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

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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)

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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)

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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.

pieta

Hail Mary…

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

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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:

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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)

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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)

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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 (Aww! Such cutie pie babies! edition)

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Hey! The Day Lilies are out in force! This one is especially for the Immaculate Conception as it is growing next to “Brake-Man”, the guy made from welded-together brakes. He’s next to her in front of the rectory. “Brake-Man” reminds me of Adam and how he but the brakes on all of us with original sin. But Mary, Jesus’ good mom, was free of original sin.

Oh, I forgot to tell you. Brake-Man, Adam, is covered over with greenery. But, let’s take a closer look. I think I hear something… What’s this?

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I think I count six of them. The eggs were speckled blue. The mother seems to be speckled brown in color…

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They’ll soon be singing their hearts out for Mary, as held by Adam, Brake-Man.

I recall my ordination to the priesthood in the middle of Winter. Totally unexpectedly – and many mentioned this to me afterward – song birds by the zillions had descended upon the lawn outside the chapel at time of the ordination and were singing their hearts out until the end of Mass and then departed. Mind you, this isn’t because I was being ordained, to become an alter Christus, but rather for Mary, who had interceded under the cross even for the likes of such a wretched wretch as me, and isn’t she good for doing that? Yes. And she did that for all of us. These cutie pies are just outside the chapel window at the rectory. :-)

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

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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.

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (I’m just an ant edition)

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Like an ant beholding a flower for the Immaculate Conception, we can hardly take in all the beauty of the Lord’s creation nor the reason why He made it so beautiful. But – Hey! – we can thank our Lord for what we can understand here upon this earth in our lowly fallen state, and we can show this thanksgiving with flowers for Jesus’ good mom.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (God is a mathematical God edition)

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I think I read that over in the comments of a post about the stars and our ability to see the stars in all their meaning in the mystery of creation on These Stone Walls by Father Gordon MacRae (About).

If we were to do up a mathematical it would surely be utterly boring, utterly sterile, utterly… utterly… nothing, just imaginary numbers. We would never get around to love, to goodness, kindness, wanting to bring joy to others.

Look at that flower above. Is it dirty, nasty, imperfect? No. All those “stains”, if you will, are beasts of the animal kingdom, part of the ecosystem in which flowers thrive. Seeing that, and rejoicing in that, we see the enormity of the mathematics. Oh my God! Yes, that’s exactly right. And God saw what He had done and it was good, it was very good.

Those with some purity of heart and agility of soul and clarity of vision because of accepting the grace of a life of humble thanksgiving to our Lord and God will rejoice, as does the Immaculate Conception. And we can, in some small way, with her.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (snake vomit barfiness edition)

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Picking up garden snakes as a kid, I noted close up that their mouths sometimes had a bit of foam like that pictured above. So, in seeing this on plants, I always thought it was snake barf. Stupid me. My neighbor at the hermitage says that it’s actually a kind of mushroom. Yes, well, that reminds of a mushroom so named for vomit:

vomit mushroom

So, you might ask, even with me having given some pretty outrageous flowers to the Immaculate Conception, how could I with any kind of conscience give such as flower laden with, um, I guess, mushrooms, to the Immaculate Conception? Would she just not laugh, or perhaps turn up her nose at them? How dare I do such a thing !! How dare I !!

Well, it’s like this. If I should be able to gather a bouquet for our Lady, I would also include the yellow flowers with the foam above (because its super-interesting, at least to me), you know, to be in the midst of another outrageous collection of say, cattails, old milkweed pods, whatever. The barf mushrooms in the picture below would be crumbled up for a “floor” for handmade pottery wide mouth vase, with soil as a “holder”. Earthy.

Just my opinion, but I think it would make our Lady smile, and, perhaps, laugh a little.

Just my opinion, but I think she’s seen much worse with those who try to be just a bit too fancy in presenting her flowers, perhaps kind of congratulating themselves. I bet I’ve done that plenty of times, stupid as I am. But, hey, my barfiness isn’t overlooked by her. She sees my need and intercedes for me, for us, right? She’s a good mother. So, I just try my best, even if I don’t see how inept I am in doing all of this. :-)

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (Foresters amazed by nature edition)

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If you know what you are looking at above, you’ll recognize not just the purple flower, but also the leaves of orchids, etc., the whole wide variety you’ll find just about anywhere for many thousands of square miles in these back mountains of Western North Carolina.

I was with a bunch of Foresters last night and part of the discussion was about the relatively recent arson inspired fires in the multi-state reason. One lady exclaimed that she saw a trillium recently, and was ecstatic because, you know, it was where one of the fires had passed over. But, goodness gracious, nature is strong! God is the Creator! There are now arguably more trilliums than there were before. Anyway, there are zillions out at the hermitage, not to mention those orchids and such.

I’m very happy to see that nature is appreciated and provides such a thrill for people. That speaks, actually, of a yearning to know more about the beauty and goodness of the Creator, Jesus, without whom nothing that has been made was made. Just another step from there we have flowers for the Immaculate Conception.

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Flowers for the Immaculate Conception (snowballs everywhere edition)

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These are now absolutely everywhere in bloom in these back mountains, high and low, far and wide, cliffs and the flats, next to streams or out on the rocks, just a sprig or two or wildly spreading bushiness.

And this is what’s so cool about how Jesus created all this: It’s one after the other. Just when whatever is ‘over’, then some other takes its place, even while times change, temperature, length of sunshine, amount of precipitation, always something for the greater glory and honor of God because being given to Jesus’ good mom. Lots of love there. Lots of joy. But this is even in tough times. Nature has a way of just doing what it supposed to do, but we get scared of rough times, looking only for easy times. But with grace, we can become more like the lilies of the field.

Recall Saint Paul’s way of putting it:

Philippians 4:11 I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself, to be self-sufficient. 12 I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. 13 I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.

Or, to abbreviate that:

Romans 8:28 We know that all things work for good for those who love God.

It’s like picking whatever flower in whatever circumstance of God’s providence or God’s permissive will, whatever form that flower takes, and giving this to Jesus to give to Mary.

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