Sunday, December 31, 2017

The occasional smile of 2017

THE OCCASIONAL SMILES OF 2017


Our Jesuit astronomer, Guy Consolmagno, S.J., commented on the beauty and "coincidental" nature of a total eclipse back on August 21 calling it a "divine coincidence" that "brought a smile to his face."

I have been praying with that phrase as I look back on the year.  Yes, things like hurricanes and fires and terror attacks caused so much suffering this year.   And then the long-term prospects of the tax bill, the anxiety of DACA and the school-yard taunts of Trump vs. Kim Jong-un don't bring smiles to most faces.  (Besides all this I get more "pageviews" from Russia on this blog than I do from the United States!)   But still I turn to some personal events of this year:

1. The death of my niece, Lisa, after 23 years in a persistent vegetative state.   Fortunately she went to God ahead of her parents and was not subject to becoming an orphan on this earth.   During her funeral we smiled at her unique way of embracing her life with race horses during those wonderful years she had before her disability.

2.  The confessions of children always bring a smile to my face.  After his confession I questioned a nine or ten-year-old lad  about his life on a farm and his duties of feeding thirteen cats and two dogs...not to mention the pigs and goats that he and his siblings care for.  "Do cats go to heaven?"  I asked.  "Yes."   "Do dogs go to heaven?"   "Yes."   "What about pigs?"   "I don't know."   
Another lad spoke generally of his sisters:\.  I asked, "How many sisters do you have?"  "Six."   "How many brothers?"   His face fell and he joined  his thumb and first finger and held up a big zero!  

3.  I had occasion in recent years to at least be consoled if not register a sad smile when I thought of the two or three men I've known who died young and who also had the experience of a Kairos retreat while in high school.   Retreatants (like men and women from scores of high schools) during such a retreat receive letters from their parents and friends with expressions of pride in them and of love for them.   Such messages both for those who wrote them and for the one who read them provide a tiny strand of consoling memories even in a time of devastating tragedy.




4.  Generally thinking that "living in the now" is overrated, I pray most frequently about a memory or about a concern for the future.   But a retreat master with whom I spoke this year during my retreat strongly advised me to pray with God "in the now."  So I took a seat at the side of a nearby country stream.  Coincidentally God  sent two kingfishers to the site to entertain me while diving for fish and preening their feathers in a nearby tree.   The retreat master was not surprised.   The event brought smiles to both our faces.   Now I get up in the morning and look out the window.  Often just outside are the morning star and a rosy dawn.   (This morning both Jupiter and Mars and a rosy dawn, too!).   Later if I have time to be outdoors the sights very often engage me.   Even the atheist Barbara Ehrenreich had such experiences that led her to puzzle over this thought: amazed as I am perhaps God made me to be a witness of creation.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Decor


YES, THESE DAYS THERE ARE CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS EVERYWHERE BUT NOT ALWAYS SUCH ABUNDANT FLOWER ARRANGEMENTS  LIKE THE MIDDLE PHOTOS HERE.


THE FIRST AND LAST PICTURE HERE ARE FROM THE JESUIT CENTER.

BUT THE OTHER FLORAL ARRANGEMENTS ARE EXAMPLES OF WHAT WE PRIESTS ENJOY EVERY TIME WE GO AND CELEBRATE MASS WITH THE SISTERS OF THE MOST PRECIOUS BLOOD IN SINKING SPRING!











Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Super Moon


SUPER MOON THROUGH THE TREES AND OVER OUR CLOISTER WALK

DECEMBER 3, 2017

THIS IS THE SAME MOON THAT ENTERTAINED US WITH THE ECLIPSE BACK ON AUGUST 21, 2017!   SEE THE REFLECTION THAT I POSTED BACK ON AUGUST 22.





Friday, November 17, 2017

Morning Star Nov 17 and Dec 7 2017



I was ten or fifteen minutes late to get a good picture of Jupiter in the morning sky.  But there it is midsky.    And I don't know what happened to Venus which is also rising just about twenty minutes later.   But the glow may wash out its presence.


In early December Jupiter stood outside my window in a commanding place.



Monday, October 30, 2017

BENCH PLAYERS, SIMON AND JUDE





FEAST OF SIMON AND JUDE    OCT 28, 2017   

Our saints of the day, Simon and Jude, barely make the list of those invited to be among the twelve apostles.  They are at the bottom of the list but for the last named, Judas Iscariot.   The list is in rank order.   The first of the names is Peter, the first Pope.  The last of the names is Judas Iscariot, the betrayer.   And about Simon and Jude there is hardly any other sure historic testimony.

Jesus, himself is basically a public nobody, just like Simon and Jude.  His name does not make it on any contemporary lists of great worldly leaders.  A few historical records compiled by historians of the Roman Empire mention him.   But such records focus on the tensions in the empire created by the presence of Christians.

In time the Father of Jesus and the Spirit of Jesus overcome such historical obscurity.  The Spirit inspires the testimonies of Scripture and the Church’s evangelical energy proclaims the place of the Risen Jesus in salvation.   Within that inspiration these bench players, Simon and Jude, too, by their identity within the twelve gain an honored place in the Church.

So the Church first acknowledged the sainthood of the likes of Peter because of his sure missionary journey and martyrdom.  The Church, then, though absent any sure historic record, praises Simon and Jude as saints, too, with missionary journeys and martyrdom.   These last two shall take part with the first sainted apostle, Peter. 
  
Jesuits like me take some solace from the recognition of these obscure men.   I made no missionary journeys, there is little likelihood of my martyrdom or official sainthood and yet, even those of us listed near last get a share in the glory of the first.   I experienced something like this when Francis became Pope.  Something new in history, a Pope who taught in a Jesuit high school just like I did!  

Let all of us bench players be so consoled.   By our baptism our names are written in the book of the sisters and brothers of Jesus.   We share in the great deeds of Jesus and the saints.  


Monday, October 16, 2017

Camouflage



There is always something to see on a walk around the property here.    Today this.   Should our soldiers try to mask their presence with such camouflage, they might find themselves targets as did this creature in the camera's eye.