Thursday, May 29, 2008

Reading....

So I am what you might call a "happy camper"; In an effort to save money, we have chucked out our digital cable box, as well as the other two regular cable boxes, and have committed to receiving the minimal amount of cable stations possible. In this day and age, that is certainly a step towards a spartan existence (can you feel the sarcasm there?), but the gesture is a good one. It's only been 5 days, but already I personally feel that we are -as a family- spending a great deal more time together (in the same room talking) than we did previously. In the past, the television has dominated our landscape; at any given time, I could walk in our house from work, and all three TV's would be on, and in some instances, NOONE was watching ANY of them!

Now, before the Cajun Princess and I got married, I had a TV at my apartment that got one NBC affiliate, and a PBS station. So I watched "The Simpsons", "Nova" and maybe the evening news, if I wasn't already depressed enough. The majority of my time was spent reading, and listening to the radio, and I was happy with that! But for the past 8 years, our lives have been dominated by this malignant, 32 inch wide ,brain vacuum! Perhaps I'm being overdramatic with the word "dominated", but it certainly felt like that at times. I'm not claiming to be superior or anything, I am just as guilty as everyone else in my house when it comes to watching junk (What else can you call it when you make time in your day for recordings of "Robot Chicken"?), but I am so glad those boxes are gone! Time to start reading -heavily- again, time to do all those things I should have been doing all along, but I let fall by the wayside.......So I think for the meanwhile, I might start doing "book reports" on this blog about the books I'm reading, in case anyone else might be interested in them.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

When it rains...........


So I haven't been much on writing these past few weeks....Well, I'm in a lot of very uncomfortable pain, and have not felt like doing much of anything. Since February, I've had this aching spot in my left shoulder, that has gotten worse and worse over time. To the point where my sleep cycle is suffering badly because of it. I went to the Ortho Doctor the other day, and it ends up I either have a torn rotator cuff, or I have arthritis. I have an MRI this Tuesday, and we'll find out by next Friday morning what the proverbial deal is. From what he told me, the picture above is pretty much what they're going to have to do to me. They put the scope in the top of my shoulder to see, and the other one comes up from below and shaves bone off of my shoulder.......Shaving bone off of my shoulder.....Yeah, I'm so happy, I could just explode......

I think the only reason I'm not totally freaking out is because of faith. I pray every morning, and make a conscious effort to do the right thing, so I feel that the good Lord will see me thru this. But part of me, a little tiny sliver, still has doubt, still is scared. Not doubt about God, but doubt about doctors and their abilities. have any of you come across this before? Have you, put in this scenario, been afraid? How did you overcome it? Do you have a special prayer to share with me? I mean, I had my Gall bladder removed about 15 years ago, but I wasn't religious, and they had me so doped up on morphine, I barely was aware of anything happening the entire time I was in the hospital. But then, I didn't have children, or a wife, I didn't have that much to worry about, and now it concerns me greatly.

So if you have some kind of a trick, or a prayer that would help me out, by all means, post them, I need all the help I can get.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Atheist and the Bear



An atheist was taking a walk through the woods, admiring all that the evolution had created. "What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals!", he said to himself.

As he was walking alongside the river he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look. He saw a 7-foot grizzly charge towards him. He ran as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder and saw that the bear was closing.

He ran even faster, so scared that tears were coming to his eyes. He looked over his shoulder again, and the bear was even closer. His heart was pumping frantically and he tried to run even faster. He tripped and fell on the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up but saw the bear right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw and raising his right paw to strike him.

At that instant the Atheist cried out "Oh my God!...."
Time stopped.
The bear froze.
The forest was silent.
Even the river stopped moving.

As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky, "You deny my existence for all of these years; teach others I don't exist; and even credit creation to a cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?"

The atheist looked directly into the light "It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask You to treat me as Christian now, but perhaps could you make the bear a Christian?"

"Very well," said the voice.
The light went out.
The river ran again.
And the sounds of the forest resumed.
And then the bear dropped his right paw ..... brought both paws together...bowed his head and spoke:

"Bless us, Oh Lord,
and these thy gifts which
we are about to receive from thy bounty,
through Christ, Our Lord....AMEN!"

I love that joke!! Moreover, it fits in to this entry!! Yet again, Father Roderick has managed to grab my attention by the throat. In Daily Breakfast 479 - There’s an Alien in My Church!, the Good Father speaks of a press release from the Vatican pertaining to SETI and the church which says that Just as there are multiple forms of life on earth, so there could exist intelligent beings in outer space created by God.

I am reminded of the time before I was even seriously dating the wonderful woman who would eventually become my wife, when I would spend hours outside at night, staring up at the stars, trying to catch glimpses of meteorites, bollides and solar flares. Much like the atheist in the joke, I would sit there in the sand plains of South Carolina marveling at
the great expanse of space with nary a thought as to how it got to be. One night though, it occurred to me though, that all..... this had to have started somewhere, right? But what was there before? Where do black holes lead to? It all of a sudden became very clear to me that the design of the Universe had the fingerprint of the divine upon it. I didn't exactly believe in God per se at that time; I had been an Odinist previously, and had just advanced to the Universalist theory (God is God, it doesn't matter what you call him/her) but I knew, I just knew it was all Gods doing. I may get in trouble for doing this, but I'm going to post the Friday, November 14th2003 Devotion from Living Faith by Aileen O'Donoghue, because it goes so well with the Story Father Roderick was relating.

God Is Greater Than The Cosmos
.......They seek God and wish to find him. Wisdom 13:6

Do those seeking God in nature not find God, or is the God they find not the one they learned about in church? In packaging God for classrooms, picture books, and dashboard medallions, have we believers inadvertently made God smaller and less mysterious than the universe? I live in a particularly large universe, since my work involves studying galaxies a billion light years away. This means the light I analyze has been traveling across the emptiness of space since before life on earth evolved past algae blooms. the God I find in this universe is much vaster and weirder than the one presented in the typical homily. I suspect that the God of the homilists and the listeners know in their hearts is also vaster and weirder than words usually express. Perhaps we need to learn to speak from the depths of our hearts so seekers will see that the God we worship in church is not only larger than picture books and dashboard medallions, but larger than the universe.

Aileen O'Donoghue is associate professor of physics at Saint Lawrence University in Canton, New York

In closing, I'll simply quote the Jodie Foster movie "Contact"

Ellie Arroway: Dad, do you think there's people on other planets?
Ted Arroway: I don't know, Sparks. But I guess I'd say if it is just us... seems like an awful waste of space.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

To Game? Or not to game...


So on Father Rodericks Daily Breakfast 478 - Looking For An Audience, he was asking how to evangelize to GTA IV gamers. Thats "Grand Theft Auto IV" for the non gaming crew out there. Now I dont play this game, and I refuse to give it any press, hence the above picture from my favorite game, "Call of Duty 4". Now some might say that COD4 is just as violent as GTA IV, and while I can see why, they'd say that, I dont agree. COD4 is good Vs. evil, there is an objective, saving the world. GTA IV is all about climbing your way up the corporate ladder of criminal enterprise. "The main character can commit a wide variety of crimes and violent acts while dealing with only temporary consequences, including the killing of policemen and military personnel." Wikipedias entry for the entire GTA series of games.

But I digress; Fr. Roderick's question was, how can we, as Catholics, evangelize to the kids who play Grand Theft Auto? Certainly no other game has been maligned quite so much as GTA, even to the point where there have been numerous law suits against it's creators purporting that the game led to the murders of
Aaron Hamel, Kimberly Bede, Delbert Paul Posey,Marilea Posey,Tryone Schmid, as well as another case where a young man by the name of Devin Moore shot and killed 3 police officers in Alabama after being arrested for (surprise surprise) Grand Theft auto.

So clearly, this game has led more than a few people down the wrong proverbial path, and while you cant say the game directly made these young men murder these people, it certainly seems a safe bet to say it had something to do with the acts. But how do we reach the players, and once we reach them, what do we say to them? Like I said, I dont play this game, and I dont think I personally know anyone who does. So how do we help these people to differentiate between what is game play and what is reality? There has to be a way to get through to the kids who play this brutal "game".

Monday, May 12, 2008

Polish Holocaust hero dies at age 98


WARSAW, Poland - Irena Sendler — credited with saving some 2,500 Jewish children from the Nazi Holocaust by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto, some of them in baskets — died Monday, her family said. She was 98.


Sendler, among the first to be honored by Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial as a Righteous Among Nations for her wartime heroism, died at a Warsaw hospital, daughter Janina Zgrzembska told The Associated Press.


President Lech Kaczynski expressed "great regret" over Sendler's death, calling her "extremely brave" and "an exceptional person." In recent years, Kaczynski had spearheaded a campaign to put Sendler's name forward as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.


Sendler was a 29-year-old social worker with the city's welfare department when Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, launching World War II. Warsaw's Jews were forced into a walled-off ghetto.


Seeking to save the ghetto's children, Sendler masterminded risky rescue operations. Under the pretext of inspecting sanitary conditions during a typhoid outbreak, she and her assistants ventured inside the ghetto — and smuggled out babies and small children in ambulances and in trams, sometimes wrapped up as packages.


Teenagers escaped by joining teams of workers forced to labor outside the ghetto. They were placed in families, orphanages, hospitals or convents.


Records show that Sendler's team of about 20 people saved nearly 2,500 children from the Warsaw Ghetto between October 1940 and its final liquidation in April 1943, when the Nazis burned the ghetto, shooting the residents or sending them to death camps.


"Every child saved with my help and the help of all the wonderful secret messengers, who today are no longer living, is the justification of my existence on this earth, and not a title to glory," Sendler said in 2007 in a letter to the Polish Senate after lawmakers honored her efforts in 2007.


In hopes of one day uniting the children with their families — most of whom perished in the Nazis' death camps — Sendler wrote the children's real names on slips of paper that she kept at home.


When German police came to arrest her in 1943, an assistant managed to hide the slips, which Sendler later buried in a jar under an apple tree in an associate's yard. Some 2,500 names were recorded.


"It took a true miracle to save a Jewish child," Elzbieta Ficowska, who was saved by Sendler's team as a baby in 1942, recalled in an AP interview in 2007. "Mrs. Sendler saved not only us, but also our children and grandchildren and the generations to come."


Anyone caught helping Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland risked being summarily shot, along with family members — a fate Sendler only barely escaped herself after the 1943 raid by the Gestapo.


The Nazis took her to the notorious Pawiak prison, which few people left alive. Gestapo agents tortured her repeatedly, leaving Sendler with scars on her body — but she refused to betray her team.


"I kept silent. I preferred to die than to reveal our activity," she was quoted as saying in Anna Mieszkowska's biography, "Mother of the Children of the Holocaust: The Story of Irena Sendler."


Zegota, an underground organization helping Jews, paid a bribe to German guards to free her from the prison. Under a different name, she continued her work.


After World War II, Sendler worked as a social welfare official and director of vocational schools, continuing to assist some of the children she rescued.


"A great person has died — a person with a great heart, with great organizational talents, a person who always stood on the side of the weak," Warsaw Ghetto survivor Marek Eldeman told TVN24 television.


In 1965, Sendler became one of the first so-called Righteous Gentiles honored by the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem for wartime heroics. Poland's communist leaders at that time would not allow her to travel to Israel; she collected the award in 1983.


Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev said Sender's "courageous activities rescuing Jews during the Holocaust serve as a beacon of light to the world, inspiring hope and restoring faith in the innate goodness of mankind."


Despite the Yad Vashem honor, Sendler was largely forgotten in her homeland until recent years. She came to the world's attention in 2000 when a group of schoolgirls from Uniontown, Kan., wrote a short play about her called "Life in a Jar."


It went on to garner international attention, and has been performed more than 200 times in the United States, Canada and Poland.


Sendler, born Irena Krzyzanowska, said she lived according to her physician father's teachings, arguing that "people can be only divided into good or bad; their race, religion, nationality don't matter."


She married Mieczyslaw Sendler but they divorced after the war's end. Sendler then married fellow underground activist Stefan Zgrzembski, and they had two sons and a daughter. One died a few days after birth. The second son, Adam, died of a heart failure in 1999.


Sendler is survived by her daughter and a granddaughter.


A Foretaste of Heavenly Beauty


Taken from Augustine, Day-by-Day;

Envision the extraordinary brilliance and effects of the light in sun and moon and stars, in the dark shades of a glade, in the colors and scents of flowers. Then there is the grandeur of the spectacle of the sea as it slips on and off its many colors like robes.
All these are mere consolations for us, not the rewards of the blessed. What can such rewards be like, then, if such things here are so many, so great, and of such quality?
-- City of God 22, 24


Prayer. Look at the heavens and the earth: in their steady change and alteration they proclaim that they were made, and their very existence is itself the voice with which they speak. It was you, O Lord, who created them.
-- Confessions 9, 4
With words like this, how can one doubt at all? How can we not rejoice in the contemplation of what awaits us after this mortal coil? Moreover, how can we not marvel at the wonders and beauty around us presently? Surely God's signature is all about, his breath in every living thing! It is all so wonderful that we really have no room to complain, brood or pity ourselves, yet here I am, in that exact position. Things are not good right now, my family life has been tested and while I am confident that everything will be all right, I still am downhearted and disapointed in current events. I have spoken unkindly to my wife, and harshly to co-workers, I have become that which I have fought so hard not to become, and I am really downhearted by it all. Can noone offer me consolation? God can, but why am I so arrogant as to not rejoice in the gifts I currently have?
My friend S.G., a Paramedic, told me of a call a friend of his had to make yesterday, to a house where a 6 month old child had died.........On Mothers day........ Now I ask you dear reader, who am I to be feeling so downtordden? Why do I have the right to be so selfish and bitch and whine about my own life when nothing quite so horrendous has befallen me? Yet here I sit, and it maddens me!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

St. Augustine, LSU and Podcasts......


Ok, so I was listening (with great intent I might add) to the most recent Catholic Underground podcast, "CU Special #5: For the Parousians About to Rock, We Salute You.", where they met up with a group of Parousians from LSU, and they were talking about St. Augustine, and I was so fascinated by their talk, that i had to look him up, and found this nifty site called "Augustine, Day by Day". Wow! It's really a pretty nifty site! Im not quite sure what exactly the Parousians are all about just yet, but they seem very interesting as well.

May 1

Forgive--Give

Do you wish to receive? Then give! Do you wish to be forgiven? Then forgive! This is just a brief summary. Hear Christ say in another place, "forgive, and you shall be forgiven."

Forgive; give. And you shall be given what you desire--eternal life.


Augustine's Great Canticle of Love

My love of you, God, is not some vague feeling;
It is positive and certain.
Your word struck into my heart
and from that moment I loved you.
Besides this, all about me,
heaven and earth and all that they contain
proclaim that I should love you.

But what do I love when I love you?
Not material beauty of a temporal order;
not the brilliance of earthly light;
not the sweet melody of harmony and song;
not the fragrance of flowers, perfumes, and spices;
not manna or honey;
and not limbs the body delights to embrace.

It is not these that I love when I love my God.
And yet, when I love him,
it is true that I love a light of a certain kind,
a voice, a perfume, a food, an embrace;
but they are the kind that I love in my inner self,
when my soul is bathed in light that is not bound by space;
when it listens to sound that never dies away;
when it breathes fragrance that is not borne away on the wind;
when it tastes food that is never consumed by the eating;
when it clings to an embrace from which
it is not severed by fulfillment of desire.
This is what I love when I love my God.