Archive for February, 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

Wasted Away in Paradise

My husband and I broke the cardinal rule of residents in the Paradise of the south…NEVER go to the beach during the tourist season.

Fighting the traffic and crowds sometimes just isn’t worth it. But it was 75 degrees, the sun was shining in all it’s glory so we chanced crossing the causeway to one of the quiet islands still a bit of a secret to the winter visitors.

Apparently, somewhere between the winter exodus of 2010 and the welcome visitors of 2011…someone let the cat out of the bag. We could hardly find a parking place and once on the warm white sands you could see beach umbrella’s three rows deep and miles down the shore. Oh well, that’s life in the Sunshine State.

We still got in a good walk letting the warmth of the white sands and aqua blue gulf waters wash over the stress of the week observing as we strolled sandcastles, swimmers, sailors, kayakers…

and two drunks in the Calypso canteen.

One was already a bucket of beers to the wind and had just bought another when his friend came along and their dialogue began.

I could work harder, but it would interfere with my drinking.

I know what you mean, said the other, what’s the use? I have everything I need, the house, the cars the money..

I just don’t want to be bothered anymore.

Suddenly, Sunday’s peace turned into the sad tale of two addicts who had lost hope and were drowning away their sorrows right in the midst of paradise.

We have had alcohol addiction in my family, so I know about the hell that it trails with it and all I could pray for the rest of the day was,

Lord, for the sake of your sorrowful passion, have mercy on them.

Show them the way home to the Father.

It’s a very destructive addiction, as much for the one who drinks as for those who live with them.. but there is hope.

To the penitent God provides a way back,

he encourages those who are losing hope.

Return to the Lord and give up sin..pray  to Him

and make your offenses few.

—Sirach 17: 19-21 First Mass reading

I know it’s not that simple. You can’t pick yourself up by the bootstraps and just ‘fix it’ when it comes to addiction. But you can take the first step and once you do God provides the way back.

One day at a time. That’s what my father did after 46 years of alcohol abuse.

He’s my hero for a lot of reasons; yes because he was a great cop, but also because by the grace of God he overcame his ‘one thing’…Unlike the rich man in today’s gospel, he laid down what kept him from fully following Christ and we all witnessed the power of Jesus’ words,

For men it is impossible, but not for God.

All things are possible with God.

—Mark 10: 27

You can be wasted away even in an earthly ‘paradise.’ But you don’t have to be.  If you know or live with someone who has an alcohol addiction,

pray and get the help you need.

God is a God of miracles.

I come from a family full of them.

+PAX

www.aa.org


posted by Caroline  |   6:06 PM  |   3 comments
Sunday, February 27, 2011

Silence is Better Than Good Words

Chapters

As an oblate of St. Benedict, I am continually learning from my brothers the priceless gift of silence.

Let us follow the Prophet’s counsel: I said, I have resolved to keep watch over my ways that I may never sin with my tongue. I was silent and was humbled, and I refrained even from good words (Ps 38[39]:2-3). 2Here the Prophet indicates that there are times when good words are to be left unsaid out of esteem for silence. For all the more reason, then, should evil speech be curbed so that punishment for sin may be avoided. 3Indeed, so important is silence that permission to speak should seldom be granted even to mature disciples, no matter how good or holy or constructive their talk, 4because it is written: In a flood of words you will not avoid sin (Prov 10:19); 5and elsewhere, The tongue holds the key to life and death (Prov 18:21). 6Speaking and teaching are the master’s task; the disciple is to be silent and listen.

—RSB 6: 1-6

One of the great lessons of wisdom from the early monks was that even good and holy thoughts or words should be left unsaid. St Benedict understood the power of words which can serve to build up or like lightening strike down our brother or sister. Even true words not spoken in charity and love can be destructive.

Imagine what he would think of today when with one click we can send our thoughts racing around the world…forever. Very sobering indeed.

One of the practices that all of us should undertake from time to time is actual physical silence. We need to practice NOT saying even the good thoughts that we have, NOT communicating them to anyone. Part of this practice will show us the places and the people that stimulate us to communicate. Another part of this practice will show the strength of our desire to communicate and the strength of our own will to resist that desire.

—Benedictine Monastery of Christ in the Desert

Today, on the Lord’s day, I offer to Him the silence of my heart and soul and ask Him to guide my tongue whenever He calls me to speak, for in it are the keys to life and death.

+PAX


posted by Caroline  |   2:40 PM  |   0 comments
Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Surest Way on The Highway to Heaven

There is a way that seems right to a man,

but it’s end is the way to death.

—Proverbs 14: 12

I got lost using my GPS yesterday. That can only happen to me. It was a Christmas present from my sister who insisted that with all the driving and chauffering I do, I needed one. My nephews wrote the sweetest card with it:

Dear Aunt Caroline,

Now you can be sure you’ll find your way on your

Highway to Heaven.

I wasn’t thinking of that yesterday as my mom and I sat in a parking lot almost reduced to tears because apparently, it had lost the satellite after I had made it recalculate too many times. See, I liked my route better and tried to avoid some of the highways I prefer not to use. The result was we were lost, late for a doctor’s appointment and completely turned around in a city I should have known my way around in better. After 5 calls and texts to my husband he straightened me out and we were on our way.

We arrived at the doctor’s frazzled and frustrated only to hear the nurse ask me,

How could you get lost using a GPS ?

I didn’t think of how until this morning when my husband suggested I write about what lesson I learned.

That’s all it took. I knew if he said there was something to it I better ask the Lord what it was. This man knows me pretty well. He has been with me through most of my journey to healing and I often I think, though my dad died before they met, he suggested him to the Lord as my husband because he knew what it would take for a man to unconditionally love a victim of what I’ve been through.

As I asked the Lord about the lesson, that still small voice I have come to know spoke so clear:

You let fear get to you. And you didn’t trust that the appointed way, was the best way….for you.

Through the years, I’ve had many wrestling matches with the Lord over what He’s allowed in my life. The victimization being only one in the litany.

How could this be your appointed way?

Memories serve as a fine reminder, that when I have questioned His way and determined to find my own, I was lost in a forest of unknown dangers with only my own wisdom and desires to guide me out. A few posts ago, I said that unresolved anger would eat you alive, and today I add that unrestrained fear will paralyze you. Though I have been victorious and the recipient of so much healing, fear has been my dreaded enemy like a stalker who shows up in the shadows of the night to remind me he might never be caught. Every now and then God is faithful to send me a very gentle reminder that His appointed way has been and will continue to be the best for me.

And that is our surest way on the Highway to Heaven.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and do not rely on your own insight

In all your ways acknowledge Him.

and He will make straight your paths.

—Proverbs 3:5-6

+PAX


posted by Caroline  |   5:48 PM  |   2 comments
Friday, February 25, 2011

A Loyal Friend

A loyal friend is a powerful defense;

whoever finds one has indeed

found a treasure.

A loyal friend is something beyond price,

there is no measuring his worth.

A loyal friend is the elixir of life,

and those who fear the Lord will find one.

Whoever fears the Lord makes true friends…

—from the first Mass reading

Sirach 6:14-17a  (NJB)

I have always been blessed with deep friendships that have helped steer my life ever closer to the Lord. Sometimes, I think they were the healing ointment of the Lord’s own hands.

True friends will help you become what you can’t visualize for yourself. Like the woman in this sand art, they will form in you the strokes of a painting you could not have mastered on your own. From a tested friend– even their ‘wounds are faithful.’ Proverbs 27:6

Yes, there is a risk in friendship. One sort of friend is so ‘when it suits him,’ until sorrow comes.  Another the Scripture says, ‘becomes an enemy.’

(Sirach 6: 6-11)

I ‘ve had both.

Jesus knew them both as well. Peter was a true friend, Judas was a friend who forsook him and made his kiss an eternal reminder of the wounds of betrayal.

I know a famous artist who will paint an absolutely classic portrait of you and He’s a very loyal friend.

Greater love has no one than this,

than to lay down one’s life for

His friends.

—John 15: 13

+PAX


posted by Caroline  |   8:32 PM  |   2 comments
Thursday, February 24, 2011

Do Not Delay Your Conversion

Delay not your conversion to the Lord,

put it not off from day to day.

—From today’s first Mass Reading

—Sirach 5:7

They say it’s important to never forget where you come from. There’s not a day…not one day– that as my feet touch the floor in the morning I don’t remember from what depths the Lord has delivered me.

St Paul was always ready to give witness– that once he was a man who

made havoc of the church,

entering every house, and dragging off men and women,

committing them to prison.

—Acts 8: 3 NKJV

Now, he was an apostle, ‘not from or through man’ ( Galatians 1: 1) but by the resurrection power and grace of Jesus Christ. I think he opens almost all of his epistles with that confirmation.

Damascus Road was never far from his memory.

Every time I visit my mom I’m reminded of mine, because it happened in what once was my bedroom as a teenage girl. If you look close enough I think you can still find tear stains on the carpet. The day of reckoning for me came after a series of traumatic events had placed the last straw upon the shoulders of a young woman who had not yet worked though the baggage of childhood. Those suitcases were heavy enough, but when I was 22, I was the victim of a violent crime that shook me and everyone around me so hard none of us thought we’d ever get up.

We came though it with the help of many law enforcement and legal professionals to whom I’m eternally grateful, but a year after it all ..I lost my dad and that was the final blow.

It took the wisdom of an extraordinary Catholic counselor whom the Lord miraculously sent my way and her invitation to know the power of Christ in my life. That was over 30 years ago, but I remember to this day how I felt when I left her office and knew my life would never be the same.  It was my Damascus Road, my moment of opportunity to hear the voice of the Lord and not harden my heart.

It was in that bedroom I fell on my face and gave Christ the weight of all the sorrows I could no longer carry..including the burdens of my own sin. That was the day of my great exchange, the day he opened my prison doors and gave me;

beauty for ashes,

the oil of joy for mourning,

The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

…instead of your shame, you shall have

double honor.

—Isaiah 61: 3a, 7a

I promised the Lord that on this journey of constant conversion, whenever he called me to, I would give testimony to the hope He has given me so others may know of His mercy.

Is this the day you hear His voice calling you to conversion? Who or what have you relied on that has failed you? Have you trusted in your own strength to subdue your spiritual and physical enemies ?

God offers you today..

Don’t postpone it another minute.

+PAX

www.catholicscomehome.org


posted by Caroline  |   5:48 PM  |   2 comments
Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Theater of Fire and Blood

The Martyrdom of St Polycarp,

Bishop of Smyrna

(155 or 166)

Imagine having personal contact with the twelve apostles and probably being appointed Bishop of Smyrna by St John.

Polycarp was a revered elder statesmen of the church in the East, who for more than half a century devoted himself to teaching sound doctrine and opposing heresy; a job that seems very popular with the early church fathers. There was a heretic named Marcion who Polycarp snubbed once on a visit to Rome,

Don’t you know who I am, Polycarp? he asked.

Oh yes, said the saint, I know the firstborn of Satan when I see him.

This is the kind of boldness that we in the 21st century redefine as …’so’ insensitive and judgmental. In his time, the Roman persecutions of Diocletian had not yet begun, but tensions were building as Christians were rejecting the gods and goddesses of the pagan world.

It was Christians who were called pagans by the atheists, but Polycarp had no fear in setting the record straight by proclaiming to a Roman official,

The real atheists are those who don’t worship the one true God.

It’s the ‘no fear’ thing that always gets me about the saints who without concern for their reputation or life so willingly lay everything down for the Savior.

Jesus said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me,

he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,

but whoever loses his life for my sake

will save it.”

—Luke 9 23-24 NAB

From the Christians in Smyrna, we have an account of Polycarp’s death. They wrote a letter to all the surrounding churches giving an account of the martyrdom announcing to the world the character of a man whose personal relationship with Christ became a triumphant witness to the resurrection in the face of the apparent defeat of death.

In Smyrna, mobs had packed the amphitheater to watch as Christians who refused to worship the Emperor were forced to fight off wild animals. One day a Christian youth had valiantly invited the beasts to devour him and the crowds cried out for more blood;

We want Polycarp!

He had fled to a farm outside of town but was betrayed by a servant as the search was on to hunt him down. They found him, but before he was arrested and taken to the amphitheater, he asked for time to pray.

Finally, he was taken to the pro counsel where over and over again he was asked to recant his faith in Christ..Seeing that he was an elderly man, the appeal was made again;

Swear by the genius of the Emperor!

Say, ‘away with the atheists.’

These are some of the martyrs famous last words;

“Eighty-six years I have served him, and he never did me any wrong,” said Polycarp.

“How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”

When the governor stepped out to announce to the crowd, “he has declared himself a Christian,” the  frenzied mob prepared the wood for the pyre where they intended to put him to death, however as he peacefully submitted, something miraculous happened to the flames.

The men in charge of the fire lit it, and a great flame blazed up. We who were given the privilege to witness it saw a great miracle, and we have been kept alive so that we might report to others what happened.

The fire took the shape of a vaulted room, like a ship’s sail filled with wind, and surrounded the body of the martyr like a wall. And he stood inside it—not as burning flesh, but as bread that is being baked, or as gold and silver being refined in a furnace. And we smelled a fragrant aroma, like the scent of incense or other costly spices.

—The Lost Story of Polycarp,

via~ St Robert Bellarmine’s Blog

His body not consumed by the fire, the governor commanded one of the executioners to plunge a dagger into him, and as he did,

out came a dove and so much blood it extinguished the fire.

As I was writing this, I had to walk away for about an hour and just prayerfully meditate on what kind of fearless courage and boundless love for God this exemplifies. It made me think of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world persecuted daily for their faith in the Far East, Asia, Africa and the Islamic World..and how we should commit to prayer for them.

My father used to warn me as a young girl, that conceding to fear would rob me of everything I could be in life. As a NYC homicide detective, fear was both his friend and foe. Many years later, his dying words to me were not to give in to fear. So, when I’m afraid, I study the saints to remind me of the wisdom of my earthly father.

Looking at the condition of the world today, I would have to say I’m afraid and I never thought I’d live to see some of the events that headline the news every day. But here we are. What are we going to do? From where will we draw the courage to stand up and witness to the truth of Christianity?

From the only source that we can.

The one who can mold the fire around us into a ship’s sail– that we too may stand inside it giving off the fragrance of Christ.

+PAX

Sources:

www.persecution.com

saintrobertbellarmine.blogspot.com

Voices of the Saints, Bert Ghezzi


posted by Caroline  |   6:23 PM  |   0 comments
Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Be Faithful to the Chair of Peter

Since the 4th century on this feast of The Chair of St Peter, we celebrate our gratitude to Peter and his successors for their service as bishops of Rome.

The seat of Peter has continued on and is the longest lasting institution in the world. No empire, kingdom or bureaucracy has exceeded it. To Peter was given the ‘keys of the kingdom’, by Jesus Himself.

I love my separated brothers and sisters, but as a Protestant, there was no other doctrine I fought harder against other than the perpetual virginity of Mary. Since coming home, these are only two of those I’m most grateful for.

There are many Christian houses being built, but none other than our Catholic Church was founded on ‘the rock’ and thereby equipped to withstand the floods and gales that have hurled against it throughout it’s history. (Matthew 7: 24-27) Even in the 10th century, when the papacy had it’s worst of times the church went on.

It will go on today as well, despite our current scandals, albeit her children will have to bear many sorrows in the process.

It would help if our shepherd’s in the USA, Europe and around the globe, to whom the care of the flock has been given, would heed the words of Pope Benedict XVI the successor of Peter, rather than try to implement a church of their own. You can be a Protestant if you’d like to do that..

Today, the keys are in the hands of a very wise, holy and competent shepherd. It’s what God wants.

..give a shepherd’s care to the flock of God that is entrusted to you:

watch over it, not simply as a duty but gladly,

as God wants;

not for sordid money, but because you are eager to do it.

Do not lord it over the group which is in your charge,

but be an example for the the flock.

When the chief Shepard appears,

you will be given the unfading crown of glory.

—1 Peter 5: 2-4 (NJB)

etsy.com

+PAX

*I ask for my readers to pray again for another fallen officer in the city of St. Petersburg Fl.

The third in less than a month.

David S. Crawford

Eternal rest grant unto him, Oh Lord and may the perpetual light shine upon him.

May he rest in peace.

Amen.


posted by Caroline  |   6:04 PM  |   4 comments
Monday, February 21, 2011

St Peter Damian’s Book of Gomorrah

Saint Peter Damian, Bishop, Doctor

I’m currently reading the Old Testament book of Jeremiah. I try to read through the Bible at least once a year which I’ve been doing since my conversion as a young woman. I have testimony after testimony of how true it is that;

The word of God is something alive and active:

It cuts more incisively than any two-edged sword:

it can seek out the place where soul is divided from spirit,

or joints from marrow.

It can pass judgement on secret emotions and thoughts.

—Hebrews 4:12  NJB

How willing the Holy Spirit is to give us the wisdom we need to apply to our lives if we like children, obey and take Him at His Word. If we are willing to take both His comfort and the cut of the sword of discipline, He is ready with both and His timing is impeccable. It never fails that if I make the time to sit at His feet He gives me exactly what I need. When I hold up the mirror of truth,

everything is uncovered and stretched fully open

to the eyes of the one to whom we must give an account

of ourselves.

—Hebrews 4: 13 NJB

In my humble opinion, this is the current failure in our church and as a people. We all want the comfy cozy Scripture promises and prayer, but not the Lord’s discipline. We don’t know what He wants because we’re ignorant of what His word says. We have many teachers who’d rather tickle our ears than pierce ours hearts with the truth that will set us free. We are rebels by nature of the fall and the fruits of both ecclesiastic and lay people trying to hide in the stench of their own gospel rather than obedience to God through His Church and His Word, are dropping rotten fruit from their trees all across the globe.

Now, when my boys were young and we were having our religion class at the kitchen table, this is the part where their eyes would glass over and neuropathy would set in. They’d start moaning and rolling their eyes and heads;

MOM, your preaching again. GET TO THE POINT.

Lord, love them…I bet they wish they’d had a normal soccer mom, but they wound up with, well..me.

I found myself crying out with Jeremiah on Sunday as I read Chapter 5, regarding, The Godlessness of Jerusalem. Listen;

For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have been utterly faithless to me says the Lord,

They have spoken falsely of the Lord,

and have said,” He will do nothing;

no evil will come upon us, nor shall we see sword or famine.”

The prophets shall become wind, the word is not in them.

An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land;

the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction;

my people love to have it so,

but what will you do when the end comes?

—Jeremiah 5 11-13, 30-31  RSV

Do you feel the sharp edge of the sword of discipline, or is it just me?  The Scripture says, the Lord told Jeremiah that because the people spoke like this,

He was making His words like a fire in the prophet’s mouth and the people wood so the fire will devour them. ( vs. 14)

We need prophets and priests who are not afraid to speak the truth with fire in their mouths.

Now, I think I saved the best for last. Today, is the memorial of St Peter Damian (1007-1072). He was orphaned at a young age and left to the care of his brother Damien who also educated him. In gratitude, he named himself, Peter Damien. He embraced the life of a hermit with the reformed Benedictines, but a series of popes called him to reform the church which at the turn of the century was suffering from immorality and corruption.

Among St. Peter Damian’s most famous writings is his lengthy treatise, Letter 31, the Book of Gomorrah (Liber Gomorrhianus), containing the most extensive treatment and condemnation by any Church Father of clerical pederasty and homosexual practices. [2] His manly discourse on the vice of sodomy in general and clerical homosexuality and pederasty in particular, is written in a plain and forthright style that makes it quite readable and easy to understand.

It is also refreshing to find an ecclesiastic whose first and primary concern in the matter of clerical sexual immorality is for God’s interests, not man’s, especially with regard to homosexuality in clerical ranks. Also, his special condemnation of pederastic crimes by clergy against young boys and men (including those preparing for holy orders) made over nine hundred years ago, certainly tends to undermine the excuse of many American bishops and Cardinals who claim that they initially lacked specific knowledge and psychological insights by which to assess the seriousness of clerical pederastic crimes.

—from Randy Engel on

St. Peter Damian’s Book of Gomorrah:

A Moral Blueprint for Our Times – Part I

Reform begins with repentance and obedience…The admission that,

‘I’ am a sinner.

Healing follows only when we admit that God designed the blueprint for the Christian life and we choose to fully submit to the Word of God and the Vicar of Christ, letting them seek out to ‘the separation of soul and spirit.’

We must and will give an account of all this in the end.

I can still hear my boy’s voices.

Mom…it’s lunchtime, are we done yet? Yes, we’re done. Class dismissed.

+PAX


posted by Caroline  |   7:38 PM  |   0 comments
Sunday, February 20, 2011

Yes, Jesus Means-Love Your Enemy

Pope John Paul II forgives his assassin

Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18

1 Corinthians 3:16-23

Matthew 5: 38-48

I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that the the call of Sunday’s gospel,

love your enemies,

is the the most radical demand and teaching of Jesus. It commands a crisis of decision because, the law of love defines whether or not you are a disciple of Christ.

St Thomas Aquinas says;

Loving only friends to the exclusion of enemies

goes unrewarded by God.

Several hours from my home is a prison where a man is serving 2 consecutive life sentences with no chance for parole. My testimony put him there over 30 years ago because of what he did to me. The reverberations of his abuse have forever changed my life and those close to me. He has caused me irrevocable harm and unspeakable suffering.

Though you may have to reprove your fellow man

do not incur sin because of him.

Take no revenge and cherish no grudge

against any of your people.

—Leviticus 19: 17b-18a

Left to my own fragile humanity there was no way I ever could have risen above the cry of vengeance, hatred and anger that often plagued my heart.

May I share with you that there is no liberation and healing in hating your enemy; only a bitterness that will root itself deep into your soul and spring up troubles that will wind up defiling… you. ( Heb 12:15) Anger is a harsh taskmaster, it will eat you alive.

It is the narrow road to follow this message of Christ. The world calls it foolishness but, St Paul says in 1 Corinthians, to those of us being saved, it is the power of God.

To love your enemy requires a trust in God that is so contrary to our human instinct to preserve ourselves we’d miss it completely were it not for the example of Christ’s suffering on the cross. The Creator of the universe hung helpless by choice rather than unleash the angelic armies of heaven against the murderous lot to show us how to respond in the face of evil.

While we were yet sinners, Jesus died on the cross to save us. (Romans 5:8)  His seemingly foolish act of love is our redemption.

How can we be perfect as our Father in heaven? It’s a work of grace, loads of tears and time.

Supernaturally, love without limit as God has done for you.

+PAX


posted by Caroline  |   12:48 AM  |   6 comments
Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Prayer for Priests

I had lunch yesterday with the priest who 5 years ago welcomed me home to my Catholic faith after 20 years of wandering in Evangelical Protestanism.

He was tired and wearing the weariness of his call on the lines in his face and the fatigue in his voice. Father was there for me when I wandered into his

parish hungering for the Eucharist I had abandoned in my prodigal days. I was starving..

and he fed me. He never once made me feel anything but the welcoming love of Christ after so many years away. I will never forget him for it.

Our priests are struggling, they need our prayers.

That’s why a few days ago, a fellow blogger got my attention with a wonderful suggestion.

‘The Little Way’ asked in light of the continuing crisis in the church with our priests, to join her this Friday the 18th, as a time to abstain from writing and reading on the internet in favor of prayer.

I gladly offer this small sacrifice for the needs of our priests  and pray you will join us.

St John Vianney, patron of parish priests,

Pray for us.

+PAX


posted by Caroline  |   3:19 AM  |   0 comments