Friday, April 18, 2014

The Easter Tridiuum

                My brother (Irish Dominican) explains the Easter Tridiuum.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Last Time

We all know we're going to die, but we don't think about it.  We've all had friends with cancer, if not ourselves.  Sometimes the cancer is terminal.  Now, that brings about a new definition of knowing when we are to die.  Everything is seen with different eyes.

Some of these people sometimes make a conscious effort to say "goodbye" to their loved ones.  If they can, they want to spend time with them.

Even though he didn't have cancer, Jesus knew he was about to die.  He knew this was the last time he would be spending with his disciples.  He made it very special.

We remember, Lord.  Thank you for remembering us.  Thank you for loving us.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Surely it is not I, Rabbi?

All my life, I've gone to Mass.  I've heard the story of the Last Supper, all my life.  Today, I heard and learned something new.

The disciples never used the title, "Rabbi," when addressing Jesus.  He told them not to.  Others who were not close to him, called him Rabbi, e.i., Pharisees and Sadducees.

So when Judas asks "Surely it is not I, Rabbi?" everyone at the table must have perked up.  Something's amiss.

Yes, this is a foreshadowing of Judas' separation from the disciples.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Piers Paul Read has written a few books that I often recommend.  So when I picked up Alive and the cover read, “# 1 New York Times Bestseller,” “Sixteen men, seventy-two days, and insurmountable odds—the classic adventure of survival in the Andes,” I thought Piers Paul Read had authored another great work of fiction.

It wasn’t until I was on page 8-11 that I started having my doubts.  Definitely, when I spotted a map on page 13, the possibility that Alive may not be fiction dawned on me.  That’s what I get for skipping “Introductions.” 

The Acknowledgements, Introduction, and the Interview with the Survivors, in the back of the book, confirmed the fact that Alive by Piers Paul Read was non-fiction.  By then, it was too late.  I was hooked. 

I don’t only read fiction, after all.  But Alive is so unbelievable, it could very well be fictitious.  The survival of these men is so miraculous, it could be a tall tale.  But it’s not.  It’s made all too real by the author’s telling of the truth.

Piers Paul Read lists the passengers on the plane flying from Montevideo, Uruguay, to Santiago, Chile.  I got to know each one, and cared about them.  Any author of fiction would create sympathy for their major character.  Piers Paul Read does this for forty passengers and five crewmen.  There were times I was brought to tears by their fate.  I winced at their pain.  Is this because of the author’s skill at fiction writing?  Piers Paul Read definitely is skilled in the craft of writing, fiction and nonfiction.  Although he apologizes in the Acknowledgements, for not having the skill to express what these survivors went through.  I can’t imagine any author doing a better job.

This book is the most overtly Catholic book I’ve ever read, outside of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  The author, Piers Paul Read is a Catholic writer.  The characters are all Catholic.  They are rugby football players from two Catholic schools.   They pray their way through the book.  They meet God through their ordeal.

The boys are going to a game.  The plane crashes.  The passengers’ prayers stormed heaven.  The survivors thought a lot about God.  As time passed and they became weaker, their thoughts and prayers became desperate.  The boys made a conscious decision to organize and plan, since it didn’t look like search parties would find them.  First, they prayed.  Every night a rosary was prayed.  At night many theological and philosophical problems were discussed.

But first things first, food was a premium.  They ate what was available: wine, cheese, chocolate the passengers had bought as souvenirs.  But the plane had landed in snow covered mountains.  There was no vegetation and no game—absolutely no natural resources.  After a few weeks, the medical students in the group suggested eating the muscle and flesh of their deceased peers.  (The dead were naturally preserved due to the frozen conditions.)  Of course there were objections.  But in the end they had no choice.  They all agreed that to survive, they themselves would offer their own bodies so the others may live.  They even wrote letters to their parents explaining this, so if any of them survived they would not be judged criminally.

Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.  John 15:13

How they survived is only through the grace of God.  An avalanche covered the plane and more avalanches were always a threat, which is the main reason why a couple of the survivors had to trek out on their own to find help. 

A couple of attempts were futile.  The boys had to turn back disappointedly.  The third attempt was a success when two of the survivors found a couple of Andean herdsmen.  Soon after, search parties were sent out to find the others.  Praise God.

The author didn’t end the story there.  The passengers’ spiritual journey wasn’t finished.  The survivors were grateful to God but because of their experience, yet they were a little afraid of the world.  It was a bit of a culture shock.  What people were giving them and making a big deal out of, just seemed excessive, unimportant and of no value.  The boys craved solitude to process their experience and probably to express their thanks to God.  Besides, at first the media and so the world, rejoiced at finding the survivors and the plane, but when it became known that the boys had turned to cannibalism, public opinion turned against them.  It was unimaginable.  What they did was debated in the press and other media.  Over time, the hysteria died down and life went on.
However, life was never the same for the survivors.  They had felt the presence of God and kept the faith through it all. 

Alive is certainly not fiction, and its message suggests the significance of a biblical story.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Potter's Field

We volunteers in prison ministry in the Bethany Community, got together this day to clean up the prison cemetery.  This is where unwanted men go.  If an inmate dies, and the family does not claim his body, he ends up in Potter's Field.

Here it is.  First glance told us that there were a lot of branches and sticks to pick up.  We also decided to rake up as many pine needles as we could, too.

This is Sister Ann picking up here and there.
And this is Gary picking up.

I felt sorry for this one.  It
was the only broken one,
so I made sure I planted
the most flowers around it.        
Some graves didn't have crosses.  Some had cement squares with numbers.  Some had both.  Sister Ruth said some men are buried with no markers, what so ever.
How do you like this veteran's grave?

             It is a corporal work of mercy to bury the dead.  Today the Bethany Community honored our brothers by doing what we could.  There were no names, some had numbers, some had nothing.  Where once these men lived, with a family, with love, with a life, with dreams, and hopes, here they rest eternally.  May God have mercy on them.  Rest in peace.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Snippets -- A Catholic Carnival

It's that time again, where we bloggers all link together at This and That and the Other Thing blog and tell about our week.  Here's mine:

Monday -- Black Madonna

Tuesday -- Book Review of the Terminals

Wednesday --  Street Confessionals

Thursday --  Book Review of Dancing Shadows, Tramping Hooves

Friday -- A Prayer Group Tale

Saturday -- Choices

Sorry for the curt post.  I have company up to Easter.  Have a holy HOly Week.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

You are what you Choose

People are funny.  They can be so irrational.  They can believe something for so long and never ever change their mind, even when confronted with overwhelming evidence.  Then something will occur and they might, or might not.

I'm thinking of my sister who wouldn't look for a family photo my brother was asking for.  She kept saying, "I don't have it."  She was telling the truth.  In her mind, she didn't have that picture.  Years went by.  One day, her husband came across that very picture.  When she saw it, she said "Oh, I didn't know he wanted that one."  He had described it perfectly down to the most minute detail.

You see, she was very, very upset over an ex-son-in-law.  And for some reason when my brother used the term "family photo," she envisioned pictures that included the despised "ex." This was even after everyone told her numerous times, over more than a few years, that the much sought after photo was of her and us siblings--nothing what so ever to do with her children!

More drastic is the example of people who never forgive.  What do people do who hate their loved one's murderer, for years, only to find out later that the person was wrongly convicted.  Do they transfer their hate to another person?  Do they ask forgiveness from the person they were condemning?  

It's all so irrational.  Emotions drive us crazy.  

How about two people in the same accident and both are severely hurt.  One chooses to be bitter and blames God and everything.  The other lives in gratitude that they're still alive.

Our emotions are unreliable gauges of rationale.  We can't control what happens to us, but we can control, at least attempt to control,how to integrate what happened.  It's a choice.  I even call it a spiritual choice.  And it's another reason why I'm grateful for being Catholic.  I have a community of prayer warriors to encourage, love, and support me.  Deo Gratias.