Feeds:
Posts
Comments

She flies through the air!

Below is some video of my new “departures”. It’s a bit long on the front end with some chit chat, but wait for it, “hep”!!

I’ll post some more soon!

A departure

Something new for me, I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

The ClimbTop of the LadderFacing my fearsOff I go!Knees up!Drop down!

To sum it all up…..

She Flies through the air!

It was scary at first, the climb to the top was nerve-wracking, hanging out over the edge was beyond fright, and letting go….

was terrifying, as it is in lots of situations I find in my life, but when I did-there was freedom, and victory. My lesson learned

for the day–on the trapeze.

Advertisement

Letter to President Obama

The following is an e-mail I sent to President Obama through the American Family Association.

Dear President Obama,

I regret my abortion. The negative effects of that act of killing my first child have lasted me for a lifetime, leaving deep scars in my soul that have not been erased.  Credible scientific research also points to the increased risk of breast cancer because of my abortion.
I am 47 years old, just as you are, and I grew up in the time when the abortion clinics were lying to young women by telling them it was “just a clump of tissue”. What is even more heinous in this era is the belief that a woman, even knowing that her unborn child is not just a “clump of tissue”, is being told it is her “right” to either give that child life or death.  Where is the consent of the one who is being killed? The unborn child cannot speak for him/herself.  We MUST assume that a person, given the ability to voice their desire, would WANT to live! The human spirit vigorously fights to retain life once it is given.  It is wrong for America to take away protection from our youngest, most fragile ones, under the guise of it being a “private” act between a woman and her doctor.  Taking an innocent person’s life is never “private”.

The abortion “issue” is no different than the slavery issue.  People, because the constitution does not protect them as they are not deemed “persons” because of their age, are subject to death and dismemberment. If you are a person who loves God as you say you do, you must do all in your power to protect the most innocent and vulnerable in our society! You are bound to “rescue those who are being led away to death”. I implore you to leave the reasonable restrictions that have been placed on abortion! By God’s grace you will have the courage to stand up against the radical extremes of removing protection for the unborn,  and even fight to eradicate abortion completely!

After Lent

Well, it’s just about two weeks since we in the Western church left the Lenten season behind for Easter joy! This year was a little different for me as I chose to follow the Eastern church’s fasting guidelines. In the past I have “failed Lent” in this regard very early on-usually by the middle of the day on Ash Wednesday. But this year I really applied myself and as I wrote in earlier posts, even though the dietary guidelines are good and very helpful for curbing instant gratification, the true fast is the bridling of the tongue, and anger, cursing, evil talking and lusts… To that end, I sought for some guidance and came upon a precious gem called “The Ladder of Divine Ascent” which was written by St. John Climacus, a monk on Mount Sinai at the Monastery of St. Catherine, and one of the most famous of the Desert Fathers of Egypt. This gem contains 30 “steps” that Christians may follow to attain in virtue. The following quote is taken from a sermon given by the Russian Orthodox Metropolitan, Philaret, on the feast day of St. John Climacus. It is quoted here from the website “Inner Light Productions” which features readings from many of the Desert Fathers, and is where I came upon St. John’s “ladder”.                   (The link to this website is in the sidebar)

‘”In this work, we see how, by means of thirty steps, the Christian gradually ascends from below to the heights of supreme spiritual perfection. We see how one virtue leads to another, as a man rises higher and higher and finally attains to that height where there abides the crown of virtues, which is called ‘”Christian Love”‘ ‘

(Quoted from Inner Light Productions)

Although the writings of St. John of the ladder were primarily addressed to monks living in monasteries and hermitages, he does minimally address those living in the world. The steps are applicable to anyone attempting to live out the Christian faith not just in word but in deed-and they are formidable, but priceless! Here’s a quote from one of the Step 8: (again taken from Inner Light Productions)

Step 8: On Freedom From Anger and on Meekness

— The beginning of freedom from anger is silence of the lips when the heart is agitated; the middle is silence of the thoughts when there is a mere disturbance of soul; and the end is an imperturbable calm under the breath of unclean winds.

and

— As with the appearance of light, darkness retreats; so, at the fragrance of humility, all anger and bitterness vanishes.

Here’s a quote from step 11, “On Talkativness and Silence”:

— Talkativeness is the throne of vainglory, on which it loves to show itself and make a display. Talkativeness is a sign of ignorance, a door to slander, a guide to jesting, a servant of falsehood, the ruin of compunction, a creator and summoner of despondency, a precursor of sleep, the dissipation of recollection, the abolition of watchfulness, the cooling of ardour, the darkening of prayer.

Oh, the priceless gems of attaining virtue. There is in these writings the exhortation to even desire dishonor and injustice.

I can only say that I was convicted and compelled and sometimes frustrated by my lack of ability to be humble when situations came up that I could have exercised these virtues. I came upon this quote yesterday, (same website)from St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain:

[BEGIN WITH A LOWER DEGREE OF A VIRTUE AND THEN STEP UP]

For example, in the process of acquiring the inner virtue of patience, it is impossible at once to welcome injustice, injuries and all other forms of unpleasantness, to seek them and rejoice in them, although it is possible to endure them with patience when they come. For welcoming them and rejoicing in them are the highest degrees of patience, and before you reach them you should traverse the lower degrees, which are: humble self-depreciation, in which you consider yourself worthy of every insult, overcoming in yourself impulses of revenge, hatred of the least thought of revenge, and so on.

Yes, truly, we are to begin with a lower degree of virtue and then step up. He advises us to take a virtue and occupy ourselves with it, beginning at the first step and letting it take hold. For example, in the case of being free from anger, I would work on the first step of exercising “silence of the lips when the heart is agitated” instead of going for the end in “imperturbable calm in the midst of unclean winds”.

I think it would have been helpful for me to have come across the above admonition before undertaking the very highest degree of virtue, but I guess I needed to see the heights! But there were days in Lent that I never wanted Lent to end, because of the closeness to the Lord that I felt in my brokenness, and I truly saw how GOOD HE IS and how wretched I am-that I need His saving grace, and that His victory on the cross completely destroyed the grip of eternal death for me!

I pray that all of you who are in Easter right now would be daily reminded of Jesus’ final and total victory every day! For those of you in the East still in the midst of Great Lent, may your days be filled with the knowledge of his saving grace as you draw near to Him.

God Bless you!

Lenten Musings

I’ve been doing some reading on the different types of Lenten fasting observed in both the Eastern and Western expressions of Christianity. My recent focus has been on researching how the original Lenten fast observed in the church changed throughout history, and why the East eats “no animal with a backbone” during Great Lent, and absolutely no animal products like cheese and eggs, while the West has no prohibitions on fish during Lent, nor on dairy or poultry products. Also, why does the East abstain all throughout Lent(even on Sunday’s) from meat and dairy products, while the West declares Sunday “abstinence free”? (Both traditions observe the admonition of the 6th Ecumenical Council which forbade fasting on Saturdays and especially Sundays.)

In my reading today I came across an article entitled: “Justice as Asceticism” by Maria Gwyn McDowell, (http://www.antiochian.org/justice-asceticism-see side bar for direct link) which focuses not on what exactly we’re “supposed” to eat or not eat during Lent, nor even of the benefits we personally derive from observing the Lenten disciplines, but on the concept of justice as asceticism. She quotes from Isaiah 58, where it says:

58.6 Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. [1] (New Revised Standard Version)

She then goes on with several quotes by St. John Chyrsostem such as: “almsgiving, our excellent counselor, the queen of virtues, who quickly raises human beings to the heavenly vaults” and also St. Basil, quoted here:

“The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry man; the coat hanging unused in your closet belongs to the man who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the man who has no shoes; the money which you put in the bank belongs to the poor. You do wrong to everyone you could help, but fail to help.”

I encourage you to read the whole article. It has given me plenty of (Lenten) food for meditation. I have been pondering St. John Chyrsostem’s description of the “true fast”, the one “pleasing to the Lord” over the last few weeks, and praying the prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian. I pray that I can move from thought to action!

I’d love to hear from you all regarding your Lenten observances and traditions.  Chime in any time. Also, if you’re reading this and come across any faux pas, please feel free to point them out to me!

Pax

Lent is Here

I’ve done some of my usual pre-Lenten inquiries, and came across these two prayers that are taken from the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition. Oh, if I could just get this right! To my understanding, it all boils down to these two things: Love God and love my neighbor. It is my intent to make this the focus of my Lenten discipline, along with the usual dietary modifications. Here are the prayers, and may God bless you always!

The Prayer of Saint Ephraim the Syrian is traditionally said many times throughout each day during Great Lent, in addition to our daily prayers.

O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, faintheartedness, lust of power, and idle talk. (+)

But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to your servant. (+)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own sin and not to judge my brother, for You are blessed from all ages to all ages. Amen. (+)

(The “(‘+)“ indicates that those praying make a deep bow or prostration at this point.)

The following comes from the Monday Vespers of the first week of Great Lent, observed in the Orthodox Christian tradition.

“Let us fast with a fast pleasing to the Lord. This is the true fast: the casting off of evil, the bridling of the tongue, the cutting off of anger, the cessation of lusts, evil talking, lies and cursing. The stopping of these is the fast true and acceptable.”

Rockin’ the Courthouse!

On Tuesday, January 22, 2008, an opportunity came my way to do something I never would have dreamed of if you told me years ago.

At the end of our group’s “Liturgy At The Time of Death” for the pre-born, I got up some nerve to ask the man in charge of the podium if I could share a song. (Thank you Pat Mahoney-at least I think that’s your name!) In short, there was a keyboard available, and I was able to sing “Choose Life” right in front of the United States Supreme Court! dsc00235.jpg

What an awesome privilege and honor to be able to sing the cry of my heart at the foot of the steps to that institution that houses a court that condemned so many innocents to die 35 years ago. Just so you know that I do not speak from a spirit of condemnation, one of those innocents was my own first child, slaughtered because my fellow countrymen and elders saw fit to make abortion the “law of the land”, and spread lies and misinformation to young people like myself and my husband. Of course, I take responsibility for taking that action, and thank God for His grace, mercy, and forgiveness for the commission of that sin! I also know though, that had it not been “legal”, I would now have my 27 year old child to look in the eye, and would not have to wait until I cross over to the “Church Triumphant” to meet this one! I continue to pray that abortion will not be legal in our land! Lord, have mercy on us! Choose Life!!

Choose Life

file0065.jpgHere is the cover of my single “Choose Life”. You can purchase this as a download for 99cents or buy the CD for $8 plus shipping and handling. See my links on the sidebar for purchase.

Choose Life

Here’s a slide show that a friend of my daughter put together using a song that I wrote, sang, and recorded called”Choose Life”. The photos are from the recent “March For Life” in Washington D.C. on January 22, 2008, which marked the 35th anniversary of the infamous Roe v Wade decision.

Shrove Tuesday

Sizzling pancakes with butter and maple syrup, tasty sausages, applesauce for dinner on a Tuesday night? Yes!
It is coming right around the corner this year, that day we observe called Shrove Tuesday, “pancake” Tuesday or “fat” Tuesday(Mardi Gras).
The tradition came about because of the beginning of the Lenten season in which people went to confession before Ash Wednesday. In olden days it was called “shriving” mean to confess ones sins, or make no excuse for oneself.

Shrove Tuesday was the beginning of the 40 day Lenten fasting season, which forbade the faithful to consume meat, butter, eggs or milk. The reason pancakes were made or “fat”cakes was that they use all those ingredients, and the meat was used up on that day as well.

Not knowing any of the above when I was younger, our family had the tradition of attending my Mom’s “born in the cradle” Episocpal church’s annual Pancake Tuesday supper, with a choice of being seated at 5pm or 7pm. Mom didn’t always go to church after she married my Dad, who was Roman Catholic, but even my Dad came to this event without fear of “going to hell”, so it was a family affair with my aunt and cousin, some friends from down the block, and my grandfather. We had a whole table to ourselves. I have distinct visual memories of the tables in the parish hall, and the little fruit cups that were served before dinner. The aroma of sausage permeated the air, and fun and fellowship abounded! I remember running around the hall with my cousin and our friends and upstairs over the stage and through “secret” doorways. Those were special times, cementing tradition in my life.

After I married, my husband and I attended the pancake supper, but something had changed…probably mostly “us”, but food wasn’t served on the parish hall dishware any longer but on styrofoam! We weren’t part of the parish, it just didn’t hold the same memories, and we didn’t always hook up with Mom and Dad or Aunt Emily. Doesn’t age have a way of changing the view? (sigh)

The church we attended had a pancake Tuesday supper, and it was nice, but we ended up in another parish which didn’t have that tradition, and with a growing family, we ended up eventually having pancake Tuesday at home. It has been in my noggin’ for years to arrange a supper at our church, but it always comes around so quickly that I forget–not the best planner, I. However, our tradition has come to be loved by our children, and I doubt they would give it up quickly to go out to the church hall and probably be nabbed as indentured servants in the kitchen. Grandma and Grandpa come over, there’s pancakes and sausage, applesauce, coffee, homemade chocolate milk, pretty colored lights and sometimes Grandma remembers to bring “mardi gras” beads. We’ve occasionally invited some others to our celebration, and this year, we may actually have “seatings” at our house.

Loving the way the liturgical year progresses, and how it teaches us about our faith in a practical way, Shrove Tuesday has become an important part of our family’s understanding that “to everything there is a season”. Actually, my youngest daughter, though she loves the day, hates what it brings-the end of the “party” that we’ve been having since Christmastide through Epiphanytide-celebrating the Nativity of our Lord and His manifestation to the gentiles(read:US!) Now the lights go away, there are no banners on the outside of the house, and we get “busy” learning in Lent about Jesus’ temptations and his sufferings. We enter into a time of imposed suffering, so we can share a little bit of what He endured for us. We know through this time period that we are but dust,  our righteousness is as “filthy rags” to him, it is only through Him that the stain of sin is removed. We also come to appreciate that life has times of great joy, and great sorrow, sometimes to be followed by great joy again and even victory, as in Easter!

If you get a chance this year-have some pancakes on Tuesday, February 5th, and have a Holy Lent!