Friday, April 17, 2015

SPRING!!!!! Don't You Just Love It?

From Goodreads I bring you the following fun quotes about spring.  (There are many others on the site so if you enjoy these, you know where to go.  HERE.

"That is one good thing about this world...there are always sure to be more springs.
     L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

"Spring is the time of plans and projects."
     Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

"In the Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt."
     Margaret Atwood, Bluebeard

"If people did not love one another, I really don't know what use there would be in having any spring."
     Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

"It's spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you've got it, you want-- oh, you don't quite know what you want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!"
     Mark Twain

I bought some pea and lettuce plants today.  Spring is the time of new life! More energy! Joy!!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Small Success Thursday--Things to Make Time For

Well... on a lighter note.....

Today is Small Success Thursday over at Catholicmom.com.

What are my "small successes" this week?

I have been going to a gym.  This is not like me.  I really don't enjoy exercise.  I enjoy reading and writing and my favorite place to do these things is on my bed, where I am right now.

But I realize that I need to be strong and healthy to enjoy my life, and I do want to enjoy my life.

So I've been exercising at the gym.  Quite regularly, I must say.

This past week I even attended several of the free exercise classes.  I started with a class that didn't sound TOO challenging.  I was wrong.  It was quite challenging.  I kept looking at the other older participants, but nobody seemed to want to look at me and exchange mutual eye rolling.

We needed a stability ball, 3 sets of dumbbells, a foam roller, and an exercise mat.  What a relief it was when we finally laid down on the mats.  I had taken my hair out of a ponytail, because it's hard to lay back on a ponytail.  I forgot that my hair has gotten quite long.  As per the instructions of the teacher, my legs were stretched into a pretzel position when I realized I could not raise my head, having pinned it to the floor by lying on my hair.  I tried to roll a little to the side but the leg pretzel prevented that.  Sheesh.  I guess this is the kind of thing fitness gurus think of before they lie down.

Finally the legs were undone and we were told to put the foam roller under our necks to stretch them.  I thought, oh, this is going to feel good, leaning back onto the roller.  The little foam log slipped on my hair and rolled toward the other people on their mats, all ready to relax.  I had to jump up and chase it maybe ten feet further into the room.

A little embarrassing.  But I had the presence of mind to remind myself that I was not there to impress anyone, and I WAS getting exercise.

The small success?  I even tried another class this week!

And tonight I will be seeing a wonderful musical production of "The Music Man" with my daughter Mary.

There are some things we really must make time for.

We Must Obey God Rather Than Men


The antipathy of the current administration to all things Christian makes todays readings and commentary particularly appropriate. (See yesterday's post.)

The first reading, Acts 5:27-33, describes the questioning of the Apostles by the Sanhedrin. They say, "We gave you strict orders, did we not, to stop teaching in that name?" To which the Apostles respond, "We must obey God rather than men."

And from the Gospel, John 3:31-36, "The ONE WHO comes from above is above all." Amen.

I can't say enough good things about the series In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez. (Not to be confused with another title, Conversations with God, which I do NOT recommend.) Fernandez' series is like daily spiritual direction based on the reading of the day.  It's WONDERFUL!!!  It's orthodox, insightful, and intelligent.  I've never been disappointed with a single day's meditation.

Today's Commentary is from Volume Two: Lent and Eastertide.

Fernandez writes:
     The fortitude and conviction of the first Christians is what Our Lord is also asking from his followers today, when, in certain environments, there breathes a climate of indifference or even direct attack, more or less veiled, on true human and Christian values.
This volume was first published in 1987. Today the attacks are unveiled and even come from our own government. (See yesterday's post.)
     The effective protection of fundamental individual rights, the right to life from the very moment of conception, the protection of marriage and the family, equality of opportunities in education and in work, freedom of education and of speech, religious freedom, personal security, contribution to world peace, all form part of the common good for which Christians should be prepared to fight.
     Passivity in the face of such important affairs would really be a lamentable error and omission-- at times grave-- of the duty to contribute to the common good.
Well.... that got my attention.  He goes on...
     One cannot praise a political action or social regulation or work of art when it becomes transformed into an instrument for evil.  It is a question of strict morality and therefore of common sense.  Who would praise an insult to his own mother just because it was composed in verse which had perfect rhythm?
Indeed.  In reference to abortion and other "abominable crimes," Fernandez writes:
Whatever little each person is able to do, he should do it, especially should he be in public life....It lies in the hands of everybody, of each individual, provided he acts with supernatural outlook and with common sense, to make this world which God has given us to live in, into a more human place and a means of sanctification.  If we strive to fulfill our social duties, whether we live in a big city or in a little out-of-the-way village, with an important job in society or a lowly one, even though we may think our contribution is tiny, we shall be faithful to Our Lord.
We must speak the truth courageously, send the emails, make the phone calls, sign the petitions, and pray, pray, pray.

Come Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Is the President Anti-Christian?



As Christians we must guard against the temptation to judge others and to assign motives to people for questionable actions.  We can’t know the content of another’s heart, nor what is driving them to behave in a particular way.

That being said, public officials must be held to a high level of accountability to the citizens who elected them, the president of the Unites States perhaps more so than any other elected official. He has unmatched power, influence, and responsibility.

While we cannot know the president’s heart nor calculate his culpability, his accumulated words and actions have a decidedly anti-Christian flavor.  At this point, I don’t think his antipathy can be denied or ignored any longer.

During the government shutdown military chaplains were prohibited from saying Mass and ministering to the troops.  Why? And since that time there have been numerous limitations placed on the speech and actions of military chaplains and many infringements placed on their  freedoms of religion and of speech.  What could possibly explain such antagonistic actions?

In 2013 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under this administration sued a trucking company for failing to accommodate Muslim drivers who did not want to deliver alcohol.  And yet no such support is given to Christian bakers and photographers for their religious objections to participating in gay weddings.  In fact, they are only treated with scorn and insults.

When speaking at Georgetown University the president asked that the crucifix and IHS symbol behind his podium be removed.  Yes, the reason given was that they wanted a neutral background. My question is why was a neutral background needed?  

And then there is the Affordable Care Act.

Cardinal Dolan said the following in 2013 when the HHS mandate was first introduced:
Over the last six months or so the Catholic Church in the United States has found itself in some tension with the executive branch of the federal government over a grave issue: religious freedom…Can a government bureau, in this case the Department of Health and Human Services define for us or any faith community what is ministry and how it is exercised? Can government also coerce the church to violate its conscience? 
The president first assured Cardinal Dolan that he considered the “protection of conscience a sacred duty,” and then left the freedom violating mandates in place.

The administration went on to inform Cardinal Dolan that, in Cardinal Dolan’s words, “the broader concerns of religious freedom—that is, revisiting the straight-jacketing mandates, or broadening the maligned exemption—are all off the table.”


Why is this happening?  At a minimum it would appear that the president has no respect for the Catholic Church or for religious freedom.  How could anyone be so committed to offering free contraception, abortifacients and sterilization to the American people as to be willing to alienate the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops, the Catholic population, as well as many, many evangelicals?  Why would those things be so important? Clearly, this is the most anti-life president we have ever had—by far.  And he holds more than a little antipathy toward Catholics in particular.

At the National Prayer Breakfast he minimized the atrocities of ISIS by comparing them to the “terrible deeds” committed during the Crusades and the Inquisition “in the name of Christ.” He went on to blame Jim Crow laws on Christians.  (Never mind, Mr. President, that the Crusades were fought against Muslim aggression and that Jim Crow laws could never be justified by Christian teaching.) Christians all over the Middle East are being martyred for their faith and our president chose to criticize Christianity at the National Prayer Breakfast. Virginia governor Jim Gilmore said of the president’s words, “The president’s remarks at the prayer breakfast are the most offensive I’ve heard a president make in my lifetime.”  Indeed, in anyone’s lifetime.



And at the Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House the president said, “On Easter I do reflect on the fact that as a Christian, I am supposed to love.  And I have to say that sometimes when I listen to less than loving expressions by Christians, I get concerned.  But that’s a topic for another day.”  This statement was greeted with laughter.

Keep in mind that the above statement was made on the highest holy day of the year for Christians and just days after a terrorist attack in Kenya by Islamist terrorists where 147 Christians were killed specifically for their faith.  These martyrs were not even mentioned in the Easter Prayer Breakfast remarks. And on the day of the Kenyan attack, the president did not even say that these people were specifically killed because they were Christians.

President Obama claims that he is a Christian.  Frankly, I don’t know how that could be. He seems to use every opportunity he has to belittle Christians, and his policies have consistently shown hostility to the Christian faith.

We have whispered and thought this for years now.  It’s time to hold the president accountable by naming this antipathy for what it is—anti-Christian hostility. Sign the petitions, write the letters to the editor, ask the prospective presidential candidates what they think of the president’s words and actions and how they stand on religious freedom. Ask how their policies differ from the president’s.  Take every opportunity you are given to defend the faith and to point out that the president is failing in his solemn obligation to defend the Constitution of the United States—that Constitution that very specifically guarantees religious freedom.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Daniel Henninger tells it like is in "The Incredible Obama Doctrine."

Daniel Henninger has written a great opinion piece in today's Wall Street Journal, "The Incredible Obama Doctrine."

Here is a snippet:
     Mr. Obama then offered an example of how this would work-- U.S. support for Israel: "What we will be doing even as we enter into this deal is sending a very clear message to the Iranians and to the entire region that if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there."
     This statement, and indeed the Obama Doctrine is a hoax.
     Set aside that "messes with Israel" and "America will be there" are phrases with no real operational meaning.
     "American will be there" could mean that if someone set off a nuclear backpack bomb in Tel Aviv, where the Obama administration would be the next day is on New York's east side, condemning the attack in a U.N. Security Council resolution.
     Any American foreign policy doctrine needs interpretive wiggle room for the commander in chief. But anyone would assume that the phrase "America will be there" refers to the deployment of what Mr. Obama invokes as "our military superiority."
     Unless it doesn't.
     In the case of the Obama presidency, it doesn't.  There is next to no chance that this president under any circumstance-- and that would include China's invasion of Taiwan-- will use the U.S. military on the scale he implies here......
He goes on to say:
Put it this way: Any conceivable Democratic presidential candidate would associate with Teddy Roosevelt's foundational dictum-- Speak softly and carry a big stick.  That sounds like the Obama doctrine, or what Hilary Clinton and progressive foreign-policy pundits call "smart" power.  But the reality of modern democratic foreign policy is-- Speak softly and claim to carry a big stick, which you have no intention of ever using.
Hopefully, you can read the entire article HERE.

For those who would argue that of course he would use the full force of the American military if necessary, I would ask where is the evidence?  He has drawn red lines and then ignored them. Deadlines are not even deadlines for this president. In my humble opinion, he is weak, indecisive, passive to a fault, and an extremely dangerous president for America to have in these chaotic and violent times.


Monday, March 30, 2015

The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary…..Points to Ponder

In this week of contemplating the Passion of Our Lord, I offer the following thoughts/questions that may be of help while reciting the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary.  How he suffered for us!  These "points to ponder" first appeared as a post on Catholic365.com.  The original post can be found HERE.

The First Sorrowful Mystery—The Agony in the Garden

·      Imagine the Garden of Gethsemane, a favorite place of prayer for Jesus and the apostles.  It is said to be very beautiful.
·      Agony:  1. Intense pain of mind or body  2. A violent struggle or contest (Merriam-Webster)  This agony was a mental suffering.
·      “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by,” Jesus asks the father.  As a human, Jesus dreaded suffering as much as we do.
·      Jesus surrenders to the Father’s will even though he knows full well what he will suffer. “My Father, if this cannot pass me by without my drinking it, your will be done!”
·      Three times Jesus asks for the cup to be taken away and each time again surrenders to the Father’s will.  An angel then came to strengthen him. Was it just the sight of the angel that strengthened him?
·      Jesus was let down by his three closest friends.  He needed their company and wanted them to pray with him.  Three times he asked them.  They gave in to sleep instead.  They did not know what lay ahead.  Nor do we at any point in our lives.  That’s why we must always try to do what the Lord may be asking.
·      “In his anguish he prayed with all the greater intensity, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.”  This is a very rare medical condition called hematohidrosis, caused by extreme stress.  It is said to also make the skin more fragile.
·      The soldiers arrive and Jesus says, “Sleep on now. Enjoy your rest!” The apostles receive this well deserved sarcasm.
·      Jesus is betrayed with a kiss by one of his very own, with whom he had just sat at table and celebrated Passover.  Let’s not forget that Jesus loved Judas.  This was a painful betrayal of friendship.
·      One of the apostles grabs his sword and slashes off the ear of the high priest’s servant.   Jesus answers, “Enough!” then touches the man’s ear and heals him.  The soldiers witness a miracle before their very eyes and still continue the arrest.  How often do we too ignore the miracles in our lives?

The Second Sorrowful Mystery—The Scourging at the Pillar

·      We know that because of the hematohidrosis Jesus’ skin was very fragile and tender.  It was in that state that he received the blows from the torture instruments.
·      Did Mary witness the scourging?  It was done in a public place. Did any of Jesus’ followers see it?  Imagine their anguish.
·      The Precious Blood of Jesus is spilled all over the ground. The Precious Blood!  The soldiers were probably spattered with it.  They probably stepped in it.
·      How long did the scourging last? For Jesus and for those who loved him, it must have seemed an eternity.
·      We can easily ask how the soldiers could have done such a thing.  How could they be so sadistic?  Yet, we are the ones who truly inflicted the wounds.
·      Jesus had told the apostles that this would happen.  Speaking of himself as the “Son of Man” Jesus said, “He will be delivered up to the Gentiles.  He will be mocked and outraged and spat upon.   They will scourge him and put him to death, and on the third day he will rise again.” (Luke18: 32-33)
·      Surely the apostles put this prediction out of their minds at the time.  They must have been in denial, hoping he was speaking in some kind of figurative sense.
·      On this day they came to realize that Jesus’ words were literally going to happen.  Imagine their horror and fear.
·      Did the apostles wonder why Jesus would allow this to happen?  They knew he had control of even the wind and the waves.  Why would he allow this to be done to him?  Perhaps some were starting to understand.  “Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. “           Is 53:5
·      What was the reaction of Pilate’s wife when she heard of what Pilate had ordered?  Perhaps she too was filled with fear.

The Third Sorrowful Mystery—The Crowning with Thorns

·      What horrible irony—the King of Kings and Lord of Lords mocked and tortured with a crown of thorns.
·      “The soldiers then wove a crown of thorns and fixed it on his head, throwing around his shoulders a cloak of royal purple.”
·      “Repeatedly they came up to him and said, ‘All hail, king of the Jews!’,’slapping his face as they did so.”
·      The Savior, the long awaited one of Israel, has his kingship mocked.  He suffers now the additional pain of derision.
·      “Meanwhile the men guarding Jesus amused themselves at his expense. They blindfolded him first, slapped him, and then taunted him:  ‘Play the prophet; which one struck you?’  And they directed many other insulting words at him.”
·      Do you think they blindfolded Jesus to avoid looking into the eyes of love?  Perhaps they could not do what they did and also see his eyes.
·      Have you ever felt that you were being treated in a manner that you did not deserve?  Think of Jesus wearing this crown.  How many thorns pierced his scalp?
·      “…I am an object of reproach, a laughingstock to my neighbors, and a dread to my friends….”  Psalm 31:12
·      “Continually striking Jesus on the head with a reed and spitting at him, they genuflected before him and pretended to pay him homage.”
·      We are the reason Jesus endured this suffering and mocking.  When we genuflect before him perhaps we can remember and offer him true homage.

The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery—The Carrying of the Cross

·      How heavy was the cross Jesus carried?  Even just the crosspiece would weigh about 100 pounds.  Have you ever lifted that much? 
·      Jesus had lost a great deal of blood and his skin had been ripped apart.  In this state he carried the cross.  Unimaginable.
·      He fell three times.  How painful each fall must have been.  Surely he felt that he would not be able to get up.
·      Imagine Jesus meeting his mother.  What emotional pain he must have endured at the sight of her horrified face.  How could any mother see her son suffering like that?
·      Perhaps the “women of Jerusalem” knew each other.  Did they gather together to find Jesus on the Via Dolorosa?  Were they women who had shown him hospitality?  Women who were his friends?
·      How did Simon feel about helping Jesus carry the cross?  Did he realize, in some way, what a mystical privilege he had been given?
·       Scripture says that Simon was forced to help Jesus carry his cross.  But surely as he carried it, he was flooded with grace.  Did it change his life?
·      Did Veronica see the blood dripping down Jesus’ face and felt that she just had to do something?  Was Jesus’ blood perhaps dripping into his eyes? 
·      Imagine the tenderness with which Veronica  must have patted her own veil against his skin.  Imagine the look of gratitude and love that Jesus surely gave her.
·      Imagine Veronica discovering the miraculous image of the face of Jesus on her veil.

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery—The Crucifixion

·      Jesus arrives at Golgotha.  Imagine the pain of the torn flesh of his back against the cross.
·      Imagine the pain of the nails entering his hands.
·      Imagine the pain of the nails in his feet.
·      Think of the pain as the cross is lifted high and his weight is pressed against his nailed hands and feet..
·      How difficult it was for Jesus to breathe as he had to press upward against his feet.  How awful it must have been for him to not be able to get enough air.
·      Jesus gives us his mother.  Even in the agony of his death Jesus was still thinking of us.
·      How sweet was the reassurance Jesus gave to the good thief that he would see him in paradise.  Who was the good thief?  Had he listened to Jesus preach before?  Or did he simply realize by the power of the Holy Spirit, or the power of the presence of Jesus, that this was indeed the King of kings?
·      “My God, my God, why hast thou abandoned me?”  Did Jesus the man truly feel abandoned?   Was this an exclamation of the depths of his suffering and not to be taken literally?
·      “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”  With what complete and utter surrender to the will of the Father did Jesus die.  “It is finished.”
·      When the soldier’s lance pierced the side of Jesus, blood and water gushed forth, the blood representing the Precious Blood of Jesus which is now given to us in the Eucharist, and the water representing the water of Baptism.  Imagine the Divine Mercy image and the perfection of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.  May we be eternally grateful.

As we say the Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary may we come to a greater understanding of the infinite depth of God’s love for us and the mystical power of the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus, our Lord.

Oh, Father, for the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.




Friday, March 27, 2015

What Is Going On With Our President??

I was stunned to read that our president had not even responded to a request from Jens Stoltenberg, the new secretary general of NATO, to meet with him.  He didn't reject the request.  He didn't even answer.  Nearly all of the leaders of the 28 NATO countries have met with Stoltenberg.  But our president either didn't have time or didn't have the inclination.  Does he think he's too important to talk to our allies? Is he so anti-military that he refuses to treat our allies with even the basics of common courtesy? Is he suffering from a mental illness? That last suggestion is not tongue-in-cheek.  I find his behavior so inexplicable that all possibilities need consideration.

From an article entitled NATO Chief Added to Obama's 'Diss List' by Hana Levi Julian in the Jewish Press.com...
But there’s just no getting around the fact that Obama’s behavior is an outright insult. Where was he and what was so incredibly important that he could not make time for the head of NATO –an alliance in which the U.S. is a pivotal member?
The only event on Obama’s schedule for Wednesday, media moguls said, was a short speech to launch the Affordable Care Act. On Thursday he is also pretty free: he heads to Alabama to deliver a speech. Wow. Stressful.
Read the rest of the article HERE.

And from an article entitled Obama Snubs NATO Chief as Crisis Rages by Josh Rogin in Bloomberg View:
America's commitment to defend its NATO allies is its biggest treaty obligation, said Volker, adding that European security is at its most perilous moment since the Cold War. Russia has moved troops and weapons into eastern Ukraine, annexed Crimea, placed nuclear-capable missiles in striking distance of NATO allies, flown strategic-bomber mock runs in the North Atlantic, practiced attack approacheson the U.K. and Sweden, and this week threatened to aim nuclear missiles at Denmark’s warships.
“It is hard for me to believe that the president of the United States has not found the time to meet with the current secretary general of NATO given the magnitude of what this implies, and the responsibilities of his office,” Volker said.
Read the rest of the article HERE.

Rick Moran in a piece called Obama disrespects NATO chief, raising questions about his commitment to the alliance at the American Thinker had this to say:

"Putin is no doubt delighted at the snub.  Russia has been trying to drive a wedge between Europe and the U.S. since NATO was established.  Now, Obama has done that for them."

Read Moran's entire article HERE.

It seems to me that it is more than high time to hold our president accountable for this and many other mind-boggling decisions he has made in the area of foreign policy.  What is with him??

Thursday, March 26, 2015

On the few warm days we have had this month I have gone out on my bike a few times to my favorite  destination-- Gallup Park.


It's more lovely in the other seasons, but even winter has its own charm..





The blue sky melting the lingering ice and snow is magnificent.



When it's in the forties, I am on my bike. :-)