Tuesday, June 30, 2009

PROTECTING GOD'S CHILDREN

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In two weeks, our Second Annual Summer Soccer Camp will begin. Earlier this month, we held two organizational meetings. We are blessed to have many talented and faith-filled volunteers. Many of whom, are public school teachers giving of themselves and their time over the summer, to help the children of our parish family gain new skills and insight.

There are many new faces this year, which is always wonderful.

Tonight, I will be holding a Virtus: Protecting God's Children training session, so we can place all our wonderful new volunteers with the children. For the most part, everyone willingly participates in these sessions...understanding, that while we are not part of the problem...it is in our power to be the solution.

At our last soccer meeting, however, one individual's displeasure at being required to take the training was loud and clear. I simply don't understand the reticence, reluctance, and seeming fears of impending doom, which surround the announcement that volunteers must attend ONE on-site session, to arm themselves with the information necessary, to keep our most precious gifts from God...OUR CHILDREN...safe!

We are all too familiar with the sins of the past in regard to pedophilia, in all institutions that serve children, including the Church. Why then, when a program is put in place to bring awareness to the problem, in the hope that not a single child more will suffer...do good people balk?

Isn't the health and well-being of a child more valuable than the few hours spent learning how to protect that child?

Is it fear of facing reality...seeing that the "bogeyman" looks just like us?

Is it fear of facing our own behaviors...recognizing the changes we must make in ourselves, in order to keep children safe?

Is it just anger at being put upon one more time for the sins of others?

Is it any or all of that...or something more?

I really don't understand, because to me, it is very simple...children have been hurt badly in the past...their innocence stolen away.

Children are being hurt right now in the present...their innocence stolen away.

Some have taken their own lives to escape the pain...some more, very likely, will take their own lives to escape the pain.

WE CAN DO SOMETHING TO CHANGE THAT DYNAMIC!

WE MUST DO SOMETHING TO CHANGE THAT DYNAMIC!

The light has been shined on the darkness.

Why would some rather stay in the dark?


How about YOU?

What are YOU being required to do that makes YOU balk?

WHY IS THAT?

How are YOU going to reconcile YOURSELF to it?

Monday, June 29, 2009

GOD vs SCIENCE

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I received this in my e-mail the other day. Unfortunately, the author is unknown. I hope it speaks to you the way it did to me:

A professor begins his school year with a lecture to the students, "Let me explain the problem science has with religion."

The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand.

"You're a Christian, aren't you, son?"

"Yes sir," the student says.

"So you believe in God?"

"Absolutely."

"Is God good?"

"Sure! God's good."

"Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?"

"Yes."

"Are you good or evil?"

"The Bible says I'm evil."

The professor grins knowingly.

"Aha! The Bible!"

He considers for a moment.

"Here's one for you. Let's say there's a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?"

"Yes sir, I would."

"So you're good."

"I wouldn't say that."

"But why not say that? You'd help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn't."

The student does not answer, so the professor continues.

"He doesn't, does He? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Hmmm? Can you answer that one?"

The student remains silent.

"No, you can't, can you?" the professor says.

He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax.

"Let's start again, young fella. Is God good?"

"Errr yes," the student says.

"Is Satan good?"

The student doesn't hesitate on this one. "No."

"Then where does Satan come from?"

The student falters. "From God"

"That's right. God made Satan, didn't he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?"

"Yes, sir."

"Evil's everywhere, isn't it? And God did make everything, correct?"

"Yes."

"So who created evil?"

The professor continued, "If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil."

Again, the student has no answer.

"Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?"

The student squirms on his feet.

"Yes."

"So who created them?"

The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question.

"Who created them?"

There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized.

"Tell me," he continues on to another student.

"Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?"

The student's voice betrays him and cracks.

"Yes, professor, I do."

The old man stops pacing.

"Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?"

"No sir. I've never seen Him."

"Then tell us if you've ever heard your Jesus?"

"No, sir, I have not."

"Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelled your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?"

"No, sir, I'm afraid I haven't."

"Yet you still believe in him?"

"Yes."

"According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn't exist. What do you say to that, son?"

"Nothing," the student replies.

"I only have my faith."

"Yes, faith," the professor repeats. "And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith."

The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of his own.

"Professor, is there such thing as heat?"

"Yes," the professor replies. "There's heat."

"And is there such a thing as cold?"

"Yes, son, there's cold too."

"No sir, there isn't."

The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested.

The room suddenly becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain.

"You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don't have anything called 'cold'. We can hit up to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can't go any further after that.. There is no such thing as cold, otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest -458 degrees. Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it."

Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a hammer.

"What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?"

"Yes," the professor replies without hesitation. "What is night if it isn't darkness?"

"You're wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light, but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it's called darkness, isn't it? That's the meaning we use to define the word. In reality, darkness isn't. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn't you?"

The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester.

"So what point are you making, young man?"

"Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed."

The professor's face cannot hide his surprise this time.

"Flawed? Can you explain how?"

"You are working on the premise of duality," the student explains. "You argue that there is life and then there's death, a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can't even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it. Now tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?"

"If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do."

"Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?"

The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.

"Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?"

The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has subsided.

"To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you an example of what I mean."

The student looks around the room.

"Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor's brain?"

The class breaks out into laughter.

"Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor's brain, felt the professor's brain, touched or smelled the professor's brain? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir. So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?"

Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face unreadable.

Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers.

"I guess you'll have to take them on faith."

"Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life," the student continues.

"Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?"

Now uncertain, the professor responds, "Of course, there is. We see it every day. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil."

To this the student replied,

"Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light."

The professor sat down.


In reality, there is only one sin: turning away from God. And there is simply one conversion: returning to God's love.
~ John Dear on Peace ~

Friday, June 26, 2009

LIFE IS LIKE A CUP OF COFFEE



So, how about YOU?



In YOUR life, is it the "coffee" or the "cup?"



Are YOU savoring YOUR "coffee," or struggling to get YOURSELF a better "cup?"



Are YOU coveting someone else's "cup?"



Whose?



Why?



Because YOU really need it, or because YOU just don't want THEM TO HAVE IT?



How are YOU going to change YOURSELF, so YOU can savor YOUR "coffee," without a second thought to someone else's "cup?"

Thursday, June 25, 2009

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF DRIVING

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As has become my habit the last couple of months, I left church yesterday afternoon, and began the drive straight down Horseblock Road to my aunt's house, to take care of the daily chores there. As I came closer to the fireworks company, I noticed crime scene tape cordoning off a large area of the westbound side of the road. Vehicles were parked on the shoulder of my side of the road, and police cars were scattered over a very large area of the opposite side of the road...lights flashing!

Then I saw him...

A lone body lying in the middle of the roadway covered with a blanket.

I guess everyone was waiting for the coroner, because NO ONE was anywhere near the man who had just been killed, in what I later learned was a motorcycle-truck accident.

As the good sisters of Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament taught us so many years ago, whenever we see or hear police cars, fire trucks or sirens...

I began to pray and yes, even cry as I continued on my way.

I felt so sorry for whom I later learned was a young man, just lying there ALL ALONE, with NO ONE to hold his hand or comfort him as he passed from this world to the next.

I prayed for Saint Michael to lead him to our Father in heaven. I prayed that Christ would welcome him, even as He consoled the young man's family, as they too, begin a new way of being...without their loved one.

It makes me crazy the way people drive on Long Island. Like everything else in so many people's lives, driving has become more an exercise in ME and I, rather than in a safe mode of moving from Point A to Point B.

On June 17, 2007, the Vatican issued the Ten Commandments of Driving. Just as so many threw the Vatican out of the bedroom with Humanae Vitae...so many scoffed at the Vatican's joining us in the car each and every day.

If we could only learn to listen...how much easier, happier, and lengthy could life be?!?

I do not pretend to know how this fatal accident occurred. I did not witness the actual occurrence, I only saw the aftermath...the devastation.

I did not witness the crash that ultimately killed my brother in 1967, I only live the aftermath...the devastation.

As I taught my two boys how to drive, I reminded them, and still do to this day, that when they are behind the wheel of a car, they have freedom in their hands...in their hands as well, is a potential one-ton weapon of mass destruction...proceed cautiously.

I pray that YOU, too will realize that YOU have the power over life and death with EVERY action YOU take, when YOU are behind the wheel...or handlebars...of ANY vehicle!

Please Proceed Cautiously!


The Ten Commandments of Driving:

1. You shall not kill.

2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.

3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.

4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.

5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.

6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.

7. Support the families of accident victims.

8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.

9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.

10. Feel responsible toward others.

In loving memory of Joseph L. Malack ~ May 8, 1948 - January 16, 1967 ~

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

PART ONE IN A SERIES

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As we begin the Year For Priests, I have been reflecting on the many good men I have known and/or worked with over the years. While there are a very small handful of negative experiences I have had, the many, many good priests I have known far outnumber the few questionable experiences I have had.

Therefore, from time to time I will be telling of my experiences with the true "Alter Christi" I have encountered:

When my older son, now 23 years old, was an infant, my husband and I took him to mass one Sunday morning. He began to fuss, so I took out a bottle to quiet him. An elderly lady sitting in the pew in front of us saw me feeding my son as she turned to sit back down, and with a horrible face, snapped at me that it was not the time or place to be feeding my infant.

It WAS a bottle...it WAS NOT dripping...I WAS NOT nursing..It WAS NOT noisy...IT WAS A BOTTLE OF FORMULA!

Yet, I had so offended this woman by what she considered to be sacrilege, that she let me know it, and her companion as well. I was beside myself.

The next Sunday, I stayed home with my baby. The week after that, we went to a later mass, sat way in the back, and, did not bring any bottles, so as not to insult any elderly ladies.

BAD IDEA!!

As the visiting priest stepped into the center aisle and began his homily, my son began to fuss. I could not quiet him, so I got up. As I stepped into the aisle...

HORRORS!! THE VISITING PRIEST STOPPED ME IN MY TRACKS!

He asked me if I was leaving because the baby was crying. I just nodded my head sheepishly, as I began to turn to leave.

He told me to STOP! And, to return to my seat, as he walked down the aisle toward us.

As Roseanne Roseannadanna would say: "I thought I was gonna DIE!!"

But, I did what I was told.

This priest then did a complete about face in his homily, and instead began to preach on Jesus telling the little children to come to him, and how we are not to get in their way!

Had he been sitting near us, two weeks previously?!?

When he reached my child and I, he blessed my son, and made it pefectly clear that we were welcome at mass anytime, no matter what my son's demeanor might be. And, that the rest of the congregation were to echo his sentiments with ALL children...always!

Twenty-three years later, I still remember that sermon, that priest, and, how I prayed the floor would open up and swallow me as he just kept talking, and talking, and talking about how we must always allow the children to come to Jesus, etc. even, as EVERY eye was upon us!

I have only seen that particular priest on one other occasion over the years, when he was doing another mission in another parish. Yet, clearly, he has left an indelible impression upon me.

When young families tell me how difficult it is to bring the children and keep them completely quiet during mass, and how they do not want to disturb those around them, I tell them the story of this wonderful priest who welcomed a crying infant, AND an embarrassed new mother, because he knew it was what Christ wanted!

And, I pass on the most memorable homily I have ever heard, even as I welcome the little children...just as this child AND her child were welcomed, fussing and all, so many years ago!

WE THANK YOU, LORD, FOR YOUR WELCOMING AND UNDERSTANDING PRIESTS!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

THE PASTOR'S SON

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This came in my e-mail the other day. The author is unknown. I hope it speaks to YOU the way it did to me:

Every Sunday afternoon, after the morning service at the church, the Pastor and his eleven year old son would go out into their town and hand out Gospel Tracts. This particular Sunday afternoon, as it came time for the Pastor and his son to go to the streets with their tracts, it was very cold outside, as well as pouring rain.

The boy bundled up in his warmest and driest clothes and said, "OK, dad, I'm ready."

His Pastor dad asked, "Ready for what?"

"Dad, it's time we gather our tracts together and go out.'"

Dad responds, "Son, it's very cold outside and it's pouring rain."

The boy gives his dad a surprised look, asking, "But Dad, aren't people still going to Hell, even though it's raining?'"

Dad answers, "Son, I am not going out in this weather."

Despondently, the boy asks, "Dad, can I go? Please?'"

His father hesitated for a moment then said, "Son, you can go. Here are the tracts, be careful son.'"

"Thanks Dad!" And with that, he was off and out into the rain.

This eleven year old boy walked the streets of the town going door to door and handing everybody he met in the street a Gospel Tract.

After two hours of walking in the rain, he was soaking, bone-chilled wet and down to his VERY LAST TRACT.

He stopped on a corner and looked for someone to hand a tract to, but the streets were totally deserted. Then he turned toward the first home he saw and started up the sidewalk to the front door and rang the door bell. He rang the bell, but nobody answered.

He rang it again and again, but still no one answered. He waited but still no answer. Finally, this eleven year old trooper turned to leave, but something stopped him.

Again, he turned to the door and rang the bell and knocked loudly on the door with his fist. He waited, something holding him there on the front porch!

He rang again and this time the door slowly opened. Standing in the doorway was a very sad-looking elderly lady.

She softly asked, "What can I do for you, son?"

With radiant eyes and a smile that lit up her world, this little boy said, "Ma'am, I'm sorry if I disturbed you, but I just want to tell you that * JESUS REALLY DOES LOVE YOU * and I came to give you my very last Gospel Tract which will tell you all about JESUS and His great LOVE."

With that, he handed her his last tract and turned to leave. She called to him as he departed. "Thank you, son! And God Bless You!"


Well, the following Sunday morning in church Pastor Dad was in the pulpit. As the service began, he asked, "Does anybody have testimony or want to say anything?"

Slowly, in the back row of the church, an elderly lady stood to her feet. As she began to speak, a look of glorious radiance came from her face, "No one in this church knows me. I've never been here before. You see, before last Sunday I was not a Christian. My husband passed on some time ago, leaving me totally alone in this world. Last Sunday, being a particularly cold and rainy day, it was even more so in my heart that I came to the end of the line where I no longer had any hope or will to live. So I took a rope and a chair and ascended the stairway into the attic of my home. I fastened the rope securely to a rafter in the roof, then stood on the chair and fastened the other end of the rope around my neck. Standing on that chair, so lonely and broken-hearted I was about to leap off, when suddenly the loud ringing of my doorbell downstairs startled me. I thought, 'I'll wait a minute, and whoever it is will go away.'

I waited and waited, but the ringing doorbell seemed to get louder and more insistent, and then the person ringing also started knocking loudly...I thought to myself again, 'Who on earth could this be? Nobody ever rings my bell or comes to see me.'

I loosened the rope from my neck and started for the front door, all the while the bell rang louder and louder. When I opened the door and looked I could hardly believe my eyes, for there on my front porch was the most radiant and angelic little boy I had ever seen in my life.

His SMILE, oh, I could never describe it to you! The words that came from his mouth caused my heart that had long been dead, TO LEAP TO LIFE as he exclaimed with a cherub-like voice, 'Ma'am, I just came to tell you that JESUS REALLY DOES LOVE YOU .'

Then he gave me this Gospel Tract that I now hold in my hand. As the little angel disappeared back out into the cold and rain, I closed my door and read slowly every word of this Gospel Tract. Then I went up to my attic to get my rope and chair. I wouldn't be needing them any more.

You see---I am now a Happy Child of the KING. Since the address of your church was on the back of this Gospel Tract, I have come here to personally say THANK YOU to God's little angel who came just in the nick of time and by so doing, spared my soul from an eternity in hell."

There was not a dry eye in the church. And as shouts of praise and honour to THE KING resounded off the very rafters of the building, Pastor Dad descended from the pulpit to the front pew where the little angel was seated... He took his son in his arms and sobbed uncontrollably.

Probably no church has had a more glorious moment, and probably this universe has never seen a Papa that was more filled with love & honour for his son...Except for One.

Blessed are your eyes for reading this message. Don't let this message die, read it again, and learn from it.

Heaven is for His people!

Remember, God's message CAN make the difference in the life of someone close to you.

Spread His word, and share His goodness and faithfulness.


Who are the people around YOU who need to hear the message of Hope today?

Will YOU hide in the house from the rain, like the good pastor in this story?

Or,

Will YOU be more like the eleven year old son, and shine YOUR light of hope for all to see, and come to believe in the promises of Christ?



"Whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will acknowledge him before My Father in heaven. But whoever disowns Me before men, I will disown him before My Father in heaven"
~ Matthew 10:32 ~

Monday, June 22, 2009

THE LORD'S PRAYER

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Do YOU pray The Lord's Prayer each day?

Do YOU really understand what it is YOU are saying as YOU recite this prayer that Jesus taught us?

Do YOU really mean the words YOU are reciting?

Have YOU ever even given it a second thought?

Let's see, shall we?

Our Father who art in heaven...

Okay, that's simple enough, and a very basic belief in the Catholic Christian faith. We believe that God created each one of us, and we become his "adopted" children through Baptism in Jesus Christ. We believe God has His place in heaven.

So far...so good...right?

Let's continue:

...hallowed be thy name...

We believe that the Father's name is holy, and should only be spoken with respect and reverence.

Ruh roh...here we go..."Only Spoken With Respect And Reverence!"

How are YOU doing with that?

Do YOU only use God's name in praise, worship, petition, and thanksgiving?

Or, when YOU get angry do YOU use it as a curse against God, others, or things?

YOU just got done saying God's is a HOLY name.

YOU best be behaving like YOU mean it!

...Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

We believe that the kingdom is here but not yet. That means that Jesus told us that because he walked the earth, the kingdom of God is here among us. It's not yet fulfilled ~perfect...complete... as it is in heaven ~ because we have not learned well the lessons Jesus came to teach.

The kingdom will be fulfilled on earth when we put our petty differences aside, and live in peace, love, and harmony. So, we pray, "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven..." still, we haven't learned to live it, yet.

How are YOU doing with YOUR part of that?

Is it always the Father's Will or YOUR will, that YOU are most concerned about?

The kingdom can be fulfilled if we ALL do our part!

Give us this day our daily bread...

Do YOU really believe that God supplies YOU with everything YOU need?

Do YOU notice God's hand in things, when they work out, even when YOU were positive they wouldn't, because they weren't progressing the way YOU thought they should?

Do YOU recognize that everything YOU are, have been, will be, and possess are gifts from YOUR Heavenly Father?

Do YOU offer thanks to God for YOUR very being at all times?

"It is right to give Him thanks and praise!"

...and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Oh boy, this is where it gets really serious for us.

We are not just asking for God to forgive US; but rather for Him to forgive US in the same way that WE forgive OTHERS.

This might not be going so well for us, now!

How do YOU forgive?

Do YOU forgive easily?

Do YOU forgive everyone?

Do YOU only forgive YOUR family members?

Do YOU only forgive YOUR friends?

Do YOU only forgive YOURSELF?

Do YOU forgive anyone at all?

Do YOU forgive with no strings attached?

Do YOU hold a grudge until YOU can't even remember what the argument was about in the first place?

These are very important questions; because, when YOU pray: "and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us..." YOU are telling God to forgive YOU in the way YOU do or don't forgive others.

When YOU pray those words do YOU picture those who have hurt YOU and offer forgiveness at the same time YOU are asking God to forgive YOU?

"To he who has been given much...much is expected!"

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil...

These words are very simple, right?

Save us, Lord and keep the devil away from us!

But, what are YOU doing to help YOURSELF avoid temptation?

Do YOU squelch bad thoughts as soon as they come into your head?

Do YOU avoid situations and persons that always lead YOU to behave badly?

Or, do YOU just do what YOU want, when YOU want, how YOU want, and then pray feverishly for God to get YOU out of the mess YOU made?

If that's how YOU have been doing it...the question is...how has that been working for YOU?

Is it time for YOU to try a different way of doing things?

"Help me to avoid whatever leads me to sin."

...Amen.

When we say "Amen," we are really saying: "Yes, it is so!"

So, how about it?

Now that YOU know what YOU are really saying when YOU pray The Lord's Prayer, do YOU really believe it is so?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY

A good father is one of the
most unsung,
unpraised,
unnoticed,
and yet one of the
most valuable assets
in our society.
~ Billy Graham ~

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A father is a man who expects his son
to be as good a man as he meant to be.
A father is someone who carries pictures
where his money used to be.
~ Frank Howard Clark ~



In Loving Memory of Stephen Martin Malack
~ January 10, 1923 - January 17, 1998 ~
He was the BEST DAD a girl could ever ask for;
I miss him...I pray for him and his intercession EVERY SINGLE DAY!

For Assistance In Being The BEST DAD YOU Can Be...Visit:

FATHERS FOR GOOD


FATHERS.COM ~ NATIONAL CENTER FOR FATHERING

Saturday, June 20, 2009

THE FEAST OF THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY

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Today, we observe the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; celebrated each year, on the Saturday following the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

On May 4, 1944, in the midst of World War II, Pope Pius XII decreed the whole world to be under the special protection of the Virgin Mother, by consecrating it to her Immaculate Heart.

Pope Pius XII further decreed the memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to be for the whole Church a way to obtain Mary's intercession for "peace among nations, freedom for the Church, the conversion of sinners, the love of purity and the practice of virtue."

With the escalating situation in Iran today, we can turn to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for intercession and aid.





Prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

O Most Blessed Mother, heart of love, heart of mercy, ever listening, caring, consoling, hear our prayer. As your children, we implore your intercession with Jesus your Son. Receive with understanding and compassion the petitions we place before you today, especially:

(state your intention).

We are comforted in knowing your heart is ever open to those who ask for your prayer. We trust to your gentle care and intercession, those whom we love and who are sick or lonely or hurting. Help all of us, Holy Mother, to bear our burdens in this life until we may share eternal life and peace with God forever.
Amen.

TOUGH LOVE

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It seems, I can hardly flip through the television channels or pick up a newspaper without hearing or seeing the term: "tough love!" It appears to be the phrase du jour for anyone who fancies themselvs a pop-psychologist. I even read a headline the other day that stated that our president was using "tough love" on the participants of one situation or another.

According to Merriam-Webster Online, "tough love" is a noun meaning: "love or affectionate concern expressed in a stern or unsentimental manner (as through discipline) especially to promote responsible behavior."

Typically, "tough love" refers to helping a person battling addiction, not by enabling the behavior, but rather, by forcing them to face their problem squarely in the eye.

A coach who strongly disciplines his team members, yet genuinely likes and respects them, may also be said to be employing "tough love" tactics.

In the wrong hands, however, "tough love" boils down to nothing more than an excuse for abusive behavior.

"Tough love," can be, and is, useful in certain situations; BUT, if YOU are using it on EVERYONE in YOUR life ...THEY ARE NOT the problem!

Remember:

It Is Easier To Nurture A Child Than Repair An Adult!

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Think About It!

Friday, June 19, 2009

THE SOLEMNITY OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS BEGINS THE YEAR FOR PRIESTS


SACRED HEART OF JESUS, I PLACE ALL MY TRUST IN YOU!


MAY THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS BE ADORED, AND LOVED IN ALL THE TABERNACLES OF THE WORLD, UNTIL THE END OF TIME. AMEN


MAY THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS BE PRAISED AND GLORIFIED NOW AND FOREVER. AMEN




Dear Lord,

We pray that the Blessed Mother wrap her mantle around your priests and through her intercession strengthen them for their ministry.

We pray that Mary will guide your priests to follow her own words:

"Do whatever He tells you (John 2:5).

May your priests have the heart of Saint Joseph, Mary's most chaste spouse.

May the Blessed Mother's own pierced heart inspire them to embrace all who suffer at the foot of the cross.

May your priests be holy, filled with the fire of your love, seeking nothing but your greater glory, and the salvation of souls.

Amen.

Saint John Vianney, Pray For Us.



For More Information On The YEAR FOR PRIESTS, Please Visit:

UNITED STATES CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS, SECRETARIAT OF CLERGY, CONSECRATED LIFE AND VOCATIONS

Thursday, June 18, 2009

THE COUNTRY PARSON

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Frank A. Clark, of Elkhart, Iowa, ministered to tens of thousands of people in a unique way - via his popular newspaper cartoon: "The Country Parson."

In 1963, at the height of the cartoon's popularity, it was published in 79 American newspapers, although during its lifetime it was carried by over 200.

Mr. Clark took weighty ideas, treated them with gentle humor, and lightly poked fun at human foibles and weaknesses.

Each cartoon featured a single panel with an illustration, usually of the kindly parson himself (as drawn by Denny Neal), and an aphorism to make his readers think.

Decades later, these "mini-sermons" still speak to our hearts, minds, and souls.

Here are a few of my favorites:

A baby is born with a need to be loved - and never outgrows it.

Criticism like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man's growth without destroying his roots.

There's nothing that can help you understand your beliefs more than trying to explain them to an inquisitive child.

If you haven't time to help youngsters find the right way in life, somebody with more time will help them find the wrong way.

The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them.

We find comfort among those who agree with us - growth among those who don't.

Sins are kinda like rabbits - turn a couple of 'em loose and the first thing you know there's a whole bunch of new ones.

A Bible that's falling apart usually belongs to a person who isn't.

Modern man is frantically trying to earn enough to buy things he's too busy to enjoy.

Why not upset the apple cart? If you don't, the apples will rot anyway.

A man's conscience, like a warning line on the highway, tells him what he shouldn't do / but it does not keep him from doing it.

I'd rather see folks doubt what's true than accept what isn't.

We're all generous, but with different things, like time, money, talent - criticism.


Which ones speak to YOUR heart, mind, and soul?

What are YOU going to do about it?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

THE MOST HOLY ROSARY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

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"Love the Madonna and pray the rosary, for her rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today." ~ St. Padre Pio ~



"My impression is that the Rosary is of the greatest value not only according to the words of Our Lady at Fátima, but according to the effects of the Rosary one sees throughout history. My impression is that Our Lady wanted to give ordinary people, who might not know how to pray, this simple method of getting closer to God." ~ Sister Lucia, one of the seers of Fátima ~

THE MYSTERIES AND PRAYERS OF THE ROSARY

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"WE INTERRUPT OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING FOR THIS IMPORTANT MESSAGE!"

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DISCLAIMER: I am NOT an attorney; however, some things are just good old fashioned common sense! Should YOU find yourself in the following situation, SPEAK TO AN ATTORNEY BEFORE YOU SAY OR DO ANYTHING!

Apparently, when my aunt was applying for credit with banks, shopping shows, food catalogs, clothes catalogs, and sundry many others...she put me down on all the accounts as the person to contact when she could not be reached.

And, that is what they are now doing. Offering to "let me" settle my aunt's debt so I will not receive any more annoying telephone calls.

At the beginning of each telephone call they tell me that the call is an attempt to collect a debt, and that any information I may give them will be used to collect that debt. They then go on to say that I am not personally responsible for the debt (You've got that right!)

These calls are coming to my home...EVERY SINGLE DAY!

The gentleman who called this morning gave me the usual spiel. I told him that I am not in a position to settle the matter at this time. I explained that the will is in probate and until the probate judge rules, the bills cannot be paid.

He went on to explain that the interest would stop accruing on the loan if I PAID THE DEBT WITH MY OWN CREDIT CARD!!

ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!

I told the gentleman that since he himself had told me in the beginning of the call that I WAS NOT PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEBT...that I would not be making it my responsibility by CHARGING IT TO MY OWN CREDIT CARD!

He tried to pressure me to take advantage of this one time only chance to settle the debt, and stop him from calling.

I again declined. He then asked if there was a probate attorney.

THIS IS ALWAYS THEIR NEXT QUESTION!

My answer is always the same: "Yes, there is, and I pay them out of my own pocket at the moment, and I do not give out their telephone number, nor do I advise them to speak to anyone without my consent, inasmuch as I am paying a very high hourly rate for their services."

It was a very civilized conversation; however, once again he tried to convince me to put the debt (this ONE $15,000.00) on my credit card. I told him I would be hanging up, and that once the probate matter was settled, the bills would be paid according to New York State Law.

He was still talking as I said good-bye and hung up the telephone!

The first thought that entered my mind was this: "How many people do these collectors get EACH AND EVERY DAY to take responsibility for another's debt, because, their minds are clouded by grief and, they just want to stop the constant telephone calls?!

Be careful out there!

If someone tries this trick on YOU, as it has been tried on me several times a week since my aunt passed...DON'T YOU LET THEM GET THE BETTER OF YOU!

Call an attorney and know your rights.

We have many freedoms and rights in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

DON'T LET ANYONE TAKE YOURS AWAY!

Take Care, And Love Each Other!!

WHOSE "ANGEL" WILL YOU BE?




You know well enough that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love with which we do them. ~ Saint Therese of Lisieux ~


Today, who needs YOU to be their "angel?"


We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another. ~ Luciano de Crescenzo ~


Today, who will YOU help to "fly?"

Monday, June 15, 2009

FINANCIAL vs SPIRITUAL RUIN

It is always amazing to me how two people from the same family can be SO completely different. Even the children I meet who are identical twins: "they laugh alike, they walk alike, at times they even talk alike..." and yet, there is ALWAYS something that distinguishes them one from the other...completely!

As I was praying the rosary yesterday morning, I flashed upon something that was written in an e-mail I received last year. Among other more hurtful things said in a series of e-mails, was this: "Grow up, you're an idiot!"

Of all things to come to mind, while I was praying the Glorious Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary; but, there it was: my heart and soul kept flashing on that one word: "IDIOT!"

At 48 years old, I no longer fit the world's description of a child. However, in Christ's eyes and the eyes of our Heavenly Father, I am just that: their CHILD.

Just like YOU:

I Am A Child of God!

Apparently, according to some, I am the "Idiot" Child of God!

That puts me in good company. The prophets of the Old Testament are considered the predecessors of the "fools for Christ." The actual term: "fools for Christ" is attributed to Saint Paul. Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Anthony, and Saint Benedict Joseph Labre were all famous "fools for Christ!"

The term "fools for Christ" refers to behavior including giving up worldly possessions, and employing shocking, unconventional means to challenge accepted social norms.

To be incredibly honest with you, I am probably teetering on the brink of financial ruin because of the added burden of the debts of my aunt, that I have been and must continue to pay, while the probate process runs it's course.

I guess I really am an "idiot," as my relative so boldly wrote; because, I believe myself to be a wealthy woman SPIRITUALLY; and, that means more to me than ANYTHING ELSE IN THIS WORLD!

Money, jewelry, houses, cars, jobs...THINGS...they come and go, in and out of our lives.

But, OUR SOUL IS ALWAYS THERE, OUR SOUL IS US, AND WILL BE US FOR ALL ETERNITY!

Being the "idiot" that I am, I would rather be financially ruined on earth in service to others...than spiritually ruined in Hell, because I lived my life in service to myself!


How about YOU?


Do YOU have more saved up in the "Bank" of Materialism?


OR,


Are all YOUR important assets in the "BANK" OF GOD?


Here is our reflection for today:


As long as YOU are still breathing, YOU can change the course of YOUR eternity!


But, when YOU die, it's simply too late to make a transfer of funds!


Only You can answer this question:


Do YOU need to transfer YOUR assets to the "BANK" OF GOD?


May God Bless You And Those You Love...And, Even Those You Don't!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

THE SOLEMNITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI



Eucharistic Miracles have been reported and confirmed for centuries. From the more famous: such as the Miracle of Saint Clare (1240 in Assisi, Italy) defending the convent against the Saracen soldiers; to, the more recent: the likeness of Christ crowned with thorns (2001 in Chiattakonam, India) appearing on the Sacred Host displayed in the monstrance during Adoration.

Here are two other examples across the centuries:

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In the year 1345, King Casimar III the Great of Poland gave orders to build a church named Corpus Christi in honor of the Eucharistic miracle that was verified that same year. It had taken place in the village of Wawel, near Krakow. Some thieves broke into a little church (The Collegiate Church of All Saints), which was a short distance from Krakow. They forced their way into the tabernacle and stole the monstrance, which contained consecrated Hosts.

They got away, but when they figured out that the monstrance was not made of real gold, they threw it (including the Hosts) into the muddy marshland that was prevalent in the area. Priests from the church began a search, but they did not hold out much hope. When darkness fell, however, a mysterious light emanated from the spot where the treasure had been abandoned.

Bright flashes of light were visible for several kilometers. Frightened villagers approached the area and reported back to the Bishop of Krakow. The bishop called for three days of fasting and prayer. On the third day, he led a procession out to the marsh. There, they found the monstrance, and within it they found the Hosts, which were unbroken and were the source of the unusual lights. The people began to pray and to celebrate the miracle.

Annually on the occasion of the feast of Corpus Christi, the miracle is celebrated in the church of Corpus Christi in Krakow.

In 1948, in the monastery church of Rosano, Italy, another miracle occurred when the statue of the Sacred Heart began to bleed and weep:

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From Bishop Luciano Giovanotti’s letter of
April 4, 1948:

“In the evening of April 4 1948, the first Sunday after Easter, during the chanting of vespers, people noticed for the first time that drops as if of blood were falling from the eyes of the statue."

In June of that year, another stunning and unexpected miracle occurred – the flow of blood. These events occurred repeatedly between 1948 and 1950 and were corroborated by many eyewitnesses, by the nuns themselves and particularly by the abbess, Mother Ildegarde Cabitza of holy memory.

In the monastery archives are preserved many sworn testimonies even of priests, preachers, and visitors, together with medical analyses of the blood, as well as finger towels and purificators soaked with blood. One of the most endearing testimonies is that of Monsignor Angelo Scapecchi, who later became Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Arezzo. From the archives we learn of the investigation of the Visitator, Father Luigi Romoli, O.P., sent by the Holy Office, who personally interrogated all the nuns, imposing the strictest secrecy on the community.

Subsequently, on November 14, 1950, the Holy Office ordered the statue to be removed so as to keep it in a secret location. It was brought back to Rosano in 1952. The community of nuns of Rosano lived these events with intimate joy and great devotion but with great reserve; so much so that, as we learn from the chronicles, they were not distracted from their daily duties. On the contrary, they lived their monastic life even more intensely according to the Benedictine motto: Ora et Labora.

The weeping and the flow of blood were considered inexplicable from a natural and human point of view. Bishop Giovanni Giorgis, saw in these events of Rosano an appeal from the Lord "to fidelity, reparation and prayer."

"[…] Beloved brothers and sisters, with great devotion and pride let us look back on the events that took place in our diocese fifty years ago and see them as signs of the Lord’s benevolence and love and an invitation to a serious and profound reflection.

With great ardor let us joyfully renew our devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. And as we receive this message, let us ask for the gift of an ever deeper conversion to His love, for the grace of an increase of apostolic fervor, as well as for the gift of numerous holy vocations to the priesthood and religious life, so as to make Christ the Heart of the world.

Looking at the Heart of Jesus, we will joyfully draw life from the fountain of salvation!”

These Stories Of Eucharistic Miracles And Others Throughout The Centuries May Be Found At: THE REAL PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE EUCHARIST

ANIMA CHRISTI

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.

Body of Christ, save me.

Blood of Christ, inebriate me.

Water from the side of Christ, wash me.

Passion of Christ, strengthen me.

O good Jesus, hear me.

Within your wounds conceal me.

Do not permit me to be parted from you.

From the evil foe protect me.

At the hour of my death call me.

And bid me come to you, to praise you with all your saints forever and ever.

Amen.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

DO, RE, MI, FA, SO, LA, TI, DO!



On March 23, 2009, more than 200 dancers were performing their version of "Do Re Mi", in the Central Station of Antwerp. With just two rehearsals they created this amazing stunt! It was a promotion for a Belgian television program. They are looking for someone to play the leading role in the musical "The Sound of Music".

Amazing what 200 people can do with just two rehearsals when they come together for a common cause!

It is the same in our lives of faithful service.

We have all heard the phrase: "Many hands make light work."

What is it YOU are being called to DO FOR GOD??

WHO can help YOU?

Have YOU asked them, yet?

What are YOU waiting for?

The time is NOW, the world needs YOUR Ideas... YOUR Hopes...YOUR Dreams!

If God calls you to it, He will guide you through it!

Have FAITH: in God...in YOURSELF...and, in God's Trust In YOU!

Friday, June 12, 2009

TAKING IT TO THE CROSS

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There is a wonderful older gentleman in our parish, who prays the ENTIRE rosary every morning...ALL the mysteries...before he comes to open the church, and prepare for the liturgy each day. He and his wife attend the senior's club at our parish, and on Wednesday another senior club elsewhere. After the Wednesday meeting they bring bags of non perishables to the parish food pantry. They are true role models for the rest of us in our parish family.

I can't pray the WHOLE rosary every day but I do pray the mysteries that were suggested by Pope John Paul II for each day. On any given day, I am also in the middle of at least one Novena for someone's intentions, I pray the Chaplet of Saint Michael, speak to God about whatever is on my heart, close my mouth to allow my soul stirrings to speak to God directly, and of course, stop everything and listen.

LISTENING...it is the most important part of ANY relationship...and, the MOST IMPORTANT PART OF OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD!

As I was praying the Sorrowful Mysteries this morning, my heart was led to meditate on the last day of my aunt's life. I received the monthly mailing from Hospice yesterday. It seems I am right on target with my grief and mourning. Seems that even when you think you are prepared for a death, there is still some shock when it actually occurs. Then, you go into a sort of automatic pilot to get the things done that need to be done.

For me, working in the church, it was not only the ritual of my aunt's funeral and burial that I was involved in at the time, but the ritual of Easter and the Easter Sacraments, the ritual of First Holy Communion for our Level 2 boys and girls, the ritual of End-of-Year Gatherings, Meetings, and Potluck Dinners for the rest of our program, and the lesser ritual of concluding one instructional year, and preparing for the next. There wasn't a whole lot of down time.

The down time is beginning, now, and I have more time to think, question, and second guess myself. Years ago, in my other parish, I had been trained as a bereavement counselor. One of the handouts was about the stages of grief built upon the original Kubler-Ross model of 1969 but with an added dimension of hope after the pain. I googled this SEVEN step model and found that I am right on track...lucky me.

Anyway, as I was praying through the Sorrowful Mysteries this morning I flashed back to the last day of my aunt's life...Good Friday, April 10, 2009:

My older son was home from work that day, so the two of us got up early and went to the hospital. It was very fitting that it was my older son who joined my aunt and I for our last prayers together. You see, he was born on my aunt's birthday in 1986. When he was little, I would celebrate Auntie Dee's birthday and my son's together. My favorite picture is from my son's second birthday...boy, did he LOVE cars. At the time, Baskin-Robbins made a car cake. I bought two that year, one for my son and one for Auntie Dee.

Apparently, it meant a great deal to my aunt that Stephen was born on HER birthday. As I was going through papers to make sure I could keep ALL the important bills up-to-date while probate is ongoing, I found a complete set of my son's pictures from birth to high school graduation. Auntie Dee did not have a complete set of anyone else's pictures not EVEN my younger son which I HAD given to her...ONLY her great-nephew born on her birthday.

I guess I should have realized long before that how much he meant to her...after she had driven into the front of the garage (which my husband repaired) it was my older son who received the car when she gave up her license around 2002. He was too young at the time to drive because I made him wait until he turned 18 to get his license. But, when he did, it was my aunt who had given him his first car...and a sturdy one at that...which made me very happy. I NEVER want a repeat of the tragedy of my brother!

Wow, God has put a great deal on my heart to say, today...back to the last day of my aunt's life:

My son and I arrived early at the hospital. The doctor had increased the morphine and decreased the interval time so my aunt did not seem to be in as much pain as she had on Holy Thursday. I knew that the sense of hearing is the last to go so I greeted my aunt and began to tell her how sorry I was that she was suffering so very much. I told her that I loved her and that they were going to stop the antibiotics, because even in mega doses they were not strong enough to heal her. I told her it was time to look for the light (is there a light, I don't know...but I do know Jesus IS the light) and to find Jesus and let him take her in His loving arms...there she would find peace.

Overcome, I retreated to the hall just outside her door, where my son was watching and waiting, holding my pocketbook and jacket. I sobbed as quietly as I could so my aunt would not hear and then, I returned to pray with or maybe more precisely over her.

I began with the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be. Then, I proceeded to ask different saints to join in support of us. Because, she loved him so, and because he is the patron of a peaceful death, I asked Saint Joseph to help my aunt cross over. I then went down the line of saints that are familiar with my all too frequent requests: St. Peter (the keeper of the Keys), St. Frances Cabrini (my family's patron), St. Anthony, St. Jude (patron of lost causes), St. Therese, and on and on, down to the lesser members of the Communion of Saints: my dad (whom my aunt spoke about often with respect and admiration), my brother, my aunt's brothers, and my grandparents and hers. I asked them all to lead my aunt to heaven's gate and to stay with her and help her adjust to her new way of being.

Several times, I retreated to the hall, so my aunt would not hear my sobs. I wanted her death to go more easily than her life. Through the entire time I prayed, my aunt made little noises. I KNOW IN MY HEART, SHE HEARD AND UNDERSTOOD RIGHT TO THE VERY END. I stayed with her and prayed for hours. A little after noon, the director of hospice came to meet me and discuss my aunt's future care. She needed some papers I did not have with me and so, my son and I left to retrieve them from home.

When we returned, I mentioned to my son that the long walk to my aunt's room was like the green mile. I told him, I hoped we would find a miracle when we got to Auntie Dee's room: that she would be sitting up eating lunch, asking how her beloved cats were. This was my son's first up front and personal experience with dying. He was in a sort of shock all his own just watching and listening to everything I was praying, saying, and doing. He just looked at me...we both knew this was real life NOT a fairy tale.

When we got to the room, we could not go in right away. My aunt was being cleaned, her bowels had let go. The nurses were dressed in what I can only describe as haz-mat gear for this cleaning task. The doctor and the hospice director came to speak with my son and I in the empty room across the hall. The doctor again told me how sorry he was, but, there was no hope. We enrolled my aunt in hospice and when the nurses were done I took up my place perched on the windowsill at the foot of my aunt's bed and continued praying.

I kept telling my aunt over and over again that she would find peace in Christ's loving arms! I told her to look for my Uncle Chick whom every weekend, when he was alive, would go visit my aunt and grandfather and do chores around the house for them, when we all still lived in Queens. I told her to look for Uncle Patsy, whom I also remembered would visit as much as he could. I went down the line of her brothers, her mother, father, her grandmother, who lived with them while she was growing up. I told her to look for Whitey, the cat she had when I was a little girl and the two Gingers (yes, I know that animals do not have the same souls as humans...but, I don't know who will greet us in heaven)!

As I spoke, Auntie Dee would make noises, I would move to her side, I could tell she was trying to tell me something...but no words came out.

IT WAS HEARTBREAKING.

On Ash Wednesday, my husband and I had brought ashes to my aunt. During Lent, my husband brought communion to Auntie Dee every Saturday after the Vigil Mass. The three of us, together, began this past Lenten Season with prayer and ritual. At 2:30PM, I left my aunt's bedside because I knew there was something else I needed to do for her.

My son and I went to church for the Good Friday service and Veneration of the Cross. When it was my turn to bow before the cross to venerate, I brought this prayer to my Lord:

"Lord Jesus, I bring to the foot of Your Cross the immortal soul of my aunt, Dora Grottano. Please forgive her, her sins, grant her a more peaceful death, and welcome her into Your loving arms in Paradise."

It was the very next day at 8:34AM, as I was preparing to return to the hospital that the call came: Auntie Dee had passed peacefully, earlier that morning.


Prayers...soul stirrings...heart ramblings...this is the way we forge relationship with our Creator, His Beloved Son, and our Advocate, the Holy Spirit.


And, when we take ALL of it to the Cross, we cannot fail!


What is on YOUR heart and soul today?


What is confounding YOU in YOUR life?


What pain do YOU need to heal?


What do YOU need to take to the Cross today?

SEVEN STAGES OF GRIEF

Thursday, June 11, 2009

OLD BARNS AND OLD PEOPLE

I received this in my e-mail last night. I don't know from where it originated...but, it touched me enough to share it today with YOU!

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A stranger came by the other day with an offer that set me to thinking. He wanted to buy the old barn that sits out by the highway. I told him right off he was crazy. He was a city type, you could tell by his clothes, his car, his hands, and the way he talked. He said he was driving by and saw that beautiful barn sitting out in the tall grass and wanted to know if it was for sale. I told him he had a funny idea of beauty.


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Sure, it was a handsome building in its day. But then, there's been a lot of winters passed with their snow and ice and howling wind. The summer sun's beat down on that old barn till all the paint's gone, and the wood has turned silver gray. Now the old building leans a good deal, looking kind of tired. Yet, that fellow called it beautiful.


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That set me to thinking. I walked out to the field and just stood there, gazing at that old barn. The stranger said he planned to use the lumber to line the walls of his den in a new country home he's building down the road. He said you couldn't get paint that beautiful. Only years of standing in the weather, bearing the storms and scorching sun, only that can produce beautiful barn wood.


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It came to me then. We're a lot like that, you and I. Only it's on the inside that the beauty grows with us. Sure we turn silver gray too...and lean a bit more than we did when we were young and full of sap. But the Good Lord knows what He's doing. And as the years pass He's busy using the hard weather of our lives, the dry spells and the stormy seasons to do a job of beautifying our souls that nothing else can produce. And to think how often folks holler because they want life easy!


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They took the old barn down today and hauled it away to beautify a rich man's house. And I reckon someday you and I'll be hauled off to Heaven to take on whatever chores the Good Lord has for us on the Great Sky Ranch.


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And I suspect we'll be more beautiful then for the seasons we've been through here...and just maybe even add a bit of beauty to our Father's house.


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May there be peace within you today. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.


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And...I do sincerely Thank God for my wonderful friends who care about me even though I show signs of weathering!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

WORDS

As I work to bring the children closer to God, I must discuss certain vocabulary terms with them. I always tell them that we like BIG, FANCY WORDS in the Catholic Religion...Transubstantiation, calumny, reconciliation, Eucharist, doxology, benediction, concelebration, and on, and on, and on.

I explain that usually, the bigger the word, the bigger the concept of God we are trying to convey. Yet, even the most supercalifragilisticexpialidocious-y word could NEVER explain the AWESOMENESS that is GOD!

It is important that our children know and understand the different ways we celebrate and come to relationship with God through Christ our Savior. It is important that the children learn the prayers of the Church.

More important, is our actual relationship with Christ and His Church. All the big words come down to very simple concepts:

Peace...Love...Forgiveness...Relationship.

So, how are those things working for YOU today?

Are YOU praying the prayers of the Church...fast and furiously...to hurry up and get them done?

Or are YOU talking AND listening to our Triune (oops, there's one of those fancy words for "3-in-1!") God and having a relationship...forging a friendship with Him?

Do YOU love the way Christ loves: totally and completely?

Or do YOU love with strings attached?

Do YOU ask forgiveness when you hurt others (c'mon now you know we are ALL human...we all hurt others...sometimes)?

Or are YOU always righteous in your indignation over the mere accusation that you might have erred (please comment and let me know how I can meet you, you're the first perfect person born since Christ!)?

Do YOU forgive others as Christ has forgiven us?

Or do YOU hold onto grudges because they keep you warm at night?

Tough questions to be sure.

YOU must look into YOUR OWN HEART for the answers...they are not here!

I had a discussion this afternoon with an old friend I hadn't seen in some time. It seems he and I are on similar paths at the moment. We spoke in my office for almost two whole hours.

Mostly, I was pouring my heart out to him. He is a wonderful listener!

As we took our leave of each other he gave me a hug and just kept repeating over and over in my ear "Peace...Peace...Peace...Peace."

A wonderful prayer/wish one for another.

As we walked to the elevator, we were talking about forgiveness. We have both come to the same conclusion...while we always forgive those who have hurt us...for those who refuse right relationship with us...we can only put the forgiveness out into the universe and, leave the rest to GOD...after all...when all is said and done, IT IS ALL HIS ANYWAY!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

ANGELS ALL AROUND US

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I have been carrying, and will continue to carry, the cost of "securing" my aunt's house on top of my own bills until this probate mess is ruled on. Not being independently wealthy or a famous movie star, there is good reason I don't own more than one home:

I CAN'T AFFORD IT!!

In order to "secure" the house, I must pay the electric and telephone bills to keep the security camera and burglar alarm working. I must collect the mail and keep records of all the bills that I am paying and the ones that the estate will pay once the probate judge makes his ruling. The cats must be fed and cleaned, the lawn mown, and all of this must be done two towns over from where I live, so I am keeping my corner gas station in business, as well.

It's a lot for one person, especially a person still grieving and asking: "What if I had only..." whatever...over and over, day in and day out.

This I know for sure...through it all, God is guiding and supporting me.

His love and concern come through crystal clear every time my cousin calls me to check in and make sure I'm still hanging in there.

His love and concern come through crystal clear every time my friends call or drop by to take my mind off my troubles.

His love and concern came through crystal clear today, when I called the electric company to see how we could decrease the bills on my aunt's house.

Just about everyone on Long Island complains about our electric company.
Not me, Not anymore. I met an angel over the telephone today, and I have a new appreciation for our oft maligned utility company.

The lady I spoke with listened as I explained the situation and immediately went into action. She told me my aunt was on a budget plan and, that since the usage has decreased over the last few months, that the first thing she was doing was taking the house off the budget plan. Right away, that decreased the bill by over twenty-five dollars.

Then, she told me she would generate another bill and, when I received it I should call and ASK FOR HER (Yes, she gave me her name! I did not miss the coincidence that her last name is the same as the name of a Catholic College in the next county, which in turn was named for a beloved Archbishop!), and she would make a payment plan that would keep the electricity on, but not strangle my own finances in the meantime.

This wonderful woman then said that she understood the pressure of the situation I am in and, she would not be making the situation any more difficult! She offered her condolences and that, is when I lost it and began to cry.

She said it was okay, and then she told me: "I'm going to say this and I mean it: have a nice afternoon, make yourself a cup of tea, it'll help!"

I thanked her, hung up the telephone, and sobbed.

I'm going to go make that cup of tea now, but not before I remind us all to recognize God and his angels all around us!

When the chips are down, those who are of God are the ones helping us hold it together....the rest of them...well, we all know who sent them!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

SAINT PATRICK'S BREASTPLATE

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the threeness,
Through the confession of the oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with his baptism,
Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,
Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,
Through the strength of his descent for the Judgment Day.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of demons,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone and in multitude.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and druids,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.

Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the threeness,
Through confession of the oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.

Friday, June 5, 2009

END OF LIFE ISSUES

As many of you know, since February 14, 2008 I was the caregiver for my Auntie Dee in her battle with Stage III Vulvar Cancer. My husband, sons, and I alone cared for her since last February, 2008 (she had been diagnosed at the end of January, 2008) as she had never married and had no children of her own.

Other family members were out of the picture for many decades for one reason or another. Plenty of anger over past hurts, excuses and blame to go around as in any large, dysfunctional family.

I was not a party to any of that, but just like Christ, I am the one suffering for the sins of the multitude.

Closer family members to me, turned their backs on my aunt and I when we found out I was the executrix and beneficiary of the will.

For many years, my husband, sons, and I assisted my aunt with different chores around the house and various business matters. At one point in 1999, Auntie Dee gave me power of attorney to assist her in a personal matter. I did, put the document in my safe where my aunt asked me to store it with her sealed will; and then, between raising two boys, going back to school for my Master's Degree, and working full time, forgot about it for the next decade.

That is until a telephone call from a screaming relative had me searching my safe at 9:30 at night on the 13th of February 2008. Ah yes, there was much yelling, gnashing of teeth, poison e-mails, threats, and bad behavior by many involved.

For my part, I had 2-3 minutes of quite vociferous anger, loudly voiced and colorfully charged, on a relative's answering machine. When I calmed down, I immediately went to confession and repented. It was a bad reaction to a horrible e-mail I had received.

Funny, but everyone, from attorneys to religious, who reads that e-mail and hears of my reaction to it, agrees that the reaction was understandable, even as I still wish it had been more politely articulated.

Now, those same family members, and two others who had NOTHING to do with my aunt for decades, are trying everything they think is in their power to prolong probate, and cost me many more thousands of dollars than I have already spent in helping my aunt over this last year and a half.

I'm sure they think their tactics will bring me to my knees.

I only kneel before THE GOD...not those who believe themselves to be gods!

As they continue to dig their heels in, they are wasting time and very limited resources that are sorely needed to pay medical, reverse mortgage, and astronomical credit card debts.

My uncle's wife told me that the living room furniture and a credenza in the house were worth a fortune. The furniture is scratched and threadbare. An appraiser came in and told us that it is not worth the cost it would incur to refinish it. That credenza hasn't been in the house since the late 80's as far as I can remember. My aunt had sold it, and many other knick-knacks and furnishings after my grandfather had died, when she was no longer getting his social security money each month, and before she took out the reverse mortgage.

Something my uncle's wife or her children would have known if they had ever bothered to put the past behind them and tried to rekindle relationship there.

It was really a pleasure to hear my uncle's wife basically tell me I was less important than the furniture; even as she told me she was a good Catholic woman who goes to church every Sunday.

I told her I teach good Catholic women; and more than that, I lived the good Catholic woman's life this last year plus, through service to my aunt. The telephone call ended rather quickly after that exchange. Can you imagine that?

In the midst of this debacle, I have recently had to make some decisions with the help of a probate attorney. It is with a very heavy heart, and only after consulting clergy and attorneys, that I must have a summons served not only on the two cousins, who probably wouldn't have known my aunt if they had fallen over her; but, on my own mother.

A woman whom it seems, since she has not contacted me nor have I been allowed to contact her, under threat of an order of protection, has forgotten she has not one but TWO DAUGHTERS!

And the younger daughter, the "accident" is the one she has thrown under the bus!

ME!

The worst part of it all, is that the cancer was not what killed my aunt. She was actually doing quite well with that after two surgeries and radiation. Even going out shopping on her own on the town jitney or with my husband or I or my older son; and, ordering materials for a new kitchen floor that she intended to, and very easily could have, installed herself with minimal assistance, had she not fallen and broken her hip this past March.

Yes, that 5 year prognosis was looking pretty good, and she might still be with us today, and I would not be in the middle of this insanity, if she had not needed a hip replacement and complications arose. Even still, she rallied enough to be discharged to a rehabilitation center for physical therapy, to learn to walk again. But, then an infection took hold and in her weakened condition, things spiraled downward very quickly.

My aunt spent the entire month of March in the hospital with the hip fracture, surgery, and recuperation. She spent two more weeks in the rehab facility before I got the call early one morning that she had been rushed to the emergency room. I couldn't imagine why. When I had left her the night before she was sleeping soundly and peacefully.

I was in no way prepared for what I encountered in the last bay all the way around the half circle on the left side of that emergency room. I had been told on the telephone that Auntie Dee was unresponsive; but, I could never have been prepared for it.

She lay like a wounded bird on that hospital bed, tiny, her back arched in pain, her mouth open, moaning and gasping for air. Her eyes open but unseeing. I spoke her name and told her I was there; but she didn't seem to understand.

My younger son had gone to the hospital with me; but, I alone was allowed to see my aunt. I guess I looked like I was going to drop to the floor as I spoke to her because all of a sudden there were strong arms around me guiding me to a chair. A gentleman with the kindest eyes I had ever seen was asking me if I was okay.

What does Jesus teach us in Holy Scripture?

That we must see Him in the poor and vulnerable that we serve. Well, in this instance it was I being served and He came in the form of the janitor..the kindness of strangers!

Since February 2008, Auntie Dee and I had relied heavily on the kindness of strangers. And, I thank God for each and every one of them every single day even, as I lament the destruction of one part of my extended family.

During the entire time I was assisting my aunt over the last year plus, many times, I would say to the secretaries or volunteers who drove my aunt to appointments when I simply could not be absent from work, that I wish I had a mother to talk things over with...to ask advice...to help with the decision making.

But, that was not to be.

And, so I sought expert opinions, talked things over with my aunt explaining everything to her. All she kept saying to me was, "Rosemarie, I want to live. Help me live."

Each time, I would promise her I would. And, I really thought that we had bested the situation. We went for opinions, second opinions, I researched, called everyone I could think of and I believe in the bottom of my heart, that if she had not fallen that Auntie Dee had a good chance at the magic 94 years (the age my grandfather died), if only she hadn't have taken that one misstep that ultimately ended it all!

"If only's" like "used to be's" "...just lay on the floor 'til you sweep them away."

And then, you are faced with situations that you have to learn how to deal with in a hurry. Kidneys stop working, certain things begin to happen that can be prepared for given the right resources; and, the ability to foresee the need to study those resources before the inevitable happens.

That is why, when I saw the following link on Twitter tonight from @disability, I knew I must share it with you. It's hard to think about, but those we love are finite on this earth. When a health crisis occurs we must be ready not only for our loved ones and their comfort, but for our own well-being as we watch and help them pass from this life to the next.

Whether you are facing the situation now or not, please take a look at this information and prepare yourself. Hospice didn't have time to prepare me; because things turned so fast for Auntie Dee. And yet, if you read past posts here you will see much of what is on this link I have discussed, as it was happening with my aunt.

We don't make things easier on ourselves when we stick our heads in the sand!

I pray, you might never need to use the information listed there. But, please click on the link, gird yourself with the knowledge you may need to help your loved one pass comfortably.

More importantly, I beg you if you have hard feelings over past hurts, GO TO THE PERSON WHO HURT YOU...IF THE HURT IS SO BAD YOU CAN'T BEAR TO EVER SEE THAT PERSON AGAIN, PRAY FOR THEM AND FOR YOURSELF. DON'T LET IT FESTER FOR DECADES OR WORSE FOR YOUR ENTIRE LIFE!!

AND, PLEASE, PLEASE, DON'T TAKE IT OUT ON A THIRD PARTY THROWN INTO THE MIX NOT OF THEIR OWN ACCORD. ALL YOU ARE DOING THEN IS PERPETUATING THE HURT AND SPREADING IT FURTHER.

OH, IF YOU THREATEN SOMEONE WITH AN ORDER OF PROTECTION (ESPECIALLY IF YOU DO IT IN WRITING) OVER REAL OR IMAGINED THREATS...REMEMBER, YOU JUST GAVE UP YOUR RIGHT TO COMPLAIN THAT THEY DO NOT CONTACT YOU!!

NEVER WRITE NASTY E-MAILS ON YOUR WORK ACCOUNT WITH YOUR NAME, YOUR ORGANIZATION'S NAME, AND YOUR FUNCTION BOLDLY EMBLAZONED ON THE BOTTOM...PEOPLE TEND TO SAVE THOSE.


PARENTS:

LOVE YOUR CHILDREN EQUALLY!

DO NOT TAKE SIDES!


AND, EVERYONE:

CHECK YOUR PRIORITIES:

FLESH AND BLOOD...HEARTS AND SOULS,

SHOULD ALWAYS TRUMP

NUTS AND BOLTS...DOLLARS AND CENTS!


If, in your life, they DO NOT...then, Re-Evaluate, Re-Assess, and Re-Connect with those whom you have thrown away.

In the end that is what you will be judged upon NOT credenzas, NOT bank balances, NOT control, NOT ego...but, how well you loved through the hurt, real or imagined, that you endured.

May God Bless You and Yours and Keep You Safe.

CANCER CARE: END OF LIFE ISSUES