Sunday, April 30, 2006

Dog Wisdom

No, the title is correct. This is not about the athiest suffering from dyslexia and insomnia, lying awake at night wondering if there really is a dog. This is another one of those e-mails send by an acquaintance with many points to ponder.

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The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.--Anonymous

Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.--Ann Landers

If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.--Will Rogers

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.--Ben Williams

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.--Josh Billings

The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.--Andy Rooney

We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It's the best deal man has ever made.--M. Acklam

I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult.--Rita Rudner

A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.--Robert Benchley

Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes like never washed a dog.--Franklin P. Jones

If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven.--James Thurber

If your dog is fat, you aren't getting enough exercise.--Unknown

My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to $3.00 a can. That's almost $21.00 in dog money.--Joe Weinstein

Ever consider what our dogs must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul -- chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we're the greatest hunters on earth!--Anne Tyler

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.--Robert A. Heinlein

You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, "Wow, you're right! I never would've thought of that!"--Dave Barry

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.--Roger Caras

If you think dogs can't count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only two of them.--Unknown

And the best quote of all:

My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am.--Unknown

Friday, April 28, 2006

Surprised By...

Many of you have seen this phrase, especially on a bumper sticker:

Commit Random Acts Of Kindness
And Senseless Acts Of Beauty

I was the victim of such benevolence yesterday.

I received a call from a local florist at 2:19 PM (I use my answering machine to screen calls, so I have the message time stamped), stating they had a delivery for me but didn't have my apartment number. About 45 minutes later, the delivery person arrived with the arrangement.

It's very pretty. Four peach-colored roses with two different types of purple-tinted, small flowers, a stem of baby's breath, lots of other greenery, and a purple ribbon tied in a bow, all in a glass vase about 8-9 inches tall. And knowing the reputation for quality these folks have, this will be around for a couple of weeks, with proper care.

The card which came with it said, "Surprise!! You are special." No name. No clue as to who may have sent it. I am thinking about going to the floral shop and inquiring about it, but I don't know if I will get an answer.

In any case, I will enjoy this unexpected "hug" from God.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Numbers Game

For Dr. Thursday, he will enjoy this.

For Julie D., I am not so sure.

For the rest of you, have fun.

I heard this on a local radio station. Follow the directions:
1. Start with the first three digits of your telephone number.
2. Multiply by 80.
3. Add 1.
4. Multiply by 250.
5. Add the last four numbers of your telephone number.
6. Repeat Step 5.
7. Subtract 250.
8. Divide by 2.
The answer? You should be very familiar with it.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

All Bets On

Blaise Pascal, a French philosopher, posed the following "wager" regarding believing in a supreme being, ably summed up by Dr. Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy at Boston College:
It is a foolish bet not to believe in God because if there is not God, there are no eternal rewards or punishments, so there is nothing to be gained or lost. However, it there is a God, the only chance of winning is to bet on him and the only chance of losing is to bet against him.

Back To Virture
Rich Leonardi uses that theme in this post and why we believe.

Friday, April 21, 2006

"Fear Is Usless"

I wrote this in a previous post:
So I must overcome this inaction due to fear of failing. It is always been my biggest roadblock. Too much thinking; not enough doing. How fortunate this liturgical year focuses on the Gospel of St. Mark. There is a common thread throughout the various readings heard from this writer. It was the theme of John Paul II upon his ascent to the Chair of Peter. It is the words of Jesus Christ seen time and time again in Mark.

"Be not afraid."
The Holy Fool picks up on this theme:
Do we fear?

Of course we do!...

We fear for what we will lose....

The good news is that we do not have to fear.
A short, mediative post awaits your click.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

"Habemus Papam"--A Year And A Day Later

(Or should I say "a day late"?)

Yesterday was the first anniversary of the election of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger as the 264th. successor of St. Peter. Taking the name Benedict XVI, the first year of his pontificate has been one of laying the groundwork for his service to the Universal Church. As he asked for prayers to be a faithful "servant in the the vineyard" upon his election, I believe he has done just that.

Let me take you around the 'blogosphere for other posts which commemorate the event and have other links which say things much better than I ever could.

Jeff Miller, the Curt Jester, remembers his reaction a year ago.

So does Domenico Bettinelli.

Amy Welborn reflects.

Christopher Blosser, 'blogmaster of Against The Grain, has a wonderful round-up.

The Holy Fool speaks.

My own take?

I was hoping, as perhaps many people were, it would be Ratzinger who would step into the Fisherman's Shoes. The homilies he delivered at the Furneral Mass of John Paul II and the Mass for the Election of the Roman Pontiff before the conclave showed the world how firm a grasp he has on what is going on in the Church and the world. And, I will admit, I am one who wishes he would come down hard on those who openly dissent against the Church and Her teaching. But that just makes me one of many who confused his previous role as Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with the man himself.

He is what he always has been (and as I have been discovering)--a catechist extrodinare. This is the professor whose classes you want to take because you know you will learn much. This is the teacher who engages you in the subject so well you can't help but understand. This is the instructor who executes a lesson plan with precision.

It is the personality which has been in "hiding" for the past quarter century. This is what is catching people off-guard, except those who know him. And as we are discovering, he is a delightful human being.

I thought it a year ago, and it is being confirmed with every action he is taking. This is the right man at the right time, doing the right things. I continue to hope in this steadying hand at the rudder of the Barque of Peter.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Half A Loaf

Right now, part of something is better than all of nothing.

I started a part-time job today. There is a small convenience store a couple of blocks away from where I live, one which I frequently patronize. The manager told me he was looking to hire a couple of weeks ago, so I filled an application. Last week, a brief interview was more about how to work around my other obligations; the job was mine for the taking. Last Friday, I did.

The hours will be catch as catch can; there is no guarantee of full-time work. The job is not that hard: run the cash register, keep the store clean and stocked, do the tasks assigned. It still gives me the opportunity to look for something full-time. All the manager wants me to do is let him know if I find something which would require me resigning. I appreciate the hand he is giving me. Thanks to St. Anthony for his help.

So, for now, a couple of hours of training on the register for a few days; then, I fill in wherever I can.

I will find a way to make this work. Meanwhile, the job search continues, albeit on a limited basis.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Birthday, Papa


(AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

Today also marks the 79th. birthday of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger).

As he leads the Church built upon this Rock, may God grant the Servant of the Servants of God good health, continued wisdom, and the courage to steadily steer the Barque of Peter through these seemingly troubled times.

Viva il Papa!

Easter Sequence

Victimae Paschali laudes immolent Christiani.
Agnus redemit oves: Christus innocens Patri reconciliavit peccatores.
Mors et vita duello conflixere mirando: dux vitae mortuus, regnat vivus.
Dic nobis Maria, Quid vidisti in via?
Sepulcrum Christi viventis, et gloriam vidi resurgentis.
Angelicos testees, sudarium et vestes.
Surrexit Christus spes mea: praecedet suos in Galilaeam.
Scimus Christum surrexisse a mortuis vere: Tu nobis, victor Rex miserere.
Amen. Alleluia.

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Christians, to the Paschal victim offer sacrifice and praise.
The sheep are ransomed by the Lamb; and Christ, the undefiled, hath sinners to his Father reconciled.
Death with life contended: combat strangely ended!
Life's own Champion, slain, yet lives to reign.
Tell us, Mary: say what thou didst see upon the way.
The tomb the Living did enclose; I saw Christ's glory as He rose!
The angels there attesting; shroud with grave-clothes resting.
Christ, my hope, has risen: He goes before you into Galilee.
That Christ is truly risen from the dead we know.
Victorious King, Thy mercy show!
Amen. Alleluia.

He Is Risen! He Is Risen Indeed!

Happy Easter, Everybody!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

"To Those In Darkness, Light"

(Fedora Doff to the Anchoress, who also posts on this and provides the link from where this was adapted.)

The Easter Vigil begins in silence and in darkness.
A fire is struck and blessed.
The Easter candle is lit from the fire and the flame is spread throughout the assembly with candles.
As the candle is processed to the front, an acclamation grows louder in its triple repetition:

V. Light of Christ! (or Christ our Light!)
R. Thanks be to God!

Then the Easter Proclamation (Exultet) is proclaimed before the Easter light. If chanted by someone other than a priest or deacon, the words in brackets are omited:

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes forever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

[My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,
that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.

V. The Lord be with you.
R. And also with you.]
V. Lift up your hearts.
R. We lift them up to the Lord.
V. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
R. It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is truly right
that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God,
the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam's sin
to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night when first you saved our fathers:
you free the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin
and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night when Jesus Christ
broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?

Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave
you gave away your Son.

O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights, chosen by God
to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says:
"The night will be as clear as day;
it will become my light, my joy."

The power of this holy night
dispels all evil, washes guilt away,
restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed when heaven is wedded to earth
and we are reconciled with God!

Therefore, heavenly Father, in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church's solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star, who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on us all,
your Son who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

R. Amen.

Thus begins our Easter Joy!

Seven Last Words: Waiting And Trusting

This concludes a series of short meditations upon the statements made while Jesus hung on the Cross.

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"Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit." (Luke 23:46, cf. Psalm 31:6)
Before the feast of Passover, Jesus realized that the hour had come for him to pass from this world to the Father. He had loved his own in this world, and would show his love for them to the end.

John 13:1
His final acts. One last attempt to reveal Himself to the world (again, a fragment of a Psalm which would be familiar to all, another one which portrayed His Passion). And then, He dies.

"What wondrous love is this, O my soul?" A love which takes a soul a lifetime to understand, much less appreciate, much less articulate, much less emulate. A love eternal.

And now comes the ultimate act of trust. In His humanity, He can no longer do anymore. In a sense, He has become a child again--placed in His Mother's arms, wrapped in cloth, laid to rest in a place not His own. He has now placed His trust in the Father, a trust that the plan of salvation would come to fruition.

His work on earth is done. His job--to re-create the world--is completed. The six days from Palm Sunday to Good Friday are over. "Since on the seventh day God was finished with the work he had been doing, he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken." (Genesis 2:2)

And so He rests.

And so we wait.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Seven Last Words: Completion

This continues a series of short meditations upon the statements made while Jesus hung on the Cross.

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"It is consummated." (John 19:30)

Many of you have or will hear and/or read these or similar words today.

His Hour has finally come. With the coming of the darkness, it seems as if the first day of creation was being undone. Is not, in fact, what has been really happening since His entry into Jerusalem six days ago? Genesis, redux. All of creation is being re-newed. Made new again.

But not by destroying it, as Satan tried to do to Him. Redeeming it with His death. Reconciling it with the Trinitarian Life. Gathering it as He did His Cross. Healing it with the stripes of the scourging. Washing it clean with the blood and water which will soon flow from His side. Offering it all back to the Father.

This new work of creation is done. God has said again, with His Word, it is very good. Jesus has done all He could. Like the groom and bride, Heaven and earth are once again united in a new and everlasting covenant.

No Greater Love.

"It is consummated."

"Mea Maxima Culpa"

I have made comments at times about the loss of sense of sin we in the pews (and sometimes from the pulpit?) seem to have. My parish priest does mention frequently during his homilies that while we were created good (see Genesis 1), we are also sinners (meaning one who sins). I am continually working on removing the planks in my eyes and dropping the stones I have in my hands.

Today, this of all days in the liturgical year, is the time to remind our selves it was our sins which put Christ upon the Cross--Original Sin, the sins of humanity, and our individual sins. Today's first reading (Isaiah 52:13-53:12) makes that all too clear. "With true sorrow for my sins and a firm resolve to amend them", Lent, Holy Week, and the Triduum gives us the opportunity to focus on the relevant words of the Confiteor.

In some places, during the veneration of the Cross at the Good Friday service the choir sings The Reproaches of Christ (Improperia). Aristotle A. Esguerra, who 'blogs at Confessions of a Recovering Choir Director, has a post with the complete text. In the comment box, there is this link (PDF format) to a term paper written by the 'blogmaster of Old Oligarch's Painted Stoa which explains the origins and meaning of the text.

Sobering reflection is the order of the day.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Seven Last Words: Wanting

This continues a series of short meditations upon the statements made while Jesus hung on the Cross.

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"I thirst." (John 19:28)

Was this an echo of another conversation Jesus had earlier in the Gospel of St. John, when He asks the Samaritan woman to give Him water from Jacob's well? No one overheard that exchange; remember, the disciples were returning as she was leaving. But, this short statement harkens back to that incident.

The entire story (John 4:4-42) has hints of the Passion. Jesus and the Samaritan woman met at about noon, the same time when Jesus was fixed to the Cross. While she wondered if He was greater than Jacob, recall the crowd who wondered if He was greater than Elijah. He was still hoping people would recognize Him, just as He began to reveal Himself to her (John 4:10). Her coming to believe echoed the words of the Centurion. But the greatest clue was in His words to her as she spoke of where true worship of God would take place, seemingly as a foreshadowing of what was to come (John 4:19-24).

Jesus has had nothing to drink since the Last Supper. His scourging drained much blood. His carrying the Cross sapped what little strength He was conserving. He had to be severely dehydrated. Yes, He thirsted.

But not for water. I have read somewhere His thrist upon the Cross is for the salvation of all. But, is it also possible that His human nature was thristing to see the living God?
O God, you are my God whom I seek; for your my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.

Psalm 63:2
Jesus, in His life and in His death, has an unquenchable desire to draw all to Him. Soon, it would be sated.

"Jesus, I Trust In You"

Laura H. posts at her 'blog And If Not. She writes on the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. (Fedora Doff to the Happy Catholic, Julie D., who also has a post on this rapidly expanding devotion.)

The following is from The Catholic Company, an on-line store of Catholic goods:

Frequently Asked Questions About Divine Mercy

Q. What was the name of the saint who helped spread the Divine Mercy message?

A. Born as Helena Kowalska, she was given the name Sister Maria Faustina when she received her habit as a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. She was allowed to add "of the Most Blessed Sacrament" to her name to make "Sister Maria Faustina of the Most Blessed Sacrament".

Q. What exactly is Divine Mercy?

A. Divine Mercy is Jesus' message to us that His Love and Forgiveness is greater than our sins. All He asks is that we trust in Him, ask for and accept His Mercy, and then let Mercy work through us to help others. He also wants us to be merciful, loving, compassionate, and forgiving to others.
Like the gospel command, "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful," this demand that we show mercy to our neighbors "always and everywhere" seems impossible to fulfill. But the Lord assures us that it is possible. "When a soul approaches Me with trust," He explains, "I fill it with such an abundance of graces that it cannot contain them within itself, but radiates them to other souls" (St. Faustina's Diary, 1074).
Q. How did Saint Faustina learn about the Divine Mercy?

A. On February 22, 1931, Jesus appeared to Saint Faustina for the first time. For four years she recorded Jesus' words, her visions, and her own thoughts and prayers in a personal diary. She writes:
"In the evening, when I was in my cell, I became aware of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From the opening of the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one red and the other pale. In silence I gazed intently at the Lord; my soul was overwhelmed with fear, but also with great joy. After a while Jesus said to me, 'paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the inscription: Jesus, I trust in You.'

"The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous; the red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My most tender Mercy at that time when My agonizing Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross....Fortunate is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him."
In visions that followed, Jesus asked Saint Faustina to be His instrument for spreading the message of His Mercy to all the world.

Q. What is the Divine Mercy Chaplet?

A. The words of the Divine Mercy Chaplet were given to Saint Faustina after seeing visions of Jesus' crucifixion and of God's blessing the earth because of His sacrifice.

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy
(For recitation on a chaplet or ordinary rosary beads)

Begin with the Sign of the Cross.

Continue by saying one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and the Apostles Creed.

Then on the OUR FATHER BEAD you will say the following words:
Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
On the 10 HAIL MARY BEADS you will say the following words:
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
Continue in this pattern four more times as you go around the chaplet or rosary.

In conclusion THREE TIMES you will recite these words:
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
End with the Sign of the Cross.
"Say unceasingly this chaplet that I have taught you. Anyone who says it will receive great Mercy at the hour of death. Priests will recommend it to sinners as the last hope. Even the most hardened sinner, if he recites this Chaplet even once, will receive grace from My Infinite Mercy. I want the whole world to know My Infinite Mercy. I want to give unimaginable graces to those who trust in My Mercy...." Sept 13, 1935
Q. What is the Divine Mercy Novena and Divine Mercy Sunday?

A. According to Saint Faustina's diary, Jesus asked that the first Sunday after Easter be designated as the "Feast of Divine Mercy". He promised that on this day His Mercy would be overflowing to those who would ask for it. On Sunday, April 30, 2000, Pope John Paul II decreed that the Sunday after Easter officially be known as "Divine Mercy Sunday."

Jesus also requested a Divine Mercy Novena to begin on Good Friday in preparation for the Feast of Divine Mercy. Jesus asked that each day of the novena focus on a special intention.
"On each day of the novena you will bring to My heart a different group of souls and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy ... On each day you will beg My Father, on the strength of My passion, for the graces for these souls."
The intentions Jesus requested are as follows:
Good Friday - All mankind, especially sinners.
Holy Saturday - The souls of priests and religious.
Easter Sunday - All devout and faithful souls.
Easter Monday - Those who do not believe in Jesus and those who do not yet know Him.
Easter Tuesday - The souls of separated brethren.
Easter Wednesday - The meek and humble souls and the souls of children.
Easter Thursday - The souls who especially venerate and glorify Jesus' mercy.
Easter Friday - The souls who are detained in purgatory.
Easter Saturday - The souls who have become lukewarm.
Q. Last year, the date for Divine Mercy Sunday was April 3. This year the Feast Day is not celebrated until April 23! What causes such a wide time span?

A. The date for Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated the Sunday after Easter. The date for Easter always falls on the Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox (the first day of Spring).

Q. Is it possible to get an Indulgence for participating in the Divine Mercy Novena?

A. Indulgences are often a source of confusion for Catholics and non-Catholics alike, so let's take a minute and make sure everyone is clear about the definition of "indulgence".

In the Bible, sin is viewed as having two basic consequences: guilt and punishment. Guilt is washed away when a person seeks forgiveness, however the need for punishment remains. To completely clear away sin the person must perform an action that will work towards healing the wounds his sin has caused. For example, if a child takes a piece of candy from the store he must apologize to the store manager (to cleanse his guilt) and also pay for the candy (to satisfy the punishment).

The Bible also views punishment as having two basic categories: eternal (forever) or temporal (for a short time). For example, when the Jews disobeyed God during their time in the desert the Lord became angry with them and wanted to destroy them (an eternal punishment). Moses pleaded with God who agreed to allow the Jews to live. He forgave their sins (their guilt) but the need for punishment remained. No one in that generation would be allowed to enter the promised land (a temporal punishment).

So, after a person repents and his guilt has been forgiven, an indulgence cleanses the temporal punishment required because of sin. A plenary (complete) indulgence means the temporal punishment is totally cleansed. A partial indulgence means that some of the temporal punishment is cleansed.

Both a plenary and partial indulgence are available for people participating in the Feast of Divine Mercy. The Apostolic Penitentiary of the Holy See granted the indulgences on June 29, 2002.

To obtain a plenary indulgence the faithful must complete the following:
1. Sacramental Confession within 8 days before or after Divine Mercy Sunday.
2. Eucharistic Communion on Divine Mercy Sunday (or the vigil Mass).
3. Participate in the prayers and devotions at church or in a chapel celebrating Divine Mercy or recite the Our Father, the Apostles' Creed, and a prayer such as "Jesus, I trust in You".
If you are unable to complete the requirements for a plenary indulgence (due to sickness or other serious reason) you may obtain a partial indulgence by completing the following:
Pray with a contrite heart to the Merciful heart of Jesus a prayer such as "Jesus, I trust in You."
Q. What else is known about the life of Saint Faustina?

A. Helena Kowalska (Saint Faustina) was born on August 25, 1905 in a village named Glogowiec in Poland. She had nine brothers and sisters and was the third eldest child. On August 1, 1925 she journeyed to Krakow, Poland to join the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy whose mission was to educate and care for young women in need. The next year she received her habit and her name. She had a special devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the Blessed Sacrament, and to the sacrament of Reconciliation. She contracted tuberculosis and died at the age of 33 on October 5, 1938. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 18, 1993 and canonized on April 30, 2000 (Mercy Sunday) to became this Millennium's first saint!

Q. Is it true that devotion to the Divine Mercy was banned at one time?

A. Yes, it is true that devotions based on the revelations of Divine Mercy in Saint Faustina's diary were banned for a time following her death. The political turmoil of World War II made it impossible for the Church to study Saint Faustina's writings and the ban was implemented until the matter could be investigated and authenticated. Once the papers were studied, Saint Faustina's writings were found to be "entirely theologically correct".

Q. Why is Pope John Paul II sometimes called "The Mercy Pope"?

A. While serving as Cardinal of Krakow, Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) worked diligently and succeeded in having the ban on Saint Faustina's writings lifted. As a pope, John Paul II focused his second encyclical on the Divine Mercy in "Dives in Misericordia" (The Mercy of God). On June 7, 1997, the pope visited Faustina's tomb while on a visit to Poland and stated that the Divine Mercy had "formed the image of his pontificate."

"Blessed are they who show mercy; mercy shall be theirs."

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Seven Last Words: Utter Abandonment

This continues a series of short meditations upon the statements made while Jesus hung on the Cross.

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"Eli, Eli, lema sabacthani?" ("My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?") (Matthew 27:46b; cf. Psalm 22:2)

When the crowd heard this from Jesus, they responded by saying He was invoking Elijah. They must have forgotten Him saying there was Someone greater than Elijah amongst them. They also must have forgotten this was the opening line of a Psalm surely heard at times in their synagogues.

While all words in the Bible lead to the Word, some more than others point directly to Him. Psalm 22 is a case in point. Still a Teacher, still calling out to Israel to see Him as He truly is--their redeemer, Jesus leaves no stone unturned as His humanity begins to drain away. Indeed, as He said earlier in His ministry, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.

Yet, how eerily these words echo in Heaven as well as on earth. A member of the Trinity, a union of Perfect Love, wondering out loud if He is no longer part of Them. Has God rejected Himself? The Begotten Son, forgotten? The Beloved, unloved? We can't fathom it.

Such is the Paschal Mystery. We can find the paradoxes. There are times when we seek answers to those contradictory questions. But, as Fr. John Powell, SJ, wrote in several of his books, we need to seek not peace of mind, but rather peace of heart. "Then God's own peace, which is beyond all understanding, will stand guard over your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)

Perhaps, Jesus thought of another passage to help His align His will to the Father's in this time of seemingly utter abandonment. It is a quote to quiet our souls and asks us to trust in the One Who is worthy of that trust. Maybe, just maybe, it helped Him in this moment.

"Be still, and know that I am God."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Seven Last Words: Gifts Of Others

This continues a series of short meditations upon the statements made while Jesus hung on the Cross.

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"Woman, behold thy son. . . .Behold thy mother." (John 19:26-27)

Although other accounts of the Passion mention other people near the Cross, it was the Blessed Virgin Mary and the disciple whom Jesus loved who had the courage to draw as close as possible in His agony. A love greater than their fear, they stood in the place of Adam and Eve, in a sense. In proxy of all humanity.

Jesus, in His humanity, would have never remembered the words of Simeon. Jesus, in His divinity, would have known them intensely. I don't think it is possible to determine who's heart was more broken at this moment; between the Son and the Mother, they both had to be aching infinitely.

Yet, in this moment of incredible anguish, love still abounds.

Jesus gave His Mother His adopted "children", those who worship in Spirit and Truth, those who Love as He demonstrated time after time, those who observe the Great Commandments, those who He has saved.

Jesus gave St. John, as the representative of His Church at this moment, the greatest example of what holiness is, the sign of what His grace can do in us, the model of what saying "yes" to Him means, the true meaning of what humanity is.

No small gifts.

Just great consolation for all.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Seven Last Words: The Promise

This continues a series of short meditations upon the statements made while Jesus hung on the Cross.

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"Amen I say to thee: This day thou shalt be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43)

From the website Catholic Community Forum:
One of the thieves crucified with Jesus, the other being traditionally known as Gestas; Dismas is the one who rebuked the other, and asked for Christ's blessing.

An old legend from an Arabic infancy gospel says that when the Holy Family were running to Egypt, they were set upon by a band of thieves including Dismas and Gestas. One of the highwaymen realized there was something different, something special about them, and ordered his fellow bandits to leave them alone; this thief was Dismas.
While St. Joseph taught Him the skills of carpentry, Jesus was actually a farmer. Recall the Parable of the Seeds, the need for harvesters, the call to die to self in order to be fruitful. While He was very familiar with wood (first the Manger and now the Cross), He came to reap and gather the most precious crop of all--souls.

Seeds of grace are what He planted. Some sprouted quickly (St. Paul). Some needed nurturing (the Samaritan woman at the well). Some matured with the help of others (St. Augustine, thanks to St. Monica). Some died on the vine (Judas). Now, one which had laid dormant for some 30 years blossoms.

The Church teaches it is never too late to repent. Salvation is close at hand when sincerely sought.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

More Spiritual Help

Moneybags at A Catholic Life has a very worthy project which is still in progress.

I made my request about a week ago:
With all I have/am going through, I also request a patron saint for this year.
The reply came in my comment box on "'Blegging":
Thank you for asking for a special saint for the year from my blog. You were chosen by St. Severinus (feastday of 02/11).
Please just let me know that you receive this message.
I did just that:
Got your message. Need to do research on this one, since this saint is overshadowed by the Feast of Our Lady of Loudres.
Believe me, from what little research I have done, this promises to be an excellent match. More about this to come.

Seven Last Words: Lacking Knowing

This begins a series of short meditations upon the statements made while Jesus hung on the Cross.

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"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)

One has to wonder how many times this thought crossed the mind of Jesus during His ministry before He uttered it at His crucifixion. Certainly not when people converted upon encountering Him, whether by His words or deeds. Certainly not when people asked Him in faith for something. And certainly not when He showed forgiveness through His words and deeds.

Yet, one will find example after example of those who "know not what they do." The Scribes and Pharasees debating Him. The rich young man walking away from His invitation. James and John asking for their seats. The crowds shouting their "Hosanna". Peter--well, pick an incident.

Judas Iscariot. Caiaphas. Herod. Pontius Pilate.

We, when we sin.

Yes, there are degrees of culpability. But, because of Original Sin, there is damage done to our wills and intellects. And it is that damage that does not allow us to truly realize in the very core of our being what our sinfulness does to us. It is in that sense we "know not what we do." It is the war within us mentioned by St. Paul.

Yet, is that not what metanoia is all about? Is that not why we, "with the help of Thy Grace," seek to uproot in our souls that which separates us from God? Is that not why we examine our consciences and seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to continue to strengthen what has been weakened?

It is the level of sanctity asked of us ("Be therefore perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect."). It is the level of sanctity achieved by the saints. It is a level of sanctity we can have. The Son has asked the Father with the Spirit that this may be. It continues its fruition when we seek it.

"Father, forgive them."

Saturday, April 08, 2006

'Blegging

I really don't want to do this, but "pride goeth before a fall." Things are at a critical stage. I am hanging on to a faint hope of finding a job. I have run out of options.

An acquaintance has suggested the intercession of St. Anthony of Padua. Since this was the name I took at my Confirmation, it make perfect sense. Your prayers are also welcome.

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Prayer to Saint Anthony of Padua:
Good Saint Anthony, in God's providence you have secured for His people many marvelous favors. You have been especially celebrated, good Saint Anthony, for your goodness to the poor and the hungry, for finding employment for those seeking it, for your special care of those who travel, and for keeping safe from harm all who must be away from home. You are widely known also, good Saint Anthony, for securing peace in the family, for your delicate mercy in finding lost things, for safe delivery of messages, and for your concern for women in childbirth. In honoring you, Saint Anthony, for the many graces our Lord grants through your favor, we trustfully and confidently ask your aid in our present need. Pray for us, good Saint Anthony, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

May it be a source of joy, O God, to your Church that we honor the memory of your Confessor and Doctor, Saint Anthony. May his spiritual help always make us strong, and by his assistance may we enjoy an eternal reward. This we ask through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord. Amen.
(This post will remain at the top until further notice.)

Little Actions

Just found this story in my e-mail box. Having just realized the truth in it, I thought I would pass it along:

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The pickle jar, as far back as I can remember, sat on the floor beside the dresser in my parents' bedroom. When he got ready for bed, Dad would empty his pockets and toss his coins into the jar.

As a small boy, I was always fascinated by the sounds the coins made as they were dropped into the jar. They landed with a merry jingle when the jar was almost empty. Then the tones gradually muted to a dull thud as the jar was filled. I used to squat on the floor in front of the jar and admire the copper and silver circles that glinted like a pirate's treasure when the sun poured through the bedroom window.

When the jar was filled, Dad would sit at the kitchen table and roll the coins before taking them to the bank. Taking the coins to the bank was always a big production. Stacked neatly in a small cardboard box, the coins were placed between Dad and me on the seat of his old truck.

Each and every time, as we drove to the bank, Dad would look at me hopefully. "Those coins are going to keep you out of the textile mill, son. You're going to do better than me. This old mill town's not going to hold you back."

Also, each and every time, as he slid the box of rolled coins across the counter at the bank toward the cashier, he would grin proudly. "These are for my son's college fund. He'll never work at the mill all his life like me."

We would always celebrate each deposit by stopping for an ice cream cone. I always got chocolate. Dad always got vanilla. When the clerk at the ice cream parlour handed Dad his change, he would show me the few coins nestled in his palm. "When we get home, we'll start filling the jar again."

He always let me drop the first coins into the empty jar. As they rattled around with a brief, happy jingle, we grinned at each other. "You'll get to college on pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters," he said. "But you'll get there. I'll see to that."

The years passed. I finished college and took a job in another town.

Once while visiting my parents, I used the phone in their bedroom, and noticed the pickle jar was gone. It had served its purpose and had been removed. A lump rose in my throat as I stared at the spot beside the dresser where the jar had always stood. My dad was a man of few words, and never lectured me on the values of determination, perseverance, and faith. The pickle jar had taught me all these virtues far more eloquently than the most flowery of words could have done.

When I married, I told my wife Susan about the significant part the lowly pickle jar had played in my life as a boy. In my mind, it defined, more than anything else, how much my dad had loved me. No matter how rough things got at home, Dad continued to doggedly drop his coins into the jar. Even the summer when Dad got laid off from the mill and Mama had to serve dried beans several times a week, not a single dime was taken from the jar. To the contrary, as Dad looked across the table at me, pouring catsup over my beans to make them more palatable, he became more determined than ever to make a way out for me. "When you finish college, son," he told me, his eyes glistening, "You'll never have to eat beans again--unless you want to."

The first Christmas after our daughter Jessica was born, we spent the holiday with my parents. After dinner, Mom and Dad sat next to each other on the sofa, taking turns cuddling their first grandchild. Jessica began to whimper softly, and Susan took her from Dad's arms. "She probably needs to be changed," she said, carrying the baby into my parents' bedroom to diaper her.

When Susan came back into the living room, there was a strange mist in her eyes. She handed Jessica back to Dad before taking my hand and leading me into the room. "Look," she said softly, her eyes directing me to a spot on the floor beside the dresser.

To my amazement, there, as if it had never been removed, stood the old pickle jar, the bottom already covered with coins. I walked over to the pickle jar, dug down into my pocket, and pulled out a fistful of coins. With a gamut of emotions choking me, I dropped the coins into the jar.

I looked up and saw Dad, carrying Jessica, had slipped quietly into the room. Our eyes locked, and I knew he was feeling the same emotions I felt. Neither one of us could speak.

Sometimes we are so busy adding up our troubles that we forget to count our blessings.

Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture, you can change a person's life, for better or for worse.

God puts us all in each other's lives to impact one another in some way.

Look for God in others.

"The best and most beautiful things cannot be seen or touched they must be felt with the heart."--Helen Keller

Happy moments, praise God.

Difficult moments, seek God.

Quiet moments, worship God.

Painful moments, trust God.

Every moment, thank God.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

"Of Grateful Praise"

Wow. Where do I start?

I am normally a man of few words, so it's relatively easy to leave me speechless. But, words are all I have right now. With what has happened in the past week, I am still shaking my head in amazement.

It is time to close the ledger and open my heart on acknowledging all who have done me the greatest kindness I have ever experienced. Virtual strangers, one and all. People I have never met, nor probably will. That you reached out and helped is still beyond my comprehension.

So, with a grateful and humble heart, I need to say "thank you".

"Father, all powerful and ever-living God,..."

"...we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me?
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving, and I will call upon the name of the Lord.
Psalm 116: 12,17

Also, thanks to St. Anthony for his intercession. If you read the prayer I have at the top of the 'blog, you will see what I mean.

The Good Samaritans

These are the people who have been supporting me with their prayers. After reading about my plight, they took it upon themselves to not only ask what could be done, but also acted upon the answer.

To Julie D., Rick (and his lovely bride, Rhonda; truly a team effort there) Lugari, and the Holy Fool: Thank you for reaching out and offering your help. Your willingness to sacrifice your time was the push I needed to be vunerable.

"Lo, I send my messenger...."

I have already mentioned some of the people who have posted this on their 'blogs. The Fool makes note of others who have. I also saw a mention by Dominico Bettinelli. To those and others who have spread the word via their 'blogs (and, please, I don't mean to exclude anyone): Thank you for lending a hand.

The Communion Of Saints

When this is all said and done, a little over 100 people will have donated. The amounts given are not important. I apppreciate each and every one of you who did, no matter how much it was. Some names I recognize from the 'blogosphere. All will be kept in pectore and remain anonymous (as well as any personal information). You will be in my prayers for a while. May God reward you richly for your generosity.

I have been given a great trust. You have put your faith in me. I promise to be a good steward of the gifts I have received. From the depth of my heart and soul, thank you all for showing me the love of Christ.
The LORD said to Moses: "Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them: This is how you shall bless the Israelites. Say to them: The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace! So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them."
Numbers 6:22-27
So shall I invoke the name of Lord and ask a blessing upon you all.

Numbers Fun

A note from an acquaintance with this unusual factoid:
On Wednesday of this week, at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 A.M. in the morning, the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06.

That won't ever happen again. (Note: Not in our lifetime. It will happen again in 3006.)

You may now return to your normal stuff.
(UPDATE) Dr. Thursday, the 'blogmaster of GKC's Favourite, posts this note in the comment box:
Ron! Indeed, thanks for letting us know. This is gravely serious! The perils of such digital alignments are not well-understood, even by academics, technicians, and others.

Well aware of the odometer-watching divinity, people throughout the world trembled all through the 1990s worrying about what the overflow into the thousand's place would mean.

Fortunately, I was employed at a high-tech company during that time, and had at my disposal an instruction booklet on dealing with the threat.

After getting permission from its publisher, I am happy to post it for use by the blogging community. Please visit here for more information.
Omnious stuff.

Monday, April 03, 2006

"Foolishness" Explained

When I introduced the Holy Fool to my 'blogroll, I described him as "my teacher on Catholic Social Teaching and the follies of those who espouse Reasonableness."

I now present him in teaching mode again, but not on any tenet of CST.

"He who is not with Me is against Me." (Matthew 12:30a)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Tributes To John Paul II

Today is the one-year anniversary of the death of His Holiness, John Paul II.

The 'blogosphere remembers well. So, I will just send you to those links I have found.

The Anchoress has lots of links.

Domenico Bettinelli looks back.

Rich Leonardi answers a question Amy Welborn asks at Open Book.

The Shrine of The Holy Whapping runs not one, not two, but three posts.

Moneybags at A Catholic Life runs this. Also in this fine 'blog were a novena to JPII and a four- part tribute (I, II, III, IV) entitled "John Paul Lives On".

"Well done, good and faithful servant."

(UPDATE) Owen at Luminous Mysteries II offer a perspective as a convert who was deeply influenced by the Marian devotion of JPII.

Jeff Miller also serves some links.