Monday, January 29, 2018

Retirement watch

I've been thinking about retiring - not immediately, but I'm in that window when I'm gathering information and making sure all the finances are in order.

I was reminded recently of a retirement party I went to once.

It was a pleasant evening, and, as they often do at such celebrations, they presented the retiree with the gift of a watch.

I smiled and applauded with the rest of the gathered friends and former coworkers.

Then I began to wonder: Why is it traditional to give a retiree a watch?

After all, the person being honored is leaving the world of work, and so will be less subject to the demands of time. The person doesn’t necessarily have to be any set place at a specific time each day. He can set his own schedule. He doesn’t have to worry about being late.

Moreover, since the retiree was being honored for years of work, we can assume that he did not get repeatedly fired for being late. He must already have some device for telling time. He probably already had a watch. Maybe a couple.

Being prone to sometimes twisted humor, I wondered if the purpose in giving a watch is to suggest that it’s now time for the retiree to realize that his minutes on Earth are running out. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Or maybe they just hope to give the retiree something to do since he has no more work, like check his watch every five minutes. Yep. Five minutes has gone by. Let’s see what time it is five minutes from now.

I began to consider what would be more appropriate retirement gifts.

If his co-workers wanted to be funny, they could have given him a month’s supply of prune juice. A nice, warm bathrobe and fuzzy slippers. Or perhaps a down payment on a casket.

Or they could have thought about what the person hoped to do with his retirement time. A fishing pole might be just the thing. Or a collection of the retiree’s favorite author’s works. Maybe a nice selection of crossword puzzles.

They could have been sentimental. How about a framed picture of all the retiree’s former workers? That way he can still see them every day.

Or they could have been creative. For example, give him a kite. Imagine the retiree heading out to the park in the middle of warm, sunny day, and working that kite higher and higher into the blue sky with birds singing and circling, while the rest of the world is stuck at desks or behind computer screens or loading semis.


When I retire, I hope they give me a kite.

Or that prune juice.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, January 27, 2018

A bad haiku ...

truck's bumper sticker
"Watch for Motorcycles"
above large dent

Pax et bonum

Friday, January 26, 2018

Jesus Crucified (at Planned Parenthood)

Jesus crucified -
the nails are driven daily
at Planned Parenthood

Pax et bonum

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Seek out ways of unity and fraternal harmony

19. Mindful that they are bearers of peace which must be built up unceasingly, they should seek out ways of unity and fraternal harmony through dialogue, trusting in the presence of the divine seed in everyone and in the transforming power of love and pardon. Messengers of perfect joy in every circumstance, they should strive to bring joy and hope to others. Since they are immersed in the resurrection of Christ, which gives true meaning to Sister Death, let them serenely tend toward the ultimate encounter with the Father. - Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order

This is one part of the Rule where I often fall short. My dialogues sometimes become contentious, and often fail to lead to "unity and fraternal harmony."  That was made clear to me recently by someone who unfriended me because of some responses I gave that he said were critical, argumentative, and, in one case, arrogant.

He was right.

Father Francis, pray for me.

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Give me food that fights back

I'm not a gourmet. I don't have an educated palate. My taste is not refined. When I hear people talk of "haute cuisine" I instinctively think "haughty." I don't care about presentation. I don't mind if the wine is not vintage. I don't eat on fine china. (Heck, I've been known to eat directly out of the pan!) I don't need finely brewed cappuccino or premium blends: Instant coffee will do.

I just like food. My waist is a dead giveaway of that fact.

I like good, solid, reasonably well-prepared food and drinks.

I like pasta, green salads, steamed vegetables, raw apples, bread, raisins, cheese, eggs, seafood, figs, potatoes in general, chili peppers, beans, oatmeal, pickled vegetables, rice, popcorn, etc.

But it has to be food with some taste and bark.

You see, I like food that fights back. I put chili powder on popcorn. I add hot peppers, onions, and garlic to macaroni and cheese. I put horseradish on cheese or veggie burger sandwiches. I dash hot sauce on potatoes (baked, french fries, home fries, etc.). I lace my rice with curry. I sprinkle Cajun mix on my eggs.

You may have noticed the lack of meat in what I've written so far. I am a vegetarian - though not a perfect one. I don't eat mammals or birds, but, in a nod to inconsistency, I do eat eggs and seafood. And if hard pressed, say on a desert island, I would eat animal flesh. My diet choice is based on ethical concerns and health, not on a deep-seated belief that it's wrong to eat a cow or a chicken. However, if the day should come when I have to eat meat, I would, in accord with Franciscan (and Native American) spirituality, thank Brother Pig or Sister Turkey for his or her gift.

As for what I do eat now, if the food lacks something ... Give me spices. Shake, sprinkle, dash, pour them on. Get my eyes watering. Set my tongue on fire.

I'll cool and cleanse my palate with water.

Tap water.

Or maybe leftover instant coffee.

Pax et bonum

Dominican Band "The Hillbilly Thomists" #1 Selling Folk Album on Amazon | ChurchPOP

Dominican Band "The Hillbilly Thomists" Now #1 Selling Folk Album on Amazon | ChurchPOP: This is an amazing accomplishment!

This is from December, but it is a good album and I hope it is still selling.

I like the authentic sound - reminds me of old-time groups that were real, not "polished."

Pax et bonum

Sunday, January 21, 2018

March for Life observations

I finally made it to a March for Life in Washington.

It was great being there, being part of such a huge crowd defending life, and seeing so many young,  and enthusiastic people.

The energy was positive. There were no angry voices among the marchers denouncing others, no vulgarity, and for the most part no violent signs or chants. (There were some aborted baby pictures along the route, but not in the march. And there was one group that yelled some anti-Trump things, but they were a small group and I'm not sure if they were part of the march, or were just waiting for us in front of the Supreme Court building.

The diversity of the crowd was wonderful. People of all races. Priests in clericals, sisters in habits, Franciscans in robes. Older folks. Kids in strollers. Babies. I even got to say hello to some fellow Solidarity Party members.

The only negatives where physical on my part. My shoes were new, and were probably a mistake - my feet are still sore. So are my legs; they really started hurting toward the end and I was afraid I might have a problem like I did a few months back while walking the dog where I wasn't certain I could make it home. (We had done a bit of walking before the March itself - down past the Washington Monument to the WWII Memorial and back to the March starting point.) I also had a really hard time on the bus. I could not get comfortable, or get much sleep. With the irregular eating, I also developed some mild stomach issues.

I offered the discomfort up.

I need better walking shoes, and I need to get in better shape. I'm also getting older - though at 62 I shouldn't be having such problems (again, I need to get in better shape!).

Will I go next year? I don't know. Let's see what shape I'm in

Overall, it was an incredible experience, and I'm glad I did it.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, January 20, 2018

2018 March for Life Timelapse

Just a few thousand, right?

Pax et bonum

March for Life - Diocese of Rochester

Here are some of the 2918 marchers from 2018. (If you look about five rows above the "c" in "Diocese" and spot a fellow who looks a little like Santa, yep, that's me.)

Pax et bonum

Monday, January 15, 2018

Dorothy Day on the Death of Martin Luther King, Jr.

On Pilgrimage - April 1968

By Dorothy Day
The Catholic Worker, April 1968, 1, 6.
Summary: Describes her reactions to hearing that Martin Luther King was shot and killed. Memorializes his Gospel faith and teaching of non-violence. (DDLW #252).

Just three weeks ago (we are going to press on April 25) Martin Luther King was shot as he stood on the balcony of a motel in Memphis, Tennessee. It was seven o’clock in the evening when the news was imparted on every television screen, and proclaimed on every radio. It was six midwest time and seven o’clock in New York. I was sitting in the kitchen of one of the women’s apartments on Kenmare Street looking at a news cast when the flash came. Martin Luther King shot in Memphis. I sat there stunned, wondering if he was suffering a superficial wound as Meredith did on his Mississippi walk to overcome fear, that famous march at which Dr. King joined him, at which the cry “Black Power” was first shouted, about which Martin Luther King wrote in his last book Where Do We Go From Here? A book which all of us should read because it makes us understand what the words Black Power really mean. Dr. King was a man of the deepest and most profound spiritual insights.

These were the thoughts which flashed through my mind as I waited, scarcely knowing that I was waiting, for further news. The dreaded words were spoken almost at once. “Martin Luther King is dead.” He was shot through the throat, the bullet pierced his spinal cord and he died at once. His blood poured out, shed for whites and blacks alike. The next day was Good Friday, the day commemorated by the entire Christian world as the day when Jesus Christ, true God and true man, shed His hood.

“Unless the grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it remains alone. But if it die it produces much fruit.” Martin Luther King died daily, as St. Paul said. He faced death daily, and said a number of times that he knew he would be killed for the faith that was in him. The faith that men could live together as brothers. The faith in the Gospel teaching of non-violence. The faith that man is capable of change, of growth, of growing in love. Dr. King died daily and already in his life there were men, his immense following capable of continuing his work in the same spirit, such as Ralph Abernathy.
Cynics may say that many used non-violence as a tactic. Many may scoff at the outcry raised at his death, saying that this is an election year and all candidates had to show honor to a fallen black hero. But love and grief were surely in the air those days of mourning and all that was best in the country–in the labor movement, and the civil rights movement and in the peace movement cast aside all their worldly cares and occupations to go to Memphis to march with the sanitation union men, on whose behalf, during whose strike, Martin Luther King had given himself; and to Atlanta where half a million people gathered from coast to coast to walk in the funeral procession, following the farm cart and the two mules which drew the coffin of the dead leader.

Always, I think, I will weep when I hear the song, “We Shall Overcome,” and when I read the words, “Free at last, great God, free at last.”

But the healing of grief is in those words that I had been hearing sung every Sunday at the Church of the St. Thomas the Apostle, in the Mass composed by Mary Lou Williams, herself a black composer and jazz musician, herself internationally famous. “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me shall never die but have life everlasting.” ...

Pax et bonum

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Snow storm

Friday night snow storm -
teachers and students lament
the bad timing

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Franciscan quotation - St. Angela of Foligno

No one can be saved without divine light. Divine light causes us to begin and to make progress, and it leads us to the summit of perfection. Therefore if you want to begin and to receive this divine light, pray. If you have begun to make progress and want this light to be intensified within you, pray. And if you have reached the summit of perfection, and want to be superillumined so as to remain in that state, pray.

- St. Angela of Foligno

Pax et bonum

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Bishop Barron on Great Spiritual Classics

Two of the books that most affected my spiritual life - The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton, and The Confessions of St. Augustine - made the list, as did Chesterton's Orthodoxy.

I've read those three. I have read Newman, but to be honest I don't remember if I his essay on the development of Christian doctrine. I may have read parts of it.

Got to dig that essay out, and reread the other three.

Pax et bonum

Cutting back cable television

We have a standard cable television package - bundled with phone (I don't have a cell phone) and internet.- that provides us with hundreds of channels, most of which we don't watch, and some of which tempt us to waste time. A number of the channels offer questionable content.

The bill for the bundle is about to go up to over $200, with the television package costing more than $60. We can cut back to a basic television package - local channels and a few cable ones. We'd lose EWTN, FOX, and the movie channels we watch, plus some of the sports channels. But we'd save $40 a month. And we'd have more time for doing other things. And do I really need to watch Syracuse lose basketball games?

So I plan to call our service provider this week to cut back service.

More time to pray, read, and practice guitar!

Pax et bonum

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Planned Parenthood Report: Prenatal Care Down 75%, Contraception Down 30%, Abortions Stay the Same

Planned Parenthood Report: Prenatal Care Down 75%, Contraception Down 30%, Abortions Stay the Same: In the opening “Message from Our Leadership,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards and Board chair Naomi Aberly tell supporters “despite the histo ...

Pax et bonum