Saturday, March 31, 2007

Lover - Derek Webb

Another beautiful song for Holy Week. One of my favorite songs about Christ, and I get to see Mr. Webb in under a month. woo hoo!

Eyes to see . . .what?

.
Holy Week, when I was a Christian in diapers (Protestant), was always a very frustrating time for me to attend my own church. Being fearful of appearing idolatrous, our church had no cross or symbols of Christ anywhere, unless you count the crucifix tattoo on the college kid next to me, or the scenes from "the Passion" on the plasma screens. Far more likely were you to find posters of Bob and Larry, than images of Peter or Paul (and don't even try to mention our Blessed Lady).

It was also always odd to me that they had a problem with Catholic reverence for the Pope, or for calling a priest "father", but it didn't bother anyone when people applauded between songs for the worship band (I would say "nice job", or "thank you" outside of service, but it made me physically ill that worship leaders would even allow anyone to give them praise, instead of the pointing "up" that worship is meant to do). I actually always thought that having the worship team center stage was in fact irreverent, and don't get me started on guitar solos (O:

My last year there, I actually had started mentally planning a covert operation to vandalize the stage (stage yes, no altar), and as terrible as you may see me, I was going to place large crosses above the TV monitors (my old friend Ozzy, was donating them). Diabolical, I know, but that's the kinda fundamentalist I am, as what's more fundamental than a Cross in a church?

I sadly cannot remember ever seeing a cross, or any religious symbols, in my friends houses (although I do remember a few friends openly mocking an antique Rosary I had in my place, which was a cherished gift from a Catholic friend's mom). They would have lots of photos of family and friends (or even pets) on their walls and mantles, but not an image of the One they said they loved above all. There might even be an expensive, signed and numbered,"Gingerbread Cottage" by that fine contemporary Christian artist, Thomas Kinkade, hung over the fireplace, with the custom framing boldly highlighting the signature. The kids rooms possibly adorned with posters of Christian bands like Relient K or Third Day (bands, I personally love and support), next to pictures of the current "American Idol" front runners, but an image of Christ would be idolatrous?

I actually think it is less the concern over idolatry, and more a fear of appearing Catholic, especially with many members being lapse Catholics, who might start to remember the Truth of what they've left behind and go back to their true "home".

Lastly, the biggest idolatrous symbol that the Mega-churches all seem to have is that invisible score board, which they seem to quote from weekly, on how many new members they have, or souls they have "saved". I always pictured a big sign, "Over Three Million Saved", out front in big blinking lights, next to the Golden Arches.

A cross, a statue, a picture or prayer card; are all things I use to fully worship my King, but are tools only (like a Praise song), and are never worshipped or glorified.

God gave me the sense of smell to enjoy His creation, as well as the fragrance of the incense in Mass (and maybe to remind me to shower before church).

God gave me ears to hear His word spoken, or song, as well as the beautiful sound of children in
prayer (and to know how off key I am).

He gave me a mouth to sing His praises, to receive His body in the Eucharist, and to gently kiss the symbol of that cross that saved me (until the day I may humbly kiss His feet in Heaven).

and I was given eyes to see symbols of that cross, that love, and to help me focus on what is true and good and pure.

I can not help but fear that if we do not surround ourselves with symbols of the Truth, than the world will happily fill that void with symbols of the lie . . .until it becomes our truth.

Pseudo-brother Mike will again step down from his soap box(O:

Friday, March 30, 2007

Saved - Bob Dylan

Just a fun Weekend vid as we enter Holy week.
As I also remember that I became a Christian on Good Friday
and on Saturday Night, at Easter Vigil, I became a Catholic
Eight years later . . .so, I'm a bit slow (O:


Tonight, in a face-to-face confession, I confessed to the
priest that I was guilty of the sin of pride.
"When I look in the mirror, I think I'm handsome."
The priest gently consoled me,
"My son, you are in no spiritual danger.
That is not a sin.
That is a mistake."
*Thanks to the Catholicity Newsletter for that bit o' humor


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Spot the Heresy

.
Yes faithful Readers, it is time again to play "Spot the Heresy", with
today's prize being a lifetime supply* of Berger cookies from our sponsors at the Debaufe Bakeries in Bawlmer, MD, Hon.

This is one of my favorite songs, but see if you can "Spot the Heresy", win some cookies, and maybe even come up with a better line.

The Church - Derek Webb

I have come with one purpose
to capture for Myself a bride
by My life she is lovely
by My death she's justified

I have always been her Husband
though many lovers she has known
so with water I will wash her
and by My word alone

so when you hear the sound of the water
you will know you're not alone

(chorus)
'cause I haven't come for only you
but for My people to pursue
you cannot care for Me with no regard for her
if you love Me you will love the Church

I have long pursued her
as a harlot and a whore
but she will feast upon Me
she will drink and thirst no more

so when you taste my flesh and my blood
you will know you're not alone

there is none that can replace her
though there are many who will try
and though some may be her bridesmaids
they can never be My bride

* lifetime supply meaning that you will take a lifetime to eat one box . . .heh, wannabe monks don't have a lot of cash, ya know (O:

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Want/Need

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To the spiritual perplexity which exercised so many of the rarest souls of the nineteenth century, God appeared as a Being whom men desired to find but could not. But such a formula, though it truly represented one side of their situation, can never represent the whole of any human situation. For God is also a Being whom it ill suits any of us to find but from whom we cannot escape. Part of the reason why men cannot find God is that there is that in Him which they do not desire to find, so that the God whom they are seeking and cannot find is not the God who truly is. Perhaps we could not fail to find God, if it were really God whom we were seeking. And indeed the deepest reality of the situation is that contained in the discovery, which alone is likely at last to resolve our perplexity, that when we were so distressfully seeking that which was not really God, the true God had already found us, though at first we did not know that it was He by whom we had been found. There is a saying, “Be careful what you seek; you might find it.” And some who have sought God only as a complacent ally of their own ambitions have found Him a consuming fire.


"And I want you just like a hole in my head,
But I need you like a meal and a bed"

Cursing a blessing

.
Utilizing fully my Baltimore-ness, I again finagled a trip to Italy from my boss, to only days later trying desperately to get out of it.

Passing on Italy, are ya k'nutz?

Well imaginary reader, when the trip was first proposed, I was to be going over as a buyer for our company, with the additional bonus of bringing a friend (and I suddenly had LOTS of friends, when a free trip to Italy was mentioned). I of course first chose to take my wonderful niece, or if she couldn't go, my sales rep counterpart Billie, from Houston.

Than my boss, obviously forgetting I already mentioned my niece, tells me that he will be going, and that my buddy Billie will be joining us. While I am happy my assertiveness has landed my Texas pal a trip to Italy, I was more than a little frustrated that my boss would be joining us, as that made me no longer in a position of power or authority, just a glorified "tag-a-long".

For me, the fact it was Italy, was second to the opportunity to prove myself in such an important roll. To be "the guy" who called the shots - to be the one who designed, or modified designs of new mouldings (for picture frames) - to be the person the factories respected and listened to, when I brought up ideas or complaints. Honestly I'm even a little shocked at my desire for such a huge responsibility, as the old me woulda ran from something as potentially stressful as this.

Pondering and praying about this, and remembering that God always has a plan, I realized that taking on such an exciting roll would make it much harder for me in the future to leave if I decide God wishes me to pursue religious life at the end of this "year of discernment". I could now see my disappointment in a positive light, and see that this may be a blessing in disguise, and that regardless of the outcome, I trusted Who was in control.

Thinking more on how blessed I have been, I realized that the God given grace to find blessings in what appears at first as a curse, is indeed one of the most wonderful of all Blessings. To realize the amount of hope that He has put in the heart and soul, of one who was once so hopeless and sad. To walk in the faith that He truly has named every hair on my head (although , I do giggle at what some of the names might be . . .I call this one "Bob"), and has "a plan to prosper me and not harm me". Blessed with the gifts of not only faith and hope, but with a love that will never pass away.

I am also blessed my niece didn't find out about my original idea to take her, 'cause nobody wants a peeved 14 year old girl on their hands.

O.K., so I may or may not go to Italy this trip, and either way will be fine with me, as long as it's fine with the One who made me . . .now if only I can make that a consistent everyday view.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Second-hand Sin?

.As long as I can remember, I have always preferred to buy things second hand. I would say that there are only three things I always buy new: food, under garments, and presents for friends (although sometimes a first edition book, or rare art piece may be involved). Why my buying habits are this way, more than the fact that I am cheap (which I am), but because of the self knowledge that I am both a klutz and a worrier.

Knowing that I am prone to not take proper care of things, and tend to accidentally drop, break, or rip items in my possession; coupled with the fact I majored in Worry at university, lead me to only buy inexpensive items that I can, and will at some point, destroy.

If I drop a CD case of a dollar CD I don't blink an eye, but if I had ordered it new,than I get a tad bummed. I am also far less likely to actually touch anything, or wear anything, I own that was expensive, for fear of ruining it in some way. So these items gather dust, and often fall apart in the closet or shelf having never been used.

Knowing this quirk in me, I even have a habit of putting a scratch on a new car immediately after purchase, so that I don't have to wait for the inevitable "first" ding.

Pondering this has made me, in an odd way, see Original Sin, as almost a blessing. A blessing in that none of us has to carry the burden of the memory of that first sin against God (can you remember your first sin?, no, of course not), in the way we remember the first lie that hurt this person, or the first unkind word that hurt that one. I of course wish the fall never would have happened; but I know that it would have, in that I know myself, and I know my fellow humans.
I (very selfishly) am just glad it was Adam and not me.

Could you imagine being born without original sin, but waiting every second of every day for that first one? I am actually glad I was born with that first "ding", even though I constantly guard against new ones.

Of course the wonderful thing is that God didn't wish for it either, and was so saddened by the separation that he humbly stepped down from heaven, lived among us, and forgave me as I stripped Him bear, spat in His face, and drove nails into His body.

"paying a debt He didn't owe,
because I owed a debt I could never pay
"


Monday, March 26, 2007

Pro-Global Warming


The other day, I wrote a post entitled An Inconvenient Truth, and since then I have been bombarded with imaginary phone calls and e-mails asking for my opinion on Global Warming.

Well, I would just like to say I am emphatically
Pro-Global Warming!


I want cold pricklies to be replaced by warm fuzzies
I want to see people on fire with the desire to share God's love!
Burning up with love for their brothers and sisters,
I want that love to generate so much heat
that Eskimos wear shorts in Alaska,
and that Democrats and Republicans go on Sunday picnics together,
I want Grocery stores to run out of Marshmallows,
because we're making smores with our love,

I want the icebergs that' so many of us call our hearts,

to melt away into the Living Water that is Christ Jesus.
I want us all Baptised with the Holy Spirit and Fire!
I want . .

Imaginary Reader: the term Global Warming refers to the warming some scientists predict will occur as a result of increased emissions of greenhouse gases causing an increase in the average temperature of the Earth's near-surface air and oceans.

WWMM : Oh, well that doesn't sound very good, I'll look into it....but, ya know, my way ain't too shabby (O:

May you all be warmed today by the presence of God's Love!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

glup glup, floatin' in a sea of love

.
Coming home from Mass, I heard what sounded like the gurgling of water, only to find that it was
the chatter of a several Brown Headed Cowbirds "congregating" in our bushes
(yes, I do love puns).

Cowbird Song and Dance

I had never noticed their strange gargle before, so I ran in and found a link to share with all my fellow boyd peeps - enjoy!
.

A Woman for All Seasons

.
"I was suddenly rescued from a sinking ship,
but my family is still on that ship. And they're going down".

Charlene Cothran, in the Christianity Today article "The Re-Birth of Venus", about her reverse coming out, and leaving her friends caught up in the gay lifestyle, to fully embrace her Savior's love.

"Charlene Cothran, publisher and editor-in-chief of Venus Magazine, a national publication for African-American gays and lesbians she launched 13 years ago, made a startling announcement: After 29 years as a gay activist, she's become a Christian, renounced her homosexuality, and changed the format of her magazine to spread the gospel to the gay community".

How fitting that I recently watched "A Man for All Seasons", the movie adaptation of Robert Bolt's stage-play about Sir Thomas More, the man who's "conscience" stood up to King Henry VIII when the King rejected the Roman Catholic Church to obtain a divorce and remarriage. Telling a king that his new clothes in fact do not exist, is very similar, and just as brave, as shining a "light" on the darkness that is the empty Gay lifestyle. Thomas More was of course beheaded for his beliefs, and after reading the above article, I trust that this courageous woman would gladly suffer the same, rather than deny her rightful King.
God bless her!

"A dead thing can go with the stream,
but only a living thing can go against it."
G.K.Chesterton

I have complete confidence that Saint Thomas More, along with all the angels and all the saints, is praying for Miss Cothran now, just I have added her to my prayer list (and encourage you to do the same). I wonder now how I can help, and know that it starts and ends with love - love for all people, just as I am loved - acts of love rather than words of condemnation - loving affirmation of a God given dignity, not a judgemental focus on a sinful lifestyle - love that always extends a hand to carefully remove a speck, but only after removing the plank in my own eye. Love, love, love, and than more love still - in all things - LOVE!

I know that it is with this great love that Charlene Cothran steps "out" to give her life in service to her "family".


“No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”
John 15:13

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Accidental Isolationist

As I mentioned a few days ago, an old friend in response to the news that her former long haired boyfriend had become one of dem wacky followers of Christ, replied that she too had found a new sense of "inner" peace, but that it was of her own making . . .of self.

Self, the cancer that I must daily fight off, lest it kill the relationship with my Beloved. Self, the word that raises hairs on my neck, and sets off a football field full of red flags. Self, the temple I once worshipped in, and that perpetually sends me SPAM asking if I want to renew my membership.

The sad thing was that I had no immediate response for this person, mainly because she was the first person God used to teach your monkster about unconditional love, but also due to the fact that I just could no longer relate to such a statement. This made me look at my life a bit and then realized I had committed the most common sin among Christians, in that I had placed myself apart from the world. I noticed that all my non-work activities were Church based, and that my time around non-Christians was mainly limited to work, and being in Sales, my job is to promote my product, sadly not my love of our Lord. I could no longer relate to my nonreligious brothers and sisters, and had set myself a little too far apart. I wasn't just "not of the world", I wasn't "in the world" either.

So what's a wacky wannabe musical monk to do?

Well, this is DC, so all I need to do is find some group activities on Craigslist or Volunteer Match, and voila', I es part of dis werld. Granted, I am still praying about my true vocation, which may or may not lead me into religious life, but that still leaves time for tending to the harvest from where I am today.

My brothers and sisters, I repent of my mostly unintentional, and slightly selfish, isolation from our siblings, and ask that you pray that God will not only open doors, but that this silly man/boy will see them and walk through.

God bless,
mike

Spring's First Weekend Video

Been listening to Rich all week, and thought this vid was an appropriate welcoming for Spring

The Color Green - Rich Mullins


And the moon is a sliver of silver
Like a shaving that fell on the floor of a Carpenter's shop
And every house must have it's builder
And I awoke in the house of God
Where the windows are mornings and evenings
Stretched from the sun
Across the sky north to south
And on my way to early meeting
I heard the rocks crying out
I heard the rocks crying out

Be praised for all Your tenderness by these works of Your hands
Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless and bring to life Your land
Look down upon this winter wheat and be glad that You have made
Blue for the sky and the color green that fills these fields with praise

And the wrens have returned and they're nesting
In the hollow of that oak where his heart once had been
And he lifts up his arms in a blessing for being born again
And the streams are all swollen with winter
Winter unfrozen and free to run away now
And I'm amazed when I remember
Who it was that built this house


Be praised for all Your tenderness by these works of Your hands
Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless and bring to life Your land
Look down upon this winter wheat and be glad that You have made
Blue for the sky and the color green that fills these fields with praise

And with the rocks I cry out

Quote o'da Day :Prayer

    "In our praying, we should speak to God about Himself--that
is praise; or about His gifts--that is thanksgiving; or about
other people--that is intercession; or about our sins--that is
confession and penitence; or about our needs--that is
petition. Prayer has five fingers, like a hand, and each in
turn must be pointed to God, that our prayer may be full and
complete".
... F. W. Kates (b.1920)


Friday, March 23, 2007

. . .and how are you?

.
One of the biggest influences in the way I now try to relate to people, has been the Christ-like example of my friend Paul. Although the cynical may see his perpetual goodness as a tad too "Ned Flanders", anyone with "eyes to see" will know they are in the presence of a living saint (although that doesn't mean I don't pray for him and his family every day).

A devout family man (five kids at last count), he actually studied to become a priest, but as is often the case, God had other plans. Working several jobs to support his growing brood, one with special needs, he still will take time to talk to anyone he meets, and ends most conversations with "let's pray for each other". I've been with him where we prayed for someone in a grocery store, as well as an IKEA checkout line, and the look on those faces is one I have imagined similar to people who's lives were touched by the apostles. My friend Josh, not knowing my relation to Paul, told me about this awesome Christian guy he met on the Metro one day, and who offered to pray for him and his dad, with Josh commenting "and he genuinely meant it !?!"

Genuine, is the best world I can think of for Paul.

The incredible love he shows for strangers, is nothing compared to that which he pours out onto his family, as well as us blessed to be called his friends. Every child is attended to, with not even a smidge' of favoritism, even though his oldest (still a pre-teen) is already talking of becoming a priest.

When I was anticipating marriage last year, and would talk of baby names, we had easily picked" Richard Paul" for the first boy (my friend Richard is my Midwestern version of Paul). Sadly, Paul's wife is my former almost fiance's best friend, so I distanced myself from them after the breakup, as to keep her support system of friends intact. Love really is about sacrifice, and doesn't, or shouldn't, end with the "changing" of the relationship....but I digress (always wanted to say that (O: )

Taking Paul's example of openness towards everyone, I daily try to do little things, with "listening more than talking" being a big one. Another way I find I emulate him is with checkout people, as when they, according to script, ask me "How are you?", I now respond "not bad, How are you doing?". They usually are pleasantly taken back by this, and sometimes will even tell me honestly about their day. Yesterday in Walmart, the checkout woman broke out in tears, telling me about how her car broke down, and while it was on the side of the road was hit by another car and totalled. No one else was in line, and I just let her talk, then I asked if I could pray for her, and she smiled, a tear in her eye "would you please?"

Would I please?, funny how often we are the ones blessed when we try to be the blessing. God is amazing, and I am thankful for the example of His Son, and for all those, like my dear friend Paul, who inspire me to "love as I have been loved"

So all of you, could you please pray for my buddy Paul and His family, and that my new friend Loraine will get a car, and that this silly monkster will continue to try to be His "hands and feet"

God bless,
mike

Thursday, March 22, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth

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A little while ago, an old friend upon learning of my new faith , said that she too had found an inner strength, but that she knew it came from her "self". This of course made me a bit sad for her, but also for the millions of other comfortable people out there, who may not ever embrace God's love.

As I thought this over, I realized that I sometimes talk too much about what God has done in my life, and the amazing transformation that allows me to see myself, and others, in dignity and love.While this is very important, I forget that it wasn't the promise of this that first brought me to my knees, but was in fact "Veritas", Truth.

Although I felt Christ knocking on my heart's door for a long time, He in fact entered through the over IQ'd lump of flesh I call a brain. It was an intellectual decision to first embrace my need for salvation, and in turn my Savior. A decision I thought about, read about, and yes, prayed about for over a Year and a half before that glorious day where I first said the words "Jesus, I know who you are, and what you did for me. I am sorry for the things I've done, and I am Yours now", (the nine year anniversary of that will be this Good Friday).

As someone who had, and to some degree always will, suffer from depression, I was not about to make a decision this big, based on the "misty" emotions I had never learned to control or understand. Since that day, even when "feelings" seemed to point to the truth, I still use my noggin and go to the Word, the catechism, a priest, and always to my knees. If anything, I have been freed from completely emotional responses to most events, and find myself, through God's grace, calmly dealing with the perpetual silliness that is "real life".

When I first became a follower of Truth, my life was actually rather awesome. I lived in a nice house in a great part of DC, with an amazing woman who is still my friend today, and I had a job I absolutely loved. Through the world's eyes, nor even my own at the time, I did not "need" God. It was just that Truth was finally standing in front of me, and I had only had two choices, to acknowledge it but walk away, or embrace it with "Abba!, take me, make me yours".

Guess which one I made (O:

Becoming a Christian was actually the dumbest thing I ever did (at least in a worldly way). Any hopes of ever fitting in were just thrown out the door. No more living for myself, no more ignoring the pain of my "brothers and sisters", no more moral gray areas. Close friends went away, although some eventually came back. I also was given a clear view of all my darkest sins, and all the people I hurt over the years. I suddenly felt more isolated from the world I desperately wanted to be part of, not closer. Those first few months, even years, were so full of pain and doubt, but I now knew the Truth, and had no other choice but to follow Him out of that valley . . .and into the next.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A very Rich day

Spent the day listening to my all time favorite artist, Rich Mullins, and thought I'd share some lyrics until I write a longer post on this amazing man of God. The words below are from a favorite tune of mine, and one I often use as an answer to the "why", when I bump into folks who knew atheist Mike.

"They said boy you just follow your heart
But my heart just led me into my chest
They said follow your nose
But the direction changed every time I went and turned my head
And they said boy you just follow your dreams
But my dreams were only misty notions
But the Father of hearts and the Maker of noses
And the Giver of dreams
He's the one I have chosen
And I will follow Him"

The Maker of Noses- Rich Mullins

Lacking Celibacy

.
As I wrote previously, I took my favorite niece Largo, and her friend Casey, to a Switchfoot concert. At the show we ran into some of her friends from the church she attends (and where I attended, before being welcomed into the Catholic Church). One of the boys, is this amazing 15 year old, who towers at several inches over six feet, and who seems to be a natural leader for the other kids. I myself look up to this young man, not just 'cause he's a few inches taller than the monkster, but because of the way he shepherds the other kids. It is very obvious that he genuinely cares for each of them, and equally, without a hint of favoritism for any one person. I have seen him walk away from swooning teenage girls (did I mention he's also a very cool looking MTV poster boy as well), to go hang out with a sixth grader who' been left out of whatever the group that day is doing. I have never heard him say anything even a tad negative about anyone, which I always thought was the only things teenagers said in this "this sucks" "that sucks" time of their lives.

His love for the others is actually second, to his love for God. While his words are not always the most literate or profound, they do convey a love for, and a constant pointing to, God.

Mr. D'atagnan, um, what's your point? ya want this kid to be Pope or something?

Well yes imaginary reader, I kinda do, or should I say that I could easily see him as a priest.

Contemplating this, made me again frustrated with my Evangelical background and the way there is no place for Celibates, and the over empathise on marriage and "family". I am so thankful that the Catholic church makes distinctions between a vocation of celibacy (whether religious or laity), and a vocation for married life. While there may be a time of discernment as to where God is calling a person, it isn't , or need be, the lifelong limbo of the unmarried, or over divorced, Protestant.

That they (Protestants) even expect that their pastors be married, which I am seeing so clearly now as a mistake. Family is a 24/7 commitment, as is pastoring of a church, so often one or the other lacks the person's complete attention. I know how hard it is for my "married with children" friends to find even time to spend with their spouses, let alone hanging out with their good buddy Mike, so how is a Pastor to do this effectively with a whole congregation? Could this also be one of the reasons PK's (pastor's kid) often run amok for a time? (although, thank God, most usually find they're way back).

Granted, that many folks buy into the erroneous idea that artificial birth control is O.K. (or worse, they have never considered whether it was or not, but that's another post), so their families are often smaller than would be if they trusted God as much as they do Warner Chilcott or Barr Pharmaceutical . Sometimes smaller isn't better, as in large families the elder kids often start to take on some of the parental responsibilities, which can even prepare them better for their own family life one day.

Than I think of someone who may actually have no interest in dating or marriage, but feels the need to play that role, especially as friends constantly provide them with potential spouses at parties or church events (or worse, that they feel the need to quiet the "are they gay" gossip). For me, a born romantic fool, I do like having a loving snuggling partner in my life, but don't really know if it is what God thinks is best for me, and I am so thankful that the Church has many options available to me.

I was pondering all this as I thought of St. Joseph, a man who said yes to God, and in turn lived both a married life, and a celibate life. A man who raised a child as his own, providing for both mother and child,"Joseph the worker". A man who as a Catholic I view a true role model for any man, but who as a Protestant I only dusted off at Christmas for my Nativity scene. St. Joseph thank you for your "yes", and your example.
St Joseph pray for me.

All of the above is a bit of bittersweet, as while I am so truly thankful for the true fullness of faith that the Catholic church gives me, yet I am also constantly saddened to think of my friends in the church of "theological holes and empty spaces" that is Protestantism. Sad, that a 15 year old who I see as a great servant of God, may never know his full potential in Christ. Even sadder when I wonder how many others are out there, who will never be guided to their true vocation, because too many Bible Christians are so busy with WWJD, they never ask WILWW ("what if Luther was Wrong?", 'cause me thinks he definitely was), never questioning why their own churches keep splintering, but Rome stays firm - built on a "rock" that Jesus made.

D'art has left his soap box for the day, seeya tomorrow (O:

yet another doodle

Rome, 2006

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Whaddaya think?

.
Feeling more visually creative today, so I thought I'd get opinions.
I call this design
"the Pac-man Cometh"

. . . .why yes, I am a dork, how'd ya know (O:

God bless the dorks!

    "Through Him then let us continually offer
up a sacrifice of praise to God,
that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge
His name."




Monday, March 19, 2007

Always a bridesmaid . . .


Yes, I am happy to inform everyone, that I get to play the part of "best man" at my Dad's upcoming nuptials, and then again in October for my good buddy Josh.

I am mainly excited 'cause I get to wear a Tux and play James Bond for a day . . .and this time I can actually leave my apartment (O:

Weddings have not been exactly a good topic of conversation for me, as the morning of the last wedding I attended had me in a jewelry store returning an engagement ring, only later to be sitting alone at a reception with two recently engaged couples . . .and this particular wedding also offered no booze !?!.

[for any of you folks working in a jewelry store, please never ask a guy "Reason for return" when they bring back an engagement ring]


"Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end."
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (The Message)

I had been instructed to be happy for others, despite my own sorrow . . . and by God's grace, that's what I did, and continue to try to do. The wedding I mentioned above, while painful was also very joy filled, as I watched one of my best friends, tears of joy in his eye (o.k., mine too), pick up his new bride, and carry her down the aisle to start their new life together. I also watched my friend Josh as he lovingly looked at his girlfriend that day, knowing that she was completely unaware that he too had bought a ring, and would be giving it to her in a few weeks.

Joy sometimes lives with sorrow, but ya do have to make a choice, with God's grace and word, to hope in the joy, knowing that the sorrow will one day end, and that it even has a purpose.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance."
James 1

Sunday, March 18, 2007

"Confession needs to be made"

Between You and me - dc Talk

Sorrow is a lonely feeling

Unsettled is a painful place
I've lived with both for far too long now
Since we've parted ways
I've been wrestling with my conscience
And I found myself to blame
If there's to be any resolution
I've got to peel my pride away

(chorus)
Just between you and me
I've got something' to say
I wanna get it straight
Before the sun goes down
Just between you and me
Confession needs to be made
Recompense is my way to freedom now
Just between you and me

I've got something to say

If confession is the road to healing
Forgiveness is the promised land
I'm reaching out in my conviction
I'm longing to make amends
So, I'm sorry for the words I've spoken
For I've betrayed a friend

We've got a love that's worth preserving
And a bond I will defend

(repeat chorus)

In my pursuit of God, I thirst for holiness
As I approach the Son, I must consider this
Offenses unresolved, they'll keep me from the throne
Before I go to Him my wrong must be atoned

If there's to be any resolution
I've got to peel this pride away


No more Wine for me


Yesterday, being St. Pat's day, I was joking with my boss about beer, and a recent Theology on Tap event, and that one of the reasons I converted to Catholicism was that they (we) are much better drinkers.

"Yep, I converted for the beer" says I
"I thought it was for the communion wine" says boss man
"Actually, that is why I converted, the Eucharist"
in turn replies your monkster.

True, that one of the main reasons I started on the "Road to Rome" was my belief in the biblical truth of Christ's presence in the Eucharist. But yesterday reminded me that my reply should have been "No, Protestants have communion wine, Catholics have Jesus", as I have never received wine during the Eucharist, but instead the actual blood of my risen Lord
.

John 6:55 "For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink".

So when I hear my Protestant brothers argue over what's better - grape juice or Manischewitz, whole wheat or matzo; I in fact know that as a Catholic, I humbly receive my savior Jesus at every Mass, and only by this mystery do I truly have Communion with the Body of Christ.

All praise and honor to Jesus my King!


Saturday, March 17, 2007

God is a DJ


Some of you wonderful folks may know, the ol' monkster used to be a DJ, working everywhere from bars to bar mitzvahs (with the latter being the rowdiest). Last year I finally put the turntables away, following a party where I was required to play hip-hop/club music for a group of junior high kids. Music with lyrics so vile, so sex obsessed, so opposite of love, that they sometimes made me a bit physically ill. I did ask the parents if they wanted me to keep it tame, but they said to play "whatever", that they (the kids) were "old enough to understand" - yes, unfortunately, this is the modern "I wanna be there cool friend" school of parenting that often wonders later why their children are in therapy or rehab.

As a majority of the kids that night were Jewish, and that I might be the "only Jesus they ever meet" (as a good friend often says) , I realized I wasn't being a fitting example. I did manage to change the tone of the music by the end of the night, playing fun oldies and even a swing tune or two. On the ride home I decided that was to be it, and that the next day I would call the person I worked for and quit. She informed me that she was really booked solid, and could I do one more wedding, to which I agreed out of a sense of responsibility - oh, and she doubled my pay too (hey, I ain't a saint yet).

I am so very glad I did agree to do the wedding reception, as it was the perfect end of my humble DJ career, and even a bit a possible foreshadowing to where I pray God is calling me. It seems that the clergy who performed the ceremony could not make it to the party, due to another wedding he was scheduled for, and the groom asked if I could do the blessing before the meal. Yes, my faithful readers, my last night as a DJ, my God gave me a thank you for my own faithfulness, by letting me publicly (and over a microphone) say the words "we ask this in Jesus' name". Thank you again, my wonderful Father!, Your wonders never end.

Oh, and I played, as was my custom after the blessing,"Have I told you lately that I Love You", by Van Morrison (please do not mention the Rod Stewart version EVER!)

"There's a love that's defined And it's yours and it's mine
like the sun

And at the end of the day
We should give thanks and pray to the One, to the One"

I must admit, I really do miss it, and all of you out there can help, as I still love to make mix CDs, and will be happy to make one for anyone who asks - 'course the music, even the hip-hop, will be Christian.

I realized yesterday that God is the ultimate DJ, as He takes even the saddest songs of my life, and infuses them with rhythms of endless love, melodies of a peace that passes understanding, that kick with the same joyous dance beats that had David be-bopping around his palace in praise of His Lord. Happy or sad may be the lyrics of my songs, but danceable they all will be, and all to honor my Lord.

God is the DJ - I'm the extended re:mix

Happy St. Patrick's Day


“Christ shield me this day:
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me”
(from “The Breastplate of St. Patrick”).

Friday, March 16, 2007

Quote : All the World is a Stage

"I have called my material surroundings a stage set. In
this I can act. And you may well say "act." For what I call
"myself" (for all practical, everyday purposes) is also a
dramatic construction; memories, glimpses in the shavinglass,
and snatches of the very fallible activity called
"introspection," are the principal ingredients. Normally I
call this construction "me," and the stage set "the real
world." Now the moment of prayer is for me--or involves for me
as its condition--the awareness, the reawakened awareness,
that this "real world" and "real self" are very far from being
rock-bottom realities. I cannot, in the flesh, leave the
stage, either to go behind the scenes or to take my seat in
the pit; but I can remember that these regions exist. And I
also remember that my apparent self--this clown or hero or
super--under his grease-paint is a real person with an off-
stage life. The dramatic person could not tread the stage
unless he concealed a real person: unless the real and unknown
I existed, I would not even make mistakes about the imagined
me. And in prayer this real I struggles to speak, for once,
from his real being, and to address, for once, not the other
actors, but--what shall I call Him?
The Author, for He invented us all?
The Producer, for He controls all?
Or the Audience,
for He watches,
and will judge, the performance?"

             ... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) 

Smells and Toll Bells


As I have to drive up to Gettysburg today, and have absolutely nothing new to write, I thought I'd share a quick story with you, my devoted readers (O:

Last summer, at one of the lowest points of my "year from hell", my awesome boss sent me to see a customer at the beach in Ocean City, MD. While this sounds great, there was of course one slight problem in that to get there, I would need to cross the Bay Bridge - and your favorite wannabe monk is rather afraid of heights. This slight phobia is usually not that problematic, except when I am already stressed or unhappy. The death of my mother, along with the returning of the first of two engagement rings (concerning the same gal), had left me more than a little sad, and a tad mentally numb.

Work is work, especially when a free night at the beach is involved, so off I went. As was my habit, I started to pray as I approached the bridge. As I was praying, the scent of incense began to fill my vehicle, the same comforting smell that accompanies Mass, and Wednesday night Adoration. The same ancient aroma that welcomes me to my stone and marble parish in North West DC. The Creator of the universe, my God, was taking time to tell this silly man/boy "Be not afraid", and that He was with me. I praised Him, I thanked Him, I smiled, I laughed, I wept, and than I drove over (not off) the bridge on my way to the beach.

Yes, I still get a bit anxious when I approach the bridge, and I still pray, and I still know that He is always with me (even though I forget sometimes). That He constantly reaches out to me is a profound mystery, and all I can do in response is say "thank you, my Lord", and in turn reach out to whoever I can, and in His holy name!

Be not afraid, God loves you, and is always with you!

Sherwood does Full House

This weekend's music vid is brought to you by the band Sherwood, who just released their new CD
"A Different Light" this week. Catch them on tour with Mae and Relient K.

New Model Army


You can get this as a t-shirt at Threadless t-shirts.com

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Forgiveness Again

“It is true: Our sins are always the same, but we clean our homes, our rooms, at least once a week, even if the dirt is always the same; in order to live in cleanliness, in order to start again. Otherwise, the dirt might not be seen, but it builds up".
Pope Benedict XVI

“Something similar can be said about the soul, for me myself: If I never go to confession, my soul is neglected and in the end I am always pleased with myself and no longer understand that I must always work hard to improve, that I must make progress. And this cleansing of the soul that Jesus gives us in the sacrament of confession helps us to make our consciences more alert, more open, and hence, it also helps us to mature spiritually and as human persons. Therefore, two things: Confession is only necessary in the case of a serious sin, but it is very helpful to confess regularly in order to foster the cleanliness and beauty of the soul and to mature day by day in life.”

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

TV as Art ?

This is actually a 42'' Flat Screen we framed to show just another one of the cool things you can do with custom framing. Moulding number 3892 in our catolog

O.K. so I kinda like my job (O:

I Survived, but you knew that

Yes, I survived last night's possible bumping into of an ex-girlfriend, which is good as I am in fact an adult, and should be better equipped to handle such basic parts of living in the 21st Century.

Of course part of that equipment we have as adults, is our good friends. My buddy Josh risked life and limb (or at least the possibility of getting lost), by driving into DC to accompany me to the Theology on Tap event, to support me as I supported my friend Rob (wacky Christians, all trying to lift up, love, and affirm each other).

I know that God would have carried me through the last year, and last night, alone - but I am so thankful He decided to lend me such a good friend as Josh, and I hope I am as good a friend back.

The talk was great, and appropriately the topic was on "Why God allows Suffering", and Rob's teaching background really showed as he effortlessly handled ever question during the later Q&A part of the night. Showing suffering as a unifying aspect of humanity, while quoting from everyone from JPII, CS Lewis, to a 15 year old high schooler living with chronic illness. He also managed to consistently bring each and every part of the talk's focus back to the Cross, and to what true suffering is, and that Christ chose that suffering because of His great love for each one of us . . .even this ex-long haired wannabe monk.

Once, early during the pain and frustration of last year's trampled heart, I was in a bit of a "why me" fit, and threw a pair of balled up socks at a picture of Jesus on my wall, as I said "go to hell". A voice inside whispered "but Michael, I already did, and I did it for you" which of course brought me to my knees (and later to confession). Thank you Jesus!

"Aren't you the strangest friend there is?
They were yellin' Crucify, you said Forgive
When hate was drivin' in the nails
You looked and saw someone you'd die to love
And I can't understand why this hammer is in my hand"
Forgiveness Again - Grand Incredible


Jesus really did suffer, and He truly did it as the ultimate example of love for us,
and for us to emulate!

Thank you, thank you, always, thank you my King!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

F.A.M.I.L.Y.

F.A.M.I.L.Y.
Forget About Me, I Love You !
from the lyrics of Fr. Stan Fortuna

A monk grows up

Tonight I will be attending a Theology on Tap event, with the speaker also being the leader of my Bible Study.

When I first heard about it, feelings of anxiety and dread ran through me, as I hadn't attended a ToT since my last year's engagement fiasco.
For those of you who don't know the details, I will just quickly say I courted a wonderful woman for a year, who sadly could not make up her mind about matrimony, but told your favorite monkster she was in fact ready, and in turn your WWMM happily purchasing a ring, to only find out she changed her mind again (as I actually bought, and returned, two separate rings . . .yes, I am a bit clueless).

She truly is an amazing woman, and I pray for her everyday, but I just am not overly excited to she her at this time - or more to the point, she her with a date.

As her close friend is in charge of our local ToT, I had decided it best to not attend any for a while, plus it is the same time as my regular Bible Study.

But my Bible Study leader has to go and be this really smart guy that would be asked to give a talk - what's a wannabe monk to do?

First I thought I just wouldn't go, but that felt wrong, in that my first obligation is to support my friend, regardless of my comfort level. Also I realized that I wouldn't be overly happy with myself if I didn't go.

Second, after I decided to attend, I realized that a little back up wouldn't hurt, so I called my friend Josh (who is allowing me to play James Bond in October, as I sport a tux as the Best Man at his wedding) and asked him to go with me. No one in my Bible Study knows the story of last year, so they would not completely understand my possible look of fear or constipation tonight. I did tell Rob, the speaker, just so he wouldn't take my probable "freaked out" appearance as a critique of his talk.

Lastly, I also shot the gal involved an e-mail, as a polite "heads up" in case she wasn't over excited to see me either, as it could make any possible date she was on a little less than fun. I do actually still care for her (and always will), and my daily prayer is that God will give her the man who will not only love her, but the one she can truly love in return.

So when I finished all my preparation and prayer, I actually realized that I may, as scary as it sounds, be in fact, growing up . . . .but the jury is still out on that (O:

A side note, the talk is on "Why does God allow suffering" (O:

Pray for me tonight, and anytime you can, as I will for any and all of you

Monday, March 12, 2007

Rocker ready for a Rockin' chair

"I give You my apathy
I'm giving You all of me
I want Your symphony
Singing in all that I am
At the top of my lungs
I'm giving it back "

Only Hope - Switchfoot

Sure sounds like a prayer to me, as do more than a few of Jon Foreman's lyrics, for his band Switchfoot. I also was whispering a prayer of thanksgiving as he opened the show last night with a solo acoustic version of this, my niece's favorite song (also the tune Mandy Moore croons in "A Walk to Remember").

The image of my beloved niece's smiling face as she, and her friends, sang along to this, and pretty much every song that followed - makes up for the sleep deprivation I am now trying to recover from.

Ever since their tune "Meant to Live" broke into MTV land, a Switchfoot concert audience has become a mixture of Christian kids (parents in the back) and college age "adults". The differences are usually that the first group seems to be younger, sings along to even the oldest tune, and lifts theirs hands up in praise to correspond to lyrics like in " Learning to Breathe" or "24"

"I'm singing Spirit take me up in arms with You"

The second group tends to appear older (or at least their fake I.D. would have you believe), sings along to a radio hit or two, and generally are more interested in the consumption of mass quantities, and/or "hooking up" than they seem concerned with the band on stage.Your WWMM felt a bit of sadness at remembering himself being just like them so many years ago, as well as being very thankful that God had brought me through that time with only a few scars.

I had a perfect view of both groups , as I stayed just far enough in the back to keep an eye on my niece, as well as letting her have the feeling of just rockin' out with her friends (although my niece did come back to "head bang" with her uncle during "Meant to Live").

I found myself in prayer most of the event. I said words of thanksgiving, that these kids could understand and share the sentiments in Jon Foreman' s beautiful songs of love to/about his Savior. I prayed for the parents, who like me, were constantly scoping out the room to see where their various children were. I also found myself desperately praying for those around me who weren't "hearing" the words, who were possibly so buzzed on bad draft beer to later involve themselves in things this monkster so wishes he had never done at that age (or ever).

Also, as one of the first Christian concerts I had been to since becoming Catholic, I found myself several times making the "sign of the Cross" in response to the worshipful lyrics.

To end, I'll just say that both Switchfoot and Copeland (opening band), were amazing; that my niece has bestowed upon me the crown of "Best Uncle Ever" (for at least a day or two); that it's the lyrics that make a tune worshipful (not the lack of Marshall stacks); and that we should remember these bands in prayer as they try to live out their Lord's words , while the rockstar temptations come at them from all directions.

Keep rawkin' - Keep praying

Lyrics 'til Later

Blessed Morning all!, I am a little too sleep deprived to try and write anything, so I'll just quote from the band that kept me out so late last night (o: , Will write later on da concert.

"So this is the way
that I say that I need You
This is the way
That I say I love You
This is the way
That I say I'm Yours
This is the way
This is the way

That I'm learning to breathe
I'm learning to crawl
I'm finding that You and You alone
can break my fall

I'm living again, awake and alive
I'm dying to breathe in these abundant skies"

Learning to Breathe - Switchfoot

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Too Old to Rock n' Roll?

Yes, The Monkster and two lovely girls, are hitting a Rock club tonight.


O.K., the bands we are seeing are Christian (Switchfoot and Copeland), and the girls are actually my wonderful 14 year old niece Largo, and one of her friends. I am taking them as part of the "Coolest Uncle Ever" contest, also known as her birthday present.

It is an All Ages show at a bar/nightclub, not a church, and kudos (along with prayers) to any band who can take the Message to the masses, whether in their lyrics or their example.
(Granted, I personally will be more concerned with the girls' safety and protection, than the rawkin' music)

Back when I was still an atheist, it was actually my own buying of the first Jars of Clay CD, that our Lord used as a way of "knocking on my hearts door".

Mark 2:17 And hearing this, Jesus said to them, "
It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Sometimes it takes a little rawk to break a heart of stone