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Showing posts from 2010

St. Thomas a' Becket

St. Thomas a' Becket is considered a saint by both Catholics and Anglicans, and was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by order of King Henry II.  Thomas tried to serve both God and his country, but could not, and was assassinated for his loyalty to the Church.

This French enamelled reliquary is one of 45 remaining examples:

 St. Thomas a' Becket, pray for us!

Making the world a better place

The Christian Science Monitor is running this intriguing story today:  http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2010/1226/Ideas-for-a-better-world-in-2011/Rolf-Mowatt-Larssen

What are ways, gathered from the world's brightest and most talented in their fields, to make our world better?  I agree with some of them (starting the day with a hymn, for instance, or making sure all children are educated).  Some are clearly above my paygrade:  fixing the Mexican drug wars would be an example.

I am not the world's brightest, but the article made me think.  What can I do to make the world a better place?  Clearly, I'm not in a position to change public policy or affect global politics.  But I'm also not the type of person to sit back and say,  "This is too big a problem.  I can't do anything."  (Cue my mother's voice in my head:  "Do SOMETHING.)

So here is my modest proposal for making the world a better place in 2011:  I am going to be a better ME.  I will give it my…

Merry Christmas!

O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, our King and lawgiver, the expected of nations and their Savior: Come, and save us, O Lord our God!

O King of Nations

O King of Gentiles and the desired of all, you are the cornerstone that binds two into one. Come, and save poor man whom you fashioned out of clay.


A plea for just a little more soul

I've been holding back on something.  However, it's reached its tipping point, and I can't hold back anymore.  Here it is:

There are Songs White People Should Not Sing.

Perhaps this is harsh.  I'm sure there are exceptions, but it is clear that we just shouldn't do some things, and a bunch of white suburbanites singing "Go Tell It On the Mountain" is one of those things.  Please stop.

I also believe that no white person should ever sing a Stevie Wonder song, and "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" is off-limits (even karaoke.  Perhaps especially karaoke.)

Heddy Ledbetter is no-can-do for white folks.  (If you don't know who Heddie Ledbetter is, shame on you.)  In fact, the entire genre of Delta Blues is probably tricky territory for any of us white people.  Enjoy it, listen to it, but please don't sing it.  Leave it to the professionals.

Feel free to add to the list.  That is my simple plea for Christmas.

Hey, lady: be patient!!

I was at the local dollar store the other day, getting some Christmas gift bags.  (I hate, and am terrible at, wrapping gifts.  Therefore:  gift bags.)  The store was busy.  It is a locally owned stored, and usually staffed by a member of the family that owns it.  That was the case this day, and Store Owner was busy trying to get everyone taken care of.

One lady near the check-out counter had placed an order for helium-filled balloons, and was waiting for the order.  However, Store Owner decided to check out people before he took care of that.  When it was my turn, Balloon Order Lady mutttered under her breath,  "Well, I don't mind waiting for a couple of people, but this is ridiculous."  I was annoyed.

I was annoyed because I thought that wasn't really the Christmas spirit.  Clearly, Store Owner was doing the best he could.  I was annoyed that Balloon Order Lady wasn't more patient.  It wasn't my fault the guy had decided to do things in this order.  I was a…

O Rising Dawn

O Rising Dawn, radiance of the light eternal, and sun of justice;

Come, and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Horrible, but real

http://www.independent.co.ug/index.php/society/society/37-society/620-ugandas-epidemic-of-child-sacrifice

I'm not sure what to do with this information, other than pray.  It is hard to say how much of this is cultural/religious (witchcraft, in many forms, is widely practiced in many African countries), and how much of it is the Culture of Death and its disregard for all human life. 

In case you're unclear, Uganda is in sub-Saharan Africa, east part of Africa:

O Key of David

O Key of David, and scepter of the house of Israel: you open and no man closes; you close and no man opens. Come, and deliver him from the chains of prison who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death.

O Root of Jesse

O Root of Jesse, you stand for an ensign of mankind; before you kings keep silence, and to you all nations have recourse. Come, save us, and do not delay.


O Adonai

December 18


O Adonai, and ruler of the house of Israel, you appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush, and on Mount Sinai gave him your law. Come, and with outstretched arm, redeem us!

O Wisdom

The great hymn, "O come, o come Emmanuel" is based on the Church's tradional prayer, the "O Antiphons".  It is a series of daily prayers, right before Christmas, that focus us on different aspects of Christ.  Today's is "O Wisdom":

O Wisdom, you came forth from the mouth of the Most High, and reaching from beginning to end, you ordered all things mightily and sweetly. Come, and teach us the way of prudence.

Religious freedom = security

http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1005128.htm

The Pope is on-target with this:  if you are not free to practice your religion, you are not free.  As he points out, persecution does not simply take the form of torture and suppression, but also more subtle forms that are pervasive in the West:

The pope also warned against "more sophisticated forms of hostility to religion" which, in Western countries, is often expressed by a denial of its Christian roots and the rejection of religious symbols, "which reflect the identity and the culture of the majority of citizens."



It also means that I am not a bigot or a homophobe if I stand up for traditional marriage or download the Manhattan Declaration app.  Sophistication notwithstanding, I am still free to practice my faith.

De-politicizing hunger?

This time of year, we see much need, personally and in our places of worship, for food donations.  This is an intriguing look at how well we are doing (with special attention to West Michigan):

http://blog.acton.org/archives/20342-the-politics-of-hunger.html



It is not okay...

It is not okay to treat humans beings like one more product in the global market.

It is not okay to exploit a human being EVEN IF the person being exploited agrees to it.

It is not okay to kill one human being in order to finance the education of another human being.

It is not okay to look at this and shrug your shoulders, and say "Who am I to judge?"

"Assembling the Global Baby" - Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703493504576007774155273928.html#printMode

It is not okay.  In fact, it is evil.

Sacred Place of the Day

Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Gaudete Sunday

Today is Gaudete ("joy") Sunday.  It's the day Christians typically celebrate the "half-way" point of Advent:  that Christ is near, and our joy will soon be complete.

Every year, I try to make a retreat at a nearby retreat house, and the same priest was there for a number of years.  On Sunday morning, with the end of the retreat looming,  he would invariably resort us to "finish strong".  (He usually gave a sports analogy, which didn't go over well with the elderly women on retreat, but seemed to be a topic close to his heart.)  However, his point was valid:  even though the end was near, we couldn't just say,  "Well, that's that.  We are done."  In fact, we needed to be just as vigilant and fervent in our last prayers as in our first.

This is a sound attitude for Advent as well.  We aren't there yet, but we must press on, praying, hoping, anticpating and preparing.  We "finish strong", and then can truly celebrate …

Why all the menorahs?

First, I am a student of world religions.  It fascinates me that the human heart, in all times, places and manners, seek to answer questions such as,  "Why am I here?"  and "What's the meaning of life?"

Secondly, I read this quote today as I was continuing through George Weigel's The End and the Beginning (it's a long quote, but a good one, so stick with me):

The divine initiatives of deliverance and salvation, the election of Israel, the covenant of the Law, prayer and worship, the privileged position of Jerusalem and the Temple - all are elements of Israel's Testament that nourish the spiritual life of Christians....We Christians and Jews are really united.  Religiously, we are intensely brothers, as we accept the same divine revelation, with the difference that Christians complete it with the paschal mystery of Jesus, which is a great novelty, but this novelty does not cancel the previous revelation, but rather highlights it....[So] this must be t…

Today's Menorah

From the Jewish Museum:

Today's Menorah

From artist Karen Rossi:

Stopping "those people" from having so many kids....sigh...

I was in a discussion at a church-sponsored book club the other night, and the following comment was made:  "I know it's not Church teaching, but if they could just stop those people in other countries from having so many kids...."

Ahem.

I have lots of problems with this type of statement.  I can't possibly go through all of them here.

However, I did respond.  I said,  "You know, lowering birth rates isn't as difficult as you might think.  In most cases, all you  have to do is educate the moms."  I explained how giving women basic health and nutrition education, including fertility and breast-feeding information, typically lowers birth rates.  No sane mother wants her child to be hungry, born into poverty, or to die before adulthood.  Equipping women with knowledge - no artificial anything necessary! - helps to ensure lower birth rates and healthier kids.

http://crs.org/health/accomplishments.cfm  Note that the Church works with Muslim organizations in t…

Today's Menorah

Today's Menorah

Today's Menorah

Knesset Menoray in Israel, by artist Benno Elkan.  From Jewish Press.

Six Word Saturdays

All those gloves, with no mates.

Today's Menorah

From  "Bazaarglass" on Etsy.com:

Fresh, Clean and Pure Friday: Try something new

I've had some middling-to-severe health problems over the past couple of months, and am finally now starting to feel better.  I attribute this mainly to acupuncture.  I've always wanted to try this, and with my latest health challenges, it seemed a good time.
Do you have something you've always wanted to try, but have been held back for some reason?  Maybe it's a menu item at the restaurant you eat lunch at, or a type of tea on the grovery shelf.  Maybe it's that book club you've been prominsing yourself you'd join.  Whatever it is, NOW is the time!

Today's Menorah

From Menorah.com (really!):

Small Successes Thursday

1.  Hurray for acupuncture!  I've been feeling better this week than I have in months.
2.  Did some more "stocking stuffer" shopping today.  Eating that elephant one bite at a time.
3.  Found a brand-new-tags-still-on-it H&M jacket at Goodwill for three and a half bucks.  Kudos for the work wardrobe!

Today's Menorah

From Pier One imports:

Happy Hanukkah!

Purgatory-on-earth: 8th Grade

The Church may teach that Purgatory is a possibility after death, but I know the truth:  8th grade is the real Purgatory.

I hate 8th grade.  And I'm not talkin' about my own 8th grade experience (Coleman Middle School, 1978-'79, bad fashion year, bad hair year, bad self-esteem year).  No, I'm talkin' about the fact that, for my own kids, 8th grade seems to be the year when their brains leave for vacation at an amusement park, their judgement gets left behind in the dust, "you're grounded" gets said so many times that my dogs start thinking that I've changed their names and come running and it's a toss-up as to whether that the kid is gonna make it to 9th grade...literally.

I know that it's no fun for my kids.  They are trying to navigate the treacherous waters of middle school society in a leaky boat.  Nothing on the elementary school scene prepares one for things like note-passing, pre-algebra and that teacher that really gives "zero…

Sacred Place of the Day

The Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth

Advent

If you're like me, one of the first things you do in the morning is sit down at the computer.  If you're going to do that, then why not make it a time of prayer and preparation for Christmas (which despite all of Target's and QVC's intentions, is not here yet)?


 Creighton University offers a terrific daily Advent site - visit often, and make this a year of true preparation for the Coming of Christ! 

Cuba

This is a beautiful country.  I wrote before about my family's ties to Cuba (http://www.kissingtheleper.com/2010/08/when-castro-came-to-coleman.html), but thought this beautiful photo essay from The Christian Science Monitor was a great way to "visit" the country that is one the last bation's of communism.

Extravagence

What constitutes "extravagence"?

I was re-reading a few sections of The Value-Driven Life by Fr. Benedict Groeschel.  He takes an "old school" approach and looks at the cardinal and theological virtues and how they can and should be lived out in the Christian life. 
At one point, Fr. Groeschel strongly speaks against living extravagently, and says that this lifestyle should "never" be a part of life for a follower of Christ
However, he isn't very clear what "extravagence" means. 

I was showering the other morning, and it struck me:  I get to choose what I smell like every day.  I can choose vanilla, orange, lime, plain ole' soap.  Not only do I get to shower daily, I can choose my aroma.  With millions of people around the world with NO access to clean water for drinking or sanitation, is my daily shower extravagance?

Any one of us can point out instances like this:  our daily stop for coffee, eating out several times a week, a closet …

Sacred Place of the Day

The "Ark" - Catholic Church in Nowa Huta, Poland.  Nowa Huta was a city built by the Communists as the first Polish city without a church.  The people didn't like that, and under the leadership of then-Cardinal Karol Woltya (John Paul the Great), this was built.

Phobias for everyone!

From Demotivational Posters:  this is mostly for my nephew Andy, who has one of those clown phobias, but it made me laugh!

Lest you think....

...that world news consists of Charlie Sheen, Justin Bieber, and a royal wedding...

Remember that over 2 million people are still displaced in Haiti from earthquakes and hurricanes, and that cholera is claming lives daily.


http://crs.org/countries/haiti

Save or Splurge?

I have come to believe that there are two kinds of women (when it comes to receiving gifts, at least):  savers and splurgers.  Here's what I mean:

If I give the Middle Sister a bath-set for a gift, I can guarantee that it will sit in her bathroom for a decade or two, gathering dust.  It's not that she doesn't appreciate it, she's just "saving" it.  Because, in  her world, every day life doesn't require Wild Orchid-Jasmine-Bubblicious soap, scrub and lotion.  That would be for something else....sometime down the road....but not just for getting up and going to work.  She was the one who never took Barbie out of the box, so there the doll remained, pristine and prim.

Then there's me.  Give me a bath set, I'll rip it open right here, right now, try out the lotion, and head home to take a bath just to be surrounded by bubbles, not because I need to get clean.  I'll use it up in a week, and not feel a twinge about it.  My Barbie was the one that go…

Six Word Saturdays


  
Gotta give the dogs a bath.

Fresh, Clean and Pure Friday: Catch Up

My two sisters and I have been trying to get together for dinner at least once a month this year.  We're doing pretty well, and it's becoming a great tradition for us.  It's just time to catch up on our lives and our families' lives, plus a terrific way to unwind.  Is there someone in your life you need to catch up with?    Make a date today!

Remember

No matter what happens today, you did not have to paint a monkey's face.  (And the Christian Science Monitor has amazing photos every day...check them out.)

Small Successes Thursday

     1.  I managed to make Sunday a day of rest.  I pushed aside all thoughts of work and other impending deadlines, and really rested. 
2.  Had my first acupuncture treatment, and am going for my second one on Friday.  It was really relaxing, and I have since cut one of my med. dosages in half.
3.  I have increased my water intake.  I'm still not carrying a water bottle around with me 24/7, but I am drinking a lot more than I was.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Today is her feast, and she is one of my patrons.

Old, but not forgotten

When wandering around antique shops and junk stores, I always wonder about old photographs:  Who are these people?  Why didn't their families keep these photo?  How did picture end up HERE?

This is the foundation of this great blog I found:  http://forgottenoldphotos.blogspot.com/.

"It must be nice to work at a church.....

....so nice and quiet."

Have you ever thought that of your pastor?  The lady that works in the church office?  Let me tell ya....

I got to work today and had about 15 minutes to sift through email.  Then off to Mass.  After that, women's Bible Study.  That was almost my entire morning.

Afternoon:  ate lunch at my desk, a meeting with our director of religious education, then a "meeting" with our youth minister - although mostly that is shooting the breeze.  I finished a talk I'm giving to a young adults' group tomorrow, tried to track down a couple of speakers for our senior citizens' group that meets once a month, talked with two women who are in the process of joining the Church about some little issues, worked on a prayer service, sent emails and returned phone calls, talked to the woman who creates our lectors' schedule about a new lector, went through a bunch of donations to find some kids' winter stuff for a needy family, read a new directi…

Sacred Place of the Day

Santa Rosa de Lima, Puerto Rico

This explains why I can't lose weight....

Cutting me down to size

Dear husband does bonsai - those little Japanese trees.  When people unfamiliar with the art see one of his trees for the first time, they have two questions:  "Is that real?" and "Do they just grow like that?" 

Yes, and most definitely no.

You can make just about any tree into a bonsai tree, although some trees are much easier to work with than others.  We joke that the art of bonsai is buying a $200 tree, lopping off $175 worth and then selling it for $400.  It does take time, practice, patience and a lot of effort.  You trim the tree and let it rest, trim it and let it rest.  It's a rush of anxious activity and then dormancy.  It's a very real tree, with a lot "done to it".

In essence, you must harm the tree.  You have to cut off branches and roots, make the tree grow in a way that is unnatural and that the tree is not necessarily willing to go.  This is exactly what God does with us.  He trims us and prunes  us, makes us stretch and grow in w…

Six Word Saturdays

Too many meetings make me dull.

Fresh, Clean and Pure Friday: Reach Out

"Fresh, Clean" is back after a tech. problem last week, and I am glad!  This blog hop always forces me to look at where I can make a fresh start, clean up my act, and purify a problem.
This week, reach out to someone you know is having a hard time.  Maybe it's a new mom who's still adjusting to a new schedule.  Maybe it's an older person in your neighborhood who is struggling with loneliness.  Perhaps it's an overwhelmed co-worker.  Invite them for a cup of tea, drop off a plant (although don't do that for the new mom - she's doesn't need another living thing to keep up with!), Write a note that says you care.
Enjoy your weekend!

Small Successes Thursday

1.  I remembered it was Thursday and time to make this post.
2.  Although I made my husband give me my birthday present - a Kindle!!! - early, I've only purchased one book.  I'm on a budget.  I shall follow it.  I promise.  Really.
3.  I've had dinner on the table every night this week.  Last night was pizza, but that's a Wed. tradition here, and every other dinner was home-made and on time.

Caritas

"IN ESSENTIALS UNITY, IN NON-ESSENTIALS LIBERTY, IN ALL THINGS CHARITY." - St. Augustine

There is some discussion as to whether or not this quote is really from St. Augustine of Hippo, but the point remains the same.  No matter what, we need to be charitable.  (If you don't know the definition of "caritas", look it up.  If you think it means being nice and giving stuff to people who don't have stuff, look it up.)

Dear Husband and I were visiting a friend this weekend, and joined her for worship at her Episcopalian church.  Her pastor, in the sermon, brought up the fact that (in an anonymous comment, of course), someone said,  "The pastor is a waste."  That was it:  "a waste".  There is NOTHING charitable in that comment.

I often have to work with people who want to join the Church, get their spiritual lives in order, have a marriage annulled or blessed and their past spiritual lives are...messy.   Irregular.  Charity is the first order …

Sacred Place of the Day

Today is the Feast of the Lateran Basilica in Rome.  It's not so much a celebration of the a building (although it is an awesome building!);  it's a celebration of Christian unity, as symbolized by this "first Vatican".

Light blogging this week: too many meetings!!

Sacred Place of the Day

The Basilica of la Sagrada Familia - the Holy Family - just dedicated in Barcelona, Spain.