There are women who stay the course when things don’t go as they expected.These women are beautiful and plain, young and old. They are loving women who do not give up. There are many of them, but they do not carry attention-getting signs so they often go unnoticed.

These women do not destroy. They create. They do not cause disruption. They effect peace. They do not hang to some slogan created by someone who wants power only for themselves. These women are not self-serving. They serve others by choice. And they will NOT be used.

They are the women who choose to raise strong families committed to God. They are women whose children or husbands become ill and become dependent upon them. They are women who may be so hurt by the actions of a family member that they are tempted to give up and leave. Yet they don’t leave. They stand strong because they believe in a higher purpose. They are principled women who adhere to life and their place in it.

They are fighters. It is generosity that bolsters them, and genuine love is their weapon.

These women may pray change will come. But if change does not come, they are courageous enough to change themselves enough to face their situations. They make themselves even stronger. They straighten their backs, tuck in their tummies, and lift their chins. They do not back down from the promises they have made. They walk toward those who would ridicule and demean their purposes, and like warriors, they challenge them.

These are the women strong enough to stay.

If an singer/songwriter wanted to make a statement about women who stay, it couldn’t be better than this one.

Lyrics to “Mary” by Patty Griffin

Mary you’re covered in roses, you’re covered in ashes
You’re covered in rain
You’re covered in babies, you’re covered in slashes
You’re covered in wilderness, you’re covered in stains
You cast aside the sheet, you cast aside the shroud
Of another man, who served the world proud
You greet another son, you lose another one
On some sunny day and always stay, Mary

Jesus says Mother I couldn’t stay another day longer
Flies right by and leaves a kiss upon her face
While the angels are singin’ his praises in a blaze of glory
Mary stays behind and starts cleaning up the place

Mary she moves behind me
She leaves her fingerprints everywhere
Everytime the snow drifts, everytime the sand shifts
Even when the night lifts, she’s always there

Jesus said Mother I couldn’t stay another day longer
Flies right by and leaves a kiss upon her face
While the angels are singin’ his praises in a blaze of glory
Mary stays behind and starts cleaning up the place

Mary you’re covered in roses, you’re covered in ruin
You’re covered in secrets
Your’re covered in treetops, you’re covered in birds
who can sing a million songs without any words
You cast aside the sheets, you cast aside the shroud
of another man, who served the world proud
You greet another son, you lose another one
on some sunny day and always stay
Mary, Mary, Mary.

 

Are You a Custodian???

Posted: April 18, 2017 in World On The Edge

A custodian is defined as person who has responsibility for or looks after something. Synonyms are keeper, guardian, steward, and protector.

Most of us realize that we are custodians of the Earth, guardians of the forces and processes that produce and control the balance of Nature in order to protect it. The prospect of global warming is one aspect of this protection that is currently touted as if we can do something about it. And there are many more which scientists struggle to understand.

But there is a higher nature here on Earth, a nature more vital than even the magnificent universe.  And that nature is the nature of a human being. The nature of a Man or a Woman is actually more profound than the puzzling workings of the universe. Shouldn’t we protect and guard that nature as well?

First, we have to understand what the nature of a human being truly is. We have to understand who we truly are and why we are here at all.

We are more than a product of our environment, more than a highly evolved animal. We are creations of God, as is the universe. BUT we are the highest of God’s creations. In fact, we are made in His image and likeness. This does not mean that we look like God. God is spirit. But it does mean that we have inherited His spirit within us. His Holy Spirit. Because of this, our human nature has definite capabilities that are not found in Earth’s nature, or even in the nature of animals.

In our human nature, we have a memory with an imagination in which we possess the capacity for mercy and compassion. We have an intellect, through which we possess the capacity for faith and humility. And we have a will, by which we possess the capacity to love.

But how much emphasis is put on the guardianship of this kind of nature, our human nature?  Not much. Instead, we act as if we are inconsequential, and nothing special.  What poor custodians we are of God’s greatest creation!

The fact is our individual human nature is beyond magnificent–and the only nature we can do anything about. We can’t change the nature of the world. We can’t stop hurricanes or earthquakes, floods or droughts, or even global warming. But we can change ourselves to become more in line with what God intended a human being to be.

And we do this individually, as God meant it. Because each of us was chosen by God to exist.

Before time began God chose each one of us and this choice was deliberate. God saw all the possible human beings He might have created throughout the history of the world. Out of possible billions of human beings that might have existed in God’s mind—His Eye rested on each one of us and then stopped looking and said, “You shall be.” He saw all who could have been and decided they would not be. His providence placed us in a time and state of life that would bring out our greatest potential.–Mother Angelica.

We were chosen because He loved us and meant us to freely love others by memory, intellect, and will. And yes, we can choose not to love. Choice is necessarily a component of free will, with memory and intellect to keep the consequences of our choices in balance.

He gave each of us special talents, gifts and natural virtues all geared towards a deeper knowledge of Himself. Even those whose circumstances prevent them from knowing Him directly, possess a deep conviction of His existence and providence. He placed into each of us an inner radar system that warns of danger and assures us intuitively of His care, so we will never be far from Him and will not be deprived of the knowledge of His existence.–Mother Angelica

He made our natures more than the earth–the earth is made for us.  We are to protect it–yes. But more so, we are to protect, guard, and be custodians for others. All this, for our greatest purpose. Immortality.

The Hand that formed each of us left Its imprint upon our minds and souls for He made us to His own image. The soul He breathed into this work of His Hands—our body—was imprinted with some of His love—His creative power—His strength. We reflect His eternity, for once His Will called us out of nothingness, we became immortal—our soul will never die.” –Mother Angelica

How important our human natures are when we look at it this way! How can we not do our best to protect it?

We ought to stop and think. We ought to remember that we are the custodians of God’s most beloved creation–ourselves and our neighbors, His image and likeness on earth. And not just occasionally in a ‘feel-good moment,’ but today, and every day until we are called back to Him.

If we are not doing this, if we are not trying to use our memory, intellect, and will to guard against the failings of our own human nature, then we cannot call ourselves custodians–or Christians.

So, if we see ourselves becoming what we know we should not be, we should quit hiding from the truth. We should take truer look at ourselves and the genuine beauty of our human nature, and remember our kinship to God.

 

Before the recent Alabama storms, I planted a garden of mostly herbs because I love to cook with them. For years, I’ve grown them in pots on my patio. A couple of months ago, just outside my kitchen, I had a dead tree and its roots removed. The  area of turned earth seemed the perfect spot for a small herb garden, so I began one.

I put in some older plants that survived our very slight winter, such as rosemary and chives. Others were new; lavender, a few marigolds, one tomato plant, and a young lemon tree.  Some were seeds I had harvested and saved from last year’s basil and oregano. I planned where I wanted the seeds to come up and set them there.

But it is a fact of Nature that seeds do not always bloom where they are planted. Storms happen, and even the best planned garden can be ruined. The power of water can transport seeds to unintended, even odd locations where one might think the seeds would never survive. Yet they do.  Healthy plants often emerge through cracks in a concrete driveway, from between patio bricks, or in other uncommon places well away from a gardener’s intention. And they are just as beautiful, just as useful, here in this other place.

It is the same for us. Each of us have personal intentions for our lives. We have our dreams, our goals. Then come the unexpected storms of life that carry us to places and through circumstances we would never have chosen. We begin to suffer, and may wonder if we can survive.

We pray that our troubles, our cross, whatever it is, will leave us.

But the storm does not appear to stop.

So, we become angry, or depressed. We wail and cry. We don’t deserve this storm!

Then we allow ourselves to become victims. And victims do not bloom–anywhere.

The alternative is to accept that we have been crushed by a weight too strong for us to survive on our own.  This is complete surrender, but do not confuse it with giving up. Because if we allow it, this will be where grace takes over, where God’s mercy is shown to us. This is where a new door opens, or a different way is revealed to us. This is when we trust, and where we cooperate with God’s all-knowing love.

The fact that we don’t want to be where we are does not mean that we will not survive, and grow, and thrive in this different situation. Today, we see only our present trouble. But tomorrow is where hope lies.

This is truly what it means to be a Christian. This is truly what it means to have Faith, and what Good Friday was all about. Without the Cross–and our daily crosses– there can be no joyous resurrection, no Easter. Our suffering has a purpose just as Jesus’s suffering had a purpose.

We may not understand the purpose, but our all-knowing God does understand.  And He will be with us through out.

Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.–Isaiah 41:10

Good Friday…

Posted: April 14, 2017 in World On The Edge

mary-at-the-cross (2)“From the earliest days of Christianity, no Mass has been celebrated on Good Friday; instead, the Church celebrates a special liturgy in which the account of the Passion according to the Gospel of John is read, a series of intercessory prayers (prayers for special intentions) are offered, and the faithful venerate the Cross by coming forward and kissing it. The Good Friday liturgy concludes with the distribution of Holy Communion. Since there was no Mass, Hosts that were reserved from the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday are distributed instead.

The service is particularly solemn; the organ is not played, and all vestments are red or (in the Traditional Latin Mass) black.

Since the date of Good Friday is dependent on the date of Easter, it changes from year to year.

Fasting and Abstinence:

Good Friday is a day of strict fasting and abstinence. Catholics over the age of 18 and under the age of 60 are required to fast, which means that they can eat only one complete meal and two smaller ones during the day, with no food in between. Catholics who are over the age of 14 are required to refrain from eating any meat, or any food made with meat, on Good Friday.” –Catholicism, About.com

When we think about what God allowed to happen to his son, we have to think about Mary, Jesus’s mother.

Her entire life was a journey of faith in her son from birth to death. A life of surrender and total unwavering commitment. But this did not mean her sorrows were slight. On the contrary, they were profound. As mothers, we know the agony we feel when our children are hurt or in danger. Mary was a mother. Her agony was real. And yet, in faith, she never turned from it. She was there.

HOLY THURSDAY….

Posted: April 13, 2017 in World On The Edge

file1081253168589“For Catholics, HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances, saving only the Easter Vigil. It celebrates both the institution by Christ himself of the Eucharist and of the institution of the sacerdotal priesthood (as distinct from the ‘priesthood of all believers’) for in this, His last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover, He is the self-offered Passover Victim, and every ordained priest to this day presents this same sacrifice, by Christ’s authority and command, in exactly the same way. The Last Supper was also Christ’s farewell to His assembled disciples, some of whom would betray, desert or deny him before the sun rose again.

On Holy Thursday there is a special Mass in Cathedral Churches, attended by as many priests of the diocese as can attend, because it is a solemn observance of Christ’s institution of the priesthood. At this ‘Chrism Mass’ the bishop blesses the Oil of Chrism used for Baptism and Confirmation. The bishop may wash the feet of twelve of the priests, to symbolize Christ’s washing the feet of his Apostles, the first priests.

The Holy Thursday liturgy, celebrated in the evening because Passover began at sundown, also shows both the worth God ascribes to the humility of service, and the need for cleansing with water (a symbol of baptism) in the Mandatum, or washing in Jesus’ washing the feet of His disciples, and in the priest’s stripping and washing of the altar. Cleansing, in fact, gave this day of Holy Week the name Maundy Thursday.

The action of the Church on this night also witnesses to the Church’s esteem for Christ’s Body present in the consecrated Host in the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, carried in solemn procession to the flower-bedecked Altar of Repose, where it will remain ‘entombed’ until the communion service on Good Friday. No Mass will be celebrated again in the Church until the Easter Vigil proclaims the Resurrection.

And finally, there is the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament by the people during the night, just as the disciples stayed with the Lord during His agony on the Mount of Olives before the betrayal by Judas.

There is such an abundance of symbolism in the solemn celebration of the events of Holy Thursday layer upon layer, in fact that we can no more than hint at it in these few words. For many centuries, the Last Supper of Our Lord has inspired great works of art and literature, such as the glorious stained glass window in Chartres cathedral and Leonardo’s ever popular (and much imitated) Last Supper in the 16th century.” Catholic Online

It is time for Americans, politicians and the public, to grow up. It is time for those men and women to stop acting like six-year old children without the capability to see or understand deeper issues. Because today—right now–there are very deep issues to deal with. Yet some of those in the discussion have heads of granite, choosing to malign and even destroy reputations to have their own selfish needs met.

We can disagree on needs, but we cannot be too hard-headed to listen and to consider what is at stake for America.

And what is at stake? Our humanity as a people. Our decency. Not our politics!

For decades America has been losing more and more of its historical culture, principles, and integrity.
One might say that what is being fought for on both sides are opposing political doctrines. But it is more than just a political fight. It is also a fight between retrieving the lost morality of America, and preventing that morality from being retrieved.

America has always had a moral sense, but now, topics that have long been considered part of morality have become political questions.

No one likes that word—morality. Why? Because it makes a behavioral judgment?

No one wants to admit that there are absolute truths handed down by God. No one wants to admit that true morality is not a choice, not something that can be picked up from a smorgasbord of lame ideas, and then twisted into a selfish relativity. We cannot make our own personal ‘beliefs’ true if they are errant to begin with.

Some of us believe in God, in a higher authority. Why are we believers?

The answer is that we accept the complete essence of that God as an all-powerful creator who has divine love for each of us. No matter who or what we are her on earth, we are still part of  that divine love. A love that will show us the way back to God and to Eternity.

If we are not believers in God, then do we follow a path of believing that we made ourselves, the world, the universe? If so, we follow a path that leads us back to ourselves–our finite selves. But we are not meant to be finite. We are meant to be infinite. We are meant to return to God at some undetermined time, with a resume of the love we showed in our personal life.

Each human life on earth has love as its underpinning–real love, not just the word, love, with its meaning selfishly contorted.  Do we honestly love, or do we bastardize the word and simply call it love?

It’s our choice, and it is a serious one.

file0001191597629“In the novelist’s case, prophecy is a matter of seeing near things with their extensions of meaning and thus of seeing far things close up. The prophet is a realist of distances, and it is this kind of realism that you find in the best modern instances of the grotesque. Whenever I’m asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one.” Flannery O’Connor

What are the “far things” O’Connor is talking about?—the connection between close-up realism on Earth and a higher spiritual Truth. God and our relationship with Him, however weak or strong or strange; this is what O’Connor writes about. This is what I strive to write about, too.

To show God’s presence in the world, a writer who wants to bring far things close up often uses the strange or the outlandish. O’Connor called it the ‘grotesque.’ She was an author who wrote fifty years ago, when not only the South, but most other areas recognized the outlandish as just that.

Today, the rules concerning what is strange have changed. Oddity has become almost normal. Yet God hasn’t changed. He is just as apparent in our world, maybe even more so. And to present Him in fiction, a writer cannot use quietly sentimental fluff to show His action through people. Because God’s action– His grace–coming to fruition in people who want to be restored is sometimes harsh. A writer concerned with presenting the chance of salvation has to come to grips with this noisy, often nasty and distracted world.

Many of us yearn for a chance of restoration. And most readers have a desire for some redemptive act in a novel or story that offers the chance of restoration as well. We long for that moment of grace that will turn us, or better us, or lift us up to higher place in the eyes of those we love. Yet we often forget that the price of restoration sometimes takes the grotesqueness of a crucifixion.