Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ash Wednesday is not until March 9!



Doh!
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I thought it was this coming Wednesday!  I have more than a week left to drink!  Yay!
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Thanks Cath!

The Copts



Egyptian armed forces tore down a protective fence surrounding the ancient Coptic St. Bishoy monastery in Wadi el-Natroun, not far from Cairo.  The monks stood and prayed the Eastern prayer, 'Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy' prayer, while the government forces shouted, 'Allahu Akbar' and 'Victory, Victory'.  The army fired on the defenseless monks and monastery workers.  You can read the story here.
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Egypt is a holy land.  The Holy Family fled to Egypt for protection against the first wave of martyrdom when Herod sought to kill the Child Jesus.  The desert fathers sanctified the deserts ever after.  The Coptic monks are among the direct descendants of the ancient monks.  They have an ancient, unchanged liturgy and spirituality, strengthened by persecution and poverty.
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While it is true these attacks have occurred at various intervals throughout history, I'm concerned the upheaval we are witnessing in Islamic countries at this time is the beginning of a new, even bloodier chapter.
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Prayers for the Christians in the Middle East and Islamic countries. 

Cathy is having a party today....


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Most of us aren't going because we are afraid it might be an intervention.  We know how she is.

Friday, February 25, 2011

I don't know how to pray anymore.



Do you ever feel like that?
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Last Wednesday at adoration I felt completely unable to pray, to think, to meditate, to settle down - that sort of thing.  After my usual examen, prayers of adoration, and litany of intentions, I just looked at the Lord silently for a really long time.  Some Wednesdays, after an hour or so of looking, I have been beginning to feel restless - and it is then I usually pray the psalms or read the scriptures.  However, at that point this past Wednesday, I recalled how our Lord instructed St. Faustina to pray the chaplet unceasingly.  So after finishing my rosary, I began to pray the chaplet of Divine Mercy, and I prayed it over and over until the end of adoration.
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 "In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings." - Romans 8:26
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Photo credit.


What I'm working on.



I'm painting a modern kid as the Child Jesus presenting his Sacred Heart to the viewer.  (It is by no means a great work of art - believe me.)  But why am I painting him as a contemporary kid?  Why?  Because I found this incredible photo of a Spanish boy whose eyes and expression on his face reminded me of the Child Jesus.  The boy is dressed like a normal kid - but that too reminded me of how the Child Jesus sometimes comes to us in disguise. 
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For instance, once when Sr. Lucia of Fatima was emptying the garbage - or was she working in the garden?  I can't remember.  Anyway, a little boy came up to her and asked how the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary was coming.  I can't recall the exact conversation, but obviously Lucia did not recognize him at first, so it occurred to me he must have looked like an ordinary kid.  Only after Lucia responded did he reveal himself.  It is said some people entertain angels unawares, which is why I wanted the Child Jesus to look like an ordinary kid - reminding us of the greatness and sanctity of ordinary life. 
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If it turns out okay, I'll post the work when I'm finished with it.
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BTW - The monthly novena to the Infant Jesus ended yesterday and today is our little Christmas.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Anger, social unrest, revolution, dissent...



Isn't that something?
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Global turmoil, earthquakes, church people behaving badly, ATF supplying weapons to Mexican drug cartels, pigs flying.  And I'm too lazy to blog about it.
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TTYL!

Homeschoolers.



I'll betcha anything some moms dress up like nuns as they homeschool their kids.  "Turn from the waist... turn from the waist.  Remember the shoulders and head turn together - turn from the waist..."  (Because of the veil you know.) 
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I can imagine the fire drills are really cool:  Arms folded, stern facial expression, snapping fingers...  directing orders when necessary over the karaoke-mic:   "Come children, single file.  Quickly children, quickly!  No running!"
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What?
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Flannery



Flannery O'Connor

I've never read her work, but I know a lot of you have.  I thought some of you might enjoy this image.
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Art:  St. Flannery on book pages.  Tyrus Clutter  More amazing work at:  Tyrus Clutter

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Liturgical Theater



Who thinks this stuff up?
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In dramatic scenes, the archbishops of Dublin and Boston washed and dried the feet of eight victims of clerical abuse on Sunday in a Dublin cathedral.  The archbishops invited five women and three men who were abused to come forward and have their feet washed. Several of them cried as Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston kneeled and washed and dried their feet. - Story here.
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Couldn't this have waited until Holy Thursday? 

Monday, February 21, 2011

St. Simeon Salus, Eccentric




"It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire." - Matthew 18:8
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I love the holy fools, many of whom were pretty nuts - but somehow theologians are loathe to admit that - I guess because there can be no disorder in perfection.  I'll buy that - but our ways are not God's ways.  Humanly speaking, the uber-righteous Christians appear to believe that every one should be completely healed and well adjusted at some point in their quest for a balanced life of Christian discipleship, happiness, and prosperity.  Obviously, in their opinion, crazy people need to be healed, victims of abuse and torture need to get over it, and so on, and so on, and so on.  The fact that some saints walked around bearing the stigmata, or that Christ's wounds remained present on his glorified body doesn't seem to impress them.  In their opinion, wounded, sinful human beings need to be made completely whole in order to be acceptable to the theologically elite.
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Saints such as Simeon Salus seem to refute such concepts... depending upon what interpretation of his life one reads of course.
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A quick glimpse of the Saint's life.
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For many years Simeon lived as an ascetic, monk, hermit in the Palestinian desert.  (BTW -see how that works?  Hermit is the last 'level' for those of you who like status - the saint starts at the beginning, having first been trained in the ascetic and monastic life - then the monk could apply for his hermit 'certificate'.)  Anyway.  Simeon left the desert after 29 years or so, and returned to his village. 
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The 'former' monk walked into the village dragging a dead dog.  He was immediately mocked for being a fool, a crazy man.  Thus he lived amongst the outcasts, the poor, and the harlots.  He kept very bad company.  He ministered and cared for those who needed acceptance the most - and he shared their shame.
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Soon, a few local Christian suspected his sanctity, although most thought he was either a hypocrite or genuinely out of his mind.  The respectable few who admired his sanctity were often disappointed when they witnessed so many eccentricities and inconsistencies in his behavior - throwing nuts at women in church for instance.  The saint loved humility so much he was convinced one can only attain it perfectly by loving  humiliations.  Thus he took the last place even amongst those whose lot he shared - the wounded, the lame, the outcast and the sinful. 
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An early biographer, Leontius of Neapolis wrote:  "Symeon played all sorts of roles foolish and indecent, but language is not sufficient to paint a picture of his doings. For sometimes he pretended to have a limp, sometimes he jumped around, sometimes he dragged himself along on his buttocks, sometimes he stuck out his foot for someone running and tripped him. Other times when there was a new moon, he looked at the sky and fell down and thrashed about.
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While the saint was there (his village in Emesa), he cried out against many because of the Holy Spirit and reproached thieves and fornicators. Some he faulted, crying that they had not taken communion often, and others he reproached for perjury, so that through his inventiveness he nearly put an end to sinning in the whole city.
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To the Deacon John, the only one who knew his holiness:  I beg you, never disregard a single soul, especially when it happens to be a monk or a beggar. For Your Charity knows that His place is among the beggars, especially among the blind, people made as pure as the sun through their patience and distress. . . . [S]how love of your neighbor through almsgiving. For this virtue, above all, will help us on (the Day of Judgment)." - Source
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Rev. Alban Butler writes of St. Simeon:
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He was a native of Egypt, and born about the year 522. Having performed a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, he retired to a desert near the Red Sea, where he remained twenty-nine years in the constant practice of a most austere penitential life. Here he was constantly revolving in mind that we must love humiliations if we would be truly humble; that at least we should receive those which God sends us with resignation, and own them exceedingly less than the measure of our demerits; that it is even sometimes our advantage to seek them; that human prudence should not always be our guide in this regard; and that there are circumstances where we ought to follow the impulse of the Holy Spirit, though not unless we have an assurance of his inspiration. The servant of God, animated by an ardent desire to be contemptible among men, quitted the desert, and at Emesus succeeded to his wish; for by affecting the manners of those who want sense, he passed for a fool. He was then sixty years old, and lived six or seven years in that city, when it was destroyed by an earthquake in 588. His love for humility was not without reward, God having bestowed on him extraordinary graces, and even honoured him with the gift of miracles. The year of his death is unknown. Although we are not obliged in every instance to imitate St. Simeon, and that it would be rash even to attempt it without a special call; yet his example ought to make us blush, when we consider with what an ill-will we suffer the least thing that hurts our pride. - Source

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No one would take on this vocation on their own or without counsel, yet oddly enough, providentially some people find themselves in a similar predicament.  Some souls struggle with compulsions, anxiety disorders, sexual disorders, personality disorders, alcoholism, drug-addiction, eating disorders, clinical depression, bi-polar depression, as well as so many other physical disabilities.  Many, many people just don't get over it and the majority of are never healed - they live with it however.  And as the saints demonstrate, the grace of God, merciful love, enfolds them.  Even with those who find healing, their wounds remain as a kind of stigmata - a sort of sharing in the sufferings of Christ, a sharing in the sacred stigmata of Christ.  Those who are well do not need a doctor - hence it is our wretchedness, our misery that most attracts Christ.
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If we think we are standing we need to be careful lest we fall.  If we believe we are wise, we best become a fool.  As St. John of the Cross says, "salvation is so uncertain '.  Little Therese understood this humility of heart, which is why she took her place 'at the table of sinners'. 

Anger on the streets: unrest in Iran, Algeria, Yemen, Morocco, China and Wisconsin



It's really getting ugly.
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Photo:  Mrs. Helen Carletta, Drama teacher at Jefferson Middle School, Madison, Wisconsin.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Lighten up...



Another post about nothing.
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Larry does it every Sunday, so I am going to copy him.  That's just sad, I know.  But I'm a broken man and I need some laughs.
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Did you hear about the nun that got kicked out of her monastery because she was always on Facebook?  No, it wasn't that Carmelite lady - it was that Spanish nun, Maria Jesus Galan, a Dominican.  She set up the monastery to be online, got a huge following on Facebook, maybe skipped a couple of those fun monastery recreations to bang on her keyboard all night, and mother superior jumps the gun and boots her out.  What would happen if Fr. Z online 24/7 lived in community?  Maria Jesus Galan wants to see the world now that she is out.  I hope someone tells her the story of the singing nun... "2 good 2 go 4 boys".  Then she killed herself.  What?
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As the Holy Father said - the Internet is incontinent - no wait - it's the new continent?  I don't know - but whenever Catholic bloggers/facebookie-twits are cautioned about how much time they spend online - they come up with the incontinent excuse and that the Holy Father said they should be 'out there'.  One pastor evidently takes that admonition so seriously he answered his iPhone during Mass.  He's obviously hip and well connected.  
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Republicans - can't live with them, can't live without them.  I know.  I'm as apolitical as I am asexual however.  Is that bad?  Never mind.
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Republican South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint lashed out recently against a group he deemed was becoming a cadre of "political animals": the Muppets.  Evidently the Muppets are protesting funding cuts to PBS...  The Senator accused the Muppets of inappropriate political behavior.  I always knew the Muppets were no damn good.  Miss Piggy is nothing but a slut.
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So anyway - Sarah Palin leaped back onto the news scene telling the Wisconsin Badger people not to fall for the pinko-commie-union bosses propaganda machine and sacrifice their job stability, pay and benefits for the common good... in other words, look for new work and let the citizens of Wisconsin settle for fewer and more mediocre teachers rather than pay living salaries to men and women who are just scraping by as it is.  Homeschooling isn't always an option, but it sure would help the budget if everyone did it, huh?  Gol-darn-it!
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So who is a Catholic to listen to these days anyways?  Republican Tea-Partiers or their Bishops?  When did the United States and the Republican/Tea Party/ become Catholic?  When did it become a sin to support unions?  Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee appears to support the rights of workers and unions...  "'The Church is well aware that difficult economic times call for hard choices and financial responsibility to further the common good,' the archbishop said. 'But hard times do not nullify the moral obligation each of us has to respect the legitimate rights of workers.'" - Zenit 
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So what am I supposed to think?  That's a good question isn't it.  (That's not a question.)  Everyone seems to want to tell people what they should think... what they are supposed to to think and do and say and write.  Weird.
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More importantly of course, the Obama's definitely were not invited to the wedding.  William and Kate didn't invite the Sarkozy's or Sarah Ferguson either.  You see, presidents and upstarts come and go, but monarchy reigns.
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Once in 3rd grade the teacher, Mrs. Rotenberry, whose husband was a Lutheran minister, pulled my hair and shook my head trying to force me to say there was no Santa Claus - I never gave in.  No one tells me how to think.
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That's all.
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(Seriously, I don't really care about any of this.  So yell at me in the combox if you must.)
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Source credits:
Drudge
Pewsitter
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Photo: Late Night Talk Show.  What?