Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Serenity Now!

If you'd like to help Ezra with the latest battle, here's the LINK. I'll be doing my part too!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Another Saturday night and...

...I'm writing my paper - SIGH! :( It's not fun to be at home writing a theological paper when it's Saturday night and you could be visiting your friend in Ottawa for her birthday weekend, or you could be at another friend's party right now, partaking of food, drink, music, and laughter. Uggghh!

BUT - this will soon be over! I have to e-mail this paper in on Thursday, May 1st and then FINALLY my course work will be completed. Then I have to schedule and write my comprehensive exams, and then it will REALLY be over. I can't wait!

Play it, Sam:

Friday, April 25, 2008

What is Love?

"Love is not an effect of headwork, not a pushing forward of will to give to it greater force. It is the result of accepting generously all sacrifices, in accepting with a loving heart all trials."

Monsignor Auguste Saudreau

New Link for Seraphic Singles!

For those who used to connect to the Seraphic Singles blog from this site, please note, the URL has been changed! The new site address is: http://www.stillseraphic.blogspot.com/

I've updated the link below! It's now called "Still Seraphic".

Thursday, April 24, 2008

And now, a brief message from Josef Pieper:

"Only hope is able to comprehend the reality of God that surpasses all antitheses, to know that His mercy is identical with His justice and His justice with His mercy."

Josef Pieper, On Hope p. 71

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Nice 'n Slow...

Silent twenty-second intro before music begins:

Tag - You're It!

I’ve been tagged by Seraphic at Seraphic Singles to answer the following relatively painless questions – so here goes:

1. The rules of the game get posted on the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about himself.
3. At the end of the post, the player tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they've been tagged and asking them to read his blog.

What I was doing ten years ago:
Completing my second year working for Courage in New York city

Five things on my To-Do list today:
1. Meet Donna for brunch (done).
2. Take Mom for a drive (done).
3. Spend time with Nana (done).
4. Call Lisa back.
5. Clean out the refrigerator.
(P.S. I already went to the Saturday Vigil Mass - lest anyone should think I blew off Sunday Mass!)

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. Buy a place near my Mom’s so I could have my own space and still be close enough to help out Mom and Nana OR get a larger place for the three of us to continue living together.
2. Take Mom & Nana on holidays wherever they wanted to go, and plan some vacations with my friends
3. Get a new car.
4. Give more financial support to Courage and to other good ministries.
5. Start a Catholic film production company, or finance good Catholic media projects.

Three of my bad habits/qualities:
1. Somewhat prone to depression
2. Excessive fear of rejection
3. Susceptible to outbursts of long-repressed anger
(Wow – wouldn’t a stranger reading this LOVE to get to know me?? Yeesh!)

Five places I've lived:
1. New Delhi, India
2. Toronto, Ontario
3. New York, New York
4. Arlington, Virginia
5. Naples, Florida

Five jobs I've had:

1. Attendant at Group Home for Women with Cerebral Palsy
2. Office Manager/Event Coordinator for Courage Ministry
3. Photo & Permissions Editor
4. Volunteer Coordinator
5. Waitress at Chinese Café and Pastry Shop

Five books I've recently read:
1. Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved? – Von Balthasar
2. Spiritual Direction – Henri Nouwen
3. Daisy Fay & The Miracle Man – Fannie Flagg
4. Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven – Fannie Flagg
5. Standing in The Rainbow - Fannie Flagg

Five people or communities I'm going to tag:
I’m going to cheat here and only tag two people since I don’t really know five bloggers out there well enough to tag. I tag:
Carole in Ireland, Father Jim Lloyd

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Eulogies and Funeral Masses

Yesterday I attended a Funeral Mass with my Mom. Neither of us knew the deceased personally; he was my Mom’s friend’s husband’s brother-in-law. My Mom went to be emotionally supportive of her friend and since Mom needed a drive and the funeral was far away, I attended with her.

The Funeral Mass itself was beautiful. The priest was a relative of the deceased and he incorporated some personal words about the deceased’s faith-life and kindness to his family into the homily which was based on the scripture readings. The Mass was warm and personal, encouraging and hopeful.

But now I know one of the reasons why the Church wants us to keep eulogies out of the Mass and perhaps only allow a few brief words of remembrance by one family member or friend.

Before the close of the Mass, four relatives went before the congregation to speak about the deceased. There’s no question they loved him dearly; he was a beloved father, grandfather, and friend. Their grief over losing him was understandably very fresh and strong, and it was gut-wrenching to hear each of their lengthy, emotional reflections about him. Actually, gut-wrenching is an understatement. Mom and I lost my Dad less than a year and a half ago, and hearing these folks talk about their loved one was stirring up some very deep pain inside us. I told Mom afterwards that I’d felt like running out of the Church and she told me she’d felt the same way – the only reason neither of us did is because it would’ve looked rude.

So there we sat, feeling trapped and forced to experience very painful, personal emotions in this large crowd of people. I hate blubbering in front of my Mother, especially when she’s all choked up, and I really can’t stand crying when I’m surrounded by a crowd of people, even if most of them are all teary-eyed themselves…

My heart goes out to this family – this is a very painful, sad time for them. They need to grieve and share their stories about the loved one they’ve just lost. This is natural and healthy and human. I just wish this sharing didn’t take place right at the end of the Funeral Mass. My head still hurts and my stomach ties in knots, just thinking about it.

When we got into the car afterwards to drive home, I dramatically announced that I wasn’t going to any more funerals if they were going to be like that – at which moment, my Mom freely burst into tears, now that we were in the privacy of our car. I hastily reassured her that I would at least go to her funeral, which a few seconds later made us both laugh. Fortunately, Mom sometimes shares my strange sense of humour.

Mom and I are agreed that Funeral Masses aren’t the place for eulogizing – it’s just too hard on everyone present…

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Today's Meditation

Here are excerpts from today's Magnificat meditation, taken from The Book of Privy Counseling written in Middle English by an unknown mystic of the fourteenth century (same author as The Cloud of Unknowing):

My dear friend in God, go beyond your intellect's endless and involved investigations and worship the Lord your God with your whole being. Offer Him your very self in simple wholeness, all that you are and just as you are, without concentrating on any particular aspect of your being. In this way your attention will not be scattered nor your affection entangled, for this would spoil your singleness of heart and consequently your union with God...

It concludes with this prayer:

...That which I am and the way that I am with all my gifts of nature and grace You have given to me, O Lord, and You are all this. I offer it all to You, principally to praise You and to help my fellow Christians and myself.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Good Intro to the Pope's U.S. Visit!

Here's Thomas Peters of American Papist speaking about the Holy Father's visit:

Monday, April 14, 2008

Father John's 90th Birthday!

Today is the 90th birthday of my favourite priest on the planet – Rev. John F. Harvey, OSFS, Founder & Director of the Courage ministry. Happy Birthday, Father John!! I'm praying you have a wonderful day, and I look forward to seeing you in New York in a few weeks!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Shackles (Praise You) by Mary Mary

Vocation Sunday

This Sunday is Vocation Sunday - the Church calls us to pray in a special way for an increase to the priesthood and religious life. I'm sincerely grateful to the many good priests and religious that I know, especially for their examples of holiness (Father John) and joy (Sister Helena)!

Carole wrote a great reflection on the topic of vocations entitled “Chickens, Eggs, and Vocations” (Feb. 23rd, 2008).

Thus far (I’m 41 now), I haven’t felt called to either religious life or marriage and I think it’s highly likely that I will remain a single lay person my whole life long – I’m not saying I know this for sure, I’m just saying it’s VERY likely. Please pray that I will love God with all my heart, soul, and mind, and that I will love my neighbour as myself. Whatever one’s state in life, whatever one’s profession, it really all comes down to following those two commandments, right?

As the Catechism says, quoting St. John of the Cross, “At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love” (1022).

Here’s a link to Papa JPII’s Christifidelis Laici (“On the Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and the World”). This letter always lifts me up when I need to be reassured that I, as a single lay person, still have a role and purpose in the grand scheme of things.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Just for Fun!

Even though it's not yet Saturday night...

*Update: My apologies - unbeknownst to me, the media source from which I originally posted this video occasionally prefaced the song with a commercial of...er... scantily clad individuals - I've now changed the player!

Almost There...

Yesterday I submitted the second draft of my final paper on The Last Things - what a relief! Now I just have to tie it all together in a comprehensive synthesis (15 - 20 pages) and hand it in, and I will have completed my last course!

The only thing remaining then is the scheduling and writing of my comprehensive exam for the whole program. Preparing for this is daunting since I've taken a hundred million years to complete my graduate degree, and it's not like all the course work is fresh in my mind - Sigh...

Anyway, the end IS near and that makes me very happy! :)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Wordsworth in Concert!

My favourite English Professor from my undergrad days, Patricia Vicari is performing in the Ensemble Tryptych Chamber Choir this Sunday, April 13th at 2:30 p.m. at St. Thomas's Anglican Church, 383 Huron Street, Toronto, Ontario. They will be performing Gerald Finzi's Intimations of Immortality, based on the poem by William Wordsworth. Lenard Whiting is the Music Director and Ian Sadler will play the organ. For more info, please go to www.tryptych.org.

One of Those God Things

Today I went to the Kelly Library to see the Henri Nouwen archives. I'd spoken to the archivist on the phone a couple of times and she knew the book I was most interested in taking a look at was "Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith". I'd first seen that book in a store about a week ago, but I hesitated to buy it because it was more than I can currently afford. Then I learned about the archives being downtown and thought - ok, I'll go down to the library and read it there. Lo and behold, the archivist had a few extra copies of that particular book left over from a promotional event and she generously gave me one to keep! I was SOOOO grateful! That was definitely a God thing. Thank you God and Fr. Nouwen and Anna, the generous archivist!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Let's Do This!

Please help Canadian bloggers who support free speech! A lawsuit has been brought against Ezra Levant, FreeDominion.ca, Kate McMillan, Jonathan Kay, and Kathy Shaidle. The case is described in detail on Ezra Levant's site, with links to relevant documents.

You can help any or all of these bloggers fight this case by visiting their individual sites and making a donation to help them with legal expenses - Every little bit helps. I've made a small donation myself. Thank you! :)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Current Personal Projects

Anyone who really knows me, knows I have a slight...uh...problem with managing my anger. Not long ago, I saw Dr. Ronda Chervin on television talking about how she's addressed this difficulty in her own life. I'm going to try and find her CD series called "Taming the Lion Within - Five Steps from Anger to Peace" - it couldn't hurt.

I was also thrilled to see that the Kelly Library of the University of Toronto (St. Michael's College) is home of the Henri J.M. Nouwen Archives and Research Collection!!! I've left them a message seeking permission to start researching these materials. I love Nouwen's writings and reflections! I especially want to read the book "Spiritual Direction - Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith ", a compilation of Nouwen's thoughts and advice on the topic. It's presented in the first person (Nouwen's voice), but was prepared by Michael Christensen and Rebecca Laird, two of his students.

As the Publishers Weekly review (June 2006) says, "It's a little jarring to see a new book from an author who's been dead for 10 years. Yet these clearly are the words and teachings of Nouwen, prepared by two people close to him when he was alive."

Sunday, April 6, 2008

R.I.P. Charlton Heston 1923 - 2008

The classy and courageous film actor Charlton Heston, known especially for his roles as Moses in The Ten Commandments and Judah Ben-Hur in Ben-Hur, has died. May his soul rest in peace and may his family be comforted.

Click here to read more about Mr. Heston's life and career.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Taxing Time

"An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered." G.K. Chesterton

I tried applying this outlook to the unpleasant task of preparing my taxes for both the U.S. and Canada earlier this week. Unfortunately, I still view the whole process as an inconvenience (although a necessary one) and I don't see the adventure in it... Now maybe if the process had led to the discovery that the government owes me large sums of money, I might've been able to change my outlook! ;)

The Weird Phenomenon of Sleep Paralysis

I think it's happened to me about three times in my life - twice when I lived in New York, and once since I've returned to Toronto.

Here's what I experience: I wake up in the middle of the night - at least I absolutely think I'm awake while it's happening, because I see the bedroom walls around me, and I'm lying there in the darkness. I have a sense of being suffocated; there's a pressure on my chest and I'm not getting enough air - this part is not so unusual for me since I'm slightly asthmatic and struggle with allergies anyway.

Then I realize I can't move - I'm fully awake and alert and conscious (at least I believe that to be so while it's happening), but I can't move. It feels as though some presence is obstructing my will. I try to move towards the door or window, but it takes a herculean effort and I make very little progress. I start to pray because it feels like something is there, interfering with my body's ability to respond to my will. I stop fighting and trying to force my own movement - this presence is physically stronger than me. But I know that if I keep praying, the presence can't cause my soul any harm. So I pray until I eventually fall asleep again.

It's natural for me to put this in a spiritual context - simple explanation: I was under some kind of spiritual attack. This is what I've thought each time it's happened.

When it happened again a couple of nights ago, I decided to look on the internet to see if there was any research on this. I was quite surprised to see that a large number of people experience this particular phenomenon; the difficulty breathing, the inability to move, and even the sense of an evil presence in the room. Many researchers think it might just be brought on by various neurological triggers interfering with entry into or the exit from the REM sleep phase.

I'm not absolutely certain what it is, but I know what it feels like and I'm grateful to have recourse to prayer while it's happening!