Category Archives: Flores

Flowers for… Our Lady of Fatima! (Hundredth Anniversary edition)

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In honor of the 100th anniversary of the final apparition of Fatima the other day, the parish had a well-participated Rosary rally in the “central park” of Andrews, at the gazebo across from the Post Office. This statue normally is to be found in the confessional in back of the church of Holy Redeemer. More artwork from the 1950s was enshrined in the gazebo as well:

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And, of course, there were flowers for Our Lady of the Rosary, of Fatima, the Immaculate Conception, all around:

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Memories from my Fatima century ed.)

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Superabundant Guadalupe roses are still blooming into mid-October with more buds on the way on this day of 13th October in honor of Our Lady of Fatima.

I first found out about Fatima in the mid-1960s when the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima (as directly opposed to the Red Army specifically in Russia) was still called the Blue Army. I loved that as a little kid, going up against the Red Army with prayer, counting on heaven, being a prayer warrior here upon earth. I just thought that was the coolest thing in the world at my five years of age or however old I was at the time.

About ten years later I found myself writing a belated essay on Fatima for Father Robert J Fox of Alexandria, South Dakota. I would end up reading quite a lot of his books. My half-sister was having me go on a two week pilgrimage to Fatima with Father Fox as a Fatima Cadet (there’s that military language again!) along with all the other Fatima Cadets that year (1976 – sixteen years old).

I had gathered my birth certificate, my driver’s licence, the original certificate for my social security number, acquired my first passport, and, finally, my ticket on TAP (Transportes Aéreos Portugueses). This, of course, made it easier for my “Shadow” to then steal my identity, using my clean record to allow him to move even internationally with impunity.

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In Fatima we were brought to all the special places near and far. But then came one of the greatest honors of my life, on the night of July 12, with some 2.2 million pilgrims present (almost twice as many as were foreseen, the most ever). I was invited to be one of the litter bearers. So heavy! I was afraid I couldn’t do it if anyone else carrying with me were to take a misstep. The others kept being replaced pretty quickly to give as many as possible a chance to carry our Lady. Somehow they let me continue to carry. Perhaps they saw how radiant was my face even in the dark of night, happy as can be.

We later would go to visit Sister Lucia in Coimbra. I would return there again as well as to Fatima in 2008 with the other permanent chaplains of Lourdes, France. The chaplains would take a vacation together every year to one of the Marian shrines around the world, comparing notes with the other chaplains of the other shrines. I was happy to return to Fatima once again.

Time to put up the Holy Souls Hermitage series on the Rosary Mysteries once again.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Born to be wild edition)

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These, in their millions, are behind the church and social hall of Holy Redeemer, on the steep ridge on which the campus is built. These are, of course, born to be wild, it being that being wild is a good thing, that is, ironically, a predictable and therefore not at all wild way of going about life. Indeed, you’ll notice just how much they are all the same and yet unrepeatable individuals all with their own histories and difficulties and strong points connected however, mind you, with the unrepeatable circumstances in which they live, ever so wildly, or maybe not so wildly. Nature is going to be what it is created to be.

We on the other hand, have free will. We have unrepeatable circumstances in life with all the diverse histories and difficulties and strong points, but we are not absolutely determined in our choices with the free will we do have. Determinism is an all too easy excuse. Young people, generally speaking, and there are notable exceptions of course, but just to say, young people in the usual rebellion and individuality are the most conformist beings anywhere to be found. And, actually, people struggle with that ironic political correctness their whole lives unless they allow themselves to be found by the Creator once again. It’s not that He lost us; it’s that we ran away. But His love and truth stabilizes us in friendship with Him, unable to be ripped in this way or that because of whatever unrepeatable histories and difficulties and strong points. His love and truth aren’t demanding dead conformism killing the soul, stifling free will, but bring the soul to flower out to be what it is. Love and truth are good. They have us live as one with the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. That’s really cool, totally wild, as it were. Born to be wild, born again to be wild.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (all the best flowers are… edition)

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These are to be found at the house of one of those on my “shut-ins” list. As it is, all the best flowers I can get for the Immaculate Conception happen to be at the houses of those on my “shut ins” list. Now, why is that?

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Rosary edition)

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It used to be when I was a seminarian and a young priest that I would come up with wildly academic ever so cerebral meditations on the mysteries of the Rosary, reading the relative Scripture passages in Greek and Hebrew and letting all this race through my mind as the Hail Mary prayers were playing, as it were, as it is sometimes said, a symphony in the background.

But that’s a lot of work, and, by the way, not a prayer, just a recitation of the facts, all true, mind you, all awesome, all mightily traditional and in line with the Fathers of the Church. But, sorry, it was all a bit frustrating. I was forgetting one thing: prayer. Since then I’ve discovered a secret to saying the Rosary: prayer. So…

Why not put the facts of the mysteries together with the recitation of the Hail Mary into the background just a bit, the mysteries still visible, as it were, the words of each Hail Mary still recognized, but putting an emphasis on Jesus and Mary right here, right now, as they are in heaven and as they are with us, thanking them for what they did for us back in the day whilst upon this earth, but, mind you, thanking them right here, right now. Prayer once again. And the Rosary flies by. Goodness! What happened? Reality. Much better, that.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Spirit of giving her a flower edition)

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That spirit is something akin to this:

shepherd boy

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (pitchfork army edition)

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This is Paul who was out early this morning fighting the good pitchfork fight for awesome flowers for the Immaculate Conception out front of the rectory. You gotta love the branch handle of the pitchfork. Another parishioner put in the flowers yesterday when I was gone. Note the vines in the hanging pot in the upper right. Here’s another perspective of that:

flores vines

You can see the white flowers right in front of statue of the Immaculate Conception. The same lady who put up the vines also placed those white flowers. Let’s take a look:

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I gotta thank this small but very effective pitchfork army who do their best to honor the Immaculate Conception with flowers made by her Son for her.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Ziggurat Donkey Pope Bridge edition)

flores one lane bridge

This flowery bridge picture was taken the other day out near the hermitage where I often go on my day off for a bit of quiet time (after all, it’s a hermitage) and not so quiet time (Seals and FBI qualification courses for fun).

We hear quite a bit about bridge building, consensus building, not being divisory, and that the Roman Pontiff is, by name, a bridge-builder (pontiff…). The SECOND bridge we read about in the Scriptures is a ziggurat, a kind of ladder for the angels, for the gods of Mesopotamia, Jacob’s ladder (from his famous dream). There are exemplars throughout Mesopotamia, including through rarely, those of the circular type:

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There are remains in Babylon and Basra, for instance:

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At the top, the god might pitch his tent among us, as it were. It was around such structures that the people had to gather yearly to hear the Enuma Elish read from beginning to end, which is no small feat when you’re reading from cuneiform tablets, when you are reciting the most nuanced presentation of philosophical and theological and anthropological and metaphysical theories of day, including the latest impositions of the political and sociological and economical and military theories of the day.

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This was the bridge between heaven and earth, a two way bridge.

Meanwhile, the FIRST bridge mentioned in the Scriptures is actually the Tree of the Living Ones (the Tree of Life). That tree, that bridge came back with Jesus, we not going to Him (we’re blocked by the Cherubim), but Jesus coming to us. You’ll remember His chat with Philip under the fig tree, you know, the bit about the angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man, who is Himself the Tree of Life, who gives us the Fruit of that Tree, the Holy Eucharist. You’ll remember the Cherubim protecting the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant, where one would find the presence of God pitching His tent among us. But Jesus is only a little while lower than the angels, as we read, and then He’s back up to heaven, where He draws us into His goodness and kindness and living Truth.

Following up on original sin, the supreme arrogance and divisory spirit of the Babylonians in building these ziggurat, a kind of control of the angels, of the gods, which is pure insanity of self-serving power, brought about the multiplication of languages and lack of cooperation as we read way back in Genesis.

We do have a bridge in Jesus. We do have a bridge in the Roman Pontiff particularly in his infallibility on matters of faith and morals pronounced to the Universal Church as the Successor of Peter. But such a bridge is one way. There’s no democracy involved, no voting that controls an outcome. Jesus is our Savior. We don’t save ourselves. Jesus protects the truth in His Church. Peter is not left on his own. We are not abandoned to our fickleness. We would jump off the bridge or be thrown off it much like the donkey in the fables of the days of yore. I recall the thanksgiving at the beginning of my ecclesiastical thriller novel called rather irreverently: “Jackass for the Hour.”

It is with gratitude that I dedicate this book to the many men and women who have generously read the manuscript, making many suggestions. They represent a dozen countries and almost as many language groups. They have the most diverse backgrounds, cultures and levels of education that I could find among those with whom I could entrust the work. Their patience and humour have, I hope, stripped the manuscript of at least some of my ineptitude. Yet, I apologise for still managing to make what is easy into something difficult, a defect of one who has little understanding. Seeing how assiduous I was in taking suggestions, the comment was made that the book shouldn’t become like the jackass who trotted into a spurious collection of Aesop’s Fables – you remember the one – who, depending on the suggestions of passers-by to his owners, carried nobody, or did carry the little boy, or the old man, or both, or was carried by them, ending up being drowned in the river which flowed, appropriately, under Market Bridge. What a jackass does is not acceptable to everyone. It makes life interesting for the one who insists on being a… Jackass for the Hour.

Anyway, our Lady was the bridge by which Jesus came to us. She doesn’t take Him back. She instead intercedes for us that we might also become one with her Son, she becoming our Mother. Then, by grace, we already have one foot in heaven. Ha! The angels also ascend and descend upon us, they see the face of God even while they help us to be one with the Son of the Living God, our Holy Redeemer, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace. Amen.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Miraculous Medal Black Madonna ed.)

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A parishioner brought this to me the other day. The flowers are on the medal, twelve roses, rather significant. It reminds me, for obvious reasons, of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa. More flowers for the Immaculate Conception:

Black Madonna of Częstochowa

We read about the love of God for the soul in the Book of the Song of Songs 1:5-6:

“I am black and beautiful. […] Do not stare at me because I am swarthy, because the sun has regarded me.”

Even more, recall the analogy of Saint John of the Cross about the soul looking into brilliance of the Most Holy Trinity, with that vision being dark just as one who looks into the sun will be blind. The sun is still there with warmth and light, God is still there with fiery ardent love.

In these days of non-sense attention given to pigmentation, this Jewish “white boy” Catholic priest says about his own soul — “I am black but beautiful” — which is what anyone whomsoever can say who follows the admonition of Saint Peter (1 Peter 3:15):

“Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.”

The Immaculate Conception was always free from both original sin and personal sin, and yet no one knew more deeply and with more gratitude that she herself was redeemed by our Lord Jesus, her Son, so that that would be the case for her. The fiery ardent brightness of God shone upon her and she bears the effect of fiery grace upon her soul, standing transformed in grace from the first instant of her conception.

But we can be humbly thankful as well. Yes. Amen.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Our Lady of Sorrows edition)

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Today we remember in a special way the tremendous sorrow known to Jesus’ good mom on so many occasions, but especially when that prophesied “sword of sorrow” pierced her Immaculate Heart as she stood under the Cross, as she held her very dead Divine Son in her arms as He was taken down from the Cross.

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When I was a little little boy, just 2 and 3 and 4 years old, my mom would take me with her absolutely everywhere. One of those places, my favorite, was in the dark and empty (but not at all empty, instead mysterious, holy, enthralling, secure for a tiny boy going before God Himself and so full of freedom to rejoice as little me before God who knew that I was there place) crypt church of Saint Mary’s Cathedral in Saint Cloud, Minnesota (now totally wreckovated, but then, wonderful).

In the darkness, she would light a big votive candle (the kind in bottles in those days) at the Pietà shrine (an entire side chapel in those days), and then kneel down for the longest time, sometimes bidding me to kneel down with her, which I was happy to do, even though I might have been investigating wherever in that very large crypt church.

Grief comes from love. Sorrow comes from love. Don’t be afraid of grief or sorrow. We go through things on this earth because of the consequences of original sin, but going through grief and sorrow doesn’t mean we are being punished. It means there is love abounding. No need to be bitter about it. Let your heart be stolen away to heaven. That might leave a hole in your chest, but hey! We can follow our heart.

As I grew older and learned how to read, I read that verse from the Book of Lamentations of Jeremiah carved in large lettering at the base of that Pietà: Look and see you who pass by the way, if there is any sorrow like my sorrow.

And that means: Look and see, you who pass by the way, if there is any love like my love.

Thank you, blessed Mother, for looking upon Jesus, always your little boy, and me too, with your maternal love. Thank you.

P.S. If anyone in Saint Cloud, MN would make a pilgrimage to the crypt church of Saint Mary’s Cathedral and take a picture of the hand-carved wood Pietà (which has a Native American motif) and send it to me I would be most appreciative.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Holy Name of Mary: Victory over Islamicists edition)

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Seen out front of the rectory on this very day.

Mary – Miryam – Bitter Sea, who, with the clear vision of her Immaculate Conception saw all the terrible need of humanity as she stood under the Cross, and interceded for us in all that bitterness, then taking her dearest Son in her arms. She knows what it means to miss a son who was unjustly murdered. I’m asking her to give a big hug to the mother of Justin Carr…

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Today is the feast of the Holy Name of Mary (referring particularly to Our Lady of Częstochowa) because this day, September 12, commemorates the day of final victory smashing back the Ottoman Empire with the Battle of Vienna and she had been named Protector in the battle.

Al Qaeda and ISIS have now taken the place of the Ottoman Empire. Calling on the Holy Name of Mary is most appropriate during an onslaught of Islamicists, and all the time. After all, she’s the good mom of Jesus, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace.

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Battle of Vienna.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Happy Birthday, Mary! edition)

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These beauties were to be found the other day at the entrance of a log cabin way up in the farthest backsides of the back-ridges belonging to one of my Communion Calls. He’s 97 years old, very devout. I’m sure he would be happy to see his flowers being given to our Blessed Mother.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Non-Vacation Vacation edition)

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As you’ve noticed, I’ve been posting a bit less for the past month or so. Lots of racing about for pastoral this and that. No vacation from any pastoral needs of the parish. I think my one and only vacation in these past decades was a month long stay above the cave of Elijah on Mount Carmel at the invitation of the OCDs, for which I thank them. As it turns out that really wasn’t a vacation either, as I was setting up a dialogue between Israel and the Holy See.

But who really gets a vacation anyway in this world of ours? Do mothers and fathers? Do those who are sick and dying? How about refugees and the homeless for whatever reason? How about those smashed down by war and natural catastrophes? Our home simply is not here in this world. We are all in exile. We need to be at home in heaven.

I will admit that I try to take a “day off”, which sometimes include visits to far flung hospitals and Communion Calls and otherwise most extraordinary people.

On those days I still try to fit in a bit of target practice with the somewhat relative FBI CQC QIT-90 shot-timed course. My first time use of the Serpa Blackhawk holster slowed me down a bit compared to Alien-Gear, but I stayed within the shot-timer limits. I’ll get used to it forthwith, and it totally guards against adverse removal of my G19. Anyway, I do the courses starting cold barrel. I ended up with scores of 93% and 88%. Still trouble with falling to one knee behind cover at 75 feet out, and with the mag change. Anyway, after that I set about shooting in half a thin swinging 1″ wide stick from 15-30 feet [my record being 18 shots a few weeks back, then 12 yesterday]. Mind you, the 9mm FMJs pass right through leaving little damage. I suppose if I used a 45 the stick would break in two with the first shot. After that I set up a paper plate while moving laterally over the usual obstacles and uneven surface of the forest floor from 15-30 feet [my record being 16/16 hits]. I enjoy this, perhaps just because of my past life history. It’s definitely a distraction, so much so, in fact, that, perhaps in a surreal sort of way, this is a prayerful time of playing before the heavenly court, if they could ever be interested in the silliness of this back mountain priest.

Anyway, all I know is that the Holy Family never did and does not now take a vacation. They are always working on us, always trying to get us to get on our way to heaven, always at the ready to receive flowers for the Immaculate Conception. We might not always pay attention but, the Holy Family is always there (Psalm 139:1-12 nab):

“LORD, you have probed me, you know me: you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar. My travels and my rest you mark; with all my ways you are familiar. Even before a word is on my tongue, LORD, you know it all. Behind and before you encircle me and rest your hand upon me. Such knowledge is beyond me, far too lofty for me to reach. Where can I hide from your spirit? From your presence, where can I flee? If I ascend to the heavens, you are there; if I lie down in Sheol, you are there too. If I fly with the wings of dawn and alight beyond the sea, Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand hold me fast. If I say, “Surely darkness shall hide me, and night shall be my light” — Darkness is not dark for you, and night shines as the day.”

I think my hiatus from posting is over. Back again. Perhaps with a vengeance.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (“Stop smelling the flowers!” edition)

flores laudie

That reprimand — “Stop smelling the flowers” — is not directed at Laudie-dog. I’m sure our Lady is happy for Laudie-dog to be Laudie-dog. That reprimand was instead directed at me when I was a young first year seminarian in Italy many moons ago.

There I was, a knucklehead, at a statue of our Lady which I passed by a dozen times a day up on the second floor of the seminary. I had gotten into the habit of stopping and praying a Hail Mary. One day, I smelled the flowers in the vase, lost in my own little world in front of our heavenly mother. I could have jumped through the roof when just then the reprimand was barked out by another seminarian who was truly upset that I would be so presumptuous as to smell flowers meant for our Lady.

But hey! I always figured when I gave flowers to my mom back home that she would put them out for others to enjoy, and she did. I’m guessing Jesus’ good mom is the same way.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (San Lorenzo edition)

Precious in the eyes of God is the..

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Mental block about cooking edition)

flores pizza

I’m not sure if this is the “pizza spice” plant the Italians like so much (and me too), but I’ve never seen it with a flower in full bloom. I’m sure Jesus’ good mom was a great cook. I’m not. I have a severe mental block about cooking. Severe. However, I’ve been working on that recently with someone who, on Tuesdays, has been teaching me how to make stuff. I haven’t yet made pizza. But, so far, I did make some Potato Soup, Beef Stroganoff and beef and chicken stir fry. I can also make toast and cold cereal and a hamburger. I’m told that I do everything wrong in making the hamburger…

 

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (It just ain’t righted, Father! edition)

flores wow

Flying high in the air above all else is this unexpected alien at the hermitage (which hermitage of yore you can see high up in the background if you have good eyes). Everyone I’ve shown this picture says “That’s really nice, but it just ain’t righted, Father! The picture is upside down.” No no. It’s all right side up, so to speak.

But our Lady doesn’t mind getting flowers that are upside down, inside out, back to front, topsy turvey, or, for that matter, just the way they should be. She knows how to deal with stuff, even us. She’s good that way. She’s the Immaculate Conception, Jesus’ good mom. He was certainly a sign of contradiction, nothing and no one anyone expected even with so many prophesies that He exactly fulfilled.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (What difference does it make? edition)

flores butterfly blue

These flowers for the Immaculate Conception were duly noted on my day-off the other day. This was a part of the day when I wasn’t anywhere near the hermitage. I’m prejudiced of course, but I reckon that dedicating these to the Jesus’ good mom is a pious thing to do, and that that’s a good thing. Someone else in my travels had a different opinion, making mocking comments about giving flowers to the one who stood under the cross when the Apostles ran away. Indeed, giving more than one flower and with the posts having subtitles was thought to be absurd altogether.

  • Have you read any of the posts?
  • No, never, what difference does it make? Who cares? What’s with the stupid sub-titles? What-eh-vur…..

Apparently that person follows the Twitter feed but has maybe only read one post ever. Ah well. No matter. The flowers are for Mary, not for those who mock. But really, it’s all for them as well: hopefully it will wear them down, so that they’ll give a flower to her as well, and then rejoice that others do the same. Worms become butterflies.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (in the middle of nowhere edition)

flores spikes

A day at the hermitage today. The hermitage is in the middle of nowhere.

If I flee to the ends of the earth… You are there…

visitation from peregabrielcom

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (due dew edition)

flores dew

In our fallen human condition, we might think that an entitlement mentality is just the thing to live by day in day out, as it’s a kind of bullying power maneuver to present oneself as vulnerable but with an iron fist.

But then we realize that as Christians we shouldn’t be so obnoxious and so we try to be a bit more pleasant about it, but a few vestiges of this might remain, so that we hold our Lord’s redemption of us over the head of our Heavenly Father, not in the sense of the Divine Mercy prayer of mercy founded on justice — “For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world” — but in the sense that since Jesus has redeemed us, we deserve heaven on earth, no more sickness, no more death, no more bad economy, no more bad people doing bad things

But we have to remember that the consequences of original sin freely chosen with the sin and which we still suffer with while we are in this world — weakness of mind, weakness of will, emotions all over the place, sickness and death — are, in justice, part of the “economy” of salvation as theologians call it, the way, the manner our Lord has chosen (mercy still founded on justice) for us to assent to His goodness and kindness.

To wit: if we suffer the consequences of the sin (minus the guilt which He forgives), then we know better why it is we need to be redeemed and saved, then we know better why it is that we are to be in humble thanksgiving of Him, in praise of Him for stepping into this world when He didn’t have to do that, taking our place in the death we deserve because of sin so that, He remaining innocent but taking our place, He has the right in His own justice to have mercy on us.

Once we see the benefit we receive in suffering the effects of sin, that we can use all of that as an occasion to run to Jesus to thank Him for coming to grab us out of this world, we can drop the entitlement mentality, the bitterness, the cynicism, and even thank Him for the opportunity provided by the consequences of original sin to praise Him.

The dew is due, but how that dew is provided might surprise us, what with, instead, the Holy Spirit forming us into the image of Jesus in heaven, but which action we perceive on this earth as being formed into His image crucified, and we don’t mind that so much because we finally look at the love which had Him stay on the Cross, drawing us all to Himself, we being taken by such great love that would stand in our place.

Thank you Jesus. And thank you, Mary, for standing under that cross to intercede for us.

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