Saturday, April 20, 2013

Pope Francis "smacks down" lukewarm Christians...



"He throws down the gauntlet!"

How's that for an inflammatory* headline?

Actually, Pope Francis doesn't seem to smack down anyone in the Church - rather he speaks heart to heart, like a father.  He gently points out difficulties, as did Christ in the Gospel.  He doesn't ridicule or demean others in the process.  The Holy Father respects others - evidently even the lukewarm.

"Lukewarm Christians are those who want to build a church to their own specifications, but it is not the Church of Jesus."
In the Gospel from the liturgy of the day many disciples truly believe the language of Jesus, they whisper, are shocked and eventually leave the Master:

"These people have turned away, they are gone, they say, 'this man is a bit' strange, he says things that are hard…It 's too big a risk to go down this road. We have common sense, eh? Let's go 'back a little and not so close to Him'. These people, perhaps, had a certain admiration for Jesus, but little 'from afar: not to meddle too much with this man, because he says things that are a bit' strange ... ".

These Christians - the Pope said - " are not united in the Church, they do not walk in God's presence, they don’t have the security of the Holy Spirit, they do not make up the Church":

"They are Christians of good sense only: they keep their distance. Christians - so to speak they are - 'satellites', that have a small church, in size: to quote the words of Jesus in Revelation, 'lukewarm Christians'. The indifference that is in the Church ... They walk only in the presence of common sense, common sense ... that worldly prudence: This is a temptation just worldly prudence. "

Pope Francis reflected on so many Christians "that now bear witness to the name of Jesus, even unto martyrdom." These - he says - are not 'Christian satellites', because "they go with Jesus on the path of Jesus":

"These people know exactly what Peter says to the Lord. They understand exactly what Peter says the Lord, when the Lord asks the question: 'Do you also want to go, be' Christian satellites '?'. Simon Peter answers him: 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life '. So from a large group there becomes a group a little 'smaller, but those who know perfectly well that they cannot go somewhere else, because only He, the Lord, has the words of eternal life. " - Vatican Radio



*BTW. My dentist told me inflammation can be a huge problem - it leads to more serious infections - so it is best to reduce inflammation ASAP.
 

"Blood will flow in the streets."




"Blood will flow in the streets."  That was a prophecy I often heard over the years, from this seer, that apparition or that locutionist.  I always associated the bloodshed with revolution - specifically Communist revolution - and war.  For some reason, I never thought of it in terms of terrorism - such as what happened in the Patriot's Day Bombing.  Blood was all over the sidewalk and street - it flowed in the street that day. 

When these things happen, human nature seeks a way to make sense of it, we grasp at all sorts of explanations as to motive - who perpetrated the crime - why?  We need to make sense of it for ourselves.  Catholics usually look to heaven to understand why.  Many wonder if God gave us a warning we may have missed or ignored?  Were the prophecies we heard speaking about what is happening in our time?

I wonder...

"When you seek first his kingdom, all else is given you beside. Listen to his voice, speaking in your heart and do what he says."

Friday, April 19, 2013

They got him! Congratulations to Massachusetts Law Enforcement.




Remaining Boston Marathon Bomber: Captured.



Thanks be to God.

Archbishop Nichols attacking Catholic blogs now, huh?

Well, at least he wears pretty vestments.


Catholic bloggers demand respect.

Recently Archbishop Nichols mentioned in a homily sentiments he extrapolated from a commentary on the daily readings Pope Francis made a few days ago, wherein the Holy Father referenced complainers and gossips.  The Archbishop repeated what the Holy Father said about the behavior - the habit of complaining and gossip, "they should have no place in the Church.”  Enlarging upon that thought, the Archbishop pointed out that gossiping and complaining is what 'sell newspapers and attract us to blogs'.  Consequently the Archbishop is cuurently accused of attacking Catholic bloggers.

That wasn't how I read what the Archbishop said.  I don't know the situation in the UK or the relationship Catholic laity have with the Archbishop, so perhaps there is more to this story.  (Blog post here)

I find the reaction rather amazing however.  A few American bloggers come to mind, those who seem to specialize in calling out the American hierarchy.  Obviously, in this matter with Nichols, the bloggers currently complaining about his remarks, aren't aware of the venom which frequently boils over in com boxes and on blogs... by Catholics of every persuasion.   Often by writers full of  that 'morbid disposition for argument and verbal dispute' St. Paul cautioned Timothy about.  Giving no thought to the added danger to souls, which Fr. Z pointed out so well in his post on the subject: "He who by listening to detraction encourages it actively or passively sins equally with the detractor."

That said, so many bloggers seem to think all of this is just fine - for themselves, that is - since the 'state of emergency' the Church finds itself in.  Really?  Anyway, they in turn act so surprised and go on the defensive whenever there is the slightest challenge thrown their way.

I did a tour last night of a few blogs and their com-boxes, watched a video, and was somewhat appalled.  Hate cannot overcome hate. 
 
"If you think you are standing, be careful lest you fall." - St. Paul 

I know for certain I have deserved rebuke for the things I've written.  God forgive me.

+ + +


Here's one:  If a Catholic prelate condemns a publication, does anyone care? 



Action alert:
Catholics must defend themselves
against the Bishops who seek to silence them!


 

Heavy snow in Minneapolis

 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Existential anxiety and Tylenol.



Existentialism floats my boat.

I loved it.  I loved the drama.  The angst.  The tragic aimlessness of it all.  I really did.  Sullen.  Depressed.  My life was a film... a novel... starring with pictures at an exhibition.  Cigarettes.  Chain smoking.

Anyway - I just came across a new study which claims Tylenol relieves symptoms of existential anxiety.
A common pain-reliever can also be used to cope with existential dread - anxiety arising from thinking about death - according to a new study. - Source

I know!

I thought there were prescription drugs for anxiety and panic attacks?  I wouldn't use Tylenol.  It causes liver damage - severe liver damage when taken with alcohol.  I think that is how my brother died.

He drank a couple of liters of vodka a day, but he also used tons of acetaminophen and pain killers to ease chronic back pain.  I believe the mix killed him. 

My advice: if you drink heavily, avoid the pain killers.  Just drink.

Or, learn to love the existential anxiety instead - especially if you're creative.  I used to have anxiety attacks so extreme I thought I was dying - so I prayed, made acts of contrition, and prayed some more - until they subsided.

If you pray and go to confession... well, all I can say is, it worked for me.  If the anxiety persists, learn to love it - you can console yourself it's not really existential anxiety at all, but the dark night of the soul.  That works until you start drinking again. 

Of course, then you can repent.  Again.

Just remember - existential anxiety thrives on unbelief.

Even more seriously - it's very good to think about death - and pray every day for the grace of a happy death. 



What?


Disclaimer:  This is meant to be light-hearted, tongue in cheek.  If you are a person who suffers from depression and anxiety, or are taking medication for similar problems, continue to do so according to your doctor's instructions.  Medications prescribed by your doctor are necessary for your recovery.  If you have problems with alcoholism, do not drink and seek support in your recovery/sobriety as needed.

Pope's Daily Mass

Notice the orans position of the people.


Mass with the workers.

You know what worries me about this?  That VIPs and nuns are going to horn in on Santa Marta, try to get the best seats, and knock the workers and common folk out of the chapel.  They do that in Rome.  The other day the Mother Tekla Brigittines were right up front...  Mother Tekla is reported to exercise considerable influence in the Roman Curia.

Poor Francis maybe will have to move to a poorer chapel to avoid the ambitious and influential.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Eduardo Verastegui and Pope Francis

"Don't forget about the young people!" - Pope to Eduardo


Eduardo Verastegui on meeting the Holy Father:
The actor said that meeting Pope Francis was “awesome,” because he was able to speak to the Holy Father in his native language.

“We firmly connected with each other from the start,” Verastegui said. “I wanted to say a million things to him, but there wasn’t enough time. I asked him to pray for us and for the apostolate of making films to heal hearts.”

He asked the Holy Father if he could sidestep protocol and give him a hug.

“He told me, ‘Of course!’ I hugged him and he gave a few pats on the back and whispered, ‘Pray for me!’ And he gave me his blessing. It was a very magical moment for me.” - Padre Steve has the full story here.
No stranger at the Vatican, Eduardo shown here
meeting Pope Benedict XVI

 

Reading Pope Francis through Pope Benedict.



I think it is best just to read Pope Francis through the Holy Spirit.

I think a Catholic can safely read, listen, to the Pope as the Pope.


Disclaimer:  No snark intended.

A layperson is a layperson is a layperson...

S. Benedict Joseph Labre

“The Spirit pushes us to take a more evangelical path but we resist this.” - Pope Francis

I found this quote on Spike is Best blog:
"The layperson is a layperson and has to live as a layperson with the power of baptism, which enables him to be a leaven of the love of God in society itself, to create and sow hope, to proclaim the faith, not from a pulpit but from his everyday life. And like all of us, the layperson is called to carry his daily cross — the cross of the layperson, not of the priest." --Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio in an interview, now Pope Francis
 
His words resonate with my own sense of 'vocation' as a Catholic, as well as some of the things I've been reading by others, since Pope Francis was chosen to lead the Church.

As I've mentioned in the past, years ago I tried my vocation in religious life, attracted as I was by the call to 'pray without ceasing'.  An attraction which led me away from enclosed monastic life in pursuit of life as a pilgrim.  Inspired both by St. Benedict Joseph Labre, whose feast we celebrated yesterday, as well as the Russian type - popularized by 'the Baroness' Catherine Doherty.  I failed in that too - although never giving up the hope to live a prayerful - some might be tempted to call it, contemplative life.  I've failed in that too.  But I keep trying.

"The power of Baptism... the strength of the Spirit."

At time I thought, "I must belong to something" - imagining being a baptized, confirmed Catholic wasn't enough.  A third order maybe?  So I was admitted to the Secular Franciscans and professed.  Then a priest thought I should be a Secular Discalced Carmelite because of my knowledge of Carmelite spirituality and love of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.  I obediently tried, obtaining permission to 'transfer' - but I dropped out.  I was never able to live up to the social expectations.

To say I 'failed' at this or that is on one level a way of admitting I wasn't 'faithful' to what I was called to be.  I tried to be what I thought I was supposed to be.  You want to pray?  Become a monk.  I tried to fit a mold, to find a niche, to fit an expectation, to become something.  All the while ignoring the immediate: ordinary life.  It's about the sacrament of the present moment, and that kind of stuff.

All along my thoughts and prayers return to Benedict Joseph.  Gradually I understood that my vocation is to be an ordinary layman, a baptised, confirmed, Roman Catholic layman.  To embrace ordinary life.  To be 'Christian' as my real name proclaims - a Christian in a secular world - right where I am.  I had a wise spiritual director who recognized the action of grace in my soul and he agreed.  This was long before I encountered the teachings of St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer.

‘No, we are Christians, I was baptized, I made Confirmation, First Communion ... I have my identity card alright. And now, go to sleep quietly, you are a Christian. But where is this power of the Spirit that carries us forward?” - Pope Francis, Homily, 4/17/13

When I began reading St. Josemaria, his 'Way' resonated with me immediately.  For a moment I thought - "I should join Opus Dei!"  Almost immediately I knew that wasn't my call, nor was it the response I needed to have to his 'spirituality'.  Is his 'Way' really a particular school of spirituality?  I've never asked anyone, so I don't know.  I simply see it as practical direction on how to become a saint in today's world.  Every school of spirituality the Church sanctions may be implemented by anyone I suppose, but I do not see 'customized' spiritualities as practical for myself, or the majority of laity.  By customised I mean, that a Franciscan should only follow Franciscan teachings, Carmelites follow Teresian, and so on.  I'm probably wrong about that - so pay no attention to it.  Nevertheless,  it helps to explain why I do not believe there can be a special 'gay spirituality'.  But that's another post.

Pope Francis said we need to be, “faithful to the Spirit, to proclaim Jesus with our lives, through our witness and our words.” - Vatican Radio
There is no great point to this post except to say that I think what the Pope said while still a Cardinal goes very well with what St. Josemaria taught about the ordinary layman's proper and specific role in the Church.  In an interview Escriva said:
"I simply point out, because a complete doctrinal exposition would take a long time, that Opus Dei is not interested in vows, or promises, or any form of consecration for its members apart from the consecration which all have already received through baptism. - St. Josemaria
 
Furthermore, similar to St. Paul's exhortation in one of his Letters, St. Josemaria taught:  No change in one's state in life.  Nothing different from ordinary faithful Catholics.  Each person should and can sanctify himself and evangelise in and through his own particular state in life.  In the place and condition he finds himself in the Church and society.   As the Pope said:
"The layperson is a layperson and has to live as a layperson with the power of baptism, which enables him to be a leaven of the love of God in society itself, to create and sow hope, to proclaim the faith, not from a pulpit but from his everyday life. And like all of us, the layperson is called to carry his daily cross — the cross of the layperson, not of the priest." --Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio in an interview, now Pope Francis
 
I'll be writing my thoughts about this going forward.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

An Ordinary Form of Pope

Papal daily Mass concelebrated.


"We don’t want to change and what’s more there are those who wish to turn the clock back. This is called stubbornness and wanting to tame the Holy Spirit.” -Pope Francis

One of the reasons I love the Pope so much, is that like his predecessors, he fully endorses Vatican II and the Ordinary Form of the Mass.  Yes, Holy Father Benedict XVI did likewise.  This is important precisely because even amongst so-called Novus Ordo clergy and faithful, there are Vatican II minimizers.  They have a tendency to disparage the Council with claims it was simply a pastoral council, with nothing defined, and in the long arc of history - an unimportant Council.  Tell the Popes that. 

Having said that, any reform flowing from the Council has often dismissed as a misinterpretation of the will of the Council Fathers, or as an outright deviation - in 'the spirit' of Vatican II.  Chief amongst these claims is that the reform of the Roman Liturgy was a mistake and that the Ordinary Form of Mass should be abrogated.  Neither Pope Benedict nor Pope Francis view the Ordinary Form of the Mass, or the Council in that way.  All the Popes since the Council have celebrated the ordinary Form of Mass consistently.  Abuses have abounded in liturgy and teaching since the Council, but as Pope Benedict pointed out immediately before he retired, the problems associated with the Council he aptly attributed to what he termed, the Council of the Media - but he never disparaged the Council itself.  In fact, it is significant that the Holy Year of Faith opened on the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II. 

Today, many seem to be wondering who the Holy Father is talking about when he refers to the Year of Faith and the 50th anniversary of Vatican Council II saying:
 “We celebrate this anniversary, we put up a monument but we don’t want it to upset us. We don’t want to change and what’s more there are those who wish to turn the clock back.” - Excerpts of today's homily here.
 
If you are wondering if he is talking to you - I think it safe to say he is.  He's talking to you and me and the progressives and the trads and the in-betweeners.  He's the Pope and he is talking to ordinary Catholics about resisting the Holy Spirit.

He's the Pope and he is saying that Vatican II is “a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit.”

Read Fr. Angelo on what the Holy Father said here: Taming the Holy Spirit?

Read some things Benedict XVI had to say about the Holy Spirit and Vatican II here.  

Martyrdom



"There is no canonised martyr whose last words expressed spite or anger or vengeance."

The Holy Father has mentioned martydom several times since he became Pope.  Most likely he will speak about it at today's Mass as well.

To be considered a 'canonical' martyr, certain requirements must be met.  For instance, if a guy was crossing the street and was run over and killed by the Nuns on the Bus - either 'accidently' or deliberately (in revenge for making vindictive comments about them), he probably couldn't be considered a martyr. 

In fact, to be a martyr, one has to love their enemy... 
Thus the Christian martyr does not die out of hatred of the enemy as a soldier might, but out of love for his killers, as Jesus taught and lived (Mt 5:43-48). "No man has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends" (Jn 15:13), but for the Christian our enemies are also our friends as long as their conversion is possible. After Stephen: St Peter, St Paul, and St James the Apostle (Acts 12:2) were all martyrs, and following them a "great cloud of witnesses" (Heb 12:1). In the liturgy of the Church, special honour is given to the Virgin Martyrs (women and men, Rev 14:4) who are models of both the virtues of chastity and courage. -Read more on the criteria to be a martyr here.
 

What? 

Happy Birthday Pope Benedict!




Love and prayers,
 
Terry and Gabby

Monday, April 15, 2013

Patriot's Day Bombing in Boston...


Patriot's Day Massacre

Pray for today's victims.  As of this writing 2 dead, 23+ wounded.

In New England it is Patriot's Day* - a civil holiday. The city hosts the annual Boston Marathon on this day.  It is also Tax Day in the United States.  I'm guessing this is domestic terrorism - not Al Qaeda or foreign terrorism.  Hopefully, I'm wrong.



*Prior to 1775, the area that is now the eastern part of the United States mainly consisted of British colonies controlled by the United Kingdom. The American Revolutionary War, also known as the American War of Independence, was a major step in the independence of the United States. The first battles in this war were fought in the areas of Lexington and Concord, near Boston, Massachusetts, on April 19, 1775. For this reason, the third Monday in April is symbolic for the emerging independence of the new country.

 

"They instigated some men... they stirred up the people... they presented false testimony..." - Acts 6 8-15





The Pope on calumny.
"We are all sinners; all of us. We all commit sins. But calumny is something else. It is of course a sin, too, but it is something more. Calumny aims to destroy the work of God, and calumny comes from a very evil thing: it is born of hatred. And hate is the work of Satan. Calumny destroys the work of God in people, in their souls. Calumny uses lies to get ahead. And let us be in no doubt, eh?: Where there is calumny, there is Satan himself. "
"We pray to Our Lady to protect us, and in times of spiritual turbulence the safest place is under the mantle of Our Lady. She is the mother who takes care of the Church. And in this time of martyrs, she is the protagonist, the protagonist of protection: She is the Mother. (...) Let us state with faith: Mother, the Church is under your protection: Care for the Church. '"  - Pope Francis 4/15/13
 
We have to be careful in online exchanges.  Though most of us wouldn't think of telling lies, detraction can be a great danger... disclosing information others may not know about another, and so on.  Especially in our private exchanges with one another.  We can instigate others, stir one another up.  Derision is a real danger as well.  That can entail rash judgement, false assumptions, and calumny.

As the Pope said, 'calumny uses lies to get ahead'. 

How do bloggers get ahead?  There is no ambition in blogging, right?  We aren't interested in hits and followers.  We aren't interested in Facebook friends, or amassing Twitter followers.  It's not like stats can increase our standing online amongst Catholics.  Or increase our income.  Or, much less, garner the esteem of others.

We know that when we denigrate another we aren't really setting ourselves above anyone else.  We can't disparage others to demonstrate our perfection, our fidelity, our virtue.  We only do that kind of stuff to build up the body of Christ... to alert the sheep that the wolf is near.  It's our Christian duty, right?
From the behaviour of the accusers, Pope Francis then turned his attention to the accused. Stephan, he noted, does not return falsehood with falsehood: "He does not want to go that way to save himself. He looks to the Lord and obeys the law", being in the peace and truth of Christ. - ibid

 I went to confession on Saturday.  God help me to do good, to say the good things people need to hear, things that will really help them.  O Lord!  Put a guard on my tongue, and upon my lips an effective seal, that I may not sin by them.
If you blow upon a spark,
it quickens into a flame
if you spit on it, it dies out;
yet both you do with your mouth.
Cursed be gossips and the double tongued,
for they destroy the peace of many...
Take care not to slip by your tongue
and fall victim to your foe
... waiting in ambush. - Sirach 28
 

Photo:  I read somewhere that when ever there is an image of Our Lady near by, the Pope goes to her, like a little boy running to greet his mother.   I thought that was charming.



 

"The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone."



It's a great story...

The Pope and Cardinal Sean.
Relationship -- Asked the day after the election whether it'd be "fair to say you know [Bergoglio] very well," O'Malley answered with one word: "Yes." - Whispers in the Loggia

 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

What a difference a Pope makes...


My brothers, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if a man with gold rings on his fingers and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here, please,” while you say to the poor one, “Stand there,” or “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs? - James 2



Or say a poor Pope comes in clad in the same vestments every week...

Recall when everyone in the Bolgdom of God seemed to hang onto every word Pope Benedict said?  As soon as a tweet, a statement, a homily, or an address was made, Catholics blogged about it.  Yet now it is almost as if we have no Pope.  Many of the 'holiest' of bloggers do not even mention the Pope - except to point out something negative.  One esteemed EF blogger, who used to praise just about every word Benedict said, has just one post up where the only mention of Francis is the label for the post.  Many EF Catholics seem to take refuge in their separate calendar, only to miss what the Holy Spirit says to the Church.

An exaggeration?  I'm not so sure.

I hope the new Pope will do something to end one of the liturgical 'false dichotomies' that exist, and establish one calendar for the the Roman ritual - let there be an EF and an OF - but it seems to me the calendars have to be united - so that we are all on the 'same page' as it were.

Excerpts from today's homily by Pope Francis at St. Paul Outside the Walls...
I would like all of us to ask ourselves this question: You, I, do we worship the Lord? Do we turn to God only to ask him for things, to thank him, or do we also turn to him to worship him? What does it mean, then, to worship God? It means learning to be with him, it means that we stop trying to dialogue with him, and it means sensing that his presence is the most true, the most good, the most important thing of all. All of us, in our own lives, consciously and perhaps sometimes unconsciously, have a very clear order of priority concerning the things we consider important. Worshipping the Lord means giving him the place that he must have; worshipping the Lord means stating, believing – not only by our words – that he alone truly guides our lives; worshipping the Lord means that we are convinced before him that he is the only God, the God of our lives, the God of our history.
This has a consequence in our lives: we have to empty ourselves of the many small or great idols that we have and in which we take refuge, on which we often seek to base our security. They are idols that we sometimes keep well hidden; they can be ambition, a taste for success, placing ourselves at the centre, the tendency to dominate others, the claim to be the sole masters of our lives, some sins to which we are bound, and many others. This evening I would like a question to resound in the heart of each one of you, and I would like you to answer it honestly: Have I considered which idol lies hidden in my life that prevents me from worshipping the Lord? Worshipping is stripping ourselves of our idols, even the most hidden ones, and choosing the Lord as the centre, as the highway of our lives. 
Dear brothers and sisters, each day the Lord calls us to follow him with courage and fidelity; he has made us the great gift of choosing us as his disciples; he sends us to proclaim him with joy as the Risen one, but he asks us to do so by word and by the witness of our lives, in daily life. The Lord is the only God of our lives, and he invites us to strip ourselves of our many idols and to worship him alone. May the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Paul help us on this journey and intercede for us. - Vatican Radio

#Gosnell ..... Make it known!



Abortion deniers and minimizers are controlling the media!

It's happening.  It's not a conspiracy theory.  The media is not telling you about the Gosnell trial.  They are hiding the awful truth - the murder of innocent children in the Gosnell house of horrors.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, if you are not outraged - the blackout is working.  Has the President said anything, like "that could be my child?"  Has HHS said anything?  Pro-choice/pro-abortion people DO NOT want you to know.  Imagine if the world had ignored the Nuremberg Trials?
(CNSnews.com) - According to a Pennsylvania grand jury, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the wealthy Philadelphia abortionist now on trial for seven counts of murdering babies who had survived his late-term abortions, repeatedly sliced the necks of born babies in front of a teenage employee, and once told his long-time assistant (the teenager's mother) that a writhing born baby whose neck he had just severed was like a "chicken with its head cut off."
"Ashley Baldwin also saw Gosnell slice the neck of moving and breathing babies," said the report of the grand jury that recommended charging Gosnell with multiple counts of murder. - Read more.

Eight reasons for the media blackout here.

Daily Mass with the Pope!



...to not falsify life.

Imagine - daily Mass with the Pope, and his informal, practical, daily commentary on the readings of the day. 

From Saturday morning Mass...
“We must not be afraid of problems: Jesus himself said to his disciples: ‘It is I. Do not be afraid’. In life’s difficulties, with problems, with new things that we must face: the Lord is always with us. We may make mistakes, certainly, but he is always with us and says: ‘You made a mistake, now get back on the right path (…) Masquerading life, disguising life, is not a very good way to behave: no no. Life is what it is, that’s the reality. It’s exactly as God wants it to be, or as God allows it to be, it is what it is, and we have to accept it as it is. And the Spirit of the Lord will give us the solution to our problems.”
[...]
“We ask the Lord for this grace: to not be afraid, to not falsify life, to take life as it comes and look to resolve problems as the Apostles did, and also seek out the encounter with Jesus who always at our side, even in the darkest moments of life”. - Vatican Radio
This helped to understand better what Melinda Selmys was trying to say.

Why St. Teresa of Avila is Patroness of Toads.



You never knew that?

Once when Teresa was little, she and her brother ran away to be martyrs, or was it hermits?  Well they are kind of the same, so I think it was hermits.  Anyway, they gathered all the Christmas trees in the neighborhood, for it was right after New Year's, and they proceeded to build their hermitage where they could live as little hermits.  They piled the trees together in the back yard, forming the walls of the enclosure, then knelt inside to say their prayers.  It was cold and they didn't know how to make a proper roof, nor did they know what to do after their prayers, so they returned home for supper.

"Hey wait!  That's my story, not Teresa's!"  I interrupted. 

"Oh very well," the narrator responded. 



St. Teresa and the Toad.

Once upon a time there was a pretty little girl named Teresa who became a nun in a Carmelite monastery.  As she tells it, she was so pretty that she had to force herself to enter because she thought she'd go to hell otherwise.  She was naturally devout, despite her propensity to vanity.  For some reason, she liked to commission artists to paint her portrait, only to insult their talent, scolding them for making her so ugly.

"Whatsa wrong with thata nun!  She makea my lifea misery!"  Said one the young artists who later became a friar named Juan de la Misery.

Eventually Teresa got the hang of things at the monastery and made herself the center of attention, for, as we said, and by her own admission, she was very vain.  At first she wanted to write romance novels and put on dance shows for the other nuns, but she suddenly became very ill.  A fortuitous turn of events it turns out, since that is how she learned to pray and had a couple of visions along with it. 

One day she woke up and shouted, "I'm a mystic!  I see dead people!"  And all the nuns came running to hear her speak.  (Actually, they thought she was dead, but she woke up and looked in a mirror - which explains why she said "I see dead people!"  That's one variation of the story at least.) 

Anyway - this time Teresa became so popular, she was sought out by people even outside the monastery.  She was soon telling everyone how to have visions and locutions and stuff - so they wouldn't have to rely on passing notes through cracks in the walls of their cells.  The visions might help the less talented nuns come up with less gaudy designs when it came to embellishing their habits too.

Almost immediately Teresa gathered a little clique around herself and they pretty much hung out in the parlour of the monastery, gossiping and eating figs, while sipping Sangria.  Our Lord wasn't very happy and appeared to her once and gave her a dirty look and told she was on the way to perdition.  Naturally she was frightened and felt really guilty and humiliated, but she put on a happy face and decided to put on a dramatic play instead of a dance routine for recreation that night. 

You got it right - it was a huge hit!  Teresa became more popular than ever and that gossipy nun Our Lord didn't want her to hang out with, started stalking Teresa.  Eventually the saint convinced herself it was all right just to meet for drinks once in awhile - in a public place.

Then one day, while sipping Sangria in the parlour and gossiping about the new Swarovski crystal beads Mother Electrolux ordered from HSN - which she added to the lace around her wimple, a gigantically-huge ugly toad suddenly appeared, frightening everyone in the parlour.  Teresa took it as a sign to break off her friendship with the stalker nun - which she did rather dramatically BTW.  Throwing her Sangria in the air, Teresa ordered one of the postulants, "That's it!  I've had it!  Hand me my cloak Isabel!  We're leaving!" 

Teresa then left the convent and founded the Discalced Carmelites....

What became of the toad, you ask?  He was featured in one her best selling books, Interior Castle - you can still see him and his grizzly friends in the creepy moat which surrounds the Castle - but I wouldn't spend much time there, if I were you.  Best to get deeply into the castle interior as quickly as one can, and stay there.

The End



 Ed. Note:  For more information on the Life of St. Teresa of Avila, go here.  Oh.  Yes.  This is the the "other" version of the story of the toad:
She tells us that having recovered her health she began to forget the practices of her earlier days. She had to frequent the parlors of the monastery, and in many ways had as much freedom allowed her as the older nuns—but she confesses that she never abused it. She had many friends, and was so winning in her ways that people eagerly sought her. One day while with a friend—it was at the beginning of her acquaintance with her—Our Lord stood before her "stern and grave," and made her see that her conduct displeased Him. "I saw Him," she says, "with the eyes of the soul more distinctly than I could have seen Him with the eyes of the body," and she resolved never to meet that person again. Satan, however, prevailed; she was made to think it was an imagination, yielded to the temptation, and returned to her new friend. She was told there was no harm in seeing her, and that she gained instead of losing reputation by so doing. On another occasion in the parlor with that person, a great toad crawled towards them in their sight and in the sight of others who were there. She recognized this to be another warning, but no one told her she was in the wrong except one of the nuns, then old, and a relative of the Saint. But even this did not restrain her—she frequented the parlor as before.