Wednesday, February 03, 2016

The Recollection.

My wife, Helen is in Florida this week visiting her sister and brother in law.  My son and I are home, holding down the fort.  Monday, Tuesday, no problem with dinner, he gets home before me and he doesn't mind cooking, but in fact my wife has left us with many options to choose from this week, some frozen, so all we have to do is thaw, heat and eat.  Good for us men.  At 61 and 30+ years of marriage I'm pretty much spoiled and pampered when it comes to doing domestic chores.  I've forgotten how to cook, really, except to make the pasta and a salad.  I did some laundry last night, but Odin (our son) had to give me a quick instruction on the washing machine; I've only used it a couple of times in 2 years.  With all my aches and pains Helen and Odin have pretty much taken over many of the chores, jobs and responsibilities that they know I struggle with now.  And heaven knows I appreciate it, even if I don't let them know enough, due to my bad communication skills when it comes to those things.  But they understand and through all that they do I see they do it for love of me.  They really don't mind, and I never ask them to do anything extra, the work just gets done. This does leave me with a bit more time, although I'm not retired yet, but more extra time at night and on the weekends, which I really don't know how to use wisely.  A big problem is during the day I have energy, but I'm at work, work takes precedent and then at night, in the evening, after supper, I burn out pretty quickly, and most of my motivation is gone.  Watching a movie with Helen or quiet time in the semi-darkness, before the crucified Christ is the best I can do.  A few pages from a book, then silence.  The silence though, ah, the silence is the most mysterious part of the day, a time when my beforehand expectations run high and then God gives me my lot in life, this ending to the day, after the Office, this time for recollection on the day I leave behind.  I say leave behind but do we really ever leave the day behind,  do we simply say, 'I did this, not so well, I offended here, and here, and here, but I'll try harder tomorrow' or do we struggle with the thoughts of darkness that is this examination of conscience.  We are called to dwell on these 'sins of the day' because these are the acts with which we offend God.  We can look at all the good things we did and accomplished on this day and God loves us for them, but this time of day, in the darkness, in the silence, is the time of the realization, the truth between me and myself, with our Lord standing by, watching.  And even after many years of this quiet time, the examination is no easier, if anything I'm worse at it than before.  It's a little like Confession; the older one gets, the harder it is, the more one learns, the more one tends to think perhaps too much... perhaps it is best to just let the silence take over, the silence who is the Holy Spirit, who is our guide here on earth.  I think of these things now, in the middle of the day, and at times everything is crystal clear, my path through this day and into the night lays before me with no hindrance, no confusion.  Tonight will be different.  Prayers done, the house quiet, the silence will surround me  and I will slowly ease into that darkness, my own self made darkness of the day, where my sins will, hopefully, prayerfully, be brought before me to examine again.   

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Quiet Place.

The longing for a place that offers peace and solitude during a stressful time; we all long for that place sometime in our lives.  Human nature calls us to it, that longing for a quiet spot that helps us to unleash the clamor into the air, to give it up, let it rise up and let God deal with it.  A place for which to re-gather ourselves back with God, who always seems so far away in times of disquiet, times of stress.  
  Perhaps we dream (fantasize?) of a place like the one we read about or saw a picture of, a cave-type grouping of stones or a wooden hut deep in the woods, perhaps used by a saint.  Or maybe that corner in your own house that you never really found the time to arrange, that room with a view or the comfy chair. In the real world, our own real worlds, the day to day world of our lives those quiet places are hard to come by.  We go off in the morning (or whenever) to our jobs, whatever they may be, and are usually absorbed into them for the rest of the day.  Oh yes, with the occasional  time to send God a quick message ("Bless us O Lord, for these thy gifts...") but usually not much more, the work day takes over until the evening and then perhaps we can more easily lift our mind and heart to Him.  It is an uneasy life we live, knowing that we never do enough, we are always one step behind.  We read the stories of the saints and long to be like them, to speak like them, act like them, pray like them... Sometimes we forget that they were just like us, men and women of this earth, who like us strove to be more like our Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Why them and not us?  Stupid question.  We have our lot in life, our vocation, husband, wife, religious, whatever.  God has given us the grace we need, it is up to us to use it to get to heaven.  It was the same for the saints.  Each was given grace by God and, like the servants in the parable, them, like us are to use that grace to our advantage,  Use it wisely, that is what the saints did.  We are called to do the same.  We are called to think outside the box, to think in the supernatural, in order to grow in the grace of God.  That means to not daydream of that perfect place to speak with God or to put it off until this coming Sunday or if God permits, time before the tabernacle during the week.  The time to speak to God is now, when we are sitting at our desks, or driving that truck, digging that ditch, correcting that paper or leading a country.  Take a moment to acknowledge Him, to ask our Mother for a favor or ask our Lord for His intersession.  The saints did this all the time, they practically lived in that state here on earth.  Raise your mind to God, live in the supernatural as much as you can.  Talk with our Mother and to the saints.  Plead.  They will listen.    

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

The Small Lesson.

It takes me about 40-45 minutes to get to work in the morning.  The drive is mostly back roads, country roads really, here in CT, and I drive slow.  I pray my second Rosary, then listen to some chant or whatever is shuffling around in my old I-pod.  Always very uneventful.  Lately though, the past few months, on and off, you might say, I've been troubled.  Many things have been happening in my life, neither good nor bad, (but I only realize that now, the good or bad part), just things, events, happenings, whatever.  I guess I've mostly looked at all of this in a negative light, but not in a real alarming way, mostly just in the vein of a big sigh and an 'Oh well...'  This way of looking at things will wear a man down and place him far from where he should be, which is in line with God.  The problem is, as fallen beings, it becomes easy to look at things that way, from a purely man-centered way.  One finds themselves in these situations and try to get themselves out, to lift themselves up but use only themselves as the way and the means.  God is not forgotten about, usually, but let's say He's put off to the side.  Our pride says 'I can handle this, just watch, just give me a minute.'   What I'm trying to say is God is in control.  Oh really, you might say, tell me something I don't know.  Which is true, nothing earth-shattering or new about that.  But do we really think about it, contemplate it or pray about it?  I don't.  I just haven't, not in the way one should.  Now this whole bit of thought came about because I put a certain situation into the hands of the Blessed Mother, saying 'I leave this to you, you know best.'  And She does, because She does God's Will.  And then the answer came and the situation was resolved, pretty much but for some reason everything lingered in my mind, not like unanswered questions but a picture put before me by perhaps our Mother, saying, 'See, this is how it is.  You pray, you ask sincerely, and if it is in your best interest, determined by God, things happen.  But you must do your part.  You must accept what God gives you, because everything comes from God, the good and the bad, praising God and thanking Him for your lot in life.'  The good and the bad.  I thought about that, my health issues, my physical woes, my being overwhelmed at times by life itself, to be thankful and rejoice in all of this because each and everything that flows to me is from Him.  Thoughts came flashing back from books, talks whatever, saying the same thing but for whatever reason these words never stuck.  Heard and forgotten.  But today was different, for some reason.  Perhaps the state of the world, the darkness that is out there that has infested almost all walks of life, has started to wear down even my optimistic attitude, perhaps this ray of light this morning pierced through that dust of satan just enough to make a difference, I don't know.  But I was able to see more clearly, for those few moments, a small bit of His Plan that made perfect sense to me.  Tonight, as I finish writing this, my mind tired and worn out from another day, the sharpness of the revelation is gone, leaving me with only a sweet memory and a lesson I hopefully won't soon forget.          

Thursday, May 28, 2015

She lingers...

The Marian Retreat in Ridgefield is almost a week gone but the effects are still lingering.  Our Mother is a powerful intercessor, more than I ever realized, and made most interesting by learning how and why God gave her so many graces.  Mary, like Her Son, helps to draw us to Heaven by helping us stay focused.  Not an easy thing to do in this world.  A week-long silent retreat helps to get one's head back on, maybe not completely straight, but back on and looking in the proper direction.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Paths

The house is quiet, as this Lent has been quiet.  It is Saturday and again the weather does not co-operate with my plans, but, they are my plans, not the Lords.  I had hoped, as I always do, for a sunny and dry Saturday, in order for me to get my outdoor chores done.  It doesn't usually happen. Life is, it goes on around me and without me and when I'm here, home on the weekend I just try to get into the flow, so to speak.  Today, with the still foot and a half of snow pack on the ground and the rain coming down, the house is quiet.  I have puttered in the basement, gluing an old chair, donned a coat and boots for a trip around the yard, down the paths that have been cut by the snow blower.  This winter has been like that, dark, with small paths cut here and there through to let in the light.  There has been sadness this winter, on many levels and for many different reasons.  Changes in my physical self, surgery on my hands has pretty much laid me up since mid-January.  Many thanks to my wife and son who held down the fort with shoveling and snow blowing during this time.  It was not easy to just sit back and let them do it all.  Not in my nature. I try to take charge of some things, things around the house but in hindsight I'm afraid I've not given proper thanks where even that is due.  Yes, it has been a long and mostly dark winter and I've had to change course and re-evaluate where the Lord has lead me.  Even that comes into question, how much has He lead and how much have I put myself first and before Him?  In these days it is very hard at times to tell.  

  How the wind howls!  These last days of winter are cold and almost numbing to the soul.  I can't help but remember back when I was with the Secular Franciscans and after Easter we would talk about our Lent, as people do and I can remember people saying "Oh I had a great Lent!  Very spiritual!  Very moving!"  Mine was never like that, it usually, from what I can remember, was uneventful.  No revelations, no real joy.  Why was this?  I don't know.  Had I offended God, and grace was withheld?  Perhaps, but probably not.  It was more likely there was just too much me in the way, too much searching for me and not God.  Oh the patience of God, He is so incomprehensible!  Just to think that He will wait for me forever and I can't even concentrate on a Mystery for five minutes.  Gosh...  Yes for me Lent is a chore, my body rejects it even as my soul yearns for it. In confession a few weeks back I confessed to the priest that I was complaining too much about the pain in my hand from the first surgery and he said that I was blessed to have this pain now, during Lent to remind me of the nails piercing through the hands of our Lord.  Contemplate on that!  Pray about that pain!  Keep that vision front and center while you pray the Rosary!  Needless to say his words struck me deep, and I was angry with myself for not seeing that grace myself.  I wish I could say that my penance has been successful but alas, it has not, not even 50% of the time.  I am what I am, a worm and nothing more...

  Those paths through the snow, cut to keep life flowing when God's elements press in.  They press in with the physical and the mental, and also the spiritual.  If it weren't for the paths the toll would be far worse. It has been a long winter and dark, and even with the coming of Spring some darkness will remain.  The physical darkness, yes, but that will heal with time and if not, so be it.  I am not in charge of anything, that I know, although I must be reminded constantly. Friendships have been strained and darkness has filtered in where once shown only the light of joy.  True sadness there, and I must work to rectify that.  I will be honest, I don't know how these things, relationships between friends work.  I've never had one that has lasted forever-like, except with my wife.  I know there are good men out there but sometimes even good men don't see eye to eye.  It is hard, with the pulling of the world, tossing us from one tempest to another and even with Jesus in the boat he can't help us if we don't listen.  I go back to the same plea that I've offered to God before, Father, slow me down a bit so I can speak with you more often.  And if you hear me speaking sincerely, perhaps you will whisper something to me.  Perhaps a glance to my soul. And if not, so be it.  

  I started this post last Saturday and am just finishing it now, on the eve of the feast of St. Joseph.  He is the Saint and protector of so many things!  For me, I think of him most as the foster father of our Lord.  How God gave him the task of protecting the Son of God and our Holy Mother!  My confirmation name is Joseph, and right now, tonight, he is on my mind.  Help me, oh mighty saint, to be a better father, husband and protector of my family.  How to be a better Catholic man and to show charity and friendship to others.  How to put myself into the hands of our Lord Jesus and my Seraphic Father Francis, to follow the true humility shown by our Lord and practiced to the fullest by Francis.  Help me, St. Joseph to open my eyes, to heed the call and plead, to cry out to come closer to God.              

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Desecration.

I just saw the video and read the article on the gigantic outdoor Mass in the Philippines and the distribution of Holy Communion.  I stopped receiving in the hand about 6 or 7 years ago, I really cannot remember.  I do not attend N.O. Masses, and lately I even try to stay away from churches that have the N.O.  I will not take the chance of stepping on even the smallest particle of our Lord.  I know all the zaniness that goes with some of these Masses but the passing of the Sacred Host from hand to hand to the back of the throng is UNACCEPTABLE!!! The Pope, the Vatican, everybody involved in this fiasco should learn a fast hard lesson and the only answer is NO MORE DISTRIBUTING OF COMMUNION AT THESE MASSES.  There is absolutely no justification that I can think of to allow this to happen. 'The people come and they want to receive our Lord.'  Just tell them that it is not possible in this setting.  We cannot have our Lord falling onto the ground and into the mud of Manila!!!!!!!!  I'm saddened to the depths of my soul for Holy Mother Church.  This really is too much.  Stupid people dancing in the aisles, loud folk/rock music, bad unintelligible sermons, etc, I try not to comment on that 'stuff'. But horrible Communion distribution, I cannot be quiet.  
   

Pray for Her, our Holy Church, and plead for intercession from Heaven.  

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Poverty of the Blessed Virgin.

(from) Ark of the Covenant, by Rev. Thomas S. Preston


   Our blessed Lord Jesus Christ has given us a perfect example of poverty and contempt of the world.  Having condescended to take our nature, He chose to be in a lowly and humble position.  For our sakes He chose to be "made poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich."  He could have enjoyed all the wealth of the world, and all its luxuriance might have rolled at His feet.  He could have been born in a palace with thousands to wait upon His every want.  But the gifts of earth did not become the humility of the incarnate God.  He saw the emptiness of human things and He would not touch any of the gilded vanities which so attract mankind.  It was His will to be driven out of the habitations of men, and to have no place where to lay His head.  He preferred a cave for His birth-place, and the oxen's stall for His cradle.  His holy Mother, whose heart was one with His, took part in His self-abnegation.  The world was nothing to her, and all its riches could not excite one emotion in her soul.  She gave all she had to the poor, that for the service of God she might be emancipated from every care.  The fathers tell us that in her early childhood she made a vow never to possess any of the goods of this earth.  "Where our treasure is there also is our heart."  She desired to have no treasure here, that her heart might be wholly united to God.  It was, therefore, no trial to her to bear the pains and inconveniences of poverty.  The cave of Bethlehem was a sweet hiding place where she could prove to her child that she loved nothing but Him.  The Magi brought their costly gifts, and they were devoted to charity.  She went before the altar with two turtle-doves, the offering of the poor, and knelt among the crowd.  The angel called her at midnight to arise in haste and fly to Egypt.  She arose at once, leaving all she had, and began her long and painful journey.  Many a time she felt the pangs of hunger and thirst in her pilgrimage through the desert, and during her lonely sojourn in the land of idolatry.  Her food was always coarse, and her raiment plain.  When the holy family returned to Nazareth, a lowly cottage became their abode, where Jesus, Mary and Joseph all worked with their hands to earn their daily bread.  There was no rest for them in this world of sin.  The second Adam came to the thorny ground of the first Adam, and took His portion of toil.  It was Mary's delight to be among the poor, and even to do menial offices for others.  She drank in more and more every day of the spirit of her child, and became more and more detached from every earthly thing.  When He left her to begin His ministry she was dependent upon the charity of others.  
  He was on the mountain, and in the desert, and why should not His mother be a pilgrim like Him?  And when He died He gave her in trust to St. John, that the disciple whom He loved might provide for her wants.  In Mary's poverty we see not only the entire renunciation of all worldly goods, but a complete separation from them in heart.  She had nothing, and she desired nothing.  Her soul was most tranquil, because no created thing had power to touch her heart.  She had put off all the garments of earth, how could she ever put them on again?  She had washed her feet from every defilement of corruptible treasure, how could she touch again the dust of this world?  She had only one possession, an infinite one, her God; and this filled her whole heart.
  There is much for us to learn in this brief view of the poverty of the Blessed Virgin.  The Church commends this virtue as most necessary for all who would tread in the steps of her Master.  Actual poverty is no doubt a grace for such as use it rightly.  The poor are freed from many temptations, and are not so likely to fasten their affections upon worldly things.  Their hard life here is an incentive to look above for enduring treasures.  To a certain extent they must feel themselves strangers and pilgrims on their way to a better country.  Hence the poor are generally the favored children of God.  The Lord was surrounded by them when He was on earth, and His church is especially their portion.  But poverty of spirit is essential for all who would be saved.  We must learn to despise worldly things, or we can make no real progress in the love of God.  Whatever goods of earth God may give us, we must not fix our affections upon them, nor desire them for their own sake.  As good Christians we must be detached from the treasures of which we are only stewards.  Our Lord Himself has said that it is hard for the rich to enter into His kingdom, and that they who trust in riches have no hope of salvation.  With the possession of wealth comes care, which weighs upon the soul, and bears it down among the pursuits of time.  Many spend their whole lives in toil and labor, and have no reward but treasures which one hour may take away, and which can never go beyond the grave.  The brief joys of the rich will never pay for the anxious mind or the aching heart.  If we are poor we must bless God for this grace, and endeavor to turn it to our sanctification.  If we are encumbered with the possessions of this life, we must use them for the benefit of our neighbors, as well as our own salvation.  We must make to ourselves friends of the mammon of iniquity, that when we fail they may receive us into eternal habitations.  The Catholic religion, animated by the spirit of its divine Head, has taught us many heroic lessons in the virtue of poverty.  It has taught many souls to emulate the graces of Mary, and cheerfully to lay down at the feet of Jesus every temporal thing.  Princes have descended from their thrones to cast the dust of this world from their feet, and to be wholly emancipated for the service of God.  The vow of poverty is a necessary condition of the religious state, since perfect consecration of the soul is inconsistent with any hold upon the things of this life.  No one can leave the world except by renouncing all that he has, and by choosing alone a heavenly treasure.  "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell what thou hast and give to the poor, and follow me, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven."
  The example of the Blessed Virgin will be our encouragement, as we endeavor to walk in her footsteps.  She will gently wean us from the love of all earthly possessions, guiding us, as we can bear it, to a more and more perfect life.  We need not be discouraged at the sight of our own self-love, nor at our great repugnance to mortification.  We shall not learn detachment all at once, nor in the easy way our imaginations have pictured.  But with Mary for our model we cannot wander from the right path  As things temporal recede little by little from our view, things eternal will draw nearer to us.  The chains that bind us to earth will be broken one by one, and the love of God will be the only solace of our free spirits.  Who would compare corruptible treasures with the infinite wealth of God, who becomes Himself the possession of His saints?