Sunday, December 26, 2010 I must give all to Him.

   I could say I've finally found the time to blog, but in reality I could have posted here if I'd really felt the urge, but the words weren't there, and they still aren't, really, but I find that if I don't put out there what I feel inside then it gets bottled up and hidden, hidden by myself from myself at times, so I guess one could say this is therapeutic.  I have been posting on my other blogs, Oremus and The Narrow Gate, but none of the words on those are my words.  Oremus I use to post prayers and other spiritual pieces that I come across, and The Narrow Gate is writings from a book I'm reading, a friends book.  We go through life meeting people, some come and go, some make impressions, some not.  And some will change your way of thinking forever.  And so became The Narrow Gate.
   I love the Advent Season, I really do, and I love Christmas.  That said, it seems no matter how hard I try to keep Advent 'pure', meaning to me a four weeks of just living my life more in the anticipation of Our Lord's Coming, I let issues get to me just enough so that, by the time the 24th arrives, I'm disappointed in myself.  Nothing major, just that so much happens in the month of December as to distract me just enough so that I end up feeling that I've given Our yet Unborn Lord not what he deserves in my time contemplating Him.  For in contemplation is prayer, me speaking to God.  All just irreverent selfishness, I know, but I still feel sad.  I've come to see that it's almost an impossibility for me to reach even the path that I truly long for, never mind even the goal.  The life I lived before is ingrained so deep into me, the cleansing will take the rest of my life here on earth, whether that be one more day or fifty more years.  
And I'm not even counting purgatory...
   To give to God 100% of your life.  I used to think I understood what that meant.  I used to think I understood what to die to self meant. I think I know, but can I do it?  Can I do it everyday, every second, for the rest of my life?  I don't know.  I know I will try, and I must believe, I MUST believe that God will give me the graces every time I fall.  Every time I don't understand my brother or my sister in the world, and I begin to judge and not love.  Love thy Neighbor.  Only three words, but in those three words the command of Jesus lies.  Love thy Neighbor.  Jesus knew that those words hold the key to everything, but can I, us, the whole human race live those three words?  I can't even live them all the time.  Yet He calls us to do just that.  God even became like us to help show us, but do we follow, do we look?  
Do we love?
   Sometimes only in convenience I love, because loving my neighbor is hard, at times.  At work it is always hard.  So many people are so different from me that...
What a sorry excuse.  Yet in that small place in my mind, at times that thought erupts, and I hesitate.  I hesitate and He lets me know, He lets all of us know with the inner voice of Him that only we can hear.  Oh, Lord, to be able to be guided by that voice, to let my heart follow Yours, as You long for me to do.  I've tried to let the Silence of Advent guide me these last few weeks.  I don't know how well of a job I've done. Last Thursday, the 23rd, I spent two hours in Adoration and was blessed with graces from Him that I did not deserve but He gave anyway, for no reason other than Love.  Talk about mysteries.  To me, all of God is a mystery.  The mystery of His love for us.  How can it be?  I think it's time for a Rosary.  The wind is blowing and the snow is flying.  The short afternoon is slipping away towards the darkening night.  The Mystery of His Birth looms large before me, a comfort.  His love for us has arrived.  He has given to us, now I must give all to Him.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Waiting for the Light

I haven't posted in awhile, for many reasons, none of which are important.  The spiritual world of Our Father, the life we are called to live on this earth has been slowly, ever so slowly, filling in the dark places that I've lived in for so many years.  The more we let Him into our lives, let Him in and give ourselves over to Him...   the more our eyes will be opened.  
This Advent has been much different than others, but isn't that always the case?  Each year seems to bring about changes unforeseen, leaving us always one step behind.  At least that's the way it is with me.  I always have some idea about tomorrow, or the day after, but it's never like I planned when it arrives.  One case in point;  Tuesday evening our K of C council had our Christmas Social, (in old-fashioned terms, Christmas party).  We invite the Ladies Guild, Catholic Daughters, the Friars, nuns, widows, you name it.  Last year was not a good turnout, and since hardly anyone got back to me (1 person did) concerning what to bring, I expected the worst.  When we emerged from our very short meeting, the Hall was filled with more than 50 people, and their was enough food for many more than that.  Everyone thanked me for having such a great 'event'.  I didn't do anything!  He did it all!  He did it all because he is in charge, he directs me because I've learned to let Him lead me, as I should.  But with this new found docility that I've been granted the grace to understand, this pliability to mold me to understand, comes with it the narrow gate, the very narrow gate that leads to His Door.  Oh God, my God, at times I wonder how I ever got this far along in my miserable life! You were in charge even then, although I had no idea.  You waited for me, Lord, you waited and then you sent your Mother to open the door.  And now I find myself waiting for you, O Son of Man, waiting in that deep silence of Advent that you've put me in this year.  'Reflect on the mysteries of the Rosary,' people tell me.  In the darkness of these unusually cold late fall nights, in my contemplations I realize that I've never really entered into these ancient mysteries at all, only spoke about them and recited them by rote.  And the mystery of Joseph, his call from God and his complete strength and obedience to those calls.  Lord, how I wish I were more to my family as your foster father was to you and your Mother!  My worries and fears paralyze me at times, and I yearn now to hear you voice say to me Pick up your mat, and walk.  I am trying, Lord, even though they may be baby steps.  
This Sunday, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I will be re-consecrating myself to Our Blessed Virgin Mother.  I am in the baby step age group with this also, this being my third re-consecration.  I'll be attending 12:00 Noon Latin High Mass with a Rosary procession to follow honoring our B.V.M., followed by a guest speaker who will speak on her 30 years in the war against abortion.  Being Sunday, I will give myself over all my activities completely to Him.  What better way to spend the Lord's Day?  
  It's getting late, and I've been up since 4:00 am.  The house is cold, the kids are gone, H is asleep.  Night prayer calls, and perhaps that last Rosary after that.  To my left is My Ideal Jesus Son of Mary, which I'm only 2/3 of the way through.  In the back it has a page or two for re-consecrating, but I always read the entire book.  Even though I say a small prayer to Her every morning, it's not the same as this one special day.  To give back to Her in some small way for what she did for us so long ago, and for what she still does now.  The inspired words of My Ideal Jesus challenge me, and help keep me on the narrow road.  
The clock ticks on.  Downstairs, I know that last log is pretty much gone, and in front of the hearth I'll make my nights' last stand.  For me, the late evening is a good time to contemplate the Blessed Ones, The Holy Trinity, Mary, and all the Saints.  For in this darkness of night, Lord, you help me see Light.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Turn to love...

After work today I stopped over my parents house to help my Dad bring firewood down into the basement. He had triple bypass back in July, but he's really doing well. He's lost 32 pounds, does whatever the doctors say, eats right (finally!), etc. He loads the barrels from the woodpile, wheels them over to the hatchway and I lug them down the cellar stairs and stack the wood. We don't say too much when we work. I used to do most of the talking, but as I've gotten older I've realized I don't need to keep up a running conversation with him. I used to do it just out of nervousness, but recently something has changed between us. We've always had a somewhat rocky relationship, well, not rocky really, maybe edgy is a better word. He's very opinionated, and I didn't agree with a lot of his views. But like I said, something has changed. As I reflect on it perhaps its partly my attitude toward him and not him toward me at all. I can't put my finger on it, though. As we worked in silence my thoughts were as they usually were, filled with either prayer or a song, and this time it was a song, though I can't remember what it was. Probably John Michael Talbot, from his 'Chants' cd. That's all I've really listened to, lately. But whatever it was blended beautifully with our rhythm, him hauling and me caring, evening darkness falling around us, the moon high overhead. At one point my Dad said, "This is what you call moonlighting," and that small statement cracked me up. I know I'm very lucky to have both of my parents not only here with us but still so active. I haven't been the best son in the world over these 55 years. I've ignored them for long lengths of time, fought with them and spoken about them in not great ways, in which I'll never forgive myself. Looking back, how can anyone act that way to their parents? Recently I began my preparation for my re-consecration to Our Blessed Virgin Mother by re-reading My Ideal Jesus Son Of Mary, by Fr. Emil Neubert, S.M. In that book Fr. Emil shows the tremendous love Our Lord had for his Mother. I had forgotten the beauty of those passages, and as I read them during Adoration late Thursday I could feel a small sense of excitement and perhaps realization dawn again in me. So much of our lives are ruled by the secular world without us even knowing, when in many cases the choice really is ours to make. We live in the secular world but we need not be ruled by it. Unfortunately I let this world rule me most of my day, giving only lip service to our God. Working with my Dad was such a simple thing, but it was enough to act as a small catalyst, a small act resulting in the turning of a heart once again, a turning of a heart towards love.

Monday, November 08, 2010

A thought on charity...

In my readings lately the word 'charity' has been jumping out at me. I've come to see that Jesus put a lot of emphasis on that particular virtue. I've heard (or read, whatever) that without charity we are almost nothing. To tell you the truth, I never questioned that statement, just took it for granted I guess, but never really knew what it meant, or, what He meant by it. I see now, in my own understanding of it that charity and love go hand in hand. We cannot be christians, we cannot be Catholics without letting the virtue of charity rule our lives. "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?" I see the similarity between this passage from James Chapter 2 and myself today; I can spend all day in prayer, sit before the Blessed Sacrament and say three Rosaries a day but if I don't practice charity, what good is it all? Don't get me wrong, I'm sure some good comes from such spiritual time. Souls in purgatory can always use our prayers. But I myself feel something missing, have felt something missing for some time now, and I believe this feeling has stemmed from my incomplete spiritual life. Have I become complacent? Probably. But He will not let me sit idle for long. He knows I'm capable of more. I know I am. In my mind I can tick off many people, mostly older men and women who could use my help in some way. My sister-in-law is very sickly, disabled really, but a very hard person to get along with. She is exactly the type of person I, we, are called to help. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. (Luke 6:33) To me, true charity is just that, helping a stranger or your enemy, not to make your self feel good but because this person or that person needs you help. And to do it for the love of your neighbor, for the love of God. To me, this is what Jesus was alluding to in His Sermon on the Mount. ...blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy... What have I been thinking lately? I know what I've been thinking, I've been letting myself get in the way of myself. I somehow thought that what I was hearing was God's voice, when in all actuality it was only me, dictating my own life to myself. I have to keep the noise of the world turned down just a little bit lower in order to listen to the voice of our God. Not just hear, but listen and do. I need look no further than my Seraphic Father, Francis, for an example of following the gospel, which is exactly what I should be doing. Gospel to life, life to Gospel. In the darkness of night, in prayer, charity is before me in so many ways, in so many musings. I can do this, and I will do that. K, forget the musings and take up that cross, the one you probably think is too heavy. Jesus calls me to walk with Him, not just a little way but the whole way, the whole journey, helping each other as we go. Only with the cross will I begin to learn Your way.

Oh Jesus,
You gave us so many examples
in your life,
from your birth
until your death
on how to stay upon the path
stay upon the road to heaven.
Help me to walk that path
to carry your Cross courageously,
and to show Your Face
to my brothers and sisters
in need.

Saturday, November 06, 2010


"You cannot serve both God and mammon."
At morning Mass today Fr. D expanded on this statement from Jesus. I'll have to admit at times I become calloused to some Gospel readings when I'm not really sure on their 'true' meaning. I know, some people will say that the Word of God is different for everyone, and I also thought that way, thinking that that type of Gospel interpretation was the way to go.
Personally, I believe I was wrong.
We were given a Homily today that left no doubt in my mind to what Our Lord was trying to explain to his disciples and the Pharisees. And in that Homily I received two lessons; one, the message from scripture, and the second for me, in mine, and Helen's search for the truth, which is part of what this journey is all about. And that search for the truth can lead one to unexpected places. Like away from your parish of 20+ years to somewhere that the interpretation of the Word of God is not sugar coated to keep everyone feeling good. Where the Holy Mass is still offered with supreme reverence to God. These and many other things, once realized by the inner voice cannot be pushed aside, they must be embraced or one is fooling oneself. It was as if today, during Mass, Jesus Himself was there for me, not in physical form but His real Divine Presence, just pointing, leading, saying 'See? This is what I really meant.' It is a real uneasy feeling to have knowing that out there the Word is being explained in ways that are just not to their full importance. We cannot serve both God and Mammon. If we serve God, if we believe and follow Him completely, we can't water down His word to fit our own good feelings. His words are our path to Heaven. We can't have this world and His , too. This world pulls us away from Him, it doesn't lead us closer to Him. Serve two masters? No, that can't happen. Helen has followed her inner voice, the voice of God. I see the issues that have taken over good parishes and how at times priests think they are handcuffed to do much about the way things are. Maybe they were just taught wrong at the seminary,I don't know. I do know that we all must search for the truth, the truth that is at times obscured and hidden behind the mammon of the world. "I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings." We cannot abandon this world, God gave it to us. but we can't rely on it either, for it is fleeting, and only The Word is eternal. Trust in the truth , the real truth that lies within the Gospels. Search and pray that His spirit will fill the hearts of so many who have fallen away, religious and laity alike.
Help me, Lord,
remove the scales from my eyes
so that I may see the Truth
and not Your Word
obscured by smoke
and false light.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Absence of Trust

"Trust in me."

Pretty simple words, don't you think? I always thought they were, simple, easy to live by. Even the ups and downs of day to day living most times don't seem to interfere with trusting in Him. With me, I do it every day, I pray, I trust in Him. Simple, right? How wrong could I be.
How quickly I can forget anything I ever learned, felt or loved about God. How the Sacred Word, passed down through centuries could mean anything different than it is. How could I think that my easygoing hassle-free life was a trial?. I've got a lot to learn.
I think I've seen the other side of people more in the last week, or to say, I've, no, not I, God has opened my eyes to see the strengths and weaknesses in people, but to what end? To bring about unease and trial in my life? Maybe. I don't know. I do know that people are put into the crucible for many reasons, some reasons never to be known by us. God's plan is His plan, not ours, and we are usually not privy to it. I'm certainly not in on his plans for me or my fellow co-workers or this shop I'm in. You cannot serve both God and mammon. Our shop is so production and money driven I hardly fit in anymore. I doesn't really matter. I'm content to sit in the rear seat and let others drive. The view is fine back here.
I've also seen decisions made in the last day or so that will affect people for a long time to come. Family matters. Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer... If we spend time in prayer, serious time searching for God's answer, we must have the strength to believe that that word, that insight is from God, and we're going to act accordingly. I witnessed someone very close to me do just that, and the answer she got was not a popular one. But she believed with her whole heart, soul and mind in the reply from God, and she has stuck with it. Time will tell what He has in store for her and her siblings. But the point here is, she trusted.
Me, on the other hand, when confronted with news that I don't like, that takes me out of my comfort zone, I turn morose. Even after being told how we must trust in Him, even after I say uh huh, in total agreement, inside I'm tore up. This one issue, I had tried to keep it out of my mind, just let everything play itself out. But I got excited over premature news, and then, a couple of days later when things didn't work out, I felt cheated. Aarrgh! Why do I fall when I should rise? He tells us to trust, and when I really should, when I really have to, I can't. Somewhere, deep inside, I must think I'm still in charge of some things. This just shows how deep that trust in God has to go. One must believe completely, without hesitation. Will I ever reach that point, that point where this secular world has not so strong a hold on me? When I can move more freely between this world and His world, when they finally blend together and become one? Maybe never. I know I must just go on in the not knowing of His love the love that is here, all around me and inside me.
And trust in Him.

Oh my Lord and my God,
I'm commanded to walk
in your ways,
to trust in your words,
but I turn
and my own path calls me.
Is that You, Lord
I hear beside me, arm outstretched
before me, showing my way?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Night Prayer

Night Prayer

They shall see the Lord face to face and bear his

name on their foreheads. The night shall be no more.

They will need no light from lamps or the sun,

for the Lord shall give them light,

and they shall reign forever.

Revelation 22: 4-5

How to word this...

The reading above was from Sunday, the 17th, Night Prayer. H and I went over to a good friend of ours house, Barbara, a Third Order Franciscan like us but also an ex(?)-nun (is their such a thing?) whose order dissolved many years ago. She is still a nun to us, a very holy and devout woman, in her 80's. She had already done Evening Prayer, so we did Night Prayer. She told us that in some Monasteries the monks chant Night Prayer in the dark, having committed it to memory. I love Night Prayer, the darkness of it, the way in saying it it points so effectively towards God, towards prayer. When Barbara and Helen get together they like to chant their prayers, so we chanted Psalm 91, Barbara and I doing one verse, Helen the other. And we did everything slowly, never rushing, enunciating each word. Barbara has many tips and insights from back in 'the day', and she always shares with us. That night as she read the Reading, Revelation 22:4-5, slowly in her clear voice the words really jumped out at me. 'They shall see the Lord face to face and bear his name on their foreheads.' To see the Lord face to face. Just think about that for a moment. What will it take for us to get there, to see Him. I think of how far I've come on this journey and realize I've really not gone anywhere. The further I think I've progressed the more I realize, well, I don't know what I realize. I do know that, for me, complacency is my bitter enemy. Every once in a while I find myself feeling good, almost feeling smug, in my faith. It's like blinders have been put on and all I can see is the good around me. God doesn't want that in me, maybe not in any of us. H wants me to stay hungry, hungry for His love, hungry to see His Face. And how will we see His Face? Not being complacent. Not accepting our lot in life. I believe only by living the Gospel life will we have the path to reach Him. All week the Readings have been about discipleship, about how to constantly be alert and strive to reach the higher goal. When I feel myself just going thru the motions, just living in the secular world and not the world of heaven, that is when I must stop and look at the Cross. There hangs all the answers. He died for us not so we could live a half-life, or to ignore Him completely. He died to save us from ourselves, because we cannot go it alone. I, we, are tested every day. And we well know who is prodding us, lying to us and darkening our eyes. It is in weakness that I am strong. I know the Lord wants to entrust me, us, with more. He wants me to seek His Face. And as I do, and hope to find, then...
The night will be no more. They will need no light
from lamps or the sun, for the Lord God
shall give them light,
and they shall reign forever.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


26 years married today, the last 5 truly in the Blessed Arms of Our Lord, to my best friend, wife and companion on my journey, Helen. I am a blessed man! See our pic at http//

Monday, October 11, 2010

An uncalled for whine...

So it's Monday morning, I'm not feeling so hot, I'm still not unwound even from work last week and I'm back here already, I'm sore all over from working with Helen on the way overgrown hedgerow at the farm, etc, etc, etc, I'm whining inside, sort of. Break time comes, I start my readings. Then, from Medjugorje Day By Day:

Dear children, this evening I especially call you
to perseverance in trials. Reflect on how the Almighty is
still suffering today on account of your sins. So
when sufferings come, offer them up as a sacrifice to God.
(Weekly Message, 3-29-84)

How often, for me, do answers come unlooked for from the Hand of the Almighty? He is behind all. Let me say, I'm not suffering. I'm just whining, whining about a Monday. But I was brought about quickly, realizing that I have much much more than most people and nothing to complain about, ever. I will offer them up as a sacrifice to God, as I keep my gaze on the Cross.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

...more will be asked...

"From everyone who has been given much, much

will be demanded; and from the one who has been

entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

Luke 12:48

I thought of this quote from the Gospel as I was pulling into work yesterday morning. I'd just finished saying the Rosary and usually I finish with about 8-10 min. left before I get to work. At 5:00am there's not much traffic on the road so I use the beads. Most mornings I'm fairly focused and I'm able to pray and contemplate the decades as best as can be while driving a car. Some mornings though, other thoughts filter in, work, the night day before, whatever. Yesterday was one of those days; I don't even remember what was on my mind. But during those last few minutes I give to Our Blessed Mother, St, Francis and all the Saints, Our Lord and his Heavenly Father my intentions for the day. I didn't get a chance to do any, and that always bothers me. Then, for some reason (HA!) that scripture quote popped into my head, and it made so much sense to me. I think, even in my humbleness, I'm one of those whom Our Lord is demanding more from. It is not my lot to take the easy way out, not any more. Maybe when I took my Franciscan vows, something changed between me and God. I don't really know. Probably this, the more demands, are a loving consequence to that. All those people I offer my first Rosary of the day to, every one of them needs my prayers. And I from them. And if God uses my prayers for something else, so be it. It's not mine to decide. In my own way I'm trying to figure these things out. This is where the mystery of it all nearly overwhelms me. How can He love all of us, together and equally? How can any of us do Him homage? My Rosary intentions seem almost meaningless. This thought has bothered me since that morning. Tonight, though, the Reading, James 1:2-8, during Evening Prayer, helped to bring it all back to me. If any of you is without wisdom, let him ask it from the God who gives generously and ungrudgingly to all, and it will be given him. We are told over and over that God loves us. We are asked to love Him in return, with all our hearts, with all our soul and with all our mind. When will I ever learn to do just that?

continue to guide me
even when I know not,
as I ignore the signs and wonders
You rain down upon me,
your worthless servant,
your humble wretched creature.

Monday, October 04, 2010


How to speak about Francis...
I really can't, I will never do justice to him whom we follow, who leads us to Christ. At the 11:15 Mass Sunday, Fr. Toms' Installation Mass, he spoke in his homily about being a Franciscan, what Francis meant to him. Food for thought. Last night, at our Transitus gathering, more stories of Francis read by more Franciscan priests who made the journey to our small parish. To some of them, I think, Francis truly speaks in a deep way, on a deep level. Francis still calls to me but in a different way than 4 years ago when I began walking the path of Francis. I too, feel that deeper calling, as does Helen. Sad to say, with some Franciscan priests what they call the 'Franciscan Spirit' is not Franciscan at all. It's modernism in it's plainest form! Francis would never have put up with some of the liberties taken by some men of the cloth today. Maybe it's me, but the real spirit of the little poor man is one of humility and poverty, and a deep and abiding love and reference for the Holy Eucharist. I just don't understand it. I'm not going to complain anymore about it. Today was a beautiful day, spent at work, trying to do my best to put Christ before my co-workers. I don't know, most times the face I show is not His but my searching face, the one I wear most days as I look for Him along my road. Francis leads us to the Father, by just being who he was, a person just like you and me who by hearing His call and abiding by it, changed the face and direction of the Church forever.

Friday, October 01, 2010

The Little Flower

"You know that our Lord does not look at the greatness or the difficulty of an action but at the love with which you do it. What then have you to fear?" - ST. Therese of Lisieux

This weekend is a busy one for us. First Friday Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament tonight, Nocturnal Adoration later from 1-2 am, our Knights of Columbus Pig Roast tomorrow after the 4:00 Mass, the Installation Ceremony for our new Pastor, Fr. Tom takes place during the 11:15 Mass Sunday, and to end the weekend, since we're a Franciscan parish, we celebrate the Transitus of St. Francis Sunday night at 7:00. Whew. The only reason I bore you all with this inane list of stuff has to do with the beautiful quote from St. Therese. She didn't care what she was doing, whether it was scrubbing the privy floor or washing the linens used in Mass. She performed all chores, and I'm sure all actions with the intent of doing them for our Lord. Think about that. To be in that frame of mind always, in what amounts to constant prayer, that elusive state we all seek on our journeys. I have many chores to do this weekend, some I love to do and some, well, not so loved. But the Little Flower reminds us, reminds me to do them all with love, with kindness and with sincerity. A few days ago I was blessed by God to be able to help a friend of ours just by cleaning up some leaves. She was so thankful and for me, it was only a small task. I learned something that day I'd always known, but kept hidden behind that wall; God is love, and if we seek and find Him, we find his love. Help me Lord and be with me these next few days, help me to do my best, to show Your Face, not mine, to everyone I meet.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Look This Way

Truly I say to you: You will see the heavens open up, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.

Canticle of Zechariah, Ant. Morning Prayer

I'll be the first to tell you, I'm not really sure what the above means. I have my own idea, but there's more to it than what I suspect. I do believe that angels are here, close by to us, in a world not usually seen but certainly felt. But can they really help us? Can they help me? Every day I swerve from my path. I swerve a bit, but don't leave the path. Why? I don't know. Are they there when the world pulls me to the side in any number of ways? They must, because I'm certainly not nearly strong enough to resist this world completely. Maybe if I truly lived a monks life, not this imitation thing I do now. I want so much to be nearer to God at all times, yet as each day of the week ticks off I seem to lose more and more ground. One step forward, two steps back. At times I think I should just cloister myself at work, be silent all day, talk only when spoken to. I know I need the discipline in my life, and right now I just don't have it enough, not when I really need it. Call upon the angels, especially our guardian angel. I do, when I remember. How bad is that? When I remember...
So I go on, every day, and no matter what, I praise and I pray. God gives me bits and pieces, His face shown to me in a word, or the gesture of a c0-worker. The event that happens just for me, like this evening, when instead of a quiet night we helped a friend in need, blowing leaves away from her house in the dark. For someone else, this asking and giving would mean little, or just an act of kindness. And for Helen that's what it is, just another act of love in a long day of helping people. For me, my first thought is, what an inconvenience! Can you believe that? And coming from a Franciscan. Off the road again. This time, though, it didn't take long for me to see how blessed I was to be able to help someone. How God is so good to us when He does such things! Nothing is by chance. His Hand is behind all, and I must be more aware of Him and His actions. I must look and feel for the presence of his angels as they fight to protect me from this world. I'm always striving for quiet time. Thirsting for something for me. Maybe tonight was one of those moments where He says, My son, look this way. I looked, oh God my Father. And I saw your Son.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Inside I'm alive

We had our Installation Ceremony after the 4:oo Mass yesterday and it went very well. We had just enough K of C Officers (5) to make the Cross, so that was good. I don't usually post on Sunday, and this might not even make it today, but I had to (not really had to) send two e-mails out that were fairly important, so here I am, on the computer. This has been a grueling stretch of events the last 2 weeks. Three fundraising events in three weeks will take it's toll on a person. Not a real toll, I can't really complain, it's just that belonging to our council means the same 10 guys do everything. How do you spell burnout? I miss the down time with my Lord. I vowed to make more time for Him, quiet time and the opposite happens. How can I reverse my life to reflect my wants? HA! Selfish person! Crybaby! It would be so easy to fall into this frame of mind, many people do. I cannot. I am here to serve God, to follow His Son. If my days are not my own, well, for now, so be it. People ask for my help. Friends ask me to please do this for them...that for them How can I say no? Seriously. I said no to people for 45 years of my life. When I feel overwhelmed I only need to look to the Saints, and not only the Saints from long ago. I know a few people personally that help me through inspiration get through my day. And don't forget Jesus, who had the worst day of all. No, even if my days are not my own they are for my brothers and sisters, who find ways to use me to do good. Because with Gods' good graces that's what I seem to be doing a lot of lately; helping people do good things. Helping out for two hours at a pro life table, working at yet another event for the K of C, taking a couple of more hours at the upcoming 40 hour Adoration. I don't mind. I may look tired, but inside I'm very alive, for God has filled me with His Light.

Oh Lord my God!
You way is crowded with this world,
the world of men put forth by you.
My path, at times a thin line
that weaves amongst the darkened shapes,
a path lit forth with Your Word,
a torch held high for us to follow...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A lesson in Humility (again!)

Here at work we're coming up on our audit date so it's catch-up time for all the paperwork that exists to run a shop, which, in turn, puts everybody on edge, including me. After yet another point made to me about a detail missed (by me!) I mentioned to my co-worker that I can't let these chastisements by others in charge of getting us ready for the audit bother me anymore. I take things like this way too personally and then take it out on the messenger. A few minutes later at break I read today's 1st Reading, Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13. "...I urge you to live a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, ..." God is so very very good, and the words of His son always ring so true. Here I am having difficulty dealing with small piddly things in life, issues that I should just deal with not only professionally but in a Franciscan frame of mind, but I don't or can't or something, but here He comes, so subtle, so quiet, gently turning my eyes from the ground to see what is ahead of me, which is, of course, my brothers, Jesus Himself. I felt so bad for my actions but this time He didn't let me get away with just feeling bad. I always feel remorse after I act like an a$% to someone, but this time I seemed to just have understood it more. I knew I'd sinned. And in sinning, I'd thrown it all back into Gods' face. I remembered the Gospel from this past Sunday, about trust and sins, and how sinning affects everyone, and then trust is out the window. I read today's reading to my co-worker, Perry, and he just nodded his head. He's a deep one, Perry is, he understood immediately. Thanks for the lesson Lord. In humility and humbleness I accept your loving chastisement. I'll try to pass the lesson on.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

...a little steam...

Tonight on the news they showed the Pope in Scotland with the Queen and also at the outdoor Mass. This is just my opinion and I'm probably way off base here but I'm venting. I'll admit I didn't hear the beginning of the story, but I heard the end, the part where the reporter speaks about the recent tragic events in Belgium concerning the pedophile priests there and the 13 suicides. Absolutely tragic. Incomprehensible. I'm not arguing any of that, there is nothing to argue about. My gripe is the fact that nothing good seemed to be said in the part of the reporters story that I heard. It was like the footage of the Pope with the Queen and then at Mass had no relation with the storyline. I forget his exact words, and I should just drop the whole thing, but he (the reporter) seemed to dismiss the crowd as a bunch of curious bystanders. I myself doubt if they all were. Most of the 100,000 or more came to see the Successor of Peter, our Light on Earth. Can only the truth be found on EWTN? (I know, I know even they fail at times.) Like I said, maybe I'm all wrong on this, I don't know. For me, it all goes back to the same thing I say to my co-workers at least once a week; you either believe in God or you don't. You either believe in everything or you believe in nothing. Again I may be wrong, but to me there is no middle ground. I'm not saying not to question. I'm saying to have Faith. And to have Faith is to live it. Not to pick and choose when to talk to God, or when to show your love to your fellow man. You show your love all the time. I know their are co-workers we don't always get along with, or we don't like their attitude, their color, whatever. Every workplace has brother and sisters that we judge to be off.. And it's so easy to fall into the rut of dismissing them, or exploiting them. Almost all of us do it at times. But we're not supposed to! Ever! It doesn't say anywhere that you can do it every once in a while. Like I said, you either believe, or you don't. God is Love. Words again, said by us at times, mostly read by us, written by John, but not practiced enough by us, at least by me at least. I see it in work and out, and it seems the whole world at times lives the same way, by judging. The day in, day out, rhythm of our lives sometimes prevents us, isolates us away from the true path we must take. We must walk with more humility but with our eyes raised to heaven, to the Father. I believe only then with our gaze fixed firmly on what is above will we be able live our lives in Jesus' name here on earth.
Sorry for the rant.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Wall

We think we know God, know Jesus, know where we are going, or at least have an idea. I did. I seemed to understand where my place was, where I was settling into, well, sort of. It's hard to explain. I felt I knew what my role was, or maybe how things would unwind before me.
But again, I couldn't have been more wrong.
Let me say that Helen and I do everything together. We are deeply in love, with each other and together in our love for Our Lord. We professed as Secular Franciscans together, we pray together, go to church together, everything. You get the idea. What Helen is and does so much better than me is love. Her love for the elderly, the downtrodden, our brothers and sisters living on the fringe is an example for all to witness and follow. As for me I've always let her act as a buffer for me. It's something that has just evolved, possibly because I'm not as outgoing. I have a hard time on account of that inner wall that I built long ago, I don't even know why I did it. It's there, though, I can feel it. H has no such wall. She just is. So I've always had the luxury of her going first, and I follow.
Until now.
H is up at M.V. getting the house ready for renters. We have a very dear friend, C, very spiritual, very catholic. He's a retired teacher and he's not been feeling well lately. He's wanted to go on retreat, up to the Maronite Monastery in Petersham MA but with his dizzy spells he can't drive the hour and a half. I told him anytime you want to go I'll bring you up and bring you back. He couldn't thank me enough, and he decided that this past Sunday I'd drive him up and pick him up on Tuesday. Well, he called yesterday morning saying he really didn't feel well at all, and he'd better stay home, which was fine, we'll do it again sometime. He then asked me if I'd like to come down for dinner, he has a bunch of leftovers that he'll never finish. Later that day I found myself sitting across the table from a man I only knew from going to Mass with or when he'd host a prayer gathering at his home. Always there were many people that would call for C's attention, but now it was only me. Me and a man who's health is not so good, alone and needing the love of a brother. I have to tell you, I was and still am completely unprepared for what God was asking of me. I never realized how hard and high I'd built that wall. I'd always thought that I was loving my fellow man. I always thought I was doing God's will, following his Son. I know now I was not giving enough. I'm still not giving enough. As we talked and ate I knew I'd gotten it wrong. I began to see the meaning of to see Jesus in everyone you meet. I'd hidden behind the towering presence of H all these years, taking the easy road. Now God is saying Here is my Son. Can you help Him carry His cross? And I'm lost. I have to re-learn how to reach out. Not to just reach out, but to reach out and take their hand, to help them up. As we ate and talked I had to literally begin tearing down the wall, the wall I'd built to hold in all my love, to not give it away. I knew I had to give it away, but I'd not known how. I still don't, not really. C shows so much trust and love to me. After we finished and cleared the plates we sat in his small chapel that he made and said a Rosary. Just me and a brother saying the Rosary, letting our voices rise up to heaven. Lastly, I moved some plants in for him, and did another chore or two. We agreed to meet again soon.
God showered me with many graces this weekend, and in my hardened state I'm still trying to absorb them. My wall will come down, I want it to come down, it's just that it's been up for such a long, long time...
My dearest Mother,
You are the way to Your Son,
the one whose hands are strong.
His love will help me
unbuild the wall.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

What was I thinking?

Last Friday we spent the afternoon 'wooding', which is going out into the CT countryside, looking for wood. We don't have to look far. A small micro burst back in June knocked down many trees on Helen's mother's old farm, so we're cleaning up the property and getting free wood. I've been cutting wood with a chainsaw for the last 25 years, but Friday I committed a rookie blunder; I poured the bar oil in the gas tank and the gas where the bar oil goes. I was just finishing pouring the bar oil in when I realized my mistake. First, I swore. Loud. then I dumped the contents of both onto the ground! My second mistake. Then I kept swearing, kicking myself and beating myself up. Helen was sitting on the back of our Rav4 praying a Rosary. As I ranted louder, the Rosary grew louder. At times, I'm as pathetic as they come. These are the issues that get in my way, really send me off the path. I dwelt on my actions for hours after, and they still bother me almost a week later. Not that I did something stupid, but the way I acted after. I know what I'm to do now, to ask God for forgiveness and move on. The damage is done, and I'm sure I'll have to pay for it in the afterlife.
So this leaves me thinking; where is my Franciscan life when I'm pouring oil and gas on the ground? How is my decision to lead a life following Jesus, in a way a monk himself, set back and damaged every time a bump in the road occurs, leaving my desire to live a monk-like life in this urban world reeling? Our Lord keeps giving me these tests, (not a good word!) these events in my life, for what, to slow me down? That's what my family thinks, that God wants me to not cram so much stuff into one day, and they're right. Part of my problem is I set things up in my mind (I'm in control, see!), unconsciously even, but I do and when any deviation occurs bang! I become annoyed. I know what I have to do but most times I feel so far from knowing how to do it that in my mind, in the end, it's like nothing has been done at all. These miss-steps in my life are my failings, yet these are what Jesus wants from me! Our insecurities, our angers, our big ideas of ourselves, I could go on and on about myself. These are gifts we can give to God, to Jesus. I think I've come such a long way spiritually (ego!) but I'm nowhere, really. At times all I think I'm giving is lip service. My humbleness and humility gets pushed aside in this world way too easily at times. I will pray for the grace to see the strength the Lord gives me everyday, to see Him in my co-workers, to hear Him speaking to me as I read Scripture and sacred writings. I have such a long long way to go, but even as I finish this I'm feeling better. I'll try to not erect any more walls between me and You, O God of All. I thank M at The Mercy Blog and B at Barefoot toward the Light for they're great posts that allowed me to open myself to His Word today. And H whose love is all. Peace!
Blessed Virgin Mother,
You are always with me
even when my eyes are closed
to your love.
Take my hand and lead me
to your Son,
help focus my gaze on the Light
of Your world,
and not on the darkness of mine.

Friday, September 03, 2010

No work today, a scheduled day off on account of the lack of work. In a job shop lately it's feast or famine. I used to get so upset about the lack of work, which means less money for me, but not any more. Before Celena left to spend the summer at M.V. she said something like, "You deserve to have some time off. Your getting too old to work so many hours." Hmm... I know she's right, but I need time off for other reasons, too. Our Lord Jesus said it 2,000+ years ago; You cannot serve both God and mamon. It has finally sunk in. And I've come to appreciate some of the things in life that I forgot about, didn't do for whatever reason, or never had the time for. Morning Mass, (and today First Friday!) being with my family, getting stuff done that otherwise never gets done. Today we're going wooding, a term conjured up by our friends Margret and Dominque. It means going out into the world and finding free fire wood! If you look hard enough it's everywhere, and Helen and I are bound and determined to use more firewood this winter. We've collected about half a cord so far, not much, but a start. So today until 'Earl' arrives, that's our adventure for today.
Lord, keep us safe today as we do your will.
Keep our hands steady and our eyes keen.
Protect those who are in harms way
of your powerful yet beautiful storms.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


As I said in my previous post, Helen and I traveled to D.C. to attend the Restoring Honor event(not a rally!) Saturday. We left at 5:30 from CT and arrived at 1:30 or so at the apartment that was loaned to us, G and L and their two kids. A short 30 minute walking distance to the Lincoln Memorial, the site of the event. This was my first trip to our nations capital, and I was not disappointed. Downtown D.C. is really just like any other city, laid out in grids, old buildings mixed with new. After unloading the van and checking out our home for the weekend, we decided to make our way down to the Mall. There is so much to see along the way, so much history! I really couldn't get over The White House, how it's just sitting there in the middle of the neighborhood. I always imagined it as something else, I guess, something more set apart. Viewed from the Washington Monument it really took on the look of just another house on the block. That was OK with me, though. It seemed to fit that way.
We started with the Washington Monument, then down to the WWII Memorial. As I walked among the granite my thought died away. The history that these memorials signifiy, what they mean to the people who were there making the history and how me, too young to really understand WWII, how it fits into my life. Once seen, these works of man for men are unforgettable.
We checked out the stage area (no stage really, he spoke from the lower steps) and made our way up the wide stone steps of the Lincoln Memorial. With Mr. Lincoln sitting and staring out across the Reflecting Pool to the Capitol far away, I couldn't help imagining what is he thinking as he stares across to that great domed building? What would Mr. Lincoln say now, about us, if he could?
As we left we slowly walked through the Vietnam Memorial. Thinking back, one doesn't enter the memorial as much as it enters you. On that hot Friday in August the black stone etched with names is radiating a fierce heat that one feels all the way along that stone path. I knew no names. The wall to me is just a standing honor for those who fought and especially for those who died there. I could only stare into it's darkness as Helen and I walked along. Facing the wall on the other side of the stone sidewalk is a beautiful lawn, sloping up and away towards the trees. Small signs along the way ask us, with respect to the fallen, to please stay off the grass. But the most haunting, loving and patriotic sight I saw the whole weekend was a lone Vietnam vet, black jeans, black tee shirt, black leather vest adorned with just a few decorations, his face, bearded, a beret cocked slightly, this vet standing at attention in the middle of the fine cut lawn, saluting his fallen comrades. I don't know who long he'd been standing there stiff and erect when I saw him, but after a minute or so his hand slowly came down to his side, he stood at attention for a while longer, lingering, then turned and quietly walked away across the grass. I will not long forget that touching act of love.
I'm longer than I wanted to be on this post, I could probably write more but it's late, and getting off my point would be vanity. Stay clear of vanity always. So. Glen Beck. Let me start by saying I'm not a real GB fan, not in the way some (a lot!) of people are. These days, I'm not a fan of anyone, really. My heart, mind and soul belong to God, and with that longing there is no room for anyone else. But I do admire him, for he is to me a breath of fresh air in a world that is too heartless, cynical and mean. Those words cannot really describe how I feel about the world of politics in our country, and I'll just stop here. The event can be seen on you-tube, I suppose, and it was broadcast live on c-span, so I won't get into the exacts itself. Let me begin by saying I was there, so no amount of spinning by media folk can change what I heard and felt last Saturday. GB's message, to me it seems, is a simple one; love God, love your country, stand up for your rights, take care of yourself, help others, etc. Nothing that our parents didn't tell us as we grew up. The only difference is that a grown man is telling us. A man, who, I think, believes strongly in everything he says. I could hear it in his voice, see it in his mannerisms and feel it in the air around me. He appeals to me. I feel he is a humble man, and I like that in him. His ideas for taking back our future, his reverence for history and love of God combined for me into a way in which in my Franciscanism I could reach out and hold his idea of how things could be. His idea of how people should live there lives is not very different than the way I (we!) should live and are living our lives. He may be a Morman, but he really is a Catholic.
I don't know, some people may think this or that about him but I believe he's a straight shooter, and I'm glad I went down to be counted. I went down for my wife, really. She's been to Haiti numerous times, the March For Life, life-changing experiences all, and she wanted me to be part of this event with her. I really glad I went along.
Oh Lord, dark night is upon me
and I have written long.
My soul yearns for you even more
than when I greeted the sun.

Be with me as I rest tonight.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


H and I are heading to Washington D.C. tomorrow for the Restoring Honor rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Keep us in your prayers.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

...and keep them open!

Our Secular Franciscan Meeting turned out well. Some background; We have approx. 25 members in our Fraternity, more or less, with three more going through Formation. Last night only 13 gathered, but a very vocal 13. We haven't had a 'formal' meeting in two months, with one meeting being our summer picnic and another was in the church for something I can't even remember. The average age in our group is probably 70. I'm not the youngest at 55, but near there. Sandy is in her mid to late 40's and I think she's the youngest. The point is, I think the older folk do better in a formal setting, which is sitting in an oval shaped circle in The Cross n' Crown. It turned out to be very, very good meeting, even without our Minister, who is stuck working 2ND shift for awhile. Corrine took over and did a great job with ongoing formation. And even better was listening and absorbing what all the older members, especially the women, had to say. They all bring so much to our gatherings, that I'm left in awe. They seem to be one step ahead of us with answers and experiences. And, oh yes, the spirit of Francis was alive and well throughout our meeting. When I finally got a chance to voice my opinion, no sooner than the first few words were out of my mouth the murmuring started, murmurings of agreement by everyone in the room! Everyone, including the people who were in charge that night were uncomfortable with the food in the center of the church, but their reasoning was because the back of the church was so hot (it was) on account of no a.c. there, they didn't want the food to spoil. In hindsight, everyone wholeheartedly agreed that that was a bad decision, and we all learned from our mistake. The whole discussion took less than five minutes. And I fretted over it for a week. A lesson learned here for me, for sure. I am not in control. God is. The Holy Spirit moves people to do the will of God the Father. I took the burden of my feelings of righteousness and went overboard. Why did I worry about this for so long? Why didn't I put into practice what I preach, to give it all up to Our Holy Mother, the Blessed Virgin? I'm still so far away from taking the right road when the fork is before me it makes me wonder if I'll ever get there. The teachings of Our Lord are a deep mystery to me, and even as He grants me an insight to the truth I obscure the next glimpse with my thoughts and actions. I can only thank God for the gifts he sends me, which I must recognize more. Family, Mass, the Eucharist, life, it goes on and on. Lord, open my eyes and keep them open!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Francis, be with me.

Tonight is our Secular Franciscan monthly meeting and I'm not looking forward to it. I'm going to bring up the matter of having a food table set up in the middle of the church after our St. Clare/Evening Prayer last Wednesday night. I know me voicing my opinion on this will rub some the wrong way. We have a couple of headstrong people in our group who, granted, are on the Council of our Fraternity and they don't have to ask us (I guess) for permission to do these sort of things. They probably had permission from our Pastor. I don't care. You'll never convince me that it's ok to have a snack table set up in the middle of the church, no matter what is going on. I wish I didn't have to bring this up at all for the fact that I have a somewhat hot temper and my emotions usually end up taking over. I don't want to turn this into an argument between Brother and Sister, etc, but I'm afraid that it will. But I can't remain silent on this. If we allow these things to go on, where will it stop? Coffee and donuts in the church after Mass on Sunday? I know Helen wanted to say something but if she says anything I'm afraid that the people whose idea this was will tear her apart. I (and others) have a feeling that Helen's religious leanings are a little too far out there for them. Wear a mantia to church, hold a rosary during Mass? No, I won't let them go after her. I have broad shoulders, broad enough to carry another cross if I have to.

If anyone disagrees with me, please let me know. I've prayed about the event in the church and my response since it took place, knowing I must speak up. To me it's a no-brainer. At times the world (my Parish!) gets so far away from the message of Christ I (and Helen) can only walk away. Fast.

Francis, be at my side tonight

as I speak to our Brothers and Sisters.

Help spread the feeling of love

that you felt for Our Lord,

the reverence you found in your heart,

for the spiritual home here on earth

for our God.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Holy Men

"In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you more surely obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for a guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows favor to you, you shall reach your goal."

St. Bernard (from Saint of the Day)

Bernard lived in very tough times and not only made the best of it, he excelled. He did whatever the Lord asked of him and lead by example. He's still leading by example over 800 years after his death. I have to ask the question: Where are the Holy Men now?

I'll tell you where they are; You can find them in a parish, leading a flock that is quite possibly more diverse and scattered than at any time in church history. It is a sad but true fact that some priests have drifted far from tradition but yet, most catholics today don't even know the difference. We who have either re-discovered or never left the traditional ways can only look on in sadness. Holy Men can be found in the monasteries, some cloistered, praying alone and together, helping to hold the world from flying apart. These are the men we in the secular world hardly ever see; men, living together, living a life with God that hasn't changed much in hundreds and hundreds of years. Holy men all.
And then their are the semi-celebrity Holy Men on the airwaves. We know who they are and on a whole they are the closest thing we have today to Holy Men who are known around the country, and some, around the world. Our Pope is a very Holy Man, but in a different category than the rest; he's the Pope. And then there is the laity, who balance the world of men with the world of heaven, a balancing act made more difficult in these stressful times. It is not easy to remain focused totally on Our Lord and God when worldly matters infringe. The trying-to-be-Holy Man makes a remarkable attempt to give everything to God, his every thought and action, his complete love and all his doubts, but the world (satan?) screams at him, and temptations surround him, both inside and out.
We are all called to be Holy Men, and Holy Women. When the sun shines you-know-who seems far away, although he is just deceiving us. We are filled with the love of God, and are ready to love every neighbor we see. When the darkness comes, and the darkness takes so many different guises, I'll try to not fall too far, to remember our Blessed Virgin Mother, cry to Her for help, beg to bring to me the Holy Spirit, to help me to not become like I was before, just a man who gives into every trial as if I had no strength, as if giving into the path of darkness was easier and better than reaching for the light. I don't want to fall any more, and if I do I wish to rise again quickly, knowing that my Master has given me His Hand, the Hand that holds out to me His strength and His love.
Oh, Blessed Virgin Mother, I cry to you
and again.
I ask you to call upon your Son,
Our Lord,
to help hold me before my fall
for He knows well my weakness
and my lowly nature.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Joys and Sorrows

Wednesday evening our Secular Franciscan fraternity met for Evening Prayer, which was also the Feast of St. Clare. As I explained in my previous post we meet for E.P. every Wednesday evening, usually just a few of us. As we hoped, more brothers and sisters came, and even some non-Franciscans, which was great. In all, about 30 people. Now, I don't want to complain, I really don't, and I wish to high heaven that I just had broad enough shoulders to let certain events just roll off me, to not push my stress button. Some things though, cannot go unquestioned. After E.P. members of our council had a small table set up with fruit, cheese, crackers and juice in the very center of the church! When I saw this I actually felt a pain in my chest. To tell you the truth, I was embarrassed before God for this act. I sat next to Helen, stunned. She just gave me a look, and I knew she was fuming. I thought, if they had to have this table set up, why not do it in the back of the church, in the small area between the main doors and entering the church proper? As I stewed, what came to mind was Jesus in the temple, throwing out the money changers. Helen left almost right after the readings, I said hello to a couple of people, but felt guilty even doing that. Loud voices rose around me, another social event inside our church. Will we ever learn? Am I wrong?
On a lighter note, (finally) yesterday was the Feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe. H and I were blessed to celebrate Mass at St. Joseph's Church in Wood's Hole MA. The priest there is very Marian, and the only times I've been there I've been asked to do the readings, even though I've only been there twice. I felt honored but also a little embarrassed. I asked Susan, the woman who is sort of in charge if their was no one else to read and she said no, not really, whoever shows up on Saturday. Give me a signal if you need me, I told her and left it at that. Both times the signal came. How she knew I was even a lector, I'll never know.
Today is the Solemnity of The Assumption Of The Blessed Virgin Mary. Helen re-consecrated to Our Mother after Mass this morning. I knelt beside her in front of the Tabernacle as she recited the beautiful words, and my heart leapt as she ended her prayer with the singing of Ave' Maria. My reconsecration occurs in December, on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
I pray I will be so loving.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Feast of St. Clare

The hand of the Lord strengthened her, she will therefore be blessed forever.
Antiphon 1, Morning Prayer
Today is The Feast of St. Clare of Assisi, Virgin. The Church call it a memorial on the calendars, but in our Proper Offices of Franciscan Saints and Blesseds In The Liturgy Of The Hours (for use with the One-Volume Edition of "CHRISTIAN PRAYER") it is called a Feast. And for us it truly is being a Secular Franciscan AND our Fraternity is The Saint Clare Fraternity! This is a big one for us. Every Wednesday night we gather in the church at 7:00pm for Evening Prayer. Usually in the summer there is only about 6 or 7 of us who make it. Tonight we're hoping for more members to come and join us in Prayer. We posted it in the bulletin to be open for all (which it is anyway), but we wanted to make sure everyone knew. We'll see who shows.
The holy virgin, Clare, denying her very self and taking up her cross, followed the Lord
Jesus, the bridegroom of virgins.
Clare embraced the idea of poverty and humility completely, following Francis in his pursuit of perfection in Christ Jesus. Her life of middle class nobility in Assisi would have been one of leisure and fancy, but she gave it all up to follow Francis, to follow Our Lord. She died to self, and never looked back. A holy woman whom Bishops, Cardinals and even Popes came to for advice. Today we celebrate the inspirational life of Clare. Today we contemplate her love of Christ.
Today we feast.
Peace and All Good!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Evil close at hand

I've had a hard time even beginning the post. The events that took place only a mile and a half from where I work, the mass killings of innocent workers, for whatever reason or reasons have left me and many others numb. So many questions are running through my head right now along with images of what actually went down to images of grief. I am numb. this could have happened anywhere. Within a three mile diameter of Hartford Distributors are many, many

And that's as far as I've gotten.
What took place there was cold-blooded murder and an evil that is hard to comprehend. A man is forced to resign from his job, agrees, then pulls out a gun and coolly kills eight of his fellow workers, mostly with shots to the head. Lots of talk of racism, but that is no matter, not really. What I think I'm feeling is my utter helplessness in the face of such evil. What can I do? What can I do in my workplace, in my world, to prevent what usually starts out as something small from escalating into a monstrosity?
Nothing, really.
So many lives shattered, never to be the same. Such words that in the context of this event are used but are so small, so helpless. I was not there. I knew none of the people killed. I didn't know the shooter. But something was ripped from me that morning, maybe an innocence, I don't know, but something. This tragedy could happen anywhere. It's a fragile thread that holds us all together in workplaces, different men and women coming together to work as one and make a living. And then evil steps in. Why? How can evil raise his head so high that the Sun of Light gets blocked out? The answer I guess is free will, though it seems too easy, almost a cop-out. I get angry at people too, but never like that. I know God's way are unfathomable to us, and I mustn't bang my head against the wall too hard. I will continue to pray for everyone who lost their lives, including the one who pulled the trigger. And the families and friends who remain, I will pray for them, too. I'll ask God again for the grace to understand more of His ways, to pray for comprehension, and for the gift to accept that I will never understand, ever. I, we, are here to shine our small light into dark places, even into places that seem so dark, so evil. I will move on from here, from this week. I'll watch as one by one the victims are laid to rest and I will continue to pray, for this, that, and for what is to come.
May God watch over the souls of the faithful departed.
May they rest in peace.

Monday, August 02, 2010


How the beginning of another Monday can throw us off, especially me. I knew today was a Franciscan Feast Day, August 2, Our Lady of The Angels of Portiuncula, but morning dawned and Morning Prayer came and went and I did the readings for St. Eusebius. I'm sure it was because I was alone, Helen being away doing a changeover. Tonight was our Evening Rosary, so I went early and did Evening Prayer in the church, in part to honor St. Francis and his love for Our Blessed Virgin Mother. Francis loved the church of St. Mary at Portiuncula, having begun his Order there, watched it grow from there, and in the end, flew from this earth from there.
Francis to his friars: "See to it, my sons, that you never leave this place. If you are driven out by one door return by the other for this is truly a holy place and God's dwelling. Here when we were few the Most High increased our number; here he inflamed our wills with the fire of his love. He who prays here with devout heart will obtain his request, and he who offends here will be punished more severely. Therefore, my sons, consider the place of God's dwelling worthy of all honor and with all your hearts, with loud cries of joy and thanksgiving praise the Lord in this place." - from the writings of Friar Thomas of Celano
There was nothing easy about Francis life. He was constantly challenged by the temptations of the world, his brother friars and by Our Lord himself. Long hours in prayer contemplating the fate of his growing Order and the direction other brothers were taking it. Challenges, all of them. In todays Gospel, Jesus challenges his disciples to .."give them some food yourselves." And of course, for whatever reason, they can only shake their heads and say "Five loaves and two fish are all we have here." The Gospel doesn't say what kind of look was on Jesus' face when the disciples told him that. We can only use our imaginations and place ourselves there, maybe as Peter, holding the fish in his worn weathered hand, James with a basket with the bread, looking to Jesus for an answer. And Jesus, realizing that the time for them was not yet (but He knew!), shakes his head and smiles, saying "Bring them here to me." From here everything must have become, to the disciples, surreal; Jesus raises his eyes to heaven and says a blessing, breaks the loaves and gives them back to his disciples who run and give them to the crowd. and they keep running, bringing more and more bread and fish. Christ challenges them to have faith in him and when they don't he does the impossible, in truth saying, Look, see what can be done when you have faith in me! When you believe! The impossible becomes possible!
How often in my daily life am I presented with problems, when I'm challenged by this world, challenged by Our Lord. How often I turn away and try to fix problems on my own, that in itself is an old and tired life story of mine. Lately, though, I think I have slowed down some, and I've come to see that even with all the aggravations that work can bring, money issues and health problems of loved ones I can see great graces that God gives to me each and every day. Small things to you perhaps, but gifts beyond measure for me. And God has given me the grace to see these things instead of my being blind to them.
The other day I read an article taken from The Spirit of Medjugorje, Vol.15, May 2002. It was entitled "The Swap." The article explains that the swap is giving your troubles, worries, and intentions to our Heavenly Mother, while you pray for Her intentions-the conversion of unbelievers, peace in the world, priests, youth, healing of the sick, etc. The original message came to Ivan, one of the visionaries in Medjugorje during his prayer group, when Our Lady's message was "Dear Children, give Me all your worries, all your problems. Then your heart will be free to pray. And pray for My intentions." Last Friday my Dad went into the hospital for quadruple bypass surgery. I'll tell you, I was sick with worry. I could not handle all the thoughts going through my mind. He's never been sick like this before. He is the rock. But even he showed some wear during this time of trial. The night before his operation Helen gave me the article to read. I was tired, but I finished it and without much thought, went to sleep. The next morning on my way to work, right after I finished my rosary the full realization of the article swept over me. Our Lord was asking us to have faith, to give Him everything through His Mother, Our Mother, to love him and believe. I immediately gave up my entire Rosary intention, and especially to guide the hand of the surgeon working on my Dad, to Her. And then I just prayed a bit for problems that are so beyond me I cannot fathom, but knowing that my problems were in Her, and Her Son's hands. Today is Monday evening, and my Dad might be going home tomorrow. Like I said before, I've been given gifts these last few days, gifts of grace that have helped me and others in so many ways.
God is good, alleluia, alleluia.
O Mary, you lovingly receive the prayers of mortal men,
look upon us your suppliants,
be ever at our side.
Hymn from Evening Prayer

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


The summer for us usually is not a time for relaxing and laying back, re-charging the batteries, etc. It's our most hectic time of the year. Tough to find is the quiet time to spend with Our Lord, a few moments to sit on a large grey rock and say the Rosary or to just think about the day. To survive in this world one must push on to get ahead. And so it seems. I know my mindset is like that at most times, from morning till night; this needs doing, plants need watering, a lawn calls to the mower, where you been? The whole thing can easily get away from someone (like me). Fortunately my wife Helen helps to keep me grounded, helps to bring me back around to the Truth when stuff, the everyday stuff begins to overwhelm me. I'm still under the way of thinking that I can take care of all problems first, and ask the Lord for help later. Very rarely do I, when confronted with a problem, take a deep breath, speak to Our Lord or the B.V.M, and ask for help or guidance, to put the whole problem in their hands, and then to listen in silence. My wanting to help sidetracks me to places I don't want to go, don't belong. Helen addresses almost everything in the same way; Lord Jesus, Blessed Mother, what do you want of me? Show me the way. She is so grounded in her faith and love of God that I'm like a small child, tagging along, who mostly whines and cries.
Woe to me, mother, that you gave me birth!
a man of strife and contention to all the land! Jeremiah 15:10
I don't know if I'm a man of strife and contention to all the land, but I think I am to myself. At times my internal world is so uneasy, a seeming battleground of tensions and images, that, where I not somewhat grounded, not focusing on things above, I could not remain where I am. I find the pull of this world, well, not strong, but perhaps overwhelming. It is everywhere, and to me, it is not good. When I do find the time to quiet down the inside, when prayer comes in its fits and starts, I long for a more peaceful life for the two of us. The long hours at work have taken their toll and the Lord is calling. Perhaps a life in a Franciscan community, or maybe start one ourselves. I place it in the hands of Our Lord. My son, give me your burden. Do you not know that I will carry you? You only have to ask.
Oh, Jesus, my Lord and God
I cry to You for faith,
the faith to give to you
all I have, all that I am,
and in return
to finally accept your love,
love so freely given
but one that I
have turned away...

Thursday, July 08, 2010

...act out of Love

A thought...

In order to truly be one with Christ, we must shrug off, no throw off the crushing weight that the world imposes on us.

We must become light.

To become light. Not an easy thing. In my life, in my journey to just be closer to Him, the becoming closer to God is also the journey of releasing this world. A man cannot love both God and mammon. God and money. God and this world. Why does He turn us so? That's a question I ask. And, why me? What did I do to hear His voice so clear at times? I know, nothing. It is only His Grace. Even in the dryness, I can still feel the vibration of Him around me. Why don't others? I became a Secular Franciscan thinking I would walk with more understanding through this world. I felt that following in Francis' footsteps would be a better way to imitate Christ, and it is, but for one reason or another, to me, the Seculars don't go deep enough. Even the word 'Seculars' makes me uneasy.
My wife Helen and I have been blessed in that God decided to bring us both back into His Light together, at the same time. We are inseparable, truly two become one. Together we share the sadness, as we see within our society and within our Church the 'smoke of satan' and the damage that it's wrought. I'm venting, I know, and I'll stop. But one more reflection, a positive one. From a great blog I read, Do Not Be Anxious, a post about Pope Benedict's' new take on the parable The Prodigal Son. A great post. At the end the blogs author asks, (I paraphrase) What have you done for someone today? and today I had an event that was so small but so natural but, in a way completely unnatural. I didn't know how unnatural it was until after. At work today my friend Perry had an English Muffin at break, but forgot to bring anything to put on it. I asked him, how you gonna eat that, what are you gonna put on it? He said, nothing, I'm gonna eat it dry. I finished buttering my wheat toast (my Wednesday breakfast) using only half my Smart Balance. Here, use the rest, I don't need it all. I didn't even think about it, I just did it. Thanks, he said. I went to my office and sat down and felt that trembling in the pit of my stomach that precedes when God is about to let me in on something. I instantly realized that He was pleased, pleased that I'd done something for someone without thinking about it, without expecting anything at all to come out of it, I just did it. A simple act of love from my heart to him. As I think about and pray about the whole small event I can see that God asks us to constantly make these kinds of choices and decisions every day, every moment. We react and do things all day long and are so caught up in this world that at times we forget (if we even ever knew!) how to act with kindness, top just act out of love.

Oh God, my loving Father!
Please hear my humble prayer to you.
Open my eyes but show mercy
as I see my faults before me
and strive to take the narrow road
that leads to Your Heart of Light.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

God who is so near

I'm not sure where I'm going with this post. This morning's reading from Medjugorje Day By Day struck me so hard, it's been burning inside me all day. I'm just going to put it up and maybe comment after. Here it is:
June 30
The miraculous
Concerning the miracle of a fire that several hundred people saw burning on Mt. Podbrdo, but which did not consume anything, the Gospa said:

The fire seen by the faithful was miraculous. It is one of
the signs-a forerunner of the great sign (FY 10-28-81).

In the Gospel of Luke, we see the miraculous healing of a crippled woman:
Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And
just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her
for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand
up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said,
"Woman, you are set free from your ailment." When he laid his
hands on her, immediately she stood up and began praising
God. (Lk 13:10-13)

Reflection: A striking miracle occurred in Medjugorje involving a forty-three-year-old Italian secretary and mother of three, Diana Basile. Multiple sclerosis had been diagnosed in 1972, along with total urinary incontinence, perineal dermatitis, blindness in one eye, difficulty in walking and, to compound matters, a severe clinical depression. In May of 1984, a friend persuaded Diana to join a pilgrimage group going from Milan to Medjugorje.
On the evening of May 23, she was in the church and a friend helped her to climb the steps to the side chapel where the apparitions were then occurring. From the records kept at the parish in Medjugorje, here are her own words:
At that point I no longer wanted to enter the chapel...but the door
was opened and I went in. I knelt just behind the door. When the
children came in and knelt down...I heard a loud noise. After that
I remember nothing, except an indescribable joy and certain epi-
sodes of my life passing before my eyes as though on film.
When it was all over, I followed the children, who went straight
to the main altar of the church. I was walking just like everybody
else, and I knelt down just as they did. It didn't actually occur to
me that anything extraordinary had happened, until my friend
came up to me in tears.

Diana's cure had been instantaneous. Later that night she found that she was no longer incontinent, and the dermatitis had completely disappeared. Her right eye, useless for 12 years, had regained perfect vision. The following day she walked the six miles from her hotel in Ljubski to the church in Medjugorje, and later climbed Mt. Podbrdo. (END OF REFLECTION)

To be honest, I don't understand how I know that Our Lady is appearing and miracles are occurring in Medjugorje. Years ago I may have been skeptical about the whole long running event, but not now. I have never been, and may never get there. A priest we know once said that Medjugorje is for the non-believers to go to and believe. We who have been so touched by Our Blessed Mother need no apparitions to feel Her presence. I apologise for being so long, and I don't know if this recounting of the June 30 meditation will stir anyone else but me. But this morning, this reading, along with others seemed to peel away a layer inside , as if a bit more of me became more open, more vulnerable, more humble. (Too many more's, I know!) Let me finish by saying, by asking us all to be more silent, to listen deeply with our inner self, to hear the call of Our God who is so near.