Friday, July 30, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Great weather, great reading, great photography

That last few days have been great, hooking up with friends and getting into my novitiate books about the early martyrs, how monasteries came about, how the early Mercedarians figured out how to grow despite challenges of their day. God has also given great weather and photographs these past days, images I'd never image could be had. I'm grateful for Br. David's openness to being my model for shots and sharing conversation while I click my camera and use the last bits of daylight to snatch a shot here and there. Praise God!

PostHeaderIcon St. Maximus early Christian martyr

"From the time that he entered the monastic life in 613, St. Maximus spent most of his time in the defense of orthodox doctrine against the heretics, frequently moving from one monastery to another because of persecution. Ultimately he was arrested in Rome, together with Pope Martin I, and sent into exile. In 662 he was again in Constantinople, where the heretics condemned him to be scourged and to have his tongue and his right hand cut off. He dies in that same year as a result of his sufferings."------Christian Spirituality in the Catholic Tradition, Jordan Aumann 1985, pg. 55.

Imagine spending your entire life defending the faith...perhaps we aren't as faithful as we should be to the faith of our fathers, to the true faith passed, cherished and protected by the Holy Spirit? May the whole world have a such a flame of love for Christ to spend their lives living, defending and spreading the faith.

What stands out about St. Maximus's writings is his complete focus on Christ.

"...Having defended orthodox Christology against the heretics, he was thoroughly imbued with love for the Savior. He saw Christ not only as the meritorious cause of our salvation but also the exemplary cause, for which reason the great law of the Christian life is the imitation of Christ. By imitating Christ, the soul can achieve victory over the enemies of the spiritual life, the greatest of which is self-love. This involves a detachment from created things and one's own selfish desires so that egoistic love can be replaced by the love of God and neighbor."------pg. 56.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Sunset in front of Mercygrove

I nearly missed this great sunset! I didn't have time to shoot on a tripod so had to shoot handheld as fast as I could. If only I had gone out after the rainstorm and not gone wimpy about the wet grass and mud. Never again!

PostHeaderIcon Prayers going out to all people

We pray the Liturgy of the Hours as Mercedarians, morning prayer as well as a morning offering and devotional prayers, midday prayers which include the Divine Praises, Evening prayer with the Rosary and Night prayer and office of readings. For all of these prayers, I offer them for somebody, something or the world. So know that if there is anybody who is in need of prayers, here I am everyday praying. If you have a petition, by all means let me know. You can email me or leave me a message in Facebook. Peace and blessings to you. I regularly have prayers on my hear that I offer. Peace and may the whole world be on fire for the love of prayer to heaven.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010

PostHeaderIcon First day at the nursing home

Just got back from my apostolate at the county nursing home. I had my fears, but today was great! The manager grilled burgers and delicious hotdogs for everybody and a long row of residents made conversation to the new guy in white while we enjoyed the splendid weather. Thanks Jim and Sue for giving me something to talk about. God bless you and may Jesus give you perfect and long health!

I'll be going all day on Tuesdays and visiting all the catholic residents, who I'd count to be about 75 total on 5 floors. That's a lot of people, so I expect to start offering prayers and sacrifices for them as well as developing a regular schedule to meet them at least once in the next month.

The cooking there is terrific! I can't gripe about this government food. Well, you know how comparisons get you in trouble, so I'm going to quit while I'm ahead.

I had lots of great encouraging conversations and opportunities to hear the troubles where prayer is needed. So many sweet elderly people and plenty of good natured humor and grumpiness too. Look forward to going back next week. Great staff too...gosh, can this be that good? More human reality next week. May they be blessed with great care and holiness!

PostHeaderIcon 2 weeks

My novice master is leaving for 2 weeks of vacation today, so I'll have to follow the schedule myself steering myself through a lot of assignments and continue in reading my books. Br. David is arriving today, perhaps as occasionally companionship in the absence of Br. Martin and Fr. Eugene. The summer here is terrific! Great temperatures, sunshine and lush greenery. Of course, I know the heavy and long winters they have so I'm living it up, as I suspect the locals are too. May God bless these 2 weeks and help me stay steady in my schedule and help me get ahead on my studies.

Here is a thumb size flower I found in the backyard adjoining with our neighbor's property. Hard to get these flowers to stand still while I get a shot. Much patience.
Monday, July 26, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Angels and Saints

I'm real proud of these shots from last night. Perhaps this is God's way of making things better after a little bout of loneliness. Working an hour a day at dusk is my usual photo vacation. We have purple skies up here in LeRoy, which is a surprise for me because I've always wanted to have that kind of sky. They are so inspiring. Back in Seattle, they'd go out on the Oregon coast and find skies that like, whether they used a filter or not, I'll never know, but it really is captivating. I love color, so now I have finally found least occasionally. The silhouetted angels have a real apocalyptic look to them as they look forward to the setting sun, which may looking like the rising sun. As far as the saint statues, it is interesting to note that some religious imagery speak of saints as starts (e.g. Jesus being the Sun, Mary the moon because she reflects the Sun, and saints being the stars) so now putting a star on a saint makes sense. How will I get the Sun and the Moon and statues of Jesus and Mary? Argh...gerr...scratching head!

Friday, July 23, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Rainy day at the grove

I like rainy days in the summer. Being one of those creatures who have light colored sensitive eyes, I applaud days with less intense sunlight. Now I love sun, don't get me wrong, but I also appreciate the rainy, lush, easy-on-the-eyes days where there isn't the squinting going on that happens on days, well frankly, like yesterday. God gave us all days, so I'm grateful, but I can tell I'm fitted for the rainy day lush. The Garden of Eden comes to mind.

That said, I'm still adjusting to the expectations of the novitiate. I remember the difficulty of a 36 day silent retreat I took about 6 years ago. You are confronted with stuff you don't usually have to deal with, for example, boredom and loneliness. I'm not afraid of those feelings and they are natural human feelings, though they can be attacked by evil spirits of the same name. Of course the Eternal Father overlooks and allows temptations from evil spirits, so there is a lesson learned, hopefully and merit earned. Before we forget we are called the church militant, so there is a battle going on, whether we are conscience of it or not, believe it or not, or are honest enough to admit it. But for the novitiate, being the desert experience, in some regards, it is only natural to have to wrestle with boredom and loneliness. Now, as my religious brothers have advised, I've got a good schedule but it isn't quite the same without the usual human interaction. I have a great novice director, Fr. Eugene and my house brothers have been very hospitable and fun-loving since I've been here, but yet there is still me in a new place...the adjustment, the transition...loneliness.

I invite Our Lord and Lady into it of course, going deeper and looking for the source, in case there is something more there..recounting the other times of my life when I've been lonely. Thinking of my psych training...sitting with the feeling, not fearing it, sorta looking at it..studying it and talking to Jesus and Mary about it, as the drizzle of New York rain coat the blacktop outside with a glisten. I'm thinking of the New Testament passage yesterday in class about the calling of the twelve...Jesus says, "bring out to the deep..." Perhaps that is just what Jesus is calling me to do in my loneliness...calling me out into the deep. Go bravely into the darkness....where'd I hear that one?

I have class in 15 minutes....may Our Lord and Lady direct us all to be honest and brave, objective to our feelings and choose the good Will of the Father. Peace....
Wednesday, July 21, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Receiving Mercedarian practice habit for novitiate

PostHeaderIcon Sunset sets Our Lady apart

As a Mercedarian we consider Our Mother Mary, specifically Our Lady of Mercy, the heavenly founder of our religious order. The habit we wear is Hers, given to us through an apparition from our founder, St. Peter Nolasco. So it is all the more fitting that we have a statue of her at the front of our property in Le Roy, New York, known as Mercy Grove.
Monday, July 19, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Front yard of Mercygrove at edge of night

Some meditative imagery from our grounds. The angel bearing the torch at night under under the half moon reminds me the angelic choirs adoring the bread of angels.

PostHeaderIcon Early Mercedarian martyrs

"Dangers were lying in ambush on land and sea. Mediterranean crossings claimed a high share of redemptive brother's lives. Yet, the hardships endured by the redemptive brothers in Saracen lands were numerous and greater. In the words of a chronicle of the time, 'many times, they are slapped, stoned, beaten, wound by sword, spat upon, dragged through the streets and the mud and finished off as martyrs.'

At the time of the important 1317 chapter, the white habit of Holy Mary had already been reddened by the blood of numerous martyrs. The best known are:

Raimundo de Blanes, protomartyr of the Order. He was beheaded in Granada in 1235; Diego de Soto, from Toledo, the second martyr of the Order, dies near Granada in 1237; Guillermo de San Leonardo and Raimundo de San Victor, two Frenchmen martyred in Mula (Murcia) in 1242; Fernando Perez fro Castile and Luis Blanch from Aragon were captured by pirates in 1250 and thrown into the sea with stones tied to their necks; in 1251 when he was sailing from Algiers, Fernando de Portalegre, a Castilian, as seized by Moslem pirates who hanged him from the ship's mast and shot him with arrows. His companion of redemption, Eleuterio de Platea was cruelly whipped and finally run through with a sword. Both bodies were thrown into the sea. Teobaldo of Narbonne, thrown alive in a bonfire, burned to death in Algiers in 253; Guillermo of Sagiano, an Italian, as stoned and burned alive in Algieers in 1270; Pedro Camin, a Frenchman, as martyred on the coast of Africa in 1284; Matias Marcos from Toulouse was hurled from the top of a tower of a castle in ruins in Tunis in 1293; Antonio Valecio from Liguria, a 60-year old redeemer was stoned to death by kids in Tunis in 1293; Luis Gallo stayed behind as hostage in Moroco and he was burned alive in 1268; Guillermo Novelli, also known as Florentine Guillermo because he was born in Florence, was martyred in Algiers in 1306; Pedro de San Hermes was cruelly martyred in Almeria in 1309; after achieving a redemption, two Catalans, Jaime and Adolfo, were both murdered and the captives were sent bck to their dungeons in Tunis in 1314; Alejandro from Siciliy was burned alive in front of the palace of King Muley Mahomet in order to entertain the people of Tunis in 1317.

Quite often, Moslems did not honor the safe-conducts that they themselves had issued. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, Peter Nolasco and his brothers experienced in person and ahead of time the cruelties of what is now called Moslem fundamentalism.--------- The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy 1218-1992: A Historical Synthesis, pg. 59.

May the spirit of my redeeming brothers live on and be ever blessed and our order grow forever in the fervor of their martyrs blood for the love of Christ, His Mother and those in captivity! Long live the Mercedarians!

PostHeaderIcon Simple yard shots

PostHeaderIcon Martyrdom and religious life

Here is another quote from my reading....

"In the religious life on the contrary one chooses to live each day at this level of deep and conscious and perpetual response. The religious as such is asked not to wait for a flash point or a crisis: he is committed at all times, every day, every moment of every day, to say a total 'Yes' to Jesus Christ. That is why religious life is traditionally aligned with martyrdom. The crisis of the martyr is his trial before before the public authorities when usually, in the court, the charge will not be that he is a Christian, but something more specious--that he is an atheist, a traitor to the state, a black-marketeer or some such thing--but in this crisis he must pierce through the camouflage and see what the issue really is, namely, his fidelity to Christ. Once again we state that what the martyr faces at the climax of his life the religious is asked to live, no doubt in a less dramatic way but nevertheless equally really, all the days of his life. ------------ A Biblical Approach to Religious Life by Sean B. Kelleher, C.Ss.R., pg. 46.

I think this is commonly known as the white martyrdom, compared to the red (blood) martyrdom. However, both are associated with a death to self and the white has more deaths than the red, so there may be a difference of which is more efficatious.

I also don't think this white martyrdom is only done by religious, though the idea may have been best developed there and certainly a true witness of that from centuries of devout and ascetic religious saints. Today, and I think as much as before God can make life itself a martyrdom. Christianity if it is truly lived has within it's cross plenty of travails of martyrdom. How else do you suppose to die to your own selfishness and do it Jesus's Way? The life of holiness is a life of white martyrdom.

My friends and family back home I love for all their dedication to the faith, who I know live a daily white martyrdom for truth, love and what is right. They love their faith and live it whole-heartedly. I take my example and inspiration from them, the living saints in my life!

Relationships, including the marriage, consecrated and just honest living in general, are white martyrdoms too. A saint said, "marriage is a constant mortification". Consecrated religious would say the same about living in community.

PostHeaderIcon The Church

One of the focuses in our classes is the Catholic Church, what it means, how it was established, importance, scriptural grounding, authority, etc. I read a book by Cardinal Ratzinger's books, Called to Communion. We are also reading excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I showed Fr. Eugene some apologetic books by Catholic Answers that talk about the Church, especially their 11 book volume that address certain categories of apologetics. I have 4 books to read on the topics too so I have a lot of work to do. I'll ask my heavenly teachers, saints who I've assigned that job, to intercede and help me get through it with as much retention, focus, attention and grace to receive the best learning from the reading.

PostHeaderIcon Family fun in Philly

Rachel is in the smiling girl the furthest away that is looking at the photographer.

One of the highlights of my older brother's family visit to the monastery in Philadelphia was our visit to the Ukranian Catholic Cathedral which had a papally approved and blessed life-size photographic replica of the Shroud of Turin, the burial cloth of Jesus Christ. We receive a blessing by touching it, so that explains the picture. The Ukranian's are in full union with the Roman Catholic Church. From left to right is my brother Glenn, me, Mariko, and Yurie my sister-in-law.

PostHeaderIcon Day of prayer and reading

Overcast skies and Br. Martin has left on his much anticipated vacation with Fr. Matthew Phelan across the US of A. So we are a brother short in our community here at Mercygrove. I did an hour on the treadmill yesterday and an extra Rosary around the property and let the blood sucking mosquitos have another annoying feast on me while I captured some shots in the front yard, trying not to twist my ankle on the many ground hog holes. One of these days I'm going to be setting up a shot while my foot is on the top of one of those groundhog holes and the whole lot of them are going to come to rescue of their stopped compadre...and then, I'll see the white of their eyes and have to run or fight...and see the real number of those furry rascals! We are inundated with them here. I'm going to camp out next to one of their holes, at a safe distance, and catch a shot of them, eventually, in a bug suit...I wish.

I have class now...
Sunday, July 18, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Story of a Mercedarian Martyr

One of the important aspects of a novitiate is reading the history of the order. I love to read about the lives of the saints. Here is a quote from Mercedarian history:

"At the General Chapter held in 1247, in Taragona, Peter of Saint Denis, a French priest, and Bernardo de Pradas, a noble Catalan, were appointed redeemers. In that same year, both religious went to Tunis where they ransomed 209 captives. However, since they did not have the money to liberate others in great need of being redeemed, Brother Bernardo returned to Spain with the former captives while Brother Peter stayed behind in Africa to comfort the unfortunate and to avoid their renouncing their faith. he accomplished his mission with such enthusiasm and zeal that infuriated the Moslems arrested him, mistreated him and beating him through the whole city, they took him outside the walls and beheaded him. His body was thrown into a bonfire.

--------------The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy 1218-1992 a Historical Synthesis, pg. 39.
Saturday, July 17, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Flowers from the novitiate

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Mercedarian Novice, photographer, humorist, handy-man, fence-builder, prayer warrior, lover of Eucharist and Blessed Mother and Holy Mother Church.
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