Thursday, December 27, 2012

Four More Days to Help a Hungry Child



NO KID HUNGRY - SHARE OUR STRENGTH - End Childhood Hunger. Your Gift Will Be Matched.

Help Kids Like Austin. Donate Now. Dear Friend,

Ending childhood hunger is so important to me that I needed to send you this reminder.

If you've been waiting to make a tax-deductible gift to the No Kid Hungry campaign, the time is now. There are only 4 more days until we kick off the New Year, and we're counting on you to make sure we hit the ground running in 2013.

You don't have to take my word for why ending childhood hunger is a priority; hear what 17-year-old Austin has to say about his struggle with hunger:

"Childhood hunger in America is important to me because it happened to me. It hurts and I hated it and all I wanted was to eat. Too many kids today go home from school and are not sure if they will have a meal that night. It is no joke and we need to do something about it because no kid deserves to go without food."

Austin's right: we must end childhood hunger. Too many of our kids are facing hunger. How can our nation's children succeed if they continue to suffer?

That's where you come in. I urge you to make your tax-deductible gift to the No Kid Hungry campaign today and take advantage of our special matching gift offer.

A generous Share Our Strength donor is personally matching all gifts, up to $500,000, making your gift go twice as far in making a difference in the lives of children struggling with hunger. For example:
  • $46 can connect a child with a summer of meals and a year of school breakfast. Your $46 becomes $92!
  • $100 can help deliver mobile meals to a child in need for three months. Your $100 becomes $200!
  • $250 can help provide meals to a child in an afterschool program for a full school year. Your $250 becomes $500!
When you give to the No Kid Hungry campaign, you do more than connect a child with healthy meals. You bring hope to children like Austin who are struggling with hunger. Thanks for all that you do for No Kid Hungry.

Best wishes,

Jeff Bridges

P.S. Please give as generously as you can today — and remember every dollar you give will be matched dollar for dollar to make twice the difference.


No Kid Hungry
©Share Our Strength, 1730 M Street NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20036
Website: www.NoKidHungry.org
Contact us: contactus@strength.org
To unsubscribe: unsubscribe

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas and Our Cats




It has been a while since I have blogged about our cats, but come Christmas, they are always on our minds. After all, they definitively limit what we can and cannot do at Christmas.

For example, we cannot have a Christmas tree. Why? Because Intrepid, pictured below with a toy reindeer we bought for Nikolina eats anything with leaves, whether living or plastic. We found that out when we threw out all our denuded plants when he was a kitten and were given a plastic replacement, which he imbibed without our noticing, due to his swiftness, within just a few minutes. Later, with all that plastic inside him, he was in real pain. Thank goodness, we were living in Amman, Jordan at the time, and the vet, who knew us well, came immediately to our house and Intrepid's rescue. Since then, no plants and no trees, not even artificial Christmas ones.

So, we burn the yuletide logs and put up lights. 





Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Flash Mob Christmas Style


 A friend sent me a youtube of a flashmob -- a flashmob that is perfect for the Christmas season. Click here and see!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

After the Rain




Today we received our first rain of the rainy season (cannot really call it winter when you get no snow -- at least, not in my book, a child of Maine). Although I was at work all day, Donnie was home when the rain stopped and got a great picture from our house of our sacred little San Antonio, embraced by a rainbow. I thought I might share a little of the beauty that we live with all the time, from our house to yours.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Set a Place at the No Kid Hungry Table for Thanksgiving


This Thanksgiving, folks can help hungry children by setting a place at the No Kid Hungry Table. This table is not physical, but it exists on playgrounds and in classrooms, kitchens, and cafeterias, where hungry kids are being fed by the No Kid Hungry organization. They do this not only at Thanksgiving but also all year long.

This organization has fed millions of kids by funding school breakfast programs, expanding summer and afterschool meals, and teaching families how to shop for and cook affordable, healthy meals at home.

To make this possible, they need help from everyone who can afford to spare some money. Their goal is to raise 300K by Thanksgiving. A donation of $46 will provide 220 meals in the coming year for a hungry child.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Living in Harmony


Students of a friend who teaches at the University of Balamand in Tripoli, Lebanon have set up a web page to promote anti-discrimination in Lebanon. I am sure that they would appreciate some likes.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Blessed Atheist, A Runaway Name


The original name of this blog was Blest (Blessed, American spelling) Atheist, but that name was hijacked two years ago by a furniture company that was not called Blest Atheist at all. However, the hijacked URL took the reader there. Apparently, a number of URLs led to the same furniture company, now touting home exteriors and interiors. There used to be a catalogue of furniture that one could buy at that site. Now, it is just a Word Press example of a possible Internet site.

A lot of hacking of blogs was being done at that time. Maybe they still are, but I have not heard anyone talking about that these days as they were a couple of years ago.

Recently, however, when I checked on the status of my old URL, I found something curious. The domain name, Blessed Atheist (don't click unless you are willing to read a fair amount of blasphemy), had been acquired (from the furniture company?) by a real atheist, or should I say, a current atheist. After all, I was a real atheist, but not I am a former atheist. (Confusing, isn't it?)

I guess I will stick with 100th Lamb. It seems to be sticking with me -- and not wandering off to other sites.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I'm Ba-a-a-ck!

Just got back from the backwoods of Maine after spending ten days with my sister-in-law in her last days. She was still clinging to life when I left, and I was so happy to see her while she was still alive. We had time to talk, including about the big issues of life, and to pray together. There is something very powerful about sharing an end-of-life prayer with someone.

Among the other things I did to help was notice that my brother, whose job ends in a couple of weeks, was low on food. So, my other brother and I went to the grocery store to see if we could stock his larder for a little bit so that he would not have to worry about shopping or finding money for food for a while, to make life more convenient and financially easier. We planned on getting as many canned goods as we could: fruits, vegetables, meats, soups, juices, complete meals. We also picked up boxes of cereal. I figured I still had a couple hundred dollars on my maxed-out-from-travel credit cards, and the full grocery cart should have cost us that amount. We had piled in enough food to keep Willie fed through Christmas, based on his analysis. The total grocery bill, amazingly, was $102. Every single thing we put our hand on was on sale! God is good like that, you know. The little miracles are often every bit as exciting as the big ones.

And that little miracle led to a small tender mercy: it gave me $50 for a Subway gift card so that he does not have to return home and cook meals these last few days he has left with his wife.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Sad News: Fr. Thomas Dubay

I have mentioned Fr. Thomas Dubay's publications a number of times on this blog, and they are in my recommended reading list. For me, his works have been my sanity checks and mainstay when it comes to dealing with the mystical experiences that have come my way. About two years ago, after a string of locutions and having just finished reading his book, Authenticity, I wrote to Fr. Thomas to tell him how helpful I had found that book (probably not one of his most popular because it is directed to those people who have experienced sound, voice, touch, and, as I have found over the past four years, they are not found in every pew in the church). I also told him of some of my experiences, of the details of my quest to determine their authenticity, and of some of my questions and concerns. I did not ask for a response and did not expect one. Nonetheless, a few weeks later, I received handwritten comments on my letter from Fr. Thomas, who apologized for the format but said that he had just arrived from another trip, was tired, and wanted nonetheless to respond to my note immediately. He told me that he thought that my experiences, as described, were likely authentic and why, commented on my comments, and suggested some answers to my questions. His letter gave me greater confidence in moving more deeply into contemplation and not pulling away from God at the most intimate moments.

Fr. Thomas passed away this weekend, and his passing feels like a personal loss. I will now treasure those handwritten notes even more. If you have not read Fr. Thomas's books, please find some time to do so. They are, for me, second only to The Cloud of Unknowing/The Book of Privy Counseling on the list of books to which I am addicted.

The following is from the Little Sisters of the Poor in Washington, D.C., who cared for Father Dubay during his final days; I have blatantly "stolen" (borrowed?) this information from his publisher and am certain that the publisher will be happy to have the word spread.
Rev Thomas Dubay, SM
RIP September 26, 2010

From Washington, DC:
This morning at 4:45, the Lord welcomed into His Kingdom Rev Thomas Dubay, SM, after suffering kidney failure and massive bleeding in the brain. Father’s frail health had been declining ever since his admission to the Little Sisters of the Poor home in Washington more than a year ago, but his suffering was even more noticeable in recent months. Despite this fact, Fr Dubay was just as witty as ever.

When Father’s superior, Fr. Bruce Lery, SM, called the Little Sisters on Sunday morning to tell them, he said, "We have a saint in heaven" –how true! Fr. Dubay was hospitalized about a month ago and then transferred to a rehabilitation facility for specialized treatments but his health was steadily declining. Yesterday he was re-admitted to the hospital with bleeding in the brain, and he was put in coronary intensive care. Although the ventilator was removed, he continued to breathe on his own.

Although he suffered from his loss of independence, he was happy to concelebrate Mass almost every day in the chapel of the Little Sisters Home in the shadow of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in our nation’s capital.

The Marist priests and brothers visited him almost daily, and Father depended very much on his superior, Fr. Bruce, who was always there for him. In a few words, Fr. Dubay literally practiced what he preached! Father was happy to give weekly classes to the Little Sister postulants –classes which he enjoyed as much as they! From his room, Father continued his spiritual direction with many persons who called on him and this also was extended to letter writing.

We can render prayers of thanksgiving for the wonderful support Father gave to religious communities spending a good part of his life giving conferences and retreats. Although his preaching and spiritual direction was delivered to contemplative communities, his teaching was not for them alone. Religious the world over benefitted of his spiritual wisdom and guidance for years. He will be sorely missed. May he rest in peace after leading so many souls to true spiritual peace during his lifetime! The opening prayer of today’s liturgy says it all: “Help us hurry toward the Eternal Life you promise and come to share in the joys of your kingdom”.

For more about Fr. Dubay's writings and work, see his author page at Ignatius Insight.
My note: Many have said that Fr. Thomas Dubay is one of the greatest spiritual directors and writers of our day. I believe it.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Priests in Need

Only a few years ago, I never dreamt that I would posting a blog note like this one: among the homeless and hungry are priests. With the growing bandwagon of individuals bringing accusations of misconduct against priests, many fine priests are now being flasely accused by those who see the opportunity for some very fine ill-gotten gains. In fact, an investigation into the situation in California indicates that approximately half of all allegations are false. When allegations are made, most priests find themselves immediately without a job, without an income, often without a vehicle, and, sadly, often without the support of their diocese. Sometimes the trials drag on for months, if not years, before the priest is cleared, and the priest can end up both during the process and even afterward on the street, hungry and homeless.

We had two priests in our parish, both proved innocent (seems to be against the law of the land that one has to prove innocence rather than an accuser having to prove guilt) who went through this difficult period. One ended up with no food at all at one point. Our parish helped, but not all parishes are wiling or able to do so.

One organization, Opus Bono Sacerdotti, helps priests in these circumstances. Currently, though, more than 1000 priests have turned to Opus Bono for assistance, and there is not enough money to go around. I learned this weekend that a new supplicant, Fr. Francis, has just been released from the hospital and has no food or medication. This is just one example of many. If you can help Fr. Francis or any other priest or contribute even a few dollars on a monthly basis to this good cause, please visit the Opus Bono website. You will find more information there about what Opus Bono does and a mechanism for donating. Similarly, if you know of a priest in desperate straits, please refer him to Opus Bono. They turn no one away and provide help with food, shelter, and, in extreme cases, safety.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A New Book Especially for Widows


I have no idea how many widows, especially recent widows, are among the readers of this blog, but just in case there are a few I thought I would share information about a recently released book that can be of help to recently widowed women. The title is Widow: Surviving the First Year. It was written by Dr. Joanna Romer, an English professor and journalist who was widowed a couple of years ago and so has first-hand experience of that about which she writes. (Donnie, by the way, did the cover photography and design.) For those interested in the content, here is information about the topics covered in the book:
This book takes new widows on a journey from the first difficult days of widowhood through 12 months of self-discovery. Along the way, you will learn how to handle emotional challenges such as suddenly being alone; how to tackle painful tasks including cleaning out hubby's closet; and how to re-enter the world again in terms of work, personal development and socializing. Guidelines are provided for each new phase, making this book a practical self-help book you can use for re-creating your life.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Adventures in Korea


This week my life was tightly planned with long-awaited activities in Korea and California. This week those plans went into the trash can. I write this note from Japan, my port in the storm, which was never in the plans.

I no sooner arrived in Seoul than Typhoon Bolaven also showed up. My travel plans to Osan were canceled; the country was locked down, awaiting Bolaven in silence and stillness. We waited; it came. I did not notice. Honestly, I was holed up at the hotel, totally oblivious to what was going on outside. (That's me: Mme Oblivious.) The typhoon came and went, and I only found out about it when I went to dinner with a colleague. But I did find some photos (below) on Internet.

I managed to escape to Osaka this morning as another typhoon rolled into town. Whew!


Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Morning Meditation #137: What God Allows

Good morning -- or evening -- or whatever it is where you are -- from Korea. Whenever I travel here and pass over that (in)famous international dateline and jump ahead a whole day and, from California, a bunch of additional hours, I become very confused as to the time in the rest of the world. I don't jetlag (Thank you, Lord!), so Monday morning for the Koreans (or for the populace for wherever I happen to be) is also Monday morning for me. However, it is not Monday morning for my blog. I have not yet figured how to convert the blog to react swiftly to my changing time zones or even if I should. So, the blog stays on California time while I may be on nearly any other time in the world. As I write this, it is Monday morning in Korea, but Saturday night (I think -- please don't hold me responsible for time calculations, which is just a tad different from time travel) in California.

I have continued to read Matthew, which continues to be a great gospel. This week I stopped at the following verses (just a couple verses beyond those of last week). It is difficult to zoom through such rich reading.
21 From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”
23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
Reading: Matthew 16:21-23

Meditation: One of the things that was initially (post-conversion) difficult for me to understand -- and I have heard that I am far from alone -- is the negative/bad things that God "allows" to happen. Now, of course, the determination of whether events are bad or good is man-determined in this case. If I say God lets bad things happen to me (He generally does not!), then it is because I am interpreting that is happening to me as bad. I am not sure that there is an absolute bad -- or good -- out there. Was it bad that my daughter was born with spina bifida? Well, in the long run, no. There have been many positive things that have come from that. I could point out a lot of other "bad" things that have served a more noble purpose. I think now the bottom line for me is to trust that God will take care of me and not worry whether things are bad or good, they just are. With time, they may appear differently, or they may not. I just don't really think about that aspect of life much anymore. I leave all of that up to God.

Contemplation: That is far as I can go with you this Monday morning. I now retire to private prayer to thank God for all the experiences He has given to me or allowed, regardless of how I might have interpreted them when the occurred, to repent for any time I have questioned His intent, to praise Him for having a bigger picture even if I do not know what it is, and to ask Him to help me always to accept what comes my way, knowing that He is there to help.

I will leave you now to your prayer and contemplation. First, though, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:

Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I think you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts. (During the week, he also posts great homilies and other thoughtful discussions. I enjoy reading those, too, as do readers of this blog who have taken the stroll over to his blog.)

For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs on my sidebar and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.

PS. SORRY THAT THIS DID NOT GET POSTED ON TIME ANYWHERE, NO MATTER HOW YOU COUNT THE TIME ZONES. WE HAVE BEEN ON A TYPHOON HERE IN KOREA. (ACTUALLY, NOT JUST A WATCH OR WARNING; IT IS REALLY HAPPENING.)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

An Unplanned Life


As I was ordering my box lunch for a conference I was attending in Washington DC earlier today, it hit me that my life is terribly unplanned. (Why it did not hit me years before, I don't know. I guess I have been too busy planning unplanned things to realize that I have absolutely no routine in my life.)

Take this week for example: Monday and Wednesday, I mostly sat on a plane. No exercise. Meals at strange times. Tuesday I walked for an hour after work with a colleague -- in Anchorage, Alaska. We forgot to eat. (Not that I need food all that much, mind you.) Today, I rode buses all around DC to and from the conference; Starbucks for breakfast -- the only thing open during the early hours when I had to leave in the morning for the conference -- and box lunch; no dinner and no exercise except chair pressing.

Even routine medications are not routine. If I am supposed to take a medication every morning, what happens when morning where I am (some place in the world) is a different time from morning in California. Do I stay on Cali time for the meds, which might mean 2 a.m. in some cases, or do I match the med times to the time zone I am in? I'm not asking for an answer; even my doctor doesn't know!

Well, there is a good deal of advantage to not being able to plan my life. Most of it gets left in God's hand, and while there may not be routine, there is certainly value and interest. And, to think about it, I don't have to worry about anything because I am not the one doing the planning!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Morning Meditation #136

Entering this Monday morning has been so different from the last several weeks. First, I had a very relaxing Sunday, sharing lunch at my house with a couple friends from work. It is so rare these days for me to have these kinds of lazy and refreshing moments or even to spend quality time with people I like and from whom I can learn. Second, I don't have to go into work first thing in the morning. Yay! I am leaving for Alaska (on business), but my plane is not until mid-afternoon. It will be nice to have some weekday morning time to deal with personal issues and needs that get ignored for weeks at a time. Of course, knowing me, I will probably try to squeeze too much of that in, run out of time, pack in a hurry, and depend upon Donnie to get me to the airport in time.

So, I have continued to read Matthew, taking the time to think through what I have read at leisure. (This is a real pleasure and rarity, indeed.) As I have said before, I think Matthew is a great gospel. This week I stopped at the very beginning of Chapter 16, i.e. I did not get very far at all. The verses that stopped me are ones that have often puzzled me -- not the verses themselves so much but the verses of yesteryear counterposed to the behavior, thinking, and even happenings of today. The topic is discernment, and that, too, has been something I have struggled with, so for a number of reasons, I stopped right here:
Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven.
He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’;
and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.
A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed.

Reading: Matthew 16:1-4

Meditation: OK, so I "get" a few things here. I get that Jesus is foreshadoing/foretelling his own death -- three days of darkness in the tomb (like Jonah in the belly of the way) -- and resurrection. I get that this will be the only "proof" of his being the Messiah/Christ, and I cannot imagine that any other "proof" would ever be needed.

What I don't get is the comment about signs. Almost everyone I know who is in the process of discernment asks for a sign that they are going in the right direction. In fact, I did this just two weeks ago. I had turned down a promotion because I did not believe that God wanted me to take it. Logic seemed to indicate that I should stay where I am. Intuition seemed to indicate that I should stay where I am. But others kept whispering to me that I should take it? Were these whispers from God or Satan, or just compliments and desires of others? I felt I needed to know when a co-worker I trusted sat me down and talked to me about how disappointed she and others were in my lack of desire for the appointment (promotion). So, in a final effort at discernment I asked God to put the right words in the mouth of this colleague, and then I called her the next day to raise the topic again. She told me that my words the day before had given her peace with my decision. So, I took this as a sign that I was moving in the right direction. Is this really bad or wrong? Or is it unrelated to the comment made by Jesus here about signs? Was he only referring to a sign of whether he was/is what he said he was?

Therein lies my confusion. Any thoughts?

Contemplation: That is far as I can go with you this Monday morning. I now retire to private prayer to
thank God for leading me as openly as He does, to repent if I have wrongly asked for help in discernment via "signs" of some sort, to praise Him for His willingness to intervene in my life in whatever manner works, and to ask Him to help me become better at discernment (to notice the timing of the red sky).

I will leave you now to your prayer and contemplation. First, though, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:

Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I think you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts. (During the week, he also posts great homilies and other thoughtful discussions. I enjoy reading those, too, as do readers of this blog who have taken the stroll over to his blog.)

For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs on my sidebar and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fortune Cookies


Fortune cookies are funny things. Sometimes they seem to make no sense at all, just little pieces of paper stuffed into cookies with funny Chinese characters and an oddly translated sentence. But then then there are other times that you just have to wonder how the cookie maker knew what it was that you were supposed to read/hear.

Take two weeks ago, for example, when I took the newly promoted managers to lunch. We went to Chef Lee's, and, of course, we finished our lunch with fortune cookie reading and eating. On the way to the restaurant, I had gotten into a discussion of patience with two of our managers whom I had driven to the lunch. As we parked, I laughingly confessed that sometimes I pray, "Dear God, please give me more patience, and please give it to me right now!" Well, my cookie had a little slip of paper that said it is better to wait for the hen than to eat the egg. I did not get it until one of those managers reminded me about my prayer for patience. Ah, let the egg hatch and grow up. Got it!

Years ago, I had planned to open my own business and leave the comfortable managerial spot I was holding. The uncertainty of running one's own business, however, made me nervous, and during lunch with a colleague from another organization, I shared both my desire and my concern. "I am a little afraid to take that next, big step," I told her. That time, too, I was at a Chinese restaurant. We opened our fortune cookies after lunch, and mine said, "Don't be afraid to take that big step." I did take it just a short few months later.

First, however, I met with a lawyer friend and some close friends, who were also colleagues and interested in supporting my new business in some way. In addition to looking at when I should move on and how the business would be organized from a legal vantage point, I wanted their opinion about when to tell my boss. I was a senior manager and could not simply walk out the door. I had already lined up some business, but it was not enough to live on. When the tipping point was reached, though, I would have to depart quickly, and I did not want to live a legacy in which I had toppled projects, goals, and even business deals. So, we discussed how open to be about my plans. Again, I was at a Chinese restaurant (I do eat in places other than Chinese restaurants, by the way), and the fortune cookie cleared up everything: "Keep your plans secret for now."

Go figure!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday Morning Meditation #135: Fishes and Loaves

Just when I had convinced myself that things had calmed down a tad at work, I learn that this is just not so. I am off to an emergency meeting this morning with our legal team to look at some of the issues that have been besotting us (Can you say that in English?) for the last month or more. It does not make me feel any better that I was right about some of the legalities involved. No matter what, all of management is in the same boat together, and if the boat overturns, it does not matter who insisted, rightly, that one needed to make a j-stroke as opposed to any other and that no one listened. An overturned boat is an overturned boat. Now, I don't think this boat is going to overturn, at least, not so that anyone drowns -- we all know how to swim. I do think that this morning's meeting will be interesting, elucidative, justifying, edifying, and a whole bunch of other, similar adjectives.

In the interim, I have continued to read and enjoy Matthew, which continues to be a great gospel, and I continue to make certain progress through it. This week I stopped at Chapter 15, which contains several parables and stories. The most familiar one is perhaps the story of fishes and loaves.

Reading: Matthew 15: 32-39

Meditation: My life is one example after another of the fishes and loaves story. I don't know how God does it, but God does multiply things in my life, just as Jesus multiplied the fishes and loaves. I have blogged about this upon several occasions. One clear example is God's credit card, which has allowed me to help many people with money I don't have but which appears in time to pay off the credit card. (Note: If I use the credit card for something personal, which I only do for an extreme emergency and when presented with no alternative, then it takes a l-o-n-g time to pay it off.) Another example is the time that Padre (Fr.) Julio needed money for the children of Colombia. I was helping him with his website, Por Amor a Los Ninos de Colombia/For Love of the Children of Colombia, which he was using to fund-raise when I had to go on a business trip. I promised God that I would donate any leftover per diem to Padre  for his children -- and all $1000 of the per diem ended up left over because everyone provided me free meals and free lodging. Yet another time I felt I was being directed to donate 25% of my salary to restoring a Franciscan retreat center (like St. Francis was called to rebuild a church). I could not afford that, but I was certain I was supposed to do that, so I made the commitment/pledge. One week later, I received a 25% salary increase! And so on and so forth. God keeps multiplying the fishes and loaves in my life so that I can do my best to feed God's people (literally and figuratively).

Contemplation: That is far as I can go with you this Monday morning. I now retire to private prayer to
thank God for blessing me with so many fishes-and-loaves experiences, to repent if ever I have lacked sufficient gratitude for them or worried about them not occurring, and to praise Him for His willingness to intervene in my life in this way. And then, I will ask Him to keep doing it -- because I like it!

I will leave you now to your prayer and contemplation. First, though, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:

Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I think you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts. (During the week, he also posts great homilies and other thoughtful discussions. I enjoy reading those, too, as do readers of this blog who have taken the stroll over to his blog.)

For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs on my sidebar and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Morning Meditation #133

The perfect storm continues at work, for which I have to leave in just a few minutes, so I am afraid anything I have to say in this Monday Morning Meditation will have to brief. More information came along Friday about what I and my senior managers are expected to, and we all object to it. How to react to something that we think is illegal and consider unethical will be an intense but, alas, short discussion at my staff meeting this morning, given the need for an immediate response. At least, given that all my managers agree with me, I am pretty certain that I am not the crazy one. I am just the one caught in the eye of a hurricane. So, I ask for your continued prayers for guidance and clarity, and I thank you for the ones you have been saying on my behalf.

Stress aside, I have continued to read and enjoy Matthew, which continues to be a great gospel. This week I continued landed at  Chapter 13, which is replete with many parables. My favorite in this chapter is the following:
53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”
58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
Reading: Matthew 15:53-58

Meditation: I have long been fascinated with the prophet being without honor in his own land. On a mundane level, I have had some experience with this, the most interesting being the time that we had a trainer coming to town from a sister organization, and everyone was excited to attend his lecture. Because I was one of the bosses, I was not scheduled to attend; indeed, there was no room for supervisors. Still, I was fascinated by his topic because it was one that I often trained. So, I called and asked if he would mind if I were to sit quietly in a corner for part of his training. He laughed and said that there was no problem and he would be delighted to have me there but I should be aware that he would be using my materials! I told him that was great. People would listen with greater confidence to the man who came from far away than to the woman who worked with them. It's a fact of life, and even Jesus had to contend with this oddity of human nature.

On a more elevated nature, Jesus not doing miracles because of people's lack of faith should cause us to consider our own faith. Perhaps some of that lack of faith (or occasional doubt) explains why God does not grant us more miracles in answer to prayer -- perhaps our lack of faith prevents this. Or, perhaps we even miss the miracles that are given to us because lack of faith has caused us not to look for them.

Contemplation: That is far as I can go with you this Monday morning. I now retire to private prayer to
thank God for all the miracles He does give us even when we our faith is not as strong as it should be, to repent for all the good that He has sent my way that I have not noticed, and to praise Him for His willingness to help our unbelief. And then, just because the situation is pressing on me so strongly, I will ask Him for clarity and guidance at today's staff meeting -- and maybe bring it up to Him again during that meeting!

I will leave you now to your prayer and contemplation. First, though, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:

Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I think you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts. (During the week, he also posts great homilies and other thoughtful discussions. I enjoy reading those, too, as do readers of this blog who have taken the stroll over to his blog.)

For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs on my sidebar and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Spiritual Sunday #43: My Unremarkable House

For more Spiritual Sunday posts, I recommend that you wander over to the website of Charlotte and Ginger, who host the Spiritual Sunday meme.
I truly think my life is getting ahead of me! I was unable to link up last Sunday's spiritual Sunday, Temptation -- my own fault for waiting too long to upload -- so I hope that perhaps I can catch up with myself this Sunday.

Because I do not blog on Sundays -- keeping it as the sabbath, a practice started by Fr. Christian Mathis (Blessed Is the Kingdom) -- I usually use older posts (forgotten perhaps but hopefully still interesting) from one or another of my blogs that seem appropriate for this meme. It seems to work to bring out the older posts that many have not read before or ones from other blogs I maintain that readers of 100th Lamb may not know about.

Given that our house could have burned down this week, I suppose it is not a surprise that my thoughts have been about houses. So, the post I chose is about an earlier place where we lived: My Unremarkable House.

Wishing you a peaceful Sunday!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saturday Quickie: Publisher Looking for Spiritual Books

Truly just a quickie. For anyone with a well-written manuscript, MSI Press is looking for writers of spiritual books to expand its spiritual line. The orientation is primarily Catholic, mystical or  Franciscan bent, and good writing is really a prerequisite; most MSI Press, if you check at Barnes & Noble or Amazon, are 5-star (or at least 4.5-star) books. The press is a small, traditional press with close relationships with its authors and provides much personal help and "education" to new authors, including a monthly newsletter that provides updated information on what the press is doing to market books and how authors can help those efforts and become better known, but it accepts fewer than 10% of manuscripts submitted. Still, you have lost nothing more than some time to submit a query by email. You can submit the query to editor@msipress.com. The press website has a form that can be used, but it is not necessary. If you have access to Writer's Market, there is a little more information there.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday Morning Meditation #131: God Wants Mercy for Us, Not Sacrifice from Us

Ah, quiet! All visitors have left. And peace! No traveling is required of me this week. (Next week will be a different story,  but for now, I am truly at peace and happy.) I was very pleased with Doah this weekend, as well. His group home chose to go to a movie during the time that he and I usually spend at Sunday evening Mass in his town (one over from San Ignatio). Doah chose to give up the movie for Mass. Those of us who are not mentally challenged would do well to learn from him. At Mass, we ran into two friends of mine whom Doah dearly loves and sat with them during Mass, after which we all we out to dinner together at KFC (Doah's favorite "restaurant"), an impromptu decision.

This week, as in the last couple of weeks, I continued to read and enjoy Matthew. I have to repeat: what a great gospel! This week I continued on to Chapter 12, where I find compelling words about God from Jesus in verse 7: "I desire mercy, not sacrifice."

Reading: Matthew 12:7

Meditation:  I found these words to be very comforting. So often we think that love of God is all about sacrifice -- and certainly sacrifice with cheer, where sacrifice is warranted, has immense value for many reasons -- but here we are told that God is not all about sacrifice. God is all about mercy. That is definitely "good news" and differs considerably from much of what comes from the Old Testament. I wonder if we miss out on a lot of mercy simply because we are so strongly focused on sacrifice that we do not notice mercy being extended to us even when we benefit from it.

Contemplation: That is far as I can go with you this Monday morning. I now retire to private prayer to praise God for all the ways in which He tries to teach us. I will ask God to help me be more open to His teaching, and I will repent for each time I have failed to notice God's mercy. As always,  I will thank God for wanting only the very best for us.

I will leave you now to your prayer and contemplation. First, though, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:

Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I think you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts. (During the week, he also posts great homilies and other thoughtful discussions. I enjoy reading those, too, as do readers of this blog who have taken the stroll over to his blog.)

For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs on my sidebar and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Monday Morning Meditation #130: Let's Not Let Learning Be a Barrier to Our Relationship with God

Daughter Lizzie is home this week -- arrived on Friday -- with her boyfriend, a great guy from the Caribbean (family originating in Africa). We had a wonderful cookout/BBQ on Saturday with all the kids home: Shane and family, Doah, and Noelle. It has been years since that has been a possibility. The kids really enjoyed being with each other, and we enjoyed seeing them. Some of Lizzie's friends also came to visit, and it was enjoyable meeting them. Sunday they went to see friends in Cool (yes, there is a town called Cool in California), and Monday is up in the air, but I do have to go to work this morning, sigh! The cats have been excited to have overnight guests; Murjan and Intrepid are friendly souls, Simone less so (a bit of a fraidy cat but doing well).

This week, as in the last couple of weeks, I continued to read and enjoy Matthew. What a great gospel! I finished Chapter 10 from last week, and there were some things that I need to research further or talk to someone more knowledgeable than I, so I have put them aside for now and moved on to Chapter 11, where I find an important piece of information in verse 25: "At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children."

Reading: Matthew 11: 25

Meditation: So many times I have found my education, especially my Western education, to get in the way of my understanding something from God. I want logic. I want things to "make sense." Most of all, I want them to fit into my system of logic. And they don't. God does not work, of course, within any system of human logic but within a mystical manner of moving that may be beyond human understanding. The priest who baptized Doah, my mentally challenged son, said in his homily that people like Doah are given to us by God to help us understand for they can receive His spirit and transfer His love simply, without needing explanation. They are, in that respect, examples for the rest of us. It seems like Jesus is saying something along these lines.

Contemplation: That is far as I can go with you this Monday morning. I now retire to private prayer to praise God for how He is able to move within the simplest of people in ways that are greater than those open to the most learned of people. I will ask God to help me overcome barriers between us that pop us from my Western dependence upon logic and learning, and I will repent for each time I have tried to substitute study and knowledge for faith. As always,  I will thank God for the wonderful explanations and guidance given to us by Jesus and preserved for all ages by Matthew.

I will leave you now to your prayer and contemplation. First, though, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:

Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I think you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts. (During the week, he also posts great homilies and other thoughtful discussions. I enjoy reading those, too, as do readers of this blog who have taken the stroll over to his blog.)

For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs on my sidebar and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Hermit

The following story was shared with me by a friend. He has no idea of the author, but I tracked it down to Zadig by Voltaire, a book I read in college French classes and so, therefore, the story, reworked in the version sent by my friend, sounded familiar. For me, everything was predictable from about halfway through, and the story message was evident. Not so for my friend, perhaps because his life has been more complicated than mine. I am curious about your reactions to it.

In the reign of King Moabdar there lived at Babylon a young man named Zadig. He was handsome, rich, and naturally good-hearted; and at the moment when the story opens, he was travelling on foot to see the world, and to learn philosophy and wisdom. But, hitherto, he had encountered so much misery, and endured so many terrible disasters, that he had become tempted to rebel against the will of Heaven, and to believe that the Providence which rules the world neglects the good, and lets the evil prosper. In this unhappy spirit he was one day walking on the banks of the Euphrates, when he chanced to meet a venerable hermit, whose snowy beard descended to his girdle, and who carried in his hand a scroll which he was reading with attention. Zadig stopped, and made him a low bow. The hermit returned the salutation with an air so kindly, and so noble, that Zadig felt a curiosity to speak to him. He inquired what scroll was that which he was reading.

“It is the Book of Destiny," replied the hermit, “would you like to read it?"

He handed it to Zadig; but the latter, though he new a dozen languages, could not understand a word of it. His curiosity increased.

“You appear to be in trouble," said the kindly hermit.

“Alas!” said Zadig, "I have cause to be so."

“If you will allow me," said the hermit, "I will accompany you. Perhaps I may be useful to you. I am sometimes able to console the sorrowful." 
   
Zadig felt a deep respect for the appearance, the white beard, and the mysterious scroll of the old hermit, and perceived that his conversation was that of a superior mind. The old man spoke of destiny, of justice, of morality, of the chief good of life, of human frailty, of virtue and of vice, with so much power and eloquence that Zadig felt himself attracted by a kind of charm, and besought the hermit not to leave him until they should return to Babylon.
   
”I ask you the same favor," said the hermit. "Promise me that, whatever I may do, you will keep me company for several days."
   
 Zadig gave the promise; and they set forth together.
   
That night the travelers arrived at a grand mansion. The hermit begged for food and lodging for himself and his companion. The porter, who might have been mistaken for a prince, ushered them in with a contemptuous air of welcome. The chief servant showed them the magnificent apartments; and they were then admitted to the bottom of the table, where the master of the mansion did not condescend to cast a glance at them. They were, however, served with delicacies in profusion, and after dinner washed their hands in a golden basin set with emeralds and rubies. They were then conducted for the night into a beautiful apartment; and the next morning, before they left the castle, a servant brought them each a piece of gold.
   
“The master of the house," said Zadig, as they went their way, "appears to be a generous man, although a trifle haughty. He practices a noble hospitality." As he spoke, he perceived that a kind of large pouch which the hermit carried appeared singularly distended; within it was the golden basin, set with precious stones, which the old man had purloined. Zadig was amazed; but he said nothing.
   
 At noon the hermit stopped before a little house, in which lived a wealthy miser, and once more asked for hospitality. An old valet in a shabby coat received them very rudely, showed them into the stable, and set before them a few rotten olives, some mouldy bread, and beer which had turned sour. The hermit ate and drank with as much content as he had shown the night before; then, addressing the old valet, who had kept his eye upon them to make sure that they stole nothing, he gave him the two gold pieces which they had received that morning, and thanked him for his kind attention. "Be so good,” he added, “as to let me see your master."
    
The astonished valet showed them in.
    
"Most mighty signor," said the hermit, "I can only render you my humble thanks for the noble manner in which you have received us. I beseech you to accept this golden basin as a token of my gratitude."
   
The miser almost fell backwards with amazement. The hermit, without waiting for him to recover, set off with speed, with his companion.
   
“Holy Father," said Zadig, "what does all this mean? You seem to me to resemble other men in nothing. You steal a golden basin set with jewels from a signor who receives you with magnificence, and you give it to curmudgeon who treats you with indignity.
   
“My son," replied the hermit, "this mighty lord, who only welcomes travelers through vanity, and to display his riches, will henceforth grow wiser, while the miser will be taught to practice hospitality. Be amazed at nothing, and follow me."
    
Zadig knew not whether he was dealing with the most foolish or the wisest of all men. But the hermit spoke with such ascendency that Zadig, who besides was fettered by his promise, had no choice except to follow him.
    
That night they came to an agreeable house, of simple aspect, and showing signs of neither prodigality nor avarice. The owner was a philosopher, who had left the world, and who studied peacefully the rules of virtue and of wisdom, and who yet was happy and contented. He had built this calm retreat to please himself, and he received the strangers in it with a frankness which displayed no sign of ostentation. He conducted them himself to a comfortable chamber, where he made them rest awhile; then he returned to lead them to a dainty little supper. During their conversation they agreed that the affairs of this world are not always regulated by the opinions of the wisest of men. But the hermit still maintained that the ways of Providence are wrapped in mystery, and that men do wrong to pass their judgment on a universe of which they only see the smallest part. Zadig wondered how a person who committed such mad acts could reason so correctly.
   
At length, after a conversation as agreeable as instructive, the host conducted the two travelers to their apartment, and thanked heaven for sending him two visitors so wise and virtuous. He offered them some money, but so frankly that they could not feel offended. The old man declined, and desired to say farewell, as he intended to depart for Babylon at break of a day. They therefore parted on the warmest terms, and Zadig, above all, was filled with kindly feelings towards so amiable a man.
   
When the hermit and himself were in their chamber, they spent some time in praises of their host. At break of day the old man woke his comrade.
  
"We must be going," he remarked. "But while everyone is still asleep, I wish to leave this worthy man a pledge of my esteem." With these words, he took a torch and set the house on fire.
   
Zadig burst forth into cries of horror and would have stopped the frightful act. But the hermit, by superior strength, drew him away. The house was in a blaze; and the old man, who was now a good way off with his companion, looked back calmly at the burning pile.
    
"Heaven be praised!" he cried. "Our kind host’s house is destroyed from top to bottom!"
   
At these words Zadig knew not whether he should burst out laughing, call the reverend father an old rascal, knock him down, or run away. But he did none of these things. Still subdued by the superior manner of the hermit, he followed him against his will to their next lodging.
  
This was the dwelling of a good and charitable widow, who had a nephew of fourteen, her only hope and joy. She did her best to use the travelers well; and the next morning she bade her nephew guide them safely past a certain bridge, which, having recently been broken, had become dangerous to cross over. The youth, eager to oblige them, led the way.
   
“Come,” said the hermit, when they were half across the bridge, "I must show my gratitude towards your aunt;” as he spoke he seized the young man by the hair and threw him into the river. The youth fell, reappeared for an instant on the surface, and then was swallowed by the torrent.
   
“Oh, monster!” exclaimed Zadig, "oh, most detestable of men!”
   
“You promised me more patience," interrupted the old man. “Listen! Beneath the ruins of that house which Providence saw fit to set on fire, the owner will discover an enormous treasure; while this young man, whose existence Providence cut short, would have killed his aunt within a year, and you yourself in two."
   
“Who told you so, barbarian?" cried Zadig, "and even if you read the issue in your Book of Destiny, who gave you power to drown a youth who never injured you?”
   
While he spoke, he saw that the old man had a beard no longer, and that his face had become fair and young; his hermit's dress had disappeared: four white wings covered his majestic form, and shone with dazzling lustre.
   
“Angel of heaven!" cried Zadig, "you are then descended from the skies to teach an erring mortal to submit to the eternal laws?"
   
“Men,” replied the angel Jezrael, "judge all things without knowledge; and you, of all men, most deserved to be enlightened. The world imagines that the youth who has just perished fell by chance into the water, and that by a like chance the rich man's house was set on fire. But there is no such thing as chance; all is trial, or punishment, or foresight. Feeble mortal, cease to argue and rebel against what you ought to adore!”
    
As he spoke these words the angel took his flight to heaven. And Zadig fell upon his knees. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The World Is Mine

From the Internet -- 
Today, upon a bus, I saw a very beautiful woman
And wished I were as beautiful.
When suddenly she rose to leave,
I saw her hobble down the aisle.
She had one leg and used a crutch.
But as she passed, she passed a smile.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two legs; the world is mine.

I stopped to buy some candy.
The lad who sold it had such charm.
I talked with him, he seemed so glad.
If I were late, it'd do no harm.
And as I left, he said to me,
"I thank you,
You've been so kind.
It's nice to talk with folks like you.
You see," he said, "I'm blind."
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two eyes; the world is mine.

Later while walking down the street,
I saw a child I knew.
He stood and watched the others play,
But he did not know what to do.
I stopped a moment and then I said,
"Why don't you join them dear?"
He looked ahead without a word.
I forgot, he couldn't hear.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.
I have two ears; the world is mine.

With feet to take me where I'd go..
With eyes to see the sunset's glow.
With ears to hear what I'd know.
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.
I've been blessed indeed, the world is mine.
 
-- Anonymous (wish I knew who wrote it!)


Monday, July 2, 2012

Monday Morning Meditation #129: You Will Be Given the Words You Need

Life contains to tumble forward erratically. So much is going on at work that I have little time to blog. I spend little time at home these days, either traveling or, when in town, working late into the evening. Some aspects of why this is so I will not be able to share until August. So, once again, even though I had prepared, in part, several posts, I finished none of them in the 30 minutes or so I had most nights this past week before having to go to bed in order to arise five hours later and go to work. I have also added some exercise to my schedule -- not nearly enough, but I absolutely must lose 20 pounds in the next 20 days. I don't think that is even possible, but at work it is looming as requirement, so in addition to being busy and tired, I am also hungry! Oh, well, most of the time I am too busy to notice. If anyone knows any super fast diets, please let me know!

This week, as in the last couple of weeks, I continued to read and enjoy Matthew. It seems that I should be reading this during the Christmas season, but at any time of year, it is a good read. This week I stopped at Matthew 10: 19-20; the works there spoke strongly to me for they reflected something I have personally experienced. They are part of Matthew's description of what Jesus told His disciples when he sent them out to witness to the Gentiles:
19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say,  

20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Reading: Matthew 10: 19-20

Meditation:  While I have never been arrested (thank God), I have been in situations in which people have come to me for guidance of some sort -- at work, in our prayer group, etc., -- for which I have been quite unqualified to give advice. On many occasions, however, I found myself saying things I had never thought about before. These thoughts were not mine, yet they rang true for the person I was talking to. It has happened now many times when people have been seriously in need of help, or, in some cases, when people have begun to slip into unbelief or anger toward God. I don't have ANY answers. For heaven's sake, I am a recent convert. Who am I to teach anyone anything, let alone provide guidance. Yet, God has nearly always given me the words, words that surprise even me. Perhaps God does that because I ask every morning to be His instrument in helping all who come across my path in need of help. Perhaps God does that simply because He wants to or because He will use anyone he can to help anyone who needs His help.

Contemplation: That is far as I can go with you this Monday morning. I now retire to private prayer to praise God for the remarkable ways in which He can use nearly anyone, qualified or not, experienced or not, sometimes even willing or not. I will ask God to continue to give me the right words, and I will repent for each time I have thought I was capable of advising anyone on my own and, instead of using God's right words, have used my wrong ones. As always,  I will thank God for loving us so much that He will find any way possible to help us, sometimes highly unimaginable ways.

I will leave you now to your prayer and contemplation. First, though, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:

Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I think you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts. (During the week, he also posts great homilies and other thoughtful discussions. I enjoy reading those, too, as do readers of this blog who have taken the stroll over to his blog.)



For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs on my sidebar and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Morning Meditation #128: Jesus Ate with Sinners

Following Doah's confirmation last Sunday, I was back on the road again this past week -- to Omaha, Nebraska. Donnie got to spend time with our house guests, whom I had to abandon, in order to take a redeye from Cali to Nebraska via Chicago. Two layovers en route in the middle of the night took a bit of a toll. In fact, the only relaxation I had was walking to Iowa. Not that this was much exercise; it was just walking over the bridge that spanned the river that divides the two states and then walking back, but it was relaxing, at least. Dinner with colleagues afterward at a boat house on the river brought the evening to a slow, peaceful climax, and I enjoyed a restful sleep afterward.

This week, as over the past month, I continued to read Matthew. It is such a beautiful book that one can simply not rush through it. The chapter I focused on this month was chapter 9, in particular the following verses:
As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.
11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.
13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Reading: Matthew 9:9-13

Meditation:  This passage called to mind a recent conversation I had with a friend. I had loaned her a copy of Can You Drink the Cup? by Henri Nouwen. What she had picked up on was that Nouwen spent the end of his life working in a facility for disabled adults and felt that this was too lowly a position for such a famous Catholic priest. That placement seriously puzzled her. Although the value of the placement was clear to me as a parent of disabled children (now adults), I could not explain well enough, I guess, to convince her that this was a positive, not a negative, placement. I wish I had come across this passage a little earlier for it explains a lot. There were no people "too lowly" for Jesus's companionship; in fact, He preferred the lowly to the high and mighty (or at least those individuals that the people of the time adored as "mighty"). Who, then are we to consider anyone "below" us -- and besides, are we not all sinners, and are we all not disabled in some way?

Contemplation: That is far as I can go with you this Monday morning. I now retire to private prayer to praise Jesus for setting such a remarkable example for us. I will ask God to help me grow more like Jesus, and I will repent for each time I have even had a fleeting feeling of superiority of any kind. As always,  I will thank God for caring for all of us, including the sinners, the lowly, and the lost lambs.

I will leave you now to your prayer and contemplation. First, though, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:

Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I think you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts. (During the week, he also posts great homilies and other thoughtful discussions. I enjoy reading those, too, as do readers of this blog who have taken the stroll over to his blog.)




For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs on my sidebar and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.