Run Silent Run Deep

There are things that I don’t put in writing, because it may not be charitable, to do so.  But, I do understand many pains, that people carry with them, hidden from the world around them.  My daughter hid her condition from her team, and was talked about for sitting out on practices.  What they didn’t know was that she had stress fractures, and would practice on them, until the pain got bad enough to stop her.  So many people struggle with pain, abuse, depression, or those little secrets they can’t tell.  If you are black, a woman, over weight, or handicapped, your struggle is obvious, and although noticed by some, your true suffering is probably not realized by most.  Even if we can find compassion for the the situation, a man will never know the discrimination that women endure, or a white person that of a black person.  

I can understand how one can be frustrated by the “Privilege” of white males.  I don’t think the answer to this “privilege” is to make them pay, or in turn, discriminate against them. Witnessing your children being demoralized by abuse or discrimination is a hard pill to swallow. Having been a victim of physical and verbal abuse, I know how hard it is, to reclaim the original version of me, given life by my Creator.  As a parent, I know the anger resultant, when my children have been changed, by the abuse of this world.  As a child of God, I know He wants to heal and repair me, and that Jesus too, knows this pain.  He feels our pain, and additionally, walked this earth as a man and God.  He knows what it is to be judged by appearance, when there is so much more inside.  He also knows how to remain authentic to Himself, despite the impressions or even oppression of others. 

I think approaching prayer and healing, to this Jesus, can help me.  I’ve not thought a lot about His lifetime, outside of the crucifixion, in regard to His daily experience of humility that was required.  He allowed Himself the oppression of being human, and the misconception that He was less than The Omnipotent God.  There is healing and strength to be found here, I am sure, even if unrealized at this moment.  As a start though, I know that I need to pray with this.

Words From The Soul?

There are times, when I write that I just can’t seem to get the words right.  I’m trying to express something in my soul, something that I know, but words just don’t suffice.  I ask God to help me, and I find a way to put thought on paper.  Often though, it still seems inadequate, like there is no created word that can describe how the soul feels.  Maybe that is why “The Word” is Christ, because human language would otherwise fail.

As I write today, my son is practicing his Christmas songs on the piano.  The feelings that I have inside, those of a mother for her child, again are beyond words.  With every precise note and every missed note, I feel joy, because he is my son.  I can’t explain why, to an objective ear, no matter how hard I try, unless they have experienced a like situation in their own life…when love transcends objective reality. 

Yesterday, when I prayed the Canticle of Mary, I experienced it differently.  It was as if Our Lady was saying it to me, from soul to soul, sharing in our experience of God. She was proclaiming and rejoicing about her God, but intimately, like she was speaking from a bursting soul…trying to find words to express the Creator’s omnipotence …those insufficient words.  All generations would call her blessed. Her humility was palpable.  The rest, of the canticle, isn’t a history lesson, or list of accomplishments.  It is the cure from the eternal Heart of her Father.  This year, we are excited about one little vaccine to return our lives to “normal”.  Mother Mary is announcing that the Eternal Cure is here.  The healing for all of her children in Christ Jesus.  Can you imagine how she said these things to Elizabeth.  Her soul was shouting and overflowing inside of her, but she was limited by words. We put these words to beautiful and prayerful melodies, but somehow, I think they were spoken with wide eyed enthusiasm, bursting out of her to her cousin. As I read, I thought she is still saying these words to me. She is still trying to proclaim our Cure.

December 12th, nine days from the writing of this post, is The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  She is Empress of the Americas, her name translates to “the one who crushes the serpent”, her message, “Trust in me: I am your mother.” Our Mother, who hears our wrong notes, but still loves with joy.

Our Lady of Guadalupe calls us to trust, while she is carrying the unborn Savior of the World within herself.  She comes to us adorned in royal dress, wearing a sash designating the child within her is royalty. Who better to turn to during this Advent Season, than the Madonna carrying the Christ Child, the mother who loves us in spite of our sour notes.

Maybe a good way to prepare for the King of the Universe this Advent, is to, from our souls, pray His Mother’s prayer, for her children in this divided nation of her born and unborn children.

The Canticle of Mary

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
My Spirit rejoices in God my Saviour
For He has looked with favour on His lowly servant.From this day all generations will call me blessed:
The Almighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His Name.He has mercy on those who fear Him
In every generation.He has shown the strength of His arm,
He has scattered the proud in their conceit.He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
And has lifted up the lowly.He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.He has come to the help of His servant Israel
For He has remembered His promise of mercy,
The promise He made to our fathers,
To Abraham and his children for ever.

“Up Hill Both Ways In Two Feet Of Snow”

 It is a right of age, to be able to tell stories of hardship, from days gone by, to the younger generation.  I can remember my parents and grandparents relating to me events of their lives, the depression, losing the herd, outdoor …uuuh pluming, WWII, wringer washers etc.  I can remember my mother’s joy, when she got an automatic washing machine and dryer.  Life has its hardships for every generation.

My experience has been, when people look back, they do so, with an element of pride, about how they endured.  Sometimes, perhaps, even a bit of boasting about their ingenuity or fortitude to obstacles of life.  I guess my observation is that any misfortune is difficult in the moment, but there is much to be learned by it.  Perseverance alone, is a good skill to work on.  

People that I know, who have endured much, seem to have gained a lot of wisdom.  Their suffering, and what they learned from it, changed how they see things forever.  So, I don’t worry about my child “missing out”, because things aren’t the way they used to be. Instead, I try to help him find alternatives to what he used to do.  Trick or Treat will be different, socially distanced, to friends and family only, and safe, but aren’t we lucky to do it at all.  We talk about what is happening in our world, and how we still have it pretty good.  I teach him to accept it and move on, and not whine about what is lost.  I help him see the big picture, and don’t let him wallow in how unfair this is.  Because fair or unfair, it is his/our reality. We have to find the positive  and persevere, bearing it all in humility, and offer up these masks and our present limitations for the glory of God.

…When I was a kid, schools and everything closed, and we had to wear masks everywhere, but we did, and we appreciated the things we could do, and because of it, we learned…

Note:  Did you know that each part of a habit has prayers or sacrifices associated with it that are ever present to the sisters daily. 

Image: Thank you to the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration,  Canton Ohio

One Issue Voters

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Many christians, who want to take the abortion issue out of voting will list the many other concerns that face us in the world today.  Social concerns about racism, immigration, gun control, the poor, education etc, are important, for sure, but do they tip the scales over a basic right to life.  This is the debate.  Those who think that the basic right to life, or pro life issues, outweigh every other issue, are considered “one issue voters”.  Of this, I have been labeled, but I beg to disagree.

I am not a one issue voter.  I do vote for pro-life candidates, because I can’t in good conscience, let my vote promote another death of a soul, unborn or born.  I would argue that abortion isn’t one issue.  We have become an abortion society.  It’s like the frog in a warm pot of water.  It will remain in the pot as the temperature increases, until it is cooked to death, because the change is so gradual that it doesn’t notice.  If you place a frog in hot water, it will immediately hop out.  If we knew how abortion would change our perspective of life in the womb in 1973, would we have been so complacent about the issue.

Conversations about gender and sexual preference have gone as far as having prepubescent children choosing their sexuality and adults discussing how pedophilia is a sexual preference.  Babies can be aborted up until birth, and there is talk about infanticide too.  How have we become a society that can’t see this, for the evil that spawns it.  Abortion is changing us, our moral compass, our souls, and it’s inviting us to turn a blind eye to it.  Abortion isn’t one issue, it is the means of evil that persuades us to ignore the God given right to life.  

Here is my litmus test.  If I have children suffering from every social problem there is, and one child is being put to death, and I have only you to help, and you must choose one situation.  Who do you think I would want you to help?  I would want you to save the life of the soul God created, and I think He would choose the same.

Why Obedience?

My son practices piano every day.  He does it without being reminded now.  In the beginning, I had to direct him to the piano, and at times, it was a struggle to get him to be compliant.  He has come to find much joy in playing it, and has even sought out music to play, in addition to his required lessons.  

My initial thought was that piano would help him improve small motor skills, in an expressive and artful way, something he was having difficulty with in school.  He, of course, didn’t know that.  To him, I was asking him to play piano, when he found more pleasure doing other things.  As a parent, I was trying to make a growth experience something he may at some point enjoy.  I wanted his obedience in this matter, when he could not understand or recognize the merit in the task.

It makes me think of postures at Mass.  We are directed as a church to sit, stand, kneel etc, during certain times of the Mass. Recently our Bishop instructed us to remain standing through the reception of Communion, as an act of unity.  Well, this was not well received by several, because they feel compelled to kneel.  I get that too, it’s what we’ve done for years, decades, and it seemed right to me also, to kneel.  I have to say though, that recently, I’ve come to see things a little differently.

Our country is so polarised politically right now.  We can’t agree on anything. As a matter of fact, if something comes up, opposite points of view are expected.  I think if Democrats and Republicans would agree on something, our nation wouldn’t know how to react.  Is this simple act of unity, as a directive from our Bishop, more important, than the pious act of kneeling during Communion?  I now believe that obedience trumps piety, hands down….and this is why.

When Jesus was found in the Temple, In Luke chapter 2, He said to his parents, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  Of course he would  be in His Father’s house.  This is the greater thing right?…to be in the temple in Jerusalem of all places, praying and teaching.  After all, “all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers.”  So what did He do next, this 12 year old, who “astounded” those in the temple with His wisdom?  “But they (his parents) did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.”

Jesus had just spoken to the hearts of so many in the Temple.  May I use the word again, He “astounded” them.  But, Jesus chose obedience.  Jesus chose obedience, over astounding His children in the Temple.  

This is the only story of Jesus in His childhood in the Bible.  The only recorded story of the child Jesus is a lesson in obedience.  It gives me a new perspective of obedience, and I suppose of piety also… Jesus chose obedience, over astounding His children in the Temple.

Into The Desert

Our world has been plunged into an awareness of a danger, of a life threatening body that lurks about us, identified as COVID-19.  In order to avoid this contagion, we have to change our lifestyle, practice “social distancing”, and diligently wash our hands.  COVID-19 has become public enemy number one, and it requires our prudence and compliance to the mandates given us, in order to lovingly protect each other.

In all of this fervor, I found myself missing Lent.  It seems that so much attention has been given to our confinements, that I was missing the salvific journey of Lent.  The scripture “Then give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” comes to mind for me.  I need to be a responsible citizen, but a steward of Lent also.  I need the mindset of offering up these sacrifices that have been thrust upon us, with submission to God.

This isolation has given us the occasion to truly embrace simplicity.  Maybe our challenge here is to live this confinement, and learn how God can move us, through this “desert”. I want to capitalize on this unique time in my life, and make it into an opportunity, to perhaps learn something about our Savior that I’ve been distracted from before.

Below are the beautiful lyrics and link to the song “Into The Desert” by Curtis Stephan and Sarah Hart.  I found this song to be a great reflection right now, during this Lent that has been so different from any I’ve known.

Into the Desert

Come, beloved, and rest your mind;

Leave the things of this world behind.

Here I will be your daily bread, all that you need.

Into the desert I will lead; here in the silence my word will speak.

And you will find the peace you seek here in the desert.

Stay, beloved, and lose your fear; there is healing and mercy here.

Here I will be a living stream, all that you need.

From this desert your life will bloom; out of despair is hope renewed.

And from this death you shall arise, arise with me.

A Week of Saints: November 18-24, 2019

Monday, November 18:  Dedication of the Basilicas of Sts. Peter and Paul

St Peter’s is located in the Vatican City State, surrounded by Rome, Italy.  It’ built on the tomb of St Pater. Constantine built the original structure that stood for more than a thousand years in 319.  It was losing its stability, so Pope Julius II reconstructed it, but it took 200 years for it’s completion. 

St Paul’s Outside the Walls the largest church in Rome, until St Peters was rebuilt.  It is built on the site that St Paul was beheaded.  Until the empire crumbled under “barbarian” invasions, the two churches, although miles apart, were linked by a roofed colonnade of marble columns.

Tuesday, November 19:  St. Agnes of Assisi, religious (1197-1253)

Agnes was St. Clare’s sister, and her first follower. When she left her family for the monastery, they tried o drag her out.  Her body became so heavy that several knights were unsuccessful at moving her.  When her uncle tried to hit her, he was temporarily paralyzed.  Agnes, like her sister was very devoted.  She was sent to be abbess to a group of Benedictine nuns, who wanted to be Poor Clares.  Agnes wanted to be with Clare and the other sisters, and after establishing the monasteries returned to San Damiano, when Clare was dying

“I come, O Lord, unto Thy sanctuary to see the life and food of my soul. As I hope in Thee,”

Wednesday, November 20:  St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, religious (1769-1852)

St Rose learned political skills from her father and love of the poor from her mother in Grenoble, France.  Her prevailing characteristic was her strong will. She entered the convent at 19, and during the French Revolution began taking care of the poor, sick, and children.  She risked her life helping Priests in the underground.  She came to America to be a missionary with several nuns. “In her first decade in America, Mother Duchesne suffered …poor lodging, shortages of food, drinking water, fuel and money, forest fires and blazing chimneys, the vagaries of the Missouri climate, cramped living quarters and the privation of all privacy, and the crude manners of children reared in rough surroundings.” (Louise Callan, R.S.C.J., Philippine Duchesne )

In poor health she got her lifelong wish, at 72, a mission, among the Potawatomi.

“You may dazzle the mind with a thousand brilliant discoveries of natural science; you may open new worlds of knowledge which were never dreamed of before; yet, if you have not developed in the soul of the pupil strong habits of virtue which will sustain her in the struggle of life, you have not educated her, but only put in her hand a powerful instrument of self-destruction”

Patron:  perseverance amid adversity,

Thursday, November 21:  The Presentation Of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mary’s presentation was celebrated in Jerusalem in the sixth century. The Protoevangelium of James tells us that Anna and Joachim offered Mary to God in the Temple when she was three years old. Though it cannot be proven historically, Mary’s presentation emphasizes that the holiness conferred on Mary from the beginning of her life on earth continued through her early childhood and beyond.

Friday, November 22:  St Cecelia, Martyr (3rd century)

Although Cecilia is one of the most famous of the Roman martyrs, there is little known about her. In the late fourth century  a church was named after her, and her feast was celebrated at least in 545. Legend has it that Cecilia was a young high rank Christian betrothed to a Roman and because of her influence he was converted, and martyred. The legend about Cecilia’s death says that after being struck three times on the neck with a sword, she lived for three days, and asked the pope to convert her home into a church. Since the time of the Renaissance she has usually been portrayed with a viola or a small organ.

“Death and hell combine to distract man with a thousand useless cares, and to engage his thoughts with a multitude of imaginary wants.” 

Patron:  musicians, poets

Saturday, November 23: St Columban (543-615)

Columban was one of the greatest of the Irish missionaries. As a young man who was greatly tormented by temptations of the flesh.  After many years of seclusion and prayer, he traveled to Gaul with 12 companion missionaries. They won wide respect for their dedication to the faith and rigors of their lives. Columban established several monasteries. His writings include a treatise on penance and against Arianism, sermons, poetry, and his monastic rule. The Liturgical Feast of Saint Columban is November 23.

“Seek then the highest wisdom, not by arguments in words but by the perfection of your life, not by speech but by the faith that comes from simplicity of heart”

Patron:  motorcyclist 

Sunday November 24:  Feast of Christ The King of the Universe

Pope Pius XI in response to the growing secularism in the West stated how he hoped the feast would impact the laity.

“If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ. He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God. He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone. He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God.”

Darkness My Old Friend

I recently watched a movie about St Ignatius of Loyola, where he suffered from the memory of his sinful past.  He accused himself relentlessly over and over, while he heard lies of despair instead of Hope in his head.  He later identified the voice of despair as satan.

My confessor directed me to find were the lies were that satan was speaking to me in my life.  I found sins that I would revisit and feel bad about, or times where I could only see injustice, and not the Light.  Although placed there as temptations to despair, I could admit my cooperation with this way of thinking, and confess it.  

I know that my Father is Love, and satan wants to separate me from the Love of my God.  I think it fair to say that if there is something that makes me feel unloved by God, then the fault is mine.  So I was motivated to revisit these difficult memories and find God in them.  If its a forgiven sin, who am I to hold onto it.  If its an injustice done to me, then I need to look for how God was present to me through that experience.  I need to replace the negative feelings associated with these things, with the Truth. I have to stop listening to the mantra of evil.  I can’t linger in the darkness of satan’s suggestion.  I need to find these little seeds of demise, and quickly bring Light to the darkness.  I need to exercise vigilance.

The movie can be found on “Formed”, and is titled “Ignatius of Loyola”.