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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Me and Frogs

Actual frogs - the green, ribbetty kind.  I've always had this affinity for frogs.  When I was quite young (under 6 because we still lived in Mobile), I apparently freaked my Mom out because I had gone outside and found the largest bullfrog I could find, brought it into the house, and proceeded to take a bath with it.  I'm chuckling right now as I think back.  Then in high school, sitting in the bleachers at a football game (I was in the band, but couldn't march because of some weird thing with one of my knees), this boy came up to me and gave me a paper bag and asked me to look inside.  Guess he wasn't expecting the reaction I had, because when I looked in and saw a large frog I was very happy:  "Ohhhh, a frog!!!" - and he was very confused.  Sure, we dissected frogs in Biology lab, but, well, that didn't bother me at all.  Pretty cool, actually.  The smell of formaldehyde still brings back good frog-dissection memories. 

So last night, when my older son came up to the bathroom as we were all getting ready for bed, carrying very carefully a good-sized tree frog to show his younger brother, I was all excited to see the frog too.  My husband said "I don't want any frogs  in the house".  So we (my two boys and I) retreated to my older son's bathroom, and had fun looking at and observing the frog for awhile.  Not a big bullfrog, but small, light green with some red and black - built for climbing trees. 

I like frogs.  Have no idea why.  But really, they are quite interesting.  Here's a picture of the kind of frog of which I am speaking:

Pseudacris regilla
Northern Pacific Treefrog
(picture from californiaherps.com)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"I'm the greatest sinner...."

Go on over to Fr. George D Byers' blog for this interesting post.  As always, he gives us something to read and think about.  I particularly liked this quote: 

"We’re all the greatest sinners. We have all crucified the Son of the Living God and the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception because of original sin and our own sins. But more than that, because we have sinned individually, and because our dear Lord, yes, in all His goodness and kindness, also loves us individually, we have each of us offended that love in a way that only we, as individuals, can offend, making each of us the greatest sinners that there ever were or ever will be. None of us are good and none of us are kind. Only God is good. Only God is kind."

Monday, April 8, 2013

Verbum Domini

Ok, now I'm giddy with excitement.  Today I start with a short (hopefully easy) course on Verbum Domini.  Here

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Next Step for Me

I've been wanting to go back to school for a while now, looking toward a Masters in Theology.  So I'm starting with some non-credit courses this spring. . . Which I can change to for-credit if I decide to.  They aren't toward an MA, but instead toward a certificate.  I really didn't like school, was more than happy to be done, and almost didn't go to college.  People would see my grades and think I enjoyed school, but I did not like the competitive atmosphere and found that so much of what we were required to learn was pointless and useless.  Looking back I could have very easily skipped high school and gone right to college, with perhaps math and writing skills being the only things I would have needed from high school.  I probably could have done all of that with one year of concentrated study.  I wanted to be challenged, but wasn't.  There was a school for girls I wanted to attend, but as it was a boarding school my parents wouldn't let me go.  As a freshman I auditioned to our state's school for the arts (music) and was accepted, but again was not allowed to go.  Though that was probably for the best.  A gymnastics coach invited me to train with him in TX with his high school team.  There were opportunities, but my parents kept me close to home.  As a junior in HS I applied for, and was accepted to, the summer scientific seminar at the US Air Force Academy but couldn't go.  Now, I look toward furthering my education, doing something about which I have some passion.  Please keep me in your prayers as I venture back out into the academic world.  I am finding it to be a somewhat daunting step.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Who is that crazy woman...

...outside grilling in the rain?  That would be me.  Another "freezer-dinner" night, as we are trying to clean out the freezer to defrost and then re-fill.  Regular sirloin, rare to medium rare with spinach salad, sweet potato fries and homemade rosemary focaccia bread.  Leftover sirloin for steak sandwiches tomorrow.   Maybe I'll make some pita bread for the sandwiches.  Hmmmmm....

Now to chop lots of onions, the end of the storage onions I planted last year.  They've kept for 6 months so now I'll chop them and freeze for longer storage.  Tomorrow I'll be putting up a small greenhouse, weather permitting, and can get seeds started for summer planting.  Being outside working in the garden keeps me sane!

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

"Dignity" Draft (Comments appreciated)

I have been working on a short article, hopefully to become a series of articles focusing on life issues.  I am looking for constructive criticism - especially paragraph 3, because I have written and re-written it and am still not satisfied.  I will continue to work on it, so it may change from day to day.  It has taken me a while to get this written - I had forgotten how difficult it is to write with a small child running around :-).

My hope is to engender discussion, leading up to a summer series of talks.  I am looking pretty small, parish-level, perhaps community churches as well, but have felt called to do this even though it is not in my nature to stand-out too much.

Each week I looked forward to teaching this one particular group.  They were certainly the least “advanced” students in the gym, with the least potential for athletic development, but they were also the ones from whom I learned the most.  From these students I learned of the beauty of life.  I learned first-hand of the innate dignity given to all of us, no matter what society might say, for I do think some would have found these students lacking in dignity.  But through their joyful, exuberant participation in the life they were given I was shown otherwise.

Do we possess dignity only when our lives are perfect?  Only when we possess good health, good looks, a good job, youth, vigor, happiness?  Is dignity only a product of the potential we have to improve ourselves, to advance, to make more or do more?  No.  For as long as we are alive we have an inherent dignity borne out of our inescapable relationship with God.  He is our Creator.  We are His creatures, and we are “created . . .in His image.”  (G1:27)  We were formed (created) “of dust from the ground” (Gen 2:7), and after God breathed the “breath of life…man became a living being.” (Gen 2:7).  Scripture shows that our existence was willed, not created from some accident or as a by-product of some other process.  But created on-purpose, indeed, created for a purpose.  Man “alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in God’s own life.  It was for this end that he was created, and this is the fundamental reason for his dignity.”  (CCC356)

 “The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God…for if man exists, it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence.  He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator.” (CCC 27 – from VatII – I have this in my notes, will include in final draft)    Living fully in dignity hinges upon our  “communion with God.”  Each person’s dignity is directly linked back to their creation in His image.  We are, each one of us, an expression of God.  When we strive to acknowledge and bind ourselves to Him, when we recognize that through our lives and actions God’s plans can be made known, then we can begin to reach out to Him, finding ourselves drawn to His perfection and coming to union with Him.  In some ways, it may seem that our perception of dignity is tied into our perception of our relationship with God.  Do we perceive His call to us?  Do we sense Him drawing us closer to Him?  But the reality is, since we exist, we have a relationship with God whether or not we admit it, whether or not we perceive it.

Did the students I spoke of at the outset perceive or admit their relationship with God?  I can’t answer that.  These students were all mentally, and many physically, disabled.  Very few could speak.  But they had an inborn relationship with God.  Created by Him, they shared in His life.  Very simply, without deep theological knowledge or awareness, but sharing in His love all the same:  “God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence.”  Each one of those students existed because of the love of our Creator.  And even if they didn’t know it, His love shone forth from each one of them. 

I remember one man in particular.  He was one of the youngest in the group, probably in his early twenties.  Unable to speak, his arms were disfigured as well – not fully formed, bent permanently at the elbows, stopping before the wrist.  By our society’s criteria, his existence was not a useful one.  And yet in him, I saw God.  In his deformed body, and simple mind there existed such a radiant joy, that I couldn’t help but smile with gratitude each time I saw him.  And I wondered, how could anyone say this young man did not possess dignity?  How could anyone say it would have been better had he not been born? 

Who gets to choose who will live and who will die?  Who creates the criteria which determines the worth or value given to a specific life?  At what point do we become complicit in the Culture of Death, either by our actions or inaction?  It was not until recently that I realized my own complicity in this Culture of Death enveloping our county, a complicity born out of laziness and fear; a complicity which has emboldened the enemy because of the yawning silence of so many.  Nor was it until recently that I looked at the numbers and realized that in this country alone more than 18% of pregnancies were ended through legal, induced abortions – in 2009, at a rate of nearly 90 per hour (cdc).  And then I was left with questions:  Why have so many chosen to embrace death?  What evil has infected us?  Where are we as a society going when we kill our unborn children in the names of practicality and compassion…when we encourage the old and sick to kill themselves in the name of dignity?  Questions which at some level we all need to answer, and once answered we must make a decision:  can we continue to be silent?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Must Read

If you haven't already read this post on Father George Byers' blog, I highly recommend making your way over there to read it.

Divine Mercy Experienced


Monday, April 1, 2013

Prayer request

A former student of mine (probably my favorite former student!), who is pregnant with her second child, has been on bedrest for the past 7 weeks due to preterm contractions/ threatened early labor.  Everyone is hoping for at least 3 more weeks for the health of the baby.  Please, keep her in your prayers - the health of her unborn child - her family and husband who have made many sacrifices to help her out.  

A Day of Questions

I can usually tell when there is a spiritual shift in the works - possibly in the works depending on my ability to make the shift - when I need more time in prayer, and the prayer that is needed is more on the side of contemplation/meditation.  Emotions are not an indicator, if anything they detract from my spiritual life so I have to consciously ignore them.  And I have to continually remember these words:  "Do not be afraid."

And then come the questions I ask of God:
How do I place my trust in You?
How do I find release from my worldly attachments and cling only to You?
How do I know the difference between Your Will and the tricks of the Adversary?
I am so lost and don't know how to live placing You first in my life - how does living that way relate to every day life?  to every day decisions?
What role does sin, our fallen nature, play in our fears?  For even as I reach for You, even as I desire You, I fear that ultimate union.
If the Way were made clear before me, would I have the courage to follow?

Then the prayers:
Lord Jesus, I trust in You - help me to trust even more.
Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief.
"Blessed be the Lord who schools me; late into the night my inmost thoughts chasten me." (Ps 15:7 - Knox Translation)
So much around me is not of You.  Help me to stay motivated, help me to stay on the Path.

And then the doubt:
I am afraid, and fear I shall fail.