Monday, March 30, 2009
I can't believe that Lent is winding down. I have struggled this year more than I have in the past. Maybe because this is the first year I really was trying to focus on my Lenten Journey. I think I've pretty much decided against attempting the pilgrimage to Chimayo. I know I could do at least half of it without a struggle. I walked two miles yesterday just fine. I'm just wary of doing 9 miles. It will be at a slow pace, with a group of people from the parish, who I know will walk very slowly. While, I'm not terribly out of shape and my asthma isn't flaring up, I don't feel ready for the walk. I need some better walking shoes though.
Of course, I'm beating myself up for not being ready. I had every intention to start working out again at the start of Lent but still haven't. I have every intention to do a lot of things that are either good for me or something I want to do but don't manage to actually do them. Then, I get mad at myself, stress out and never end up doing what I want/should/need. I am too young for regrets yet I still have all these irrational fears that get the best of me.
However, this is not what Lent is about. It's not about me. It's about acknowledging the sacrifice Jesus made for us, not to whine about what I have not done. Someday maybe I'll learn that.
Maybe I'll find something I can do instead that is a sacrifice on Saturday. Besides, I can always meet up with the pilgrims at the chapel for Mass. Perhaps my mother or father would like to go and they are certainly not capable of making the walk. Who knows. I'll see how I feel and what the weather looks like for Saturday.
Anyway, those are my thoughts for the night and now I think I'm going to go to bed. I'm tired. I'll read some of St. Teresa and maybe say Night Prayer before midnight.
Today I drove my mother to a funeral at the Cathedral. I had been wanting to photograph the new angels that magically appeared above the sanctuary one day. Maybe God painted them?** Eh, they were painted as part of the renovation project. Below I've posted the pictures I took today. Some are a bit blurry, as flashes are not allowed in the Cathedral and I didn't have a very steady hand because I was trying to be quick. It amazes me all the tourists that come into the Church during the day.
This is the crucifix in the chapel with La Conquistadora.
It's pretty passionate. I forget if it's Mexican or Spanish. I think Spanish. I didn't jot down the history. I read it every time I go there, but always forget.
I caught an image of it, right behind La Conquistadora at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.
This one is on the north side of the church. It is really above the choir seating. There was no information posted near it and so I don't know much about it. This was the best of the three blurry pictures I took.
One of the angels that magically appeared one day. My picture fails to do it justice. I'll go back one day when I really have time to spend taking pictures. All of the angels are lovely.
There are a few more, but they're all gorgeous. It's amazing how bright the Cathedral looks inside. I don't remember it being so beautiful. Growing up, it always seemed dark inside. My older cousin and I were talking about this at a family dinner. When my family gathers we always manage to talk about our culture, faith and the Church. I guess Catholicism really does flow through my blood.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
- In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary.And coming to her, he said, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered what kind of salutation this might be.
The young girl was frightened at first, but the Angel told her not to fear.
He told her that she was with child, a child who would be the Savior and she would call him Jesus.
- Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."
- But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?"
- And the angel said to her in reply, "The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God."
- Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
Mary said yes. But what if she said no? Below is a reflection from today's Office. Taken from Universalis Today.
- What if she had said No?
- The question may strike you as irreverent. How dare I suggest that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven, Co-Redemptrix of mankind, could have left us in the lurch like that?
- But what if she had?
- Could she have said No? You might say that of course she couldn’t, she was far too holy — but you would be guilty of demeaning and dangerous sentimentality. It is demeaning because it turns Our Lady from a free human being into a sanctified automaton. The whole glory of the Annunciation is that Mary, the second Eve, could have said No to God but she said Yes instead. That is what we celebrate, that is what we praise her for; and rightly so.
- This sentimental view is dangerous too. If we believe that the most important decision in the history of the world was in fact inevitable, that it couldn’t have been otherwise, then that means it was effortless. Now we have a marvelous excuse for laziness. Next time we’re faced with a tough moral decision, we needn’t worry about doing what is right. Just drift, and God will make sure that whatever choice we make is the right one. If God really wants us to do something he’ll sweep us off his feet the way he did Mary, and if he chooses not to, it’s hardly our fault, is it?
- So Mary could have said No to Gabriel. What if she had? He couldn’t just go and ask someone else, like some sort of charity collector. With all the genealogies and prophecies in the Bible, there was only one candidate. It’s an alarming thought. Ultimately, of course, God would have done something: the history of salvation is the history of him never abandoning his people however pig-headed they were. But God has chosen to work through human history. If the first attempt at redemption took four thousand years to prepare, from the Fall to the Annunciation, how many tens of thousands of years would the next attempt have taken?
- Even if the world sometimes makes us feel like cogs in a machine, each of us is unique and each of us is here for a purpose: just because it isn’t as spectacular a purpose as Mary’s, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. When we fail to seek our vocation, or put off fulfilling some part of it, we try to justify ourselves by saying that someone else will do it better, that God will provide, that it doesn’t really matter. But we are lying. However small a part I have to play, the story of the Annunciation tells me it is my part and no-one else can do it.
- Faced with the enormity of her choice, how was Mary able to decide? If she said No, unredeemed generations would toil on under the burden of sin. If she said Yes, she herself would suffer, and so would her Son; but both would be glorified. Millions of people not yet born would have Heaven open to them; but millions of others would suffer oppression and death in her son’s name. The stakes were almost infinite.
- You might say that Mary didn’t worry about all this, just obeyed God; but I don’t believe it. What God wanted was not Mary’s unthinking obedience but her full and informed consent as the representative of the entire human race. The two greatest miracles of the Annunciation are these: that God gave Mary the wisdom to know the consequences of her decision, and that he gave her the grace not to be overwhelmed by that knowledge.
- When we come to an important decision in our lives, we can easily find our minds clouded by the possible consequences, or, even more, by partial knowledge of them. How can we ever move, when there is so much good and evil whichever way we go? The Annunciation gives us the answer. God’s grace will give us the strength to move, even if the fate of the whole world is hanging in the balance. After all, God does not demand that our decisions should be the correct ones (assuming that there even is such a thing), only that they should be rightly made.
- There is one more truth that the Annunciation teaches us, and it is so appalling that I can think of nothing uplifting to say about it that will take the sting away: perhaps it is best forgotten, because it tells us more about God than we are able to understand. The Almighty Father creates heaven and earth, the sun and all the stars; but when he really wants something done, he comes, the Omnipotent and Omniscient, to one of his poor, weak creatures — and he asks.
- And, day by day, he keeps on asking us.
It's actually quite timely as Pope Benedict declared this upcoming year, year of the Priest, to see a story about a saint who protected and sheltered priests in a time of persecution is timely.
Here's her story at the patron saints website.
Image taken from patron saints index.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I was really proud of my students the other day. The parish has great outdoor spaces and we have outdoor Stations of the Cross. For the last half of class I took them out and showed them to the students. I was very impressed at how engaged they were and that they seemed to comprehend what happened to Jesus on that day as he made his way to Calvary. We're nearly through with our lessons. They'll have two more classes and then make their First Communion at the end of April/ beginning of May.
Monday, March 23, 2009
It is an unforgettable moment. As the sun traverses the sky its light is suddenly focused into an intense beam which illuminates a carving of Christ on the Cross.Read the rest here.
This is not a scene from an Indiana Jones film, however, but a stirring piece of visual synchronicity that dates from medieval times.
At the spring and autumn equinox, the setting sun hits a window at Holy Trinity Church in Barsham, Suffolk, and illuminates the 5ft carving for four spellbinding minutes. The spectacle dates back to the 1300s, when the narrow window was built in the church tower, but it was lost for centuries.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
And when I think that things have calmed down a bit, then the mainstream media tries to report about the Church, the pope, the Vatican and Catholicism in general and that's sure to be a scream. Or make me scream bloody murder.
It makes me long for the days of fandom when leaking a spoiler send conniption fits all throughout the newsgroup. Guh! Oh, I long for the days back when MacCleod killed Richie on Highlander. Those were fun days.
Here is a performance of Ave Maria.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Last Friday, I decided to go to a prayer vigil for peace at my parish. I've been trying to do the Stations of the Cross at my parish for Lent, which I did last week. There was time between the Stations and the vigil, so I slipped into the chapel to pray. I forgot my "Christian Prayer" book so I could pray the evening hours, as I had the week before. Then I realized I had them office readings downloaded to my Ipaq, and it was up-to-date. So I sat quietly and then prayed evening prayer while I waited for my friend who was going to join me at the service.
I was hesitant about going but we went. Because there was another ecumenical Lenten gathering going on, this service was in a classroom in the back. Quite honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. It started with an ecumenical service and then there was a gathering in the chapel where names of victims from the war in Iraq and Afghanistan were read, both military and civilian. I can’t imagine how many civilian names were read and how many names they actually had, but still they were going to read them for another 20 hours or so.
The gathering was sponsored by the New Mexico Pax Christi group. I’m not really sure how people feel about Pax Christi in general. It seems to me that opinions are pretty mixed. I’ve never had any experience with the group but it seems quite active here in New Mexico and my parish, being named for Our Lady of Peace, is pretty heavily involved. Father John Dear, SJ, is very active in the New Mexico group. This year he didn’t attend the vigil though, but I've been curious to read some of his writings. One of my co-workers was arrested with him while protesting the war (I don't remember what they were protesting, but I'm guessing the war?) at former Senator Domenici's Santa Fe office a while back.
There were pictures, brochures and other information. There was a pictorial of the Stations of the Cross using images of soldiers and civilians from Iraq and Afghanistan. Until I got home and looked it up, I really didn’t get a good sense of what it was. I suspect there is a mixed reaction to them. This is my first experience with any sort of peace movement at my parish, really anywhere. Being this is a pretty tolerant community, on Fridays there are anti-war protesters on the corners of the largest intersection in town peacefully demonstrating. Actually, that intersection has become the place where just about every group demonstrates, campaigns and gathers in protest or support of something happening in the world. And sometime, last week, there was a peaceful protest for Tibet. I do live in an interesting place.
The vigil started with a service one of the priest's from my parish leading it. Another priest, an Episcopal from Espanola, was supposed to join us but he was seriously ill so another priest filled in. Not sure what church he was from, I think the other Episcopal church that tends to do ecumenical things with my parish. I’ve seen him around town, but don’t know him from anywhere specific. I know who most of the local Catholic priests are, mostly because I see them during the summer for the novena to Our Lady.
Anyway, we all took our seats and before we got started we introduced ourselves. There were probably about as many men as there were women. A few, maybe most were from the parish, but I only really recognized a few people I knew from the church. I also felt very out of place because I think I was the youngest one there. (I was the only one whose hair was still it’s natural color--well trying to be as I’m no longer trying to fake being a red-head but that’s really just a superfluous detail and not relevant to my recap of the night.) My parents were too old to be a part of the peace movement of the late 60s and 70s and I was way too young to even know anything about it. That being said, I really did feel young and I even said so. We were all told to say one thing about “peace” and I said that I was still young enough and idealistic enough to believe it’s possible. See, sometimes, I’m not all that cynical and jaded.
I tried to find copies of the prayers from the service, but didn’t have much luck. I did find one which I was really looking for. It was mostly a time of prayer and quiet reflection.
Originally it was supposed to start with a Taize song, “Nada Te Turbe”, followed by Silent Reflection.
The Invocation. Then Silence. (I will type this up later if I can't find it on the 'net somewhere.)
Reflection: Prayer for a New Society. (Pax Christi). This was read by four different people.
A Prayer for Unity in a Time of War. (by Kathy Kelly, Founder of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. )
Prayer for Peace (by Mother Teresa)
Prayer of Oscar Romero. (Martyred Bishop of San Salvador. This I found online and was really the most beautiful prayer.
Prayer for the Decade of Non-Violence. (Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB)
Prayer of Thich Nhat Hanh. This is a Buddhist prayer and I couldn’t find the exact prayer online.
Prayer attributed to St. Francis of Assisi
Casa del Sol Prayer of Jesus. (From Casa del Sol Liturgies, which are ecumenical and seem to come from Ghost Ranch and it’s Institute of Religion and Democracy). I can also type this up for anyone who is interested.
Closing Song: “Peace is Flowing Like a River”.
I felt so out of it because I had never heard this song in my entire life.
Afterward we went to the chapel for the reading of the names. It was really something. They read the names in 20-minute intervals. I didn't go back later that night or the next day. The time I spent listening was enough to break my heart. They read the name of the deceased, the age, where he/she died, and where he/she was from. I didn't hear civilians names. It was hard enough listening to the names of the US servicemen and women killed as a result of the war.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
Am wiped out following a rather long, weird day. I attended a Peace Vigil at my parish tonight and want to write something up about it. I will say this I was the youngest one there. We were asked to introduce ourselves and offer one thought about peace. I said my name and said I'm still young enough and idealistic enough to believe peace is possible. I did feel like a lot of these people were big in the peace movement of the 60's/70s. A time I really can't remember. ;-)
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
First, some nice reflections by Fr. Jim Martin at America Magazine.
Second, a piece about the future Collapse of Evangelical Christianity. There's a snarky bit near the end about the beneficiaries of this collapse being the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
More from America. This time a piece about Flannery O'Connor.
I like this quote.
O’Connor expressed impatience with the kind of Catholicism—and Catholic fiction—that kept everything nice, shallow, cute and safe. She described what she called “A nice vapid-Catholic distrust of finding God in action of any range and depth. This is not the kind of Catholicism that has saved me so many years in learning to write, but then this is not Catholicism at all.” Genuine Catholicism, she felt, must be as radical and demanding as its founder’s teaching.
Monday, March 9, 2009
I pulled this gem of a quote out of an article that cowboyangel linked over in a comment at Jeff's blog responding to one of mine about the Pilgrimage to Chimayo. I am determined that I am going to make it this year.
"Members of a local evangelical Baptist church provide a rest stop for pilgrims with chairs, refreshments and Bible tracts in their quest to "save souls."
Ah, while the rest stop and refreshments are nice, the sentiment not so much as I think it's a good way to ruin a traditionally and historically Catholic devotional.
The City is also set to vote whether or not to impose a transfer tax on real estate transactions of over $750,000 with the intention that any money received from the tax will go toward helping the city provide affordable housing. I'm a Realtor and I'm all for supporting affordable housing, however, I don't feel that this is the way to accomplish that. The Realtor's association have organized, received funds and have really campaigned against this tax, and in some ways I think that's great to see the troops rallied up, but in many ways I've found it very offensive how residents have been targeted, most especially by the radio ads that have aired as of late. I am offended by the ways that native Hispanics have been portrayed in the ads, little skits which talk about why this transfer tax is bad and why it will impact the poor natives the hardest. It is basically true but I hate how the Hispanic people in the ads have little sing-songy accents, sound like uneducated dimwits, whereas the anglos in the ads, drive hybrids, do good deeds and are just so damn cutesy. Maybe I'm being over sensistive. Maybe I'm just easily offended but the first time I heard the ads on the local radio my jaw dropped. I wish I had transcripts or audio copies.
The Church to a lesser extent has weighed in, and the rector of the Cathedral and the archbishop have written a joint letter to the editor in support of the tax. If it passes, so be it. I think it's a badly written piece of legislation, which could impact the whole state and everyone else in due time, but it's a start in the right direction of addressing the need for affordable housing. In fact, I don't think the idea of supporting affordable is a bad thing at all. However, there are better alternatives to finding and funding affordable housing for those who really need it. The money this tax will raise is a drop in the bucket and I fear will never wind up helping those in need. Sadly, there is plenty of housing available but it's priced too high for those who need housing. I think we are over built and we keep building. I'm getting sick and tired of seeing precious land flattened for cookie-cutter homes that are overpriced ugly boxes on postage stamp lots that will remain empty because right now no one is buying homes. These are the homes that are in the lower price ranges, but still out of range for most people. It's all about money but no one has it and so no one is making it.
Honestly, I really need to focus on a career change. I think God is leading me to go into teaching, but I'm still trying to rationalize it all and am not ready to let go and let it rest in His hands just yet.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
It was actually quite lovely to see all the people in the church on a dark, windy Friday night. I'm feeling a bit better my Lent. I stayed afterward for Adoration as it was First Friday. Though I just sat there quietly most of the time, it was really soothing and just what I needed.
I'm still struggling with lots of other stuff in my life but it's nice that I can find some peaceful moments from time to time.
Class wasn't a disaster but it wasn't great either. It's definitely good to have more material prepared than not enough. I let the students go outside for the last five minutes. I had to round them up for our final prayer, but they had nervous energy and it was good to get rid of it. It was cold and windy, otherwise I think I would have enjoyed spending part of the class time outside today. There will be nicer days.
In fact, we woke up with a thunder storm and about 10 minutes of pouring rain until the wind blew it all away. For three days it was cloudy and gray, not one drop of moisture. Then we get the moisture and it goes away just like that.
Spring in New Mexico. The bane of my existence right now, just as will the time change tomorrow. I think I'll crash early.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
This is just a email list for talking about and tracing Sephardic ancestry, it's not a religious list. Yet, inevitably, someone finds a way to prostelyze or bring up religion. Often Catholicism gets the majority of bashing, most often from other "Christians" than the Jewish members of the list.
It does get a bit frustrating sometimes that people can't play in the sandbox together.
Don't know what prompted me to this post.
In related news, two very nicely dressed young men showed up on my parents' doorstep preaching the Good News. Dad answered the door but didn't say if they were Mormon missionaries or Jehovah Witnesses. What ever Dad said they didn't stay long enough to engage them in conversation. I saw them walking down the street after visiting a house. It must take a lot of guts or faith to go door-to-door spreading the Good News.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Tonight I was feeling a bit sorry for myself. Tonight's catechism class went really, really well. I am happy that the students were engaged and excited for once. I'd be really happy if I'd been the one to teach it. For the sacramental class, I have help, another teacher and we switch teaching the lesson. She's really good, and I know I can't judge myself by her teaching ability. She's been doing this for many years and even though I'm just learning and still struggling at times, I get so frustrated when I can't do it. Little did I realize just how much of a perfectionist I am. I feel really emotional when it comes to teaching. The good days hit me good and the bad ones, man, they frustrate me and live longer in my mind. So, while the students behaved, it wasn't because of anything I said or did and so that makes me feel even more discouraged.
I know the students like me. They really do-- I can see it just by how they greet me or by what they say and do, but that doesn't mean I'm teaching them anything.
Tonight I left without lingering around to talk to anyone. I just left. Sometimes, I really love being there and other times I'm just feeling like I'm going through the motions regarding teaching, my faith and everything else in my life right now. It's a struggle to get to Mass on Sundays these days. I'm trying to work really hard at following up on my Lenten commitments but even that is starting to go by the wayside.
Maybe the shiny and new of it all has worn off. Maybe it's become the same old, same old. I don't know. As I drove away, a whole lot of self-doubt welled up in me and the case of Poor Little Old Me disease enveloped me.
I'm taking classes every week to learn to teach, my mentor is a wonderful woman who truly believes in me, but I'm really not seeing it in myself. I don't think I'll ever become a good teacher and I think I was kidding myself in thinking that I'd ever become a regular teacher. I suppose a lot of things are bothering me as well so I guess none of this really helps.
Oh... so about Lent. Yes. I'm struggling this year. It's only been five days and I just don't feel my heart or spirit into it. I've been keeping up with the Liturgy of the Hours, but would like to add some additional spiritual activities. I am trying to add the additional Office of Readings as well. Meanwhile, I am looking for a good spiritual read right now. While, I consider myself a well-read person, I have not really read much by way of spiritual books. I suppose the good thing about that is there are so many books I haven't read yet. Surely, there should be something that would give me some solace or inspiration right about now.