8 Dec 2017

No More Sunspots?

Sunspots come and go in an 11-year cycle. Our sun has acted that way for centuries. With a few exceptions.

The sunspot cycle changed about 23 years back. I think we'll learn a great deal by studying what's happening, but at this point scientists aren't quite sure what to make of the new 'normal.'

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

6 Dec 2017

'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.' Sunday Reflections, 2nd Sunday of Advent, Year B

St John the Baptist, El Greco [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings, (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland,)
Gospel Mark 1:1-8 (NRSV, Anglicised CatholicEdition)

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight”’.
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’

Old Road to Auvers, Norbert Goeneutte [Web Gallery of Art]

Charles Kuralt was a reporter with CBS TV in the USA whose On the Roadstories were a regular part of the Evening News for 25 years. These were offbeat stories about real persons and were often uplifting. I remember one in particular from about 1970 when I, then a young priest, was studying in the USA. It featured an elderly man in a small town in one of the Midwestern states. His town was about 10 kms from the next town but in order to go from one to the other you had to travel 20 or 30 kms. The authorities in both towns were unwilling to build a road to connect them.
So this man started to build a road himself, using logs as a foundation, as I recall.

Continue here.

For Christmas: Heart to Heart with Mary

Do you like the popular book "Jesus Calling" in which Jesus speaks to you every day? My newest book, "Heart to Heart with Mary," contains Mary's words for each day of the year. She speaks as our mother who loves and cares for us. Each entry ends with a suggestion for continuing the conversation with Mary. My copies are due to arrive on December 13, just in time to give as Christmas gifts. By then, the book should appear on Amazon for $14.00. I will be selling them for $12.00 and free shipping. If you would like one or more copies, email me (kglavich@ndec.org) or just send a check (4237 Bluestone Rd, South Euclid, OH 44121).  In this week's blog, I give you a little taste of this book, which was a joy to write—all 386 pages!   Click to Continue

Feast of Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra

The Feast of Saint Nicholas is one of my favorite feast days for a few reasons. First, this day marks my husband, Nick’s, Feast Name Day. Happy Feast Name Day Nick! Second, I just love the story of Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra! Let me tell you some interesting facts about this holy man.

The Real Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas was born into wealth, in 270 A.D., in a town along the southern coast of Turkey. He was raised as a devout Christian. However, his parents died, from an epidemic, when Nicholas was very young. They left their money to Nicholas. Literally following the biblical passage, “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” (Matt 19:21), Nicholas used all his wealth to give aid and comfort to the sick and the poor. Therefore, known for his generosity, Saint Nicholas has become... Read more...

4 Dec 2017

Why We Have a Large Family

The question we had struggled with for years was,“How could we remain faithful to Church teaching when Natural Family Planning did not seem to work for us?”
Intuitively, I already knew a call to trust in God could not just be an intellectual assent but included entrusting my fertility to God. Catholic teaching stated couples should space their children with abstinence but we slowly discovered I was one of those rare people who could conceive long before ovulation and we were pro-life, abortion was not an option.
My doctor, after considering another unplanned pregnancy told us “Ah, I remember reading about a woman in New Zealand two years ago who conceived five days before ovulation.”
I raised my hand and chirped, “Well, you can add me to that list!” continue

"Because I said so": Modeling the Love of God to Our Children

Because I said so
As a parent, I have a responsibility to imitate God’s loving guidance for my children. God, in His infinite perfection, is the Perfect Father, and parents have to model their child-rearing after Him.
Consequently, the way we parent our children will have lasting effects on the way they perceive God. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become acutely aware of the similarities in how I talk to God and how I talk to my own dad. It’s amazing how my mind has categorized the two so closely.
Now that puts a lot of pressure (as if we didn’t have enough already) on parents. I have wonderful parents who were exemplary models of God to my siblings and myself, but that is not a universal experience. I constantly remind myself of my need to be loving, just, kind, merciful, and forgiving to my children, lest I place a stumbling block in their path to God.
One of the big perks of this responsibility is the ability to say, “Because I told you so.”

A Shepherd's Song, A Christmas Romance- Book Review

A Shepherd’s Song, by Janice Lane Palko, is a wonderful Christmas romance, set in snowy Pittsburgh, PA, on the campus of Three Rivers University. The lead character, Tom Shepherd, a declared atheist, finds more than romance, with Gloria Davidson, in this Christmas tale. Gloria, a devout Catholic, shines the light of true Christmas spirit directly into Tom Shepherd’s heart. What awaits him, is all that he ever desired: to love and to be loved. In the end, isn’t that what we all look for in this life: to love and be loved?

What we learn at the start of the book is that Tom and his college roommate are... Read more... 

3 Dec 2017

Seven Suggestions for Having an Excellent Advent

Each of the suggestions below is a link to a blog post on the topic:
    1. Stay Awake 

7. Wait Patiently   

What is God calling you to this Advent that will bring you closer to Him?

Advent: Our Long Watch

'Tis the season for frantic shopping, eye-popping light shows in suburban front yards, and Christmas television specials.

It's also the start of Advent.

This is a season when we look back at ancient hopes for a Messiah, and our Lord's first arrival. And look ahead to when Jesus will be back....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.



2 Dec 2017

Deus Caritas - God is Love

When Charles Dickens wrote, "God is love," on the workhouse wall, he was of course being sarcastic. He knew there was no love in that workhouse, as Oliver Twist was about to find when he begged for more gruel.  Yet, Dickens was right;  unlike any other religion, Christianity is founded on love, not on our love of God, but as St John insisted, on his love of us.
The word Gospel means 'good news' because it is the best news that any human being can receive. It is the news that God's love has been embodied in the flesh and blood of the most perfect man who has ever walked on this earth, so that he could transmit it to us too. All those who came to love him, not only wanted to be close to him  and to be with him always, but to enter into him, to experience the love that had inspired them, and which animated him. 
After his Resurrection this became possible like never before. The enduring love of the first Christians became for them like a mystical ladder, enabling their love to rise to him and  his love to descend  into them. This love would gradually draw them up into him and into what was later called his Mystical Body. 
read on....

For a fulfilling Christmas, a profound advent. (Spanish) ¿UNA NAVIDAD PLENA? SOLO CON UN BUEN ADVIENTO

Por: Lourdes Domenzain

1 Dec 2017

Still Seeking Earth 2.0

We've known about 55 Cancri e since 2004.

It may have lakes and rivers of lava. But that's probably not what keeps its night side hot enough to melt copper.

Ross 128 b, discovered this year, is a bit more massive than Earth, warm enough for liquid water, and too hot. It's not quite 'Earth 2.0,' but it may support life....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

The Sound Of Laughter


Traditional Family: Antidote to children labour problems.(Spanish) La familia tradicional blinda a menores de peligros del trabajao infantil.

Resultado de imagen de FAMILIA EN LA IGLESIA
El trabajo infantil sigue siendo una necesidad para muchos niños en países en desarrollo, donde la pobreza es la principal causa que los empuja a salir de sus hogares  y a veces dejar su educación básica para sobrevivir. En México, el 29% de los niños que trabajan son menores de 14 años (1) y el 40 % de estos pequeños que trabajan ya no asisten a la escuela.(2)

Ante esta problemática que implica para ellos un sacrificio en su desarrollo normal, diversas soluciones económicas y legales han  creado condiciones que hacen más posible el acceso a sus derechos como niños y adolescentes, pero no del todo. Sus condiciones sí han mejorado al elevar, a través de los años, el nivel económico y el ingreso familiar, pero no han alcanzado a desterrar por completo el problema. Hay otros ingredientes sociales y familiares que perpetúan las condiciones adversas.Esta se ha debido a que  estas medidas no tocan la parte social que cultiva condiciones familiares y de entorno comunitario que llevan a los familiares y a los propios niños a tratar de salir adelante con un trabajo.

29 Nov 2017

'If this is the end, then I'm ready for it.' Sunday Reflections, 1st Sunday of Advent, Year B

Young Jew as Christ, Rembrandt [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Mark 13:33-37 (NRSV,CatholicEd .)

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.’

Liam Whelan (1 April 1935 - 5 February 1958)
If this is the end, then I'm ready for it.
These were the last words of Liam Whelan who died in a plane crash at Munich Airport on 6 February 1958 along with other members of the Manchester United football (soccer) team as they were returning from a match in Belgrade. About seven years ago I learned from a friend named Brendan whom I have known for more than 50 years that, when they were both aged 14 or so, Liam rescued him when he got into difficulties in a swimming pool in their area. And last year I discovered that another friend, who was a classmate of mine for five years in secondary school and for two years in the seminary, also named Liam, that this talented young footballer had been a neighbour of his and that even when he had achieved fame as a professional footballer he would still play knockabout football on the street with the local boys whenever he would come home.
Continue here.
Hello Friend,

Vlogging on simplicity. Simplicity in life is a precious commodity. Not to be ignored. Especially during the Advent Season. All the Christmas prep and such can have us coming going. In mind, body and spirit.

I learned through my hardships/disabilities and such. To slow it down. Not easy, but I can tried.

View it here on how you can slow down. Through Jesus yes!!! click here 

Time to Get Ready, An Advent, Christmas Reader to Wake Your Soul – Book Review

As we bravely embark on completing all the “tasks” needed to make Christmas merry, we sometimes fail to forget the real reason for the Christmas season. You purchase gifts for everyone on your list. Let me share with you a gift that you will want to purchase for yourself, today! Time to Get Ready, An Advent, Christmas Reader to Wake Your Soul, by Mark A. Villano is a treasure that you will cherish for years to come! Amid the holiday hustle and bustle, Villano gives us a daily retreat that takes only two to three minutes to read each day’s offering. It will spark the imagination and provide food for spiritual thought. Each day’s offering is filled with golden nuggets, helping us to make Advent more spiritual; less commercial.

By interspersing Scripture with his own reflections on the biblical passages, Villano offers insight and encouragement. One of my favorite “golden nuggets” was:

When we come to see how far God will go to save us, when we come to know how God sees us, how much God wants our safety and healing, we can face anything (p.23).
That awareness of God’s interest in each of us, should give us comfort; knowledge that we are loved by God, and strength to carry on. This book... Read more... 

Christ "Advents" in People

Recently I came across this suggestion in a devotional book:  "For the next thirty days, treat everyone you encounter as the most important person in the world." Now that is quite a challenge. This activity ties in with our Advent season in which we focus on the comings of Christ. As our Sunday readings remind us, he came in history announced by John the Baptist and he will come in majesty at the end of the world. But Jesus also comes to us in the form of other people. That, along with his coming in the Eucharist, is indeed his coming in mystery! God’s presence in people is the theme of Leo Tolstoy’s short story about Martin the cobbler who dreamed that God would visit him the next day. All day as the cobbler served the people he encountered, he waited for Jesus. At the end of the day, it was revealed to him that Jesus had indeed come—in those people.  Click to continue

27 Nov 2017

Is Christ your King or Genie?

Yesterday’s celebration of Christ the King is such a perfect way to end out the liturgical year. It’s one of the better changes made in the new missal; I think it seems out of place in the Old Rite, stuck in October. So here we are, at the end of the year, and we get to meditate on the Kingship of Christ.
The homily I heard mentioned that God isn’t a genie that we can call up when we need Him, He is a King that we owe our allegiance to. Father also mentioned that we Americans tend to take issue with the idea of being subject to anyone and specifically to a King, but that there is no better monarch to swear our fealty to.
Pretty basic thoughts, but I want to go a little more in depth on them.
A genie is a fairly simple creature. Rub the lamp, get your wish, genie goes back in the bottle. Notwithstanding an evil sorcerer and a deranged parrot, you could carry the lamp around with you and call up phenomenal cosmic power every time you get in a pinch. That’s all there is to it.
A King is so much more than a dispenser of favors. A king is a judge, legislator, and military leader. A benevolent king also does dispense favors and treats his subjects with mercy. Lucky for us sinners, our God is a just yet merciful king.

My Mission Expands: Coming to a Parish Near You

Most of you have gotten to know me through my blog posts on this website. By sharing my thoughts and experiences, I hope that you grow in virtue and grow closer to God. I am blessed that my blog has been named in the top 100 websites worldwide by Feedspot.com. Yet, a blog can only reach so many people. There are so many more who need to hear the message of Jesus’ Way – via the virtues, prayer and spirituality. So, in addition to blogging on the virtues (and other points of interest), I also do public speaking engagements on matters related to the Catholic faith. In my engagements, I bring the virtues, prayer and spirituality to life, showing others how they can more easily incorporate them into their daily lives. It is truly a rewarding experience. It is my mission to bring to life Jesus’ Way to others. And now, my mission expands.

In moving from my desktop computer, to the parish hall, I take Christ’s words of wisdom to His faithful. To date, my speaking engagements have been at parishes within my Diocese. Now it’s time to expand my mission. With that expansion, there is a lot of preparatory work involved. For example, a public speaker needs...Read more...

26 Nov 2017

Introducing a New Blogger- Ann Marie

My name is Ann Marie, and I'm a writer living in North Carolina.  I write a blog called Faith and Reason.  Every week, I post an essay in which I explore a topic from a Catholic perspective.  I enjoy discovering new insights by weaving together information and ideas from theology, philosophy, literature, art, history, current events, and science.

I hope that you'll visit my blog at https://faithandreason.blog/ and share your thoughts!

Seeing the Big Picture

Today's Mass is something new, introduced by Pius XI in 1925. We've had it on the last Sunday in Ordinary Time since 1970.

Focusing on who and what our Lord is seems like a good way to wrap up the Church calendar. That's how I see it.

Today's Gospel reading is Matthew 25:31-46. That's the one starting with "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him...."

It's an important part of the Gospels, and not what I'll be talking about today. I'd better explain that.

I'm okay with what the Church says about Mass, including how the annual schedule works. I'm not a religious scofflaw, disdaining the laws of God and man. But I don't try to coordinate these 'Sunday' posts with what happens in Mass.

I figure it's not a problem, since I'm a Catholic layman — and you're probably not here looking for a homily....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Discovering Our Vocation In A Complex, Messy World

It has never been easy to discern a vocation, but it is especially difficult for people in the current milieu because modern society is complex and messy. Yet it’s precisely in the complexity and messiness where some of the most important answers in life are found. The good news is no matter how confused we feel, our own unique purpose in life lies deep within our own soul:
Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess. Vocation does not come from a voice ‘out there’ calling me to be something I am not. It comes from a voice ‘in here’ calling me to be the person I was born to be, to fulfill the original selfhood given me at birth by God.  (Fr. Thomas Merton, O.C.S.O)

25 Nov 2017

Prayer to Surrender All to Jesus and His Most Sacred Heart

By Laura Durant

Jesus desires we give ourselves to Him completely, without reserve. In every moment, every situation, in every interaction, in every decision, renouncing our every desire, so He can fill us completely with His desires. This prayer was written in a response to the great love He has for us and how He desires we have recourse to Him in everything, with a desire to devote ourselves more completely to Him in each moment we live and breathe, with anticipation of our final resting place with Him for eternity.

In English: Prayer Surrendering All to Jesus and His Most Sacred Heart
In Spanish: Oración Para Entregar Todo a Jesús y Su Corazón Más Sagrado

'Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.' Sunday Reflections, Christ the King, Year A

The Last Judgement, Michelangelo [Web Gallery of Art]
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Matthew 25:31-46 (NRSV,CatholicEd)

Jesus said to his disciples:
‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’

St Elizabeth of Hungary, Sándor Liezen-Mayer [Web Gallery of Art]
In November 1974 some members of the Praesidium of the Legion of Mary of which I was spiritual director came to me and told me of two starving children, a brother and sister, that they had come across on home visitation. The Legionaries were students in the college department of what was then Immaculate Conception College, Ozamiz City, where I was chaplain. At the time ICC was run by the Columban Sisters. It is now La Salle University, under the care of the De La Salle Brothers.
Continue here.

24 Nov 2017

Visitor from the Stars

"Scientists thought ‘Oumuamua was a comet when they spotted it last month.

"Follow-up observations showed it was more like an asteroid: and going too fast to be from the solar system.

"‘Oumuamua is from interstellar space. It's the first object of its kind we've seen.

"What scientists are learning about ‘Oumuamua tells us a bit about other planetary systems, and raises intriguing new questions...."

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

23 Nov 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

("A Holiday Haven," another installment in a tale of two turkeys.)

If you are in or from the United States, I hope you are having a good Thanksgiving Day. If not, I trust that you're having a good November 24th.

Some folks write sober monographs for this holiday, thoroughly discussing the myriad reasons we have for being thankful.

Others present schmaltzy pieces on the same topic: about as deep as a rain puddle....

More, but not much more, at A Catholic Citizen in America.

The nordic paradox: a living proof of ateist gender culture failure. ( Spanish) La paradoja nórdica cuestiona el alcance de cultura ateista de género.


Cada año, en estas fechas, el mundo se avoca a promover el fin de la violencia hacia la mujer que tanto daño ha provocado a generaciones enteras de mujeres en el mundo. Los años recorridos con el impulso de la equidad de género del feminismo parecían dar alivio a la mujer en estas últimas décadas al dar una mayor “igualdad” con el hombre. Pero los últimos estudios han encontrado síntomas de un  fondo agresivo que no ha cambiado con las políticas progresistas de esta ideología y que, además ha resurgido en formas inesperadas.

Tal es el caso de la mayor violencia doméstica que sufren las mujeres de algunos países del primer mundo, campeones en los niveles de equidad de género. Así es, sorprendentemente  en los países donde  el “progreso laicista” ha “liberado” a las personas de la esclavitud de la espiritualidad cristiana para lograr prósperas naciones estructuralmente laicas, las mujeres son objeto de una mayor violencia intima por parte de sus parejas.

22 Nov 2017

The Morning Before Thanksgiving for the Divorced or Single Parent

It's the morning before Thanksgiving, and I was unprepared for the single parent melancholy that hit me the second I woke up.

This evening, my boys will go with their father. I will pick them up tomorrow afternoon for Thanksgiving dinner with my family so I know I am luckier than many single parents. That does not make it much less difficult or any less unfair that my children and I have to sacrifice because of choices my ex-husband made single handedly. It doesn't make it any less unfair that our happiness is continually sacrificed for his. I felt myself sinking into a bad case of the:


I wrote this piece in 2011, but it still applies today. Divorce has no earthly end, but there are always reasons to be thankful!

To read about what goes through the mind of a single mom in this holiday season, please join me at SingleMomSmiling.com

God Bless & Happy Thanksgiving! 

Kerri Lynn

Give Thanks This Thanksgiving - Join Me in Showing Gratitude

I can’t believe that another holiday season is upon us! This year just zoomed past me. Yet, I have much to be thankful for this year. On this eve of Thanksgiving, I give thanks for:

  • Each of you, for your support and friendship. May God bless every one of you.
  • My loving husband of 38+ years. May we have many more together.
  • Good health for both my husband and me. We had a health scare earlier this year, but God is good, and all is well. May we all continue to be in good health.
  • The opportunity to serve as RCIA Coordinator for my parish. What a blessing to be able to share the faith with people who really want to have a close relationship with Jesus. We have seven women going through the program, with the hope of entering into full communion with the Catholic Church at Easter. Please keep them, and me, in your prayers.
  • A roof over my head, clothes on my back, shoes on my feet, and food on my table. God provides! Sometimes, I don’t know how He does it, but He does it!

Give Thanks with Me

For what do you wish to give thanks for this Thanksgiving? Add your thoughts... Read more...

21 Nov 2017

Worth Revisiting: Art Celebrates the Presentation

In the apoc9ccc169fdf798f2b987391cfe796e806ryphal Infancy Narrative of James, Mary’s parents,  Joachim and Anne,  had been childless but received a heavenly message- they would have a child.
In thanksgiving for the gift of their daughter, they brought her, when still a child, to the Temple in Jerusalem to consecrate her to God.
Tradition held that she was to remain there to be educated in preparation for her role as Mother of God. most of the paintings capture a sense of Mary’s purity, of course, but also a combination of youth, vulnerability and her core strength at the all at the same time.

Wonder Woman: Very Good (Though Perhaps Not Amazing)

Catholic-Perspective Review of Female Superhero Movie Wonder Woman

After months of hearing nothing but praise for the new female-driven superhero movie Wonder Woman, it's now out on DVD so I finally saw it. Needless to say, I went into it with pretty high hopes, given the massive praise I'd seen.

My verdict: The praise was mostly well-founded. Mostly. Because it is quite good, and definitely filling a very real gap in female-driven content. And yet, it still wasn't as mind-blowingly amazing as I might have hoped... Continue Reading

2 Major Events that Changed the World

Welcome Friend,

2 - Major Events to talk about with you today that changed the entire world:

  1. Birth of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Going to keep this short, because there are many things I could write about Jesus.

20 Nov 2017

Advent Shopping list/guide

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Very Merry Advent {Shopping Guide}

So, wait?! I can't start celebrating Christmas right now? ....Well, I guess I'll twiddle my thumbs.

No! >>Don't Jump The Gun.<< Some people have all their bases covered, even an Advent playlist (!!!). But what if you're a newbie to the Advent game? It starts in two weeks!  What is needed?

In honor of the fact that I'm going out of town, today is a special post! Here are 20 things to kick off your Advent celebration and observation.  

and.... joke time.
Stephen: Why does Sufjan sound so sad when he says "Rejoice"?
Me: He's happy, but he's expectant.  #laughcry

Julia's Gifts; Great War, Great Love - Book 1 - Book Review

In Julia ‘s Gifts, Ellen Gable whisks us away to war-torn France, circa 1917-1918. The setting: World War I. The main character: Miss Julia Murphy. In this tightly woven love story, we see Julia Murphy exhibit many virtuous qualities; generosity of spirit, compassion, and most importantly, self-giving love. This tale sends us on a romantic adventure in search of Julia Murphy’s beloved; only Julia has no idea who her beloved might be!

At the age of 17, she began setting aside Christmas presents for her future beloved, with the hopes of one day gifting these presents to him. At the age of 21, the war in Europe was waging, and the American Red Cross was looking for volunteers. Julia and her friend, Ann, thought it a great idea to volunteer and go overseas to give aid and comfort to injured soldiers. As Julia prepared to embark for the journey to Europe, she brought very few personal possessions with her. She did, however, bring the box of four precious gifts she had amassed over the past four years, with the hope of possibly finding her beloved.

The story then takes some twists and turns, with... Read more...

19 Nov 2017

St Francis of Assisi - Part 13 - The Canticle to Brother Sun

After St Francis  received the Stigmata he travelled all the way back to Assisi on a donkey for he could not walk. Nor could he see or hear much, because he was filled with such sublime joy that most of the time he was lost in ecstasy. But on his return he was filled with a new lease of life that enabled him to set off on brief missionary journeys in the surrounding countryside. It was the last flare of a flame that was about to peter out. Soon the first part of his prayer was about to be answered, as serious sickness enabled him to experience something of the sufferings that Brother Jesus had to endure on the cross. Yet, it was when he was at his lowest ebb, living in a mud hut outside San Damiano and pestered by a plague of mice that he wrote his beautiful poem in praise of Brother Sun. It was the first great poetic work to be written in the Italian language.

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!
All praise is yours, all glory, all honour, and all blessing.
To you, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.
Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendour!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.                
read on .....

Disorders, Decisions

Whether you call it mental illness, lunacy, or insanity, being crazy isn't fun. It's not a lifestyle choice either. Not for most. Certainly not in my case. I'll get back to that....

...Somewhere along the line "mental hygiene" got repackaged as "mental health." I think it wasn't just a new coat of paint on old ideas. We were learning more about how minds work, and sometimes don't.

We were also learning what we can do: and what we shouldn't....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

17 Nov 2017

Antarctic 'Hot' Spots

Some scientists say there'll be more carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere this year. They may be right.

I think the information's interesting, and may be meaningful. But I'm pretty sure this isn't a portent of doom.

Neither is a new and more detailed map of Antarctica's bedrock temperatures.

I'll be talking about that, the Halley VI base getting back in operation: and why I think we should keep learning about how Earth's climate works.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

16 Nov 2017

'Enter into the joy of your master.' Sunday Reflections, 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Woman Sewing, Van Gogh [Web Gallery of Art]

She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. (Proverbs 31:13, First Reading)
Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)
Readings (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)
Gospel Matthew 25:14-30 [Shorter form, 14-15, 19-21] (NRSV, Anglicised CatholicEd.) 

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. [The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.] After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” [And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”]
Jesse Robredo (27 May 1958 - 18 August 2012) [Wikipedia]

There was real sorrow throughout the Philippines when news broke that the small plane in which Jesse Robredo, Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in the administration of President Benigno Aquino III of the Philippines had crashed offshore while trying to make and emergency landing on Masbate Island. Secretary Robredo had been on official business in Cebu but wanted to be present at a swimming competition in which his daughter was taking part in their home town, Naga City in the heart of the Bicol Region at the southern end of Luzon. So he hired a small plane to fly from Cebu to Naga City.
Continue here.

What Christians Can Learn From Malcolm X

I have been reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X and I am very impressed with the man. I was interested in reading it after someone mentioned how reading changed his life (I am all about promoting literacy and education.) I learned a lot about how things were during his life and also how things got to be the way they are now. It seems to me that a lot has improved since his time, but a lot is still very much the same. His message to his black brothers was for them to love and respect themselves, do for themselves, and demand justice for themselves–this is hard for me to disagree with. Malcolm is still thought of today as a divisive and angry figure, unlike the inclusive and inspiring Martin Luther King, but there are many things we can learn from the life of Malcolm X.
1. Through self-discipline, Malcolm found freedom. While in prison, his family was trying to get him to follow the teachings of Elijah Muhammad–they started by telling him to give up pork and cigarettes and that they would help him to get out of prison. He began to decline the pork as it was passed around and also the cigarettes. I believe this was the turning point where he began to see that he was something other than a victim of injustice with no power over his life–he began to see that even in prison, he could make choices for himself, giving up the sensual and temporary pleasure for something greater. As Christians, we practice this same discipline during Lent and Advent, and (we ought to be) Fridays as well. Denying ourselves some worldly goods can strengthen us for the spiritual fights we must face.