Saturday, December 11, 2010

Larry wants photos of the blizzard.**


So this was my front door a couple of days ago.


This is my front door after the snow finally stopped and not long after I cleared my steps, sidewalks and driveway - yes - the photos are blurry because of the extremely high winds and I'm drunk and fell down the stairs while taking these shots. LOL!.  The hedge around the steps has 2' of snow on it.


Shot of the church across the as yet unplowed street - and I'm on a snow emergecy route. This shot is blurry because I'm shivering... and those sustained winds!!!

I hope you are happy Larry.

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**Larry challenged Cathy to provide photos as proof that we really had a blizzard - so I braved the night time weather to take the photos myself.   I live in South Minneapolis - total snowfall looks close to 20" - this part of the "cities" experienced blizzard conditions, if not a blizzard. 

We are in the middle of a blizzard today.



Snowed in.
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It is snowing 1" per hour - South Minneapolis has already received almost 8" of snow and 8" more is expected by the end of the day.  I want to get to Mass this evening - it is my big worry.  I was supposed to meet Cathy for coffee this morning - but she cancelled on me - stood me up.  (She's probably in bed with the cats twittering away.)  I just don't understand people that will make a date and then cancel for no reason.  ;)
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Michael Voris is featured on Fr. Z's blog today and amidst the high praise comments are a couple slurs on Michael's hair.  I know!  So if you happen to be a registered commenter go tell them that Michael's hair is cool.  STBs can be hip if they want to.
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The picture of Dorian Grey
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I was at the grocery store the other day - I know, big event in my life - and I saw a former colleague of mine.  (He didn't see me.)  He came from a rather wealthy family and always wore the very best designer clothes, drove the best cars, and had the most prestigious address.  I always thought that he was a 'nice' man, albeit very superficial and snobby.  That said, for some reason he seemed to like me very much. 
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Anyway, he looked miraculously the same, which is why I recognized him I guess.  As I looked more closely however, I could tell he had a lot of work done.  Face lift, eye lift, facial peal - and possibly cheek implants - his face was more sculpted than ever - his eyes so lifted and defined they reminded me of a mummy's - maybe the blotchy spray-tan added to the dried-up look?  His hair was a bit darker, but as always, nicely hi-lighted.  He was dressed in a black suit which probably cost around $3000- or more.  "He looked mahvelous!"  I hid before he would see me - or had he already seen me and was  deliberately trying to avoid me as well?  I'll go with that one.
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"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months." - Oscar Wilde
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So what's my point?  The guy looked like Joan Rivers - he looked like a mummy - he looked dead.  I haven't been able to get it out of my mind since.  I am convinced people who look like this have focused all their energies towards creating and maintaining an attractive facade - but it seems to me their eyes betray them, their blank stare suggests to me they are filled with dead men's dreams and illusions.  I know you think I'm judging their moral character, but I'm not.  The reality is just too obvious to ignore.  I wondered, how many of these people, victims of so-called beauty and culture, fashion and the arts, money and status, are in effect caricatures of their former selves, clinging tenaciously to what is transient and impermanent.
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I've had nightmares since.  Dreams of former friends whose friendship turned out to be false.  I was their friend as long as I was amusing and 'with it' - in some cases, useful, and joined in their entertainments - and as long as I didn't talk about conscience, or worse - matters of faith.    I often guilted myself for being a bad friend, when in fact, many of these friends were only interested in me to the extent I spoke their language and participated in their games, and laughed at their jokes, and hated the same people and things they did.
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If my life seems vapid and useless...  [after all, "we are useless servants, we have only done what our duty"] - what about those who sacrifice their very soul to gain the whole world with its "carnal allurements, enticements for the eye, and the life of empty show"?  All of which is passing away.
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That is scary.

Saturday of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


O Mary conceived without sin pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Vociferous voices: Recalling Fra Girolamo Savonarola





“Elegance of language must give way before simplicity in preaching sound doctrine.” - Savonarola
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I was surprised to discover that Magnificat published a short excerpt from Girolamo Savonarola's writings for the meditation on todays Gospel at Mass...  "wisdom is vindicated by her works." [Mt. 11: 16-19]  In the Gospel Christ describes the people of this age as children squabbling in the marketplace, disparaging both the Baptist and Christ for the one's austerity and the other's leniency and mercy.  I couldn't help but consider the Gospel in relationship to some arguments which have taken place on this blog and elsewhere in Catholic media; good priest/bad priest, good nun/bad nun, and similar debates.
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Interestingly enough, Savonarola, executed as a heretic by corrupt contemporaries, is now considered a saint by many.  He was a fiery, outspoken moralist, highly critical of the papacy and corruption in the Church and society.  He burned books and degenerate art.  (He would burn my work for sure.)  That said, he was a great reformer.  I think some contemporary priests and traditional Catholics may be very much like Savonarola, as well as like other reformer saints, who were not always 'nice' or 'polished' in their teaching methods.  I could name a few devout, habited nuns from my elementary school days who resembled Savonarola, not only in their teaching methods and temperament, but sometimes even physically - and they were supposed to be the good nuns.  (Albeit, many might judge that they changed into 'girls gone wild' after the habits came off.)
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As for the ensuing conflicts over faith and morals, and the faithful combatants in Catholic media, "wisdom is vindicated by her works" - in other words, time will tell.

Our Lady of Loreto



December 10 is the feast of Our Lady of the Holy House of Loreto.
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It is also the anniversary of my brother's death.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The photo of the Prince and Camilla: A 1960's revolutionaries' dream come true...



Revolutions close call:  "Off with their heads."

Students attack Prince Charles' car after a controversial hike in university fees triggered Britain's worst political violence in years.

How very dare you.

St Juan Diego, feast day December 9

Center Panel:  OL Guadalupe
Side Panel A:  St Felipe of Jesus, St. Joseph
Side Panel B:  Bl. Miguel Pro, St. Juan Diego

Doors:  St. Francis and St. Clare

I searched for photos of a triptych I did with Juan Diego in it - finally found these very poor photos - sorry about the flash back and complete lack of cropping or any technical expertise.  The work is a small wooden construction a friend made for me.  I interpreted the triptych as a nicho and painted it in the Spanish Colonial style - the exterior doors were based on Italian fresco from Assisi.

Sarah just finished decorating my front door!



She is fast!
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This year I added Dresden pieces to the panels of the front door - to enhance the metal wreath. Sarah applied them for me after I hung the garland on either side of the door. She wants to have a drink now, but I said "Never before 5:00 darling! In fact I'll have to run out to get you a six pack - I know you're a brewski type a gal  - anyway, all I have on hand is vodka and tonic for the Kat."
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Getting ready for the holidays, with Sarah Palin.

Meet my new housekeeper.
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Since Sarah's daughter lost Dancing With the Stars, Sarah's been cleaning houses to pay expenses incurred travelling back and forth to the show. I can see Alaska from my house, so I asked if she'd like to help me out getting the house ready for the holidays. Long story short - I woke up this morning and look who's got the vacuum out ready to clean. How did she get in? I don't know.
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Anyway - I was at the grocery store yesterday and paged through Sarah's book - freaked me out! Everything I read, I agreed with. How scary is that? I told her about it over coffee.  I was so surprised to read Reese Witherspoon is related to one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence - who happened to be religious and in politics.  (It's in the book.)  She's so dang nice.  Really, I mean that.
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Let's get to work hon!
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Professional Catholics... Yes!


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Okay!  Michael Voris nails it here.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Remembering John...



"What they want is dead heroes, like Sid Vicious and James Dean. I'm not interested in being a dead (expletive) hero. .. So forget 'em, forget 'em." - John Lennon
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I'm pleased something heretofore unpublished from Lennon has now come to light.  Rolling Stone came across tapes from John's final interview, which will be in print on newsstands Friday.  'Leaks' from the tapes have circulated media outlets all day.  (Story here)  I was favorably impressed.  Thirty years ago tonight Lennon was gunned down outside the Dakota in Manhattan.  Many, many remembered him there today.
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May his soul find mercy and love and eternal rest forever.
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Photo:  Outside the Dakota the night John died.

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception


"I am the Immaculate Conception."
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Paradise of the children of Eve, refuge of sinners, consolation of the afflicted, solace in sorrow, light in darkness, enclosure for the homeless, rest for the weary, health of the sick, gate of heaven....
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Pray for us who have recourse to thee, and for those who do not have recourse to thee, especially the enemies of the Church and those recommended to thee.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Archbishop Joseph Tobin: The hurt and anger of Catholic women religious must be heard.



A number of leaders of women’s congregations have said to me that they’ve been surprised by the depth of anger and hurt that exists among the sisters. I think that can’t be ignored. It has to be addressed, it’s a sign of the times. - Archbishop Tobin
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[Editor's note:  I'm terribly sorry that I initially confused Archbishop Joseph Tobin with Bishop Thomas Tobin of Rhode Island.  Big mistake.  My sincere apologies.  I began this post noting that American Catholics seem to be rather fond of Bishop Tobin (as they should be) - known as he is for doing and saying all the right things as regards the hot button issues of the day, such as denying Holy Communion to pro-choice Catholic politicians and so on...  all the while I was thinking Bishop Tobin was the same Archbishop in Rome interviewed by the NCR.  Gratefully a reader corrected my mistake.  Within my commentary, I wondered 'out loud' how more conservative and traditional Catholics would react to the Archbishop's sympathies with American women religious:  Asking, "I wonder how he will fare with the critics of post-Vatican II women religious now after he recommends giving them an official ear and say in response to the Apostolic visitation now underway?"  Evidently some of my readers thought this post dealt with RI Bishop Tobin as well, I can't apologize enough for the mistake.  That said, I certainly found out what all of you think.  Looks like most everyone is hurt and angry about something these days.] 
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I posted last Sunday concerning the needs facing women religious because of dwindling numbers and the cost of caring for the aged and infirm sisters who remain.  I spoke favorably of the sister who talked to us about it before Mass began.  (Nota Bene as they say - last Sunday's sister fundraiser making the request for donations - was authorized to solicit for donations by the local ordinary of the diocese wherein she is situated.)  Anyway - at least two readers of this blog were not especially pleased that I seemed to be supporting liberal nuns. 
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One must avoid being 'disrespectful of what women religious in America have accomplished'.
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Archbishop Tobin seems to be in favor of dialogue and listening to others, rather than shouting them down and penalizing them into submission.  From John Allen at NCR:
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Rome must acknowledge the “depth of anger and hurt” provoked by a visitation of American nuns, the Vatican’s number two official for religious life has said, saying it illustrates the need for a “strategy of reconciliation” with women religious.

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Archbishop Joseph Tobin, Secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, said that he does not expect any “punitive” fallout from the visitation, and that before any decisions are made, women’s communities should have a chance to know the results and to respond.
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That addresses a central concern of many women religious, who have objected to what some perceive as the secrecy of the process. Tobin said that as a matter of “justice and charity,” he will “strongly advocate” for feedback and a right of reply. - Vatican must hear the 'anger and hurt' of American nuns
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Let's wait and see what the Roman Catholic bloggersterium decides...  They seem to be liking their bishops prostrating themselves in the dust on the steps of Cathedrals, perhaps some sort of public, humiliating penance for recalcitrant women religious would bring salvation back to the U.S.? 

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Catholics weigh in on Facebook use by ________!



Who?  Who?  By who?  
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Just fill in the blank with anyone:  Librarians, insurance adjustor's, pots and pans door to door salesmen, church lady workers, priests and Chinese people!  So anyway, CNA has an explosive expose on zombie-teens and their excessive use of social network sites such as Facebook.  Good report - but what about adults and all of those priests?  Huh?  Huh?  They are like online 24/7.  What about them?
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So anyway - From CNA:
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Although the amount of texting and hours spent networking online cited by the study might sound drastic to the average adult, many teens don't see it as abnormal
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One unlikely supporter of parental involvement is 16 year-old Jonathan from Omaha, Nebraska, who spoke to CNA on Dec. 6. Although excessive texting didn't land him in rehab, he noticed a sharp decline in his school performance when he got a cell phone earlier this year.

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His homework began to suffer and he even found himself losing sleep, carrying on conversations with friends via text long into the night. When his parents noticed on their cell phone bill that he had racked up 3,000 texts in one month, they staged an intervention of sorts.
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“They took my phone away,” he recalled. Though he was angry at first, Jonathan said he eventually understood. He said that he felt strangely relieved and noticed one day while riding in the car with his mom that they were actually carrying on a conversation instead of him being perpetually glued to his phone. Additionally, his school work started to improve.
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Jonathan also opened up his own Facebook account a few months ago at the urging of his friends. He said his reactions to the online networking site have been mixed.
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“The positive thing about Facebook is that you stay connected with people to a certain extent,” he said, adding that he can chat with friends and catch up with people he may have lost touch with.
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The negatives though, he added, are that it's “time consuming” and often includes interactions with others that are “superficial” and can leave one feeling empty. - Teens out of control.
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FB - spawn of the devil.
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Social network sites are eating our neo-pagan babies alive - and spitting their information out to every creepy FB user just waiting for the sewage.  But gosh darnit people!  The adults should share some of the blame - parents especially.  I was totally aghast after viewing the most disgusting TV ad featuring a little baby - A baby mind you!  (Shown above.)  Standing in his crib using an iPhone or a Raspberry and even one of those new thingies from Microsoft - iPad, or whatever they call it!  A baby online - unsupervised!  Fortunately his mom took the stuff away from him - but only because she wanted him to take a nap - not because she was upset about his Internet use.
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These kids grow up to be crazy - I hear stories about people on Plurk just going nuts - telling off total strangers for no reason - when they should be working or in therapy.  My BFF - who's name I can't reveal - is constantly drunk on her iPhone - and she texts smut pretending it's okay because she's 'such a good  Catholic'.  I know of a priest who just can't get enough gadgets and goes around begging for new tech stuff all the time.  It is so sad to see how the Internet is wreaking havoc on families and professional students and religious life.  I know this one guy whose wife and kids live in fear some of the nutcases he's befriended online will show up at their house someday - she is so scared he will give out their address on 336053 North Ditzworth Road Around the Lake in Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48103.  (He posts photos of himself online without his shirt and glasses.  So freaking sick!)
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Yeah - so some of these 'Catholics' need help - if not rehab.  Remember - child neglect can be just as bad as child abuse.  And just a word to the wise - never post drunk or on pain meds - you'll live to regret it.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Marketing trends: The use of religious symbols to sell products.


I noticed on another blog mention of 'the use of religious symbols to sell products' in a post featuring a popular soft drink ad, as if it was some sort of new trend.  I don't think it is.  Silent monks were often used to sell products from Beano to Cappuccino hot drink mixes - and of course nuns in habit were always a good sell for fast food establishments selling fish sandwiches on Fridays in Lent.
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I get the 'watch' for anti-Catholic/anti-religious ads.  I'm not always so sure the ads are deliberately intended to alienate religious people however - especially when it involves mass marketing and high profits from a popular product.  I honesty think some of the irreverence is cultural, the result of de-Christianized, secularized cultural attitudes in a manic-consumer driven society.  Many people in marketing have no idea what goes on in a church, much less understand what is so special about 'holy' stuff.   These are post-Christian times we live in folks.
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I'm not defending this stuff, I'm just saying not everything is deliberately anti-Catholic - a lot of it is just stupidity, bad manners and bad taste.  Christians have also been known to exploit icons and tasteless religious kitsch to market themselves...  some even engage in multiple product placement on their blogs to increase their profits.
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As a side note, what I have noticed about Christmas ads this year is that most of them are in your face, hard sell, bargain ads - buy, buy, buy.  I have yet to see a really good institutional ad meant to arouse emotions and foster a feel-good holiday mood.  It seems to me Americans - religious or not - are more consumer driven than ever - in the middle of such a severe economic downturn no less.  Looks like greed to me.

Iraqi Martyrs... nothing we can do... nothing we can say... no one is listening.

Let it bleed...

Every one condemns the violence but no one can stop it.  An elderly Christian couple were just martyred/murdered in their home this past Saturday - story here
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Life goes on while martyrs bleed in witness to the faith - in fidelity to Christ.  I can not understand my lukewarmness, my indifference, and my worrying about petty conflicts over the faith... when real Christians are dying.
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May the holy wonder-working bishop, St. Nicholas of Myra intercede for us and most especially, come to the aid of those Christians persecuted by Islam.

St. Nicholas of Myra, pray for us.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

WikiLeaks - So Dr. Evil!


This story is so Dr. Evil and James Bond-ish.  Julian Assange has world powers by the... you know.

The anchorite in contemporary society.

Advent is the perfect time to consider a life alone...
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Terry, of the wonderful blog Idle Speculations has a terrific post on contemprary hermits and anchorites.  I've posted my observations on the life - although these are charred by my own disillusionments and failures - nevertheless, Terry's post is full of light and optimism, read it here: The modern anchorite or hermit.
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"The women and men who withdraw to live in the company of God, precisely because of this decision, acquire a great sense of compassion for the sorrows and weaknesses of others. As friends of God, they have a wisdom that the world, from which they distance themselves, does not have. And with kindness, they share it with those who knock on their door" - Pope Benedict XVI on Julian of Norwich

Make straight the paths....

Sometimes the honesty is too much.
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In Advent we joyfully anticipate the coming of Christ, the light shining in the darkness - the light the darkness cannot grasp.  Nevertheless, the light seems to enlighten and shine dimly; only growing brighter gradually.  Year after year, season after season, until it shines so brightly at times all we can see is darkness.  And so it seems, that while darkness covers everything, a distant light illuminates what it contains...
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It is in times of trial, dryness, and aridity when our faith is tested and our weakness exposed.  One may have faith, hope, and charity without understanding or consolation...  When everything and everyone disappoints, even when we find nothing in ourselves to approve, there is that one speck of light - one minuscule point of light shining in the darkness - it is just enough.  Just enough for the wait.
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A blogger once asked if anyone ever writes about their discouragements or challenges - even doubts as regards faith and the Church.  He said all the posts he reads are pretty much pious reflections, holy accomplishments, and/or the writer's personal 'witness to hope'.  He wondered if anyone else ever struggled with faith and people of faith, do they ever fall or get discouraged and so on?  It was quite awhile ago that I read that - but I think I'm recalling it correctly and understood what he meant.
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So anyway - this blog is pretty much all about that kind of stuff.  I try to avoid any pretence in what I discuss here - I try to be frank.  It seems to me I write about the stuff that one discovers in the darkness - after it has been exposed to the light, as it were.  Perhaps that is why some readers are disedified by this blog, or do not like what I discuss.  That is fine of course, this is only a personal blog and as in life, friends come and go - and frequently we always fail each other in one way or another.  That too is part of the course.  I somehow think that is what Advent is about - making straight the paths, winnowing the threshing floor, as today's Gospel says.  Maybe just for me and not others.
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"A voice behind me said, 'this is the way, walk in it.'"
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At adoration the other day an older lady at church confided to me that she is not in the holiday spirit, that Advent is just another season for her, that she is somewhat apathetic about Christmas, and so on.  I told her I'm sort of the same way.  I didn't try to tell her anything else - we can't 'fix' things in other people, especially when we are so poor ourselves.  Later I thought about what she said and I decided that is how it is for some of us.  You can't tell people how they are supposed to feel or that the emptiness they experience should be filled with some tenuous joy.  Not at all.  I am convinced however, that the emptiness can be a good sign, a normal process.  It may mean all of the other chicanery we once devised and depended upon have finally failed.  In other words, we no longer have anything we can depend upon in ourselves - we have come face to face with our reality - our existence. 
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Frequently it is in such darkness that one can see just a little, tiny point of light - deep in one's soul - maybe just for a flash... but it is just enough... just enough for the wait.

Mass Chat: Retirement Fund for Religious



Share in the care.
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This is serious - very serious.  Women's religious orders - and men's too - comprised of those generous souls who gave up everything to enter religious communities which taught us or nursed us, desperately need out help today. 
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The sister Director of Pastoral Ministry at my parish - who has been there for over 17 years BTW - spoke before Mass Saturday evening.  She is a School Sister of Notre Dame, professed in 1960 and still working after a stroke and an aneurysm, just a few years apart.  She is a wonderful nun - so charitable and joyful.  Her name is Sr. Deanna.  I love her.  If you knew her or could hear her speak you would never again look down on older women religious.  We imagine all sisters without habits, who live in apartments and work in parishes, are these terribly modern, anti-traditional religious, and yet I am always pleasantly surprised to find they are dedicated, devout Catholic religious, ever-faithful to their vocation. 
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Yes their numbers have depleted, yes there are fewer vocations, but these women who gave their lives for the Church are aging and are facing an uncertain future - not unlike many of our elderly poor.  The thing is, these women gave their lives in service and never foresaw the day when religious life declined, they never anticipated the day no one would be there for them as they were for their elder sisters in religion.   I think the SSND have just over 600 vocations in this province right now.  Almost 250 of them are in skilled care, nursing care, or assisted living.  The remaining sisters, not all of them employed, are aging as well.  These women are very much in need.
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Not every one of these sisters are flaming liberals - I expect most have simply lived in obedience to their superiors and followed the direction of post-Vatican II religious training.  When I meet such sisters one on one, I understand they are faithful to the Magisterium as well as their vocation.  It is by their charity and fidelity - indeed their works - that they are recognized and known.  A habit doesn't always make a religious.
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Instead of feeding the birds, why not donate to the Retirement Fund for Religious.

Coffee and donuts talk: Berto and Buni Cutie


Former Catholic Miami Sound Machine Priest Alberto Cutie and wife Buni had their first child, a baby girl named Camila Victoria.

So here's the deal...  oh, who cares.