Category Archives: Flores

Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (In the mud and the s#|[ edition)


Flowers… so bright… so light… so immaculate… amidst the mud and dirt of this world.

I am reminded of the Immaculate Conception who appeared to Saint Bernadette in the cave of the pigs filled with pig-s#|[ as an analogy. Her solution to the filth? Get the priests to lead processions, the Rosary, the Most Blessed Sacrament. When I was a “permanent chaplain” in Lourdes the rector at that time gave a conference to all the “workers” telling them at least a half dozen times about the “Little s#|[“, which was the nickname given by the townspeople of Lourdes to little Bernadette, you know, because she was the poor daughter of the little “s#|[ family.” Yep. That’s the one the Immaculate Conception appeared to. :-)

I am reminded again of a scene I saw daily in Calcutta decades ago on my way back and forth to the “Home for the Dying” of the Missionaries of Charity, something like this, with women making “firewood” out of cow dung, smacking the patties to against, usually, a wall alongside train tracks:

cow dung patties for fire

I was always amazed that women could keep their saris totally immaculate while being amidst the filth and the s#|[.

Analogy again: Imagine the Immaculate Conception in this world, where all the rest of us who, by way of original sin, or, also for so many of us who grow up and have adequate faculties of mind and will, also allowed ourselves to be so filthy that we thought it to be a good idea to crucify her Divine Son with our sin. She remained with clarity of vision, purity of heart, agility of soul, immaculate, and being a good mom to us, interceding for us, seeing our need up close. With her Son, she can intercede that good be brought even from such as us, all in Jesus’ Holy Name.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Trumpets Blaring edition)


The trumpet vines are exploding right on schedule.

I am reminded of some verses in Sacred Scripture. When you are interested in a topic in the Bible you can use a concordance, printed or online. In the now defunct BibleWorks program, the search “.trump*” comes up with the following verses. Wow. Lots of mentions of angels! I love that. Meanwhile, Jesus’ good mom is watching this panorama of human history: Continue reading


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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (The Yearly Extravaganza edition)


These guys are in the midst of their yearly extravaganza for the Immaculate Conception. They save up all year and then expend themselves for a short time, giving their all, just doing what their supposed to do. They couldn’t do this if they treated the rest of the year as dead time that doesn’t matter. They are just as busy all year. Otherwise this explosion doesn’t take place. They only do what they do. Jesus said that we will say (this is our hope) that we only did what we had to do. And then heaven. Jesus and His good mom are good and kind.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Chickens, Hens, Spiders edition)


Even amidst all the spiders, these low-lying succulents sprout flowers once in a while. Or are these not really spider webs that without fail are always present? I happen to think spiders are really cool, even if I’ve been bitten by Brown Recluses something like 25 times over the years. Sawyers Extractor is a life saver. Literally. I’m guessing that Jesus’ good mom thinks that spiders – part of our Heavenly Father’s creation – are really cool too.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (The Martians Have Invaded edition)


The Guadalupe Superabundant rose is doing mighty fine out front near the statue of Mary, as seen above. But, then, wait just one second… WHAT’s THIS?


If I had those growing on me – whatever they are – I would be mighty afraid.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (“caged kids” edition)


Meanwhile, the shrine is taking shape. Our Latino community is doing this and then that to the Guadalupe shine beside our little parish church. Mind you, that’s as all the immigration drama continues, while they fear being deported.

There are lots of ill-thought out comments these days. I should like to remind some people of some things.

  • By far, the vast majority of kids come over the border illegally without their parents. Don’t blame the parents when you don’t know the story. The parents could well have been killed, beheaded, even in front of the kids.
  • Those kids often come with adults, not because they want to, but because they were kidnapped by MS 13, Calle 18, or what-have-you, you know, after the parents were killed. It’s just easier for gang members to gain illegal entry when kids are in tow.
  • It’s not that the kids are “caged” so much as being put into protective custody (really nice protective custody as far as that goes). ICE wants to know, rightly, whether the parents are really parents or if they are, instead, gang members who still have the blood of the parents on their hands.
  • It’s not right to leave kids in the hands of kidnappers who will be happy to rape, dismember and murder these little ones – perhaps after prostituting them – just as soon as they are let out so as to appear for their court date. Sure, the kidnapper might be the older brother of the kids he is with, but, if he’s a gang member, well, really, you ought to know that these gangs also kill their own families to show that they are loyal no matter what to the gang.

Anecdote in my parish far North of the border, in Western North Carolina:

The police called me up to take an emergency trip to the hospital emergency room to translate for them. They had two Latino children in the ER. They had chased a van which then had a roll over in the ditch at high speed. The two kids inside were taken to the hospital by the police while the adults fled, abandoning the kids. Even though the police figured out that the adults were not the parents of the kids, they let the kids go. Where? I don’t know. Why? I don’t know. Is that the best policy? No.

Meanwhile, flowers are arranged for Jesus’ good mom. Why? Because she knows, she understands. She knew all the boys in Bethlehem had been slaughtered because of her own Son. She knows what it is to be in exile in an enemy country for years. She knows the violence of torture and death up close. She knows. That’s why. Doubt that? Look into her eyes:



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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Fire! On fire! It’s a fire! edition)


The Fireman / EMT neighbor across the street gave these to a parishioner to plant next to the statue of the Immaculate Conception in the front of the rectory. How very appropriate: a fire flower from a fireman. Being a donkey myself (ancient symbol of Israel, and donkeys are always with the Holy Family), I have to wonder if there is such a thing as a donkey flower. There is such a thing as a fiery Holy Spirit flower, so there must be a donkey flower, right?

flores holy spirit


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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (purity of heart agility of soul edition)


These were outside one of the hospitals to which I bring my parishioners hours away from these back ridges of Appalachia. That’s pretty much my life, bringing others to hospitals, or visiting them there.

We suffer because of the effects of original sin. I tell my suffering parishioners that I’m catching up to them, and hope there will be someone to bring me or visit me when I do catch up.

In the midst of all this weakness, we can still have the purity of heart and agility of soul which the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception had the right in His own justice to grant to us in His abundant mercies, the Innocent standing in the place of the guilty. I just never tire from repeating those words. If we only knew, if we only had a tiny inkling of the meaning of His wounds, how much God loves us, how very much. For God to be merciful, He has to be just. We see justice wrecked upon us in the effects of original sin. We also see the justice of the mercy in the justice of Him standing in our place, the Innocent for the guilty, having the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. He takes upon Himself the punishment we deserve in justice. He thus can and does have mercy: “Father, forgive them,” He said as He died.

This is an “incarnational truth.” Is God an abstract notion of our own imagination somewhere out in outer space so that, in that way, we are “connected”, “spiritual,” when we just go off into nirvana, nothingness, individuality so radically cut off that we are also just nothing, a nice experience of pure escapism? That makes anti-Incarnation theologies seem rather idiotic, right? Yes. Better to be realists, with reverence before the Incarnation of the Son of God who bears our wounds on His body.

We learn to have some purity of heart and agility of soul when we have some bit of reverence and humble thanksgiving before Him for the justice, then the mercy. With that purity of heart and agility of soul we might then also get a glimpse of what the Immaculate Conception must have understood of what those wounds of her Son mean for her own redemption (that she might be the Immaculate Conception), and what those wounds mean for us. Such a strong woman!

She takes in all of that reality from which we all run away. Remember that short verse (Mark 14:50)? “And they all abandoned Him and ran away” (just five words in Greek). “Abandoned Him.” “Ran away.” So, some flowers for her, who stayed, who was in solidarity with Him as He was in solidarity with us, not afraid of His Incarnation, she being His mother. Once a mom, always a mom:

Mary foot of the cross

Staying there, below the cross… That’s purity of heart and agility of soul.


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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Update: pickled pigs feet? edition)


So, there it is. A number of readers, whether by phone call, in a comment, or otherwise, have let me know that this is Chimaphilia maculata.

“Maculata”, you know, as opposed to “Immaculata.”

“Maculata” (“spotted”), you know, as opposed to “immaculata” (“unspotted”).

Here’s the deal, the leaves are variegated, not spotted. The flowers are so entirely pure white that it seems that they lack all color.

The reference to “spotted” or “impure” seems to refer to the fact that each anther of each stemen looks like a cloven hoof of a pig.

In the Scriptures, pigs are symbols for demons. Unfortunately, bacon is the ultimate forbidden food, well, until Peter’s vision in the Acts of the Apostles. But anyway, if anything has the symbol of “impure” or “spotted”, it’s a pig, even though they themselves try to be fairly clean as they wallow in the mud.

I’ve seen these variegated leaves everywhere around the hermitage, with these pair of plants within eyeshot of the hermitage, amidst the hundreds of Showy Lady Slippers. But I’ve never seen these in bloom. They are quite amazing.

So, why give these seemingly compromised flowers to the Immaculate Conception? Well, because she interceded for us under the cross when all of us pigs needed redemption and salvation. There she stood under the cross, marked by the blood of the Lamb. There she sat under the cross, marked by the blood of the Lamb. We should recognize what she did for us, and thank her.


Hail Mary…


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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (a bit of color edition)


When that bit of “extra”, in this case color, comes along, there can be a temptation to think that that is something special we are offering, when, instead, it is always the gift of Jesus to Mary. But, in seeing that, and we can participate in all that, well, that makes it extra wonderful.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (always edition)


You don’t always have to say something. You can just light a candle, or not. Leave or flower if you have one, or not if don’t have one. You can just “be there” for a moment. Perhaps ask her to watch over whoever that day, help whoever that day to know Jesus better. And, by the way, she undoes knots. Did you know that?

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Happy Feast Day edition)


If a branch was to sprout from the rotted stump of Jesse, that branch would come from that which was not rotted, but rather immaculate. :-)

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (nipped in the bud edition)


Oddly, people speak about stopping something evil and bad in its genesis by saying: “Better nip it in the bud.” I mean, flowers are all good, right?

Ah, but here’s the deal: that which is evil and bad looks all good, and that’s why it’s attractive, a temptation. That needs to be nipped in the bud.

But for Mary? Well, as the Immaculate Conception, there was no stopping her. Instead, she let herself be in solidarity with her Son Jesus, who, also unstoppable, let Himself be in solidarity with us, laying down His life for us, nipped in the bud, we thought ever so stupidly. Nothing is as it seems.

The way it actually is: God loved the world so much that He sent His only Son…

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (leaves of three edition)


Shiny oily green leaves of three, reddish when new. I’ve seen them all:

  • shaggy vines crawling 100 feet up tree trunks
  • smooth and twiggy growing tall and sparse
  • heavy duty woody bushy heavily laden with powdery white-blue fruit berry stalks

Almost amorphous. But always the same with the three leaves, green with red tints. Just like the difference in mosquitoes in Minnesota (murderous vampires by the trillions) and here in the southern USA (tiny and rare), just so is the poison ivy in Minnesota virulent (having put me in the hospital) compared to a few spots of a mere rash here in the southern USA. The above is what’s in at the back of the church in Robbinsville: be careful! Below is near the hermitage:


But what caught my eye here was a flower for the Immaculate Conception. I didn’t see the poison ivy on the tall and lanky vine to the right of the picture until I was about to crop that part of the picture out.

On the one hand, I’m happy that I have greater situational awareness for flowers for the Immaculate Conception than I do for poison ivy, but I don’t think our Lady would be disappointed if I were to increase situational awareness for leaves of three. I’ve put some pretty wild stuff in bouquets for the Immaculate Conception, but this is one thing I would not include. I think it’s the first thing ever not to include. Just. No. In fact, I don’t think I would pick the flowers above either, for the reason that, in the wind, they would blow over and touch the poison ivy oily leaves. So… just… no.


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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Father it’s one of your friends edition)

The other day: Banana Lilies? These are next to the Fort Delaney info center here in Andrews NC. It was raining. Meanwhile, we just finished First Saturday Holy Hour for Our Lady’s Guild. As expected, there were a number of Ninjah Ladies there. Afterward, they were taking care of the flowers to the side of the church.

img_20180602_134322971~31685218689..jpg“Father! Father! It’s one of your friends! A snake! A snake! Come look! Be careful! Be careful!” exclaimed the Ninjah Ladies.

“Aww! It’s a cutie pie snake!” said I, responding to them while they gathered their parachutes which they had deployed after running away from the snake. It’s just a black snake,” I continued. “The babies have fake-news markings to look scary, but there’s no there there: no triangular head, meaning no fangs, meaning he’s just a cutie pie snake. Aww!” They gasped, aghast, as I took pictures, snake whisperer that I am.

Meanwhile, the Immaculate Conception, much more fierce than any Ninjah, is in direct battle with the ancient serpent, Satan, as we read in Genesis 3:15. She deserves a cool flower for that, and more.

mary serpent


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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Guadalupe has the last laugh edition)


There, on the lower-right, two roses popping out from the Superabundant Guadalupe Rose. Shadow-dog did the honors earlier in the year by trimming it down to four-fifths of it before I could get it transplanted about thirty yards out of his reach, out on the front road, next to the “Town Branch.” The water had come up to the flower bed for a while as Tropical Storm Alberto passed by just to the West. Many of the roads round about in the parish were impassible for flooding. There are about a dozen analogies to be made.


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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Bad times and even good edition)


That’s the stalk of this super-tall flower above. Below, just a kind of bunch of buds for flowers which only pop out a few at a time as time goes on in whatever circumstances, in bad circumstances and even good ones, whatever comes.


Saint Paul puts it this way (Philippians 4:12) [my own roughneck translation]:

I know indeed how to live in smashed-down circumstances;

I know also how to live with super-abundance.

This is called an argument a fortiori. Thus, by the force of the first statement the second one has to be true. Thus, to say that that’s a man is also to admit he’s got a spiritual soul. But this kind of argument is especially used to force an issue of difficult circumstances. Thus, the person who stupidly expresses surprise that some guy survived being in the wilderness on his own with nothing after an accident in which he was severely injured is put in his place with no further comment when someone else pipes up to say that, well, you know, he passed through his BUDS course and Hell Week and got accepted into the Navy SEALs just six months previously: Of course he survived!

Normally, in our way of emphasizing things, we would say that we’ve learned how to live with good circumstances (of course, right?) and – Hey! – we’ve learned how to live even (wow!) with bad circumstances, putting huge emphasis on how bad the bad circumstances are and what heroes we are. But Saint Paul says with supreme sarcasm against those who trust in themselves and so look to congratulate themselves at any opportunity that he’s learned how to live with bad circumstances (like that was nothing at all) and then – Hey! – he’s learned how to put up even (wow!) with good circumstances.

Hah! As it is, we fall apart spiritually in good circumstances, don’t we? Easy makes us fall apart. So he puts the good circumstances last to make the point. He does all this in Christ Jesus our Lord, who is the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. But, how to say it, for her, who always followed God’s holy will by way of transforming grace, she knew how to live with good circumstances and even bad. The good was really good. But the bad was really bad. She remained stable, always the good mom, just… always… no matter what… just always the good mom. A flower for you, Mary.

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Flores for the Immaculate Conception (Flowers planted by my mom edition)


These are in a hanging basket at the nursing / rehab here in Andrews. These are what my mom planted along the border of her garden out back of the house in Minnesota. I was fascinated with them as a little, tiny kid, because they were always filled with honey bees. The second I saw these I thought of my own mom and Jesus’ mom. Flowers from mom to mom. I like that. From a mom with a troublesome kid (me) to a mom with a kid who comes not bring peace but a sword (Jesus). I love that.

The guy ultimately responsible for getting these for the nursing / rehab happened to be walking out with me the other day and I asked him what they were, telling him the story about my mom planting these back home when I was a kid. But even he couldn’t put a name on them. ???


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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Instead of letting it bother me edition)


This unfurling Papal-Colors flower is at the neighbor’s at the hermitage. If you look to the right side, you’ll find some imperfections. If you look at any of us, you’ll find some imperfections. Don’t think I don’t see them. I do. And how. Yikes! I suffer the whole range of emotions just like anyone else, and spiritually, and it wears me out. Yes, all that. Of course all of that bothers me.

However! I let that be an occasion to not only not let all that bother me too terribly, but I let all that be an occasion by which I can turn to Jesus and thank Him for stepping into this world that we have wrecked. The divine Son of the God walked among us on purpose, clearly seeing all our imperfections and, yes, our sin. He knew it closely, tortured to death on the cross as He was.

If I see someone like, say, me, or, say, the Pope, with imperfections, or worse, I turn to Jesus for the greatness of His mercy. He said not to be afraid. So, I am not afraid. He has conquered sin and death and all the onslaught of hell and has risen from the dead.

It’s better for us when we go about life not making it all about us and our worry. It’s better for us when we go about life with Jesus being the One who is important. Jesus is the One. He’s the only One. And He’s perfect, by the way, no imperfections. After all, He’s the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception. It is He who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Amazing fireworks edition)


You know, we congratulate ourselves on coming up with amazing fireworks for our celebrations right around the world. I dare say that we haven’t anywhere come up with something so perfect as this light filled silvery explosion in the heavens as this one pictured above, filling up the entire sky in perfect symmetry.

I took this picture with my phone during early evening, when it was still quite light out. This dandelion did take up the entire sky, but only because I was right next to it. Strange what a flash will do to a picture. But imagine at the bottom of the picture some little silhouettes of people sitting on the ground pointing up into the sky, watching fireworks in front of you. You would really be amazed that we could come up with such a perfect explosion, right? But Jesus makes these all the time for his good mom. Hah!

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