No Witnesses

Do you notice how we feel less stressed when we are out in nature?

God placed our first parents in a garden.

Pink flowers, commonly called ‘Sea Thrift’, are now blooming in my garden. They are also called: ‘Mary’s Cushion’, or ‘Our Lady’s Cushion’.

According to Christian Legend, these flowers bloomed during the treacherous journey that Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus undertook when they were fleeing the rage of wicked King Herod, on their flight to Egypt.

The legend tells that these plants grew to provide a soft resting place, or cushion, for Mary and her divine Son.

This is plausible, since these hardy flowers also grow in the Middle East. They thrive in poor soil conditions, and are salt resistant.

However, there were no witnesses to authenticate whether this actually happened. We can imagine though, how God supernaturally blessed and protected the Holy Family when they were migrants on their way to Egypt. We walk by faith, and not by sight.

I enjoy spending time in this area of the garden. I pray for families, and also for migrants. Currently 65 million migrants are fleeing their countries due to war , poverty, and persecution.

God has a special care for all those who need to flee their homelands.

The statue, called : ‘Love’s Bond’, is by Timothy Schmalz.

Late All The Time

Do you know anyone who is late all the time ?

Chronic lateness is a form of Passive-Aggressive behaviour.

A person who demonstrates continual tardy behaviour is telling you that their time is more valuable than yours.

A priest who arrived at our church from another country, ten years ago, was late for every Mass.

For the first five minutes of waiting, we would sit in respectable silence, but then we would start to talk and laugh.

Some people would place bets on how late he would be this time !

And then, there came the time that he did not return at all.

We were given no explanation about where he went, or why he left so suddenly.

His Excellency, the Bishop, felt that we had no need, or right, to know. We were only the laity (people who pay the church’s bills).

May God give us the grace to speak up when something is not right.

May he also, through his kindness, give us the courage to speak the truth and not cover it up.

And, may we pray for the grace to be punctual.

Pictured is our little church, perched overlooking the mighty North Atlantic. It was built in 1842.

Only the Strongest

My neighbours laughed at me!

When we moved here, and I told them I was planning a seaside flower garden, they chuckled and told me that flowers do not survive so close to the sea. The air is too salty, they said.

However, after researching types of flowers, I learned which ones do survive, and even thrive here. Often they are plants with thick waxy leaves. Only the strongest flowering plants will endure the salt spray.

Pictured are Rieger Begonias.

In traditional Catholic thought, these flowers symbolize the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

I now spend much time outside, praying, and tending my seaside garden.

It is a Mary garden. No, Catholics of course do not ‘worship’ Mary, but they do honour her, as the woman from Christ drew his humanity.

Here are the words of a famous Protestant Christian that you may be familiar with, concerning Mary:

‘She is nobility, wisdom, and holiness personified. We can never honour her enough’.

These are the words of Martin Luther, given at his 1531 Christmas Sermon. He retained his devotion to Mary throughout his whole life.

Paying Attention

Have you ever passed something in your community without paying much attention to it ?

I had passed this strange winged lion statue near my house many times without having much interest in it.

Then, several years ago in Venice, Italy, I saw another statue just like this one ! So I checked out what it meant.

This is a symbol of St. Mark, the Evangelist. His tomb is at the San Marco Basilica in Venice, and he is considered to be the patron saint (protector) of this city.

In 1497, the explorer John Cabot set sail from Venice, and landed in our little community ! Although he was Italian, (Giovanni Caboto) , he was working under the commission of Henry VII, and thus he claimed this part of North America for England.

However, he did not ‘discover’ North America, since there were already indigenous populations living here long before the arrival of European settlers. There is a lobby in our town asking people to stop using the term ‘discovered’, since it is disrespectful to the native people of Newfoundland.

Some local residents are rightly insisting that June 24, 1497 be no longer called ‘Discovery Day’.

Using this term is just a grim reminder of how harshly aboriginal populations were treated by the ‘discoverers’.

May God give us the grace to treat everyone with dignity and respect, and may he grant us the wisdom and courage to speak up against all forms of oppression.

Kids

Do you agree that calling children ‘kids’ is disrespectful to them?

This slang expression crept into our vocabulary in the 1950s, and is now regularly used to refer to young people.

The use of this term is a reminder of the disrespect that has been shown to children throughout history.

During Biblical times, children were considered little more than possessions of their fathers by the Romans.

Jesus elevated the status of children by choosing to enter the world as a baby; he choose to experience childhood. When mothers brought their children to see him, he welcomed them, and he explained that one needs to accept God’s Kingdom as a little child, in order to enter it. The message of Christianity is not complicated.

(Mark 10: 13-16)

In the mid 19th Century , western society began to take responsibility to protect children from abuse, and child protection agencies were founded.

Child labour, and child marriage still occur in some parts of the world, and our efforts to protect and cherish children are ongoing.

Children need and deserve our prayers, our help, and our support.

May God grant us the grace to respect all children. We can do this by not referring to them as ‘kids’

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Old Days

Do you agree that prejudice can sometimes be subtle, or sneaky ?

Here in rural NL, folks display ageist attitudes when they talk about the weather !

On days that are less than perfect, one will hear comments like:

‘It’s a miserable old day’, or, ‘It’s a nasty old day’, or ‘It’s a foggy old day’. (you get the idea)

All less than perfect days are called ‘old’.

However, we also have many beautiful days, but the age of these days is not mentioned. They are just ‘nice days’.

Yesterday was one of those nice days. The ocean was as calm as a pond, and the evening sky was dramatic.

May we ask God for the grace to be able to identify, and speak up against every form of bias or discrimination.

We are all in agreement that prejudice, in any form, is unacceptable to God.

Psalm 118:24 – This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Orthorexia ?

Even healthy eating can become problematic.

Orthorexia is a term coined by American physician Dr. Stephen Bratman in the 1990s. It describes an unhealthy fixation with eating only ‘healthy’ foods. It is not to be confused with anorexia, an eating disorder focused on severe caloric restriction.

‘Orthos’ is the Greek word for right.

The condition begins as individuals focus on improving their diets for the sake of their well-being. This, of course is an excellent goal.

It becomes problematic, however; when people become obsessed with eating only ‘pure’ foods. People will avoid foods suspected of containing pesticides and additives, or other ingredients such as salt, fat, and refined sugar.

Often, people with orthorexia will eliminate certain food groups completely, thinking that they are not ‘pure’ enough.

Orthorexia is linked to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. In some cases, people can develop nutritional deficiencies , weight loss and weakness.

Social isolation can also result, as individuals may avoid dining with others for fear of being exposed to unhealthy foods.

Orthorexia suffers may become judgemental, and look down on people who eat less healthy foods. (Mac ‘n Cheese, anyone? )

God has created an abundance of foods for our enjoyment.

Let us pray for the grace to be prudent about our diets without developing ‘food fear’.

Alphabetical Happiness

Have you ever made a list of things or activities that you enjoy, and placed them in alphabetical order ?

This is fun to do, and it helps you to appreciate your uniqueness, and what brings you happiness.

By sharing your list with your loved ones, they can better understand you, and your relationships can become stronger.

Here are my alphabetical likes:

Perhaps you share some of them.

  • analyzing things
  • bird watching
  • cooking
  • dancing
  • eating
  • flower arranging
  • guitar playing
  • historic homes
  • intellectual stimulation
  • jokes, but not pranks
  • kitchen gadgets
  • laughing
  • menu planning
  • nurturing others
  • orchids
  • praying for others
  • questioning things
  • reading
  • singing
  • travel (YouTube travel these days)
  • understanding others
  • vegetable and flower growing
  • whale watching
  • xylophone sounds
  • yard work
  • lobbying for the abolition of zoos

In the words of a children’s poem:

‘The world is filled so many good things,

I’m sure we should all be as happy as Kings'( or Queens )

Cat’s Ears

Do you ever go on prayer walks?

It is warmer now in our tiny town, and I am able to resume my morning habit of walking around to pray for my neighbours.

I don’t tell them that I am praying for their individual needs, because they would find it strange that I would choose to pray for them when I may not know them very well.

That, however, is the nature of intercessory prayer. It is prayer offered on behalf of others.

I pass a house in the traditional style called : ‘Cat’s Ears’.

Many of our houses are built like this, with twin peaks that resemble cats’ ears.

I know that a young woman is living there with a baby. Her husband is hospitalized. I wish I could drop by with some food, and some supplies for the baby, but then I remember that we are in the time of ‘these days’ and dropping by is not allowed.

And so I pray, and I continue on , past the house where another young woman lives with her parents and her two young children. Her boyfriend left her when her youngest child was born, and her parents offered to have her move home.

Time passes quickly on a prayer walk.

Perhaps you are a prayer intercessor too. We are in good company. We know that Jesus sits at the right hand of God, and intercedes for all of us.

The Face-Off

The photo says it all !

These two churches on our main street are having a face-off !

They are both Christian Churches, but they have doctrinal differences, and thus , they have the need to worship on either side of the street.

I have attended both churches, while church visiting.

The white church is built to hold 1,200 worshippers. I counted 30 parishioners while I was there.

The gray church recently had part of their membership leave and form a new church, as they had some disagreements , which no one fully understood.

The members that left now share a church building with another church.This works out because one group worships on Sundays, while the other group thinks Saturdays are the best days to worship.

With so many divisions, is it any wonder if non- believers are confused about what Christianity actually teaches ?

Christ does not requires uniformity , but he requires agreement about the essentials of the faith, which are : Love God, and love your neighbour as yourself.

May we, in coming days, be blessed with greater unity. The world is watching us.