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Showing content with the highest reputation since 10/28/2020 in Blog Entries

  1. 4 points
    One of the rare areas of political bipartisan agreement in the US Senate, is that Russia is engaged in an ongoing campaign of sustained information warfare against us. And in any information war, the question always boils down to this: Who can you trust? The answer is really simple: Left or Right -- anyone pushing you in the direction of violence against your fellow Americans is batting for Russia, knowingly or otherwise. Because sparking an American civil war has been Russia's end game, for a very long time.
  2. 3 points
    Bittersweet (written about 15 years ago) Sometimes when I awake in the middle of the night, and can’t go back to sleep, memories often rise to the surface, that I usually don’t revert to in my normal waking life. I guess when just awakening, and lying there doing nothing, allows thoughts from the unconscious to present themselves to my waking mind, and perhaps are asking to be dealt with, or to just simply be remembered. They are often very powerful, surprisingly so, since like I said I do not often revert to them. I started to think about a friendship I developed when I was 16 with two young adults, who were I guess about 25 at the time. The young man’s name was Carlos, and the young lady’s Elena, whom I first met on my delivery route in Gulick Heights, which was part of an army base in Panama, Canal Zone. The year was either late 64 or early 65. They were staying in the apartment of a Mr. Olson, who was an electrician working for the army. He lived in one of the apartment buildings that were set aside for unmarried personnel. The building had 4 units, each with one bedroom. I remember the first day I met them. Of course, to me they were adults, and ten years difference is a big gap for someone who is just 16, but I always like hanging with adults. They were so much more interesting at times, at least they were when listening to what some of them had to say. For some reason, Carlos and Elena took to me and made it clear that I was welcome anytime to come and visit and just talk. Elena was very beautiful. She was short with jet black hair, almond skin, and the most beautiful eyes, they were almost black, that you could get lost in. Carlos was a lot like her, just not as pretty. Funny, I never felt the need to ask what their relationship with Mr. Olson entailed, it just never came up. I just felt so comfortable with them, that just being with them, and enjoying their company was more than enough. They were both from the interior of Panama, so I thought they may have been his children from a past relationship, in any case, they seemed to be very close to Mr. Olson, so that was enough for me. I guess you can say I loved both of them. People can be loved in so many ways, but the best kind is that which has no urgent longings behind it, it is just there, a part of life, and it deepens the experience of the other, heightening the beauty of the ones loved. They were so kind to me and listened to what I talked about, and I listened to them in return. We laughed a lot, played cards, and I drank a little with them, wine mostly. One day when I came by for a visit, they were making a fruit punch with some of the local fruits; mangos, pineapple and I think papaya. I remember thinking that it looked like blood in the bottles it was so red. Then we went into the jungle behind the house, found a nice cool spot, and buried the two bottles, marked the spot, and left. They told me that in a couple of months they would dig it up and that I would like it; which in fact turned out to be true, it produced a bottle of very sweet wine, and strong. After one glass I was a little woozy, which was a source of great entertainment for both of them, if not for me. Both Elena and Carlos laughed a lot, loved music, and sometimes we would dance to Panamanian melodies, which I liked, though I did not listen to that kind of music often. Sometimes we would talk about life in general, and they seemed interested in what I had to say on certain topics. We talked about religion, philosophy, though at that time I did not know too much on the subject, and once we talked about Dante’s poem “The Divine Comedy” that I was reading. Another thing I liked about them, they did not box me in but simply let me be. One of the things I hated about being in High School is all the categories, or slots, that we put each other in. Since they were older they did not feel the need to do that with me, so there was a certain freedom present that I did not feel with others my own age. I could breathe with them, just be myself. Then one day while delivering papers, I came by the apartment. I suppose it was about 4 PM. The door to the apartment was ajar, and the interior dark. The silence coming from inside was deafening, it almost screamed out to me in its nothingness, its essential emptiness. I called out Elena’s name but received no answer. Usually, I would just go inside to see if either she, or Carlos, were home. However, that day I felt a chill go through me, it was like something was in there, but like I said it was a ‘lacking’, like the feeling you get when looking down a very deep, dark, pitch-black well. I stood frozen before the door, not sure what to do, so I just left, not understanding what I was feeling. The next day when I came by the house I learned that Elena was dead. The word suicide was thrown around, but I am not sure actually how she died, or perhaps I don’t know how she killed herself. From the time frame I received, she was dead in the apartment when I knocked on the door, and perhaps on some basic instinctive level, I knew already that she was gone, and spared myself the horror of finding her body. I never saw Carlos again and was sorry that I could not have seen him at least one more time before he left. For the next two years, whenever I passed by that house I would feel a chill come out of the lower apartment, and never went near it again. I remember one night walking home by myself from the movies, and as I walked by the apartment, I stopped and just stared at the cold dark interior shown me through the windows. I felt rage, sorrow, loss, and mostly just confusion, over what had happened. I was sorry that I did not pick up on Elena’s pain, though I doubted there would have been anything I could have done to help her. The inner world of a 16-year-old is not yet expansive enough to pick up on that kind of thing, at least it was that way for me. I did not feel guilty about her death, but the hole now present, in the fabric of my life, which was once filled with her presence, was real, even if it was not a major tear. Elena was loved by me, but it was not the kind of love that ripped my life apart when she died. It did cause pain, but it was a pain that I could keep to myself, and no one was burdened by it. I never talked about it with my parents, friends, or with my brother’s and sister’s, simply never thought of it. Also with Carlos, no goodbyes, he was just gone, so in a way he died also, two young adults who befriended me were simply gone without a trace. I could not go to Elena’s funeral, since even Mr. Olsen did not really know about our friendship. It is hard to have closure for losses that are important but not major, say like the death of a parent, or a brother or sister, spouse, etc. From my own experience, these lesser losses just linger, perhaps become old friends, who sit quietly, causing no fuss, but waiting for the chance to simply come to the surface and be remembered. So yes I still mourn Elena, and Carlos, in bits and pieces, because the relationship ended without closure of any sort. I can’t wail, or scream, or carry on in ways that would be understandable since their leaving me was not that deep, or extreme. It is like I am in an in-between place, and perhaps it is in the in-between that we get lost. There are no markers along the way, no rituals that really deal with this. Or perhaps life just gets too busy, and they can’t be dealt with; no time. When I remember them, which is not really that often. I sometimes go, when I pray, to the time of Elena’s death, and asked that the Lord be with her as she leaves this life, and even try to be present in spirit to be of help to her; for I did love her in my own way. I hope she is at peace. One of the great things about being Catholic is that we do pray for the dead, that God’s grace continues to heal after we pass over, and that they being part of the body of Christ, and since there is only one body, our prayers can help them. Bittersweet is what comes to mind. I suppose that everyone has memories like the one I just shared, or perhaps many of them. Like joy, these events, that become our memories, are important. Perhaps they make us more compassionate towards others, deepen our empathy for the sufferings of those we come in contact with. Even if they seem from the outside, not to be that serious, or deep, we learn to look deeper. Small wounds, large ones, it does not matter, they are all wounds. Some heal faster than others; some don’t heal at all since closure is not possible. One day I hope to be able to embrace Elena and tell her that I did love her and Carlos as well. I am not afraid of this kind of pain, it makes me human, and perhaps more alive and vibrant in my everyday life. To simply love another is a precious gift, and those loved should be treasured, since we do live in a world of beginnings, and endings. I would do it all over again if the choice was given to me. My life was enriched by two adults who accepted me and allowed me to be a part of their lives, no matter how small. Bittersweet, you can’t have one without the other. So yes I travel to Elena’s side, and pray for her, in her death. Perhaps that is what Christians are called to. Perhaps each of us, as we pray, bring mankind with us before the Father, united to the Son, and filled with the light of the Holy Spirit. All not some, I don’t think any should be outside the scope of our prayers or love. Prayer for the dying: Lord of life beyond space and time, Be with those who are dying in your eternal moment, Let all be embraced by your infinite love, All wounds healed, Sins forgiven, Lifted up into the light of your majesty, For we are one in your eyes, One body united in your Son, Who carried the wounds of mankind on his body. For each is of eternal worth, Loved from eternity, Called into existence because of love, to the eternal relationship of oneness without end, Amen.-Br.MD
  3. 3 points
    Then I prepare two cups of coffee for Matt and Eduardo (The importance of routine in regards to life and our inner world) It is interesting taking care of the elder monks. I guess we all have the rituals that we use every day that play an important role. We can do many activities without having to be overly mindful of what we are doing unless of course, we want to do so. It can also bring some comfort and the illusions that we do have some ‘real’ control over the events in our lives. When I start my early shift there are certain ‘chores’ that I need to do. The first is that I make smoothies, between four and five every day when I am on duty. Usually, they are all consumed during the day by the same monks. So I enjoy making them. Peeling the fruit and cutting them into pieces for our blender, along with a number of bananas, adding fruit juice and in some measure soy-milk, I find a very calming and comforting chore. I also eat the peelings and eat the cores, have done so all my life. Of course, I am bald, perhaps eating the seeds and cores have done that to me. Well worth it if that is so. Then I prepare two cups of coffee for Matt and Eduardo, both in their early nineties and men that I have known since 1968, the first time I came to the Monastery while in the Navy. One of the two is very particular about his coffee and I am careful to do what he wants. I also find this calming, comforting. Then I set Eduardo’s place. I get his cereal ready, soy-milk, meds, and toast. Lay them out on the table. Toast and coffee are only brought out when he comes out of his room. Same routine every morning. Of course, this could change at any time. When Alan was alive, there was also a routine for him. Now the infirmary can change at any time. Another monk can get very ill and it is then that routines may have to be changed around, but hopefully, the heart of it can be maintained. No one would complain if that was so, but it helps to have a good routine. I like routines, and also non-clutter. I get the feeling of being buried alive around too much stuff. I like rooms to be neat, but that is to offset my own inner chaos, which can be extreme on some days. So I have a routine when I feel like I am being dragged under the waterline. Sometimes it is just a matter of perspective, a change of glasses, and that helps a lot. In other situations that does not help because there is too much emotion, and so I have to wait until the water settles. Then there are times when I am going through some sort of inner-whirlwind, and it is then that my faith comes into play. It comes into play on all the above, but when I feel like I am going to be pulled apart in four different ways, I become more conscious of my relationship with Christ and take deeper root into his presence in my heart, mind, and soul. One of the difficulties of loving oneself is the tendency I have when I feel fragmented is to project it onto reality outside of my own inner world. Once I bring it to Christ, I cannot believe what my inner-storm is telling me. I have learned that my emotions, or my emotional health at the moment, or even the depth of my belief at any one time, says nothing about the “Yes” that God has given to me, and to everyone. That is how I take root. It is not just a change in perspective on this level but is a letting go of trying to figure what is going on and simply allowing it to work its self out. My inner life can resemble hurricane season, or a beautiful spring day, both pass, but the reality of Jesus and His presence remains. All seekers of truth, even if they do not know what they really believe (I am there at times) do not block the grace of God in a seeking heart. God is owned by no one, Christ being God is wild as they come, cannot be tamed, and if his love is as great as revealed in scripture, His pursuit for each of us will be unrelenting as long as we live. To reject God’s love, by the very fact of its importance, has to be made consciously. Such is the dignity and tragedy of being human. That our lives, everything in our lives, especially in our relationships has eternal value and consequences. It is not easy to keep faith, since God will not, and does not act towards us the way we think should happen. We all get knocked around in life, yet we are called to take the next step, to grow deeper into trust, and I believe that all who seek God, even if it is often unknown to the seeker, will find the pearl of great price, for that is the working of grace alone, all we need do is to seek and respond, and to let go of all that keeps us from finding the truth about ourselves, God, and the nature of life. When inner storms hit, as well as the chaos of our lives, it is good to have routines of prayer, of a place where we can stop, breathe, take stock, and most importantly, pray from the heart. People who seek to live a deep interior life will find out what they need to do, and over time that will change, and flexibility is learned, as well as humility. We find that we really are children in God’s eyes and will always be so. The alternative is to be childish, which only leads to greater chaos and suffering.-Br.MD Giving up is a waste of time
  4. 2 points
    No one is unloved To love ourselves is a command given by Christ Jesus. You are not an accident, God created you on purpose, and for a purpose. He loves you and created you to be in a relationship with him. It demands faith to trust in God and to love ourselves enough to continue on our journey in spite of the failures and roadblocks we often face.-Br.MD
  5. 2 points
    Beauty is where you find it (the joy of little things) A couple of days ago I had the joy of seeing our cloistered turtle. She was in her usual place, where she is looking for some treats from one of the monks. Usually, Br. Michael takes care of her, but this was later than usual. So I went into the refectory (dining area) and got a banana for her. When she saw me coming she starting running (sort of) towards me. So I broke off two good size pieces of the Banana and placed them in front of her. She really loves them. As she was eating, as usual, I become overwhelmed over the beauty of this little creature, who over time now has a relationship, of some sort, with our community. The monks (some of them) look for her as they leave Mass in the morning. Some mornings she is there and it is a good time for us to watch as one of the monks, usually Br. Michael feeds her. We got some turtle food online and she gets some of that with the banana. We do not overfeed her, but just enough to have her come looking for something different. We do not want her dependent on us for her food. In our enclosed cloister garden, there is more than enough food for her. I still wonder why such a little creature, kind of plain actually, is still so incredibly beautiful to me, as well as to others. Whatever her beauty is, it gives me great joy to see her. I have never been one who can take a great deal of beauty. When in Panama, after I got out of the Navy in 1971, I made a trip with one of the men in the army who worked under my dad. We stayed up in the mountains for two weeks and it was overwhelming for me. No matter where I looked it was postcard-perfect, and after two weeks I was tired out from it all. I enjoyed the time there, but was glad to get back to the low lands of Panama, where the scenery was much less beautiful than higher up. So as I age I am finding out that I can find great beauty in the smallest of plants and creatures, like our turtle friend. I can look at a plant in my room and find a great deal of joy without having to look away in order to process. The beauty of these simple living things can almost make me ecstatic. It is healing to see them, and I feel a connection. The same goes for rocks as well. I have some in my room that affects me the same way. Just little rocks, of different shapes, but also, like the turtle, very beautiful in ways that elude me, yet they're just the same. I do think I miss out on a lot because of my lack of ability to be able to absorb splendor on a larger scale, but I am content with what I am capable of. Of course, the deep mystery of those I meet and know and love shows me the most beautiful. Yet, I have to be able to perceive it, and often I have to make a choice to do so. People are much more complex than plants, animals, and rocks, and because of that, it can be a call for me to stretch my soul, mind, and heart so that I can continue to see beauty in others even if they be irritating or incompressible to me. In beauty, no matter where it is found shows us in some deep manner the truth about the inner life of God. It also shows us our own beauty, which can be more difficult to see, yet there, nonetheless. If we had no deep inner beauty, we would not be able to experience it in the world we live in. The embrace God of beauty, Lord of grace, Abba of all creation show us all your beauty, and embrace You without fear, for fear is useless, what is needed is faith.—Br.MD
  6. 2 points
    Aridity in our walk with God "Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. (Hosea 2:14) The soul is made for the ‘Living Water’, that which allows our souls to flourish and grow. Yet the desert is also a reality that dwells within each of us. A place of dryness, thirst, listlessness, and a feeling of not knowing where one is moving towards, for in the desert there are no well-worn roads. It is there that we ‘wait on the Lord’ in faith. Where we seek the ‘Living Waters’ out of love and longing and not just simply to have our prayers heard, or to give us spiritual consolation; we learn that God gives and takes, draws close, and then pulls back…..yet that is an illusion. God is always yes, there is never change, for it is we who change, grow or pull back. In the desert we learn to trust; we also over a period of time learn that the living water is just below the surface nourishing us in all that we need. Our self-love and self-seeking die in the desert and what is left is our longing for the embrace of the living God.--Br.MD Even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.| (Psalm 139:12)
  7. 2 points
    Last night I woke up around 2:00 AM to the sound of something scratching behind my bedroom wall. I thought it might be a mouse, but the noise was much louder than the scratching noises that the mice usually make. I turned on the bedside lamp, and suddenly there was a large bat flying in circles right above my head. I mentally reviewed my Emergency Bat Protocols, then jumped out of bed, grabbed my pillow, and ran across the hall to the other bedroom to open the big window that doesn’t have a window screen on it. And then back into the hallway, where the bat was swooping and diving, and I was ducking and weaving, almost like Muhammad Ali’s rope-a-dope tactic, though this time I was on the losing end. My mind was racing with thoughts of rabies, and painful rabies shots, and there may even have been a few thoughts about vampires, but I strengthened my resolve, and slowed my breathing, and prepared my heart for battle. As the bat spun around and dove at me, I lifted up my pillow and, using his own sonar abilities against him, maneuvered him into the bedroom and out through the open window. I felt victorious, and relieved, and a bit winded. I don’t know how that bat got inside my house, but I’m thinking it may have made a hole in the wire mesh that’s inside the roof vent. If that’s the case, then the bat will likely round up his bat friends and begin colonizing my bedroom walls. This could be a long, drawn-out battle.
  8. 2 points
    A Woman Prophet (This an older piece that wrote in 2016) One of the brothers asked me to drive him to the International airport to pick up a monastic guest. He has never been there and does not know the city too well, so I was glad to do it. It was also the one day a month that the community helps a woman out who lives in town. I go to Kroger usually on the last day of the month or one of the first three days. So today was my day to make my ‘run’. It takes about an hour, no problem, and the community has known this woman for almost 30 years. She has some difficulties but is a strong woman in her own right. She does have a lot of interior struggles and lives in a long-stay motel. She stays upbeat and hopeful and I admire her for her courage and faith. So we left early, so I could do this errand . As we were pulling into the Kroger parking lot here in Conyers, I noticed a large van, painted black; probably 15 years old are so. It was covered with writings in large white paint. The sayings were about life, and how sacred it is. She had pleas for adults not to sexually abuse children, for husbands and wives not to abuse each other and a statement about having compassion for the women in the army who have been raped while overseas at war. I was taken back at first, for it was quite a shock to see this in a parking lot at Kroger’s. I walked over to the Van and read all of the quotes for I was fascinated by it. At first, I thought that this woman or man might be suffering from a great deal of past abuse and it was a plea to be listened to and seen. So we went in and got what I needed. Some prescriptions and a few items that I always get for the nice lady we help. When we finished and were going back to our car I noticed the van pulling out. As it came close I decided to flag the van and it stopped and when the window came down I saw a beautiful, middle-aged woman behind the wheel. She gave me a very warm smile and asked what I wanted. So I told her that when I first saw the truck I was taken back, but after reading the message I thanked her for bringing these issues out in such a way that it would get people who would normally not think about this at all, to perhaps consider what she had written. I also asked her if she had some sort of ministry. She said no, but felt called to do this on her van. I thanked her and she smiled and drove on. I was touched by her gentle bearing as well as the love and compassion that were present in her smile. I believe people like this woman, who are often poor and unnoticed, are often used by God to speak out in a way that can shock….like the Old Testament prophets did. Was she crazy? No, just a woman in touch with a thread in our society that she felt compelled to say something about. How else could she be heard, how else could God use her voice to perhaps reach just one person, to get them to rethink the situations and maybe reach out to those they know who are in trouble and need help. In any case, I was thankful for this unexpected blast of reality about this woman’s deeply felt concern.--Br.MD
  9. 2 points
    I had an epiphany while scanning the Internet on January 6. I saw our elected officials cowering in fear as protestors stormed the venerable halls of the Capital Building. I thought to myself, “Well, politicians, maybe now you understand the fear felt by the citizens of Minneapolis, Kenosha, Portland, and Seattle as violent arsonists burned down the neighborhoods where people work and buy their groceries and get their hair styled. We commoners watched it burn as you politicians said things like “Give those protesters some space”. Now the politicians know the fear experienced by my cousin and his wife who live near Kenosha. He posted on Facebook: “For the first time in my life, I’m sleeping with a loaded gun next to my bed.” I used to think of the Capital Building as something venerable, inviolable, even sacrosanct, a great symbol of America and Freedom. I don’t feel that way anymore, ever since politicians told the Police to ‘give some space’ to violent protesters burning down small businesses, and watching the third-most-powerful politician in America showing off her minivan-sized freezer stocked with Jeni’s Gourmet Ice Cream, a modern-day ‘Let Them Eat Cake’ moment. This was the same politician who went to a salon and had her hair styled while the salons and barber shops were closed to the common people. Sorry politicians, but your Capital Building is no more venerable than the warehouse building where I once worked. The truck drivers and warehousemen I worked with have as much of a right to protection as you do. Welcome to reality.
  10. 2 points
    The Virtue of Justice Let us be renewed by God's mercy ... and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish: Pope Francis ++++++++++ The desire for justice is interesting. In nature, there is no such thing as justice, or fairness, or even right and wrong. Only humans have an understanding of the concept. Though seldom achieved to everyone's liking. The idea of “an eye for an eye”, is not really based on justice, but on balance, seeking to placate the one wronged, which seldom works. Revenge often comes into play for those who have been hurt by the loss of a loved one because of a heinous crime they committed, because they know the offender and loved him or her. Perhaps they see deeper and believe that some sort of mercy should have been bestowed. Yet violence can be perpetuated, it is a blood-debt (blood for blood), that many feel has to be repaid. I know in my own life when I forget how mercy has been bestowed on me by another, freely, and undeserving, I can become vengeful, at least in my thoughts. Mercy often sees deeper than the act, having empathy for the forces at work, so mercy is the natural outcome of the soul who is graced with true justice. I do believe that we are still a very primitive species. At least that is how I experience myself. I know what it means to be more human and loving, yet I often miss the mark, which is what sin is. I fail continually, I sin as the saying goes seven times a day, or perhaps more. Yet it is grace, a true act of mercy on God’s part that calls all of us to begin yet again, to not give up hope, and move forward. Contempt for another is the first step towards physical violence. Take away anyone’s humanity and they become fair game…..a horrifying thought. I seek to follow the Golden Rule, yet often fail because I can be asleep, unmindful of my state. In my failure, I wake up again to the struggle. I will never give up, God’s grace keeps picking me up, yes, yet again, and again, and again.—Br.MD
  11. 2 points
    Faith and the Unconscious The truth is that our unconscious minds are active, purposeful, and independent. Hidden they may be, but their effects are anything but, for they play a critical role in shaping the way our conscious minds experience and respond to the world.---Leonard Mlodinow ++++++++++ In order to grow in self-knowledge, the unconscious has to be accessed. When this is done, the injunction of Jesus to take care of the log in one's eye before you point to the splinter in another makes perfect sense. Self-knowledge allows us to wake up, to stop being a victim of what is being mirrored back to us, and to grow in humility. We can’t love our neighbors until we see ourselves and love what is shown to us. In the process, we find the number of our enemies and those who irk us less; because we begin to understand the difficulty of the road we each travel and the depth and complexity of our inner lives.Br.MD
  12. 2 points
    Razor's Edge Lord, we are always on the edge, we can hide from it, keeping busy, yet no one is so special that we are not vulnerable, what a boon this short life with its valleys and hills and occasional mountain view. What a gift, is a life, both in its fullness, as well as its brevity. --Br.MD
  13. 1 point
    My struggle with tenderness and mercy “You remember, when Mary Magdalene had told Me of her sins, she stopped to ask, ‘After that, can I be forgiven?’ I assured her and she went on. But once again she stopped and asked, ‘For this too, may I still hope to be forgiven?’ ‘Yes,’ I assured her. Then when all her past had been laid at My feet, she wept from pure love-gratitude, understanding My infinite compassion. Understanding a little, that is. For it is not in you to grasp the infinite. “Love to be blind, since it is I who am leading you.” Bossis, Gabrielle. He and I (Kindle Locations 1352-1356). Pauline Books and Media. Kindle Edition. ++++++++++ I am neither a man who is naturally tender, nor compassionate. I have often spoken of how I feel that my heart is more stone-like than fleshy. That is because love heals the heart, hence, I can just by some misplaced instinct, protect myself from this pain that love brings with it. Sometimes I just want to give up, but grace will not let me. While it is true that we are always free to choose our path, it can become harder to go against grace than to actually refuse it. That is because of the Lord’s compassion for all of us. When I read the above quote from the book “He and I”, something broke in me, but even then I did not know what to do with it. I think my problem, well one of them, is that I still have not learned to simply let it be. Over the many decades of my life, with its up and downs, and turns around (sounds like a square dance), the Lord has always known when to actually ‘force’ tenderness upon me, as if I am a really stubborn child, fearful, and in need of a gentle reminder of whom I am dealing with. I do not understand the mercy of God, since I am not merciful, towards myself, nor others. It is grace that allows this when over and over again the Lord wounds my heart with a gentle touch of tenderness. I am hungry for the Lord’s touch, yet fearful at the same time. My inner life is a Gordian-Knot that only the Lord can untangle from a deep hidden place. All I need do is to keep open and to put it bluntly, just get through the day. The quote/cliché “One day at a time” can actually be a powerful tool to stay on the path. It can also be helpful when the path is walked away from. All we need do is to get back up and continue. Why? Because we do not understand, nor comprehend, the mercy and compassion of God. He fills in for my every lacking with his gift of Infinite-Tenderness-and Love. I have slowly over the years learned not to believe my negative personalities that live in my unconscious. Nor my angry voices, or vengeful ones. I place them all in the Heart of our God. One day I was having an unusual strong inner storm, and fighting deep anger that comes from deep within, with all of the images. So I got out of the boat, stepped on the waves, and just looked to Jesus. He is always there with arms open welcoming me. When I sink, he brings me back up. This time, it became very obvious that what I needed to do is in this inner landscape, with all of the tapes, with people in them, with all the pain that they bring, is to bring the compassion of Christ into my inner world. All the people there need my compassion, and in that, I will heal quicker, for self-love and compassion, which comes through the mercy of Christ, needs to be consciously applied. Yes, I had to choose. Compassion towards self, leads to deeper compassion for others, for while each of is unique, we have the commonality of these painful experiences. When St. Paul said that “It is not I, but Christ who lives in me” he was speaking of reality, not some abstract theological idea, but something incarnational, real. All that is needed is a seeking heart, no matter who one is, or what they believe, just have an open seeking heart. My biggest temptation is to give up out of being weary, but again the Lord steps in and picks me up. I can still choose, but as the journey continues, my trust in the Lord deepens, and ever so slowly I am starting to understanding, a little, the compassion and love of God. We Christians, I believe, do not yet understand the fullness, the depth of God’s love for all. Though there are no doubt many exception. I not being one of them. So friends, never give up, no matter how deep you think you have fallen, the Lord is always there giving encouragement, hope, and with us in our struggles and sufferings.-Br.MD
  14. 1 point
    Every platform on the internet has its own trolls. I usually don't get hurt by trolls, but I can get annoyed. One day trolling will be considered a crime - and the people who had the power to stop it, but didn't, will be regarded as accomplices! Humanity lives and learns, and humans have finally realized that mental abuse is just as bad as physical abuse (or maybe worse because you can't see the wounds with your eyes). You have to look with your mind to see them. Trolling needs to stop - not only because of the victims but also for the trolls themselves because they need help to deal with their unresolved trauma. Trolling is a disease, and we should treat it that way.
  15. 1 point
    In my own life, I have found that I am the problem “Don’t you come to Me with more confidence than to any friend on earth? Aren’t you at home in My heart? It should be that way too, since for each soul I am the unique, the incomparable one. Bossis, Gabrielle. He and I (Kindle Locations 1344-1346). Pauline Books and Media. Kindle Edition. ++++++++++ My sister Judy and I will often have a conversation, whether or not the Christian faith is a religion. She says no, I say yes. However, she does have a point. Religion can be simply an empty gourd, a strong exterior, but hollow inside. Prayer and ritual can become just an empty show, even if the prayers are beautiful, and the ritual profound in its implications. The Eucharist comes to mind. If the heart is not there, not much, if anything, is gleaned from the experience. It takes mindfulness, presence to what one is doing to make one’s faith, and yes, religion an integral part of one’s life. For if it is true that in “God we live and move and have our being":, then our relationship with ultimate reality is of utmost importance. God’s love as shown in the Christian Scriptures can be a scandal to many. To say that God is love is not always an easy concept to embrace. Many live in the world with lives that have little true love in them. Many think love is just an emotion, and when that emotion dies out the love is over. It can lead to a frustrating search all of one’s life for something that cannot exist. Emotions come and go, they can even dry up when one is ill. Does that mean that love dies? No, but the love must come from a deeper place. Jesus shows us how this works. He gave his last drop of blood to show his love for us. Endured betrayal, abandonment, injustice, torture, imprisonment, and finally a slow horrible death. Yet he forgave all in the end. I am sure that was not something that resembles the infatuation that many think is true love. No matter how strong one’s attraction is towards someone, if it cannot mature beyond the ‘honeymoon' stage, it is only a mist that will evaporate when reality sits in. Love is about the long haul, not about a week or longer of intense emotions that can’t last. Christianity is about having a deep, personal, trusting relationship with the revelation of the Father’s love in Jesus Christ. We are called to look to the Infinite, revealed as love, and to walk forwards not letting our own faults, sins, and deep self-destructive aspects, get in the way. There are many voices in our unconscious that talk to us all the time. Some whisper, some scream, each wanting to protect us from reality. They are our wounds fearful of facing life more freely. We are called to die to self, to let the voices speak, but to understand that there is one voice we need to listen to, which can be deeper than any whisperings. That voice says “Come to me all who are overburdened and I will give rest”. Also, Jesus says “Do not fear. Fear is useless what is needed is trust’. In my own life, I have found that I am the problem. When I look only at myself all I see is broken promises, wounds, and a fear of being in the Infinite Light. It takes the choice to have trust, to have confidence in God’s love, to be able to open up ones inner chaos, failures, and yes even self-hatred to Jesus Christ. He already sees it, we just need to make that truth our reality. Then we fear nothing that is within for we have given it over. We turn over our souls, our whole being into the arms of our faithful Creator. We call God “Abba’, let us live out of that truth. In that, we learn that our deepest longings are fulfilled only by this.-Br.MD
  16. 1 point
    Remembrance of the dead (and other things…of course) There are many things about the Catholic faith that trouble many Protestants. We have devotion to the saints, and especially towards the Blessed Mother. We ask them to accompany us in our lives to pray for us and with us to bring us into deeper union with the Holy Trinity, with Christ Jesus. We understand that there is only one ‘Body-Of-Christ’ and in that Body, includes all who have died in the love of God. For Catholics this is obvious, for those other Christians it can seem bizarre, pagan, something to be avoided at all cost. While many non-Catholics understand the Catholic’s church understanding of our relationship with those who have died, there are many more that do not, cannot and for some, simply will not. I think that is OK. I think I have hit my head against a brick wall enough in my life. When you hit your head against a brick wall, the only thing that changes is the injured, bloody, skinned forehead but the wall is the same once the blood is washed off. Once a month our community has a day on which we remember and pray for those who have gone before us. Not just for members of our community, but for all who have died. Many believe that after death, we are in union with God. Well, I guess you can say we are always in union with God, for in Him we live and move and have our being. Yet there may be no personal relationship on any one person’s part. Or a relationship that is held back by life’s pounding and when we sin in response to the harshness of life, we wound our souls further. The ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ is part of the healing process. It is a time either in this life or in the next where the soul becomes passive in the sense that God is allowed to continue his redemptive will for the soul. Which is to heal all that keeps this union with God at bay, for there comes a time when the soul must be cleansed by the Fire of the Holy Spirit, where all that is dross is burned away in the passionate love that is manifested in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is pure grace. So today we join our prayers with our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus and pray for all who have gone before us. I have met many non-Catholics from all denominations who also pray for those who have passed on. Many have come to this on their own, for it makes sense to them. So we pray together as brothers and sisters in Christ. Some non-Catholics believe that if you are Catholic, well, there will be a surprise after death…..we will all go to hell. They get insulted if you call them a brother or sister in Christ, yet as far as I am concerned, they are my brothers and sisters in the Lord, no matter what they think. To be fair, we do have some Catholics who think this about all non-Catholics that they are going to be the ones to be surprised. Yes, they go to hell. It can be really silly…..perhaps we are more childish than childlike. It is amazing how strong beliefs can make us really ‘stoopid’. By that I mean we force our minds to smother and become hateful, mean, cruel, and even sadistic in the name of religion. Jesus did smile and laugh, he also wept. I wonder what he is doing with all the silly nonsense that goes on between, different Christians. Of course, politics makes us just as ‘stoopid’ I believe. Hmmm lets me see, sports may do that at times. How else would middle-aged overweight men paint their bodies with war paint and dance half-naked in front of millions of people on TV….though this kind of ‘stoopid’ is really benign as long as they don’t try to kill people on the opposing team's side. This does happen in other parts of the world. Yeah, we really need to pray for one another….I am the one first in line for that need of prayer. I can go crazy over a little league game, though I doubt I will ever put war paint over my body and dance in front of millions of people. That would scare the little ones for sure.-Br.MD
  17. 1 point
    Memories of one of our Monastery founders Fr. Francis Xavier (Written in 2016) When I read the part of scripture where Jesus talks about the importance of being childlike as opposed to childish; I always think of Fr. Francis Xavier. When I first met him in 1968 I was taken by his child-like simplicity. He was open, joyful, filled with energy and he had a deep abiding love of all things sugary/chocolaty/candy-bar-ey/cakey. Which I found amazing; since he was ‘like’ very old when I first met him and he broke all of the molds I had of older people. This was a great gift he bestowed on me in my early months in the Monastery, a priceless bequest for me. Though he was younger than I am now…yeah once I thought of old people as other; ‘now I am one’…and truth be told, happy about that. At meals he would get a bit of this and smattering of that, then a lot of deserts, or ice cream, which we had every Sunday. Yet in his late 60’s when I met him, he was full of energy and health and good humor. He was always laughing at/about life, but in a loving way. Back then, we used to have tours of the Monastery proper and he was one of the main tour guides, which he enjoyed. He simply loved people and would spend a lot of time answering questions with great patience. In the mid-70’s I was the community food buyer for a while. I went to a couple of food shows in Atlanta and was always amazed at how many people knew him. They would see my name tag and where I was from and start telling me stories of Fr. Francis. Many of them were racing stories. Though he was small, and even in his older years, he could outrun many of the youngsters who foolishly thought they might be able to best him. In the early ’90s a woman brought out her daughter who had cancer in her knee. I guess it was bone cancer. Fr. Francis prayed over the child and blest her. A short time later the woman came back excited about her daughter’s recovery. She wanted to thank Fr. Francis for his prayers and the ‘miracle’ he did. He looked at her and in a stern voice (though not unkind) said, “If it was a miracle it was God who did it and not me” and walked away. The lady just smiled and shook my hand and left. He did have his feet firmly placed on the ground. I am still happy for that mother. One thing I learned early on, he was also very deep; there was no naiveté in him. He understood people probably because he has a great deal of self-knowledge. His child-likeness was rooted in his deep trust in God and unwavering faith. He also loved prayer and his prayer was deep and very childlike. He always had his rosary in hand or saying the name of Jesus over and over again in a reverent tone. He would sometimes whisper louder than he thought so others could hear him. I never heard him speed through the saying of the blessed name of Jesus. He was in the infirmary for a short time and he was no trouble at all to care for. I made sure he was well stocked with candy etc. He would spend many hours in his room, just sitting and praying his rosary. He always had a smile on his face. He did tell me one day that he suffered from scrupulosity. I asked him how bad they were. He responded “sometimes bad, but you know I never really believed any of it….so I just prayed and trusted God anyway”. He died like a beloved child of God, gently, sweetly, and with no fuss……..I do miss him…..God Bless you Fr. Francis Xavier. I truly feel blessed that I entered the Monastery at a time when most of the founders were still alive. We have their picture hanging on the wall in the room next to our Sacristy. I love to stop and look at it, and to ask them to pray for us who are still here and to help us to love those who come here, to be able to truly see Christ Jesus in all who come here.-Br.MD
  18. 1 point
    What is God Like? But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. Matt 5: 44-45 ++++++++++ Most people are aware of their one besetting sin. A thorn in the side, a burden that keeps coming into our lives, feelings, and thoughts. So we can often fail, if not in a deed, we do so in our thoughts, that can take on a life of their own, and cause much interior pain, and leaving hidden wounds known only to us. It can be fatiguing having to live with this inner tension. It can also lead to despair and giving up. For with our weakness comes sin. Ways that we relate to others, and to the world in general, in an unloving manner. In seeking relief we can try to medicate our pain, which only deepens our involvement in acting it out. Jesus came to show us the Father. His nature. As well as the Father’s relationship with each human being. What was revealed could not be found out without the revelation. We are shown the reality of the nature of God, or at least to a degree that we can have some understanding about the depth of the love manifested to us in Christ Jesus. We are all made in the image and likeness of God. In our human nature, it would seem that our deepest longing is to be ‘seen’ and ‘loved’. These can also be what we most fear. When we open ourselves up, the feelings of vulnerability can be overwhelming. Jesus shows us His nature, as well as the nature of the Trinity since to see Jesus is in actuality to see the Father and the Holy Spirit in the manifestation of Jesus on earth. In the Sermon on the Plain, as well as the Sermon on the Mount, what he asks of us, is to become like the Father. It presents to us a tableau of overwhelming beauty. What is God, the Father like? What Jesus asks of us, the impossible challenge shows us the nature of God. “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matt 5: 44-45 We are called to be like the Father. Yet we cannot do it. We struggle mightily to be forgiving, loving, but constantly run up against ourselves. What gives us hope is the fact the no matter how we fail, the Father still shines his love upon us. In that process, we slowly look to the grace shown in Jesus Christ, and in that forgetfulness of self, we find that our hearts do expand and heal. The deeper our relationship with the Father, the more we find that we can also love the way the Father loves, we take on the Mind and Heart of the Father, shown to us in Christ Jesus. So failures do not detain us on our journey. We trust in God’s mercy for ourselves and others, looking to his grace and not to ourselves. The Trinity works in the depths of our souls, in ‘secret’ so that we do not get in the way. So we take the next step, then tomorrow we do the same, and the next day. There is always hope, always mercy, always healing when we turn to the Lord. It is always there, we have the key; it is our Yes, to God’s YES.-Br.MD
  19. 1 point
    A poisoned dagger Social justice cannot be attained by violence. Violence kills what it intends to create.--Pope John Paul II Violence comes under many guises. It is easy to come up with a good reason for doing just about anything. We can confront someone with the truth, not to help them, but to hurt, confuse, and as an act of domination. Christians can forget that easily enough. It is as easy as falling off of a log…..at least it is for me. People don’t often think of words as weapons, used to wound deeply; that is of course until it happens to them. Today we often like to screech at one another, but that is not communication unless contempt is considered a bridge to reach another human being. We are called to reach out, to help, and yes to speak the truth. Yet that ‘truth’ spoken in anger, or in contempt, is a poisoned dagger. There are some who know when to use a strong approach; they are few, the rest, perhaps we need to breathe a bit before we speak. Br.MD
  20. 1 point
    The Gate of Bone “The worst prison would be a closed heart.” ― Pope John Paul II For many people, dreams are important indicators of what they need to do to deepen their walk with the Lord. Some dreams present a choice that is important, imperative, and must be made with full awareness. I had one such dream that perhaps saved my vocation, and my soul, but also showed me some deep issues that I needed to face. Even if at the time of the dream I was not cognizant of what these actually were. I had the dream when I was 23 years old, and in the Monastery for just over a year. That would be late 1972. In the dream, I was standing at the bottom of a long flight of stairs. At the bottom of the stairway, it was dark, and I was standing in a small area of light that came through the opening that was a lid, and once the opening closed there was no way to open it from the outside. I suppose I could push my way back to the light, but not sure if that would be possible if I made the choice to close it. The whole scene was not one of terror, or even anxiety, but fraught with danger, because whatever choice I made, in freedom, was very important. Above the lid there was a gate, it looked like a rib cage, made of bone and once it closed that gate would be closed forever. I guess it could be said to resemble the gates of hell in my imagination. I knew that it was my choice. This made me conscious of my tendency to move towards isolation. This was true no matter where I found myself. In High School, in my family, in the Navy, this was something that I now understood was always there but unconscious. Well in the dream it was staring me in the face. I am often torn within my soul. I need solitude, lots of time to think, study and pray. It is not a luxury for me, for if I do not spend a good deal of time in solitude (not isolation) I get pulled pretty thin. When around people, I love people, I tend to get a little loopy. When tired, my loopiness rises to the level of a 10. A friend of mine told me once that I do this, because like all people I seek inner balance even if not always aware of it. My inner life is what I identify with, how I act around others, is also real, but you could call it a secondary side to my personality. I am sure that I can be a burden when I get very hare-brained. At 72 I still do not have a real handle on this. I hope one day to outgrow this, but that level of integration seems a long way off. Isolation is something different altogether. For me, it is a cold, dark, empty space. Its fruit is an inner restlessness that keeps me from finding any rest. To this day I am not sure why I have this, but I have found out a few decades back that I really do not have to figure it all out, I just have to get through the day and seek to still live a Christ-centered life. So over the years, different times of the day have their own challenges. In the very early morning, which is my best time, I seem centered. Around 8 AM until 11 AM, there seems to be an inner coldness that envelops me that I have slowly learned to deal with on a prayerful level. Well, much of the time. I have now come to understand that this is some form of nameless anxiety. In the afternoon, it is fatigue for the most part, but that too is slowly being brought into line. After Vespers is good, I feel settled and can pray and be at peace. Or if not, still be able to center me, for the most part. Yet, there are days when I do not want to be around anyone, or do anything, neither read, pray, sleep, just nothing. I know that this is common for many people and it is a painful state. I still give in to it from time to time but thank God for being in the community, and my different responsibilities keep me for the most part on track. So back to the dream. So I was looking up at the gate and was given the choice to allow it to close in on me forever. To my shock, I was tempted to allow that to happen. However I looked around and sort of said to myself: “Are you kidding me, hell no I do not want this!”. After I woke up that dream stayed with me for a few days, and it still comes to mind after all these years. The image was of the gate very vivid. Why am I sharing this. Because I am a normal human being and my struggles are for the most part the same inner tug of war that most go through. I am here to tell you that for the Lord, it is not a problem, for he knows our nature, what we have to deal with. He has compassion for all of us. He is there with us. So no matter where you are, that is where you start, every moment of every day. For whatever your state, Jesus is there facing you, loving you, giving you grace. Yet we each have to choose. Decide on life dear ones, and have compassion on one another.-Br.MD
  21. 1 point
    Anxiety and Depression- A Spiritual Rx (Br. Mark) -----Below are some notes for the retreat giving this weekend. It was a good group and they were easy to interact with. I was nervous before giving this retreat, it was the first time for me dealing with this subject, so I hope that I did not say anything that caused anyone discomfort that attended. I make some notes, but do not usually read them, so there are times when I may say something that is actually way off base. One participant this weekend brought one such incident to my attention, and I am very thankful for his intervention...... ++++++t Notes for retreat; Description: Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Some things we just cannot do ourselves that is why we have to trust in Jesus and allow Him to show us the way! Come join us as we take a deep breath, get quiet, let go of everything, and together put our trust in Him — so we can find that peace that comes from Him alone. We will learn to make our prayers became less about our situation and more about trusting Jesus ++++++++++ When in pain, of any kind, we become hyper self-aware and the world and those in it, recede. There is a lot of pain in the world; physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Many believe that mental suffering which could also be classified as spiritual, is worse than physical. Interior suffering can’t normally be escaped from. If we try to escape or to medicate ourselves, it will more often than not make matters worse, or at the least more complicated. Besides, many of the strategies that are used, be it therapy, or medicine will often have results that are less than hoped for. It is important during times of deep suffering that we do not seek some sort of quick fix. The frantic attempts to ‘get better, can lead to even more suffering. Our escapes can cause deeper misery. For instance, addiction does not help in any way in the long run, and often not even in the short run. Depression and anxiety are interior issues, spiritual ones and they can only be truly addressed by ‘spiritual’ means. Part of that is to become more mindful of one’s faith, of the reality of God, and the often hard work to face one’s pain with a deep trust in God’s presence and love in our ivies. For many, this can be very difficult since it takes a lot of courage to actually face the situation one is in and to look beyond the inner landscape of suffering. When Jesus made this statement: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” He meant what he said. The only way to experience His rest is to enter into the desert and be ready to allow Jesus to show how true to His word He actually is. We can easily make ‘God’ into some sort of abstract concept with no real substance. On the Christian path, it is the Incarnation (God tabernacles with us) that gives a gut-experiencing taste of God’s intimacy with us. God’s so-called absence, is really a very deep presence. God is one with us, we just have to wake up to that reality. Anxiety and depression, each has their own challenges. These hurdles are unique to each person, though there are always basic struggles that are universal. When this is kept in mind, we can be saved from feeling totally isolated from others. Anxiety and depression are very common, which does not in any way lessen their impact on not only those who suffer in this manner, but also on loved ones, friends, and work as well. What do I mean by embracing the situation? It is not giving up or becoming passive, but in living out one's faith at its deepest level. It will also deepen our spirituality, as well as make it simpler and more childlike. To become childlike in one’s faith is not as easy as it may sound. What comes naturally to small children at their best, takes a great deal of healing and purification for adults. The concept of being powerless is often misunderstood, which is understandable. Power means to control, to be in charge, to be on top of things. So the lack of power is looked upon as being powerless. However, there is another way for the concept to actually be empowering. We are called to be more conscious of the need for grace in our lives. Not only from God which comes from developing a deep, loving, trusting relationship, but also with our need of others, and the humility to seek out help. Jesus commands us to love ourselves, to love others, and of course above all to Love God. When we understand our dignity, our worth, our gifts, etc., it is then that we can allow our fragile egos to be challenged and to grow. It not always about ‘understanding’, but simply living through the day,, and to be mindful of our faith and what it offers us. It is by choice that we allow healing to happen, not by seeking total control over what we are struggling with. We need to loosen up, to let go, and the patience to be willing to work through the process that we are called to live out, and yes endure..-Br.MD
  22. 1 point
    I had my 2nd Covid vaccine shot today. It went well, and I made an interesting observation: when the pharm tech did the inoculation, I barely felt the needle. But four weeks ago, when I got my first inoculation, a different pharm tech practically shoved that needle into my right clavicle. Conclusion: when it comes to inoculations, some pharm techs are more aggressive than others. Just before leaving, I happened to glance at my paperwork and notice they’d misspelled the name of the street I live on. Somehow, instead of Union Avenue, they had me living on Ybuib Avenue. I mean, that’s gotta be a World Champion typo. I pointed it out to a staff member, and she corrected my computer records. I had planned another long walk at Lake Anita to elevate my heart rate and insure the nanochips were evenly distributed, but first I stopped at McDonald’s for a Double Quarter-Pounder with cheese. Mmm... I don’t know what it is about those big greasy cheeseburgers, but they’re seriously the high point of my culinary week. It was a beautiful day at Lake Anita: partly cloudy skies, light breeze, low 70s. While walking the trail, I crossed paths with an elderly woman walking a beautiful dog: a black pitbull mix with brown stripes running through his fur. I stopped and said to the lady, “Beautiful dog!” She was delighted. Apparently, I hadn’t washed all the cheeseburger grease off my hands because when I reached out my hand to pet the dog his eyes lit up and he started licking my fingers just like I do when I’m eating fried chicken. It was hilarious, but maybe a bit embarrassing too. In the future, I’ll take greater care in washing my hands thoroughly with soap and water instead of those flimsy McDonald’s napkins.
  23. 1 point
    Haunted Homeless Camps, Sacramento, CA Paul Dale Roberts, Ufologist Halo Paranormal Investigations *Snip* Ghosts are everywhere. I will explain later in this article. Sometimes, when I am watching Ancient Aliens or Secrets of Skinwalker Ranch, this commercial pops up: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iey7_N_mEx4 - Yes, it is a promotional commercial for California. They always show you the best of California and do not show you the thousands of homeless camps throughout the state. I take public transportation to work. I drive my car to the Franklin lightrail station which is about 8 minutes away from my house. I then ride the lightrail to Del Paso/Arden lightrail station and catch the bus 113 to my job. When taking public transportation, you meet all kinds of characters and many of those characters will sit right next to you and strike up a conversation. A lot of people that take public transportation are homeless. I am a social person, so if someone talks to me, I will respond. On one particular day, I heard 3 homeless people talk about how their homeless camp is haunted by Don "the Belly" Vanzant. When I overheard this conversation, I had to get right in the middle of their conversation. I asked...."who is Don "the Belly" Vanzant? This is where I will explain that ghosts are everywhere. Read on.... Luis, who does not want to be fully identified says that Don was a friend that stayed in the homeless camp with them. Don was a severe alcoholic and any spare change he would find, he would go out and buy some cheap wine like MD 20/20 known as Maddog or Thunderbird, Night Train Express and Boone's Farm. Yes, Don was known to be a wino. Don had a huge belly and that is where he got his nickname "the Belly". Don in 2018, died of alcohol poisoning. Luis now tells me that when they start a camp fire, Don will appear in the smoke. There has been times when Don was seen as a shadow on the tent and when Luis or someone else opened up the tent there was no one there. They have been touched by Don. Don was known to pat someone on the back hard, if he liked something they did, like if someone gave him some wine. Luis and another homeless camper named Sonny Logan said that on a few occasions Don the ghost has pat them hard on their back. I asked Luis if he wanted me to send Don to the light and Luis says he and his fellow homeless campers can deal with Don being around. Luis says he is Catholic and has access to holy water at a Catholic Church in downtown Sacramento, if things became too annoying with their dead friend, they will then send him to the light. Luis also told me that many homeless camps are haunted, because homeless are constantly dying in the streets. Luis tells me that he has had homeless friends die of Methamphetamine overdoses, heart attacks, succumbing to the elements, untreated cancer, old age, alcohol and other drugs. Luis says that he had two homeless friends that were murdered by teenagers, that bashed their heads in with baseball bats. Luis says that many homeless people can tell me stories of hauntings at campsites. Luis says..."that the homeless wandered around aimlessly while alive and they wander around aimlessly in death." Luis is correct, I have actually received phone calls from the homeless that want Halo Paranormal Investigations to conduct a cleansing at their haunted campsite. I have done a few and at times I will provide them the information, so they can cleanse their own campsite. One campsite that I conducted a Roman Catholic cleansing was in downtown Sacramento. The homeless man named Eddy called me and said his friend died at the campsite from Covid-19 complications. Eddy said he called him a friend, but he was obnoxious when he was alive and he is still obnoxious while dead. Eddy says that his so called friend pulls his hair, sits on his chest while he is trying to sleep, etc. I helped Eddy out and conducted the Roman Catholic cleansing and Eddy hasn't had any problems since. The statistics are high in regard to the deaths of the homeless. Here in Sacramento in 2018, 132 homeless people died on the streets. In 2019, 138 homeless died in the streets. Yes, ghosts are everywhere. Now to change the subject just slightly. While riding on the lightrail, I overheard a lightrail security guard say that the Florin Road lightrail station is haunted. The security guard has said that some people have been touched, the lights flicker, disembodied voices are heard. Why would the lightrail stations be haunted? Easy...lightrail vs. human. When a human is hit by a lightrail, they are killed instantly. There are deaths all the time at lightrail stations. A 70 year old man was killed by a lightrail at College Greens; there was a recent murder at the Florin Road station; 3 boys were horse playing by the lightrail and 2 of the boys pushed the 3rd boy into the oncoming lightrail, killing him instantly; 65 year old man hit by lightrail on Fruitridge lightrail station in 2017; in 2015 there were 5 lightrail vs. human fatalities, another citizen killed by lightrail at Folsom Blvd and Coloma Road. So, as you can see many of the lightrail stations have faced death and because of that, there are probably some very haunted lightrail stations. Here is an example of a haunted lightrail station, that I wrote a few years back called Slapper: The Phantom of Akalai Flats/La Valentina: beforeitsnews.com/paranormal/2021/05/slapper-the-phantom-of-akalai-flatsla-valentina-revised-2553349.html
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    JUNE NEWSLETTER Monastery Retreat House Newsletter June 2021 Life at the Monastery “Although the life of a person is in a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God.” — Pope Francis Hello Dear Friends, Well June is here. The year of 2021 has now entered middle age and is moving rapidly towards 2022. We are hoping to reopen the Retreat House in September, God willing! At this time we are planning a deep cleaning, to get the Retreat House ready to receive guests again. A building being unused for over a year does not just sit idle, but as we all know everything moves towards chaos if left untended. Our weekends in September are already full. We have Cursillos scheduled for two weekends, as well as two different AA groups. So we will have availability for personal retreats during the week only throughout the month of September. As we have all walked through this last year together, here at the monastery we have come to understand even more profoundly the gift of silence. With that in mind as we open up again, we are going to ask all of our retreatants to please observe this wonderful gift of silence. In the past we have not always strictly adhered to the silence, yet that is actually what people are seeking when they come here. So, when guests come on a private retreat we are going to request silence during their time with us. As for groups we will allow them to choose what works best for their group. I would like to share with you something I have come to understand in my spiritual journey. As we progress in our Spiritual Life, it is surprising to us at times that we seem to be getting worse, not making any progress at all. When in reality we are just growing in self-knowledge. It is during these times we are learning to grow deeper in understanding of ourselves. The weeds and the wheat become more apparent because our inner conflict can be more keenly felt. Do not fear this self-knowledge, for it is one of the reasons we can open our hearts to the Holy Spirit. We can only be healed of what we are conscious of. Humility allows the heart to open without fear of rejection. In order to move more deeply into intimacy with God we have to choose to trust, for trust and fear cannot coexist. Either one or the other will take precedence. St. Bernard was big on getting acquainted with our inner world (our heart) because when we pass over all will be revealed, so best to begin now. It is a great gift of the Holy Spirit to open up our souls to what it needs in the way of mercy and healing. The fire we walk through is the fire of Infinite Love. I believe St. Paul says it well: For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3: 11-15) The fire of God’s love is a healing fire, it is not to be feared, for all healing can cause suffering, but a suffering towards greater life, freedom and love. - Br.MD Zoom Retreats – June Anger, Resentment, & Forgiveness - Saturday June 5 – Br. Mark Anxiety & Depression - Saturday June 26 – Br. Mark To register please call our office at 770-760-0959, Monday – Friday 8:00-1:00. We are asking for a donation of $45.00 for our retreats. To see the rest of our Zoom Retreats for the year visit us at www.trappist.net . Highlight – Br. Callistus Crachlow Br. Callistus Crachlow was born October 13, 1948 in Trinidad and he is the oldest of 10 children. He made his Solemn Profession April 14, 2006. Br. Callistus wears many hats here at the Monastery and presently he is our Procurator. He also spends his time working in public relations and fundraising for the community. He is Mass Secretary, and when our Food Bank needed a new manager, he stepped up and took on that position. Br. Cal, as we call him, is always ready with a smile and has many talents. We are so blessed to have him as part of our community. Our Abbey Store is now online, besides some delectable delights, we have many items that would make perfect gifts for those special people in your life. Visit our web site at Holy Spirit Monastery Gifts To place an order from Our Abbey Store you can reach us by telephone at: 1-800-592-5203 OR Local 770-929-3448 or email us at monasterygifts@trappist.net. Reflections Letting go of the stones “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7 Around this time of the year, there will be graduation speeches all across the country. If this year is like last year, and the years before, many of the commencement addresses will urge the graduates to be men and women of vision. It may well be that a speaker or two will invoke a message of Robert F. Kennedy so as to inspire a sea of graduates to see a better life for all and to do what needs to be done to make it a reality: “Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.” Listening to these words and others like them, I imagine that more than a few students set their sights on future projects that will make a better world. They are encouraged to follow their dreams and make them come true. But there is another, no less important way of seeing ourselves and the world. It is a way of seeing God’s dream for us, and not our own. In a recent homily, Brother Peter Damien, one of our transitional deacons, mentioned how we are called to see with the eyes of God. To see with the eyes of God is to see a person as he or she truly is beneath appearances, biases and a prejudice that blinds. Consider the story of the Gospel in which an adulterous woman is condemned to death by stoning. The woman is saved by the intervention of Jesus who exposes the sinfulness of those about to kill her. They drop the stones from their hands and walk away. There is that saying that some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Each of us are born with a stone in our hand, equipped from day one to hurl it at anyone we perceive as different, a threat, an enemy. The stone could be slander, gossip, hatred, indifference —traits which are the root causes of human estrangement. Becoming a monk does not mean that we leave our stones at the cloister gate when we enter this life. Hopefully, this life puts us on a path on which we realize we have stones in our hands. We gradually learn ways to avoid throwing them. We learn in a monastery that countries, cultures, institutions and individuals are all victims of blindness. We just do not see each other well. And our blindness is often legitimized by those who stand to benefit from it. In this monastic community life, we can help each other see the goodness in each other, the truth embodied by each other, the presence of the God who sees through us into each other. We are not about seeing a way to revamp a society, or build a great bridge or city. We are here in this tiny plot of land tending as best we can to the growth of each other and our guests. That takes time. And learning to see as God sees takes time. There will come a day when we are able to let go of the stones in our hands and walk more lightly on this path to the kingdom. Until that day comes, we persevere, knowing both the feelings of clenching the stones and letting them go. With the grace that only God can give, a time will come when the stones fall from our hands, never again to be picked up. ++James Stephen Behrens, O.C.S.O, Honey Creek Woodlands – A Natural Burial Ground At the Monastery of the Holy Spirit The Monastery community offers a quiet and beautiful resting place for people of all faiths, as well as those who have struggled to find faith. We are pleased to provide our land and promise to reverently protect it for those who share it with us. If you have any questions or would like to set up a tour, please call 770-483-7535. Our hours are 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM Monday-Sunday
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    Uneasiness in prayer You think that your inability to pray without distractions is an obstacle to My grace. Were that so, I would not have been able to sanctify a great number of those whom My Church honors as saints. Distractions, when they are not entertained willfully, are no obstacle to My work in a soul. My grace passes through them to touch the center of the soul wherein all is still and in readiness for My healing and sanctifying touch. Come to Me A Benedictine Monk. In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart--The Journal of a Priest at Prayer (p. 126). Angelico Press. Kindle Edition. ++++++++++ Christians do not always agree about the nature of salvation. Some believe that ‘once saved, always saved’, though I see no scriptural foundation for this. True there are ‘quotes’ that are beaten to death over this issue, while at the same time ignoring others. There are some who believe that one can lose one’s salvation in an instant, which I do not believe is scriptural either. However, since we are free, at least free enough to be held responsible for our lives that it should give pause on what is the nature of our lives, and what it is about. It can’t be helped, but we bring our own human psychology into play when we seek to understand how the Lord will judge us. Which can be daunting, at least for others, those we judge. There is a lot of condemnation going on in the Christian churches, and those who sling have what they believe good reasons for it. Yet we are told not to judge the souls of others. In 1 Corinthians 4:4 Paul has this to say: “I am aware of nothing against myself and I feel blameless, but I am not by this acquitted [before God]. It is the Lord who judges me.” There are some who would use this to bring about a great deal of fear, yet that is because we can place ourselves in the place of God who judges the way we would, though in a more powerful way. Our existence is not our own. There are no self-made men or women, but people who develop gifts that they have received that hopefully make this world a better place. We are loved into existence, each of us is God’s child, and yes as Jesus said, the Father will prune away all that is not fruit-bearing. None are turned away, though there are some who do turn away in freedom. When I pray, it is hard to let go of preoccupation with how my prayer is going. I make God into a bigger me, but not that much different when I get into this mindset. For I do have lots of distractions, and not all of them are pretty. Anger, lust, boredom, restlessness, all come up, yet grace keeps me coming back to the presence of God. On other days, I pray what I perceive as ‘better’, and that God, the one in my imagination is more pleased with my good days and not as pleased with my so-called bad days. Yet I doubt that is true, for God sees me, knows me, understands me, and I am thankful that he will judge me, and not someone else like me. It is the same for everyone…..everyone. In my soul, mercy and justice can be at odds, with God that is not so. I know little about myself and what drives me, yet God sees it all and still loves me. This can be very freeing and save me from a great deal of silly preoccupation that only leads to navel-gazing. We are called to be child-like. To be naked before God, to run towards God who, yes, is our judge. Yet when reading the story about the Prodigal Son, the only thing to fear is ourselves. God’s will and God’s love are infinite, we are finite, we all wrestle with God, and in that, we are wounded. So keep wrestling, praying, and don’t worry, just trust one day at a time.—Br.MD
  26. 1 point
    Stories to deepen faith in God Peter is a good friend of mine. He works lin video and is starting to post videos on the experience that people have that deepen their faith. The one here is actually him sharing one such experience. If you like it, I hope that some of you will subscribe to his channel. All toll, there are three up now. I am sure that they will only get better. Peace Br. Mark
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    Identity is important January 25, 1937. Today my soul is steeped in bitterness. O Jesus, O my Jesus, today everyone can add to my cup of bitterness. It makes no difference whether they be friend or foe, they can all inflict suffering on me. And You, O Jesus, are bound to give me strength and power in these difficult moments. O Blessed Host, support me and seal my lips against all murmuring and complaint. When I am silent, I know I shall be victorious (Diven Mercy Diary) ++++++++++ There are days when I feel like my mind is a hornet’s nest of thoughts, fears, and self-pity. There is not often a trigger, at least, not one that I can point out. It is something that propels itself up from my deep unconscious. When I allow this situation to overwhelm me I do in some respects drown in it and the outer world is painted with these irrational fears and emotions. I have learned from a young age, that it is best not to allow these inner ‘demons’ to control how I act on the outside. When young I have no doubt that I did repress a lot and only let what I could handle to the surface. Repression does serve a purpose, a good one for it can keep one more or less even-keeled. Yet there comes a time when what is kept under lock and key needs to be dealt with. Identity is important. What I think I am, what I am made of etc. I do believe that the reason the Lord has always bugged me, never leaving me alone is because for some reason I am very fragile in many ways that are often hidden from others. As well as from myself. I have learned not to really identify with any of the deep swimming ‘leviathans’ that dwell in my unconscious. I also believe that this is common for most people. There are just many ways to deal with them. We call it self-medication. The only problem with that is that there can be no growth, or maturity gained because we need to learn to deal with what “lies underneath”. It is a rough ride, but the ride gets even more raucous if we do not learn to deal with it. The inner journey for me, and I guess for most people who seek God, come to the realization that this is a lifelong task. It gets easier only because there is some sort of deep healing that allows one to stay afloat. Being open to the transcendent invites this inner struggle because we learn that none of us are alone in this, and that the Infinite Mind gives us grace and strength, as well as the ability to trust. Trust can lift us up over the waves and we learn to listen to the “voice of God’ and not to our own inner compulsive ramblings. I have come to realize that each of us even if not believed, is a beloved child of God. The love of self, my love of myself is not a straight shot but one the go left and right, and sometimes down the middle. Yet it is grace that keeps me more or less on track. This is because I have to use my ‘will’ to ‘choose’ to trust and move forward, no matter my inner climate. One mystic was told by the Blessed Mother “that each human being is an entire universe before God” I believe this points to the dignity and worth of every human being and why Jesus told us to love as the Father does. It is grace, freely given that allows that. One day when a young monk, perhaps in my early 30’s, I was taking a stroll slowly saying my Rosary, when suddenly a deep silence enveloped me and a voice said: “Mark, my son, how can you fear when surrounded by so much beauty”? That did cause me to pause, and I have never forgotten that very simple message. From God? From myself? Both are right I believe. I do know that at the ripe ‘old’ age of 72 I am more and more noticing beauty in the simplest things around me. A plant, or animal, our fountain in our cloister garden, and then the beauty of people. So growth is slow, perhaps it was that little exchange that planted the seed for my appreciation of beauty to slowly grow over the decades. Life is good, the journey necessary and very rough, but trust is always an alternative to bitterness and despair. It is a choice, an often hard one, for it is easier to allow the negative to overwhelm us. Yet once we take deep root in God, we begin to find the strength, the will to continue and not to give up. Then we become real pilgrims.-Br.MD
  28. 1 point
    Powerful Illusions “Through my rising from the dead, offer the resurrection of your own body at the general resurrection. Offer the resurrection of each member of your family, of all those who have passed before you and those who will outlive you, and of all the people you have ever known—all of them. Let them be like a procession around my resurrection for the glory of God the Father.” Bossis, Gabrielle. He and I (Kindle Locations 1341-1344). Pauline Books and Media. Kindle Edition ++++++++++ I believe that there are two illusions that are powerful operating forces in our lives. One is that we will live forever, that death is for everyone else, but not for ‘me’. The other is that we are isolated, alone, and on our own. It is true that I often meditate on my death, yet it as an observer, I am watching. At my death, I will be experiencing what is going, not observing. To actually ‘believe’ I will die is really not that easy. Death is final, once I am gone, I will never return to this world, and in the end will be forgotten like the many millions that have gone before me. How I look at death will have a large impact on my life, if I think about it regularly. Since death is not a pleasant subject, even someone who is 99 years old may live as if he or she will never die. Yet even if this is true, we all know that everyone dies. One of the gifts from seeking (trying) to live a deep prayer life is that the feeling of being alone is not actually true. To have faith in God is to understand this truth: “In Him, we live and move and have our being”. We all swim in the presence of God, and in that is our connection with others. Yet it takes ‘faith’ to deepen one’s awareness of that often overlooked reality. Yet, the illusion is there, but it helps to know that all those we have met, those we know, our ancestors make up a beautiful tapestry in the eyes of God. To not believe that, to place, one faith that in reality we are each trapped in our own subjectivity forever, bears its own kind of fruit. In the NDE experience which is a subject that I love to study and ponder over, does in fact point to a broader reality, one that is actually mind-boggling. One aspect is that everyone we meet, even for only a moment remains with us on some level, the connection cannot be broken. I believe that the Resurrection of Christ Jesus also points to our deep interdependence. For he stated that he can be found in the least. In fact, it is important for our own hearts and soul to understand that. Each human being is connected to Christ, he is our brother, as well as High Priest as stated in the book of Hebrews chapter 8. So pray with faith, with a heart that is steadfast even in the midst of weakness, failure, fatigue, and suffering. Go deeper in and higher up. Prayer is the door, grace is the key, and Jesus never stops knocking on all hearts.-Br.MD
  29. 1 point
    Changing Moods Our ever-changing moods teach us to be centered and to be responsible in how we treat others, that is how we grow-Br.MD
  30. 1 point
    In the places where miracles are won, in the place where delivery is met, and sent from, words resound, silently. In the places within, in the infinity of distances gathered, the skies of light and darkness, my faith is renowned, sounding like a gong in heaven. You have heard me singing. You have heard my song, the swish and thump of my dance. You have seen my rise from death, my trudge along the waters. Tears of relief, have wept at my mirage. When the sheaves have fallen and the monarchs cluster jovially and the skies darken with the caws of my mystery, my phantoms come to assist. I am a rainbow, gorgeousness embarked upon terror. I scatter the seas as the wind whips through my hair. I feel the pleasure of knowing, a golden glow within my heart, a torch for the monsters, prey now for the more ravenous: the righteous. Food for my soul. Sifted with a blade and cut into the old soil, I am loose, looser, wise and seen. I hide in what is visible. My pain doesn’t leave me, and yet I create extasy, contentment - instantly summoning response to every notion, curiosity and stage. The earth flocks to me. The center of my heart is gravity. I spin and radiate shockwave. I am a powerful magnet, pushing and pulling with great intensity. Not everything can cling to me, but what does… cannot leave without a fight. I am still, and dark and meditative. The ocean in the palm of my hand, I let it trail away, that I may be sprinkled by my own essence, gathered in vessels. I do not aim to scorch or flood, so I exploit and use the seasons, drawing the heat for power and the water for a rainy day. These are my utensils and my art. I do not own my own creations. From heaven, the Gods can see them rising, crying, smiling (as bright as the perpetually waning sun), their self inflicted edges contour the fine beauty of the roughness I have drafted.
  31. 1 point
    Perceptions When talking to people about their inner lives and how they pray and process, I find that I have talked to no one who fits into any kind of preconceived all size fits all spirituality. Each person is unique in how they deal with the mystery of who they are and how they relate to God. I believe that the concept of God is like the concept people will have towards any public figure. It varies from one person to another. So perceptions of the public figure will be positive, others negative and still possibly the majority will feel indifference. Yet in spite of this, the public figure will exist in his own right, no matter how others relate or think of him or her. Our perceptions of others change as we change. That change can come from the fact that we may develop some sort of personal relationship with the public figure and learn that many perceptions are based on other relationships, as well as what one is told or taught. The more we know another human being, the deeper the mystery gets, until we learn that they do not fit into any kind of box that we try to put them in. The same goes for anyone. --BrMD
  32. 1 point
    MERCY SUNDAY The receiving and giving love and mercy We love always to our fullest capacity. Though at first, it may be hesitant and fearful, to open up to love takes courage. We also love out of need and of course instinct. However, as we mature and our ability to have an open heart develops, we can slowly learn to love others for themselves alone; as rare as that may be. This week in the Catholic liturgy we celebrate ‘Mercy Sunday’. A feast that focuses on the depth of God’s love for us, and the healing aspect of his mercy that is open to everyone who seeks it in their lives. Love is a form of ‘seeing’, mercy is its fruit. Infinite love and mercy see us all to our very depths, and in that seeing seeks only to heal and lift us up. Mercy is the way in which God shows love.out mercy is controlling and in the end self-serving. Sister Faustina’s diary shows us to what depths God’s mercy is manifested towards all of mankind. Below is a quote from two different parts of her diary and one from the Prophet Isaiah. “Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet…The greatest sinners would achieve great sanctity, if only they would trust in My mercy. The very inner depths of My being are filled to overflowing with mercy, and it is being poured out upon all I have created. (Diary, 699, 1784) “Though your sins are as scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they are crimson red, they may become white as wool”. (Isaiah 1:18) Also in this devotion we are called upon to pray for all of mankind, for mercy upon all, it is part of the vocation of being a Christian, to develop deep love and trust in Christ Jesus, and to pray for the highest good for others…..which I believe is the receiving of mercy-Br.MD
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    Monastery Retreat House Newsletter April 2021 Life at the Monastery “Rest is in Him alone. Man knows no peace in the world; but he has no disturbance when he is with God.” ― Bernard of Clairvaux, On Loving God Hello My Friends, I would like to wish you all a blessed Easter, from everyone here at the Monastery! This is the time of year to really spend some time pondering, about what Easter really means to us as Christians. As Jesus went through Holy Week, it was an experience too terrible for us to actually comprehend. A great deal of human suffering can push us to the limit, as it did Jesus. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked the Father to remove him from what he was about to endure. Something unbearable, he sweated blood. He received silence, yet he abandoned himself to the Father’s will. In the end, it seemed as if he was defeated, yet he truly rose from the dead! We all share in that mystery. So trust in the Father as Jesus did, and go forward with courage, being rooted in the hope that Jesus brings to us. We just had our community retreat, through Zoom of course. It was a good experience to be at the other end of a retreat under the Zoom format. The retreat was from Monday to Saturday. Our meals were pick up, instead of our normal gathering together and our liturgy was simplified for the whole week. The only exception was the Feast of St. Joseph. In the retreat, one big factor was to learn to live in our hearts. In that, we grow in self-knowledge, and in our need as well for mercy. The road of self-knowledge is not an easy one, but we do it here, or if not, in a process of purgation the Church calls purgatory. When we pray we get in touch with our hearts, its wounds, as well as with the gifts that we have been blessed to receive. The Lord heals others when we live out our gifts. He reaches us when he shows us our need for healing and mercy. The monks in the Infirmary, Fr. Matt, Fr. Tom Francis, Fr. Eduardo, and Br. Elias are doing well. Fr. Tom continues to attend all of the offices and works in our Bakery, as well as helping out with the kitchen. Br. Elias is back to normal and able to get around easily. He continues to give Zoom retreats, and I have to say, is one of our best speakers. Fr. Matt and Fr. Eduardo tend to be in good spirits and are a joy to talk to, as well as to take care of. Matt is still pretty independent, though he cannot get around like he used to. Fr. Eduardo is also doing well, but due to his head injury a few years ago, can go through episodes of confusion, but they do not last long. I tell him when he is confused, that we carry his memories for him, and will make sure he knows what is going on. Hopefully, in the next few months, our new choir stales will be ready to go into our Abbey Church. Also, we are going to have bathrooms placed in the back section. One for men and one for women. It will be separated by a glass patrician, and air-conditioned. It is still up in the air if we will ever be able to air-condition the whole church. We are still in lockdown here at the Monastery, but receiving the Vaccine has changed how that is lived out in different ways. We are starting to make doctors’ appointments, and think about opening up hopefully by fall. How we have retreats will most likely change in certain areas. Though not thought out completely at this time. We will most likely have smaller numbers of retreatants when we are open for those who just want some time to themselves. Also, silence during those private retreats will be central for those who come. Then we will have groups come out, and it will be up to them to work out what they want. We are looking forward to having the Cursillo back, as well as those who come for AA retreats. It will take some preparation to get the retreat house back in order, but that should run smoothly. At this time, because of the different variants of the Covid-19 virus, the future is still iffy, though hopefully, the vaccines will be able to handle the many different variants that keep showing up. It is a time to stay focused and not get careless about how we protect ourselves. Hopefully, even those who do not use a mask will understand the importance of distancing. So far there are 537,282 American Citizens who have died. That is no small number and should be a cause for concern. So please take care of yourselves. Even if ‘you’ think this ‘crisis’ is overblown, you can still get the virus and be one of those who succumb. Live for today, seek God, help others, and be thankful. Being a pilgrim is not easy, finding a place of rest may not be possible, yet in our relationship with God, the deeper the trust, the less the fear, the more abundant the joy even in the midst of tribulation.--Br.MD ++++++++++ Highlight - Br. Michael Lautieri Brother Michael Lautieri was born January 27, 1944 in Rhode Island. He Entered the Monastery in 1996, and made his final Profession 2001. Brother Michael, came to the monastery after working in his native Rhode Island as a travel agent and teacher. In addition to being a spiritual director and an addiction counselor, Brother Michael calls himself the monastery’s social media monk, sharing uplifting quotes and updates on Facebook and other platforms. He also has been Vocations Director, Manager of the Abbey Store, and one of our favorite Retreat Presenters. Br. Michael is a kind and thoughtful person, with a ready smile and known for his love of pistachio ice cream! We are so blessed to have him as part of our community. ++++++++++ Reflections Easter Morning It is early Easter morning. We were up at 3:45 AM for the Vigil service, which started just after 4:00AM. It went very well. Francis Michael gave the homily. He mentioned Mel Gibson’s film and how easy it is to film suffering – for it is something with which we are all, sadly, familiar. We know suffering and death. But, he continued, it is impossible to “film” the Resurrection, the very gift of God to us through Jesus. Yet the Resurrection is the event that pours life into the world – eternal life, the very life of God. Francis Michael then paused and said, “It is a mystery.” And indeed it is. Our lives are of mystery and this morning we lit an Easter fire in the darkness of night to symbolize the light, the fire of God’s love that is more enduring, more real, than whatever darkness we know and fear. He then spoke of the gift of freedom, the freedom to love as God loves and how God has given each of us that gift. For some reason, as I listened to Francis Michael, the sense of “way” came to mind. His words put me on a road. It was beautiful to hear words that call us to a way. We all need words to bring us back to who we really are in Christ. Without such words, we can easily lose our way, our very sense of self. Life is a way of loving, or at least that is what I heard and experienced this morning. The words of the homily fit well with the words of the liturgy, the hymns, and the warm Easter wishes that we exchanged with each other after Mass as we shared breakfast in the refectory. It is all of a Way, a Way of Mystery to which God calls us through His Word and through each other. So I think of Roads and Ways. I have heard of Desolation Row, Grace Boulevard, Crossroads Junction and Easy Street and have traveled some of these and more. But I have never heard of a Resurrection Road, or a Mystery Way. Yet isn’t it a mystery that we walk these every day and when we wander there are words of love and hope to call us back. The roads are toll-free. They stretch far, far into Eternity. God is good. We celebrate this day when he laid down and revealed a highway for wayward humanity. There is room for everyone who was ever born and who shall yet be. The only burden is the light load of human love, which becomes even lighter as we help each other bear it. It is the way things are, on Mystery Way. Well, have to get a move on. It is time to hit the Road. A Blessed Easter to you. ++James Stephen Behrens, O.C.S.O, April 15, 2004
  34. 1 point
    Holy Thursday 2021 Holy Thursday is when for many Christians, Jesus instituted the Eucharist. A sacrament that shows the absolute intimacy that God has with his creation, presented to us in sacramental form. It is a controversial sacrament and many mock it. For Christians who belong to the Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox traditions however it is central to their (my) worship and devotion. Bread and Wine, something ordinary and common, yet it becomes under that form, the Body and Blood of Christ. It is very unspiritual and for many and seems unenlightened. Yet it shows for those who believe the oneness and love that God has for us his children. I can’t explain it really. The church uses the word “Transubstantiation”, meaning that the substance is changed but the physical qualities remain the same. The only way to perhaps understand is to live a Eucharistic life, to experience the healing and power that comes from the devout receiving of this precious sacrament. Our faith is all about becoming more human, not less. It is love and the sacrifice that love demands that makes us human. It is not power, which seems to be the driving force of most of what goes on in the world and causes so much suffering. To control, shame, to coerce and punish, is the way that the world acts and the church can often fall into the same traps, which is worse really and only opens itself up to well deserved scorn and derision. Jesus also washed the feet of his followers. An act of great humility and love, showing us something else about God’s love and humility towards his creation (just as the Eucharist does); taking the form of a servant he showed the 12 the meaning of true spiritual leadership. Jesus tells us it is about service, love, humility…. the will to power has nothing to do with the kingdom of God. I am neither humble nor yet a servant, and I am still in the grip of wanting to control and make the universe revolve around me; it is second nature. I believe that this reality, points out for me, why the death to self is necessary in order to attain the freedom to become free and loving children of God. When I ponder this, I understand the need of the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ, though the mystery of it all is still far from my understanding. I just try to live it, fail, but it does not matter, I just get back up. I am quite good at that, getting back up.—Br.MD
  35. 1 point
    A sign of openness The inner struggle is a sign of openness to change and growth. When there is none, then it could mean deep healing after a long inner journey, or simply not caring.... or a lack of insight that is necessary for any kind of life that leads somewhere. Anywhere that is not filled with the will to power, of trying to fix and control those who are around.... be it family or the workplace in the vain attempt to find some peace.-Br.MD
  36. 1 point
    Alien Lives Matter - It's Okay to Be Grey (Book Review) Authors: Timothy Green Beckley and Sean Casteel Publisher: Inner Light / Global Communications Reviewed by: Paul Dale Roberts, HPI's Esoteric Detective Comments: First off, this book is THICK! 538 pages filled with interesting stories about the UFO phenomena!! You have the legendary authors Timothy Green Beckley and Sean Casteel that put this masterpiece together! Timothy starts off with a true story about a raccoon hunter hunting these cute little creatures, when all of a sudden he hears a buzzing sound that sounded like a thousand bees! A gold colored saucer-shaped UFO lands nearby. He encounters an alien wearing a black tight-fitting suit with goggles and a helmet on. This alien had black curly hair and asked him some strange questions. A very intriguing story with a Close Encounter of the Third Kind! In this book you get information about reports from 217 B.C. in which round shields were seen in the sky. In 104 B.C. Pliny the Elder talks about flaming spears and oblong shields in the sky. Remember in those days, they didn't have the same terminology as we do. They can only describe objects in the sky as something they are familiar with, such as shields, flaming swords, round shields, etc. Sean Casteel talks about..."Will the Gods of Old be Returning in Full Force Soon?" In this book find out what Antonio Attansio and Franco Prezioso (two fisherman) saw in the water. I will give you a hint, the water seemed to boil, with huge bubbles 7 feet in diameter, then they saw an underwater beam of light...well, you got the idea. You have to get this book to find out the rest of the story. Further in this THICK book, you will learn about the late John Salter, Jr, a former professor and civil rights activist that had his own close encounter with friendly aliens and he discusses after this encounter, his body changed in many ways, more adapt to immunities, fast healing factor and more! Get the scoop on Farrakhan's UFO vision! Did this really happen or was it a vision implanted in his mind by extraterrestrials? Another thing I love about this book are the many, many photos and drawings. When you get a breather reading the stories in this book, you can relax and look at some of the visuals. This book is like a Summer blockbuster movie unfolding in my hands! There is a cool drawing from a Japanese magazine depicting an alien with punk rock hair and a tight fitting suit on. One of the photos I enjoyed in this book is of black helicopters escorting a UFO after a cattle mutilation. Tell me that there is nothing going on. The government knows, but is keeping us in the dark! This book really opens up your eyes to the fact that we are not alone. There is a lot of things going on here on Earth and many species of aliens are visiting us. The aliens have been here since the dawn of mankind. This book is knowledge that has no boundaries. You will get a universal perspective of what the UFO phenomena is all about. I highly recommend this book, get it now, you will be happy that you did!
  37. 1 point
    Live it, trust it God is love, compassion, and patient. Read the story of the Prodigal son, absorb the message, live it, trust it-Br. MD
  38. 1 point
    Self-Reflection It is hard to understand that what we see in others is a reflection of ourselves. Compassion/empathy/mercy, the only cure-Br.MD
  39. 1 point
    Angry Colors Without inner peace, we cannot see what is before us. We experience only our agitation and paint the world in angry colors.-Br.MD
  40. 1 point
    Just Today Today Lord is all that I have. Help me to get through it with faith and trust intact, and knowing that all things pass-MD
  41. 1 point
    THANKS, UM! As I move on and search for another community, I’m reminded just how special UM is. There are other places to discuss or argue passionately about politics and world issues but they have a level of coarseness that gets in the way of deeper discussions and give and take. Perhaps that’s a perception based on being the newbie but this place, even with some members who seem to enjoy being smug or vicious, is still superior in many ways. Unfortunately, I also see that coarsening beginning here as well and don’t want to be in any way responsible for causing that to increase any further. I’m grateful for the entertainment and the knowledge I’ve gained and the friends I’ve made. My personality tends to be an irritant for many and I recognize that. I don’t apologize but I do understand that it creates a kind of toxicity that generally drags the discourse down in ways that aren’t productive or necessary. Taking a couple of weeks off and watching UM from the outside has made that very clear. The fora that I tend to engage in most are the very ones that I’m passionate about and I cannot self-censor enough not to run afoul of the rules. It just is what it is. Part of the problem is the animosity that has grown over the last few years. I’ve become acutely aware of a novel kind of rage that has taken over our global discussions. I know of no other way to express that. It really IS rage and the only element that has changed has been the insanity over Trump. From the perspective of those who support not only the man but the values he represents for millions of Americans, we see him for what he is. He’s brash, crude, can be extremely petty BUT we have no doubt that he loves America and we cannot understand the level of sheer hate toward him. Most Trump supporters actually have come to believe that the hate is so intense as to be irrational and those who have nurtured that level of hate for 4 years have harmed not only America but their own lives. I think most of his supporters see him as the only one standing up for what America used to be. That stance is in direct opposition to what half of Americans, apparently, now want. The events at the Capitol yesterday have brought some truths into sharper focus and the picture isn’t encouraging. The media hysteria and the Establishment song and dance has taken away the last hope of a peaceful and free America. Those who are rejoicing because this guy is being removed should savor the coming months. They may well be the last even semi-peaceful days for America. BTW, for the faint of heart here who really have a hate for me, or at least for my opinions, that comment wasn’t a threat to anyone. It was just a prediction. It really doesn’t take a genius to see where this leads… Since this will be my last word on UM, I want to make a few predictions and see how close I get to being accurate. Biden will serve less than a full term. Harris will finish his term and possibly be elected for one of her own* (neither of them will actually be in charge) America will surge hard to the Left and will succumb to the “Great Reset” before the next Presidential election. The Democrat Party will hold sway from this point forward due to the illegality, even treason of their members. Mind you, I’m not predicting they will “win” elections. I think that after this election chaos, so many will abandon the idea that their vote matters that it may ensure single party control for the rest of America’s brief time as a free AND unified nation. My guess is that the disaffected will find ways to resist and to protect themselves as best they can. In that surge Left, America as “a nation of laws and not men” will cease to exist. The Data Barons will become an extension of government control by using the info they possess to either convince or cow dissent. The numbers of those who will become angry or disaffected enough to take up arms or to resist in more peaceful ways is not clear to me. I’m 60 and I know how my neighbors and family feel about this but it’s impossible to predict what course the millions who will refuse to cower will decide to take. Primarily because it’s impossible to know how this Communist takeover they refer to as a “Reset”, will leave us. In an effort to accelerate their control, the Left will literally open the flood gates. We will be invaded from the south and that tide of humanity will flow until a kind of equilibrium of misery is achieved at the global level. The irony of this will be lost on many who support the Left. The very foundation of their power has been using government to buy votes with promises of benefits. In a very short time those benefits will end and the restrictions and demands will grow. At some point during this transition there will be state governments that will effectively secede and it’s possible that Federal troops will occupy zones that are critical to the survival of the Communist state formerly known as the U.S. At that point, such troops will no longer be enlistees who actually love America and believe in – or even know of – the Constitution. They will have no concept of patriotism or honor. Brutality will abound. The changes that are coming will be so profound and will happen so rapidly that people will be overwhelmed and left trying to decide where to make a stand. The social media that promised to bring us together will be used to enable government control in nearly every aspect of our lives. Finally… the choice today is simple to define but may be very challenging to act on. THE TIME IS NOW WHO WILL STAND? BEST WISHES TO ALL, SINCERELY. Now I'm off to find other people to annoy or amuse
  42. 1 point
    Dealing with anxiety in a world of insecurity First and foremost, the monk should own nothing in this world, but he should have as his possessions solitude of the body, modesty of bearing,a modulated tone of voice, and a well-ordered manner of speech. He should be without anxiety as to his food and drink, and should eat in silence. Saint Basil ++++++++++ I would like to start off by saying that even though I am a monk. Have been one for 50 years, I am not sure I do any of the above very well. As I age it is getting very hard hiding from myself. When young I had all kinds of ideas of who I was, and now I am finding that most of these ideas are hollow, empty, and based on a fear of shattering my fragile ego. In the USA today, we are in a place that we have not been in for a long time. In the past, we would read of all the horrors in the world happening in other places. Whole countries tied up in civil war, or fighting hunger, or some disease that was ravaging the population. In the USA, we had our problems, but never that bad nor widespread. Perhaps this led to complacency on our part, though if this is so, it was most likely unconscious. Well, l today that is not so. The whole world is in the grip of a pandemic. In the USA, we are seeing wave after wave, and each seems to be worse than the first one. There is a segment of the population that thinks that there is really not much of a problem. That is until they or a loved one becomes a statistic. Until it touches our family and friends, it does not seem to be real. I do believe, however, even those who deny any real problem. May deep within. Still, like the rest of us, who do believe that this pandemic is a real threat, also have some deep-seated anxiety about it. For we really do not know much about this disease, or even how long the vaccine will last. They are also finding that for seniors that efficacy rate is lower for those over 65, I believe. I do not think the lockdown is the best way to handle this. The World Health Origination was very clear on this point, very clear. Yet many people will not take the simple precautions that Fauci is recommending. So because of that, we could reach a death toll of 500,000. Some will say that is not that many in the overall population! Not sure how high a number that will have to go to before some people will listen. Many people have come to regret their take on the pandemic when they actually get sick, and quite a few of them have died. True, we are lucky that the vast majority of people do not die from it, and many do not even get real sick, yet we could go up to 500,000 deaths. Not even considering the toll lit is taking on our first responders. Also, the fact that in some parts of the country hospitals are full, and those who suffer from other ailments will not always get the help they need. I do not obsess over the pandemic, yet perhaps because of age or the fact that I believe that Fauci knows what he is talking about, has led me to be aware of low lying anxiety, which is more likely if I were to feel it in its full force, may well be overwhelming. Let’s hear it for repression. As this wave continues to move forward, many of us are starting to feel its impact, as friends and family are affected. I know more than a few who have died from this disease, and we still have a few months to go, even with the vaccines. There is one good point that has come out of this. Life is now even more precious, and yes more of us know how precarious it is as well. Not just on an intellectual level, but from experience. So when something is precious, it is also more beautiful. I am finding thankfulness for my life, and the life of those I love, and well for the lives of everyone, and that seems to bring out joy. We as a species do not live long, and in that the flavor of life is sweeter, even in the midst of anxiety, fear, pain, doubt, and loneliness. Life is a gift, given to us for a reason. One reason I believe is to stay in hope even when things can feel hopeless. Feelings and emotions change, they are good, but if we are to grow in our humanity, our faith, and in our love of others, we need to learn to embrace it all, It is all good, no matter the appearance and experience. I am not downplaying suffering, I hate suffering, but it is part of life, and even if I do not always understand its purpose, Christ Jesus, I believe gives us insight. All we need do is to ponder his life, death, and resurrection to grow in our understanding of this deep mystery that we will never to the bottom of. God is close, we are never alone, and that takes a deep faith to believe, and live out. God bless us every one!—Br.MD
  43. 1 point
    God’s ways are not ours A prayer made with sleepiness and distraction is no less pleasing to Me than one made in consolations and alertness. Your subjective dispositions do not impede the action of My grace in your soul. Learn, then, to trust in Me to do the things that you cannot do of yourself, and allow Me to work in you secretly, in a manner perceptible to the gaze of My Father, and by the operation of My Holy Spirit. A Benedictine Monk. In Sinu Jesu: When Heart Speaks to Heart --The Journal of a Priest at Prayer (pp. 126-127). Angelico Press. Kindle Edition. ++++++++++ One difficulty in prayer is the understanding that the death to self that Jesus talks about is the fruit of a deepening love and trust in God. Growth is slow for most of us, it is for me. Prayer, will lead us towards the thorny path of self-knowledge. To be unmasked is not a pleasant experience. It is then, in the unmasking, that we need to go deeper into prayer when we feel the least worthy to even attempt to pray. This kind of idea, of only praying when we ‘feel’ good enough is from one’s ego, which wants to keep the status quo, to seek to block any upsetting developments in our souls. Prayer seeks to do the opposite, to shake us up, and in that to be able to make deeper acts of trust in God’s faithfulness to us, even when we can become unfaithful at certain points in our lives. Only in self-knowledge can we look at our true state, and our need for healing and grace. Prayer shows us our lack of love of God, of our using God as some sort of pain-killer, and when that does not seem to work, that is when we are called to deeper trust. God’s ways are not ours. So while praying when tired, or distracted, or very restless, or bored, yet we continue, the root of that is a true love of God. Slowly it is learned that it is true, that in our sufferings we are united to the Crucified/Risen Lord. In that is true freedom. Where we get out of our own way and love God for God’s sake, not for some magical relief from the common, and necessary sufferings that we all encounter. In life and in death we are the Lords. It is in secret that the Lord works, and it is in our growing humility and self-knowledge of our own need of grace that allows us to become ‘willing’, instead of ‘willful’. True humility does not lead to neurotic guilt, but spurs on to trust more, to love more, and to understand that God’s love is not based on our feelings, our successes, but flows from God nature as revealed in the parable/story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) Yes life is hard. We fail. We wander off. We have violent inner emotions that can overwhelm us, but in it all, the Father seeks us, waits for us, and in God there is nothing to fear in any kind of servile manner. What we need to fear is ourselves, and what our choices make us into. We can be burdened with sickness, or fatigue, yet through it all, our simple desire to pray is pleasing to God who knows our hearts.-Br.MD
  44. 1 point
    Two Marines (twins) and the Blessed Mother in Viet Nam (I have permission to post this from Spirit Daily) Joseph Nasiatka, the former Marine whose accounts of the Blessed Mother stirred a massive response at this website many years ago, died November 30. His account is below. It was a month — November — that also saw the death of Jim “Zdenko” Singer, a reputed visionary from the Toronto area who died after years of illness. Two seers. Two exemplary Catholics. Two suffering souls in a world that desperately needed their prayers. According to Kathy Mastalerz of Fayetteville, Arkansas, who became close friends with Nasiatka ten years ago, miracles swirled about the mystical former marine right to the end. “He went through hell,” she says, “and died November 30 at 1:55 a.m., Arkansas time. I had awakened before the call [that he had passed] from a strong scent of flowers.” According to Mastalerz, Joseph’s identical twin Rocco — who likewise had been a Marine, who likewise had an encounter with Mary (while in Viet Nam), and who lived just minutes from his brother — was walking through a plant where he and his brother both had worked for five decades “when despite all the chlorine, he smelled floral scent too during the night shift. It was at exactly the same time.” Residents of Pawcatuck, Connecticut, the Nasiatkas were known for “miraculous” rosaries they made by hand — Joseph able to fashion what Kathy says were “perfect” ones in just an hour. He made thousands. “They were as good as any machine could do,” says Kathy — noting that despite missing two fingers, Rocco is now able to do the same. A former police officer, Mastalerz had met the men after a tragedy in her own family, and though by then their rosary mission had ended, Joseph strung a special one for her after she sent him a letter about her distress (a brother had committed suicide). “About two weeks after I contacted him I got a call out of the blue and it was Joey,” she says. “They had stopped making rosaries but he made one last rosary for me and wrote me a real nice letter and included some other spiritual things and a picture of Blessed Mother that was like what he had seen when he saw her years ago.” She says the Connecticut man — a hidden soul who for the most part remained very much out of the limelight, never making public appearances and only reluctantly agreeing to publicity — felt his suffering was so he could bypass purgatory. It was also as a victim soul, says the Arkansas woman, who said he had known since youth that for his own sanctification and that of others, great trials would meet him in the end. “One week before he passed he had Rocco order me a 17-pound ham as he did every year for ten years for me and my family to share over the holidays. He was on a respirator and couldn’t speak but somehow he managed to get the message to Rocco to send me my yearly Christmas ham. Rocco is always quick to point out that they were just instruments that the Blessed Virgin Mary used to bring individuals to her Son Jesus Christ through those Rosaries. Many miracles were made possible through those rosaries.” Indeed, the accounts were legion, though Rocco is very private and prefers to remain so. “They were born on Easter and from the time they were very young boys, things that a child might not be able to understand at that age began to manifest in their lives,” says Kathy. “Joseph always laughed and would tell me that they were ‘God’s pets’; this however came with much tragedy and sorrows.” They never used computers, adds the Arkansas woman, “and never owned smartphones. Joseph shared that on News Year’s Eve, while others might be out celebrating, they would usher in the new year by saying a Rosary. I found myself starting to do the same and will make that my yearly New Year’s tradition for the remainder of my life.” Since his death (from esophageal cancer), she says, “people are coming out of the woodwork” with accounts of what Nasiatka quietly did “behind the scenes” for them. She says that after Joseph’s death, his twin heard his voice saying, “Rocky, I’m in glory now.” At any rate, we felt that — once again — we would replay the articles on these two extraordinary brothers, whose “Christmas” miracles occurred all year round. [From the archives of Spirit Daily.com] By Michael H. Brown [www.spiritdaily.com]
  45. 1 point
    Hope To hope is to reach upward when all is dark, when one is alone, yet propelled to reach for grace, God's love is beyond our emotions, feelings, and even our deepest misunderstandings of Infinite Love. Just reach.--Br.MD
  46. 1 point
    I just found a snake in my basement. I’d gone downstairs to the basement to turn off the ceiling fan, when I heard a rattling sound coming from my water heater. The water heater is under the stairs, in a small area without much light, so I got up close to the heater and peered into the darkness to see if one of the pipes coming out of the top had sprung a leak. It was too dark to see much, so I got a flashlight from the kitchen upstairs, and went back down to the basement. I turned on the flashlight and....there was a four-foot snake coiled up on top of the water heater, just a few inches from where my face had been a few moments before. Well, that was a surprise. Living in the country in an old farmhouse I get mice in my house regularly, and lots of crickets, but this was my first time hosting a four-foot snake. I recognized it as a Fox Snake, which normally aren’t aggressive, but he got a bit angry when I bonked him on the head with a wooden dowel and he fell off the heater and onto the floor. Now this got me worried, because I was afraid he’d slither off and hide somewhere and I’d wake up some night with a snake coiled up on my chest. (I’ve heard of that happening to backpackers who like to sleep outside under the stars.) Fortunately, he just slithered under the water heater, and I was able to prod him with the wooden dowel until he moved out into the open. But boy, was he angry! He was hissing VERY loudly, and raising his head and striking at the dowel, and just being uncooperative. I went outdoors to the shed and got a shovel, thinking my only choice was to chop the little fellow in half, but then I picked up a rake also, and I brought them both downstairs to the basement. As I looked at that poor snake, my heart melted. The nights are getting colder here in Iowa, and I realized he was just looking for a warm place to spend the night. I leaned the shovel up against the washing machine, picked up the rake, and maneuvered it around the snake until he was wrapped around the tines. We were good to go. I very carefully walked him up the stairs, turning the rake around and around to keep him entwined in the tines as he continued hissing and striking out. I walked him outside, down the driveway, and across the gravel road to the ditch on the other side where he untangled himself and slithered away. So I’m feeling pretty good about myself now. The whole situation could have ended badly in so many ways, but I kept my cool and both me and the snake can sleep in peace tonight. Unless, of course, he decides to come back.
  47. 1 point
    It is in giving that we receive O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.—St. Francis of Assisi When Christ Jesus was accosted in the garden of Gethsemane, betrayed, manhandled, and arrested, in the midst of all that chaos, Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of Malchus. Peter’s response was understandable, for we protect those we love and respect. Also fear can lead us to commit acts we would not normally do. Like Peter denying his Lord. Jesus forgave him because he sees our hearts; he knew Peter’s true character. In the midst of this chaos, no one noticed what happened to Malchus, well no one but our loving and compassionate Lord. He reached out in the tumult and touched gently the ear of one of the men who came to arrest him and healed him. I find this astounding.. Jesus wished to console and heals one of his enemies! Jesus’ heart was truly human and divine, he shows us what we are to become when we give ourselves over to his grace and healing. In the catholic faith, we call attention to this reality by calling upon the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His love for each of us is unfathomable and who can understand it. I believe the second part of the Peace Prayer of St. Francis is a true call for all Christians to ponder on what it means to embody Christ Jesus, to allow his grace and love to fill us. My heart is still fearful at times, or it feels like stone, dead, yet when I think of Christ Jesus and this scene, my heart again opens up to his deep love and compassion. He truly wants all of us to hear his Word, to believe in his love and for us to reach out and love all…..for God wills the salvation of all men and that they come to the truth…..that truth is Jesus Christ, God, and Man, who came for each one of us out of true unconditional infinite love. Oh Lord, that we Christians will learn to reach out to all in love that they may come to understand your deep love for all. For we Christians are your heart in an often heartless world, your hands to comfort and your feet to seek out those who need your love and mercy.--Br.MD
  48. 1 point
    I drove to the Old Stone Arch Trail this afternoon for a long walk and some IPhone photos. Much cooler weather than my walk earlier this week: 72 degrees vs. 92 degrees. It was like a walk in the park. Or the trail. I began thinking about a couple of conversations I’ve had recently that I thought were unusual enough to write down for safekeeping. One happened in Walmart, back in the Electronics Dept. where I always check the $5 DVD bin for new movies. Up until recently, the DVDs were thrown helter-skelter into the bin, all jumbled together and piled on top of one another. But then, about a month ago, someone started arranging them neatly in rows, like a line of books in a library. I wondered who the employee was that was so meticulous in their work. As I was scanning the movies, a young masked employee walked up to me and asked, “Can I help you find anything?” I thought it was an odd question, since I was leaning over the movie bin and not wandering the aisles with a confused look on my face. I responded, “No, just looking for a movie. I see you have some new titles”. He pointed and said, “We have some more $5 movies back there”. I could tell he wanted to talk, so I followed along as he showed me the other $5 movies among the shelves that held the new releases, or the family films, or the animated features. I was curious why the $5 movies weren’t all in the movie bin. He said, “It depends on the bar code. Different bar code, different location. I’ll show you.” He unholstered a small electronic device from his belt, picked up a movie, and scanned the bar code. He looked at the screen for a long moment, then said, “Actually, this one is in the wrong location.” I was happy to be wearing a mask, because I didn’t want him to see me grinning at his seriousness, but then his seriousness became fascinating as we started discussing the Batman movies on the shelf in front of us. He was like a Batman encyclopedia, telling me about the original name of the Joker (the ‘Red’ something?) and about an online discussion of “Who came first, Batman or the Joker?” It was starting to add up: the neatly-arranged movie bin, the Batman fixation... I tried one more test: I looked him directly in the eyes as he was talking. He made eye contact for two seconds and quickly looked away. Bingo. He’s on the autism spectrum, and he’s found a job where his particular set of skills are put to good use. I’m looking forward to talking to him again on my next shopping trip. The other conversation happened at the quarry lakes in Atlantic. A mom and her very young daughter (maybe 5-years-old) were walking towards me. The little girl was carefully scanning the grass alongside the trail, with her head swiveling around and a look of concern on her face. When they were still about 40 feet distant from me, the little girl looked at me and yelled: DO YOU KNOW WHAT A SNAKE IS? Well, I assumed she was worried about seeing a snake, so I replied, “Yes, but I haven’t seen any today!” That seemed to reassure her, and she smiled as we passed each other. It was kind of a heartwarming encounter. Anyway, it was a beautiful day today and I got some semi-good photos.
  49. 1 point
    Lots of excitement around the lake today. I got a good photo of a mama turtle digging a hole in the ground to lay her eggs, and then I almost walked right into a skunk. When the skunk saw me, it went on high alert and raised its tail. I made an abrupt u-turn and let him carry on with his grub-hunting. I startled a flock of vultures out of the trees as I quietly passed underneath them. I counted fifteen vultures, all circling above me, watching me like a little kid opening the oven door to see if the cookies are done. Yes, I probably looked like I was about done, out there walking around in that hot, humid air. One of them left his calling card: a nice-looking wing feather about 15 inches long. I used it as a photo prop next to a bottle of Powerade, with the trees and the trail in the background. I think I might be underestimating how much water I’ll need for my upcoming trip. I was figuring one gallon per day, but today I drank 65 ounces of water and 28 ounces of Powerade. That’s almost 1-1/2 gallons for a three-hour walk. So now I’m thinking I’ll need no less than six gallons of water/Powerade for a three-day trip. I may have to rent a donkey.
  50. 1 point
    Vietnam Part 6: Emperor Gia Long and Napoleon Bonaparte On our second morning after arriving at the family home, we went to the local Police station to officially present our paperwork. Mai handed our documents to a uniformed officer. He looked them over, and began questioning Mai in a not-too-friendly tone of voice. Then, to my dismay, Mai began arguing with him. Barbara and I exchanged glances. We’d both known Mai for quite some time, and we knew she wasn’t one to back down from a fight, even if we were standing in a police station in one of the most repressive regimes in the world and she was arguing with a very stern-looking uniformed officer right there in the middle of Vietnam. As the argument turned into a stare-down between our friend and the officer, I began picturing myself with long hair and a scraggly beard and living on bread and water in a crowded jail cell. In the calmest voice I could muster, I said to Mai, “So, what’s going on?” Mai replied through gritted teeth: “Foreigners aren’t allowed to stay overnight in Vietnamese homes. He wants you and Barbara to go to a hotel.” Bear in mind, I had slept on a wooden bed for two nights. My thoughts immediately switched from ‘jail cell’ to ‘beds with mattresses’. I didn’t want to hurt Mai’s feelings by running over and high-fiving the police officer, so I paused for a few moments as though taken aback by the terrible news, and I replied with something like, “Oh, that’s awful. But I suppose we better do as they say.” Our small, no-frills hotel was inexpensive: Barbara’s room was $4 a night, and mine was $5 because it had a ceiling fan. There was no air conditioning, though it wasn’t needed that time of year when the nights are comfortably cool. The windows had no glass, but were secured with ornamental ironwork and wooden shutters. The bed was twin-size with a thick, comfortable foam mattress, surrounded by mosquito netting hanging from rails that encircled the bed. The bathroom was fit for Elvis Presley, with a sink and a flushing toilet, though the shower was the usual bucket of water and plastic cup. I was content. We set out to go sightseeing in the Imperial City. It was a lesson in history at it’s finest, and totalitarianism at it’s worst. In times past the Citadel on the banks of the Perfume River, the Imperial Palace of Emperor Gia Long, and the tomb of Emperor Tu Duc had been the pride of Vietnam, but under Communism the ‘old ways’ were scorned and ignored, and the magnificent palaces were severely neglected. Ironically, this was what made our self-guided ’tours’ so fascinating to me: we were the only people there. After paying a small fee (about one dollar per person) we entered Gia Long’s Imperial Palace and walked through the gardens, up and down wide staircases that led to huge reception rooms, and stood on balconies overlooking the Imperial lands. We had the whole place to ourselves. In one of the reception rooms there was a gigantic mirror, about 20 x 15 feet in size, that was a gift to the emperor from Napoleon Bonaparte in the early 1800’s. Emperor Gia Long, with the support of the French government, succeeded in uniting the feudal kingdoms of Vietnam into one country. It was probably that meeting between Napoleon and the Emperor that cemented the relationship between France and Vietnam. I stood mesmerized in front of the mirror, thinking of all those years of State ceremonies and Imperial banquets and Napoleon Bonaparte admiring the reflection of himself in his military uniform (he had a reputation for being a bit vain). Not wanting to miss my place in history, I pulled my comb from my back pocket, stepped up to the mirror, and combed my hair. (I suppose gigantic mirrors have a way of bringing out the vanity in people.) Also in that room was a small, wrinkled, elderly man sitting on a small wooden stool, hands folded on his lap, with a blanket on the floor in front of him that held various tourist-type trinkets and figurines. As we entered the room, he looked up at us in surprise and immediately jumped up and offered me his seat. I was stunned by his show of respect. It wasn’t until later that I really understood what it was that earned that respect. To be continued...