11. November – Kisatchie National Forest / Old Camp Livingston Army Base - Pollock, Louisiana
People without hope not only don’t write novels, but what is more to the point, they don’t read them. They don’t take long looks at anything, because they lack the courage. The way to despair is to refuse to have any kind of experience, and the novel, of course, is a way to have experience. ~Flannery O’Connor from The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor
This City of the Dead
More B&W images from New Orleans
This City of the Dead
More B&W images from New Orleans
This City of the Dead
Color images from New Orleans
This City of the Dead
More B&W images from New Orleans
Hard to believe it is already August.
Abandoned School / Cane River Country Louisiana
It does not take much to make us realize what fools we are but the little it takes is long in coming. A Prayer Journal ~Flannery O’Connor
Below are a couple of Prayer Boxes I have been working on. The first is Our Lady Of Perpetual Help and the Second Our Lady of Guadalupe. Both are almost done. I have purchased a lot of Milagros that I will be adding once the order arrives. Feedback welcome.
Medjugorje message given to Mirjana of June 2, 2017
“As in the other places where I have come to you, also here I am calling you to prayer. Pray for those who do not know my Son, for those who have not come to know the love of God, against sin, for the consecrated – for those whom my Son called to have love and the spirit of strength for you, for the Church.
Pray to my Son, and the love which you experience from His nearness will give you the strength to make you ready for the works of love which you will do in His name. My children, be ready. This time is a turning point. That is why I am calling you anew to faith and hope. I am showing you the way by which you need to go, and those are the words of the Gospel. Apostles of my love, the world is in such need of your arms raised towards Heaven, towards my Son, towards the Heavenly Father. Much humility and purity of heart are needed. Have trust in my Son and know that you can always be better.
My motherly heart desires for you, apostles of my love, to be little lights of the world, to illuminate there where darkness wants to begin to reign, to show the true way by your prayer and love, to save souls. I am with you. Thank you."
You Must Be Better
It's hard to believe it is May already. Time seems to fly by. I haven't posted much of late. I have the guilts about that and I hope to be more active in the future. I've been super busy at work, working out, etc, etc… Life. A good life, I should say. I fell most blessed and seek to return those God given blessings to God ten fold.
I think the statement on this month's calendar page written by Flannery, "I think there is no suffering greater than is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe", is true. There is also great suffering by those who don't have and are not seeking that belief. They are suffering too and may not even know why. So sad.
Have a great week..
7 Last Words of Christ
Today begins the Holy Triduum… Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Of the seven last words of Christ, the two that speak to me most are, "I Thirst" and "Behold Your Mother".
"I thirst." Jesus wasn't asking for something to drink by any means. Jesus was thirsting for our souls. He was asking for me. Longing for me. Wanting me to choose Him over sin. He was calling me home to His Kingdom.
"Woman behold your Son…Son behold your Mother." Jesus wasn't asking John to take care of the physical needs of His Mother, nor was He asking His Mother to look after John. One can be sure He already made arrangements for His Mother's well-being and John's mission was at hand. On the Cross, Jesus was giving His Mother to all God's children. Jesus gave his Mother, The Most Blessed Mother, Our Heavenly Mother, to me. Mary intervenes for me. She prays for me. She guides me on the path to the Kingdom of God.
Have a most fruitful Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and enjoy the Joy of the Easter Season. God Bless.
I have been thinking of my Mom a lot lately. This is her First Communion photo. The Prayer book and Rosary she holds I have in my prayer corner. I owe my faith to Mom and Dad. They raised me Catholic. They made sure I was at Mass every Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation. I have fond memories of going to the Holy Week services durning our Easter vacation, which for us was the week before Easter. I loved every second of it. To walk the passion of Christ durning Holy Week is an incredible gift and one I thank Mom & Dad for every day.
I know I didn't truly appreciate this gift when they were still living. As a kid I was the only Catholic kid in my class and worked to hide it as Catholics were teased by the Baptist kids that dominated the class. I didn't know how to respond to the teasing so I just kept quiet. At school, back in the day, once a year someone would pass out tiny Gideon Bibles, in the parking lot after school. One year, I was so proud of the gift I had received that I brought it to Mass the following Sunday with the intent of following the Readings in the tiny bible. The lengthly Readings of the day were not in the Bible and I questioned my Father why after church. He explained the obvious, that the Bible was too small and also that it was a Protestant Bible.
That opened the door for me to ask the question… why are we Catholic? His answer has stuck with me always. "Your Mom and I raised you Catholic because the Catholic Church was created by Jesus Himself. All other religions are a watered down version of the Catholic faith. Other dominations kept parts they liked and discarded the rest. The Catholic Faith is the True Church created by Jesus." I was most proud of that answer. For the first time ever, I realized how special the Catholic Church was. I no longer wanted to switch to the Baptist Church even though the First Baptist Church where most of my classmates attended, had a skating rink. At that point I had never been to a Protestant Church so I didn't realize the stark difference which was much greater than a skating rink.
Even without Dad's pep talk that day, I know that if I would have gone to a service in another domination that I would have gone running back home… God's House, the Catholic Church. Nothing can compare to the beauty and silence of the Church. Father Chad said one Sunday that all Catholic Churches have shadows. Shadows where you can be alone with God. Other Churches just don't have that space where you can drop to your Knees in prayer and truly converse with God. Shadows are but one of the many beauties of the Catholic Faith that draw me home day after day. I so look forward to the beauty of Holy Week that begins with Palm Sunday in just three days.
Thanks Mom and Dad.
The readings today referenced idols…
“Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made,
whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet,
flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe,
and all the other musical instruments;
otherwise, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace;
And who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?””
What is an idol? Webster says it’s a false god.
What about worship? Webster says: devotion (earnest attachment) to an object of esteem (worth or value).
So, who or what is your idol? And don’t say you don’t have one till you think about it for a moment. What occupies most of your time in a given day. Today, for most people, I think it is the same. When I am in public, I look around and see this idol everywhere. It is small enough to fit in one’s hands. It isn’t that expensive but considering all it does, it is of great value. When people hear its sound they instantly stop, dare I say to “worship” it. I am, of course, referencing the smartphone.
Yes, the smart phone and other electronic devices like tablets or laptops can offer good but for the most part I believe they are simple idols. In the evenings I use my tablet in prayer and that’s a good thing, but that same device can and does distract me from God and God’s children.
It is a very scary trend. People panic when their battery life begins to drop. They spend hours gossiping or reading gossip on Facebook all the while having no social contact with their own family. An alarmingly high percentage of people text family members in their own home. I recently read where recreational drug use was in decline as people were too occupied with their smartphones. Getting high, if you will, from social media and texting. They panic if they don’t have their “fix” every few minutes. It is the new drug. I’ve seen it and it isn't pretty. Call it an addiction if you will but I think it is idol worship.
I get very defensive when people say Catholics worship idols. They believe that somehow the statues, stained glass windows and other images of the Saints, Jesus, His Mother or God himself are idols. They believe we worship them and not God himself. What I hear most often is that: “Catholics worship Mary”. Sadly, instead of seeking the truth, they simply believe the lies of others that will only hurt themselves in the end.
The truth from a devoted Catholic is this…
Images of God, Jesus, Mary and the Saints bring us closer to God and stronger in our faith. When you walk into my house you know I am Catholic. You see that I love my God, His Mother and the Saints because you will see their images everywhere. Have you ever walked into someone’s house and seen Mickey Mouse or the pop star of the day on everywhere or LSU’s purple and gold dripping from the walls? I have, and I wonder if they even have a love for God at all or do they worship pop culture or some sports team more their creator.
And as far as… “Catholics worship Mary” goes, this is my take. God chose Mary to bring Jesus to us. We too can choose Mary to bring ourselves to Jesus. She is our Heavenly Mother that will walk with us on the journey to know and love her Son better. Take some time to get to know her and your life will forever change for the better. Trust me. She is waiting for you to bring you to Her Son.
So instead of reaching for that smartphone consider reaching for God. The smartphone is not your salvation, God is. And if you don't think enough about Him in your day, consider putting His image within view to remind you of Him.
Read Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95 to hear the rest of the story…
April 2017 Calendar Page
The Priest at morning Mass last week related a story that happened in the Jr High CCD class the night before. One student had brought a friend alone who had doubts about God. The teacher ask the students how they could help this boy learn to know God. One student replied, “Let me tell you what God has done for me.” Ever since I left Mass I have been pondering that very question.
What has God done for me? I have family, friends, a roof over my head, a good job, health, food to eat, clothes to wear, transportation and a cat to keep me company. But, lots of people that don’t have God in their lives have those things too. So, I dug deeper. Am I blessed? To answer yes, would mean others are not blessed. Yes, God gifted me with many talents to witch I am most thankful but it was my parents that worked hard so I could get an education and with that education and lots of hard work on my behalf that I am where I am today. The saying… "The talents you have are a gift from God and what you do with those talents is your gift back to God"… I believe to be true. That said, hasn’t God “Blessed” us all equally in some way. Personal choice and Life circumstances come into play of course. I experienced that yesterday. Bad storms pushed through the state. Lives were lost and property was destroyed. One house or business was hit, the next not. Why? Were some blessed and others not? Was it an act of God or simply luck? I don’t have an answer. Only God knows, but I think what it comes down to is this… If everything was taken from you, like Job in the Bible… your home, job, car, your money, your health, friends and family… what would you have left? If you answered God then you know the answer to the question, “What has God done for me.”
When I was a kid, I always had a deep faith that my Dad would protect me from all harm. On occasions when that was put to the test and it seemed there was no way Dad could be the hero, he always found a way to keep me safe. Dad is gone now but I still have faith.
Faith, is my answer. Regardless of the situation, I have a deep heartfelt faith that God is there and He will always be there for me. The winds were blowing, the hail falling and the waters rising but I knew that God was there. Was I scared? Yes, of course. I took measures to protect myself and was reaching out to others to make sure they were safe as well. But inspirt of that fear, I was also able to drop to my knees and pray for I knew God was there. That is what God has done for me.
God has given me Faith. Other things too, of course. I thank God and my parents rising me Catholic. I believe God has saved me from two potentially life altering health issues. I believe my artistic talent is a God given gift and I thank God that I can use that talent to benefit others. God has protected me from many tornados, like the one yesterday, hurricanes, car accidents and so forth. The list is endless… but my Faith is the greatest gift of all.
For when all seems to be lost, I know it isn’t. Because I believe, God that will always be there.
Welcome March with a bit of Flannery O'Connor…
Tis the season...
Friday I went to Lafayette for the purpose to going to Crossroads to obtain a book to read durning the upcoming Lenten season. Yes, it is Mardi Gras season. An extra long Mardi Gras season, I might add, but I was still hopeful that since it was a week and a half before the actual Mardi Gras day, my journey would be unaffected. I was wrong. I immediately regretted my decision for the trip when I got to Johnston Street. The metal barricades erected to protect parade watchers were in place and took up two lanes of the four lane street. Tree cutters were busy at work cutting low hanging branches that could hit the tallest of the floats. At one point I was detoured by the Cajun Dome into a mass of school busses, kids and parents that had converged on the dome for some such event, that I never determined, and traffic came to a stop. My patients did kicked in and I resolved to just deal with the mess and eventually I reached my destination.
I spent an hour or so at Crossroads. I didn’t buy the book I was going for. Nothing jumped off the shelf and said this is the book you are to read. Later in the day at Barns & Noble, the book found me. In Crossroads, another shopper reached in front of me for a copy of the book, “Our Lady of Kibeho” by Immaculee Ilibagiza of Rwanda. She seemed most excited to find it and after she left I took a copy of it off the shelf to read the cover. My goal of last Lent was to get to know Mary better. This Lent I chose Jesus so after browsing the book, I returned it to the shelf. At Barns & Noble my eyes fell on another book that had been next to Our Lady of Kibeho at Crossroads. I had totally ignored it before but this time It caught my eye. The book cover sounded wonderful but I decided to keep looking but when I went to put it back on the self only I could not see where I had taken it from. At that point I felt the decision had been made. This book was the one God had chosen for me. The Boy Who Met Jesus: Segatashya of Kebeho was my purchase. It is also written by Immaculee Ilibagiza. I was most excited about my purchase and couldn’t wait to get home to start reading. Yes, I know Lent hasn’t started yet but I couldn’t wait. I began reading in small doses giving me time to reflect and meditate on Immaculee’s words. She is a truly gifted writer, clearly chosen by God to write about the apparitions of Jesus and Mary in the 1980s and the horrors of the genocide in the 1990s that occurred in Rewanda. I am pretty sure, this isn’t the first book of her’s I will read.
I would be happy if Mardi Gras just went away. I have been to a few parades. I guess this is a given if you live in Louisiana but standing on a street corner, among a bunch of drunks, begging for plastic beads is just not my thing. I also know our modern day Mardi Gras isn’t what the Church meant when the used the term many years ago. The Tuesday before Ash Wednesday named “Fat Tuesday” or Mardi Gras was intended as a day to clean out the cupboards before Lent. Lent is the 40 days before Holy Week, a gift given by the Church, a time of prayer, fasting, self-denial and almsgiving.
I tire of people asking, “What are you giving up for Lent?”. Every Ash Wednesday the Gospel is the same. Mathew 6, 1-6, 16-18. Jesus clearly states that any Lenten sacrifices should be between yourself and God so my answer is just that. However, as in years past, the goal of my 40 day journey is to bring me closer to God not just for 40 days but for life. Segatashya is my starting point this year.
Signs of spring are popping out all over the place. Easter will be here before we know it. Mardi Gras will be gone soon enough but as for me, I’ll taking the detour straight to Lent.
Today is the feast day of Saint Blaise. I find it a bit ironic that my father died of Esophageal Cancer one day before this day in 2003. According to Wikipedia… "Saint Blase was the bishop of Sebaste in Armenia during the fourth century. Very little is known about his life. According to various accounts he was a physician before becoming a bishop. His cult spread throughout the entire Church in the Middle Ages because he was reputed to have miraculously cured a little boy who nearly died because of a fishbone in his throat. From the eighth century he has been invoked on behalf of the sick, especially those afflicted with illnesses of the throat.”
For as long as I can remember, I have stood in line following the Mass to have my throat blessed. Two blessed white candles in the form of a cross are placed around my neck and the blessing given… "Through the intercession of Saint Blase, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
My Father too had this blessing year after year. Yes, Dad is gone now but I believe he was blessed with a long life and good health until the end. He grew up in the house on my January 2017 calendar page. Flannery O'Connor words say …"Where we think we are going to never was there"…. and the Bible says… “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” I like to think Mom and Dad are some place of such grace and beauty that we can't even imagine. I pray they are both in God's arms on this day.
Have a most blessed weekend.
P.S. I just read where Pope Francis accepted Bishop Ronald Herzog's retirement request yesterday. It is a sad farewell and I send many prayers for the great Bishop. Bishop David Talley has been welcomed with open arms to the Diocese. He has a warm and loving personality and speaks the same. My heart leaps with joy when he says Mass. God Bless them both.
Message, 25. January 2017
“Dear children! Today I am calling you to pray for peace: peace in human hearts, peace in the families and peace in the world. Satan is strong and wants to turn all of you against God, and to return you to everything that is human, and to destroy in the heart all feelings towards God and the things of God. You, little children, pray and fight against materialism, modernism and egoism, which the world offers to you. Little children, you decide for holiness and I, with my Son Jesus, intercede for you. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
I knew in my heart that Our Lady would be devastated with the events of this past weekend but as I read and re-read her message of yesterday, I know that She is speaking to all of us, especially me. It is easy to point fingers and think that Mary is only speaking to others but I am as guilty as the rest of…
ma·te·ri·al·ism - a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values.
mod·ern·ism - a tendency in theology to accommodate traditional religious teaching to contemporary thought and especially to devalue supernatural elements.
ego·ism - the theory that one’s self is, or should be, the motivation and the goal of one’s own action. The belief that moral behavior should be directed toward one's self-interest only.
The truth hurts sometimes but as always Our Lady has the answer…"you decide for holiness and I, with my Son Jesus, intercede for you."
This message I will meditate and pray over for the weeks to come. I hope you will give it some thought as well.
Growing up I looked at some things in life as not obtainable… an expensive toy say or to live in a house on Georges Lane (a street where the rich of Alexandria lived). Looking back, it was other things as well. I wanted to go to Catholic school but I knew it wasn't an option so I never allowed myself to even dream about it. It is only now that I look back and realize that I did have a longing to go to Menard High School. Growing up, I think, I was better at putting materialism, modernism and egoism at bay. This is, of course, because of my parents. They made sure God, family and others was first. Yes, we weren't the richest family in town and some might say their actions were so us girls wouldn't look at what they weren't able to provide, a distraction say, but that wasn't it. They were simply living their Catholic faith and teaching us by their examples. By Mom and Dad putting our families Faith first and materialism second, I became who I am today. That was the greatest gift my parents every gave me… raising me Catholic.
But as Mary states, It is time, for me to re-examine my own values and not just talk and pray about the actions of others. Thank you Mary for the wake up call.
P.S. … Another wake up call… "You must take ownership of what you learned as a child". Words of Dana, Irish singer. I am listening to an interview she gave in 2012. Not a coincidence that I just heard that for sure. O boy… wow!
Prayer for the Unborn
In 1973 a holocaust began in this country that still continues, 44 years later. Millions of lives have been lost in the name of “women’s rights” and “reproductive health”. Nice words, meant to justify their actions, but in reality they only hide the murderous truth of the death of the most helpless among us, the unborn. This past weekend we saw thousands march on Washington for the right to murder their own child. The words I heard felt like daggers stabbing my heart. I know you Lord, struggle to carry the weight to the cross of hate that rest on your shoulders. Mother Mary, I know your sad tears fall like rain when you hear such evil flowing from the mouths’ of your dear children. I know the both of you morn the loss of every child savagely ripped from the womb. A life that was a gift freely given by you God. The greatest gift you give to all … life.
Dear Lord, I pray that the wall of prayer that surrounded the White House on Friday be strong enough to put an end to this evil holocaust. I pray that Roe V Wade ends with this administration. I pray that the doors of Planned Parenthood will be forever closed. I pray that the eyes of ever woman will be open and that the hate in their hearts be washed clean by a river of truth. I pray… I pray…
59,741,794 and counting, Lives lost since 1973
May your life be a gift for others.
May prayer be life to you..
I am calling you to be a chalice of the true and pure love of my Son.
Hour of Prayer
My prayer buddy…
I woke to this news: France church attack: Priest killed by two 'ISIS soldiers'….The attackers entered the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray during Mass, taking the priest, Fr Jacques Hamel, 84, and four other people hostage….Police sources said it appeared the attackers had slit the priest's throat with a knife…..Pope Francis decried the "pain and horror of this absurd violence".
My heart is saddened. Let us pray…
Eternal rest grant unto him,
O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
I made this photograph in a Catholic Church in Marksville, LA. The mid day sun is shining through the beautiful stained glass windows onto the baptismal font. Most beautiful.
The two statues are from my altar in my home. At Mass this weekend Father ask if we had a time and a place for pray. My answer was yes. For the first time ever, I have a set place and time to pray and feel it is one of the best things I have ever done. Mary's message this month also echoes that. God is first in my life and prayer is a joy.
Our Lady of Medjugorje's July 25, 2016 Monthly Message:
“Dear children! I am looking at you and I see you lost; and you do not have prayer or joy in your heart. Return to prayer, little children, and put God in the first place and not man. Do not lose the hope which I am carrying to you. May this time, little children, every day, be a greater seeking of God in the silence of your heart; and pray, pray, pray until prayer becomes joy for you. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
I was passing through Marksville a couple weeks ago and stopped at the local Catholic church for a moment. I was in Avoyelles parish photographing for our next ADs Avoyelles directory. There are few spaces that can compare to the peace, quiet and solitude of a Catholic church. It is a space where you can drop to your knees and speak to Jesus. It is a space where the outside world is silenced and ones heart can open to hear God's voice. Avoyelles parish is Catholic country and I passed several Catholic churches in my journey but, this being my favorite, called my name and I had to stop. I knew the doors would be unlocked. After a brief moment of prayer, I made a few photos. I remembered standing in this very spot with my Mom and later her sister. Memories I hope will always remain.