Saturday, November 26, 2005

An Advent Prayer

from Walking on the Wings of the Wind [Paulist Press, 1980]

"Come, Lord Jesus, come!"

How often during the Advent season I have said these words, dear Jesus. Teach me to understand what they really mean.

Come to me, Jesus, in my weakness, in my sinfulness.

That coming, I know, will be more like iodine on an open sore. My faults are so exposed, like open wounds, but after the burning sensation comes the healing lotions that soothe and mend.

Come to me, Jesus, in my moments of doubt and insecurity.

How difficult it is to be a bishop! So many demands and expectancies from these clay feet. Lord, I have my moments of self-doubt, too. Why must people think it is I who must have a solution to everything? Or are they only looking for an ear that will listen to their hurts?

Come to me, Jesus, in my moments of depression and discouragement.

I try, really, Lord, to teach your gospel and put it into practice, but my words are so often twisted against me --- sometimes even by friends, almost as if they were eager to see me tripped up. Teach me to see, Jesus, that you are able to bring good out of wrong and order out of confusion, teach me to see and understand the hurts in others that lie beneath the twists.

Come to me, Jesus, in my moments of tiredness and irritability.

Give me always, Jesus, the strength to go out to one more hurting person, one more soul in need, one more group to be touched.

Come to me, Jesus, in my moments of arrogance and pride. (It is not easy, Jesus, to say that and mean it.)

Yes, I do need to be brought down so very often. Too much adulation, too much praise is not good for a bishop. One moment of silence, though, and I see the facade crumble. Come to me in those moments, pick me up, sustain me.

Come to me, Jesus, in my moments of joy.

When I am at the altar or with good friends, or at the piano, or just walking along the streets greeting people, come to me through all these moments of pleasure and teach me to rejoice in you.

Come, Jesus, come!

What an empty life it would be, Jesus, if you did not come at Christmas and bring together into one solemn encounter all those moments of weakness and strength, depression and solace, sorrow and joy!

Come, Lord Jesus, come!


Evening Prayer I, in heaven

Dorothy's family's world, which would be hers as well, was Journalism. She, as a grade school girl, had survived the Great San Francisco Earthquake --- but her nightmares afterwards sent her family to Chicago, and then to New York City, the city that would become her own. They weren't believers, particularly; and she wasn't either. She had an extremely short failed marriage (hubby abandoned her in Europe after only a month or two....), became an activist for the vote for women, got a job in journalism behind her father's back (he didn't want her in journalism, blackballed her at all the mainstream papers, but he didn't think she might apply at the Socialist Call), associated with the radical intelligentia of the age before finding the one she thought was her true love and entering a common-law union with him. Forrest being an atheist and anarchist wasn't a problem since she very nearly was also. But then her life took a 180 degree turn.

Dorothy was pregnant. And God-haunted. She was starting to believe that she ought to be a Catholic, if she could with the two marriages and all. And she was certain that the baby had to be baptised and raised as a Catholic, and not spend so much time adrift as she had. When she told Forrest, that was the end, She could have Forrest, or God, said Forrest; and of course God won.

So the baby was baptised, and Dorothy was baptised not long after. She found a small apartment, went looking for a new job since Catholicism was inconsistant with the Socialist Call, and wondered what she would do next.

But there was an apostolate waiting for her. A wandering Catholic philosopher from France wandered into her life and taught her to think like a Catholic. Her neighbors and people from her past life who were in trouble knew there was a listening ear and a hot cup of tea at her place. And, since she knew Newspapers, she started one of her own, a Catholic paper to compete with the Call and the Daily Worker. The Catholic Worker still sells for one penny, even now.

In time, especially with the Great Depression, her apostolate grew out of her little apartment to several apartments --- to a storefront --- to a little farm --- to other people in other cities --- all serving Christ by sharing one's own food with the hungry and one's own home with those who have no home. Living the fulness of the "explosive" Catholic social teachings, and writing about it in the paper.

In the 1970's, as Dorothy became frailer in her old age, she handed the headship of the house in the Bowery over to "the young folks" but continued to live and to serve there. Until 1980. It was Saturday of the 34th week, the last day of the Church's year, November 29th. Dorothy was becoming weaker and weaker. Until, just before sunset, with her daughter and several of her old friends with her, she died, just in time to pray Evening Prayer I of the New Year with the saints of heaven.


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Bless us, O Lord, and these Your gifts,

which we receive from Your bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

or, as the late Jean-Paul Ranieri would pray to begin the Sanctuary's feasts back in the day: Thanks for everything, Dad.

As I prepare, with the other folk in my household, to prepare the Thanksgiving feast --- tentative menu: roasted turkey thighs, baked sweet potatoes, baked squash (probably acorn, possibly butternut, one or the other), roasted onions/carrots/parsnips, green bean casserole with fresh beans, Splendad cranberry crisp --- here's the table grace of St. Brigid of Kildare, the great Irish abbess:

I should like a great lake of the finest ale
for the King of kings.

I should like a table of the choicest food
for the Family of Heaven.

Let the ale be made from the fruits of faith,
and the food be forgiving love.

I should welcome the poor to my feast,
for they are God's children.

I should welcome the sick to my feast,
for they are God's joy.

Let the poor sit with Jesus at the Highest Place,
and the sick dance with the Angels.

God bless the poor.
God bless the sick.
God bless our human race.
God bless our food.
God bless our drink.

All homes, O God, embrace.


Monday, November 21, 2005

Whatsoever you do for another you do for Christ, and its relationship to the zoning authorities

Terrence linked to me a couple of days ago. Don't know why to me, when I haven't posted specifically Catholic Worker things for months, and wasn't due to until this coming Saturday. But he googled or leap-blogged around, and found out how a home of a Catholic Worker becomes a Catholic Worker House --- and seemed a little shocked at just how not an institution it all is. Especially that the tradition is against tax exemption, that many Catholic Worker communities have no more insurance than their sisters and brothers whom they serve, and that someone would actually write that the zoning laws should be studied, in case anyone might want to make trouble, but that how one follows them is a matter of conscience.

My response was: what in the world would a zoning authority have to do with houseguests and dinner companions received as Christ? As of last night, that wasn't answered in Terrence's combox, but I've had some time to noodle on that too, and have some idea what's up.

As a radio amateur, I receive regular warnings from the ARRL and other radio societies about the dangers of "CC&R's", a kind of addition to an house's deed that can out of all conscience restrict perfectly legal, proper, and nondisruptive activities in one's own home, like having antennas. And, in speaking to elders, occasionally I've met one having grief from landlord/developer/condo association/other quasi-legal authority over whether they can cook aromatic ethnic specialties, fly an American flag, or have their grandchild visit overnight.

So, if the neighbors get upset somehow, they might go looking for some pretense. Along the lines of, Ooooh, there are four people living in that 4-bedroom house. Or, Me Oh My, craftworks are sold by the people there! (which would be no problem at _my_ home, which is zoned light industrial!) It would be wise to take a good look at the zoning, the CC&R's, any obsolete unenforced laws that might suddenly get resurrected, and avoid condos, before finding a home where one can live this past Sunday's Gospel, just to have a head's up and, if possible, avoid possible headaches.

But sometime one just has to do what has to be done --- then offer up the headache.

And, if you offer your guestroom to the Lord, He will send you the guest.


Friday, November 18, 2005

A Yahrzeit light for Gerard Serafin

Granted, I've been very distracted torturing myself for the physical terrorists, but I can't just let this drift by; I owe him.....

Mother of God, Light in All Darkness.

Back in the mid-1990's when I first entered the listserv world --- I was kknapp@omnifest.uwm.edu then jochebed@phantasy.com back then --- Gerard was already there, bearing witness to the truth of the Faith and, even more so, to the everlasting faithfulness and ever-deeper depths of the heart of Jesus. [The word "heart" he always printed in red as a witness.]

In May of 2002, that fateful month, his was the very first blog I ever saw. Since it was such a fateful time, I was blogging long before I had any idea what I was doing, and Gerard encouraged me. And when the chaos moved from my neighborhood to his, I tried my very best to encourage him.

One of his very last public acts of mercy was to beg for prayers for me when I was hospitalized this time last year. And one year ago this morning, Gerard Serafin, faithful witness to the everlasting love of God and priest forever, was born to life true and eternal.

Gerard, I pray for you. Please pray for me, and for all of us who live in the cyberworld you served, and your site continues to serve, so well.

Gerard's site: The Catholic Pages for Lovers

Gerard's blog: A Catholic Blog for Lovers