Friday, September 2, 2011

Blog Give Away Contest

I know I haven't posted in a long time, but I came across something that I just have to tell you about.   There is a great blog give away featuring 3 beautiful patterns by KnotSewCute on Etsy.  The first two prizes come with enough yarn to complete the project.   Here is a link to the contest:   The picture above is the first prize.  :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Don't Worry...Be Happy! ;-)

My thought for today comes from this old Irish saying:

There are only two things to worry about: either you are well or you are sick. If you are well, then there is nothing to worry about: but if you are sick; there are two things for you to worry about: either you get well or you will die. If you get well then there is nothing to worry about. if you die: then there are two things to worry about: either you go up or down. If you go up, then there is nothing to worry about. But it you go down you will be so busy shaking hands with old friends you won't have time to worry

Wrap Around Rosary Bracelet

Wrap Around Rosary Bracelet

This beautiful wrap around bracelet is a full 5 decade rosary.   The focal point are the clear 8mm  Czech beads with a vitrail coating.  They sparkle and reflect almost every color in the rainbow.   Complimenting the Czech beads are 11mm clear faceted crystal beads.   Silver plated spacers and Tibetan silver bead caps add a finishing touch.   Please click here to learn more about this bracelet and to view my other handcrafted rosaries and jewelry.  Free shipping offered on all rosaries and jewelry.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

St. Patrick Shamrock Rosary

St. Patrick Shamrock Rosary

Okay, now I know I was slapped by a leprechaun on St Patrick's Day. I can't seem to stop making Irish rosaries and I'm happy about that. Guess you could say that my rosaries are going green. ;-)

The focal points of this rosary are the gold finished, lead free, pewter center and crucifix. The shamrock shaped center features and image of St Patrick. The handsome crucifix has a shamrock at the end of each arm. Both are inlaid with emerald green enamel. The Hail Mary beads are 6mm, satin finish, Czech beads. They have a beautiful glow instead of sparkle and shine. They are accented by 3mm bead caps. The Our Father beads are Celtic Knots which have long been an Irish symbol of immortality and eternity. Please click here to learn more about this rosary and my other handcrafted rosaries and jewelry.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Thought for the Day

I saw this quote on a poster 40 years ago and it blew my mind.  It still does.  I thought I had read it in a book by Catherine De Hueck Doherty, but I was wrong.   It was just a poster.  Go figure!

"If you do not understand God's silence, you will never understand His words."

St Brigid Celtic Irish Rosary

St. Brigid Rosary 

One of the patron saints of Ireland is St. Brigid. Not much is known about her except that she lived at the same time as St. Patrick. She became a nun at a young age and lived a very holy life. Very few people know of her, and it seems as though she is often overlooked. For this reason, I wanted to make a rosary that honors her.

The Pater beads in this rosary are handmade lampwork beads.  They have delicate white and light green flowers in clear crystal.   The Avé beads are 6mm emerald green Czech beads.   Both the crucifix and the center are silver colored metal.  Please click here to  learn more about this rosary and to view more of my handcrafted rosaries.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Oh Canada...Go!

Okay.   First and foremost, let it be said that I am definitely NOT a sports fan.   I'm not funny about football, bonkers about basketball or buggy about baseball.   I'm one of those very few people who were secretly hoping the football lockout would last FOREVER! Good thing no one knows where I live, 'cause I would probably be lynched for that last remark!

However, if I were to follow a sport, I would hoot for hockey.   I don't know if it's because I like it more than the others or if I  just dislike it less.  Maybe it's because I actually went to a game....once...and liked it!  That's more than I can say for the other sports.   This does not, by any stretch of the imagination, mean that I would actually sit still and watch a hockey game on TV, it just means that I have a little more tolerance for it.

So you can imagine my horror when all of a sudden the Stanley Cup finals came on NBC and my remote was nowhere in sight.  How could I, a self respecting couch potato, not have my trusty remote by my side?   I made a mad leap across the room to where I thought it was...not there.  EEE GAD!  Hurry, the game is coming on.   I made another frenzied leap to a black object on the other side of the room.   That wasn't it either.  Making a mental note to self to clean my living room, I hurriedly turned over every object in sight.  By the time I found it, the national anthem had come on.

Well, I may not like sports, but I always stop for the "Stars Spangled Banner".  I can't help it.  It just makes my heart beat a little faster, and I stand a little straighter and I am proud to be an American.   I watched the faces of the players, they looked somewhat bored.   I watched the faces of the audience, they too looked like they were just trying to get thru the obligatory opening of the game.  It was just the same ole, same ole.   I didn't think anything about it until.....

Mark Donnelly came out and started singing "Oh Canada!"   He had barely gotten the first rich, deliberate notes out of his mouth when all of the Canadians in the audience were singing along with him.  WHAAAAAT???   Singing their national anthem? In an unabashed display of national pride?   Their song became so loud, that Mark actually stopped singing, spread his arms out, embraced the audience and those plucky Canadians kept right on singing without him!   I was so impressed and more than a little ashamed of the Americans in the audience.

Oh...don't tell me that it's common for Americans not to sing along.  To that I ask "Why?"   Don't tell me that the end notes of our national anthem are so high that they can break the voice boxes of the most accomplished singers.   To that I respond, "Canada's national anthem has notes swinging from the rafters also.  That doesn't stop anyone in Canada from singing along".   We Americans could learn a lesson here.

I grew up 50 miles from Bean Town which means I might still root for Boston...if I root at all. But there is a small part of my heart saying "Oh Canada...GO!  My hat is off to you!"

Friday, June 10, 2011

Come, Holy Spirit!

We all know that Pentecost is the reason the Christian church in general, and all of the denominations in particular are what they are today.   Without the infilling of the Holy Spirit, the disciples would have remaind disciples and would never have become the great apostles, who thru the action of the Holy Spirit, started the greatest religion in the history of mankind.

Yet there is a different kind of Pentecost, the one that we can all experience in our own lives.  I'm not going to go all Charismatic and say that the only way we can be "saved" is to go the Pentecostal route of receiving the laying on of hands and then start praying in tongues to be formally declared "baptized in the Holy Spirit" according to the way it is understood by many modern day Christians. That is something quite wonderful for the people who are led in that direction. I don't criticize them or their journey in the Lord.  I only disagree with their belief that it is the only way.

There is a different and I believe more powerful kind of relationship that we can have with the Third Person of the Trinity.  One that is quiet, and deep like the still waters of Shiloh.  I could do my best to describe it, however, there is someone who voiced it more eloquently than I ever could.   She is St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi.   She was born in Florence in 1566.   She became a Carmelite nun and led of solitary life of prayer and self-denial.  She never heard of the laying on of hands or of praying in tongues as we know it today.  Yet, her prayer to the Holy Spirit is so powerful that it moves me to tears every time I read it:

You, the Word, are most wonderful, working through the Holy Spirit to fill the soul with yourself, so that it is joined to God, grasps God, tastes God and absorbs nothing but God.
 The Holy Spirit comes into the soul signed with the precious seal of the blood of the Word and of the slain lamb; or rather that very blood urges it to come, although the Spirit moves itself and desires to come.
This Spirit which moves in itself is the substance of the Father and of the Word, and it proceeds from the essence of the Father and the good will of the Word; it comes into the soul like a fountain, and the soul is immersed in it.  Just as two rushing rivers intermingle in such a way that the smaller loses its name and is absorbed into the larger, so the divine Spirit acts upon the soul and absorbs it.   It is proper that the soul, which is lesser, should lose its name and surrender to the Spirit, as it will if it turns entirely toward the Spirit and is united.
 This Spirit, dispenser of the treasures which lay in the lap of the Father, and the guardian of the deliberations which pass between the Father and the Son, flows into the soul so sweetly and imperceptibly that few esteem its greatness.
It moves itself by its own weight and lightness into all places that are fitting and disposed to receive it.  Its word is heard by all in the most attentive silence; through the impetus of love, the unmoved yet most perfect mover infuses itself into all.
 You do not, O Holy Spirit, stand still in the unmoved Father or in the Word, and yet you are always in the Father and in the Word and in yourself and in all blessed spirits and creatures.  You are friend of the created because of the blood shed by the only-begotten Word, who in the greatness of his love made himself the friend of the created.  You find rest in creatures who are prepared to receive you, so that in the transmission of your gifts they take on, through purity, their own particular likeness to you.  You find rest in those creatures who absorb the effects of the blood of the Word and make themselves a worthy dwelling pace for you.
Come, Holy Spirit.   Let the precious pearl of the Father and the Word's delight come.  Spirit of truth, you are the reward of the saints, the comforter of souls, light in the darkness, riches to the poor, treasure to lovers, food for the hungry, comfort to those who are wandering; to sum up, you are the one in whom all treasures are contained.
 Come! As you descended upon Mary, that the Word might become flesh, work in us through grace as you worked in her through nature and grace.
Come! Food of every chaste thought, fountain of all mercy, sum of all purity.
 Come! Consume in us whatever prevents us from being consumed in you.
Holy Spirit Rosary at Laude Arts and Gifts


Monday, June 6, 2011

Ya Say Ya Want a Revolution!!!!

Well...actually, we have already had a revolution...a GREAT revolution.   It is called the American Revolution and was started by the "Shot that was heard round the world".   I wonder if Sarah Palin knows that particular shot?   She clearly doesn't know very much about the Revolution that started this great country of ours.

On this anniversary of D Day, a day where so many brave Americans gave their lives to preserve freedom and democracy in the world,  I must say it frightens me that people in this country are thinking about electing someone to be President who doesn't even know the most basic facts about the beginnings of this country.   I think it's even more frightening that Palin's followers are trying to re-write some of the history of our country just to protect their favorite candidate.  And as an added touch of irony, one would think that a candidate who likes to fancy themselves one of the leaders of the newly founded Tea Party might want to more well versed when it comes to the Revolution.  

So now, it's time to get the facts straight.  Not to worry, I'm not going to list the facts.  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow did a much better job of it than I ever could.   Now some of Palin's followers might try to claim that the poor man was under the influence of some kind of intoxicating substance.   He wasn't.   Wadsworth was high on the intoxicating facts of our historic revolution and wanted to immortalize just a small part of the revolution in a poem.  Oh...coincidentally...the poem is actually about Paul Revere
          The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere
                           By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,–
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."
Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.
Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.
Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,–
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.
Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel’s tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,–
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.
Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse’s side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry’s height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.
A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.
It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer’s dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.
It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.
It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.
You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,—
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.
So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,—
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Round Two in the Battle of the Ahpids

Well, unfortunately, the battle did not go as planned.    I woke to find that my little ladybug soldiers were all dead.  Apparently, they were all dead when I purchased them.   I guess it's difficult to tell the difference between a dead army of ladybugs and a sleeping army of ladybugs when inspecting the troops thru a plastic container where they are being held captive.   However, when I woke this morning to find most of them belly up, there was no question about it.   I scooped them all up into their container and brought them back to the store for a proper burial.   I'm sure I heard taps being played somewhere in the back of the premises.

I was informed that the little critters had gotten too cold in the refrigerator the store kept them in.  I was given a new army of aphid eating insects and a new battle plan.  This time, instead of a sneak attack staged in the dead of night, we were going to make a bold strike in broad daylight.  After making absolutely sure that all the troops passed muster and were at the ready, I went home to launch the next phase of the battle.  I was to spritz my plant once more to provide a water source for my thirsty little army, once again station them at the base of the plant and let the boldest and hungriest lead the attack.

I did all this and the results were not promising.   Some of the ladybugs apparently heard distress calls from other plants, joined the air force and flew off to rescue those them.   Most of them decided that they weren't all that hungry and sought refuge in the shade of the plant pot.   At least they didn't fly away and at least, for now, they are still alive.  I heard a funny noise coming from the upper part of the plant.   It was the aphids snickering, making weird faces and shouting "Na, na, na, na, na!"   There is nothing so embarrassing as being given the raspberry by a group of uppity aphids.....  They'll git theirs, I promise.  The last laugh will be mine!

While I am still holding out hope for this latest battle plan, I find myself coming up with others in case this one is not successful.   My environmental ideals are still intact, but wavering.   If this little army should fail, I may consider an insecticide.   At least it will stay with the plant and will not die.

In all of this, I have learned some of the first lessons of war.   If the first battle is not won, draw back, re-group, and launch another attack.   Also, like chickens which should not be counted before they are hatched,  victories should not be proclaimed before they are won.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ladybug, Ladybug...Fly Away Home!

This post won't provide any profound or witty spiritual, political or cultural insights...not that I'm all that witty and profound.   This post is about one of the more simple joys in life.  Sometimes that's just what we need.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought a beautiful, bright red Mandevilla.   I'm on a limited income, so $20.00 is a lot of money for me to spend on one plant.   However, I figured it would be one of my summer splurges.

Things went well for about a week, but then I noticed that the ends of my beautiful Mandevilla were dying and falling off just as they were forming buds.  I was alarmed to say the very least.  In truth, I must admit that I couldn't tell if I was more concerned about the life of my plant or the loss of my $20.00.   Either way, the war was on.

I spent the next week in a watchful vigil to discover who the invaders might be.   I didn't have to wait long.  On the third morning of my watch I found the ends of my plant covered with little yellow bugs.  "Aha!  I found you, you little buggers!"  I thought.  And the battle began.

I tried wiping them off with a tissue, that was marginally successful, but there were too many of them for me to do hand to hand combat with.   I noticed that the bugs disappeared after a strong rain storm, so I tired spritzing my plant.   I only succeeded in giving the critters a watering trough.   After taking a close look at them, I concluded they were aphids.   I know alcohol will kill aphids so I added that to my arsenal.   It did kill them, but it injured the plant.

In desperation, I trucked off to the nearby garden store to find out which pesticide would get rid of the little invaders.   I really don't like using poisons, and I really didn't want to be responsible for putting more toxins into the environment.   However, this was WAR!  I was willing to forsake my green, environmental  ideals to get rid of the encroaching aphids.

After explaining the problem to the clerk at the garden center she told me that I did indeed have aphids and like many intrepid enemies, they had armed themselves and were resistant to just about everything.   Everything, that is, except ladybugs!  "Ladybugs?"  I exclaimed in surprise.  Could it be as simple as that?  Would I really be able to win the war of the aphids with my environmental ideals intact?  Would I truly be able to save the life of my Mandevilla...and my $20.00 with lowly little ladybugs?   I was overjoyed.  I could use nature to combat nature.  Victory would me mine!  Yay!  

So I now have an army of aphid eating ladybugs billeted in my cooler.  I was told to keep them very cool during the day.  That will make them sleep.   Then, in the dead of night, the battle will begin.  I will steal outside to spritz my plant with copious amounts of water because my aphid eating soldiers will not only be hungry, they will be thirsty.  After that, when it is good and dark, I am to station them in their barracks at the base of my plant where they will continue to sleep until the first golden rays of the sun peak over the eastern horizon.

At this point, my little red friends will wake up to the most joyous sight they've seen in the short little lives...a plant covered in aphids.  They will feast to their hearts delight.  They will sink their ravenous little choppers into every aphid, larvae and egg that they can find. They will slurp up every drop of the water I have so lovingly sprayed on my plant the night before.  They will stay until the war is over and they have gorged themselves on aphids. Then they will move on to the save the life of the next aphid laden plant.   So anticipation of this exhilarating victory, I declare tomorrow, Sunday, June 5 to be the Feast Day of the Ladybugs! 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Catholic Eschatology...In a Nutshell

One thing that Harold Camping did was to get me thinking about the Rapture,(something that I do not believe in) and about the "end times"(something I really do believe in).

I usually don't think much about either one because our Lord made it very clear that we don't have to think about it.  He said we definitely will not be able to miss His Second Coming, Mark 13:24-27, and He told us "Blessed is he whom I find doing that which I have given him to do upon my return".   All this leads me to think that the Lord has it well in hand without any help from me.

However, last night I came across a contest to write the best ever Catholic epigram.  I couldn't help myself so I made this entry. Whether or not it will end up being the best ever Catholic epigram remains to be seen.  However, it pretty much sums up what I believe about Our Lord's return.

 Unable to capture the joy of the Rapture,
 I'll forego the sham and Feast with the Lamb!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Something Celtic at Laude Arts and Gifts

This is the latest addition to my Etsy Shop.   The lead free pewter center honors St. Patrick.  The lead free pewter crucifix is a Celtic Cross which has long been an Irish symbol of immortality.   Both the Pater beads and the cruficis feature a Celtic Knot motif which is another Irish symbol of eternity.   The Avé beads are emerald colored Czech beads with a partial AB coating.  Please click here to view more of my handcrafted rosaries and jewelry. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hail! Hail! The Gang's All Here!

Well, it’s the day after the Rapture and we’re all still here.  At least I think we are.  Is anyone doing a head count?  I was tempted to run outside at 6:00 PM last night to see if I could look up and see the souls…of the feet…of the people rising to the sky.  I had the wild thought that it would be easier and less painful for me to rise if I didn’t have to go thru the ceiling of my apartment first.  I also thought there might be a great party starting up for those who survived…um…remained.   In the end, I decided to stay inside and take my chances with the ceiling.  According to Tim LaHay of Left Behind fame, I wouldn’t have been able to go anyway because I’m a Catholic.  I beg to differ with him, but then again, I’m not a theologian, I’m just a person who believes in God. 

All kidding aside, I hope Harold Camping and his followers don’t end up as the laughing stock of the nation.  That’s probably inevitable, but I wish it wasn’t. They even joked about it on Meet the Press this morning.  I can’t imagine what Letterman and Leno will do with it. 

The reason I hope they don’t end up the butt of many jokes is that the one good thing Camping and his followers had going for them is that they weren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in.   They had a belief, no matter how misguided, and they were willing to stand on it.   They quit their jobs and donated their money to get the word out.  While the theory they put forth was wrong, at least they were willing to put everything they had into it.  That in itself is commendable.

It could be argued that many groups do that…even the evil ones and that’s true. I don’t admire those groups.  However, I do admire any Christian, or group of Christians, who stands up for their beliefs in whatever manner they feel led to do.  I admire any Christian who is willing to further their beliefs regardless of the cost to themselves.  That is the kind of passion and zeal that converts souls.

And so while the world didn't end last night, no one was raptured, at least Harold Camping got almost everyone in the country thinking and talking about it.   He was able to get everyone, even the atheists, thinking about Jesus for a short while.  Who knows, he may have even been responsible for leading a few souls to God...and that's a good thing.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It Isn't the Moon

I’ve just started reading The Cloud of Unknowing.  It was originally written by an anonymous 14th century Englishman.   The edition I’m reading was edited by William Johnston in 1973 with a foreword by Huston Smith in 1996.  This is all new material for me, yet it resonates with my heart in such a manner that it gives me an unexpected sense of familiarity.   It is similar to the feeling I had when I converted to the Catholic Church.  I had never been there before, yet it felt like home.

I’ve barely gotten past the foreword and already I have been blown away by what I’ve read.   I quote:   
“Implicated with mystery, the cloud of unknowing will never disappear, but it can to some distance be penetrated.  How! By activating a faculty of knowing that parts the obscuring clouds of words and thought.   The underlying idea here is the limitations of language, and no topic has received more philosophical attention in the last half-century: Heidegger, Wittgenstein, and Derida have all wrestled with it.   But (to borrow a Buddhist figure of speech) they see that language is only a finger pointing at the moon and not the moon itself...” 
                                                                   The Cloud of Unknowing, Page 4  
I connected with this particular image because I am often awed to silence by the rising moon.  My words could describe the beauty of the moon to some extent, but my words could never become the moon itself in all its majesty and wonder.

This “faculty of knowing which parts the obscuring clouds of words and thought” brings us to the heart which needs no words and thoughts for that which it knows and understands. This, in turn, brings us to the language of silence.  It is the language of lovers; it is the language of prayer, it is the language of love itself because it is known only to the heart and it is a language which only the heart can speak. 

This language of love is the most direct means of being with God and knowing God.  Yet, because it needs no words, it often leaves the mind dark and “unknowing”.  This kind of knowing with the heart does not seek to communicate so much as it seeks to touch, to “be with”, and to be in a state of being with God or the other person.  It is knowing that “being with” someone is the most direct and most intimate form of communication, yet no words are spoken.  This language seeks to touch the object itself rather than being content with a hollow finger which can only point to the object.

This language of silence falls upon us like a gentle cloak when the mind reaches for words and can find none.  How many of us have fallen silent when seeing a sunset because its beauty can not be contained in words?   How many of us move into silence with our lover because words are no longer needed to communicate our beings to each other?  How many of us learn the language of silence in the presence of God?   Even the prophets in the Old Testament, after experiencing God, protested that they could not do what the Lord had asked of them because they had no words.  They had moved into the silent language of God and their human language had become an encumbrance to them. In the silence of God, their human words seemed inadequate, worthless…even unclean, because they knew their words were but a shallow imitation of God and not God Himself.   It was not until the Lord had put His word into their mouths that they were able to move forward.   Entering into silence is relatively easy; coming back from it is not. 

As we stand on the edge of silence we are inexorably drawn into that inexpressible love which is God.   Our hearts urge us forward, yet our minds recoil.  Accustomed to the tangibility of words and thoughts, our minds retreat from that which is wordless and without thought.  Weaned on the empiricism of science we seek to avoid the paradox of knowing that it is the intangible which is reality and the tangible which is not.

Yet, if we move forward, we begin to enter into the “deep calling to deep” with the depths of our being.  We begin to enter the very heart of God, not with our minds, but with our own hearts so that we can become a part of Him and He of us.  In silence we become one with our God. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How to Pray the Rosary

Praying is one of the most important things in my life.  I feel deeply lead to prayer and have found that praying the rosary is one of the most powerful prayers that anyone can enter into.  If entered into with an open heart it will lead us directly into the deepest mysteries of our spiritual life in the Lord.  In light of that, I would like very much to write a post explaining how to pray the rosary. It is my hope that non-Catholics who read this will have a better understanding of the rosary and that Catholics my gain deeper insight into the prayers that mean so much to them.

The rosary is not a stagnant, archaic prayer which Catholics pray by rote because they are “supposed” to. Rather it is a dynamic, fluid prayer which brings spiritual life to the person who prays it with an open heart. It is a mediation which is capable of giving deep insights into the life of Our Lord and can deepen our relationship with Him. It is a prayer which evolves and grows to meet the needs of each subsequent generation while, at the same time, remaining anchored in the deepest of church traditions. The mysteries of the rosaries are as relevant to today's needs as they were when they first came into use.

Because the 20 mysteries are the focal point of the rosary, it is important to spend a little time speaking about them before getting into the “How to” of praying the rosary. As a convert to the Roman Catholic faith, I know many Protestants look askance at the rosary and praying to Mary as though it were bordering on idolatry. It isn’t. With the exception of the Apostle’s Creed, which even Protestants pray, and with the exception of the concluding prayer, all of the basic prayers and mysteries of the rosary are deeply rooted in scripture.

The 20 mysteries are broken down into 4 themes or groups consisting of 5 mysteries each. The common practice is to meditate on each of these mysteries, one at a time, while praying the corresponding decade of 10 Hail Marys. I am not going to share any of my insights into the mysteries of the rosary because it is too much information to put into one post.  I hope to be writing about some of my meditations on the rosary in the future so...stay tuned!  :)  Therefore, I am simply going to list the mysteries with the scriptures that they were taken from. This will give a good overview of the scriptural basis of praying the rosary.

The Joyful Mysteries

1. The Annunciation – Luke 1:26-35, 38
2. The Visitation – Luke 1:39-45, 56
3. The Nativity – Luke 2: 1, 3-20
4. The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple – Luke 2:22-35
5. The Finding of Jesus in the Temple – Luke 2: 41-51

The Luminous Mysteries ~ The Mysteries of Light

1. The Baptism of Jesus – Matthew3:1-2, 5-6, 13-16a; Luke 3:21b-22
2. The Wedding at Cana - John 2:1-11
3. The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God – Matt 4:17; Matt 5:1-16
4. The Transfiguration – Luke 9:28-36
5. The Institution of the Eucharist – Luke 22:14-20

The Sorrowful Mysteries

1. The Agony of our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane – Luke 22:39-36
2. The Scourging at the Pillar – John 19:1
3. The Crowning with Thorns – John 19:2; Mark 15:17-19
4. The Carrying of the Cross - John 19:16-17; Luke 23:26
5. The Crucifixion – Luke 23: 33-49

The Glorious Mysteries

1. The Resurrection – Luke 24:1-12
2. The Ascension – Luke 24:50-52; Mark 16:19
3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit – Acts 2:1-13
4. The Assumption of Mary – Rev 12
5. The Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Rev 12:1

The basic prayers of the rosary are the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer also known as the Pater Noster, the Hail Mary prayer also known as the Avé or the Avé Maria, and the Doxology which many Protestant are familiar with. I have them listed here for people who may not be familiar with them.

The Apostle’s Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen. Matt 6:9-13

The Hail Mary Prayer
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of death. Amen.
The first part of the prayer: “Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you” comes from Luke 1:28, and is a quote of the greeting that the Angel Gabriel gave to Mary during the Annunciation. The next sentence: “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb”, quotes part of the greeting that Elizabeth gave to Mary and can be found in Luke 1:42. The rest of the prayer is simply a prayer of petition for Mary pray for us.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without out end. Amen.

There are many other prayers that are traditionally recited as part of the rosary, but they are optional and do not comprise the basic structure of the rosary. One of those prayers is the prayer of Fatima

Prayer of Fatima
Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell
And lead also souls to heaven, especially those most in need of your mercy.

The Salve Regina
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy! Our life, our sweetness, and our hope!
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve,
to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley, of tears.
Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus;
O clement, O loving, O sweet virgin Mary,
Pray for us, O holy Mother of God
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
The Memorare
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Before beginning to pray the rosary, decide which of the 4 groups of Mysteries you wish to meditate on. Then it is common to pick the rosary up, hold the cross in your right hand and the rest of the rosary in your left hand. While making the sign of the cross, the person prays: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen”

The traditional form of praying the rosary is as follows:

· Recite the Apostle’s Creed
· Pray an “Our Father” on the first large bead
· Pray one “Hail Mary” on each of the following 3 beads. The first “Hail Mary is for an increase of Faith. The second “Hail Mary” is for an increase of hope. The third “Hail Mary” is for an increase of charity.
· Pray one “Doxology”.
· Pray one “Prayer of Fatima”

· Announce the first Mystery of the group you have chosen.
· Pray an “Our Father” on the next large bead
· Pray one “Hail Mary” on each of the next 10 beads
· Pray one “Doxology”
· Pray one “Prayer of Fatima”

· Announce the second mystery of the group you have chosen
· Pray an “Our Father” on the next large bead
· Pray one “Hail Mary” on each of the next 10 beads.
· Pray one “Doxology”
· Pray one “Prayer of Fatima
· Follow this format until you have finished with the 5th mystery of the group and finished with the last 10 “Hail Mary” prayers.

· Finish with one last recitation of the “Doxology” and one last recitation of the “Prayer of Fatima”

After the last “Prayer of Fatima” most people pray the “Salve Regina” and the “Memorare”

Mother of Pearl Rosary at Laude Arts and Gifts

Monday, May 16, 2011

Newly Listed at Laude Arts and Gifts

I am so totally in love with the Avé beads in this rosary.   They are matte blue with a semi AB coating.  They have a beautiful glow and reflect different shades of blue and green.   The Pater beads are Swarovski crystal pearls.   The center depicts the Eucharist and the crucifix compliments the rest of the rosary.  Click here to view more of my handcrafted rosaries and jewelry.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Save Us From the Hands of All Who Hate Us

“Through his holy prophets he promised of old
That he would save us from our enemies,
From the hands of all who hate us.”
                                    Luke 1:70-71

I read these words every day as part of the Morning Liturgy of the Hours.  They have become a familiar part of my prayer time and they have always put me in mind of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.   I’ve always thought of these words in strictly spiritual terms, in terms of our Lord coming to save us from our greatest enemy, namely our sinful nature.  I say this because it is our sinful nature that has the greatest potential to keep us away from our Lord.  Jesus alone can bridge the gap between humankind and God. 

I must also say I thought of this passage in strictly spiritual terms because I don’t perceive myself to have any enemies.   There are people I don’t trust, people I don’t particularly like, but I don’t think of them as enemies.  I don’t live in a country where I am persecuted for my beliefs or anything else for that matter.  My life is pretty good, so where are the enemies that I need to be delivered from?

I never thought of these words in a literal sense…at least not until Sunday when I heard that Osama Bin Ladin had been killed by U.S. Navy Seals.   When I watched the news on TV, the words “…He will deliver us from the hands of those who hate us” were the first words that popped into my mind.  I was perplexed to say the very least.

I was puzzled because I had never thought of the war against terrorism as a spiritual war.   I have to confess that I just did not “get” it.  I dare say many Americans did not “get” that either.   Most of us have grown up against a background of war.  Sadly, we have become used to it, inured to its reality.  I was born shortly after the end of WWII, grew up with the Korean War, protested the Vietnam War, have prayed for the troops during the Gulf War and prayed for the brave men and women fighting in the war we are presently engaged in.  I’ve thought of war as a fact of life.  I’ve seen it as a struggle for territory, wealth, ideologies and political power.   I’ve never seen it as an outgrowth of the ongoing battle between the spiritual principalities that fight eternally for men’s souls.  While it galls me to give Al-Qaeda credit for anything, I must say that is the one thing that they did “get”.  They were the ones who declared “jihad”.   

While they understood that this war is spiritual, it was anything but holy on their part.  They made it clear that they were our enemies and that they hated us.  Thru Bin Ladin and Al-Qaeda, evil has shown its monstrous face in a way that few people alive have ever seen.   Very few recognized it as such.   Yet it is those few who responded in the only way that we can respond to evil…that is to fight, to battle, to go to war.

I believe it was God himself who gave our leaders the discernment to see the evil posed by Al-Qaeda and it was God who inspired them to act in the only way we could.   Could God have wiped Bin Ladin and his forces out with a few well placed lightning bolts?  Of course, but He chose not to do that.  Instead He worked His will out in the same way He has been working His will for millennia and that is thru efforts of mankind.   He has inspired and strengthened those who believe in Him to fight for good and all that is truly holy.   It took nine very long years.  It took the sacrifice of thousands of men and women who cared enough to give their very lives to prevent evil from succeeding.  And it was thru the efforts of those who dared to do the right thing that God’s will prevailed.   

On Sunday, the Lord showed us that He has kept His age old promise and has indeed “saved us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us.”  His strength was revealed in all of this because it was on a Sunday, a day holy to all Christians, and on the same Sunday that a holy man of God, Blessed John Paul II was beatified, that Osama Bin Ladin was shot and killed and unceremoniously dumped into the ocean.  No man alive could have planned it to happen like that.  Glory be to God!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My Lord and My God!

On the evening of that first day of the week,when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”  But he said to them,“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them.  Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”  Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book.  But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
                                                                               John 20:19-31
Today's lesson about Thomas is one of my favorite lessons.  I refuse to call him "Doubting Thomas" because he really didn't have any more doubts than the other disciples, or any of us for that matter.  I frankly think that Thomas got a raw deal.

As I wander thru the pages of the gospels trying to imagine what it must have been like in the first days of the Resurrection, I discover that none of the disciples believed Jesus had risen until they saw Him for themselves.  In fact, the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke are riddled with doubt concerning the Resurrection.  
"Three days after the crucifixion, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb where Jesus had been buried.  She found the tomb empty and was the first to see the risen Lord.  He commaned to her to go and tell the rest of the disciples, but they would not believe her, 'Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the elven and to all the rest...But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.  But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen clothes by themselves: then he went home, amazed at what had happened. "        Luke 24:89, 11-12. 

"After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country.  And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them."           Mark 16:12 - 13.  

 The truth is that their unbelief was so great that Jesus took them to task about it.  
" ...later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen." Mark 16:14
In fact, at the beginning of today's gospel, Jesus appeared to the eleven  and showed them His hands and His side (see the first quote).   This tells me that at least some of the other disciples had been thinking that they (like Thomas) really needed to see and touch our Lord's wounds before they could believe. 

So why, then, do we make Thomas out to be the "heavy" in this case? Why is he the one who is dubbed "Doubting Thomas"?  What makes him different from the rest?  He is different because he was the only disciple who was honest enough to state his unbelief outright.  The others kept it to themselves.  They let it grow and fester and were scolded by Jesus for it.  However, because of his honesty, Jesus responded to Thomas' unbelief by giving Thomas the very things he said he needed to believe.  It was an act of utmost love and generosity on Jesus' part.  At this point, Thomas proclaims (about Jesus): "My Lord and My God!" It could be added that Thomas was the first disciple to do so. 

However, doesn't Jesus do this for us all?  Isn't it true that most of us are like Thomas, unable to believe fully in Jesus until we have our own personal encounter with Him and have "seen" Him for ourselves?   Isn't it true that none of us can really believe until we have experienced Him for ourselves?  At some point in our lives, each of us could be dubbed "Doubting Thomas".   Once we make an honest and sincere acknowledgement of our inability to believe, Jesus will respond to each of us according to our needs.   He gives Himself to us completely so that we can believe completely in Him.   It is an act of the utmost love and intimacy on His part..  The gift of His love to us is so overwhelming that we can only respond in the same manner as Thomas  and proclaim: "My Lord and my God!"    

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Strengthen Your Brethren I very own blog. I seem to feel a need to explain myself and what I'm doing here. Don't we all feel like this from time to time? Anyway, here goes.

Many years ago (more than I would care to admit to) I sat down to read my bible. I had been reading it, front to back, for some time and found myself coming to the end of the gospel of Luke. I started to read about Peter's denial of Jesus, and found these words:

"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned, strengthen your brethren." Luke 22:31-21 RSV
It is impossible for me to describe the impact these words had on me. It was as if the passage had read "Linda, Linda, behold......." I was suddenly aware of the Lord's presence in the room and became aware that He was using this passage to communicate with me. I had more questions than I have room here to elaborate on. However, I did know the Lord was telling He had something for me to do, but I didn't know exactly what.

I spent a lot of time praying about this verse and wondering what it all might mean. I also prayed a lot about how I might "strengthen my brethren". As time went by, I tried many different things that I hoped might fulfill His command. Some worked out well, some did not, but I never really felt like I was on the right track.

More time went by, life happened and I put the verse on the back burner. I never really forgot it, but I got frustrated with not being able to learn what the Lord wanted me to do. I resolved that leading my life trying to do His will as best I can was His will for me. This is basically His will for all of us.

For the past few weeks, the verse has come to the "front burner" so to speak, and I've found myself thinking about it and praying about it. I feel like I'm still pretty clueless, but slowly the thought of a blog has come to mind. I am with my very own blog hoping to share whatever I feel the Lord has shared with me. It is my prayer that the words you find here will be of some value to you and will act as a vehicle that will bring you closer to the Lord.

Many blessings, L