Tuesday, February 14, 2017

What's going on here?

I have known that something has been afoot in America for decades. And, not for the good either. I see violence, rioting, hate filled speech, accusations being hurled around, burning buildings, rule of mobs, people getting hurt. I see it every single night on the news. It's unsettling and uncomfortable. The liberals are angry that their candidate did not win. They are well organized, volatile, hateful, promoting divisions among us - yes, dividing us as a people, effectively getting our eyes off of our goal-- what's that you may ask? To serve God of course. What is God's desire for us? What does He think? What is His opinion of all the riots, violence, hateful and vindictive discourse in the public forums?

The problem is....what can one do? The most important thing is to pray every single day for our great nation and I mean the people and leaders; reject whatever the leftist agenda is insisting that we believe and engage in (e.g. politically correct speech,etc.), be the example of Christian virtue that you know in your heart is what God wants of you (this will require personal sacrifice), speak out whenever confronted by evil teachings (e.g. pornography, the argument of relativism, homosexual marriage, etc.), get our children out of public schools, be the parent that God wants you to be, etc. I'm sure there is more. That's all I can think of right now. We have to stop sitting on our couches feeling befuddled, ambivalent and inert. We are not in heaven yet and have a job to do for God. Let us begin.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Gus Gus and Olive

GusGus & Olive, Miniature Schnauzers (11 y/o), 9th & 1st Ave., New York, NY • “They both have serious personality and Olive was a rescue. Every time we go away, Olive develops a new eating disorder. She gets upset and then won’t eat her food, so we put peanut butter on it…then almond butter, then milk. You have to rotate depending on how damaged she is.” (The Dogist) see his stuff on Tumbler.

My heart went out to these two sweetest of little dogs. I especially like the name Gus Gus and told my husband should we ever get another dog, he will be named Gus Gus.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Are Parish communities dead?

I am a convert to the Catholic church and did not experience a "Church Community" as described below. In the age that we live, I am not sure this type of community would really work. People probably think it too intrusive for one thing and it would take up too much of our time for another thing. Isn't that sad?

The following is from "Reverend Know-it-all" blog:

Let’s talk a little about the perish, I mean the parish. A parish is a stable community of the faithful within a particular church, the care of which is entrusted to an ordained pastor under the authority of the diocesan bishop. It is the primary unit of a diocese. In the Code of Canon Law, parishes are discussed in cc. 515–552, “Parishes, Pastors, and Parochial Vicars.” The word parish is derived from a Greek word that means “…the area around the house.” My only perspective is that of a diocesan priest. I cannot comment on the experience of religious order priests. The diocesan priesthood has changed greatly during my short life, and I cannot predict where it will go. I can only comment on where it has come from and how it has developed. People ask me, “What order do you belong to?” I used to answer flippantly, “The order of St. Peter.” I cannot do that anymore. There is now a group called the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), so that joke won’t work anymore, as if it ever did.

What I meant is that I am part of the original simple structure of the Catholic Church. The essential structure of the Church is the parish. (Warning the next few lines are speculation garnered from a lifetime of study. They may be absolutely wrong.) I suspect that in the first century of the Christian era, one town had one supervisor ("mebaqqer" in Hebrew, "episkopos" in Greek, "bishop" in English,) who was assisted by a few table waiter/helpers (“shamash” in Hebrew, "diakonos" in Greek, "deacon" in English.) His congregation was probably never more than a couple hundred people. He was probably called “Pappas” ("Father" in Greek) and was a spiritual father to his small community. The bishop presided over the Eucharist and approved new members of the community who were then instructed by the deacons. He re-admitted the fallen back into fellowship after a time of repentance and probably anointed the sick as well as preached. He was both supervisor of the faithful and wise elder (“Zaken” in Hebrew, "presbyteros" in Greek, "priest" in English.) When things got a bit too much, he might appoint tried and true deacons as fellow elders, thought this would have been honorific. They could preside at the Eucharist in the absence of the bishop, the main elder, but could not admit others to holy orders and did have authority to re-admit the fallen to the fellowship by means of penance. If a local church had more than one house of assembly, that is a parish, in a given district, the bishop might put that community in the care of a trusted presbyter and a deacon or two.

So, there it was. You had a very simple structure: supervisor, assisted by table waiters and elders. (Bishops, deacons and priests in English) Each diocese was essentially autonomous in its administration, though united to the wider Church by means of local synods of bishops, and when a big doctrinal issue came up, they looked to the bishop of Rome for instruction. Around 170 AD, St. Irenaeus of Lyon, a Greek bishop of a French city, wrote, “…we do put to confusion all those who…assemble in unauthorized meetings by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul. (It is) the faith… which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. It is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church… (Irenaeus of Lyon, Against Heresies, Book III, Chapter 3)

Irenaeus was born into a Christian family around 125 AD. His pastor (bishop) was St. Polycarp who had been instructed by St. John. This means that one long lifetime from Christ, one short generation from the Apostles, Christians in the little Catholic Church already looked to Rome for theological guidance. This was not much different from the church in which I was raised. There were no deacons anymore, but the pastor was pretty much the bishop in his parish and was assisted by a few assistant pastors. The church was the parish. The parish was the church.

The parish was almost as much my home as was the house I grew up in. We played in the church lot, went to the parish school, assisted at the Mass, went to parish ice cream socials, dances, catechism classes, retreats, holy hours, and even the occasional lecture. There were men’s clubs, ladies’ guilds, book discussions, card parties and on and on. It was the parish, the village of our souls. We didn’t have cable, nor had we IPads or IPods. We played baseball, went to Boy Scouts which then was made up of people you knew and trusted. The pastor was scary. He never smiled. He knew us very well, better than we wanted to be known. I suspect even though he never smiled, he actually cared for each of us and knew us each by name. You didn’t go to the next parish over because the pastor was crabby and gave long sermons and longer penances after confession. The parish was home. If you went to the next parish over, the pastor would send you right back to your own home parish. There was no church hopping, just as there was no wife swapping, at least as far as I knew. The churches of my youth were full. The intimate community of believers that shepherded by the overseer/elder, heir to the apostles was preserved in the simplicity and familiarity of the parish. The parish was not incidental to the faith. It was the faith. This system worked pretty well for almost two thousand years, and then something happened.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The first bread and wine taken on the Moon

It happened on Christmas Eve, 48 years ago. Three men took turns reading from the first 10 verses of the Book of Genesis. They were nearly 250,000 miles away from Bethlehem, but since it was the night before Christmas, and there was no chimney from which to hang their stockings, the three astronauts inside the Apollo 8 capsule orbiting the moon thought it would be appropriate. So as Jim Lovell,Frank Borman and Bill Anders looked at the faraway Earth through the small window of the spacecraft, they read the verses: “In the beginning, God made the heavens and the Earth.”
Their distant-sounding voices from far beyond our atmosphere were broadcast live to the whole planet that night over radio and television. It was one of those moments that brought the world together, that helped us to see our common humanity as children of God whom he loves equally, and whom he placed on the beautiful planet that he made.
Seven months after this extraordinary event, in July 1969, another NASA spacecraft, Apollo 11, carried two astronauts to the surface of the moon itself. One of them, Commander Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, thought he might do something similar to mark what was certainly an epochal moment in the history of our race. But what could one do to mark the first time human beings landed on another heavenly body? He asked Dean Woodruff, the pastor of his church in Webster, Texas, who had an idea.
What if he were to take communion? What is more basic to humanity than bread and wine? He could do it as his own way of thanking God—for the Earth and for everyone on it, and for our amazing ability to do things like build spacecraft that could fly to the moon. So the pastor gave him a small amount of consecrated bread and wine and a tiny chalice, and Mr. Aldrin took them with him to the moon. After the Eagle had landed and he and Neil Armstrong sat in the Lunar Module, Mr. Aldrin said this over the radio:
“This is the LM pilot. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.”
He then ended radio communication and there, on the silent surface of the moon, read a Bible verse, and took communion. For reasons he explains in his own account, none of this was made public until Mr. Aldrin wrote about it in Guideposts magazine the following year:
“In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup.”
Then Mr. Aldrin read Jesus’ words from the Gospel of John: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.” He explained that he had wanted to read this over the radio back to Earth, but at the last minute NASA asked him not to because the agency was in a legal battle with the outspoken atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair. As it happened, she was suing over the Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis on Christmas Eve. And that of course is why so few people have heard of this amazing story.
I sometimes wonder what’s more amazing, this story—or the fact that so few people know about it. When I first heard it I almost couldn’t believe it was true, but about 10 years ago I had the honor and privilege of meeting Buzz Aldrin in person and asking him about it.
Mr. Aldrin said that he agreed not to read the words over the radio, but only “reluctantly.” I find his own words of the event very moving: “I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility. It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”
And of course right now, as Christians around the world are celebrating the birth of Jesus, it’s fascinating to think that some of the first words spoken on the moon were his words, the powerless newborn in the dirty manger who came to Earth from heaven, and who made the Earth and the moon and all of us, in His own image. And who, in the immortal words of Dante, is himself the “Love that moves the Sun and other stars.”
Merry Christmas.
Mr. Metaxas is the author of “If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty” (Viking, 2016) and host of the nationally syndicated Eric Metaxas Show (www.metaxastalk.com).

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Morning Offering to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, for the redemption of the world, for the good of all who have asked me to pray for them and in particular for the bishops and for our Holy Father, the Pope. Amen.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

When was the last time the Holy Spirit spoke to you?

There are moments when the world changes. The life of William Wilberforce was one of those moments. Born in 1759, he experienced a conversion in 1784 and thereafter dedicated himself to the abolition of slavery and came to be that movement’s de facto leader. He and his movement succeeded in ending slavery in the British Empire by 1833, which in turn made abolition inevitable in the United States and the rest of the Christian world. Wilberforce was part of the very unfashionable Anglican evangelical movement. The upper-class sneered at evangelicals, especially those who, like Wilberforce, came from their own numbers. An evangelical Englishman had no future either in politics, or high society. They were a bunch of fanatics who distributed religious tracts outside taverns and one really wouldn’t want to be seen with or, infinitely worse, be one of them. Well, they changed the world and ended one of the greatest crimes of human history.

If one can speak of a leader of the Anglican evangelical movement the nod would have to go to John Wesley who lived and died an Anglican – an ordained one to boot! Wesley’s tireless missionary work among the poor of England started after a horrible ship ride home from a failed missionary journey to the Americas. On board he encountered a group of German Pietists and their pastor who maintained complete calm during a ferocious storm. As they prayed in the bow of the boat the English ran about in panic. Wesley asked the Pietist pastor why the Germans had been so calm while the Anglicans had been terrified. To which question the pastor posed another: “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and have you been sealed with the Holy Spirit?” Wesley had to admit that he didn’t know. After he arrived back in London he started to attend Pietist prayer meetings and on May 24, 1738, he experienced what he called a strange warming of the heart. From then on he was a fearless preacher throughout Great Britain despite persecution by his fellow Anglican clergymen. Wesley and his friends preached wherever they could despite the opposition of the less enthused. He was accused of all sorts of horrible things, including an attempt to re-establish Catholicism!

Wesley believed that the government sponsored Anglican Church had failed to call sinners to repentance, and these sinners even included corrupt clergy! Despite the great opposition, Wesley traveled Britain preaching the Gospel, mostly on horseback, until his death in 1791 at the age of 87.

So, am I suggesting that we all become Methodists? Wesley was never a Methodist. He died as an Anglican priest. I am merely suggesting that we answer the question that Wesley had to answer. Have you accepted Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life? Have you been sealed with his Holy Spirit?
Rephrase the question anyway you pleased but ask and answer it honestly. Can you honestly say that you have met Jesus of Nazareth in a personal way, or is he just a dead philosopher who has a lot of followers? And the second question: When was the last time the Holy Spirit spoke to you? If the answer is, “a long time ago,” then perhaps it's time to renew an old relationship. If the answer is never, maybe it’s time you asked the Holy Spirit to intervene in your life. If we all did this, I have a feeling things would be quite different.

Imagine a Church that expected the Holy Spirit to speak at staff meetings, parish councils, planning sessions, finance committees and even from the pulpit!!! I said a while ago, that just citizens make a just society not the other way around. If we could only expect God to speak, and if we learned to hear clearly, I suspect that the Church and the world would be very different places. (from Rev.KnowItAll)

Monday, September 26, 2016

St. Francis and the Blessing of Animals

It is a tradition in the Catholic Church to have "The Blessing of the Animals" so on October 4, 2016 our church, St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church, will participate in this beautiful ceremony at noon.
It's very informal. Just bring your pets, dogs, cats, horses, sheep, goats, etc. to the area in front of the church a little before noon and Fr. Innocent will officiate. Here is a sample of how it goes:

All make the sign of the cross. The leader begins: Wonderful are all God's works. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

All respond: Now and for ever.

The leader may use these or similar words to introduce the blessing: The animals of God's creation inhabit the skies, the earth, and the sea. They share in the ways of human beings. They have a part in our lives. Francis of Assisi recognized this when he called the animals, wild and tame, his brothers and sisters. Remembering Francis' love for these brothers and sisters of ours, we invoke God's blessing on these animals, and we thank God for letting us share the earth with all the creatures.

Then the Scripture is read:

Listen to the words of the book of Genesis:

[In the beginning,] God said, "Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures, and on the earth let birds fly beneath the dome of the sky." And so it happened: God created the great sea monsters and all kinds of swimming creatures with which the water teems, and all kinds of winged birds. God saw how good it was, and God blessed them, saying, "Be fertile, multiply, and fill the water of the seas; and let the birds multiply on the earth." Evening came and morning followed-the fifth day.

Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth all kinds of living creatures: cattle, creeping things, and wild animals of all kinds." And so it happened: God made all kinds of wild animals, all kinds of cattle, and all kinds of creeping things of the earth. God saw how good it was. (Genesis 1:20-25)

(Alternate reading such as Isaiah 11:6-10.)

The reader concludes: This is the Word of the Lord.

All respond: Thanks be to God.

After a time of silence, those present offer prayer of intercession for their animals and for all creatures. After the Lord's Prayer, the leader invites all to hold or place their hands on their animals in blessing:

O God, you have done all things wisely; in your goodness you have made us in your image and given us care over other living things.

Reach out with your right hand and grant that these animals may serve our needs and that your bounty in the resources of this life may move us to seek more confidently the goal of eternal life.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.

All make the sign of the cross as the leader concludes:

May God, who created the animals of this earth as a help to us, continue to protect and sustain us with the grace his blessing brings, now and for ever. R. Amen.

The blessing may conclude with a song such as "The Old Hundreth" (Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow), "All Creatures of Our God and King."

Prayer Source: Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers by Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, NCCB/USCC, 1989

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Voter Confusion

Many people are very confused over who they should vote for in the 2016 election and while the Catholic Church will not tell you explicitly who to vote for, they do provide a very good guide written by Fr. Torraco. I found it to be very helpful.
A Brief Catechism for Catholic Voters
Fr. Stephen F. Torraco, PhD

1. Isn’t conscience the same as my own opinions and feelings? And doesn’t everyone have the right to his or her own conscience?

Conscience is NOT the same as your opinions or feelings. Conscience cannot be identical with your feelings because conscience is the activity of your intellect in judging the rightness or wrongness of your actions or omissions, past, present, or future, while your feelings come from another part of your soul and should be governed by your intellect and will. Conscience is not identical with your opinions because your intellect bases its judgment upon the natural moral law, which is inherent in your human nature and is identical with the Ten Commandments. Unlike the civil laws made by legislators, or the opinions that you hold, the natural moral law is not anything that you invent, but rather discover within yourself and is the governing norm of your conscience. In short, Conscience is the voice of truth within you, and your opinions need to be in harmony with that truth. As a Catholic, you have the benefit of the Church’s teaching authority or Magisterium endowed upon her by Christ. The Magisterium assists you and all people of good will in understanding the natural moral law as it relates to specific issues. As a Catholic, you have the obligation to be correctly informed and normed by the teaching of the Church’s Magisterium. As for your feelings, they need to be educated by virtue so as to be in harmony with conscience’s voice of truth. In this way, you will have a sound conscience, according to which we you will feel guilty when you are guilty, and feel morally upright when you are morally upright. We should strive to avoid the two opposite extremes of a lax conscience and a scrupulous conscience. Meeting the obligation of continually attending to this formation of conscience will increase the likelihood that, in the actual operation or activity of conscience, you will act with a certain conscience, which clearly perceives that a given concrete action is a good action that was rightly done or should be done. Being correctly informed and certain in the actual operation of conscience is the goal of the continuing formation of conscience. Otherwise put, you should strive to avoid being incorrectly informed and doubtful in the actual judgment of conscience about a particular action or omission. You should never act on a doubtful conscience.

2. Is it morally permissible to vote for all candidates of a single party?

This would depend on the positions held by the candidates of a single party. If any one or more of them held positions that were opposed to the natural moral law, then it would not be morally permissible to vote for all candidates of this one party. Your correctly informed conscience transcends the bounds of any one political party.

3. If I think that a pro-abortion candidate will, on balance, do much more for the culture of life than a pro-life candidate, why may I not vote for the pro-abortion candidate?

If a political candidate supported abortion, or any other moral evil, such as assisted suicide and euthanasia, for that matter, it would not be morally permissible for you to vote for that person. This is because, in voting for such a person, you would become an accomplice in the moral evil at issue. For this reason, moral evils such as abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide are examples of a “disqualifying issue.” A disqualifying issue is one which is of such gravity and importance that it allows for no political maneuvering. It is an issue that strikes at the heart of the human person and is non-negotiable. A disqualifying issue is one of such enormity that by itself renders a candidate for office unacceptable regardless of his position on other matters. You must sacrifice your feelings on other issues because you know that you cannot participate in any way in an approval of a violent and evil violation of basic human rights. A candidate for office who supports abortion rights or any other moral evil has disqualified himself as a person that you can vote for. You do not have to vote for a person because he is pro-life. But you may not vote for any candidate who supports abortion rights. Key to understanding the point above about “disqualifying issues” is the distinction between policy and moral principle. On the one hand, there can be a legitimate variety of approaches to accomplishing a morally acceptable goal. For example, in a society’s effort to distribute the goods of health care to its citizens, there can be legitimate disagreement among citizens and political candidates alike as to whether this or that health care plan would most effectively accomplish society’s goal. In the pursuit of the best possible policy or strategy, technical as distinct (although not separate) from moral reason is operative. Technical reason is the kind of reasoning involved in arriving at the most efficient or effective result. On the other hand, no policy or strategy that is opposed to the moral principles of the natural law is morally acceptable. Thus, technical reason should always be subordinate to and normed by moral reason, the kind of reasoning that is the activity of conscience and that is based on the natural moral law.

4. If I have strong feelings or opinions in favor of a particular candidate, even if he is pro-abortion, why may I not vote for him?

As explained in question 1 above, neither your feelings nor your opinions are identical with your conscience. Neither your feelings nor your opinions can take the place of your conscience. Your feelings and opinions should be governed by your conscience. If the candidate about whom you have strong feelings or opinions is pro-abortion, then your feelings and opinions need to be corrected by your correctly informed conscience, which would tell you that it is wrong for you to allow your feelings and opinions to give lesser weight to the fact that the candidate supports a moral evil.

5. If I may not vote for a pro-abortion candidate, then should it not also be true that I can’t vote for a pro-capital punishment candidate?

It is not correct to think of abortion and capital punishment as the very same kind of moral issue. On the one hand, direct abortion is an intrinsic evil, and cannot be justified for any purpose or in any circumstances. On the other hand, the Church has always taught that it is the right and responsibility of the legitimate temporal authority to defend and preserve the common good, and more specifically to defend citizens against the aggressor. This defense against the aggressor may resort to the death penalty if no other means of defense is sufficient. The point here is that the death penalty is understood as an act of self-defense on the part of civil society. In more recent times, in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II has taught that the need for such self-defense to resort to the death penalty is “rare, if not virtually nonexistent.” Thus, while the Pope is saying that the burden of proving the need for the death penalty in specific cases should rest on the shoulders of the legitimate temporal authority, it remains true that the legitimate temporal authority alone has the authority to determine if and when a “rare” case arises that warrants the death penalty. Moreover, if such a rare case does arise and requires resorting to capital punishment, this societal act of self-defense would be a *morally good action* even if it does have the unintended and unavoidable evil effect of the death of the aggressor. Thus, unlike the case of abortion, it would be morally irresponsible to rule out all such “rare” possibilities a priori, just as it would be morally irresponsible to apply the death penalty indiscriminately.

6. If I think that a candidate who is pro-abortion has better ideas to serve the poor, and the pro-life candidate has bad ideas that will hurt the poor, why may I not vote for the candidate that has the better ideas for serving the poor?

Serving the poor is not only admirable, but also obligatory for Catholics as an exercise of solidarity. Solidarity has to do with the sharing of both spiritual and material goods, and with what the Church calls the preferential option for the poor. This preference means that we have the duty to give priority to helping those most needful, both materially and spiritually. Beginning in the family, solidarity extends to every human association, even to the international moral order. Based on the response to question 3 above, two important points must be made. First, when it comes to the matter of determining how social and economic policy can best serve the poor, there can be a legitimate variety of approaches proposed, and therefore legitimate disagreement among voters and candidates for office. Secondly, solidarity can never be at the price of embracing a “disqualifying issue.” Besides, when it comes to the unborn, abortion is a most grievous offense against solidarity, for the unborn are surely among society’s most needful. The right to life is a paramount issue because as Pope John Paul II says it is “the first right, on which all the others are based, and which cannot be recuperated once it is lost.” If a candidate for office refuses solidarity with the unborn, he has laid the ground for refusing solidarity with anyone.

7. If a candidate says that he is personally opposed to abortion but feels the need to vote for it under the circumstances, doesn’t this candidate’s personal opposition to abortion make it morally permissible for me to vote for him, especially if I think that his other views are the best for people, especially the poor?

A candidate for office who says that he is personally opposed to abortion but actually votes in favor of it is either fooling himself or trying to fool you. Outside of the rare case in which a hostage is forced against his will to perform evil actions with his captors, a person who carries out an evil action ¾ such as voting for abortion ¾ performs an immoral act, and his statement of personal opposition to the moral evil of abortion is either self-delusion or a lie. If you vote for such a candidate, you would be an accomplice in advancing the moral evil of abortion. Therefore, it is not morally permissible to vote for such a candidate for office, even, as explained in questions 3 and 6 above, you think that the candidate’s other views are best for the poor.

8. What if none of the candidates are completely pro-life?

As Pope John Paul II explains in his encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), “…when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.” Logically, it follows from these words of the Pope that a voter may likewise vote for that candidate who will most likely limit the evils of abortion or any other moral evil at issue.

9. What if one leading candidate is anti-abortion except in the cases of rape or incest, another leading candidate is completely pro-abortion, and a trailing candidate, not likely to win, is completely anti-abortion. Would I be obliged to vote for the candidate not likely to win?

In such a case, the Catholic voter may clearly choose to vote for the candidate not likely to win. In addition, the Catholic voter may assess that voting for that candidate might only benefit the completely pro-abortion candidate, and, precisely for the purpose of curtailing the evil of abortion, decide to vote for the leading candidate that is anti-abortion but not perfectly so. This decision would be in keeping with the words of the Pope quoted in question 8 above.

10. What if all the candidates from whom I have to choose are pro-abortion? Do I have to abstain from voting at all? What do I do?

Obviously, one of these candidates is going to win the election. Thus, in this dilemma, you should do your best to judge which candidate would do the least moral harm. However, as explained in question 5 above, you should not place a candidate who is pro-capital punishment (and anti-abortion) in the same moral category as a candidate who is pro-abortion. Faced with such a set of candidates, there would be no moral dilemma, and the clear moral obligation would be to vote for the candidate who is pro-capital punishment, not necessarily because he is pro-capital punishment, but because he is anti-abortion.

11. Is not the Church’s stand that abortion must be illegal a bit of an exception? Does not the Church generally hold that government should restrict its legislation of morality significantly?

The Church’s teaching that abortion should be illegal is not an exception. St. Thomas Aquinas put it this way: “Wherefore human laws do not forbid all vices, from which the virtuous abstain, but only the more grievous vices, from which it is possible for the majority to abstain; and chiefly those that are to the hurt of others, without the prohibition of which human society could not be maintained: thus human law prohibits murder, theft and such like.” [ emphasis added]. Abortion qualifies as a grievous vice that hurts others, and the lack of prohibition of this evil by society is something by which human society cannot be maintained. As Pope John Paul II has emphasized, the denial of the right to life, in principle, sets the stage, in principle, for the denial of all other rights.

12. What about elected officials who happen to be of the same party affiliation? Are they committing a sin by being in the same party, even if they don’t advocate pro-choice views? Are they guilty by association?

Being of the same political party as those who advocate pro-abortion is indeed a serious evil IF I belong to this political party IN ORDER TO ASSOCIATE MYSELF with that party’s advocacy of pro-abortion policies. However, it can also be true that being of such a political party has as its purpose to change the policies of the party. Of course, if this is the purpose, one would have to consider whether it is reasonable to think the political party’s policies can be changed. Assuming that it is reasonable to think so, then it would be morally justifiable to remain in that political party. Remaining in that political party cannot be instrumental in the advancing of pro-abortion policies (especially if I am busily striving to change the party’s policies) as can my VOTING for candidates or for a political party with a pro-abortion policy.

13. What about voting for a pro-abortion person for something like state treasurer, in which case the candidate would have no say on matters of life in the capacity of her duties, it just happens to be her personal position. This would not be a sin, right?

If someone were running for state treasurer and that candidate made it a point to state publicly that he was in favor of exterminating people over the age of 70, would you vote for him? The fact that the candidate has that evil in his mind tells you that there are easily other evils in his mind; and the fact that he would publicly state it is a danger signal. If personal character matters in a political candidate, and personal character involves the kind of thoughts a person harbors, then such a candidate who publicly states that he is in favor of the evil of exterminating people over the age of 70 - or children who are unborn - has also disqualified himself from receiving a Catholic’s vote. I would go further and say that such a candidate, in principle - in the light of the natural law - disqualifies himself from public office.

14. Is it a mortal sin to vote for a pro-abortion candidate?

Except in the case in which a voter is faced with all pro-abortion candidates (in which case, as explained in question 8 above, he or she strives to determine which of them would cause the let damage in this regard), a candidate that is pro-abortion disqualifies himself from receiving a Catholic’s vote. This is because being pro-abortion cannot simply be placed alongside the candidate's other positions on Medicare and unemployment, for example; and this is because abortion is intrinsically evil and cannot be morally justified for any reason or set of circumstances. To vote for such a candidate even with the knowledge that the candidate is pro-abortion is to become an accomplice in the moral evil of abortion. If the voter also knows this, then the voter sins mortally.

Stephen F. Torraco

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

To die a martyr and turning the other cheek

Many Christians are very confused and deeply divided over a proper response to the terrorism we are experiencing by ISIS or Islamic Militant Extremists over the past few months. There have been so many instances this year alone; so many dead and wounded. I think people are shell shocked and don't really know what to do. I hear them say things like, "Christ wants us to turn the other cheek" and "We need to pray for our enemies".

Turning the other cheek is the counsel Christ gave in the instance of an individual when morally insulted: Humility conquers pride.
It has nothing to do with self-defense; and, yes, we are to pray for our enemies.

The Catholic Church has always maintained that the defiance of an evil force is not only a right but an obligation. Its Catechism (cf. #2265) cites St. Thomas Aquinas: “Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life, the common good of the family or of the State.”

In fact, to defend our lives, the lives of our children, our faith, is our duty and obligation. God does not want us to simply lie down and let our enemies murder us. He does not want us to run and hide (metaphorically speaking). He wants us to confront evil wherever it exists. We are to be fearless warriors who champion His cause!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Who is Lynne Patton?

Lynne Patton, 43, is one of the most trusted members of the Trump Organization. She considers the Trumps to be family and rejects any suggestion that Donald is a racist or a misogynist. Please watch this video she made in response to all the misinformation and lies being told about Donald Trump.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Was Hitler a Christian?

While reading an article published by an EWTN contributor,https://churchpop.com/2015/06/24/roman-exorcist-on-isis/, one of the readers left a comment that Hitler and the Nazi movement was "Christian". I knew this was wrong immediately and responded to the commentator that Hitler was not a christian but rather pagan. Then, I read this article published by Catholic Education who wrote a really good article regarding Hitler's belief system. It is really so good and worth reading:
Here is an excerpt that clearly defines their paradigm:

In his multi-volume history of the Third Reich, historian Richard Evans writes that "the Nazis regarded the churches as the strongest and toughest reservoirs of ideological opposition to the principles they believed in." Once Hitler and the Nazis came to power, they launched a ruthless drive to subdue and weaken the Christian churches in Germany. Evans points out that after 1937 the policies of Hitler's government became increasingly anti-religious.

The Nazis stopped celebrating Christmas, and the Hitler Youth recited a prayer thanking the Fuhrer rather than God for their blessings. Clergy regarded as "troublemakers" were ordered not to preach, hundreds of them were imprisoned, and many were simply murdered. Churches were under constant Gestapo surveillance. The Nazis closed religious schools, forced Christian organizations to disband, dismissed civil servants who were practicing Christians, confiscated church property, and censored religious newspapers. Poor Sam Harris cannot explain how an ideology that Hitler and his associates perceived as a repudiation of Christianity can be portrayed as a "culmination" of Christianity.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Midsummer Night's Dream

The first time I watched the 1935 version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with Anita Louise as Queen Tatania, Victor Jory as Oberon the King of the Faeries, Mickey Rooney plays the mischevious Puck, and a whole host of other characters, it was pure delight and enchantment. It was such a beautiful production - so dreamlike. The dialogue was musical and lovely to hear. Of course, I didn't really understand the story line, but then, I did not care. I wanted this world that was created on the screen. It took me away from the mundane and sometimes harsh world around me.

Queen Tatania (aka Anita Louise) was so beautiful. I wanted to look like her - to be her.

She was portrayed more like an angel than anything else.

“If we shadows have offended,
Know but this and all is mended.
That you have but slumbered here,
While these visions did appear,
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding, but a dream.”

Here are some excerpts:
In his multi-volume history of the Third Reich, historian Richard Evans writes that "the Nazis regarded the churches as the strongest and toughest reservoirs of ideological opposition to the principles they believed in." Once Hitler and the Nazis came to power, they launched a ruthless drive to subdue and weaken the Christian churches in Germany. Evans points out that after 1937 the policies of Hitler's government became increasingly anti-religious.

The Nazis stopped celebrating Christmas, and the Hitler Youth recited a prayer thanking the Fuhrer rather than God for their blessings. Clergy regarded as "troublemakers" were ordered not to preach, hundreds of them were imprisoned, and many were simply murdered. Churches were under constant Gestapo surveillance. The Nazis closed religious schools, forced Christian organizations to disband, dismissed civil servants who were practicing Christians, confiscated church property, and censored religious newspapers. Poor Sam Harris cannot explain how an ideology that Hitler and his associates perceived as a repudiation of Christianity can be portrayed as a "culmination" of Christianity.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Ecce Agnus Dei

There is something about saying prayers or singing in Latin that moves me deeply. I wish our parishes would continue to incorporate beautiful latin hymns, like Agnus Dei, in the mass. Instead, we are treated with "modern" music, while our hearts long for the other ancient hymns.
Here are the lyrics to Agnus Dei
Agnus Dei, qui tolas peccata mundi
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world
miserere nobis
Have Mercy on us
Agnus Dei, qui tolas peccata mundi
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world
Dona nobis pacem
Grant us peace
Listen to this beautiful ancient hymn sung during the mass -- now, this song makes you feel like you are being ushered into the presence of God.

Here is another beautiful traditional ancient hymn: O Sanctissima

and here is another one: Panis Angelicus

We would sing the Agnus Dei back in the 1990's and early 2000's at our traditional church, St. Joseph; however, once the old choir director died, the person that took over the duties had us start singing this:

Here is another example:

What's wrong with the last two examples you might ask? I personally don't find it "Holy" or edifying. These songs have a modern framework and do not usher me into the presence of God and His Holy Angels.
That's all.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The collapse of western civilization is going to be very inconvenient

I just finished reading this really great article written by Fr. Richard Simon (aka, RKIA) about the demise of western civilization. He starts out like this: "I had the privilege of teaching dead languages to comatose seminarians for many years at the seminary of Bathsheba Bible College. There I had the even greater privilege of working with Fr. Stanley, a renowned old professor. Once at lunch in the faculty dining room he sighed and said, “The collapse of western civilization is going to be very inconvenient.”

Then he goes on to give the reader a lesson in 20th century history beginning with the great wars, one and two, the Korean war, the Vietnam war, the cold war, and how all this chaos and poverty created a longing for material possessions in our culture and the longing became a goal that had to be fulfilled - suddenly, this desire replaced all other desires in our minds even to the point of forgetting our purpose on this earth we greedily reached into pandora's box and pulled out and consumed everything that would make our world better, brighter, happier, and more fulfilling. Out of this box came "the pill" that brought in the reign of sexual fulfillment. Sex without consequences. Sex for its own sake. Reach into the box again and pull out the idea of abortion and how "right" it felt to rid oneself of any impediment to the joy and gratification of consuming things - food, products, time to spend on oneself without constraint or impediment, and on and on. Reach into the box again and pull out sexual perversion in all its many forms - find justification for that in one's own mind and feel fulfilled. Only it really doesn't work that way, does it. The more we imbibe with unbridled restraint, the more we feel empty, lost, without purpose.

I think the 15th c. artist, Hieronymus Bosch, must have been a prophet for our times. We need to take heed, we need to take seriously the warning that God isn't interested in having us muck around in the mud devising every possible pleasure to enjoy. He wants us to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next. And, yes, it is that simple.

Reverend Know-it-all: RKIA on materialsim and the decline in religious observance

Monday, June 13, 2016

Divine Mercy

This is my favorite rendition of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. I think it is so lovely and haunting. Sometimes I awake at night and listen to it in my head. It always calms me down. God is good and loves us with an infinite love.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Your Immaculate Mother

'To give worthy praise to the Lord's mercy, we unite ourselves with Your Immaculate Mother, for then our hymn will be more pleasing to You, because she is chosen from among men and angels. Through her, as through a pure crystal, Your mercy was passed on to us. Through her, man became pleasing to God; through her, streams of grace flowed upon us.'

St. Faustina

I have never seen this painting of Our Blessed Mother before -- isn't it beautiful? Her eyes are so clear and looks directly at the viewer as if to compel us to love her son. The artist is Leopold Kupelwieser and the painting is entitled, "The Heart of Mary". The painting is located in Vienna, Austria in a side chapel of Peterskirche in the St. Anthony chapel.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

You were ransomed with the precious Blood of Christ

IPeter 1:18-25
Realize that you were ransomed from your futile conduct,
handed on by your ancestors,
not with perishable things like silver or gold
but with the precious Blood of Christ
as of a spotless unblemished Lamb.
He was known before the foundation of the world
but revealed in the final time for you,
who through him believe in God
who raised him from the dead and gave him glory,
so that your faith and hope are in God.

Since you have purified yourselves
by obedience to the truth for sincere brotherly love,
love one another intensely from a pure heart.
You have been born anew,
not from perishable but from imperishable seed,
through the living and abiding word of God, for:

“All flesh is like grass,
and all its glory like the flower of the field;
the grass withers,
and the flower wilts;
but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
This is the word that has been proclaimed to you.

The Word of the Lord

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Exsultet at Holy Saturday

The EXSULTET is one of the most spectacular moments of all the Church’s liturgical life.
When it is sung well in Latin the Church is in her glory!
Like a Eucharistic Prayer the Exsultet is a remembrance (anamnesis) which makes the past mysteries present to us. The singer deacon begs the congregation to pray for him as he tells the story of our family history of salvation with all the foreshadowing and “types” of our redemption. So great is God’s ability to turn evil to good that the deacon dares to call Adam’s fall our “happy fault… felix culpa” since because of it we were sent the gift of our Savior. You hear of the work of bees and the shattering of chains of sin. All evil is driven away.

The constant refrain is that this is a blessed night when heavenly and earthly realities merge together and become one.

Finally, there is a humble petition that God the Father will accept our Paschal candle, our evening sacrifice of praise, and make it into one of the lights of the heavens.

This poem/hymn/prayer is too much to grasp all at once. But year by year we have the chance to hear it renewed in the heart of the Church’s greatest night. The mysteries within it do not change, but we do. Each year we are a little different. We can hear it each year with new insight and understanding.

What happened to Jesus on Holy Saturday?? Do you know?

Holy Saturday is the “no man’s land” between death and resurrection, but into this “no man’s land” has entered the One, the Only One, who has crossed it with the signs of his passion for man: “Passio Christi. Passio hominis.” And the Shroud speaks to us precisely of that moment; it witnesses precisely to the unique and unrepeatable interval in the history of humanity and the universe, in which God, in Jesus Christ, shared not only our dying, but also our remaining in death. The most radical solidarity. In that “time-beyond-time” Jesus Christ “descended into hell” (“agli inferi”) What does this expression mean? It means that God, made man, went to the point of entering into the extreme and absolute solitude of man, where no ray of love enters, where there is total abandonment without any word of comfort: “hell” (“gli inferi”). Jesus Christ, remaining in death, has gone beyond the gates of this ultimate solitude to lead us too to go beyond it with him.
We have all at times felt a frightening sensation of abandonment, and that which makes us most afraid of death is precisely this [abandonment]; just as when as children we were afraid to be alone in the dark and only the presence of a person who loves us could reassure us. So, it is exactly this that happened in Holy Saturday: In the kingdom of death there resounded the voice of God. The unthinkable happened: that Love penetrated “into hell” (“negli inferi”): that in the most extreme darkness of the most absolute human solitude we can hear a voice that calls us and find a hand that takes us and leads us out. The human being lives by the fact that he is loved and can love; and if love even has penetrated into the realm of death, then life has also arrived there. In the hour of extreme solitude we will never be alone: “Passio Christi. Passio hominis.” - Pope Benedict, 2010

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Anne of Green Gables

"Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive--it's such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There'd be no scope for imagination then, would there?"
- Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Our daughter has always loved the 'Anne of Green Gables' stories and read them avidly when she was just a young person and even into adulthood. She so loved and admired the character Anne that she named her first little girl after her. She is a beauty and, I am sure, with Jana's help will grow into a lovely woman.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Why we need to remember the Saints and Martyrs of our faith

John Houghton, Martyr and Saint (Artist, Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664)worked for churches & monasteries over a wide area of southern Spain and his paintings were also exported to South America. His simple compositions & emotionally direct altarpieces, combining austere naturalism with mystical intensity, made him an ideal Counter-Reformation painter.")

Saint John Houghton, O.Cart., (c. 1486-London, 4 May 1535) was a Carthusian hermit and Catholic priest and the first English Catholic martyr to die as a result of the Act of Supremacy by King Henry VIII of England. He was also the first member of his Order to die as a martyr.
Houghton, along with the other two Carthusians, Fr. Reynolds, and John Haile of Isleworth, was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn on 4 May 1535.[3]

The three priors were taken to Tyburn in their religious habits. From his prison cell in the Tower, St. Thomas More saw the three Carthusian priors being dragged to Tyburn on hurdles and exclaimed to his daughter: "Look, Meg! These blessed Fathers be now as cheerfully going to their deaths as bridegrooms to their marriage!" John Houghton was the first to be executed. After he was hung, he was taken down alive, and the process of quartering him began.

Catholic tradition relates that when Houghton was about to be quartered, as the executioner tore open his chest to remove his heart, he prayed, "O Jesu, what wouldst thou do with my heart?" A painting of the Carthusian Protomartyr by the noted painter of religious figures, Francisco Zurbarán, depicts him with his heart in his hand and a noose around his neck. In the Chapter house of St. Hugh's Charterhouse, Parkminster, in England, there is a painting depicting the martyrdom of the three priors.

After his death, his body was chopped to pieces and hung in different parts of London. He was beatified on 9 December 1886 and canonized on 25 October 1970.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Sin wounds the image of God in us......

I worry about sinning and separating myself from God. He cannot dwell in a sinful vessel, yet it appears that He does. It's very confusing to me. I mean, does God pop out of my soul whenever I think or do something against His commandments and then pop back in as soon as I make a good confession? I fret over making a "good" confession -- what's that anyway?! When I knowingly do something wrong, I ask Jesus to forgive me and fill me with the Holy Spirit and the graces I need to live a holy life. I think He does it--as long as I am sincere; however, the Catholic church teaches us that we must confess our sins to a priest. This is very hard for me. I fumble around with my confession and hope that I did it right and always feel better when the priest pronounces forgiveness and absolution from my sins. And yet.....I go away wondering if it really worked.
St Augustine teaches that original sin wounds the image of God in us, and it is this wound that needs healing. St Paul defines sin this way--he says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” And yet...God calls us to 'Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect". How do we do that? Seems impossible.
My daughter re-posted an article on this topic the other day and it has helped me tremendously. Just in case I thought I was making some progress on my spiritual journey, I can always meditate on the Cardinal Virtues. A personal reflection might look like this:

Have I practiced the virtue of Chastity? For example:
• Have I permitted myself to watch movies or television shows that are not edifying; ones that depict sexual scenarios or advocate for cohabitation or homosexual relationships?
Have I practiced the virtue of Temperance? For example:
• Have I indulged my love of sweets or snack foods, to the detriment of my health?
• Have I continued to consume alcoholic beverages excessively?
• Have I been immoderate in any activity, such as watching too much TV?
Have I practiced the virtue of Charity? For example:
• Have I been a “busybody,” unkind to a neighbor either by my thoughts or by my actions?
• Have I had a smile for a family member or loved one, or was I critical, hurting someone’s feelings?
Have I practiced the virtue of Diligence? For example:
• Have I used my physical limitations as an excuse for laziness?
• Have I neglected prayer, ignored my friend’s birthday, sat around the house when I might have helped with chores?
• Have I exercised my responsibility to become familiar with political issues, and to vote for the candidates who will best protect Christian values.
Have I practiced the virtue of Patience? For example:
• Was I unkind (or downright rude) to a telephone caller, supermarket clerk, or visitor. Was I crabby when things didn’t go just the way I wanted?
• Did I complain about the service at a restaurant because we had to wait for service or the waitress wasn't "on top of things"?
• Did I criticize my doctor, my caretaker, my child, for not serving me better?
Have I practiced the virtue of Kindness? For example:
• Was I jealous of the attention paid to someone else, wanting everyone to notice me instead?
• Did I feel angry because my grown children did not have enough time to spend with me?
• Did I compliment someone who looked good, or did I only have harsh words to say?
Have I practiced the virtue of Humility? For example:
• Did I accept a compliment graciously but then move on, refusing to keep the attention turned toward myself?
• Was I willing to let someone else be the center of attention?
• Did I feel grateful for the kindness of my family and other’s efforts?
I read a book in 2012 called, 'Why Catholicism Matters' by Bill Donohue. It helped me to come to the understanding that only through the inculcation of these virtues in one's life, can we ever hope to 'Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect'. The author makes a wonderfully poignant statement when he says, " How can we craft a society that pushes us to be our neighbor's keeper? Then, he quotes Pope Benedict XVI, "authentic service requires sacrifice and self-discipline, which in turn must be cultivated through self-denial, temperance and moderate use of the world's goods."

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

How Much Do I Love God?

Mother Angelica related a story about when she was a novice and asked her confessor, "How do I know how much I love God?". The confessor answered, "That's easy--you love God as much as you love the least of your neighbors". Simple answer yet powerful. This answer blew me away. I rewrote the gist of the conversation a few times in a different way so that I could understand it better:
Whoever it is you love the least, is the height of your love for God or The neighbor you love the very least is the measure of the depth of your love for God. I never thought of loving God in this way and I am so glad that I heard her say this today. It really helps me to grow in my faith.
How about you? How much do you love the person that you like least of all?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Today is Toby's birthday

Nearly six and a half years ago God gave me a much needed gift -- Toby. I didn't think my heart was ready to hold another dog in it, but, I was wrong and God knew what I needed. Our dear Cassie died on March 7, 2008 and it broke my heart -- I won't write about it right now, but the date has a bearing on Toby's story. A year later, Alan was ready for another companion and was actively looking for one. Craigslist had a post for an Australian Shepherd puppy, so he persuaded me to go take a look. The dog was in Davis - a long drive.
Once we arrived and opened the door of the car, Toby came rushing over and hopped into the back seat. I couldn't believe it!! What a precocious little dog. We took a walk with Toby's "human caregiver", Toby, and his companion, 'Ashes' (a beautiful old border collie). Toby's owner, a doctor, talked about how important it was to treat dogs like dogs and not humans and she was very interested in making sure that Toby would get training. We didn't realize that we were being interviewed as potential caretakers until the hour long discussion and walk where she ended it by saying she had other people who were interested and she would let us know.
Feeling a little confused (we thought Toby was a 'rescue' dog as advertised) and sad, we said our good-byes to Toby and drove away. Finally we received a call from her to say that she had selected us as Toby's new owners and we could come and pick him up. The day we picked him up was the same day that Cassie had died the year before (Alan told me this later). Also, when I looked at Toby's litter certificate, it said he was born on August 3rd. The same day as Cassie -- only years later of course!! This couldn't be a coincidence and we felt that God was letting us know how much he cares about us and gave us this wonderful gift to ease our hearts and finish the healing process from Cassie's loss.
Well, today Toby is seven years old and he has been such a wonderful companion to us. He is always energetic and happy (except when we walk by certain dogs in the neighborhood) and loves to make sure we get our exercise.
I thank the Lord that He loves us so much and cares about every little thing.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Stag at eve had drunk his fill.....

The Stag Hunt
Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832)

From “The Lady of the Lake,” Canto I.

The stag at eve had drunk his fill,
Where danced the moon on Monan's rill,...

Then, as the headmost foes appeared,
With one brave bound the copse he cleared,
And, stretching forward free and far,
Sought the wild heaths of Uam-Var...

A moment listened to the cry,
That thickened as the chase drew nigh;
Then, as the headmost foes appeared,
With one brave bound the copse he cleared,...

For jaded now, and spent with toil,
Embossed with foam, and dark with soil,
While every gasp with sobs he drew,
The laboring stag strained full in view...

The wily quarry shunned the shock,
And turned him from the opposing rock;
Then, dashing down a darksome glen,
Soon lost to hound and Hunter's ken,
In the deep Trosachs' wildest nook
His solitary refuge took.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Angels guarding Graveyards

One of my favorite things to do is visit graveyards -- especially old ones. Nothing makes me sadder than to see a neglected graveyard; but it is surely a sign of our times. People are too busy to think of visiting their loved ones who have left this earth. Or, maybe they just don't like to think of death so they don't go. I don't know....but, it is a sad sad thing to see a graveyard completely abandoned. God's word tells us that we are to pray for the dead -- yes, they need our prayers and the masses said to assist them. So many people want to believe that when they die they will fly straight to heaven and be happy with God. They forget that God is holy and cannot abide anything that is not perfect. He exhorts us to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. When we take the time to visit graveyards, we need to pray for those who have died. They need our prayers so they can be on their way.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Best Obit I ever read.....

When you read this you can't help but feel like you know her and you sense the humor and love that was and remains alive in this family.
Pat Stocks, 94, passed away peacefully at her home in bed July 1, 2015. It is believed it was caused from carrying her oxygen tank up the long flight of stairs to her bedroom that made her heart give out. She left behind a hell of a lot of stuff to her daughter and sons who have no idea what to do with it. So if you're looking for 2 extremely large TV's from the 90s, a large ceramic stork (we think) umbrella/cane stand, a toaster oven (slightly used) or even a 2001 Oldsmobile with a spoiler (she loved putting the pedal to the metal), with only 71,000 kilometers and 1,000 tools that we aren't sure what they're used for. You should wait the appropriate amount of time and get in touch. Tomorrow would be fine. This is not an ad for a pawn shop, but an obituary for a great Woman, Mother, Grandmother and Great-Grandmother born on May 12, 1921 in Toronto, the daughter of the late Pop (Alexander C.) and Granny (Annie Nigh) Morris. She leaves behind a very dysfunctional family that she was very proud of. Pat was world-renowned for her lack of patience, not holding back her opinion and a knack for telling it like it is. She always told you the truth even if it wasn't what you wanted to hear. It was the school of hard knocks and yes we were told many times how she had to walk for miles in a blizzard to get to school, so suck it up. With that said she was genuine to a fault, a pussy cat at heart (or lion) and yet she sugar coated nothing. Her extensive vocabulary was more than highly proficient at knowing more curse words than most people learned in a lifetime. She liked four letter words as much as she loved her rock garden and trust us she LOVED to weed that garden with us as her helpers, when child labour was legal or so we were told. These words of encouragement, wisdom, and sometimes comfort, kept us in line, taught us the "school of hard knocks" and gave us something to pass down to our children. Everyone always knew where you stood with her. She liked you or she didn't, it was black or white. As her children we are still trying to figure out which one it was for us (we know she loved us). She was a master cook in the kitchen. She believed in overcooking everything until it chewed like rubber so you would never get sick because all germs would be nuked. Freezing germs also worked, so by Friday our school sandwiches were hard and chewy, but totally germ free. All four of us learned to use a napkin. You would pretend to cough, spit the food into it and thus was born the Stocks diet. If anyone would like a copy of her homemade gravy, we would suggest you don't. She will be sorely missed and survived by her brother George Morris, children: Shauna (Stocks) Perreault, Paul/Sandy (Debbie) Stocks and Kirk Stocks, son-in-law Ian Milnes and son from another mother, John McCleery, grandchildren: Lesley (Sean), Lindsay (Lucas), Ashley (James), David (Tia), Brett, Erin (Brian), Sean, Alex, Courtney and Taylor and great-grandchildren: Connor, Emily, Ainsley, Tyler and Jack. She was preceded in death by her loving husband Paul (Moo) Stocks and eldest daughter Shelley (Stocks) Milnes and beloved pets Tag, Tag, Tag and Tag. All whom loved her dearly and will never forget her tenacity, wit, charm, grace (when pertinent) and undying love and caring for them. Please give generously to covenanthousetoronto.ca "in memory". A private family 'Celebration of Life' will be held, in lieu of a service, due to her friends not being able to attend, because they decided to beat her to the Pearly Gates. Please note her change of address to her new place of residence, St John's York Mills Anglican Church, 19 Don Ridge Drive, 12 doors away from Shelley's place.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Who is Luke's Saint?

I decided to write something about each of my grand-children's saints and in the process of investigation, learned that there are many saints assigned to each day they were born; therefore, I must cull through them and decide which one would be most appropriate for Luke. Luke is such a great baby/child, who is growing up faster than I can believe. I am so happy our daughter brings all of her children over weekly so that we can be part of their young lives.
Luke's saint turns out to be St. Angela Merici who was born on March 21st, 1474, at Desenzano on Lake Garda; left an orphan at the age of ten she was brought up by her uncle and on his death went to live with her brothers. She was a devout girl and, having joined the Third Order of St. Francis, devoted herself to teaching children. As her work became known she was asked to go to Brescia where a house was put at her disposal and a number of women came to join her; she was thus enabled to establish a religious association of women, under the patronage of St. Ursula, who, remaining in the world, should devote themselves to every sort of corporal and spiritual work of mercy; but the particular emphasis was on education. Angela's methods were far removed from the modern idea of a convent school; she preferred to send her associates to teach girls in their own families, and one of her favorite sayings was, 'Disorder in society is the result of disorder in the family'. It was by educating children in the milieu in which they lived that she strove to effect an improvement in social conditions.

Angela Merici is known now as the foundress of the Ursuline nuns. Her plan of religious women without distinctive habit, without solemn vows and enclosure, was directly contrary to prevailing notions of her time, and under the influence of St. Charles Borromeo at Milan and subsequent papal legislation (under St. Pius V) the Ursulines were obliged to adopt the canonical safeguards then required of all nuns.

Angela Merici died in Brescia on January 27th, 1540.

Read more: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/A/stangelamerici.asp#ixzz3fLKR1nBi

Who is Abigail's Saint?

Our 8th grand-child, Abigail, was born on May 5, 2015. She is a sweet, precious, and darling little baby girl. I know she will be happy in the home God has provided for her because -- I know her parents. They are very good people who love her dearly and want only the best for her. I became curious to know which of the saints was dedicated on the day she was born. Well, there are more than 20 that I could find. Saints are suppose to help one along the way of life, like a sign post -- go this way to find God, etc. One of the saints stood out for me. His name is Hilary of Arles who lived in the 5th century (403-449). His latin name was Hilarius. I thought that was humerous. Maybe Abby will grow up to be a person with a good sense of humor. Here is Hilary's story in brief:
Nobly born in France in the early fifth century, Hilary came from an aristocratic family. In the course of his education he encountered his relative, Honoratus, who encouraged the young man to join him in the monastic life. Hilary did so only after his relative had prayed for three days for Hilary's conversion of heart. From the moment of his conversion there appeared in Hilary that wonderful change which the Holy Ghost produces in a soul which he truly converts. His words, looks, and whole comportment breathed nothing but humility, patience, sweetness, mortification, and charity. Every one saw in him a man who began to labor in earnest to save his soul, and who had put his hand to the plough to look no more behind him. Aspiring to perfection, he sold all his several estates to his brother, and distributed all the money accruing from the sale among the poor, and the most indigent monasteries. Thus disengaged from the world, and naked, no less in the inward disposition of soul than in his exterior...He continued to follow in the footsteps of Honoratus as bishop. Hilary was only 29 when he was chosen bishop of Arles. Hilary died at 49. He was a man of talent and piety who, in due time, had learned how to be a bishop.
St. Honoratus, the eloquent bishop of Marseilles, who has given us an abstract of his life, relates several miraculous cures wrought by the saint while he was living. His body lies in a subterraneous chapel, under the high altar, in the church of St. Honoratus at Arles, with an elegant ancient epitaph. The name of St. Hilary stands in the Roman Martyrology.
Oftentimes we think of the lives of the saints as perfect and smooth. Saint Hilary’s life reminds us that human struggles are part of the Lord’s plan for us, part of His calling to us, part of our refining process. Through prayer, penance, and fasting, Saint Hilary overcame his human weakness, increasing his obedience, and submitting himself to the will of God; but, it wasn’t easy and it took his entire life! We are encouraged by Saint Hilary when we, ourselves, struggle—that while we work to understand and follow the Lord’s will, our time on earth will yield holy fruit if we strive for virtue!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

My old family home

My parents bought this home brand new in 1963. I can still remember how I felt seeing this house for the first time -- I was in love! I thought it was the most beautiful home I had ever seen. Now, 52 years later with my parents both gone, it will become someone else's home. My parents took care of six kids, several dogs and cats, not to mention my brother's snakes and lizards, numerous neighbor children, visiting aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends by serving up heapfuls of food, good conversation, and lots of love. Oh, there were fights and disagreements to be sure, but there was always the making up, the "I'm sorry" and I love you. Not a night went by that my parents wouldn't say, "Sweet dreams". It always made me feel safe, secure, and loved.

When I think of this house, I think of my Mom and Dad; their warm and inviting manner; their love and concern for all. I miss this house because of them. I walked away the day my Mom died last December and have never returned leaving the cleaning and repairing to others.

I pray that the next family who owns this home will enjoy and love it making new memories of their family, pets, and friends that they will cherish in later years.

Guys cannot change the way they're wired.....

Guest blogger post:(annonymous)
Guys cannot change the way they're wired -- we're talking biology here, and it isn't really fair to expect them to do so....they, of course, can pray for God to change their hearts and ask for the grace to change and not see women as "objects". The natural response to stimulus, e.g. women's breasts or tight pants; they may try to avert their eyes, say a prayer for grace, but their bodies, due to natural instinct, still respond to this visual stimulation. That is why I think women should dress modestly. God has asked us not to be a stumbling block to others in their walk, and so we should take this into consideration.
Here is a further explanation of what I mean:
If this is the Abbey-Roads blog, then yes I read the post. I have a book on this topic called Dressing with Dignity that explains the position better and has lots of wonderful quotes from saints and the popes. I think while the Marylike standards are appropriate in most cases, there are good exceptions. Doing any sort of cooking, cleaning or manual labor can make sleeves hazardous, which is why people rolled them up.

First, we come to climate. What you wear in the majority of Europe is different than what you might wear in Central America. Heat exhaustion is very real and much of our dress habits revolve around safety as much as fashion. Finding clothing that is socially appropriate is as much a concern. Fabrics are different now. Most fabric manufacturers cheat in the weaving, adding slubs and thinning out the weave. Finding good material at an affordable price is challenging. I think many would be quite scandalized at the cost of good material. Add to that the cost of having the clothing made, either by your time or by paid labor, and many would see it as flaunting wealth (very common problem in the 1800s and before).

In the bible there are warnings to men to not wear women's clothing. Today, we would interpret that as wearing a dress, but at the time the bible was written and for 1500 years afterwards, men did not wear slacks. That is largely a Victorian invention that took about 100 years before women were able to adopt them. Before that men wore breeches if they were poor and hose if they had wealth. Their tunics and dublets were long to cover. Italian Renaissance painting are good examples of common dress for men, essentially what we would consider a dress. Robes were typical of all people for thousands of years. Many in the middle east still embrace this style. It's a good style too since it keeps the people protected from the hot sun and prevents a lot of moisture loss.

So, what were the differences between men and women at the time those letters were written? Today we would say they all dressed alike. Really, it comes down to fashion. Women would wear color more. Men would be in earthier tones or black. Material for most women of any status would be lighter and more delicate. Cut of clothing would also be different too. Status was seen in clothes. The more material you wore the more money you had. Trim, jewels, adornments were all seen as a display of wealth. Women often wore layers and layers of fine fabrics. Veil materials were so thin you could see through them, we can't replicate this today as it's a lost art. Look at paintings from the Renaissance and before to see the sheerness of those veils.

In all times, women always did something to help support the breasts. Linen binding was the most common. In the Renaissance, they turned to the corset to help with support and provide a cleaner line for the fabric to be draped on. That developed into different styles ending in our modern bra.

Veils are specifically mentioned in the bible. Women are to veil in the presence of God and men are to bear their heads. This comes down to psychology. Woman's hair was considered her glory. To cover it was to hide her beauty like the veiling of the Holy of Holies in the Temple. It is a muting of beauty to prevent distractions and vanity. Wearing a veil, when everyone wears one, becomes like blinders on a horse. You cannot see around you without turning your head. Your focus is on what is in front of you. It also covers your hair which was often elaborately braided or coifed. Men on the other hand are known for balding. Their hair is not their beauty. To take off their hat is an act of humility because they must bare their heads. Think of all the hair loss treatments for men. No longer is veiling required at church, although that is a lament, because it was deemed more fashion than soul altering. I think they would change their minds now but find the challenge too great to deal with. It is strongly recommend in the TLM and many places will offer a spare veil to wear if you don't have one, I saw this at one of the missions we went to on our honeymoon.

It's going to come down to some common sense (educated).

We want to avoid cleavage displays, so the top needs to be high enough so that if you were to bend over you don't display everything you have. Some sort of undergarment support is needed.

Clothing shouldn't cling but skim or be fitted (clinging is more in reference to the bias cut dresses of the 1930s). Fitted clothing can be very appropriate. Bodices often helped in supporting the bust. We don't dress like this anymore but it is an example where the purpose of the clothing must be understood.

Pants will typically look sloppy. Because we stretch the material when we sit down, the resulting effect on the fabric when you stand up is for it to bag. Most women solve this unflattering look by wearing material that has elastic in it so it molds to the buttocks and legs. This is well documented that it has a strong psychological effect on men. They see "tool" when they look, not person. Wearing a skirt is more appropriate because you don't end up with the same fabric distortions when you move from sitting to standing. In our culture, wearing a skirt from below the knee to the floor is completely modest. When you sit, all of those lengths will appropriately cover your legs. Any shorter and you risk exposure to a great degree to include people seeing up your skirt and to your crotch (this is why so many women cross their legs when they sit down).

Undergarments should be worn, either for avoiding see through material exposure, protection from chafing, or decency if the skirt rides up.

Fullness of skirt should be considered. The tighter the skirt the more fabric distortions you will encounter. Also, mobility is greatly effected. Hobbling was common in later Victorian skirts. This forced the wearer to make small steps.

Length of skirt depends on what you will be doing. The longer the skirt, the more formal. It you are working and climbing stairs, a shorter skirt is recommended so you don't get hurt tripping on it. If you do need to go upstairs in a long skirt, you need to pull up the hem to avoid tripping (very hard if your hands are full). Going down has its own hazards. You might either catch your foot on the hem if it's too long or someone behind you may tread on your skirt resulting in many unfortunate endings, the best being a halt in your progress and the worse being a disrobing.

Sleeves should be worn, no one wants to see your armpits, or smell them. The fit of the sleeve (tight, fitted, or loose) will depend on your activity and climate along with the sleeve length. Much like skirt length, sleeve length is tied in with formality. If you were to meet the Pope, the length of your sleeves would be to your wrist. If you were doing any sort of work, sleeves would be higher. This is for both safety and to prevent damaging the clothes.

In shoes, open toe and closed toe is as much on preference as it is on climate. In bible times, everyone wore sandals in the Middle East. It's arid and hot. In Europe, most Christians wore closed toe shoes because it was cold and wet. I tend to wear closed toe shoes with longer skirts in winter. I wear sandals with shorter skirts in summer. I can't wear tights or pantyhose so I generally wear socks with my shoes, which is why I pair them with longer skirts.

I have clothes specifically for church. They are about the nicest clothes I have. My shoes (sandals and closed toe) are leather so they can be polished if they get scuffed. I wear dresses or skirts. Very occasionally will I wear pants but that has more to do with weather and it being cold. I'm also usually nursing at the time and my skirts are too short for the temps. I never wear shorts, not even to confession. Nor will I wear flip flops as the sound of shoes clacking is distracting in a sacred space.

Sinfulness comes down to awareness of the effect your clothing has on those around you and what you are doing about it. If you know your clothing is producing a sinful response and you do nothing but tell yourself it is their fault, that would be considered sinful (that falls under leading others into sin). If you do something to mute or mitigate the sinful response, like put on a cardigan or a shawl, then you have done what you can to help those around you and even if you were still indecent, it would not be considered sinful.

Something to think on: Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves to cover themselves but God reclothed them because it wasn't enough.