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Friday, September 28, 2012

Sorrowful Mysteries

I find myself deeply involved in the Sorrowful Mysteries when I pray the Rosary.  My "favorite" mysteries are the Joyful, but the deepest meditations - the ones in which I sometimes get lost - are those I find in the Sorrowful Mysteries.  Today I thought about the cross - who will carry their cross?  How many of us just stand there looking at it, afraid to pick it up - afraid of the possible pain and suffering involved?  Are there many of us willing to endure the pain of the scourging?  Or even small mortifications, like fasting?  Doesn't our society look upon suffering with derision, as something to be avoided at all costs?  Hasn't our focus become pleasure, on our own well-being, on our own will?  How many refuse to follow our Lord?  Refuse to follow the sorrowful path, which leads to final death and resurrection...even while still in the world, dying to our self so that we may rise in Him?

I find that the more I travel this path, the more I realize how far I am from the "ideal".  The more I see my faults, my failings, my sins.  But the more I see how far I have to go, the more willing I am to pick up my cross; the more willing I am to follow Jesus; the more willing I am to let Him lead me down the path he has chosen for me.  Ultimately, the more willing I am to search for and find JOY.

Who Do People Say You Are?

In today's Gospel, Jesus asks his apostles who people say he is.  Then he asked who they said he was.  That made me think:  To the world, who is this Jesus?  I hear he was a good man, a prophet, an historical figure, an enlightened master, a champion of social justice, misguided, non-existent.  Even people who claim to be Christian will sometimes answer first with one of the above.  It just isn't politically correct to "believe" anymore, is it?

So I asked myself, who do I say Jesus is?  (I know, not really fair)  Here is what I wrote, in the order in which I wrote:  The Son of God, My Lord & My Savior (who died for my sins and rose from the dead), My Love & My Life, My One & My All, My Lord & My God.

All I need is found in Him.
All I desire is within His hands.
He is that for which I long.
His is the breath that sustains me.
It is within His Sacred Heart that I place all my trust.

Would that my mind and heart were one, united in my desire, joined to my true Love, working together to do His Will.

**Who do people say you are?  If they wouldn't say you are a Christian...why not?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fill Me

At the risk of embarrassing myself, I am posting the prayer I wrote this morning -- for all 6 people who peruse my blog on any given day!  It is such a challenge to put such feelings into words, for I, at least, don't have the words and what I write seems so inadequate and also so easy for others to misconstrue, especially realizing the imagery that I tend to use.  Well, throwing caution to the winds, here goes:

I want You so deep within me
Beyond-beyond- I know not the words
I want to be filled with You
Full of Your Light and Your Presence
I want You as I have wanted nothing else
In truth, it is You I NEED
For without You I would have
No breath, no life, no soul
You are that which I seek
All I desire is contained within You
You are everything
Clean me of my attachments
Clear my heart of my own will
It is to You I long to cling
Your Will alone I long to follow
Drain me of myself
And fill me again with only You

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What Makes Me Cry

I only cry when I am alone, or can reasonably be assured of no-one bothering me.  I cry during Eucharistic Adoration, and once I cried after a confession - the priest on the other side of the screen made me feel absolutely terrible about myself.  I got over it.  Good music can cause me to cry if I allow myself to be immersed within it.  Sad movies, sad stories, yes, these too.  But there is one thing that never fails to sadden me to the point of tears:  disrespect for life.

Of course, disrespect for life takes many forms.  When someone says they are "pro-life", abortion comes to mind.  But respect for life is not limited to the unborn.  The prisoner on death row, civilians in the middle of a war zone, the terminal or very elderly patient thinking about euthanasia, and many, many more situations are "life issues".  When we begin to lack a respect for life, I think we lose much of what makes us human.

A few years ago I heard of someone who had just found out she was pregnant.  She didn't want to be, so she had an abortion.  That made me cry.  It also caused me to start a Rosary for Life at our local church.  No one joined.  That, too, made me cry.  Is life really that controversial?  Can we not agree as humans that life is important enough to be valued?  Without life, what else matters?  If we aren't alive, then does universal health care really matter?  Does national defense really matter?  Does whether we have 3 or 6 county commissioners matter?  I am not an eloquent writer or speaker, but I feel to my core that we must value life, and if we do not then we are circling the drain faster than I thought.  We are sinking into an abyss, into a darkness. 

Here in Washington State the "Death with Dignity" act passed a couple of years ago.  If you are terminally ill, with a very short life expectancy, you can ask for a prescription which will provide you with drugs to end your life.  Of course, one must find a doctor who is willing to write this prescription.  Apparently that isn't too difficult to find.  This makes me cry, too.  I cannot discuss it intelligently right now - maybe later I will write some more on this.  Right now there is a situation hitting too close to home for me, and all I can do is cry and pray and cry some more.  Intelligent discussion will have to wait for another day.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

We went up this past weekend to the "mountains", probably our last opportunity before it starts to snow.  It was warm!  74 down at the ranger station and probably about 10 degrees cooler up top.  We have had a warm, dry September and lots of people were on the road doing the same thing we were doing.  But as is usual, once we parked and hit a trail, the people thinned out and we were pretty much on our own. 

I really miss serious hiking, since all we've done in the past few years have been simple walks.  I long for the day when I can put my Alice Pack on (yeah, I know - old fashioned me: external frame, army surplus - but hey, it works!), strap on a tent and a couple days' worth of provisions and just go.  Into the wilderness.  Into silence.  Into some time alone. Just me and the bears - well, OK, I can live without the bears!!

Well, here are some pictures.  I'm not going to label them, but the big snow-covered mountain is Mount Baker, which is an active, glaciated stratovolcano.  Pretty neat!

We were a couple weeks early for fall colors, but unexpectedly came upon wildflowers in bloom.  Hope you enjoy the photos!  Have a great week.

"Become Who You Receive."

There is a parish off-island in which I feel at home.  The first time I went to this particular parish it was so my son could receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation prior to his First Communion.  It is a moderately-sized parish run by the Carmelite order, and I have been nothing but impressed by the priests whom I have met there.  And the parishioners - friendly in a non-pretentious, natural sort of way:  ready smiles, look you in the eye and say "Good Morning", a wide-range of ages, lots of real "community" spirit.  And the Mass is celebrated with great care and reverence, the rubrics are attended to, the Tabernacle is in plain view directly behind the altar.  Now, about the music :-)...but nothing in life is perfect!

We were traveling this past weekend, just taking a quick weekend trip.  I made it down for the 9am Mass, and their new Pastor had finally arrived, this being his first weekend at the parish.  Well, he started things off with a bang, good solid homily beginning with a story to drive home the point that we need to know who we are (by virtue of our Baptism), and that he could talk in such a radical way about the Real Presence - and he did speak strongly about the Eucharist - because he knew who he was.  We were challenged to know who we are and to act on that knowledge.  There were a couple hiccups in the technical running, which he handled well - the sacristan had apparently forgotten to include a corporal (oops!), which Fr. J then had to disappear into the sacristy to find, and the altar servers were not accustomed to some of his preferences.  But I am glad this parish has a good, orthodox priest who doesn't seem afraid to speak on Catholic doctrine.  The Western Discalced Carmelites seem to form their priests quite well.  This weekend I'll see if he is on par in regard to the Sacrament of Reconciliation with the two other OCD priests I've met at this parish. 

One thing Fr. J said, and I do believe I have heard it somewhere before, is that when we receive the Eucharist, we should "Become Who [we] receive".   I have of late been focusing on the Eucharist, and my worthy reception.  I carefully prepare by really paying attention during the parts of the Liturgy leading up to the Eucharist - my son and I have studied the Liturgy closely this summer, so this certainly has increased my awareness of many things - and then saying prayers of preparation as I wait.  I have noticed over the past few weeks that I feel an enormous sense of anticipation in this waiting but it is mixed in with an equally enormous sense of awe of what (who) I am about to receive.  I have begun the practice of kneeling to receive, which I came to after much study and prayer and thought.  It only seems proper to kneel when I receive my Lord.  When I arrive back at my pew/chair, though, it is almost like a post-adrenaline feeling of shakiness.  I tremble, my hands shake, I have to kneel or sit down.  I don't see how people can continue to stand when within them is Jesus - Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.  I'm certain someone could discuss the psychological aspects of this feeling I have, but all I can say is I completely understand the stories I have heard of many saints who could not get through the Mass without tears - and their desire to immediately say or participate in another Mass of thanksgiving, for there are times I could sit for 30 minutes or more, just sit with my Lord, and be with Him as he physically resides within me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My favorite 4-yr old

The younger of my red-headed boys, a solid 4 years old with a mischievous twinkle permanently in his eyes (we knew we were in trouble when he was born and we couldn't get off-island since he was in such a hurry!), was found in the bathroom last week draping towels over himself, looking suspiciously like he was trying to fashion a chasuble.  Well, he was.  I asked him what he was doing and he raised his arms out to the side and said he was pretending to be a priest.  Yesterday, he said "I want to be a priest when I grow up."  He made this momma proud - I'd love for my boys to seriously consider the priesthood as a vocation, and if called, to answer the call in the affirmative...but only if they decide to join the OPs (right, Fr. P.??).  

Speaking of Dominicans, if you enjoy sacred music done well, I just discovered a great little CD (well, I guess it discovered me).  Although not of "professional quality", it is quite good and I have been enjoying it immensely.  Purchase of the CD supports the ministries of the Western Dominican Province.  Here's the info: .

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11

This year the anniversary of Sept. 11 snuck up on me.  I had become enmeshed in my own life and hadn't been paying much attention to what time of year it was.  Each year I do three things on 9/11:  pray, look through Life: One Nation, America Remembers September 11, 2001, and read Captain America: The New Deal.  People are often surprised at the last one - why would I read a comic book to remember 9/11?  Well, if you've read it you'll understand - and if you haven't, then you should!

The first words are: "It doesn't matter where you thought you were going today." Then several panels later: "You're part of the bomb now." And on page two, with an amazingly poignant background:  "Oh, God...How could this happen here? We've got to be strong -- Stronger than we've ever been. If we lose hope here-- Bury our faith in this darkness -- Then nothing else matters.  They've won."   Then Cap, at the site searching for survivors - seeing and reaching for a hand, thinks:  "This time...This time...Let it not be...Too late"  Much of the book is written from the mind of Steve Rogers/Capt. America.  Still at the site he thinks (over several panels and two pages): "Is this the face of your Great Satan?  Is this your offering to your God?  Your worship?  Your prayer?  Butchers...Tell the children this is a holy war.  But we've seen what stands behind you.  Heard them screaming open.  The gates of hell."  It is incredibly written - incredibly drawn - it probably helps to know about the character, but I have found this to be the best way to remember, for it is not just pictures, but the story of one man's journey through his own guilt and pain, and betrayal.  I say through, for he does go right through - one would expect nothing less of Captain America.

My husband this morning said he remembered going to get breakfast that morning, 11 years ago.  We were in  a hotel on a road trip, in Anacortes, WA, just prior to boarding a ferry for San Juan Island - it all seemed so unreal.  Even once we arrived at our room in Roche Harbor, San Juan Island, and met up with his friend, we couldn't stop talking about it and watching it.  But when our then 2 year old began to fly his Hot Wheels Plane into the sides of things, we got the picture that it was time to turn the news off! 

Remember, pray, reflect.  Forgive. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

It Is Not Good For Man To Be A Lone...Goose

Yesterday I had a great adventure - I drove to Seattle.  Now this may not sound like much, but I haven't done any city driving since we moved 10 years ago and I drove in New Orleans rush hour traffic to the airport.  I must say that my repertoire of "colorful language" has greatly diminished in that decade. 

So I awoke at 5:30am - and was out the door by 6:15am to catch the 7:15am boat.

View from carport as I was preparing to leave.

Waiting in line for the ferry - hey, why do we still have an IHC parking decal?
(and it's still valid!!)

View from the parking lot. 
The boat was running just a little bit late, but we loaded up, and we were off.  It was a bit chilly (low 50s), so I didn't get too many pictures...because I'm a wimp, and once I was curled up in my blanket I really didn't want to get out of the car!  But, prior to the cocoon stage, I did manage to take a few pictures from the boat.

Looking back at the ferry landing as we make our way to Shaw Island.
Interisland ferry coming in to dock.
Kinda hard to take pictures as we head directly into the sun - and, did I mention
it was cold??
I snuggled up for the rest of the ride (yes, I know, I'm anti-social; sure I could have gone upstairs where it would be warm, but then I'd have to deal with....people).  This particular ferry trip takes about 75 minutes total.

Then after stopping for fuel, I just drove - I'd really like to thank all those drivers on I-5 Saturday morning for driving well; it made all the difference.  So, why was I heading down to the Big City?:  To meet with a potential Spiritual Director. (Thanks for the tip on those "Seattle Dominicans" Fr. P.!!)   The meeting went well - I never do well at first meetings, but I made it through and didn't seem to shock Fr. L. too much :-).  So I got back in the car and headed back up to do some quick shopping (milk is $3/gallon cheaper on the mainland!) and find my way to St. Mary's for Mass.  Beautiful Mass - fantastic men's chant choir, reverent and orthodox pastor, prepared homily, and for once the parishoners were actually almost friendly!  After Mass I headed down to the ferry landing for my return trip on the 7:20pm boat. 

And now for a different perspective:

"Perspective" shot of the Anacortes ferry landing
The boat wasn't full, so I got a "choice" spot (purely by luck). 

Picture from the car of the view front of the ferry boat - when it is full, cars
are parked all the way down the "hill" and right up to the rope.
This boat will hold approximately 144 cars, and 2000 people.
Just some more random shots from the boat (I used our Canon Eos Rebel SLR: I only brought one lens, the 18-55mm, but wished I had brought the others.  Oh well! Next time.).  It has two levels of car-parking on each side with a large section in the middle for trucks and large vehicles. I was so enamored of the water (as usual) that I forgot to turn and take a picture of the inside of the boat. But everything that comes to the island must come by water or air - at least we are ferry served; some islands aren't.

Some of the "traffic" we encounter on our highway home.

Ahh, the road home!

Turning into the sun - I began and ended my day
traveling toward the Light...what more can one ask?

A little cross-traffic.

Feeling artistic.

Not the best sunset shot, but it's what I've got!!
 Most of the evening shots were taken at the bow of the boat, as we were clipping along at about 15 knots.  I had forgotten just how much fun it is to lean into the strong, cold wind, attempting to steady myself against both the wind and the boat's movement while taking a picture.  I was grinning from ear to ear by the time I was done - simple pleasures, I suppose.  And the car sure felt nice and warm by the time I got back into it!

I was home by around 9pm - in bed by 9:30.  Long day, but worth it.  Really. Worth. It.

So I was awake this morning around 5:30am, in the silent pre-dawn hours, and I heard a lone goose fly by the house.  Sounded lonely.  It reminded me of part of the homily I had heard at Mass.  We are not meant to walk the spiritual path alone - we are to have companions with us.  Just as Jesus sent the disciples out two-by-two, just as there were two on the road to Emmaus - we should seek, if necessary, spiritual companions and spiritual directors.  This priest had had a seminarian with him for the summer, and he told a story of how much he enjoyed talking with him throughout the summer.  The day after he left, Father was making breakfast and called out, asking the seminarian if he would like some breakfast, too - he was, of course, met with silence.  This goose, flying alone, looking for his flock brought this to me:  so many of our diocesan priests live alone.  Those who live in community (even if they don't like their community members!), are not "alone" - they always have a brother nearby.  It solves part of a puzzle for me, and has added an extra dimension to the prayers I regularly pray for, what is becoming, a large number of priests.

Hope you enjoyed the trip - no pictures of the "city", but I was trying to get in and out as quickly as possible!!