"Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset." Saint Francis De Sales

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

One Year And Counting

This is the one year anniversary of my blog, “Literature and Angels.” I choose the title because I wanted to be able to write about a variety of topics. Religion, literature, hobbies, family, friends, politics and anything else that came to mind. My thanks to all who have visited my site, especially those who return.
I need to acknowledge my brother in Christ, John, who writes, “Thoughts of...A Flawed Disciple.” It was his blog that gave me the “little push” to place my musings out there for the world to read. He is now one of my followers.
There are two other followers on my blog. My best friend Phil and our middle son Todd. Their continued support is appreciated. They are the three legs to my writing stool.
Who visits my blog? The majority are from the United States. But there are others from the countries of Germany, Canada, Russia, United Kingdom, Singapore, France, Netherlands, Philippines and Uruguay. Thank you.
One of my favorite blogs is Jennifer Fulwiler’s “Conversion Diary.” Every Friday she posts, “7 Quick Takes Friday,” and invites others to add their “Friday Takes” to her blog. Thank you Jennifer for the invitation.
My editor in residence and biggest supporter is my loving soul mate Dee. Thank you my love.
Where do I go from here? I continue writing. It is an enjoyable, fun, educational, and inspiring hobby that allows me to share with the world. It is an extension of my journal and an expression of my love for God, my family and friends. It is an opportunity for me to explore new topics, learn more about myself and improve my writing skills.
This blog is made possible through God. I am blessed and grateful for His love. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Brother Victor

My brother in Christ, Victor, is in intensive care at St. Francis Hospital. He is not allowed visitors, just family. There are tubes connecting too many parts of his body so that he can be provided nourishment and medication. He has multiple issues and each has to be dealt with individually. So, we need patience and time to get through his recovery.

Victor was the "Rector" for my weekend back in September 2010. His presence made my weekend beautiful and fulfilling. It raised my spiritual awareness to a level I never thought possible. His soft spoken words, his warm smile and his spiritual glow provided the strength for the weekend. This same love of Christian brotherhood wasn't just for the weekend. It continues at church, at Ultrea's, or anytime you are with him.  

Yesterday when I walked into his room that smile and glow was still there. He was unable to speak much and I told him to just lay back while I said a prayer for him. But when I finished he started telling me that God was with him and how blessed he was. He was receiving the care needed to recover. There was no discussion of his pain or comments of "why me." He said that God had a new plan for him and when he got out of the hospital he would be off on his next journey.

I have asked God to let Victor stay with us. He has touched the hearts of many people. We are not ready for him to join Jesus. We need his strength to guide us in our faith.

So please pray for him, his wife Kathy and their daughters. They need our prayers now.


Friday, November 25, 2011

My Slow Takes (vol. 26)

1. The New Roman Missal started Sunday, November 27th which is the first Sunday of Advent.  The Mass we attended went well, Father Jim doing an excellent job. Individually we all made minor mistakes even though we had the words right in front of us.  "And also with you," instead of "And with your spirit," was what I did and also those around me. An habitual response that I've been saying for a long time. It forced me to concentrate on the new words. A good thing as perhaps we have become complacent. Now we can focus on the liturgy of the Mass and become closer with God. 

2. Our family Christmas gathering, the time when all of us can share together, takes place prior to Christmas Day. So, it's my job to get the tree, decorations, lights and train down from the attic. Dee and I will spend the next week or so putting everything together. 

We set up the "Manger Scene" next to the tree which consists of the original set her Dad Frank use to setup at this house. I have been repainting and repairing the figures over the years and they still look beautiful. The grandchildren love the figures and Dee allows them to handle each figure as she teaches them about the coming of Jesus.

The Advent Wreath is on the kitchen table and we completed the first lighting of the candles on Sunday. We are celebrating His coming.

3. I have been reading "The Our Father, Word by Word" for the last nine months. It finished up this week and on Wednesday the entire series was posted on Jennifer Fulwiler's blog. She created the project and invited other contributors to work on it with her. Please take the time to read what all of these talented, blessed by God authors wrote. 

Now when I say the "Our Father" I am concentrating on the words and their meanings. It is no longer just a "memorized prayer." Thank you Jennifer and all of those who contributed their thoughts.  

4. We have a Wii and I've been using the Wii Fit program. Tuesday evening I was doing the "free lance jogging" and managed to pull a muscle. But it's okay because I was jogging on a "virtual" running course. So, I have a "virtual" pulled muscle and completed some "virtual" stretches to help relieve it. Then I contacted my "virtual" doctor and he recommended a couple of "virtual" ibuprofen. All of this while still in my living room, controller in hand.

Wednesday morning I woke up to reality. None of the "virtual" stuff worked, so I'm hobbling around and will be off the Wii for a few days.

5. My friend Guthrie is excited about the Christmas holidays but sorrowful about the change at his work. The company he works for is not having a Christmas party. They are having an “end of the year gathering” instead.

Our society continues to take Christ out of things because they are afraid to offend those who do not believe in Him. Sometimes we have to be unpopular when it comes to our Christian faith. God never said it would be easy.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11-12 

6. Just received this from one of my brothers in Christ, Dick.  

                      Say Merry Christmas with Carrie Rinderer and the American Life United choir.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Day

This is a beautiful day, warm and full of sunshine. Dee and I were up early to prepare for Thanksgiving dinner this afternoon. Mom showed up around 9:30 AM to work with Dee to prep the turkey and get it in the oven. My job was washing windows, cleaning bathrooms, setting the table and being available for those last minute things we may have forgotten.

It's quiet now because the grand children are not here yet. To get an idea of how that goes please read Jennifer Fulwiler's article this morning on the 'National Review Online.". She made me laugh because we experience similar activities in our home. I call it "controlled chaos." She reminded me how important it is to be thankful to God. Thankful for everything, not just those moments when my life has no challenges and I am at peace with family and friends.

George Washington presented the first Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789. I made a copy of it, read it and then highlighted how many times he referenced God, prayer and religion.

[New York, 3 October 1789]
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

I am thankful that our first President had the belief in God and the understanding of the importance of Him and religion. We need to continue to practice and evangelize and to remind ourselves that God is our Savior.

Happy Blessed Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 18, 2011

My Slow Takes (vol. 25)

1. Please add Cathy and Victor in your prayers. They have just retired from their positions of Chairs and committee members for our local Cursillo family. Both are dealing with some health issues that prevent from continuing their ministry. Victor has checked in to the hospital for some tests. 

2. Sunday we celebrated Father Jim's 30th year as a priest. There was a small reception at the end of each Mass with a lager one after 11:15 Mass. Dee and I attended the later Mass and brought two of our grand daughters with us. 

Members of St. Therese, his last parish, came to the celebration and presented him a plaque with the picture of the church and signatures from all the parishioners. It was a tribute to his love for them and theirs for him.

As always Father Jim's Homily was beautiful. One of his comments was that many people like to ask when did he decide to become a priest. His answer was "today." If we can say that today we like what we are doing, then we are where we are suppose to be.

He also said that when in middle school he went to his father and told him he wanted to be a priest. His father's comment was, "you don't even sing in church." Today Father Jim sings.

3. Pastor Tuck has a reflective musing entitled, "The Problem with Thanksgiving." It is worth reading.

4. Chris Woodyard has an article in USA Today, 11-23-11, about Dynacorn. See a related article here. The company is making 1965--66 Ford Mustang bodies which will be available for about $15,000 each. Then you need to acquire the engine, wheels and tires, steering wheel, instruments, etc. Final cost could be $60,000 or more. It's a "build it yourself" car for those who enjoy vintage cars.

I owned a 1968 Mustang, 3-speed hard top with the 289 v8 engine. I loved it, but paid about $2200. When I met my wife she also had one but hers was an automatic. The Mustangs are gone but we are still together.

5. Please take the time to read Steve Givens, "Onlookers and faces in the crowd."  
It is beautiful and brought me closer to the last day of Jesus.

6. We went to see the new "Muppets" movie this morning, It was more enjoyable for the adults than the children. We, the adults, were reminiscing from the old "Muppets" television shows. I enjoyed the movie and suggest that y'all go see it. It is a great family movie.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Hobbies

Women don’t really understand men’s hobbies. When a man gets into a hobby he puts his full effort into it. It begins with an introduction by a friend, an article in a magazine, a conversation at a party or something he discovers on the Internet. The next step is to go out and acquire the basic items required for the selected hobby. He wants to make sure that it is something that he is going to enjoy. Then as the hobby ‘pulls him in” his initial investment in dollars and time begins to increase. The hobby almost becomes an obsession. He begins attending meetings and gatherings with those who also enjoy the hobby. They share a common bond.

This bond, this camaraderie he shares with his new friends, almost always conflicts with his wife. Girl friends usually don’t cause a problem because they can be easily replaced.

My hobbies have included hunting, historical miniatures, soccer referring, bagpipes and writing. There are probably other things but those were the most prevalent. Now I just do historical miniatures and writing. I have been thinking about trying the mandolin but haven't figured out how to squeeze in the time for it. Maybe at retirement. 

I have a Lionel train that I put out out during Christmas. My original track, engine, tender, box car, gondola and caboose are over 50 years old. I have been buying new cars and now have reached the point that maybe I need another engine. I purchased the new Lionel "Fastrack." And then I bought on book on track layouts. I love the new stuff and now, just maybe I need new switches and should expand the layout. This is not an easy thing to do around the Christmas tree. And, my wife would not be thrilled if I took over the living room. So now I'm thinking about other options.

1. We have a screened in porch. If I could cover the screens and add some heat then I could put a layout on the porch. 

2. What if I moved some things out of the office. The small recliner chair could be put somewhere. I could replace the desks with a smaller configuration.

3. Convince my wife that the new bedroom doesn't have to be finished until after Christmas. That would give me a whole room to use!

The question is do I need another hobby? Maybe not, but maybe at retirement.

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Slow Takes (vol. 24)

1. Our annual Fair Trade Bazaar was a successful event. The volunteers that support our ministry devote their time and effort to make this work. I am blessed to have such a loving team.

2. I went for my eye exam which showed that I needed to update my prescription. Bought a new set of frames to go with the new lenses. Went back for a fitting because as they were too low and "digging" into my nose. So a after the adjustment all seemed fine at the time. Nope, not quite right, they are still "digging," only a little farther up. Will try another adjustment this afternoon. 

3. The "New Missal" is coming Sunday November 27th. It has created some interesting conversation in our men's group. Some of the new words are questionable because they are "new" and "different" from what we are use to. The words that stand out the most are "consubstantial" and "incarnate." This is change and we don't like change. However, if we put our minds in order and think positive about it these new words will become natural to us. The Mass has not changed, we are still in God's house and taking part in the liturgy.

Please listen to Jimmy Akin, "Are You Ready for the New Mass Translation?" on "Catholic Answers Live."  This is a question and answer session that gives insight to what other people are asking and provides some explanations as well.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has a printout available for reference.

4. Since I am talking about change, there is a book entitled, "Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life." It is written by Spencer Johnson, Ken Blanchard and Kenneth Blanchard.

I read this book back in 2001 while working for a title insurance company. The organization was making some major changes. Many employees were getting stressed over these new and different things. The book was given to me to read by one of my co-workers in another department. After I read and handed it back to her she passed it to other people. She was an angel helping us to adjust. It helped people think about what was going on and calmed their fears.

The book is available at "Barnes & Noble." However I found a .pdf version by Spencer Johnson that provides some background and the "Story Behind the Story." 

5. I just returned from the "retina specialist" and everything is somewhat blurred and too bright. This is my annual checkup and everything is fine.

6. "For he is never long in any one condition, and his life on earth flows by like the mighty waters, heaving and tossing with an endless variety of motion; one while raising him up on high with hope, another plunging him low in fear; now turning him to the right with rejoicing, then driving him to the left with sorrows; and no single day, no, not even one hour, is entirely the same as any other of his life"

More on change, only this quote is from "Introduction to the Devout Life" by St. Francis De Sales, Chapter XIII. I read this while in the waiting room this morning and it brought to mind how my days go. Things are not always rejoiceful, but they aren't always sorrowful. But He is with me through everything. This is no different from what people encountered back in the 16th century.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Slow Takes (vol. 23)

1.  Surprise some one or yourself. Do something that you normally wouldn’t do. It will surprise you how neat it makes you feel.
     Change is the only thing that is constant. Get use to it and use it to your advantage.
     Don’t try to keep up with anyone because you will spend your life never getting there. It is okay to improve and grow, just don’t over do it at the expense of yourself and others.
     Don’t belittle anyone because you have more.
     Don’t brag about what you have.
     Things that happen affect other things that happen. Even if we don’t understand why or think it is unfair it allows us to reflect on other things. Someone’s death will help us appreciate life more; someone’s illness will help us appreciate our health more. Life isn’t always fair, but it also isn’t always bleak.

2. Sunday morning we awoke to what my wife Dee calls "new time." It usually takes her a few days, maybe a week to adjust. This year she has done exceptionally well.

One nice thing about the end of Daylight Saving Time is that we "fall back" one hour. Our internal clocks adjust to this much better than when we "spring forward." So, Sunday morning everyone woke up together. Saturday night was a "sleep over at Grandma Dee's." Two of our grand daughters, Eryn and Hailey took part in the evening adventure. Grandpa made pancakes and then we all went to church. While Dee was getting ready I sat down at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and my Bible. Soon I was joined by Hailey, age 4, and then Eryn, age 6. Both of them had retrieved their Bibles that we have for them. Neither one can read, but it enabled us to get into a discussion of the Bible and what Grandpa was doing.

Thank you Lord.

3. I took Tuesday off to work in the yard. One of our sons, Stephen, came over and we pulled old bushes, planted replacements, trimmed other bushes and washed second floor windows. 
It was a full day and we accomplished in one day what would have taken me three days to complete myself. Life is good Lord, thank you for loving children.

4. First Greece and now Italy. Our global economy is unstable and the stock market is down. The crazy thing about all of this is by the time anyone reads the stock market may be going back up. I don't really understand all of this, just trying to plan my retirement. 

5. Talked to my friend Guthrie this week. He was telling me about one of the managers in another department who was placed in charge of some things. Apparently the manager thinks he is in charge of most things and comments on everything. Although he really doesn’t know anything.

Sounds like a “Dilbert Principle” to me.

6. This morning as I headed out to share breakfast with my friend David I was greeted by a beautiful full moon. The morning was a crisp 38 degrees and the silver fingers of the moon were lighting up the trees caressing each leaf providing luminescent lights for my morning drive. God does wondrous things.

7. Veteran's Day is a time for remembering all of those who enlisted in the service of our country to fight for our freedoms. Some sacrificed their lives for us and some returned. Their stories are always full of sadness and happiness as they talk of those who shared their experiences.

My veteran heroes are my grandfather Ed Trimble who returned from world War l, my dad Paul Forgette and my father-in-law Frank Siracusa. Paul was in the Pacific and Frank was in Europe during World War ll. Both returned and raised, Kim, Tom, Dee, Pat and myself. They have all joined our Father and are remembered in my prayers.

Friday, November 4, 2011

My Slow Takes (vol. 22)

1. Sunday morning I scraped ice off the front window of my car. The morning was crisp and I enjoyed the invigorating chill that makes me glad that I'm alive. 

2. I live in Richmond, Virginia and I follow the Washington Redskins. However I moved down from Buffalo, New York so my heart is still with the "Bills." Yes, the team that went to the Super Bowl more than once and never won. I enjoyed Sunday's game and was pleased that the Bill's won. It would have been a better game if the Redskin's had scored some points. It would also have been good if the game was in Buffalo, not Toronto. But that's just me.

3. This evening I watched an episode of a sci-fi program that I enjoy. It was an interesting and enjoyable plot. But, when it got to the ending, two of the female characters embraced and kissed each other. Now, to me, this didn't have anything to do with the action that just took place. If this is the start of the future relationship between the two women, I'm not interested.

I am disappointed with an actress that I have been watching for the last three years. The program has set some good basic values so adding this relationship is out of place. There was even a few episodes where another main character was involved in tracking down the killer of his friend, who was a priest. In the end he kills the culprit but afterward realizes that it was wrong. His friend, the priest, had taught him that life was sacred and non of us has the right to take a life. The scene was sad but the message strong.

The writers and actors have the ability to work on themes that teach good Christian values. Defining good versus evil as a grey area is teaching the wrong lesson. I understand that life is not laid out in an orderly manner and evil is always present. But we need to bring the right values back into our society.

4. Happy "All Saints Day." We are now into the month of November and getting closer to Advent.  Please take a couple of minutes and visit Bonnie Engstrom's blog.

5. A second Holy Day this week is "All Souls Day." It is a time for us to think and pray for those who are now in the next life. I think of my mother, my dad, my father-in-law, a dear friend Sue, a co-worker Mike and a Cursillista, Joe. 

Mass at Epiphany was solemn, but beautiful. After Father Jim's homily he presented crosses to the families who had lost love ones during the year. We put the name of the individual on the cross and it hangs in a small room, Minor Worship, for the parish to see and pray for. Today we will start a new set of crosses for the coming year. 

I am blessed to be part of the Epiphany community. Remorseful for all that I missed over many years but thankful that God has forgiven and allowed this sinner to return.

6.  Share with others. Stingy people are usually unhappy people and they don’t really know that they are unhappy.
     The “do onto others” rule is true and does work. If you are kind, sharing and loving, it will come back to you ten fold.
     Get a hobby, play a musical instrument, volunteer. All work and no play is not healthy, mentally or physically.
     Tell your spouse, children, brother, sister, father, mother, grandmother, grandfather, cousin, aunt, uncle, the list goes on, that you love them. If you can’t, then you may have a problem.
     Laugh with your family, friends, coworkers, strangers, yourself. It is healthy and a lot of fun.
     Don’t over do anything. Too much of anything will only cause problems some where along the line.
     Say, thank you. Sometimes we take things for granted when we shouldn’t.
     Say, I’m sorry and mean it. We sometimes do and say things and think if we just drop it, it will go away. It doesn’t.

7. Father James McKarns, writing in Living Faith this morning, reminds me of a quote from St. Francis De Sales.

"If you must err, err on the side of gentleness."

We must strive to find the goodness in others. I have not always done this but have learned that if I take the time, there is goodness to be discovered. It has led me to new friends and has taught me that God is in all of us. We just have to be patient and search.