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Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

 

St. Margaret Mary’s apparition of Our Lord with a visible Heart is known as the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In this image, His heart is on fire with His divine love for us, radiant like the sun, surrounded by thorns symbolizing His suffering and death, and topped by the cross, the symbol of His victory.

 

This is a very dearly loved image of Jesus, and one of great meaning for us. Jesus’ heart is the center of His being, the seat of His human consciousness, the abyss of His Divine love, mercy, and compassion.

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Jesus living within each of us has experienced our loves, humiliations, betrayals, rejections, our own sufferings, deaths and resurrections. We, living in Him, as His Body and Bride, the Church, have experienced His life, too. The Sacred Heart in religious art can also be seen as a symbol of this solidarity and union, this communion and humanity we share with Christ, as well as the mystical union we have with His divinity. More obviously it is a symbol of His love for us, which is the heart of prayer, which is the Heart of our lives.

Sometimes it is hard to remember that Jesus suffers with us and takes our pain upon Himself. In the midst of the extremes of life’s suffering love, we need to know that His tears are mixed with ours, that we have a God who knows sorrow, a God who is Love, a God who wants to give Himself to us in the Eucharist, and share with us His divine life in the Trinity forever.

In my times of deepest pain, it does not help much to ask why. It helps a lot more to “look” silently at the Sacred Heart of Jesus, into the tender darkness to which I withdraw, into the ruins of my heart, made sacred by His dwelling there, so it can be re-built to His purpose. In that gaze, “why” doesn’t matter, as much as Who this is Who loves me, and is my God. That’s where trust comes from; accepting the Heart of this Lord, Who is Love. What else is there?

Jesus took up the cross, the Scripture says, “for the sake of the joy that lay before Him.” It’s easy to think about His joy as His future Resurrection and glory with His Father in Heaven. But we forget sometimes, that part of the joy that lay before Him, was ourselves.

Being with us was worth it to Him. After all, this is also why He came to begin with, from the glory He had from the beginning, to take on our humanity, to be with us, to capture our hearts, to transform, redeem and raise us, to be one with us, that our hearts might burn with divine fire. May we  be willing to wear the crown of thorns that love often requires of us, until we share in the victory of the cross, and in His divine life itself, bringing many with us.

 

I have to think,  in these dark times, during this epidemic of heartlessness, when so many seem determined to enrich the powerful and take away even the most basic of needs from the poor, the disabled, children, and the sick;  when Black Americans are shot for little to no reason, even in front of their little children, and at an alarming rate, and there is not enough love in our society to make it stop; when people are dying from gun violence and we can’t even hear each other enough to problem solve in a meaningful way, when every day we have to find ways to decompress from all the hatred and stress, when people who raise the standard of morality and compassion are undervalued, that it’s time to look to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. What are we doing? The opposite of the Gospel.

We’re finding ways to keep our life, not lose it to love and compassion. We are jealous of our stations in life, we fight to keep our own privileges, our own rights and freedom at the expense of others. We fight  to be as heartless and greedy as we want, to not have to consider the pain we cause when we speak without compassion. We say we speak the truth in love when we want to justify our harsh talk that only turns others away from religion.

We need hearts. We need Jesus. We need the One who said, “Come to me, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.”

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Jesus, let my heart bleed with yours. Never let me add to your tears

for the poor and vulnerable,

or for the lack of compassion we all show.

Help me to be gentle and humble of heart with everyone.

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“Love can never pierce the heart of the defender.

You will never know love until you surrender”

~ Jonathon Richman. 

I have been defending a lot too lately.

I pray that love will pierce my heart for the people I am offended by;

people who seem to me to be heartless.

Help me remember You love them, too.

So much.

So much.

Their hearts are beating because of yours.

My heart is beating because of Yours.

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Maybe we should try something else.

Maybe we should all, all listen quietly to Jesus,

enter into His Heart,

and learn love again.

Ask him.

Set aside some time and join me today,

in quiet…

the quiet fire

of Jesus’ Sacred Heart.

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“Ask the Friend for Love.

Ask Him again.

Ask Him again.

For every heart will get

What it asks for the most.”  

~ Hafiz

May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be praised, adored, and loved,

in the tabernacle of every human heart,

to the end of time,

and forever in the the life to come!

Amen.

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The Music Map

WheelchairAccessible-2Every day I try to get out with Mac if it isn’t too cold, too hot, or raining. We enjoy our walks together. I pray and sing and talk to him. Sometimes we are quiet, or he may express his joy…. or annoyance, as the case may be.

His wordless running commentary on life  can sound very much like any other monologue; or shall we call it “Mac’s non-verbal soliloquy?”

I answer him back as if I totally get what he is saying, as I often feel I do. I answer him as I would anyone else, “I feel the same way, Mac,” or “Tell me about it, Mac,”  or I act like I disagree, “What?! You’re kidding me!” He enjoys this. Sometimes he laughs.

Mac, besides being mostly unable to speak, is also blind. However he does respond to music, and music is a big part of our day.

Besides the recorded music we listen to, I have little songs I sing him, mostly simple little ditties I have made up over time that he likes and that I use for different parts of our daily routine.

Mac has very little sense of personal choice in his life, of course, since everything must be done for him. We brush his teeth, feed him turn him, dress and change him, move him and wheel him around. He can let us know how he feels, in his own way, and we care about that. But he has far less control than we do over the ordinary events of the day.

Routine helps him understand his life and know where we are in the day and what is going to happen.

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Mac

In general we think Mac understands a lot more of what’s happening than people might think, and perhaps even understands things we don’t. (By “we” I mean his family and myself.) However, anything we can do to help him have more control or understanding of  his life and circumstances, we want to do.

Since he is so responsive to music, I decided to make him a “map” of his neighborhood with songs.

What I did was simple. Every street has its own song. I made it a simple song, most of them rounds that I taught my kids when they were growing up; such as “Jubilate Deo.” Each has a short, jolly melody and a phrase that is repeated again and again, easily recognizable.

As soon as we turn on to a new street, I sing its’ song.

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If he is enjoying my singing, I sing the song for a while. If he makes the grunting, irritated sounds he makes when he wants quiet, I know to stop. I have informed him of where we are in our walk, and I can quit singing and let him listen to the birds instead.

Other times he crows with recognition and in participation with every song, lifting his chin to the rhythm of the music.  He likes when I sing, and I think knowing where we are gives him more freedom to feel like he’s on a walk, rather than just being taken around.

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photo by Maire Manning-Pauc

The street he lives on actually has two songs. One song is for when we are going away from the house, and one for when we are coming back. That way, especially on days when he is kind of grumpy or he feels our walk has been too long, he knows we are headed back in the right direction and he is more patient.

I see him calm down and quit fussing when I begin the song that means, “We’re on your street and headed back to your house.”

I have thought for a long time that he understands this “music map.” When I have experimented by singing the wrong song, he expresses the displeasure he often does when his routine is disrupted in other ways. This tells me he knows the songs for each street and doesn’t want me messing that up! Even when we take different routes he seems to know and recognize the street we are on and what song I should be singing.

I think that Mac does have a “music map” in his mind now. I think he has learned about his neighborhood more this way.

Mac is often mysterious. I may not be able to understand what he draws from the street-song plan of mine.  But he does “get” that each street has its own song and he knows what that song should be.

It’s one more way for us to connect and communicate.

That’s surely something.

And it adds more joy to our day.

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It could be OK. :)

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Sun spills over my note book.

It’s so pleasant.

I could just stay.

My fish stops her revolutions of the tank,

And turns to look at me.

I gaze back at her.

We are in the same day together,

She and I;

Existing together

In an apartment

With some plants

Some art

and furniture,

a smiling Raggedy Anne.

I am tempted by this quiet afternoon

To rest among my books….

My few familiar things.

 Suitcase by the door…

I never sing anymore.

But here goes.

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Suffer me not to leave thee (a wife’s Pieta)

 

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After all three of us had called everyone we needed to call, another pot of coffee was put on.

I took a picture of Bob- beautiful and at peace with rose petals all over him, all over the bed.

Andrea had the idea that our closest female friends should wash Bob’s body and anoint him with oils. Amy had a set of Biblical oils (like frankincense, myrrh, calamus, cinnamon, onycha, spikenard, myrtle, etc.)  So she brought it over. Everyone was here except Nan, whose phone had been off that morning so far. Andrea got the tubs of water and pomagranite soap ready and Amy set out the oils. Bob was covered modestly of course.

I was caressing his face. His mouth was open and I said affectionately, as I often did (Bob sometimes would leave his mouth open when he was concentrating) “Close your mouth, Bobbi.”

I was drawn into the discussion over whether we should use spikenard or not because nobody really liked that smell too much. I said Jesus had been anointed with spikenard at Bethany and it was also in the Song of Songs. But it was not my favorite smell either.

When I looked back at Bob his mouth was not only closed but he had a little smile on his face. I asked the others if they had seen that. They looked and we agreed with wonder that he did have a little smile on his face.

 

Then solemly, reverently, Andrea, Jamie, Jocie, Amy, Shawna, and I together washed Bob’s feet, legs, arms, hands, torso, neck, head and face. We dried him and anointed him all over with oils and I also added in the blessed olive oil sent for healing from that priest with the gift of healing, and the oil from the lamp at St. Philomena’s tomb. I also blessed him with holy water as I did every day. Again I sprinkled rose petals over him.  I noticed the smile had gotten bigger. This was very strange and I took a picture. We all noticed and remarked on it.

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I knew that I needed to be alone with him, and I needed to be alone with him  for a as long as I needed to be. People were arriving and my youngest daughter, Roise, had to be told. She had spent the night at Jamie’s house. We told her in the front yard but she already had figured it out. She received the news solemnly, blankly – though tears sprang to her eyes briefly.  When I had woken up my oldest daughter, Maire, to tell her, she had looked angry and then blank. Neither of them felt like they could deal with seeing him. I said that was OK but they could if they wanted to.

I think I was hugged a lot. I don’t really remember those hours that well.

 

I thought of how saying goodbye to my first husband’s body had felt. That was a lesson in how not to have to do that. He was in a coffin, in an institutional setting, and people were waiting for me so they could close the casket; others waiting to take me home. It was horrible. I had been so strong through the vigil and rosary and talking to people and everything else but after I left Marc in that casket and knew I would never see him again I went hysterical and almost passed out. The only thing that had brought me out of that was hearing my four-year-old’s cries of terror as she tried to get out of the car and get to me.  I pulled myself together instantly.  It was quite an effort. This time I could be try to prevent that sense of trauma as much as I could. So I told people I needed to be alone with Bobbi and not to tell the funeral home to come until I said so.

I didn’t lock the bedroom door because I knew everyone would be frightened. I suffered some interruptions because of this. But I was aware that I shouldn’t scare the crud out of everyone. They needed to know they could get in here if they needed to.

Once the door was closed I got into the bed by Bobbi and I looked at him for a long time. I caressed him everywhere- appreciating in the most profound way how his body, beautiful to me,  was in so many ways an expression of his beautiful soul, of who he was, of his Bobness. John Paul II, in his Theology of the Body talked a lot about the nuptial meaning of the body. Bob’s body’s very design is for the spousal gift of himself – to me. And the Scripture says that a mans’ body is not his own but his wife’s and that the two become one flesh and one spirit. No wonder Eve was drawn from Adam’s very side.

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It was not that I thought of these things in a conscious way. It’s that I was experiencing them directly, intensely, since it was the last time I would ever touch him, my beautiful husband, my precious man, and because I was so flooded with memories of experiencing these things throughout our beautiful marriage.

I called him that – beautiful husband, precious man- as I touched him. I called him all the special things I always called him. I told him again how much I loved him, how beautiful he was.  I was peaceful inside during this time. I only felt love and deep appreciation.

It was not until I lay my body over his and put my cheek into the soft hair of his chest in my favorite spot- the safest place in the whole world- that I exploded into the abyss of grief and wept from some deep, dark, primal place- a horrible, wrenching, gutteral sobbing, “with tears hot and wild.” (Sinead O’Connor)  I was speaking but I didn’t know what I said. After a while I realized I was saying, “I love you! I love you! God I love you!”

The grief was a physical pain and no wonder. And I groaned with it from my soul. How can you be one flesh and one spirit with someone and not feel it in your very body and soul when the one you are joined with is taken away?

Maire, came into the room and stared down at us. Her face was a blank mask. I knew she felt traumatized and maybe the situation brought back the memory of my hysteria at the funeral home after the coffin was closed on her father, and I had been led away.

I looked up at her, my face covered  in tears and snot, my hair sticking to my  cheek and I said brokenly, “Maire please go. I need to do this right now. This is a very special time for us please leave the room. I promise I will be OK later. I just have to do this right now.” Finally she left without a word.

I held him. I kissed him. I kissed him over and over and all over him. I lay peacefully with him, looking out the window at the crucifix shrine in the roses, listening to the birds as I had done so many times when he was alive. I knew his soul was there in the room. That helped a lot. His love would make him want to be near me as I went through this. I trusted that love. I trusted that our union, in some ways, was unbreakable even by death, because it is a union of total love. We gave ourselves completely. And we learned about love from one another. I did think about that and was grateful for it as quiet tears slid down my cheeks into Bob’s chest hair and onto his face as I kissed him.

I held his rough calloused hands against my face. Hands that had held, caressed, and protected me, and also reached out for me in need or grasped mine in companionship and joy, or taken my own and pressed them to his heart.

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I was interrupted by Brandee, an old friend who was answering an inner summons to come to me. She did not even know Bob had died. Not even while she was in the room with me. That was strange. I don’t remember what she said or how I answered her. She went out of the room and I continued to be with Bob.

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I called Andrea to me eventually and told her I was ready for the funeral home to come. I was ready to get that part over with. I said please make sure my brother is nearby because I remember that part being traumatic and I may need help. So she did that. I clung to Bob. I waited. After some time Andrea let me know they were here. I said send them in.

The room began to fill up with people- family and friends. I started sobbing and I think I was a little hysterical- whatever that means. I saw the stretcher in the hall and a mild mannered, kind faced Hispanic man came into the room. I was sobbing and clinging to Bob and the man  started asking me what seemed like outrageously inane questions that totally could have waited. I thought  to myself that maybe this is how he deals with the hysterical people he no doubt encounters nearly every day. It worked. I sat up in the bed and choked back my tears, answering his questions.

Bob wanted to be cremated. He is Catholic. He had asked to be buried at Mt. Calvary cemetery next to my first husband. I already own the grave plot. He is a member of St. Thomas Aquinas parish and the funeral mass will be there. Fr. Wade of St. Thomas Moore in Round Rock would be presiding and Deacon Ron would be assisting. There were more questions but I don’t remember them.

 

Finally a young woman brought the stretcher into the bedroom and they prepared to move Bob onto it. There was some difficulty and Jon and Sedrick sprang forward to help. Mark did too.

Once on the stretcher Bob was covered up to his chin with a quilt the funeral home people had brought. We were each invited to say goodbye to him.

Maire and Roise were in the room and Maire came and put her head on Bob’s chest and cried a little bit before she pulled herself away, patting his chest one more time. Roise came and caressed his arm, crying, and said, “Bye, Bo Bo. I love you.’ She hugged him briefly. Other people too came and most put their hands on his chest in silence a moment. Jocie kissed him on the side of his head as she did always whenever she said goodbye to him. I think she said, “By Bobbi. See ya. “ I think we may have prayed the Our Father at that point and chanted the Ave Maria.

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I said, “Look at his face.” The smile was outrageous. It was unmistakable. It was huge. It was the biggest smile you ever saw. We couldn’t believe it. I took a picture of that too. It was truly amazing. And they took him from the room.

 

My brother, Mark got on the bed beside me and held me. My sister-in-law, Jamie, did too I think.

I was crying and I bet I sounded like a small child because that is how I felt. “Did I do OK?” I think I said. I don’t remember their reassuring answers and I don’t know why I asked such a thing. “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how. Are you going to help me? I can’t do this!” They all said they would.

Andrea said, after some silence, “Shawn, is there anything you’d like to say?” I said, with passion that surprised me, “Yes. I want to say that I asked God, “Father, take this cup from me but not my will but yours be done. And that I took the cup  and I drank it all. With Bobbi. And I’m glad.”

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I was still crying when Deacon Ron got there to bless the Bob’s body. He was surprised Bob was gone already. But he stayed and led us in prayer first. He conducted a simple prayer service that involved the reading of a few Scripture passages and traditional prayers for such a time. And then we all sang. We sang “I love You, Lord.” We chanted the Ave Maria. And we sang the family song, “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd. We were all delighted and surprised that Deacon Ron, though hailing from India, knew every word. Mark joked with him when we were finished, “Dude, you can’t sing. That’s OK. Neither can I.” My dad whispered in my ear, as people began to leave the room, “That guy in the long white robe looks Suspicious!” I laughed.

I don’t remember anything else from that day except that at a quiet moment Nan came. She led me into my room and got me into bed. She anointed me with oil. She sprinkled me with rose petals. As I had done for Bob a while since. So appropriate. Because that day I had died too. Or maybe I should see it in a more positive way. Being one with Bob I deserved similar attentions. Maybe I should try to see it in this way: That like Eve I was reborn from Bob’s side as he lay in the sleep of death with Adam until he should rise again in Christ who gave birth to His Bride the Church from his Heart pierced on the Cross. I was reborn into a new life as Bob’s widow to go forth from Bob’s side though still with him by Loves’ grace. This new life is yet to be discerned by me as to what it will be like and what path it will take. But God already knows. God waits for me until I am ready to walk again. Then he will show me where to go.

As I started to doze off I could hear Shawna and Mark talking in the kitchen but I didn’t know what they said. I was brought into sharp awareness when I felt suddenly that Bob was very close to me. I could almost expect to feel his breath on my face. “I’m complete now, Baby. I’m complete and I’m fulfilled. And it’s all because of you.”

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Do not press me to leave you!

Wherever you go I will go

wherever you stay I will stay.

Your people shall be my people

and your God, shall be my God.

  • All art is by my husband, Bob Chapman, who died of Brain Cancer in my and my brother, Mark’s arms on April 13, 2012
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The moon in my heart

 

 

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Thinking and dreaming and having tea with Mary

In the briefly blooming rose of evening.

We sit together silently, night’s growing darkness cloaking us,

Warm about our shoulders.

Through the window we can see the sun’s glow cascade ecstatically over the top of Howell’s Grocery,

Pour itself over the edge of the earth into space;

A passing caress over the other side of the world

As she turns on her axis.

We sit.

Mary’s hand touches mine,

The warmth of her tea cup still on her finger tips.

I sense her encouraging nod in the darkness.

She is with me.

“Remember,”

Says the brush her of fingers,

Remember day when you forget.

I am always with you,

I will bring for you the moon,

Reminding you of the sun

The deepest glow of God

Present in your heart.

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  • Sky photos by Renee Bork

 

Air travel observations

1. People in air ports are profoundly not present.

2. You can sing in airports and nobody notices.

3. If they make me take my shoes off, that means I can keep them off.

4. A lot of people don’t know where other people are, or why they do what they do, and they just can’t believe it.

5. There actually is a place called Wallah Wallah.

6. Nobody knows what they are doing and the whole thing is totally out of control.

7. It is a good thing to laugh at one’s own jokes.

 8. Even though there is a place called wallah wallah, nobody can go there tonight, apparently.
9. Sorrow is so sacred.
10. It’s all worth it at the end.
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Son-in-law Jon and grand baby Blaze to meet me
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Daughter Maire by the baggage claim

The little One (a little meditation on Christmas)

Warm, soft, vulnerable and alive, this sleeping One in my lap. I caress the tiny forearm, touch the curled, unsure hands. I can’t stop kissing his fast-beating heart, listening to his unpracticed, uneven breath. I touch his soft, dark, baby hair, nuzzling the top of his head with my nose. His little feet, slightly cold- so tiny and perfect- have never yet touched the ground. I hold them in my hands to warm them. I kiss their satiny soles. “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” my heart in wonder repeats, repeats. I press him to me, this Lord of mine, with a profound, peaceful, joyful gratitude and love, a protective love. He opens his eyes, still that deep slate gray of the newly arrived human. They hold the newborn’s sage, open gaze; mildly curious, seeming to drink in the powerful love pouring out of the utterly enchanted person looking back at them. He blinks innocently at the tears falling from my eyes into his.

 

I am cold, my arms flailing awkwardly and out of my control. I’m confused. I don’t know what’s happening. I need comfort, warmth, nourishment. And then I am warm, pressed soothingly all around. A deep, sweet peace flows into my mouth and through my body as my unruly hands tangle in her hair, Mama, Mama. The only thing I know is this love, this union, this protection and assurance. I relax completely.

I am that I am, Being, Love, Light and Life. I surround my Son, inhabit my Son, I am within my Son, I love my Son, I am my Son. I have remained what I have been and will be eternally, and I have become what I was not. In my love of humanity, I have finally become fully human, entering the world of time and space in the most profound and humble way. So great is my love, I have been conceived and born into this human cloud of unknowing, emptying Myself, taking the form of a slave, in order to free and divinize my beloved humanity, made of dust, that they might share my Divine Life.

Vulnerable, human, innocent and unknowing, be, oh Christian soul. I have shown you the way to Me: this little Child, this Way, this Truth, this Life, full of humility and trust, gentle, humble, simple, with the need, the open-ness of the newborn. Come to Me, forgetting everything but Love Itself, and be born again. Be little, be free, be loved. Never be afraid, it is I, the Little One, asking for your love.

Answer Me, say from the heart:

Truly, I have set my soul 

In silence and in peace

As the Divine Child has rest in His mother’s arms,

Even so, my soul.

Children of God,

Hope in the Lord forever. (a variation on Psalm 131)

On this Holy Night, take time to be little, humble, simple, trusting, and close to God, like a child.

 

A reflection on the Immaculate Conception of Mary (December 8)

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“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

In Michelangelo’s painting of the Creation of Adam, I noticed that the Father’s cloak, flying up around him in the painting, is shaped like a cross section of a human brain. Looking at the painting, you can see that Eve is just behind God as he creates Adam. She is under his arm looking on. I love this. Eve was already known and loved by God before he made her. Of course she was. The way she is depicted looking on, even before her creation, reminds me that she and Adam were made for each other, as all spouses are.

Mary was deep in the mind of God from the beginning, and she was designed for union with the Holy Spirit, to be the perfect wife for Joseph, and to be the Mother of Jesus. God for-knew her from all time, and who she would be. He must have loved thinking about her.

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At the perfect time, Mary’s precious, pure humanity was conceived in human love in the womb of her mother, whom we call Anne. So much about Mary is hidden but exceedingly beautiful. Her glory was like a pearl in a shell; God’s own secret of what was to come, his quiet mystery veiled in the dark silence of the womb. Already she was in the perfect innocence of the first Eve. Already, she was in union with God without impediments. She was innocence beyond all innocence then in existence. She was already completely full of grace. How the Blessed Trinity must  loved looking at her, the private jewel of his heart, in her littleness. Her glory was like an unseen star shining on all humanity.“From my mother’s womb, you are my God. “Psalm 22″10b

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Little girl of incomparable beauty and promise, help me to be fully alive to God’s often hidden presence and beauty in my life, and to grow in awareness of his love and providence, His voice speaking to me, in every moment, pondering Him in my heart as you did.

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Resist like a Catholic (when a neo-Nazi is scheduled to speak in your town)

Now that I have pretty much gotten over the shock, and horrified outrage that this event  is most likely actually going to happen, it’s time to write about it, to contribute to the resistance.

The officials at Texas A & M can’t seem to get out of having unwanted speaker, Richard Spencer, promote hate and division here.

I have been praying, researching all I can about what this guy, and the person who invited him, Preston Wiginton, and their Neo-Nazi (“Alt Right,” “White Nationalism”) are all about. I encourage you to learn all you can, as well.

I  will surely be at the silent protests planned. I like the way the students are planning to do this: with Aggie dignity and decorum, but with courage to resist what is unacceptable.

I am happy that so many student leaders at A & M have voiced their opposition, including Hannah Wimberly, student body president, and Cecille Sorio, Corps of Cadets commander.

Our local paper, The Eagle, has done a good job educating and informing the community, and I think we will have a good showing as we protest outside this event. I hope to see many of my fellow Catholics, especially from my parish, St. Mary’s Student Center, there as well.

The Jewish student center, Hillel, has already planned to protest, and the Rabbi has publicly reacted to this. The Anti-Defamation League is sponsoring a briefing at Hillel which I plan to attend this week.

I was wondering if there was going to be a public Catholic response to this event. Then I realized that as the Catholic columnist for my local paper, that’s at least partly my responsibility.

My paper’s editor thought it best that I write a “letter to the editor” for this purpose. My regular column is mostly reflections. Besides, it just ran last week already. She said they did not invite the other religious writers to write about this, but she liked what I had to say. So I wrote. Here it is. 🙂

In case you don’t get the Eagle, or don’t live in Bryan-College Station, and you want to catch up on how we are doing with all this, you can check in here. Once there, search Richard Spencer and/ or Preston Wiginton.

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Here is my own letter to the editor:

To my fellow Catholics, and to all people of good will in my community,

As we each consider our responses to this event, I suggest reading in the Catechism of the Catholic Church #s 1928- 1948, especially # 1946, regarding race relations in society and our responsibilities in that regard, according to the teachings of our faith.

I have been reflecting and praying Ephesians 6: 10-17 as well.   It tells me we are not battling people; in this case, not Richard Spencer or Preston Wiginton, but the insidious, and often well- disguised hateful ideology they promote.

We should pray for the conversion of heart of all neo-Nazis to God’s law of Love.

The Saints of our Catholic Faith who were confronted with direct experiences of the evil one in person, confirm that the best response is simple resistance in the Name of Jesus, rather than argument or engagement. In the Gospel, “Get thee behind me, Satan,” confirms how to respond to someone speaking in ways opposed to the Gospel. We can say that with our actions very well, of course.

Let’s reflect on where we stand according to our faith, and then let’s live those values out with the humility, confidence, and love God commands.

May the Catholic Saints who died at the hands of the Nazis pray for us.

May the many Saints of color, pray for us.

May Mary, Mother of Jesus, a Jewish woman, blessed among all women, pray for us.

As Mary said, “Do whatever [Jesus] tells you.”

We each have to discern what our responses should be.

As for me and my house, we will take this opportunity to serve the Lord of Love and righteousness by standing outside in quiet protest with the Aggies, rosaries in hand.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity to go back into fear, but of power, and love, and self control.”( 2 Tim. 1:7)

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For more on Catholic teaching, and Church documents regarding racism and racial separatism, you might like: http://www.loyno.edu/jsri/catholic-social-teaching-cst-and-racism

 A great article in response to this by a professor of History at TAMU: Let White Nationalist speak to an empty room

If you would stll like to sign the petition for the university to cancel this event, though a way has not yet been found:petition

If you would like to attend the silent protest during the event on December 6: Silent Protest

If you would like to attend the alternate event, Aggies United at Kyle Field that was announced last night by A & M President Young.

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P.S. Good things have come of this event already:

  • We are all better educated about what this movement is about and alerted that it can’t be ignored or wished away, but must be opposed vigilantly.
  • Our town, and its university, have gotten in touch with what we are about, and energized to stand up for what we believe in. It has been unifying, overall.
  • I bet there will be better vetting of anyone who wants to use the Memorial Student Center for an event from now on, as there is at some of the other places on campus. Thank goodness for that.

A good thing I hope will come of this is for all minorities be reassured that the rest of their community knows they belong, cares about them, and stands up for them and with them.

The world will be watching Texas A & M and Bryan-College Station, to see how we react to this. The “Alt Right” will be watching, too. I hope they all get an eye full.

Amen to that.

P.S. I wrote a story about the protest and my experience of it for ATX Catholic. So here is the addendum: Resist like a Catholic II: Protesting Neo Nazi-ism with the Aggies

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