See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sinner stories.

Today's Gospel is about how Jesus welcomed sinners and ate and drank with them.  [Luke 5: 27-32]  I love this passage, I think of it every time I approach Holy Communion.  Anyway, I thought I would use today's post to write a little story about a sinner.
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Jimmy O'Brien*
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Before they were banned from the tavern, my parents spent a lot of time at the Moose Lodge on Payne Ave. in St. Paul.  One of our neighbors seemed to always be there - a skinny Irish widower named Jimmy - he had two daughters, Debbie and Moira, one was a classmate of mine, the other, Moira, was kind of a slut.  The whole family was skinny and ugly - my mother referred to them disdainfully as 'shanty Irish' - they looked like 'refugees from the potato famine."  My mother was Irish descent and her mother claimed to be 'lace curtain Irish'.  Whatever - I'm not at all fond of American Irish patriots, but that is another story.
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Jimmy was a drunk, I suppose an alcoholic as well - but there is a difference between the two, or so I've been told by drinkers, but I can't remember what the distinction is.  Jim was a ne'er-do-well, barely feeding his girls or making the rent, yet he always was in the bar.  Except Saturdays.  But I'll get back to that.
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According to local bar-talk, when Jimmy would run short of cash, he'd offer his oldest daughter's services to the guys stopping in the bar after work.  Despite the fact she was ugly, being sort of a slut helped her come off somewhat more attractive; lots of make-up and peroxide contributed to a sort of glamorous mystique I guess.  When my mother found out that he was selling Moira she was furious.  She made it her responsibility to be there with my dad every time Jimmy was there.  Accordingly, her spying paid off because one night she actually witnessed Jim offering Moira for sale.  Hard of hearing though she was, (and therefore questionable if she actually heard what she thought she had), my mother went through the roof and berated the poor guy after Moira suddenly left the bar and Jimmy had been served a drink; hurling insults, insisting the bartender  throw the guy out and call the cops.  The bartender let Jimmy stay and threw out my parents instead - it was the last 'walk-to' bar in the neighborhood they had been allowed in - and that night they were banned from there too.
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Shortly after the brouhaha, my parents arrived home fighting amongst themselves over what happened, my mother cursing Jimmy as a hypocrite because he went to confession on Saturdays and faithfully attended  Mass on Sundays - and even received Holy Communion on occasion.  My dad hurled insults at the Catholic Church for permitting him to commit such a sacrilege.  They wanted to turn him into to the Welfare dept. and/or the police, and may have done so.  But I doubt anything actually came of it in those days.
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I always wonder about Jimmy however.  Were the stories true?  Did he struggle with his sins?  Is that why he went to weekly confession?  Was he a molester too - did he abuse his daughters as well?  What did the priest tell him in confession - because he must have confessed all of that stuff?  Yet he assisted at Mass devoutly every Sunday - and on Holy Days - and for certain at Easter and Christmas he would receive Holy Communion.
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My mother on the other hand was a divorced, remarried outside the Church, Catholic.  A rather bitter Catholic, often vindictive and curiously self-righteous over the fact that she would not go to Church unless she was in the state of grace - hence my parents never went to Mass or devotions, even on Christmas.  They did go to church on Sunday nights to play Bingo - bars were closed on Sunday's in those days.  Oh, and they prayed to St. Jude to help them win, so they did pray.  But they never went to Mass - and at least they never put their kids up for sale.  Curious how we can convince ourselves that we are not as bad as someone else. 
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Anyway - I have no lesson here - no moral of the story.  Jim died a happy death as did both my parents - all died with the consolation of the sacraments and had an honorable Catholic burial.  I don't know what happened to Jim's daughters though...
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And I don't know what will happen to me.
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"Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.  I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners." - Luke 5: 32
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Art:  "Caritas Romana" - Lorenzo Pasinelli.  Roman Charity is the story (from Valerius Maximus) of a daughter who secretly breastfeeds her father after he is incarcerated and sentenced to death by starvation. She is found out by a jailer, but her act of selflessness impresses officials and wins her father's release.
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*Names have been changed to protect the accused.

Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto

Today is their feast day.
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"Be very charitable even towards the wicked! Never speak evil of anyone and avoid those who do.

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Be very patient because patience leads to heaven.
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Pray much for sinners!" - Words of Jacinta


Top photo:  The Blesseds after the apparitions.
Lower image:  The first icon I made of Jacinta and Francesco.

Friday, February 19, 2010

As Soap Operas are cancelled...

Reality show culture takes over.
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This morning ABC interrupted regular programming to air Tiger Wood's live press conference offering apologies and explanations for personal misbehavior which made national news last November.  Tiger joins the ranks of repentant presidents, televangelists, politicians and other celebrities who go on TV to confess their sins and celebrate their repentance in the hopes of saving reputation, family and career.  "I am deeply sorry..." 
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This is none of our business - especially as far as Woods' private life is concerned.  After all, he's just a golf pro - who cares?  But I suppose if he wants to hang on to millions of dollars earned from endorsements, the poor guy has to do something.  I'm not questioning the sincerity of his contrition - I'm just saying I consider this type of public penance to be ridiculous - and the commentary and analysis by journalists to be even more pathetic.
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BTW - Prosperity gospel, faith healer, televangelist Benny Hinn's wife filed for divorce.  I know!   
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Photo:  Benny Hinn allegory - Source

After you're dead...


"Who will remember you after you are dead and who will pray for you?
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Do now everything you can, because you never know when you will die; nor do you know what shall befall you after death.
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Keep yourself as a pilgrim and stranger upon earth to whom the affairs of  earth least belong or interest."  Imitation, Book I; Chapter 23: 8-9

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Our Lady of Carmel for Haiti


Black Madonna
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I finished the icon. The narrative can be found at Up Your Street.
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New Martyr Eugene

Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Rodionov (Russian: Родионов Евгений Александрович) (May 23, 1977 - May 23, 1996)
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This blessed soul gave his life rather than renounce the faith, he was beheaded rather than remove the cross he wore and convert to Islam.
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"Evgeny Aleksandrovich Rodionov was born thirty minutes after midnight on May 23, 1977 in the village of Satino-Russkoye near Moscow in what was then the Soviet Union. According to his mother, as a boy in this small village, all he really wanted was to be a cook. When he was eleven years old, Evgeny Rodionov received from his grandmother a little Cross on a chain. He wanted to wear it to school, but his mother, then an atheist, warned him against it, since the communist authorities frowned on such things. Evgeny wore it anyway and refused to ever take it off.
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In 1995 Evgeny turned eighteen and was drafted into the Russian armed forces as is required for all Russian men. Right before being drafted, Evgeny was baptized in the Russian Orthodox Church on his own accord seperate from his parents who were still atheists. For his duty he was chosen to work in a frontier guard unit (something of a mix between the US Border Patrol and the National Guard) and sent for training in the Kalingrad area of what was formerly East Prussia. After training he was sent to the border of Chechnya and posted near the town of Galashki. This was towards the end of the controversial First Chechnyan War. On the night of February 14, 1996, just six months after he started his service, Evgeny and three comrades were captured by a force of Muslim Chechen guerillas who were disguised in an ambulance while the Russian soldiers were manning a checkpoint.
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Upon capture they were held in the cellar of an abandoned house for 100 days as ransom demands were sent to their families. Kidnapping and demanding ransom was almost a cottage industry in Chechnya during that time period. They kept Evgeny hanging by his wrists in a basement. They starved and beat him.
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Chechen field commander Rusland Haihoroev (also spelled Khaikhoroyev in some sources) eventually beheaded Evgeny with a rusted saw that took over an hour to complete on May 23, 1996 (his 19th birthday) near the settlement of Bamut. His body, along with four other Russian prisoners were placed in a bomb crater outside the village of Alexeevskaya and covered up with lime and dirt. Haihoroev stated later in an interview that he only killed Rodionov after the soldier denied conversion to Islam and refused to give up his Orthodox Cross, while two others with him had converted to Islam. Russian troops occupied the village where Evgeny was murdered the following day after the execution." - Saints Lives Blogspot

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Prayer
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Thy martyr, Yevgeny, O Lord, in his sufferings has received an incorruptible crown from thee, our God, for having thy strength he has brought down his torturers, has defeated the powerless insolence of demons. Through his prayers save our souls.
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Odor of sanctity.
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"Today according to Inferfax of Russia in Penza, an Icon of Evgeny Rodinov gave off aromas of myrrh in the St. Lukas Church at the Penza regional oncologic dispenser. Russian soldier Rodionov was executed in Chechnya in 1996 after refusing to renounce Orthodox faith and take off his cross.

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“Myrrh came out in two spots, in a palm of his hand and where one wears the cross,” the church Rector Alexy Burtsev told journalists.
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According to the Church Rector, it happened during the All-Night Vigil on February 15. Those in attendance, at the Church, stood behind praying, and took in the strange pleasant aroma.
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The priest noted that on February 15, 1996, Penza-born Evgeny Rodionov was captured in Chechnya, imprisoned for hundred days and when he refused to renounce Christian faith, militants beheaded him." - Source
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Soldier saint for modern times.
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Eugene's mother with a photo of the child Eugene and the soldier martyr.
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"Among the photographs of her son that Mrs. Rodionov spreads on her kitchen table are laminated cards that she says some soldiers carry with them for luck. They bear his image along with a prayer:

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'Thy martyr, Evgeny, O Lord, in his sufferings has received an incorruptible crown from Thee, our God, for having Thy strength he has brought down his torturers, has defeated the powerless insolence of demons. Through his prayers save our souls.'
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Icons and pictures of this young man Evgeny spread around Russia very quickly and he was hailed as a New Martyr for Christ. In these icons sometimes he wears a uniform, sometimes a red robe (which is a way he appears in visions to the faithful, especially soldiers and children), sometimes armed, sometimes holding a Cross of martyrdom, but always with his halo. The picture distributed of him shows Evgeny wearing the Cross around his neck for which he died. Miracles have been occurring in connection with Evgeny's relics as well. During a religious procession in commemoration of Martyr Evgeny on November 20, 2002 the icon with the image of the soldier started secreting sweet-scented myrrh." - Source

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Thanks to Spirit Daily for the story.
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My understanding is that his cult has not yet been officially recognized by the Orthodox Church.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Repentance

Barking up the wrong tree.
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Many of the Catholic bloggers are writing about Ash Wednesday and Lent and what they are going to do to observe Lent.  Don't get me wrong, this is good and mighty edifying, but it seems to me it can be a bit self-conscious, if not indiscreet - too much "all about me" - but that's just my initial reaction.  I mention it because reading such things can elicit just that type of thoughtless critique from me, albeit, not intended in an uncharitable way.  However, I'm learning it is always better when I turn it back upon myself - admitting  that sometimes there may be another underlying evil prompting my 'judgements' (aka, 'opinion') - be it self-opinion or pride, envy, jealousy, resentment, remembrance of wrongs, or just idle speculation, there is often something culpable lurking beneath my unsolicited comments.  (Except my really funny ones.)
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As a blogger, I've come to realize I've been 'barking up the wrong tree' as it were.  Passing judgement upon others, meddling, sticking my nose in where it doesn't belong. 
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This year Ash Wednesday reminds me that the observance of Lent is most deeply about repentance - not so much about what one gives up or does - such actions are an expression of repentance, a devout response, or return to Divine Mercy.  For me, repentance is really what Lent is all about, and 'barking up the right tree' - acknowledging and confessing my sins, weeping and mourning at the foot of the Cross.  Really and truly repenting - the rest is more or less evidence one truly means to reform. [Mt. 3: 7]  And it is between me and God.
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(Yes, even this is self-opinion and pride.)
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Ash Wednesday




Photo: Source

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

This surprised me...

Fr. Z is a huge fan of curling...
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Who knew?
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Richtsteig - get the gun.

"Beware the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod..." - Mark 8


"...we are going towards it little by little with great strides..." - Sr. Lucia
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I came across an article today about Quebec doctors uniformly backing 'right to die' measures while claiming to be against assisted suicide - for now.  Their spokesman compares it to how the 'evolution of abortion' gained gradual acceptance.  For years we have been warned of the slippery slope legalized abortion opened up, and yesterday doctors in Quebec joined an ever growing chorus to announce it:
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 "Euthanasia is already a reality in Quebec hospitals, the president of the federation of Quebec medical specialists, told a National Assembly committee.
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Barrette told the committee the issue of euthanasia could not be discussed in Quebec 50 years ago, comparing it with the evolution in thinking about abortion.
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"Doctors are ready to debate euthanasia," Barrette said. And like abortion, he said, limits must be established. Not every patient will want euthanasia and not all doctors will agree to perform the procedure.
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"It's a cascade," Barrette said. "We can't invent it. We see it. There are safeguards."
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Barrette said palliative care, using opiates to ease the pain, is also an important facet of end-of-life care.
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"The choice of the patient is his choice," he said. "We want legislation in tune with the wishes of the public.'" - Montreal Gazette
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Little by little, minute by minute...
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This 'evolution revolution' has been going on for decades.  Consider how many decades the Bishops have ignored active homosexuality and child abuse among their ranks and charges?  How long have Catholic schools and colleges been permitted to teach error?  How many decades have we watched vocations dwindle and disappear into apostasy?  I could go on and on - and I have, as have other Catholic bloggers - nevertheless "...we continue going towards it little by little with great strides..."
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Divorce, contraception, abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, unheard of concessions to gay culture - even same-sex unions, political and institutional corruption, exploitation of children - human trafficking,  it's all here now.
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Fatima still relevant today:
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"The third part of the secret is a symbolic revelation, referring to this part of the Message, conditioned by whether we accept or not what the Message itself asks of us: ‘If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, etc.'.

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Since we did not heed this appeal of the Message, we see that it has been fulfilled, Russia has invaded the world with her errors. And if we have not yet seen the complete fulfilment of the final part of this prophecy, we are going towards it little by little with great strides. If we do not reject the path of sin, hatred, revenge, injustice, violations of the rights of the human person, immorality and violence, etc.
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And let us not say that it is God who is punishing us in this way; on the contrary it is people themselves who are preparing their own punishment. In his kindness God warns us and calls us to the right path, while respecting the freedom he has given us; hence people are responsible”. - Sr. Lucy
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Art: Detail: The Secret

Shrove Tuesday


The Feast of the Holy Face - Shrove Tuesday

On April 17th, 1958, His Holiness Pope Pius XII approved the observance of a Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus on Shrove Tuesday.
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(This year February 16, Tuesday before Ash Wednesday).
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Links:
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Holy Face Devotion
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Holy Face Association
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Holy Face UK

Monday, February 15, 2010

I'll be drunk until Wednesday.

I'm jus' KIDDIN' Larry and Cathy!  Hey Tom, play that Funny Valentine song again will ya.

Another reason Valentine's Day is queer...


Gay-rights activists protest at Holy Name Cathedral.
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Attending Mass at Holy Name Cathedral was supposed to be one of the final Valentine's Day weekend treats for Cindy White and her husband, who had traveled to Chicago from Hampshire, Ill., to celebrate the romantic holiday.
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Instead, the couple found themselves wading through nearly 100 men and women who had gathered outside the cathedral for a love-in to protest the Catholic Church's opposition to gay marriage.
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Protester Andrew Ciscel, of Chicago, said Valentine's Day should be viewed as Freedom to Marry Day.
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Many parishioners and visitors to the cathedral criticized the protest.

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"They're really annoying," a flustered White chirpped, after pushing her way through the crowd. "They took up all the parking. And I just don't agree with such selfishness."
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Josie Beavers, 27, of Chicago, stood with the protesters but lamented some of their harsh language.  In a very high, squeaky chipmunk-like voice, Beavers said, "I'm upset by their angry tone,  On Valentine's Day, we should be celebrating love. I'd rather focus on what I'm for than what I'm against." - Source
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Photo:  Shocked Mass goers, Thurston and Lovey Howell.  Lovey was heard to say, "Thurston, how very queer indeed."

Presidents Day

Another holiday down.

More skin art.


"Acrylic skin: Untitled"
Acrylic and medium impression, dry mounted on velum paper outlined in conte crayon.
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In the future these will be posted on my art blog, "Up Your Street".
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Skin art.


"Acrylic Skin: Baroque Leaf Theme" - T. Nelson
Acrylic and medium impression, dry mounted on paper napkin with random hair.
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Narrative: While painting I often use the back of my left hand as a palette, mixing colours, thinning the brush load, and so on. The layers make an exact impression of my skin texture and can be peeled off to form thin veils, or paintings without canvas or structure. In this case we see the skin tones of my "Black Madonna" painting, randomly formed into a leaf impression.
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What is so exciting about this new medium is that it exactly details the texture of my skin, by clicking on the image you can see the amazing detail. Notice as well what appears to be an eyebrow hair* on the napkin - talk about random.  (I actually prefer a less textured mounting surface, so as not to fight with the art, however I chose this presentation for my more traditionalist subscribers.)
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If you are interested in purchasing this piece, or wish to commission something else in this technique, prices start at $1000 (extra charge for hair, and or blood in the composition) and 10% percent of the proceeds go to the St. Agnes/St. Celine School for Catholic Cats.
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*It's a little long, which makes me believe it may be a cat hair - unless Andy Rooney was here.
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What?

Teach your children...

But not like this.
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I came across this photo on a Catholic blog I sometimes 'monitor'.  The same blogger posts videos of himself, making the sign of the cross before each video, in Latin no less, and then ranting about stuff; posting harsh language alerts - as if that takes care of his soul.  When people raise kids like the one shown in the photo, it is child abuse.
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"See, here you have passed by a small child, passed by in anger, with a foul word, with a wrathful soul; you perhaps did not notice the child, but he saw you, and your unsightly impious image,  has remained in his defenseless heart.  You did not know it, but you may have thereby planted a bad seed in him, and it may grow, all because you did not restrain yourself before the child, because you did not nurture in yourself a heedful, active love." - Dostoevsky, Brothers Karamazov; Talks and Homilies
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These parents circle the earth and the sea in order to enrich their children, and they make them children of perdition twofold more than they themselves are. [Mt: 23:15]

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Political Candidates for a Country where Valentine's Day is practically a National Holiday.

"It's just emotion that's taking us over..."

"She is a former beauty queen; he is a one-time nude model. She has written a bestselling memoir; he is negotiating a contract to write one. Both drive pick-up trucks and base their appeal on folksy common sense.

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The former Miss Wasilla and America’s sexiest man, aka Sarah Palin and Scott Brown, may sound like contestants in a celebrity game show. But to the bemusement of many Americans, the unlikely duo are the most visible Republicans in the country and may become rivals to Barack Obama in the next presidential election.
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Two years ago most Americans had heard of neither. Palin was plucked from the icy wastes of Alaska, where she was governor, to be Senator John McCain’s running mate. Brown found himself catapulted to national celebrity a month ago after he unexpectedly won the late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat, which had been in Democrat hands for 50 years.
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“Brown 4 Prez” speculation started the following morning." - Source

Never was it known...



...that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Praying for all of our priests: especially those I link to, those who read me, those who are friends or were friends, those whom I offended or annoyed, those I have lost contact with, those who have heard my confessions, given me communion, saved my dying family members, smiled at me, spoke to me - I'm praying for every single priest I have ever known and those I have not, and those most dear to my heart.
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Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.



Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.  Amen.