Thursday, July 30, 2009

In the Spirt of St. Francis

This is a really neat story about a group of young Franciscan friars making a pilgrimage to a friary in Washington DC.
Here's a teaser.

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 29, 2009

They've been mistaken for Jedi-wannabes headed to a Star Wars convention. They've been investigated by police, approached by strangers, gawked at from cars and offered gifts of crumpled dollar bills and Little Debbie snacks.

After trekking along more than 300 miles of dusty Virginia country roads and suburban highways, six Franciscan friars reached Washington on Tuesday, having seen it all during an offbeat modern-day quest for God.

First seen at the Deacon's Bench, but the whole article is at the Washington Post.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wild Life In the City

I've been exchanging comments with Jeff at Aun Estamos Vivos about this post, which is a must read, if we as believers are going to understand and engages in discussion with atheists and secular humanists.

But we started talking about coyotes in the comments. I don't think I posted these pictures here. But this is one of the breeding adults in the coyote pack that lives in my neighborhood. I think this is the male and the female was keeping watch. I was just out dog walking with only one of my dogs that night, I'd left Barkley home because it was late and I wanted to do a fast walk around the dirt trails in back of my house. My subdivision is all fenced in, which includes the turf of the coyotes.

There are a few more coyote pictures in this album, plus some other shots around my neighborhood. But this was my favorite shot from that night. It was getting late and we weren't too far away. He was surprisingly patient with us, considering my dog probably outweighed him by 30 pounds. He and his mate followed us a bit after we were done. We cut through their territory to get to the path and they didn't really care for that. Surely, they were protecting their pups.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

So Much More Aware

Guh... I have no clue where to start this post or what else to post about right now. I have a few thoughts about today's readings. While, Father was talking about how all fragments were important and should not be left behind, for a second, an image of the crumbs of Jesus being left behind and I got a bit sad about that. I'm in an emotionally weird place. I've been to too many funerals this week.

Also, I'm really tired these days. Tired of fighting with my dad. Tired of bad news. Tired of teens being killed in stupid accidents, probably caused by drunk drivers. It's been a long week because one of my young cousins was killed in a horrible accident. It didn't make a lot of media coverage here, like the one last month. In some ways, I'm glad about that, but in other ways, I think teens (well everyone) should know just how precious life is and how easily it can end.

Right now I think I'm still numb. My cousin's mother is one of my older first cousins, but for the most part my extended family is pretty close. Every now and then I have lunch with my cousins. We call it the cousns' lunch. Three of the four of us don't have sisters, two of us are only children and the one who lost her daughter, lost her closest sister and nephew in a tragic accident three years ago. She has two other sisters but doesn't spend much time with them, so it's the cousins who've come together in a new-found friendship and sisterhood of sorts. For all our differences, I have a great time with my cousins. I joke that I'm the baby still. And the death her daughter has hit us all quite hard.

I saw this young, beautiful woman grow up. I got to know her in the last couple of years, as she blossomed into a bright, charming young lady, with lots of promise, hopes and dreams. Knowing she's gone, there is an ache and sadness in my heart. For many other reasons, which I won't mention in this blog, the week was sad and stessful. I was glad on Friday when there wasn't a day to see each other and mourn.

I didn't intend to post about this and I may come back and edit it and revise it, but I must say, thank God for our faith. I couldn't imagine how a parent could get through the loss of a child and not have a faith in God to get him or her through it all.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Muppets Tonight - Benedictine Monkees

They're even tonsured!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Have A Little Faith

The Archdiocese of Washington blog had a wonderful post reminding us all about the joy of dogs. At the end was a video of a two-legged dogs named "Faith". Watch the video at the end. You'll smile, maybe cry happy tears but you will be amazed at this wonderful dog.

Still missing Barkley like crazy around the Casa de Maria but Estrella and I are doing ok. The vet's office called to say his ashes were ready for me to pick up last week. I have yet to get them, but will go tomorrow as I have to be in and around town tomorrow. For days Estrella didn't really talk to me nor did she want to eat, but I attribute some of that to the heat. Anyway, it will be better in time around here.

Estrella will lounge anywhere, even when the cover to her bed is being washed.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Santa Fe Turns 400

I posted at the LJ but I thought I'd post this video celebrating the 400th anniversary of Santa Fe.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Related to the picture in the last post, I want to know what I'm doing outside wearing a turtleneck, a sweater and no obvious sign of bottoms? Must talk to my mother about that one.

I'm Going Outside, Mother

Blogging Burn Out or so it seems. I'm not reading much these days and my posting has been little as far as content goes these days. Besides, it's hot here in Santa Fe these days, and I don't think they'd let me move into Starbucks for the AC. I've been escaping from the heat by going for an Iced Venti Chai and writing (or trying to write) for an hour or so in the cool, refreshing land of refrigerated air.

So, here I am outside in my backyard (thank God we have no humidity in New Mexico), and I just spent the evening reading some of Fr. James Martin's newest posts over at America.

The Mysteries of Childhood made me think about my own childhood back in the mid-to-late 70s and how innocent and easy it all seemed. My mom stayed home, I grew up a neighborhood with a whole bunch of kids and our parents would late us play in the cul-de-sac till it got dark. We actually played. None of us had video games or any of the stuff kids have now. None of us were latch-key kids, though my generation was the first for that. We all had married parents, we were all Cathol ic and our experiences were all pretty much alike. It's funny, now that my friends have kids, their children's childhoods are/were so different. I really could relate to Fr. Martin's perspective in the article.

Then I read a piece he wrote criticizing an article in the New Yorker about Nuns. I don't have a subscription to the New Yorker so I couldn't read it all, but the snippet Fr. Martin posted was enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth. I then followed his links in the article and read a piece he wrote several years ago about Anti-Catholicism.

For me, Anti-Catholicism was something I never experienced on a personal level. I was never ridiculed for being Catholic. I had some misguided attempts to be converted or saved by family members or friends who left the church, but they were never nasty about it.

I learned about places where Anti-Catholicism was prevelant in my history classes, but it was always distant, far from my own experience. As I said, everyone I knew was Catholic, my hometown is historically Catholic and so, no one ever dared to preach intolerance or hate against Catholics here. Now, you find some churches, pastors and others preaching certain messages. But I never knew it existed before till I hopped on the Internet and in my wanderings stumbled upon it. I think I've said this here before, but still, it astonishes me how it is acceptiable to pick on Catholics.

I really hate the protrayals of our religious and priests in TV/Movies and Books. And the thing is, if you find a positive portrayal of say a priest in a novel or a movie, someone is always looking for a scandal. As a writer, and looking back on my fiction, I've noticed that it's highly Catholic or heavily influenced by my Catholic upbringing. Not all my characters are "good, practicing Catholics" but they're Catholic by culture, history, tradition and experiences. I probably am writing to a limited audience, but hopefully an audience who can appreciate my take on the faith. And my priest character, sad to say, is happy, well-adjusted and won't get caught up in any kind of scandal.

Anyway, I will say again how much I enjoy Fr. Martin's writings and his thoughts over at America.

There are still a few Novena posts I want to finish and if anyone is interested I'll still post the slideshow I still intend on putting together.

Monday, July 6, 2009

What Kind of Catholic Am I?

I think just a Catholic. Though, I've been told that I'm a closeted rad-trad, which I kind of agree wtih. I think I took this quiz at once, but I can't find my original result. I'm a Moderate Traditional Catholic according to the my result. 72 out of 100.

I love that they link to an article from "Father Oprah" about making love last. I hope he knew what he was talking about, as he is now a married, well, not really married man.

The Hands of a Priest

I was working on a scene in one of my stories. It looks like my character Andrew will get his own story someday, but he's with his sister Isabel as they're contemplating their lives without each other as they've now graduated from college and are taking jobs in two different cities, he in DC and she in Albuquerque. It's the first time they've been away from each other. She reaches out and makes a comment about his hands. I'm not sure what she's going to say exactly but it's sort of foreshadowing to the fact that he's going to become a priest one day.

So, I googled " a priest's hands" to see if what I could find and I found this poem here and thought it was pretty and worth remembering. I'll find the right words for her to say to him.

I must admit, I've noticed that all the priests I know have beautiful hands.

The Beautiful Hands of a Priest

We need them in life's early morning,
we need them again at its close;
We feel their warm clasp of friendship,
we seek them when tasting life's woes.

At the altar each day we behold them,
and the hands of a king on his throne
Are not equal to them in their
greatness; their dignity stands all alone;

And when we are tempted and wander
to pathways of shame and sin,
It's the hand of a priest that will absolve
us----not once, but again and again;

And when we are taking life's partner,
other hands may prepare us a feast,
But the hand that will bless and unite
us is the beautiful hand of a priest.

God bless them and keep them all holy
For the Host which their fingers caress;
When can a poor sinner do better than
to ask Him to guide thee and bless?

When the hour of death comes upon us
may our courage and strength be increased.
By seeing raised over us in anointing the
beautiful hands of a priest!

Author Unknown

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Call Me Amused!

Ok I need some humor. I was doing my nightly blog-surfing and found myself amused watching this horribly Anti-Catholic video at You Tube because Carolina Cannonball, authoress of the blog The Crescat, posted it. Apparently her home altar was the first image featured in the video, as it talks about how Catholics worship idols. I don't have a home altar, but I do have various retablos of the Saints scattered around my house, a couple of them have been blessed. Anyway, as I'm passively watching, I spot this image in the video. It's an old Spanish Crucifix that is in the chapel of La Conquistadora in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe.

Growing up in Santa Fe, I never really experienced or witnessed anything that I would call Anti-Catholic. This is a historically Catholic city, but now as an adult, I've encountered it, but not on the grand scale as in other communities in the country.

I think the first time I ever saw a Chick Tract was a couple of years ago and that was online. I had never heard of Jack Chick before in my life. Hard to believe he's been in the anti-Catholic business all these years and I'd never heard of him.

I think I'll go back and finish my reflections on the recent Novena to Our Lady and post more pictures of a statue all dressed up pretty now.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

You Learn Something New Everyday.

So this photo got me wondering about these religious. I'd been seeing the brothers (well, friars) around at various events in the archdiocese as of late. It turns out they are Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and there is a friary in Albuquerque. I remember reading a news story about them in the Albuquerque Journal around Easter, but it didn't dawn on me who they were that day at the procession. The women were their counterparts, the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal. The sisters threw me off as I didn't think we had many religious in town, except for the Carmelites and they are cloistered. But they are here in New Mexico for the bible study that the Friars do every summer. There is mention of it on their history page.

And so now, I am no longer stumped. Perhaps I'll send pictures to both the communities.

I've added their website to the sidebar and I think I'll expand sites that I add in days to come. I really like their mission and think it would be a community worthy of giving my support.

In Honor of La Conquistadora

Finally getting to my Novena posts from this year. This will serve as an Index to all my thoughts and reflections from this year's Novena. I have pictures up and will post reflections from the various days, if there was something profound to say.

Essentially, this Novena to the Blessed Mother is held every year, as a promise kept to Don Diego De Vargas who lead the reconquest of New Mexico in 1692 after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. The statue of Mary that was brought here in 1625 is believed to be the oldest image of Our Lady in the US and she is thought to be over 600 years old. She was made in Spain of Willow wood and she truly is gorgeous. She's had various incarnations. First she was Our Lady of the Rosary but became La Conquistadora after the reconquest. In the early 90's I believe, "Our Lady of Peace" was added to her title and that is what my parish is named after. Holy Mary of Peace.

The statue is kept, now behind locked security gates, at the Cathedral Basilica, but for eight days she leaves her place in her chapel, (which is the only original part of the church left, it dates back to the early 1600's. The parish is roughly 400 years old, while the Cathedral is about 125 years old) and she is carried in procession from the Cathedral to the Rosario Chapel, which is in the where Catholic cemetery is as well. This was the place where the Spanish made their camp in the days they made their return. Don Diego prayed and asked for Our Lady's intercession to make it a peaceful reconquest and should it be successful, he would honor her every year with a novena.

This novena has been going on for nearly 300 years. Everyday a different parish sponsors a Mass, her clothing is changed. She has hundreds of outfits. The music is always traditional, Spanish hymns, we sing Mary's Magnificat in Latin, and recite a prayer in Spanish that was written for this novena. The Masses are beautiful. I can only imagine back in my mom's day, when they were probably High Latin Sung Masses. I'll write up more if anyone really wants to know about the history. There are plenty of links in the sidebar of this blog if you're curious to learn more on your own.

Because of Easter being late, the Novena this year started on Father's Day. Friday and Saturday before I attended a great Evangelization Conference for the archdiocese. I haven't posted about it but may still. I learned a lot, but it was nice to be among so many Catholics. We are a pretty cool group of people en masse. So, I had two days of spiritual recharging before the Novena actually started. The Novena comes at a time when I think I most need it. Christmas and Easter season are wonderfully fulfilling, but there is a definitely lull right after the end of Easter and as we transition into Ordinary Time.

At some point, I want to compile the hundreds of pictures I took and put them into a slide show, but for now, I'll share with you all a picture from each day, with thoughts, reflections and feelings about that day's Mass.

Mass One.

Mass Two.
Mass Three.
Mass Four.
Mass Five.
Mass Six.
Mass Seven
Return Procession.
Mass Nine.

As always, with any photos I post but most especially my own photographs, feel free to download and save the image, but if you re-post, please credit me and include a link back to my blog.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Barkley... March 17, 1994 to July 2, 2009

In this blog I didn't talk much about my four-legged children. I had a beautiful dog named Barkley, named after Sir Charles, the basketball player. Yes, I admit it. Tonight I had to put him down. It hurt. It killed me and broke my heart into a thousand pieces. You see, Barkley was the first dog that was completely, wholly and unconditionally mine.

He was the greatest dog I ever had, not to say his sister, Estrella isn't. She's also incredibly wonderful. They're both very different and we're both sitting here kind of in shock. He was 15. I got him when he was about 6 weeks old. He was so little. He was Shepherd and Chow, and I think a bit coyote. He was a little red fluffball those first few months. The puppy pictures are in an album and not scanned in, but he was adorable, trust me.

He never had many health troubles. Three years ago, he had a knee injury and while it always bothered him, he bounced back. He was stubborn. He was always ready to go. About two years ago, he lost his ability to jump up onto the bed or into the back of the 4Runner but I'd happily help him up. He was a great dog at sensing my moods, always comforting me when i was sad or upset. Last fall, I noticed he was starting to get hungry, I mean ravenous and this spring, it seemed to get worse, to the point where he'd try to steal food off the table. When I took him in April, the blood work and tests came back abnormal. I was supposed to take him back for a Cushings Disease test and screening. I kinda figured that I'd do that today, as I was taking him in for a weird eye thing.

Last night we walked. Sometimes, I'd leave him at home when I'd want to take a long walk for exercise, but we went, Barkley, Estrella and me. I always walked him off leash so he could walk at his own pace. We walked several times this week and he was happy. I noticed yesterday or so he didn't want cookies, so something was coming. We ran into one of my good friends and her dog Amber. They were great dog friends. He gave her dog kisses, talked to Barbara and was just so happy last night. Two weeks ago he scared off a coyote. I honestly didn't think it would be our last night.

I had a funeral to go to this morning. Everything seemed ok this morning, but when I got home I noticed his eye was red, swollen and full of puss. I wondered if we should go to the vet today or wait till tomorrow. I called to make sure they were open tomorrow then decided to run an errand and probably take him tomorrow, but I just knew I couldn't treat the eye, so I called my mom and asked her to go with me. We picked up the dog and then went in.

The vet was very nice, compassionate. When she determined there wasn't anything under his third eyelid-- I though he might have got something in his eye last night-- she said it could be an abscess or a tumor. She wanted to draw some blood before she gave him anesthesia. She was worried that he might not be able to handle the anesthesia and I worried a bit too. He lost 5 more pounds since April. He'd always been about 57-60 pounds and was down to 47 in April. She told me what it would probably cost, which freaked me a bit but if it could be treated, of course I'd do it. Then I thought what if he dies during the procedure? What if it's untreatable? I didn't want him to die and me not be there. God... could I really put him down right then and there? I decided that I didn't want the call, that it wouldn't be fair to put him through all those tests to determine he was really sick. She also worried that he might be diabetic. The first test in April showed no signs of diabetes, but that would have explained the rapid weight loss I think. Anyway, I decided that it was time to let him go. It killed me to sign the papers but it wasn't fair to make him suffer.

They were compassionate and kind. I was with him before and during. He slipped away so fast. He got up and wanted me to pick him up and bring him home I guess. I nearly lost it and almost changed my mind. I loved him, held him, caressed him and stayed with him. I didn't remove his collar till after he was gone. He never liked to be without it.

I got home later and had to tell Estrella. Not sure how you can tell another dog her sibling wasn't coming home. When I showed her his collar she dashed out looking for him. She climbed inot the dog house, which was his but he never used and stayed there. I sat on the lawn trying to coax her out but she didn't come out till my parents arrived with something to eat. She was with him all day and she's been so senstive to him lately, that I think she knew. I never took him anywhere without her.

So... that's the story of Barkley and his last day. It's probably not the most articulate post I could have ever made but, it's hard to let a beloved animal go. Hell, I get so mad when people use Euphemisms for death and here I am doing it in this post. ;)

It's not fair that their lives are so short. They bring such joy and pleasure into our lives that it's hard when it's time to say goodbye. I'll miss him so much. So, now it's just us girls at the Casa De Maria.