Sunday, October 4, 2015

Bible Roulette

Picture by MEK

Have you ever played Bible roulette?  Here's how it works:  you have three chances to find one verse in the Bible that will apply to you.  I'll play it for you.

I'm using King James Version for absolutely no other reason than this is the one closest to me, on the book self.  I flip the pages.  Near the beginning I stop.  It's Judges.  I pick Chapter 12.  I close my eyes and my finger rests on 12.  So my first chance is Judges 12:12.  It says:

And E'-lon the Zeb'-u-lon-ite died, and was buried in Ai'-ja-lon in the country of Zeb'-u-lun.

Yikes, am I going to die soon?  Someone I love?  I don't like this game.

Quick, I'm choosing another verse, near the end of the Bible.  It's Hebrews.  I pick chapter 5.  I close my eyes and my finger rest on Hebrews 5: 6:

As he saith also in another place, THOU ART A PRIEST FOR EVER AFTER THE ORDER OF MEL-CHIS'-E-DEC.

At first I thought "well, that doesn't apply to me."  Then I remembered that a priest that I think of fondly, has just left the priesthood and has applied to be laicized.  And yes, he is a priest forever.

One more chance!  I'll pick something in the middle, this time.  It's II Chronicles.  I pick chapter 29.  I'll pick verse one.

HEZ-E-KI'-AH began to reign when he was five and twenty years old, and he reigned nine and twenty years in Jerusalem.

This verse has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with my life.

I don't like this game--Bible Roulette.  I don't think these verse have anything to do with me.  Maybe number two does, but not directly to my life.

Bible Roulette is a silly game.  Don't waste your time on it.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Catholic Vocabulary

Catholics have a short-cut way of referring to Catholic devotional subjects.  Not only do we not realize the understanding of what our words mean, but we defend them without trying to think how they are perceived.


Take a phrase like, "Pray to St. Anthony."

A non-Catholic would say, "No, pray only to God."  We Catholics do pray to God but we ask St. Anthony to intercede for us by continuing our prayers.   It's quick to say, "Pray to Saint Anthony."  It would take too much time to say, "Since I believe in the communion of saints, which is ...... hence I'm appealing to saint ....... to intercede for me to God, since I can't always dedicate a lot of time constantly praying."

This short-cut Catholic terminology caused a stir on FaceBook, the other day.  Some non-Catholic said that Catholics don't use the Bible.  In the backlash, a Catholic quipped, "Catholics wrote the Bible."  Well!  Now the discussion picked up!

Now Catholics know God inspired the Bible, but the Catholic Church was responsible for the formulation, preservation, and integrity of the Sacred Scriptures.  The Catholic church saved the Bible from destruction and extinction from marauders.  The Catholic Church translated the Bible into many languages.  Until the invention of the printing press, the Catholic Church painstakingly copied the Sacred scriptures.  With the printing press, the average person now had access to the Bible.  Some people have tried to manipulate and corrupt the Sacred Scriptures, but the Catholic Church has preserved the version that everyone accepts today.  Christians of all denominations around the world owe a debt to the Catholic Church for "writing the Bible."

Isn't it just quicker to say "Catholics wrote the Bible?"

Friday, October 2, 2015

Another Flowers for Mary Story

How do you define a miracle?  Read this story.  My friend Marie's birthday is December 8.  A few years ago, her husband bought her a bouquet of roses for her birthday.  December 8th is also a religious feast day--the Immaculate Conception.  This day we honor the fact that Mary, the Mother of Jesus was born without Original Sin.

Anyway, Marie was overjoyed to receive this bouquet and felt very blessed.  She felt moved to thank God by attending the daily Mass in her parish.  She also thought of pleasing Jesus by honoring His Mother by giving her one of her roses.  So on her way into Mass, Marie placed a rose at the foot of the statue of Mary.

After Mass, Marie prayed a rosary. Upon leaving the church, Marie saw her parish priest looking at her rose.  As she approached, he spoke to her.  "Look at that rose.  Every Feast of the Immaculate Conception a rose appears at the foot of this statue."

Marie didn't tell the priest that she was the one who left it.  She, like the priest, was too much in awe.  That was her first and only time of giving a rose to Mary.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Flowers for Mary

The first thing the pope did when he returned home to Rome, from the United States was not crash into bed.  He brought flowers to the statue of Mary in a church in Rome.  This must be his favorite statue and favorite church.  It reminded me of Han.  Han is a Vietnamese/American.  She has a story.

Han is one of the Vietnamese boat people.  These people were prey to pirates.  Many of them were robbed and killed, if not just starved to death because no one would pick them up.  Father Anthony Le tells us that if a boat picked you up, then they were responsible for you.  So many boats passed them by.  Father Le was picked up by a Norwegian boat.  Han's story focuses on divine intervention.

Han's grandmother told her to keep praying to Mary, ask her to protect you.  On Han's boat, every single female was raped, except Han.  And Han was a teenager.  It was like she was invisible.

Ever since then, Han constantly thanks our Blessed Mother, particularly in the image of Our Lady of Hope, a/k/a  Our Lady of Pontmain.  This image was prevalent in Vietnam.  There is a traveling statue of Our Lady of Pontmain, which Han manages to procure every once in awhile.  This picture is the statue with Han (on left).

Also, Han brings Our Lady a bouquet of fresh flowers every single week--just like the pope.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Jesus the Man

Last night in Bible Sharing we discussed Sunday's Readings.  I won't reference them because I'm sick and tired--literally.  Being one of the crowds to see the pope allowed me to mingle with all their germs.  I'm sick; I have a cold.  Being up all Sunday night and still not having caught up on my sleep, I'm tired.  But I still went to Bible Sharing because I wanted to tell the group about my Philly Adventure.  

I did that, but I wasn't or couldn't focus on scripture.  Let's just say, I'm so grateful to God for having Jesus become one of us.  Jesus suffered colds and viruses and being tired.  I feel better just knowing that God has experiential knowledge of humanity.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pope Francis Speaks to Prisoners

Pope Francis met with inmates at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia and said:

"Thank you for receiving me and giving me the opportunity to be here with you and to share this time in your lives.  It is a difficult time, one full of struggles.  I know it is a painful time not only for you, but also for your families and for all of society.  Any society, any family, which cannot share or take seriously the pain of its children, and views that pain as something normal or to be expected, is a society 'condemned' to remain a hostage to itself, prey to the very things which cause that pain.  I am here as a pastor, but above all as a brother, to share your situation and to make it my own.  I have come so that we can pray together and offer our God everything that causes us pain, but also everything that gives us hope, so that we can receive from him the power of the resurrection.

I think of the Gospel scene where Jesus washes the feet of his disciples at the Last Super.  This was something his disciples found hard to accept.  Even Peter refused, and told him: 'You will never wash my feet' (Jn 13:8).  In those days, it was the custom to wash someone's feet when they came to your home.  That was how they welcomed people.  The roads were not paved, they were covered with dust, and little stones would get stuck in your sandals.  Everyone walked those roads, which left their feet dusty, bruised or cut from those stones.  That is why we see Jesus washing feet, our feet, the feet of his disciples, then and now.

Life is a journey, along different roads, different paths, which leave their mark on us. We know in faith that Jesus seeks us out.  He wants to heal our wounds, to sooth our fet which hurt from travelling alone, to wash each of us clean of the dust from our journey.  He doesn't ask us where we have been, he doesn't question us what about we have done.  Rather, he tells us: 'Unless I wash your feet, you have no share with me.' (Jn 13:8)  Unless I wash your feet, I will not be able to give you the life which the Father always dreamed of, the life for which he created you.  Jesus comes to meet us, so that he can restore our dignity as children of God.  He wants to help us to set out again, to resume our journey, to recover our hope, to restore our faith and trust.  He wants us to keep walking along the paths of life, to realize that we have a mission, and that confinement is not the same thing as exclusion.

Life means 'getting our feet dirty' from the dust-filled roads of life and history.  All of us need to be cleansed, to be washed.  All of us are being sought out by the Teacher, who wants to help us resume our journey.  The Lord goes in search of us; to all of us he stretches out a helping hand.  It is painful when we see prison systems which are not concerned to care for wounds, to soothe pain, to offer new possibilities.  It is painful when we see people who think that only others need to be cleansed, purified, and do not recognize that their weariness, pain and wounds are also the weariness, pain and wounds of society.  The Lord tells us this clearly with a sign; he washes our feet so we can come back to the table.  The table from which he wishes no one to be excluded.  The table which is spread for all and to which all of us are invited.

This time in your life can only have one purpose: to give you a hand in getting back on the right road, to give you a hand to help you rejoin society.  All of us are part of that effort, all of us are invited to encourage, help, and enable your rehabilitation.  A rehabilitation which everyone seeks and desires: inmates and their families, correctional authorities, social and educational programs.  A rehabilitation which benefits and elevates the morale of the entire community.  Jesus invites us to share in his lot, his way of living and acting.  He teaches us to see the world through his eyes.  Eyes which are not scandalized by the dust picked up along the way, but want to cleanse, heal and restore.  He asks us to create new opportunities: for inmates, for their families, for correctional authorities, and for society as a whole.  I encourage you to have this attitude with one another and with all those who in any way are part of this institution.  May you make possible new opportunities, new journeys, new paths.

All of us have something we need to be cleansed of, or purified from.  May the knowledge of that fact inspire us to live in solidarity, to support one another and seek the best for others.

Let us look to Jesus, who washes our feet.  He is 'the way, and the truth, and life.'  He comes to save us from the lie that says no one can change.  He helps us to journey along the paths of life and fulfillment.  May the power of his love and his resurrection always be a path leading you to new life."

Monday, September 28, 2015

Philly Adventure

This was my bus on the way to visit the pope in Philadelphia.  We were so excited!  The ride down took us six hours.  There was a little mix-up when we changed drivers because our new driver expected us to stop and eat and we didn't plan on doing that.  But we did; our driver needed to eat something.  And I think it was for best; we needed to get off the bus and stretch our legs.

From where we parked the bus in Philadelphia, it was about a 20-minute walk to the subway.  The ride on the subway was fast.  Then we walked for about 45 minutes and joined a crowd of people walking to Benjamin Franklin Parkway.  We understood that it would take us to security points that we had to get thru to get to see the pope's Mass.

It took us about four hours!

We inched our way along, baby step by baby step--for four hours!  It was excruciatingly slow and maddening.  Even so, it could have been worse.  Everyone was nice and happily excited.  We were kind to each other.  Every once in awhile someone would start singing and we'd join in.  We'd make a wave.  Someone tossed a balloon around.  We prayed a rosary.  People who spoke other languages joined in, in their language.  It was wonderful.  We lucked out weather-wise also.  It was about 60 degrees and cloudy.  IOW, cool and comfortable.

Finally, we got through the security checks to see everyone give each other the "kiss of peace."  Distribution of communion was next and we received.  Then it was over.  I really didn't get to see the pope, except on a jumbotron.  But I received communion at a papal mass; I'm happy.

Some people on my bus never got through.  They were turned away because the Mass was over.  All that trouble waiting, and they never got through.

Then we backtracked--hour walk to subway--subway ride--20-minute walk to the bus.  The subway was mobbed with people.  But everyone was singing in their language, mostly Spanish.  All were happy.

We waited about an hour at the bus for everyone to come back.  There was an eclipse going on so we were blessed to view it.

We left the parking lot at 8:30 PM. (Remember this time; it'll be important, later.)

In Connecticut, the bus driver announced, "I have bad news.  The check engine light is on and we're losing power."  The bus pulled over to the breakdown lane and slowly died.

Every bus was busy.  Every bus driver was working.  We waited 2-3 hours for a rescue bus.  A tow truck came in a couple of hours to take the broken bus away.  Then when the rescue bus arrived one of our passengers refused to get on the bus because the driver wasn't a fresh driver.  Eventually, however, she got on the bus and we were off.

While waiting to be rescued, we played cards.  I learned how to play rummy with two decks.  Some people slept.  Some high schoolers did homework.  Others just talked quietly.

The rest of the ride was uneventful.  We arrived back home at 7:30 AM.  

Around 6:00 AM we heard that the pope arrived in Rome.  Imagine that!  The pope flew back to Rome and was sleeping in his own bed before us!

Was it worth it?

You betcha!

Would I do it again?  Not for all the whiskey in Ireland!