Shepherding

8C80CF60-B78B-4AA4-8089-6FE1E81098B5I was donating some cereal to our church food pantry for the less fortunate. My son says, “Why are you giving away Dad’s cereal?”  I told him it was the wrong kind, and I bought it by mistake.  It sort of felt like the inquisition of little Cindy Lou Who and the Grinch. He thinks a minute, and replies, “ I think that’s the right thing to do.  I think that’s what Father (our pastor) would do.”  I thought it odd that his moral compass would be a Priest, for what to do about a box of cereal, but I also thought it cool that he was discerning. 

Shepherding isn’t easy, whether as a parent or moral authority.  Children expect you to live what you teach them.  We should be examples for the lessons, morals and rules we teach our children.  I know that I make mistakes.  Sometimes I just go with my best guess, as to what is the right way to handle a situation. In hind site I may realize that how I handled something was wrong, and maybe even terribly wrong.  I can only do the best with what I know or have at the time.  I can’t judge the me of yesterday with the wisdom I’ve gained today, nor is it just, to do that to another. I am grateful that our Lord shared this wisdom with us, “ Forgive them for they know not what they do.”

I think it’s good to always keep in mind that we are not infallible.  I cling to the mercy of God, And I hope that I can make room, in my heart and mind, for those clinging next to me. 

Rock and Knock

2013 Ireland - 0214 - Version 2In Ireland there are dispersed around the countryside, what are called Mass rocks.  These rocks were where Catholics gathered for Mass, at a time in history, when it was unlawful.  I can imagine that my ancestors may have been gathered around those rocks, risking their lives for the Body and Blood of Christ.  This is believing!  Priests were even more at risk, since their lives meant celebrating Mass repeatedly, with this danger.  I am certainly indebted to these faithful, for my Catholic Baptism.  This old moss covered rock was maybe the most moving site that I encountered, on my visit there, a Mass Rock.

We have the freedom to participate in the Lord’s Supper, at little cost, an hour of time.  We don’t have to risk imprisonment, torture, persecution or life.  The Irish did, as they gathered in secret, and under the cover of the woods.  Today at Mass my thoughts were directed to Our Lady of Knock, who used to be celebrated on this day, before moved to another.  In the apparition, Our Mother spoke no words, but held her hands like a Priest at the Altar, in the apparition and reality.  After all it was through her that our Lord came to us Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.  She needed no words.  She didn’t need to express the worth of the Sacrificial Lamb, not to the Irish.  

The discourse on the Eucharist has been read these past few weeks on Sundays, in the Lectionary.  Christ is emphatically telling those who have ears to hear that He is real food.  We have been satisfied so easily in our churches that we may never know, if we would journey to a rock in the woods.  Maybe today we can just be consumed with gratitude that we don’t have to, and pray we never will. 

Our Lady of Knock, please pray for us.

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Bridges and Snares

D1A9A545-0741-4822-AD5D-C916C899DBF7We are taught as Catholic children to ask our guardian Angels for help.  As a child I was given the picture of the children on a broken bridge, and a beautiful angel there to guard them. This imagery appeals to a child’s sense of safety and protection. I know that I was comforted by this thought.  As I’ve gotten older, and my experience of troubles have changed, so has my angel ideal. 

As I experience this life of constant battles of good and evil, I think I want a scrapper. I want an angel that can “defend me in battle”.  We have an enemy that is relentless, cunning and merciless.   Our struggles with the flesh are real.  It’s not the appearance that I need to change, after all, look at our Blessed Mother, it’s that angels aren’t placed in our lives to be beautiful, but to get their hands dirty.  I need to change the way I think about them.  I need to call on my angel, not only to get me across a rickety bridge, over dangerous waters, but to be my “protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil”.

Prayer to St. Michael

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Inch By Inch Row By Row



0C844271-ED26-4C25-AD8B-546618637DD8As I sang “The Garden Song”, I picked green beans.  I remembered singing it when I planted the seeds in the Spring, this traditional song that celebrates the garden. I grew up eating fresh vegetables from the garden.  It is always exciting to harvest.  Tonight I reaped the benefits of my labor on our dinner table. We had beets, tomatoes and beans, and they taste fresh and sweet.

I felt so grateful for these gifts. I was thankful for the seeds, sun, soil and rain.  I was appreciating my mother for teaching me the skills, and for the internet to supplement what I didn’t know.  I was lauding our Creator for giving us this gift of planting and picking vegetables. 

I took some beans to my helpful neighbor.  He asked me, ‘St Augustine says you can’t get to heaven alone, you need grace.  How do I know if I have enough grace?”  I said “Grace is a gift from God.  Jesus gave you sufficient grace, when He died for you, on the cross”. He said, “But, how do I know he gave it to me?”  I said Sam, He offers it to everyone, you only need to believe.”

It made me think, there are so many variations of Grace from our Creator.  There is much to appreciate in our world, a pair of shoes, a rainbow, a night sky, the warmth of the sun, a smart phone. Our gifts can be complicated, a computer, or simple, a cool breeze………………….What a God we have…grace…eternal salvation… a green bean.

The Garden Song

Inch by Inch  Row by Row
I’m gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and hoe
And a piece of fertile ground
Inch by Inch  Row by Row
Someone bless these seeds I soe
Someone warm them from below
Till the rain come tumblin down
Pulling weeds, picking stones
Man is made of dreams and bones
Feel the need to grown my own
Cause the time is close at hand
Painful rain, sun and rain
Find my way in nature’s chain
Tune my body and my brain
To the music of the land
Plant your rows straight and long
Temper them with prayer and song
Mother earth will make you strong
If you give her love and care
Old crow wathing hungerily
From his perch in youder tree
In my garden im as free

David Mallett