Thursday, November 30, 2006

It's not bravery, it's love - Happy St. Andrew's Day

O GOOD CROSS, made beautiful by the body of the Lord, long have I desired thee, ardently have I loved thee, unceasingly have I sought thee, and now thou art ready for my eager soul. Receive me from among men and restore me to my Master, so that He, who redeemed me through thee, shalt receive me through thee. Amen.

Tradition has it that St. Andrew, being led to his crucifixion in Achaia, saw his X-shaped cross in the distance, and cried this out with joy.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Great "I Am".....Is

The holidays come complete not only with beautiful times of prayer and preparation (Advent and Lent get more precious to me every year), but a lot of family and friend contact during this religious season, when many of them reveal that God means NOTHING to them.

So I've been doing a little reading-up on the proofs of God's existence. Right now, I could more easily defend the Catholic faith than explain why I know that God exists, that He sent His only Son to live, die and be resurrected for me, to open the gates of Heaven, to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.

But faced with the usual stuff of "How can God exist and all this evil be in the world? Why does there have to be a God for this world to operate according to science?" I often stutter or stand mute, sounding very lame in comparison to my fluency on sacraments, grace, faith, etc.

Last night, I was mulling over the common objections to God, especially one I had myself for awhile while I was dragging my sorry behind to true internalized faith: that God might exist as a Creator, as a Force, but not as an aware, loving Father. "How do we know God has a personality?" I asked myself.

And the answer came: "Why do YOU have a personality, different from all others? You exist for a moment and vanish, leaving a little dust on the earth whence you came. But I took care that YOU would have a personality - so, of course, then, *I* do!" said God.

It was way more beautiful when I heard it in my soul, sorry for the lousy transcription. But it's a good explanation, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

JFK 43 years later

Where were you?

I was in second grade. Sister Willia was called out of the classroom, and came back in very serious. She was a young and bubbly sister but we'd never seen her act like this before. We had a TV in our classroom (very unusual) and she said something like "children, something very serious has happened and we will watch TV and see what is happening."

TV in the middle of the school day? Without its being one of the classes from school going to Bozo's Circus? We always got to watch a few minutes of that, to see them march past the camera and wave.

I don't remember everything but we watched TV, which was full of confused newsmen and whirling blurred camera shots, and we got the message: the President had been KILLED. Sister was crying (we didn't know Sisters cried OR went to the bathroom or had legs, even, at that age, and in those beautiful habits). A girl in my class, Lorena, who cried for everything, cried right on cue. I didn't: I was too stunned. We were herded over to the church, prayed (I can't remember what) and were sent home early. That dates me: they could be sure that our mothers were home, or for the few whose mothers worked, they could go to a neighbor or with one of us.

The weekend was very sad. The local "downtown" stores had their window curtains drawn open only wide enough to show a portrait of the President with a spotlight (where did they get all those portraits in a hurry?). TV was nothing but news. Nothing like this had ever happened before.

The next thing I remember is the funeral. We didn't have school, and I was sitting in my father's big chair with my feet off the floor, watching TV and my mother was vacuuming around the chair and me and crying. It was as bad as when my grandfather died.

We had a memorial Mass for the school the next day and they had a casket with an American flag draped over it. Sister explained over and over that the President wasn't really in there, but it was a "catafalque" (never underestimate the power of even 7-year-olds to understand new concepts). We prayed for him and secretly prayed that everything would go back to normal.

I wrote "President Kennedy assinated President assinated" over and over in the margins of a joke book I had. I found it years later and now I wish I'd kept it.

Since then, we've had Martin, and Bobby, and Oklahoma City, and Waco, and 9/11. You get "better" at fielding the shock and unsettlement of your soul, unfortunately.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Praying for the wrong person?

I went to get my mail this morning and there was a notice of the death of a neighbor, whose name I am very familiar with, and who I THINK I knew. It must have been sudden; I would have heard she was sick, that's a popular subject in the laundry room.

If she's who I think she is, she was extraordinarily kind and patient with my mother once when I took my mother to her place of employment and my mom was confused and anxious and needed kindness and patience from the whole world just then. I've commended her to God for that silently, in my heart, when I've passed her in the driveway or hall (and thanked her out loud, too) and I now pray for the blessed repose of her good soul.

But I might have the wrong person. I can retain names, facts and faces but not assemble them in the right order. The woman I'm thinking of I might see again! It will take awhile before I'm sure; the dead woman is so well-known in the building that I will be a little embarrassed to find a neighbor in the common areas that I can ask "So, was X the lady who worked at Y? And had blonde hair?" I SHOULD know, darn it.

So if I pray for the soul of my neighbor, but she's not dead yet, does that mean wasted prayer? Obviously, no prayer is ever wasted, no conversation with God is a loss. If she's alive, then the woman who did die (who I probably knew, too) needs prayer as she meets the Mercy and Justice of God. Loving a family member, even the wrong member, in the Body of Christ in prayer can't be wrong, because His Spirit flows from and through all of us back to Him, Its Source and Destination.

It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.
- 2 Macc 12:46

UPDATE: It was her. Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let Your perpetual light shine upon her, may she rest in peace, Amen.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A little more Catholic humor

HT to Matthew of the Shrine of the Holy Whapping, a dazzling blend of college knowledge, talent, Catholic devotion AND geeky wit:

Incidentally, anyone ever hear the one about Our Lady and the Infant of Prague--

Our Lord: "I'm just going outside."
Our Lady: "Not dressed like that you're not!"

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

Pres. Barack Obama, Feb 5, 2009