Thursday, December 31, 2015

Pope Francis and the Little Way

Pope Francis offers the key to welcoming the Child Jesus.

True devotion to the Child Jesus is learned by welcoming the child - or as the Holy Father said, "'look to the lives of children' in order to learn to love and welcome Jesus."

The Holy Father has often spoken of his love for little children, loving them at Mass, even when they are noisy or distracted or restlessly crying out for attention.  For myself, it was devotion to the Child Jesus which taught me to love little kids - especially at Mass - no matter how 'wild' they get.  Every time I hear a little kid fall and burst into tears I feel it - I pray for him - I pray for kids who suffer or who are not welcomed.  The writings of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity taught me to honor them as little tabernacles of the Blessed Trinity.  So I think I understand the Holy Father's recommendations on devotion to the Divine Child.

Devotion to the Child Jesus is widespread. Many saints cultivated this devotion in their daily prayers, and wished to model their lives after that of the Child Jesus. I think in particular of St Thérèse of Lisieux, who as a Carmelite nun took the name of Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. She is also a Doctor of the Church who knew how to live and witness to the “spiritual childhood” which is assimilated through meditation, as the Virgin Mary taught, on the humility of God who became small for us. This is a great mystery. God is humble! We who are proud, filled with vanity, believe we are something big: we are nothing! He, the Great One, is humble and becomes a child. This is a true mystery. God is humble. This is beautiful!
As we see, we know little of the Child Jesus, but we can learn much about him if we look to the lives of children. It is a beautiful habit that parents and grandparents have, that of watching what the children do.
We discover, first of all, that children want our attention. They have to be at the centre — why? Because they are proud? No! Because they need to feel protected. It is important that we too place Jesus at the centre of our life and to know, even if it may seem paradoxical, that it is our responsibility to protect him. He wants to be in our embrace, he wants to be tended to and to be able to fix his gaze on ours. Additionally, make the Child Jesus smile in order to show him our love and our joy that he is in our midst. His smile is a sign of the love that gives us the assurance of being loved. Children, lastly, love to play. Playing with children, however, means abandoning our logic in order to enter theirs. If we want to have fun it is necessary to understand what they like, and not to be selfish and make them do the things that we like. It is a lesson for us. Before Jesus we are called to abandon our pretense of autonomy — and this is the crux of the matter: our pretense of autonomy — in order to instead accept the true form of liberty, which consists in knowing and serving whom we have before us. He, the Child, is the Son of God who comes to save us. He has come among us to show us the face of the Father abounding in love and mercy. Therefore, let us hold the Child Jesus tightly in our arms; let us place ourselves at his service. He is the font of love and serenity. It will be beautiful today, when we get home, to go to the nativity scene and kiss the Baby Jesus and say: “Jesus, I want to be humble like you, humble like God”, and to ask him for this grace. - NEWS.VA

Hopefully pastors and parishioners will understand the importance of children at Mass.  On Sundays kids leave the church for a Children's Liturgy of the Word, and parents with rambunctious children are asked to take their kids to the 'Cry Room'.  I don't like that at all.  A crying baby or a giggling toddler is a beautiful sound, a wonderful homily - and a reminder to welcome and protect the child at every stage of life.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

It's not that bad ... The hoverboard priest.

Story here.

I watched the video.

The priest was suspended for greeting people at Christmas, riding a hoverboard up and down the aisle - singing an old pop-Christmas song - all before the final blessing.  Pope John Paul used a rolling cart entering and exiting for Mass - I think Pope Benedict did too?  I bet the priest was thinking along those lines.  I've seen worse happen between the final prayer and final blessing - which in many parishes is usually the time for announcements and promos for parish fundraisers - sometimes dramatic and or comedic performances in fact.   Give the guy a break.  It's Christmas.

Those Filipinos are so strict.


Filipino news agency just announced:
Priest's hoveround caught fire
and so he had to use the hoverboard.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

I think it might have been something I posted ...

It's the Christmas Jester.

Now I'm thinking the Followers app got cleaned out because of something I posted.

The Dusty Towne Holiday Special.  Just writing it cracks me up.  Catherine O'Hara's parody of a 1950's '60's bawdy, off-color, comedienne/entertainer is one of the funniest segments from SCTV archives.  It is ridiculous and silly.  I come across it once in a while and watch it - love her delivery and things like, "Isn't that cute, isn't that true?"  I'm not as fond of John Candy as Divine or Andrea Martin as a Solid Gold Dancer - but the dumb joke O'Hara does about Mrs. Dinky cracks me up.

My apologies to those who were offended - I removed the post.  You are better off for leaving.

That said - I laugh at weird stuff.  My humor is oftentimes very often inappropriate.  Another friend sent me an email concerning women and sexuality.  No offense - but that has never been something I know much about.  I know nothing about these things.  I know more now than I ever did - but like Donald Trump, I find it disgusting.  (He said that when commenting on Hilary excusing herself during the debate - as if she has incontinence problems.  He also inferred that when called out Megyn Kelly for 'blood coming out of her wherever'.)

I'm kidding that I am at all like Trump - women's personal hygiene doesn't concern or involve me, and I certainly would never belittle women for what is natural.  Trump is the disgusting one - he exploits women and uses them as trophies - that in itself is far more immoral than a Dusty Towne parody, but I digress. (Vote for him at your peril.)

I've said over and over on this blog that I know nothing about birth and babies - or 'birthing babies', nor women and female sexuality, nor lesbians or lesbianism, and so on.  (I know more now than I ever did before thanks to Oprah, Crescat, The Anchoress, and the left-over lesbians still at the Patheos Catholic Channel.  What?)

To be honest - my 'virginity' has remained intact because I was always afraid of sexual intimacy with women.  My crazy mother can take the credit for that.  Then of course, I was deeply devoted to the Blessed Virgin since a very early age and like St. Aloysius, I avoided looking at women until I was in Junior High - when I needed a beard.  (Kidding - kind of.)

So.  What can I say?

I took the Dusty Towne parody down.  Now go away.  LOL!

We love you family.


For the Fifth Day of Christmas ...

S. Thomas Becket

An excellent essay on Becket and Romero here.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Holy Innocents ...

After the Holy Family fled ...
the infants were very much alone
 - as if abandoned -
to all appearances.
Yet, to be sure,
neither forgotten nor unloved ...
venerated for all eternity ...
the emergent terror, 
the awful abuse
began at that moment,
and the scars perdure ...

The grace of Christmas - I hope ...

I received the interior conviction that my discussion about 'church people' is not pleasing to God.  Especially my observations about monastic and religious life, and priests, as well as devout laity.

I'm going through archives to delete offensive posts.  If you know of one I may have overlooked, please let me know.

I'm so sorry, and apologize to all.

Please pray for me.  Thanks.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Pope at Christmas

Holy Family Sunday

It is such an important feast within the Octave of Christmas.

I somehow get the impression many families no longer celebrate Christmas in traditional ways, perhaps fewer do so 'religiously'.  Which can make it very difficult for many to understand the sacredness of family...

This is why we say "Happy Christmas" as
opposed to "Merry Christmas."  
Once saith
someone on a throne.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Today is Boxing Day

Cats love boxes.

So anyway...

Boxing Day means other things of course - for Canadians and UK-dians, but I never got into it.  I do like it - but mostly because it is the Second Day of Christmas.  I'm still adding lights to my weird little Christmas trees and settings.  I love Christmas!  I love the holiday spirit which leads up to it.

Now it is Christmas.  

Santa's gone home, and it is actually Christmas.  I might pick up some Christmas cookies at the store tonight.  Single men do not usually get such things - delicious cookies and candy - specialties of the season.  I maybe will go to a fine store, with a fine bakery, and pick up sugar cookies with icing, Russian Tea Cakes, Mozarts, maybe.  Gabby and I will finally have some Christmas treats ... on Boxing Day.

I put out walnuts and peanuts for Christmas Eve - and today we have snow - so the rabbits and the squirrels and gophers are well stocked.

A few of my favorite things ...

Sugar cookies preferred over gingerbread.



Liqueur filled chocolates.

The Protomartyr St. Stephen

Oh how I love you Stephen,
I love the precious stones
which ornamented your
I venerate the blood
which flowed from your
wounds ...
Pray for me ...
pray for us ...
and be
with us
at the hour 
of our death,
when God's mercy
allows us 
to see
the heavens opened
and the Son of Man
at the 
right hand of

The grace of martyrdom.

One may desire it,
pray for it,
prepare for it,
desire it with all one's heart ...
perhaps even seek it out.
if it be God's will ...

It isn't a passive desire for suicide.
Nor an escape from a difficult life.
It is a call.
A vocation.

It is a grace ...

Everything is a grace.

It is the unitive way ...

Friday, December 25, 2015

Blessed Christmas

Where God is born, mercy flourishes. Mercy is the most precious gift which God gives us, especially during this Jubilee year in which we are called to discover that tender love of our heavenly Father for each of us. May the Lord enable prisoners in particular to experience his merciful love, which heals wounds and triumphs over evil.
Today, then, let us together rejoice in the day of our salvation. As we contemplate the Crib, let us gaze on the open arms of Jesus, which show us the merciful embrace of God, as we hear the cries of the Child who whispers to us: “for my brethren and companions’ sake, I will say: Peace be within you” (Ps 121[122]:8). - Pope Francis

Christmas Mass was beautiful.

The priest at the church I went to, welcomed those who only go to Mass on Christmas and told us these folks give him great joy, every single Christmas.  I was so happy.

After Mass the organ resounded and everyone broke into conversation so loud, so joyous - I wondered if the townsfolk of Bethlehem would have acted just like that, after hearing the news of angels appearing to shepherds in the fields.  I smiled and my heart seemed to swell.

Blessed Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Unpredictability of Christmas.

Abbey Regina Laudis

I often think of the 'Christmas conversion' of St. Therese ...

When she 'grew up' as it were.  It maybe sounds trivial to us, but St. Therese was convinced of its significance for her 'little way'.  That one Christmas, little Therese sacrificed her sorrow so as not to disappoint her dad.  She heard his exasperated tone when he expressed surprise that she expected her shoes to be filled with goodies from St. Nicholas upon returning home from midnight Mass.  She normally would have 'burst into tears' upon hearing such a disappointed tone from her father.
"It was December 25, 1886, that I received the grace of leaving my childhood, in a word, the grace of my complete conversion . . . I felt charity enter into my soul, the need to forget myself and to please others; since then I've been happy!"   
Thérèse calls this "my complete conversion" because a dramatic change happened, she says, "in an instant." The permanent change in direction is from being a girl who "was really unbearable because of [her] extreme touchiness" to a "strong and courageous" young woman whose "source of tears was dried up and has since reopened rarely and with great difficulty." She who "wasn't accustomed to doing things for [herself)" now experienced "the need to forget [herself] and to please others." She now had a great desire to work for "the conversion of sinners". - Source
Christmas is very often a time of conversion and extraordinary graces.

Even for the 'unlovable'.

Christmas Catholics.

Pay no attention to that label - or the people who use it.  Some people use it like the Pharisee who thanked God he wasn't like the rest of sinful humanity.

The mystery of Christmas - the mystery of the Nativity extends through time.  Just as the shepherds were invited to Bethlehem by angels, so are the lapsed and fallen away called at Christmas.  This night is perhaps similar to the Gospel invitation:  The master then ordered the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedgerows and make people come in that my home may be filled.' [Luke 14]

I believe the grace of Christmas is an irresistible attraction from the Infant Jesus himself.

Especially for those who no longer feel Christmassy, or who are disappointed that the holidays are not what they used to be, or who are just far away and maybe don't care to, or even know how to pray.

The reason for the void, for the darkness of this night.

Looking out, looking around, everything might be sad ... or just another day to get through.  Yet that emptiness can free us - detach us.  It can free us to notice something else moving within our heart, grabbing our attention, wherein we can discover the authentic, primitive meaning of the holy day.  Maybe it's just a momentary glimpse of a tacky looking creche that awakens, or rather, ignites a spark in our hearts.  Christmas really is about the birth of Christ - who came to save humanity and atone for sins - to make reparation, to repair, as it were.  It is the little holy child who asks for our confidence and trust - but even more deeply - our love.  If we feel no love, have no love, or have been disappointed in love, that may be the call which compels us to respond:  "In this is love: not that we have (first) loved God, but that he (first) loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins." [1 John 4:10]

So don't look down on anyone - no matter who.  If they are at church, if they are at Mass - God called them there.  If they are at your table on Christmas day - love them.  Even if they are unlovable - love them, and keep on loving them.  Never give up - because God never gives up on us.

Having said all of that, people don't need to hear or read this stuff from a hypocrite like me.  Non-religious people tune out the Bible thumpers and moralizers and sermonizers.  Ironically, that may be why they sneak into the back of the church for Midnight Mass on Christmas in the first place.

So maybe let's mind our own business in order to allow others to have a Happy Christmas too!  Then we'll maybe be just like little St. Therese ... and receive a deeper conversion of our own.

Merry Christmas again and again and again!

Christmas Memories ...

Mrs. Davis, Connie, and Minerva the cat, 
and the best Christmas tree ever.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Pope Benedict Receives Christmas Visit From Bavarians.

Pope Emeritus Makes Rare Public Appearance to Thank Visiting Bavarians ...

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has made a rare public appearance 
to thank civil and ecclesiastical authorities from Bavaria 
for donating this year’s Vatican Christmas tree. - Full story

After formal greetings, they broke open the
He was then told that the Christmas tree has two tips, 
one dedicated to the reigning Pope Francis 
and an extra one for emeritus Benedict.

Folk dancing ensued, and ...

Cases of Papst were distributed
for those fired from the curia...

They pulled out all the stops for the Bavarian Pope.*

Fröhliche Weihnachten

*Trivia: Pull out all the stops - this saying originates with the organ, pulling out all the stops to play as loudly and boisterously as possible.

NB: This post has been edited for holiday cheer.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Maybe don't go home for Christmas after all ...

What to give the Infant Jesus for Christmas ...

“Offering everything, pure and impure, is the best and quickest way to develop spiritually.
If you offer everything to the Divine, the Divine will accept and change it, even the worst things.
It is not what you offer but that you offer which is important.”  - Mother Meera*

Pope Francis said something like that recently - that Christ wants us to give him our sins.  He was citing the mystical experience of St. Jerome, the penitent.

I think it's right.  

Thinking of the sentimental song 'Little Altar Boy', even 'Little Drummer Boy', or the story of the 'Juggler of Notre Dame' - some of us have nothing to give to the Infant Jesus except our sins, our faults, our failings - in other words, our greatest 'talents' - sorta.  After all, he came to set prisoners free... the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life...  He tells us to come to him, the weary, the burdened.  You who have no money, come, buy grain and eat; Come, buy grain without money, wine and milk without cost!  You who have no merits - Come.

*h/t Jeron

Monday, December 21, 2015

Before I forget: A very special Christmas greeting for all of my 'satisfied customers' here at Abbey Towers, and elsewhere in the universe ...

I love this episode - so Christmassy!  (It probably should have been posted for my "I unfriend you" post instead of this one.  Joking, of course.) 

I had to send a 'bio' to the very kind shopkeepers who took me in, - it's for their website.  I write 'about me' all of the time on the blog, but I'm not very good at writing a biography.  (I read somewhere a successful art blog needs more than the photos of your work - people want to know who the artist is.)

Anyway - I wrote the following:

About me: 
Terry Nelson. Minneapolis, Minnesota. A man of indeterminable age.
I usually tell people I'm a painter. I like saying that better than artist - although I consider myself an independent painter, outsider artist.
I don't like doing commissions - though I have very often done so in the past.
I began work in art and design as a very young man at Dayton's in Visual Merchandising. My expertise was windows and cases in the fashion area.
I was in management towards the end of that part of my career - but wasn't very good at it. I don't like to be managed, nor do I like to manage people.  I began painting in the late 1970's - concentrating on the making of icons - Orthodox iconographers seem to prefer saying they 'write' icons, but I prefer to say I paint icons. After being told non-Orthodox people can't paint 'real' icons, I evolved and began to paint western saints in the icon style. I have works in convents, monasteries, and churches throughout the Midwest.
I've also worked with interior designers and applied my skills to murals, painted furniture, faux finishes and decorative objects.  I've sold many such things in fine stores locally and around the United States. Although I have done very little of that in the last 10 years. 
My love is Spanish Colonial style retablo, relicarios, and santos - the Catholic religious art of Latin America and Southwest US.  I have shown my work in two galleries in Santa Fe, New Mexico - both are now closed. I also have small pieces in the collection of the Cathedral there, as well as a monastery and a couple of mission chapels. 
For the past several years I've devoted my time to what I call a sort of neo-magic realism, inspired very much by the work of George Tooker, Jared French, and Paul Cadmus. My paintings are also influenced by the surrealists and a few contemporary Latin American artists. My compositions, though obviously representational and therefore readable, are a sort of pastiche or painted collage of figures and settings which I pull together to form the narrative. I consider my work as a sort of visual documentation of events and their effect upon me. I find this type of painting cathartic. 


Attrition and contrition...

Come back as often as you need to.

One more comment.

Attrition, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia comes from the Latin attero, "to wear away by rubbing"; p. part. attritus.  The Council of Trent stated very clearly:
Wherefore attrition, the council in Canon v, Sess. XIV, declares: "If any man assert that attrition . . . is not a true and a profitable sorrow; that it does not prepare the soul for grace, but that it makes a man a hypocrite, yea, even a greater sinner, let him be anathema". - New Advent
I just mention that because the grace of the sacrament of penance, the merits of Jesus Christ, 'perfects' our contrition.

This is also why frequent confession is so necessary in breaking free of habitual sins - that occurred to me the other day when reading the root meaning of attrition - the Latin attero - 'to wear away by rubbing'.

Have confidence...

1423 It is called the sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus' call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father5 from whom one has strayed by sin.
It is called the sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner's personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction. 
1424 It is called the sacrament of confession, since the disclosure or confession of sins to a priest is an essential element of this sacrament. In a profound sense it is also a "confession" - acknowledgment and praise - of the holiness of God and of his mercy toward sinful man.
It is called the sacrament of forgiveness, since by the priest's sacramental absolution God grants the penitent "pardon and peace."6It is called the sacrament of Reconciliation, because it imparts to the sinner the live of God who reconciles: "Be reconciled to God."7 He who lives by God's merciful love is ready to respond to the Lord's call: "Go; first be reconciled to your brother."8
1453 The contrition called "imperfect" (or "attrition") is also a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is born of the consideration of sin's ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation and the other penalties threatening the sinner (contrition of fear). Such a stirring of conscience can initiate an interior process which, under the prompting of grace, will be brought to completion by sacramental absolution. By itself however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance.52 

Everything is grace and mercy.

It's all good.

Christmas Scene

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Last minute Christmas gift ideas for the religiously-inclined pop-culture addicts in your family ... or the office worker who is seriously Orvis Dei

... or just those little-nippers at the Oglethorpe Orphanage outside Savannah:

I actually like these.  
I think it works as contemporary religious art.

The St. Joseph is cool.  So is St. Sebastian.
They don't move me to devotion, but
they might someone else.

Have a Merry little Christmas - and don't forget the little-nippers!

Song for this post here.  What?

This is fascinating: The Sufi mystic who spoke about Medjugorje.

Islamic Virgin Mary and Jesus.

On the Fourth Sunday of Advent ...

Days before Christmas.

This morning.

I came across an interesting article on Hasan Shushud, a Sufi mystic.  I don't know a lot about Sufism, but I know it is the mystical dimension of Islam, and of great interest to Christian contemplatives.  I've read a few stories and met religious people who are attracted to aspects of the spirituality, but I've never been attracted to such 'ways'.

What is so interesting in this story is how closely it echoes the events at Medjugorje.  I'm just taking it at face value.  With all the troubles in the world and the Church - the message of peace is so needed in our time.

Today's Gospel of the Visitation, as well as the Collect - which is in fact the Rosary prayer - we glimpse the meaning of the whole, as it were - we glimpse the meaning of Christmas.  Providentially, the announcement that Bl. Teresa of Calcutta will be canonized next year fits right in with what I've been trying to articulate.  It fits in with the purported messages of Our Lady at Medjugorje.

Mother Teresa's holiness - her contemplative union with God - seems to me to be perfectly suited to our times.  In fact, much is being made of her 'dark night' and doing so much for God without any consolation, without any spiritual experiences or sensible experience of faith.  That is a trait so much in keeping with the greatest saint of modern times, St. Therese of the Child Jesus.  Little Therese was Mother Teresa's patron - and she did pretty much what Therese said she would do if she hadn't been called to Carmel.  She would sit at the table of sinners and unbelievers, go into the brothels to demonstrate and tell of God's mercy.  Catholic theologians do a disservice to Christians in acting as if this 'living on faith alone' is somehow not THE WAY of perfection.  It animated Teresa as perfectly as it animated the Blessed Virgin who journeyed 'today' to visit Elizabeth.  Teresa of Calcutta lived the mystery of the Visitation, anticipating the changes in the Church and religious life, as well as the spirituality flowing from the phenomenon of Medjugore.

And she was poor - and her daughters remain poor, detached - never fundraising, renouncing private ownership - sharing the life of the poor ... praying the rosary as they go.

The purported messages from Medjugorje emphasize a similar way of prayer in ordinary, daily life.  It emphasizes the way of peace and accompanying one another, no matter our religion, no matter our station in life, or our 'worthiness', in seeking the Kingdom of Heaven.  I'm not a Medjugorje devotee, but the essential message seems to me to be played out right now - especially during the pontificate of Pope Francis who calls us to go out to the peripheries - as Our Lady did in her journey to Elizabeth, and her journey to Bethlehem, and her journey to Egypt and back again to Nazareth - until finally, she climbed Golgatha, to accompany her son unto death.

Long introduction to the story that caught my attention today - the Fourth Sunday in Advent.  

Click the source after the section I've reprinted below.  It doesn't mean I am promoting the apparitions or that anyone has to believe it.  I was simply impressed by this particular story - which coincided with a few things I've been thinking about - as noted above.  Otherwise, I await the decision of the Church.  That said, I don't think the contempt, scorn or condemnations coming from lay people against those involved in Medjugorje is pleasing to God, and is probably something that repels most people may be searching for God.
A long and decisive apparition predicted
With Medjugorje celebrating the 30th anniversary of the apparitions this year, Hasan Shushud’s prediction of a long apparition has also come true. So has his prediction that peace would be a main topic of the apparition:
“You will see that Mary will suffer, wait, hope and continue to call for a long time, as she is inviting to the way of peace. During this period Satan will get the opportunity for his plans of godlessness, chaos, suffering, death”, Hasan Shushud told Inger Jensen.
In recent years, the Virgin Mary’s suffering and waiting have been particularly expressed in messages passed on by visionary Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo.
“Mary needs a firm, truthful “yes!” to her plan, and this will not be given at the beginning. Therefore, Mary will be forced to take up a stand-by position. During the period when Mary suffers rejection, earthquakes the like of which have never been seen before will occur. Storms more violent than ever. Thunderstorms. Flooding. Fatal, contagious diseases. And egoism, materialism and violence will pervert societies”, Hasan Shushud continued.
“If Mary and her plans are accepted quickly, the suffering will be short-lived. If, however, Rome does not meet Mary with the needed firm, truthful acceptance when God grants to Rome the time and freedom to choose, then God once more will have offered peace, joy and love in vain, and mankind will feel the consequences of Satan’s plans”, Inger Jensen recounts Hasan Shushud’s words from 1980. - Source

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Ghosts of Christmas.

My old friend.

I see dead people.

In the upper Midwest if you don't have snow it just doesn't feel like Christmas - in Minneapolis we've had very little snow, and that can be depressing for some.  This morning there were flurries, so a little spark of joy was felt in my Scrooge'd-up heart.  I'm not really a Scrooge, am I?  Who wants to be a Scrooge - unless you can get to see ghosts ...

The other day, I discovered a quaint little shop in the neighborhood and asked them if they'd be neighborly and accept some of my piled up artwork to sell in the shop.  I mentioned I wasn't interested in making a profit - I just didn't want my work to rot away ...

The owner was delighted, asked if I could bring in the paintings right away, and so I returned home, packed up a couple dozen items and returned.  I presented them, and she was thrilled with the work.  As I was leaving, she immediately began to set out the little gems all around her shop.  I walked by late that night and spotted a few pieces hanging on the wall, "They mixed well, I thought ..."

The next day I came to photo some of the work I had not yet catalogued.  I looked at the pieces and noted the pricing was barely a third of what I have sold items for in the past - even privately, that is outside gallery representation and retail markup.  As I looked more closely at my 'collection' with daylights fresh eyes, it seemed to be broken up - the individual pieces disappeared and no longer related to the 'continuum' I imagined they had, or what I felt made them a collection.  I suddenly felt ... anxiety.


I discussed my situation with a friend, only to be scolded.  "You're always like this.  You are too precipitous.  You jump into things without thinking them through."  The worst was, "This is why you are not a successful artist."  I begged him not to torture me with what I already knew.  I already knew that I sell myself short ... always have ... and I live in a dream world of rabbits and hermits and sprites and lights and in that world every little brush stroke means something.  Every little highlight becomes a golden thread in the strange tapestry which cloaks a naked, ignorant, little homeless kid - a ghost of Christmas past.

Interestingly, my critical friend told me I was seeing what my 'stuff'  (I know! 'stuff' - he's seen Devil Wears Prada - he should know better!) will be worth after I'm dead.  It will end up in an antique shop or junk shop, at bargain prices, to be sold just for the frames or to recycle a used canvas.  He said he was simply being the ghost of Christmas future, and telling me the truth.  I was afraid of that - which may help explain why I'm this eccentric guy painting crazy stuff for imaginary galleries and museums to exhibit after I'm dead.

The shop owner is so nice and so kind - she's the one doing me a favor.**

I guess I have to let go of my ego, my possessiveness, and go out and buy a Christmas goose for the Cratchit's before Timmy dies.


What do you want on your tombstone?

Song for this post here.

**(And at the end of the day - today - the prices ended up to be just right!  It's a Christmas miracle!)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Little Altar Boy

Altar boy begging statue in Merchants Street
in Valletta, Malta*

The song.

I always thought of it as a drunk's song.  It's a sinner's prayer actually.  A guy asking a little altar boy to pray for him.  Recognizing his sinfulness, feeling like a failure, he sees the innocence and devotion of a young kid - he recalls how he himself was once so pure, so innocent, so sincere, so devout ...

Little altar boy, I wonder could you pray for me?
Little altar boy, for I have gone astray
What must I do to be holy like you?
Little altar boy, oh, let me hear you pray

Little altar boy, I wonder could you ask our Lord
Ask him, altar boy, to take my sins away
What must I do to be holy like you?
Little altar boy, oh, let me hear you pray

Lift up your voice and send a pray above
Help me rejoice and fill that prayer with love
Now I know my life has been all wrong
Lift up your your voice and help a sinner be strong

Little altar boy, I wonder could you pray for me?
Could you tell our Lord I'm going to change my ways today?
What must I do to be holy like you?
Little altar boy, oh, let me hear you pray
Little altar boy please let me hear you pray!

Patron of altar boys.

*The story of Merchants Street abbati starts around 60 years ago with a society called Pro Sacerdotibus Christi, which had an office in this same house, and was tasked with praying for more young men to join the priestly vocation, as well as the more practical work of raising funds to aid poorer seminarians financially in their journey to the priesthood. The society purchased three identical statues from Spain, and in fact, on a recent visit to Spain, my uncle happened upon a long lost sibling of his own abbati in a quiet chapel somewhere in Western Spain.

The Pro Sacerdotibus Christi society is long gone now, however, coin donations still trickle through from the arms of the abbati, and the money still goes to the same purpose. - Source

Pray for little altar boys that they can
become holy priests.

Really old song for this post here.

"The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy." - Source

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


"The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy." - Source

Surprised by Mercy ... What does true repentance consist of? Got perfect contrition?

"Some say that I am too good. But if you come and kneel before me, 
isn't this a sufficient proof that you want to have God's pardon?
 God's mercy is beyond all expectation."

One priest online had this to say: 
It is not simply feeling bad or guilty or ashamed or afraid we’ll get caught. The church calls this “imperfect contrition”
It’s okay, but it’s not good enough “Perfect contrition” is the realization that we have not reached God’s glory for us. It is the deep understanding that we have failed God and his love and that we have “done what we ought not to have done and left undone those things we ought to have done and there is no health in us.”
Once we truly repent we can truly receive mercy. - Fr. L
Imperfect contrition not good enough?

Yes it is.  To be fair, I don't think Fr. L was saying it wasn't - it just read like that to me.  When a person is struggling with habitual sin and making frequent confessions, the fear of only having imperfect contrition can discourage one from seeking reconciliation and continuing to struggle, with the help of sacramental grace, to overcome a particular sin.

Imperfect contrition, or attrition is certainly 'enough' to receive mercy, the forgiveness of sins.  To gain a plenary indulgence, one must be free of any attachment to venial and mortal sin, and truly repentant. Therefore, it is necessary to make Sacramental Confession.  Imperfect contrition is enough to receive absolution and the complete forgiveness of sin in confession.  That is what happens in the Sacrament of Penance, reconciliation, confession - the priest in persona Christi absolves the penitent from sin.  The confessional is the 'tribunal of mercy'.

Go and understand the meaning of mercy.

I think a lot of things will be said during the Jubilee Year of Mercy which could have the potential of keeping some souls from even trying to be reconciled or making an effort to receive the Jubilee Indulgence.  In trying to understand 'the meaning of mercy' one can get tangled up in the theological strings attached to it - the formal, technical conditions and dispositions attached by the Apostolic Penitentiary to obtain the gift of Indulgences for the Jubilee.  Ordinary people can be easily discouraged because they do not understand Catholic teaching.

To gain the Jubilee Indulgence, one must be free of any attachment to venial and mortal sin, and truly repentant. I tell people to not let that deter them because imperfect contrition can be perfected in and through the sacrament of penance.  Likewise, one may have the 'will' to be free of attachment.  It is better not to get too scrupulous over it. We need to trust in what the Church teaches and especially place all of our trust in the Divine Mercy remembering God's mercy is inscrutable.  In other words - do not let anything stop you from running to the Divine Mercy with confidence and love. The Holy Year has been proclaimed to attract the greatest sinners, and even the not so great - the lukewarm, the fallen away, the sanctimonious, the cino, the poor, the rich. Trust is the key. One does not have to be perfect - far from it.  Don't wait to 'feel' perfect contrition - just go to confession.  As alcoholics like to say - let go and let God.

Don't waste your time on my pious musings, rather check the Catechism.  These matters are explained there for the ordinary person.  Even if you approach the confessional with imperfect contrition - the Lord, in his mercy, imparts the forgiveness of sins, and he himself imparts perfect contrition.  Our actions may never be enough to satisfy - because we have no merits of our own to plead our cause - but the merits of Jesus Christ are infinitely efficacious and supply for all that we lack.

The Catechism on Contrition
1451 Among the penitent's acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is "sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again."50
1452 When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called "perfect" (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.51
1453 The contrition called "imperfect" (or "attrition") is also a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is born of the consideration of sin's ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation and the other penalties threatening the sinner (contrition of fear). Such a stirring of conscience can initiate an interior process which, under the prompting of grace, will be brought to completion by sacramental absolution. By itself however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance.52

"The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy." - Source

The Solemn Novena for Christmas begins today.

The most appropriate prayer for the novena is the prayer of the Church - the liturgical prayer of the Church: Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours. Today the entire Church unites in prayerful preparation for the Nativity of Our Lord.
... Let the clouds rain down the Just One, and the earth bring forth a Savior.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ward, I'm worried about the Vortex.

I didn't know Michael Voris said something bad about Pope Benedict.

I guess he suggested Benedict called in sick and stayed home from the papacy.  He suggested it was a sham and that it might even be sinful.  Someone mentioned it in a post about someone mentioning it in their post.  Is that gossip?

Dante did that.  He put Celestine in hell because he too resigned his office, as Fr. Z noted:  Dante calls him “the shade of him who in his cowardice made the great refusal”.   Just think.  Voris is a Renaissance man.  He may be the new Dante.  Or the new Michelangelo.  Michelangelo is said to have painted some well known prelates among the damned in the Sistine Chapel Last Judgement.  Voris is going after Dolan again - in a big way.  I'm betting he won't get press credentials for any NY Archdiocesan function again.

The Vortex may be losing credibility, in addition to creating and feeding controversy.

A former employee for Church Militant explains why it was all too much to contend with in his premiere blog post, Why I Left CM.  Acts of the Apostasy introduced the new blog by the former CM employee.  It is a good read, and a great reminder to be careful of such vigilante fringe-news sources who flame those in the hierarchy and politicians with sensational news stories, highlighting their shortcomings and failures, accusing them of crimes and misconduct, cover up and conspiracies.

It happened in the Renaissance and throughout the history of the Church, and was noted by many famous and infamous personages ... who took their chances with their own salvation.  Detraction ... calumny ... sarcasm ... defamation of character ... vengeance in retaliation for censure and insult - that kind of stuff.