Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Revelation

"I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the Gospel preached by me is not of human origin. For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ." Paul
Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and, when they had finished breakfast, said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Today, on the Feast Day of Sts. Peter and Paul, we read much about Jesus revealing Himself to His Apostles and the effects those revelations had on the history of the church. In the commentary from the Saint of the Day, we see Jesus constantly revealing Himself and the teachings of the Father to Peter and Peter's denials, his failings, his mishaps, followed by Jesus' forgiveness, His understanding and His healing. We see Jesus revealing to Peter and to Paul all that they need to lead the Church and to preach the Gospel and we see these two men, as humans, with failings, working tirelessly to understand, to preach, to lead and to reveal Jesus Christ to all they meet.
I have spoken before about V-8 moments where I physically pop myself on the forehead and think, "Wow, that's what it's all about!" I think these two men probably had many V-8 moments in their lives. But I have to say, their reactions, their responses, their persistence, their openness to Jesus' revelations made all the difference.
Today, I once again work to open myself to all Jesus has to reveal. I say this quite often and then get on with my busy-ness and wonder, "Where is Jesus in all I have to do?" Well, duh. He reveals Himself through everyone I come in contact with during my day. He walks beside me on that road to Emmaus. He reaches out His hand when I'm about to go under. He forgives me when I deny Him and He gives me the opportunity to Feed His Lambs, to Tend His Sheep and to Feed His Sheep. May I be open to His revelations.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

John the Baptist

"He must increase. I must decrease."
I can't help but mention a little about John the Baptist today because he brings to mind other "heroes of the Church" people seem to love to quote. John compares his relationship to Jesus as groom and best man right before the above quote. I love that image. He's "overjoyed to hear his voice." "The One who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth is earthly, and he speaks on an earthly plane." He quotes Isaiah saying, "I am a voice in the desert crying out: Make straight the way of the Lord!" John constantly and continually points to Jesus. He's the best man, the co-pilot, the altar server, the co-director, the aide. He works his entire life to bring others closer to Jesus. He works to raise Jesus up and to let others know that He and He alone is the One. The real deal.
There are countless Saints and Heroes that we can say are similar to John the Baptist in that they have spent their lives bringing others to Christ. When I was working on the Lives of the Saints and the Visions of Mary mini bios, I read countless stories of people, just like you and I, who spent their days and their nights spreading the Good News. But the most recent that pop right into my head when I read "He must increase. I must decrease." are Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa and Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan. There are many others, I realize, who seem to point back to Jesus with all of their writings and each of their quotes. Their voices in the desert never seem to dry out or tire of saying, "Look! There is the Lamb of God." Make straight the way!
Anyone John the Baptist' you'd like to share?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Measuring

"For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you."

A hand-me-down that most families can relate to is the art of cooking. I watched my mom cook a lot while I was growing up. When we were older and started asking for recipes, she'd try to write some of them down and really had no idea how to pinpoint measurements. A pinch of this. A pinch of that. So much to taste. And taste again. And if it's not quite right, add a little bit of this. And try to get such and such brand because they have a spoonful of this added. To make it thicker, add... If it's too thin, add... Cook for about... Is there actually a specific measurement of anything in home cooking? I think not. Flavoring to taste seems to be the key. I guess that's why my mom always had enough to feed an army. She feared she may have to taste half the dish before she got it just exactly like she wanted it.
I believe, in the big scheme of things, it was good my mother never really measured out her recipes. There would be no telling how we kids would have ended up had she'd tried to actually get us to measure up. Measure up to what? Compare us to who? The parentals actually tried their best not to compare. Not to judge. Not to have us measure up to anyone but ourselves. They added bits and pieces, pinches, dashes and tads to flavor but for the most part, there were no written recipes. Comparing, judging, measuring just led to one huge, tasteless batch. It's not easy going without a recipe. Life is tough. Thank goodness I had someone to teach me the fine art. Love's the key. Prayer is essential (especially in my kitchen). Scripture has most everything you need. And, after all is tasted two or three times, add just a little extra to bring out the full flavor. Forget specific measurements. They'll mess up the dish.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day


Today is a great example of this weeks post on how we remember the past. How do we tell the stories we remember and how much do we embellish or omit depending on what we are trying to accomplish? Each one of the kids in my family have a slightly different way we remember our raisin'. I know that I was the model child and that my parents had no worries about what path my life would take but I couldn't say the same for the rest. Guess they'll just have to get there own blog if they have something else to say. But for now, let's get on with the Happy Father's Day wish.
My dad. I remember you working, coaching baseball and softball, playing cards on the den floor, playing basketball with us in the backyard, taking us on vacations (every summer, in the station wagon, 11 including Mama Jo), finishing the house right before we move (always building), going to business dinners dressed in crazy outfits, working Cursillo weekends (mom took us to the chapel during your talks), taking all of us to Mass together, going to visit your parents every Sunday, being there for our games, driving to Knoxville to visit the Robinsons, leaving in the middle of the night for Adoration, buying classic cars (gaugous), giving away cars, meeting for breakfast after Mass, watching your grandchildren play sports or act or sing, giving away, taking time with others, loving us and loving mom and loving our children. Happy Father's Day dad! I love you too.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Sarah!


An avid reader of this blog, my daughter, Sarah, is 20 years old today. Again, where does the time go? Seems just yesterday we were removing her sister's blonde curls from her clinched fists. Now, this chic, I'm tellin' ya, is one of the most tender, caring young ladies you'll ever meet. Last school year, she volunteered at a retirement home and came home at Christmas with a pair of booties one of the old ladies had made for her. The year before she helped tutor children at a local school. She takes time with people. Genuinely loves being around others and catering to their needs. She's sweet. She couldn't possibly have an ounce of my genes but I wholeheartedly claim her as mine. I am so proud of her as a daughter and as a friend. She truly has remarkable gifts and talents. I hope and pray she persists in her goal to become a physical therapist. I couldn't think of a better field for her to pursue. She's special. Her siblings love her and her mom and dad adore her. She could never really have the kind of day she deserves, but I hope it's close. Happy Birthday Sarah!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Way We Remember

"I felt she was making up her own version as she went along, putting in what she liked and leaving out what didn't suit her - maybe that's the way all our memories work."

This quote from Gail Godwin's book is so me. I actually had to write it down.
Yesterday, my 12 year old daughter said, "Mom, you remember when you told us how you were so poor when you were young that the kids had to color on the paper that you tore off the coat hangers? And then you told us you had to use old candle wax for crayons but you said you were just kidding about that." No I don't remember telling them that but it sounds about right. I do have a tendency to embellish a story and I do think I've colored on hanger paper before and mom did watch money carefully and I do like the idea. I must have been making a "waste not want not" point when I made that up.
I, like many of my other siblings, have a knack for "making up our own version as we go along" and oftentimes that version changes the more we tell the story. All I know is that I was the perfect angel of a child and grew in "grace and wisdom" alongside my best friend Maureen. We did everything our parents asked, we helped our neighbors at no charge, we followed every move our older siblings made, and we were the model citizens at school. And, I can make a long-winded truth out of each of those statements. Isn't it funny how we remember stories about growing up? Share a past story with someone today and juice it up a little. Make it fun. Make someone laugh or say, "What? That's not the way it happened at all?" The way we remember can be exciting. Embellish a little and let me know if you get any great reactions.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Snapshots and Video

Our priest yesterday gave a wonderful homily comparing snapshot pictures to moving pictures. He explained that he had just spent time with his brother and his sister and gone through his parents old family photo albums remembering all the great times they had growing up. He made the point that the individual snapshots showed happy times and times of accomplishment. Then he began to explain that when the video cameras began to be used, everything began to come to life. Memories not just of gathering for the family photo but of family members picking at one another while getting ready and some of the not so nice parts of a family gathering as well as the good times.
"The Pharisees saw things in video." He explained that they held the "sinful woman" accountable to every single frame of her life. They saw the bad with the good. Jesus on the other hand saw the woman in snapshots. He talked about her life in individual frames, the good parts of her life. And most importantly, he said, He wants to dwell on our individual snapshots also. He does not want to view the long video tape with the fuzzy images that distort and show the bad as well as the good. He wants to view those happy times and those times of accomplishment that show us at our best. Jesus in His infinite wisdom and mercy flips through the photo album and enjoys the good times of our lives.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

St. Anthony of Padua


Last year around this time, as most have heard, I was traveling in Spain and Portugal with my mother and two oldest daughters. While in Lisbon, Beth and I took a walk as the other two rested. Not far from our hotel was the Church of St. Anthony of Padua. As we entered, Mass was about to begin but this elderly gentleman, (Beth and I later named Keeper of the Crypt), motioned for us to enter a door and journey down a steep set of stairs. He hung out as we read that we were in St. Anthony's birthplace and as we knelt before a grated partition, the plaque to the left read, "Pope John Paul II knelt here in ____". (Similar plaque we saw in Fatima and in Santarem. We felt like we were following a previous journey.) We dropped a coin in the slot to light up an electric votive light and I prayed for my brother Phillip Anthony and his son, Phillip Anthony Jr., both deceased. I felt an incredible presence.
We walked back up just as a visiting Franciscan celebrated Mass. After Mass, they processed with the Relic of St. Anthony and prayed many prayers. It was a beautiful experience. I picked up a little prayer card and this is the shortened version:
Five Minutes with St. Anthony
How long I was waiting for you, devoted soul, as I know very well the favors you need and want me to ask God.
I feel like doing everything for you, but, tell me one by one all your needs, as I wish to be the intermediary between your soul and God, to pour balm into your wounds. I feel the anguish of your heart and I want to join your sorrows.
Do you wish my help in business? Do you want protection to restore peace in your family? Do you want to get a job? Do you want to help poor people? Any necessitous person? Do you wish any tribulation to stop? Do you want your health or of someone you love very much? Courage, as you will obtain everything.
...I want you to be more devoted to our Mother, the Holy Mary...
How many, with earnest faith, have come to me with the bread of the poor in his hands and have been heard. They invoke me to be successful in business, to find a lost object, to obtain the conversion of someone distant from God; and I, for poor's love, whose misery is in my hands, obtain from God everything one asks and even much more. Now, go back to your work and don't forget what I have recommended you. Come always to me, because I'm waiting for you. Your visits will be pleasant to me, because you will never find a friend so affectionate as me.
I leave you in the Holy Heart of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Will

Today is my oldest son's 15th Birthday and I'd just love to know where the time went. At what I'm guessing is about 6ft.2in, he stands well above his dad (and my man not short). He's talking about things like learners permits and finances and working at the bookstore. How could this be? I'm sure I was just hearing comments from the neighbors about how good he was walking his younger siblings home from school and what a joy he was to have in daycare. Wasn't I just watching at Christmas while he was a jingle bell in the kindergarten play? Didn't he just play the recorder at the Spring Concert as a 4th grader? It must have happened when I bought him that phone for his 8th grade graduation. With his high school being out of our range, we thought it would be best and now look, he's getting so old. He'll be driving next year and just like his older sisters, I'm sure he'll go places without his parents. The nerve of these kids! Where does the time go? I am crazy about this boy of mine. He's a good kid.
As the reading for today is about Jesus staying behind from Joseph and Mary and preaching in the temple, I'd like to believe and I pray that Will can always remain "about his Father's business" as he grows. And me, I guess I'll just hold my memories in my heart and pray more and more each day that all our children will remain within the hands of Our Father and in the heart of Mary.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bookstores and Publishers

Again I think about my week at the Religious Book Trade Exhibit in St. Charles, IL and am even more aware of the effects of the economy and the age of computers on our bookstores today. I felt the loss of many of our smaller stores as I sat in on meetings and wandered through the aisles to buy books for our own store. There were many discussions about e-books and there is always mention of the biggest competitor for stores, Amazon. How can we compete? What will e-books do to the market? How can we be a part of that business? Many questions, many answers, fewer brick and mortar stores.
But there was encouragement amongst us and there was positive feedback and potential support. There was a workshop given by Lisa Hendey about social media and how our bookstores can get on board to advertise our stores and our events and our products. There was a talk given during lunch by Sr. Joan Chittister praising bookstores and publishers and below are a few of her words. These words, these workshops, these gatherings help to keep the fire going in our work to light the next candle. These words rejuvenate and encourage us in times when it is "easier" not to be supported locally. I'm not whining. Don't worry. I'd just occasionally like to remind others to "Support your local Catholic Bookstore" whenever possible so they can continue and maybe not just survive, but thrive. If you do not have one near you, support an online store that perhaps you have been to in another city or know of in some way more personally. And, thank you to all who already do. We are grateful.
Sr. Joan - "It is you, in other words, publishers and book sellers, who face the questions for us all, who keep the questions alive, who make questions the footpath on the way to God—whatever the era, whatever the challenge, whatever the threat to freedom of thought and the perils of personal faith in an institutional time.
As the people of God, we owe you much.
As an institution, the church owes you even more.
The books you publish, the books you put on your shelves seed the soul of tomorrow.
More than that, they enable the thinking Christian to go on when the church lights go out and ideas big enough to show the way are being veiled by those who prefer the comfort of darkness. You are the keepers of the ministry of the Word. Who understand that it is sacred and who, in whatever form, keep it well.
You are the keepers of questions that are soul-sized, that are dangerous, perhaps, but that are necessary if any of us are ever to be true to the Gospel we preach."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Five Loaves and Two Fish

He said to them, "Give them some food yourselves."
They replied, "Five loaves and two fish are all we have,"
Today's words from the Gospel of Luke on this the Feast of Corpus Christi remind me of the book by Archbishop Francois-Xavier Nguyen van Thuan, Five Loaves and Two Fish. Written while under house arrest for nine and a half years in North Vietnam, the small book is a "spiritual memoir".
"The archbishop continued his priestly duties while under arrest. He tended his new flock in secret, saying Mass underneath mosquito nets late at night and silently distributing communion to other prisoners from his shirt pocket. He befriended and taught Latin hymns to prison guards, who, in return, brought him small quantities of wine for communion and materials to make a cross."
The book is presented one loaf to five loaves and first fish, second fish. "These reflections and intensely personal prayers will help to find grace in the face of extreme difficulty by allowing God to multiply of our blessings, as He multiplied the five loaves and two fish to feed all who were hungry."
This book is rich in content for young people as well as adults.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Changin' My Ways

I know if my parents read this title they will click on immediately, thinking "Finally! Finally!" but "Mom, dad, it's not what you've been praying for these forty-nine years." No, I'm not changing' myself just yet, I'm changing my writing schedule.
Just getting back from a big week with writers and publishers and editors I realize that I am spending less and less time writing what I need to send out to publishers and more time reading and writing blogs and making comments etc. After the workshop with Lisa Hendey, I understand that I need to organize my time and get more done in less time by allowing myself to learn how the free online "tricks of the trade" can work on my behalf. Right now I have a list of new mini bios to write for my Italian friends and I have a lot I'd like to share here and on twitter and on facebook about my time in Chicago and I have a few proposals to send to those who requested them this week. I do have these six children that God has blessed me with and their father that may like to have some fun this summer and I do have to sleep some time so I need to change my writing habits.
If anyone out there has ideas of helping me to change my ways and get more done so I can spend quality time with my children and my husband and still run the bookstore and write, I'd love the comments. But for now, on my own, I'm going to blog 4 or 5 days a week instead of 6 or 7, although while in Chicago I have hardly been here at all, and I will try to compact my blogs. Wish me luck! I'm changin' my ways.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Through the Written Word

Always a humbling experience for me is meeting our Catholic/Christian authors up here in Chicago every year. I feel that the book and media industry is fascinating and essential in spreading the Gospel in today's world. Of course the trends of blogging, podcasting, and ustreaming is amongst us along with the reality of e-books but to me they all still need words which still need guidance from the Holy Spirit which still spread truth. I am overwhelmed by the possibilities and in awe of those who do so much for our faith. God Bless all who write, who read, who listen, who spread the Gospel message and who share their gifts.