Monday, March 24, 2014

RIP Peter Oakley

I just found out via Hank Green on Twitter, that Peter Oakley, aka, Geriatric 1927 has died.  Peter became a video blogger on YouTube at the age of 80 in 2007 and was once the most followed channel on YouTube. He blogged about his Depression-era childhood in Britain and became the "Internet Granddad" to many young people.  He was also a founding member of The Zimmers, a British rock band made up exclusively of senior citizens, which was put together to raise awareness of their needs.

He, like all members of The Greatest Generation, will be sorely missed.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day--to Everyone

St. Patrick arguably ushered in an era of Christianity in Ireland that is only now beginning to wane.  In reaction to a couple thousand years of being the majority religion in many areas of the world, and also in reaction to the sins and horrors perpetuated onto others by its followers, there are those who take offense at St. Patrick's Day (and many other widely celebrated Christian holidays).

We in the United States are entering an unprecedented time of diversity in our country.  If we are to survive and thrive as a multi-cultural nation, we must learn to be tolerant of each other--Christians and non-Christians together, Catholics and non-Catholics.  We must learn to celebrate that diversity and take joy in each other's holidays and holy days.

Recently, Pope Francis has reiterated his question to us--"Who am I to judge?"  There are so many cultures within the United States.  We are a country founded on immigration.  There was a time when Help Wanted signs in this country included the phrase "Irish need not apply."  Perhaps this early persecution helped cement Irish-Americans' joy in their heritage (that now includes so many in this country who, it turns out, are not Irish at all!).

Resisting another's culture that exists next to your own will only serve to solidify mistrust and hatred against that culture.  There is so much we can learn from each other.

Happy St. Patrick's Day to Everyone! 

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Have an Alternative Lent

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday.  When you get to be as old as I am, these changes of liturgical seasons can
sometimes seem to have a weighted sameness about them.  Do I give up chocolate or coffee? Candy or computer?  Read the Bible, or go to daily Mass?  It seems we've done it all before.

That is why I'm always looking for something different and alternative to do for Lent. This year, I stumbled across Simple Living Works, which I really like.  They have a page that lists no fewer than 18 (yes, eighteen!) Lenten calendars.  Most of them match the various liturgical calendars, although, upon first inspection, they all seem to be fine for any year.

Some are longer, some are shorter and they all have different themes. If you are looking for something a little different this Lent, check them out!


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

And the Wisdom to Know the Difference

I've been thinking lately, of connections and relationships.  When one gets to the age that I currently am, one begins to think back over the relationships, both intense and casual, that occur over a lifetime.

In my own case, I spent a good number of years learning how to set healthy boundaries.  This was a long and hard-won process and I am just now able to come out the other side with a little perspective.

While healthy boundaries are crucial, relationships are even more important.  Which ones have been let go?  Which ones have lasted?  Why?

The arrival of instant communication and a decided lack of modern privacy have the benefit of being able to reunite us with people we had perhaps lost touch with for various reasons. Sometimes upon communicating, we remember why we lost touch, and other times it can become a precious and renewed kinship. Other times, attempts at re-connection come too late for this side of the veil.

I've been thinking of the Benedictine vow of stability in all this. In what ways have we been stable?  The art of letting go is an important one to learn--more important as we get older and realize what our true priorities are.  But, there is value in stability.  I am so very grateful for the relationships in my life that have lasted, in spite of all my faults and shortcomings. I shudder to think what my life would be like if I didn't have these family members and friends who have stuck with me all these imperfect years.

We need to pray for "the wisdom to know the difference" between healthy boundaries/letting go and letting people into our private shells that we build to keep ourselves safe.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Women Saints and Their Cats

Today I realized that there are at least 3 female saints who are traditionally pictured with cats.  I love this idea.  I think cats lend themselves to both company and contemplation.

We cat people are in good company.

Our first saint is Saint Claire of Assisi.  She was one of the first followers of St. Francis, who, of course, is the patron saint of animals.  St. Claire founded the Poor Ladies or Poor Claires, a monastic order for women.

A legend tells us that Claire was often ill,  but insisted on doing her share of the work.  One day, the bolt of cloth she was working with rolled away from her bed, too far for her to reach.  The monastery cat got it for her. Although I've had a few cats who might take it upon themselves to do something like this, my current cat is not nearly this helpful!

You can purchase the icon (left) and read more about St. Claire here.


Julian of Norwich is also pictured with a cat.  Julian was a mystic, living as a anchoress at St. Julian's church and would give advice to people who stopped by her window to ask.

She was the first woman to write a book in English, entitled The Revelation of Divine Love. (Click on the hotlink to read for free online.)  She wrote of God's love and mercy that was His whole being during a time in the Church and in society when God was seen as sometimes vengeful and angry. She is pictured with her cat, her only companion after voluntarily confining herself to her monastic cell.

To find out more information about Julian of Norwich, check out The Friends of Julian of Norwich where you will find information and items to purchase (including the icon to the right, which, sadly, seems to be out of stock.)


St. Gertrude of Nivelles is the patron saint of cats and cat people. Her feast is March 17, eclipsed as it is by St. Patrick in the church calendar and green-wearing, beer-drinking people in the U.S.

Gertrude was born in Belgium in 626, and died 33 years later in Nivelles.  She was known for her hospitality and generosity to Irish missionary monks, so it is appropriate that she died on March 17, a day when gardeners see good weather as a sign to begin planting.

She is also the patron saint of travelers and those afraid of mice. She is often pictured with cats or with mice.


Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Love--The True Purpose of Jesus' Fiery Preaching

Excellent article I wanted to share from Sojourners Magazine titled "Beyond Fire & Brimstone".

Afterlife or Not? 

It beings by talking about how the traditional Jewish thought of the Sadducees didn't include a theology of an afterlife, focusing instead on how to live life on earth.  Later, the more "liberal" Pharisees became interested in the idea of an afterlife that they received from neighboring cultures.

Jesus, was obviously in the latter camp--He believed and preached about a life after this earthly one. When He preached a "fire and brimstone" sermon, Jesus' purpose was not the same as the stereotypical television preacher of today. Jesus took the pervading idea of heaven and hell and turned it on its head.

Who Goes Where?

The Pharisees preached that those who were well-educated in religious matters, were scrupulous about following them, and financially successful would go to heaven. Those who were poor and uneducated in matters of religion, would go to hell.

Jesus--Radical Love

Jesus' Good News was exactly the opposite.  He preached that the poor and destitute, the uneducated, physically unclean, social outcasts who were notorious public sinners would be welcomed by a loving and merciful God. Those who were "rich in this life", especially those who did not remember the poor, or treat those less fortunate with God-inspired mercy would be the ones who went to hell.

A second way that Jesus used fire and brimstone language was to warn people who were set on an angry, violent and vengeful path.  He told his listeners that if they turned to violence (for example, against the Romans) instead of non-violence and forgiveness that "no stone would be left on another" and the very thing they valued the most--the Temple--would be destroyed.  In 70 AD, his prophetic warning came true.

Jesus used fire and brimstone language not because he valued punishment, but to inspire his hearers to repent--to make a 180 degree turn in their beliefs and in their lives.  He wanted them to realize that God is an eternal, loving and merciful God who does not see people in the black and white categories that we humans often do.  He is always ready to forgive us and welcome us home. Jesus asked us to do the same to our fellow man--love even those who do not love you.  Otherwise, anger, violence and destruction become your path.

Jesus invites us to turn away from that all-too-easy, wide path and go down the narrow path of Godly love.


Dymphna's favorite quotes


"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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