Friday, December 23, 2011


The clock is ticking, and that's about it.  H is asleep on the couch, our son is home, asleep in his room upstairs.  Our daughter is on her way, will get in about midnight.  The house is in the low hum of  night, waiting, seemingly, as I am for my daughter, tonight, and Him tomorrow night.  We have been waiting our whole lives for him, but more fervently this past month.  In my dreams, at Advent beginning, all the books I would read and the prayerful times spent were all laid out and lined up before me, dreams but not reality.  One book, not finished.  Advent fast, semi-falling apart right here at the end of the Silent Wait.  I will re-group, here tonight, in the quietness as I wait for Celena.  10:45.  This is the time for Night Prayer, and I will answer its call.  And then perhaps a Rosary as I sit in the rocker and wait in silence for her and for Him. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Octave Day of the Immaculate Conception

(taken from The Saint Andrew Daily Missal, circa 1951)

  The date of Mary's Nativity on September 8th caused her Conception to be celebrated during Advent, the season when the Church awaits "the Emmanuel whom a virgin shall conceive" (Communion of the Wednesday in Advent Ember Week).
  Devotion to the Mother of God holds an important place in the liturgy of Advent.  One may say that the period comprising Advent, Christmas and Epiphany constitutes the real season or month of Mary.
  The Church does not yet possess Jesus, but she already has His Mother, "the beginning of Christ" as Bossuet calls her.  This period represents the first phase of the existence of the Saviour on earth.  The divine Infant rests gently in Mary, a living tabernacle which the pious sculptors of the middle ages wished to honour when they made a statue of the Virgin as a tabernacle where the Eucharist would be preserved. -During this season of Advent let us fix our eyes on the Virgin who is to give us Christ.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


Lord, I thank you for the gift of the darkness, for helping me to appreciate the gift of Your Light.

             (219 hours without power)

Sunday, September 25, 2011


...and you are right there, behind the small, round glass.  You.  Jesus Christ/God.  At times I'm able to barely wrap my mind around the reality of it and slips away.  It's like taking two steps backward. 
  He is there and I'm here.  Two pews and an open area separate us. But it may as well be 2000 plus years. When it comes to the Blessed Sacrament I'm at a loss for words or feelings.  Maybe because it's so personal, just Jesus and me, and maybe one or two others, lost in their own journey.  My journey, well, I don't know.  I'm continually amazed and grateful for the graces that I've received.  Once one realizes that nothing comes to us but from God, that He is behind all else that is, that one can rejoice in even the dark times, for even then His light will shine, when one feels and acknowledges the graces that flow then one can say a step has been taken on that journey.  I have re-consecrated myself three times now to Jesus thru Mary, and each time, in the months thereafter, I've felt something inside of me open up more and more.  Not so much as an opening up as a giving away, a giving away of myself.  Here, have some more.  I don't really know what I'm doing, but just take some more of me.  And He accepts, gladly, with open arms.  God loves a giver.
  Me and Him.  Some voices in the back, now whispering, perhaps new to Adoration.  I am truly blessed to be here, quiet time with Him.  And later tonight 10-11, in a small Adoration Chapel, filling in for a woman who's travelled half-way around the world to visit her daughter, a nun, in a part of Africa that is not a good place.  She'll be gone for three months, and we've taken over her time slot.  It will be good to be there, as it is good to be here.  Him, drawing me close. 
(written Thursday, the 22nd of September.)

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

His Time

  Some much needed time off from work, and the rain falls.  No matter.  Everything that needed to be done has been, the picking up and putting away, the raking and the mowing.  Whatever is left is all for me, for my nothingness of importance.  You know, those annoying thoughts that gnaw at you, the ones you never find the time to address.  I'm learning, or trying to learn, to give those thoughts up to Him, to take them away from my time and let Him deal with them in His time.  Very hard to do, but I'm getting better at it.  It all begins with having God front and foremost at all times.  Front and foremost.  Again, not so simple.  The last thing satan would want is for any of us to have Him at the center of our thoughts constantly.  Harder to make inroads there.  But inroads he makes, and when he can't get in he throws up obstacle after obstacle, one barricade after another.  The world around us is where that lion prowls, and he is having his way, for now.  Let him be.  The signs point closer to our end, to the beginning of His coming, and I feel whoever makes it through these dark times will come out the stronger.  Maybe we'll see it and maybe not.  But to play and dally in this smoke-filled world is not for me.  One cannot hide a light under a bushel basket.  We must bring Him forth now. 
  Summer becomes Fall.  No hurrahs, it just is. We plan our garden in early spring, envision the rows, green with bounty.  Our garden of life, our lives, planned and planted out in the early spring of our youth, of our lives.  Usually before we even know of His time, of how it encompasses all, we think we are in charge, we are the gardener.  We are not.
For though the fig tree blossom not
nor fruit be on the vines,
though the yield of the olive fail
and the terraces produce no nourishment,

Though the flocks disappear from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet will I exult in my saving God.
Habakkuk  17-18

  The quietness of a grey, wet afternoon surrounds me and I think, This life I could embrace, this beginning of a contemplative life, yearning for nothing but constant prayer, to soar with the angels as I hear God's voice.  But no, that is not for me.  I'm here, in late afternoon merely quietly praying, recharging my batteries for what is to come.  God has called me to be out in the world, to put my best unworthy self forward for all to see, to see the glory of Him shining in me.  I must pray through distraction, turn my cheek and give them my beard to pull and then explain to them why I did that; to love God, family and country with my whole heart, with my whole mind and with my whole soul.  Look, always in three's.  Bless the Holy Trinity.     


Friday, June 17, 2011

The Erratic Man

  My brothers, count it pure joy when you are involved in every sort of trial.  Realize that when your faith is tested this make for endurance.  Let endurance come to its perfection so that you may be fully mature and lacking in nothing.
  If any of you is without wisdom, let him ask for it from the God who gives generously and ungrudgingly to all, and it will be given him.  Yet he must ask in faith, never doubting, for the doubter is like the surf tossed and driven by the wind.  A man of this sort, devious and erratic in all that he does, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.    Evening Prayer, Reading, James 1:2-8

After going through a day doing jobs I don't like and feeling at times just plain cooked,  H and I finish our day with Evening Prayer, and this reading pierces me like a two-edged sword.  How could I have travelled the road all day in misery when the spirit of Francis is leading me down this road?  The first sentence says it all;  Count it pure joy when you are involved in every sort of trial.  For me, how completely Franciscan!  I've come to realize that our faith is tested not just in the areas of faith but in all areas, all things.  Trials of any sort test one's faith, but to throw all of God's wisdom and teaching away as soon as an issue arises is just like the case of the doubter, who, like the surf is tossed and driven by the wind.  I didn't expect to see myself there, but there I was.  Am I devious?  I don't know.  Erratic, yes.  And today, driven by the wind.  I forgot all about Francis, all about Our Lord.  I've come to the realization that I've only scratched the surface of myself, of my faith.  I see now that many strong people have held me in strong hands for way too long.  

I call upon you, O God,
in my distress.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The porch on Easter Morning

   He is risen.
These words ring out to me in the form of the new life that is spring, the calling of birds to one another, the new awakening after a long sleep, as us who have slept so long, to finally feel the warmth of the Risen Lord once again. 
Here, thick fog covers the land and only daffodils and tulips break the grey barrenness of late April.  But in my heart, soul and mind the Son is burning again, for He has Risen.

Sunday, April 03, 2011


  Hello, everyone.  All's quiet on Road Beyond 50.  I've sat down a few times to post but to get from my heart to the keyboard just seems fruitless.  "I will provide you with the words..."  well, He hasn't yet and that's OK.  It is Lent and maybe this has become part of my fast, my loss of words on my journey home to the Risen One.  I'm still reading your posts, though, and they all fill me with wonder and hope.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

  On Saturday mornings we go to the 7:00am Latin Mass.  During the week I'm not able to get to Mass unless one is offered at night, which right now my parish is doing, 7:00pm Tuesdays and Thursdays during Lent.  I've only been to one, after our shortened Knight of Columbus meeting.  Right now, in this time of my life, if I have the choice, I do not attend a Norvus Ordo Mass.  Believe me, not attending Mass is not easy for me, as it is not easy for any of you.  But this night, that is not what I'm writing about.  Whatever Mass we attend is our own business.  In the end it is between us and God, and only he knows where we've been on our journey to Him.  This morning, before Mass, during my Rosary, He made His presence very known to me, really for the first time during my Rosary.  I would have to describe my spiritual life as quiet; mostly me speaking to Him, or to His Son, or to our Blessed Mother.  More to Her, lately, as we finish our consecration. Me speaking, and they listening.  But really, it is , the desert.  And that's ok, I understand that, I really do.  He gives me many insights, answers to questions I don't even ask.  And yes, every once in awhile He does make His presence known in a big way, but very rarely.  This morning, He came.  As I began my Rosary in the early morning darkness of the Church it was as if He were next to me in the pew, saying the Rosary with me.  St. Martha's has a Crucifixion scene set up near the communion rail, off to one side.  Beautiful statues in bright colors, depicting the death of Our Lord.  The soldiers, Mary Magdalen, weeping on the ground, Blessed Mary, supported by John, his head covered by his hooded cloak.  Jesus, between the two thieves, His eyes aimed to heaven.  But what struck me, what burned into my mind was the thoughts that had to be going through the minds of the people there that loved Jesus dearly, to see Him hanging from the cross after all that had happened to him since His arrest.  The anguish, the confusion, the sorrow in their hearts.  I knew as I said each Hail Mary that Jesus Himself, although scourged, beaten, crowned with thorns and hanging from a tree, He knew what was happening.  It was all Him and the Father by then.  But the pain felt by the one's who loved Him I felt, really, for the first time.  The Father, for whatever reason, turned my stony heart to a loving heart.  For the first time in my life I truly and honestly loved Our Lord Jesus Christ.  How would you feel if that was your good friend hanging on that cross?  Somebody you loved beyond all telling?  And this happened to him?  In an instant the door was opened just a crack, and He gave me a peek, and a peek was all I could handle.  It was if a stopper had been pulled out.  So many unspoken thoughts made sense.  Unspoken and unwritable here.  And then, not one revelation but another, as I knelt, beads in hand.  A scene of our elderly, perhaps of some I know, but it didn't matter.  The intense loneliness of some of those men and women, who had lived good productive lives, then retired.  Perhaps they lost a spouse, and their children cooked for them then.  Still love and family there.  But later, as they get older, probably a nursing home.  No more home cooked meals by a daughter or daughter in law.  Unknown food cooked by unknown hands. That is were my vision started and ended, in a flash. Why I was given that, I don't know.  Why did He show this to me now?  I will pray about these two startling gifts that He gave me today, graces poured out by the Blessed Virgin Mary.  I will pray about that unbelievably strong yearning of love that I felt this morning, and why do I have such a stony heart.  I will pray to God to allow our Mother to tear me down to nothing, to the nothing that I really am, to strip me of every vicious excess.  I will let the vision of the elderly linger with me, for that is what it should do, because for some reason, unknown to me, the two scenes He pointed out to me this morning, in the silence of His church, mean something more than what I can understand now.  He may do something for nothing, but I don't think  He ever does anything without a reason.

 Oh Lord, hear my cry
deep in this desert. 
You, who in so many words, said,
"Come, follow me," stretch out Your hand
to us who yearn for light.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Wash me first

The last few weeks have been the Season of Septuagesima, which is the three Sundays leading up to Ash Wednesday.  This is used in the Traditional Latin Mass.  We haven't been going steady to the Latin Mass for even a year yet, so we are still learning all the differences that exist between the L.M. and the Norvus Ordo.  These three Sundays are used to prepare for the Lenten season.  A good idea, I think.  For me, the season of Lent was a lot more cut and dried; one gave up something for forty days, and then began again after.  The whole event was forgotten about after Easter.  That was before God called...
Now, things have changed, and for me, Lent has become much more serious, as well it should be.  It seems like my life for the last five years has been one type of fast or another, or a time of penance for a decision that must be made. Ash Wednesday is nearly here and I'm no closer to my Lenten observance than I was three weeks ago.....
  Well, Ash Wednesday has come and gone, and God, in His mercy, has shown us a path, a way to begin our journey through Lent.  Lately it always seems to do with food and H and I are brought even closer together by sharing in this Lenten discipline, as we do all things.  Coffee one year, (a rough one, that), desserts another, (not so bad, but bad enough), but in hindsight these abstinence's were only small things, stuff even.  H and I have been looking into the Third Order Franciscans, which is very different from our Secular Franciscans.  A bit more stricter.  More devoted to the Latin Mass.  This way of living, Franciscan-wise, seems to fit our spirituality and gives us a deeper sense of peace and purpose than the Rule of the modern day Seculars.  But we are only exploring these options.  We are praying about it.  But we have adopted some of the fasts and abstinence rules that they use for our Lenten fast.  These include no breakfast, Monday thru Saturday.  No meat Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and of course, Friday, but milk and dairy is allowed.  On top of our Fasting on bread and water on Wed. and Fri. it makes for an interesting week.  I'd never known how much food is such a intrusive part of my life.  I can tend toward gluttony at times if I don't watch out.  How heavy-feeling I can become when I eat three decent meals a day.  With the discipline of Lent that has all changed.  With no breakfast I go from 5:30 in the evening until 12:30 the next day, which is lunch without eating.  A long time for me to go with only a couple of cups of coffee in between.  But something does happen during that long stretch, especially in the morning.  Is it me;  no, I am nothing, I know that.  I feel it is the Holy Spirit, moving in where the tendencies toward my over-indulging were.  We are called to God for a reason and He gives us the means to get there, we just have to make use of those ways.  Fasting is one way.  Instead of being unknowingly dependent of our food, we become more dependent on God.  It's like our bodies, no our souls know that,  and in turn we search and yearn for Him.  The turning inward, the turning inward with love.  The Ancient Fathers in the Old Testament knew the power of fasting.  Fasting and Prayer.  
  The clong of the heavy wind chime fills the silence of night.  I think of what I just wrote, and how it really doesn't tell the whole story, not even close.  How can I explain the quietness that fills me up even in the middle of a crazy workday?  How even now, in the semi-silence of the night, how His presence is here, closer than ever.  How to explain the unexplainable?  How to listen and respond, how to write about that.  I cannot.  And so begins the journey through the desert, following Our Lord Jesus.  A good way to live one's life, in the desert, with Our Lord.

Oh Lord Jesus, 
you but command and I come.
I will help carry your cross
but wash me first,
cleanse me in the 
discipline of Lent
then lead me down the path
less known. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mid Winter Thoughts

  Mid winter, bending into late... My ride home from work is in the daylight which is a step in the right direction.  I'm not a winter person, don't ski or snowshoe, own a snowmobile, whatever.  This winter my recreation has been snow removal, via shovel.  I've lost a couple of pounds, but it hasn't done my back any good.  Still, in times of trial, or stress or even like now, me with the flu, one is forced to look at the world a bit differently.  Here in CT we only have narrow paths that bring me to the bird feeder, another out to the mulch pile.  Finally one that goes around the house for the cat.  Our world becomes smaller, and we become more dependent on things.  Some will spend the long dark hours of winter watching more television, reading long novels, eating, etc, who knows what, more computer time even.  Dependence.  Last Thursday afternoon I could feel it coming on, for all my colds or flu, (whatever!) come on the same way; scratchy throat and bouts of sneezing.  By 5:30pm I was home sitting in my rocker with my fleece lined winter jacket, scarf and hat still on me, and wrapped in a blanket.  That's how Helen found me.  She fed me (literally!) a few forkfuls of supper and put me to bed.  Dependence.  Friday I called in sick to work, God willing that will probably be my only sick day, one a year, always the flu.  Friday, Saturday, I was useless.  Today, finally, feeling somewhat normal.  Two days doing none of the things I normally do, just a time of quiet, a time for the Rosary, to reflect, to pray.  I limped my way down the hall to the Prayer room we've fashioned out of the old family room.  Knelt on the kneeler in front of the big Crucifix hanging on the wall.  It was quiet, so quiet, no one home but me.  The Joyful Mysteries.  Our Blessed Mother.  Trying to concentrate on each Mystery, for me, a great chore, but in the cool quiet of the Prayer Room, it was different.  My life had slowed down a bit and one decade flowed into the next, The Early Life passing before me.  I know when I'm home sick I'm pretty useless, because I am so sick, but its nice, everyone takes care of me.  But I become so dependent on them, and usually this bothers me; I'm the one who takes care of everybody (well, actually Helen takes care of everybody, but you know what I mean...) but this time I just went with the flow.  I have to admit, it was nice not being at work for one day, even if I had to suffer through the flu.  People miss work for a lot worse things.  
I was talking about dependence.  Helen's church (two different parish's, long story...)  just started a Consecration to Jesus through Mary using True Devotion To Mary by St. Louis De Montfort.  I'd never used this book for my consecration, but I'm truly astounded by the depth that the Saint has in his knowledge of the Blessed Virgin.  I will not be long here, but how he explains the meaning of being a slave to Christ and a slave to Mary makes so much sense in the deepest depths of my heart and soul, that I knew that something was giving inside of me, long held beliefs and safety nets we're going to come down, and they have.  A slave to Christ.  A slave to Mary.  Dependence.  The world of man and the world of God, two different forms of dependence.  With one we have to gather and gain, rise, defeat, and the other we give all away.  I can't give proper words to the graces that He poured out on me these last two days.  Being sick forced me to slow down, and I was able to read, and hear read words that ignited a firestorm within me.  A homily today at the Latin Mass about grace that turned my thinking upside down.  How one can live a holy life, church every day, Rosary, confession, helping others, and then while waiting in purgatory, God gives tremendous graces to a sinner who repents on their deathbed.  Straight past you to Heaven.  The Grace of God, something we will never understand.  
But HE understands it.  
And somewhere in my heart of hearts I understood it just a little bit today, in the church, among the sweet smell of High Mass incense, something opened and poured out into my soul, like a rush of warmth.  
  God is God.  He is love, He is just and he is mysterious.  And I'm at a loss for words.  

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The March

Death, death is all around us.  You could feel it in the air.

  This past Monday H and I went with friends on the bus to Washington D.C.  for The March For Life.  This was my first time, Helen's third.  From CT is took us 7 hours, driving through the night and arriving just on time to attend the Mass at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.  This was only my second time in D.C., the first this past August to go to the Restoring Honor rally.   Let me say this; The Basilica is truly beautiful, inside and out, with all the altars off to each side.  We ended up getting lost right at the end of our ride into D.C., the Basilica not registering on the bus drivers GPS.  Go figure.  We found seats in the side altar dedicated to The Miraculous Medal.  A large video monitor provided us with the Mass, so we didn't miss a thing.  But even though this event was part of the larger event, The March, I want to focus on what stood out and still stands out to me.  Like I said, I'd never been to The March, never even protested at an abortion clinic.  This was all new ground for me.  Even the bus ride was disconcerting to me; there were no overhead lights on my side of the bus, and the none of the seats at all would recline.  Needless to say, no sleep came to me Sunday night into Monday morning.  No matter, I survived.  After Mass, a different bus brought us to an abortion clinic, no, not a clinic, a mill.  I didn't know what to expect.  When we stepped off the bus there were already people standing on both sides of the sidewalk, I think praying and singing, I can't quite remember.  A middle aged priest with that group showed us where to stand.  Almost immediately this group left, and we moved down closer to the entrance.  Young women dressed for the weather wearing yellow bibs that said Clinic Escort walked back and forth , up and down the sidewalk in front of us, I guess in order to keep the sidewalk open.  This must happen all the time, and if not, on this day at least.  A member of our group, R, one of the most spirit-filled people I know, began The Sorrowful Mysteries in a voice that was clear and strong in that cold morning air.  At about this time, the leader of our group, Hal, the retired gentleman who organizes this bus every year began to walk behind one of the women escorts. For a sign he had two pieces of cardboard held together with twine, hung around his head.  For the next hour he took turns walking behind each escort, silently, never saying a word, walking as we prayed aloud.  I was called upon to lead The third Sorrowful Mystery, The Crowning of the Thorns.  I remember starting to have a feeling of being swept up, of being a part of something that for some reason I'd never acknowledged, this feeling of, for lack of a better way to put it, Spirit of Christ, of doing something with others that, even in it's own small tiny way, was a voice.  I felt a great sorrow for what we were here for, but sorrow mingled with satisfaction.  Satisfaction in knowing that at least for this hour, the voice of God was being spoken here through His vessels, however unworthy.  We ended the rosary and began The Divine Mercy, led by D in her soft quiet voice.  We took turns leading this prayer, one leading, the rest of us following.  We finished, and our bus had not yet arrived, so we began another, this time singing. God is so good.  Even in the face of death, just footsteps from the entrance He shows Himself to us in the witnesses to our faith.  Hal, walking silently, following the footsteps of the consorts of death.  He was joined by an older woman, holding her own old sign, like Hal's a sign they use here every year, which just read Abortion Kills.  And finally a young mother with her 9 month old baby, another member of our group, she began to march on the sidewalk holding her bundled baby in her arms.  Talk about witnesses.  As we were finishing the last prayers of The Divine Mercy the bus arrived, and we all formed a line and got on board, still singing.  I was numb, but not from the cold.  As I sat down I knew that He had been present with us on that sidewalk in a very strong way, and in thinking back, probably in one way or another present to everyone who was there, from the escorts to the five motorcycle policemen who showed up halfway through our protest to all of us in our group.  Evil verses Good, right before our eyes.  The veil lifted, just a little bit.
  After the speeches, (which were very good) we began the march toward the Capitol.  R had told us to stick together, and we'll pray all twenty decades of the Rosary.  R has a beautiful melodic voice, and when he leads us in prayer his brogue comes through just a little bit.  On that day the Holy Spirit was with him especially, for I'd never seen him with such purpose.  We stuck close to him as best we could, answering him as he lead our prayers in the cold waning day.  Two priests joined us, and for awhile a young nun also walked along, replying to the strong voice that lead us above the din.  I don't recall if we made it through all 20 decades.  I don't think so.  Near the end, climbing the hill, I was cooked, my back done in by the bus ride and all the standing and walking.  We stayed only a few minutes at the top, near the end point of the march, mainly so the young kids who were with us could see the whole thing.  We turned our back on the Capitol, and made our way down to Union Station to find our bus.
  The ride home was uneventful, and I made it to work on time the next day, going with 3 hrs sleep.  I felt fine, really, still caught up in the excitement of my first march.  I really hope I don't have to go back again, but I'm afraid I will.  The culture of death is so ingrained in our society, it may never be eradicated.  During the week I thought about the whole event, the bus ride, the cold creeping into my feet as we stood listening to the speakers, the March.  How uncomfortable the whole thing had been.  How just days before last Sunday I'd moaned to myself that I'd have to gulp! sleep on the bus, something I'm not good at.  But you know where I'm going with this.  He is always here with us, leading us, comforting, us, teaching us, giving graces to those who will listen.  Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.  I heard, and saw, with my inner eye I saw.  All of what I'd complained about is nothing.  Nothing compared to the silent scream of a baby in the womb who feel the first prodding of the needle.  Nothing compared to the guilt of the mothers and yes, the fathers who finally feel the truth to what they had done.  The unregrettable remorse.  The sadness that fills my own heart thinking of the event in my life, so long ago.  Yes, I finally heard.  A long bus ride to stand in the cold?  Nothing, nothing at all to stand a be counted.  Nothing at all to raise voices together Heavenward to counter the culture of death.  

Friday, January 14, 2011

Here it is, my Cross.

  James 1: 19-25

  Keep in mind, dear brothers.  Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for a man's anger does not fulfill God's justice.  Strip away all that is filthy, every vicious excess.  Humbly welcome the word that has taken root in you, with its power to save you.  If all you do is listen to it you are deceiving yourselves.  
  A man who listens to God's word but does not put it into practice is like a man who looks into a mirror at the face he was born with:  he looks at himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looks like.  There is, on the other hand, the man who peers into freedom's ideal law and abides by it.  He is no forgetful listener, but one who carries out the law in practice.  Blest will this man be in whatever he does. 

  Sometimes God puts challenges before us that we perceive as almost impossible to overcome.  For me, these are usually issues that arise within my family, or our extended family.  A sister-in-law who is slowly destroying herself through addiction and stubbornness.  How to reach this person when so many obstacles lie between us?  Counseling a family member is so hard; it was much easier at the shelter.  We listened to them, tucked them in at night and then went home, hoping we did our best.  With a family member sometimes your charity falls on deaf ears, and we must accept whatever God gives back to us in humbleness and humility.  No shouting or screaming.  Just trust in God.   Oh, is that hard when the person your dealing with is someone you hold dear, someone you love.  Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger...  this reading from the Letter of James, which turned up as the Reading, Wednesday Evening Prayer has been lying uneasily within me since then.  Act on this word.  If all you do is listen to it, you are deceiving yourselves.  And it is so easy for me to deceive myself!  It seems like, to me, there are two types of men (not really, but for me, right now in my life, this is how men (or women) appear to me).  One is the man who appears cold and self-centered, who doesn't care much for his fellow men, who shows this by word and at times by deed, and the man who is always trying to do good, the one who appears to be lead by God at all times.  Who am I?  Well, the second man, of course.  Right? I am, aren't I?  Maybe not, not as much as I thought.  This morning I was shown an act of kindness in the small exploits of three of my co-workers.  One worker going out of his way to help two others dig out their car covered over by the snow from the recent storm.  The person who did the helping?  Why, the one who looks down on his fellow men. He went out of his way to help, just because he could.  And what does this have to do with the one who appears to be lead by God at all times.  A lot, because in my overblown view of myself I think I am he, lead by God.  Yet this week, this Wednesday evening I failed yet again in carrying out the law in practice.  When a call came to me to help a woman with problems she has, silly to me and small, but to her, life threatening issues, I found reasons and excuses not to go to her, not to reach out to her.  The roads are completely snow covered.  I've been at work since 5:30 this morning.  Whatever.  I'll be there tomorrow, right after work.  There, that calmed her down.   (But not really, what I didn't know until later).  And something gnawed at me, that kind of gnawing that one gets when you know you didn't do something quite right, even though there were many solid reasons for not doing it.  So the righteous man who is full of himself, the one 'lead by God' finds reasons for not being what has vowed to be, a Franciscan, a follower of Francis, a follower of Jesus, for crying out loud, and instead looks at himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looks like.  I was that man for two days, but God would not let me forget what I'd done.  Maybe He has too much invested in me, or something.  When He wants to get His point across He finds His ways.  A written word or two here or there, or an example of what a person should be like, right before my eyes.  He doesn't use shame, we bring that on ourselves, we know when we have wronged someone.  I made up my mind this morning that I'd call L on my way home and stop over and help her with anything I could.  She's very handicapped and only gets along with Helen and I, really, in the whole world.  And I dismissed her in her time of need because it inconvenienced me.  Unbelievable.  When I talked with Helen at mid-day she said L had called, was wondering if I could stop over after work.  Helen said that she already told L I would.  Helen knew.  When I got there I listened as she talked, told me of her problems of the last three days.  She is very sick, and weak.  I did what I could, and told her I'd be back tomorrow afternoon to finish what I'd started.  But there won't be any finishing, not really.  L will always need me, need Helen and I.  There are so many L's in the world, so many sister-in-laws.  And I must be there to help them, every one of them, without complaint.  That is the part that I must learn, no, not learn, but to love.  His commandment to Love Thy Neighbor bore into me with its full force today in all it's terrible beauty.  Terrible for me, for I had to re-learn it all over again.  Here it is, my Cross, I believe your following Me, am I correct?  Oh, yes my Lord Jesus, you are correct.  There is no way I could ever put this down, not ever again.  I may fall, stumble, cry out, but Lord as I help you, please, help me.  


Friday, January 07, 2011

Seek His Face

Once Friday comes I always breath a big sigh of relief; not because of anything I did, but because I know left to myself I'd never be able to hang in there for 52 hours a week, 50 weeks a year.  Talk about being picked up and helped along!  Whatever happens during the week always seems to be overshadowed by my working job.  Anything spiritual always seems to be done only halfway, before sleep overcomes me.  I'm not complaining!  I'm so very lucky to even have a job, never mind one that provides me with overtime.  I see the terrible situation many people are in.  Some very good friends of ours are not doing the best financially, and I can see the effects of this strain on their family.  As Seculars H and I know how we're supposed to treat this material world, but I think it's easier to despise money when all your bills are mostly paid, even if one is living paycheck to paycheck.  I've never been truly penniless, though in my heart I really do want to chuck this whole 9-5 routine, sell the house, rent a small room... but that's just one part of me speaking, and I'm not sure, really which part of me that is.  Like I said, everything is easier with a roof over your head.  Much to think about in these troubled times when it comes to money.  
  I try to not think about money much.  I really don't see too much of it; direct deposit and H takes care of the check book.  I don't take an allowance, so this I go for weeks at times without any money in my wallet.  I don't need much walking around money it seems.  I bring my coffee with me, get gas once a week with a debit card, that's about it.  All of this frees me to live my life as Franciscan as I can be, in this secular world.  Living as Franciscan as I can is a process that for me began as an idea of a way of life to actually living it.  I know that sounds simplistic, and it is, in a way, but only by the grace of God has this been allowed to happen.  Nothing happens on it's own; God is behind it all.  I was thinking today about my life many years ago, 30 plus years ago, and how I was so very far from God in my thoughts and actions.  God allowing his child use of free will, which turned out to be free will gone wild.  Where is God in one's life then?  Silent?  No, He's never really silent, we just choose not to hear Him.  He must just take a few steps back and wait.  Perhaps He was just...  I don't know.  I can't possibly know what He was thinking about me.  In the end, in my darkest hour, He pulled me back, pulled me back up onto my feet and sent me on my way, in a new direction.  Maybe He said something to me, quietly, in His silent voice.  Did He?  I don't know that, either.  I think He just pointed me in the direction of His Path and my guardian angel began to whisper Seek His Face, over and over at different times.  No split-second epiphany for me, just a long walk, mostly one step forward, two back.  Only now does the Path seem fairly stable.  I try to keep Him before me all day long, really before me, not in the background.  All the rest of the world seems to fall into step behind Him when I think like that, just the way it should.  
  Tomorrow I'm finally going to confession, the first time in about two months.  I know that sounds crazy, but I've had a real problem either getting to the heart of the matter in confession or dealing with myself before, during and after confession.  Confused?  I am.  The problem is I never feel like I've done a good confession.  Problems arise in the confessional; I forget things, I talk too much, I don't talk enough.  All week I've been dealing with this in my head, and I think tomorrow I'm going to go back to having my confession heard behind the screen instead of face to face.  I have this feeling that in the face to face confession, especially knowing the priest personally I really can't free myself to say what has to be said.  I'm hoping that the screen will do just that; act as a screen between me and Father.  
  Oh gosh, there was so much more I had to say but that was hours ago.  Night is upon us, and sleep calls.  First Friday.  The spirit and souls of the just are perhaps a bit more evident on this night, at least I like to think so.  First Friday means Nocturnal Adoration, and for us, rising at 3:30 am to be at All Saints Church for 4:00.  Blessed Jesus, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Oh Lord,
my words pour forth
from my lips
but are they always from my heart?
Is Your Name
ever on my tongue?
Oh Lord, my God
help me to ever
Seek Your Face,
to never turn my inner eye
from You,
to for ever hear Your Voice.