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  • Merry Christmas

    The story of Christmas…

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    In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirin′i-us was governor of Syria. 

    And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

     And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

    Luke 2: 1-7

     

    via GIPHY

     

    And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 

    10 And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; 11 for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 

    12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

    14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!”

    Luke 2: 8-14

    via GIPHY

     

    15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 

    16 And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; 18 and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 

    19 But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 

    Luke 2: 15-20

     

    gerard_van_honthorst_-_adoration_of_the_shepherds_1622

     

    Wishing all my friends and readers a very Blessed and Merry Christmas.

     

    via GIPHY


  • Voting My Catholic Conscience

    Many freedom minded people have been arguing about the election for many months.

    So, I see no reason not to weigh in during the last stretch. A month from now we will know who will be the president, so why not?

    With the exception of once or twice in moments of despair, I have kept my mouth shut on my Facebook page. I believe every person has the right to vote the way they choose, and I would expect them to give me the same option.

    Nevertheless, I have made the decision, using my well formed Catholic conscience, to vote for Donald Trump in November, and against Hillary Clinton. Following is an article in the National Catholic Register that supports my position and that of many other pro life Catholics: Vote as a Catholic with a Catholic Moral Vision

    MSGR. Charles Pope says:
    .

    On the eve of an election and as a priest I frequently am baited to comment more directly on politics by naming names, and parties. I will not do so. The temporal order belongs to the laity, not the clergy. But as a priest I must convey the moral teachings and insist that Catholics connect the dots when it comes to voting. And my advice is simple: Vote as a Catholic, not as a Republican, Democrat, conservative, or liberal. Vote as a Catholic with a Catholic moral vision.

    It is a simple fact, beyond the control of the Church, or of any individual and faithful Catholic, that most politicians of a certain party support the right of others to kill pre-born children. (Emphasis mine).

    This is a heinous crime and cannot be papered over by jargonistic terminology or overlooked by moral equivocations such as “Well, he is right on the other issues.”  Would the excuse that “he is right on the other issues” hold if the word abortion were replaced by genocide or slavery? Abortion is not an abstraction. It is a horrifying reality whose death toll has reached over 50 million in this country alone.

    Proverbs 24 says,Rescue those who are being led off to death; hold back those who are being carried to slaughter. And if you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive you? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work? (Prov 24:11-14) If we do not oppose this moral evil, we are part of the problem and God will judge us.

    The same holds for euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and same-sex “marriage.” We cannot remain silent, let alone honor and promote those who hold these views. Do not neglect the other moral issues — but these non-negotiables, for the reasons stated and due to their deadly quality and/or the severe moral harm they cause, must be our first concern.

     

    So, here we all are. The above are non negotiable in the Catholic Church. I have loved my faith and the truths taught by the Church for so many years…I have to vote my conscience.

    Most of my concern is for Life. All human life. That of unborn children, the elderly, the mentally and physically disabled, and others who are under attack by the Democrats.

    I myself have given up worrying about same sex marriage. It’s the law of the land, and I couldn’t care less what people do in their private lives.

    However, I do have many concerns about the militant LGBT activists and their Liberal fellow travelers’ push to force churches to kowtow to THEIR moral vision.

    I’m not going to bother posting any links re the Gay lobby. The information is available online by typing in a few keywords. The same goes for the abortion push by Hilary Clinton, Planned Parenthood and others.

    So, my decision is made. Trump, even though he was not my first choice, is the only candidate that might beat Clinton. And Trump has surrounded himself with people who believe what I believe re the above moral issues and others. Therefore, I will vote for Trump, and pray that he wins. Despite his problems, he is the better candidate in my opinion.

    I’ve always believed that if our country continues toward MORE abortion, ill treatment of the elderly, and other death cult practices, that we will fade away.

    There is no way we will remain free if we allow the party who fosters a death cult to remain in power, when we can at least throw a wrench in their operation for a few years, if not longer.

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    So again… I have to vote against the Democrats. But, if the Democrats and Hillary win in November, I personally believe that America will never recover. It will be impossible for this country to ever regain any semblance of freedom in my lifetime.

    Clinton has vowed to continue and expand on the policies already in place, those that take away the rights of people like me. She will not fix economy, since she vows to keep high taxes.

    She will not increase jobs, since she plans to continue Obama’s policies without change, and has threatened to put coal miners out of business, among other energy/environmental policies.

    She has vowed to see that the Hyde Amendment is overturned, which in reality would make me a slave, because it will remove any protection whatsoever to keep my hard earned money from paying for abortions. I do not want to pay for this barbaric practice. To force me to do so via taxes is a violation of my rights as a free American.

    She is pushing for more gun control, and will appoint Supreme Court justices to see that Americans lose their 2nd amendment rights, and she has promised to allow open borders and import un-vetted refugees to America.

    There is no way to vet the refugees. They are from war torn Syria and other Muslim controlled countries, and it would take too much time to vet each one. Also, many of these people do not wish to assimilate and become Americans. They want Americans to become like them instead.

    I could go on, but the gist of it is that in four years, anyone who runs against her has no chance of winning. Democrats have recently been caught registering dead people to vote in Virginia. There are numerous other examples of voter fraud, yet they insist there is none, and will not allow voter ID laws in many states.

    So, with the above in mind, I do not believe anyone can beat Hillary in 2020. She is a criminal, and she is not above stealing votes. By the time 2020 comes around, there will be way too many immigrants who’ve come over the open Southern border on the voting rolls. They will be registered Democrats, and even if they don’t actually go into a voting booth, they WILL “vote.” And they’ll vote for Hillary.

    It will not matter who runs against her in 2020. She will win again, and by 2024, 16 years of far Left policy will have completely transformed America. We will not recognize our country, all of our traditions will have gone the way of the dinosaur, and we will be, in truth, dhimmis.

    I know some folks believe Congress will hold Hillary in check, and not approve her SCOTUS picks, but I don’t believe it. They haven’t held Obama back, and they won’t mess with Hillary either, so IMO, America will be over if she’s elected.

     

    Take a look at this video of Hillary Clinton standing for the right to dissent:

     

     

    Now please understand the truth. The above may have been true when the Democrats were protesting GWB’s presidency, but no such allowances will be made for anyone who speaks out against Hillary Clinton if she wins.

    Political Correctness has eroded the country. Federal bureaucracies have already been used against conservatives under Obama.

    If Hillary is elected, she will double down on us–those she deems irredeemable deplorables. Also, please note this fact: Just because someone does not vote for Trump doesn’t mean they won’t be counted among the deplorables.

    The Democrat flunkies who will be carrying out the Clinton agenda will not care if any given American was against Trump. If a far Leftist sees an American’s name on some list, they will not be given a free pass just because they voted Libertarian, or wrote in someone else.

    Anyone who does not vote for Hillary will also be considered a deplorable, irredeemable, un-American peon who can be targeted for anything these government workers dream up.

    Take a look at the following. I know it’s ten minutes long, and you don’t have to watch the whole thing, but it illustrates exactly the type of person who will be lording it over all of us if Hillary wins:

     

     

    The above is not an isolated incident. It is a common practice now. If Hillary wins, people like the woman above will grow braver and stronger, and will make the lives of more and more Americans a living hell.

    I can’t help but wish that such a person could be put on notice. Such behavior is abusive and bigoted, yet she’s proud of herself. But if Hillary wins, more of this type of behavior will become the norm.

    There will be more violence, more division, more denigration, and more abuse. There will be less inclusiveness, and more distrust. The country will divide yet further, and Conservatives and Libertarians will be considered non-persons, to the press, the government, and Leftists like the woman above.

    So, here’s my dilemma. I am rather ill with depression/anxiety, as diagnosed by a physician. I consider myself blessed that I found a great doctor who listens to me, and who will work tirelessly to help me manage my condition.

    Still, I must admit that battling the Leftists for the past 8 years has left me exhausted. And the constant worry about what has happened and will happen if Clinton is elected has exacerbated my condition to the point of physical illness at times.

    Sometimes I lose hours or even days when I’m overcome with depression. I’m not ashamed of my illness. It’s real, it’s chronic, it’s debilitating and it’s hellacious.

    But as I’ve said before, it’s what I was given, and it’s my responsibility to manage it, and to keep myself in the best health I can.

    So I have to plan what I will do if Clinton wins the election. And unfortunately, I’ve decided that I will not engage in politics in the future if she wins.

    I can’t deal with another election, knowing it’s Kabuki Theater. If we can’t win now, we certainly won’t win in 4 or 8 years, no matter who the Republicans run, for the reasons I listed above.

    So, I’ve already decided that I will stay off of social media in the days after the election, no matter who wins. I’m sure it will be a contentious place, and I can’t allow myself to lose a week of my life over something beyond my control.

    And if Clinton wins, I will not be involved in any way, shape or form in protesting or trying to change things. This includes voting.

    I am simply going to drop out and live my life as best I can. It hurts way too much to see news stories about Planned Parenthood clinics and the amount of death, destruction and waste of women and children’s lives as it is. I cannot bear to see these things anymore, knowing they are here to stay.

    The same goes for all the other issues.

    So… if Hillary wins, this November will be the last time I ever vote.

    I don’t say this lightly. I’ve voted in every election except one since I was 18 years old. Not to vote is a foreign idea to me.

    But at this point, it won’t do any good, and my health has suffered way too much already.

    I hope people won’t hold it against me in 2020, but I absolutely will not get involved in any attempt to “beat” Hillary. I refuse to go through this again, and I will not bother to drive to the polling place. I am staying home.

    In closing, I’m going to embed a tweet with a video re Donald Trump. I have watched it quite a few times, because it made me happy to see the little girl’s face when she realized someone cared enough to help her.

    Related Posts:

     

    Les Deplorables

    Saint Augustine and The Donald


  • Good Friday Reflections

    Today is one of the saddest, yet also one of the happiest days for Christians: Good Friday.

     

    The name itself seems a paradox. We commemorate Christ’s Crucifixion, a day of unimaginable brutality, betrayal, denial and despair. On that day the sun disappeared, the earth shook, and God Himself was taunted and mocked by His own creations.

    So how can it be called “good”? It is good because He Himself lay down His own life, for us, so that we may rise again with Him.

    We will never be in darkness. We who follow Christ will be in the Light for all eternity. This is why today is good.

    At the Good Friday Celebration today, we venerated the Cross. During the veneration we sang one of my favorite hymns– Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord).

    The following version of this American Spiritual, sung by Johnny Cash, is quite beautiful. The legend behind the song is explained by Cash.

     

     

    Were you there when they crucified my Lord? (Were you there?)
    Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
    O! Sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
    Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

    Were you there when they nailed him to the cross? (Were you there?)
    Were you there when they nailed him to the cross?
    O! Sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
    Were you there when they nailed him to the cross?

    Were you there when they pierced him in the side? (Were you there?)
    Were you there when they pierced him in the side?
    O! Sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
    Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

    Were you there when the sun refused to shine? (Were you there?)
    Were you there when the sun refused to shine?
    O! Sometimes it causes me to tremble! tremble! tremble!
    Were you there when the sun refused to shine?

    1899 Old Plantation Hymns

     

    There is also this version, with scenes from The Passion Of The Christ, Mel Gibson’s film portraying Christ’s crucifixion. (Click only if prepared to see a realistic portrayal).

     

    I used to watch this film every Good Friday, but I no longer do. I find it difficult to watch such suffering right now, with all the brutality in the news each day.

    I just pray for God to be with all who suffer. He knows the pain of each person intimately. And He is Risen.

     

    Wishing everyone a Blessed and Happy Easter.

     

     


  • Rest In Peace, Justice Scalia

    Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is being laid to rest.

    The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,a

    and no torment shall touch them.

    They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;

    and their passing away was thought an affliction

    and their going forth from us, utter destruction.

    But they are in peace.b

    For if to others, indeed, they seem punished,

    yet is their hope full of immortality;

    Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,

    because God tried them

    and found them worthy of himself.c

    As gold in the furnace, he proved them,

    and as sacrificial offerings* he took them to himself.d

    In the time of their judgment* they shall shine

    and dart about as sparks through stubble;e

    They shall judge nations and rule over peoples,

    and the LORD shall be their King forever.f

    Those who trust in him shall understand truth,

    and the faithful shall abide with him in love:

    Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,g

    and his care is with the elect.

    Wisdom 3: 1-9

     

    Above is the passage chosen for the first reading at Justice Scalia’s Funeral Mass, which was celebrated by his son, Father Paul Scalia. I was able to watch a portion of the televised Mass earlier, while visiting my mother.

    Mom and I marveled at this loving son, choosing to celebrate Mass for his beloved father. The entire Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC was full, everyone listening intently to the readings, Choir, Psalms and Homily.

    gettyimages-511415680
    Father Paul Scalia celebrates Mass for his father. (Getty Images)

     

    More on Antonin Scalia can be found here, in this Washington Post piece written by another son, Christopher. What a loving family. Americans owe them a debt of gratitude for sharing their husband, father and grandfather with us for so many years.

    He drove us to Mass every Sunday. He brought with him his well-worn Roman Missal, its pages wrinkled from holy water and packed with decades-old prayer cards. His behavior during Mass was not always restrained. If he disagreed with a priest’s point during a sermon, he would lean forward, look toward my mother, and frown or shake his head. That was his dissent from the homily. On the other hand, if he liked a sermon, he’d tell the priest as much afterward. We all saw how important Mass was to him, his eyes closed, head bowed as he moved deep into prayer during the consecration and after Communion.

    He was stricter than we would have liked, and I don’t mean with his originalism. We could have done without the weekends he made us work in the yard. I once tried to beg off mowing the lawn by pointing out that I had a cross-country meet that weekend. So he did it himself — after reminding me that a Supreme Court justice probably had better things to do, too.

     

    The loss of Justice Scalia was huge blow to many Americans, including me. Such a Justice, one who knows the law and rules justly according to the Constitution will be very hard to replace. His loss at this time, such a dangerous time for us, is almost paralyzing.
    Jesus Christ

     

    Yet we must trust. Justice Scalia is with Our Lord, whom he served so faithfully. And we, who are reeling at the thought of the months ahead, must remember that God will be with us. This is His decision, and He will bring us safely through the coming storm.

     

    Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil, may God rebuke him we humbly pray. And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who wander through the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

     

    Archangel Michael Statue, Kiev, Ukraine

     

     

    Eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord
    and let perpetual light shine upon him.

    May he rest in peace. Amen.

    May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed,
    through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
    Amen.

     


  • Advent Traditions ~ The Jesse Tree

    The season of Advent begins the Liturgical year in the Roman Catholic Church. Advent encompasses the four weeks leading up to Christmas. It’s a time to prepare for the coming of Christ, who was born in a stable in Bethlehem, and who was descended from Jessie, the father of King David. There are several Advent traditions, one of which is The Jesse Tree.

    The Jesse Tree depicts the generations of Old Testament figures from whom Jesus Christ was descended. The branches of the tree have significance. King David, the great King of Judah and author of the Psalms was the Old Testament ancestor of Christ. His descendants can be traced down through generations, culminating in the birth of Jesus.

    The shoot that sprouts from the stump of Jessie can be understood to represent Jesus Christ, as illustrated by the passage below, from the prophetic book of Isaiah.

     

    But a shoot shall sprout from the stump* of Jesse,

    and from his roots a bud shall blossom.a

    2* The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:b

    a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,

    A spirit of counsel and of strength,

    a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,

    3  and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.

    Not by appearance shall he judge,

    nor by hearsay shall he decide,

    But he shall judge the poor with justice,

    and decide fairly for the land’s afflicted.c

    He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,

    and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.d

    Justice shall be the band around his waist,

    and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.e

    6* Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,

    and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat;

    The calf and the young lion shall browse together,

    with a little child to guide them.f

    The cow and the bear shall graze,

    together their young shall lie down;

    the lion shall eat hay like the ox.g

    The baby shall play by the viper’s den,

    and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.

    They shall not harm or destroy on all my holy mountain;

    for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD,

    as water covers the sea.

    RESTORATION*

    10 On that day,

    The root of Jesse,

    set up as a signal for the peoples—

    Him the nations will seek out;

    his dwelling shall be glorious.h

    11 On that day,

    The Lord shall again take it in hand

    to reclaim the remnant of his people

    that is left from Assyria and Egypt,

    Pathros, Ethiopia, and Elam,

    Shinar, Hamath, and the isles of the sea.i

    12 He shall raise a signal to the nationsj

    and gather the outcasts of Israel;

    The dispersed of Judah he shall assemble

    from the four corners of the earth.

    13 The envy of Ephraim shall pass away,

    and those hostile to Judah shall be cut off;

    Ephraim shall not envy Judah,

    and Judah shall not be hostile to Ephraim;

    14 But they shall swoop down on the foothills

    of the Philistines to the west,

    together they shall plunder the people of the east;*

    Edom and Moab shall be their possessions,

    and the Ammonites their subjects.

    15 The LORD shall dry up the tongue* of the Sea of Egypt,

    and wave his hand over the Euphrates with his fierce wind,

    And divide it into seven streamlets,

    so that it can be crossed in sandals.k

    16 There shall be a highway for the remnant of his people

    that is left from Assyria,

    As there was for Israel

    when it came up from the land of Egypt.l

    Isaiah 11.

    Depictions of the Jesse Tree began early in Church tradition. Early depictions include paintings, illuminated manuscripts and stained glass windows from Medieval Cathedrals.

     

    Jessie Tree
    Miniature, Jacques de Besançon, Paris, c.1485. Showing 43 generations. Below, the birth and childhood of Mary. (Photo credit, Wikipedia)

     

    Vitrail_Chartres_210209_18_brighter
    The upper section of the Jesse Tree window at Chartres Cathedral showing Jesus at the apex and Mary below him. (photo credit, Wikipedia)

     

    12th-century_painters_-_The_Tree_of_Jesse_-_WGA15728
    The Jesse Tree in the Lambeth Psalter, (illuminated manuscript) unknown English miniaturist, (1140s). Many characteristics of later representations are fully developed. (Photo credit, Wikipedia)

    The Jesse Tree tradition has come down through history. Today some families and churches continue the tradition by decorating a tree with ornaments depicting the various Biblical ancestors of Jesus. 

    Scripture passages corresponding to each person can be read and discussed, so children can learn about Christ’s human ancestors.

    As the saying goes, “you can’t pick your family.” Jesus’ ancestors included both saints and sinners, the same way ours do.

    It’s important to understand that Christ was both God and Man. Though he himself was without sin of any kind, that doesn’t hold true of His ancestors, with the exception of His Mother.

    Read more about the Jesse Tree, corresponding scripture, and symbols here.

     

     

    Enjoying the lead up to Christmas.

    This time can be stressful and hectic. Worrying bout the many tasks and preparation can sometimes steal our joy. I wonder what Jesus would think? WWJD? Perhaps He would like us to be joyful, and not to worry about making everything perfect. Maybe He wants us to lean on Him instead of ourselves.

    Every year I worry and wonder exactly how I think I’m going to get everything finished by Christmas Eve, and every year, somehow, it all gets done. Jesus wants us to be happy when preparing for His coming. So don’t stress. Pray, sing, take a break and laugh a little instead.

     

    To end, I’ll leave you with my favorite version of a beloved Advent Hymn, O Come O Come Emmanuel. Listen, for a moment and relax. Everything will turn out as it should.

     

     

     


  • Combining Prayer with Staying Fit & Healthy

    Prayer and staying physically fit and healthy are two big parts of my life.

    This has been the case since 2002. Even before that, but sporadically. However, 2002 was the year I was forced to come to grips with the fact that I was 50+ pounds overweight. My come to Jesus moment occurred in the doctor’s office, when he informed me that since I refused to follow his advice and lose the extra weight, I needed help other than his. Due to heredity I had high cholesterol and was in danger of developing heart disease. He advised me to see a specialist who could help me with my eating disorder so I could live a long and healthy life.

    I was never so mad at anyone as I was at that man. Still, he did the right thing. I needed a wake up call, and I received it that day. Sigh. The weight had been gained slowly, over a period of 2-3 years, and I knew it would take awhile to come off. Rather than call the therapist, I decided to try a popular weight loss program (Weight Watchers) with weigh-ins for accountability, weekly group support meetings and an eating plan that wasn’t insane. (Just healthy foods in normal portion sizes with allowances for treats and fun foods in moderation.) This was the best way for me. The program also included physical activity. I wasn’t a fan of exercise, but I knew that I needed to incorporate it for my own good and that of my family, who needed me to be healthy. So, with lots of hard work, many setbacks and thoughts of giving up I changed my bad eating habits into good ones and established a fitness routine.

    Back then I did workout videos in my TV room. The weight came off over 18 months. (It took me 6 months to lose the last 5 pounds, but I didn’t quit). After reaching my goal weight I began working for Weight Watchers and stayed for 10 years. I kept most of the weight off. I struggled with 5 pounds constantly, and upon resigning from my job last spring I was afraid I might gain the weight back. It hasn’t happened. The habits I formed stayed with me, including physical activity.

     

    So, what does all of this have to do with prayer?

    Quite a lot, actually.

    Your body is a temple

    Being healthy in mind, body and spirit is extremely important. How we treat our bodies means something. The above verse pertains to many different behaviors, of course, however keeping healthy is as important as any.

    About 7 years ago I got bored with working out in front of my TV and decided to begin running. I choose to run in a State Park/Nature preserve near my home, (photo of creek next to trail, above). Sometimes I run while listening to music, and other times I pray the Rosary. Back when I began running I didn’t have an iPod, so the Rosary was always a part of my run. As many people know, sometimes prayers become rote. We know them so well that our mind wanders. This happens to me sometimes, and I recently found a way to combat it: Interval training while running and praying.

    What is interval training?

    It’s not as complicated as you might think. Interval training is simply alternating bursts of intense activity with intervals of lighter activity.

    For instance, if your exercise is walking — if you’re in good shape, you might incorporate short bursts of jogging into your regular brisk walks. If you’re less fit, you might alternate leisurely walking with periods of faster walking. For example, if you’re walking outdoors, you could walk faster between certain mailboxes, trees or other landmarks.

    (From linked article ~ Mayo Clinic)

     

    If you’re not Catholic don’t stop reading. Anyone can tailor praying and activity. If you haven’t begun an exercise program, don’t stop reading. Everyone has to start somewhere. Just get your doctors approval before beginning any activity. Always stretch and warm up before beginning and cool down and stretch at the end of your workout. Also, take all safety precautions, depending on your location, and remember to stay hydrated. Drink water before and during and after your workout.

    So, to incorporate prayer and activity I’ll begin with my go to prayer, the Holy Rosary. I have recently discovered the joy of Rosary apps. If you have a smart phone or iPod, there are plenty of free apps to chose from. I recently downloaded this free audio Scriptural Rosary app. I really like this one. The voices are pleasant and I love the scripture passages with each Hail Mary.  While running I thought of a way to work harder while paying more attention to the prayer. Remember, always start with a warm up. I normally run a 15 minute mile, and warm up for about 5 minutes at a slower jogging pace. To make this work with the Rosary, I would pray the Memorare and ask for intercession while stretching and warming up and then turn on the app.

    I begin my regular pace for the Apostles Creed, Our Father, 3 Hail Marys for an increase in Faith, Hope and Charity and the Glory be. This is where the intervals come in. At the announcement of the first Mystery of whatever day it is, I just start running at double my regular pace. If not double then a little less. I continue through the  Our Father, not slowing down and concentrating on the prayer. Then I return to my regular pace during the decade of Hail Marys with scripture. (There are also audio apps without the scripture-just look on the app store).

    At the end of the decade I begin the interval training again, running fast through the Glory Be, O My Jesus, Jesus Mary and Joseph, announcement of the second mystery and the Our Father. It’s difficult. It’s hard work, but it’s supposed to be hard; it’s only for a minute or so. I find that I’m deeply in prayer as I run at this fast pace. I’m depending on God to get me through it. Don’t slow down unless you must. Keep pushing through until the next decade begins. Then concentrate on the Hail Marys and scripture passages while breathing evenly and going at a regular pace. Repeat these intervals until the last decade is finished. Afterward, during the Hail Holy Queen and any other prayers, go a bit more slowly and cool down if you’re ready to stop, or else continue at your regular pace for however long you want before cooling down and stretching to end the workout.

    Queen of Peace

    What if I’m not a runner?

    Again, interval training can be tailored to whatever is your preference for activity. Biking, swimming, walking, the gym, a treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical trainer. Say your preferred activity is walking. You could incorporate intervals of power walking or slow jogging between the Mysteries. Same with a treadmill or other equipment. I’m not sure about swimming; phones cannot be submerged, but still… you could pray without the app.

    The important thing is to understand that keeping our bodies healthy to the best of our ability is very important, and the will of God for each of us. Praying while exercising is so therapeutic. I cannot describe how good it feels to pray while working out.

    Even for people who are sedentary there are ways to do what we can to begin some activity. Some people cannot run or walk. Perhaps, through no fault of their own, they have conditions that prevent doing so. Still, prayer and connecting to God is so good for the soul. And if walking or moving your lower body isn’t possible. strengthening your upper body may be. Perhaps praying the Rosary or another prayer while doing arm crunches and other upper body work is possible.

    For Catholics who aren’t devoted to the Rosary, perhaps you might pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, The Litany of the Saints or any other prayers that you love. Or, listen to a religious podcast while getting some activity in. For these prayers you can download an interval timer. This allows you to concentrate on your podcast, scripture or other audio prayer. Set it up for however many minutes/seconds of high intensity and then low intensity. When it beeps, speed up or slow down.

    What If I’m not Catholic? What if I’m not Christian?

    No problem at all! Perhaps download an audio version of the Bible or Torah. Maybe you could listen to a chapter at the regular pace of your chosen activity and then pray for a high intensity interval. I may do this myself. Use the timer app. No matter what our denomination or what religion we practice we can find spiritual material on TV, on radio, in music, podcasts and apps. Do whatever helps you to connect with God, and add your activity as part of your worship.

    You won’t be sorry. You will find that you have more energy and feel better than ever.

    You may also enjoy: 

    The Tabata Revolution Explained: What, Why, and How to Tabata

    Fall

     


  • 15 Favorite Classic Rock Halloween Songs

    If you’re a habitual reader of this blog, you may know that I’m a Classic Rock fan. I thought it would be fun to choose some favorite songs that put me in a dark or spooky mood.

    I’ve mentioned before that my husband and I both adore Classic Rock. He’s been a serious fan since the early 1970s, and I’m not far behind him.

    Agents Of Fortune
    Blue Oyster Cult, Agents Of Fortune

     

    The above photo was taken this morning. The pictured album, Blue Oyster Cult’s Agents of Fortune, was purchased by my husband when he was 17, and kept carefully through all the years since then. So of course we both have our favorite spooky or dark songs. I’m going to list them here, in order of my preference.

    Disclaimer: I am not a particular fan of Ozzy Osbourn, or the group Black Sabbath, though I was as a teen. But their music fits the Halloween theme, and I do admit the group was talented, so one of their songs is included.

    Disclaimer 2: When it comes to music, I care zero for politics. There are songs here from both ends of the political spectrum and some in between. For my own peace of mind, music must be separated from the antics of the artists unless, of course, they commit actual treason. And I know of no American artist that has actually been treasonous, unless draft dodging is considered treason. With regard to the Vietnam conflict, my opinion is simply this: I have more love, respect and gratitude to the GIs who went than I can possibly express in words.

    Not all of the songs listed have traditional Halloween style horror themes. Some are just extremely sad, and others are my own personal vision of horrors that others may not even consider worth thinking about. So, here goes:

    15. Sympathy For The Devil ~ The Rolling Stones

    The above lyrics explain everything.

     

    14. Riders On The Storm ~ The Doors

    My thoughts on Jim Morrison: A very sad and disturbed individual. I make zero judgements; perhaps he was suffering from depression. His end was sad, but not unexpected. His drug use killed him, like so many other talents.

     

    13. Welcome To My Nightmare ~ Alice Cooper

     

    I like the title track to this album, though the album itself is rather disturbing.

     

    12. The Wizard ~ Black Sabbath

    One of Black Sabbath’s better songs. Reminds me of a ghost train, and the lyrics aren’t ghoulish.

    Misty morning,clouds in the sky
    without warning, the wizard walks by
    casting his shadow,weaving his spell
    funny clothes,twinkling bells
    never talking…just keeps walking…spreading his magic

    Evil powers disappear
    demons worry when the wizard is near
    he turns tears into joy
    everyone’s happy when the wizard walks by
    never talking…just keeps walking…spreading his magic

    Sun is shining,clouds have gone by
    all the people,give a happy sigh
    he has passed by,given his sign
    left all the people,feeling so fine
    never talking…just keeps walking…spreading his magic

     

    11. Stranglehold ~ Ted Nugent

    The name says it all…

     

    Mother Should I Trust The Government

     

    10. The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald ~ Gordon Lightfoot

    Sad and eerie true story. How must those men have felt? May they rest in eternal peace.

    The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
    Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
    The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
    When the skies of November turn gloomy
    With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
    Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty
    That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
    When the gales of November came early

    The ship was the pride of the American side
    Coming back from some mill in Wisconsin
    As the big freighters go, it was bigger than most
    With a crew and good captain well seasoned
    Concluding some terms with a couple of steel firms
    When they left fully loaded for Cleveland
    Then later that night when the ship’s bell rang
    Could it be the north wind they’d been feelin’?

    The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound
    When the wave broke over the railing
    And every man knew, as the captain did too
    ‘Twas the witch of November come stealin’
    The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait
    When the gales of November came slashin’
    When afternoon came it was freezing rain
    In the face of a hurricane west wind

    When suppertime came, the old cook came on deck
    Sayin’ “Fellas, it’s too rough to feed ya”
    At seven PM a main hatchway caved in
    He said, “Fellas, it’s been good to know ya”
    The captain wired in he had water comin’ in
    And the good ship and crew was in peril
    And later that night when his lights went out of sight
    Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

    Does anyone know where the love of God goes
    When the waves turn the minutes to hours?
    The searchers all say they’d have made Whitefish Bay
    If they’d put fifteen more miles behind her
    They might have split up or they might have capsized
    They may have broke deep and took water
    And all that remains is the faces and the names
    Of the wives and the sons and the daughters

    Lake Huron rolls, Superior sings
    In the rooms of her ice-water mansion
    Old Michigan steams like a young man’s dreams
    The islands and bays are for sportsmen
    And farther below, Lake Ontario
    Takes in what Lake Erie can send her
    And the iron boats go as the mariners all know
    With the gales of November remembered

    In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed
    In the Maritime Sailors’ Cathedral
    The church bell chimed ’til it rang twenty-nine times
    For each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald
    The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
    Of the big lake they call Gitche Gumee
    Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
    When the gales of November come early

     

    Desperado

     

    9. Witchy Woman ~ The Eagles

    Cool, witchy song.

     

    8. Frankenstein ~ Edgar Winter Group

    Great use of organ, synthesizers, guitar, saxophone and percussion in this instrumental.

     

    7. Spooky ~ Atlanta Rhythm Section

    Fun song about love.

     

    6. Hotel California ~ The Eagles

    This is a deep and dark song. I’ve loved it since I was 15 years old. The lyrics are laden with meaning.

    Mirrors on the ceiling,
    The pink champagne on ice
    And she said “We are all just prisoners here of our own device”
    And in the master’s chambers,
    They gathered for the feast
    They stab it with their steely knives,
    But they just can’t kill the beast

    Last thing I remember, I was
    Running for the door
    I had to find the passage back
    To the place I was before
    “Relax, ” said the night man,
    “We are programmed to receive.
    You can check-out any time you like,
    But you can never leave.”

     

    5. Thriller ~ Michael Jackson

    Though not Classic Rock, I couldn’t leave this one out. It brings back memories of better times.

     

    4. I Put A Spell On You ~ Creedence Clearwater Revival

    Simply put, great music. Bluesy and dark toned.

     

    3. Ghost Riders In The Sky ~ Stan Jones ~ Performed by The Outlaws

    Creepy presentation of this song.

     

    2. Rhiannon ~ Fleetwood Mac

    When introducing this song in the video above, Stevie Nicks says: “This is a song about an old Welsh Witch.” According to Celtic legend, the goddess Rhiannon rode a white horse and traveled with three birds that had healing powers. The birds appear in various Celtic symbols.

    “It wasn’t until 1978 that I found out about (Welsh medieval prose tales) Mabinogion and that Branwen and Rhiannon are in there too, and that Rhiannon wasn’t a witch at all; she was a mythological queen. But my story was definitely written about a celestial being, I didn’t know who Rhiannon was, exactly, but I knew she was not of this world.” ~ Stevie Nicks

    This song is from Fleetwood Mac’s album, Rumors, which has been a favorite of mine since its release in 1975. Read more about Rhiannon’s origins in Medieval Welsh mythology here.

     

     

    I don’t look at this as a song about death or as something to be afraid of. But is does bring to mind the Grim Reaper.

    All our times have come
    Here but now they’re gone
    Seasons don’t fear the reaper
    Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain… we can be like they are
    Come on baby… don’t fear the reaper
    Baby take my hand… don’t fear the reaper
    We’ll be able to fly… don’t fear the reaper
    Baby I’m your man…

    La la la la la
    La la la la la

    Valentine is done
    Here but now they’re gone
    Romeo and Juliet
    Are together in eternity… Romeo and Juliet
    40, 000 men and women everyday… Like Romeo and Juliet
    40, 000 men and women everyday… Redefine happiness
    Another 40, 000 coming everyday… We can be like they are
    Come on baby… don’t fear the reaper
    Baby take my hand… don’t fear the reaper
    We’ll be able to fly… don’t fear the reaper
    Baby I’m your man…

    La la la la la
    La la la la la

    Love of two is one
    Here but now they’re gone
    Came the last night of sadness
    And it was clear she couldn’t go on
    Then the door was open and the wind appeared
    The candles blew and then disappeared
    The curtains flew and then he appeared… saying don’t be afraid
    Come on baby… and she had no fear
    And she ran to him… then they started to fly
    They looked backward and said goodbye… she had become like they are
    She had taken his hand… she had become like they are
    Come on baby… don’t fear the reaper.

     

    So, you see, death is not to be feared. Seasons don’t fear it; the seasons change, and the leaves, after showing their greatest glory in the fall, die and turn brown on the ground.  But spring always arrives again. It’s a sign of hope, not a sign of fear or death. The wind and the sun and the rain will always return, even if they leave our human sight and perception for a time.

    As a Roman Catholic I put my complete faith in Christ. He, and only He will choose the time I leave this earth. And He, Christ, is Love. So do not fear death, because death in Christ is Everlasting Life.

    As the fun of Halloween turns into the seeming darkness of November, remember this. 

     

    Halloween is the eve of the Feast of All Saints. 

    So here’s one more video, The Litany of The Saints. May all the Saints in Heaven pray for us here on earth.

     

     


  • Book Review ~ Honor At Stake by Declan Finn

    Honor at Stake! What a fresh take on fictional vampires. The sun has come out! Thanks to Declan Finn, there are more vampires for ME!

    When I think of vampire novels, I remember reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula, (slow but classic), Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, (a great American Vampire Novel in which the small town feeling of America was portrayed in a stunning manner, completely encompassing King’s rather predictable villains and his understated but nasty trashing of Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular), Anne Rice, (ugh- too dark and dreadful), and, of course, Twilight… (um- I tried to like it. I really did. But it didn’t happen).

     

    Compare the above with Declan Finn’s Honor at Stake. For one thing, it’s anything but slow, Honor At Stakeand Finn draws on Stoker’s legendary vampire lore while adding some of his own. It’s fresh and new and sharp. Yes, sharp, like a stake. And new, like adding Christian/Catholic themes and actual devotionals to fight the evil vampires while helping the good vampires. Yes, this is fresh–the idea that not ALL vampires must be evil.

    And the setting is different–Brooklyn NY. Finn is a New Yorker, and being familiar with the city, has used it to create creepy scenarios using brownstone homes, the NYC subway, and the Brooklyn Bridge among others. And while Finn’s fictional use of NY may not be as in depth neighborhood-wise as King’s town of Salem’s Lot, his characters are certainly as well drawn, and in fact, much less predictable. Like I said, Honor at Stake is something completely different.

     

    Unlike other vampire characters (most notably Rice’s) Finn’s Vampire doesn’t bring on feelings of fear and dread because the character isn’t dreadful.

    And there’s no Twilight style shilly-shallying in the romance portrayed in Honor at Stake, either. The main characters, Amanda and Marco, may not jump right into a romance, but neither do they play games with their own heads or the reader’s.

     

    BOOK 3The first meeting of Marco and Amanda gave me a sense of history, mystery and excitement, and the book simply built on that foundation. The supporting characters were memorable, the villains evil and the book ended in a manner that didn’t make me want to throw Finn out a window, the way so many traditionally published books do these days. Also, Finn is funny. I marked at least 6 pages with dialogue that made me laugh out loud. I’m waiting with eager anticipation for book two.

    My Rating ~ 5 Stars

     

    Declann Finn

    Declan Finn is the author of 6 novels. Find out more about him at his website, and also at The Catholic Geeks, a blog about topics Catholic, geeky, or both.

     


  • The “Win” of the Pro-Choice Catholics ~ A Pro-Life Perspective

    October is Respect Life Month, and today the Catholic Church Celebrates Respect Life Sunday a day for the Pro-Life Catholic community to celebrate life, and bring awareness about the dangers facing the unborn, elderly, handicapped and marginalized.

    I hardly know where to begin. As someone who worked for over 5 years to bring awareness to the plight of the unborn, I’m definitely happy, because I know that my efforts and the efforts of my dear pro-life friends and parishioners did actually do some good, probably more than we realize. We sponsored a women’s shelter for a year or so, and tried our best to truly help women and babies. For more on how hard we worked and the ultimate end of our ministry, please click here for details.

    The four of us organized trips to the annual March for Life, tried a pro life movie night, handed out pro life prayer cards, and sat at a table at the church bazaar and tried to interest parishioners in learning about unborn children. We raffled off handmade baby quilts, blankets and sweaters, and held a “baby shower” every spring. The baby items were then donated to a crisis pregnancy center.

    The previous post has additional relevance, since October is also Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

    I am truly trying my best not to be too upset today. I don’t want this post to be a litany of bitter grievances. That’s not my intent. However, I find that blogging about events and expressing my feelings in writing helps me to put things behind me. That’s what I’m doing now. Please understand that I am simply writing a true account. If my words make you cry, imagine how upset my friends and I feel. If my words make you snicker and laugh and pooh-pooh my feelings about today, thinking I’m just a sore loser and a backward American who needs to get with the times, then you’re probably a Liberal, or a Leftist, or a Progressive, or Pro-Choice, or just a cold person.  All of the previous may or may not be hyphenated with the word “Catholic.” Whatever.

    I just spoke to my husband on the phone, and described this morning’s Respect Life Sunday Mass at our parish church, and he and I both agree: The pro-choice Catholics have won, at least for now.

    Today’s Mass was a very beautiful Mass. The choir sang lovely songs in harmony, the readings were interesting, our priest’s homily was comforting and references were made to respecting all human life from conception to natural death. The gifts were presented by children. Two had Down Syndrome, and another little girl, a sweet, beautiful girl whom I have seen on numerous occasions also presented gifts. She does not have Down Syndrome. Still, she is very special. All in all it was a nice Mass.

    Until the end. That’s when I walked into the Narthex/gathering space where parishioners were socializing with donuts and coffee. It’s a monthly event after 9:30 Mass in our Parish. Our priest mentioned the hosts of today’s social, but I didn’t hear what he said, because this was the first Respect Life Sunday Social in 6 years that was not held for the purpose of bringing awareness to the pro-life cause, and I was actually trying not cry. Our priest did his best, and announced that pamphlets on the plight of the unborn and other respect life information would be available at a table in the Narthex.

    Educational fetal models at correct size for each moth of gestationIn previous years, we four friends tried to make the socials nice occasions. We bought juice and donuts and stood behind the table and passed them out. One of us, usually my friend, Angie, who was the unofficial head of our group, stood next to the table of information.

    Sometimes Angie borrowed a display of life-like human baby models from the state Pro-Life Federation, so people could see what unborn children looked like. The models Angie drove miles to pick up and then miles to return were similar to these, except all 9 months of gestation were represented. I have a fond memory of a fellow parishioner who showed her little granddaughters the baby models, while explaining to them about babies before they are born, and how they are real human beings.

    The interest of some parishioners made up a little for the parents who sent their children to our table to get donuts and juice, and then called them back so they could eat them in peace, undisturbed by references or images of children less fortunate, those whose moms lived in minority neighborhoods where Planned Parenthood clinics were located. I once, in a  moment of ingenuity, (or insanity depending on your viewpoint) suggested that one of us mingle with the crowd who had gotten their refreshments and then retreated to the other side of the room, as far away from us as they could get.

    Some people, perhaps understanding that stuffing their faces with Respect Life Sunday donuts without at least sauntering past the info table and pretending to give it a look was just plain rude, simply walked out without donuts, coffee, juice, prayer cards, or leaflets. (And who knows? Perhaps this was customary with some families. I remember when my kids were young and I didn’t want to stay for donuts. I didn’t want to be rude, allow my children to take donuts and then just run for the car, so I dragged my kids out while they griped that they wanted a donut, and why couldn’t we have just stayed?)

    Hooded, cabled baby sweaterThe Sunday I’m referring to was (I think) Respect Life Sunday 2012, right before President Obama was reelected. I had knitted a cute sweater to be be raffled off that weekend, similar to this one, which I knitted for a friend’s child.

    The sweater I knitted for that year’s Respect Life raffle was cream colored, with different cabling and buttons, not frogs. Still, it was warm and cute and hooded, suitable for either a boy or a girl. There were lots of people mingling after Mass, eating and talking, so Angie, being braver than I, took the sweater and went among the wolves trying to sell a few raffle tickets. I can’t remember how many she sold or who won the sweater. Our usual donations for events such as these ran anywhere between $25-$75, depending on the event. (I’m erring on the side of overestimating). I stood back and watched Angie speak to people. She must have gotten some interest, since we did get a few donations. However, you could see other people who didn’t want to be bothered. That was the atmosphere at the time, and it’s no better now.

    When I say “among the wolves” I am not exaggerating. There were, and are, wolves there. I’m hoping some of them have changed their hearts a bit, however, I will never know, because I keep away from them for the most part. I don’t know how many readers have ever felt uncomfortable among groups, but I can assure you I’m not exaggerating. This was not “all in my head” nor my friends’ heads. We all felt it at one time or another. I won’t mention which of us suffered the following bullshit from parishioners, but it’s all true. One of my friends stood handing out pro-life prayer cards with her children after a different Mass, and was approached by a pro-choice Catholic who should have had the decency to just walk out the door. Instead, she walked up to my friend who held out a card. Instead of accepting the card, and then perhaps tossing it in the trash at home, the woman laughed in my friend’s face, turned up her nose, and strutted out the front door. Same shit, different day.

    The most blatant wolf-like behavior occurred a year ago, when my dear friend Angie was backstabbed by parishioners at a school board meeting. These wolves allowed Angie to be likened to a Nazi in public, because Angie had the temerity to stand up for concerned parents and ask that a book– which basically gave blueprints for do it yourself abortions (including using knitting needles) and how to steal drugs from your parents medicine cabinet, hide them in your room, and save them up just in case you decide to commit suicide, among other questionable things–be put in the guidance office of the High School so kids 13-16 could be counseled about what they would read.

    Yes, you read that correctly. Three parishioners from our church hold positions on a school board. These three voted to keep a piece of trash masquerading as literature available without any age restrictions whatsoever, by crying “Book Banning!” These people go to church on Sunday and then go out on Monday and do the opposite of what Christ teaches. So be it. Everyone has free will. For more on the nonsense and SJW tactics of the Banned Books crowd, please see this PJ Media post by Megan Fox. (PS. The Banned books crowd actually bans certain books, those they decide should be “kicked to the curb.” There is a screenshot proving this in Megan’s article if you’re interested.)

    People like these populate my community. And, BTW, the town library near the High School which accused my friend of being a Nazi and a book banner operates under the same rules as the ALS mentioned in Megan’s article. This library was one of the places where a rumor was being spread about “some woman who is trying to ban books.”  It was easy to find out they are ALS sycophants by typing the name of the Library into a twitter search, and then finding the twitter account of one of the librarians, who is an ALS member. This library has been at odds with the community over the past year for one thing after another, including a failure to be transparent, and changing the name of the library against the wishes of residents. But this was to be expected.  That’s what you get when you start palling around with far Leftists who are pushing an anti-family anti-parent agenda in your school. You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas. And I, for one, have zero sympathy, unless it’s for people who truly were in the dark about this mess. For the people who sucked up to these types and used their lying dirty tactics on my friend, and who are now upset about the library being ripped out from under them, well… they got exactly what they deserved.

    The biggest backstabber is also a fellow parishioner who ran for SB as a CONSERVATIVE. She assured people that she would be a voice for a little sanity, since the school is overrun with texts full of errors in history, and other Common-Core style nonsense. But, when things got tough, this woman folded like a cheap suit, went along with the board and their “Nazi” insinuations and hung my friend out to dry. (A few months later, this cool and hip gal was made VP of the school board. Go figure.)

    And no, I am not sorry for using words such as wolves and backstabber. If the shoe fits, freaking wear it and deal with it.

     

    If somehow, you are reading this and recognize yourself, and you are no longer a pro-choice Catholic, and regret acting the way you did, I hope you know I hold nothing against you. And even if you are still a Pro-choice Catholic now, today, with all of the horrid news and videos coming out about Planned Parenthood, and you think I’m a liar, and that everyone except Planned Parenthood’s champions are liars, I still hold nothing against you. Everyone makes choices, and everyone has free will.

     

    15007017201_285576edd6

     

    But as I said, I feel sad and hurt about things that happened. I found it hard to be at Mass this morning, knowing we gave up. I find it difficult to know that our battle in our own neighborhood was lost, when we were doing what we were supposed to be doing, according to the catechism and Catholic teaching. I find it terribly hard to attend Mass at our church at times, though I used to feel as comfortable there as I did in my own home. I’ve been a member there since I was a child.  Not that I hold a grudge, but to know that other Catholics do such things makes me skittish, and now I’m happier when I can go to Mass at churches where no one knows me.

    Writing about this is helping me to get through this day, so I’m doing it, and that is that. And I seriously doubt that anyone I’m referring to would ever read my blog, since I don’t publicize my books in my own parish or neighborhood. This is because I can’t. I cannot contact the local newspapers to ask for a press release because of the subject matter of my books. These media outlets are SJW in nature. They do not do their job while reporting, they do not report fairly, they take sides, and are simply not to be trusted.

    (And if you are a friend of mine, and perhaps you are bored at my retelling of all of this because you have heard it before, I apologize. Writing this is keeping me from descending into my bed, weeping, so thanks for your patience.)

    I might as well add couple of additional episodes, things that seemed a bit strange when they happened but which I forgot about quickly. They may have had something to do with hostility to the idea of a pro-life group getting too uppity in the parish or they may not have, but here they are: We also tried to have a presence at our parish holiday bazaar for a few years. We had a table where we sold Christmas cards and offered handmade bead rosaries for a small donation. My friend’s kids made the rosaries. We also had a sign-up sheet for the annual DC March For Life, and for a couple of years we raffled off hand made baby quilts. One year we were assigned a nice table, right at the entrance. But two women representing the Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation took issue with our prominent table.

    To make a long story short, they wanted it. They were bringing awareness to breast cancer, they said, and the position of their table wasn’t suitable, tucked among crafters in a long line of other tables. They wanted our table, and they told the event organizers to get us to trade tables. When the organizer approached Angie, she simply said: “No. There is no reason for us to move, and we are staying.”

    A different year, I’m not sure if it was before or after the pink ladies incident, I arrived at the bazaar to find Angie in a state of confusion and bewilderment. I was shocked to learn the reason.  Angie always got to events early, and upon her arrival she found that we had been moved into the front entryway, a place where we would freeze, since it opened directly into the November chill. My friend Gwen was pregnant with her sixth child, and Angie was freaking out, since she didn’t think a pregnant woman should sit for hours right next to the outer door, excluded from the rest of the bazaar. So, this time Angie complained. She told whoever organized the event that under no circumstances should human beings be stuck in a freezing entryway, when the table we occupied previously was now being used for…wait for it…mushrooms. Yes, that’s right. Mushrooms. A table of mushrooms for sale was inside in the warmth, and we had been stuck out in the cold.

    By the time I arrived, the mushrooms were in the cold entryway, and Angie was setting up our stuff inside, but still… what is your opinion? Which should be out in the cold? Mushrooms, or people? Unless mushroom theft was a worry. The mushrooms were unattended, and paid for inside, so perhaps that might have been what drove the decision. However, if so, why us? Or why couldn’t things have been shifted just a bit, to allow for both mushrooms and people to be inside? Meh. We’ll never know now. (After a few years, we stopped renting table space at the bazaar). We had some nice people who attend church with us who always donated and bought tickets, and gave us support, and then we had people who didn’t know us, strangers, who would also buy chances on the quilts, so at the bazaars, we usually made about $100 which we promptly donated to Birthright.

    So, while we did do good, and I am very thankful to God for the opportunity to have done such work, and also thankful even for the nonsense and hurt I felt personally, because no servant is better than his master, and if God himself suffered mocking and such while on earth, then I should not expect not to, I still admit we lost. We lost a battle in our church.

     

    f52d600f472b7a72714088d3324dc9fbI hope and pray that other churches are more successful, and that Respect Life Sunday is making people aware today, when it’s needed the most, since Planned Parenthood and the big business of abortion have been caught on video committing crimes against humanity.

    And I did notice one man at the table in back, who took some information, so perhaps there was some awareness brought today in my home Parish. I must look on the bright side whenever I can.

     

     

    But today I became aware of a new development.

     

    Christ and His MotherThe ACLU is suing a Catholic Hospital System for refusing to perform abortions. Why in God’s name won’t these people stop? Catholic hospitals have nothing to do with abortions. It’s always been that way. But here we go. Here is an article from the Huffington Post, instructing women to threaten to sue Catholic hospitals into performing elective surgery against Catholic principles. What is this? Catholic Hospitals care for 1 in 6 patients in the united States. 1 in 6. Catholic Hospitals provide excellent care and services. But now it begins: An effort to force these hospitals to comply with demands from people with no other agenda than to force Catholics to violate their consciences.

    I really wish these people would just freaking stop. Just stop. Catholics will never perform abortions against their will. The hospitals will have to shut down if they lose these suits. Maybe not right away, of course, but eventually. Having spoken to other Catholics and freedom minded people about this, we sort of agree that that hospitals, even if ordered to perform abortions or tubal ligations lose the lawsuits, they will most likely simply continue to operate while defying the order. They have probably had plans in place for years, knowing this was coming. What needs to happen if the courts rule in favor of the abortion lobby, is simply to defy the court order and wait until men with guns arrive to enforce it. Put it out on youtube and other alternate media, since Leftist Democrat party media drones will not report such happenings.

    And then, if push comes to shove, Catholics will have go to jail and shut down the hospitals. This is the only option, and I have no doubt the leaders of our church WILL go to jail if push comes to shove. This idea of these progressives forcing everyone to bend to their will must be fought at some point. If ordinary Americans feel that abortion is of such importance that others must go to jail for their refusal to provide them, then so be it. If the Catholic Hospitals, which treat 1 out of every 6 people in America must close, thereby removing good care for Americans and causing a shortage, then perhaps that is what is needed to bring people out of their apathy. We have rights, too. This isn’t a game. This is the livelihood, rights and conscience of free Americans against a bunch of out of control SJWs on steroids.

    I knew this would happen. I knew it 2009, when I began writing my first book. With the advent of Obamacare and an ever growing government I knew it would happen, and here it is. I seriously doubt these people will back off of it, either. They will keep on and on and on with their lawsuits. The courts are iffy. Many judges lick their fingers an hold them up to the wind. What will be the fate of Catholic hospitals depends on ideology, not the law and the 1st amendment to the Constitution.

    Here’s an excerpt from Tears Of Paradox, published in May of 2014, written beginning in July, 2009:

    I couldn’t take her to the Catholic hospital in the next state either, not anymore. By law we were required to go to the ER assigned no matter what, but the Catholic hospital had closed eight months earlier anyway. I remembered the situation in agony. Why? Why did it happen? I could have her there in twenty minutes… Damn the HCA!

    There’d been a fight between the Bishop and the board of directors of the Catholic hospital over abortion, and the Bishop had stood his ground. The board fought him—along with the HCA of course—and the whole hospital shut down over it. Court cases were supposedly pending, but who knew? Everyone had already forgotten the reason for the fight. The drones had started their jamming immediately, and most people were now of the mind that the Bishop was nothing but a wicked old rich guy who wanted the hospital to close just to keep people from being treated. All he was good for now was a few jokes on late night TV. There was no help there.

    I know I shouldn’t be surprised, given the apathy and/or ignorance of Americans regarding the Planned Parenthood scandals, but it seems we do have a war on Christianity, no matter how much the tolerant crowd insists otherwise. I refuse not to believe my own eyes and ears, despite media blackouts or downright media lies.

    A few days ago, nine innocent people were murdered because they refused to deny Christ. That is a war.

    Before the bodies were cold, our President instructed his media minions to politicize the shooting, in hopes to push through gun control legislation. He did not mention that the victims were killed for their faith. As far as I know, he did not call the man who helped save people. He was concerned strictly with gun control. And my personal belief is that this is a plan to eventually deny Americans their 2nd amendment rights, something we will never give up, because history shows us what happens when citizens are disarmed by their socialist style governments and the governments have all the guns. Our current government is tending toward socialism. That is an undeniable fact. And socialism is the step between Freedom and small c communism, which can then become the stuff of nightmares: Communism. It never ends without mass murder. It never has and it never will. We already have a legal genocide of the unborn in America. Who is kidding who, here?

    I don’t care how many times Progressives insist that this is not their ultimate goal. I know what I know, the same as I knew that hospitals would be sued for not performing abortions. When America is being attacked from within what is the proper terminology to describe the event? Is this a cold civil war?

    We are losing battles in our communities, churches and courts. I don’t know how else to describe the events. This is turning into something bigger than what happened to my friends and me personally. Everyone has a story, everyone is affected in some way or other by these progressive bottom feeders. I don’t have much hope that they will stop on their own. I have a feeling Catholics are going to have to go to jail before it’s all over. And I hope worse things than that don’t happen.

    Jesus Christ
    We need to pray.


  • Depression, Anxiety and Loss of Light

    It’s fall again. A beautiful season no doubt, but with it comes a loss of light. Shorter days and longer nights affect me in ways that others might not understand. This is because I suffer from Clinical Depression and Anxiety.

    My online friend Matthew Bowman, of Novel Ninja and The Catholic Geeks, wrote the absolute best description of depression I’ve ever read. I’ve felt much the same throughout my life, for as long as I can remember. Even when I was a very small child.

    Depression is more than just sadness. It’s not something that can be cured with enforced cheerfulness. It’s not just feeling down in the dumps. It’s not even that “feelings of sadness for no apparent reason” definition you’ll see pop up every so often.

    That’s something that I find we Catholics can’t get, even though we should. Not because we’re somehow better than others; no, most people don’t get more than the slightest idea without experiencing it, and Catholics are no exception. What I mean is that our faith is built around the idea of redemptive suffering, and yet it’s so very hard for us to understand that depression really is suffering. It is a pain of the soul no less real, no less crippling, than a broken and shattered body.

    And yet, when I picked up a book that promised to be a Catholic manual on dealing with depression, I found it was the same as most of the armchair Christian-psychology stuff I would normally get. “Give your suffering to God.” “Offer it up.” “Let Christ into your life.”

    I know they mean well, but depression isn’t mere sadness. It is isolation. It is the pervasive feeling that you are alone, even though you see others around you. That you are screaming in pain, but no one can see anything wrong with you.

     

    The Scream, by Edvard Munch
    The Scream

    I’ve felt that smothering darkness, seemingly a murkiness that weighs down heavily. It’s like an invisible yet opaque ceiling. You can’t get through it, or find your way out from under it because it just hovers, seemingly without boundaries. The sunshine, though you see it, and perhaps even feel it, makes no impression on your mind, which feels nothing.

    Even in a room full of people, I sometimes feel completely alone, unless they are my family who somewhat understand, since some of them suffer from depression, too.

    See this poem by Edvard Munch, written about his painting, “The Scream.”

    I was walking along the road with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.[9]

    You may be screaming in pain, but like Matthew wrote, no one can see anything wrong with you. It’s almost the same with Anxiety. Here’s an article that describes the way friends see people with anxiety.

    You’ve probably noticed my nervous behaviors: Bailing on plans last minute. Making excuses to stay at home. Chewed nails and sudden crying. Shortness of breath, restlessness, fearing new situations, the inability to go to places alone and panic attacks.

    Though my depression/anxiety is under control for the most part, due to a doctor who listens and works with me, I still have periodic episodes, one of which is happening now, as I write this.

    Too many things have happened this past week. Some are small things that should upset no one, such as a darling and perfectly adorable grandson going through the terrible twos, who snaps and shrieks when looked at. Such a thing is funny, and I laugh accordingly, but my senses weren’t made for such overload. After two days, the shrieks seemed as loud as a fire siren to me.

    Another was watching my beloved granddaughter be shunned at a playground. Such a thing happens to every child, and she forgot about it within a few minutes. Why then, does it stay with me? Why do I look at the future and see other such scenarios in store for this child, whom I love with all my heart? Why must I borrow trouble?

    Still other contributors were news stories. These I have no control over, and I sometimes pay zero attention because the news is terribly depressing in and of itself, on many fronts and for many reasons. However, it’s not in my nature to be an ostrich. I have to keep up with current events.

    When depression and anxiety hit at the same time, the results are, in a word, crippling. Last night I couldn’t sleep, and today I’ve done nothing but sleep and worry. This should be a happy day, because my husband has a week’s vacation, and we plan to go to the beach for one last visit this year. But instead I feel down in the dumps, so much so that I can’t seem to do anything I need to do in order to get ready to go. The house must be cleaned and the clothes must be packed, yet here I sit with a tension headache and a nervous stomach, blogging about my paralysis. I am missing a going away party for friends because of this episode.

    I didn’t even go to Mass this morning. That’s truly upsetting, because my illness isn’t physical. Even though my head was painful and cloudy and I was fatigued and worried, I could have dragged my butt into the car and driven to Mass. I hate missing Mass. I feel bad about it because I slept my anxious morning away instead of going to visit God. But it’s too late now. I’m watching Pope Francis celebrate Mass on TV instead. I will go to confession soon, and be absolved of the sin of missing Mass.

    Catholic Church

    My depression and anxiety comes through in my books at times. In the following passage from page 147 of The Notice, protagonist Jason descends into the depths of a crippling depression. The scene takes place in a chapel, where Jason goes to pray in adoration.

    One more time, from the depths of the dark pit I’d fallen into, I reached up toward the Light. My hands reached up and I tried to grip it, but there was no way. The deception was so slick, so dark, so devoid of anything other than despair, that everything but a tiny pinpoint seemed to slip away as I cried out in my heart: God? I know you’re there.

    I could write such a scene because I’m intimately familiar with it. I’ve slipped into such depths more than once. The worst such episode occurred in 1998. It took me six months to come out of it completely.

    Again, it’s a feeling of being alone in a roomful of people, who say words and speak of things you can’t understand, even though they are common knowledge. You just smile on the outside and nod, while feeling empty. It’s hard to put on an act sometimes. It takes amazing effort, so when I’m in the grip of such an episode I stay home if possible.

    Of course this isn’t  always my life. My life has gotten easier over the summer, since a med switch, and these episodes are fewer now. Today’s was just particularly painful.

    Please, if you ever feel depressed, DON’T hide it! Get to a doctor. Help is available. It’s a real illness, not just “all in your head.”

    Music can also help. Listening, even if you can’t actually feel anything does help. I’m going to end with a song, one which fits the mood of this post. While it should be happy and hopeful, to me it sometimes seems exclusive, one to be enjoyed only by certain people, cliques who call themselves tramps.

    Again, this is part of my illness. And also again, it’s not. Just because I suffer from depression, doesn’t mean what I feel is wrong. It’s not. It has to do with people and the way they treat others, those who are different. The song speaks of all kinds of people who are welcome on a train to a Land of Hope and Dreams.

    Well, big wheels roll through fields where sunlight streams
    Oh, meet me in a land of hope and dreams

    Well, this train carries saints and sinners
    This train carries losers and winners
    This train carries whores and gamblers
    This train carries lost souls

    I said, this train, dreams will not be thwarted
    This train, faith will be rewarded
    This train, hear the steel wheels singing
    This train, bells of freedom ringing.

    Sounds pretty cool, right? Everyone’s welcome. Get on board.

    But again… not. Maybe Springsteen really means it when he sings those words, but his followers, the ones who make pilgrimages to his shows, sometimes over 100 or more in a lifetime? Not so much. They’re sort of exclusive, a bit like the two nasty little girls who ran away from my granddaughter on the playground, and whispered behind their hands as they watched her look for them.

    I used to frequent Springsteen Fan pages on Facebook before the 2012 election, because I found in Facebook a way to connect with people who enjoyed the same things I did.  But I never felt like I belonged, because most of the people who call themselves his biggest fans do not have any use for people with a different political ideology.

    This isn’t a symptom of depression, it’s merely a clique in action. They just assumed you agreed when people of my ideology were disparaged and slandered. If your opinion differed, you were smacked down immediately and with precision. That’s just the way it was, so I stopped following such forums for good after a particularly nasty exchange, in which Leftists informed me in a roundabout way that people like me weren’t welcome on the train to the Land of Hope and Dreams.

    I was called a liar because I differed on their interpretation of Benghazi. Then I was informed that nobody but Liberals should even be commenting, because Springsteen himself is a Liberal. So who the hell was I to intrude? Get the hell out of here, you don’t belong here.

    Then I read comments suggesting that anyone who doesn’t believe exactly as these paragons of love believe is nothing but selfish, unwilling to give to the poor, a racist who wants to take away the rights of others, etc. So I ventured one last comment, asking whether there was room for anyone who might be a Conservative on the train.

    The answer was silence.

     

    Pope Francis‘ Mass is over now. He has brought a message of hope and light and love and inclusion to America.

    The Pope is speaking to another group now, with words about the love of God. I listen and try to let the words about caring for others and being joyful in Christ wash over me. I listen to words about Mary, to whom I am devoted. I listen to him asking God to bless America, and I know I will be able to listen or read his words tomorrow, when no doubt they will make me feel something. I shed some tears as Pope Francis exits this gathering, stooping to bless and smile at people and children in wheelchairs, and hoping that others are watching and listening and taking his words to heart.

    I’m going to eat something now, since all I’ve managed to swallow today were goldfish crackers and a couple of graham crackers. Then I’m going to clean my house.

    I will feel better tomorrow.