Thursday, June 24, 2021

Prepare Ye the Way of the LORD!

“Repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking, regret past sins, live your life in a way that proves repentance; seek God’s purpose for your life], for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” ~ Matt 3:2

St. John the Baptist, pray for us.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Bee City for Father's Day

What a Dad! Dagny and I made a request to go to Bee City and Michael took us. We've not been to a zoo, let alone a petting zoo, in years. It was so fun to see the animals, feed some of them--lemurs have the softest paws. And we even got to talk to some bee keepers. But, as much as I enjoyed it, I wanted the animals to be free as Isaiah prophesizes: The wolf shall dwell with the lamb: and the leopard shall lie down with the kid: the calf and the lion, and the sheep shall abide together, and a little child shall lead them. (Is. 11:16)  A happy Father's Day to all the wonderful fathers in our lives! You help us to experience our Heavenly Father's love. May God bless you abundantly and grant you peace!



















Monday, June 14, 2021

Garden

See how our garden grows! We've been eating baby peaches and plums and peppers. The squirrels are helping themselves. Rabbits too. The deer would like to join them, but they have plenty to eat outside the fence. Sunny keeps watch. I love my gardener husband! 









Friday, June 11, 2021

June is the Month of the Sacred Heart

Summer is going by much too quickly. We've been on a spiritual high since Easter, celebrating so many feasts with High Mass (posting links so that I can find them)--Ascension, when our risen Lord Jesus ascends to heaven in glory. He doesn't leave us orphans but sends us the Holy Ghost, which we celebrate on Pentecost. Trinity Sunday comes next when we celebrate that God is three Persons in One. We Catholics are always blessing ourselves with the sign of the Cross in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. It is a mystery as so much of our faith is. But I love how it builds throughout the liturgical year, beginning with Advent and Christmas, the coming of the long-awaited Messiah.

All public revelation is compiled in the Bible yet we have many feasts based upon private revelations. For instance, the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, we celebrate Corpus Christi--the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Because not only does Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit, but in His immense love for us, He allows the priest to turn ordinary bread and wine into His own Body and Blood. He is with us, really and truly, physically, and we eat Him. For My Flesh is true food, and My Blood is true drink. He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood abides in Me, and I in him (John 6:55-56). This is a hard teaching for many but Jesus doesn't try to explain it away. Nope. Yet, priests too, can have doubts. And one such priest is given the grace to see a miracle--a bleeding Host. He contacts his bishop and the rest is history.*  Catholics have a very physical relationship with Jesus. He is with us in Word. He is with us when two or three are gathered in His Name. He is present in a special way in the priest (he is in persona Christi at the Altar when he offers the Sacrifice of the Mass and during confession when he forgives sins). And He *is* the consecrated Bread and Wine. We worship Him in the Blessed Sacrament. We do not worship people. 

Although Jesus instituted the priesthood on Holy Thursday, the apostles don't fully realize the miracle until after the descent of the Holy Spirit. So it is beautiful to have a feast after Easter and we did with a High Mass and a Procession afterwards. Today is the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus! Although a relatively new feast (St. Margaret Mary Alacoque received a private revelation in AD 1675  to promote devotion to His Sacred Heart it wasn't put on the universal Church calendar until AD 1856) many saints have had a private devotion to His Sacred Heart. Its history is beautifully documented in Sacred Fire: Practicing Devotion to the Heart of Jesus by Phillip Michael Bulman. It isn't enough to just worship His Body but to specially recognize the seat of Love, His Heart. May the Heart of Jesus, in the most Blessed Sacrament be praised, adored, and loved, with grateful affection, at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even to the end of time. Amen.

We celebrate the culmination of all these revelations with a High Mass for the Feast of the Sacred HeartGod so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). May we grow in our capacity to love!

As if this was not enough, we had the most wonderful time at the Cathedral the last night Max was home, a special celebration, a votive Mass in honor of St. Joseph on Wed., June 2nd. The choir (all professionals!) sang Palestrina's Missa Brevis. Sublime!  


*Blessed Carlo Acutis compiled a list of the known Eucharistic miracles.

Monday, May 31, 2021

More May Celebrations

I love the end of May for its Feast Days--St. Joan of Arc and the Visitation and this year it was also Trinity Sunday. What a beautiful gift. I marvel at how beautifully we learn about salvation history, first that there is a God who is the creator of everything, seen and unseen; second, that Jesus is God, the only-begotten Son of God, who comes down from heaven to redeem us; and third, that their love itself is the Holy Spirit. I might not be stating this correctly and any analogy I might use will fail because He's an ineffable mystery. Theologians speak of the Holy Trinity with regard to their role: Father, Son, Holy Ghost; Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier; Lover, Beloved, Love. The relational aspect blows me away. Mary is daughter of the Father, mother of the Son, and spouse of the Holy Ghost. She is the only creature who is exalted even above the angels. She sings Magnificat (I love this simple psalm tone for singing) when Elizabeth, her elderly cousin blesses her, not once, but twice!  "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb...And blessed art thou hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord." I love this first chapter of Luke so much!     

I love Memorial Day Weekend too because our remembrance of our fallen dead is so very important, especially now, for the gift of freedom we enjoy. We watched a lovely movie, A Bear Named Winnie, about a little black bear that Lt. Harry Coleburn of the Canadian Veterinary Corps rescued while they were training to fight during WWI. The tension comes from the fact that the little bear is very attached to Lt. Harry and used to human companionship, yet they are preparing to go off to war, and there's just no place for a bear. A little boy, Christopher Robin, visits Winnie at the London Zoo, and his father, the playwright and poet A. A. Milne, begins writing his stories about Winnie the Pooh. I love how children bring out some of the best in adults.

And dear St. Joan--she was but a child, a mere teenager, when she fought for France. What courage! We ask for her intercession as well as St. Michael the Archangel, and St. Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes, daily. And today, we especially pray for all who've died defending all that America stands for. Requiescat in pace.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Reading

I've not been writing much but soaking up a lot of books this month. Three outstanding books: Martin & Mahalia: His Words. Her Song by the stellar husband-wife team of Andrea Davis Pinkney & Brian Pinkney. Beautifully written--spare, lyrical--and the paintings! Gorgeous! See for yourself.


Poor Banished Children by Fiorella de Maria was an audiobook with fantastic narration. The long drive to Ave Maria and back was so much more enjoyable because of this book. I should take lessons from this author in never shying away from making characters suffer--it's the only way to test her mettle. It is a violent book, given the setting 400 years ago when pirates stole people and sold them into slavery. But it was the reality for so many girls 400 years ago who might be neglected, raped, or sold into slavery. Coming to think of it, this is happening even now. But the good Lord sends angels of mercy too. My favorite part was of our girl in the tender care of the priest once he realizes she's neglected. The author never descends into sentimentality but shows the action of grace, the power of prayer. Oh, it gives me chills thinking of the girl's last prayer uttered in desperation and how it was answered. And what a confession! I told my husband this is not how one confesses their sins, by confessing the sins of others that cause us to sin. Lol. But there's a powerful scene wherein a priest (a different one) offers to hear her confession because our girl is embarking on a perilous journey, but she cannot because she is not sorry and would commit this sin again. Much food for thought in this beautifully crafted novel of redemption. The title comes from the Salve Regina, which we sing daily after the rosary. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve...and after this our exile show us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus!  

N.B. Salve Regina was composed by St. Hermann, who was disabled and so was given to a Benedictine monastery when the parents could no longer care for him. They educated him and he became a monk and contributed much to the sciences and the arts. What a treasure!

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi was such a timely book to read given how the entire world is becoming more oppressive towards its citizens in the name of Covid. Nafisi was a professor of Western and Persian literature in Tehran but slowly, slowly as the Ayatollah Khomeini came into power, freedoms were curtailed and society became repressive. Because I remember watching the news, it was interesting to get a retrospective view from inside, how different people responded. Nafisi took refuge in literature. If I turned towards books, it was because they were the only sanctuary I knew, one I needed in order to survive, to protect some aspect of myself that was now in constant retreat.” 

She kept teaching until she simply could not comply with the ridiculous rules. There is a brilliant episode in which her class puts Gatsby on trial. For that one bit alone, I recommend you read this book. “A novel is not an allegory...it is a sensual experience of another world. If you don't enter that world, hold your breath with the characters and become involved in their destiny, you won't be able to empathize, and empathy is at the heart of the novel. This is how you read a novel; you inhale the experience. So start breathing. I just want you to remember this. That is all; class dismissed.”  

I truly enjoyed her analyses of books, even the ones I've not read. I must remedy that and read more of Nabokov. “Those of us living in the Islamic Republic of Iran grasped both the tragedy and absurdity of the cruelty to which we were subjected. We had to poke fun at our own misery in order to survive. We also instinctively recognized poshlust-not just in others, but in ourselves. This was one reason that art and literature became so essential to our lives: they were not a luxury but a necessity. What Nabokov captured was the texture of life in a totalitarian society, where you are completely alone in an illusory world full of false promises, where you can no longer differentiate between your savior and your executioner." 

This book impressed upon me the importance of resisting any way we can when a government begins a turn towards repressing its citizens because it is a slippery slope from two weeks to stay home, stay safe, flatten the curve to Dokument, bitte. Nafisi writes, “The worst crime committed by totalitarian mind-sets is that they force their citizens, including their victims, to become complicit in their crimes. Dancing with your jailer, participating in your own execution, that is an act of utmost brutality.”

Fiction has so much to teach us. "what we search for in fiction is not so much reality but the epiphany of truth.” Happy reading and writing, folks. I have a faithful companion for both. Do share the good books you're reading. 

Thursday, May 13, 2021

May Celebrations

My heart is so full of thanks and praise to our Lord. Max has graduated from Ave Maria University magna cum laude, one of five finalists for the President's Award. Dagny had a birthday. I am no longer the mother of teenagers :) We had such a lovely week in Florida visiting with some of the kids' friends, their parents, the staff and professors at AMU. And still there was time to be quiet and read and pray. It was lovely to end the visit with a trip to the beach and receive gifts from the sea.

We're all home together for a little while before Max settles in DC for work at Keybridge Communications. He'll be writing a LOT and I'm sure soon he'll be teaching me. We're grateful Dagny has an internship with a local company: Heron Farms. This came directly out of our interest in hydroponics. Dagny applied and voila! It'll be wonderful for her to apply what she's learning in school to real-world problems. Michael and I continue to work from home and sing at church. Speaking of, we celebrate Ascension Thursday and the anniversary of Marian apparitions at Fatima with a High Mass. A happy Feast Day to all. Where He is, we hope to follow!

The Baccalaureate Mass was the high point of the celebrations. The priest emphasized that although there are many unknowns to not fill ourselves with fear and anxiety but to trust in the Lord who loves us and wants us to be happy. He knows what we need and will provide. Let go of pride and worry. Practice self-sacrifice. Remain in Him. All will be well for those who love Jesus. The one word that encapsulated his beautiful homily was: TRUST. It immediately brought to me the image of Divine Mercy and the prayer: Jesus, I trust in YOU.