Friday, August 31, 2007

Latte or a Bible?


For my Birthday, a good friend gave me a Starbucks' gift card, which I have already tapped out (pun intended). My friend didn't realize that he gave me two gifts, in that I quickly realized how much $$$ I spend on silly things like Triple Tall Skim Lattes.

What then to spend my hard earned disposable income on? Christianity Today has an article on the non-English Bible shortage, and me thinks getting the Word of God into peoples hands, might be more important the adding caffeine to my already overloaded grey matter.
What do you spend your extra moolah on?

*note to friends with kids, "extra moolah" is that money you once had, that you won't see again, until all yer kids are outta college (O:

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Truth AND Spirit

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"Jesus has a very special love for you. [But] as for me — The silence and the emptiness is so great — that I look and do not see, — Listen and do not hear — the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak … I want you to pray for me — that I let Him have [a] free hand."

Mother Teresa, to the Rev. Michael Van Der Peet in 1979,
quoted in the new book Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light,

I must admit, knowing (and living) the emphasis on the Spirit (with lip service to the Truth) in new Evangelical circles, versus Spirit AND Truth which the Catholic church is based, I can only conclude that if Mother Teresa would have been instead a modern Protestant, she would not have, could not have, persevered in all that she did, and all who she served.
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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Humble Beginnings

My little friend above is only a little over a month old and has just had his first ride in an airplane. As I wrote previously, asking for prayers, his grandmother in the midwest is in the hospital and desperately wanted to meet him before the Lord called her home. Thanks to your prayers, and beyond what the doctors had said, they will meet today, and the very thought, fills my heart to near bursting with joy. Please say another prayer for mommy and baby traveling alone, that God would grant them peace and protection.

Thanks be to God!
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Less is More

"For every one who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

As I may have written before, I am fortunate enough to be part of an amazing Bible study group, run by an extremely knowledgeable and passionate Steubenville-ite. Our usual M.O. is to study the upcoming Sunday's readings, discussing each one separately, then as to how they relate to the other (my favorite, is when we go into the chapel for "Lectio Divina").

This week's readings are on Humility, which I'm starting to think is a concept that is outlawed in the greater DC Metro area, . . .but I digress. Humility was originally the virtue I thought I had down, because I was never overly fond of myself, and so concluded I must be humble (instead of just low self esteem). Learning to be humble for me was to be a challenge of first finding my own self worth, of accepting my own God given abilities, and only then, offering them/myself in service to God, and others. Overly loving oneself, or disliking oneself, is still too much focus on "self".Part of being humble, I was to find (Sirach 3) , is to be fully aware of how "wonderfully made" we are, while living in the knowledge that we are as He willed us to be (warts and all).

I had to learn that being humble means to think less of yourself only in that you think more of others, in the knowledge that God is thinking of you (and them, of course). Father Larry Richards has the best way of demonstrating how we are to prioritize our self in relation to others, by his acronym for J.O.Y.

1)
Jesus
2)
Others
3)
Yourself

Yes, it's a cute little way of saying it, but I don't know of a more perfect way either. I have personally found, as I believe anyone will, that if our eyes are on Jesus and our hands are open to others, we may not always be "happy", but we will have Joy . . .I know I do.

"To the best of my ability
I'm practicing humility
And I lay myself before
'Cause less is more"
Less is More - Relient K

As I ponder marriage I realize that Litany below should be part of any couples daily prayer, if they intend to have a lasting marriage, whether to a spouse, or the Groom.
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Litany of Humility

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O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me.


From the desire of being esteemed,
deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred to others,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,

From the fear of being humiliated,
deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being suspected,

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I,
That in the opinion of the world,
others may increase, and I may decrease,
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
That others may become holier than I,
provided that I may become as holy as I should.

      - Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val
      .

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

1 COR 2:10

..
"But unto us God revealed them
through the Spirit:
for the Spirit searcheth all things,
yea, the deep things of God."



Monday, August 27, 2007

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You traverse sea and land to make one convert,
and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna
twice as much as yourselves."

I have been very blessed in that I have never personally seen anyone come to Christ because of me. That doesn't mean that God has not used me to serve Him in this capacity, but that thankfully He knows my own self-righteous all to well, so allows me to only scatter seed while trusting that He will help it grow (and it's ALWAYS Him anyway) .I know that in my own religious life I have often been more Saul than Paul, and know it's a daily struggle see that (just as it was for St. Paul).

The above, from today's reading, is one that should be part of any breviary for those wishing to evangelize. I have watched far to many people, in their zeal to "save souls", speak of the quantity not the quality, of their efforts. Granted this is partly due to the far too often Protestant, and un-biblical, mind set that once a person "accepts" Christ, that it's a done deal, and that they are
now only waiting in the train station, bags packed for Gloryland.

I have sadly "witnessed" too many kids who "came to Christ" at church camp or a Christian concert, who really were full of the fire of the Holy Spirit, but were just as quickly left alone, abandoned as the fire slowly died out, often leaving them colder than before. I used to teach my kids at our youth group that you don't just help someone get to the door, but you need to be prepared to a lifelong docent of the house inside, helping your new brother or sister, to feel at home, not just a guest.

I know for me, that I was drawn to the Love of Christ, not by people who could talk for hours on the subject, but by those who lived it every single day in every thought and deed.

Lord help me show your love in my actions
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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Where I'm Coming From

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“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
He answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
‘Lord, open the door for us.’
He will say to you in reply,
‘I do not know where you are from.
And you will say,
‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Then he will say to you,
‘I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!’
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
Luke 13:23-28


Today's reading is one of parts of the New Testament that reaffirms that Jesus wasn't some kind of Rabbi Teddy Bear that was placating the masses with sweet words (ie. Christ was not a politician). Of all the lines above, the passage "I do not know where you are from" is to me the stand out, because that question needs to be answered in our hearts, consciously or unconsciously, before the time when the master locks the doors for good.

Where am I from?

I am quite sure that if I were to answer Bawlmer, I would most likely hear
"Sorry Hon, yu gots ta go"
Granted, me thinks us folks from Charm City get a special dispensation if we bring Berger Cookies, but that alone prob'ly ain'ts gonna cut it.

I am from the U.S., the land of the Free, the home of the Brave , the . . .
"You mean the country that murders 4,000 babies a day"
Oh, well yeah, but what has that got to do with me?

I am from Saint Ann's Parish, ya gotta like a good Catholic boy who attends Mass daily
"Like the Pharisees who were so proud to have others see them at Temple"
But I go to monthly confession, and pray the Rosary, and give to the . . .

Where are you from?

I am from our Fathers house, although I left, and squandered my inheritance,
I am from Your heart which, by my hand, was beaten and broken,
I am from Your arms, although I kicked and screamed to "free" myself of Your love,
I am from Your eyes, which can see my every sin, but looks on me with Mercy,
I am from here, from heaven, I am yours!


Sorry buddy, flowery prose might work for the ladies, but not Me,
Where are you from?

True, words won't do, we need to spend time in the place we are from, to know the landscape so well that we could describe every pebble we tripped on getting there, every hill that we thought we couldn't climb, every valley that our Lord walked us through.

How do we get there? um, we know the Way, first through the naturalization of Baptism, and we can freely enter into that land by receiving the Eucharist, by entering into communion with the Mapmaker of the Kingdom we are from.

Happy Trails

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Feeling Young at 44

After 30, birthdays generally are just a reminder that we are getting old, and hopefully more mature. It is also a good reminder to check for those wacky hairs that start suddenly appearing out of your nose and/or ears . . .which wouldn't be so bad if I could at least grow a beard or a decent gotee (as appose to an indecent gotee).

Today, as I drove up to Mass (that I have dubbed the "moth ball mass", because of the amount of my elders who attend, and the aroma that is often associated with them), I saw one of the regular attendees slowly making his way to the church. This wonderfully frail man makes his oh so slow trek to the parish every morning, and although he lives only a few blocks away, at his pace, it most likely is a half hour, or more, journey each way.

I said a silent prayer that I would be like that when I was his age, and pondered why more of us don't make the effort to receive the Lord everyday. Time for yoga class, time for the newspaper or reading wannabe monkish blogs, time even for prayer . . .but not time to make the sacrifice of daily showing the one who took nails in His hands, that we are His alone.

I am so thankful that the Lord allowed me to be so broken last year that I could only see Him, and even more thankful that once the healing began, I still only saw, and desired, Him.

Thank You my King for another year of precious life!
with great love,
your son,
mike
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Message Inside

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Recently spotted this on a sign outside a lil' church in West Virginia

Sign Broken,
Message Inside
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I'm an Adult Now - TPOH

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I am not completely sure if I can classify myself as an adult, but I am one year older today, so I thought this befitting a man of my obvious maturity and depth.
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Friday, August 24, 2007

Q O'day

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"It ain't the heat; it's the humility."
Yogi Berra
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Above the Clouds

Above the Clouds - Paul Weller

O.K., the Modfather ain't exactly a Christian (that I know of), but in his lyrics, he is sadly more of a passionate seeker than most "Christians" I've met. I thought this song was rather fitting, as we have had a string of rather cloudy, gloomy, wanna drink coffee and wear flannel like Eddie Vedder days. As followers of the Truth, we hopefully are aware that whether we have sunny days or Seattle days, we know that "above the clouds"(and in our hearts) the Son still shines.

"Summer always goes so quick,
Barely stopping like my thoughts.

Above the clouds, what's to be found,
I have to wonder - Will I be around

As my anger shouts - At my own self doubt,
So a sadness creeps - Into my dreams
When you're scared of living - But afraid to die
I get scared of giving - And I must find the faith to beat it
yeah"

Let us pray that Paul "finds the faith"

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Arise a Rose

Today is the feast day for my confirmation Saint, Rose of Lima. My old post on why I picked her (or she picked me) is here, although I didn't find out until after the fact that I was born on the anniversary of her death.

Below is a little about her. I know she is praying now for her people in Peru, as well as praying for her silly wannabe monkish brother here.

Rose of Lima has a special claim on our interest for she has the honor of being the first person born in the Western Hemisphere to be canonized by the Church. Only a little more than half a century before her birth, the fabulous land of Peru had been discovered and seized for Spain by the explorer Francisco Pizarro. In 1533 this enterprising conquistador subdued the native population and took over as his capital the inland city of Cuzco, with its strange Inca temples, palaces, and great fortress. Two years later the seat of government was transferred to Lima, a city on the coast, which came to be called the "royal city of kings," because of its architectural splendors. Dominican friars and the representatives of other religious orders were in the vanguard of a great migration from Spain and Portugal that meant a long, dangerous journey across the Atlantic, across the Isthmus of Panama, and down the western coast of South America. To implant Christianity in the new empire was a major aim; while the civilian population, European and native, were working the mines and raising products for export, the friars and priests were intensely active. They taught, preached, learned the native languages, tried to win the love and confidence of the Indians, and soon were engaged in building churches, hospitals, and schools.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

My Brother Bob

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"The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests;
but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head."


Bob stopped me again today, and as before, just wanted someone to talk with, someone who shared (and thank God, knows he shares) his same God given dignity. We greet each other every week day (I don't yet know where he goes on the weekends), and I always do an extended pause, so that if he wants to talk he knows that I'll stop.

He thanked me for talking with him, but I thanked him right back, and let him know I enjoy talking to him. Oddly, I more than enjoy it, I would say it has become the most cherished moments of my week, mainly because unlike most of life, it has meaning (granted, I may never know completely what that meaning is), that it feels more "real" than almost anything I do.

I told my new brother how much I respected his strength, that if I personally was forced to be out on the streets, I'd most likely be curled up in a ball somewhere; but here he was, standing on a corner, doing what he could to survive. What courage!


Bob turns 54 on September 4th, and while he isn't expecting a party, I will most likely share breakfast with him that day, and you are all invited to join us.

You are also invited to mention me and Bob in your prayers. Please pray that I will serve my brother as Christ would, that God can use me somehow to let Bob know his worth, his dignity, his as yet unreceived birth rite as adopted son of the most High.


Queenship of Mary

“Let the entire body of the faithful pour forth persevering prayer to the Mother of God and the Mother of men.

Let them implore that she who aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers may now, exalted as she is in heaven above all the saints and angels, intercede with her Son in the fellowship of all the saints.

May she do so until all the peoples of the human family, whether they are honored with the name of Christian or whether they still do not know their Savior, are happily gathered together in peace and harmony into the one People of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity”

DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION ON THE CHURCH
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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Free and Catholic


REDEEMING BEAUTY:
Religious Works of Contemporary Artists

Beginning at
The Basilica of the National Shrine
of the Immaculate Conception
August 31 - October 14, 2007

Please join us for the following events:

Thursday, August 30, 7 - 8 p.m.
exhibit opening and lecture

“Images of Christ through History from the
Catacombs to the Present Day”
H. Reed Armstrong
sculptor, lecturer and board member of The Foundation for Sacred Arts

Thursday, September 20, 7 p.m.
lecture

“Catholic Art Today: Between Memory and Hope”
Nora Hamerman
independent scholar in art history and juror for Redeeming Beauty

Events are held in Memorial Hall
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
400 Michigan Avenue NE
Washington, D.C. 20017

RSVP: rachelross@thesacredarts.org or (301)365-0760

Free and Open to the Public



The Last Ones

"But many who are first will be last,
and the last will be first.”
Matthew 19:30

The Lord's words here from today's reading, have been of more importance to me than I can possibly hope to articulate. Sitting next to my mother's hospital bed, at the frail woman who was now a mere shadow of the image I remember from my youth, these words hugged my very soul. I was given so much peace and comfort in knowing that one day, this woman who had suffered so much in life, would one day be among the "first" in the Rabbi's teaching. Knowing that while I was so very helpless to do anything for her, our Savior was preparing a beautiful homecoming as her reward for this time in the "valley of tears".

I honestly never really knew my mother, but trust that, God willing, I will sing forever with her in paradise. She, as well, never knew me, even with my weekly visits to the Alzheimer's wing where she would live out the last two years of her life. Contemplating on the fact that we were really both strangers to each other, I realized that, although my mom isn't a resident any longer, there are other patients who I could visit. Like my mom, these "last ones" might not know who I am, but does that matter as much as just the opportunity to spend time with the forgotten, with the chance that somehow my presence might make their life just a tad better (as I know it can only enhance mine)?

I do still remember joking with God in prayer (yes, I do that, and He must kinda expect it or I wouldn't a been born a Baltimore boy), that while my hope for my mom was a glorious mansion, I knew I would, and should, count my self blessed if He let me dwell for all eternity in heaven's tool shed (it is still far more than I can ever deserve).

"Maybe the last ones are the lucky ones
The ones who got this whole thing figured out
'Cause when they go looking for something beautiful
They start looking from the inside out
God Bless The Last Ones!"

the Last Ones
-Matthew West

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

I still believe- Jeremy Camp


I liked this song the very first time I heard it, but, after I read the story behind it, can now call it one of my most cherished tunes, and one I oftened had cued up for after I left my mom's hospital bed. Much like the story of C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman, a 24 year old Camp proposed to his first wife while she was recovering from chemotherapy, only to watch her die shortly after there honeymoon. In stead of falling into despair and self pity, he sat down and wrote this song of unwavering faith, leaving me to ask "Could I do the same?"

While touring for this record, Jeremy became friends with the female singer of fellow tour mates The Benjamin Gate . . . . . . . .she is now Mrs. Jeremy Camp and the mommy to their two daughters (and is also singing back up on this vid). I can't help but think that this was due, in part, by the loving prayers of his first wife in heaven.

Now, with a prayer of thankgiving, go hug someone you love
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Saturday, August 18, 2007

GOOD-bye-SAM


.Interesting article over at Alive and Young, on why I won't be ordering anymore Sam Adams when I go out, which is typically the only acceptable beer (palate wise) yer monkster finds on the menu at most restaurants.
“Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them;
for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Matthew 19:14

Today's Gospel reading from Matthew is describing the kingdom of God, as well as the nature of it's inhabitants. At first I'm sure many of us say "WooHoo", thinking if we just act like juveniles we get to go to heaven (granted, driving like one, may get you there sooner than later). The aspects of children our Lord is focusing on are that of humility and trust. Children know that they are in need, and hopefully know, that their parents will provide for their needs.

We all must learn to daily submit that we are "completely incomplete", and both in need of God's provision, just as we trust in Him to provide. He has, and never will, let any one of us down, even if at certain times it might feel like it.

This trusting spirit is something yer monkster doesn't really have, as while I love and pray for both my parents, they weren't exactly the Cosby's (or heck, even Rosanne). It is by daily humbling myself before the throne that helps me to learn to trust, as well as reminding myself that I am "wonderfully made" (lest I forget the special dignity I have as His child).

Just as it is a spouse's job to help the other get to heaven, it is both parents job to create children of trust and humility, so that it is so deeply ingrained in their soul, that the buttheads of this world can not rob it from them. Granted I ain't a parent, and it is apparent that I most likely won't be, that doesn't stop me from giving out unsolictited advice to parents (it is our right as the childless to annoy our friends with children on how we would raise their kids . . .just as it is their right to respond by "here, take'em then!").

Trust and See, the Lord is sooooooooooooooo Good
or
ya can't have GOOD without G-O-D!

Today, you can choose your own ending,
just another benefit of shopping at Monkster-Mart

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Prayer Request

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"Pray for us please as we are in an onslaught of crises. Our sister from Mexico is here with her husband and 4 kids. She just got diagnosed with pelvic cancer and will be with us for a year receiving treatments. I just discovered this week that an old friend has been physically abusing her step daughters. Finally, my best friend's wife attempted suicide yesterday but is at home recovering now. I've been praying and praying and asking everyone to pray for us because things are so overwhelming."

Hello Friends, I received this letter from my dear friend Richard, and would ask you all to include him, and all involved, in your prayers.

Richard is one of the wonderful people God used to bring this ol' ex-atheist to the throne of Mercy and Grace, and I can honestly say that he was one of the first people I ever met who I truly saw Jesus in, and I know you would feel the same if you met him.
Thanks and God bless.


Unique Eunuch

"Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so;
some, because they were made so by others;
some, because they have renounced marriage
for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”
Matthew 19:12

I will be honest, and say that I personally don't really wish today, to accept Christ's words from today's reading . . .but that doesn't mean I won't. Only God knows my purpose on this Earth, just as I know that His will is the only reason to be alive. Just because I desire marriage does not mean that I will suddenly be Ward Cleaver, any more than my desiring a Porshe will suddenly transform my CRV into a convertible. I also know that just because I wasn't possibly designed for marriage, doesn't make me better or worse than my other brothers and sisters who pass by me with their families.

Would I be a good Priest or other religious?
Would I be a good husband and father?
The only thing that matters, and the very thing that would make either true, is if daily I ask
"Am I a good follower of Christ?".

Italian Wannabes

My buddy, and Houston counterpart, Billie (pictured here with yer monkster), just sent me this photo from our trip to Napoli back in May. This was just outside of the Castel dell'Ovo ("egg castle"), which is, as you can see, on the bay of Naples.
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Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Night that Elvis died

Wendy Under the Stars - The Odds

I found this song was fitting for the 30th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death, granted that on the CD version of this tune, the wording "making love" is replaced by the "f'ing" term. While I would not recommend that version, I have to admit that in reality the offensive term is closer to the truth of the selfishness of unmarried coupling.

"I thought I loved her but I didn't know how
I don't love her when I see her now"

I was just telling a friend the other day how silly the term "Making Love" is in relation to sex outside of marriage, as in reality what each person is doing, given that it is a mortal sin, is offering the other Hell. . . .and I am rather sure, that ain't love.

Anyhoo, some of my best childhood memories, are of me and my dad watching Elvis movies together . . .and even now, I still enjoy most of them .
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Sex Drive'n to Graceland

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"The sexual drive is so powerful that nothing but selfless generosity, inspired by divine grace, can curb its imperious drive to use others for one's own gratification. Unchastity is inspired by an egoism that borders on self-idolatry"

Our heroine over at the Dawn Patrol has listed some wonderful quotes by
Father John A. Hardon. The above spoke to me on various levels, in that the drive of which he speaks is a powerful one (which helps to lessen un-necessary shame for natural desire), but also shows that in this, if we respond to Christ's love, is an opportunity to experience, and extend, grace.
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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Protestant Assumptions

"Your stainless and wholly immaculate body has not been left on earth; the Queen, the Mistress, the Mother of God who has truly given birth to God has been translated to the royal palaces of heaven"
St. John Damascene
Today, when we enter into communion (through receiving the Eucharist), we also touch upon the Assumption, in that we touch upon those who are with our Lord in heaven, especially our Blessed Lady.

In honor of her, and with love and respect for our non-Catholic siblings in Christ, I thought I'd post some quotes by noted Protestant reformers.

"Is Christ only to be adored? Or is the holy Mother of God rather not to be honoured? This is the woman who crushed the Serpent's head. Hear us. For your Son denies you nothing."
Martin Luther

"To this day we cannot enjoy the blessing brought to us in Christ without thinking at the same time of that which God gave as adornment and honour to Mary, in willing her to be the mother of his only-begotten Son."
John Calvin

"I believe with all my heart according to the word of holy gospel that this pure virgin bore for us the Son of God and that she remained, in the birth and after it, a pure and unsullied virgin, for eternity"
Huldreich Zwingli


"The Blessed Virgin Mary, who, as well after as when she brought him forth, continued a pure and unspotted virgin."
John Wesley

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray that all of the children your Son's sacrifice has purchased ,
will one day be reunited.

Today's Reading

While Jesus was speaking,
a woman from the crowd called out and said to him,
“Blessed is the womb that carried you
and the breasts at which you nursed.”
He replied,
“Rather, blessed are those
who hear the word of God and observe it.”
Luke 11:27-28

How to read this? As an Evangelical I would have said that our Lord was deflecting praise of Mary, but as a Catholic, I see that He is explaining "why" she is to be venerated. She is our Blessed Mother not because she was some minor character who bore our Lord, but because of her great "Yes" to the angel Gabriel, that still echoes to this day, in the hearts of those striving to be faithful.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

These Brothers of Mine

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"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine,
you did for me.'
Matthew 25:30

During Mass today, I had no idea that I would be called to live out the entrance antiphon, taken from Matthew, but again, I am called to live it out everyday.

Every morning, just before I cross the street to my parish for Mass, I wish and receive a "Good Morning" to/from a homeless man selling the Washington Times on the corner (he makes $90 a week, for his effort). On occasion I have given him, and his friends, water and food (and Gatorade when it's particularly hot), but then hop in my car (that the Lord has given me) off to my humble apartment (that the Lord has given me).

Today, as I was leaving, "Bob" asked me
"How does it feel to be a human being?"
A little stunned, my only reply was "Aren't you one?"
He went on to tell me that he hasn't been human for along time, and spoke of a time when he had an apartment and a job, and of stupid mistakes and inner demons, of an old tired body with sore feet and sun burnt skin. I just let him talk, while I prayed that God would somehow use me, and that I wouldn't get in His way.

I asked him his name, and introduced myself. We talked about where we were from (he's from Buffalo, NY), and how we ended up in DC. He said he would soon be 54, and I said that I would soon be 44, and he said I was still young (and right then, I sure felt young, . . . and blessed) .I told him of the brief time I lived in my car, a few short weeks which seem like nothing now, especially when compared to his life.

He went on to say how it would always be this way, how it'll never change, of having no hope. All theses hopeless things he said, were so very similar to how I , during years of depression, once spoke of my life . . . and then I met our Savior, and saw His great love for me in nail torn hands, and a spear pierced side.

What makes me different from Bob? What makes you?

We have hope, we have faith, and we have love . . . .and so now, I ask you, beg you, to take that, get on your knees, and pray for our brother Bob (and the Bob's in yer life), and please pray for me, that I will serve my new sibling as Christ would have me.

thanks and God bless !!!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Defend the Kingdom

From those wacky designers over at Threadless, reminding us to Defend the Kingdom, no matter how great the enemy!

Why yes, I am easily amused, why do you ask?

God Believes in You - Jill Phillips

Please ignore the video, but the song is beautiful, and hopefully goes with today's post.

Words and music by Pierce Pettis

When you start to doubt if you exist
God believes in you
Confounded by the evidence
God believes in you
When your light burns so dim
When your chances seem so slim
And you swear you don’t believe in Him
God believes in you

When you rise up just to fall again
God believes in you
Deserted by your closest friends
God believes in you
When you’re betrayed with a kiss
And you turn your cheek to another fist
It doesn’t have to end like this
God believes in you

Everything matters if anything matters at all
Everything matters no matter how big
No matter how small
God believes in you
Oh God believes in you

When you’re so ashamed that you could die
God believes in you
And you can’t to right even though you try
God believes in you
Blessed are the ones who grieve
The ones who mourn and the ones who bleed
In sorrow you sow but in joy you’ll reap
God believes in you
Oh blessed are the ones who grieve
The ones who mourn and the ones who grieve
In sorrow you sow but in joy you’ll reap
God believes in you
Oh God believes in you

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God Believes in You


The reading in Hebrews yesterday, talks a lot about faith, especially the great faith that Abraham possessed, and that we should emulate.

Abraham so trusted his Creator, that after countless decades of no children, he is ready to sacrifice his first child simply because God asked him to . . . .so great was his faith.

Years later, God would demonstrate His faith in His creation, as He offered up His only child for humanity . . .so great was His faith in us.

Do you ever stop and think how much God trusts you?,that, He in fact has faith in you?

Sometimes, when the trials of this life seem rather difficult, I picture myself as a small child, desperately trying to walk for the first time, with our Brother Jesus knelt down in front of me, arms open to catch me if/when I fall, saying "you can do it, ,you're doing good Michael, just one more step". Granted, all of our life is that "one more step", but God thinks you can do it, and that is more than enough for me.

As His hands and feet in this broken world, the Creator of the universe has trusted us to share His great love to others, to let them know that He believes in them, even if they don't believe in Him.

Just thought I'd start off the week with that thought, and hope and pray you all know, remember, and share it.
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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Mom knows best

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"Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering and the lonely right there where you are -- in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools. ... You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society -- completely forgotten, completely left alone."
Blessed Mother Teresa


Mass Humility


During Mass today, the lector, when reading our petitions, said
"and for Vacations to the priesthood",
which I think might actually be a good way to advertise for more religious .

Picture a group of young men, in full habit sans sandals, running in slow motion on the beach, sand and water kickin' up, as that Vangelis song plays on:

It's not just a Calling, it's an Adventure!


Anyhoo, upon getting home Mass, and having already been to the Hardware store for wild bird seed, I noticed that in my hurry (rhymes with blurry) this morning (O.K., every morning) I put on two separate sandals. I had recently bought the new pair, and hadn't tossed the old in the Salvation Army bin. Once again, it seems when I pray for suffering or humility, I seem to get it rather quickly . . . but the whole wife/family thing might take a little bit more work, and a lot more prayer (or ,if it be His will, are the other graces, humility and suffering, preparing me better for my spouse? . . .God knows she'll need the humility).

Anyway, I am still also waiting for this supposed 180 IQ of mine to kick in, as it seems to have failed me yet again this morning (O;
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Monkster ,the Movie

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Coming up in September, after my Italy trip, your favorite wannabe monk (um, that betta be me) will be spending a weekend learning the art of screenwriting for us wacky Christians (yes,yes, I know, with what's coming outta Hollywood, who needs a whole weekend?).
"Act One trains and mentors Christians of all denominations for careers in mainstream film and television. We prepare our students to produce film and TV projects that combine mastery of craft with great depth and meaning. As a non-profit organization, we are wholly devoted to the professional and spiritual development of our students."

From almost the beginning of my conversion, I have been jotting down little anecdotes and/or imagined scenes, dealing with the Christian life. After seeing The Apostle I was left hungry for more films about Christians, where they are actually human, and not just the typical stereotypes (if you haven't watched it,please rent it, or maybe I can host a movie night at the American City Diner). My basic idea has been to have a Neil Simon kinda multi-character driven comedy about different types of us wacky lovers of Truth, that does not evangelize or Bible thump in anyway.

To best describe how I plan to set the tone of the film, let's just say
that during the opening scene, I have one of the main characters, while alone in his pick up truck on the way to work, relieving himself of excess gas. This scene actually is quite important, as I know any non-Christians will go into the film with their pretentious butts clenched, so I wish to metaphorically help reduce this pressure with some hearty laughter.I learned this device back in my stand-up days, as many guys in the crowd immediately disliked me because of the long hair I was sporting then, so to quickly get past that, I chopped off Barney's head with hedge clippers before I started my set (guess ya had da be there).

Anyhow, I have no desire to become a famous director monk, but just a guy who would like to break down a wall or two, separating those in the Light from those still in darkness. Please say a prayer that I don't embarrass the Body more than per usual (O:

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Time to Play : Watch the Hair Grow

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While I was doing some cleaning (heh, it happens!), I spotted these of your Monkster at 17, on to 21 (why yes, it's a perm, but check out those guns . . .and I'm more embarrassed over my poor beer choice, then the hair), and than the last one I think I was 24 or 25. Feel free to giggle, as that's why I posted 'em. The top picture (me with the tie) , is with my brother and one of my sisters. My other sister was probably in the shot too, but she's the shorter of the bunch (O:

Salami Islami

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"Few issues have more serious implications for Christian witness and global politics today than Christian -Muslim relations. We can learn much from Arab Christian apologist John of Damascus, eloquent Assyrian Church leader Patriarch Timothy 1, and tireless Protestant missionary Samuel Zwemer." The beginning of an interesting article, Encounters with Islam, over at Christian History

Happy Anniversary?


"Well the thing I find most amazing in Amazing Grace

Is the chance to give it out

Maybe that's what love is all about"

"I'm Not Who I Was" by Brandon Heath

Thought this song, and video, was appropriate for today's anniversary. . . or milestone?

One year ago today, I walked away from the very lovely person who I thought would become Mrs. Monkster. I still remember going home and spending many hours on my knees, more tears than I'd care to mention, as I prayed, with my Rosary in one hand, and an engagement ring in the other.

Oddly, that relationship was to be the beginning of my greatest, and truest, love affair, that of the fullness of faith I have found in the Catholic Church (all things work for the good) . I still continue to pray everyday for that truly beautiful and wonderful sister, and look forward to the day when we sing (hopefully I'll get a new singing voice to go with my new body) together forever in the presence of True Love.

I don't regret walking away, and am so thankful to our Lord for comforting each of us during that time, and the days and weeks after, and continually. . . . and the story of when I returned the ring, is actually kinda funny (O;
(life throws us lemons, and we say "cervesa!")


Well,God has given us quite a nice sunny day today (and me, the most adorable hummingbird perched at my feeder), and while I know a few tears might fall (or worse, I may put on country music), I also know that the pure love of friendship I had going into that ill fated relationship, has been restored in my heart, through the grace of God.

But I still welcome any and all prayers for both of our hearts
God bless,
mike

"Go calmly in Peace"

Sometimes I think younger Catholics over romanticize the relationship between Francis and Clare, whichI am not saying is completely a bad thing (younger folks, and yer monkster, tend to over romanticize "everything"anyway).

Yes, assuming a Hollywood romanticism between the two (oh dear God, keep that idiot Dan Brown away from that), would be foolish, but applying the Truth of their relationship to a romance, is where, me thinks, a blessing is to be found.

Having someone to hug and kiss is a beautiful thing, but having someone with whom you can share the love of God with, is, well, divine (good grief, Hallmark is calling on the other line), especially as a spouse's main purpose is to help the other get to heaven . I do truly try to remember Chris West's remark that "if we see a potential spouse as a sister first, then we are able to love as God loves" . . .and God ain't from West Virginia, so don't even go there.

While I sometimes am more reminiscent of the Francis in those old Donald O'Connor movies, I still am hopeful that I will one day be able to make people publicly ill from seeing the love beaming between me and my "Clare", as we, arm in arm, take our nightly prayer walk
. . . . .and if it be Clare Danes, who am I to argue with God (O:

As I have lately been enjoying too many e-clares, it be time for my morning run.
Saint Clare pray for us!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Coulda been from Bawlmer

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“Let my body be turned; one side is broiled enough!”

Me thinks that humble St. Lawrence (who's reported final words are above) would have fit in rather well in my neighborhood in Baltimore, where, I must confess, most of my friends and I often used the same type of graveyard humor to get through even the roughest days.

Legend has it that Lawrence uttered these words while being roasted alive on a gridiron with hot coals beneath. He was meant to die slowly and painfully, but by his words, we see the grace given to those immersed in the Savior's love and truth.

Humor is a gift of God, and I have been shown that more times than I can remember, but of course, I'm gonna share one now. Back in my long haired days, I used to visit my mom every Sunday in the Alzheimer's wing of the nursing home she lived (she is now with our Savior, I hope, praying along with our Blessed Lady for this silly boy's soul). I admit, that I hated going there, as it was depressing, especially as she never knew who I was. One day, while we were walking outside, she stopped, looked up at me and said "you should fine a nice young boy and get married". Yes, I laughed, and yes, I cut my hair not to long after that. I never minded going back there again, and would later use that story to place some smiles on the tear stained faces of my family, on the day of my mother's funeral.

Today is St. Larry's feast day, and I realized again, that when I received communion today, I "entered into" communion with not only Jesus, but all of the earthly and heavenly body of Christ, all the angels and saints, including Saint Lawrence and my mom. This mystery still overwhelms me, and I am happy to continue to let it do so all the remaining days of my life.

St. Lawrence pray for us!
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Thursday, August 9, 2007

"Gays forced to Conform to Morality"

O.K., O.K., just kidding, as we all know that morality is just a fantasy, unless you say homosexuality is a sin, or try to use the Koran as toilet paper (personally, if I was still a stoner, I'd prefer to use it as rolling paper, as if yer gonna get arrested, and possibly fire bombed, ya might as well have a buzz going).

But on the politically correct flipside to my post heading, it seems some San Diego Firefighters were forced to take part in a "Gay Pride" parade (when will people realize that the last word amplifies, and is even worse, than the sin of the first). The men had to endure the kind of taunts that if they were females being harassed by men, would have had every feminist up in arms (you know, the same folks who talk about "equality" and "freedom" and "choice").

Anyway, off to Mass to pray for all,
you can read the article here at Lifesite,
God bless,
m

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Re-post from January

Monkster, Christmas has past, why ya quoting Tiny Tim?

Well faithful imaginary reader, I'll tell ya , it is because me keeps seeing those ridiculous Bumper Stickers "God bless the whole world, No Exceptions", and I's felt a rant a comin', and here it be.

When I read these, I don't hear a clarion call for God's grace as much as another tired retread (tired retread....I crack myself up) of moral relativism, with the Volvos these are plastered on, more likely on their way Yoga class than daily Mass. Are these folks going home everyday and praying for our enemies (Matthew 5:44) as I try to do, or is the motivation for the sticker more just "acting out" to get a reaction from us silly Americans who don't want airplanes crashing into our houses?

Do they even understand what a blessing is? If they did then I might be inclined to agree with there boldly printed view. For I have seen blessings come from pain and suffering, from a heart so broken that only the maker can rebuild it, from the death of a mother which drew her children closer to each other, from scars of childhood abuse which turn into love and compassion for others.....if these are the kind of blessings they are crying out for, then I say "Amen".


1 Corinthians 4:9-13


The knee jerk reaction to the
"Kill'em All and let God sort'em out" redneck mentality, should not be for blessings of rainbows and unicorns, lollipop trees and Berger Cookie flowers, dancing puppy dogs and skies of polka dot clouds that never rain.....uh, O.K., that all does sound a little like my apartment in the 80s, but that place has been torn down, and so I attempt tear down the "Prayer Of Jabez" Lottery ticket notion where we pray for superficial blessings, instead of the Fathers will ('cause we was all blessed on Calvary 2000 years ago). We should be praying for neither side, as much as we should be praying "Thy Will be done", and how WE can BE blessings for our God and His kids.

I can't help but think that the same people with the "God bless" stickers, are the same ones who want
clergy and prayer removed from the military, but never wonder why soldiers come back permanently damaged from what they had seen and did (or just blame it on President Bush). If those young men (and women) were taught to pray for the souls of the fallen, as well as instructed in the sacrament of confession, they would be much more likely to return to us the way they left....or, more likely changed for the better (or for the greater). . .because "we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose".

Pray for everyone,
no exceptions!


put that on yer car and drive it

Mike



Are yous talkin' a Me?

Brown Thrasher in my humble little back yard today (I also disturbed a couple a fawn's on my way to Mass this morning), and as an ex-metalhead, I always imagine the Thrashers song as sounding a bit like Sir Beavus, or that other guy, "breakin' da law, breakin' da law". Off to Patsy Cline's hometown today, as it's too darn hot to work inside the beltway.
Let today's heatwave remind us to pray for those in Purgatory
. . .and for, God willing, yer Monkster's very,very, long stay there.
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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Meek, not weak

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To See what meekness is, you must look not at meekness but at Christ. Saying meekness is this or that sends you to concepts which are pale copies of reality.
Saying "Jesus is meek" sends you to the living reality of it.
Peter Kreeft
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Monday, August 6, 2007

Still Know How to Groove

Everybodyduck (gotta love that name, a quirky way of saying "pray"), with their clever lyrics and pop sensibility, always reminded me of a cross between Bare Naked Ladies and G.K. Chesterton. Sadly they seem to have disbanded, but I still do the occasional e-Bay search for a duck's t-shirt.

Making sense of making tents

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Today's reading on the Transfiguration, from Luke's gospel, had me focusing on Peter's suggestion of making tents "one for You (Jesus), one for Moses, and one for Elijah". The suggestion, while almost comical, does show Peter's own transformation into a fully trusting servant. Before the Resurrection, Peter often questioned Jesus about the situations he was cast into, but now he humbly just goes with the flow, accepting this incredible event before him without even blinking an eye.
“Master, it is good that we are here"

While I see myself as a follower of Christ, I know I am far more like the early Peter who walked with Jesus, while at the same time always suggesting other, possibly safer, routes. I pray that I will one day be like the transformed Peter, who only seeks to serve, and in that service, brings glory to the only One any of us can trust completely with the course of our life.