Saturday, December 31, 2016

another favorite Nativity

I think I may turn this into next year's greeting card. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Holy Family Flight into Egypt

I love this painting. Mary sees the angel but she doesn't interfere. She makes no move until Joseph wakes up and tells her that an angel told him it's time to put on their traveling shoes again and Baby Jesus, who is perfectly capable of commanding, "Herod is after me. My Father will deal with him later but right now, you need pack up and get us to Egypt," does not. He trusts Joseph enough to let him do the job God gave to him. It's a rich scene to meditate on.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Holy Innocents & St. Thomas a Becket

  • Herod was a monster but today's politicians are no better than the old usurper king 

  • Rocky ushered for the Christmas Eve Family Mass. I'll be honest. It's not my favorite Mass. We get a lot of visitors and a surprising number are rude, drunk and cranky about not being able to find a seat in the crowded church.This year, however,  went very well. There was only one girl dressed like a cocktail waitress and the one person who had a noticeable nip of alcohol before Mass was sweet and cheerful instead of  unpleasant. Two not so lovely people decided to tell our elderly organist that they didn't like the music. I told him not to let them get him down. After Mass the ushers made quick work of straightening up and taking out the trash. The ushers who were coming back for Midnight Mass got last minute instructions from Father and then headed home to rest for a few hours. 

  • Hilary White has written about the need for a revival of the beguine movement, that is devout, unmarried lay women coming together to pray and serve God in charitable works. She points out that the Vatican doesn't seem all that friendly to real nuns and as we saw in Oklahoma recently, things can get really interesting when a new bishop takes over. Mother Miriam's young religious community is being kicked out.  Beguines would not be dependent on the bishop's good will.  A few women have chosen the consecrated virgin route and work in the private sector but spend as much time as they can serving in their parishes. There is nothing to stop them from joining together and finding a house to rent. A band of lay women pursuing holiness in community is not a solution to the terrible damage that has been dealt to religious life but it's an option.

  • Do you remember how weird things kept happening to Pope Benedict? He went to Israel and an unscheduled Palestinian girl "surprised" everyone when she stood up and screamed a poem about life in Gaza. His valet stole from him. His most trusted aide allowed him to be photographed with a hat that was far too big for him and that made him look ridiculous, like an old woman wearing her clothes from her youth. A homoerotic circus act performed for him during the annual Golden Circus festival, and the cameramen did not avert the cameras to the pope, the audience or the floor but lingered the  frankly lewd looking acrobats. Vatileaks happened. His brother, who may be in his dottage said embarrassing things and apparently nobody in the Vatican tried to keep reporters away from him or even bravely and honestly said to the pope, "Every time your big brother opens his mouth he makes you look a fool." Rumors were spread that he had a penchant for wandering around Rome in a regular priest's cassock and that there was a pedophilia scandal in Germany about to break.... it was as if  none of the men who are supposed to help the pope did their jobs either due to massive total incompetence or malice. Isn't it interesting how these things suddenly stopped when Francis took over?

  • A few days ago members of my husband's parish men's group were shocked to learn that a former member and friend, "Pauley" has left the church. He has joined the Orthodox. He did not tell anybody beforehand and simply posted it on Facebook. I was not surprised. A lot of people are upset right now and  being crushed by what is coming out of the Vatican on a daily basis.  Pauley is a young man with a wife and children. He was devout and hungered for holiness. His career took him to a pagan country where the Orthodox are vigorously evangelizing. He looked at their passion and manly vigor and looked at Catholicism which is currently controlled by men who seem to think everything goes except for piety, self control and following the Faith of the saints. He's not the only one who is  quietly going East. You can't keep feeding people garbage and expect them to say thanks. None of the men in Rocky's group are great preachers but even if they were nothing they  or any good priest can say would change Pauley's mind right now. He  is a long way from home and his Orthodox priest and new church family are surrounding him with new convert love. Please, in your charity pray for him and all the other Pauleys' out there. 
Pray for us, St. Thomas

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Our Lady of Guadalupe Extremadura of Spain

The Mexican image of Our Lady is more famous but the story of the Spanish image is no  less fascinating. HT to OnePeterFive.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Monday, December 19, 2016


This painting reminds me of my favorite time in church. Just before Mass it's still dark except for the sanctuary and candles.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Random thoughts while fighting off a headache

  • I love this painting. It's such a peaceful little moment in the Divine Infancy.

  • Our Lady was NOT an unwed mother.  She and Joseph were betrothed.   Under the betrothal system the bride and groom wouldn't live together until the wedding which would happen as soon as  the groom had the household ready and the date was one that good for all the parties involved,  but  to put it plainly, they had all the rights and duties of marriage. You do not contemplate divorcing a fiancee, you divorce a wife. If you want to make an unwed mother feel better about herself you could tell her about St. Margaret of Cortona but do not her that the pure mother of God was once just like her and things worked out...

  • Jesus was NOT an illegal alien. His parents fled local strong man,  Herod but they were moving from one Roman territory to another. It was like moving to Pennsylvania because things in Virginia got too hot for you with the local constabulary, something that happened to one of Rocky relatives. No matter where you went in Rome's territory, no matter what language was spoken or what gods the people were enthralled by, your overlord was Caesar Augustus.

  • I only find statues with electricity in Italian or Polish parishes in Baltimore and Pennsylvania so it's always a little thrill when I see them.

  • I found the  most gorgeous antique holy card blog. Holy Reflections has prayer pages, crafts and samples of the restoration work that the site owner does. I downloaded a card and then laminated it. Rocky and I gave them as gifts to his fellow ushers.

  • Do you have a good priest? Stand by him. Pray for him.

  • My parents subscribed to  National Geographic because they thought it was educational for me. I would spend hours reading the articles and enjoying the photos but sometime in my teen years I stopped reading it because  instead being about anthropology, wildlife and earth sciences it became political and strident. Now it's showcasing victims of Munchhausen's Syndrome by proxy.
  • Saturday, December 17, 2016

    The Cherry Tree Carol

    The Cherry Tree Carol goes back to the 15th century and it was carried by Scottish and Irish immigrants from Great Britain to the Appalachian mountains.

    Tuesday, December 13, 2016

    Sunday, December 11, 2016

    I could have done without that.

    Many decades ago my newlywed mother went out to dinner with my father and his family. She was impressed by the incredibly stunning woman sitting at another table. To her astonishment my aunt whispered to  her that the woman was not a woman at all but a man dressed up like one. My mother was 21 and it was 1963. She'd never known such a thing existed when she was a country girl and would have preferred not to know that it did now that she was in DC. Many Catholics who read about the pope's latest astonishing comments really could have done without knowing that there are men who get  sexual enjoyment from eating feces and they are horrified that a priest, bishop or pope would bring that up in public.  Randy Engel Ann Barhardt and Maureen Mullarkey  all had something to say about this. I could add my comments but that would be like being a pretty good  okay singer and having to go on stage after  Ella Fitzgerald.

    Thursday, December 08, 2016

    Wednesday, December 07, 2016

    Mass without pews

    Possibly my favorite image of St. Nicholas

    St. Nicholas, it was said would reward good children and punish bad ones on Christmas Eve. The first time  I saw this I was startled but then I saw how relievd both the parents look and giggled. Obviously their son was quite a little stinker. 

    Monday, December 05, 2016

    St. Nicholas

    The whole Santa Claus thing is cute but the real St. Nicholas was far, far more interesting.

    Random thoughts after a week of travel

    This old painting of St. Francis with the Stigmata is very different from the feminized, cartoon-like versions we see today.
    • This really has been a dizzying, stunning year, Brexit, the Cubs win, Trump wins and Fidel Castro died.

    • An autistic woman had to flee from church last week. The noise from the out of control children in a family that came late was just too much for her. I hope she can find her way to a Tridentine Mass.

    • Bishop McElroy of San Diego promises a "mass mobilization" if any "immigrants" (people who strolled in the US and continue to live here illegally) are deported.  I have a feeling that the Bishop is going to be very surprised because there are probably a lot of people in San Diego don't dare speak out but are privately fed up with all the social ills that have come with massive illegal immigration.  Perhaps the bishop should take a page from Bishop "Dagger" John Hughes of New York. Bishop Hughes heroically defended his Irish flock but he also ordered his school nuns to teach that thrift and order was good, drunkenness was bad and that good citizens work hard and contribute. He did not condone using the US as a flop house and spent his life trying to  integrate his people into the fabric of America. He had his priests back him up in their preaching and in encouraging parish groups dedicated to self help and civic minded behavior. Within one generation Irish violent crime  dropped from 60% to less than 10%.  Instead we have Bishop McElroy  turning a blind eye an endless wave of crime and social insecurity. 

    • The Somali "teen" who tried to kill people at Ohio State was originally supported by Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities picked his family up from the airport, housed them, fed them and probably provided medical care for 23 days in Texas.  When that little tidbit made the various news outlets the comments from readers were pretty harsh. Even the people who identified themselves as Catholic were horrified.

    • My mother and I went on a short visit to South Carolina  to visit relatives and the family graves. It was beautiful but I missed Rocky, who couldn't come with us this time.  I'm exhausted from the train travel but I'm so glad we made this trip.

    • The Captain: Why do you weep?  
      The Creature: He was my father.

      Whenever I look at a picture of the pope or read the latest thing he's said I am reminded of the last two lines from Kenneth Brannagh's "Frankenstein," movie.  It was a silly, bloated movie  and there was no explanation as to why the monster, played by Robert DiNiro sounded like he was from Queens but it did have a few near perfect moments and that last scene was one of them. The monster weeps because of all that has happened between him and Frankenstein and  for what might have been. When you realize that your father doesn't love you it is an occasion for grief whether you are a seven foot tall monster from fiction or Catholic sighing in the pew. Most of my family is Baptist and it's been very hard defending the Faith to them this year more so than ever. 

    Thursday, December 01, 2016