Sitting Ducks

After 9/11/2001 most of us here in the USA realized our vulnerability. Perhaps years of peace at home contributed to a general complacency that we were removed from attack by outside forces; lulling us into a kind of la la land where all was secure and our own pursuits were focus enough. Thousands perished as we watched the TV; just three planes destroyed what we assumed was indestructible. We were actually ‘sitting ducks’.

Like the Israelites of old we turned back to our Creator and nationwide church pews were filled, our country’s flag flew in place of seasonal decorative ones with turkeys and summer flowers, etc. In my own experience I remember an abundance Old Glory wherever I went, our country parish reached near capacity, religious prayer services were broadcast from Madison Square Garden.

It seemed a country founded on faith and fortitude had returned. I often think if the terrorists had attacked soon after 911, although tragic, we may have preserved ‘a nation of the people, for the people and by the people’. All that we cherish is indeed under attack today. Our enemy dwells among us and I often feel like a ‘sitting duck’. Ironically it increased my desire to seek otherworldly help. Sitting on my deck amid the glories of springtime, I prayed and wrote a poem I’ll share with you in my next post.

Fear and Fortitude

Pentecost is one of my favorite Holy Days. It is called the ‘birthday of the Church’. But the origins of Pentecost dates back to Moses and the giving of Torah (the first five books of the Bible) on Mt. Sinai. It was and is now celebrated fifty days after Passover by those of the Jewish faith at the time of the early harvest in Israel (May/June). As Passover coincides with Holy Week for Christians, Pentecost comes fifty days after Passover and also after Easter. Without Pentecost we would not have the Christian Church.

In today’s Gospel reading Jesus comes walking on the Sea of Galilee and says “Do not be afraid…” to His fearful disciples. After Jesus death and even after His resurrection and appearances to them, the apostles huddled in fear in the Upper Room. At Pentecost He sent the Holy Spirit that came as tongues of fire and those cowards in the Upper Room were baptized and received the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, one of which was fortitude.

“The gift of fortitude is bestowed upon us by God through the Holy Spirit at our confirmation; the moral virtue of fortitude is ‘acquired by human effort’ according the the Catechism of the Catholic church.”

In his Summa Theologica St. Thomas Aquinas says; In strictest interpretation of its meaning, the virtue of fortitude is bravely facing the danger of death. A man capable of meeting with fortitude this greatest of dangers is not daunted by lesser perils.

We are facing constant reinforcement of fear from the onset of the covid panic: fear of people giving us the virus, fear of nuclear war from our enemies, fear of inflation, fear of going to church, fear of speaking our views on abortion, masks, vaccines, BLM, gender confusion, fear of the “dark winter’ and the great reset.

Another of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is Fear of God, Holy fear in which we see ourselves as finite beings who were graciously given the greatest gift, eternal life. We need to constantly ask ourselves: “Whom shall I fear?” The Apostles went on to spread the Gospel in spite of the danger of death and the Church exists after more than 2000 years in spite of everything.

To be continued…

The Crucifixion: Excerpt from Daybreak

Ahead of Him stood a rocky hill. Three tall wooden posts set into the ground awaited the arrival of Yeshua and the other men to be crucified that afternoon. The two criminals were already near the site of the upright beams. Yeshua was struggling at the bottom of the hill. We saw Him collapse and fall a third time. How could He possibly ascend the slope to Golgotha?

The guards had no compassion for Him. One of them pulled Him to His feet. Simon of Cyrene assumed His position under the beam. Together they came to the summit. The others were already being nailed to their crossbeams. Several Roman soldiers took hold of Yeshua and stripped Him of His garments. Wounds inflicted from the flogging and crowning of thorns left no sound spot on Him.

“They are the cruelest of all Roman soldiers, chosen for their lack of sympathy and absence of conscience,” Columba said, suddenly appearing at my side. “They find pleasure in their grim job of crucifixion and are even despised by the other soldiers.”

“I am thankful for your presence, my friend,” I said.

The sound of the hammer and groans of Yeshua did not disturb most of the Jews who watched. Nicodemus and Joseph stood by themselves away from the rest.

“See, His mother is with John. He is the only one present of the twelve Apostles,” a woman next to us said. The woman was one of those Yeshua stopped to talk with on the way to this wretched place.

His mother leaned on John and her body shook with sobbing. Again I thought of my mother. She could not have borne seeing this, although she may have stood it better than my father. There were a number of women who stayed observing Yeshua even now. They understood His mother’s pain better than any of us.

The executioners raised His body attached to the crossbeam by nails through His hands and wrists. They lifted the beam with Yeshua, securing it to the vertical piece. With His feet placed to one side, they nailed them together onto the upright beam. I felt the pain in my own limbs and my head ached.

Holy Thursday: Excerpt from Daybreak

We sat quietly for a moment before Josephus spoke.“We should probably be on our way to the Temple. I am glad for our gathering tonight. It should be a blessed, joyful Passover,” he said, taking his cloak off a hook and the lantern from a shelf.

There were many people walking from all directions, as we came near the gate of the Temple. Some of them led lambs they had purchased on the way, but most knew how strict the inspection of the animals was, and how few lambs would be found without blemish if purchased outside the courts. We knew the ways of the Temple authorities and realized there was nothing to do but buy our lamb on the premises.

After the purchase, we waited in line for our lamb to be inspected and slaughtered. Next, we stood in another line waiting for the meat to be roasted in one of the ovens on the Mount. After several hours holding the prepared meat, the signal came at sunset allowing everyone to be on their way. At last we joined the others leaving the Mount.

“Josephus, this stream of Jews carrying their lambs and holding lighted lanterns, reminds me of the procession we made toward the Temple on the Feast of Tabernacles. Passover brought freedom to our people and all our feast days remind us, the Lord was and is with us,” I said as we walked.

“And His Son is physically with us on this Passover,” Josephus said. “I’ve heard people talking, wondering if He will come to the Temple. Perhaps one of His followers is among us tonight carrying a roasted lamb for the Messiah’s Passover meal.”

A Rainy Afternoon with Thomas Sollew

One raining Sunday in October 2020 as the Black lives matter was wreaking havoc in Seattle I sat at the computer amazed at the scenes before me. It Made no sense. At some point I came upon a video of an interview with Thomas Sowell and remembered reading about him a couple of years before.

In searching the internet I found he was born in 1930 in North Carolina when the Great Depression was in its early stages. His father died before he was born and his mother died a few years later. When he was eight, he went to live with his great aunt and her adult children in Harlem, NYC. They were not well educated but he credited them saying they cared about him and he was fortunate to live with them..

He had a friend named Eddie Mapp whose family was well educated and they encouraged Eddie to mentor Thomas. He brought Tommy to the public library and taught him how to use it. Sowell said of this friendship that, “If I had not encountered him the entire rest of the story would not have been the way it was.” Eddie also informed Thomas that he could choose to enter another better junior high than the one assigned to him.

You may wonder why I kept this post as a draft for so long after writing the short opening paragraph. It was because I devoured so many of his video interviews and articles written by him, it overwhelmed me. His approach as an intellectual was unhampered by going along with the general intelligentsia; his discernment of actual facts in all he did and the ability to explain his conclusions to the general public was just too much to include in a blog.

I have decided to introduce you to this prolific writer, economist, philosopher, historian, photographer, etc and let you explore, perhaps more about Thomas Sowell than I have. You may begin with the following interview and commentary, a 57 min. video about his life and work: Thomas Sowell: Common Sense in a Senseless World and also, a Naples Times article written by Sowell: Closing One Door Opening Another for Christian Conservatives.

Note: Sowell does not claim to be a Christian (but sounds like one) and he is black in color and belongs to the Human Race. He believes the greatest path for black people is educating them well not in public schools but in private, charter. religious schools of parental choice. He is entertaining, honest, unafraid to express his own deductions, and probably a genius!

Beneath the Marble Sky

This isn’t really a book report or a book review. It is more a reminder, a personal reflection geared to keep the book I’ve just finished reading, close to my heart. This seventeenth century historical fiction novel by John Shors recounts the story of the Taj Mahal. As a memorial of a just Emporer Shah Johan for his wife Empress Mumtaz Mahal, her tomb remains a gleaming white marble eulogy of their love.

The eternal struggle between the two most powerful human emotions love and hatred are ever the theme of this story. The antagonist, the Shah’s son Arangzeb, represents extreme evil as the heroine, the shah’s eldest daughter Princess Johanara, embodies the virtues of goodness.

Brutality displayed vividly in two men is countered by the gentle strength of two other men in the story. In describing the brutality of the evil men the author holds nothing back. It is the endurance of Johanara that allows the reader to accept the vivid physical abuse as necessary to the story. It is a complicated plot. The underlying and perhaps more important theme is the Muslem and Hindu faith of the characters which exhibits the good and the evil interpretation by the characters.

Being Christian, I noted the mention of the spires of a few churches along with those of the temples and mosques in an idyllic town by the sea, where the virtuous characters in the story spent some respite from the extreme struggles they were otherwise experiencing. This first novel of John Shors is well worth reading.

Wonderland vs Wonderful World

Ever think you’re living in an Alice In Wonderland world with Mad Hatters and men who are made of cards? I know the story makes sense as the author knew what it meant. It isn’t really for me to use it for comparing our world today.

But is there any way to compare the insanity surrounding me every day? I suppose Presidents Day which has consolidated two great Presidents, to make room for things like the Earth Day and others, I don’t wish to remember. Now what country is it that we live in? Although it took years in the making, I feel as if I went to bed one night in the United States of America and woke up in Wonderland wondering what happened..

I wonder when and if my country will be restored. God is removed from the public schools, women can choose to abort their own children up to birth in New Jersey and even after birth in New York. We have no border, no law, no justice. Yet there exists a struggle as old as humanity itself. It is one of domination vs. freedom. It is the soul of our country and the gift of these two men. Both fought against slavery, one from a country and the other slavery of a people: Both bore the chains of domination.

A blinding is taking place today and the focus is on the slavery President Lincoln fought instead of the slavery President Washington fought. I am convinced there is no such thing as different races. It is the human race that God made as He did all things. For in the sight of our One Lord Creator we are all equally loved; yet He the Almighty cannot embrace evil or domination. We do know we are wonderfully made and have freedom to decide for good or evil, freedom or domination, life or death.

It is a wonder we still hope for our wonderful country !

First Poem of 2022

This poem came in the the middle of a sleepless night filled with anxiety. To dispel the mood I stepped out onto the deck and was greeted by the darkness interspersed with the lights of multiple stars. This simple poem sprang from the joy of the sight of the night sky on January 3rd 2022.

On October 21st 2020 I posted a poem titled Autumn Morning. Since then I have not written a single poem until January 3rd of the New Year. Even if my poems may not be worthy of becoming known beyond my journal and perhaps this blog, they are, I believe, especially gifted to me. When considering periods when poems filled pages of my journal opposed to periods when they were absent, I noticed giving time to silence and seeking answers seemed to open the door to The mystery of some bit of truth Flowing from the mind of Truth itself To an unworthy poet… * (From the poem, The Gift by DJ Pasternak )

First Poem of 2022

How beautiful is the night!
Cold clear winter sky
Aglow in darkness   
Do we gaze upon a world beyond in awe
Silent serene awaiting souls
Thrust into the forever of beauty unknown 
A world of truth to behold 
Given as gold to those
Yet wanting to know what awaits
In the lighted heavens
Seeking arms to hold, to love
Creator Comforter 
  How beautiful is the night!

St. Teresa of Calcutta and St Theresa of Lisieux

Some years ago a friend of mine commented on my praying for the intercession of saints. She singled out The Little Flower, St Theresa of Lisieux. For her this well known saint did practically nothing; hidden away in a Carmelite convent in France from an early age and dying at the age of twenty-four. My only rebuttals at the time was that a book she wrote, The Story of a Soul, was one of the most widely read in the world. At the direction of her superior at the convent, who was also her sister Pauline, this little saint kept a diary of her life. The second thing was a quote that she would “Spend her heaven doing good on earth”.

Still this didn’t change my friend’s mind. I remembered this incident when I received another book this Christmas, Do Something Beautiful for God. It contained quote from Saint Teresa of Calcutta for each day of the year and also a short bio about her in the introduction, In the latter it mentioned that Mother Teresa who is one of the most widely known person in the world named The Little Flower as her role model. In the book the author says: Theresa (The little flower) believed that love is expressed through attention to the small things that fill our daily lives. Theresa practiced the small things that fill our daily lives. Mother Teresa practiced “the little way” taught by St Theresa.

Therefore, what did the Carmelite nun who lived an obscure, short life actually do? She influenced perhaps millions of people including one person who received the Nobel Peace Prize. The United States Medal of Freedom, and the United Nations Albert Schweitzer Prize.

Do Something Beautiful for God The

The Story of a Soul Free digital on line

About Control

There is something about driving a car, flying a small plane, a boat, an ATV… it is usually a feeling of being in control. At this present time in our country, the USA, do you have a feeling of being controlled? Our freedoms seem to be crumbling, our institutions unstable, our health threatened. We don’t have the controls, things are out of our hands and it seems those in control are not friendlies.

An incident comes to mind thinking on this situation. My husband has been driving a car since he was nine years old; not on the highways at that age but in fields where he lived. He always remained in control and I had every reason to believe that would be the case one sunny autumn day when he decided to take me for a ride in the car he built himself in 1960.

The body of the hot rod was a 1931 Model A Ford lowered and fender-less with a powerful V-8 engine and 4 on the floor transmission. Sound like I know what I am talking about? Not really, even though he has been ‘educating’ me for quite a number of years now.

Our daughter was excited and took a photo of us leaving and I would find her still standing in the same place with the camera in her hands on my return (this tells you it wasn’t that recent). As usual I’m getting ahead of myself. As we drove down the country road and stopped at the stop sign everything was going well. The engine sounded great. Then things changed as my husband pulled out unto the deserted county road and ‘stomped’ on it. We were out of control. The steering had a mind of its own and the little coupe seemed about to crash as it turned of its own accord.

The amazing thing I remember from those few moments was not panic, but peace (of all things), There was nothing I could do and I just relaxed and prayed, not in words, but in giving my desire to control over to One I knew was and is in control. And that’s what needs to happen now. Not giving up yet doing what I can but with the knowledge it is not all about me. It is about Him.

The car came to a stop on the crest of a small bank on the side of the road. The car. my husband, and I were fine, just a broken axle or something like that. He waited until a neighbor came to tow the hot rod home less than a mile away and I got a ride back with a passer by. My daughter was a bit upset and I admit I collapsed on the sofa.

You’ll be relieved to know the three of us (my husband, the car & myself) are alive and well and occasionally go out together on sunny autumn days. Just one of those things we are thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day