Sunday, March 30, 2008

That Peaceful, Easy Feelin'

I've had a lovely weekend! Two old friends came by on Friday evening – one of them has three boys now, and she brought them along too. I’d last seen her fifteen years ago, when her oldest (then her only one) was a babe in the crib! It was fun catching up.

On Saturday, I took Mom to the Farmer’s Market and the grocery store. Picked up lots of goodies (red and yellow peppers, celery, tarragon, thyme, shrimp, crab meat, brandy, cream, etc.) to use in the seafood chowder I cooked later that night. It simmered in the crock pot for a few hours and turned out quite nicely, if I say so myself!

Mom and I went to the Saturday Vigil mass, came home, and I began cooking. We turned out the lights, except for the stove, surface light and a couple of lamps during Earth hour, to do our part in conserving energy.

Today the power was out for a few hours as they did some work on the power lines. Mom opted to stay home and I took Nana for a long drive. We drove through a couple of our old neighbourhoods – Etobicoke and Mississauga – and looked at the places we used to live years ago. Then we drove out to Niagara-on-the Lake, where we had a nice lunch at The Epicurean in the historic Old Town. It was chilly, but we still walked around for a little bit and picked up some chocolate cashew clusters at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory – mmmmmm…….

Said the Divine Mercy Chaplet with Nana on the return ride home, listened to the soundtrack of "Return to Me", took Mom to the library, and picked up some good movies to watch this week.

I feel rested and relaxed now, and it’s good to be with my family on a Sunday evening. Sundays used to be hard days for me when I lived alone and far from my family. I usually planned ahead of time to do something with my friends on Sundays, to stave off that lonely feeling. Now, I can always hang with Mom and Nana on Sunday, and that just feels right! :)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Positively Adjusting

So far, my attempt to reconnect with old friends is going pretty well, thank God! As mentioned earlier, the process of re-connecting has been quite anxiety-provoking. I've been away for a long time and out of touch with most of my hometown acquaintances, except for a few.

Anyway, I'm finally starting to feel like I'm positively adjusting to being back home again. :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

For no particular reason...

...I've had this song rolling around my head, for the last three days. Found it through YouTube, so here it is - Ladies & Gentlemen, The Association on The Ed Sullivan Show, singing "Never My Love":

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Priorities According to St. Ignatius of Antioch

"It is better for me to die in Christ Jesus than to reign over the ends of the earth. Him it is I seek - who died for us. Him it is I desire - who rose for us. I am on the point of giving birth. . . . Let me receive pure light; when I shall have arrived there, then shall I be a man."
St. Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop & Martyr

I came across the above quote today when working on my paper on "The Last Things". What a great reminder that it's not about worldly power and success - it's about being united with Christ and being ready for eternity. Please, Lord, help me to keep that a priority!

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Lord has indeed risen and has appeared to...

...Magdi Allam - now baptized "Cristiano"! Carole has his conversion story on her site. May God bless and protect Mr. Allam.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Jason Castro Singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"

I heard this song for the first time a few weeks ago (just a few of the verses are sung here). For me, it stirs up something painful inside. It doesn’t jive with the joy I think I’m supposed to feel on Easter Sunday. But something rings true for me in those lines: “Love is not a victory march. It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah.”

In some ways, Easter has been anti-climactic for me. Christ is risen, my sins have been forgiven. There will be perfect, eternal joy in heaven. And yet, today, I was still the same person with the same concerns and the same weaknesses. I still have to go through the trials and struggles of this life. Easter Sunday hasn’t taken away any of that. We still have to complete our earthly journey.

Sometimes my Hallelujahs are also cold and broken, Lord, even though You've done so much for me. Please accept them anyway.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Freshly Shriven & Ready!

Being the procrastinator that I am, I of course waited till Holy Saturday to go to confession, even though there were ample opportunities before and during Lent. I drove to my parish, which I hoped was sticking to their regular confession schedule: Saturdays from 4:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. - we don’t sin a lot in my parish… ;) The doors were closed. I drove to the next closest parish, and arrived there during their regular confession time. Not open. Serves me right for waiting till the last minute, I thought. These poor priests are already stretched thin and right now they’re probably preparing for the Easter Vigil services.

Fortunately, I found a parish through the internet that was definitely having confessions on Holy Saturday (it said so on their website), and I still had time to get there if I hurried. I made it down there with fifteen minutes to spare and parked in the one spot left on the street (I asked Padre Pio to help me parallel park, since I'm not very good at it - I slipped right in to the spot!). The Church was open but empty, except for Father who was sitting outside the confessional waiting. He was very kind during my confession and took some time to counsel me as well. I asked him if he’d had a lot of people come during their confessional hour. He said I’d been the only one! Maybe not so surprising since most people probably didn’t wait till the last moment like I did. Anyway, I was so grateful to find a priest available right before Easter. My soul is shriven - Thank You, Lord! :)

A Great Silence

"Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. . . He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him - He who is both their God and the son of Eve. . . 'I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. . . I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead...' " (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 635)

For the full text of this ancient homily for Holy Saturday, click here.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Worth Reading

A poignant reflection entitled "The Cross We Singles Bear" from the archives of the Seraphic Singles site.

And the sun was darkened...

... and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. (Luke 23:45)

Illustration by French artist Gustave Doré (1832-1883).
Click on picture to see enlarged.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Paul Scofield, R.I.P.

David Paul Scofield, the English actor who won an Academy Award for his role as St. Thomas More in the 1966 film "A Man For All Seasons" has passed away.

On Being a Single Lay Person at 41

First of all, I still can’t believe I’m 41! I do go through times of wondering if I’ve done enough with my life thus far. I cringe when I think I’m still working on a graduate degree, but then I remind myself I’ve almost finished it, and finishing it later in life is still a personal accomplishment, because I could have not pursued an MA at all.

But back to the topic at hand: how do I feel about being single at my age? Thinking about it this morning, it brings me peace. Years ago, I’d tried to discern if I had any calling to being a vowed religious, but I can’t say I felt such a call. As far as marriage goes, I’ve never really personally desired it. I’ve “wanted to want it”, but thus far I don’t genuinely want marriage. (I consider being disposed to physical intimacy with the other sex a necessary prerequisite for marriage.)

So I continue along in my single lay state. Not having siblings or a spouse or children, I tend to see my close friends as family. I’m also grateful to be close to my mother and grandmother.

I want to spend eternity with God in heaven and I try to bring my focus back to that when my heart gets all tangled up, which still happens from time to time…

"The Institution of the Eucharist" by Joos van Wassenhove

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Blog Recommendation

This morning, while looking through the archives in Dawn Eden's blog, I came across an article Dawn had reprinted with permission from the author. After reading the article, I followed the link to the author's site: "Seraphic Singles". It's a Catholic blog for women about the single life. I loved the writing, the honesty, and the sense of humour!

This site is going to be a must-read with my morning cup of coffee! (Actually, for the time being, I'm trying herbal mint tea to cut down on caffeine and sugar...)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Lifehouse's Everything Skit

And here's a touching teen skit (e-mailed to me by a good friend), showing God's love for us and His desire to protect us and fight for us:

Happy St. Patrick's Day... those like myself who didn't get the memo (but should have realized) that this day had been moved to March 15th, so as not to interfere with Holy Week.

In honour of St. Patrick, here's a portion of his prayer "St. Patrick's Breast-Plate":

I bind to myself today
God's Power to guide me,
God's Might to uphold me,
God's Wisdom to teach me,
God's Eye to watch over me,
God's Ear to hear me,
God's Word to give me speech,
God's Hand to guide me,
God's Way to lie before me,
God's Shield to shelter me,
God's Host to secure me,
Against the snares of demons,
Against the seductions of vices,
Against the lusts of nature,
Against everyone who meditates injury to me,
Whether far or near,
Whether few or with many.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Fr. Henri Nouwen on Caring

Some excerpts from Out of Solitude:

...when we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not-knowing, not-curing, not-healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is the friend who cares.

...Every human being has a great, yet often unknown, gift to care, to be compassionate, to become present to the other, to listen, to hear and to receive. If that gift would be set free and made available, miracles could take place. Those who really care can receive bread from a stranger and smile in gratitude, can feed many without even realizing it. Those who can sit in silence with their fellowman not knowing what to say but knowing that they should be there, can bring new life in a dying heart. Those who are not afraid to hold a hand in gratitude, to shed tears in grief, and to let a sigh of distress arise straight from the heart, can break through paralyzing boundaries and witness the birth of a new fellowship, the fellowship of the broken....

To care means first of all to empty our own cup and to allow the other to come close to us. It means to take away the many barriers which prevent us from entering into communion with the other. When we dare to care, then we discover that nothing human is foreign to us, but that all the hatred and love, cruelty and compassion, fear and joy can be found in our own hearts. When we dare to care, we have to confess that when others kill, I could have killed too. When others torture, I could have done the same....

I was thinking these last lines are particularly appropriate as we enter Holy Week. Today we rejoice with the crowd upon Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem and greet Him with palm branches. Later this week, we shout with the crowd "Crucify Him!" I'm capable of loving and hating, of rejoicing and despairing. We're all capable of pursuing virtue and succumbing to vice. We all need the mercy and peace only He can bring.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Love that Fannie!

... Flagg, that is! I couldn't sleep at all last night, so I finished reading Standing In The Rainbow by Fannie Flagg. I love her stories - I never want them to end! I read Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe years ago and then Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! More recently, I read Can't Wait to get to Heaven, and now Standing in the Rainbow. I still have to read Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man and A Redbird Christmas.

Fannie Flagg's one of those people I wish I knew. I wish she was an old friend who lived nearby - I'd love to sit down with her and have a chat over a cup of coffee...

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Imagining "The Last Things"

While working on my paper on "The Last Things", I recently came across this quote in the Catechism from The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis:

"Every action of yours, every thought, should be those of one who expects to die before the day is out. Death would have no great terrors for you if you had a quiet conscience...Then why not keep clear of sin instead of running away from death? If you aren't fit to face death today, it's very unlikely you will be tomorrow..."

Even on those days when my conscience is clear, as much as my heart desires the perfect peace and joy of eternity, the thought of going through physical death is still scary to me. When I consider my own death, I immediately find myself quietly seeking God's forgiveness, compassion, and friendship.

Particular judgement - me with my head hung low and my eyes closed saying "Yes, Lord, it's all true, I know it. I'm sorry - please forgive me."

Heaven - I love imagining what it's like, even though I know it will be infinitely better than anything my imagination could ever come up with.

Purgatory- I also spend a lot of time thinking about what this purification will be like. What do the souls in purgatory do? How much do they know about those of us who haven't died yet? We pray for their complete purification, but how do they receive those graces and how do they make reparation?

Hell - remaining turned away from God for all eternity - I can't bear the thought and I can't imagine it (I believe Hell exists and I believe it's possible for a soul to wind up there, but I don't like to imagine what it's like).

I'm re-reading parts of Von Balthasar's "Dare We Hope 'That All Men Be Saved'?" for my paper. Maybe I'll post a little something on that later.

Friday, March 7, 2008


I almost titled this post "Hallelujah!" but then I remembered you're not supposed to say "Hallelujah" during Lent - anyway, THANK YOU, GOD for answering my prayer! My Grandma and I have been saying a novena to St. Joseph for several weeks about a particular challenge I was facing - the Government was trying to double-tax me for income I'd made as a telecommuter in 2006.

After I re-submitted all my paperwork and took great pains to make everything as clear and understandable as possible, the tax department finally saw the light and cancelled their bill to me for $825. What a relief!

Thank you too, to those of you who've been praying for this intention of mine - I REALLY, REALLY appreciate it!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

More from Fr. Henri Nouwen

Another good reflection by Father Nouwen, from The Genesee Diary: Report from a Trappist Monastery

Today I imagined my inner self as a place crowded with pins and needles. How could I receive anyone in my prayer when there is no real place for them to be free and relaxed? When I am still so full of preoccupations, jealousies, angry feelings, anyone who enters will get hurt. I had a very vivid realization that I must create some free space in my innermost self so that I may indeed invite others to enter and be healed. To pray for others means to offer others a hospitable place where I can really listen to their needs and pains.

Compassion, therefore, calls for a self-scrutiny that can lead to inner gentleness. If I could have a gently "interiority" -- a heart of flesh and not of stone, a room with some spots on which one might walk barefooted -- then God and my fellow humans could meet each other there. Then the center of my heart can become the place where God can hear the prayers for my neighbors and embrace them with His love.

Monday, March 3, 2008

R.I.P. Jeff Healey, 1966 - 2008

Jeff Healey was a blind Canadian jazz and blues-rock guitarist and vocalist, a husband and father. He died yesterday from the same cancer that blinded him when he was only one year old.

Please click here to read the National Post article on Jeff Healey.

"The Last Lecture"

This has been circulating on the net for a few months, but I just watched it last week and thought I'd share it, just in case you haven't seen it yet.