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Blog 4/19/2013

Let me tell you a parable…..   4/19/2013

Once upon a time there was a city. It was a multicultural, cosmopolitan city with all kinds of people who had all kinds of gifts. It was a city that had several good sports teams, good museums, several theatres, many institutions of higher learning and numerous houses of worship. It had a symphony orchestra as well as a more popular orchestra for music of all types, and two world renowned schools of music. Its hospitals were top notch and it had hotels and restaurants of all flavors. The city spoke many languages and embraced the very young and the very old. It had parks and gardens. It was a good city.


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One day, someone tried to hurt the city. On a beautiful spring holiday, when many families in the city were enjoying themselves running a race, evil entered the city and killed some citizens and maimed others. The evildoers planted bombs. When the citizens of the city realized what had happened, they first ran headlong into the danger to save those they could. They applied tourniquets and then they ran to hospitals to help and to give blood. They offered blankets and water and food and opened their homes to comfort the afflicted. They wept and prayed and sang together. Then they began to search for those who tried to harm their city. They will bring them to justice.


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When it was done, only five lost their lives since so many had rushed forward to help. The three who went home to God that first day became symbols of what is good in the city: a young restaurant manager, who symbolized all the workers of the city with all their energy and drive, a young grad student who symbolized all the education that goes on in the city and all the visitors from faraway places, and a young child, who will always symbolize the innocence and beauty of family life of the city. The fourth man who lost his life in the days that followed during the manhunt was a university policeman and he became the symbol of all the policemen and firemen and national guardsmen  and other law enforcement officials who sought to protect the city.   The fifth man who lost his life was one of the perpetrators.  May God have mercy on his soul.  His coconspirator was captured, and since he is so young, many now pray he may one day come to understand what he has done and beg forgiveness of his fellow men and women of the city and of God.  The goodness and the godliness of the city shone brightly those days. And wherever goodness is found, the Creator of goodness is present. God is made present in so many acts of goodness. Evil did not conquer the city those days and evil can never conquer for “We know that things work together for good for those who love God.” (Romans 8:28).






Blog 4/2/2013

Easter is here!  Alleluia!  Christ has risen!!
After forty days of Lent and an equally long time of snow storms, blizzards, rain storms and ice, we gratefully celebrated once more that Christ has indeed risen and spring is finally here.  Liturgies at Church ran all through Holy Week and we prayed and sang our hearts out to the Risen Lord, while cooking up a storm at home.  For after Easter Mass on Sunday morning, here at MV we were expecting 27 for dinner, following the traditional Easter Egg Hunt at Noon for the children.  The day was a perfect spring day.  


One of our granddaughters even wore flip-flops to go with her Easter dress, and she was completely comfortable.  The children got a kick out of all the baby animals and Francis, Malachi, Jeremiah and the baby chicks all made new friends.   Bill and I received one of the nicest compliments from one of our cousins from New Hampshire, who has come the last few years with her two girls, Lily and Sara.  She told us that when her girls grow up, this is going to be one of their fondest memories, that on Easter Sunday, they would drive down to visit their Lakeville cousins “on the farm”.  
What a lovely insight to notice that we are actually “making memories” for our children when we celebrate and mark these sacred days.  
As we celebrated “new life” with the baby animals and one or two hyacinths that opened their blooms (all the other flowers seem to be so late this year), our son and daughter-in-law also informed us that grandchild number nine is on its way and will arrive hopefully sometime in November.  
Praise God!!  More new life!!  Since Abby, our precious granddaughter and our son Shawn’s and his wife Alyssa’s first born was also due in November a couple years ago, but decided to arrive in August, we are all hoping this baby will stay put with Mom until his or her due date…..and for this we pray, dear God.
After the food was on the table, with the help of lots of hands, it was time to simply relax and share each other’s company.  To me, that is often the best time of the day.  No one has to do anything more, or make anything more…..we can share stories, and laugh at each other and take pictures, or sometimes do all of that together… this Sunday when three folks sat on the cedar bench to have their picture taken the bench cracked!  No one was hurt, but it was funny!  The children are a joy to watch as they run around looking for eggs and treasures, and then when they sit down to open their eggs to discover what little trinkets were hiding inside. 
easter eggs.resizedThere were hard-boiled eggs on the table, each with someone’s name on it, so that became a fun task, too, to find each other’s eggs and see if we could read the white crayon or pink crayon letters.  There were jelly beans everywhere and if this year will be like others, I will be picking up Easter grass for many days to come.  
What wonderful memories!  What wonderful blessings!!
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So, we are reminded once more that as Christ once broke free from the tomb and brought salvation for the entire human race, he was thinking of us.  A friend of mine sent me this YouTube clip about how many times we enjoy blessings and may not realize that “our blessings are not the fruit of our prayers alone…but those of another praying for us”.  A blessed and joyful Easter to you all!!  Alleluia!!

Blog 3/23/2013

On my Father’s Side…..     3/23/2013
As we begin our observations of Holy Week once more, a friend sent me this musical clip that is worth some reflection:

Blog 3/19/2013

Wanted, for questioning..…Punxsutawney Phil…..the fraud!!!
Dear Phil.... you've got some explaining to do..... some are asking for your head, but who could hurt such a cute little fuzzy creature?  That said, however, I think many have all lost faith in one cute little fuzzy creature.  If any of you live in New England, you are probably among those who have had just about enough of the fluffy white stuff, the heavy white stuff, the rainy/snowy/sleet-y white stuff, and the black ice and the thick ice and the frozen slush ice, etc.  Last February 2nd, this sweet little groundhog emerged from his burrow and did not see his shadow and bravely predicted we would have an early spring.  We had had a very mild winter up to that point with little snow in December or January, so we got quite excited and optimistic with his prediction.  However, 
Mid way through March, we are in the midst of yet ANOTHER snow storm, with Mother Nature dumping up to 10 more inches of heavy wet snow around the area.   A week ago, Bill walked out our front door and slid on some black ice on the two flagstone steps by our door and landed on his back.  One broken rib and some pulled muscles later have had him keeping a low profile this week.  We are grateful that he did not hit his head.  Usually by the time we get to mid-March, one bumps into St. Patrick along the way, and lots of folks in the Boston area enjoying parades, breakfast roasts, corned beef and cabbage and some authentic Irish bread, for on St. Paddy’s Day, everyone is a wee bit Irish!  At Church on Sunday, almost everyone was wearing a bit o’ the green or sporting shamrocks.  It is a fun holy day in which we remember how this Celtic saint taught the Irish about the Trinity with a simple shamrock and legend has it how he drove the snakes out of Ireland and converted the island to Christianity all at once.  Everyone seems to celebrate Irish pride, and in the Boston Archdiocese, if the day falls on a Friday in Lent, fasting is lifted to observe the Archdiocese’s patron saint.  Not only does one enjoy some corned beef and cabbage or some authentic colcannon and oatcakes, one usually can wash it down with a pint of Guinness, too!  
st. patrick
Two days later, the feast of St. Joseph arrives, and this year, we not only celebrate the wonderful protector of Mary and Jesus, but on this special feast, Habemus Papam!!  Our new pope, Pope Francis I who was selected last week in the conclave, was installed today as the next successor of Peter.  
Te Deum Laudamus!!
Pope Francis I
We are still, however, in March.  Shakespeare warned the Romans in his Julius Caesar: “Beware the ides of March,” and I’m beginning to think we ought to listen more carefully to the Englishman.  While March is usually warmer and a bit more festive with patron saints and Easter approaching, and we are usually  cleaning up the leftovers of winter, or watching the crocuses poke through the ground,
or trying to plant our peas by St. Patrick’s Day, this year is different.  February and now March are seeing almost weekly blizzards or significant snow storms, one after another, and the weather forecasters are saying it’s not over yet.  Something more is looming for Thursday and something else for next Monday or Tuesday as storm after storm rage their way across the country.  Next week also begins Holy Week.  Spring cleaning indoors really can’t begin until we pick up all the trees that have fallen outdoors, and clean up all the debris that is piled beneath snow banks everywhere around us.  As we near Holy Week, we are reminded to clean out the cobwebs in our soul as well and put them in some semblance of order for the coming mysteries.   A new shed was supposed to have arrived the first week of March for the baby goats, and we are still waiting for it to be dry enough to put it up.  The tree workers will be coming soon, too, to cut down the broken trees and chip all the huge branches that are strewn everywhere.  Loads of straw need to be delivered to mulch the orchard, but it is so wet, that will be postponed, too.  Punxsutawney Phil is playing a rather cruel joke on us this year.  I’m not sure if we will ever believe him again!

Blog 3/1/2013

In like a lion, out like a lamb..... 
March has finally arrived, and in the Northeast, I think many of us are quite grateful to see it, and are equally glad to say ‘good riddance’ to the last days of February.  Three weekends in a row in February, we were digging out from under snow and high winds and then just snow and rain.  There are multiple trees and huge branches down everywhere around town, so much of March will hear that familiar sound of chain saws and chippers, and crackling fires of brush clean-up.  There is a LOT of clean up ahead.  In some ways, it is good we are also in the Lenten season.  That’s another perfect time period for clean up, and dusting out the cobwebs and putting some order to our inner life.  If we haven’t paid it that much attention yet, it’s time to get down to business with our repentance.   It’s time to reflect on our own sinfulness and our need for confession and a re-ordering of our priorities.  
We lost our Pope this week, too, when Pope Benedict XVI broke tradition of the past 600 years and retired from office.  I watched his short helicopter flight out of the Vatican yesterday and into the sunset at Castle Gondolfo, where he will reside for a few months until his retirement quarters are finished at the Vatican.  The cardinals are on their way to assemble in Rome to begin the next conclave.  I think Pope Benedict deliberately picked this Lenten season to break with tradition so that all of us who pray, and those who will be doing the choosing of the next pope, will do so with Lenten hearts.  Lenten hearts are really what are needed today to accept God’s grace to fix our brokenness.  There’s more brokenness in our world than merely trees and branches, and our small selves.  Maybe the everyday tasks of picking up tree branches and chopping up broken trees, and raking up the clutter will put us in touch with what needs to be picked up or chopped up, or swept away in our own lives to prepare for the flowers of spring.
Here, at MV, as I mentioned in the Farm Animal Notes, spring has gotten off to an early start with new baby goat kids, a new puppy, and a new pregnant mama goat, who will kid later in May.  All these new arrivals in the midst of snow storm after snow storm, however, may not have been the best timing.    The baby goats are still being bottle fed, so we have to warm up the half gallon of milk every feeding and truck up the snowy, icy hill to feed them, and dress them in little coats to stay warm, while Julian, the new mama goat is having trouble “fitting in” with the other goats.  Usually she could just move around elsewhere, but with all the snow and cold, we’ve had to shut them in together each evening, so there’s been a lot of head butting inside that larger goat shed at night.  Sophie and Jeremiah have discovered the doghouse is warmer with two of them in there, and they have had some adjustments, especially who is eating out of whose bowl, but for the most part, they are turning out to be bosom buddies.  Jeremiah was used to his mother and older aunt telling him what to do, so he doesn’t seem to mind it too much when Sophie pounces on him and knocks him down to exert herself.   She better get the upper hand now, for in another year or so, he may be bigger than she is.  She’s also been teaching him how to run around the perimeters of the yards (like good guard dogs should do) and how to roll around in the snow, one of her favorite pastimes.
School is on spring break, starting this evening.  Hip, hip hooray!  All of us were ready.  Papers and mid-terms were flying in everywhere and I still have papers and quizzes to correct, but we all are quite grateful for the breather.  We had a panel last night at school on the papacy of Benedict XVI and speculation about the new pope, whoever he may be.  Scholars discussed Benedict’s legacy and advice.  One said that the Holy Father was concerned that today we have engaged in too much liturgical horizontalism and not enough liturgical verticalism, meaning we have become quite good at building communities, but may be neglecting the transcendence of God.  Another one welcomed his break with tradition in resigning and wondered if another tradition might be broken, that of having a pope from another culture than the European culture.  A third worried about the curia and the need for better administrative skills and a fourth hoped that at this juncture, while die is already cast, perhaps in the future we might reformulate how bishops were chosen.  Then perhaps the voices of women and those advocating a married clergy and Catholics from other cultures might be better heard.   At this point in time, it is in the hands of the Holy Spirit, but we are all asked to be present to the conclave, to Pope Benedict XVI emeritus, and to the next pope, with our prayers.
March is a good time to begin anew.   The month, and especially this week of spring break, will give me the time to start the necessary clean-up both outside and inside.   It will allow me to pray for our church and ask the Spirit’s guidance.  It will also allow me time to watch the babies here at MV and watch how they are also beginning brand new into this wonderful, if broken world.  So, as we embark on the month of March, which did not come in like a lion, but rather like that warm fuzzy lamb expected at the end of the month, I am grateful for the pre-spring quiet, for the Lenten season and for the time to pause once more to take in the beauty of the earth.   

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