Taps May 30, 2010Posted by lizp4 in Uncategorized.
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A beautiful picture-essay of the young men who volunteer for the honor of the guardians of the Tomb of the Unknowns, and ceremoniously bury our fallen heroes. The Old Guard, our “ceremonial” Brigade. God bless them, every one.
Michelle Malkin makes up a beautiful tribute to Memorial Day. here.
Redemptive Suffering May 30, 2010Posted by lizp4 in Uncategorized.
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To many Americans, “suffering” is what they do when they have to sit through a Barney movie at the theater with their 4-year-old. They think they suffer when they have to miss breakfast, or take out the trash during the bottom of the 9th with the bases loaded. Suffering to them has no real meaning. This is a natural occurrence in a country which has as many material blessings as America. The meaning of suffering has been almost irretrievably lost in the United States in the last hundred years or so.
Part of this is the technological advances and the easing of the burden of living that was the common lot of pioneers and poor at the turn of the Twentieth Century. Work was constant, a grind of continual effort. Life itself was frequently deprived and disappointing.
Modern technology has all but wiped out the miseries of American life. We can go through our day and accomplish all kinds of real “work” with nothing more than the pressing of a few buttons or the turning of a few knobs. Not much real physical suffering to be had in circumstances like this unless we sprain our button-pushing finger. Pills and counseling alleviate most other pain, and most Americans are left with little to suffer from, for, or about. Back in the day, as they say, any problems, pain, or suffering got us the admonition to “Offer it up,” meaning to share the pain with the Lord.
But the main reason for the lack of suffering among American Catholics appears to be the new sin-free theology of the Catholic Church. American Catholics are told to rely upon their consciences instead of on the Church, to only abstain from food for one hour before receiving the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, that Fridays aren’t meatless any more, and that penance is an old-fashioned idea whose time has run out.
How will people who know so little of pain come to understand the value of suffering? How can they know what Jesus really experienced during his arrest, scourging, and crucifixion? How can they understand the starvation of the Hatians or the persecution of Somali Christians or Indonesian Catholics?
To modern American Catholics, whose catechesis has frequently consisted of little more than feel-good, inconsequential indoctrination, the Passion of Christ is just a story in a book. It is very difficult for people with no understanding of Scripture or the Tradition of the Church to put themselves in Jesus’s place. They have no idea what it feels like to be whipped, to carry a heavy cross, to be abused and spat upon, and they definitely have no inkling of the pain of a crucifixion. So, how will these insulated people learn what suffering means and why, to Catholics, it is so important?
As I meditated on the gift of redemptive suffering during a homily on the topic at Mass a week ago (yes, some priest actually do teach on things like this, if we’re lucky enough to be in their parishes), it occurred to me that suffering and sacrifice are two sides of the same coin, and that none of us is going to have much of a chance to suffer “big,” so we should find ways to not only suffer “little,” but to teach our children how to do this.
When an act has no price, it has no value. Is it any wonder that Good Friday has so little meaning to Catholics any more? When they are not taught the redemptive value of suffering, the Easter Triduum becomes nothing more than a series of interesting liturgies scheduled for odd hours that cut into leisure time, if we even go. Attendance at these masses is pitiful in many places. Everybody wants to “save” their Easter trip to church for Sunday morning. And, when was the last time you heard a homily on suffering? When was the last time you offered up your pain, disappointment, or sorrow?
Modern American Catholics don’t have much opportunity to suffer. Fasting, acts of piety, kindness and love, little opportunities to offer up disappointments, minor pain at the dentist’s office, or the discomfort of a cold are the usual avenues of penance. But what about those who suffer painful injury, debilitating illnesses or crippling diseases? Can they count their suffering as redemptive? By all means, and many of them do. That’s why their stories are always so inspiring. All suffering, all pain, all misery and disappointment can be made redemptive by the simple act of offering it to the Lord.
The chronically ill and badly injured can tell the rest of us about constant, unrelenting, agonizing pain. Grief is its own special kind of suffering. But only a few of us learn how to offer that pain to God and how to make it a spiritual bonus, for that kind of pain is valuable in the economy of salvation. Imagine saying to Jesus in your pain, “Lord Jesus, I offer You this discomfort, this sorrow, poor as it is, as a token of my repentance and love. Although it is as nothing to what You suffered in Your Passion, please accept it as my gift to You.”
Picture a prisoner and a torturer. If the prisoner is a person of deep faith, the torturer is not going to accomplish much. The conversation might go something like this:
“Tell me what I want to hear, or I will kill you slowly and painfully.”
“And what will you achieve? My death has no meaning for you. You do not want my death, because it is nothing for you. What will you accomplish if you kill this body, which I have learned to despise anyway? For you cannot kill my soul, which to me is the real treasure. What you really wish is for my suffering. But it will accomplish nothing more for you than my death will. Every lash, every blow is to me like fresh water in the desert. They mean for me a glimpse of the Face of God. The suffering you inflict on me will be my gift to Him, and you will not be able to take that away from me. Do your worst.”
Many times throughout the history of the Church and her martyrs, this conversation has been repeated in dungeons wherever her people have been persecuted. God willing, most of us won’t be called upon to make this kind of sacrifice, but my guess is that it has been made countless times down through history, and will be made again just as often into the future. For the suffering that is made holy is the suffering that accomplishes miracles. Suffering doesn’t have to be physically painful, as those who grieve can tell you. The pain of a broken heart is real enough to offer to Christ.
Modern Americans don’t get tortured very often, and thanks to modern medical care, they don’t suffer too long with diseases or agonizing injuries. But all of us have painful experiences throughout our daily lives. Learning how to offer these pains and disappointments to God gives reason to suffering and eases the burden. If you are a stoic, learn how to experience your pain in such a way as to make it spiritually useful. Don’t let the opportunities for redemptive suffering pass you by.
Preppies May 27, 2010Posted by lizp4 in Uncategorized.
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THE ANT AND THE GRASSHOPPER IN a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest. “Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?” “I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.” “Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; “we have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food, and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew: “IT IS BEST TO PREPARE FOR THE DAYS OF NECESSITY.”
THE ANT AND THE GRASSHOPPER
IN a field one summer’s day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.
“Why not come and chat with me,” said the Grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling in that way?”
“I am helping to lay up food for the winter,” said the Ant, “and recommend you to do the same.”
“Why bother about winter?” said the Grasshopper; “we have got plenty of food at present.” But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil.
When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food, and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew:
“IT IS BEST TO PREPARE FOR THE DAYS OF NECESSITY.”
One of the things I like to do is “prepare.” I don’t mean the survivalist, K-Bar knives/MRE’s/fortified bunker, head-for-the-hills, hoard bullets, beans, and toilet paper kind of preparedness, but the simple, plan-ahead choices that (I hope) will help me to get through any period of time without assistance/extra money in the event of those kinds of emergencies that shut down services for varying amounts of time. Alaska is home to the largest earthquake ever recorded in modern times, a four-and-a-half minute, 9.3 on the revised Richter scale in 1964. (Each degree of magnitude is ten times the force of the previous degree). In those days, evacuation, devastation, and total disruption of services and communication was the order of the day. In those days, not many people were prepared for that kind of dislocation.
Preparing in this day and age is a practical matter. We are so dependent on our electronic whiz-bangs and personal i-everythings that a good EMP from a stratospheric nuclear explosion could shut many of us back down to the buggy-whip days in a matter of seconds. So, some people–like myself–simply find it practical to make sure there are extra cans of pork and beans, oil for the oil lamp, extra pet food, and firewood for the stove. Alaska experiences frequent power outages in the winter, but wildfires have been known to drive people to shelters in the summer, as well, so knowing what you need to take for an emergency evacuation is a good idea.
Having a little garden and knowing how to store its fruits for later is a good thing. Gardening here is such a challenge that it would take a whole article just to describe the trials and tribulations of the Alaskan gardener. But I use containers, and take advantage of “mini-climates,” and although my “crops” may be of near negligible size, it’s more fun than having to go out in the heat with a hoe for a large garden, and everybody knows every little bit helps. One potato can yield five pounds of potatoes at harvest time. A tomato plant in a bucket will provide you with delicious salads and juicy-sweet snacking. Some people have better soil and can garden on a larger scale. More power to them. I can’t find enough room between rocks to plant much.
My “bug out bag” is packed with a change of clothes, money, snack items, medications, and things like a deck of cards and a book or two. I even have a separate bag of emergency/survival stuff, including sparkstick, tinder, freezedried foods, and a big Leatherman tool, as well as a Swiss Army knife. if the world comes to an end, I will be ready to deal with things for a while, until help comes. Or, not. Being a person of prayer, I can spend the time preparing to meet my Master, too.
The best website I have come across for information on prepartions is The Survival Mom. Check out her great ideas for practical preparations. We don’t need to be on the verge of a cataclysm to plan ahead a bit. Especially check out her “Five Dollars Preps” for nifty, inexpensive ways to not get caught without resources.
And, everybody can PRAY. This is the kind of preparation that never wears out, doesn’t take up storage space, provides long-term peace of mind, and is a good way to occupy one’s mind while waiting for that bus to the shelter.
A Reprise May 24, 2010Posted by lizp4 in Uncategorized.
While rummaging around in my archives, I found this post from last year. I realize that it isn’t quite the same as a newly-written essay, but this particular gem is so readable, topical, and timely, that I decided to give it another airing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did when I re-read it.
The Ball Is In Our Court May 23, 2010Posted by lizp4 in Uncategorized.
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Take an hour or so towatch the two IMPORTANT videos here. They are worth the time you will invest. If you need to work online, open a separate browser, but by all means, be sure to listen to what is said in both of these excellent presentations. The ball is in our court now. If we fail to rise to this challenge, we will lose America to those who have never appreciated or loved her or what she stands for. The moment of truth has arrived. I pray that we have what it takes to do what needs to be done.
What Part Of This… May 21, 2010Posted by lizp4 in Uncategorized.
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…don’t the damn DEMOCRATS understand????
McClintock Tells Calderon How It Works May 21, 2010Posted by lizp4 in Uncategorized.
I’m so proud of Tom McClintock (R-CA) for not holding back or hesitating in this wonderful rebuttal.
(Hat-Tip to Grand Rants.)
Prepare To Be Amazed May 20, 2010Posted by lizp4 in Uncategorized.
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This is a home video of a HAILSTORM in Oklahoma City Wednesday. Prepare to be amazed. Keep your audio turned on to get a real feel for just how NOISY a hailstorm can be. The Midwest… A GOOD place to be from. Far away from.