Thursday, October 31, 2013

God is Good

  • Have you ever been just sitting there and all of a sudden you feel like doing something nice for someone you care for? THAT'S GOD talking to you through the Holy Spirit. 
  • Have you ever been down and out and nobody seems to be around for you to talk to? THAT'S GOD wanting you to talk to Him.
  • Have you ever been thinking about somebody that you haven't seen in a long time and then next thing you know you see them or receive a phone call from them? THAT'S GOD. There is no such thing as coincidence.
  • Have you ever received something wonderful that you didn't even ask for, like money in the mail, a debt that had mysteriously been cleared, or a coupon to a department store where you had just seen something you needed, but couldn't afford? THAT'S GOD knowing the desires of your heart.
  • Have you ever been in a situation and you had no clue how it was going to get better, how the hurting would stop, how the pain would ease, but now you look back on it.  THAT'S GOD passing us through tribulation to see a brighter day.

Dear God...
I know You're watching over me and I'm feeling truly blessed
For no matter what I pray for You always know what's best!
I have this circle of E-mail friends, who mean a lot to me;
Some days I "send" and "send," at other times, I let them be.
I am so blessed to have these friends, with whom I've grown so close;
So this little poem I dedicate to them, because to me they are the "Most"!
When I see each name download, and view the message they've sent;
I know they've thought of me that day, and "well wishes" were their intent.
So to you, my friends, I would like to say, thank you for being a part;
Of all my daily contacts, this comes right from my heart.
God bless you all is my prayer today, I'm honored to call you "friend";
I pray God will keep you safe.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Eliminating Mandate, Extending Deadline Pose Problems For Health-Care Law

WASHINGTON -- Extending the Affordable Care Act's March 31 open enrollment deadline has become a familiar plea from congressional Democrats frustrated with the poor performance of the federal insurance marketplace. Republicans on Capitol Hill want to go even further and waive the health-care law's "individual mandate," which requires most Americans to have coverage in 2014 or face a fine. While both consumer-friendly fixes make for good politics, neither proposal is as simple or as smart as it sounds, according to experts.
The law's open enrollment deadline and individual mandate are designed to help entice young, healthy people and those who are older and sicker into purchasing newly mandated coverage. The Obama administration and insurers are counting on that diversity of enrollees to help keep monthly premiums in check for individual plans sold on the state and federal marketplaces. But waiving the mandate would be likely to cause premiums to rise because healthy people would avoid coverage, while sicker people would be more likely to take advantage of guaranteed access to coverage, regardless of current or past health problems. The law also bans premium variations based on gender, occupation or medical claims history; and outlaws annual and lifetime benefit spending limits.
Delaying the mandate would also hurt the law's goal of reducing the number of people without health coverage. The number of uninsured Americans would increase by 11 million in 2014 without the mandate, according to the Congressional Budget Office and the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation. The 11 million uninsured would include 5 million fewer people who would otherwise receive coverage through Medicaid or the federal Children's Health Insurance Program, 4 million who would otherwise have job-based coverage and about 2 million who would otherwise have individual coverage, according to the CBO. Waiving the mandate would also undermine the work of 16 states that have expanded Medicaid coverage and set up their own marketplaces, said Joel Ario, managing director at Manatt Health Solutions in New York. Those states did so with the understanding that the mandate would be enforced.
"You could imagine what those 16 states would say," said Ario, who once coordinated development of health insurance exchanges at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 'We've done everything we're supposed to do. We have the right to move forward. The mandate should function like it's supposed to. The federal government is obligated to back it up.' “Ario said that "either you're going to undercut states that have done everything they should have under this law, or you put yourself in a position where you pretty much have to stay the course." Some say insurers would be in a similar position as the 16 states if the enrollment deadline is altered.
"The defined open enrollment period is critical to prevent people from simply being able to buy coverage on the way to the hospital," said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, a health insurance industry trade association. Health insurers set their 2014 rates and based their plan offerings, in part, on the idea that they could expect a certain number of new enrollees by March 31. Expanding the time limit to purchase coverage could scuttle those estimates. In addition, Zirkelbach said insurers are already studying rates for 2015 coverage, which will be based in large part on the mix of people who get insurance in 2014. That analysis can't be done until after the 2014 open enrollment period concludes.
On Monday, Obama administration officials resolved the latest problem to beset the insurance marketplace portal, the website. An external network failure at a Verizon affiliate shut down the website in several states on Sunday. The problem was resolved Monday morning, but users continued to report problems completing online enrollments. Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the HHS's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the administration's team of website specialists, dubbed the "tech surge," continues to work around the clock to resolve a "punch list" of technical problems that have frustrated users in 36 states that use the federal marketplace. Consumers can still enroll by phone or by mail. Bataille said she expects the website's Spanish-language site to be up and running by the end of November, the same time the Obama administration has said the entire site will be functioning properly for most users. People hoping to enroll for coverage on the federal marketplace by Jan. 1 have until Dec. 15 to purchase coverage. Under rules finalized Monday by the Obama administration, people have until March 31 to purchase coverage without being penalized under the individual mandate.
On Tuesday, Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will testify before the House Ways and Means Committee about continued problems on the website. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will testify on Wednesday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Also on Wednesday, President Barack Obama will appear at Faneuil Hall in Boston, where former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republicans' 2012 presidential challenger, signed the state's universal health-care legislation into law in 2006. The White House said Obama will "deliver remarks on the importance of providing all Americans with quality, affordable health insurance and the experience in Massachusetts."

Tony Pugh, McClatchy Washington Bureau  (c)2013 McClatchy Washington Bureau Visit the McClatchy Washington Bureau at  Distributed by MCT Information Services

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Stress Management for Women

A young lady confidently walked around the room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience with a raised glass of water. Everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, 'half empty or half full?'... She fooled them all.... "How heavy is this glass of water?" she inquired with a smile. Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.
She replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm.  If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes." She continued, "and that's the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on."
"As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden - holding stress longer and better each time practiced. So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don't carry them through the evening and into the night... Pick them up tomorrow.

1 Accept the fact that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue!
2 Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.
3 Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
4 Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker.
5 If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
6 If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
7 It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.
8 Never buy a car you can't push.
9 Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.
10 Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.
11 Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.
12 The second mouse gets the cheese.
13 When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
14 Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.
16 Some mistakes are too much fun to make only once.
17 We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird
     names and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.
18 A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.
19 Have an awesome day and know that someone has thought about you today.
20 Save the earth..... It's the only planet with chocolate!

Monday, October 28, 2013

New Orleans Lawyer

Part of rebuilding New Orleans caused residents often to be challenged with the task of tracing home titles back potentially hundreds of years. With a community rich with history stretching back over two centuries, houses have been passed along through generations of family, sometimes making it quite difficult to establish ownership. Here's a great letter an attorney wrote to the FHA on behalf of a client:
A New Orleans lawyer sought an FHA loan for a client. He was told the loan would be granted if he could prove satisfactory title to a parcel of property being offered as collateral. The title to the property dated back to 1803, which took the lawyer three months to track down. After sending the information to the FHA, he received the following reply:
"Upon review of your letter adjoining your client's loan application, we note the request is supported by an Abstract of Title. While we compliment the able manner in which you have prepared and presented the application, we must point out you have only cleared title to the proposed collateral property back to 1803. Before final approval can be accorded, it will be necessary to clear the title back to its origin." 1

Annoyed, the lawyer responded as follows:
"Your letter regarding title in Case No.189156 has been received. I note you wish to have title extended further than the 206 years covered by the present application. I was unaware any educated person in this country, particularly those working in the property area, would not know Louisiana was purchased by the United States from France in 1803, the year of origin identified in our application.
For the edification of uninformed FHA bureaucrats, the title to the land prior to U.S. ownership was obtained from France, which had acquired it by Right of Conquest from Spain. The land came into the possession of Spain by Right of Discovery made in the year 1492 by a sea captain named Christopher Columbus, who had been granted the privilege of seeking a new route to India by the Spanish monarch, Queen Isabella. The good Queen Isabella, being a pious woman and almost as careful about titles as the FHA, took the precaution of securing the blessing of the Pope before she sold her jewels to finance Columbus’s expedition.
Now the Pope, as I'm sure you may know, is the emissary of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and God, it is commonly accepted, created this world. Therefore, I believe it is safe to presume God also made the part of the world called Louisiana. God; therefore, would be the owner of origin and His origins date back to before the beginning of time, the world as we know it, and the FHA. I hope you find God's original claim to be satisfactory.  Now, may we have our loan?"2
The loan was immediately approved.

1 Actual reply from FHA
2 Actual response

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Facts on Honey and Cinnamon

HEART DISEASES: Make a paste of honey and cinnamon powder, put it on toast instead of jelly and jam and eat it regularly for breakfast.1
ARTHRITIS: Arthritis patients can benefit by taking one cup of hot water with two tablespoons of honey and one small teaspoon of cinnamon powder. 2
BLADDER INFECTIONS: Take two tablespoons of cinnamon powder and one teaspoon of honey in a glass of lukewarm water and drink it. It destroys the germs in the bladder....who knew?
CHOLESTEROL: Two tablespoons of honey and three teaspoons of Cinnamon Powder mixed in 16 ounces of tea water given to a cholesterol patient was found to reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood by 10 percent within two hours.3
COLDS: Those suffering from common or severe colds should take one tablespoon lukewarm honey with 1/4 spoon cinnamon powder daily for three days.4
UPSET STOMACH: Honey taken with cinnamon powder cures stomach ache and also is said to clear stomach ulcers from its root.
GAS: According to the studies done in India and Japan, it is revealed that when Honey is taken with cinnamon powder the stomach is relieved of gas.
IMMUNE SYSTEM: Daily use of honey and cinnamon powder strengthens the immune system and protects the body from bacterial and viral attacks.5
INDIGESTION: Cinnamon powder sprinkled on two tablespoons of honey taken before food is eaten relieves acidity and digests the heaviest of meals
INFLUENZA: A scientist in Spain has proved that honey contains a natural 'Ingredient' which kills the influenza germs and saves the patient from flu.
LONGEVITY: Tea made with honey and cinnamon powder, when taken regularly, arrests the ravages of old age. Use four teaspoons of honey, one teaspoon of cinnamon powder, and three cups of boiling water to make a tea. Drink 1/4 cup, three to four times a day. 6
RASPY OR SORE THROAT: When throat has a tickle or is raspy, take one tablespoon of honey and sip until gone. Repeat every three hours until throat is without symptoms.
PIMPLES: Three tablespoons of honey and one teaspoon of cinnamon powder paste. Apply this paste on the pimples before sleeping and wash it off the next morning with warm water. When done daily for two weeks, it removes all pimples from the root.
SKIN INFECTIONS:  Apply honey and cinnamon powder in equal parts on the affected parts cures eczema, ringworm and all types of skin Infections.
WEIGHT LOSS: Daily in the morning one half hour before breakfast and on an empty stomach, and at night before sleeping, drink honey and cinnamon powder boiled in one cup of water.7
CANCER: Recent research in Japan and Australia has revealed that advanced cancer of the stomach and bones have been cured successfully. Patients suffering from these kinds of cancer should daily take one tablespoon of honey with one teaspoon of cinnamon powder three times a day for one month.
FATIGUE: Recent studies have shown that the sugar content of honey is more helpful rather than being detrimental to the strength of the body. Senior citizens who take honey and cinnamon powder in equal parts are more alert and flexible. Dr. Milton, who has done research, says that a half tablespoon of honey taken in a glass of water and sprinkled with cinnamon powder, even when the vitality of the body starts to decrease, when taken daily after brushing and in the afternoon at about 3:00 P.M., the vitality of the body increases within a week.
BAD BREATH: People of South America, gargle with one teaspoon of honey and cinnamon powder mixed in hot water first thing in the morning so their breath stays fresh throughout the day.
HEARING LOSS: Daily morning and night honey and cinnamon powder, taken in equal parts restores hearing.
Honey is produced in most of the countries of the world. Scientists of today also note honey as very effective medicine for all kinds of diseases. Honey can be used without side effects which is also a plus. Today's science says that even though honey is sweet, when it is taken in the right dosage as a medicine, it does not harm even diabetic patients.
1It reduces the cholesterol and could potentially save one from heart attack. Also, even if you have already had an attack studies show you could be kept miles away from the next attack. Regular use of cinnamon honey strengthens the heart beat. In America and Canada, various nursing homes have treated patients successfully and have found that as one ages the arteries and veins lose their flexibility and get clogged; honey and cinnamon revitalize the arteries and the veins.

2When taken daily even chronic arthritis can be cured. In a recent research conducted at the Copenhagen University, it was found that when the doctors treated their patients with a mixture of one tablespoon Honey and half teaspoon Cinnamon powder before breakfast, they found that within a week (out of the 200 people so treated) practically 73 patients were totally relieved of pain -- and within a month, most all the patients who could not walk or move around because of arthritis now started walking without pain.

3As mentioned for arthritic patients, when taken three times a day, any chronic cholesterol-could be cured. According to information received in the said Journal, pure honey taken with food daily relieves complaints of cholesterol.

4This process will cure most chronic cough, cold, and, clear the sinuses, and it's delicious too!

5Scientists have found that honey has various vitamins and iron in large amounts. Constant use of Honey strengthens the white blood corpuscles (where DNA is contained) to fight bacterial and viral diseases.

6It keeps the skin fresh and soft and arrests old age.  Life spans increase and even a 100 year old will start performing the chores of a 20-year-old.

7When taken regularly, it reduces the weight of even the most obese person. Also, drinking this mixture regularly does not allow the fat to accumulate in the body even though the person may eat a high calorie diet. ( How much these supposed benefits have been borne out by modern scientific studies varies quite widely.  The following sections address the complete health benefits of honey in its raw form and of bee pollen, propolis, and royal jelly:

Antioxidant Effects: Honey, particularly darker honey, such as buckwheat honey, is a rich source of phenolic compounds, such as flavonoids, that exert significant antioxidant activity.

Energy-Enhancing Effects: Honey is an excellent source of readily available carbohydrate, a chief source of quick energy.

Wound-Healing Properties: The wound-healing properties of honey may be its most promising medicinal quality. Honey has been used topically as an antiseptic therapeutic agent for the treatment of ulcers, burns, and wounds for centuries.

Anticancer Benefits: Propolis contains well-researched phytochemicals that have numerous cancer-preventing and antitumor properties.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Mr. William Grey

A nurse took the tired, anxious serviceman to the bedside. "Your son is here," she said to the old man. She had to repeat the words several times before the patient's eyes opened.  Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed Marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand. The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man's limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement.
The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit beside the bed. All through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man's hand and offering him words of love and strength. Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile. He refused. Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the Marine was oblivious of her and of the night noises of the hospital - the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients.  Now and then she heard him say a few gentle words. The dying man said nothing, only held tightly to his son all through the night.
Along towards dawn, the old man died. The Marine released the now lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he waited.  Finally, she returned. She started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her.  "Who was that man?" he asked. The nurse was startled, "He was your father," she answered. "No, he wasn't," the Marine replied. "I never saw him before in my life."  "Then why didn't you say something when I took you to him?"
"I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew he needed his son, and his son just wasn't here. When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, knowing how much he needed me, I stayed.  I came here tonight to find a Mr. William Grey. His son was killed in Iraq today, and I was sent to inform him.  What was this Gentleman's Name?” The nurse with tears in her eyes answered, “Mr. William Grey.”

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Prayer of Consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary

Holy Mary Virgin of Fatima:
With renewed gratitude for your maternal presence we join our voice to that of all the generations who call you blessed.  We celebrate in you the works of God, who never tires of looking down with mercy upon humanity, afflicted with the wound of sin, to heal it and save it.
Accept with the benevolence of a Mother the act of consecration that we perform today with confidence, before this image of you that is so dear to us.  We are certain that each of us is precious in your eyes and that nothing of all that lives in our hearts is unknown to you. We let ourselves be touched by your most sweet regard and we welcome the consoling caress of your smile.
Hold our life in your arms: bless and strengthen every desire for good; revive and nourish faith; sustain and enlighten hope; awaken and animate charity; guide all of us along the path of holiness.  Teach us your own preferential love for the little and the poor, for the excluded and the suffering, for sinners and the downhearted. Bring everyone under your protection and entrust everyone to your beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus.

The translation of the prayer of consecration recited by Pope Francis in consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by Joseph Trabbic. Vatican City, October 13, 2013 ( © Innovative Media Inc.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Praying from the Clay

A full prayer must draw from both breath and clay, from above and outside, and also equally from below and within. It must have both inspiration and embodied energy. We have emphasized the first up to now, but not the second.

Mental Prayer
Our first concept of prayer is usually top down, with grace from above and outer animation from a transcendent God “breathing” into us. This is a good start.
In asking for grace, invoking your Higher Power, through words, waiting for “the descent of the dove” as it were, still leaves God mostly “out there” and not also “in here.” This spiritual imbalance was balanced out by the Incarnation of God into flesh (John 1:14) and the gift of the Indwelling Spirit (Romans 5:5).
So if the Incarnation is true and we are the Body of Christ, then prayer is fully experienced when it is also from the bottom up, when we “pray from the clay,” at the energetic, cellular level too. Adam (and Eve!) must receive and breathe the breath of Yahweh for themselves. Only then are humans, composed of both breath and clay, “all systems go”!

Body Prayer
We must hunker down into the “Body of Hope and Resurrection” (Philippians 3:9—11; 1 Corinthians 15:44) and pray also from below and from within, on a cellular and energetic level too — or the attitude of prayer does not last or go deep.
• You are not thinking your prayer as much as energetically feeling your prayer.
• You pay attention from the bottom up and from the inside out.
• Rest into the Body of Christ energy instead of trying to pull an Infinite God into your finite world.
• Your body itself receives and knows, and is indeed “a temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16—17) where God dwells in the Spirit.
• Walking meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises are all helpful here.

Body prayer actually works much more quickly and more naturally than thought prayer alone.  Body prayer is what we have tried to do with inspiring music, body gestures, and all sacraments, so this is not a new idea. It is what many are seeking in tai chi, pilgrimages, prayer beads, chanting, repeating the Jesus Prayer until it prays itself in us and through us, and so on.
To “pray from the clay” will also move you to the shared level of prayer. You will know that “you” are not doing the prayer, but you are falling into the unified field, and the Body of Christ is now praying through you (Romans 8:26—27) and with you. It becomes “our” prayer, and not just my prayer. Now you pray not so much to Christ as much as through Christ, and you will know experientially that you are Christ’s Body too.
The resolution of the false dilemma of high Christology and low Christology now becomes an inner Christ consciousness, combining the best of both.

“Immortal Diamond,” By Richard Rohr, 2013, Pages 207-210

Thursday, October 10, 2013

True Love

It was approximately 8.30 a.m. on a busy morning when an elderly gentleman in his eighties arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb. He stated that he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9.00 a.m. I took his vital signs and had him take a seat. I knew it would take more than an hour before someone would be able to attend to him. I saw him check his watch anxiously for the time and decided to evaluate his wound since I was not busy with another patient.
On examination, the wound was well healed. Hence, I talked to one of the doctors to get the supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound. We began to engage in a conversation while I was taking care of his wound. I asked him if he had another doctor's appointment later as he was in such a hurry. The gentleman told me no and said that he needed to go to the nursing home to have breakfast with his wife. I inquired about her health. He told me that she had been in the nursing home for a while as she was a victim of Alzheimer's disease. I probed further and asked if she would be upset if he was slightly late. He replied that she no longer knew who he was and she had not been able to recognize him since five years ago.
I asked him in surprise, "And you still go every morning, even though she doesn't know who you are?" He smiled as he patted my hand and said, "She doesn't know me, but I still know who she is." I had to hold back my tears as he left. I had goose bumps on my arm, and I thought, "That is the kind of love I want in my life."
 True love is neither physical nor romantic. True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.

A Doctor's note

Friday, October 4, 2013

Women Leaders in the Church

On October 3—4, eight cardinals chosen by Pope Francis will meet to advise him on reform of the Roman Curia and the governance of the worldwide Church. The first issue has gained more attention and interest, but the second one will prove the wisdom of decisions about curial reform.  Seven of these cardinals are lifelong pastors from Australia, Chile, Congo, Germany, Honduras, India, and the United States. The eighth one heads the internal government of Vatican City State. All are men.  The next time such a group meets; couldn’t that group include women as well? How many crises in the Church might have been avoided—or at least better responded to—if women had direct input about advice given to the pope?

Moving beyond Stereotypes

"Guests in Their Own House" was the title of Carmel E. McEnroy’s 1996 book about Vatican Il’s 15 women auditors. Many Catholic women still feel that way about a Church that praises them for nurturing children, caring for the sick, advocating for social justice, and carrying out every other Church task that flows from their Baptism.  Many cultures expect men to assume primary responsibility for life outside the home, while welcoming women’s gifts only domestically. Today, however, women also pilot jet planes, perform surgeries, head major corporations, and work at most jobs once reserved to men. Why are women’s gifts appreciated everywhere except the Church?  Pope Francis will continue to need assistance in carrying out the unique ministry of St. Peter’s successor. But must his closest collaborators be only men?
The number of existing offices, their names, and their internal relationships may certainly change. Is there a valid reason why only men can head the current Congregation for Catholic Education or the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Apostolic Life? Women do most of the work in these two areas. Furthermore, couldn’t a woman lead the present pontifical councils for laity, family, migrants and itinerant people, health-care workers, culture, or social communications?
At times, the best person for a particular job is a man; other times, it’s a woman. The old stereotype of men as active and women as passive arises from a historical misunderstanding of what each gender contributes to reproduction. Can the Church afford thinking that no woman will ever be the best person for any Church job at this level?

Learning from Francis and Clare

On October 4, Pope Francis will visit Assisi, home to Sts. Francis and Clare, who modeled a new way of recognizing each other’s God-given gifts. Between 1212 and 1215, Clare and her sisters often worked alongside the friars in caring for lepers. They became cloistered nuns after Lateran Council IV; those were the only official women’s religious communities The Church would wait several centuries before finally approving women religious as teachers, nurses, missionaries, and in other types of service.  We already have women leaders in the Church: as heads of organizations such as Catholic Relief Services, Focolare, religious communities, secular institutes, and lay movements.
As a priest, I sometimes pray at the altar: “And may your Church stand as a living witness to truth and freedom, to peace and justice, that all people may be raised up to a new hope” (Eucharistic Prayer for Various Needs IV). I look forward to the day when the Catholic Church is as open to the gifts of women disciples as Jesus was.

—Pat McCloskey, OFM, St. Anthony Messenger October 2013. (The Church needs to recognize women’s gifts in areas still closed to them.)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Church is Holy and Open to All, not only the Pure

In the Creed, after professing that the Church is “one”, the Pope said, “we also confess that she is 'holy'; we thus affirm the holiness of the Church, and this is a characteristic that has been present ever since the beginning in the conscience of the first Christians, who called themselves simply 'the holy', as they were certain of the action of God, of the Holy Spirit who sanctifies the Church”.
“But”, he asked, “How can we say that the Church is holy, if we see that the Church throughout history, during her long journey through the centuries, has experienced many moments of darkness? How can a Church be holy if she is made up of human beings, of sinners? Of men who are sinners, women who are sinners, priests who are sinners, nuns who are sinners, bishops who are sinners, cardinals who are sinners, popes who are sinners? Everyone. How can a Church like this be holy?”
The Church is holy because “she comes from God Who is holy, Who is faithful to her and never abandons her to the power of death and evil. She is holy because Jesus Christ, Saint of God, is indissolubly united to her; she is holy because she is guided by the Holy Spirit which purifies, transforms, and renews. She is not holy by our merits, but because God makes her holy”.
“You could say to me: but the Church is made up of sinners, we see this every day. And this is true: we are a Church of sinners, and we sinners are called to let ourselves be transformed … by God. Throughout history there has been the temptation to say: the Church is just the Church of the pure, of those who are entirely coherent, and the rest are to be cast aside. No! It's true! This is heresy... The Church is holy, she does not refuse sinners; on the contrary, she welcomes them, she is open even to those who are most distant, she calls to all to allow themselves to be surrounded by the mercy, tenderness, and forgiveness of the Father, Who offers to all the opportunity to encounter Him and to walk the path to holiness. … Is there anyone here who brings no sin with them? No, we all carry our sins with us.”
In the Church, the God we encounter “is not a ruthless judge, but is like the Father in the Gospel parable. … The Lord wants us to be part of a Church who knows how to extend her arms to welcome all, who is not the house of few, but the home of all, where everyone can be renewed, transformed and sanctified by His love; the strongest and the weakest, sinners, the indifferent, the discouraged and the lost. The Church offers to all the possibility of embarking on the road of holiness, which is the road of the Christian”.
“Do not be afraid of holiness”, concluded Francis, “of letting yourself be loved and purified by God. … Let us allow God's holiness be transmitted to us. Every Christian is called to holiness; and holiness does not consist, first and foremost, in doing extraordinary things, but rather in letting God act. It is the encounter between our weakness and the strength of His grace”.

Vatican City, 2 October 2013 (VIS) The holiness of the Church was the theme chosen by Francis for his catechesis during today's general audience, which took place in St. Peter's Square and was attended by more than 50,000 people.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Sparrow at Starbucks

It was chilly in Manhattan but warm inside the Starbucks shop on 51st Street and Broadway, just a skip up from Times Square. Early November weather in New York City holds only the slightest hint of the bitter chill of late December and January, but it's enough to send the masses crowding indoors to vie for available space and warmth. For a musician, it's the most lucrative Starbucks location in the world, I'm told, and consequently, the tips can be substantial if you play your tunes right.
Apparently, we were striking all the right chords that night, because our basket was almost overflowing. It was a fun, low-pressure gig - I was playing keyboard and singing backup for my friend who also added rhythm with an arsenal of percussion instruments. We mostly did pop songs from the '40s to the '90s with a few original tunes thrown in.
During our emotional rendition of the classic, "If You Don't Know Me by Now," I noticed a lady sitting in one of the lounge chairs across from me. She was swaying to the beat and singing along. After the tune was over, she approached me. "I apologize for singing along on that song. Did it bother you?" she asked.
"No," I replied. "We love it when the audience joins in. Would you like to sing up front on the next selection?" To my delight, she accepted my invitation. "You choose," I said. "What are you in the mood to sing?" "Well, do you know any hymns?" Hymns? This woman didn't know who she was dealing with. I cut my teeth on hymns. Before I was even born, I was going to church. I gave our guest singer a knowing look.
"Name one."
"Oh, I don't know. There are so many good ones. You pick one."
"Okay," I replied. "How about 'His Eye is on the Sparrow'?"
My new friend was silent, her eyes averted. Then she fixed her eyes on mine again and said, "Yeah.  Let's do that one." She slowly nodded her head, put down her purse, straightened her jacket and faced the center of the shop. With my two-bar setup, she began to sing, "Why should I be discouraged? Why should the shadows come?" The audience of coffee drinkers was transfixed. Even the gurgling noises of the cappuccino machine ceased as the employees stopped what they were doing to listen. The song rose to its conclusion. "I sing because I'm happy; I sing because I'm free. For His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me."
When the last note was sung, the applause crescendo to a deafening roar that would have rivaled a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall. Embarrassed, the woman tried to shout over the din, "Oh, y'all go back to your coffee! I didn't come in here to do a concert! I just came in here to get somethin' to drink, just like you!" But the ovation continued. I embraced my new friend. "You, my dear, have made my whole year! That was beautiful!"
"Well, it's funny that you picked that particular hymn," she said.
"Why is that?"
"Well," she hesitated again, "that was my daughter's favorite song." “Really!" I exclaimed.
"Yes," she said, and then grabbed my hands. By this time, the applause had subsided and it was business as usual... "She was 16. She died of a brain tumor last week." I said the first thing that found its way through my stunned silence. "Are you going to be okay?" She smiled through tear-filled eyes and squeezed my hands. "I'm gonna be okay. I've just got to keep trusting the Lord and singing his songs, and everything's gonna be just fine." She picked up her bag, gave me her card, and then she was gone.
Was it just a coincidence that we happened to be singing in that particular coffee shop on that particular November night? Coincidence that this wonderful lady just happened to walk into that particular shop? Coincidence that of all the hymns to choose from, I just happened to pick the very hymn that was the favorite of her daughter, who had died just the week before? I refuse to believe it.
God has been arranging encounters in human history since the beginning of time, and it's no stretch for me to imagine that he could reach into a coffee shop in midtown Manhattan and turn an ordinary gig into a revival. It was a great reminder that if we keep trusting him and singing his songs, everything's gonna be okay.
The next time you feel like God can't use you, remember:
Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Samson had long hair and was a womanizer
Rahab was a prostitute
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David had an affair and was a murderer
Elijah was suicidal
Isaiah preached naked
Jonah ran from God
Peter denied Christ
The Disciples fell asleep while praying
And Lazarus was dead
No more excuses now!! God can use you to your full potential. Besides you aren't the message, you are just the messenger.

Alternative To A Pistol Under The Bed

Wasp Spray - A friend who is a receptionist in a church in a high risk area was concerned about someone coming into the office on Monday to rob them when they were counting the collection. She asked the local police department about using pepper spray and they recommended to her that she get a can of wasp spray instead.
The wasp spray, they told her, can shoot up to twenty feet away and is a lot more accurate, while with the pepper spray, they have to get too close to you and could overpower you. The wasp spray temporarily blinds an attacker until they get to the hospital for an antidote. She keeps a can on her desk in the office and it doesn't attract attention from people like a can of pepper spray would. She also keeps one nearby at home for home protection. Thought this was interesting and might be of use.
On the heels of a break in and beating that left an elderly woman in Toledo dead, self defense experts have a tip that could save your life.
Val Glinka teaches self-defense to students at Sylvania Southview High School. For decades, he's suggested putting a can of wasp and hornet spray near your door or bed. Glinka says, "This is better than anything I can teach them."  Glinka considers it inexpensive, easy to find, and more effective than mace or pepper spray. The cans typically shoot 20 to 30 feet; so if someone tries to break into your home, Glinka says "spray the culprit in the eyes". It's a tip he's given to students for decades.
It's also one he wants everyone to hear if you're looking for protection, Glinka says look to the spray. "That's going to give you a chance to call the police; maybe get out." Maybe even save a life.
Did you also know that wasp spray will kill a snake? And a mouse! It will! Good to know, huh? It will also kill a wasp!!!
Some have advised against adopting wasp spray as an alternative to pepper spray, primarily for two reasons:

1.      The active ingredients in most wasp sprays are pyrethrins, compounds derived from a species of the chrysanthemum plant which penetrate the nervous systems of insects and kill them. Since wasp sprays are not formulated to be used directly on human beings, some critics maintain, they should not be relied upon as a form of non-lethal self-defense, as their safety and effectiveness for this purpose has not been sufficiently tested, and the toxic effects of pyrethrin could potentially be much more harmful or less effective than expected.
2.      Many jurisdictions specifically prohibit the use of any self-defense sprays other than pepper spray. (Additionally, most spray insecticide containers include warnings stating that "It is a violation of federal law to use this product in a manner inconsistent with its labeling.")
3.      The primary benefit claimed in advocating the use of wasp spray over pepper spray is that the former can be effectively deployed from a greater distance ("wasp spray can shoot up to twenty feet away and is a lot more accurate"). However, canisters of pepper spray with an equivalent (or greater) range are commonly available.

God's Pharmacy

It's been said that God first separated the salt water from the fresh, made dry land, planted a garden, made animals and fish. All before making a human. He made and provided what we'd need before we were born. These are best & more powerful when eaten raw. We're such slow learners.

  1. A sliced Carrot looks like the human eye. The pupil, iris and radiating lines look just like the human eye... And YES, science now shows carrots greatly enhance blood flow to and function of the eyes.
  2. A Tomato has four chambers and is red. The heart has four chambers and is red. All of the research shows tomatoes are loaded with lycopine and are indeed pure heart and blood food.
  3. Grapes hang in a cluster that has the shape of the heart. Each grape looks like a blood cell and all of the research today shows grapes are also profound heart and blood vitalizing food.
  4. A Walnut looks like a little brain, a left and right hemisphere, upper cerebrums and lower cerebellums. Even the wrinkles or folds on the nut are just like the neo-cortex. We now know walnuts help develop more than three (3) dozen neuron-transmitters for brain function.
  5. Kidney Beans actually heal and help maintain kidney function and yes, they look exactly like the human kidneys.
  6. Celery, Bok Choy, Rhubarb and many more look just like bones. These foods specifically target bone strength. Bones are 23% sodium and these foods are 23% sodium. If you don't have enough sodium in your diet, the body pulls it from the bones, thus making them weak. These foods replenish the skeletal needs of the body.
  7. Avocadoes, Eggplant and Pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female - they look just like these organs. Today's research shows that when a woman eats one avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight, and prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? It takes exactly nine (9) months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are over 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition in each one of these foods (modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them).
  8. Figs are full of seeds and hang in twos when they grow. Figs increase the mobility of male sperm and increase the numbers of Sperm as well to overcome male sterility.
  9. Sweet Potatoes look like the pancreas and actually balance the glycemic index of diabetics.
  10. Olives assist the health and function of the ovaries
  11. Oranges, Grapefruits, and other Citrus fruits look just like the mammary glands of the female and actually assist the health of the breasts and the movement of lymph in and out of the breasts.
  12. Onions look like the body's cells. Today's research shows onions help clear waste materials from all of the body cells. They even produce tears which wash the epithelial layers of the eyes. A working companion, Garlic, also helps eliminate waste materials and dangerous free radicals from the body.

Life in a Cave

Tucked away in bed, a nervous, hen-pecked Ahab and his vicious wife, Jezebel, are having pillow-talk. He dreads this because she wants to know what’s been going on. With great reluctance he casually mentions that the prophet Elijah has destroyed all the pagan temples and, for good measure, killed the false prophets (1 Kings 19: 1ff).
Jezebel sits up in bed, absolutely furious that Elijah has dared to interfere with her patronage and pet projects. Right away she sends a messenger: “May the gods do thus and so to me if by this time tomorrow I have not done with your life what was done to each of them.” In a word: “I’m going to wipe you out!” Elijah’s only contingency plan is to flee the country and the kingdom. After a few days of running, he finds a cave. Even though an angel has fed him, he decides to hole up in the cave and simply call it quits: “This is enough, 0 Lord! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”
Throughout history, the image of a cave recalls temporary or even permanent residence, and not merely for primitive peoples. Carmelite nun Ruth Barrows (To Believe in Jesus) applies the idea to us: “We live in a cave. The cave is so vast and we are so small that we cannot perceive it is a cave until we have grown in stature.” Startling as it may seem, even in our spiritual life we can become reluctant to move out of our personal cave. “It seems a limitless world, a most beautiful city full of good things, everything we need for our stimulation and growth.”
Our spiritual life — our life with God — is a proverbial case in point. We shield ourselves, although we don’t consciously recognize the process, with customary devotions and prayers, convenient good works, the reception of sacraments and grand theological discussions. Frankly, God should be pleased with us, and we need do no more except carry on as usual.  We like our cave. With Elijah we prefer to stay where we are, afraid to face what the Lord may ask of us. “Do Not Disturb” is the front door sign. A verse from the Book of Revelation (3:20) comes to mind: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.” Be it a cave or a house, the attitude is similar: In our heart of hearts we prefer something of a safe distance between ourselves and God.
But the gracious Lord invites Elijah out of his comfort zone: “Then the Lord said, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will be passing by.” The prophet expects the customary presence: wind, fire or earthquake. Not so! There is an unheard of manifestation of the Lord: “After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.”
            This is a revolutionary concept for the prophet and for us.  He is being called to leave his cave, go beyond the accepted divine manifestations and seek God in new ways.  Burrows elaborates: “Our awareness of it will be an awareness that we are, in fact, in a cave; that what we had thought of as a spiritual world has disintegrated. We see that we are trapped, confined and without hope of betterment unless someone intervenes. This is when we really appreciate that we need a savor. It cannot happen until we have exhausted the possibilities of the cave, until we have used to the full what is offered us there.”
Yes, like Elijah, we are reluctant to accept new possibilities in our spiritual lives. “When he heard this (the tiny whispering sound), Elijah hid his face in his cloak and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, ‘Elijah, why are you here?’ He replied, ‘I have been most zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. But the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to the sword. I alone am left, and they seek to take my life.’
Bargaining will not do. While the Lord acknowledges Elijah’s past efforts he is persistent: “Go, take the road back to the desert near Damascus,” not discounting the good works the prophet has accomplished, but inviting — urging — him to welcome new adventures of faith.
            That invitation comes down to us, here and now. We have our comfortable devotions and liturgical prayers, and we are faithful to these even in times of spiritual darkness. But the question, very personal, IS: Are we content solely with our present prayer life? Specifically, do we have a regular “quiet time” (even five or ten minutes) for simply listening instead of speaking to the Lord? At the outset this can appear to be a total waste of time, but that very space makes it possible for the Spirit to touch our innermost self. Faith and courage on our part are essential.  For Jesus promises (Jn 17:26): “The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”

By Father Warren Rouse, OFM, shares his words of wisdom from the Serra Retreat Center in Malibu, California.  THE WAY OF ST FRANCIS July – August 2013
Bible quotations are from the New American Bible.

Missions – A gift of faith

“Faith is God’s precious gift, which opens our mind to know and love him. He wants to enter into relationship with us and allow us to participate in his own life in order to make our life more meaningful, better and more beautiful. God loves us!” These are the words of Pope Francis for his 2013 World Mission Sunday message.
The Holy Father adds, “Everyone should be able to experience the joy of being loved by God, the joy of salvation! It is a gift that one cannot keep to oneself, but it is to be shared. If we want to keep it only to ourselves, we will become isolated, sterile and sick Christians. The proclamation of the Gospel is part of being Disciples of Christ and it is a constant commitment that animates the whole life of the church. Missionary outreach is a clear sign of the maturity of an ecclesial community. . . .The strength of our faith, at a personal and community level can be measured by the ability to communicate it to others, to spread and live it in charity, to witness to it before those we meet and those who share the path of life with us.”
Pope Francis points out, “The concern for all the churches, that the Bishop of Rome shares with his brother bishops, finds an important expression in the activity of the Pontifical Mission Societies, which are meant to animate and deepen the missionary conscience of every baptized Christian, and of every community, by reminding them of the need for a more profound missionary formation of the whole people of God and by encouraging the Christian community to contribute to the spread of the Gospel in the world.”

By Mike Gable; The Catholic Telegraph, October, 2013 Page 23

The Difference Between a Sacramental & Natural Marriage

With all the confusion these days about what constitutes a marriage, it’s no wonder that there is further puzzlement when we speak of marriages as sacramental. We used to be able to take for granted, until recent times, that most everyone understood that, in its most basic form, marriage is the life-long union of one man and one woman for the good of each other and for having children and raising them to be upstanding members of the human community.
Today, however, we must stress that the marriage bond, or covenantal partnership, is not merely a man-made way of relating. Marriage originates from God at the very beginning of the creation of Adam and Eve, about which we learn in the opening chapters of the book of Genesis (see Gen. 1:27—28; 2:21—24), Marriage is part of God’s will for men and women and their flourishing, both before the fall of Adam and Eve as well as afterwards. This bond of marital love flows from the very fact that Adam and Eve were created in love by God and were made for love. Love, not just the emotion but true love, always expresses itself in seeking the true good of the other. As we know love whereby we seek what is truly good for each other, takes on many forms, but one of the greatest ways this is expressed is in the marriage covenant. This covenant is an agreement whereby a man and a woman exchange themselves to each other. Each gives himself or herself completely and permanently to the other, no holds barred. Yet, the marriage bond is a sacred one because God is the author of marriage.
Catholics refer to what I have just described as a natural marriage, or a natural marital bond, as distinguished from a sacramental marriage, or a sacramental marital bond. The word “natural” is here being used in a particular way, namely to explain an action that flows from the human nature of man and woman. In other words, men and women are the kinds of creatures who are made by God to be able to form covenants and give themselves to each other in marriage, among the many other natural acts of which they are capable on account of how they are created.
While a matrimonial bond is the union resulting from the gift of self that spouses make to each other, the form it takes (either natural or sacramental) results from whether or not the spouses are baptized Christians. In this light, marriages between a man and women are natural bonds when those who have vowed themselves to each other have not been baptized, or when one or the other of the spouses is not baptized. Thus, a non-baptized man and a non-baptized woman who marry form a natural marriage bond, as does a non-baptized person marrying a baptized person. If and only if, both the man and the woman are baptized is it possible for the marriage to be a sacrament.
Why is this important, especially if natural bonds of marriage are already holy, as noted above? The game changer between natural and sacramental marriages is the fact of the change in the souls of those who are baptized. Baptism is what transforms a person into an adopted child of God, cleansed from all sin and thus made a true worshipper of God through Christ and given the grace of the Holy Spirit to fulfill this new way of life.
The soul is even marked indelibly, such that every act that a baptized person does, whether good or evil, is done precisely as a person marked as belonging to Christ. Nothing but nothing is done apart from the fact of being baptized, and baptism, going all the way to the soul, cannot be undone, any more than someone can his or her ethnicity or blood ties. This means that when a baptized man and a baptized woman exchange marriage vows, they do so as belonging to Christ in a new way, and even their very act of marriage becomes a Christian form of worship of God. The difference between natural and sacramental marriage is not a degree of holiness, but the end (as in goal) of each kind of marriage. Natural marriage has natural ends, goals which are for the good of life on earth. Sacramental marriage, however, includes all the ends of natural marriage and, in addition, has the purpose of the spouses helping each other (and their children) to attain heaven through the special sacramental graces that come from belonging to Christ and being married in Him.
Catholics care about this important difference because sacramental marriage is a matter of nothing less than full, human flourishing both on earth and everlasting life in heaven.

Guest columnist Father Paul J. Keller, O.P., LTD. is an assistant professor of sacramental theology at the Athenaeum of Ohio and a member of the Dominicans of the St Joseph Province.