Friday, October 31, 2008

Abomination

A couple of nights ago, while our beautiful baby boy slept in mommy's arms after a good dose of formula, Rebecca and I caught a few minutes of a documentary on PBS. It was on terrorism and the Taliban. It's a mad world, isn't it? There are wicked things that take root in men's hearts and blossom in chaotic acts of violence. There are eyes blinded by hate that do not see. There are hands clenched in rage that will not receive. There are swords in the minds of many that want only to cut and to desecrate with their ideologies. For them, human life is cheap. People are means to an end; either obstacles or opportunities in a process they think will end as a good for them; for their agenda, their cause, their country. But that approach never works, because people are not means to an end but ends in themselves. "The reason for the world... you and I" in the words of The Riddle, a favorite song of mine. But the TV told otherwise, and the sanctity of humanlife was again desecrated. In the warmth of our home, deeply disturbing images flashed on the screen. Women stoned for not wearing a full burka, a man tortured and killed for drinking alcohol, mutilated bodies, explosions and burned out cars. Buildings were caved in and carved out, looking like open mouths, screaming. Desert landscapes were filled with throngs of bearded men, waving guns, chanting and burning flags. And then I looked back to our newly adopted son, breathing softly in Rebecca's arms. In the essay The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis said "Next to the Blessed Sacrament Itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses." These words should be sounded from the rooftops. Now that we have a little boy in our midst, and Grace in the tabernacle of Rebecca's womb, I am touched more so than ever before by the breathtaking beauty of human life, and by its fragility. "Behold, you are worth more than many sparrows" was Our Lord's tongue in cheek way of saying that we are... priceless; worth more than our weight in gold, more that the weight of the whole created universe. Your hairs are counted, your fingerprints are yours alone, you and only you are making the choices of your everyday life every day. And you have been ransomed from destruction and death and decay by the passion of a loving God. Thank God we see things differently here in America than these sadly misguided terrorists. Thank God we honor every one as a unique expression on the Face of God, that we cherish every human life because in every human heart the Spirit of the Living God lives and moves and gives us being. Then again... In the next few days, reflect on the sad truth that we have our own abominations, seemingly neater and cleaner than the images on the TV. With surgical precision, the horrors of abortion are nipped and tucked away from the eyes of most Americans. And yet, 50 million lives have been abruptly and most violently ended by abortion since 1973 in these "United" States. God, save us from this abomination. "A country that murders its own children has no future." - Pope John Paul II

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just a Moment

So we've had a wee bairn in the house for sometime now. That's Scottish for "little one." And after five years, cries fill the house, and we are singing 80's songs put to new words, like "We've been waiting... for a boy like you... to come into our lives... yeah waiting, for a boy like you, to make us feel alive..." And then we tag team bottle time, and snuggle time, and we gaze into the little pools of this other little person's eyes.... and we see they are "impregnated with distance" in the words of C.S. Lewis; his eyes are full of light and of a future full of walks in deep woods and sword fights and drawing maps of Grandpa's land in Maine, of leaping from cliffs into cold water, and singing the Clancy Brothers songs, and a host of other adventures. Sure, the weight of glory that's been set upon our hearts with him is beyond measure. What greater thing is there in the world than to be given stewardship over one of His little ones? We have fallen head over heels in love with this squishy wee babe. Thank You God.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Unbelievable

There is weeping in the night; but joy comes in the morning. - Psalm 30 All's been quiet on the blog front for a while now. Today, I'm ready to tell you why! Rebecca and I wanted to say a quick thank you for the continued prayers and support for Baby Grace. She is now at 25 weeks in the womb and kicking more and more (or "dancing" as I like to say). There has been no apparent change as yet with her condition of acrania. Please keep praying through Pope John Paul II for a miracle; we believe it can happen. On another note, unconnected but providentially related to our story with Grace... we have been given a different kind of miracle, and you may from the picture have already guessed it! We have been chosen to adopt a BEAUTIFUL BABY BOY! It's been a real whirlwind of finding out about him, praying about it, deciding, and then being chosen. It all happened in a period of just about three days! When God cooks up a miracle, sometimes He just pops it in the microwave. So, what are feeling right now? Peace, joy, love…. The fruits of the Spirit, and that's been a good sign for my wife and I that we made the right choice in opening the door of our hearts and our home to him, even in the midst of our via dolorosa with Grace. There was no fear or feeling of not being prepared, or anxiety. We gave our YES and a YES was given back! He's come like a ray of light into this fog of uncertainty with Grace, and I think he's the reason his little sister is dancing in the womb! Like a little Simon he's helping us carry this Cross, just by being who he is. Because of the nature of this private adoption, and because it’s still in process, there are a few things I think I should keep from print, simply because of its sensitive nature. One amazing thing I will mention is that his given name from the birth mother can be translated as “appointed one.” For my wife and I, waiting years for the gift of children, this was a pretty amazing sign! He’s unlocked a new level in the adventure of our lives; he’s given us new names too. For five years Rebecca and I have been husband and wife… now we are mommy and daddy. It’s all a grace, everything is a grace! And every day, we will pray for grace to be the best parents we can be. The Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from every face. - Isaiah 25

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fr. Frank Pavone Interview - Priests for Life

My guest on the radio tonight was Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director for Priests for Life. "... started in 1991 to do one of the most important tasks in the Church today . . . to help priests around the world spread the Gospel of Life to their people. The ministry of the priest is demanding. The priest presents to the world truths that are difficult to grasp. The priest confronts injustices in the world, which are often deeply entrenched in the attitudes and laws of society. Priests must be steadfast in calling for the protection of life at every stage, in exposing the myths surrounding abortion and euthanasia, and in working with others to provide compassionate alternatives." The podcast can be found by clicking here! GREAT RESOURCES! Fr. Pavone's Blog Voter Guide on Key Issues What Abortion Is Rachel's Vineyard CatholicVote.com

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jesus Loves Me

A famous Catholic theologian, whose name escapes me right now, was once asked about the most profound thought he had ever had. He said it was simply "Jesus loves me."Isn't it crazy to consider that in the whole visible creation, you are the most priceless work of art to him? Even when we take the brush of self-determination he's given us and deface this work of God, smearing the paint of pride in garrish colors across the canvas of our lives, the Master still sees the good in us, and our potential for reaching our purpose: finding our home in his heart again. I think the Father sees with "Jesus-colored glasses." I think from the beginning He knew that Jesus would be that bridge for us, that "human face of God" so that we could remember the "Divine face of man." St. Paul says this was always the plan, that in the fullness of time, all things be summed up in Christ, brought to completion, recapitulated! The Father always knew that our Ring of Power and self-absorbtion would be broken, undone, and remade into a Cross with beams that could reach out to all the world (thanks Peter Kreeft for that analogy!)Jesus loves me. Not like my aunt or my grandpa, or Sr. Nativitas from grade school (that brief year or two in Catholic school, and I still remember her name!) Jesus loves me with a wild fire in his eyes, with a burning torch atop his sacred heart. His love is a blazing inferno! What a tragedy that he is pictured as an anemic, pasty "nice man" in so many insipid cartoons and films today. Scripture and human experience have painted him quite differently - a Lion, an Earthquake, a Hound of Heaven, a Thief, a King, Hunter, Husband, a Living Flame of Love. I am nearly 40 years old now, and I am just starting to see the real Jesus. It's a bit scary to be loved this much. It's actually shocking. I sit there in my chair drinking coffee every morning, reading those gospel stories, and sometimes the thought comes like a blast of wind through the old dusty alleyways of my mind; Jesus loves me. And I sometimes get the sense that he is knocking on more doors than just one. That since I let him in back at the age of 15 or so, he's been exploring other rooms, deeper levels of me than I ever knew I had. St. Theresa of Avila spoke of these rooms in our "interior castles." Jesus comes to love us in every one of them, and always as a gentlemen; he knocks first. I think this love then, elicits our response. Will I let him in? And how far? Let's go beyond the foyer, past the pews of our Sunday "obligation"... Right into the tabernacle of His Presence among us! Into that heart of fire!Let's ask ourselves: Where is he knocking today? What door can I open to this God of love?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Smelling the Seasons.... Again

FALL FLASHBACK There's much afoot at the Donaghy homestead these days, and my time for writing is a bit scarce. I hope you'll pardon this rerun from the fall of 2006, when I was just a baby blogger. Peace! ______________

I don't know where you are, reading this right now. But right now, in southeastern Pennsylvania, USA, the leaves are beginning to lose their grip, the wind is breathing cooler, and the earth smells soooo good. We have a cycle of seasons; they rise and fall from spring to winter like the very lives we live. And every season is a chance for us to taste again the sweetness and the sorrow, to pass through ourselves a life in miniature; to hear again that "still sad music of humanity." From the green fire of a youthful spring, to the ripe joys of summer, and into the contemplative colors of fall... we prepare ourselves for the quiet sleep of winter. I love the fall most of all. The very air has such a richness to it; the leaves are burning in a last shout of glory, and their earthy incense is a melancholic fragrance. It draws us into our past. The burnt gold of the evening horizon, the red-rimmed maple trees, the barren branches with their hundred tiny fingers, stretching out into space, stark against a deep night sky. For me, there is something ancient in this season, something somber. And yet pointing towards a promise, even through the cloak of brown leaves and misty mornings.


 Tomorrow, I'll begin again a journey through my favorite book, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. That journey begins in the autumn of Middle-Earth, a season and a place that Tolkien says is our own, just deeper into the pages of history than can be remembered. The time is a sad one; the Elves are moving through the Old Forest. And with them something of the magic of the world, the ancient ways, the high poetry is leaving too. They are moving towards the Grey Havens, singing hymns of Elbereth and Earendil, leaving Middle-Earth forever. As I sit on the shores of this new millennium, just beginning, and look back at the 20th century and so many gone before it, I see much that once was has been forgotten. In our noise and haste, lessons are left unread and unlearned. In my own life, and the cycle of its seasons, how many times have I forgotten the wisdom that came through the Woods. Through the leaves that rustled with Truth, the Beauty that came to me in every Sun rising. But what lies ahead is the journey. For the Elves, and for the Fellowship of the Ring as they begin their heroic walk, the journey is one of hope. A hope "beyond all memory." A hope that what is evil in the world can finally be overcome. A hope that Good can prevail, and the ancient wisdom, the Music that made the world can be played in all it's fullness. Let the journey begin!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Believing in Beauty

Three weekends ago, Rebecca and I took a wee stroll through Swarthmore College's campus. I had done a radio interview there with Gen Life educator Matt Chominski (check out the Podcast!) and he led me to discover its hidden beauty; an arboretum, pleasant walking paths, exotic plants and trees, and some classic architecture. So as Rebecca and I strolled about, our eyes fell on a number of treasures; one being the red fire that's leaping out of this ground fern. It's been said that one of the proofs for God's existence, and there are many, lies in things that are beautiful. Augustine told us centuries ago to question the beauty of the earth, and said hear its answer; "Behold, we are beautiful." Their beauty, he said, was their confession of the Beautiful One Who fashioned them. As Fall falls around us in crisp blankets of air, and wraps us in warmer clothes, and stirs up our hearts in clouds of colored leaves, lets take time to chill. To drink in these treasures. For Beauty abounds for the eyes to see!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

A Francis Flashback

Today's the Feast Day of one of the greatest saints of all time! St. Francis of Assisi! Because the fall gets so busy balancing family time, teaching, talks, and lots o' grading, this will be the first of possibly a few flashback posts (nice for new readers, hopefully fun for faithful readers!). I have to step back a wee bit from writing fresh posts. This is a little poem from last year: You were small once, Wrapped in medieval mists playful, magnetic of mind and heart, even then. Little Francis. You grew through joy and magnanimous heart, casting off riches for rich feasts for friends. And you laughed, at fate, at fear, at the fretting of the too too serious adults. Francis, Then you fell. Your happy world crumbled with the piercing glance of a beggar, poor and broken. Drawn by his magnetic mind and heart, into his deep pool of poverty. Francis, he captured you. And the nothingness of his poverty captivated you. The emptiness of air and water and wind filled your hungry heart. And the purse with holes was full. And the nakedness warmed you. And the derision and the mockery of the spoiled was like the praise and spoils of victory for you, little Francis. Then you again, magnetic of mind and heart, as you always were by nature, were by grace perfected.... And you drew others into deep pools of poverty. And still we are drawn, because of you little Francis. Whose eyes looked into the piercing glance of a Beggar, Poor and Broken, Who cast riches aside, of Divinity and Power, of stars and worlds unseen, and stripped, descended, dwelt among us, a Poor Little God on a bed of straw. Drawn by His magnetic mind and heart, we too feel drawn to see... Riches in His poverty.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

We Are Not Alone

Think of the time and energy and the amount of funding that's been poured into the SETI program every year (that's the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence). Think of the fascination, the Sehnsucht, we've all felt at one point in life or another when watching a film like E.T. or Close Encounters or even Star Wars... Haven't we all cried out to the "universe" at some point in life in the words of that classic James Ingram/Linda Ronstadt song "Somewhere out there, someone's saying a prayer, that we'll find one another.... in that big Somewhere... out there." (I'm really hoping you sang as you read that last line, and I hope it sticks in your head all day. Great song.) There's a deep seated desire in many of us to seek friends in high places, to ascertain whether or not we are alone in this universe. They say there's no desire (outside the twisted kind) that does not have its object somewhere to satiate it. It makes sense for us to look up and wonder about the presence of "higher" life forms. After all, when we look down we see myriads of life forms; a plethora of pulsating polycellular organisms. Millions of species in countless shapes and sizes. So who are we to say that above us in the Great Chain of Being there are not also countless species? To this question and this quest, the Church says there is an answer; Angels. They are real, they are here, but not in the same way we are here. They are our true Big Brothers. Well, not brothers (or sisters) ultimately; they are not embodied as we humans. They are as high above the biological realm, male and female, as we are above single-celled organisms; higher actually. Haven't you sensed them in your life? Perhaps in more innocent moments, when you were "fresh from the waters of Baptism" or alone in a wood or by the sea. They love to come to us when our guard is down, when we've slipped off the cynicism of the world and are more open, more vulnerable, more.... receptive. But here is where we need wisdom and a truly informed mind. For just as Angels are spiritual persons (having free will, like we human persons) so they too can manipulate and dominate to an evil end. They are free to serve or to enslave others, just like us. Today we celebrate the Guardian Angels, the Loyal Ones, whose choice was to love and serve God. It is to these holy spirits that we should entrust ourselves more and more, just as they have been entrusted by God to us. “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.” (Matthew 18) In these days of so many popular, faceless "spiritualities" we need more than ever the protection of God's Angels. And our thoughts should often turn to them. The Guardian Angel prayer should be whispered every day. And this prayed faithfully so that in the end, when the moment of eternity dawns, we might find ourselves safe and carried to Heaven in their care. I'll close with the final letter of C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters. It shows the veil pulled back, as a "senior devil" reveals his consternation and despair as another human soul slips through his fingers, thanks to the Guardian Angels: Screwtape to his nephew devil, Wormwood: "As he saw you, he also saw Them. I know how it was. You reeled back dizzy and blinded, more hurt by them than he had ever been by bombs. The degradation of it!—that this thing of earth and slime (that's us!) could stand upright and converse with spirits before whom you, a spirit, could only cower. Perhaps you had hoped that the awe and strangeness of it would dash his joy. But that is the cursed thing; the gods are strange to mortal eyes, and yet they are not strange. He had no faintest conception till that very hour of how they would look, and even doubted their existence. But when he saw them he knew that he had always known them and realised what part each one of them had played at many an hour in his life when he had supposed himself alone, so that now he could say to them, one by one, not "Who are you?" but "So it was you all the time."

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Less is More and More is Less

Jesus needs neither books nor Doctors of Divinity in order to instruct souls; He, the Doctor of Doctors, He teaches without noise of words. - St. Therese of Lisieux It's been said that the less you talk, the more people will listen to you. The simpler your life becomes, the richer your life will be. The one who humbles himself will be exalted, and the one who loses his life will save it. These are the paradoxes that are woven throughout Christianity like golden threads. Paradoxes, mind you, not contradictions. In matters of science, no two objects can occupy the same place at the same time. In matters of logic, the principle of non-contradiction says a thing cannot both be and not be at the same time. But in matters of faith, well.... that's another matter altogether. Here nature meets the supernatural. In matters of faith, God can become Man, Big can become Little, a Virgin can become a Mother, and a little French girl who died at the young age of 24 and never traveled to the missions can become the Patroness of the Missions. This "simple" girl became a Doctor of the Church, whose writings bring us great peace, even as she spoke above of the noise of too many words. The bottom line is, her less became more because she gave it to Jesus. Something magical happens in his hands when we turn over our five loaves and two fish. When we hand over our talents, our little treasures, our weaknesses, even our sins. Especially our sins. He takes and makes less MORE. He breaks and remakes everything! He purifies and multiplies and he is the only one who can truly turn our stones into bread (whereas the Devil can only turn our bread into stones). God is the magnifier of our souls. So let us turn our gaze to this simple young woman today; Therese, our big-hearted little sister. Let's read carefully the prescription this Doctor of the Church has given us, and ask her for that antidote to the poison of selfish power in the world today - her Little Way, that has made her such a Big Saint. Everything is a grace, everything is the direct effect of our Father's love - difficulties, contradictions, humiliations, all the soul's miseries, her burdens, her needs - everything, because through them, she learns humility, realizes her weakness. Everything is a grace because everything is God's gift. Whatever be the character of life or its unexpected events - to the heart that loves, all is well. Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you - for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart... The guest of our soul knows our misery; He comes to find an empty tent within us - that is all He asks. - St. Therese of Lisieux