Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Perfect Weather

I was going to write about Divine Providence fact, I had started a post on it yesterday, as I have picked up where I left off in Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange's book Providence.
I'll save it for another day, though.

Why? Because today is too spectacularly beautiful not to write about!

Spring always seems to come in bits and pieces around here. We have a few nice days, then winter returns (so it seems); and by this time, I am really ready for some warmish, sun-shiney weather!

Today is perfect. The temperature right now is hovering around 70, I think, and there is just the slightest breeze. There's not a cloud in the sky.

If you look closely in the above photo, you might see a deer or two. They were cleaning up some of the hay the horses had left behind.

I sat out in the backyard with my four furry friends for a while. Here's one of them:

Here's a view of the chapel. Things are greening up!

I sat there, thinking that it was hard to imagine a more perfect day, even in Heaven! But then I did imagine it. I thought of the passage in one of the Narnia books (the last one, maybe?), where Narnia passes away and the New Narnia emerges, and everything is simply more itself than it was before - more vivid, more perfect, more real. 

Seems that Divine Providence is at work as usual. God knows I needed this day! I am drinking it all in and preparing for the ongoing battles ahead!

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!  

Friday, April 25, 2014

Fighting the Fight

Since the re-painting of the chapel, I've been slow to replace the icons and statues; I was away for Holy Week, and when I came back there was much catch-up stuff to take care of around the house.

Slowly, though, I've been getting things back in order. It's so fresh and clean and white in the chapel now, that I've been very careful about where I'm putting the nails to hold the icons; don't want to have too many holes in the wall!

Yesterday, I was positioning more icons and pounding in the nails. I was standing on my little stool...again, being very careful...but not careful enough. The stool tipped, and I fell, hitting my head on the window sill on the way down. Four stitches and a black eye:

Not to mention the wrenched leg and  knee...

To top it off, I went in to pray this morning, and was greeted by a spider racing down one  of the books and leaping off the edge of the prayer desk. Of course this freaked me out...and I let out a little yelp and jumped back. But then I collected myself and waited till the spider had rappelled all the way to the floor, and then I squished it with my trusty spider-squishing shoe.

Then I discovered that the little devil had woven this web - OVERNIGHT!! On my books!

Those demons...well, they are fighting a losing battle. My guardian angels were there protecting me during that fall - believe me, it could have been much, much worse if they hadn't gently lowered me to the floor after the contact with the window sill! 

I'm determined to fight the good fight - even against falls and spiders.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Sea is a Figure of the World

The Gospel reading from Matins of Wednesday in Easter week was John 21:1-14, in which Jesus stands on the shore while Peter and the others are fishing and tells them to cast their nets to the other side of the boat.

In the commentary on this, St. Gregory the Great is quoted (reading 3):

Weather...tossing us to and fro!
It may likewise be asked why, when the disciples were toiling in the sea, the Lord, after His Resurrection, stood on the shore, whereas, before His Resurrection, He had walked on the waves before them all. The reason of this is quickly known if we will think of the end which it then served. The sea is a figure of this present world, tossed to and fro by changing fortune, and continually ebbing and flowing with the divers tides of life. The stableness of the shore is an image of the never-ending rest of the eternal home. The disciples therefore, for that they were yet tossed to and fro upon the waves of a dying life, were toiling in the sea, but He our Redeemer, Who had already laid aside that which in this body is subject to corruption, and had risen again from the dead, He stood upon the shore.

I like this imagery…the present world is something that tosses us about, isn’t it?! And we need to remind ourselves constantly (or, at least, I do!) that we are working our way toward that stable shore, which is our true home.  Our trials and tribulations in this world are temporary, and they are much more bearable when we focus on the eternal.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Away for Holy Week

I'm going away for Holy Week, and won't be posting anything here till next week sometime.

This is, I believe, the 4th year that I have gone away to my favorite place to celebrate the Triduum. It's always very intense, as there are only a handful of us to take care of all the necessary preparations and implementations. 

Yet, it is my favorite time of the year - how could it not be!! We work hard to worship God properly! I cannot help but think He is always pleased with our efforts.

I leave you with a few pretty pictures I've managed to capture as spring slowly arrives here.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Busy Week

I've been busy. Sometimes that's good, sometimes it's not.

This time, it's been a mixed bag. My husband helped me paint the inside of the chapel; it's been 7-1/2 years since it was built, and it really did need a fresh coat (or two) of paint. 

But is was a hassle, of course.

Take everything out, and put it somewhere else...

I left the altar and prayer desk inside, and covered them with plastic.

A quick uncovering in order to pray vespers...

Two coats of paint were required, so it took a little longer than I thought it would, 
but it looks very nice and fresh and clean.

Then everything had to be put back in place.

I decided to do this project now, even though I have been busy with other preparations for Holy Week, because a) all of the icons had to be taken off the walls anyway, for Passiontide; and b) the weather was perfect, meaning I could leave the window open to allow paint fumes to escape.

The other projects? Making antependia for the Cathedral altars.

I installed the white one for the Chrism Mass, which is held a week early in our diocese due to travel difficulties for priests:

The red one goes on today, in preparation for the Palm Sunday Masses. I may include a picture here later.  Here's the red one!

Friday, April 4, 2014

I Meet People as They Find Me

Let me ramble a bit about something I read in the Sayings of the Desert Father.

I was reading about Abba Theodore of Pherme this past week. In one story, another father noted that he had come to see Abba Theodore and found him “wearing a torn habit, his chest bare and his cowl hanging in front of it.” At that moment, a “great man” came to see Abba Theodore, who greeted the man and sat down to talk with him. The other abba took one side of the cape and covered Abba Theodore’s shoulders with it – but Abba Theodore “put out his hand and snatched it off.” When the “great man” had gone his way, the confused father asked Abba Theodore why he had done that; after all, the great man “had come to be edified; perhaps he will be shocked.” The story continues:

Then the old man said to me, “What do you mean, abba? Are we still the slaves of men? We did what was necessary, the rest is superfluous. He who wishes to be edified, let him be edified; he who wishes to be shocked, let him be shocked; as for me, I meet people as they find me.”

Well, if someone comes to see me, it is not generally to be edified, but nonetheless, I do attend to my physical appearance lest the visitor be shocked! But these days, I don’t take too much care; when we had people over for dinner a few months ago, I did put on a clean pair of sweat pants, and a clean sweatshirt, too! Still, some of the care I take is simply vanity.

But when I read the above “saying”, especially where Abba Theodore says “I meet people as they find me”, I thought more about how I speak to people, and what I speak to them about. My extended family is not too happy with me these days, because on the in-law side, they are slip-sliding away from the faith, and I tell them so; and on my own side, they are all agnostics, pagans, or worse. I don’t see them in person very often, but I have emailed them about important issues and events in their lives that show that they are not serious about their Catholic faith. I know that I could be more “pastoral”; I could be more gentle and try to cajole them along into an awareness of the beauty and truth of the faith. But I don’t. Sometimes I feel like there is so little time left, I cannot mince words and hope they will understand!

The truth is, though, I have been told many times in my life that I am not very tactful, and that is true. It is a skill that has eluded me since I was a child. Sometimes I am sorry for that lack of gentleness and tact, and other times, I am not at all remorseful, feeling that it’s more important to say the truth plainly than to put a sugar coating on it. At those times, I say with Abba Theodore, “I meet people as they find me.”

Of course, there are not many people coming to see me these days, and those who do certainly aren’t seeking out my “wisdom”! Ha! I’m not sure I have any to offer anyway! And most who approach me aren’t even looking for Truth. Sometimes I give it to them anyway, though in these instances it is not often appreciated; so more and more, I don’t give an answer until it seems that the person is actually asking a question.

Not that I’m proud of any of that, really. I often wish I could be more like one of the saints. But which one?! St.  Teresa of Avila, my confirmation saint? St. Therese? St. Catherine of Siena? They are all very different…

I guess more than one saint has noted that one should not necessarily strive to be like someone else, even if that other person is holy in God’s sight, but instead to be the person God intended them to be. Still, becoming that person is a journey and an exploration in itself, isn’t it? I’m pretty sure that I have not become that person God wants me to be! Even if He doesn’t intend for me to be the most tactful and gentle person in the world, He surely would like to soften some of my rough spots!

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.