Thursday, June 30, 2005

A heart full of love, or a heart full of blog?

If I didn't blog about a life with Jesus, to whom would I be saying this stuff? Would my heart be burning, overflowing with the news of His Love? Do I NEED to tell of what He has done in my life, how His Word can teach and purify and illuminate?

If I say, "I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name," there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. For I hear many whispering. Terror is on every side! "Denounce him! Let us denounce him!" say all my familiar friends, watching for my fall.

- Jeremiah 20:9-10

Then one of them, named Cle'opas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see." And he said to them, "O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?" And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, who said, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

- Luke 24:18-35

I am searching my conscience for the sin of omission of witness, of leaving others to find Him for themselves. Of being a big chicken for the Lord.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

This is how I'd like to be sent out the door every morning

When I was young, my mother was always with us when we left for school. She would remind me about forgotten homework or lunch, make one last fruitless pass through my hair with the brush, give me a kiss and then wave from the window as I walked down the block.

Now I live a much more independent life. For now, I have two adult daughters with me who greet me a little perfunctorily but warmly when I walk in and to whom I yell "Bye" from the door on my way out. But it's not the same, is it?

Well, I found this lovely encouragement yesterday; it made me wish there were someone to pronounce it over me every day when I leave the house:
I exhort you to be courageous now and always without becoming bewildered by difficulties, and always trusting in Him who is your Friend and your Redeemer, and watching and praying to keep your faith sound and your grace lively.
John Paul II
Isn't that just the life you want? Maybe I'll just tape it to the inside of my front door.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Hot, hot, hot

It's awful in Chicagoland. Upper 90's every day, humid as an armpit. Three minutes of rain yesterday after two weeks without it, to open cheers among the adults, but it got even sultrier afterwards. No relief until the end of the week.

I went to the Bible for an appropriate mood piece. Here it is, from Job 37:

"Hear this, O Job;
stop and consider the wondrous works of God.
Do you know how God lays his command upon them,
and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine?
Do you know the balancings of the clouds,
the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge,
you whose garments are hot
when the earth is still because of the south wind?
Can you, like him, spread out the skies,
hard as a molten mirror?

I'm learning that the Bible is not only the truth and love of God, it is the poetry and nature and story-telling and art of God.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Not everyone who says "Lord, Lord"

Today's Gospel reading at Mass was Matthew 7:21-29:

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,'
will enter the Kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day,
‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name?
Did we not drive out demons in your name?
Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?'
Then I will declare to them solemnly,
‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.'

"Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them
will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.
And everyone who listens to these words of mine
but does not act on them
will be like a fool who built his house on sand.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
And it collapsed and was completely ruined."

When Jesus finished these words,
the crowds were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority,
and not as their scribes.

When I read these words last year (as a Thursday lecter, I get the same readings for the 12th Thursday of ordinary time every year - I LOVE the liturgical calendar*), I was ashamed to know that my Particular Judgment would show many episodes of my crying out "Lord, Lord" while committing any number of seemingly little, comfy and tidy sins.

This year, I realized that people of whom the Lord spoke weren't protesting by pointing out that their sins weren't so bad, they were protesting by saying "Look at the WONDERFUL things we did in Your Name!"

I can't say I haven't been warned, in His Mercy. I could be the nicest person in my parish, the most energetic encourager of others' reluctant faiths, the best jello-mold bringer to the potluck, but I'd better be clear on the Rock on which my foundation is laid.

*Being the lecter for the same readings each year, I got to make the annual last-second-while-stepping-into-the-ambo decision on the first reading, Genesis 16:1-16, about Abram, at the part where Sarai tells Abram to go ahead and have intercourse with Hagar...... I chickened out and read the short version (starting at verse 6b). I'm not a prude, but unless the homilist is planning to emphasize that part of the story of the birth of Ishmael, I'd rather skip the intimate details. Who said the Bible is dry and boring?

Monday, June 20, 2005

She sings silly songs by the seashore

It must be summer that's doing it to us, Therese. Building on your opus of jump rope rhymes, I've found myself thinking of the silly riding-in-the-car songs that we've sung with our kids, many of which go back to my own elementary school days. Don't tell anyone, but we still break out into these sometimes on a long drive or sitting out on our porch.

How about:

A peanut sat on the railroad track
His heart was all a-flutter.
Along came a big freight train.
Toot, toot. Peanut butter.


Down by the bay
Where the watermelon grow
Back to my home
I dare not go.
For if I do
My mother will say
Did you ever see a Fish
Washing a dish
Down by the bay.
(What you see and what they're doing grow in ludicrousness as the song goes on.)

And here's a fun one:

Sing "Row Row Row Your Boat" quickly.
Start again, sing all but the last word.
Start again, omit the last two words, then the last three, and so on.

By the time you get to "Row row row your" "Row row row" "Row row" "Row", if the group is not convulsed with laughter you have more self control than we ever did.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Cinderella, dressed in yellow.....

I can't resist opening up this topic as a post. It's hardly spiritual, but we rejoice in our common memories, especially among the ladies, of playing outside and counting games and jumping rope.

MamaT, of the briskly lovely blog Summa Mamas, responded in the Percolators and roller skates post below, with this jump rope rhyme:

Cinderella, dressed in yellow, went upstairs to kiss her fellow, Made a mistake and kissed a snake, How many doctors did it take? One, two, three, four.....

In the Chicago area, we learned it

Cinderella, dressed in yellow, went downtown to meet a fellow, on the way her girdle busted, how many people were disgusted? 10, 20, 30....

Men, do you wonder what women are talking about when they congregate in the kitchen or go to the restroom together? Mostly this stuff.

I invite you to complete these rhymes, and offer your own. (Men, you're invited too, and maybe I'm wrong, but I can only remember boys playing "Higher and Lower," or "School," where you jumped over the rope while it was held at different heights.) I personally chanted each one of these in my Catholic-school playground back when the Mass was just coming out of Latin....

Engine, engine, number nine.....

Teddy bear, teddy bear...

And doesn't this sweet thing paint an eerie little picture?

Doctor, doctor, call the doctor,
Mama's got a brand new baby.
It isn't a girl
It isn't a boy
It's just an ordinary baby.
Wrap it up in tissue paper,
Throw it down the elevator.
First floor - STOP! (step on rope)
Second floor - STOP! (until you miss)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Martha, Martha, you fret about many things . . .

I have been away from Exultet for a long time, overcome by the combination of much work, a lack of what anyone would construe to be deep spiritual insights, some writer's block, and that dragging embarrassment that comes over me when I've put something off for a while. You know the drill -- "I should have done something about this a while ago, but now I'll have to either do something particularly sparkling to make up for it or else come up with a compelling reason why I haven't done it up until now." The end result is that nothing happens.

Well, I ask you to forget all that in order to help me forget all that. It's a pattern that has been with me for a long time and doesn't serve me well. And that's enough "true confessions" for today.

The last while has been spent doing massive work on my home in preparation for it to be sold. We're about to come out of the tunnel and into the sunshine, which yields a feeling of great relief and no little sense of accomplishment. It takes a handy male to run this place well, and it has been many years since my husband was in the position to manage that effectively. But thanks to the resources of God and the graceful generosity of many, the impossible has happened.

Now I'm praying for a quick sale and the identification of a good new home.

* * * * * * * *

I have been a Martha for these last couple of months -- distracted with many things. I don't like being a Martha. Unlike her, I cannot seem to integrate my daily work with devotion and service to Jesus. It seems like an either/or -- I can either maintain a fast pace like a churning steamboat, or I can follow a slower, more flexible rhythm that allows me to be more aware of God and more ready to come into His presence in the moment. That second pace is more countercultural and uncomfortable for me, especially in this age that tilts toward speed, efficiency and measurable accomplishment.

I can't shake the feeling that I ought to change, that my employment of the Martha/Mary analogy is an overspiritual self-justifying excuse for laziness and self-indulgence. But, though I prefer to share struggles after I've learned the lesson and come to the end of the story, I put this out here for your perusal and thought.

It's nice to be back and see you all again. I've missed you. Thanks, Therese, for your ongoing inspiration.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Percolators and roller skates

More and more sounds can only be heard in our memories. So many have disappeared within my lifetime so far:

1. All-metal rollerskates on the sidewalk. Nylon wheels just don't have the same ratchety sound.

2. The rumble of car tires on brick streets.

3. Actual ringers in phones, including when you bang the receiver down, the bell inside responds with a clong!

4. A percolator, on the stove or plugged in, slowing down through those last majestic upheavals (is it done? No, one more long snort...)

5. Two-noted police whistles urging either people (two notes) or cars (one note) to get themselves moving. The traffic cops don't even seem to own whistles anymore. (This may be specific to Chicago.)

6. The promising hissssss heard after dropping the phonograph needle on a record, before the music starts. I'm having some old favorite albums put on CD and I've asked the guy to leave the hiss on at the beginning; it doesn't sound right otherwise.

7. The row of real chiming bells on the ice cream trucks (endless amplified "Oh Susanna" will greet all who enter Gehenna) AND (to date myself) the two-noted cowbell sound of the scissor-and-knife-sharpening cart that used to come down the alleys.

There must be more. Your memories, please?

Yikes: will today's ten-year-olds sigh over the sound of a bug zapper? Twenty-year-olds get teary-eyed over the sound of a hard drive booting up? Thirty-year-olds smile at the sound of Pong?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Please, St. Anthony, look around....

Something's lost and must be found!

Today is the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua, the gentle but effective preacher and evangelizer of the early 1200's. This Franciscan, who was, by the evidence of his surviving habit, quite a tubby guy (yay for us tubby people!) has become the popular saint for finding lost articles.

The kiddie prayer I wrote above should really be replaced by this one, to properly understand the role of the saints' intercession for us:

Dear Saint Anthony, you are the patron of the poor and the helper of all who seek lost articles. Help me to find the object I have lost so that I will be able to make better use of the time I will gain for God's greater honor and glory. Grant your gracious aid to all people who seek what they have lost - especially those who seek to regain God's grace. Amen.

Here's a prayer that St. Anthony himself wrote:

Ecce Crucem Domini!
Fugite partes adversae!
Vicit Leo de tribu Juda,
Radix David! Alleluia!

Behold the Cross of the Lord!
Be gone all evil powers!
The Lion of the tribe of Judah,
The root of David has conquered! Alleluia!

Nice short tight little prayer, glorifying the Lord. I love to learn more and come to love our models and friends in Heaven!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Sheep, sheep, sheep...camel?

Why did Jesus suggest that we should picture stuffing a camel through the eye of a needle? When He tells us a parable, it's usually "cue the sheep!"

In a post in a great Evangelical Christian blog called From The Morning, the blogger was talking about his reaction to Joel Osteen, the ubiquitous TV preacher and author. The comment thread drifted, as they are wont to do, and someone made reference to Jesus' parable to the rich man found in Luke 18:18-27 (and elsewhere).

In it, He looked at the rich man, obedient to the Law, who was truly asking what he could do to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven and, loving him, replied "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

God knows we're sheeplike: we huddle together, we're kind of stupid when we all think together, we can be picked off by a host of Enemies. The Old Testament promised a Messiah who will "feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young." (Isaiah 40:11)

So why didn't He give us the mental picture of passing a sheep through a needle's eye? If you picked up a sheep and told it you were going to insert it into an impossibly small aperture, the sheep would probably blink earnestly and say "duh, uh, okeydokey." It might even attempt to help, not being overloaded with brains.

But no, we are given the picture of a camel. A hard-footed, mean, biting, kicking, smelly, spitting, stubborn, uncooperative and unreliable animal. Camels never dash into burning buildings to bark the families awake. Camels never curl up around lost children and keep them warm in the winter's blast. They have nothing to recommend them but strength, stamina and a kind of grisly courage.

My heart IS that camel. Rebellious, selfish, greedy, uncooperative. I don't so much lead it gently as I haul it around, snorting and protesting and pulling against the lead every chance available. Just when I thought I was getting to be a pretty cute Christian, too.

Great story, Lord.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Medical marijuana my eye!

My own short thought on medical marijuana: as someone with glaucoma, who is getting a little tired of my ex- (or still-)stoner friends digging me in the ribs and pointing out, in a surprising Cheech and Chong whine that takes me right back, that I can probably justify a little daily toke, man, this is what my eye doctor told me: that I would have to smoke marijuana at least ten times every day, evenly spaced throughout the day and night, to get any relief for glaucoma's increased interocular pressure. He further said that there is not a symptom eased by marijuana that isn't also eased by any other legal drug.

So it's no use asking me to share.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Sacred Heart of Jesus

Everybody thinks all the great church holidays are at Easter and Christmas. But we have such lovely ones during Ordinary Time, too. After ending Easter with such a bang on Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, we slipped back into the green vestments and discarded the extra flowers around the altar. First came Trinity Sunday. Then we had the feast of Corpus Christi, complete with Eucharistic processions and special times of Adoration in some parishes, including mine.

Now we have the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. How awesome to contemplate that God, Creator of all things, Infinite, Uncreated, Sustainer of everything in the world, came to earth to love us with a human heart.

It's also First Friday, so many people will have a special chance for extra worship or Adoration at their churches today.

Here's today's second reading, from 1 John 4:

Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
In this way the love of God was revealed to us:
God sent his only Son into the world
so that we might have life through him.
In this is love:
not that we have loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us,
we also must love one another.
No one has ever seen God.
Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us,
and his love is brought to perfection in us.

This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us,
that he has given us of his Spirit.
Moreover, we have seen and testify
that the Father sent his Son as savior of the world.
Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
God remains in him and he in God.
We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.

God is love, and whoever remains in love
remains in God and God in him.

Could the Lord BE any more obvious? He loves you and He loves me in a way that we can actually understand, if not completely. Spend the day with that sure knowledge.


Sample Text

We are grateful ladies with a point of view and a sense of humor. Like-hearted people are welcome. Others, too.

For a glimpse at our lighter side, hop over to In Dwelling.

E-mail us.

Sample text

"There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know."

Pres. Barack Obama, Feb 5, 2009