Miracles of Our Time

In this life we cannot do great things.  We can only do small things with great love.  ~Mother Teresa

Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.  ~Mother Teresa

Fall-on-our-ridge-2013-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Autumn on the ridge. 2013

Recently, I caught the movie A Walk To Remember (2002) on television.  The book by the same name was written by Nicholas Sparks.  Although I’ve never read that particular book by Mr. Sparks, I’ve seen the movie on numerous occasions.  I really enjoy the bittersweet love story, and I’d like to give the book a try.  Perhaps one day.

For those of you who read the book and/or watched the movie, ultimately a miracle happened.  The main character, Jamie Sullivan wanted to witness a miracle, and after a few years, she got her wish.  That was one of the items on her bucket list so to speak.

While watching, and knowing how the movie ends, I still found myself sitting on the edge of my seat and getting a warm fuzzy feeling at the actions leading up to the miracle.  It was in that instance, I began thinking of miracles, small and large.  With so much negative and unsettling actions taking place all over the world, some unknown to the masses and continue privately, it’s nice to think that we live in a time of actual miracles.  That goodness does exists.  We see tragedies and the ugliness of human behavior, but there is also the opposite.  The good does exist, it just not as popular or accepted.

Being raised, and is a practicing Catholic, who attended proctorial school for seven years, in my lifetime, as short as it is comparatively to history in general, I’ve seen, witnessed and heard of miracles.  The seeing and witnessing miracles, I’ll get to momentarily, but the hearing of miracles have been documented for ages.  The saints have been blessed with an extra dose of God’s grace, and God has had a very special relationship with these chosen people who do good in His name.  During the canonization process, these miracles are brought to light.  Random Fun Facts:  Becoming a Saint 

I once read Mother Teresa said her calling came to her in the form of a poor person.  She said she looked him in the face and saw Jesus.  Everyone knows Mother Teresa from her accomplished days of helping the poor in Calcutta.  Since Mother Teresa is on the road to sainthood with her beatification by Pope John Paul II, and she is the epitome of spiritual purity, I thought it fitting to incorporate her.

On a side note, originally, when I began writing this blog post a few years ago now (wow how time does pass by quickly!) I was helping Kyle with his geography homework, Europe before World War II.  Every time he mentioned Albania, I thought of Mother Teresa, where her roots began.

Over the years, speaking with people from all walks of life and faith practices, most have never heard of such modern day miracles, I mean even the big ones!  Keep in mind, Columbus was credited with discovering America in 1492.  Miracles happened and continue to happen all over the world.  The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe took place in Mexico in the 1530’s.  Then there’s the very intriguing story of Joseph of Cupertino, the Christian mystic and saint who had the power of levitation.  He was from Italy in the mid to late 1600’s.  I have to add the miracle of the bleeding Eucharist with the consecrated host.  In fact, there are several such instances.

Down-the-ridge-in-snow-2015-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Snowy day on the ridge 2015

Of course, some miracles have been heard of, but perhaps not completely understood.  Thanks to the movie Stigmata, Saint Francis of Assisi, who suffered the marks of Christ’s Passion through the stigmata, was brought to light.

There are so many other miracles that unfortunately, I don’t know them all, or I only remember the overview of the story, and not the pertinent details.  Keep in mind, I’m no expert on saints or miracles, but I’ve heard and accepted the stories as a sign from God and I believe wholeheartedly.  Perhaps miracles happen to reinstate our faith and to give us hope.

Not too long ago, I was told a story from a person who used to be an alcoholic.  For privacy sake, I’ll leave his name out and how I know him.  He told me of his emotional journey toward sobriety, having a similar experience like Mother Teresa.  Now here is this assumed ordinary Catholic man (I’m not saying you have to be Catholic to partake or witness a miracle), who was literally touched by Jesus.  After I heard the story, I didn’t doubt it for one minute!  Actually, I was so excited for him, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, even to this day.  To me, I was blessed enough to have a first hand account of such a miracle and holy intervention.

Really?  Oh yes.  My friend was befriended by a man who worked at this rehab facility.  The two men spent weeks together, sharing stories and working out my friend’s inner demons.  My friend even said the man’s face (worker) was like light.  Years after my friend’s release, he went back to the facility to find the worker who made such an impact in his life.  He wanted to thank him and keep him abreast of his new life in the clean and sober world.  Guess what?  The man never existed.  There was no record of him, anywhere, nor his likeness or his name.  It’s as if the worker didn’t exist, yet my friend spend hours upon hours with him, even in front of people.  To this day, he said he has no urge to drink and that God simply took that away.  Something to think about.

What miracle have I seen and witnessed?  First a good friend of mine survived a brain aneurysm that erupted, with little to now side effects.  She’s a walking modern day miracle.  Any others?  Sure.  Every time I attend mass and watch the priest consecrate the host and the wine into the Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ.  If you think I’m being naive or mislead, refer to the seventh paragraph above and look into it with an open mind.

I hope everyone gets to witness a miracle or at the very least a good deed!  We could all use a little reminder of good in our lives.

On a funny note, my biggest miracle would be to have Kyle drop the attitude.  He’s a good kid, with an edge to him.

This screen shot below is too comical.  I participated in one of those silly games on Facebook, and this was the answer for what is my calling.  Since I know it’s not true, as much as I’d be honored and blessed for it to be true, I wanted to prove we all have it in us, even me, even for a moment in a game.

Screen Shot of a game on FB 2014 Aunt Heather Piper

I took one of those silly trivia games on Facebook, & this was the answer. Since I know it’s not true, as much as I would be honored & blessed, I wanted to prove we all have it in us, even me, even for a moment in a game. 2014

posted by auntheather in Books, Movies, Shows,Church,Education & Learning,Family,News,Observation & Imagination,Reminiscing,Travels and have No Comments

Random Fun Facts: Becoming a Saint

God shows to men, in a vivid way, His presence and His face in the lives of those companions of ours in the human condition who are more perfectly transformed in the image of Christ. He speaks to us in them and offers us a sign of this kingdom to which we are powerfully attracted, so great a cloud of witnesses is there given and such a witness to the truth of the Gospel. It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek rather that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened.  ~  Vatican II  (Lumen Gentium No. 50)

Giotto di Bondone St Francis & St Clare 1279-1300 Aunt Heather Piper

Saint Francis & Saint Clare a Fresco by Giotto di Bondone 1279-1300

With the dual canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II, Pope & Saints it got me thinking, ‘How exactly does one become a saint?’, not that I am in the running for that honor, and certainly not a candidate, but merely an interested party.

With my roots strongly planted in the Catholic faith, (I’m no expert on religion nor am I the poster child for a perfect Catholic specimen)  I know some popular qualifications, but never the entire process.  The canonization of these Popes two Sunday’s ago sparked my curiosity.

Over the years, I’ve had others ask me the very same thing.  Ashamed, I did not know the entire answer, I thought it was about time I did.  Through a little bit of reading and reviewing, this is what I’ve found.  Exactly how true it is, I’m not really sure, but some of my sources are legit and some of it sounds familiar, like it has been taught to me before.

Apparently, the process of canonization was established in 1234 by Pope Gregory IX.  Prior to that time, saints were honored upon their deathbeds, usually due to martyrdom.  Over the years, since some were falsely honored with the prestigious title of saint, but did not quite live up to the standards and were only done so through hearsay and legend, a standard process needed to be established.  Way to to Pope Gregory IX!  I couldn’t agree more.

This process has been followed and refined year after year.  It starts with the candidate for saint who dies with “fame of sanctity” or “fame of martyrdom.”, which is not gender specific.  The Bishop of the Diocese initiates an investigation to find one piece of any special favor or miracle granted through the potential saint’s actions.  Basically, did divine intervention happen for all to witness through the prayers and direct actions of this person.

Yes, the Catholic church does a real uncovering of the life and good works accomplished by said candidate.  There needs to be proof in the pudding so to speak.  This also includes any writings and teachings from this potential saint.  They are looking for “purity of doctrine”, to ensure the faith was upheld and not bastardized or disregarded in any way.  This does not include the entire life of the candidate.  Believe it or not, some saints began their roots in the not-so-pure of heart.  Of course we are all human and sinners alike, even saintly figures, but sometimes a life fell more on the impure side.  However, during the saint’s conversion, the church is looking to see if they upheld the teachings and the faith.  It’s true, some canonized saints’ backgrounds were not holy, yet along their journey they answered God and chose a different path to follow, never to return to their unholy beginnings.

All this information that is required and collected, is appropriately and faithfully recorded and placed in a formal document to be submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.

The Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, formally known as the Congregation of Rites manages and monitors the entire process.  Thanks to Pope Sixtus V, in 1588, he gave this duty to this organization and it has remained in its jurisdiction since.

Angelico Story of St. Nicholas The Death of the Saint Aunt Heather Piper

The Story of St. Nicholas: The Story of the Saint done in tempera & gold on panel by Fra Angelico 1447-48

However, this is all just preliminary work.  The Congregation needs to accept this candidate as worthy to continue the investigation proceedings.  If the hopeful saint is worthy, now the nature of his or her death is fully uncovered.  If that person died a martyr, then it has to be determined the true intentions of his or her death.  Did they die for the love of Christ and the church?  Was there evidence of a life of self sacrifice and complete dedication and servitude toward God?  Did they live an extraordinary life of walking with Christ?  Did they serve the community gallantly and wholeheartedly with high moral standards, leading by example for the sake of God and not ones own personal gain?

Believe it or not, these actions are scrutinized and picked apart to raise doubts and criticisms.  The Congregation takes this potential saint and places them under the microscope, picking apart their every action.  Then, they find the answers to justify the proposed saint’s intentions, answering all skepticism and apprehension to possibly declare this candidate as Venerable.

Moving onto the next step, Beatification.  Mother Teresa is in this stage currently.  “A martyr may be beatified and declared “Blessed” by virtue of martyrdom itself.” or the candidate needs to have performed or be associated with a miracle.  There is two ways of looking at this, either God, Himself performed the miracle or He used the blessed one to intervene on His behalf.  Big difference and that’s what the Congregation tries to uncover.

Once the candidate is Beatified, yet another miracle needs to be proven to complete the final process.  Sometimes this could take years upon years, hence why the process is so long.  I would think it’s easier to prove actions rather than the true intent of the person at the focus of the investigation.  Actions do speak louder than words, yet intentions are the heart and soul of the matter.  Sometimes the miracle could also takes years to reveal itself.

Miracles could take on many different forms.  It could be something as jaw dropping like Saint Alphonsus Liguori who would levitate when preaching at Foggia; or Saint Francis of Assisi who suffered from the stigmata.  Those are extremes, however they don’t have to be.  Sometimes miracles could be modest and almost over looked like with Saint Edith/Teresa Benedicta.  She interceded for a little girl who almost died from a Tylenol overdose some forty years after Saint Edith’s death.  Again this is why a very detailed investigation takes place with each potential saint, and that’s also why there are so many steps and protocol to follow in this process.

Another question that popped into my head, ‘Can a non-Catholic become a Saint?’  I found this excerpt:

But the fathers of the Second Vatican Council in Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, (paragraph 16) admitted the possibility of extraordinary grace when they noted that “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.” This principle can also be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 847.

My old CCD Teacher once said, there are people who do not attend mass, they may not even really know a lot about religion or God, yet they have an innate grace and Godly presence about them.  They are truly good people and lead by example, even though they don’t know it.  I believe that!  For the opposite can be said.  There are those who attend church regularly, read the bible and so on and so forth, yet are shortsighted by their arrogance or righteousness and holier-than-thou attitude.  Going to church doesn’t make you holy, it’s whats in your heart and your intentions that do.

Receiving the Stigmata Angelico 1429 Aunt Heather Piper

Receiving the Stigmata done in tempera on wood by Fra Angelico 1429

Those declared as Saints seemed to cover all bases, humility and charity and a deep understanding of the faith and a personal friendship with the Lord.

On a side note, I want to debunk a misleading idea perceived about the Catholic church.  We do NOT pray to saints.  That would be worshiping a false god, breaking one of the top three commandments.  Nope, we pray for the saint to intercede on our behalf.  We ask the saints to pray for us, a tour guide if you will, leading us in the right direction and putting in a good word.  Personally, I think the saints have more pull with God Almighty.  It’s no different than asking a friend or a relative to pray for you.  Usually we select a specific saint that focuses on a certain area of interest, i.e. Our Lady of Guadalupe (honored on my birthday) is the patron saint of the Americas / Mexico and Saint Nicholas (Kyle’s confirmation Saint) is the patron saint of children.

Another item for the checklist in the canonization process, is what I call the death test.  When exhuming a body of the potential saint, it is found free of rot and decay.  No composition has taken place like any other normal body.  The corpse is usually still juicy and almost preserved.  Believe it or not the body has a sweet fragrant smell, not one of decaying corpse.  I also read about the liquefaction process, whereas the dried blood liquefies on the feast day.  This was new information to me, but I have heard of the host bleeding during the Eucharist prayer during mass.

I think this process is needed and, yes I do believe there are those that should be honored on a high esteem of sainthood.  They earned that title for their dedication to God on a different level then I could ever fathom.

 

 

Sources

http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0136.html

Saunders, Rev. William. “The Process of Becoming a Saint.” Arlington Catholic Herald.

http://bustedhalo.com/questionbox/are-there-any-non-catholics-that-the-church-recognizes-as-saints

Catechism of the Catholic Church

http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-become-a-saint-in-the-catholic-church.html

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts and have No Comments

Bringing Home the Bacon…Literally

Onions and bacon cooking up just makes your kitchen smell so good. In fact, one day I’m going to come up with a room deodorizer that smells like bacon and onions. It’s a fabulous smell.  ~Paula Deen

Pap-Kyle-at-Gutchess-Hardwoods-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Pappy & Kyle hanging together on the highlift at Gutchess Hardwoods c. 2005

Two weeks ago dad asked me, “Are you going to be around on Saturday?”  Meaning, “Heather I need your help so be at the house.”  No biggie, but very curious I ask, “Why what did you need?”  To be answered with dad’s newest project, “I think I’m going to buy a pig and butcher it.”

Really? O yes!  Dad left early last Saturday morning with a friend of his, Chris, to go to an auction in Maryland to purchase a live pig.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise to us when the day finally came because dad’s been talking about getting a pig for quite some time now.

Before he left, dad told me and Kyle we weren’t aloud to pet the pig or name it.  I guess someone was thinking ahead.

This may sound odd to some, however dad used to butcher pigs all the time, either at my Uncle Ray’s, Uncle Irvin’s, or at my pap’s house, the Piper brothers.  Dad raised a pig or two in his day, not to sell or breed, but simply for butchering.  I kinda sort of remember dad having pigs, but I was really little.

Why you may ask, would someone take the time to build a pig pen, raise the creature and then invest all the time in butchering it, as opposed to buying the bacon in the store, nice and clean ready to go?  Simply because it’s healthier.  When you raise an animal you can control how it’s raised and what it’s fed, meaning no hormones or other synthetic substances.  Unless you know those key facts, then buying it off of a reputable farmer and butchering it oneself, allows you to control the preparation factors.  Factors like the preservatives added to the food for shelf life, all the extra salt and dyes, that sort of thing.  If you do it yourself, you don’t have any of those foreign contaminants in your meat (unless you add them), plus it’s cheaper.  It’s a lot of work, but I will admit, if the animal is properly butchered and utilized, one well worth it.

Dad got back late Saturday night with an extra body.  Yes you guessed it, a pig!  Was it alive?  You bet it was!  The keyword here is, WAS.  Dad’s friend had this “house” (it was actually a really nice super sized dog house) on the back of his trailer.  Lucky for us the structure had windows so we could peek in to see our three hundred pound walking bacon.  Naturally, since it was late, we couldn’t drop it, meaning kill the pig, until the next day.

Sunday morning came and dad shot the pig.  I know, on a Sunday morning, but we couldn’t keep the pig in such a confined space any longer.  That would have been cruel.  He put a .22 bullet in it’s head for a quick death.  He also sliced the throat to start the process.

On a side note, evidently there is a special way to shoot a pig.  Dad said the pig’s brain sits lower, so you have to shoot straight back from between the eyes.  Unlike a cow, whereas you draw an “X” from its ears to its eyes to get your bulls eye.  Good to know.

Lard-Press-Aunt-Heather-Piper

Dad’s antique (lard) press, which can be used for anything to press. I helped render the fat from our butchered pig…messy!

Many may not know this, but the nerves are still working after an animal has been killed.  Same with chickens and turkeys, which I’ve seen first hand.  Even after you cut off their heads, they can still run around.  Apparently, the pig was laying on its side in the “house” and kicking.  Kyle tracked me down in the kitchen to tell me the pig was running.  What?  For a brief moment I thought the pig got out and was literally running around.  All I could picture was this three hundred pound beast making a mad dash for the woods, and I would have to chase it down and kill it.  Not in my agenda for the day.

Eventually, I went outside to help Kyle with the butchering process, meaning the emotional strain on someone not used to witnessing such an activity.  He was fine, he just needed to get acclimated.  It’s a shock for someone who’s not around this type of living, meaning Kyle doesn’t’ know what to expect or how to handle it.  Me?  I’m good, I’ve been around dad for too long.

I helped dad move the massive beast into the garage.  No easy task!  Once inside, dad hoisted the pig up with his engine lift he uses for skinning deer.  He said it will hold up to a thousand pounds, but I was very skeptical.  It did, at least a three hundred pound pig!

Kyle’s initial job before he had to get ready for church (he was serving 10:30 mass at Sacred Heart Church) was to clean up the blood on the trailer, so we could return it in good shape.  Kyle asked, “Why didn’t pap walk the pig out before he shot it?”  Mom chimed in with one hilarious statement, “Did you ever try walking a three hundred pound pig that was scared?  You just don’t do it!”  Then the jokes started to surface about wrestling it to the ground and jumping on its back for a ride and so on and so forth.

Thinking this was not going to be a big deal, I was quickly informed differently.  Skinning a pig is nothing like skinning a deer, which dad and I have down to a science.  A pig is a bit of a challenge.  Actually, it’s all the fat and the heavy hide that make it so difficult.  Perhaps because I’ve never done it before, but as dad scolded Kyle and me by saying, “What are you guys doing?  You’re hacking it all up!”  Yes our side of the pig didn’t look nearly as nice as dad’s.  Our half was all choppy while dad’s has was fairly smooth, what it should look like.  Either way no harm to the meat, it takes practice.

Kyle was on the edge of his seat from the time the pig arrived till it was being cut up.  It was an exciting couple of days and two weekends, I mean it’s not like many of his friends ever got to say they butchered a pig before.  But it’s good experience and good knowledge for the kid.  As dad says, “You never know when you can’t afford to shop in a grocery store or government regulations stops the stores from selling meat, but if you know what you’re doing, you can always butcher your own.”  I agree, life is very unpredictable and possessing invaluable survival knowledge can mean life or death, or worse, a life without bacon!

On another side note, while we were butchering up the pig on Saturday into bacon, pork chops, roast, ribs and sausage, dad kept calling Kyle Putin, as in Vladimir Putin, as in the egotistical president of Russia (since 2012).  Not because Kyle is full of himself nor because Kyle is questionable in his moral actions.  Nope, because he was running around without his shirt on!  I was dying!  We watch Fox News and they love picking on Putin (rightfully so) especially when he struts around in front of the cameras bare chested on his horse.  Not a good look for a president but a great joke for dad toward Kyle.

These are the little piggies dad’s friend Chris purchased to raise as pets.  They were swilling and Kyle wouldn’t hold them.

This is the pig we butchered and is wrapped up in our freezer.

posted by auntheather in Common Sense,Cooking with Kyle,Education & Learning,Family,Hunting & Fishing,Observation & Imagination and have No Comments

Who Has the Right To Judge?

And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”  And he answered, “What is it, Teacher?”  “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  When they could not pay, he forgave them both.  Now which of them will love him more?”  Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, to whom he forgave more.”  And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”  ~Luke 7:40-43

Closing Arguments Held In Zimmerman Trial

George Zimmerman – Closing Arguments Held In Zimmerman Trial 2013

The entire human race sins!  Fact!  It is also our obligation to point out the sins of others and to have them answer for it, but it is not our place to pass judgment, especially after a court ruling.  Instead we should pray for one another and we should help our fellow brothers and sisters, getting them back on the right track.

Why the heck am I on this topic?  Simply because of the finger pointing, all the judgements and threats, and all the negativity and the violence and hate that has stemmed from this behavior.

Yep, I’m talking about the famous George Zimmerman – Trayvon Martin case.  Just to recap (since this blog is for my nephew to read later in life, I always try to give details to help him revisit history) on February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida, George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old mixed race of Hispanic American, fatally shot Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African American high school student.  The ruling was just announced this past Saturday that Mr. Zimmerman was found not guilty, it was an act of self defense.

Just to get this clear from my point-of-view, that if someone, anyone a teenager or an old person, attacked me, pushed me down and began to beat my head off of cement, telling me that he or she was going to kill me, I would take that seriously.  Hopefully, all my survival instincts would kick in and I would have done the same, without hesitation!  I would have pulled the trigger.

Was George Zimmerman completely justifiable?  Yes he can be faulted for approaching the kid when he was instructed not to, but he did what he was suppose to do, he called the police first and reported the suspicion.  He didn’t just go guns a blazing at this suspicious kid, wearing a dark hoodie, milling around between houses in the rain, at night, appearing as if he was on drugs.  If I was George, I would have done the same, especially since the neighborhood was experiences break ins and violence thrusted upon them.  Imagine if Zimmerman would have just walked way and later found out that the kid killed or hurt someone?  That’s what would be running through my head, especially in the case of the unknown at the time.  I would feel it was my responsibility to step in and help take action to protect my family and friends.

As for caring a gun.  He was completely legal and within his rights to do so!  Apparently, he never really felt safe if he always carried the firearm with him, except to work.  Sometime before this case, he was interviewed and said that a robber fled the scene in his neighborhood, right through his property while his wife was home.  Yes!  That would mean something to me too!  And that would stick in my mind forever!

Let’s step back and really get to the heart of the matter.  First of all, what self-respecting child, calls another a cracker?  I would have never done that EVER!  I was taught to respect others and their property.  So with that out in the open, I would never have been hanging out in the rain if I wasn’t up to no good.  And what kid, who is innocent, attacks another?  Sure, kids will be kids, getting into trouble, but if that was me and my cousins, we would have set off running, even if we just wrong on the account of trespassing.  But never in a million years would we have attacked another, unless there was more to it, than kids being kids.  I can’t help but think, Mr. Martin was up to more than just passing through.  Of course, it doesn’t make a difference now, and that’s total speculation and not my place to judge.

Rioting in LA George Zimmerman Aunt Heather Piper

Rioting in LA from the George Zimmerman verdict 2013

So now my next thought, why are people rioting?  Seriously?  Especially in California, the whole way across the United States, not even close to Florida.  Does looting and destroying private property make everything better?  Does damaging those hard working citizens’ businesses help you get your own way?  When did two wrongs EVER make a right?  My guess there are some deep seated issues residing in some individuals and they are just looking for an excuse.  Again back to respect.  Respect for our fellow neighbor and our brothers and sisters!  Those property owners weren’t involved in the crime, they weren’t even in the same time zone!  I think there are a lot of unbalanced people and I believe there are a lot of lackeys who thrive on violence and supply this anarchy to those in control, simply for a good show.  The media and some celebrities make that list of the guilty.

On a side note, if any of those rioters are on welfare, then technically they are working for the government.  Then, that means the government, Mr. Obama who is the leader, is destroying our own country from within and its hard working citizens.  Isn’t that like a dictatorship?  If the government insists on getting its own way, and disregards the decisions made by a selected jury and our courtrooms, that means the people truly don’t have a voice.  That means one of our branches of government is ruled by the other, our president.  In essence a dictatorship. I know that seems far fetched, but is it?

On the same thought, why is the government stepping in?  What, they have a say so to overrule the judge and the fair jury because they don’t like the decision?  Wake up people!  The government is already spying on us, they have controlled us through our finances with the IRS, which insistently will be controlling our healthcare decisions through the medicare audits, and now you are welcoming them in to overstep the decisions of a fair jury?  We are just handing over our freedom left and right because some want the government to control the legal system?  I’m not saying any branch of office is one hundred percent fair and unbiased, but don’t keep throwing fuel to the already blazing inferno.  The court ruled and that should be the end of it!

Do I feel bad for the Trayvon Martin family?  Absolutely!  I know first hand the pain that comes from loosing a family member too soon and so suddenly.  My heart bleeds for them, but continuing this quest for their own way, still does not make it right.  Yes it’s tragic, but instead of selling your soul to the government to get your own way, maybe everyone needs to step back and really look at the situation.  Although, I know it’s hard, with the grief and the shock of the verdict at hand, but it will help to find peace.

Blaming race is also not the answer.  How can we, as Americans ever get past racial violence and issues, if it’s always thrown out there.  I mean, how is the next generation going to learn this, which is a learned behavior, if it is not taught?  Stop the hate lesson, then the hate will stop!  After all, George Zimmerman was not even a white man, he is Hispanic.  And if I am correct, that race is a minority too.  So what idiot started to play the race card, my guess because there was nothing else, yet got their facts wrong?  Is there really a need to destroy other lives through violence?  It doesn’t change anything, doesn’t stop life from moving on, and doesn’t change the future.  It just makes us barbarians.

I didn’t see any rioting when OJ Simpson was let off.  My opinion he was as guilty as guilty can be.  Nope, that circus courtroom and all the lies was accepted and ruled on, and there were two innocent murders committed on their own property.  Again, completely innocent people do not act out of control, violent and desperate for an escape.  So why the famous high speed chase in the white broncho?  When I heard that ruling all I thought was, ‘Well, God will judge’.  And look at Mr. Simpson’s life since.  Not a healthy one, maybe the guilt is consuming him?

Rioting in LA from the George Zimmerman case verdict

Rioting in LA from the George Zimmerman case verdict

Ok, may that was too long ago for some of us to really remember or care about, but what about the Casey Anthony trial?  Casey Anthony was on trail for the murder of her two-year-old daughter, Caylee Anthony in Orlando Florida.  Again to recap and refresh the memories of many, the maternal grandmother reported the child missing for over a month and said Casey’s car smelled like a dead body.  That was on July 15, 2008.  Casey gave many falsehoods as to the whereabouts of the child including telling the authorities that her daughter was kidnapped.  On October 2008, she was charged with first degree murder and pleaded not guilty.  Later the court ruled on July 5, 2011, and the jury found Casey not guilty of first degree murder, aggravated child abuse, and aggravated manslaughter of a child.  However she was found guilty of four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to a law enforcement officer.  Using her credit for time served, she was released on July 17, 2011.

Was I mad?  Sure, but I also have faith.  I have faith that justice is always served.  I have faith still in our court systems, even though we know it’s corrupt at times.  I also have faith, that good prevails.  Never, did I ever even think of rioting or steeling from business owners.  Is looting an act of demonstrating or is it a selfish act for the personal gain of oneself?

Later that year on December 11, 2008, the little girl Caylee’s skeletal remains were found.  They were wrapped in a blanket inside a trash bag in the wooded area near the family home.  There was duct tape across the mouth on the child’s skull.  Did I mention that after all the lies, they were trying to prove the little girl drown in the pool accidentally?

Yet after all this, where people outraged?  Sure, but not like whats happening with the George Zimmerman case, with all the violence and damage and threats.  The Casey Anthony case was not in question of self defense, it was a blatant attempt of getting away with murder.  Yet she got off!  I was not in the courtroom, I was not on the jury, and I may not have agreed with the verdict, but I do agree with those who made the decision.  End of case, start moving on!

We need to continue to trust our court systems, albeit they are not perfect, but it’s better than anarchy and counter to radical thinking and radical actions of those on the streets.  That’s when the innocent are really going to get hurt, no matter their color.

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Patience and have No Comments

God Speed Pope Francis I

Deliver me, LORD, from the wicked; preserve me from the violent,from those who plan evil in their hearts, who stir up conflicts every day,Who sharpen their tongue like a serpent, venom of asps upon their lips.  ~Psalm 140 2:4

Pope Francis I - Inaugural speech Aunt Heather Piper 2013

Pope Francis I 2013

To test my nephew’s knowledge, I asked Kyle if he knew the name of our new pope.  He responded, “Frank, I think?”.  Not really.  I take my job as his godmother very seriously, so I took the opportunity to get him up-to-speed and reinforce his Catholic education.  Naturally, I started by telling him that our pope is Pope Francis I.  He was named after St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.  Of course this meant nothing to Kyle, at least not now, but the more he is taught and the more he hears, I believe he will understand.  Sometimes shocking moments resonate better, especially with children, so I did mention how St. Francis of Assisi suffered from the stigmata.  He was really interested but did not quite understand when I explained what what meant.  Not that I have a greater understanding of the mysteries of God, but there is no doubt it was a sign from our almighty Father.

God speaks to us through many different ways, just as He did with the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI and the newly elected Pope Francis I.  The night when Pope Benedict XVI announced he was stepping down from his position, lightening struck the Vatican, twice.  Then let’s not forget, right before white smoke poured out of the chimney at the Vatican, announcing the Conclave chose the new Pope, a seagull was spotted sitting on that very chimney.  Actually, reportedly, there were a number of seagulls residing on the rooftop at that moment.  Why is this significant?  Because St. Francis of Assisi is always represented by birds.  What does this all mean?  No clue, but I have faith it’s a good sign.

pope francis I - Aunt Heather Piper

Pope Francis I 2013

Today marks the inauguration of Pope Francis I.  Scandals and accusations have already started circulating about our Bishop of Rome.  He has already gotten people up in arms because he speaks freely and reinforces the doctrine of the Catholic church, the teachings from the bible.  A quote comes to mind, even though it’s kind of odd and maybe inappropriate, but here goes.  As quoted from Harry Potter, “Sometimes in life you must choose between what is right and what is easy.” (Goblet of Fire Chapter 36)  Pope Francis is certainly taking the stand on what is right and he is not being shy about it.

What I don’t understand, is why anyone cares?  If those speaking out are not Catholic and don’t believe in the Catholic teachings, then why do those opposed care what happens in the Catholic church?  Sometimes I feel like certain individuals just like to make a fuss.  It’s almost as if their only reasoning for being loud and angry is to gain attention, like a child trying to be defiant and get their own way.  When the only responsible way to handle such a child is to continue to do the right thing for the sake of the child, even if they disagree.  Unfortunately, a child will continue on their course of action, as if that makes their arguments more acceptable and right.  I am a strong believer in tough love.  We need to support those who are only looking our for our best interest and not our selfishness.

Pope Francis I - Aunt Heather Piper 2013

Pope Francs I waves to the crowd 2013

Still out of everything going on in the world, I believe there is more good in people than bad.   Yes we are all brothers and sisters, and yes we are all made differently, intentionally designed by God so we rely on each other and God Himself.  Personally, I think He made us unique to keep life more interesting, but regardless.  There needs to be more respect given and demanded, from everyone.  Just like all of mankind, we have free will and the ability to sin.  Even the pope is a human being, a man of free will.  Granted he has a huge responsibility as our apostolic successor, the leader of our church and our official mediator, but he’s not perfect either.  He’s just trying to do the work of God.  I read somewhere that former Pope John Paul II used to go to confession every day.  What on earth could he confess?  That’s between God and himself, but the fact is that he humbled himself to be absolved for his sins and his short comings by his peers.  He wanted to make sure he was focused on his work and try to live his life as heavenly as possible.

Even Mosses, who was given a specific job, and was held in a higher position then the chosen people, messed up too.  Even after all his work, dedication and responsibility of bringing God’s people through the dessert, he was not permitted into the promised land.  However, instead of arguing his point or making excusing and raising a big stink, he repented.  He might not have understood why he was not suppose to strike the rock, at least not at that moment, but he did deliberately disobey God.  Sometimes we don’t agree with what is right, but we should just have faith and obey.  I guess it’s easier said than done.  But when it comes down to it, God is the final judge.

God Speed to Pope Francis I.  I will pray that he makes the right decisions and morally lead us.

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Reminiscing,Travels and have No Comments

God Bless Pope Francis

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  ~Matthew 16:18-19

Pope Francis Aunt Heather Piper 2013

Pope Francis 2013

Yesterday, the announcement of our newly chosen pope came in the form of white smoke exiting the Sistine Chapel.   That was the first sign the conclave chose our successor to St. Peter.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires  has accepted his elected position as our new Catholic leader at the age of 76.  He has taken the name Pope Francis.  Immediately, upon hearing his new identification, with which the world will refer to him, I wondered as many have, why the chosen name of Francis?  The Huffington Post commented:

It’s unclear if the pope’s name is a reference to St. Francis Xavier, a 16th-century priest who was one of the first Jesuits, or St. Francis of Assisi, a 13th-century friar who founded the Franciscan order of priests.

In addition to making history as being our 266th Pope, Pope Francis is also the first Latin American Pope as well as the first Jesuit priest.

The secret voting of the sworn in cardinals, concluded within just two days of the conclave meetings.  There were five rounds of voting, resulting in Pope Francis receiving 77 votes out of the 115 eligible cardinals in the conclave.  This was the minimum two-thirds required to become pope.  A little comparison, Pope Francis’ predecessor took two days and four voting rounds before former Pope Benedict XVI was elected in 2005.

The Pope is walking into office with a lot of upheaval, unrest, scandal and transformation.  Really?  I don’t think this election is unlike any previous one, unfortunately.  There are always issues to address and sin to worn against and debase.  I am very happy to hear that Pope Francis is upholding the conservative and traditional views and doctrine of the Catholic church.   As long as he holds true to the word of God, he can’t go wrong.

Pope Francis’ actions have already exemplified his chosen position of God’s servant.  I read on the Huffington Post:

But Francis, who was rumored in 2005 to be the runner-up to Benedict, also brings a more pastoral sensibility to the church, said the Rev. Raymond J. Kupke, an adjunct professor of church history at Seton Hall University. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, he reportedly rode the bus to work, did his own cooking and visited the poor in Argentine slums. Instead of living in an archbishop’s palace, he chose to live in a small room in a downtown Buenos Aires home.

The Rev. James Martin stated, “The name Francis is a clear indication of his desire to focus on the poor.”

Pope Francis is expected to uphold and maintain the Catholic values and doctrine of the church including topics on sexuality, abortion, marriage and contraception.

He has also shown compassion for people with HIV and AIDS; in 2001, he visited AIDS patients in a hospice where he washed and kissed the feet of 12 patients.

On Tuesday at 4:30 pm Rome time, during the feast of St. Joseph, Pope Francis will formally take the position of the Pope, even though he is technically considered Pope presently.

As with tradition, Pope Francis will descend to the grottos of St. Peter’s Basilica, where the first Pope St. Peter is buried.   In front of the cardinals he will recite “I leave from where the apostle arrived.”  Then, he will lead a procession to St. Peter’s Square and begin the installation Mass.  During mass, Pope Francis will receive the Fisherman’s Ring, the ring of the pope.  Of course, part of his immediate responsibilities will include meeting other members of the clergy, becoming acclimated in his new surroundings and such.

There is a lot do to turn this world around.  God Speed to Pope Francis!  I pray we see good things from God’s mediator and our chosen apostolic successor.

posted by auntheather in Church,Education & Learning,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Travels and have No Comments

Random Fun Facts: Papacy

The responsibility of our Apostolic office impels us to promote the study of Holy Scripture in accordance with the teaching of our predecessors, Leo XIII and Pius X.  We shall never desist from urging the faithful to read daily the Gospels, the Acts and the Epistles, so as to gather thence food for their souls.  Ignorance of the Bible means ignorance of Christ.  ~Pope Benedict XVI

Being astounded by Fun Facts, I decided to share my findings with everyone.  Sometimes I come across this information online, via television, books, word-of-mouth, etc.  You get the point.  This material is basically what I find interesting and it’s caught my attention for one reason or another, usually at random.  Enjoy!

Vatican Conclave Rituals

Cardinals walk in procession to the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, at the beginning of the conclave 2/18/05

Random Fun Facts!

Since we are in transition of electing a new Bishop of Rome, also known as the Pope, to replace Pope Benedict XVI, I thought this information was appropriate.  Below does not outline all the details for the Papacy but are just a few interesting facts.

Conclave

  • Shortest conclave took a few hours
  • Longest conclave lasted 3 years
  • Modern conclaves install cell phone jammers in the floors
  • Any part of the conclave who communicates with the outside world while in session is excommunicated
  • The conclave is indeed locked together until a Pope is elected, originally done so to resolve deadlocks

Voting

  • Elected Cardinals need to be under 80-years of age before the death or resignation of the Pope to be eligible to vote
  • No more than 120 Cardinals may vote
  • A two-thirds supermajority vote is required to elect the new pope, and this also requires acceptance from the person elected
  • Women are not eligible for the papacy, they also cannot be ordained
  • In 1996, John Paul II promulgated a new Apostolic Constitution, called Universi Dominici Gregis (The Lord’s Whole Flock)
  • The Universi Dominici Gregis governs the election of the pope
  • Popes used to be appointed by heads of government or the wealthy
  • The voting takes place in the Sistine Chapel
  • Cardinal Dean also known as Cardinal Bishop reads the oath aloud in full, the other cardinal electors state while touching the Gospels, they “do so promise, pledge and swear.”
  • Voting comprises of 3 phases: the pre-scrutiny, the scrutiny and the post-scrutiny
  • Cardinals are encouraged to disguise their handwriting when casting votes
  • Once all of the ballots have been opened this begins the final post-scrutiny phase
  • If there is no election in the 1st scrutiny, the cardinals immediately proceed to the next scrutiny- the papers from both scrutinies are burnt together at the end of the 2nd scrutiny
  • Color of the smoke signals the results to the people assembled in St Peter’s Square- (Dark smoke signals not a result in an election / White smoke signals that a new pope was chosen)
  • As of 2005, bells ring after a successful election, to augment the white smoke
Annulus Piscatorius Papacy Ring Fisher of menAunt Heather Piper

The Papacy ring, the Ring of the Fisherman, also known as the Piscatory Ring

Pope

  • Cardinal Camerlengo takes possession of the Ring of the Fisherman, also known as the Piscatory Ring
  • If the newly elected is a bishop, he takes office immediately
  • If not a bishop, he must be first consecrated as one before assuming office
  • If a priest is elected, the Cardinal Dean consecrates him bishop
  • If a layman is elected, then the Cardinal Dean first ordains him deacon, then priest, and then consecrates him as bishop
  • Only after becoming a bishop does the pope-elect take office
  • Since 533, the new pope has decided on the name by which he is to be called at this time
  • The Pope is the apostolic successor of Saint Peter

Catholicism

  • There are roughly 1.18 billion Catholics in the world
  • 1 in 5 people in the global population are Catholic
  • World’s largest church
  • 50% of the world’s Catholics live in North & South America
  • 24% of the world’s Catholics live in Europe
  • 15% of the world’s Catholics live in Africa
  • 11% of the world’s Catholics live in Asia
Last Judgement by Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (March 6, 1475 February 18, 1564)

Last Judgement by Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni who lived from March 6, 1475-February 18, 1564

Eligibility

Priest:

  • A adult man
  • In the Latin Rite church
  • Unmarried
  • Must not have unconventional sexual tendencies, such as homosexuality
  • Must be chaste- morally pure in thought or conduct
  • Received the Sacrament of Confirmation not less than three years before
  • Must not have any encumbrances- debt or caring for children or infirm relatives
  • Young enough to be ordained and serve as a priest before the mandatory retirement age of 75
  • No significant mental disorders
  • No significant health disorders.

Bishop:

  • Must be an ordained priest
  • Unmarried

Pope:

  • A Catholic man in good standing
  • Exceptional priest
posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Random Fun Facts,Travels and have No Comments

God Speed Pope Benedict XVI

In that day I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah,  and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your girdle on him, and will commit your authority to his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.  ~Isaiah 22:20-22

The future starts today, not tomorrow.  ~Pope John Paul II

Vatican Pope Benedict XVI Aunt Heather Piper

Pope Benedict XVI delivers his blessing during a Vespers Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, Saturday, 11/28/09

Something that was not suppose to happen and hasn’t since 1415, was announced a couple of weeks ago.  Today, on February 28, 2013 at 5:00 pm Rome time, will conclude Pope Benedict XVI’s position as our beloved holy leader.  Pope Benedict XVI, the 265th Pope, announced his resignation from the papacy.  Was it a shock?  Heck yes!  Not just for me and the 1.18 billion Catholics around the world, but for most of the global population.  Besides being our spiritual leader, he is also a direct link to Saint Peter and the position that was appointed to him by Jesus.

Just to get the record straight, the Pope is an 85-years-old man, he is not God and he is not regarded as such.  He is not prayed to, but prayed for, to ensure he makes the right decisions and leads us in the Lord’s spiritual light.  Our apostolic successor should be respected and elevated for his accomplishments, especially as the chosen spiritual mediator and leader from our Divine.  Pope Benedict and all chosen for that position obtain a great deal of responsibility being the Pope and leader of the Catholic church, not the mention the Sovereign of the Vatican City State.

Naturally, there are many rumors flying around as to the reason for the Pope’s step down in office as well as many opinions as to what he should be doing or is suppose to do.  What everyone needs to keep in mind, is that God himself placed the Pope for that position and the ultimate decision is between him and God alone.  God works in mysterious ways and He always knows what’s best for us, so I trust him wholeheartedly and I have faith in those candidates He gave to fulfill this position.

In my lifetime, thus far I have experience the former Pope John Paul I, who tragically ruled for only 33 days in 1978.  Being a very little tyke at the time, I have no recollection of that time.  Then, to replace him with the truly spiritual and good Pope John Paul II, who is in the process of being canonized.  Sometimes I believe that God blesses some with a second helping of grace and knowledge and goodness, just like he did Eliseus.  Now to the present Pope Benedict XVI who was elected in April 19, 2005.

Whatever Pope Benedicts XVI’s reasons for retiring and stepping down are truly between him and our Father.  May God bless him and our new Pope!

Catholic Popes History - Aunt Heather Piper

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Milestone,News,Observation & Imagination,Reminiscing,Travels and have Comments (4)

Snow Tubing Anyone?

The frolic architecture of the snow.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Aunt Heather Piper & Kyle Snow Tubing 1-27-13

Me & Kyle taking a break of snow tubing at Hidden Valley 1/27/13

Two Saturday’s ago, Kyle went snow tubing with his youth group.   Not being able to resist in playing in the snow, I too went.  Did I mention Kyle really wanted me to?  Yep!  And that alone made my day.  Not to mention God gave us the most beautiful day!  It was sunny, not too cold, almost no wind and the slopes were fast.

At Hidden Valley, their snow tubing area is off the beaten path, isolated from the rest of the  lodging and skiing area.   It was actually kind of nice, we didn’t have to fight traffic and the congestion with the rest of the ski resort.

It’s been years since I was snow tubing, let alone at Hidden Valley.  Mom’s work, Gutchess Hardwood’s used to go every year with their employees and their families.  In fact, if my memory is not misleading me, the one year we went, dad participated in the snow tubing excitement, right beside me and Kyle, while mom sat inside and watched us.  Kyle asked dad to go this year, but all dad said was, “What? You want me to break a leg?  I can’t do that anymore.”   I beg to differ.  If dad would get his body back into a little bit of a better shape, I think he could have gone.  It doesn’t matter he’s sixty-two, he’s actually pretty healthy, considering.  I truly hope, when I hit my sixties, I am still able to snowboard, snow tube, snow shoe, run, walk, roller skate, ice skate, hike, and the list goes on and on.  At least that’s my plan and I’m sticking to it!

Anyway, we had a great time!  Kyle was able to bond with some of the  kids, who all knew each other from going to Latrobe school.  Kyle only gets to hang with his fellow youth group members when he’s at CCD class, during his monthly youth group meetings and sometimes when he serves mass.  For all of these, it is a limited amount of time and he is there to serve a specific purpose and not to just hang out and socialize, especially in church.  So the snow tubing activity was a fun way to get the kids together to just hang out, which they did!

On a side note, everyone involved from the parents to the members including Mrs. Milko, the fearless leader of the Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group, are really good people.  I mean down to earth sincere individuals, who want to help the community through serving others, spreading the word of God, setting an example, all while strengthening their faith.  Pretty impressive!

Snow Tubing Sacred Heart Saint Cecilia Youth Group 1-27-13 Aunt Heather Piper

The Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group snow tubers. Hidden Valley 1/27/13

At first Kyle was glued to my side, not really socializing with the others.  He seemed a little reserved, very unlike Kyle, but I was there to give support and help him have a nice time.  Actually, spending an afternoon with Kyle and playing in the snow was like heaven to me.  I couldn’t have been happier!  I’ll say it again, it was a great day!

Sometimes we went down the slopes together, holding onto the opposing tube; sometimes we pulled a Superman and went down head first with our arms stretched out; sometimes we raced each other; and sometimes we did a combination of two.  Personally, I will admit, some of the fun involved tormenting Kyle.  Yes, I can’t deny it, I was instigating my fellow rider a bit and it was amusing!  He always gets so bossy and sometimes he is too structured.  Did I mention we were there to have a good time and not work the coal mines?  So to throw a monkey wrench in his plans, I would change them up a bit and do what I wanted.  Example.  Kyle would say, “Ok Aunt Heather, I’ll sit in my tube and you run and jump on yours to push me.  I’ll hang on to your tube and then I’ll let go when I want to.”  Ya, his plan worked for about five seconds until he realized I got a hold of his rope attached to his tube and I wouldn’t let go.  To really be silly and let’s face it, to push his buttons further, I would yell out, “I won’t let go Jack, I won’t let go!”  I swear, even through the snow flying in my face I could see Kyle rolling his eyes at me.   The best was when gravity took hold of us racing toward the bottom of the hill and Kyle was gloating like he was ahead of me.  Then, in the middle of the run, I would spin our tubes around so I was in the lead and I would yell out, “Eat my dust!” Kyle would grit his teeth and grunt at me saying, “No fair Aunt Heather!  You are suppose to be behind me!”  Then to show me up, he would race me, but wait till I was ready.  All I heard from the tube with the slight lead, “Hey Aunt Heather, eat my dust!”  Too much!  It was all in good fun.

Aunt Heather Piper Snow Tubing Conga Line 1-27-13

Snow Tubing Conga Line. Hidden Valley 1/27/13

Eventually, the kids spread out and started teaming up to race each other and combining tubes to go down in groups.  Kyle and I joined in, which really was a blast!  At first we had about twenty some bodies, each in a tube connected for a roller coaster ride.  It was the perfect amount of people.  We really did picked up speed and road the hill till the very end, which is usually the safe overrun no one ever reaches.  We did!  From that point on, Kyle wanted to keep joining the group.  Wherever Kyle went, I followed, that is until they tried to break the world record.

It seemed like everyone who came with the youth group decided to join together to make one massive tubing conga line.  It was unbelievable.  At that moment, I decided to hang on the side lines and take pictures of this never ending line of excited riders.  At the top of the run, there wasn’t enough room to line the participants up, so the passengers had to climb the hill behind them to form a long line of bulging tubes.  Originally, they tried to organize the tube train along the top flat part, but that created a bend in their tubing creation, which broke off when they attempted to straighten out to race down the hill.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was going to participate in the over sized serpentine line of tubes of people whether I wanted to or not.  As the riders started out, they immediately lost control and jumped the line.  I was trying to shoot a video of this event and was suddenly taken down by the line that went a rye. (see the video below)  Luckily, I still have some spring to my step and I bounced back pretty quickly!

Never-the-less, snow tubing was a success!  Thank you so much for the Sacred Heart / Saint Cecilia Youth Group for choosing this event and to Mrs. Milko and the other parents for setting it up!  It was a great time for the kids and adults alike!

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Observation & Imagination,Snowboarding and have No Comments

Wanting to Be the Best You Can Be

Perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, but in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.
-Angelique Arnauld

I think it’s understood of how much I love and adore Kyle. I think it’s also a given of how proud I am of him and the young man he has become. However, there are those times that I am really truly impressed, not specifically by his words or actions, but by his heart, guiding his words and actions. Now that makes me very proud of him!

Kyle was taking alter boy classes all last week. Please excuse the old terminology; the persons who help Father out during mass are now referred to as servers, since young ladies serve the church just as young men.

First let me explain how the week unfolded for Kyle. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, I left work at 5:00 pm, to rush into Delmont to pick Kyle up and cart him to Latrobe, going straight to the church and barely making it on time. Then, after a little over an hour of practice, we had to rush to my parents house to get a late night dinner and do homework. Then Kyle had to be hurried back to Delmont, a 40-minute trip, so he could get his shower and brush his teeth before heading straight to bed. I did explain to Kyle that swimming lesson was omitted from the week since serving the church trumped anything else going on. And you know what? He understood.

I must say, I didn’t know how Kyle was going to react to the classes or his new obligation. It’s not like when I was in school and all the boys were taught together and expected to serve. At that time, it was a sort of right of passage for the young guys once they received the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Kyle received the Holy Eucharist two years ago and unfortunately, we didn’t know to sign him up for the classes.

Kyle’s focus was like nothing I’ve ever seen from him. He was very reverent during all the classes, humble and sincere in his actions. He listened attentively to the priest and his helper and even tried to help the other students toward the end of the week, like he had been doing this his whole life. He never tried to talk until we were in the vestibule of the church and he stayed attentive for the hour plus training. When he kneeled, he did so with a purpose and his hands were folded in the praying position across his check, reminiscent of a saint.

He never complained before or after the classes, to my parents or myself. The only thing he did mention to me after class the first day was that he was very sore. I asked him where, and he said, “All over, Aunt Heather, my whole body is sore.” I told him in reply, “It’s because you were tensing up.” Not that I said it to him, but it was also because he never stood in one spot with his back straight for so long before, and he never knelt with good posture and perfect praying hand position before. In fact, I’ve never seen Kyle actually try to do a correct genuflection until this week. But he truly worked on perfecting his stands, posture and his actions, every day.

He was nervous, I could tell, but he followed the lead of the priest and the experienced servers to a “T”. At one point, I saw him make this very long and distorted face while he was kneeling getting ready to ring the bells. I couldn’t imagine what that was all about until he was sitting beside me. He started to make the same face again, and then he let out a big yawn in his hands. At that point, I put two and two together… he was to keep his hands in the prayer position across his chest and he knows I never let him yawn with his mouth hanging open. So he was being respectful trying to hold it in while keeping his perfect position. That poor little tired guy. At one point the priests’ helper asked if there was any part of the mass that the servers would like to go over again or practice. Kyle was the only one to raise his hand. Keeping in mind, Kyle volunteered for more “run throughs” than anyone else. He said he wanted to practice ringing the bells, and so he did. He practiced until he was told that he did it perfectly. Then I could see satisfaction and acceptance on his face. He was not going to stop until he was the best server he could possibly be. I must say, the priests were extremely patient and not only taught the servers the duties but also the “why” of what they were doing… reinforcing the faith and the catholic teaching. I know this helped Kyle out because he likes to know all the details and he does enjoy learning.

Before going to Sunday mass, Kyle asked me if he was allowed to serve at church. O my, I couldn’t believe he wanted to put his skills to the test! He was ready to serve in front of the entire church! I was so happy. I told him that we have to get his schedule and I’d let him know. I did mention that he better pay attention during mass so he doesn’t forget anything. And you know what, he did, including practicing his praying hands position and his genuflection. Of course, I don’t expect anything less from Kyle… he is an over-achiever and a perfectionist at heart and these detailed actions and lack of verbal kick back make him extraordinary.

posted by auntheather in Church,Common Sense,Education & Learning,Family,Observation & Imagination and have No Comments
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