"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

Friday, March 22, 2013

My Slow Takes (Vol. 91)

1. My good friend Tony has been getting our group together on St. Patrick’s Day for the last few years. There is a local restaurant and pub called the Capital Ale House that we have adopted for this festive day. Sunday was no exception and we gathered a crew of fifteen. I always wear my kilt, my mother was Scots-Irish, and it’s interesting the looks I receive. This year Dee thought it would be a good idea to bring my “portable” kilt. As each of the men arrived she made them put on the kilt and took pictures. Here is Tony, Lou, Jack and me.

2. Sunday’s Gospel, John 8: 1-11, is a story of sinners, forgiveness and atonement. The woman in question was a sinner, but so were those that accused her. The question asked of Jesus was direct and was based on the law as well as proof of guilt. However, Jesus didn’t answer the question. He just started writing in the dirt. He knew why they asked and He knew they waiting for Him to condemn Himself. There is no mention of how long they waited. This brought to mind a sales lesson I learned some time back. When you present a proposed buyer with an offer, keep quiet. Let the buyer speak first. Once they do that you have command of the situation and will usually win. Jesus just kept quiet and they continued to speak. Once they did that, Jesus had won and answered with a response the Pharisees were not prepared for. He went back to His writing, kept quiet and they all left.

He eventually looked up and spoke to the woman. 
Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

Jesus forgave her for her sin but told her not to sin again. There was forgiveness but she was required to make atonement for her sin. This is a powerful part of John’s Gospel. An awakening moment for me in my Lenten journey. 

3. Jennifer’s blog, “A few odd things about me, and a question for you,” shares things that affected her life. My life was affected by things that I didn't understand. When I was in high school my mother spent a lot of time in the hospital. She suffered from depression and Psychoses. I could not comprehend what mental diseases were. I hid this from my friends and never invited any of them to my house because I was embarrassed. After high school things really didn’t improve and I had a hard time dealing with it. My main concern was that I would suffer from the same disease. So my outlet was to avoid any type of pressure from work or relationships. If something was not going well I would leave. I was not an easy person to be with. Relationships were questionable and always temporary. My various jobs, questionable social skills and mood swings limited the number of people I could call friends. There was a continual search for anything to keep me sane, make me a normal person. Eventually, through God’s love and my Earth Angel, I learned to manage my fears and strengthen my faith.

4. I have written before about my quest to go paperless. So Dee sent me a video about Emma. It is in French but you’ll get the point.

5. The first day of spring was sunny and warm. Dee and I spent the afternoon working in the yard. Raking, leaves, cleaning bushes and picking up acorns. It is a good start to getting the yard ready for summer.

Robert Frost wrote a beautiful prayer about spring.

A Prayer In Spring

“Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
To which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends he will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.”

6. One of my favorite jingles and also my favorite cookie.

“Little girls have pretty curls  
But I like Oreos. 
Oreo's the best because  
It's the very best cookie ever was. 
Girls are nice but oh what icing comes with Oreos.”

7. It's been a great week. I think I'll go outside and play .....

Read other "Takes" at Conversion Diary.

Friday, March 15, 2013

My Slow Takes (Vol. 90)

1. The prophecies of St. Malachy was brought up by a friend of mine. I was not familiar with St. Malachy and checked with “Catholic.com.”

2. I am using the free App, “Alinof Timer” for a countdown clock. It is easy to use. The clock itself allows choice of countdown times and notifies you when you have reached the end. There is a choice of an alarm sound or just the “Time is up!” banner that pops up on your screen. Review this video I found at “StackSocial.”

3. Dee and I went to morning Mass on Tuesday. Father Jim, as always, provided an excellent Homily. The reading from Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12 uses water as a symbol of God’s love for us. Water that is continually flowing, nourishing and eternal. It provides sustenance for all of us. There is nothing that we shall not need.

John’s Gospel, 5:1-16, then reinforces the analogy of the water. Jesus, stirs up the “water,” and heals the ill man. The “others” failed to see what had really happened. Sometimes I don't see and need to remember, understand and always keep my heart open to Him.    

4. The television series, “The Bible,” has completed two episodes. So far I like what I have seen and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series. It is not a documentary, it is a story. The theme that is always present is that of faith, sinners and forgiveness. It shows our human frailty and God’s love for us.  

5. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, a Jesuit priest, is the first Pope from the New World. My family traces it's roots to the early Jesuits who came to Canada back in the Sixteenth Century. I feel that now I have closer connection to Rome.

Lord please bless Pope Francis. Provide the wisdom, strength, compassion and love he will need to lead our Church.  

6. Wednesday I started mandolin lessons. My instructor, Chris, has a music degree from the University of Buffalo and is very talented. He is also patient and organized in his lesson plan. I have much to practice before my next lesson.

7. My barber, Bill, grew up on a farm. He was telling me that the front porch ceiling was painted blue so as to resemble the sky. The reason is that it fooled the bees, wasps, spiders and other critters into thinking the ceiling was actually the sky. No respectable critter would want to be out in the open where they could be lunch or dinner for the birds. It sounds interesting, but I was unable to find any supporting evidence. Jennifer, I didn't ask him about scorpions.

Read other "Takes" at Conversion Diary.

Friday, March 8, 2013

My Slow Takes (Vol. 89)

1. Saturday night our three sons, Eric, Stephen and Todd had a surprise retirement party for me at a local restaurant. The ruse was that Todd and his wife Lauren were taking us out to dinner. When we arrived I was greeted by my family, which included my brother Tom and his wife Karen, and our best friends Pam and Tony. Yes, I did not have any clue that this was going to happen. Afterward we came back to the house and enjoyed a beautiful and delicious chocolate cake baked by our daughter-in-law Christina. We stayed up until the early morning hours laughing about memories and things to come.
Photo of the group taken by the waiter.
Me and my cake.
2. Dee and I attended “A Busy Person’s Retreat” at our parish, the Church of the Epiphany. The retreat directors were Father Jude Sicilano, OP and Sister Patricia Bruno, OP. They were both excellent speakers. The scriptural reflection and meditation sessions were in the “Commons,” which is a large room next to the Church. The chairs were arranged in a circle with a small table in the center. The readings for the retreat were Mark 7:24-30, Mark 10:46-52 and John 20:19-24. Both directors took turns facilitating the sessions. The participants were encouraged to share their thoughts on the readings. In the evening there were Ritual and Prayer sessions. I attended two of the three sessions.

3. The first evening was "light." We all were given candles. The person in the first seat of each row had their candle lit by one of those assisting. Then that person turns and hands his candle to the person next to him. The person passing the lit candle then passes his hands over the flame, two or three times, welcoming the smoke as they cover their eyes. A prayer is silently said to themselves. This process is repeated until everyone in the church has made the blessing to themselves. Father Jude then asked everyone to slowly file out of their rows and we completed a large circle around the church. The lights were turned down. Four young girls, “the candle angels.” then completed a general blessing for the participants as the Cantor snag the blessing prayer.

4. The second evening was "bread and ministries." Various parishioners carried up a basket of bread that represented one of the ministries at our church. Liturgy, hospitality, choir, outreach, RCIA, community life and St. Francis Home were just some of them. Father Jude blessed the bread and then had the baskets passed to the parishioners. Each person took a piece of bread. He then said a prayer of thanks while we slowly ate the blessed bread.

5. In Mark's Gospel, 7:24-30, Jesus travels outside of the area of Galilee into an area of pagans. Perhaps He had a purpose in mind. What if He wanted His disciples to see that the “Word” was available to all people? The Greek woman that approaches Jesus was a pagan, she was a woman, one of low stature in the Jewish community. She is desperate to get help for her daughter and doesn't care what others may think of her. She humbles herself when she seeks out Jesus and asks for His help. His first response is that the children should be fed first, the dogs second. Are the children the people of Israel and the dogs the pagans? Is Jesus testing her faith? The woman does not accept what she is told and tells Jesus that even she, one of the dogs, is deserving. She is persistent and her love and faith are acknowledged by Jesus. He tells her to go home, "the demon has gone out of your daughter." The woman does not question, she listens, returns to her home and finds the demon gone

6. Jesus and His disciples were leaving Jericho. He had a large number of people with Him so I’m sure they made a commotion traveling along the road. Bartimaeus heard them and shouted out to Jesus,
“Son of David, have pity on me.”
Those around him were embarrassed that this blind beggar was causing a disturbance. Keep quiet, stop calling out to Jesus! But Bartimaeus was persistent and continued, 
“Son of David, have pity on me.”
Jesus told those around Him to call the blind man over. When Batimaeous reached Jesus he was asked what was wanted of Him.
“Master, I want to see,” was his reply.
Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”
The blind man could now see, but did not leave. He followed Jesus.
Bartimaeous was an outsider, a sinner by Jewish standards of the time, so once again we have Jesus responding to those not acceptable to Jewish society. Father Jude suggests that sometimes we are blind to Jesus and fail to hear Him. Perhaps we should take advantage of the moment of realization that Jesus is present and open our eyes to Him. Don’t let it pass, grasp it and bring into your heart.

7. This was a beautiful and blessed week of Lent for me. Jesus, family, friends and Church all brought together. Thank you Lord.  

Read other "Takes" at Conversion Diary.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

My Slow Takes (Vol. 88)

1. I posted a note about sequester on Monday. It was addressed to the President and Congress but I haven’t received a reply from either one. I wrote emails to my three representatives. They did reply and thanked me for my comments. It seems that we are all in agreement. I feel better now that my concerns have been expressed but disappointed that our elected officials could not reach an agreement.

2. Dee and I watch Castle. I enjoy the series mainly because Rick Castle is a writer and Nathan Fillion is a great person for the part. The writers for the series provide exciting and humorous episodes. There is always a comment that Rick Castle comes up with that is quick-witted. If you don’t pay attention to what is going on, it could be easily missed. This weeks episode brought James Brolin is as Castle’s father. It was a good choice of actors and I look forward to seeing him again. 

3. I’ve been using the Mayo Clinic 20-20-20 rule when using my computer. “Every 20 minutes, take your eyes off your computer and look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.” It works well for me and I don’t feel the eye strain as I use to.

4. I found a countdown clock software package for my MAC called “FlexTime.” It has a 30 day trial period so I'm trying it out. So far it seems to be working well. Also trying two free Apps, “Alinof Timer” and “Time Out Free.” 

5. Monday I went out and pruned our crepe myrtle. It sits in the front of the house near the garage. I’m not a person who enjoys gardening. I prune it because it needs pruning. It grows fast and the branches love reaching out for the house. They're like fingers grasping for the siding and the window sills. I do like the beautiful white flowers which stay in bloom quite awhile. The job is not difficult, just time consuming. It is one of those spring yard preparations that starts the season gardening process.

6. Our church is hosting “A Busy Person’s Retreat” next week. I didn’t think too much about it until Dee started looking at her schedule and asking me how we could coordinate the two of us attending. On Sunday Father Shreve reminded us about the retreat and suggested that we attend at least one day. I read the outline and was not interested in the readings. That was a wrong decision, it is not what I have been working on lately. I’m supposed to be concentrating on Lent and what I can do to get closer to God. Dee’s reaction was automatic which is what mine should have been. Lord forgive me. We will be attending, together.

7. I enjoy coffee and have tried a number of different brands. My current brand, for brewing at home, is from Carytown Coffee. They are a local company that roasts and blends their own coffee. I like the “Brazilian Breakfast” blend. They put a dark Brazil roast together with a French roast and it is delicious.   

Read other "Takes" at Conversion Diary.