Thursday, May 14, 2009

As I was busily getting everyone ready this morning it dawned on me that today might be my Mother-in-Law’s birthday. She passed away in 1998 and I experienced my conversion less than two months later. I have no doubt that the two events are related. In the Communion of Saints, Josephine Brewster is a beautiful and active member. I checked my birthday book, and sure enough, her birthday is today. So after I dropped the kids off at school and headed to the Adoration Chapel prior to 8 am Mass, I entered a petition in the book outside the Chapel something to the effect of, “For Josephine on her birthday, in Thanksgiving for a life beautifully and joyfully lived; for her family to come to know Jesus as she does.” I had my time in the Chapel and heard the kids entering Church for the weekly school Mass. I filed in along with them and winked at my kids as they entered with their classes.

Father Francis always gives a beautiful homily which manages to have something for both the kids and the adults. Today the brand-new First Communicants were there in their finery and Father spoke to them specifically of Jesus’ love for each of them, given in the Holy Eucharist. To explain to the children how, “We do this in remembrance…” Father told a personal story. His mother was a good cook and made a wonderful apple pie. But as good as the pie was, Father’s favorite part was that she would bake off the crust scraps, after sprinkling them with cinnamon-sugar. These warm morsels, filled with love, have stayed with him to this day. Now when ever Father has a nibble of crust, he is reminded of his mother and her love for him.

This story would have been quite beautiful on its own, but was more so to me because Josephine always did the same thing for my husband, John. It’s a tradition I continue for John and our children. There is nothing like the smell of cinnamon-sugar sprinkled pie crust baking in the oven, to make me feel like I am really a “mom”. After Mass I decided to ditch my plans for the day and be lead by the Spirit to make Josephine’s sauce, and a batch of pie crust. I’ll be sure to take some to Father Francis.

The other chord God was playing in the sweet suite of this day regarded our marriage. I have a devotion to Jesus, King of All Nations, which involves offering communions for nine consecutive days for an individual. Jesus promises to give that person an angel to guard and guide for each of the nine days of the novena! I started this just a couple of years ago, but have been making my way through my family and friends, saying yes to Jesus desire to send many angels down to help us. As God would have it, today is the ninth and final day of this particular novena, which I was inspired to offer for John’s and my marriage. I have never offered a novena for anything other than a person before, but felt lead to do so this time. As God would further have it, we just picked up my re-set wedding rings yesterday, which houses Josephine’s engagement stone and this was my first day wearing it.

Mass was so beautiful and deeply consoling after a very trying day and night. I felt union with Jesus, with Mary and especially with my dear Josephine, who taught me so much about true love by her witness to her husband and her whole family. So off I went to the grocery store to pick up tomatoes and meats for Josephine’s sauce. Pork ribs, ground beef, tomatoes, time to check out. The total came to $7.17. John and I were married 7/17/93.

Lord, I’m amazed by You. Though I am as a speck of dust, living on a speck of dust of a planet, you order my day so completely and perfectly that every time I look and have eyes to see, I am shown the depth of your love and tender care for me. Thank you, dear Father, for Josephine, for Father Francis, for Father Francis’ mother, for my husband and our marriage and children, for all the Saints. May I be a wife and mother like Mary, like Josephine, seeking to serve and be a font of love in the lives of those you have given me.

One more thing. One of the First Communicants is a boy, Gregory, who is battling Leukemia. As he was stepping up to the ambo to read one of the prayers of the faithful, I asked Josephine to please pray for him. Gregory’s prayer was, “For all of our beloved deceased who cannot be here with us today; may the Lord grant them peace and make His face to shine upon them”. So in that little instant in the Communion of Saints, Josephine and Gregory were praying for each other.

God is good. :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Jealous of God's Love

People always say "jealous" when they seem to mean "envious". Sure, they say "orientated" when they mean "oriented", but this is not mere grammar. Envious means, I want what you have. Jealous means, I want all of your love and attention for myself. Asked to define these words, most of us would be able to explain the difference. Yet we persist in saying we are "jealous". Does this slip point to something deeper? Perhaps we are not really coveting the gift the other has. Perhaps we are truly jealous of the Giver of the gift. Are we fearful that God loves them more than He loves us? God's love is boundless. He can love the prosperous, talented, beautiful woman down the street and love me. I think envy is actually the lesser sin. At least it doesn't place human limits upon our infinite God.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Flight 3407 and Redemptive Suffering

On Thursday, February 12th, I attended our parish’s monthly Ladies of the Lord meeting. The founder, Dawn Curazzato, gave a presentation on the meaning of redemptive suffering and how our suffering is joined with Our Lord’s on the Cross. She spoke of the Tree of knowledge of Good and Evil and the fruits of original sin. After the meeting I went into the Church to say a prayer before going home. While looking at the tabernacle it seemed to my eyes that a cloud of smoke passed before it. I thought it must be incense although no one was there and I did not smell anything. I went home, did a few final chores and settled in for a good night’s sleep with my husband. I always sleep well after praying with the Ladies, even if we were speaking of worrisome things.

The next morning, Friday, February 13th, the kids and I were running a little late. I usually turn the computer on in the morning and check my email. This morning I wished I hadn’t. Dawn Iacono, our Diocesan Pro-Life Director, had sent an email out regarding a rape/abortion simulator game from Japan which was briefly available here through Amazon. The sales pitch actually says “take that, pro-life movement!” I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I never turn the TV on in the morning, but usually open the paper. This day I just left it for my mother in its orange plastic bag. The theme of suffering was very much on my mind and my heart. After dropping the kids at school I walked into church for 8 am Mass. Our little bitty crucifix had been replaced with a beautiful big one, and I was again struck by the thought, “Suffering”. I pondered how evil brings suffering, not necessarily upon those who commit the evil, but suffering does come. I thought about the great evil being brought into the world through that “game” which is really training for the real war, training in bondage and death and death and death.

The night before while Dawn C. talked about evil conquering good (temporarily) through wars and mentioning Croatia specifically, I thought about the horrible weapon of rape in war and how it is archetypical of evil conquering good. Dawn talked about the degradation of the human person and I thought about how rape is that incarnate, or at least in spirit. I sat, viewing the Cross, and mourned. Then my friend Angela Grace came in bearing to me the message (as angels do) that a plane had crashed in Clarence Center the night before killing 50. One of the victims, the only one known at that time, was coming to give a scholarship in her husband’s honor; he was a 9/11 victim. My thought immediately was that the redemptive suffering coming out of this crash is directly related to the “game”. All sin is directly related to all suffering just as we are all One Body in Christ. An abomination called a game coming out of a country on the other side of the planet can be said to have caused the suffering of 50 families related to flight 3407.

Our region seems to be protected from catastrophic events, but not from suffering. Our region seems to be more devout and less prosperous. Perhaps this is another protection from self-dependency, self-deception and slipping away from God. The River of Mercy flows over Niagara Falls. The power of redemptive suffering, joined to Our Lord’s suffering, can save mankind from itself and its sins. One of the readings at Mass was the same one on the Tree of knowledge of Good and Evil. Then at the end of Mass, we noticed our friend, Evelyn, was crying. Yes, Deo Gracias, her husband, had died the night before. She mourned openly and beautifully. She suffered as his suffering ended. She did not run from it; she entered into it. She did not deny it; she gave it to Jesus. He and His Blessed Mother comfort her, through the members of the body of Christ.

I spoke with Mary Lou Daigler, another beautiful Lady of the Lord, after Mass on Sunday. I had been thinking about the smoke from the plane crash and the smoke I had seen pass in front of the Tabernacle after our meeting, almost at the same time as the crash. Mary Lou offers instead that the smoke was the sweet incense of prayer from the meeting itself. It did, in fact, move in the direction from the meeting room past the Tabernacle to the left.

As time passes we learn that many of the people on board were from Amherst and Clarence. In this small community of two degrees of separation, we all know at least one person lost. None were from St. Greg’s. Mercy, Jesus, Mercy. Thanks be to God. When the local church bells toll one week to the moment later, they are rung 50 times. At St. Greg’s they are rung 51, because one of the victims, Jennifer Neill, the niece of a parishioner, was pregnant.

Through it all, God is with us. Through it all, we will have to choose to grow nearer to Him or farther away. Neither choice will avoid suffering. Only one can redeem.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Media Malpractice

Yesterday was the March for Life on Washington, DC. Two days after the jubilant people of this country welcomed their new president and put another nail in the coffin of racial injustice, another, even graver injustice was commemorated. The parallels are there for those who which to see. African Americans were kept as slaves because they were not considered human persons. The pre-born are allowed to be killed because they are not considered human persons. Two parallel lies and one country dumb enough to believe them. God has indeed favored our nation, but apparently it isn't because we are smart.

At the time of the abolitionists, many voices cried out against them saying, "You should be concentrating your efforts on poverty; on women's suffrage." Today Pro-Life Americans are told to go help the poor or work for peace. The things is, they do those things too and they do them more than the people who are yapping at them about their pro-life work. Go to the soup kitchens and the free health clinics and the homeless shelters and the missions. The people working there know first hand the dignity of each human life and consistently stand up for it by all of their works. These things are not mutually exclusive, but death excludes all life.

After 36 years of abortion on demand, cheap and easily available birth control, and the "sexual revolution", are we more free? The rates of rape and infidelity and divorce and prostitution and pornography and child sexual abuse, have they declined as promised? How's that working for you America? Now that you're "free", are you happier? License is not freedom. Freedom is the ability to do what you should, not to do whatever the heck your flesh tells you at the moment. Does the grossly overweight person feel "free"? Does the chain smoker feel "free"? Does the heroine addict feel "free"? Does the man who leaves his family behind to go to prison because of his child-porn addiction feel "free"? Do the children abused to make those films feel "free"? Does the 16 year old girl in a "relationship" with the 28 year old guy who is having her third abortion feel "free"? Does the woman who had an abortion 20 years ago and has been battling depression ever since and is marginalized by the pro-choice people who claimed to help her feel "free"? Only the Truth will set you free. Only Jesus can heal you from the lies you have believed and lived out. Only we can speak out for the voiceless.

Thanks be to God for the one to two HUNDRED THOUSAND people who marched on our Capital yesterday. If you watched the coverage on EWTN you saw that at least half of the people there were youths. The joke of a picture they posted in my local newspaper, The Buffalo News, showed a close up of four people, none under the age of 55 or so. Why no grand shots of the Mall like we saw two days earlier? Why did the headline say "Tens of Thousands" and not the true numbers given by the DC Police Department? This is another layer of lies and it should not be. The media understands how powerful images are so they attempted to make the Pro-Life movement look small and aging. The opposite is true. By very definition Pro-Lifers are reproducing and Pro-Choice folks are dying out. We know who wins. We must take courage and strength in these dark days. We know who wins. Alleluia.