Taken January 22, 2012 at the newest chapel in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, dedicated to Our Lady of Lebanon.
I remember my uncle and godfather, Michael Koretzky, had a good friend who was a Maronite Lebanese - at a party, he kept joking with his friend, calling him one of those "marinated brothers of Lebanon."
I crashed a Papal Mass in the piazza before St. Peter's in Rome on the Feast of Corpus Christi in 2001. I watched and cheered as Blessed Pope John Paul II canonized St. Rafqa, a Maronite nun.
And so I ask that Our Lady of Lebanon intercede on my behalf. We seem to have crossed paths before. I had to something very difficult today. Maybe it will have sorry consequences for me, but it was either do it or have a resentful heart.
Sweet Virgin, pray for us.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Taken January 22, 2012 at the newest chapel in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, dedicated to Our Lady of Lebanon.
Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin's to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living.
Read the rest. The context is a former slave owner actually tracked down a slave who had run away and become emancipated, and now after the Civil War was writing to him to ask him to return to former owner's farm in Tennessee to work.
The nuance of sarcasm is simply wonderful here - very slight, but still there.
It's time to embrace the title we have of the Church Militant and do something as simple as signing the petition to rescind the HHS mandate against Catholic institutions.
Yes, you are going to have to register in order to sign it, but I figure, dayum, they already know who I am, because my Yahoo mailbox has been inundated with spam from Obama's campaign and I usually reply to them with rude messages.
Be brave. Sign the petition!
Monday, January 30, 2012
And the story here is that the President has none.
I do not need to add to the chorus against Sebelius' announcement that organizations with a religious affiliation - but that are not churches outright - will be expected to pay for contraceptives and "preventative care" for their employees. Of course it is contrary to Carholic teaching, and makes a mockery of religious organizations not earning the exemption, such as universities and hospitals, in violation of the First Amendment.
But let us not forget the larger issue, which is how the federal government can even mandate a private employer to provide benefits to its employees. That should remain a term of a private contract between the employer and employee. Some jobs simply require little skill and thus are not high-paying. The economics that an employer may wind up paying more for benefits than the value of the skill of the employee is untenable.
And so, it seems just as the Catholic Church leads the world in charitable work, we will also lead the challenge against this Administration and its disastrous economic policies.
Always have your camera ready, you never know what will present itself.
Maccabee is growing up, he's almost three months old. If you're new to this blog, he is a blue Weimaraner. And sweeter than pie.
I know Alfonso. I have had the good fortune to co-lector at bilingual Masses at St. Joseph Church in Santa Ana with his parents, whom I know to be devout and strong in the Catholic faith. Alfonso is discerning a call to the priesthood, but even if he did not choose that vocation, the world will still be a better place for his presence.
Head on over to his blog and encourage our Catholic youth!
This story resonated with me.
A struggling New York soap opera actor was found dead in his apartment days after putting down his dog.
Nick Santino was discovered by police in his Upper West Side bedroom on his 47th birthday. Neighbours said he was devastated that he had to put down his pit bull after his building enforced harsh new laws against the breed.
He euthanized his dog Rocco on Tuesday. In a suicide note, he wrote: ‘Today I betrayed my best friend. Rocco trusted me and I failed him. He didn’t deserve this.’
I recall a short story in one of James Herriot's books - he being the famed author of All Creatures Great and Small and its sequels - where he fails to see a dog belonging to a local bachelor for some reason, and the dog dies - and the owner subsequently commits suicide.
I can understand a suicide like this. People know that I love my dogs. I have always loved dogs. Little girls tend to fall in love with one of three animals, it seems: dogs, cats, or horses. I had a subscription to Dog Fancy when I was a child and read up on the various breeds.
In these particular cases, the pets were more than simply that. They gave a reason to live for their owners. As someone who suffers bouts of depression, knowing someone else, even a dog, loves you and relies on you to be there can give one the impetus to make it out of bed in the morning and, just for today, stay on Earth one more day. It does not work for everyone, but for some knowing that someone, anyone would be devastated by their death keeps them going.
I do not anthromorphize my dogs. They remain dogs, not children. But at the same time, I recognize that they display honest affection and loyalty to me. I have no doubt that if a danger presented itself to me, they would place themselves between me and the risk. They delight me in their antics, especially watching my two young Weiamraners play (I have four dogs altogether). Even as I write this now, all four are lying on the floor around me, with my Standard Schnauzer, Dante, always the closest (he is a rescue dog and remains strongly bonded with me).
I remember a time when I was single and contemplated suicide, with all the stress and loneliness in my life beating me down. At the time, what kept me from killing myself was the fact that my parents were still alive - I just could not put them through that. Years later, still single and after years of not having one, I bought a dog, my old Corgi, Bridie. I remember I went through a bad break up with a boyfriend and rather than be depressed, took his "sorry-it-didn't-work-out" card and let her tear it to shreds. Childish, perhaps, but she kept me from falling into depression. I have a loving husband now, and two great kids, and four dogs - that's enough to perhaps have a few days of head-under-the-covers depression but not for long.
The sun is out today, and I made it a priority to walk my woodlot with my dogs. It made today a better day than yesterday and gave me hope that tomorrow will be okay, too.
Today's prayer intention is for Nick Santino and Rocco.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
I processed it as an omnious shot because that is juts the mood I am in. My head is pounding. My bipolar is flaring and I am in a manic state, which is why I needed to get away by myself today.
When I am alone in the woods, with my camera, I find that it focuses me. I listen for sounds of running water, or wildlife. I have to watch my step, lest I trip over a tree root and destroy a $1400 lens. I am looking at the world through what I call my "shooting" eyes, trying to find details for a shot.
What this means is that I am not THINKING while I am hiking. I forget about things I have done that I feel people hate me for, or has made them disappointed. I don't worry whether my faith in God is still there. I do allow a soundtrack to play in my head and if my brain suddenly thinks of a song that might trigger any emotions, I switch over to something else.
It helps to have a vacation from thinking. The running headache I have had for the past month or so lessens - or I don't notice it - and it is just me and my camera. My camera keeps me sane.
I don't know how long this manic phase will last; I suspect I will be better in a week or two. In the meantime, I use my photography as therapy.
BTW, you can call this the Cumberland Gap. It was named after the Duke of Cumberland, William Augustus. However, the Duke was known for a vicous slaughter of Scottish Highlanders in 1745, refusing to give them quarter after defeating them. Since the area was settled mainly by the Scotch-Irish, many of them sought to chage its name to Ouasioto, its Indian name, rather than honor the bastard. You can have your choice.
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Friday, January 27, 2012
This is a shot I took of the main altar in the crypt of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.
This is a technique called High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography. I auto-bracketed three exposures (handheld, without a tripod) and then blended them to create this picture.
It is very beautiful and serene in the crypt.
So, evidently Mr. Ready has exeprience in handling a tool.
Meanwhile, back at the NFL . . .
MADONNA is “bringing gay to the Super Bowl.” That’s what we overheard one of her dancers say at the premiere party for Her Madgesty’s “W.E.” at Top of the Standard on Monday night.
Really? Is that to hide the fact that she's not bringing any talent?
Thursday, January 26, 2012
This is . . . so wrong.
Welcome to Chick Beer, a “premium light beer” showing up in convenience stores and specialty beer shops . . . In its press materials, the company says Chick Beer is “a new beer created by a woman, exclusively for women” who are “fun loving, smart and independent.”
A "light" beer? Okay, Hefeweizen is a "light" beer, in my book.
Because I do not want my beer - much less any food - to acknowledge my "chickness." Hell, I do not even acknowledge my "chickness." I want my beer to taste good.
Presently on tap in my home bar is Snow Day, a dark Blegium ale. Very good. So good . . . I think I'll go get some now . . .
Does anyone else find this silly?! If not patronizing.
A very good article by Fr. Cory Sticha. Be sure to read all of it.
But those are petty complaints. The real issue is that this sort of thinking can make a priest become Mr. Nice Guy, such that his people will gush and say, "Oh, Father is so nice," without really giving thought to whether he is helping his people become holy. Father never makes us feel uncomfortable. Father never challenges us. We are not really concerned with the dogma - a word that carries more of a negative feeling than actual definition for many Catholics - of the Church, well . . . because Father really isn't himself. And so we get feel good platitudes in Father's homily and did we say he just so sweet?!
Disclaimer: my descriptions are not based on any one priest that I have met at St. Joseph so don't anyone go running back to the Rectory to say, "Oh, Father, Stephani's saying bad things about you!" I was a parishioner there for some 15 years, so my descriptions are based on a conglomeration of experiences and stories. I love all my priests, even if I don't agree with their styles of pastoral care 100%. And really, as if any priest gives a rat's ass what I think. Though they should, mwa ha ha ha ha!
In reading my friend, The Crescat's, blog, one of the commentators to her article on this picture noted from reading my own photo essay that this woman told us she had an abortion 26 years ago and yet could also tell us that it was terminated at "40 days gestation."
40 days? In reading the comment, that gave me a chill. The number 40 in the Bible is associated with a time of testing. It rained upon Noah and the Ark 40 days and 40 nights. The Hebrews wandered for 40 years before God brought them to the Promised Land. Jesus went into the desert for 40 days, where Satan tempted him. The season of Lent is approaching, and it is 40 days.
As I noted in my photo essay, one of the marchers gave this woman a pro-life prayer card or literature of some sort. I expected her to toss it away after she asked the other pro-choice protesters whether they wanted it and they said no. But she did not put in the trash bin. She put it n her pocket.
Is her time of testing coming to a close?
Next year will be the 40h anniversary of Roe v. Wade. And this is a campaign year where a new President may be sworn into office just days before that anniversary.
Is our time of testing coming to a close?
I am not advocating any sort of mumbo-jumbo numerology. But at the same time - be open for signs.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Taken January 22, 2012.
This is the newest chapel in the crypt at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, dedicated to the Maronite Rite of the Catholic Church.
Our Lady of Lebanon, pray for us.
I took this photo on Sunday night, before the March for Life, at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The place was packed - according to one security officer, the official count was 17,851 people at the Vigil Mass.
There was a multitide downstairs in the crypt as well. This young lady was earnestly speaking to a Franciscan friar about God, about what was happening. Look at her eyes - she has naught but admiration for him, someone fully committed to his vocation.
This is why I say it is important for our clergy and religious to wear their clerics, robes, cassocks, and habits - yes, it does set them apart and yes, some people may be put off by it. But it inspires VOCATIONS because the future, the youth, see them and evidently feel they might have answers.
I have heard one priest say to me that he doesn't like to wear his Roman collar on an airplane. Why?! That person who sits next to you, who knows if you are just the person they want to talk to. I never shy away from telling people I am a lawyer - so what if they ask me a legal question! I do not understand why a priest or any religious would shy away from letting people know who they are . . . unless they themselves are not secure in answering that question.
This is my picture essay from the 2012 March for Life. Updated: all pictures are up!
If you see a face you recognize, or see mention of a parish you know, or a school, please send them this link. Feel free to use this link fr your own pro-life activities, or for your parish. I am opening these pictures to the public domain so the truth can be seen.
My thoughts and observations are with each picture, rather than here. However, I wish to say that despite what the media reports, it is a gathering of some 500,000 people and mostly youth. This I saw with my own eyes.
And . . . joyous youth. Led by adults that included clergy and religious who were unafraid to wear their clerics, habits, and robes. This is why you see young seminarians, novices, friars - their numbers increase because events like this encourage vocations when the young remember who marched with them.
An employee of the USCCB with whom I marched joked with me, "I hope they overturn Roe v. Wade in a warmer month, so then we can continue our annual celebratory pro-life marches in comfort!" Next year is the 40th anniversary - start planning now to be there.
Warning: there are two images in the photo set that depict the remains of aborted fetuses, one in color and one in black-and-white. I do NOT advocate the use of such images when witnessing for pro-life; however, as this photo essay is for reportage as well as commentary, I am including them. For your reference, they are image March 2012_114 and March 2012_116.