me in the left lane, slowly creeping forward in a slow, steady pace, and I looked back again at the car behind both of us, it dawning on me in horror that the car wasn't slowing, wasn't braking...and apparently intended to pass me on the left in front of that SUV!!!

There wasn't enough real estate for passing!

 I slowed and pulled to the right, still highway speed, onto the shoulder of the freeway just as the car DOVE between us, dodging from the right lane into the left, the SUV's lane, for the pass that ended catastrophically as the car collided loudly with the SUV's front end approximately at the point of my own left front fender (the front side panel of my car).  The SUV went off into the ditch in an  immediate explosion of white, the offending car went into a spin next to/in front of me and began to roll, giving me an intimate view of its underside anatomy while I braked hard and began to dodge left as the physics of the violent collision sent the car off to the right, rolling into the steep snow-laden ditch.

It was surreal as I passed, slow-motion in my memory, between the dual-whiteout-explosions on either side of me, narrowly missing all of the actions of the car that had caused this disaster

In shock, I could see from my peripheral the SUV stopping, straight in the deep snow against the thin guardrail to my left as I could also see from my other peripheral the ongoing motion of the car, still flipping, evidenced by the spout of snow announcing, dramatically, the motion of the car and where it was headed, where it had been, where it was going.

Stunned, horrified, concerned, I carefully, not knowing what was going on behind me, stopped and pulled over to the side of the freeway, reaching for my phone, and called 911.

"911 What is your emergency?"

"I need to report an accident on hwy xxx, 2 vehicles involved, one rolled several times. Westbound on xxx....we are......*deep breath* (trying to clear my head) street....I'm sorry...I suddently don't know where I am...!"  (pause)

Dispatcher (pause) "What exit did you just pass?"

Me: (still pondering, looking forward at an unhelpful railroad trestle, looking for a mile marker.....WHERE ARE WE?????.....  "OK...we're past yyy ...we're approaching xxx...we're between those....there's T landmark to our north."

He explained he needed to transfer me to the State Patrol, and I waited, and about every 20 seconds he came on to ask me to hold, he was transferring me, I assured him I was still there, and in the meantime, I grabbed my purse, watched traffic,. and carefully got out of my car, phone pressed to my ear, waiting for the transfer. I jogged back towards the scene of the accident, hoping to get info on any injuries or trapped victims to pass on to the dispatcher.

Finally I heard the transfer, and the State Patrol dispatcher tried to verify our direction (for side of the freeway) several times....I answered the opposite each time, but didn't realize it until after I'd hung up.

As I conversed with the dispatcher, one hand pressing the phone to my ear, the other holding my finger to the other, I recalled freeway traffic stops, both sides, both as the Officer and of the Motorist, and I realized how stupid I was to leave my car without completing this call.  Granted I had left to try to get additional information from the people on scene, but that didn't matter if neither of us could hear. I berated myself for my stupidity and for forgetting my professionalism, no matter how many years it has been.

"Who's in Charge?  'I am'" 

When I was growing up and interested in EMS, an EMT I knew, upon my completion of Lifeguard training, told me that what I knew put me far and ahead of most people. He told me that if I ever came  upon an accident, I knew the basics and that put me in charge. He told me to enter a scene, ask, "Who's in charge?" and if no one had any training, take charge and say, "I am" and then start assigning roles.

I remember being terrified. He saw that expression and reminded me of what I knew how to do: stabilize the head and neck, stop bleeding, and of course, direct people as to HOW to do those things.

As I jogged that very short space between where I'd stopped (and backed) along the shoulder to the accident scene, I remembered those words, but now, years later, having been trained as an EMT, a cop, a firefighter, but now knowing I was there only as a citizen, having forgotten more than she had ever really learned.

I didn't know what I would find; that was a violent wreck! 

Were people dead? Injured? How many? How bad? How to get there in the deep, deep snow?  I wished mightily I had my Ski Patrol/EMT first aid pack in my trunk, but I had nothing...not even medical gloves. I had only the vestiges of my training.

A few cars had stopped, probably those who had been in the immediate vicinity of the accident. One person had stopped on the other side of the highway to check on the other driver and was standing there, waiting as we all were, for help.  Some people were deep in the ditch, surrounding the car, assisting and....this will make your hair go up...they were taking children out of the car!


I think there were 2-3, all little ones.One was being held as an infant.

At that sight, I tried to go down into the ditch, worried they were moving people who shouldn't be moved. I am a short individual and as I stepped into previously-made footprints, I still sank into the dirty, salty, sandy snow, deeper and deeper with every step. I glanced up at traffic, realizing I was a sitting duck should another vehicle go off the road...I couldn't move. Each step encased me more and more.  I returned to the surface, realizing I couldn't get there, and if I did, I'd be in the way...those at the car reported they were OK...which was amazing.  By the evidence from the scene, the car hadn't just rolled side overtop, but from end to end - it had FLOWN over a chain link fence and landed UPRIGHT!  

One of the other witnesses on the shoulder yelled to the guys who were down below if they had been in the car, but no, they weren't. One shouted back that they lived nearby and had seen it, were able to get to it and help. He  reported that everyone seemed OK and somehow, carefully, they got the little ones up out of the ditch and into a warm witness's vehicle where they could be comforted and gotten out of the cold while we all waited for the State Patrol.  (Most of that had happened when I was still in my car on the line with 911/State Patrol Dispatch)  

We who stood on the shoulder mostly waited, watching, mostly helpless, for the State Patrol. We waited for the salvation of authority who would take control of this chaos and bring this family in the midst of this disaster into warmth and of course, to justice. One person was reliving her own past trauma, a direct witness to this particular accident, remaining to give testimony not just to this but to her own serious accident that had taken place in the past. Others were there to help with the aftermath and found themselves the guardians of the innocent children while, down below, those who had come from seemingly nowhere still labored to aid the mother, the driver, to gather items and slowly make her way through the hip-deep snow, uphill, to meet judgment.

The sound of sirens was music to our ears. I watched the coming of the State Patrol and I rejoiced, for finally, here was authoritative was someone with a link and directive to all that was needed. 

The Trooper assessed the scene and asked who were witnesses versus who was there to help after making sure that no one was in obvious immediate attention.  I and another identified ourselves as witnesses as another couple in an SUV identified themselves as people who had just stopped to help. They gave their names and numbers so they could leave, and went to their vehicle for the children.

The Trooper asked me for my driver's license, which I handed him & verified my address & number. As I began to give my testimony as to the events of the accident, one of the children exited the SUV of the couple who had kept him warm inside.Neither of us spoke as the little guy limped past, staring straight ahead, walking the shoulder, limping, moving stiffly, wearing only one boot.  The Officer spoke to him but he did not answer. I judged his age to be about 4, but he passed us as though we were ghosts, went to the squad car, and the Trooper followed, watching as the little man approached the Squad.

He asked the little guy, "Are you going to go sit in my car?"

No answer. As the little one reached for the door handle the Officer told him to go ahead and sit in his car and stay warm.  So he did, but still did not speak or react.

The Trooper came back to where I stood, and then the other child left the warm SUV to make the same staggering trek to the Squad car, wearing the same stricken expression, and I don't think he had anything on his feet at all.   I think he, like his brother, had lost his boots in the crash or on the way up through the ditch.

I wanted to say something, wasn't sure I could or should. I watched the expression of the Trooper, knowing he saw what I did, but had seen much, much more..this guy was no rookie. I wondered if an ambulance had already been dispatched.

We saw both children into the warmth of the squad car, and then the driver, the mother (ostensibly) emerged from the chaos, clearly shocked, clearly stricken.

I wanted to grab her about the throat and ask her what she'd been thinking, but realized the accident had already done that, so instead I asked her if she was OK. She was moving slowly, her eyes wide, and she seemed disoriented. She nodded that she was OK, carefully looked around and asked about others. I told her it appeared all were fine. I don't know why I didn't yell at her to get her kids to the hospital. I think it was maybe because she was clearly incapable of any decision-making at the time and really, needed someone to get her there as well.  I knew I had to entrust her to the State Trooper in charge of that scene...her and her children.

He showed her to the car and her children, then came back to get my statement, which I gave, now having seen the face and the children of the woman who caused this entire mess.

I spoke, I stated what had happened, truthfully, for seeing the faces of the stricken did not change the cause and did not eradicate the fault, or deny the necessity of justice.

Nor did the statement of Truth deny the necessity of Divine Charity.

I can't stop thinking of them:  my biggest concern is for the children in that accident; let's just say a four-year-old doesn't have a thousand-yard-stare unless he or she is in need of serious medical attention.

I was amazed that none of them seemed to have a mark on them. Were it not for the 17 inches of snow we got last weekend, this might well have been a fatality.  How ironic that although snow and ice were not a factor in causing this accident, it was a factor that ensured this family's survival.

But I keep going back to the children, their stricken expressions, their silence as they walked between the warm witness's vehicle to the squad car, one without a boot, the other in two stocking feet. They suffered in stricken silence the sins of their mother and yet they walked, purposefully towards Salvation, having been brought there by others who worked for that Savior, all for a common purpose, a common objective, in recognition of a common benevolent authority who sent an emissary.....

I felt so helpless as I witnessed all of this, until I recognized that I was a part of  it.  In a Flannery O'Connor-type of allegory, we were living out the story of salvation on a Minnesota highway, from Genesis through the Passion.

Those of you who know both Flannery and the story of Salvation will understand...those of you who don't.....won't.

"I wasn't there so I can't say He didn't" The Misfit said, "I wisht I had of been there, " he said, hitting the ground with his fist. "It ain't right. I wasn't there because if I had of been there I would have known. Listen lady, " he said in a high voice, "if I had of been there I would of known and I wouldn't be like I am now."  His voice seemed about to  crack and the grandmother's head cleared for an instant. She saw the man's face twisted close to her own as if he were going to cry and she murmured, "Why you're on of my babies. You're one of my own children!" She reached out and touched him on the shoulder. The Misfit sprang back as if a snake had bitten him and shot her three times through the chest. Then he put his gun down on the ground and took his glasses and began to clean them. 

~ Flannery O'Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Christian Scandal

Christianity is scandalous.

God, the Almighty, the Great I AM, condescended to be conceived in the womb of a simple virgin, to be carried there for nine months and then...and then....was born immediately into filth, destitution, and a state of utter humiliation.

He was born of a pure woman for He had called her into being and through a singular grace, had removed the stain of original sin in order to reveal Himself to the world, even though He knew the world would be utterly scandalized by the grace shown to Mary, the Mother of God, and the rest of us who were not preserved by such a grace. He knew we would be forever scandalized by His perfection in a world more willing to choose sin over holiness. He knew we would be scandalized by His own followers who would continually try and fail, or perhaps not try at all even though clinging to His Name.

He knew He would be utterly rejected, utterly defiled, utterly destroyed in His body...and in so being would utterly decimate sin in order to restore humanity in His own act of satisfaction for sin.

Jesus, Son of God, Incarnate at His conception within the womb of Mary, gives testimony to the Glory of God, His plan of salvation, and the beauty and perfection of the life we are called to live...for eternity.

That is scandalous. 

Utterly, completely scandalous.

As we weep here below in this vale of tears, turning our passions to pleasure, and reaping only the consequences and remorse of sin, we are scandalized by the example of Christ who was born to give dignity to our flesh, to heal what we willfully severed, and to render justice by paying the ransom we cannot pay even if we truly cared to do so.

Advent is such a time to consider the scandal that is the coming of Christ, the scandal brought to the forefront of our culture for MONTHS every year. Even as we who love the liturgical seasons scream and cry at hearing Christmas rejoicing before Halloween, perhaps we have to admit that actually, Christ still reigns because one cannot help but think of Him somehow.

Even as we Catholic pray for Holy Souls and recognize the Saints who have become like Christ, the music that celebrates His birth plays in the background in our secular world.  Is that not a sign of hope? The world desires it for merely material means, but really, is that any different than when Christ walked the earth? After all, they tried to make Him an earthly King, a political figure, an economic figure.

The Poverty of Christ

Jesus was born into nothingness, unknown to those around him outside of His Mother Mary and St. Joseph, husband of Mary, earthly father to Jesus, our Lord and Savior. They were humble people of little means and could find no room in Bethlehem, anywhere, even for the Son of God. No matter that Mary, swollen with the life about to burst forth from her in a ray of light for the world, could barely walk so close was her Hour; there was no place for her and her child.

There was no room. Bethlehem, "House of Bread", relegated the Holy Family to the crust.

Ponder that:  Jesus was born into a world that would not make room for Him.

Is it such a surprise that nothing has changed?

The Scandal of Advent

We Catholics are called away in Advent, to be quiet, to pray, to spiritually prepare our souls to receive the Christ Child.

We are called to make room for Him in our lives, if we have not already, and if we have, to make MORE room for him. The odds are most of us think of Him only on Sundays when we have to go to Mass, or take our kids to religious education, or maybe to put a creche out as a reminder that this is what Christmas is all about.

At the same time, we are in the middle of  all the insanity as life becomes more and more hectic, with the demands of social engagements, and the traditional demands of preparing for the Feast, for family, Christmas Pageants, end-of-semester final exams...the list goes on. We are called to withdraw from the world just as the world, including the Catholic world, ramps up demands upon us.

This is scandalous, and quite appropriate, for in all of this, we are better able to experience the journey Mary made as she traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem, passing beneath the shadow of the Cross in order to truly enter into it and make it her own.

Holy Paradox

This paradox of our Christian life against the opposing forces of secular life is the scandal of the Cradle and the Cross, and the wood is exactly the same. It calls for sacrifice, for suffering, for longing for the peace that can only come through Christ, our Savior, the Light of the World.

It is no wonder that Advent is such a tumultuous time; it is meant to be so, for only through passing through and embracing this valley can we ever break into the light and fall at the feet of Our Lord.

We long, in Advent, for peace and quiet, for the end of the demands upon us, for the crowds to leave us alone. We long for the solitude of our homes and families, for simple comforts, even when we are surrounded by lavish soirees and temptations of materialism.

In the end, our souls crave the very poverty of Christ, not understanding that we are already experiencing that poverty for our world is not wealthy; it is poor.

We are poor not always for lack of money, but for lack of holiness. Those who are the most destitute are those who have no desire for holiness. And those with the greatest poverty are those who don't even know they should desire holiness!

This world, this very economically wealthy world, is actually very poor because it does not have Christ, does not want Him, does not realize it needs Him.

We, personally, are poor because we do not have Christ...and we have not yet made room for Him.

Before the celebration of His Birth, we must take time to make room, even amidst the chaos. We must find that place in our souls where He rests, and if that space is taken up by sin , we must eradicate it.

That is scandalous.

Advent calls us to change, to look towards our ends, not just our present. For what were we created? For WHOM? Why? Have you ever wondered at the violence of the Advent readings, those that fortell the end of the world? Those readings that so harshly condemn sin and state clearly those who will not enter heaven?

It is to remind us of our Final Judgment, for as Christ came once, softly, through the womb of a virgin, then He will come with violence, and that violence will bear it all away.

Jesus came with violence in His humility, and first sons were slaughtered shortly after His birth.

The slaughter that accompanies His Second Coming may include us, and if the blade of His Just Judgment hits our own necks, we will be separated from Him for Eternity.

Advent is a call to eternity, a call to holiness, a call recognize the Kingship of Christ, to make room for Him, for if we do not do so now, will we ever?

We must live each day of Advent as though He is being born through us at any moment. Have we given our own Fiat or have we turned away and told Him we have no room in our souls for His gift of eternal life?

Christianity is only scandalous because it calls us out of ourselves, out of the darkness and into the eternal light and life of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is scandalous to the world because we the faithful so often try but fall, again and again.

It is scandalous because God's Mercy has more depth than the deepest ocean and more light than the brightest sun. We cannot escape His Mercy, but we can reject it and in so doing, purchase eternal damnation.

And that is scandalous, that He would allow us to reject such Life in favor of eternal corruption.

And yet He does......


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Whirling Dervish

It's not news anymore as every blogger and his brother is writing about it, but we here in the upper mid-west,  depending on where we are, are either experiencing a Winter Storm or a Blizzard. We in "The Cities", as we fondly call the Mpls.-St. Paul area, don't have anything as dramatic as a "blizzard". We are instead being blessed with a "Winter Storm".

In proper meteorological parlance, a "Blizzard" is classified by wind speeds of something like 30 or 35 mph for at least 3 hours.  We here in The Cities,  have most definitely NOT experienced those wind speeds, although we have been experiencing very heavy snowfall, high winds (just not blizzard-high), blowing,drifting, and outright miserable road conditions. In other words...we are experiencing a mere Winter Storm. A big Winter Storm, but nothing with the quality of a Blizzard.

Now, don't get all down on people who call it a Blizzard! We Minnesotans like melodrama, which is evidenced by Fish-Stories on the Fishing Opener (yes, really), and Blizzard Tales at any point during a winter snowstorm! (And some of both are actually TRUE! Remind me to tell you of the time I nearly caught a Grandaddy Northern that nearly snapped my pole in half...) matter what the term that applies, whether country or city, this whirling dervish is doing a number on all of us here in Minnesota and Wisconsin; therefore we do what all experienced upper-Midwestern people do in the winter:  we batten down the hatches and reserve our errands, if we must go out, to local endeavors. That is, if we can get out of our driveways and actually see where we're going!

Venturing into the Whirling Dervish

This morning I did have to run out and decided to do so sooner rather than later. We already had about 5 - 6 inches on the ground by the time I backed out of my garage, and I nearly got stuck where my driveway meets the city-owned Cul-de-Sac, which had clearly been sorta-plowed once, early on.

I considered turning back before I was even a block away; I couldn't see very well, there were random piles of snow created by plow wars between the City and various home-owners association contracts, and the idiots were out in force, fishtailing and driving crazy without actually looking to see if anyone else would be taken out by their stupid antics.

But I digress....

The main streets in my city were well plowed, every 2 cars was a squad car, and most people who had ventured out out were driving slowly and with consideration for other drivers.  I skipped one errand because I didn't think I could turn onto that road without plowing my entire front end into a plow-formed bank and getting stuck there until April.  The rest was fairly uneventful but for the near-whiteout conditions, saved by occasionally chopping ice off my wipers to make them work every now and then.

The REAL Story was this afternoon....

I was supposed to go to Adoration this afternoon and after my morning trek, was almost certain I'd make it.


Like everyone else, I watched the conditions. If I had a 4-wheel-drive vehicle, it wouldn't have been in question. However, no, I don't. Prudence must come into play.

I called my hourly coordinator and learned one of the people on my same hour would almost certainly be there, barring sickness. So I waited, watchingthe weather, and when it got close to time to go, I walked down my driveway to assess the conditions. It was as if our own plows hadn't been through at all, and clearly the City had forgotten about our little street.

Sadly, I walked inside and called the gentleman to verify he would be there, and apologize to Jesus for being stuck at home.

I went back out thinking to check mail and further ponder...could I go? I knew that if the city plow came by while I was gone, I'd never be able to get back into my driveway. Then what?  (I'm sure my nice neighbors would help me shovel my car into the driveway).

There, where I'd been not 3 minutes prior, was a car about the size of mine, stuck in the muck of snow. A woman was behind, trying to push it out while the driver spun his tires constantly, actually working against the woman doing all the hard labor. I didn't know them, but asked if she wanted some help?

"Sure!" she responded, catching her breath.  (This is a very normal scene in MN. I've been pushed out by many a stranger, and they wave as I pull away, waving me also forward so as not to get stuck again! It's ingrained in our culture).

I joined her in back of the car and pushed, and the car began to move in spite of the driver's actions. After a couple minutes of not going anywhere or gaining momentum, the woman opened the rear door and told the driver how to hit the gas, not to constantly spin his wheels. I heard him yell angrily at her, and the only word I heard clearly was the f-bomb, at which she flinched, too. She started to respond, shrugged, and came to the back of the car and began to push again, so I joined her again.

Yeah, well, we got him out in spite of himself, I walked away and the woman thanked me. The driver...nuthin'.

But then again, in MN we don't do stuff out of courtesy; we do it because it's right. (Which is also why I didn't pop his tires in response to his obvious verbal abuse of his wouldn't have been right.)

Anyway...there you have it.

I looked up just as we were getting the guy who didn't know how to drive out of his mess to see a City plow coming down the street. I tellya, these were the big guns, a huge tractor with 2 PLOWS!  The main one and a smaller more flexible extension. It was beautiful to behold, a true artform as he passed through and around our street, moving the snow out of  the way of we decent drivers!

I nearly applauded but by the time he was close enough to see my hands were full of mail and a package I'd ordered.

It was clear, though, that I'd been right to decide not to go to Adoration, as hard as that decision was; I would not have made it through the plow-slough.

God's Will, God's Designs

This weekend, I was originally supposed to go to Wisconsin, and with friends (and hopeful future religious community) attend Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, WI, offered by the now-Cardinal Burke. There were other very special reasons for this trip, and it was with a heavy heart that, yesterday, in the face of the developing storm, I decided to stay home.

Today I'm grateful for that decision, but sad that God denied me not just that grace, but also the regular grace of Adoration from me.  I still prayed at home, and took the time to work on my Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. It wasn't lost time it was just...time differently allocated for God.

Although my attitude didn't start out this way, I now I thank God for this storm, for it was part of His plan for us all, and in all it's terrible fury, there is beauty, there is order and therefore there is evidence of God's love, mercy and benevolence.

Daniel 3:52-75

"Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever; And blessed is your holy and glorious name, praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.
Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory, praiseworthy and glorious above all forever.
Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.
Blessed are you who look into the depths from your throne upon the cherubim, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.
Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven, praiseworthy and glorious forever.
Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever.
Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever.
You heavens, bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever.
All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever.
All you hosts of the Lord, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
Sun and moon, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
Stars of heaven, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
Every shower and dew, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
All you winds, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
Fire and heat, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
Cold and chill, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
Dew and rain, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
Frost and chill, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
Ice and snow, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
Nights and days, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
Light and darkness, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
Lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
Let the earth bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever! 

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Risk of Single Life

Tonight I was watching "BONES", my favorite show, and have to admit I identified a bit too much with both the victim AND Dr. Brennan, except for the fact I'm not a brilliant scientist (and all that goes with that.)

I won't give anything away, but in this week's plot Brennan's victim was a doctor like her, dispassionate like her, gave her life to her work, and had nothing/ no one  else. The victim disappeared, and in spite of her notoriety and brilliance, eventually the trail went cold and the police stopped looking.

A couple years later, here comes Bones and Boothe and the rest of the crew to find this missing woman.

I admit it: I would have identified, too, and in fact, I still identify, even now.

It reminds me of my first death investigation, two weeks into my job as a rookie cop.

We were called to an apartment building on a "check the welfare". When we were present, the Caretaker pointed out the evidence for our call (stacked-up newspapers), recited his calls to the resident and we demonstrated ourselves that he did not respond to knocks.

He keyed in, and there was the apartment resident, apparently asleep in his easy chair, the TV spouting game shows and mirth even though his own respirations has long ceased.  Next to the chair on one side was a magazine-holder filled with the normal subscriptions, and behind it was a box full of empty vodka bottles.

We asked our questions, waited for the Medical Examiner, and filled out the boxes on our documentation while we waited. He had clearly had a natural death so our investigation was routine.

Still, there was nothing "routine" about the fact of his life, and that it had gone away without a flutter. No one noticed. No one called, no one checked on him. There were no messages on his voice mail.

The first person to notice and wonder was the dispassionate building caretaker who saw, after several days, that the newspapers were not being collected.

He wasn't married, didn't have children, was apparently retired, and apparently spent his days reading the newspaper, sipping vodka, and watching game shows.

I remember going out to the balcony of the apartment with my FTO, who knew I'd lost my father over a year prior.  He had to notice that I was occasionally blinking too much to make sure the tears did not arise. My Dad's drink of choice was vodka, too. It didn't appear this was the cause for this man, but I wondered if my own father would have died in the same way had he not been living with his mother and caring for her at the time.

That man died alone, and no one noticed. He was apparently not loved by anyone else, for if they loved him, they would have called, they would have stayed in touch, and they would have, most importantly, noticed that he was gone.

No one noticed he was gone.

And now I can't forget him.

Still Pondering...

I remember that tonight, because I am a bit of a hermit myself, and between that memory and tonight's episode of "Bones" this facet of the RISK of single life is brought home yet again.

I am single, have no children, and my social connections are mainly Sunday (some Daily Mass, which rotates according to my schedule), Adoration once per week, every day.

Working in Insurance for nearly 5 years soured me on the phone like nothing else ever could, and so my phone rarely rings unless it is a loan company, the bank, or my mother.  I don't often call my friends, and as they aren't teenagers, they tend to not just call for no reason, either.

Adulthood, as a whole, tends to be very isolative as we "evolve" into our lives either as married people or otherwise single adults.

I don't have a boyfriend and am not looking (for obvious reasons), so no one is calling me 30 times per day. I don't text on my pre-pay cell, so even if I did have a boyfriend he'd be forced into my own archaic forms of voice communication.

Some time ago my boss called me on a day off to see if I was coming in, having forgotten to check the schedule in my office, and having forgotten I'd worked that weekend. I appreciated her least she realized I hadn't called and hadn't come in. She didn't assume I'd just quit; she was honestly checking to see if I was OK as, according to what she knew of me, I'd broken a pattern: I didn't show up and I didn't call to explain why.

Still...I can't help but wonder:  If I disappeared, would anyone notice?  Am I involved enough with my friends, with my parish, with my community (including my immediate neighbors) for any of them to realize I might be trapped in my bathroom with my big toe stuck in the spigot while the water in the tub freezes if the furnace is broken and I can't get out?

That is the risk of single life:  Are we visible?

Are our married friends paying attention, do they care, and if they do care, do they have the time to notice if we've somehow gone out of sight? Are our other single friends less self-absorbed than we ourselves are, and would they notice if we don't show up?

Would we notice if our other single friends disappear?

What amount of time of being out of sight  is reasonably "acceptable"? 

I remember having to be accountable to people (like Mom, roommates, etc) as to where I was going, when, and why. I remember going out with friends, and if we went out together, our rule was to leave together unless we otherwise knew exactly where and with whom someone was leaving.

On the other hand, who do we as Singles go to? We have freedom, right? We can go anywhere, do as we please, and no one is standing over our shoulders, telling us where we have to be and when.

Isn't that somewhat of a recipe for disaster? Think about it.

We singles, we may not need babysitters, but we do need to look at our lives and we DO need to question whether or not someone else would notice if we weren't around. We DO need to consider whether anyone would call for help for us, would even KNOW to call the police to knock at our respective doors to "check welfare" if we haven't surfaced in awhile and aren't answering the phone and responding to messages.

Gosh, I know if I was stuck with my big toe in the spigot, as embarrassing as such a scenario would be, I'd prefer being discovered like that by a benevolent friend to being cryogenically concealed and discovered only by my mortgage company looking to collect, and then sold as a mummy to the U of M in order to make up for unpaid mortgage debt.

We singles, we do have to seriously consider, if we are a single living alone, whether anyone would notice if we were gone, either just plain missing or missing without a reason.

To be clear, I am not writing here for the benefit of the countless readers who may come across this post, but rather, for those who, like I, live in relative oblivion, for whom no one really takes account.

It is something to be pondered. Not everyone is an A-type personality, in everyone's face about their existence. There are many of us floating around, B-type, preferring oblivion, but to what risk?

Advent is a wonderful time to ponder about why God created us, Who he calls us to be, and remind ourselves, as singles, that He notices every drop of dandruff, every appearance of sweat, every moment of sipping directly from the milk carton contrary to Mom's wishes for our gentility.

We need, as Singles, to know that if we get our respective big nasty toes stuck in the spigot in the bathtub that someone will ask questions within a week or so. We need to know that if we trip and fall down the stairs, breaking our necks at C-7, someone will call the ambulance for us. We need to know that if we disappear even from social networking, that after a few days, someone will do so much as not send an email, but actually CALL us on the phone, or even show up at our door to see if maybe the newspapers are piling up.

Our culture becomes more and more depersonalized. 

Relationships are held more and more online, even those among we who know each other directly.  Consider that danger:  What do we base upon an email? A text? Twitter? Facebook? Plurk? Blogs? When do we actually become PERSONAL in care for one another, and when do we actually go knocking on someone's door?

Maybe most people don't have to consider this but we Singles...we do.  We are alone. We pray the Prayer of Esther:  "Help me, Lord, for I am all alone, and I have no one but Thee."

We whom do we pray,  whom do we trust in this earthy life, and  Who actually cares enough about us to know we are lost?

Think about it. Pray about it.  And resolve never to become one of the Unknown.

That is the greatest risk of Single life.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Never Alone

Every so often I get very "down" on myself.

It doesn't matter how much spiritual reading I do that warns against "despair" or of excessive sadness for our sins. We aren't always in control of our emotions, and it seems like sometimes, if things are going well I almost completely self-destruct (not a life-ending thing, more a spiritual crash and burn).

Although tonight wasn't a total crash-and-burn, I went to Mass somewhat dejected, and afterwards as I knelt, praying, I couldn't stop what rose from me.

I had just finished reading from St. Louis de Montfort's 33-day Preparation for Total Consecration (I am renewing this year on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe), and in addition, I read a couple chapters from Imitation of Mary.

Both readings spoke of spiritual despair.

After Mass, suddenly I was struck with a type of loneliness...a sense of near-abandonment of the earthly kind, even almost spiritual. It's very difficult to explain, but there it was.

I knelt before Our Lord, wondering, yet again if I think I am called to religious life only because I fear the love of another, or even more probable, fear that I could never be loved by another.

We all, within us, have a desire and a need for love, for we have been created out of love and to be loved for eternity. 

The last boyfriend I had, the one I thought I would marry, confided to a friend of his around the time we broke up that he thought I would have a hard time "finding someone else."

I admit those words are still as powerfully painful now as when I first learned about them. He denied having said it when I confronted him, but I could see the lie as he shifted his gaze away from me in shame.

There, before Our Lord, tonight, I asked Him for love; to reveal it to me.

I asked Him to show me if I've gotten discernment all wrong and am perhaps called to marriage, but fear it too much. I asked Him how anyone could ever love me, considering all my sins, all my failings, all my passionate obstinance regarding...dang near everything.

I have to admit I am pretty damn unlovable most of the time.  

I asked Jesus, simply, to love me. I had no expectations, I had no specific intentions: I offered Him only my broken heart because it's all I have to offer. I offered him my doubts, my intent to do His Will, and my own lack of charity for Him and for others.

In other words, I came to Him with my utter desolation, knowing  my self-pity was wrong but also knowing I had nowhere else to bring it but to His feet.

I left the church, having wiped my eyes of the tears that did manage to escape without my will, and having waited a few minutes to ensure my composure. With all the colds going around right now, I blended in with about half the congregation.

When I arrived at the chapel door where Daily Mass is held, a man I know held it open for me, recognized me from a committee we are on together, and said hello rather than giving me a typical dispassionate-but-friendly nod in response to my thanks. I walked over to a bench and set my backpack down so I could put my coat on, and while doing so, an elderly man who was waiting for his relative looked at me, smiled, and approached, introducing himself. I was surprised but couldn't help but respond to his sincere greeting.

I recognized him as one of the more devout members of our parish, having always wondered who he was, and I knew he also recognized me as we often sat near each other during Daily or regular Sunday Mass.  Tonight, looking at him, I saw the light in his eyes and the friendliness that was clearly a part of his real personality. He told me he is retired and we discussed how blessed we are to be members of such a good parish with such holy priests that give us more than adequate access to the Sacraments.

Both encounters were somewhat unusual; not because people are unfriendly, but rather because I don't know either at all. The first is a new acquaintance but recognized by face over the years, and the latter, simply recognized but whom seemed to be even more private than I am. Neither unapproachable people, but simply, in typical Catholic culture, willing to let another soul be another soul in the presence of God. (It's hard to explain for non-Catholics so I'll stop trying unless a question is specifically asked).

Upon arriving home I collected my mail and went inside. There I found in that stack, instead of bills, there was a Christmas card from my "second family", the parents of my teen-years best friend who had become surrogates of sorts and without whom I would not be who I am today. I haven't yet sent out any cards, but now when I send one to them I'll be able to offer a response, remembering the love they had given me even though I was not their own. Remembering that without them, I would have been lost.


I have written of them previously, HERE.

God answers prayers, usually in small ways, ways only we can recognize because they have to do with our relationships with God and others, what He knows about us, and only He can provide the timing for He knows in advance what we will ask.

Today wasn't a coincidence, but an answer to a prayer, reminding me that I am not a colossal accident, that my discernment isn't over and in fact, He is present with me in any agony, whether brief and petty or deep and abiding.  

That is His love, that is God Himself, refusing to ever leave us alone.

We may experience times of dryness and we may experience abandonment,and it for those moments He gives us these small gifts: to provide memories and bolster our faith in order that we'll always remember His presence.

So often, I think that I am lost, but then God provides evidence to the contrary, reminding me I have never been alone for even a moment.

Thank you, Jesus. I'm sorry for doubting you.

Prayer of Violation

Have you ever had it happen to you?

Imagine this: 

You ask someone to pray for you, a routine request as a Catholic, and suddenly that friend or group of friends gathers around you, buries you in hands, with hands on your head, your shoulders, your hands, your arms, until you are a shocked bubble of silent angst as they burst into "prayer" via "tongues" or other various spontaneous prayers (that go on and on and on in multiplication of words) and because you understand they are doing good, you don't protest this intense violation of your privacy and space while you become the center of a spectacle in someplace as common, as, say...a Mall. Or a Restaurant.  Or the "gathering space" next to the holy water font in your parish while people walk by, gawking, and while you wish you could take back your prayer request and just go light a candle and pray quietly which was your original preference until you ran into your friends and asked offhand for prayers.

I have been quite uncomfortable with this practice for a Very. Long. Time. As long as I can remember, in fact. I suddenly wondered:  why is it we are told to pull away from every other unwanted contact, but not from a group of over-zealous pray-ers who have suddenly forgotten, themselves, what it's like to be ceremoniously or unceremoniously groped in the name of supplication to God? Why do we suddenly stop defending our boundaries because our space is being violated in the name of "prayer"?

I'm sorry for any offense that this post may cause, but I hope it's shocking enough to get the attention of the offenders to help them realize that their guerrilla-prayer techniques are, actually...offensive.

Please don't get me wrong: I want and need people to pray for me, and I often ask for prayers, but you must understand: this showy public practice is so common and so uncomfortable that I have actually STOPPED requesting prayers of others if I am in a public place, especially if I know they are of particular spiritual persuasions.

It comes down to this:  I can't stand having my space violated and having no gracious way out of it.

I also know that by this very post alone a bunch of people are going to comment claiming I'm resisting the Holy Spirit and that I "feel" this out of some major spiritual attack or it's Satan at the heart of my sense of violation. There are those who will argue that such a situation should be "offered up" and that it is a greater testament to God's glory. If you're going to make this argument, please stand down and have a little respect. Just a little. Thanks.  (Who wants to take a bet that this very paragraph will be roundly ignored?)


Prayers on the Spot

I have a friend, a charismatic Catholic by spirituality, who has been "formed" to pray for people "on the spot". For her that usually means laying one's hands on the person requesting prayer and breaking into some kind of spontaneous prayer in the vernacular, or, her favorite, "tongues".  She was quite literally TOLD to do this with the threat that if she doesn't, then she will not ever truly pray for that person and anything delayed isn't really prayer.


Having been on the receiving end of this kind of "formation", I tend to think the "formators" of this idea both ignore Sacred Scripture and of course, the dignity of the person for whom one is praying.

MOST people do understand context and don't do this, but there are others who don't "get" that some people prefer that their prayer requests be in private, that prayers for them be personal and with their regular prayer life, and prefer not to be the center of an impromptu spectacle.

I can remember only ONE occasion in which someone asked to pray for me while taking my hand, and I did acquiesce, breaking through my own discomfort to recognize that this person needed to do this. It was also in a public situation in which it was not a spectacle and would not be recognized as anything other than a quiet conversation.  Just us and God. Yes, I was uncomfortable, but it had context, a certain development in conversation that led to that moment, and the prayer that, while not to my taste, was proper and something I could handle and even with which I could pray along.

Contrast that with the guerrilla-prayer types that suddenly launch into "prayer", and, I have to say, involving "prayers" that directly contradict God's will, or seek to circumvent it. That is more agonizing than the public spectacle, for I can't pull away from this person, whose intent of course is very good, but whose theology is lacking as they forget what it means to pray in Jesus' name, assuming He's on board with a particular request without actually asking Him first.

It's like writing a letter to someone FOR Jesus and signing His name but forgetting to tell Him about it and also forgetting to ask the person on whose behalf the letter is written whether this is what they were actually asking.

Yeah. I have a problem with that.

My friends, I am a Catholic. I wear my Faith on my sleeve, I stand up in defense of our beliefs all the time, both online and in real life, and I've been quite punished for it. Please don't take this post to mean I am ashamed of Christ or that I am denying Him in some way.

I am not.

What I do believe, however, is that prayer is intimate. Prayer is, by definition, a conversation with God, and conversations outside of Liturgy are meant to be more informal, and thus carry a certain intimacy that is not ritualized.

We, as the Body of Christ, do support each other and we do pray for each other, but that directive and expectation should not be taken to mean we force our preferences upon others in public places. We do not and should not "lay hands and run" like a spiritual purse snatcher.

Whenever this happens to me, I feel more violated than affirmed.

If I ask someone to pray for me, just as if they ask the same thing of me, I expect a Rosary, prayers from the Liturgy of the Hours, a random mention to God  if they happen to think of me at any point in their day, or maybe a silent Hail Mary on the spot. Any of those thing is fine. I'm thrilled with someone simply asking Jesus to remember me.

When others request prayer of me, I do pray, and of course, the intensity varies, but I always send up an Ave or an Our Father, and then entrust the rest to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (an idea I got from Fr. Corapi who does the same), because I can't remember all the intentions that come my way. I do my best to remember, but I often fail.

Those who are losing their hearing or have lost much of it often speak very loudly because, well, they can't hear anyone else and therefore assume that they, too must raise their voices.

We are like that. We forget that true prayer happens in silence, not in noise, not in shouting from the corners.  God comes to us as He always did: not in the wind or the fire or the earthquake, but in the still, small voice.

He can hear us if we speak in the same tone, for He offers us the example: we pray from our hearts more than from our voices.

We have to remember that God hears us most clearly in the same silence in which He so profoundly speaks.

When someone asks us to pray for them, they are not  necessarily asking for guerrilla-prayers akin to spiritual purse-snatching, but are rather asking to be remembered in our regular intimate conversations with God, those moments that mean the most to us personally and to Him.