Friday, December 31, 2010

Joy to the World - 7

Nat King Cole

Happy New Year

The Skit Guys

What do you think?

Check out the Skit Guys.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Of Christians and Atheists

Over at Father Tim's Blog, Where the Rubber Hits the Road, Father Tim opened a hornet's nest with this posting about (sometimes and some) grumpy atheists.  Many, not unlike a lot of Christians that I know, are so determined to be right that they are way beyond any dictates of pleasant discourse, and so you need to filter out a lot of fertilizer to get to the meat, if there is any.  But in the midst of this battle of competing monologues, are a few souls who are actually earnestly seeking truth for themselves.  It takes courage to say that one does not know the answer to a particular point.

Atheists are people who CLAIM not to believe in the existence of God.  Theists, on the other hand CLAIM that God believes in ALL of us.  Christians take this further, and claim, with historical support, that God believes in us so much, and loves us so much that even though many CLAIM not to believe in Him that would not stop Him from making himself known to them, and offer himself up to save them from themselves.

Although God sent His Son Jesus to earth to show us what He wants from us, and to prove His love for us, many of us do not believe in Him still.  Proving the existence of God to one who does not want to believe is like taking a blind man to the zoo, and trying to prove to him that elephants exist, when he refuses to get up off the bench he parked himself on.  He can hear the elephant trumpeting, but considers it to be the wind.  If you were to take his hand and lead him over to an elephant, and guide him to touch it, he might still refuse to believe it is an elephant.  Such is the power of disbelief, in the heart and mind of someone blinded by more than just his eye sight.

But, atheists claim not to be blind.  In fact, they claim to be the most rational of people on the earth, the least blind, as it were.  They are totally rational, or so they say.  But, their rationality relies on their senses, and not their hearts.

The other night I was in Amarillo TX, on my way here to Tucson AZ, and I happened to see an episode of Mother Angelica on EWTN.  On that particular show, Mother Angelica was speaking with a Catholic woman whose husband had been an atheist, and who was in the process of divorcing her when he suddenly died.  The woman was concerned about his eternal soul, and had prayed for him relentlessly during the marriage, divorce process, and since his death.  Mother Angelica encouraged and commended the woman in her prayers for her husband, and reminded her that God alone knows what happened to his soul.  God alone knows if that man in fact died an atheist, or met Jesus at his death and went to Him, in no small part due and in answer to the prayers of those who loved him.

Another thought came to my mind, as I have followed the trail of comments, many laced with vitriol and anger, usually on the part of those claiming to be atheists.

A couple of the writers commented on their own lives, and on loving their families and their friends and others in the course of their lives.  I was reminded that we Christians believe that God is Love, and that all love is of God.  So, if an atheist chooses to love others, whoever they may be, is he/she not in fact exercising a gift from God, in our belief system?  If so, has that person not made it possible that he/she will be open to encountering Our Saviour at his/her moment of death if not before?

As Jesus told us in parable, the man called at the last hour receives the same reward as the one called at the first hour.  So, Lord, could the last hour include the last half hour?  So, Lord could that last half hour include the last fifteen minutes?  Again, Lord, not to be picky, but could that last quarter hour, include the last 5 minutes?  And, not to be a pest Lord, but could that last 5 minutes include the very last minute of that hour?  And once again Lord, could that last minute include the last second?  Pardon me Lord, but could that last second include that very last nano second?

So, brothers and sisters in Christ, what are we to do for our atheist brothers and sisters?  First, we are not to judge them, for in so doing we bring condemnation on them.  It is not up to us to judge the condition of their souls.  No, brothers and sisters, we are to pray for them, to pray that God will reveal himself to them in His fullness, and that they will join us in eternal life in Him.  And we are to pray for ourselves that we will be witnesses of the truth, and that we will live the truth and share it well with all who come our way.

Winter Is Over For Me (Or Is It?)

Back In Arizona

After 3 hard days of driving, I have arrived in Tucson Arizona.  Since My Dear Wife was unable to make the planned trip at this time, and we had to close on the purchase of our park model trailer by December 31, I had to come alone. 

Since I was alone, I decided to put peddle to the metal and get here where it was warm.  I had the Catholic Channel on XM Radio for company, but more on that later.  I got to Saint Louis, the first night, Amarillo the second and Tucson yesterday afternoon.  My body is on Ontario (EST) time, and my mind is somewhere in the Midwest, but some part of me is here in front of the keyboard on Thursday morning December 30, 2010 in Tucson, AZ.

But, I arrived in one of the sunniest places in North America to see rain, and a temperature in the upper 40s Fahrenheit.  When I got into Oklahoma, and beyond, I saw NO SNOW.  Last night here in the Tucson area, there was a blizzard warning for Mount Lemon, which is about a half hour drive from the edge of the city.  They were talking about the possibility of snow here in the city.  Tucson has 350 sunny days a year.  Yesterday was not one of them, and today does not look good either. 

Temps here won't exceed 54 for the next 3 days, though tomorrow and Saturday it will at least be sunny.  Then HEAT WAVE!!

In London Ontario, it will get to 39 tomorrow.  Global Warming in Southern Ontario.  Global Cooling in Southern Arizona.  Not to Worry!!

Aside from missing my best friend, lover and wife (all in one) I am glad to be here though, and looking forward to settling into our park model today and tomorrow, and preparing for herself to arrive in a few weeks, after she sees her doctors and heads to Calgary to visit with our newest grandchild Charlotte, and her beautiful siblings Sam and Emilia, and their parents, Katie and Marc.  While I wait for her to come, I will just have to enjoy the warmer climate of the south for the winter.

On my journey here, I listened to 3 days of Catholic radio on the Catholic Channel on Sirius/XM satellite radio, which I really enjoy for its uplifting nature, and for the ability that the on air personalities have of sharing the Gospel in even the simple, humorous or mundane things of life.  As it is Christmas, the on air folks, Gus Lloyd on Seize the Day from 6-10am EST, Greg and Jennifer Willits — The Catholics Next Door! from 10am-1pm, Bob Dunning,  Lino Rulli, and Father Dave Dwyer going on until the evening, had repeats of earlier shows. The shows were still enjoyable, and I even enjoyed the excerpts that I had heard before.

My personal favourite show is Seize the Day, which Gus hosts from his home in Tampa Florida, and now that I am in AZ, it comes on at 4 am our time here, so I will miss most or all of it.  Gus was the original recipient of the Drain Me of Me prayer over on the left of the blog here.  He is a very knowledgeable apologist for the Catholic faith, and has Cd's available on his web site that are very insightful for Catholics trying to understand and live their faith better.   His personal web site is

Greg and Jennifer Willits host the Catholics Next Door in the late morning eastern time from a suburb of Atlanta Georgia.  Their love for each other, and their 5 children is only superseded by their love of Our Saviour.  Their sharing of the faith, and their lives is a blessing to listeners.  Their personal web site is

One of their guests on the repeat show yesterday was Fr. Leo Patalinghug, a wild and crazy Catholic priest, with a flair for cooking and teaching the Gospel through food as an analogy.  He too has his own web site Grace Before Meals.

To all who prayed for my safe travels, thank you.  To all of you readers, may God Bless You abundantly this day, that He has made.

Joy to the World - 6

Third Day

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

On the Road Again

All By Myself, Don't Wanna Be, All By Myself

So, today is the much awaited departure day for winter in Tucson Arizona.  But, there is a crimp in the plans.  The weather is right in the corridor we travel in to get there in about 4 days.  Everything is packed.

Just one minor problem.  I have to travel alone, as My Dear Wife was discovered to have an abscessed tooth just before Christmas.  Consequently, she must remain home here until it can be looked after.  Then she plans to fly to Calgary to see our newest grand daughter, and siblings (oh and their parents too), and will meet me late in January in the sunny south.

Finding the abscess was a blessing, as the antibiotics are already working, and pains that could not be explained are resolving.  Hopefully all will be well when she sees the specialist early in the New Year, and gets a root canal or a tooth yanked.

I will be hitting the road in a few hours, hoping to get below Chicago by this evening.

When I arrive, I will do the settling in in our park model trailer there, and hope to have things ship shape by the time herself arrives.

If you have a spare moment or two, please join me in praying for safe travel for me now, and herself later, and also for prompt resolution of the abscessed tooth.

I hope you enjoy the twelve days of Christmas, and the 12 versions that will be coming up of Joy to the World on this blog.

God Bless You all.

Joy to the World - 3

Whitney Houston

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Saturday, December 25, 2010

How Utterly Preposterous

Something which is preposterous is "contrary to reason or common sense; utterly absurd or ridiculous".  Utterly is "carried to the utmost point or highest degree : absolute, total." So, when people say that something is utterly preposterous, they are actually saying that it is absolutely, absolutely absurd or ridiculous, not just absurd, and not even absolutely absurd, but absolutely, absolutely absurd.  Now that's absurd.
Over at Yahoo answers Teresa K, two years ago, said this was utterly preposterous: "Organized religion in general, Christianity in particular. It's the greatest fairy tale ever to spread among people like an epidemic. I find it difficult to believe that rational, intelligent human beings can believe a young girl with a steady boyfriend just "happens" to get pregnant and claims it's a gift from God... gee, can I try that?"

Utterly Preposterous, you say Teresa.  And so it is, with the filter of our present day world affairs, and with only the eyes of our own experiences to guide us.  Yet, amazingly, people have been prepared to die for their Christian faith, and many more are prepared to kill, shout down, and otherwise diminish believers in Christ.

Over at Father Tim Moyle's blog Where the Rubber Hits the Road, the blog was recently high jacked by a band of marauding atheists, who for lack of cogent observations to make, hurled angry invective at the other commenters.  65 comments.  Mostly banal.

But, Father Tim is a joy filled Christian, and Father Tim like some other men of the Roman collar, I call friends, walks in the belief in what others call utterly preposterous, the belief that the God of the Universe would send His Son down to earth to be born among us, to walk among us, to teach us, and to die for us, to reconcile us with Him.  And to prove that He loved us, to rise again from that ignominious death to prove to us that there was hope beyond hope, love beyond love.

So, is it utterly preposterous that a young woman of 15 would conceive of a child through divine intervention, that she would give birth to him in a manger of all places, and that that young baby would grow up to one day allow himself to be murdered brutally for us and for our sins?

Or is it utterly preposterous to believe that out of nothingness came a Big Bang and suddenly the universe was created, and over millions and billions of years evolved into exactly what we see here and now?

We are free to choose which is the real impostor, which of these two mutually exclusive options is utterly preposterous.   But, if all we use for our guide is our normal senses, our own personal knowledge base, or the ramblings of others, we have been deluded by the noises that surround us.  To figure out which of these two is the impostor, requires a journey into our own heart, a place where the noise does not penetrate, but where love and truth live and reign.  If we journey into our own hearts, we will find the truth, and the truth will set us free, free from all those burdens that weigh us down, hurts, traumas, sadnesses.

So, in this joyous season, let us suspend our disbelief for a time of reflection.  Let us take that time to sit quietly, not ponder anything, not listen to anything external, to just invite the truth to speak to us.

As Father Tim prepared to celebrate the first of two vigil masses for Christmas, he wrote this essay on what this year of faith has meant to him.
Merry Christmas to one and all.

Joy to the World - 1

Mannheim Steamroller

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

From December 23, 2009 Good Morning America

Here is a medley of songs interlaced with a few moments of the GMA show of 12/23/09.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas In Prison

From Father Gordon MacRae at These Stone Walls

Father Gordon, as readers of my blog and more particularly of These Stone Walls, know has been falsely imprisonned.

Today he writes about Christmas in prison.  Those of us in the outside world never probably pay a thought to our brothers and sisters who will spend this Christmas season behind bars.  Many of them really deserve to be there, some more so than others.  There are also many there because the system failed them, like Father MacRae.

But, we all live in at least a symbolic prison, the prison of our own disobedience to the God who loves us enough to send His Son to earth to be Our Saviour and Lord.

Today, we here in London, are celebrating the funeral Mass of a friend, Donna Henshaw, who passed away at the age of 54 this week.  Donna raised 6 kids, much of that on her own, and leaves them and in laws, 6 grandchildren, and friends behind, as she goes on to her eternal reward, the one that Jesus died to give to her.

She too was in prison.   She had ovarian cancer for a number of years and thus was a prisoner of her body which was betraying her.  She was told over two years ago that her death was imminent.  She never stopped believing that God would heal her, and she lived each day as fully as she could.  There was no quit in Donna Henshaw.  But, this week, she finally let go, and went home.  She received her miracle.  She lived those extra years in faith and love, doing for others as she could, and loving all who crossed her path.

Donna had this one little quirky thing that my prayer partners and I were reminded of yesterday at Morning Prayer.  If she was approaching you, and you had not noticed her, or she thought you had not, she would wave her arms and call our "Yoo Hoo!"  We all remembered times when Donna had marched down the street in high or low dudgeon, on a mission to somewhere, and would call out to those she was about to meet.   So, it seemed appropriate that she would be laid to rest at the original Catholic Funeral Home in London, Ontario, Donohue's.  Yesterday, we called it "Donna Yoo Hoo's," in memory of our departed friend.

We will all be freed of the prisons of our mind, and/or our bodies on death.  We hope that we will be freed to live in joy and peace with our Saviour.  We pray that those who do not know Him will come to that knowledge, so they can be with us in the paradise that we hope for for ourselves, as well.

But, while we are here, it is our duty to love one another, as Father MacRae does, and as Donna did.  Both give us examples of being prisoners for Christ.

May you rest in peace Donna, and pray for all those you have left behind.

Father Gordon, may you continue in your sacrificial love of your brothers and sisters, and may your personal suffering be used by and joined to Our Saviour for the benefit of those He sees fit to bestow it upon.

God Bless You both.

Monday, December 20, 2010

If Facebook Were Invented about 2 Millennia Ago

And if Joseph, Mary and the Others Used It

The birth of Jesus might have been communicated like this, or not!

H/t Father Tim Moyle

Celebrating 125 Years

St.Mary's Parish West Lorne, Ontario

On December 18, 1885, then Bishop Walsh of the Diocese of London blessed the newly built St. Mary's Church in west Lorne Ontario.  On December 19, 2010, Bishop Ronald Peter Fabbro, the current Bishop of the Diocese of London presided at a celebration of 125 years of continued ministry for this parish.

I saw St.Mary's yesterday for the first time in my 60 years, as my friend and prayer partner, Wayne Zimmer was asked to bring some musicians with him to lead the worship.  Wayne is an excellent worship leader, and does so under the anointing of God.  Together with Dave Rector, Yolie, and Brian Benoot, Wayne led the congregation musically.  Me, I tagged along, and ran the projector, and I must say did so masterfully.

It was a beautiful mass and celebration, with a pot luck lunch after in the hall.

The Bishop, preaching on the readings of the 4th Sunday of Advent, spoke of Joseph and his obedience to the dream he had, in which an angel told him who was in Mary's womb.  He contrasted this with Ahaz in the first reading, who refused, even when prompted by the prophet Isaiah, to ask God for a sign.  The Bishop spoke of Ahaz being stubborn, while Joseph was submissive, and so for Joseph, the vision that God had came to life.  Not so for Ahaz.  He asked us if we would be prepared to see the signs and let God's vision for our lives be the vision that we follow.

I did see one sign after Mass that inspired me.  After Mass was over, the congregation knelt to pray for e few moments before exiting, and Wayne and the worship group continued to play a few songs.  A young woman, who just completed high school last Spring, Rebekah, was standing in front of the group, waiting for us to pack up, as she planned to practice some songs for Christmas.  She did ask if she could sing with my friends, and Wayne asked her what she would like to sing.  She asked if they knew "Here I Am to Worship."  They immediately pulled out the music and she stepped up to the microphone and joined in.  I sang along as well, at least for a while.  Her voice meshed with everyone else's and it was very enjoyable until the chorus.

As soon as the chorus began, it was like heaven opened up.  I was standing in front of Rebekah, and watched as she poured her heart and soul into the song, looking up to heaven, and worshiping Our Lord and Saviour.  I could not open my mouth, largely as tears started to well up in my eyes.  It was absolutely beautiful.  This precious young woman led us in a few minutes of beautiful worship.  What a treat it was.

Sadly, it came to an end, though it will live on in my mind for some time to come.

Wayne and the group have been invited to come back from time to time to do music at a Mass, and Rebekah has asked to sing along with them.  I hope to get an opportunity to hear that.

Here is a Hillsong version of the song Rebekah sang with us, Here I Am to Worship.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Suzy at the Mall

Modern Version of Casey at the Bat From Theater of the Word.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Light of Life

The Word of God and Visions

Something interesting happened this morning as my prayer partner Deacon George and I prayed before the tabernacle at St. George Parish, here in London.

Every day, we pray for priests, religious and deacons in particular, but also for all people called by God to live in holiness, which includes all of us.  After we were finished with our prayers, Deacon George had a vision: well two actually.  In the first vision, he saw thousands and thousands of angels coming from the throne of God carrying a light from Christ, and approaching somebody here on earth.  When they reached their target person, they placed the light on the individual's head.  Often the individual rejected the light and pushed it away, but the angel persisted and would return the light to the individual's head again and again after each rejection.  But, finally for each person was an ultimate choice, to accept the light or to reject it for all time.

As well, while sitting in front of the tabernacle, Deacon George saw the same Light of Christ enter into the tabernacle, and into the communion hosts present there.  We both then saw what happened when people came to Communion.  That light entered them and then shone out from them, that Light of Christ.
 Now, I had just been praying the Divine Office with my friend, but the readings and psalms for the Office are not the same as the Mass readings for the day, and as I had just gotten up before going to prayer, I had not had a chance to see what today's readings were.  On my way back home, I was listening to Gus Lloyd's show "Seize the Day" on the Catholic Channel on XM Radio, and he was speaking about the readings for the day.  In fact, his 60 second reflection on the readings is here.

The Responsorial Psalm today is from Psalm 1, with the response from John 8:12

R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.

Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.

R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.

He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.

R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.

Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.

R. Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.
In the visions we saw this morning, were examples of God's light coming to His Chosen Ones.  God is not bound by only these ways to bring His Light to us, but they are ways that His Light does come.
When we receive His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, we are receiving His Light, the light for all the world, and when we consume it, it then shines out from us for our brothers and sisters to see, to draw them to the light as well.  But, it is His Light, not our light, and as disciples it is not ours to hide, but to share.

When he places the light of a vocation on us, that too is His Light, meant to be received and to be shared with others, the light of being called and set apart.  Those calls include the call to religious life, the priesthood, diaconate and other religious vocations.  But, they also include the call to marriage, and even the single life.  But, above all they are calls to holiness, to be holy as He is holy.

Let us joyfully receive the Light of Christ inside us in the Eucharist, and let us receive upon us the light of our vocation in the Lord, and not push it away, running the risk of missing it.

Let us not be like the wicked in the psalm, where we will reject the Lord, and then be rejected in the end ourselves.  Let us receive His Light and live in the light.

The Philosophy of Ambiguity

Idiosyncrasies of the English Language

My friend Bob Starks sent me these things to ponder recently.  Don't think too deeply on them.  Your head might explode.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Happy Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception

December 8

Today we celebrate in the Catholic Church that Mary, Our Dear Mother, and the model for Holy Mother Church, was conceived without original sin, unlike any other human being born after Adam and Eve.  This was so that Mary would be a spotless tabernacle in which the baby Jesus could repose prior to his birth.

Look at it logically, with your made in the image and likeness of God hat on.  Could it have been any other way?

Some very good Catholic writers have put their thoughts to digital paper to honour Mary today. 

Jennifer Hartline, wife of a US Army major, mother, home school teacher to her three daughters, and a pretty talented writer has a meditation on the First Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, the Annunciation, about Mary and the fruit of the mystery that we pray for when we pray this mystery, humility.  You can read it here.

Monsignor Charles Pope, a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, has an article today on the Fittingness and Faithfulness of the Immaculate Conception.  In the article he describes three perspectives on Mary and her Immaculate Conception, the fittingness of it, the biblical support for it, and finally what the early Fathers of the Church taught back in reported writings.

Anne Bender, the writer of Imprisoned in My Bones blog, has an interesting perspective, speaking of perspectives.  She speaks of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and some of what it means to and for her.  She speaks of devotion to Mary, and about the job of every Christian, to live as Mary did totally devoted to the desires of her son, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  You can read her reflections here.

Stephen McElligott, from Ireland, over at Loyal to the Magisterium, leaves us with a quote from one of his favourite spiritual writers Vasulla Ryden, who claims to write only what Jesus tells here.  His posting is titled Run to Your Blessed Mother

We Catholics love our Dear Mother, though most of us do not know particularly why.  She is a mother to us.  She is the Mother of Our Dear Saviour.  She is for us the Queen of Heaven.  She is the example of what Life in Christ is about.  She is also the woman of my last writer's article.

She, this day, is the subject of an article by Taylor Marshall, a former Episcopal priest, who came home to Rome 4 years ago, and brought with him a love of Our Lord and His Mother that he shares over at Canterbury Tales blog.  In this particular instalment of his writings, he reminds us that in the Latin Vulgate Genesis 3:15 says: "She will crush the head of Satan."  He reminds us that Mary has a role in human salvation, of course, by the grace of God.  She is a willing instrument of her and our Father,and of her son, Our Lord.  You can read his article Who Crushes Satan's Head in Genesis 3:15.

Personally, I have nothing further to add that would enhance the writing of these fine Catholic Christians, other than to say Amen, and Amen.

The Song That Silenced the Cappuccino Machine

A Story to Warm Your Heart

Whether this is a TRUE story or just a story that is true does not really matter.  It will warm your heart, and remind you maybe of times when coincidences occurred in your life, that were really God-incidences as one of my friends calls them.
H/T Bob Starks
It was chilly in Manhattan but warm inside the Starbucks shop on 51st Street and Broadway, just a skip up from Times Square . Early November weather in New York City holds only the slightest hint of the bitter chill of late December and January, but it's enough to send the masses crowding indoors to vie for available space and warmth.

For a musician, it's the most lucrative Starbucks location in the world, I'm told, and consequently, the tips can be substantial if you play your tunes right. Apparently, we were striking all the right chords that night, because our basket was almost overflowing. It was a fun, low-pressure gig - I was playing keyboard and singing backup for my friend who also added rhythm with an arsenal of percussion instruments. We mostly did pop songs from the '40s to the '90s with a few original tunes thrown in. During our emotional rendition of the classic, "If You Don't Know Me by Now," I noticed a lady sitting in one of the lounge chairs across from me. She was swaying to the beat and singing along.

After the tune was over, she approached me. "I apologize for singing along on that song. Did it bother you?" she asked. "No," I replied. "We love it when the audience joins in. Would you like to sing up front on the next selection?"

To my delight, she accepted my invitation.. "You choose," I said. "What are you in the mood to sing?"

"Well. ... do you know any hymns?"

Hymns? This woman didn't know who she was dealing with. I cut my teeth on hymns. Before I was even born, I was going to church. I gave our guest singer a knowing look. "Name one."

"Oh, I don't know. There are so many good ones. You pick one.

"Okay," I replied. "How about 'His Eye is on the Sparrow'?"

My new friend was silent, her eyes averted. Then she fixed her eyes on mine again and said, "Yeah. Let's do that one." She slowly nodded her head, put down her purse, straightened her jacket and faced the center of the shop. With my two-bar setup, she began to sing.

Why should I be discouraged? Why should the shadows come?

The audience of coffee drinkers was transfixed. Even the gurgling noises of the cappuccino machine ceased as the employees stopped what they were doing to listen. The song rose to its conclusion.

I sing because I'm happy; I sing because I'm free. For His eye is on the sparrow And I know He watches me.

When the last note was sung, the applause crescendoed to a deafening roar that would have rivaled a sold-out crowd at Carnegie Hall. Embarrassed, the woman tried to shout over the din, "Oh, y'all go back to your coffee! I didn't come in here to do a concert! I just came in here to get somethin' to drink, just like you!" But the ovation continued..

I embraced my new friend. "You, my dear, have made my whole year! That was beautiful!"

"Well, it's funny that you picked that particular hymn," she said.

"Why is that?"

"Well . .." she hesitated again, "that was my daughter's favorite song."

"Really!" I exclaimed.

"Yes," she said, and then grabbed my hands. By this time, the applause had subsided and it was business as usual.. "She was 16. She died of a brain tumor last week."

I said the first thing that found its way through my stunned silence. "Are you going to be okay?"

She smiled through tear-filled eyes and squeezed my hands. "I'm gonna be okay. I've just got to keep trusting the Lord and singing his songs, and everything's gonna be just fine." She picked up her bag, gave me her card, and then she was gone.

Was it just a coincidence that we happened to be singing in that particular coffee shop on that particular November night? Coincidence that this wonderful lady just happened to walk into that particular shop? Coincidence that of all the hymns to choose from, I just happened to pick the very hymn that was the favorite of her daughter, who had died just the week before? I refuse to believe it.

God has been arranging encounters in human history since the beginning of time, and it's no stretch for me to imagine that God could reach into a coffee shop in midtown Manhattan and turn an ordinary gig into a revival. It was a great reminder that if we keep trusting God and singing the songs, everything's gonna be okay.

The next time you feel like GOD can't use YOU, just remember...

Noah was a drunk
Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Sampson had long hair and was a womanizer
Rahab was a prostitute
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David had an affair and was a murderer
Elijah was suicidal
Isaiah preached naked
Jonah ran from God
Naomi was a widow
Job went bankrupt
John the Baptist ate bugs
Peter denied Christ
The Disciples fell asleep while praying
Martha worried about everything
The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once
Zaccheus was too small
Paul was too religious
Timothy had an ulcer...
AND Lazarus was dead!

No more excuses now!! God can use you to your full potential. Besides you aren't the message, you are just the messenger.

God bless you by passing this on to someone else, if you'd like.

House on Christmas Street

Music By Judy Pancoast


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

So I Was Going to Drive Over to the Corner For Some Milk

But That Would be a Challenge

As you can see, well you can't see really, our car that has the snow tires on it (Our Ontario Car) is parked on our driveway, I think.  At least, I think we have a driveway.  Last time I saw it on Saturday, we had a driveway.

Here in London, Ontario, we have what is called "lake effect" snow from time to time. Usually it hits about 30 miles east of us at Woodstock, and it did there too. But, we have about 3 feet of it and London is officially closed for business for the day, actually about the second day in a row.  Port Huron, Michigan, and Sarnia, Ontario were reported last night to have had a "trace" of snow.

Well, there was a driveway there a few days ago.  In fact, last night it was plowed by our snow plowing friend.

But, it is beautiful looking out our back window at the park beyond our fence.

So, My Dear Wife and I are hunkered down (without milk - oh the sacrifices we must make).  She is playing Christmas music, this being her favourite musical time of the year.  Another sacrifice is that we loaned our Christmas movies (all 15 of them) to two of our daughters last night, who braved the elements to come and check up on us.

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Advent in preparation for Christmas.

But, in three weeks, My Dear Wife and I will be on the road, if we can find it, heading to a warmer (snow free) winter in Tucson Arizona.

The scene outside our windows is gorgeous, and I really do like it, and it will be nice for us that we only get to enjoy it for one month, instead of five.

Currier and Ives have nothing on us today.

I had a Dream - Redux

And It Seems to Be Growing Clearer

Usually when I have a dream, I don't remember a thing about it.  It disappears, and all I can remember is that I was having a dream.  Well, the one I reported a few days ago was different, and continues to unfold in my thoughts and prayers.  As it does it draws me deeper into the mystery of Jesus, Our Lord.

As I understood it at the time, I was a newly ordained and young priest, and I was going to Mass with a priest I did not know, and with Father Michael Prieur, who I have known for a long time.  In relating it, I picked up on our membership in the royal priesthood by virtue of our Baptism into Jesus Christ.  In fact, I think I got the essence of the dream, but it just took a few days for the symbolism of it to sink in for me.

Looking back, I realise that though I did not know the other priest, he was somehow familiar to me.  He was dressed in beautiful vestments that were a familiar and very specific blue and were trimmed with gold.  They were the type of vestments that we see very seldom, where rather than flowing they were the stiffer backed ones with the rounded edges that we see occasionally, usually in videos.

As we had been approaching the altar, I noticed that I was not in vestments, and that Father Prieur was actually vested as a Deacon, not as a priest, with a deacon's stole on, hanging from left to right.  It was Father Prieur that described the Eucharist as I relayed it in the earlier post, and only he and the priest were on the altar.

Just after New Years this year, now 11 months ago, I met with Father Prieur at St. Peter's Seminary, and described our meeting at the time here.  I was well aware that day, that Jesus was present with us when we met.  I saw Him sitting across from us, leaning in to our conversation, smiling at us both, and loving us, and enjoying being with us.

As I have pondered on this wonderful dream of the other night, I realised that I know who the priest was, and is.  Like the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, I did not recognise that He was in our midst, that He is the center of the Mass, that it was all about Him, Our Blessed Saviour and Lord.

Normally at Mass, Father Prieur would be in priestly vestments, and would celebrate or concelebrate with any other priests present.  But, if the Bridegroom is present, would someone stand in for Him?  Would you need an alter Christus to celebrate the forever sacrifice of Christ on the Cross if He is there in body?  No, in fact in this particular Mass, there was to be only one celebrant.

But, it was Father Prieur that spoke about what Eucharist meant, as the Mass was about to begin.  He presented the mystery of Eucharist for us in that dream, as our beloved priests do every time we attend Mass.  Just, this time, he did it in words, the words of a teacher, and believer, rather than is his actions.

Oh, how I wish I had stayed asleep longer to see the Mass unfold, though maybe I know what it would have been, and maybe I have seen it before.

I wrote earlier this year about a simple miracle of the Eucharist that happened to me many years ago, about seeing the priest, a close friend of mine at the time, raising the bread during the consecration, and it then dissolving into Christ on the Cross that was behind him. 

I remember saying to this priest on one occasion as we shared a meal, that it must be so wonderful to be able to consecrate the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Our Lord.  Though I have loved our dear priests for a long time, I have also been envious of them being able to stand in front of us, and bring to life the most simple yet wonderful miracles of the Eucharist, not by their power, but by the grace and love of Jesus, present with them and in them, and in us.  As this dream unfolded for me, the envy disappeared, but the awe did not.

The vestments of blue that Jesus was wearing in my dream were a hidden clue to me, until I pondered that over the last few days as well.  In fact, it gave me an indication as to who He is.  The blue of the vestments was the blue that we associate with Our Dear Mother Mary.  Those who have prayed the Rosary with any devotion or who have looked at what Our Dear Mother has said in her appearances around the world, know that she always points to her son, Our Lord.  She does not take honour for her own self, but reflects all honour that she has and deserves, because of her unique obedience to the call the Father gave her, back to her son.

Father Prieur was honouring Jesus in this Mass, by vesting as a deacon, and by inviting the congregation into the mystery as Mass was about to begin.

It is now clear to me that in my dream, I was a stand in for all of us.  We are royal priests, and no we have not been called to Holy Orders, but we have been called to holiness, to submission to the will of God, to love Him above all, and to love one another.  For Father Prieur and for all priests, the call is almost the same, except that they have been given a responsibility to make Jesus known to us, and present to us in a special way, as a reminder that He is always with us.  Emmanuel, God With Us.

Those of us who have been baptised into the Catholic Vision of the faith of our fathers, and above all faith in Our Saviour and his work of redemption of us and for us, are called to share what we know with our brothers and sisters around the world.  That is simply that He lives, and is with us this very day, and always.  He is present in each one of us, but He is also very specifically present as He said He was and will be, in the Eucharist.  It is the most difficult of Catholic teachings, and it is ultimately the one that makes many walk away.

But, for those of us who believe we must ask: "But, Master to where would we go?"  If you believe that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, there is nowhere you can go, except running to the Catholic Church.

As I approached the table of the Lord this weekend to receive His Body and His Blood, I recalled the feeling inside of me the day that I saw the bread dissolve into the Crucifix many years ago, knowing then that I knew that I knew, and yet this day I knew it even deeper.

Dear Reader, I adjure you to listen to your heart, where He and the Father have taken up their home.  In this Advent season, we prepare our hearts for Him, who came to be with us, and to show us the greatest love that one can give.  And, if you can, receive the Eucharist as His Body and His Blood, not just as a symbol, but Jesus present for you and then in you.  Allow the Eucharist to heal the stony heart, to soften it to His presence.

Dear Jesus, Emmanuel, drain me of those things that separate me from your abundant love for me, and for all mankind.  Open my eyes, like the blind man, not to just see the world around me, but to see you in me, and in my brothers and sisters.

Remember and pray for our dear brothers who are priests, that they will remain faithful to their call to ministry, and that God will protect them from all evil that would seek to separate them from this wonderful call of service upon their lives.

Please also pray for the seminaries that form our priests, that they will be and remain faithful to their calling, and in particular for St. Peter's Seminary here in London, Ontario that will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2012.

May Our Dear Saviour make His Presence known to you each and every day of your life, and may you grow more deeply into the great Mystery of His Love for you.

And then if you have time, listen to Amy Grant singing Emmanuel, God With Us.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Dandy One is Gone

Turn Out The Lights the Party's Over

You may remember Dandy Don Meredith, onetime quarterback of America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys, and former boradcaster on Monday Night Football.

He passed away from a brain hemhorrage on Sunday.  He is remembered for many things but this line from a Willie Nelson song was his trademark when broadcasting a blowout.

The Lord's Prayer - You Gotta Hear This

Andrea Bocelli with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

God inhabits the praises of His People.  Don't get all doctrinal about where this is (Mormon Tabernacle).  It is a beautiful place, with an amazing orchestra, beautiful organist, fantastic choir and Andrea Bocelli, who has one of the finest voices alive.

Let God's anointing come upon you as you hear the words that His Son Jesus Christ gave us to pray.

David Foster introduces this video of a magnificent rendition of the Our Father.

H/t Norm Sutherland

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I Had a Dream

An Impossible Dream to Be Sure, But Prophetic in a Sense

Last night, I went to bed as usual, and slept as usual, except about 4 am I had a dream, a most wonderful dream, from which I awoke joyful, and excited.  Eventually, I returned to a peaceful sleep, but the dream remains with me now.

For the past few weeks I have been praying a prayer with my prayer partners and on my own that Gus Lloyd received one morning from the Lord, called Drain Me of Me.  You can see it over to the left on my blog page, or read about it here.

The prayer asks God to remove all those parts of me (or you if you pray it) that separate me from Him, my pride, arrogance, ignorance, all those things that are not of Him.  I think the dream I had was somewhat of an answer to the prayer.

In the dream, I was a newly ordained and young priest (no grey hair, no wife), and I was to participate in my first daily mass since ordination.  I was with two other priests, one I did not know, and one I know very well, and admire, Father Michael Prieur of St. Peter's Seminary.  Father Prieur has been in my thoughts and prayers a lot lately, as of course are the other priests we know and pray for, but he holds a special place in my heart, since I have known him and his faithfulness for so many years.

Before Mass was to begin, one of the priests looked out to the congregation and explained the Eucharist to them with such clarity and power that that is what woke me up. 

Here is what was basically said in the dream:
Today, dear brothers and sisters, you will approach the table of Christ to receive the Eucharist which we celebrate this morning.  This Eucharist will have been consecrated at the hands of an unworthy but willing servant of God.  In mystery, this bread and wine will be transformed into the Body and Blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

So, when you approach to receive the bread and wine, do not be fooled by your senses.  It will look just like bread and wine, as it did before the Consecration.  Yet, we know in our hearts that it has in fact been transformed into the Body and Blood of Our Dear Lord, who shed His Blood and gave up His Body at our hands on Calvary.  So, listen to your hearts, not your eyes, as you come forward.

In one of the prayers of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, we pray: "Father, I offer you the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world."

What a seemingly arrogant statement to make.  How can I offer Jesus up to the Father?. . .   It is really quite simple.  Just as our elected officials when they do something such as permit abortion, it is the same as we ourselves doing it.  They are speaking for us and standing in for us, as we have elected them to do. So, too when we do not stand against any evil, we are at least unwittingly participating in that very evil.  And so it was with the Crucifixion of Our Dear Lord.  Our ancestors, who were guilty of sin, crucified He who was without sin, not only for their sins, but for all sins that would be committed ever in history.  They, in this act of terrible aggression against the Ruler of the World, unknowingly offered His Death up to God.  So, it then becomes very fitting for us to actually verbally make the same offer specifically to God the Father, joining our sins and ourselves with this terrible act, through which salvation came into the world.

So, when you approach the table of the Lord to receive Him, know that you are in fact receiving Him, and take Him tenderly into yourself.  Let His love for you, the love that died for you, enter you and nourish you, as you join with all the saints of God who have known this truth throughout the ages, and have cherished it and honoured it.
I do not know if I have done justice to what I heard in my dream.  But, I cannot hardly wait to go to Mass and receive Communion. 

I will never be an ordained priest, but I do not think that was the point of the dream.  All believers are members of the royal priesthood, and though that does not confer on us the ability to consecrate the Eucharist, it does confer on us the responsibility to bring the Good News of the Gospel of Salvation to our brothers and sisters here on the earth.  It is our solemn duty, and one we must not shirk.  So, let us all go forward and bring the Good News to one and all.  Let our actions speak of our love for Jesus, and let our words then support our actions.

Friday, December 3, 2010

December 25 is a Holiday BUT IT's CHRISTMAS PEOPLE

That's Christmas With a Capital "C"

I have a button on my jacket this time of year that says:"It's OK. Wish Me a Merry Christmas."  The reason I have that button is because we celebrate Christmas this time of year, every year, and plan to do so as long as we have breath.  Yes, it is a Happy Holiday.  Thank you for noticing, but this holiday is about the birth of the Saviour of the World.  Yes, Jesus Christ.

This celebration is not about the Jesus Christ that is peppered almost seemlessly into the speech of people who are angry over this or that, though it is His Name being taken in vain at such times.  No, we celebrate the man/God who was born over 2,000 years ago, who came from heaven to be with us here on earth, and to set us free from our sins, including the one of taking His Name in vain.  He died and was resurrected for you and for me, and would have come for just one of us, if there was only one here.  That is sacrificial love.

So, do you think it would be okay for those of us who believe in Him to celebrate a day in memory of His Birth, and not compromise it?  Do you think our failure to compromise matters?  What about the scripture verse, Matthew 10:33, that says: "but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven."  I don't want that verse on my head, so Christmas it is for me.

We here in North America have as the bulk of our heritage, people who came to this country to have religious freedom, either as Catholic Christians or as those who look to the Reformation.  So, when companies and governments do the politically correct thing, if it can be called so, and take away something important from our heritage in the interest of not offending someone's feelings, we need to stand against it.

So, if you want to do something about it, you can order buttons like mine for yourself and your friends at Wish Me A Merry Christmas.

And you can listen to and pass on this song from their web site, and the song that follows,  "Christmas With a Capital "C""from the Go Fish Guys:

It's Christmas.  Time to party for the Lord.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy 65th Birthday Deacon George Sebok

And May You Enjoy Many More

Today, my dear friend and prayer partner Deacon George Sebok celebrates his 65th birthday.  December 1 is not only the day of his birth, but was also the day of his father's birth and his grandfather's birth.  And so, it is a special day for the Sebok family.  George is officially a senior citizen today, though he did not look any older than he did earlier this week.

Deacon George has been a blessing in my life, and I appreciate his joyful heart, prayerful demeanor, and the wisdom that he has been given to share with me and others.  I cannot describe how much it means to me and to my growth in faith and love to have a prayer partner like him walking beside me on my journey.  Seeing his smiling face would make getting up at 5:45 on weekday mornings, when I would rather sleep, worthwhile alone, if it were not already worthwhile to spend the time with Our Saviour.

And, of course, it is always a great joy to spend the prayer time with my brother Wayne Zimmer, who meets with us each morning.  This year, Wayne celebrated his 50th birthday.  Also, this year I celebrated my 60th birthday.  Milestones all!!

This morning after our prayer time, we went to a restaurant called Angel's (seems appropriate) for breakfast.  There we were met by one other long time friend and prayer partner, Deacon Chuck Stillwell, who was just coming home from his job working nights in security.  It was a great joy for the four of us to spend time together once again.

Father, I ask you to pour a new and fresh anointing on my brother George this day, in honour of his birthday.  I ask that you continue to heal the raltionships in his extended family, and bring all of his children back into your fold completely, in the faith into which they were baptised, and in the joy of the knowledge of their Saviour.

Today, I also pray belatedly for our brother Wayne and his family, that you would give him a new and fresh anointing in memory of the 50 years that he has walked on this earth, with a heart of love and service to You.  I ask you to heal the grieving over lost loved ones, and continue to inspire his children to love and serve you with hearts like their father's.

I lift up Deacon Chuck as well, in gratitude for the time we shared this morning, and also in gratitude for the things you are doing in his life and in that of his precious family.  It was a joy to see his smile and hear his words of wisdom, and know that you are doing a mighty work in his life.

Finally, Father I lift up My Dear Wife to you today, asking for healing for her, and lift up our newest grandchild Charlotte and Emilia and Sam as well, asking that you would fill them and all of our other children and their loved ones with the Spirit that you have given to us all, a spirit of love, of faith, and hope, such that it would draw them back into full communion with you.

Please join your prayers with these, if you will, for where two or more are gathered in His Name, there He is in our midst, and that midst is not bound by time and space.  It is eternal and everywhere.

God Bless You Deacon George today and always.


Loyal to the Magisterium

There are things that bug me to no end about Christianity.  One among them is the minimalist approach of some of our fundamentalist brethren.  Foremost among the topics for minimalism in my opinion is Salvation.  I have attempted to debate it fruitlesly with one Christian brother over at Father Tim Moyle's blog, Where the Rubber Hits the Road, though not lately. 

For Christians, the operative phrase on doctrine is "Don't confuse me with facts.  My mind's made up."  Yet, there are hundreds and hundreds of different sets of doctrinal beliefs that have separated Christians from each other over the centuries, as each group splits off from their last group because of the interpretation of scripture, which remains proof positive that Sola Scriptura is a farce, well meaning, but a farce.

You would think that if Jesus compared us to sheep that we would follow where we are led.  Well, in fact we do follow where we are led.  It just happens that we are led often by wolves in sheep's clothing, claiming to speak for the Master, but without His authority. 

So, I plan to remain Loyal to the Magisterium, as Stephen McElligott who writes under the blog title "Loyal to the Magisterium" does.  I appreciate Stephen's heart for the truth, and his ability to cut to the chase.  Here is his incisive cut at a small part of Catholicism and Salvation, under the article name "Christianity not about good works?" where we stumble with our Christian brothers to discern the ONE TRUTH.
Over the years I have endlessly debated my protestant brethren upon their doctrine of ”once saved always saved”.

Of the many quotes in scriptures that protestants use to prove such a doctrine, none can be more infamous than that of: 
Ephesians:2:8-9: ” For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God; Not of works, that no man may glory.” 
But St.James on the contrary says:
”Do you see that by works a man is justified; and not by faith only?” ( James:2:24 ) 
Why is it that Saint Paul tells us on one hand that we are not saved by works and St.James on the other informs the faithful that they are indeed saved by works and not just faith only? It seems like an apparent contradiction but we know truth can not contradict truth. Both James and Paul are speaking of two different types of works. St.Paul is talking about the works of the mosaic law which is no longer binding upon Christians and James is talking about good works done in a system of grace.

St.Paul reminding us of the Gospel passage Matthew:16:27 teaches that God ”will render to every man according to his works.”

Why would Paul in his letters to the Ephesians tell us ”not of works” and in his letters to the romans exhort the faithful that God ”will render to every man according to his works.”? Truth can not contradict truth. Paul is showing a difference between two completely different works as demonstrated in the previous paragraphs.

Nowhere in scripture does the Bible ever tell us we are saved by ”faith only.” Furthermore, nowhere in scripture can one find the words ”faith only” except in James:2:24 were we are instructed: ”by works a man is justified; and not by faith only”
They are rising up in Christianity, and particularly in Catholic Christianity a number of men and women who are seeking to present the Catholic truth that we understand, that has been passed down to us for 2,000 years.  We have come late to the party, because we were not as well catechised as our other Christian brothers and sisters, but we are here now, and we do not plan to go away any time soon.

We will tell the truth, as we discern the truth from the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, through scripture and tradition combined,and faithful witness of those who have gone before.

Maybe by our efforts, you will have the opportunity to know the Truth, for the Truth will set you free.