Our Lady and Sheen

Mardi Gras!

Recently I was down in southern Louisiana for the end of the Mardi Gras season, and I had a great time! It was one of the best trips that I have taken in a while!  I celebrated with friends and strangers for the weekend before Mardi Gras and Lundi Gras.  I saw five parades, played lots of games, enjoyed New Orleans twice.  Drank a bit, ate a whole huge sampling of king cakes over the weekend, probably 6 different kinds, and enjoyed getting into the “season.”

Mardi Gras has a huge stereotype about drunk, crazy, and sinful encounters.  And… it is true.   That happens a lot, but, in certain parts of the city it’s just a small increase over the normal.  It also has a LOT of family togetherness.  I met so many of my friend’s family that I can not keep them straight in my head, not to mention all the friends and friends’ friends who opened their doors (or their bathrooms) to us.  It is a joyous celebration in the guise of getting ready for Lent.

But wait! On Thursday, just two days later, I was sitting in the Abbey of Subiaco and it dawned on me that all of Lent is looking towards Easter. It probably dawned on me because of a reading, homily or passing comment by one of the holy monks.  Here, on my left hand, we have Mardi Gras.  A celebration with names like “Bacchus” and “Proteus” and “Rex” and “Isis” and other idol names, parades in which beads, coins, toys, and various other things are thrown to the people who are out watching their friends, community and strangers parade.  Looking at these “gods” we see the anticipation of what all the Faithful look forward to: gifts from our God.

Mardi Gras ends and the Faithful fast, abstain, and pray for Lent.  Even the non-believers will sometimes take Lent as a time where “giving something up” sounds like a good idea.  To quote Archbishop Sheen about philosophies of life: There is the Christian philosophy which says, “First the fast, then the feast;” The world’s philosophy is, “First the feast, then the hangover.”  When we look at Mardi Gras as a secular celebration, we harken back to the days before the Eternal Gift of the Cross, when our pagan and heathen ancestors worshiped trees and themselves.  “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die,” as 1 Cor 15:32 tells us.

So, where are we?  Looking at the microcosm of February-April, we see first the celebration, missing the mark… the Lord.  Then, we have the great fast of Lent, the purging of ourselves, the turning toward God, the anticipation of the Victory over the Dead.  Then, on the other side of that forty days, looking  across the rich wasteland of the desert journey we see the True Feast… the true reason for joy and hope… we have Easter.  A feast dedicated to true celebration, focused not in some pagan afterthought, but rather, rooted in the Hope of Christ.  Salvation.  For we know the dead will be resurrected to Eternal Life or eternal death, and we have seen the first fruits.

Easter is a purified Mardi Gras, so to speak, because it is in redirecting our purpose that we find Truth: not in beads thrown from floats, but in beads given to us by Our Mother; not in drink poured from bottle or can, but in Drink poured from the veins of our Savior;  not in king cakes made of sugar and fillings, but in the Bread of  Life given by our King; not in crying out, “throw me something, mister,” but in crying out, “Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, HAVE MERCY ON ME, A SINNER!”  And finally, not a feast followed by a hangover is this Lent and Easter, but rather, a fast followed by the Feast, as this life will be when we enter into the Heavenly Banquet.

 

February 25, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Knit in the womb

God knit us in the womb, says the Psalmist (Psalm 139). Indeed, that is a startling image. I thought it had something to do with my meditation today, until I wrote it down just now.

My prayer today, and a conversation with a coworker about tailoring, led me to see my relationship with God in a different light. I know of us being knitted in the womb, or formed from the clay, but I was able to think of God not only as a potter, but as a tailor.

First, we were created in the image and likeness of God. That means there was and is a pattern that we should be following. The Lord sees this pattern as we do not. A tailor can look at a pattern from above, while the cloth just lays there, believing that is all there is to life, because that is all it knows. The cloth (figuratively, of course) feels that something more is there, because it is being moved about, but the tailor is beyond its two-dimensional understanding. We also know that there is a God, but our understanding is only a little better than our example.

Second, the pattern requires the fabric to be molded into shape. How is this done? I am no expert, but I believe that scissors run the length of the fabric once it is attached to the pattern. Scissors are sharp. The excess material is severed from the useful material. If the cloth could feel, my guess is that the feeling would not be pleasant, mentally or physically. Those people that have lost limbs probably did not think it was the most pleasant experience, although there are plenty of saints, known and unknown, who joyfully suffered. God asks us, as merciful Father, to allow Him to remove the “excess cloth” in the for, of worldly attachments and sin. As we allow Him to form us into the garment He wishes for, we must lose more and more material, being cut smaller and shaped differently.

Finally, again with my limited knowledge of tailoring, he must put us together. We do not, in any way, shape or form “deserve” heaven on our own merits. We must do good and be holy, but not out of some “quid pro quo” arrangement with the Almighty! Rather, it is He who perfects us, in this world or purgatory to follow, both being the sewing process. The pinpoint accuracy of the needlework is again, if the cloth could feel, painful, but the result is beautiful. This stitching together is our becoming a garment that would be welcomed in the court of the Most High.

The surprising part is that when the garment is complete and perfect, we realize that we are also created anew, and wearing the garment!

This is not the best example ever, obviously, but I hope that it will bring only good, and no evil to your thoughts on God’s will for you.

I pray that God will continue cutting on my excess cloth, and form my life into one suitable for the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. If you would also pray that I become perfect as the Father is perfect, it would help.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Great Article about birth control and society

Check it out: here

A snippet about Pope Pius VI in the article:

He warned of four results if the widespread use of contraceptives was accepted:

1. General lowering of moral standards
2. A rise in infidelity, and illegitimacy
3. The reduction of women to objects used to satisfy men.
4. Government coercion in reproductive matters.

I think that we can see areas where Humanae vitae was prophetic.

 

“Truth is not determined by majority vote.” His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (H.H. Pope Benedict XVI)

February 9, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sen. Rick Santorum speaks the truth

Last night, I was falling asleep watching television and had the opportunity to see Sen. Santorum’s victory speech.  It was very good, very positive, and on the mark:

The president over the last few years has tried to tell you that he, in fact, the government can give you rights, the government can take care of you and provide for you. They can give you the right to health care, like in Obamacare.

But look what happens when the government gives you rights. When the government gives you rights, unlike when God gives you rights, the government can take them away. When government gives you rights, the government can tell you how to exercise those rights.

And we saw that just in the last week, with a group of people, a small group of people, just Catholics in the United States of America who were told you have a right to health care, but you will have the health care that we tell you, you have to give your people, whether it is against the teachings of your church or not.

Now, I am not the citizen who believes that we need to eliminate government and that the government is bad, after all, I work for the state.  We do need to realize that WE are the government.  We don’t elect a man to sit as king, caesar, dictator, or tyrant.  We elect a man to act as the president of the executive branch.  We elect people to sit as representatives to congress, and their jobs are not to put us under the thumb and squash us, but rather to represent us.

Recently at a doctor’s office, I saw a sign that said “Patients… do not interrupt our work, they are the reason we work.”  All forms of government which concentrate power in the hands of individuals risk that power becoming corrupting.  We must band together and remember that rights are not man made, because men are fleeting, but rather we must strive to encounter God and His love, which give us all true rights.

February 8, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment