Category: Special

That which the palmerworm hath left — hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left — hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left — hath the caterpiller eaten. Joel 1:4 “The whole face of the mountain was black with them. On they came like a living deluge. We dug trenches and kindled fires, and beat and burnt to death heaps upon heaps, but the effort was utterly useless. They rolled up the mountain-side, and poured over rocks, walls, ditches, and hedges, those behind covering up and passing over the masses already killed.” Expositor’s “After eating up the corn, they fell upon the vines, the pulse, the willows, and even the hemp, notwithstanding its great bitterness.” “The bark of figs, pomegranates, and oranges, bitter, hard, and corrosive, escaped not their voracity.” “They are particularly injurious to the palm-trees; these they strip of every leaf…

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The American Civil War tipped the scales for sad stories, many of which wrench the heart, even today. It reveals an era stacked with gloomy playing cards, cheerless scarecrows, heartsick yarns, and war-torn dilapidation. These are flora and fauna, these essentiality. The distinctive dream-escapee tasted life till it died; the bursting of bubbles, the swipe of found-less islands. Enheartenment looks not like a gratuity, windfall, or sweepstakes hit. It is not about happiness, joy, bliss or blessedness. Inflated words solicit us to their lip-service. Instead, a tidbit inspirits, a morsel of food enraptures, and a mere scent sends goose bumps up and down the neck. True love breathes not much in these parts, only in diminished silhouettes; all numbed down, reductionism dulls the culture, drives the humdrum, heats the monotonous day. War has come, Gung-ho! — but we are not ready, we have no guns; for soldiering, no skill-set. Go, the politician’s incite…

Read More A Sad Story

I have often said to my wife, “I’m sorry Hon.” “Sorry for what?” she comes back. “For everything.” – meaning: I’m sorry for being alive, for being human, for doing what humans do. “Oh” Honestly, I have come a long way with my human-hood; come to grips with it. My early problems with it came as a result of a subtle philosophical mistake. I believed, and it was implied by what I could grasp as “normal,” that people are fundamentally good. That is, “normal people are good.” My problem was, I was not good all the time, but liked being bad better. I really tried hard to be good, and because of this, I was guilty a lot. I was letting my conscience be my guide as I was taught to do. This philosophy led to a very low self-approval rating. Needless to say, I had a poor self-image, also…

Read More Saved Sinners not Good Liars

[A song of ascents. By David:] “Adonai, my heart isn’t proud; I don’t set my sight too high, I don’t take part in great affairs or in wonders far beyond me. No, I keep myself calm and quiet, like a little child on its mother’s lap – I keep myself like a little child. Isra’el, put your hope in Adonai from now on and forever! “Psalm 131:1-3 CJB Karl Kapp wrote an article on “games.” He observes, “Games give you the freedom to fail, do something wrong and then start over again with minimal consequences and almost no longer-term negative implications.” Games, “…provide the freedom to explore different environments, different methods of thinking and different approaches to problem solving.” “Games are a sandbox for life.” Video games are winning the hearts of many young because the freedom experienced while playing them is hard to match. In contrast, real-life players become…

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It’s about the people. It’s about those faces; humble, hungry, hoping, honest. To be happiness for them, make them smile, somehow fulfill; this is all. We listen, we see their hearts. Having touched the Christ, they crave more. Clearer, greater, a basket without bottom is God new-found. You and me and them; we are all conduits of joy, gardens of flower, trees of apple and pear, apricot and lemon. It flashes through us, we bathe necks, waves come belly-basket, a bale of wheat. We dine at sacred table, the foe watches; he cannot mess. Love shields, we are whole, and in finger-less embrace the souls hug. They broaden love, they widen freedom, they coat the multitude; they mask all defamation. The broken heart finds bond, mended souls synchronize, blazing passions quell, devil-fright vanquishes; I am now Him; He is now us. His is in heaven and so to me; sorrow,…

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“So My people are bent on turning from Me. Though they call them to the One on high, none at all exalts Him. How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart is turned over within Me, All My compassions are kindled. I will not execute My fierce anger; I will not destroy Ephraim again. For I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, And I will not come in wrath.” Hosea 11:7-9  Here in Hosea, bent to backsliding, God’s people still refuse to exalt Him, though often exhorted. God reveals His heart. “How can I give you up?” How can I treat you like the dirt or like a herd of gazelles? My heart is turning within, and My desire to console is…

Read More Gazelles or Saints?

“A girl came home to discover that her mother wasn’t there. Her mom was already in a column marching toward the Umschlagplatz. She ran after the column alone, from Leszno street to Stavki Street. Her fiancé gave her a lift in his riska so that she could catch up, and she made it. At the last minute she managed to merge into the crowd so as to be able to get on the train with her mother. (The train, of course, was one of those whose passengers never returned to their point of departure.)” This story, told by Tzuetan Todorov in “Facing the Extreme” is a heartbreaking one of “ordinary virtue” but stirs the heart maybe more than stories of national heroism. This is a tale of tender caring for the sake of another human being. In this occurrence a daughter and mother cleave to each other and face an…

Read More The Ghetto

“Openness involves a hunger for life. Our arms must reach out to the other, which requires a position of vulnerability. We are made for the dance of intimacy. They are invited in as guests and not as strangers.” “Opening the heart to face the complexity of living in this world requires waiting for truth to come to us. Change comes not from our will, but from God’s mercy. We must stretch out our arms to life but God moves when He will.” “The embrace is an accurate metaphor to encompass what is involved in walking the healing path to God. There are four elements to an embrace: opening the heart instead of cynically shutting down; waiting with anticipation rather than killing hope; encircling the other instead of standing alone; Letting go of the moment.” Dan B. Allender Ph. D. “Merry Christmas” is the word this year, everywhere we turn. Typically,…

Read More The Merry Christmas

Christmas got a lot of voices ringing. Fa la la la la, la la la la. We got your angel voice, we got the shepherds, we got Mary herself, we got the wise men, and we got Herod and the bad guys too. We got a gross amount of sayings, and these give us a strange wonderful feeling each year. Most of the utterances we gloss over till they come up in a Carol or two. Here we find the third named angel with Michael and Gabriel. His name is Herald, and we discover him in the hymn,” Hark the Herald angel sing.” Ho ho ho! Frankly, all this fun stuff rings our bell, and permits itself, as long as we don’t get carried away. These days, Christmas remains the same joyous time with one big exception; the depth of the story took a home in my soul one year…

Read More Christmas Voices

Our church included a collection each Mass. Mom furnished us a dime, and we quickly put it in our envelope. We mindfully marked ‘ten cents’ on the line below our name. In the church bulletin each week was listed what everybody contributed the week before. Mr. Leonard offered the most each week. He owned Leonard’s motors and sold Mercury’s. Mr. George was often close behind, however; he owned George’s book store in Charleroi. Mr. George shook hands with people at church; we heard he converted from Protestantism. No one in our church shook hands but Mr. George. Collection was brilliantly handled with the long-baskets. These were wicker pannier types featuring a broom like pole attached. They stood probably 6-7 feet or more, top to bottom. The usher managed to skillfully navigate the basket down each pew, hand over hand, extending basket and then arm to reach the end group, as…

Read More Growing up Catholic