Category Archives: Sacramentals

The Orthodox Prayer Rope


The prayer rope has been in use by Catholics, both in the West (rosary or chaplet) and in the East (Orthodox prayer rope komboskini (Greek), chiotki (Russian)), since about the 4th century of the Common Era. Even so, the concept of the prayer rope is not a Christian idea, and was in use in the Far East and even in ancient Egyptian practice. The use of the prayer rope on which to count prayers, mantras, or recitations of any sort is a common practice not only among orthodox and traditional Christians, the devotional practice involving 108 prayer knots or beads called a mala in prayer practice  (Sanskrit, japa) is also practiced among the Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others. Muslims will frequently be seen using a mispaha (Arabic),  tisbah (Persian), or tesbih (Turkish), which are incorrectly and inappropriately called “worry beads” by Westerners, and are used to recite the 99 names of God (Allah), the 100th name being incomprehensible. The muslim prayer beads are also used in the dikhr (prayer practice) in which the 33 Subhanallah, 33 Alhamdulillah, and 33 Allahuakbar are recited. In the Sufi zikr practice, strings of 100 or 200 beads may be used.

Japa Beads

The bottom line to all of this is that from time immemorial and in many faith and belief traditions, repetitive prayer or devotional practice was managed using strings of knots or beads. The relieved the devotee from the distraction of counting prayers by allowing him or her to simply move along the string of knots or beads and, if shorter strings of say 33 knots or beads were used, to repeat the string the required number of times, in order to complete the required number of repetitions.

The Roman Catholic rosary is nothing more than a prayer rope.  The rosary is a specific devotion dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is a relatively recent development,  attributed to St Dominic and the apparitions of the Virgin Mary claimed by him in around 1214 in the church of Prouille. Accordingly the RC rosary as we know it today, dates back only to about the early 13th century.  Despite the promotion by various popes and notables of Roman Catholicism of the rosary and the association of various attributes such as the various mysteries etc.,  it does seem that it’s history is more legend than fact, and that the rosary, it’s prayers, and its practices go back to less “miraculous” origins. More palatable history makes the practice of the rosary quite similar to that of other faith traditions: to count prayers. Whether in some Roman Catholic Christian traditions the prayer rope or string of beads was used to count Ave Marias or Pater Nosters, the fact remains that the use of pebbles, rice grains, knots or beads to keep track of prayers is not a 13th century invention by a Roman Catholic saint after having experienced an appartition of what legend claims to be an appearance of the Virgin Mary.

The more OCD the practice, the more devout the practitioner

Of course, the Western Church, that is, Roman Catholicism, as is its regrettable tendency, had to take a simple idea of a simple devotion and complicate it by including various prayers (Psalms (50, 70), the Hail Mary,  Lord’s Prayer,  Gloria, the Creed), to various formal and configurational iterations of the simple rope, and various mysteries and promises, even so-called “secrets.” Naturally, the more complicated the ritual the more prone to idolatrous practices and superstition. But Hey! the more OCD the practice, the more devout the practitioner.

In the Western Christian tradition, Roman Catholics are the leaders in the use of prayer beads, Anglicans also use prayer beads, and Lutherans to some degree use them.

Anglican Prayer Beads

The forms, too, of the Roman Catholic rosaries also differ substantially and range from the Dominican and Franciscan traditions to the more recent so-called rosary-based devotions, such as the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, have taken on a development of their own.

So, by way of a rather lengthy introduction, we finally arrive at the main topic of our article, the Orthodox prayer rope.

Legend has it that the so-called Desert Fathers and Mothers, devout individuals who left the distractions of the cities during the 2nd and 4th centuries of the Common Era to seek solitude in the wastelands of desert and isolated wilderness, would keep count of their prayers by casting pebbles into a bowl or basket. Apparently,  because lugging around your basket and pebbles was a bit onerous,  they started weaving palm fronds together to form prayer ropes. Here’s one of the legends that has been handed down to us to explain the particular practice of weaving the so-called Angelic Knot for the Greek komboskini or the Russian chiotki:

The knot that makes up each “bead” of the prayer rope is a very complex one, composed of seven interlocked crosses. There is a story that has been passed down for many centuries regarding the origin of this knot:
There was a monk who wanted to make a prayer rope in order to count his prayers. However, each time that the monk completed a few knots, a demon would come by and untie them all. The demon knew for what purpose the monk was tying his rope and out of fear and spite wanted to keep him from being able to complete it. One day an angel of God appeared to the monk and, answering his prayers for help, taught him how to make a special kind of knot composed of seven interconnected crosses. This knot was so complicated and, having on it so many crosses, the demon was unable to untie it and the monk was finally able to finish his rope.

Angelic Knot Detail

Whether the origin of the prayer rope is attributed to St Dominic and his visions or to St Pachomius and his angels, the fact remains that the prayer rope has persisted over the centuries, even the millenia, and continues even today to be an important devotional tool for many Christians.

Our prayer rope or chiotki is used by many to recite the so-called Jesus Prayer, an important meditation practice in which the name of the Incarnate Word is recited in repetition. It must be noted that this is not a mantram (A mantram is a spiritual word, phrase,  or brief prayer that we repeat silently to ourselves to calm the body, quiet the mind and improve concentration to restore the spirit) although may have a similar effect,  and its purpose and desired effect is quite different from what we know of the Eastern mantric practices.

“The incessant invocation of God’s name is a medicine which mortifies not just the passions, but even their influence. Just as the physician puts medications or dressings on a wound that it might be healed, without the patient even knowing the manner of their operation, so also the name of God, when we invoke it, mortifies all passions, though we do not know how that happens”

– St. Barsanuphius the Great

The Jesus prayer as recited using the prayer rope comes to us in several forms but here is a common formula in several languages:

The Jesus Prayer in Several Languages

Lord Jesus, Son of God, Have Mercy on Me, a Sinner.

Church Slavonic: Господи Ісусе Христе Сыне Божїй помилѹй мѧ грѣшнаго. (грѣшнѹю if prayed by a female)
Greek: Κύριε Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ, Υἱέ τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἐλέησόν με τὸν ἁμαρτωλόν (τὴν ἁμαρτωλόν if prayed by a female)
Russian: Господи Иисусе Христе, Сыне Божий, помилуй мя грешнаго. (грешную if prayed by a female)
Ukrainian: Господи Ісусе Христе, Сину Божий, помилуй мене грішного. (грішну if prayed by a female)/Господи, помилуй (The shortest form).
Latin: Domine Iesu Christe, Fili Dei, miserere mei, peccatoris. (peccatricis if prayed by a female)
Polish: Panie Jezu Chryste, Synu Boga, zmiłuj się nade mną, grzesznikiem.
Spanish: Señor Jesucristo, Hijo de Dios, ten piedad de mi, que soy un pecador.

Secular prayer ropes are virtually indistinguishable from the religious type and may serve the user in a variety of ways: they can be used to cope with anxiety, they can be used to recite personal mantras, they can be used as touch tokens and reminders.

We have found a source for personalized, hand-woven prayer ropes for religious or secular use. These ropes are hand-woven in a variety of available colors and color combinations ranging from the monastic black to multiple colors with symbolic significance, or in colors of ritual, ceremonial or purely personal meaning. They are typically woven in ropes of 30, 50, 100 knots or can be woven in any number of knots, depending on personal preferences and the purpose for which the rope is used.

As shown in the illustration above, the sourced prayer ropes can be woven in a variety of styles, depending on the user’s preferences.

A bar and loop type closure for a bracelet

When the prayer rope is used as a prayer bracelet, the rope may be woven in one continuous sequence, may include a tassel or a cross, a separator bead, or may be provided with a variety of closures including clasps, magnetic , sliding knot closures, etc.

There are a great many uses for these ancient and very effective devotional items, and we would encourage anyone interested in purchasing prayer ropes or in bringing together a group to learn how to make them for your faith community to contact our source at Retreat Master.

The Editor

 


How Sick is the Church? An Opportunity to Share Your Inputs


Francis: Rebuild My Church

Rebuild my Church

[But not into an art gallery, disco, or brothel!]

By way of introduction, here are a couple of examples from real life, that you may have experienced:


  • PS, a Roman Catholic priest and RCDA tribunal judge, made the revealing and statement in a moment of resenting sarcasm, “They’ll ordain anything these days!” That raises the questions of “Who?” will ordain and Who are the “anything?” But that’s just one example of the many careless and imprudent public statements that are being made by persons in visible and influential positions in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.
  • A Roman Catholic Sister of Saint Joseph (you know, the nuns who seem to have usurped the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany Pastoral Center and most administrative and higher teaching  positions) has a favorite innuendo – filled phrase, “Those men in Rome!” The impression made by such insensitive and indifferent statements on auditors of any persuasion can be devastating.
  • A Roman Catholic priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany claiming to be of Ukrainian origin and liaison to the Orthodox churches, refers publicly to the soon-to-be-canonized Pope John Paul II as the “Polack on see of St Peter.”
  • Women chaplain interns under the tutelage of a Calvinist supervisor at a major Albany, New York, hospital, in a Clinical Pastoral Education (hospital chaplaincy) announce that they are disgruntled Catholics, publicly announce their support for women in the priesthood and criticize the Roman Catholic Church openly and publicly; they are then invited to present talks at the so-called Spring Enrichment.
  • Roman Catholic clergy and male religious cow to that same Calvinist supervisor and are degraded by the non-Catholic, mostly women, chaplaincy staff.
  • Women gatekeepers decide who speaks with the bishop, the pastor, etc., and create an environment of exclusionism.
  • Hungry faithful feel unwelcome in God’s house; unwelcome at His table.
  • A well-educated, highly competent,  man in excellent health applies to the diaconate program of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. He is initially welcomed but is later called in by the director of deacon formation and told, “I did not notice your age. The deacon program is 6 years and you must be ordained by age 62. That’s the diocesan policy. You will be 64 in six years so we cannot enroll you in the program. Thank you for your interest.” In the meantime, poorly educated, ailing men are welcomed into the program, some drop out because of health or program leadership.
  • A graduate of St Bernard’s School of Ministry and Theology continues a ministry of pastoral and spiritual care to the faithful who are not affiliated with a Roman Catholic parish; the minister practices a Roman Catholic spiritual discipline with a local male religious community. The minister attempts to place an ad in the official Roman Catholic newspaper offering his services in pastoral care, provides the text of the ad, the ad is accepted by the Evangelist, he pays for the ad. Several days later the female editor of the Evangelist contacts he minister and informs him that the ad will not be printed because he is not associated with a parish.
  • A feminist theologian and member of a women’s lay religious community, the Sisters of Saint Joseph, comes under fire for her heterodox writings on the theology of the Trinity; she lectures to the public at the local Sisters of Saint Joseph Provincial House

Rebuild My Church!

Rebuild My Church!

We have over the past several years received a number of communications complaining of problems perceived in at least the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany but which may be reasonably inferred to be endemic in most of the American Catholic Church. We have listed some below, but instead of a bulleted list, we’ve made it into a survey list that our readers can check off and which can be tallied to get some idea of the range and nature of ecclesiological, pastoral, and magisterial problems the Catholic faithful are experiencing in their dioceses.

We’d like to invite our readers to review the following list and to click on the circle preceding a “problem” if you find that you have experienced such a problem.

At the end of the list, you can tell us whether you are Roman Catholic, Protest and, Jewish, or Other, and after that list you can tell us where you live.

This is all anonymous and for information purposes only. You can see the results up to the current date by simply clicking “view results” at the bottom of each poll box.

Thanks very much for your participation in this interesting undertaking.

American-Idolatry

Ecclesial and Pastoral Pathology List

In the list below, simply check off the list items that most correspond to how you feel. If something is not included in the list, you can enter it in the space at the end of the list or leave a comment to express your thoughts.


 

Religious or Faith Affiliation

This is where you can let us know about your faith tradition. It serves two purposes: (1) it informs us of the percentage of RC readers responding, and (2) it informs us of the percentage of non-RC respondents who have some perception of the problem.


 

Ministry Activity

We’d also like to know about your ministry activity. Are you involved as clergy or as a lay minister? What are your perceptions about these problems.


 

Where Are You Located?

We are discussing the situation in the United States but this doesn’t mean that these problems are unique to the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. But it is important for us to know where our respondents are located, and whether the majority of our readers are experiencing these problems in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States.


 

Yes, it does come down on the heads of the American bishops; as the saying goes, “The fish rots from the head down.” If the bishops do not recruit to the ranks, the ranks deplete. If the bishops lose the reins of their diocese, the horses run amuck. If the bishops do not take command of the front line troops, they have mutiny on their hands. If the bishops abandon the rudder, the ship of Church runs aground. In the present state of affairs the faithful are angry, confused, depressed, and lost. It’s just such an ecclesiology and pastoral theology at work when Protestant authors note the hemorrhage of the Roman Church and the recourse of the faithful to evangelical, fundamentalist, and Orthodox traditions. The breakdown of Roman ecclesial hierarchical authority has created a festering wound that refuses to heal because it’s not receiving the appropriate attention.

But it’s not only the bishops who are failing us and the Church, its we, too, who as members of that mystical body we call Church, turn our backs on Mater et Magistra, Mother and Teacher, and then point the finger as if we were pure as lilies. Now, during Lent, instead of giving up something, let’s do something. We can start by identifying where the pathology is and then proposing a course of therapy. That’s the whole sense of this survey.

Otherwise, and generally speaking, the Roman Church must return to its origins and principles or it is doomed to mutate into an institution that bears no resemblance to its former self; much is the fault of bishops who have lost control over their dioceses, and much the fault of those who want to be Church but want Church to change according to their parameters. This is a similar situation where some agendas want God to have specific genitalia or be a particular something; in otherwords, anthropomorphizing God, downward theism, if you will. Poor teaching has brought this about; God is pure spirit and doesn’t need a created body! God is perfect and doesn’t need to be made according to creature parameters. God is unmade and cannot be made.

Our culture is overwhelmed by idolatries! Idoltatry is worshipping something created as if it were God. Look around you, what would you give up to be closer to God? If you don’t say everything and anything, then you are an idolater! You are putting something before God or between you and God. In the simplest of terms, that’s idolatry!

But much, too, can be attributed to the ambitions and scandal of those with heterodox agendas acting under the aegis or cover of the Church; these are the most insidious and dangerous pathogens that must be eradicated if the Church and the Tradition is to survive.

 Please leave a comment about this article.

Where are you on this scale?

Where are you on this scale?
Idolatry————————Humility


Pastor or Chaplain, or Both?


Is There a Distinction that Needs to be Drawn Between a Practicioner’s Playing the Role of Pastor or that of Chaplain?

I was a bit bemused by the persistence of the tendency to Bible-thump one’s way through any such discussion

I recently engaged several colleagues on the question of chaplaincy or pastoring. I was a bit bemused by the persistence of the tendency to Bible-thump one’s way through any such discussion, while advocating an interfaith approach as advanced by the adherents of the CPE agenda. I thought I’d share my contribution to the discussion.

listen-with-heartIt is my contention that we should not advance the notion of a “versus” or “as opposed to” when discussing chaplaincy or pastoring. While it is true that some traditions, the Hebrew and Islamic, for example, eschew the notion of “pastor” or “shepherd” for cultural or traditional, even ethical reasons, in the broader sense all chaplains are in fact “pastors,” while all pastors (in the conventional sense) are not necessarily “chaplains” (or critically speaking, even pastors!). In fact, I object in principal to the biased terminology we so frequently use in our vocations, “pastoral care” department, because it tends to be exclusive. I personally prefer spriritual care provider (although in my professional materials I do use pastoral care). Moreover, most people, even those in the vocation, tend to associate pastoral with pastors and thus with some sort of clergy or ordained service provider (usually with no questions asked and we all know about the profanation of ordination); that in itself is a misfortune for all concerned. But the much-touted CPE doesn’t do much to clarify the issues for interns or residents, and we still see chaplains “certified” by the self-proclaimed arbitors of chaplaincy who are just as ignorant after several years of “education” as they were before.

A case in point is taken from the scenario presented by the initiator of the discussion who describes walking into a Jewish patient’s room with a Christian clerical collar, which I characterized as benign “ignorance” but in reality was outright insensitive and would indicate that the “chaplain” in question did not do any initial preparation before launching out on rounds or visitations.clerical collar pc I might fraternally suggest that in future, whether you are a chaplain or a pastoral care associate, to check the chart briefly or dialogue with the nurse assigned to that patient before you visit. The offending chaplain actually says that he was aware that the patient was dying and had no family, so it seems rather odd that the chaplain did not appreciate the patient’s faith tradition and, if it wasn’t in the chart, that he didn’t consult with the immediate caregiver (nurse or LPN).

I also questioned the fact that the visiting chaplain was aware that the man was “Jewish”. Being Jewish immediately identifies one as being associated with a certain cultural, socio-religious tradition, after all, one does not call one’s self “Jewish” except to identify one’s self as a Jew. So this also raises the question of whether the chaplain in question was indifferent to the possibility that this dying man might have welcomed a visit by a rabbi, or that the chaplain did not make or offer to make a referral. Such sensitivity may have been a great comfort to the man, who might have found great refuge in his tradition and prayers. So I identify a boundary issue in this behavior, too; an issue of knowing one’s limits.

This situation also sends up red flags in that it clearly indicates that the institution did not do a spiritual assessment of this patient, much less a spiritual evaluation or history, which also reveals a glaring ignorance of the now widely inaugurated JCAHO and HIPA scoring categories relating to patient spiritual care.

The scenario I describe above should be instructive to us all and I thank the so-called chaplain for the inadvertent teaching/learning moment he has provided.

Finally, in the dying process I don’t feel there’s a heck of a lot of “pastoring” left to be done, unless it’s for the survivors. In my experience, in end-of-life situations I am more of a presence and spiritual guide/companion. While that may arguably be part of pastoring in a general sense, I feel that the actual mission of pastoring contrasts in praxis with the mission of spiritual accompaniment at end-of-life or in an existential crisis.

plant in handIt’s rather like the difference between evangelization and catechesis, if you have that in your tradition. One takes care of the basics and gets the seed started (evangelization), the other (catechesis) ends in the care and nurturing to harvest time.

Listening to hearAnother colleague mentioned in a rather cliché fashion with which we are all familiar when listening to the CPE crowd, that CPE trains one to listen. I disagree with such responses such as “CPE “teaches” one to listen.” I’m not quite sure how that works but in my divinity training and three years of supervised pastoral formation, and my participation in and disappointment with a rather popular CPE program in a large trauma center in Albany, New York, which fell far short of even my minimum aspirations, I don’t think that people can be “taught to listen” they may listen, but they don’t listen deeply. I know that from experience the deep listening skill comes from deep within one’s self, once one is comfortable with one’s self, and can leave one’s self for the time it takes to absorb and process the patient’s narrative. It’s that kind of listening that might be part of qualifying an aspirant to be spiritual care provider but it certainly isn’t the be all and end all.

The serene face of the large Buddha his long wise curvaceous ears at once loving and open to the woes of the world: Compassionate.

The serene face of the Buddha, his long wise curvaceous ears at once loving and open to the woes of the world: Compassionate.

Deep listening is the act of sinking into a serene quiet place, and awakening a receptive awareness of the other. By entering quiet and becoming aware of the other, we move out of and beyond our ego-driven chaos to become open to the divine messages within us and shared with us by the other. Imagine the irony here is that we so often complain of the pain of not having been heard, but we are so guilty ourselves of being deaf to, not hearing the innate wisdom from within ourselves and shared with us by others. When we learn to accept emptiness, when quiet, we instinctively trust in the guidance of sacred voices far more profoundly than what our bullying brains and the busy buzz of life would have us hear. And we listen, respond with silence.

In fact, having examined quite a number of CPE curricula and having developed continuing quality improvement curricula for the healthcare chaplaincy department, I find that the current CPE programs and their associated certification elements serve only to promote a burocratic and very branded form of “pastoral” care, and that branded product falls short of most suffering persons’ real needs. helpingIt’s the proprietary nature and standardization (viz. uniformization, homogenization) of the learning that deals the death blow to an appreciation (1) of the universal truths and values shared by all human beings, (2) the beauty in the diversity of traditions and how to appreciate and be enriched by a certain mutuality, (3) the possible pitfalls of an interfaith approach to faith traditions that may adhere very loyally to their dogmas. There are other reasons I could enumerate but regrettably (or fortunately for the readers) space is limited.

I think that an overwhelming majority, too, of CPE students come with excess baggage and too little self-death–I’ve observed interns, residents, even certified chaplains who have a great potential to do considerable damage…and do. The situation is not unlike seminary, you can do much to scrutinize, to form, to standardize but Whoa! when you turn them loose on the world, watch out! (A Roman Catholic diocesan priest, who also serves in the chancery tribunal, remarked ironically to me one day, “They’ll ordain anybody these days.” Which is probably true given the shortage of priests today.)

The so-called supervisors of the CPE programs almost invariable have their own biases and agendas, and these tend to impair good formation.
In some, not all instances, too, CPE programs have become “pay-to-work” programs in which minimally screened individuals, wet behind the ears and green, are turned loose on the floors to deal with sophisticated staff and human beings in existential crisis. I don’t feel that’s right. And I have also observed that interns are exposed to the same curriculum content for three or four years, and unless they have the academic predisposition to independently advance their armamentarium of experience through narrative and study, many don’t build their foundations. Some interns do not have theology or pastoral studies to help them through the necessary processing, and almost all have a depraved Western bias to their spirituality that tends to act as a speed bump when offering care to Non-western recipients. These programs tend to be “chaplain mills.” CPE does not fit the bill on its own to form professional, well-rounded spiritual care providers, but does excel in churning out multitudes of volunteers for greedy institutions. That may be one of the reasons it has survived this long.

On another level, some practitioners involved in the discussion advocated that the “Gospel” or, by extension, holy scriptures, has no firm place in chaplaincy. I do differ in that the fundamental ethics of the “Gospel” (not as understood principally by the evangelicals or fundamentalist among us) is a major part of chaplaincy. servant leadershipI cite particularly the beatitudes and the teaching of discipleship and servant leadership (chaplaincy is certainly not limited to the sick and dying but to the suffering generally). While I abhor the notion, and even more so the practice of proselytizing to captive audiences, and would hasten to emphasize that evangelization and catechization is not a fundamental role of the chaplain, ethics, discipleship, and servant leadership all play a special role in the myriad activities of the professional chaplain. (Note also that I do distinguish between the “professional chaplain”, the pastoral/spiritual care associate, and the visitor providing spiritual support.) To advocate that the truths and values espoused by the “Gospel”, the holy scriptures of any faith or spiritual tradition might have no place in chaplaincy is to advocate a position, I believe, of a chaplaincy practice devoid of ethics (and religion) (I do realize that this is a particularly “Christian” approach and my Judaic, Islamic and Buddhist colleagues may not necessarily agree with the religion-ethics statement, but I make the statement here somewhat loosely for convenience sake).

I’m not judging colleagues in chaplaincy or Clinical Pastoral Education too severely at all. In fact, I’m simply sharing my own observations and opinions based on personal experience. I am not a bit surprised when some readers tend to take these observations personally, as if they were meant to make an ad hominem stab at the straw[wo]men of CPE; I usually anticipate that persons in our line of work have a bit more self-awareness not to take every facially severe remark as a lancet thrust to the heart, however.

Rather than play an offended person’s role, perhaps we all would benefit by admitting that we may have learnt something about one’s self as through another’s eyes.

We Respond, We don't React.

We Respond, We don’t React.

Our role is to humbly respond, not to knee-jerk react. After all, to paraphrase the prophet Martin Luther King, Jr.: ‘We are all wrapped in the same cloth…when we directly hurt another we indirectly hurt ourselves.” (I do hope I did that statement justice!). So, when one party to the conversation called such a response arrogant, and a failure to simply accept some responsibility in relationship to colleagues’ responses, I merely responded, “My point indeed. The mouth loves the feel of words.” Instead we minimize, rationalize and justify our behavior, making certain to protect one’s self. This particular correspondent insists that “our patients have thick enough skins to handle a collar.”panda overload My response was tantamount to the fact that I don’t think that we have any right to expect patients to have “thick skins.” Some practitioners in pastoral care seem to admit patients’ strengths but underestimate their sensitivity and vulnerability. Many of the patients I see have lost their thick skins and in fact are pretty bruised in terms of dignity, autonomy, fortitude, patience, etc. I see no reason to add another straw to the pile. And Yes! It’s not about us, it’s about patient-centered, family-focused, inter- and multi-disciplinary care.

bedside prayerWhen we adopt such an approach we appreciate that, whereas many of our colleagues practice their spiritual care ministry in acute care settings or in crisis settings, many colleagues may find themselves–particularly in the scenario of the long-term care setting–in the position of playing both the role of chaplain and pastor to some residents in those longer-term care facilities. Regrettably, many of these residents lived their lives unchurched or churched with infrequent interaction with their faith community; more regrettably, some faith communities have disappeared or simply no longer continue a ministry of visitation of the sick and homebound who were once part of their faith community. It’s in such situations that the chaplain may very well become the pastor, and have to function in both roles. I don’t feel that this should be a major stumbling block nor even a concern to the well-formed spiritual care provider, who is responding to a true call to spiritual care ministry.

We're all wrapped in the same cloth...

We’re all wrapped in the same cloth…


It’s No Longer a Question of Social Justice…It’s a Question of Amorality!


While New York Governor Cuomo is eroding the rights and morals of American citizens and patriots in New York, his bedfellow in Washington, Obama, is promising rights to illegal immigrants!

Obama_Immigration_Policy

The Illegals’ Choice!
The Arriba! President

Obama’s Got Something for Everyone
(but can’t deliver anything)

You're the target!

You’re the target!

The United States Congress Took More Than 90 Days to Pass Funding to Aid those Suffering from the Rampage of Hurricane Sandy…It Took Mere Days to Push Through the TARP Bailout funding for the Banks and Corporations Whose Dishonest Practices Caused the Recession We’re Still In. Where Do You Think this Government’s Priorities Are? Do You Really Think That King Obama or the Crooks in Congress Thought to Postpone Aid to Israel and Divert those Millions a Day to Americans Suffering the After-effects of Sandy? Where do WE, as citizens, actually figure in Big Brother’s worldview? Not only are the Coeymanazis eroding your rights but the unconstitutional, immoral criminality appears to be trickling down from the New York State Legislature and our Mafioso Governor, Andrew Cuomo! Read on, if you dare…


You may want to print out a copy of this article and send it to Governor Cuomo and to your elected legislators (state and federal) as an statement of protest! Send a link of this article to your relatives, friends, neighbors so that they also know the true facts. Thank you!


Closer to Home, Our Darling Governor Andrew Cuomo Has Been Trying to Collect Brownie Points by Harvesting Political Capital over the Bodies of Dead Children.

(Bad Move, Andy! Your Popularity Plummeted a Serious 15 Points!)

The Face of Attitude.Cuomo to Citizens & the Constitution: Go F*** Yourselves!

The Face of Indifferent Arrogance.
Cuomo to Citizens & the Constitution:
Go F*** Yourselves!

Andrew Cuomo and His DINOs (Democrats In Name Only; there’s not an iota of democracy in them) is a political whore and worse still, he’s turned prostitute: He’s selling principle for politics!

Here’s how:

It looks like Andy Cuomo can’t wait to become President (Yes! That’s Cuomo’s latest crazy wet dream.) before trashing the United States Constitution, Cuomo rushes the SAFE law through the rubber-stampers in the New York State Legislature, trashing the 2nd Amendment and the right to own firearms, using the imagery of dead children, not logic, to bypass any public input. IMPEACH CUOMO and give the DUMBASS RUBBER-STAMP LEGISLATORS the BOOT!

Of course the dimwit liberals and the pablum-puking bleeding hearts are going to say, “Great! Who needs guns anyway?” Of course, the police and law enforcement are just creaming their jeans at the thought of citizens without defense! But the real point is this: non-criminals obey the law and acquire guns and ammunition lawfully. It’s the criminals who will get all the guns and ammunition they need by whatever means necessary–and it’s the criminals who kill people! If the police and other law enforcement were doing their jobs they would be catching the criminals and seizing the illegal firearms. But no, that’s not in the plan, instead they’re out on the streets harassing and coercing generally law-abiding citizens and dragging them into court on…traffic violations and for smoking weed or some old-fashioned domestic ruckus. Just read the police blotters.

Forget the so-called War on Drugs–it was and continues to be a smoke screen– (they know where the crack houses are and where the dealers are but use them as bait for the dumbasses who drive thru the areas. After all, it’s the dumbasses who get stopped, it’s the dumbasses who have the cars to impound, the assets to seize, and it’s the dumbasses who will hire the defense lawyers at their own expense (the drug dealers don’t usually have cars, run like hell and get away, don’t have assets, and get public defenders!)).

Cuomo's got a fish story for you...and I have a bridge to sell you.

Cuomo’s got a fish story for you…and I have a bridge to sell you.

And talking about traffic tickets, our darling NYS governor has yet another citizen-hating scheme to cover the state’s crazy spending:

traffic ticketCuomo now is telling the Judicial Branch, the Courts, how to decide in traffic cases. In other words, Andrew Cuomo, the Executive Branch, has already commandeered the wussies in our State Legislature to dump the 2nd Amendment rights of New York citizens, and now is violating another well-established–or so we were taught to believe–concept of American freedom: the Separation of Powers! The Executive branch (governor, attorney general, district attorneys, police and other law enforcement), was to be separate from the Legislative and Judicial branches. This ensured the necessary “checks and balances.” But now, Cuomo is instructing judges not to plea bargain traffic violations such as speeding tickets, and wants to impose mandatory fines and force judges to collect money for the state. Of course, his office denies that this will cost local government anything because they will be free to impose surcharges, in addition. This is a direct violation of the doctrine of separation of powers and the principle of “checks and balances.” It’s a total smokescreen and is designed to squeeze even more money out of citizens for a totally bankrupt and corrupt government in Albany. IMPEACH CUOMO and the career politicians before they start drawing their outrageous pensions!

its outright theft legislation

New York State’s Robbing You Of Your Rights!

We have previously published an interesting article on town and village courts and how ignorant the justices are and how primitive the justice (I shudder to use that term when referring to these kangaroo courts) meted out. Read Justice in Name Only: Town and Village Courts for a real eye-opening exposé of the town and village court system in New York.

I don’t know about you but I am offended by the government’s jumping over dollars to pick up pennies, and digging further into my pockets to offset shoddy management!

But the disgusting hypocrisy and immoral deceit doesn’t stop there, Cuomo has plans for the most despicable practices in the state: abortion!

But First Let’s Do A Little Quiz…

Quiz Question: Which of the above are children?

Quiz Question: Which of the above are children?

Answer: All of them are, or were, before the abortionist got to them!

Putting the murder of children in some perspective, let’s look at some real statistics and leave the politics and the emotional flooding out of the picture, just for a moment. Consider these numbers:

Ceaselessly in the news and on the politicians’ lips: 20 children killed in Newtown, CT (and 6 adults). But is that in perspective?

Now compare that with:
United States Abortion Statistics
54,559,615 abortions 1973–2011

Reported abortions in the United States, by year

The Alan Guttmacher Institute (a special affiliate to Planned Parenthood), which actively collects the abortion data directly from providers.  All numbers reported are voluntary; there are no laws requiring abortionists to report to any national agency the numbers of abortions they perform. 2009-2011 are estimates of 1,212,400 annually.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute (a special affiliate to Planned Parenthood), which actively collects the abortion data directly from providers. All numbers reported are voluntary; there are no laws requiring abortionists to report to any national agency the numbers of abortions they perform. 2009-2011 are estimates of 1,212,400 annually.

In the United States in 2011 more than 1,200,000 (that’s one million two hundred thousand) abortions were reported.

Need some more figures on abortion? We’ll be happy to satisfy your curiosity:

Americans’ views concerning abortion:

  • 79% do not support the current abortion-on-demand policy, saying abortion should be legal only in some circumstances (68%), or illegal in all circumstances (11%). (Marist Poll, December 2011)
  • 78% believe that women who have abortions commonly experience moderately severe to very severe negative emotional reactions to abortion. ( Medical Science Monitor, 2003)
  • 95% of women want to be informed of all risks of a medical procedure; 69% want to be informed of all alternatives. ( Journal of Medical Ethics, July 2006)
  • 64% of women who experienced one or more abortions “felt pressured by others” to have the abortion. (Medical Science Monitor, Oct. 2004)

So you ask yourself, Why do women have abortions?

  • 74% say having a baby would interfere with work, school, or other responsibilities.
  • 73% say they cannot afford to have a child.
  • 48% say they do not want to be a single parent, or have relationship problems with husband or partner.
  • Less than 2% say they became pregnant as a result of rape or incest.

(Source: The Alan Guttmacher Institute, Perspective on Sexual & Reproductive Health, Sept. 2005)

Those are some mightily compelling reasons to kill a child, wouldn’t you agree?

And I’d like to repeat: Those are the reported, official figures. The Chicago Tribune did a study and found some very scary facts:

“A great many abortions go unreported. In a recent report, a state system for monitoring abortions in Illinois reports that as many as 17,000 of the procedures may go unreported each year, according to the Chicago Tribune. The Chicago Tribune newspaper has released the details of a new investigative report revealing the number of abortions in the state has been massively underreported. Those numbers include six women who have died from botched abortions and 4,000 who were injured.”

“State abortion records full of gaps. Thousands of procedures not reported to health department. ”

(Source: June 16, 2011 by Megan Twohey, Chicago Tribune. The Tribune found: “State regulators have documented between 7,000 and 17,000 fewer abortions a year than a national research group found in Illinois.”)

The dismal statistics for New York, not New York state, New York City read like science fiction:

“2009 statistics for abortions in New York City found that “87,273 abortions in that year, meaning that 41 percent of all pregnancies that didn’t end in miscarriage were ended by abortions,” Lipsky explains. “In some ZIP codes and among African-Americans, the abortion rate reaches a ghastly 60 percent.

[In that same report: “For every 1,000 African-American babies born in the city that year, 1,448 were aborted. To the publication of these numbers the mayor [Michael Bloomberg] stood mute.” Does this sound like ethnic cleansing to you?]

(Source: “Andrew Cuomo’s Thirst for Killing More Babies in Abortions”, Dave Andrusko (Washington, DC: LifeNews.com (1/28/13))

Now, let’s look at some statistics about guns and gun deaths:

Mortality Figures for 2011 (US only)

(Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Deaths: Final Data for 2010, table 10, 11 Adobe PDF file [PDF – 3.1 MB])

All homicides

  • Number of deaths: 16,259
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 5.3

Firearm homicides

  • Number of deaths: 11,078
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 3.6

Mortality 2011

All injury deaths

  • Number of deaths: 180,811
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 58.6

Motor vehicle traffic deaths

  • Number of deaths: 33,687
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 10.9

All poisoning deaths

  • Number of deaths: 42,917
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 13.9

All firearm deaths

  • Number of deaths: 31,672
  • Deaths per 100,000 population: 10.3

Compare to 1,200,000+ reported abortions in the US in 2011!

So, my point is this: Looking at what the Gutterman Institute study found as the reasons women have abortion and the official abortion figures for 2011, and comparing those figures (for example, 1,200,000+ abortions in 2011) with the firearm homicide figures for the same period (11,078 homicides) and the figures for motor vehicle deaths (33,687) and all firearm deaths (31,672), simple reasoning would say that if we proactively ban or want to control firearms because of the deaths they cause, we should be just as willing to ban or increase control over motor vehicles! After all, motor vehicle deaths in 2011 exceeded all deaths caused by firearms (self-inflicted, murder, accidents). And what is the next step? Background checks for new car purchases? Registration of gas purchases?

And, when you compare all deaths by injury in the US in 2011 (180,811) with the number of reported deaths by intentional abortion (killing the child) in that same period (1,200,000+ children), you really have to ask yourselves: “What is the big stink about 20 children being killed in Newtown, CT, and is it really fair to misuse that event politically to unlawfully deprive citizens of a constitutionally granted right?”

I am not a callous animal and I’m not trying to minimize the moral wrong or emotional effects of the Newtown, CT, tragedy. I empathize with those parents and the community just as much as I do with Iraqi, Afganistani, Egyptian, Mexican victims of insanity and crime. But the absolute and statistical numbers speak louder than I could ever attempt to do!

And so, we make a full circle back to deprivation of real rights and the interference of mindless criminal politicians to misuse events for their own agendas.

The reality is this: We have crazies on the streets because we threw them all out of the asylums a couple of decades ago. We have crazies on the streets because we send immature young men off to fight illicit oil wars and then abandon them when they come home nutz and with PTSD. We have crazies on the street because we elect them and put them in powerful positions and not in padded cells!

They all should be in an institution!

Your Rights Crying Out for Liberty!

It’s the crazies in government who are trying to tell us thinking, rational citizens that it’s not the inability of law enforcement to find and seize illegal firearms in the hands of gangs and criminals, nor the inability of law enforcement to stop the trafficking of ammunition for those illegal firearms, nor the inability of law enforcement to stop the influx of illegal weapons into this country…what they’re telling us is that those citizens who would obey the law anyway and are doing so right now, it’s those citizens who will be subjected to more intense scrutiny and tougher regulation! Go figure!

In fact, official government statistics collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and published in the weekly Mortality and MobidityWeekly Report (August 6, 2010 / 59(30);957) actually show a decline in firearm deaths in the period of 1979-2007!

The figure above shows death rates for the three leading causes of injury death in the United States during 1979-2007. In 2007, the three leading causes of injury deaths in the United States were motor vehicle traffic, poisoning, and firearms. The age-adjusted death rate for poisoning more than doubled from 1979 to 2007, in contrast to the age-adjusted death rates for motor vehicle traffic and firearms, which decreased during this period. From 2006 to 2007, the age-adjusted poisoning death rate increased 6%, whereas the motor vehicle traffic death rate decreased 4%, and the firearms death rate did not change.

The figure above shows death rates for the three leading causes of injury death in the United States during 1979-2007. In 2007, the three leading causes of injury deaths in the United States were motor vehicle traffic, poisoning, and firearms. The age-adjusted death rate for poisoning more than doubled from 1979 to 2007, in contrast to the age-adjusted death rates for motor vehicle traffic and firearms, which decreased during this period. From 2006 to 2007, the age-adjusted poisoning death rate increased 6%, whereas the motor vehicle traffic death rate decreased 4%, and the firearms death rate did not change.

Click the link to the right for the Full 2010 MMWR Article:
3 leading causes MMWR August 6 2010_59(30)_957

But all the political rhetoric and misinformation, and the misuse of a tragedy to push through more controls over citizens is totally unjustifiable given the scientific information and the government’s own numbers! If you want to increase control over firearms the government will logically have to do the same for automobiles, since they kill more people every year than firearms!

A traditional business facing extinction?

A traditional business facing extinction?

It’s also those crazies in government who are now telling our judges, as useless as most of them are, how to judge cases, how to interpret the law! Why? Because Mr Andrew Cuomo thinks that they are not sending enough fine-money to Albany and keeping too much for the local municipalities. So Cuomo is going to turn around and legislate how the judges decide your next traffic ticket and deprive you of your opportunity for justice, the common plea bargain. Do you like it so far?

abortion_setupSo we’re all appalled by the deaths caused in single incidents by single assailants killing multiple people. Are we just as appalled by the deaths by automobile or poisonings? Don’t they get any attention? OK. Every year we kill more than 1,200,000 children but do it legally. It’s done by medical doctors who make a quick buck by murdering babies. If you don’t believe that they are murdering babies, let me redirect your attention to a very informative page that tells you a little about the stages of the developing child’s life in the womb, before some licentious bitch with a sorry excuse has some murderer in a white coat, dismember it, and the state (= YOU) pays for it. Are you pleased with yourself? Click here to read the Horror of Abortion.

Cuomo as Neo-Hitler

Neo-Hitler Cuomo

What’s even worse is that this Democrat government wants you to continue paying for this mass murder and that satan Andrew Cuomo and that devil Obama want to make it even easier to kill even full-term infants! But Cuomo isn’t anyone’s fool, he planned to pander the women’s vote by packaging the abortion rights measure in a women’s rights package that included proposals to assure equal pay, workplace rights, and bills combating abuse against women. At this point, Cuomo has tied all the measures together, requiring the Legislature to approve all or none of the proposals.

Hitler, using the same gestures, advocated a pure race by abortions, too!

Hitler, using the same gestures, advocated a pure race by abortions, too!

Far from advocating any lunatic politician in Albany, I would like to share a statement by Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos says the proposal is just wrong. Skelos, who runs the majority with six independent Democrats, calls Cuomo’s proposal an extreme measure from the radical left. Skelos also says the change isn’t needed in New York, where abortion is legal, paid for by Medicaid, and requires no parental notification. I repeat: in New York abortion is legal, it is paid for by Medicaid, and requires no parental consent. Hell, the government takes care of it all for you!

You may want to read an article I wrote on another blog, Opinion: Abortion Issues. As usual, it’s an in-your-face, wipe-your-nose-in-it factual statement.

And so, loyal readers, whether you agree with me or not, you do have to admit that we have some very weird and bizarre ways of thinking in order to make the world fit our lunacy. Do you feel any smarter now? Do you feel any differently now? Please say Yes!

But let me leave you with one very serious thought: The longer you stay silent, the longer you let the crazies in Albany and Washington, or even the crazies in the village or town hall, play with your rights, the more blood of innocents will be on your hands.

<big>Does this mean satan is reconciled with God?</big>The Editor

Does this mean satan is reconciled to God?
What does this image do for RC credibility? Absolutely zilch, nada!
(In the days of credibility he would have been burned at the stake!)
The Editor

cross and swastikaSo, Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, are you still welcoming this hypocrite monster Cuomo to your liturgies, are you still allowing this demon to receive the sacraments alongside the pious faithful? How dare you! With the politics and hypocrisy, the pandering and the double-talk, is it any wonder that, like Cuomo’s approval ratings, you’re hemorrhaging numbers, too?!? And don’t smirk, Protestants, Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, and Jews; you’re all just as bad, but less visible!

Is this the real TRUTH?

Is this the real TRUTH?

Special Notice: We make every effort to be truthful, complete, fair, and balanced on this blog; therefore, if you see anything that you know to be false or incorrect, or if you have additional information to clarify any issue, please let us know by e-mailing your information or by leaving a comment. It’s very important to us that we don’t fall into the same category as those whom this blog is intended to expose. Thank you very much in advance for your cooperation and assistance!

The Wooden Bowl: A Parable


I Guarantee You will Remember the Parable of the Wooden Bowl Tomorrow, a Week from Now, a Month from Now, a Year from Now.

Parables have since time immemorial taught us thru the commonplace, and have sometimes changed us in surprising ways. And as we move towards a new year, what better time to reflect on who and what we are. Perhaps this gift of the parable of the Wooden Bowl may give us some pause, and provide a scintilla of the gift of Wisdom.


The Wooden Bowl

old wooden bowl

A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year-old grandson.

The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered.

The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. ‘We must do something about father,’ said the son. ‘I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.’

So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner.

There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl.

wooden bowl + spoon

When the family glanced in Grandfather’s direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.old man

The four-year-old watched it all in silence.

One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, ‘What are you making?’ Just as sweetly, the boy responded, ‘Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up. ‘ The four-year-old smiled and went back to work…

The words so struck the parents so that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.

That evening the husband took Grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.

[I am humbly grateful to my friend and colleague, Jean Francois, who shared this beautiful parable with me.]


turles and wisdom
We all need to reflect. I’ve learned that, no matter what happens, how bad it seems today, life does go on, and there is always the hope that it will be better tomorrow.

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles just four things: a rainy day, the elderly, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.

I’ve learned that having a good ‘living’ is not the same thing as having a good ‘life..’

I’ve learned that every mistake gives you a second chance to learn.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back sometimes.

I’ve learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you But, if you focus on the needs of others, your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you. When you practice generosity, compassion, humility you’ve already given up the toxins that poison happiness.

I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart and mind, I usually make the right decision.

I’ve learned that every day, you should reach out and touch someone.

People love that human touch — holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back, or simply the touch of another’s appreciation and kind glance.

I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn; I’ve learned that for all I’ve learned I still know so very little.

I’ve learned that you should reflect on this parable of the wooden bowl, and practice compassion, non-judgmental presence, and unconditional love.

I’ve learned that Wisdom does not come from all the books I’ve read or the degrees I’ve received; it comes from sharing with a frail old person from a wooden bowl.

Pass this on to everyone you care about … I just did.

animated candle_small


A Moment to Consider Suffering


“There is a time for everything…under the heavens a time to be silent and a time to speak.” (Ecc 3:1a,7b)

The Suffering in the World and the Heaviness of Grief Drag the Soul Down and Weight it With Despair…But It Is Better to Light A Single Candle than to Curse the Darkness Around Us.

animated candle small

All religious and spiritual traditions teach that man lives in horizontal time or chronos; the Divine time is vertical, kairos. In Divine time there is no past or future, it is all here and now. Unlike humankind, the Divine does not look to the past nor to the future, they are simply unnecessary because the Divine is perfect and that perfection embraces unchangingness and allknowingness. Perfection does not have to learn from the past nor hope for the future.

Rachel Weeps for All Her Children!

Rachel Weeps for All Her Children!

But we exist in a different dimension, if you will. We can either despair of the past or hope for the future; resent the past and despise the future; or as Ecclesiastes teaches, we can accept that the Divine plan provides for “a time for everything…a time to be born and a time to die..a time for scattering stones and a time to gather them…a time to embrace…a time to search…a time to mend…a time to be silent and a time to speak…a time to love…and a time for peace.”

The Divine plan is Perfection and Immutable. It keeps us on schedule and on plan always, whether we like it or not, and whether we understand it or not. The world is full of pain and suffering, most of it so far away from us that we almost take it for granted and go on with our own lives without considering that human beings and other creatures are suffering immensely but we don’t see their tears or hear their cries…so they’re easy to pass by and cast our eyes away. Until it strikes close to home. But the Divine plan includes us always and when Perfection sees its creatures becoming callous to the lessons of suffering, Perfection brings it closer to home so that we, too, can face the challenge and become humbled by it. When we see suffering we can appreciate the wisdom of Ecclesiastes: There is a time to be born and the fact of being born brings with it the fact of death.

gathering togetherWe are made of fragile materials and we break, sometimes very badly, and we die. It’s when we are humbled by challenge, moments in the Divine Plan that we are incapable of comprehending, that it becomes time to gather stones to rebuild, a time to embrace our universal humanity as the kin-dom of the Divine, a time to search for meaning in the challenge. But above all and essential to the purpose of the Divine Plan is that a time of challenge is a time for love, a time for God, because as John teaches “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love,” (1 Jn 4:8). Gathering together in love, we are in a time of mending, of healing; in that time of healing we find a time to be silent, present, and a time to speak. As stones gathered searching for meaning in the challenge, and embraced by the power of perfect love, we heal in silence and sometimes speak silently in prayer…we seek peace.

The events in the world that cause suffering and despair, confusion and anger, anxiety and hate are in our time, not Divine time, we can move into Divine time by staying in the moment, no past no future, for but a breath’s time and find peace in the moment we occupy now.

blue tear

Let’s stop for a moment being stones scattered and be stones gathered, remembering in this moment the suffering around us. Let’s stop for a moment to heal, to love, to be silent. Let’s stop for a moment to be peaceful and to grant peace to all of Creation. It’s in the Divine Plan. Let’s stop for a moment and remember we are created in the image of a God who is Love.

Remembering in this Divine moment of love, healing, and peace, the suffering in the world of all Creation, and remembering the acute pain we now suffer with the events closer to us. In your own, personal way remember the suffering in Newtown, Connecticut.

animated-candleburning3


Sin Against the Dignity of Creation


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This Article is Different from Most You Will Read On This Blog. It’s Angry and It’s a Morality Lesson, Too!

When’s the Last Time You Looked at Yourself, Deeply?

WHY???

Morality and ethics are things we used to learn at home from grandparents and parents, on the street from public servant role models (police, firemen, etc.), at school, in church. Now we pack our grandparents off to the nursing home, our public servants are thugs, sluts and thieves and our teachers aren’t much better, and who, really, goes to church anymore and who can really say they know anything about their religion or denomination, too? We’re in a very pitiful state as far as our morality and character are concerned, and our ethics is even worse.

So the theme of this blog is a quote from a beloved teacher, model, human being, St. Francis of Assisi, who said, “If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.” (Patron Saint of Ecology, 1181-1226) If you think about that statement, it should switch on some lights…somewhere.

It’s very true, though, when you think about it. If you tend to treat things, animate or inanimate, sensate or insensate, traditions or customs, without respect, love, compassion, sensitivity you’re very likely to treat other people and other living things the same way. And you know what? Generally, that disrespect and lack of compassion is just how you feel about yourself, we are told. Low self-esteem, low self-respect is usually reflected outward onto others, the world, people, creatures of all types.

This weekend, I visited the Iroquois festival at the Iroquois Museum in Cobleskill. There I enoyed demonstrations of Native American survival techniques, examined artifacts, viewed artworks, and learned a lot about the culture of the Iroquois Confederacy a “republic” of six nations. The Iroquois call themselves the “Haudenosaunee“, which means “People of the Longhouse,” or more accurately, “They Are Building a Long House.” They were politically sophisticated and tolerant, had a highly developed culture and religious system. They were matriarchal, a woman was head of the clan and picked the chief, and they were matrilineal, you took your mothers clan name and belonged to her clan.

What’s a North American native culture to do with a 12th century Italian saint? Well, they both stressed oneness with nature and creation, respect of others, the necessity of a positive compassionate relationship with all of creation for survival. Something we have lost touch with today.

After that elevating exhilarating experience, I found myself traveling down Rt 9W, just a mile or so before the entrance to the NYS Thruway when I saw something that was simultaneously horrific, saddening, ugly, and overall upsetting. It was the very image of what we as human beings have become today, and I decided I would share the sight and my thoughts on this blog.

Was this YOU, or someone you know?
It’s plain SICKO!

There they were, three beautiful animals, less than perhaps 50-100 feet from each other, along the roadside, DEAD! Not killed weeks or even days apart but merely hours, judging by the condition of the corpses. Now I’ve seen death in so many ways in my career and just wandering the world but sometimes the way it happens to be presented just hits you in a certain way. This was a revelation, a shocking revelation of what we human beings have become: The AIDS epidemic killing all of creation. But we’re worse than a mindless virus, we claim to have a spark of divinity, freedom of will, intelligence, gifts that should make us a force for good, not a dark cloud of evil. These creatures were killed by humans in their machines and apparently by humans who had not a whit of concern for their actions nor any sense of compassion or responsibility. Like so many of you out there.

Yes, you are a restless bunch. Can’t stand still for long, have to move, gotta rush to get nowhere, gotta have that new toy but can’t reason Why? The commercials tell us to rush, we need IT now! And you respond by rushing and buying it. How’s that make you feel? A bit depersonalized, taken advantage of? Less than the person you’d like to be. Does it make you feel angry to be used by businesses, industry, government, others? Are you angry? Are you taking it out on the world. I’d guess yes, from where I’m observing. And it’s happened to you so insidiously, that you haven’t even noticed, have you?
Now take a step back and look at yourself. Now look at your children, if you’ve taken the time to produce any or ever had the notion of sharing your life with anyone but your iPhone and your Twitter or FaceBook cyberfriends. Are you constantly checking whether someone wants to message you, needs you to exist? Have you tried leaving the cellphone or the iPhone home and taking a walk…alone? What do you see? Do you like it? (Probably not.)

You hide the elderly and deny the naturalness of aging, you hasten the dying process in the ill but deny death, enjoy wanton and unprotected lust and then spread disease or kill the unborn and then preach chastity, you hurry to get nowhere special and when you get there you can’t wait to get to the next stop, you do most of what you do not knowing (or caring) why we’re doing it and just do it to get it off the list, you rush through every minute of the day without appreciating it or being in the moment even once and then whine that the day’s gone by already (whose fault is that?), you complicate your life with concrete things and lose the connection with the mysteries of life and can’t even visualize much less think in terms of concepts or the abstract. You eat three times more than you should, weigh at least 25% more than you should, but then complain that portions are small and that you’re overweight and unhappy. And you’re angry, fuming. Anger is ugly and does ugly things! Worse still, you deny you’re angry!

One of the ugly things your anger causes you to do is harm the helpless and the innocent, and that’s where my concern for the morality of these developments comes into the discussion. The more you do a behaviour, the more it becomes habit, the more habitual it becomes, the more it becomes your character; your inner voice, your conscience, is a product of all of that. Your good-bad, right-wrong decisions are your morality, and what you do, how you live is your ethics. You are how you live. Are you afraid yet? You should be.
Our entire culture has become toxic.

Back to the Iroquois, the once great Native Americans. Look at what the American culture has done to them and how we’ve accomplished it: Invasion, cheating and dishonesty, eradication by the use of superior weapons and technology, importation of disease, import of an alien culture that is incompatible with centuries of tradition, disrespect for the native culture, forcing alien forms of government on the people, robbing them of their culture, their ethnic pride, their values, and then abandoning them to decline, disease, social degradation, and ultimately disappearance. In other words, we strip them of their dignity just as we strip all of creation of its dignity. And we do this for the worst of reasons and for short-term satisfaction and gain, imposing permanent damage and destruction, and move on to the next victims. Just like locusts devouring one field after another; simply destruction to feed our own perverse drives.

BEFORE

The three dead young raccoons were symbolic of what you’ve become: insensitive, self-serving, unrepentent, uncaring, black holes sucking up everything, destroying it and giving nothing in return. It’s sad, isn’t it?

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What really makes me kind of giddy in a sense is that most of you have no connection with anything really, you’ve created a world of dualities for yourself: you and everyone else, America and the rest of the world, the 1% and the 99%, the good people and the Jews and Muslims, the church-going Christian in church and the church-going Christian out of church. That’s just to name a few of the dualities you’ve set up to make yourself acceptable. You’re so one-dimensional you need to create dimensions outside of yourself. And still you pray, you attend worship, you read the bible, etc. and you learn nothing, your life is still…emptyness. Too bad!

People, there’s got to be an Aha! moment in all of this. That moment where you have that certain revelation, that conversion moment where you say to yourself, “What the #*%$&* am I doing? Where the #*%$&* am I? Where the #*%$&* am I going?” Are you getting closer to climaxing in this orgiastic frenzy of for lack of a better expression, sin against nature?

Take a moment and look in the mirror. What do you see? Now, peel away that surface and what’s under there? Can you really live with that?

The World Is Your Mirror.

Yes! The world is your mirror. It’s what you’ve become and what reflects back on you. You are indiviudally and collectively responsible. We used to talk about duties and obligations but nobody liked that; those words sounded like someone else was pulling the strings and you were all simply being told by big brother what to do: Do this! Don’t do that! You must…! Now we talk about responsibility and following your conscience…what conscience? How responsible are you for what’s going on around you? If you feel you’re responsible have you done anything to correct the wrongs and the evil around you? Or are you irresponsible?

Stop Hurting US! Please!
The Editor

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