Archive for March, 2016

Easter Joy

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

At an Easter afternoon party at my neighbor Mike’s house, an 11 year old, a beloved child of a beautiful mom and dad said; “I don’t know why this is such a special day… why is this day different?” I was a little shocked. “it’s Easter”. “So?” she asked, and I was struck by how many in our world might ask “why is this day special? why are we so joyful?” Why is this day special? I remember walking into Little Flower (St Theresa) church in Coral Gables and dragging my fingers through the Holy Water font and having them come up dry. Then I noticed it was dark. No lights on in the church. Then as I looked for lights, I noticed no candles lit in front of the Saints’ statues, St Theresa, St Joseph… no candles. In fact the beloved saints were covered with purple cloth. Gulp. As I walked up the main aisle, the Crucifix, so large and beautiful over the main altar, was covered with a purple cloth, and the tabernacle door was open, the tabernacle empty. “He isn’t here,” my Mom whispered. This is the stuff of movies. The 8 year old clutches her mother’s hand and wonders, what just happened here? Well to this day I remember that scene vividly as I drink in the scent of candles and incense except on the holiest days of the year between Palm Sunday and Holy Saturday in the evening. Those purple draped statues were scary to an 8 year old. Today I realize they symbolize along with the other services the reality of a world without God and Jesus Christ when “He isn’t here.” On Wednesday of this last week I joined parishioners at St Augustine church near the University of Miami in a service called Tenebrae. A menorah of sorts with 7 candles is all lit up, and as the service proceeds, the candles are extinguished one by one. Normally the service is readings from the Lamentations of Jeremiah. This night it was readings from the Gospels. A woman pours our precious oils on the feet of Jesus, another woman cries on his feet and dries his feet with her tears… The women poured out all they had on his feet and then he poured out all he had (his life, his blood) to ransom us from death. “One of you will betray me” he says to his beloved (to us). He allows us to get to the point of betrayal. That’s what free will is all about. He leaves that last step to us…. Judas didn’t turn back; Peter did… Both betrayed and Judas killed himself out of despair; Peter cried his sorrow and repentance. “You have had 5 husbands,” he said, “and the man you are living with is not your husband!” Gulp, the Samaritan woman at the well breathes, caught in another lie! “This son of mine was dead, but now he has returned… he is found!” And so the night proceeded, with stories of how far Jesus bends (to the ground) for us, and how joyous he is when we turn. And he commands: “Get into the boat!” he said to the 12… and “This I command you, ‘Love one another’” Only one candle remained lighted, and then, whoosh, it was blown out and we sat stunned, in darkness. Even the sanctuary light was dark as, “He isn’t there”… What would life be like without Jesus Christ? And so I praised God for my faith. Let us pray, and let us tell the little ones who Jesus Christ is. He is life. He is Promise. He is the beginning and the end. He is God who knew our names when we were in the womb. He is the light that fills the darkness, if we allow it! People hate the light and they do not talk about it because the light commands obedience and love. “I command you… Love one another.” Why is this day special, little one? Today is special because our brother by Baptism, let himself be taken by the powers of death and then he destroyed the chains of death that draw me down… that if I wish, and he does will this, that I will rise after death and join him in Paradise. Believe in Him. Get to know Him. I will show you how: just ask. God bless you.

Hard emotional day brings back memory

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

Poets wrote about memory often being cruel. Yesterday I read an article written by my cousin named Susie McCarthy who found her great grand father’s, my grandfather’s, signature on a document making him a member of the fighting forces of the 1916 rebellion in Ireland. Yesterday I watched Obama and Castro make nice before reporters, and today I watch as ISIS takes responsibility for a bombing in Brussels, a beautiful peaceful city. So… I spoke of pain with Chuck, I talked of my father who spoke so clearly about what his father and his mother went through as the children of people who directly fought the brutal treatment of Irish by the English. I told Chuck that I had been afraid to travel to England as an adult for the awful stories I had heard from my father whose own father told him first hand horror stories of the very personal war for Irish independence, and let us not forget what the English did to the Catholic church on those 2 islands. I also talked of the stories I hear at my church from ladies who barely speak English. 60 and 70 years old now, they were shuttled here by their parents who wanted to save their lives when Castro started jailing people who went to church or people who “rebelled” against the communist rebel Castro. The anger and sadness is palpable as I speak with the ladies who still talk about political prisoners, relatives, stuck in Cuban jails. The Miami Herald today printed a list of political prisoners that Raul Castro arrogantly asked for, and printed an equally poignant article about pain that cannot be forgotten, that chokes the old ladies and their children who “can’t go home again.” Dan LeBatard writes, “She (my mother) had her phones tapped back home. She endured neighborhood spies coming into her home whenever they pleased. She attended services for students and intellectuals killed for fighting for elections and a Constitution. She was chased through the streets by police dragging chains for attending those services. Her brother was a political prisoner… he spent almost 10 years in prison…. Exiled from a land they didn’t want to leave and still miss, a land they will not visit until this regime is ousted or they see real change that can be trusted.” Chuck, a white bread American, parents here for generations, said we who remember from the past and harbor sadness must realize that it is the Past. We need to look at what we have today. So I look at the television… “At least 31 killed, hundreds injured… claimed by ISIS…” Can I ever return to Europe? I don’t think so… Do I feel totally free in crowded places? Do I feel entirely safe in church? During this Holy Week, let us pray for the peace that comes in our hearts when we give up trouble to Christ who first took it all on so that we might live abundantly both now and in heaven. God bless you.

Preparing for Easter

Monday, March 14th, 2016

Two weeks left to make the changes we planned to make for Easter Sunday to receive the fulfillment of the promise of the Resurrection. What changes? Acceptance of the message of Jesus that the Kingdom of God is at hand. Belief in Jesus as Son of God. Brother. Acceptance of Obedience and Humility. Kindness. Service.

“But”, you say, “I can’t see it.” No, we can’t see it, feel it, smell it… …. another friend of mine near my age recently died in his sleep… that’s two men, dying “early” in their sleep in 3 months. What does this mean? Could we have known? No. Is the kingdom of God at hand in our hearts? Do we need to be ready for that time that we can’t know, but which is just a dream away?

Living with the Kingdom of Heaven in mind isn’t real easy right now if we watch television or read the papers! There is lots of negative news and lots of ugly yelling. We have attacks everywhere, even in our own small towns. One man tried to rush the podium and take it away from a man who some say is vitriolic, evil, inhuman. Need to read the Constitution! Even the mean and the evil have a right to a podium in America. Our defense is our vote. Lets hope the American people settle down and vote wisely. It seems there isn’t a wise vote right now, but there is. If we don’t vote then we give up a right and give it to others. So prayer is the only answer. Be kind. Help one another. Pray for one another. Believe in the Gospel. God bless you.

Sad politics

Friday, March 11th, 2016

Just when I think it’s OK to come out from under the covers, politics turns rough and I want to run and go hide! How has America sunk to political candidates who don’t have a chance telling voters to vote for other people who don’t have a chance to block some one who might win, but is considered undesirable? I’m not sure my history is good enough to know of a precedent… in America. Hope hope God is still blessing America as I think we really need blessing!

About 2pm today friend Dave and Chuck were up on the roof of the shed (the same shed friends helped repair after hurricane Katrina.) The boys were putting some cap sheeting on the roof, giving the shed a face lift on the roof. I was staying near by to be the gopher and every time I would get down and grab a weed I would hear my name called… Generally it was to hold something, tear something, get something… and so I did that! I’m usually the gopher on outside building jobs. This type of service builds muscle and humility! I’m also working very hard to get our gardens back into shape as they only got a lick and a promise when we returned from the Keys and then ran off on the extended cruising holiday. I’m sunburned and bent over a little from stooping and bending all day in the gardens!!! As I dug in our dirt I noticed how dry it is. This is typical of south Florida, dry and dusty this time of year. We need some of that rain that is pummeling Louisiana… I’m off to a ladies party being celebrated because…, well just because some ladies are happy! Let us be happy and celebrate life. God bless you.

confession and absolution

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

No! This is not another religious treatise by Susie… Yesterday I confessed via phone message to my doctor’s secretary that he should not worry about the bad number on my blood work in the cholesterol column… As he prepared for my visit at 1pm to go over blood work… I didn’t want the doctor to try to figure out why my cholesterol number jumped about 60 points… I did it. I’m guilty. My bad! How refreshing it was to make that admission and beg… “mea culpa” forgive me and stay as my doctor despite the fact that I question your every order!!! Last Christmas I decided that my cholesterol number was fine in October, I’m dieting and exercising, surely I don’t need this statin drug. So I stopped taking it. I guess I forgot to pray like I did when I cut Chuck’s seizure medication in half on Thanksgiving day of 2010. So from Christmas to now, I dieted and exercised and went for the blood test feeling all good about myself and… the cholesterol number jumped about 60 points. My sister asked me, “So how did that work for you?” and we laughed, and I said, “not so good”. For your information, there is a calcium scan that we can take to see if really we need a stain if our cholesterol is high, but my doctor answered me, “I want the LDL number below 100 or, with your family history, you will have a stroke. And you don’t want that.” A pliant “Yes doctor” followed his gentle answer. I do have a maternal family history of heart disease. So. obedience is the catch word for this little researcher quasi drug expert. And a lesson well learned. Only make the big decisions after prayer and if you are sure there aren’t real reasons for the order. Chuck and I have been exercising for about 1 1/2 hour a day every day and eating healthy diets and we are dong a great job of taking care of ourselves! I say to you dear reader, Research everything before you put it in your mouth, but if you have vetted your doctor and you think he is true, give him the benefit of the doubt. Take good notes and re question him at the next visit! God bless you.