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