Thursday, October 30, 2008

The First Look at Fall in Santa Fe.

The weather is just lovely. I don't remember a fall quite like this in Santa Fe. It was nice last year for Halloween, but I think this year will surpass that. Today, I watered my lawn, my flower pots are still thriving in the back yard, the birds are still around and I'm hoping to have a mild winter. I'd love to have rain in the city and snow in the mountains. That's probably too much too hope for in this desert town. So, a few pictures. Hopefully, I can hit Canyon Road and walk along the river and get more.

This rose bush is in my garden, it's kind of growing wildly but loves this spot. It's got rose hips like crazy and they always look so pretty through the long, dark winter.

This stand of Cottonwood trees line the side of the road on St. Francis Drive. The Descanso below (the memorial cross) has been there since 1998. Or at least marks the death of someone who died on that spot in 1998.

I pass this stand of chile on my way to the office. Often there are other vendors on this street corner, sometimes they even have food. I'm not sure if the ristras are for the tourists or good enough to eat. I've never stopped to ask. But, you know it's fall in New Mexico when you see fresh red chile ristras or smell the green chile roasting.

The Museum of Fine Arts in downtown Santa Fe.

Changing Aspens on the side of the downtown Presybeterian Church, the name of which escapes me right now.

Enter text here.
An old Colonial house, with lovely foliage in front.

In anticipation of the City's 400th anniversary, the Plaza is getting a face lift and the infrastructure is getting repaired, so that's why there is a fence in these pics. But I loved the contrast of the bark of the tree and the orangey-golden leaves.

The famous clock, people walking down Lincoln Avenue and a corner of the Fine Arts Museum.

Another shot of the Plaza.

Ristas hang from the side of the balcony on the Ore House resturant. These are dried as we use them for cooking. Though, I doubt these are very tasty, as I think they've been here for years.

Chamiso (aka Rabbit Bush) and Russian Sage in the circle in front of my house. My neighbors and I have a community garden and these really thrive there.

Holloween Decor from my front garden. Gotta get into the spirit of the holiday, you know.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Where Did It Go?

Today I went to town to have lunch with a friend. I took my camera with me and was shocked, seriously shocked to see this! The Cathedral is getting spiffed up for the City's 400th anniversary. It's quite something to see the most recognizable image of Santa Fe covered in plastic.

I've been carrying my camera with me in hopes of getting some lovely Autumn pictures of Santa Fe to post. I must admit I was inspired by the pretty pictures of Villanova Michael from Psalm 46:11: A Journey to Truth, has posted here and here .

The hues of Autumn in Santa Fe are mostly gold and purple, with touches of red and orange here and there. Hopefully, I'll get some good pictures. It's important to me to capture moments and so I'm trying.

A Bit About the Bishops

Over at Whispers in the Loggia Rocco has compiled the list of Bishops who have spoken up regarding the election, declaring that abortion is the most pressing issues of them all. Mine is on the list and issued a pastoral letter a few weeks back regarding the election and issues facing Catholics in my archdiocese this year. In every homily he's ever preached where I've been in the pews, he's preached a very pro-life, strongly anti-abortion message. I respect him for that. He speaks on the issue close to home, to his flock where the message needs to be heard, and not in National Catholic Media circles like others, but I suspect he probably feels just as strongly as the bishops we hear quoted every day.

I think the Church can speak about politics, but it must do so carefully. I think in some places, the line has been crossed and it reflects badly upon all people of faith especially Catholics. An evangelical church just a half-hour north of here, openly endorsed Republican candidates because of pro-life issues. Of course, people were outraged and offended. While the pastor thought it was important to strike up a dialog, he went about it in the wrong way and now risks losing his church's tax exempt status. Here, the Catholic church treads carefully over politics, but yet, we know how the archbishop feels about these issues all the same.

While we, as Catholics, are all different, we do have very strong and similar core values. We need to talk about those things. The bishops should be the ones to lead by example. They should not tell us directly how to vote, but should guide us faithfully and rationally.

That being said, they are human, they are fallible and they make mistakes too.

Also we need to consider all life issues when we go to the voting booth. Sadly, we haven't had a major party candidate, probably ever, who speaks to all life issues, so we are faced with making difficult decisions when we vote. I've been seeing in other blogs about Catholics feeling homeless when it comes to political parties and I think that is a true reflection of the world we live in right now. I'd like to think in my lifetime we will see such a candidate running for a major office and actually getting elected. I'd like to think this country and the world would be a better place because of it.

In other news, my neighbor passed out the link to the Catholic Vote video to her email list-- probably her prayer list or something-- because I was on her list. I wrote back and told her that I'd seen it and corrected her that it wasn't made by the Church but by a group of Catholics. She got a very scathing email back from someone who found it totally offensive and elitist. I so love hearing that word these days. It makes me want to quote Inigo Montoya from the Princess Bride:
"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. "

Nonetheless, I thought it was an interesting reaction because I thought for the most part the video was pretty good. I don't agree that same-sex marriage is going to be the downfall to modern society, but that's just me. I do lean to the left on most issues you know. The other issues it featured are crucial and important to think about every day, not just around election day. My friend is stumped and not quite sure what to make of the reaction. I guess I am too.

Then again, maybe I watched a wholly different video than this woman. Maybe I saw something totally different in the very same video, but if I didn't find it offensive, then maybe there is something wrong with me.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Literary World Mourns Today

Tony Hillerman, a long-time New Mexico writer has died. I posted about it in both my writing blog and my Live Journal, so I'm not going to repeat myself. But, I had no idea he was Catholic as reported at the Shrine of the Holy Whapping. His faith doesn't make him a better writer or anything like that, but I find it even more fascinating when I learn little details like that.

May he rest in peace and may perpetual light shine upon him.

Awake and Thinking

I just realized I rarely talk about my writing in here, so bear with me while I do. Sometimes, when I can't sleep I write in my head or at least think about my stories. I'm not always stressing out about life, which is a good thing. I can, however, stay up late writing in my head too. I've always been a creative person. For me, fiction and writing is a natural part of my life. I've been making up stories since I was a little girl. I do believe creativity runs in my family. We have artists, seamstresses, carpenters, and a couple of writers (journalist types) in the family. It makes sense I express myself through words.

I've lazed in bed on a weekend morning or a day when I don't have to be up early and think about my stories. Sometimes, scenes or actual bits of plot come to being from these moments. Often, I just try to work out a scene that is troubling me. Unfortunately, I'm still troubled with two of my stories. I still don't know how to end my first novel. I need my main character to go off to Europe with her daughter and her best friend. She is supposed to spend the inheritance his partner left for her and her daughter when he died. Meanwhile, the best friend will meet a nice guy in Spain and stay, giving her the keys to the NYC apartment and tell her to move back to NYC, which I can see happening. However, I don't want to write about her adventures in Europe and I need to make her reunion with her daughter's father seem realistic. Oy. That's where I've been stuck for a long, long time now.

Then with my second story, which is the one I've been writing for a couple of years now, is at another turning point and I can't decide how it all ends. This is a story that I don't want to see end. I love my characters. for better or for worse, they truly live in my head. A few nights ago, I was thinking about, Isabel and Andrew, (the twins of this story) and a scene that emerged as a result of my thoughts on the election.

They were sitting around the county fair building here in town waiting to vote. Of course, there was the usual conversational banter between them. He was reading and studying all the voter guides, which I'm sure he'd read and studied before. He had the bishops' guide for Faithful Citizenship, the archbishop's pastoral letter, and whatever else he found helpful to help guide him in his decision. He was smart, well-educated and didn't like that he had to make this choice, either way he felt it was a bad one. Meanwhile, Isabel knew how she was going to vote, no second guessing, no reservations, but her brother, the priest, was struggling as many people I know are struggling.

Perhaps I was working through my election conflict through Andrew, the priest character.
Maybe I was thinking or speculating what the priests at my parish were struggling with this year. I really don't know. This isn't a scene I'll finish or include in the story but I had to write it. I tend to find stories in just about all things, some are good ones to tell, others just little pieces to the whole. Often, I write about things I've been observing in others and not necessarily happening to me. You never know what just might inspire me to write something.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Kind and Generous

Today is World Priest Day. Go read this post at The Deacon's Bench and thank your priest for all that he does next time you see him.

Little Pleasures

As I was coming out of Mass this morning, I checked my cell phone for messages and missed calls as I always do. It's not like anyone calls me much these days. I certainly am not getting any sign calls on any of my listings, but I had a call from my Little Sister, just wanting to say hi. I thought it was really sweet that she wanted to call and talk to me. It made me feel good. It's nice to know a seven-year-old likes spending time with me. Not being a parent, nor having nieces or nephews, it's one of those things I worry about, but I'm not worried anymore. I really hope that we have a long-term relationship. I'd really love to be a part of her life as she grows. I am a bit bummed that she's not Catholic though. I'd love to watch her go through those milestones.

Well, I still hope and pray that I have my own child one day.

I Did It

It's important that all Americans eligible to vote exercise that right, whether it's voting for a major party candidate, a third party candidate or even leaving it blank. There were a couple of places on my ballot which I considered leaving blank but I didn't in the end. I voted my conscience. Enough said.

Today at Mass, our priest made a comment about divisiveness. He said this election, as most elections usually do, has divided people. He said that if he separated the Republicans, Democrats and Independents in the pews and we talked about the election instead of celebrating Mass, it wouldn't take long before the hymnals started flying and getting tossed across the room at each other. I believe he's right. Never before have I see such divisions between people, such anger and animosity toward people over an election.
I think I can understand it, but I don't like it very much.

Last night at the volunteer dinner, we talked a bit about the election, no one revealed how they were going to vote. Actually, I was the only one at the table who had voted, but even at a table of six, you could feel the tension in the air and the fact that we were all different despite all being Catholic was obvious. We all said that we were struggling with our vote this year and talked no more of it.

I think that's what all Catholics are struggling with. Some more than others. I hope that when the results come back on November 4th, we can all come together as a nation, heal, stop fighting with each other and pray that God's will is done no matter who is elected. Then somehow work on change.

I also updated an older entry I posted with that Catholic vote video, which I posted with slight reservation. I added a few other links to the post, which is here.

Worthiness to Receive

This isn't a rant about the Bishops declaring who may or may not receive Communion. I try very hard not to judge someone's worthiness to receive. I try to refrain from judging the bishops as they make their statements these days either. I may not agree, but it's not my place to judge them or the people who present themselves for Communion. I don't know what's in their heart and am not worthy to make that judgment either. I think Catholics, at least those versed in the faith, should know if they are in a State of Grace and should be able to deem themselves worthy to receive and should know better than to judge others.

Still, having said that, why does it bother me so much that someone I know, a friend, who left the Catholic Church many years ago, who occasionally goes to Mass presents herself for Communion? I know she doesn't believe it's the actual Body and Blood of Christ, we've talked about it before. She takes communion in her church and when she attends Mass, she receives anyway. I had a voice mail this morning that how wonderful the "sherry" was this morning. She says she wants to come back to the Catholic Church so I told her about this wonderful sacrament we have called "Confession" and she'd need to make one before receiving Communion again. She was dismissive and said she didn't think the Church did it anymore.

I don't know why I let this bother me. However, I refrain from receiving Communion if I know I'm in a state of Mortal Sin. I want to be able to instill this to the children I teach in Catechism. I had wanted to go to Confession yesterday so that I could go to Communion at Mass. I told this to my neighbor hoping she'd refrain if we went to Mass together last night, but I didn't go to Confession or Mass and she went to Mass this morning.

I keep committing the same old mortal sins over and over. I am trying not to though. Quite honestly, I don't think I'll ever fully be able to refrain from breaking commandments 2, 4, and 10. Oh an add not being charitable to one's neighbor too. I'm not being literal with my actual neighbor, but sometimes, yes.. I know we have the Gift of Reconciliation (that's the name of our Catechism book for the kids) and if I don't utilize it, how can I teach the children to appreciate it? So... it's my personal and spiritual goal to go to Confession more regularly. Perhaps as the new liturgical year starts, I can make that a sort of resolution.

In other news, I think I'm finally getting back on track with prayer. I've prayed Compline a bit more often. I think it's probably my favorite part of the Office, though I usually only pray morning and evening prayers and sometimes I only manage only one of those during the day. Still the words of night prayer are just so comforting especially just before going to bed.

How can a person not find comfort and consolation with the words from the responsory:
Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit, alleluia.
And from the antiphon:
Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake, watcher over us as we sleep, that awake we may keep watch with Christ and asleep, rest in his peace.
And then to conclude with:
May the all-powerful Lord grant us a restful night and a peaceful death.

Now, I should probably change to leave for Mass, as I've spent more time composing this post than I should have.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Philip Groning's stunning new documentary, Into the Great Silence, on the spirituality of Carthusian monks will be on EWTN this week.

Sun 10/26/08 9:00 PM ET & 6 PM PT
Thu 10/30/08 2:30 PM ET & 11:30 AM PT

I've been wanting to see this. Actually, a good friend of mine has too ever since one of the priests at our parish mentioned it at Mass. I had my netflix on hold for a while, so I never did add it to my queue. I'll set the DVR and watch it later.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More Link Than Content

Tired. Tired. Tired. So, I think that's why my postings have been rather lame of late. I do have a draft of a post about Halloween and Dia de los Muertos, but no energy to finish it.

I was reading my blogroll tonight, which includes America Magazine's blog, In All Things and found this link to Time Magazine's article about the making of saints. Some on people the list are either blessed or venerables, some are possibles and others not even close.

Still, I like reading about saints of the past, modern-day saints and possible saints of the future. Worth having a look.

What Did I Miss!?!?

You are a 93% traditional Catholic!

Congratulations! You are more knowlegeable than most modern theologians! You have achieved mastery over the most important doctrines of the Catholic Faith! You should share your incredible understanding with others!

Do You Know Your Baltimore Catechism?
Take More Quizzes

I can't believe I missed something... I wish the results were posted so I know what I'd missed.

Jesus Around Her Neck*

How's that for a title? This will be, eventually, hopefully, later today a post about cultural Catholicism, Pop Culture and my obsession with all things Catholic.

* song lyric in Vertigo by U2

Monday, October 20, 2008

Religion, Politics, and the Media

Rachel Maddow really impresses me. I've been enjoying her on Air America and her appearances on MSNBC. I'm glad she has her own show, though I miss watching the cute Dan Abrams. Anyway, right now I'm listening to her being interviewed on the show "State of Belief", a show that airs on Air America about Religion in America. I caught part of this interview on her show the other day and was really intrigued to hear her take on religion and politics in America. It's definitely well worth the listen.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Wanted: Crash Course in Apologetics.

Just a rant... so I'm logged into the forums at NaNoWriMo last night and find myself reading a thread about Catholics. A non-Catholic Christian is writing a story about a Catholic woman and needed basic information, so lots of people chime in and provide details and help and then of course, there's the contribution from the Ex-Catholic who has nothing good to say about Catholics. I could refute all her claims about our traditions being non-biblical, that we worship saints, don't follow the bible, misconceptions about the priesthood, confession and the Eucharist, but I didn't want to expend the energy last night.

You know, I can understand a non-Catholic's misconceptions about the Church, what we believe and what they think we believe, but I just don't get Ex-Catholics. I know plenty of them and I truly think they are the worst. They've gotten so bitter, so angry and so blinded by their new-found faith, that they think everything about the Church is wrong, backwards and unchristian. I think it's true that many Catholics are very uneducated when it comes to the Church. Many people know, but just don't care enough to learn about their faith. As a Catechism teacher, I am saddened by this. I so badly want to impart my love of the Church onto these children. I really fear that I'm not good at it and that I won't teach them anything worthwhile.

I don't expect all Catholics to stay in the church. I know many lapsed or cultural Catholics who don't have one bad thing to say about the Church, they just know it's not for them or they don't need it. I was that way for quite some time, but I just don't know why so many who do leave, they feel the need to bash it.

Thoughts for a day, which is going to be better than the previous one, but another day nonetheless.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

You Said You'd Light a Candle and You'd Say A Prayer For Me....

Someday I may run out of Goo Goo Dolls songs to quote as titles. I guess they better come out with a new CD.

I don't think I'm getting sick, but I felt bad all day long. I couldn't eat, I was chilled, woke up with the beginning of a migraine and was even a tad bit nauseous. I was also exhausted. I didn't sleep well. Maybe I'm still shaken up from getting dumped by someone I hadn't even met yet. Against my better judgment I sent him an email, just to say what I didn't say yesterday. Breaking up (or ending things because we weren't even dating yet) via text message sucks. I also refuse to call him. It's up to him to call me. He sent a reply through the site, but I don't know if he got the email. He didn't say. While I didn't talk about that budding new relationship in here, there was one. I was excited, interested and unfortunately, it didn't work out. He didn't think I was interested, and I didn't think he was but yet we continued to talk anyway. Now he's met someone else and that's that. He wants to be friends, but how can I be friends with someone I didn't have a chance to meet, to find out if there was anything? Nonetheless, it upset me, pissed me off and hurt me. Why? I don't know, it shouldn't. It doesn't matter now that it's over.

This evening when I got home and finally sat down in front of the computer to catch up with all the email I don't seem to be getting, my two LJ friends lists, the blogs I read faithfully, the ones I read semi-faithfully, the ones I skim, and the ones I pass over but for some reason they're on my igoogle reader anyway, I decided to write a recap of my day.

Today was Catechism and the kids were so full of energy, but we got through a review of the last chapter and through all of today's lesson. Some of the kids are excellent students and want to learn, others are probably a bit ADHD, a couple struggle with reading and maybe a few have no desire to be in Catechism class. I have a big class and I have not yet mastered control! But I really enjoy them and I think they are learning. I just fear that I'll fail. I know that God has lead me on this journey. I pray every day that I'm doing right by His will.

So.... about prayer. It was today's topic in our book and Fr. Austin at Jesus Goes to Disney World, talked about prayer in his blog. I really appreciated his thoughts today.

I wish had more to say tonight. I'll finish up in the morning as it's time for my bedtime prayers and a few hours of sleep.

Tomorrow will be a better day. I probably won't be so self-absorbed or angry.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Unsuffer Me...Updated

Giving up on finding love. Again. I don't think he's the one, at least not in the way Shakira sings about the one. Still, I liked him. I really liked him too. But I guess as the Iguanas say, I moved too slow. He can date someone else and I'm not going to wait around for him. I'm not going to be his second choice. I'm also not looking for a friend, so I will move on. Another lesson learned. Maybe in time, True Love will find me in the end, but right now, I'm not going to worry about it, nor listen to sappy pop music. I'll stick with sad, Lucinda Williams, (though her latest song is happy.) I usually over-think things and don't want to rehash this over and over in my head. It's not worth it.

(Update) Well, I'm still here and I'm feeling a bit better. I can see why so many of the saints realized that Jesus was all they needed. It used to seem so hard for me to imagine that, but maybe I wasn't quite sure what it meant to really love Jesus and let Him be all that I need especially right now. At least I don't think He'll break my heart. Unfortunately, it's not First Friday, because I really wish I hadn't missed it two weeks ago. There is a parish in town with 24 hour a day Adoration, but I've never been there and am not comfortable going all the way across town in the middle of the night even if it is just to go sit and be with Jesus for a while.

Speaking of Adoration-- I was looking for a segue to talk about this. I've only really discovered the amazing experience of spending an hour or two in presence of Jesus. As I'm still trying to work out what kind of prayer works best for me and I'm not quite sure what I should do while I'm in Adoration half the time, I just sit there quietly. I try to keep my thoughts on our Lord and what he did for us by dying on the Cross. I try to think about His life, his teachings and his words while I sit there. Sometimes, other thoughts creep in and I ask him to help me work through those things. Even so, by just being there, with the Blessed Sacrament is a comfort. Knowing that Jesus is present is soothing.

I know it's a devotion that Non-Catholic Christians don't necessarily understand, but it's a way that I think if they could experience it, even for just a moment, they too would probably feel the overwhelming sense of God present in our lives.

Watch Fr. Jim Martin's video, he's much better at talking about this than I am. This is another in his prayer series posted over at In All Things, the America Magazine blog.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Interesting revelations about an attempt on Pope John Paul II's life in the 80's.
There's a video clip of the movie here on the BBC news site.

(Too tired to comment more, but I thought I'd at least make a post about this now.)

By David Willey
BBC News, Rome

Previously unpublished details of an assassination attempt on the late Pope John Paul II in Portugal in 1982 have been revealed in a film based on the memoirs of the Pope's former private secretary.

In the film, due to be shown at the Vatican this week, the late Pope's aide Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz tells how a deranged priest drew blood when he tried to kill John Paul with a bayonet during a religious ceremony at the Fatima shrine.

Cardinal Dziwisz served as John Paul's private secretary for nearly 40 years, including all his 27 years as Pope, and is the cardinal of Krakow in Poland.

I was covering the event for the BBC from Portugal at the time of the attack, and reported immediately from Lisbon the rumours that there had been another attempt on the Pope's life.

It came exactly a year after a Turkish gunman, Mehmet Ali Agca, had shot and wounded the pope in Saint Peter's Square in Rome.

Attack denied

But that same evening, the Vatican formally denied there had been another assassination attempt.

The following day, Portuguese television broadcast footage of the attack.

It was carried out by a mentally unbalanced Spanish priest who was arrested after being jumped on by the Pope's bodyguard, Archbishop Paul Marcinkus.

Archbishop Marcinkus laughed this off when I asked him what had happened.

"You can't always believe what you see on television," he told me.

The Pope continued his trip without disclosing his wound.

Juan Maria Fernandez y Krohn arrested in Fatima, Portugal 1982
Juan Maria Fernandez y Krohn was jailed for more than six years

The priest who carried out the attack, Juan Maria Fernandez y Krohn, was later tried and sentenced to over six years' imprisonment for his crime. He was then expelled from Portugal.

The Vatican has always been secretive about the health of a reigning pope, although the huge increase in media interest in Vatican affairs as a result of the long reign and foreign travels of John Paul II - which lasted more than a quarter of a century - has led to slightly greater transparency than in previous centuries.

The assassination attempt by Ali Agca in May 1981, which led to many months of hospitalisation for John Paul, took place in the full glare of international publicity.

The Pope was being driven through Saint Peter's Square in his Popemobile when he was shot.

Pope John Paul was rarely reticent about his subsequent health problems caused by the Turkish gunman, and once announced directly to the crowds in Saint Peter's Square that he was going into hospital for a check-up.

But the officials of the Vatican Press Office have always been excessively discreet about providing information about the pontiff's state of health.

Long decline

During the reign of Pope Paul VI, the only information that used to be given to the media was that the Pope was in good health - until he was actually dying.

The long, drawn-out decline in health and final illness of Pope John Paul II was evident to everyone.

During his final weeks, the Pope became unable to speak after a tracheotomy operation and struggled to say just a few words from the window of his private study overlooking Saint Peter's Square.

Security considerations in recent decades since the rise in terrorist threats against well-known international personalities also play a part in leading the Vatican Press Office to minimise the personal details it gives out about the pope's movements and his state of health.

Pope John Paul II in hospital in Rome after an assassination attempt in 1981
Pope John Paul was hospitalised after being shot in Rome

Basically, the Vatican exercises strict control over news on practically everything that goes on inside the tiny city state.

When the commander of the Swiss Guard, the Pope's private army, was shot dead in 1998 inside his private Vatican apartment with his wife by a member of the Guard who then took his own life, very little information filtered out either at the time of the crime, or subsequently.

The Vatican's former official spokesman Joaquin Navarro Valls took pride, he once told me, in the fact that he believed about 80% of news about the Vatican published in the world's media came through his office.

Damage control, rather than public information, still seem to be the watchwords at the premises in the Via della Conciliazione just next to Saint Peter's Square, which houses the Vatican Press Office.

Here, accredited correspondents like myself have to swipe a personal identity card to gain admission and are subjected to strict rules about embargoes of papal speeches whose texts are issued in advance.

And enquiries about most subjects are usually answered with the Italian words "non risulta" - "we have no information".

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Voting Nun

A 106- year-old American nun living in Europe is going to vote for the first time in 50 years. She lives in a convent in Rome and is voting Democratic. I wonder if the blogosphere will pick up on this. Article from the BBC.

106-year-old voter chooses Obama

By David Willey
BBC News, Rome

Sister Cecilia Gaudette
Sister Cecilia has lived in the convent in Rome for 50 years

A 106-year-old American nun living in a convent in Rome could well be the oldest person to vote in the 2008 US Presidential election.

Sister Cecilia Gaudette, who last voted for President Eisenhower in 1952, has registered to vote and says she will vote for Democrat Barack Obama.

Although hard of hearing, she keeps herself informed by reading newspapers and watching TV at the convent.

"I'm encouraged by Senator Obama," she says.

"I've never met him, but he seems to be a good man with a good private life. That's the first thing. Then he must be able to govern," she adds.

Sitting in her modest office in the convent where she has lived for the past 50 years, the diminutive nun appears uninterested in the row inside the American Catholic church over Senator Obama's support for pro-choice policies on abortion.

Asked about her hopes for the US under an Obama presidency, she says: "Peace abroad. I don't worry about the Iraq war because I can't do anything about it. Lord knows how it will end."

"It is very complicated," she said. "Those Eastern people are not like we are."

But despite taking part in the 4 November election, Sister Cecilia does not intend to return to the US.

"I have no plans for the future. I am too old to go back to the US. Life has changed too much."

But she still watches "very important events" on TV. The election comes under this category.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Spirits of the Devils

I made sort of a punchy post in my LJ a while ago about suddenly being convinced that Armageddon is a upon us. History Channel is repeating a special all about Armageddon. Quite, honestly, I don't believe it is upon us. I don't believe in the Rapture or End Times either. However, I am mildly amused that (Dr.) John Haggee is one of the experts inteviewed on the show. You know how seriously I'm going to take this show now. He is the one who has repeatedly made anti-Catholic remarks and insults. He seems ludicrous and foolish in his attacks against the Church too. I can't remember where I ran into staunch defenders of him. Oh yeah the Sephardic mailing list I read. Some non-Catholic Christians took offense to one of my comments that I didn't think his friendship to Israel was sincere and how I took offense to his insults against the Catholic Church and many people defended him. Oh well... I still don't find him to be a credible theologian.
Many of the readings in the Liturgy of the Hours, which shamefully I've been remiss praying this week, have readings taken from Revelation. I also fully admit that it is not a book of the Bible I have read with any regularity but would like to study it more. However, what I've read has led me to believe it, among others must be read carefully, interpreted and not taken literally. I think it's the one book of the Bible that is so misinterpreted and taken too literally.

Of course, who am I to make any real observations? I am not a Biblical Scholar, nor an expert on very much of anything. I'm just muddling my way through life and learning as I go. I'm also very curious, will study and engross myself in persuits that interest, teach and satiate my curiousity. So, I read a lot, though not as much as I'd like to because I seem to spend far too many hours on the Internets or trying to write my own fiction. Trying these days is the operative word. My TV even misses me.

One thing I love and can't get enough of is looking at and studying art. Of course, I'm that "I took a couple of Art History classes in college and that's all I know about it" kind of scholar. I have a couple of art themed gadgets on my main IGoogle homepage which I rarely browse. I forgot that I had an "Art of the Bible" gadget and as I was watching this show, I flipped to that gadget and saw this image. I thought, given what I was watching, Michelangelo's Last Judgment was an appropriate image to stumble upon. Someday, I will see the Sistine Chapel. I can't believe I still have not gone across the big pond yet. Anyway, I'm going to add the website where I found this image to the links section. Apparently this image depicts Rev. 16:14, so now I have something else to study when I'm looking for yet another distraction.

It's late and I start to ramble and am barely articulate when I'm tired. Man, I could have done the last load of sheets while I twiddled away writing this post. I need to go to bed. I slept REALLY late today. If I sleep as late as I did this morning, I'll miss Mass.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mother Mary Comes to Me

While looking at another video on You Tube, I stumbled upon a Protestant Pastor's conversion story. Quite honestly, I don't ready or watch too many of these, because for me as Cradle Catholic I find it hard to relate to conversion stories most times. I am however, glad to see that others have found the fullness and the truth in the Church and have become Catholic. In this video, he fully admitted that unlike many Protestants who come to the Catholic Church, he came through Mary, not despite of. He truly understood Catholic devotion to Our Lady and it touched me. That's why I'm posting this.

Even I Know Better...

Oh yeah... and why do I watch the Naked Archeologist? I mean, I generally enjoy it-- I don't always take it seriously, as apparently, the host is not an archeologist but a journalist. Heh, and we all know just how journalists think. Tonight's two episodes were about the Early Christians and what happened to them through the years after the death of Jesus and the rise of Christianity as we know it. He talked about Peter and James and their movement and then Paul. Now, I listened more than I watched, I was watering the grass, fixing dinner (Ok, getting a plate for my McDonald's mushroom and swiss burger and fries) and doing other things to fully watch. However, you don't know how many times I wanted to yell at the TV for stating that James was Jesus' brother!

How I wish these shows would consult some authoritative experts from time to time. Yes, I think that there are lots of stories and myths intertwined in the history of early Christianity, that archeology has proven some historical and biblical events as true, and has cast doubt on others, but seriously, please check facts and details a bit better.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Is the Impossible Possible?

Today I was privileged to see a relic of St. Jude Thaddeus at the Cathedral Basilica here in town. The Dominican Friars from the Shrine of St. Jude in Chicago have brought the relic to my archdiocese again. A rosary was recited, then an opportunity for Confession before Mass celebrated with the Archbishop and the friars. Following Mass there was time for personal veneration of the relic and then an other opportunity for Confession. When I left, I left after the rosary, as I really couldn't stay for the Mass, there were huge lines for the confessionals. Quite honestly, the times I've been to confession this year (remember I just made my first Confession in a long, long time this year), there have always been long lines. Needless to say, I could have gone, as both my pastor and the rector at the Cathedral said that the priests hearing confessions wouldn't know us. Maybe that's why the lines were so long, ;-)

I know people jokingly make comments about not having to go to Confession. Archbishop Sheehan recently addressed the subject of Confession and the misconceptions of not having to go to Confession (or was that Mass? He talked about that recently too.) I've had a former Catholic friend tell me that it was done away with long ago and of course I said no, "it's one of the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church, and when you come back to the Church fully, you'll need to go to Confession before you can receive the Eucharist." '
Needless to say, that didn't go over well with my friend.

Anyway, this post isn't about Confession per se but seeing the relic of a Saint who lived during the time of Christ. A relic from a man who was one of the Twelve. Someone who is believed to have been a cousin of Jesus. How could I not experience that? Another short bio of St. Jude here.

I took my camera with me and for some reason, I did not take a picture of the relic as it processed up to the the table before the altar where it was placed and since I did not stay for Mass or the veneration, I didn't get a photograph of it at all. I searched google for images and found only a couple. This one is from the Aquinas Newman Center at UNM, which is staffed by Dominicans. It will end up there after it's soujourn in Santa Fe and arrival in Albuquerque.

This is the text of the prayer we prayed after the rosary was said.

Most Holy Apostle, St. Jude Thaddeus, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the name of the traitor who delivered your beloved Master into the hands of his enemies has caused you to be forgotten by many. But the Church honors you, and I invoke you as the special advocate of those who are in trouble and almost without hope. Help me to realize that through our faith we triumph over life's difficulties by the power of Jesus who loved us and gave his life for us. Come to my assistance that I may receive the consolation and succor of heaven in all my needs, trials, and sufferings, particularly ( here make your request ) and that I may praise God with you and all the saints forever.

St. Jude, apostle of the Word of God, pray for us.
St. Jude, follower of the Son of God, pray for us.
St. Jude, preacher of the love of God, pray for us.
St. Jude, intercessor before God, pray for us.
St. Jude, friend of all in need, pray for us.
St. Jude, pray for us, and for all who invoke your aid.

(text taken from the prayer page at the Shrine of St. Jude website, where this relic is housed.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Mind Numbing Exercise

You Are a Raccoon

You are very curious. Your curiosity has led you to learn a lot about the world... including some things you rather not know.

You are also very sneaky. You can blend in when you need to, and no one really knows what you are up to.

At times, you can be morally dubious. You're willing to do a lot to get ahead, even if it means stepping on other people's toes.

You are generally passive and tend to work behind the scenes. But if someone challenges you, you get downright nasty!

To the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary

Queen of the most holy Rosary...

in these times of such brazen impiety, manifest thy power with the signs of thine ancient victories, and from thy throne, whence thou dost dispense pardon and graces, mercifully regard the Church of thy Son, His Vicar on earth, and every order of clergy and laity, who are sore oppressed in the mighty conflict. Do thou, who art the powerful vanquisher of all heresies, hasten the hour of mercy, even though the hour of God's justice is every day provoked by the countless sins of men. For me who am the least of men, kneeling before thee in supplication, do thou obtain the grace I need to live righteously upon earth and to reign among the just in heaven, the while in company with all faithful Christians throughout the world, I salute thee and acclaim thee as Queen of the most holy Rosary.

Queen of the most holy Rosary, pray for us!

Image courtesy of Trinity Stores. Check it out. There is lovely stuff there, including work by this artist.

While I was searching for an image to use for this post, I found this one, immediately knowing who the painter of the Retablo is. The artist is Arturo Olivas, a New Mexico Santero. I own two of his pieces and decided to use this image. It's lovely. I definitely think I'll have him paint me an image of La Conquistadora, who incidentally started out as an image of Our Lady of the Rosary.

From St. of the Day:
It was St. Dominic in the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries who encouraged everyone to say the Rosary. St. Dominic was greatly saddened by the spread of a terrible heresy called Albigensianism. With the members of his new Order of Preachers, he was trying his best to destroy this dangerous heresy. He begged the Blessed Virgin for help, and it is said that she told him to preach devotion to the Holy Rosary. St. Dominic obeyed and he was very successful in stopping the heresy. The Holy Rosary is a simple devotion which can be practiced by all people-old and young, learned and unlearned. It can be said anywhere, at any time. While we say the Our Father, ten Hail Marys and Glory to the Father, we think about great moments in the lives of Jesus and Mary. In this way, we grow closer and closer to Jesus and his Blessed Mother. We learn to imitate their holy lives. Mary is very pleased when we say the Holy Rosary often and well. She used to say it with St. Bernadette when she appeared to her at Lourdes. The three little children of Fatima learned from Mary the power of the Rosary. Mary taught them that the Rosary obtains graces and saves sinners from hell. A Dominican pope, Pius V, established today's feast. It is to show our gratitude to Mary for a military victory over the Turks at Lepanto on October 7, 1571. By prayerfully meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, we are able to follow the example of Mary who "heard the Word of God and cherished it in her heart."

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Interesting post and argument for wearing of black vestments on All Soul's Day over here at the New Liturgical Movement. I, for one, wouldn't be bothered by seeing black vestments at Mass. Personally, my closet is full of black clothes and combinations there of, so... why not?
Of course, I'm just a lay person sitting in the pews. I'm not a depressive, but I've always liked the "slimming" nature of black. Heh.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Memorial of St. Francis

I think St. Francis is my "unofficial" patron of this blog. He is the patron Saint of my city and there is great devotion to him. Tomorrow is his Memorial and the end of a novena that
the parish of the Cathedral Basilica has been saying in his honor.

There is a great tradition of blessing the animals in honor of his day (the blessing is actually happening tomorrow) and I've never taken my monsters (dogs) for a blessing that if I get them bathed and properly presentable I might take them to have them blessed.

I think his attribution to patron of animals, came from the story of how he tamed the wolf. His original mission however, was to rebuild God's Church and he did so. It took him a while to figure out God meant figuratively and not literally. And his accomplishments were truly amazing.

St Francis of Assisi (1181 - 1226)

Francis was the son of a prosperous cloth merchant in Assisi. When his father objected to having his goods sold without his consent to pay for the restoration of a church, the bishop commanded Francis to repay the money. He did. He also renounced his father and gave back everything he had ever been given, even his garments. He began a life of perfect evangelical poverty, living by begging and even then only accepting the worst food that people had to give. He preached to all the love of God and the love of the created world; because, having renounced everything, he celebrated everything he received, or saw, or heard, as a gift. A rich man sold everything and joined him in living next to a leper colony; a canon from a neighbouring church gave up his position and joined them also. They looked into the Gospel and saw the story of the rich young man whom Jesus told to sell everything; they saw Jesus telling his disciples to take nothing with them on their journey; they saw Jesus saying that his followers must also carry his cross. And on that basis they founded an order. Francis went to Rome himself and persuaded the Pope to sanction it, though it must have seemed at once impractical and subversive, to set thousands of holy men wandering penniless round the towns and villages of Europe.
Because Francis was wearing an old brown garment begged from a peasant, tied round the middle with string, that became the Franciscan habit. Ten years later 5,000 men were wearing it; a hundred years later Dante was buried in it because it was more glorious than cloth of gold.
There is too much to say about Francis to fit here. He tried to convert the Muslims, or at least to attain martyrdom in doing so. He started the practice of setting up a crib in church to celebrate the Nativity.
Francis died in 1226, having started a revolution. The Franciscans endure to this day.

Summary taken from the Liturgy of the Hours at Universalis. See the full article in the Catholic Encyclopaedia.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Someone to Watch Over Me

My angel of God, my guardian dear to whom God's love commits me here
ever this night/day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide.

This is how I learned the prayer as a child. Today is the Feast of the Guardian Angels. Even now on nights when I struggle to find peace or am too restless, I think of that prayer my mother taught me when I was a little girl and sometimes it helps. Though, restless nights as an adult are probably stem from more real-life fears than the irrational fears of childhood. Still, it is comforting to know that there is a guardian angel who will guard, rule, guide and protect us through the long, distressing nights or our the stressful days of our lives.

Today we celebrate God's messengers who protect us human beings. We see them throughout the Bible. Angels delivered messages from God, protected people from dangers and rescued them. The New Testament Acts of the Apostles tells in chapter 12 how St. Peter was led out of prison by an angel. The belief that we each have a guardian angel has been common to Christians for many centuries. The picture of a guardian angel that we often see is an angel protecting a little child as he or she walks over a small bridge. In 1608, Pope Paul V added today's feast to the calendar of saints and celebrations. It is very encouraging to know and believe that we each have an angel guarding and protecting us. Our guardian angel is a gift from our loving God. We can say this brief prayer as often as we would like to throughout the day: Angel of God,my guardian dear, to whom God's love entrusts me here. Ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen. "And so the angels are here; they are at your side; they are with you, present on your behalf. They are here to protect you and to serve you. But even if it is God who has given them this charge, we must nonetheless be grateful to them for the great love with which they obey and come to help us in our great need." -St. Bernard -- From Saint of the Day.

Today's short reading from today's morning Office.

Exodus 23:20 - 21 ©
I myself will send an angel before you to guard you as you go and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Give him reverence and listen to all that he says.

If only they could protect us from pesky little mice roaming our houses.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dawn and All Its Majesty

Ok. I've seen this image of cute, little angels in everything, greeting cards, posters, bookmarks, books, websites and I've never thought too much about it. I know it's taken from classical art... well actually Renaissance art by the Italian Artist Raphael. However, I bet most people haven't a clue that it's only part of a painting, that it's from an even greater image, a more important piece of religious art?

I had never seen the piece in its entirety, or if I had seen it in art books when I was younger. My mom has some beautiful art history books and I'd look through them as a kid. She is really the art student, as I only wish that I knew more. Anyway, looking at the piece in its entirety, the angels didn't stand out to me.

As a whole, the angels are dwarfed by the image of the Madonna, who stands between Saints Sixtus and Barbara holding the Baby Jesus. I didn't take a class in Renaissance Art in college, I took Modern Art instead. Now I wish that I had because all I have is Wikipedia to tell me about this painting.

Brother Knows Best.

Ever wonder what the pope's brother has to say about his little brother?

There's this nice article about Pope Benedict XVI from the man who probably knows him best, his Brother Monsignor Georg Ratzinger.

(Image from Catholic News Agency).

This quote touched me deeply. It truly must have been as life changing for him as well as the pope.

Msgr. Ratzinger said he was “disappointed” when his brother was elected Pope, because “this meant we would have to significantly reconfigure our relationship,” because they would not be able to see each other much. “In any case, after the human decision of the cardinals, this is the will of God and we must say yes to it.”

From everything I've read, the Brother's Ratzinger wanted to retire together, but it was not meant to be, as one was called to become Pope. It must have been a bittersweet day for Msgr. Georg to see his baby brother elected Pope. Nonetheless, read the whole article.
Link first seen at the Deacon's Bench.
While Googling I find some of the most interesting things, usually after searching for one thing but finding something else. I just found this site, Holy Cards for Your Inspiration. It's a lovely blog with lots of Catholic imagery. However, it wasn't what I was looking for.

I wish...

I was independently wealthy and could afford to travel and study all the time. Oh, how wonderful that would be. The things I would see and learn. I was listening to NPR yesterday and there was an interview with a woman who was talking about the Sarajevo Haggadah, an old Sephardic book that is an illustrated text of the Passover Haggadah. This book has been spared from tragedy after tragedy throughout the years. Its history seems to be truly amazing.

According to the woman interviewed Hitler knew about the book and wanted it for the museum he dreamt about building in Prague, dedicated to the Jewish people, whom he was carefully and strategically planning to eliminate. It sickens me to think of all the things the Nazi's stole from the Jews they were exterminating to keep as mementos from their attrocities. Thank God the book was carefully removed and hidden away from the Nazi's.

Image from here at Wikipedia.

Fast forward to the present. Knowing this book is Sephardic in origin, it is even more fascinating to me learn about. One day I want to trace my ancestry back to Spain, what wonders might I discover. I think I'd be disappointed to find out that I don't have any Sephardic ancestry, not that I'd convert to Judaism if I was. While, I don't know for sure, part of me feels like at one time my people were Jewish, by just hearing stories, knowing NM history and discovering common threads that run through all the old families of NM. I'm willing to open my mind to that possibility. It would make sense as to why my family came to America and didn't stay in Spain.

There have been families who have known they are/were Sephardic and never really acted like it was a surprise when it was discovered that many of the old families have Sephardic ancestry. There are others who were just shocked to learn that they might actually be of Sephardic Jewish descent. I suspect there is a bit of anti-semitism that has lingered because of those reactions, though I'd really not want to toss out such random and baseless accusations. I also believe that there are quite a few people who had no clue it was even a possiblity that NM's first settlers could have been Sephardic. My grandparents were long gone before I ever could have asked them if they thought we had Sephardic ancestry. Quite honestly, there are few people left to ask in my family about anything. I need to make my mom and aunts sit down to try to compile all they know.

But, as for now, it's all just a big mystery and one day one I hope to unravel. If not, I can write about it in fiction. Fiction is usually always much more interesting.

Feasts and Memorials of late.

While I missed posting about the Feast of the Archangels and the memorial of St. Jerome, today is the memorial of St. Theresa of the Child of Jesus.

St. Theresa, often called the Little Flower, was born in Normandy, France, in 1873. She was the youngest of the five daughters born to Louis and Zelie Martin. Theresa was a very lively, lovable little girl. Her father called her his "little queen." Yet she could be too sensitive and irritable. In the story she wrote of her life, she tells how the Infant Jesus helped her overcome this weakness. It was Theresa's great desire to enter the Carmelite convent where two of her sisters were already nuns. But since she was only fifteen, permission was not granted. Theresa felt sure that Jesus wanted her to spend her life loving him alone. She kept praying and asking the superior to admit her. She even dared to ask Pope Leo XIII himself to grant her heart's desire. And finally she was allowed to enter. Although she was only fifteen, Theresa did not expect to be babied. "Obedience, prayer and sacrifice" were her program. She had a thirst to suffer for love of God. Theresa had the spiritual courage of a real heroine. "May Jesus make me a martyr of the heart or of the body-or better, both!" she wrote. And she meant it. In winter she suffered from the bitter cold and dampness of her plain bedroom. There were other kinds of sufferings, too. Whenever she was humiliated, she would offer her pain to her beloved Jesus. She would hide her hurts under a smile. She told Jesus to do with her whatever was his will. Sister Theresa tried hard to be humble. She called her great confidence in God her "little way" to holiness. She always had a burning desire to become a saint. The young nun wanted to find a "short cut," an "elevator," to take her quickly to sanctity. So she looked in the Bible, and found the words, "Whoever is a little one, come to me." When she lay dying, she could say: "I have never given the good God anything but love, and it is with love that he will repay. After my death, I will let fall a shower of roses. I will spend my heaven doing good on earth." The Little Flower died on September 30, 1897. She was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1925. "O Jesus, my love, my vocation, at last I have found it. My vocation is LOVE!"

Text taken from "Saint of the Day" but there is more about her here, at Catholic Online. Father Jim Martin, over at America Magazine posts this nice reflection on her here. She is my mother's patron saint. She is named for her exactly. I used to laugh at her name, I thought it was funny to be named Theresa of the Child of Jesus-- of course her name is in Spanish and it made even less sense to me. However, now as I read about holy men and women and learn more about the history of the Church and understand its traditions, I've begun to understand the devotions and why children are named in honor of these holy people.
Her parents have been beatified and one day may become saints just like their daughter.