Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the New Civil Rights

I have a dream speech is just one of handful of speeches, including the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, that define us as Americans. I look forward to reading The Dream: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech that Inspired a Nation by Drew Hansen.

Today the most dangerous place for a Black child is in his or her mother's womb. They have more risk of dying from abortion than to live to adulthood. How many will we sacrifice on the altar of greed? 

Parce Domine!

This week many hundreds of thousands of people will congregate at States' capitals to March for Life as well as to WA-DC. It'll be cold and snowy, without many creature comforts. It really is a sacrifice for those travelling to march. But they do this because they believe all life is sacred from the moment of conception until natural death. Just as we think it's unimaginable what the Black people have endured, so I want future generations to think it unimaginable to kill a child in the womb. The right to life is the most basic right. Let us pray to grant all babies in the womb personhood. I am praying for you all who are making the journey this week to March for Life. God bless you and keep you safe!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Family Stories

I love handmade cards and calligraphy and can always expect something special from my artistic friends for my birthday. I had such a lovely day catching up with an old friend at lunch and celebrating the new Starbucks opening on Daniel Island. That's my girl! I can just sit back and admire her. 


My youngest aunt has given me a project for this year--collecting family stories. Many of you know I've been writing about my mom so including my siblings and cousins feels spot on. Here's one from my sister. I'm about 2 yrs old and my sister is 5. She'd parade me around the neighborhood as "my beautiful sister!!!" The neighbors thought it was strange but our mom let my sister take full charge of me. I was a "living doll." She even convinced our older brother to play house where they were the parents and I, the baby. Apparently I went along with everything. The funny thing is that I remember chafing against all the extra mothering and supervision. I always wanted to run off. Of course, I was older by the time I remember, around age four. But I also remember that when I had to go to school, I didn't want to leave my sister. I think I screamed that entire first year when she left me with the nuns. Memory is a strange bird. It'll be very interesting to see how different people remember the same events and each other. And it'll be fun to be the official secret keeper :)

I pulled a picture of our kids at a similar age. Fun to see the resemblance. I wish grownups were as cute as kids.
 

My sister also sent me this with a caption: the young writer. I'm about 10 and I had not yet discovered A. J. Cronin (physician turned writer) and the dream of writing. My heroes were Mother Teresa, Fr. Damien of Molokai and Dr. Albert Schweitzer. I was interested in medicine and wanted to be a nun-doctor. But even back then, my sister and I played "What If" where we made up stories about the people around us. We kept this up in our teens. And I'm still at it :)

I love these snowy portraits of my kids. Family: my greatest gift.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A White Christmas in Charleston

We love snow days!!! Christmas holidays have been extended for an extra week! Kids will go back to school and work on Jan. 8th. Locals tell me the last time it snowed so much (we got about 5 inches) was 20 years ago.

I know this winter storm is going up the East Coast so please stay warm and safe. And have fun playing in the snow!!!

 
 

 

 
 
 

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year

The Magi won't reach this scene until Epiphany
(look closely at the picture of the Altar :)
I love that we celebrate Christmas for a full week and that the 8th day falls on Jan. 1st and when we celebrate the circumcision of our Lord, His Holy Name--Jesus--which means God saves, and Mary. As our priest pointed out, the solemnity of Mary has been in the opening prayer all along. I also love that there's a plenary indulgence for reciting Veni Creator Spiritus. So please sing along!





So thankful for all the blessings in 2017. Praise God!

I pray you all have a happy and healthful, blessed and beautiful New Year. My word and goal this year are one and the same: WRITE (with all the gifts of the Holy Spirit).

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!!!

 I love putting up the Christmas tree because almost all the ornaments are gifts and I enjoy remembering all my family and friends who've made the present possible. And then there's the wonderful, fresh piney smell!!!

This year was a different sort of Christmas, with a homecoming, more busy than usual with Christmas Eve falling on the 4th Sunday of Advent, feeling like we're not having enough time to practice all the music.

Today, we're lounging about in pajamas, eating Christmas treats, reading new books, and enjoying the gorgeous sunshine. Even though it's pretty as can be, we just want to stay home instead of going to the beach. What makes Christmas special though is always the Mass, the beautiful hymns and readings, and remembering how much God loves us. I was thinking of how people talk about the different ways to reach God, but in the Christian faith, God reaches down to us, not as a mighty warrior but as a helpless Baby. I suppose it had to be this way because it's so easy to fall in love with a baby! Our two wonderful priests gave beautiful homilies.

Fr. Antony Gaspar asked us to contemplate the Nativity. Who are we? Are we the shepherds who come to adore the Lord Jesus? Are we the Magi who seek Truth and are steadfast in their journey? Are we like the Angel Gabriel who announces the good news? Msgr. McInerney spoke about silence and how God comes to us in the silence and quiet of our hearts. He is Love Himself. A Merry Christmas to all of you and may God bless you all abundantly in the New Year!!! I leave you with some pictures and O Magnum Mysterium!!!
 

 
 
 


 
 


Friday, December 22, 2017

Reading

I read so many good books but there's never enough time to mention them all. But with Christmas right around the corner and many looking for last-minute gifts I wanted share a few reviews. Perhaps you'll receive a gift card to splurge on yourself.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1524759503/ref=nav_timeline_asin?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1To Light a Fire on the Earth: Proclaiming the Gospel in a Secular Age by Bishop Robert Barron with John Allen Jr. is a book that shares many of Bishop Barron's personal stories of engaging people in discussions of faith. He emphasizes the need to lead with beauty, then goodness, and finally truth of the Catholic faith. Allen is a journalist who brings a framework to the many interviews and discussions Bishop Barron has given in his quest to re-evangelize the West. Still, I found the constant, "Barron says this... Barron says that... " a bit tedious. I loved Catholicism; it is the better book. And the video series is very beautiful, something to watch over and over. Bishop Barron has another series: The Pivotal Players that looks wonderful. Thanks to Blogging for Books for providing a review copy of To Light a Fire on the Earth.
 

I'm a sucker for immigration stories and Brooklyn by Colm Toibin was such a delight. Set in the 1950s, it portrays the journey of a young Irish woman, Eilis, who emigrates to Brooklyn to make a better life. Because Toibin spends a goodly chunk of the novel in Ireland itself, with colorful characters, you feel homesick with Eilis, her awareness of the sacrifices her family has made, and her blossoming. She meets an Italian fellow at a parish dance and their romance is so beautiful. A death in the family brings her home and now she faces the hardest choice--between the old and the new. How I wish I could write as simply and eloquently as Colm Toibin. This is the first book of his I've read, and only because I saw a trailer for the movie, and the screen adaptation looks beautiful.

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie is a beautiful and raw memoir (and he sees that it's a partial anagram for mom noir) about the complicated relationship he had with his mother. A mix of prose and poetry, some so heartbreaking (Ancestry), you can't help but cry. I read this book at the same time my daughter was reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and I enjoyed our discussions on poverty and racism so very much. I found myself praying for his parents and for him too. May he find the peace and truth he's searching for.

Pandemonium--
Please remember,
As I weep
Inside
My verse,
That nearly every Indian kid
I knew
Had it worse.

Communion
We worship
the salmon
because we
eat salmon

Jungian
Even as I deny the idea of God,
The idea of God interrogates me.
Even as I pretend that my love
For my mother is conflicted,
It's my mother who, in my dreams,
Emerges from a door marked "adore"
An image so overtly self-subversive
That it drops me--laughing
And praying--to the floor.


Many people have problems with many aspects of Catholicism, from why women cannot be priests to why homosexuality is considered immoral. Christopher Sparks turned to Facebook to get the questions people have and then answered them in: How Can You Still Be Catholic? It's a wonderful little book and reminds me always by this quote by Ap. Fulton Sheen: “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.” I recommend this both for Catholics and non-Catholics because so many Catholics do not know why the Church teaches what she does.

Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer by Fr. Thomas Dubay is a most essential book for anybody interested in becoming a saint. He observes that more people turn away from evil to become good, but far fewer people go from good to better. He remarks on the extraordinary resistance we face in our journey towards holiness and he gives practical suggestions to combat moral mediocrity.


 

The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden and Barbara Cooney is such a satisfying Christmas story. Three characters' lives that begin separately become entwined at the end. I love how the author captures the longings of each heart. 

Another one of my favorite picture books is Great Joy by Kate diCamillo, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. This story captures the love and compassion of a little girl for a monkey and the organ-grinder at Christmas. The sparse text and luminous illustrations convey it perfectly. I find myself holding my breath at the lines: "The world was quiet. Everyone waited." And tears fall when I turn the page. This is Christmas!

May these last couple of days before Christmas be filled with joy and peace as we await the coming of our blessed Lord Jesus in our hearts.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Two Poems

Poetry is the hardest to write but such a delight to read. I've been savoring Literary Converts by Joseph Pearce--it's a book I read slowly because there are so many gems--and these poems by Maurice Baring capture my feelings of a body that betrays. He was very upset by not being able to attend his friend G. K. Chesterton's funeral due to Parkinson's. He wrote to Chesterton's wife, Frances, "I wish I could come down tomorrow, but I cannot even go to Mass here on Sundays...O Frances, I feel as if a tower of strength had vanished and our crutch in life had broken." A year later (1937), he wrote this poem:

My body is a broken toy
Which nobody can mend
Unfit for either play or ploy
My body is a broken toy;
But all things end.
The siege of Troy
Came one day to an end.
My body is a broken toy
Which nobody can mend.

I can only imagine the terrible deterioration, but instead of giving in to the desolation, he makes an act of hope with this parallel poem written in 1941.

My soul is an immortal toy
Which nobody can mar,
An instrument of praise and joy;
My soul is an immortal toy;
Though rusted from the world's alloy
It glitters like a star;
My soul is an immortal toy
Which nobody can mar.

How these poems speak to my heart! Never lose hope in the trials of life. Never let anybody or anything take away God's peace and joy. It is our inheritance. Gaudete Sunday is almost here!

I've been thinking about some of my struggles with writing lately and it has to do with not having the right words to convey emotion. All my words fall flat. Perhaps poetry will be the answer. I'm often singing my favorite hymns or psalms and they say everything in my heart. Along with Pearce's book, I'm re-reading Brightest and Best: Stories of Hymns by Fr. George Rutler. I hope immersing myself in poetry will help me write better. I'd appreciate if you would please share your recommendations for reading and writing poems.