Tuesday, November 30, 2010

You May Find This Offensive

Me Too

This is the picture of an aborted baby.  You can call it tissue, a fetus, a blob, or whatever you like, to salve your own conscience, but this is a picture of an unborn child that someone did not want, and so they killed him. 

Tonight, you will watch NCIS on TV, and see someone murdered, and then the story of the solving of the murder.  The scene of the murder will be pretty graphic, as will the scenes in the autopsy room where Doctor Mallard performs his necropsy.  If you watch NCIS Los Angeles after that, there will be a murder there too, or several maybe, and there will be shooting and gore abounding, in the midst of some salving witty repartee, akin to NCIS.

Or maybe you will watch the fights, where there is a possibility that a hockey game will break out.  You will see guys crashing each other into the boards or into the net, and you might see a high stick cut someone for several stitches.

Maybe you will stay up and see the news.  There you will see gore from tragic traffic accidents, and violence and mayhem from around the world.

None of those things will offend you, though you may "tut tut" for a moment at the senseless violence on the news.  Senseless violence in a hockey game, or on a TV serial show is not so tut tutable.

But, you will take offence at the graphic image of a baby who has been aborted by its mother, severed limb from limb by a person claiming to be a doctor, who I always thought was supposed to save lives.

Ever wonder why you find that offensive, but not the other things?

What I find offensive is the lengths that people will take to prevent those who value life from showing these pictures of the worst genocide our society has ever seen to the world, such as recently at Carleton University, latest here, and here

We cry out over the slaughter of our Jewish brothers and sisters during the second world war, but want to pretend that abortion is a procedure, and that there is not a life at stake (more than one in the long run).

Yes, I take offense too.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Addition By Subtraction

Learning from Father Gordon MacRae and Father Mark Gruber

It is late afternoon here in Southern Ontario as I write this.  The sun is streaming through the family room windows of our home that faces a small city park just beyond our backyard.  I have spent time outdoors today enjoying the fall sun resting on my shoulders and warming me.  God willing, My Dear Wife and I will leave our home here to spend the first four months of 2011 in our winter home in Southern Arizona, far from the snow and slush, and the bitter cold of Canadian winters.

We can do this because Our God is a Great God, and He has provided this for us to enjoy, but also to use for His Glory. 

It is not so for Father Gordon MacRae.  Father Gordon languishes in the New Hampshire State Prison, where he can, if he tries, see a few inches of the outside world.  But, he cannot choose to go where he wishes.  He is a prisoner.  So too, Father Mark Gruber in a very real sense.  They are the victims of lies perpetrated by those whose need to be right has exceeded their grasp of the importance of the Truth.

But, languishes is a word that diminishes these two fine men of God, for they are not in fact languishing, but seeking His Face in all they meet, and submitting themselves to His Divine Providence for their daily lives.

They are free in ways that most of us cannot imagine.  They have met the Way, the Truth and the Life personally, and He, Our Dear Saviour has allowed them to share in His Suffering and a Death to their dreams of priestly ministry.  He has made His Sufferings a gift to them, and they have taken up their crosses and are following Him, joined to His Death, and ultimately to His Victory over sin and death.

Add to this something else that happened recently, and how the rest of us respond to what is before our eyes must change.

Last weekend, Gus Lloyd, an Evangelist, and radio announcer on Catholic Radio on the satellite networks, where he hosts the morning show "Seize the Day" was given a prayer ("Drain Me of Me") by God, which he dutifully wrote down, and which he equally dutifully, but with some trepidation, shared on his web site and radio program, and which I reproduced the other day.  It is a prayer that calls for the pouring out of all that is in us that is not of Him, who poured Himself out for us at Calvary.

In one part of the prayer, near its conclusion, it says:
And when I am emptied, unencumbered by
The stuff and nonsense of the world,
No longer weighed down by the heaviness
And burdens put upon me by myself
Or the dark forces of the evil one

Fill me with your Spirit,
For your Spirit has no chains,
Your Spirit recognizes no boundaries,
Your Spirit is lightness and light,
Your Spirit allows me to soar
As on eagle’s wings.
Gus has realised that though he lives with his family in South Florida and travels about the country preaching as the opportunity arrives, he is not in fact completely free.  For reasons of my own personal journey, I know this too.

The Apostle Paul was never more free than when he was imprisoned, and neither have Father's MacRae and Gruber ever been more free than they are at this moment, while imprisoned, ostracized, criticized and ridiculed by those in authority.

True freedom can only come with abandonment to divine providence, to trusting in God so completely that nothing else matters but seeking to do His will every moment of every day.

Father Gordon and Father Mark have and are being drained by God of all that separates them from Him.  When all the clutter of daily life is removed there is only Him.

That their suffering not be in vain, nor that of Our Dear Lord, we too must take up the cross that is before us, and add to our life in Him by subtraction.

Lord God, Creator of the Universe, remove from us all the parts that keep us from being totally submitted to You and Your Plan for our lives.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Amazing Grace - Once Again

And Amazing It Is

My friend Norm Sutherland, who lives down the road from London here, and who I met at daily Mass in Tucson, sent me this link to Andre Rieu and a very rousing version of that old favourite spiritual, Amazing Grace.

If this doesn't get your fire burning, your wood's wet.

Birth and Reconciliation

Entering Advent with a New Granddaughter

Earlier this week, November 23 at 10:15pm, to be exact, a little baby girl, weighing 7 pounds and 9 onces, was born in Foothills Hospital in Calgary, AB.  Here name is Charlotte. Of course, lots of babies were born this week, and some others even at Foothills.

There are a few things that make this event memorable for us.  First, she was also named after her maternal grandmother, My Dear Wife.  What is significant about that is that it means that her second name is Christina - "Follower of Christ".  So, we have a new granddaughter, a little sister for Sam and Emilia.  Charlotte is well and at home with her family, which of course, includes her mother Katie Rosso, and father Marco.  For the next 20 years or so, they will only be known as Charlotte's mother and father, or Emilia's or Sam's. 

But, as we enter into the Advent season, and prepare to welcome the Christ of whom Charlotte is a follower, we remember too the lead up to that birth, a time when Mary was pregnant with her child, as was her cousin Elizabeth with hers.

As a man, I have witnessed labour when my children were being born.  As a man, I have never experienced it.  From observing it, I can conclude that it is difficult, painful, and produces great joy in the end.  What I cannot know is what it feels like to go through a pregnancy and delivery as a mother.  In actual fact, I am very grateful for that.  As a proud father and grandfather, I can speak about it, but not really speak to it, if you get my meaning.

Being pregnant and giving birth to a child are things that can only be fully known by experiencing them.  If my step daughter Katie were to tell me about the pain and discomfort, and even the joy involved in the process of carrying Charlotte in her womb and then bringing her into the world, I could listen, and even empathise, but not from my own similar experience.  Now, My Dear Wife can listen to her as a mother, who in fact carried Katie to term, delivered her and then felt the joy at her arrival.  Yet, the birth of Charlotte is a unique experienc still, and My Dear Wife, as knowledgeable as she is, did not experience this particular birth.

And so, we are joyful at Charlotte's safe arrival, though we do not seem as excited as Sam and Emilia are at this moment.

But, this all brings to mind something more profound about our faith.  Readers of this blog and of Father Tim Moyle's Where the Rubber Hits the Road blog, might remember exchanges that occured here and there between us and a lapsed Catholic, Small Town Guy, who found Jesus and has taken up his relationship with him in the Reformed tradition.  He writes from his experiences as a Reformer, and like many fundamentalist Christians takes his turns at bashing the Catholic vision of Christ, and has taken particular delight in slamming essential beliefs of Catholicism, particularly relating to the sacraments.  He has postured on the Catholic belief about Reconciliation, a sacrament that Father Tim administers to the faithful, and one that I love to partake of when I can.

Although our friend, Small Town Guy, would have gone to Confession as a young child, and so has some experience with the sacrament, he spouts rhetoric about how there is no need for Confession/Reconciliation, and so on.  He quotes bible verses to support his position.  Essentially what you would expect from a fundy.

On many occasions, when I have gone to Confession, I have experienced a profound grace come over me, not merited by me, but given freely by God.  I have known that I am once again in His embrace.  On one occasion recently, I went to Confession to a retired priest, who seemed hurried, and so my experience was one of being rushed out the door, which does not diminish the power of the sacrament, just colours the experience.

As I cannot know the experience that Katie had giving birth to Charlotte, neither can Small Town Guy know the experience that I have had during Reconciliation.  As My Dear Wife, Christina, can have a better understanding of Katie's experience, she still did not have that exact same experience, and so would not diminish its uniqueness for Katie. 

So too, Father Tim Moyle, who has administered the sacrament countless times, can relate to my personal experience, and if I had had occasion to go to Confession to him, he might be in a better place to grasp it.  But, he still has never been in my shoes when I have received the sacrament.

And so, we come back to uniqueness, and the one of a kind relationship that each of us on the planet is called to have with Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

It saddens me to know that there are Christians who feel the need to disavow other professing Christians of the core beliefs of their profession, yet do so from rhetoric rather than having spent time in the shoes of those they choose to criticise, shoes they can never really walk in.  It saddens me to know that I am one of those that sadden me, and worst of all sadden Our Lord by our actions.

Jesus called us to be one, as He and the Father are One.  Yet, He knows us and loves us uniquely, according to our gifts, faults, trials and tribulations.

Little Charlotte is only 4 1/2 days old as I write this.  She is largely a blank slate on which will be written the story of her life and her faith.  She is loved by God perfectly at this moment, and will be at every moment in her life.  He will call her to Baptism into His Death and Resurrection, and she will respond as she does, and He will love her on her good days, and on her bad days, as only He is capable of.

If, as her parents raise her, they follow the traditions of the Catholic Church, and she partakes of the sacraments as they are offered to her, and draws closer in relationship to Jesus, who among us would like to answer to God for standing in her way?

And so too, should we stand in the way of another brother or sister who professes to know and love Christ, but does it differently than we do?

Advent Begins With Gregorian Chant

Chant for the Season

I have been a fan of Christian Contemporary music for many years now.  As a former pianist and guitar player, I have had occasion to participate in its performance, and in writing it as well.  Since the automobile accident I had almost 7 years ago, I have been on the sidelines, and for an extended period of time could not listen to music at all.  Though I can handle small doses of it today, I have none the less been touched by many forms of Christian musci these last several years, maybe in part because I can only listen, and then have to marshall my listening time.

I have always liked some of the old hits, songs like Amazing Grace, and for many years played it with various other musicians where we felt the Spirit move us into different nuances of performance.  For a lengthy period, we never played it exactly the same, and could in fact not have duplicated one of our previous efforts with it. 

When I gather with my prayer partners in the mornings to pray the Lauds from the Liturgy of the Hours, we sing a song found in the hymnal section of the liturgy book, and those songs are all oldies but goodies.  So, I have been touched outside the contemporary scene, though I still have fondness for contemporary music.

I have given some thought to Gregorian Chant, but have by and large thought about it, and not listened to it.  Today, Stephen McElligott of the Loyal to the Magisterium blog posted a beautiful Gregorian Chant to begin Advent, here.

It is deeply spiritual, and prayerful.  Where Christian Contemporary is more about Jesus meeting us here where we are, it seems to me that Gregorian Chant is more about approaching the Divine in music.

Give a listen and see if it touches you.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What Is God's WIll?

The Skit Guys
An interesting take on knowing God's will in your life.

You can also go to their web site and see what else they have there.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks

All of Us Have Reason To Be Thankful

Father Gordon MacRae, an ordained Roman Catholic priest, ministers to the inmates of the state prison in New Hampshire.  He will spend Thanksgiving Day 2010 as he has spent the last 16 Thanksgiving Days, in the prison with "Pornchai, and Donald, and Joseph, and Skooter-with-a-K", and the other inmates of that institution, where he is a blessing to them, and in no small measure they to him, as well.  Father Gordon does not have the privilege of entering the prison to minister, and then repairing to his comfortable home elsewhere, as he has been in that prison every single minute, of every single day, of every single year for the last 16 years or so.  Not only was he falsely accused and convicted of molesting youngsters, in what to the most jaded of observers of the facts can be seen to be contrived, and horribly wrong, but he has been abandoned by his Bishop, his fellow priests, and by the Catholic Church, embodied in its members, who have consigned him to an earthly purgatory.

Father Gordon has always claimed his innocence and there are no shortage of those who believe in him, but to date there has been no justice for him.  Or has there?  Is justice just what we see in this world, or is there divine justice that we cannot see.  Father Gordon would tell you that God is just, and that God is merciful, and that no matter what happens on a day to day basis to him in the "hoosegow", the trials that he is enduring are all joy.

Some time ago, I wrote a piece about the verse from Ephesians that talks about considering trials to be joy, but for some reason never got around to completing it and posting it until today here.  In it I spoke about the challenges that my dear friend Deacon George Sebok encountered along the way to being called to be a Roman Catholic Deacon, and a lover of Our Lord and Saviour. I dare say that Father Gordon is a man like George, one who sees the beauty in the trials he encounters, and the grace abounding.

We in Canada, who live near the US or who live part of the year in the US are aware of a second opportunity we have each year to officially give thanks for our blessings.  We had our Thanksgiving day in early October, but now we can join our sisters and brothers in America as they give thanks for their blessings, and we can in turn give thanks once more for ours.  Once again, Father Gordon has eloquently shown us that all of us have things for which we can show gratitude, no matter what turns our lives take.

If you read down to the comments to his posting, you will see how his faith inspires others, from the comment from Pornchai Moontri, his fellow inmate who has been inspired to join the Church by his witness, and who was able to arrange for his own words to be posted, to the others who  have felt the Spirit move them to visit These Stone Walls, or who regularly follow the goings on here, and take the time to comment.

Let Father Gordon's unfailing faith be an inspiration to you and to yours, and then give thanks that godly men take up the vocation to be Roman Catholic priests, and remain faithful to that vocation in even dire circumstances and persecution.

Then pray that God would release Father Gordon from the chains of false imprisonment.

And above all, Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart.

Consider All These Trials Joy

From The Epistle of James

The second verse of the first chapter of the Epistle of James translates a little more broadly in the New Jerusalem version to "My brothers, consider it a great joy when trials of many kinds come upon you, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance, and perseverance must complete its work so that you will become fully developed complete, not deficient in any way."

One morning a few months ago, I was walking with my friend Deacon George Sebok after morning prayer in Springbank Park, a beautiful and large park that is right across the street from our Parish of St. George, here in London Ontario.  Deacon George understands the veracity of this verse, and we spoke about it as we walked.

Deacon George was a successful realtor back in the day.  In a matter of a relatively short space of time, and with the help of a recession, he lost a ton of money, or in our metric world here in Canada, a tonne of money, which is even bigger than the more common ton.  Deacon George subsequently became a simple tailor, running his tailor shop and a dry cleaning depot, after he took over his father-in-law's business, as the elder man retired.  From his tailor shop, George did his work, prayed over all the clothes that came into his shop, and offered all those who entered a smile, a blessing, and a chance to talk about faith if they were thus inclined.  He considers the biggest blessing to occur in his life to be the taking from him of his financial wealth.  "Consider all these trials joy."

20 years ago, he and our other prayer partner Wayne Zimmer, and others would gather at 6 am in the tailor shop to start the morning in praise, worship and prayer together.

When he entered into the diaconal formation programme several years ago, the priests who were reviewing his application were not inclined to accept him due to his age, and his weakness in written literacy.  What they could not gloss over was that he had been living his life by all the principles of service of a deacon long before our diocese entertained ordaining men to the permanent diaconate.  What they could also not miss was the gentle spirit that he carried, and the love of Christ and mankind that he shared.

George is pretty certain that had he not been financially ruined many years ago, that he would have lost his soul.  The trials of financial disaster produced in George a perseverance that he lives by daily, when he meets challenges, and those rough edges, that I recall from when we first met, are gradually being smoothed as he becomes "not deficient in any way."

I consider it a great blessing to be able to meet with him for prayer most mornings, and to share whatever time we have together.  He is a man of God who inspires my faith to grow.

It is interesting to note that the arrogant, successful realtor that he was before would likely have appealed to me more back in that day, than the man he is now would have.  But, I would much rather know and walk alongside the man he is now, than that earlier iteration of him.

In an earthly sense, what is more absurd than a verse that says: ". . . consider it a great joy when trials of many kinds come upon you"?  You would have to be out of your earthly mind, or be barking mad, as the Brits say, to have this verse make sense to you, and as Deacon George commented when we walked that morning, that thinking as we are makes us "fools for Christ's sake," which also never made a lot of sense to me before.

As I have written previously, I had my own Come to Jesus incident, when 6 3/4 years ago, I was hit in the back of the head by a Ford Aerostar van.  The results of that accident have changed my life almost completely.  I loved God before, and sought to do His will, but over time, His will has become more important as my disabilities make my dependence on Him greater.

On June 26, 2003, "Anna" a lay apostle heard these words from Jesus that are found in her first book, which is available to be purchased or can be downloaded for free here:
Often My words fall on deaf ears. Truly there are those who see but do not see, who hear but do not hear. These brothers and sisters will have to answer for their disregard of My graces. My words bounce off them like so many stones. You, My children, have been given the grace to hear with both your ears and your hearts. Therefore you must heed My words. My Spirit will come upon you and you will know what I want from you. Please, hear the voice of your God in your heart and respond to Me with determination. My yoke is easy and My burden is light. My true followers know joy and peace and it is reflected in their eyes. Look to one another for support during this time. These holy friendships are My gift to you, dear children, to help  you walk My path during a time when there are few on that course. Listen to My words and let Me begin to use you to further My plan. My plan is one of love and salvation for your dark world. The next generation will know Me in a different way. You will be grateful to Me for this opportunity to serve.
Today, as I read this passage to my prayer partner, Wayne Zimmer, I was aware of the section that said: "These holy friendships are My gift to you, dear children, to help  you walk My path during a time when there are few on that course."

I am blessed to have My Dear Wife at my side, and to have holy friendships with her and with others like these two men of God.

May you be blessed with being surrounded by men and women of God who will draw you into deeper relationship with Him, and also with His Dear Mother, who loves us as her own children, and invites us to have holy friendship with her, to bring us even closer to her wonderful Son, Our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Quantitative Easing - Smoke and Mirrors

How Are We Going to Get Out of this Mess?

President Obama announced in August that the recession was over.  That's good news, right, for the US and for Canada?  I guess it might be if it were true, although technically it is.  But, there might be a little more to it than that.

You may recall that there is a plan to put a new $600,000,000,000 into the economy ($600 billion).  If we had that amount of money, it might be a good thing.  But, this dough is going to be created out of thin air.

Since the first push of money into the weak components of the economy, think auto manufacturers, and banks a couple of years back, there has been a ballooning of government debt in North America.  But, this is a good thing right?

Maybe not so.  If you have recently lost your job, should you go out and buy a new house, tv and car?  You would be out of your mind to do that, wouldn't you?  That would be spending money you don't have, and in tough economic times (well really any times) that is not a particularly good idea.  So, if we would not do it personally, why sould our governments do it?

So, in the midst of this, I received a humorous, though possibly sadly true, commentary on economic stimulus, and the payments made to Americans by the government a while back.

Sometime this year, we taxpayers will again receive another 'Economic Stimulus' payment.  This is indeed a very exciting program, and I'll explain it by using a Q & A format:

Q. What is an 'Economic Stimulus' payment ?
A. It is money that the federal government will send to taxpayers.

Q. Where will the government get this money ?
A. From taxpayers.

Q. So the government is giving me back my own money ?
A. Only a smidgen of it.

Q. What is the purpose of this payment ?
A. The plan is for you to use the money to purchase a high-definition TV set, thus stimulating the economy.

Q. But isn't that stimulating the economy of China ?
A. Shut up.

Below is some helpful advice on how to best help the U.S. economy by spending your stimulus check wisely:
* If you spend the stimulus money at Wal-Mart, the money will go to China or Sri Lanka ..
* If you spend it on gasoline, your money will go to the Arabs.
* If you purchase a computer, it will go to India , Taiwan or China ..
* If you purchase fruit and vegetables, it will go to Mexico , Honduras and Guatemala ...
* If you buy an efficient car, it will go to Japan or Korea ..
* If you purchase useless stuff, it will go to Taiwan ..
* If you pay your credit cards off, or buy stock, it will go to management bonuses and they will hide it offshore.

Instead, keep the money in America by:
1) Spending it at yard sales, or
2) Going to ball games, or
3) Spending it on prostitutes, or
4) Beer or
5) Tattoos.
(These are the only American businesses still operating in the U.S. )

Go to a ball game with a tattooed prostitute that you met at a yard sale and drink beer all day !

No need to thank me, I'm just glad I could be of help.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Does God Speak to His People?

Why Not?

In my life, I have heard the voice of God from time to time, and I am pretty sure that Mary spoke to me last night in the middle of the night.  But God in His three persons, and even Jesus' Mother Mary does speak to some of His people, but mainly those who slow down their lives enough and quiet them down enough to listen for the still small voice that is His (and hers).

And what do they say?  Well, they don't seem to talk about the weather, or how about them Steelers or whoever.  If the messages from Mary are authentic, and many messages have not been approved by the Holy See, so their veracity has not been tested officially, they will point us to her Son, Our Lord and Saviour.  It appears that Mary does enjoy special favour with her Son, and with the other persons of the Trinity, and why would that not be so.  Does not even your own mother have a special place in your heart, the one who brought you into this world?

And Jesus when He speaks, calls us to love God above all, love our neighbour as ourselves, and to be holy as He is holy, pretty much what He says to us in scripture, but on an even more personal level.  In fact, if the messages from Him or purported to be from Him disagreed with scripture, then the hearer and any readers of the messages should be heading for the hills, because the voice is not a friend but THE foe.

But, the other day, Stephen McElligott, the writer of the blog Loyal to the Magisterium,  written from Ireland, form which my own family descends, and therefor a notch up the Brandon reliability scale, pointed readers to a lay apostle by the moniker Anne.  Anne purports to hear the voices of the Father, Jesus, Our Blessed Mother, and some of the saints.  I say purports only because what she has written from what she has heard has not had official recognition from the Holy See, as yet.

None the less, Anne is committed to obedience to the Church, and has submitted everything that she has written to her local Bishop, Bishop Leo O’Reilly of the Diocese of Kilmore in Ireland, prior to releasing them to the public.  He takes her writings seriously, and has assigned a priest to work with her, and they jointly have submitted her writings to Rome.

Her writings are of a mother of 6, and wife, and of one who loves God and Our Blessed Mother.  Her devotion to them all has resulted in ongoing conversion in her life, and she writes about that interspersed with the words she claims to have received from them.

To date, there are 8 volumes in particular that are available to be purchased, and also to be downloaded for free from a web site committed to disseminating these works here

Here is what Bishop O'Reilly wrote about the lay movement that is taking place here:
To Whom It May Concern:

Direction For Our Times (DFOT) is a religious movement founded by “Anne,” a lay apostle from our diocese who wishes to remain anonymous. The movement is in its infancy and does not as yet enjoy canonical status. I have asked a priest of the diocese, Fr. Darragh Connolly, to assist in the work of the movement and to ensure that in all its works and publications it remains firmly within the teaching and practice of the Catholic Church.

I have known “Anne,” the founder of the movement, for several years. She is a Catholic in good standing in the diocese, a wife and mother of small children, and a woman of deep spirituality. From the beginning, she has always been anxious that everything connected with the movement be subject to the authority of the Church. She has submitted all her writings to me and will not publish anything without my permission. She has submitted her writings to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and I have done so, as well.

In so far as I am able to judge, she is orthodox in her writings and teaching. Her spirituality and the spiritual path that she proposes to those who wish to accept it are in conformity with the teachings of the Church and of the great spiritual writers of the past and present.

+Leo O’Reilly

Bishop of Kilmore

16 June 2006
We are invited to discern for ourselves that which is of God, and are not bound in this instance to accept as from God what is available to read here.

I am most of the way through the first volume, and what I have read has touched my heart, and is drawing me to holiness.  It so happens that starting to read these works coincides with other calls that God has been placing on me, some of which I have tried to ignore, or in trying to follow have fouled up beyond all recognition (FUBAR).  There is even encouragement for those of us who try and fail and those who try not to try and fail from Jesus in the writings, meant to prevent discouragement.

Have a look and see if they touch you.  What have you got to lose?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Don't Waste Your Life

The Skit Guys

Are you making a difference in the world? 

You can also go to their web site and see what else they have there.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I'm Amazed

Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

I'm amazed how You love me, Dear Sweet Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving, The Pilgrims and Squanto

A Little of the Rest of the Story

Recently, I received a note from Father Gordon MacRae when I posted links to his latest article in a post I did on the Fate of the Catholic Church in America

In his note, he mentioned that when he thinks and writes about America, he means North America, including my most of the year home here, in Canada.  He stated that his links to Canada include deep roots from his parents: "My father was from Antigonish, Nova Scotia, and my mother was from St. Johns, Newfoundland.  I wrote of her, and of Newfoundland in a post called, "A Corner of the Veil" last December."  He used this as a small link between us, little knowing that the link was a bit stronger than that, at least in my mind.  My Dear Wife, Christina and I were married in Newfoundland 10 years ago, though on the west side of the Rock, near Corner Brook.

But, in his latest post on the "The True Story of Thanksgiving: Squanto, the Pilgrims, and the Pope", Father MacRae writes about growing up in the Boston area and about things he saw, like Plymouth Rock, and about the history that he has studied.  As he writes about the Mayflower, and the pilgrims who came to settle in North America, he touched on the family history of my 3 daughters.  Through their mother's side, my three young women are directly, linearly descended from one of the indentured servants who traveled on the Mayflower and settled here, George Soule.  Their great, great etc. grandfather was one of the 41 signers of the Mayflower Compact.

Connections, no matter how fuzzy they might be, this is another excellent article by Father Gordon.  Remember that this author is a man of God, who has been falsely imprisoned, for crimes that he could not have committed, and abandoned by his own Bishop and local church administration, as well as all those who because of the Church stand have believed ill of him.  Yet, he still writes about the faith of our Church, with grace and humility.

Like Father Mark Gruber, of whom I have written several times lately, as he struggles with the challenges of being falsely accused, Father Gordon would probably agree with this statement made by Father Mark to a friend: "while I’m certainly not guilty of this crime, we all deserve any sufferings short of the fires of hell, simply for being a sinner on this earth".

In closing, let me return to the article that Father Gordon wrote about the first Thanksgiving and how it came to happen.  He writes about the connections that exist among men, that like those who chose to run away from the Catholic Church and all things remotely Catholic, as the Pilgrims did in coming to America, you can no more run and hide from the Catholic Church that Christ created in His Own Image, than you can run and hide from Him, if you so choose.  And no matter how poorly you prepare yourself for what life sends your way, He, in His mercy is available to provide help and assistance to all those who call on His Name.

Pray for Father Gordon, that he will be exonerated of the crimes for which he was falsely accused. 

I would ask that you pray for him to be set free, but he is, in truth, more free than most of us at this very moment.  I would also pray that he be returned to ministry as a Catholic Priest, but the evidence is that he is carrying on his priestly duties in prison, probably more effectively than most priests in America today.

God Bless You, Father Gordon. We give thanks to God for your faithfulness to him in the midst of your own trials, and the witness that that is to our weak faith.

Father God, we ask you to give those who read these words a double portion of the faith and fidelity that Father Gordon is living where you have him planted at this time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Grace - Undeserved Favour

The Skit Guys

A substitute Sunday School Teacher tries to help Billy to learn about Grace, and then moves on to helping the the youth pastor deal with what can separate us from the love of God - nothing.  It sounds a lot like "Who's on First?"

But, listen to the end, and hear about Undeserved Favour - Amazing Grace.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Warning - Don't Pray "Drain Me of Me" - UNLESS

Well . . . Unless You are Prepared to See Results

When Gud Lloyd received the Drain Me of Me prayer and published it on his blog site recently, I thought it was a profound prayer, and prayed it and then reposted it on mine, along with some of my own thoughts on two instances in the past (that I know of) where the essence of this prayer has had meaning for me.

But, the prayer would not let me go.  So, I prayed it again.  Then on Sunday, I felt that the prayer could not just languish in a blog post that falls down the list over time on my own site, so I put it near the top of the side bar, where I intend to leave it for some time.  Since I visit my own blog site from time to time, (just about the only person who does),  it is there to remind me to pray it again and AGAIN and AGAIN.  I have taken to praying it daily.

This morning, I met my prayer partner Wayne Zimmer, in front of the tabernacle at the chapel at St. George Parish as we do every week day we are in town, to pray the Divine Office.  Our brother and prayer partner Deacon George Sebok was unable to make it today, but the Lord had things He wanted to communicate to us, and I guess they were more for Wayne and me.

I had copied the Drain Me of Me prayer to my iPod, and so after we chatted for a bit about something that had happened to us yesterday during prayer, and the after effects, I suggested that I read the prayer from my iPod for us to share.  So, I read the prayer, and once again it moved me, and it moved Wayne as well.

With this prayer, we are giving God permission to drain off of us, all the parts that are not of Him.  But, God knew that we would pray this prayer, and so since time and space means nothing to Him, He took our permission, and used it in advance (in our time, not His) to start a process in us that is and will remain ongoing.

When I was disabled in a car accident 7 years ago, that was God draining me (or using others to assist Him) of things that separated me from Him.  Who knew!!  When my wife and I separated for a time 9 years ago, that was God draining me (or using others to assist Him), so that I would come to see Him in her, and love her as Christ loves the Church.  That sure drained a lot of raw sewage out of me.

There are of course many instances and processes whereby God has been draining me of the me that refuses to submit to His Love and Authority in my life, as there have been for my brother in Him, Wayne.  But, it is a long journey.

So, now I have new eyes to see this prayer, and to see what it has done in my life in the past, and to watch for what it does in the future.

Our God is a most awesome God, who can never be truly fathomed, but His Mercy and His Love are forever, and we can see some of his handiwork if we but look with our eyes of faith.

Yesterday, we prayed for a friend who was suddenly in hospital, and very ill.  Her husband, who is a very spirit filled man, had had someone over to the house recently, and the friend and her daughter were unable to be in the presence of this other person.  They reacted strongly to something.  I have seen this before, and even in my own Dear Wife, who has a strong sense of good and evil.  There seemed to be a connection between this visit a few days back and the illness of our friend's wife yesterday morning.  In prayer, we concluded, as we saw things in the spirit world during prayer, that there had been some transference to the wife from this visit.  We prayed against it.

Our friend called us later on to say that his wife, who had been so sick hours earlier, was released from the hospital with nothing wrong with her, including no pain where serious pain had been earlier.  It all could have been nothing, and we might have passed it off as that.  Except!!

Yesterday, as Wayne and I shared with each other this morning, we were both bombarded with temptation in areas of our weakness, which should have led us both to conclude that something was up in the spirit world. 

Wayne was pretty certain about what was going on, and did what he needed to do to withstand the temptation.  I was not so self aware, and only resisted the temptation that came to me partially.  But, this morning as we gathered for prayer, we saw how God was using what happened yesterday to Drain Us of Us, to make us a little bit more like Him.  As Wayne commented, it was a small step towards Him and the foot of the Cross.

Lord, Drain Me of Me.  Don't ever stop.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Humorous Take on the Prodigal Son

The Skit Guys

This is not the way I remember reading the story of the Prodigal Son.  It's not quite the way I remember living it either.  But, it is a beautiful presentation of this story of all of our lives.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Who Should Profit from Health Care? Nobody?

Get Real

Karen Selick of the Canadian Constitution Foundation recently published the below article in the Globe and Mail.  Her opinion piece is a conservative opinion, so liberal thinkers will immediately dismiss it as capitalist propaganda that diminished the lower classes.  So, prior to presenting her thoughts, here are a few of my own, from my personal experience.

I am 60 years old, and have lived in Ontario, Canada for almost all of those 60 years.  I have benefited from Canada's Medicare plans over the years.  Or, at least I used to.  My Dear Wife still benefits to some extent from our universal medical care,sorta.

When I say I used to benefit, I mean that for years I could see my doctor, go into hospital if necessary, even get to a specialist on a timely basis.  That was back when Canada could afford to spend my grandchildren's money on such things, since the country was running up significant spending deficits.  Now, my grandchildren have not complained yet, being 2 and 5 years old, so what happened to the medical spending juggernaut?  Well, a certain measure of sanity crept into our government over the last decade or so, and the elected powers decided that deficit spending of money they did not have was not on (big revelation there), and started to cut back, actually creating annual surpluses to pay back some of the debt accumulated over the years.  That, of course, was before they thought they should spend themselves out of the recession, like our neighbours to the south.

So, 7 years ago, when I was in an auto accident and incurred a mild traumatic brain injury, I expected to see competent specialists, and get the support of my own general practitioner.  My expectations were not met.  In fact, if I had not spent close to $4,000 of my own money going to the Amen Clinic in Newport Beach, California, I would still not have a clue as to what problems I was facing with my own mental health.  They were able to produce pictures of the parts of my brain that were affected, and provide counselling on what I could and could not do, what meds and supplements would help me, and by the way discovered that I have lived my life with ADD, something that when presented to me made a lot of sense.

Now, my wife is another matter altogether, sorta.  She suffers from autoimmune diseases, and it appears that medical care for her is on a par with most care in the US.  At least, we have found no US source for better direct treatment of her illnesses.  The treatment for her is meds, and she takes piles of them.  She sees a neurologist, a rheumatoligist, her GP, another rheumatologist, and has been sent to other specialists from time to time.  These are not incompetent people by any stretch of the imagination, but her conditions have not improved a lick, in truth, and the drug reactions make us wonder what is worse, the diseases or the treatments.  So, she (with my support) is looking for alternatives that might be beneficial to her, and the clinic that she is most likely to go to is in Florida and will cost us over $10,000.  There is nothing similar in Canada.

Now, as for me one other thing that seems relevant.  I had the same family doc for close to 30 years, until he retired and left my file with his replacement.  I NEVER had a complete physical from him in all those years.  There was one sorta physical, but that was all.  It was never suggested or offered.

So, this year, I went to a private clinic here in London, Ontario - Medpoint.  They perform annual physicals, with followup, doing the appropriate blood and physical work to allow you to walk out with a comprehensive report on what will help you improve your health in the next year, and what steps should be taken.  I met with many of their staff members during the assessment, and had two sessions with the on staff doctor, a very competent woman, with skill and bedside manner.  That cost me $800, out of pocket, and I have no regrets for having had to spend it. 

Subsequently, I have gone back to use their in house physical training facilities and nutrition support.  Ths will cost me about $2,500, and again it is money well spent.  Already, I am feeling stronger, though I have been stiff as a board, as my body gets used to the punishment necessary to make it do what I want it to do.

So, for my money, you can have your free health care.  It is worth every penny you pay for it, out of your pocket. 

And ObamaCare is another matter altogether.  For a mere trillion or so of money that the US will have to borrow from the Chinese and Arabs, the US will get a camel of a health care system.  They will have used the plans for a race horse, but with the 16,000 pages of legislative bafflegab they are already saddled with, they will end up with a camel, that eats very expensive food, leaves excrement everywhere, and has a foul disposition.  Just my thoughts.

Here is the article that Karen Selick wrote for the Globe:
Office supply stores sell wooden pencils for as little as eight cents each. Swanky gift shops also sell pencils: gold-filled and priced as high as $1,400. Both pencils will make marks on paper, but they have another less obvious similarity: Both create a profit for their respective retailers, and for every intermediate link in the supply chain – from the tree-cutter or the gold miner to the manufacturer and the shipper.

It hardly seems possible that there can be that much profit built into an eight-cent pencil, but that’s exactly the point: “Profitable” is not a synonym for “expensive.” Consumers can buy expensive shoes or cheap shoes, luxury cars or economy cars, filet mignon or hamburger. Whatever the commodity, the free market offers goods produced at a profit, by privately owned enterprises, in a staggering range of varieties and prices.

People don’t generally accuse supermarkets of being evil for profiting from people’s hunger, or shoe stores for profiting from people’s barefootedness. Yet, Canadians have become so accustomed to thinking that health care must be provided by government that moral panic ensues the moment anyone suggests it could be provided by private, profit-making enterprises. “Nobody should profit on the backs of the sick,” opponents cry.

Like it or not, every single person who attends to the sick in our system of government-monopoly medicine is there for his or her own profit. Profit is simply income minus expenses. If our system were really non-profit, doctors, nurses and orderlies would get paid just enough to enable them to perform their duties. They would subsist on a diet of rice, possess only a single change of clothing, bunk down in dormitories at night, and walk to work.

But health-care workers don’t live like that. Instead, they have abundant food and clothing, private homes, transportation and luxuries such as entertainment, vacations and savings. These extras over mere subsistence are their profits, even though we don’t ordinarily call them that. There’s nothing immoral about their earning profits. But there’s also no contingent of saints in our society who are willing to work without a profit. The notion of non-profit health care is simply a myth.

A study published by the Fraser Institute in 2002 compared the wages of non-medical personnel such as cleaners, payroll clerks and cooks working in “non-profit” hospitals against those working in hotels. The hospital employees were paid from 9 per cent to 39 per cent more than hotel employees doing identical jobs. The layer of profit supposedly absent within these “non-profit” entities was actually being dispersed among employees rather than being shaved off the cost of services.

But wouldn’t allowing private, for-profit health care mean that some people would get filet mignon health care while others had to make do with hamburger health care? Perhaps – but, in the long run, even low-income patients would benefit.

New technology is typically expensive at first but declines dramatically in price as more people hear about it and competition kicks in. We’ve all seen this happen with computers and television sets. It even happens with medical procedures, so long as they aren’t covered by the government monopoly. Laser eye surgery, for instance (provided by the private sector in Canada), has declined significantly in price even as safety and outcomes have improved.

If we insisted that nothing new be made available to wealthy consumers until it was cheap enough to be provided to every member of society, very few new products would become available.

The big picture proves that private-sector goods and services keep on getting cheaper even as quality improves. In 1961, the average Canadian family spent 56.5 per cent of its income on food, shelter and clothing (all private-sector products). By 2009, families spent only 37.1 per cent of income on these basic necessities. Meantime, products and services monopolized or near-monopolized by government – primarily health care and education – grow ever more expensive even as quality declines.

Those who really want to help the poor and sick should be clamouring for the private sector to be allowed to do the job.

The Word of God

Or As We Like To Say In Latin "Verbum Domini"

Here is a brief news report on the document 'Verbum Domini" recently released by the Vatican on the Word of God (that would be the Bible) in the lives of Catholics around the world, and what it is meant to be.  The document itself is over 200 pages long, and may be heavy sledding for many, but it is filled with treasure.

H/T Stephen Mc Elligott at Loyal to the Magisterium

The entire document is available free online here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Praise the Lord Oh My Soul

Kevin Prosch and Morningstar Jam With the Lamb

This is not your tight 2:30 song with three verses and a repeating chorus that we are all familiar with.  This is Worship of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  Let it draw you into worship of Our King.  It is a joyful noise.

Listen to both parts of this timeof honouring Our God.

One Man's Take On Technology And the Older Generation

Oops That Includes Me

I thought about the 30 year business I ran with 1800 employees, all without a Blackberry that played music, took videos, pictures and communicated with Facebook and Twitter.

I signed up (under duress), for Twitter and Facebook, so my seven kids, their spouses, 13 grandkids and 2 great grand kids could communicate with me in the modern way. I figured I could handle something as simple as Twitter with only 140 characters of space.

That was before one of my grandkids hooked me up for Tweeter, Tweetree, Twhirl, Twitterfon, Tweetie and Twittererific Tweetdeck, Twitpix and something that sends every message to my cell phone and every other program within the texting world.

My phone was beeping every three minutes with the details of everything except the bowel movements of the entire next generation. I am not ready to live like this. I keep my cell phone in the garage in my golf bag.

The kids bought me a GPS for my last birthday because they say I get lost every now and then going over to the grocery store or library. I keep that in a box under my tool bench with the Blue tooth [it's red] phone I am supposed to use when I drive. I wore it once and was standing in line at Barnes and Noble talking to my wife as everyone in the nearest 50 yards was glaring at me. Seems I have to take my hearing aid out to use it,

And I got a little loud.

I mean the GPS looked pretty smart on my dash board, but the lady inside was the most annoying, rudest person I had run into in a long time. Every 10 minutes, she would sarcastically say, "Re-calc-ul-ating". You would think that she could be nicer. It was like she could barely tolerate me. She would let go with a deep sigh and then tell me to make a U-turn at the next light. Then when I would make a right turn instead, it was not good.

When I get really lost now, I call my wife and tell her the name of the cross streets and while she is starting to develop the same tone as Gypsy, the GPS lady, at least she loves me.

To be perfectly frank, I am still trying to learn how to use the cordless phones in our house. We have had them for 4 years, but I still haven't figured out how I can lose three phones all at once and run around digging under chair cushions and checking bathrooms and the dirty laundry baskets when the phone rings.

The world is just getting too complex for me. They even mess me up every time I go to the grocery store. You would think they could settle on something themselves but this sudden "Paper or Plastic?" every time I check out just knocks me for a loop. I bought some of those cloth reusable bags to avoid looking confused, but I never remember to take them in with me.

Now I toss it back to them. When they ask me, "Paper or Plastic?" I just say, "Doesn't matter to me. I am bi-sacksual." Then it's their turn to stare at me with a blank look.

I was recently asked if I tweet.I answered, "No...but I do toot a lot."

Do Catholics Worship Graven Images?

Say It Ain't So.  OK, It Ain't So

Gus Lloyd, show host of Seize the Day on XM and Sirius satellite radio does apologetics CDs, and also is producing short videos called "A Minute in the Church."

Here is his latest on the subject of Statues in the Catholic Church.  You can find more at his web blog here.

RE Pent

Ever Wonder What it Means?

Catholics and other Christians particularly are familiar with the concept of repentance, or are we?

The word repent is defined as follows:
1. to feel sorry, self-reproachful, or contrite for past conduct; regret or be conscience-stricken about a past action, attitude, etc. (often fol. by of ): He repented after his thoughtless act.

2. to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one's life for the better; be penitent.
But why not just pent?  Why RE?

Well, the origin of the word "repent" is the Latin word paenitere (to regret, be sorry), which morphed to the Middle English pentir (to feel sorrow), and the prefix "re".  "Re" comes from Latin, and is used to mean “again” or “again and again”.

So, from the original words, repent means to be sorry or regretful again and again.

So, repenting is feeling sorry each time that our conduct requires contrition, no matter how often, and no matter what new ways we find to conduct ourselves in ways that we know are wrong.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Fate of The Catholic Church In America

Holds True For Canada As Well

Father Gordon MacRae is a prisoner of the New Hampshire prison system for crimes he logically and logistically could not have committed, if in fact they occurred at all.  But, as a prisoner, and a Catholic priest, he has refused to lie down and die, and he remains a witness to the faith that motivates him, and to the Saviour he loves.

He has a blog site, These Stone Walls, and there he writes heart felt and incisive articles that awaken in many the hidden depths of their faith.  He recently wrote a three part series on the When Priests are Falsely Accused.  From this third part, you can back track to the first two parts of this excellent series.  I am grateful that a thought I had conveyed in one of my earlier blog posts became a point to ponder in the second part of this series.  I had said in my article called "A Thorn in the Flesh".
“The Catholic Church has become the safest place in the world for children, but the most dangerous place in the world for our priests.”

I highlight this only to lead in to what Father Gordon published the other day in an article titled, "The Twilight's Last Gleaming: The Fate of Religion in America".

In the article Father Gordon postulates what many of us who are members of the Catholic Church have sensed to be a truth, and that is that religion, with particular emphasis on the Catholic religion is under attack from the media, and the American public. (Don't forget the Canadian media and public).  I would further add that the Catholic Church is in particular being persecuted by some Evangelical Christians, who have fallen under the delusion that the Catholic Church is the whore of Babylon.

It seems that my above quote needs to be modified somewhat.  Maybe it should read: "The Catholic Church has become the safest target for those of little faith, and those who are determined to persecute it.  However, in this culture of confusion in which we find ourselves, it will ultimately stand as the only reliable guide."

For that final part, I rely on Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver Colorado, a voice in the wilderness, whose wisdom shines forth for all to see.

He wrote for today via Catholic News Agency, about the following:
Over the centuries, the Church has often called her people to reflect on the “Four Last Things”—death, judgment, hell and heaven.  She has a good reason for doing so.  Life is brief.  And all of us, whether rich or poor, unknown or famous, will very soon encounter the Four Last Things, directly and personally.

In essence he pointed out that life is both temporary and transitional, a fundamental teaching of Christianity.  It is in effect the hereafter that we are all here after.

So, in the midst of a somewhat gloomy picture of attacks on the Church per Father MacRae, all of which is true, he himself, points us to the wisdom of Father Richard John Neuhaus, who had these three words of advice and encouragement for all Catholic men and women of goodwill, by way of encouragement and education:
Fidelity, Fidelity, and Fidelity.
How do we overcome attacks on our Catholic faith - with Fidelity to the Church and to the teachings of Jesus Christ for which it stands?

How do we prepare for the “Four Last Things”—death, judgment, hell and heaven", of which Archbishop Chaput reminds us - with Fidelity to the Church and to the teachings of Jesus Christ for which it stands?

Pretty simple isn't it?
All Catholic Christians are called to know their faith, live it with Fidelity, and proclaim it in word and even more in deed, for these are troubled and troubling times we live in, and many will take their hands off the plow, making them unfit for the Gospel message.
So many Catholic Christians have been poorly catechized and we deserve to be criticized for that, but I see evidence everywhere I look, that the Gospel is being preached in the Catholic Church with greater urgency and Fidelity to the faithful.
All those who have ears, let them hear.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of the Catholic Church are greatly exaggerated.

Drain Me of Me

A Prayer of Reflection and Metanoia from Gus Lloyd (Well God Really)

Gus Lloyd does the morning show (Seize the Day) on XM Satellite Radio, channel 117.  It is a great show, and I get opportunities to hear only some of it many days, though I hope one day to be able to hear more.  Gus is a man after God's own heart.  Last weekend, while he was speaking at a retreat in Missouri, he awoke early and this prayer came out of his fingers and pen.  It is far too anointed to have been of his own devising, but is the result of a life of prayer and commitment to becoming more like Jesus day in and day out.

Here is the prayer:
Drain Me of Me

Father, I am so full of myself.
I know that if I truly wish to serve you,
If I truly wish to share your word and your love,
This must not be the way.

And so today, Father, I ask you:
Drain me of me

Of all the self-inflated ego
Drain me

Of all the harsh judgement that comes so easily
Drain me

Of all jealousy and resentment
Drain me

Of all the desire for attention and adulation
Drain me

Of all attachment to the flesh
Drain me

Of all that is not of you
Drain me

And when I am emptied, unencumbered by
The stuff and nonsense of the world,
No  longer weighed down by the heaviness
And burdens put upon me by myself
Or the dark forces of the evil one

Fill me with your Spirit,
For your Spirit has no chains,
Your Spirit recognizes no boundaries,
Your Spirit is lightness and light,
Your Spirit allows me to soar
As on eagle’s wings.

And so, Father, right now, this moment
I give you permission to
Drain me of me,
That I may be more like you
Through your Son, Jesus Christ
In the power of the Holy Spirit.
Hearing him speak this morning about this prayer, I had to go and look it up and read it and let it enter my spirit, for it is a prayer that we all need to pray, if we ever hope to become more like Our Precious Saviour, and if we hope to be able to do the things that He did while here on the earth.  The world is hurting.  Our families and friends are hurting.  The pain is from lack of Him in our lives.  Even if we are committed to Him, we can never be full to the brim with Him, as long as there is pride, ego, insensitivity looming.

I have had in my life at least two experiences that coincide for me with this prayer that Brother Gus prayed and transcribed for us to pray as well.

Many years ago, I was in the kitchen area of the offices of the small computer service company that I owned.  I was frustrated and could not resolve problems that were plaguing the business, and my family life.  I looked up at the ceiling tiles, not knowing what I was expecting to see there.  In my frustration, I asked God: "What do You want from me?"  In a very audible voice inside me, I heard the answer.  It was one word: "Everything."

Though the answer made little sense to me on one level, on another it made all the sense in the world, and I returned to my office somehow knowing that He was in charge.

Of course, I immediately turned my whole life over to Him, and all was well.  OK.  I did not immediately or ever since then turn over my WHOLE life to Him.  In spite of that, all is well.

On another occasion I saw a vision.  I have seen a number of visions in my life, and though I cannot describe the phenomenon accurately, I can tell you that I saw something that was not there in the normal realm, and it affected me profoundly. 

I saw a lump of clay on a potter's wheel, and I knew that the lump of clay was me, and the potter was Jesus.  He worked diligently on the clay, shaping it into a lamp base, then a bowl, then various other things, reshaping it every few moments.  The results kept getting smaller and smaller until finally there was only a small speck of clay (me) left on the wheel.  The most profound part of the vision then happened.  Jesus took his middle finger, curled it up into His thumb, and then flicked the last speck of clay off the wheel.  He then turned and smiled, and said: "There.  Perfect."

Thank you Brother Gus for sharing this with us and for the other reflections that you share on your web site, and on satellite radio, and in your other areas of ministry.

Lord, while you are about draining Brother Gus of him, would you please Drain Me of Me?