Poem on St. Catherine of Siena

“To set the world on fire,

The soul rising up to God

Needs to proclaim the Lord’s Truth,

And not be silent through fear.

Without God’s great endurance,

Nothing worthy can be done.

For Love as Virtue is fire—

Hungered for, nourishing life—

To work the wonders of God

Among His priceless people.

God’s all comes from Virtue Love

To save us through His Certain,

Victorious Forgiveness.

Love Uncreated prospers

In Man’s Soul; the Soul, In Him.

For His Beloved Servants,

Every place is the right place;

And every time, the right time

To give such pleasing wisdom,

To see the Life of His Grace,

And lean against Christ Crossèd.

Father, give these Souls Yourself;

Let them be whom You Have Made

So they may set all ablaze.”

All these were her prayers and words

For her beloved brethren;

To the Heavenly Bridegroom,

And His weak but chosen Bride.

Her faith staved off the maelstrom,

Her hope kept the sails aloft,

Her love helped preserve His Ship.

O Lovely Caterina,

Always pray for us, His Ship;

By the Angels’ Orchestra,

His Saints’ Heavenly Chorus,

And Our Church’s Passing Song—

May your name be ever blest.

Lord, may it be so. Amen.

—In May Two-Thousand Thirteen

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Short Story: “Ecce Homo” (Part 6)

Short Story: “Ecce Homo” (Part 5)

Author’s Note: This short story was written in 2010 or 2011, and is dedicated to my friend F.S.B. The story is titled “Ecce Homo: A Calling.” This is the final part of six parts, which will be posted each Monday of Lent. The previously posted parts of the story are on this Word Document.

(From Part 5) The man stretched out his hand, and the boy took it. And as the man let go, the boy realized the man had put something in his hand.

The man smiled and reassured him: “But, it’s nice to have some direction, too.”

“But, what am I supposed to do?”

END OF PART 5; PART 6 BEGINS HERE

“Well, son: First, you need to go home and get some rest. After that, think about what I told you, what you felt. Consider what you’re being called to. But don’t worry, the right people will get in touch with you soon enough.

“But most importantly, you need to change: change your lifestyle, change your attitude, change the way you think about things; because you can never go back to how it was before, no matter how much you try. From now on, it only gets harder, not easier.”

The boy hesitated, but the man reached out and pulled him into a reassuring embrace and told him, “I believe in you.”

Then, just as quickly, the man let go, but the boy didn’t want to leave his presence. He felt a new life, a new breath, circulating through his body. It was a driving wind that filled his entire being, constantly propelling him forward; and now, he didn’t want to let it go.

“Minute’s up. I need to go,” the bus driver said.

The boy was reluctant, but the man nodded reassuringly and told him, “‘The great work begins.’”

So, the student climbed into the bus and showed the bus driver his pass. She was a little perturbed with him for making her linger, but she could tell by his wet clothes that he had been waiting a while. So, she said nothing.

She did, however, address the man outside, “Are you coming too?”

“No,” the man told her.

The boy turned around and looked back out, “What? Aren’t you coming?”

“Don’t worry. I’ll be in touch.”

“I know, but I thought—“

“—Son,” it was the only time the man had ever interrupted him throughout the entire conversation.  “I wasn’t waiting for a bus…I was waiting for you.”

Then, as the bus doors closed, the boy saw the man smile and open his right hand. Unconsciously, he did the same and realized, for the first time, the gift the man had given him.

Short Story: “Ecce Homo” (Part 5)

Short Story: “Ecce Homo” (Part 5)

Author’s Note: This short story was written in 2010 or 2011, and is dedicated to my friend F.S.B. The story is titled “Ecce Homo: A Calling.” This is the fifth of six parts, which will be posted each Monday of Lent. The previously posted parts of the story are on this Word Document.

(from Part 4) “Man, who do you think you are? You don’t know anything about me!”

He had been seen through, exposed. He was rebellious and independent by his nature, and now he had to defend himself against the pressure he was under. The whole time he was shouting at the man, the boy never looked at him directly – only in his general direction. He couldn’t bear to make eye-contact, for fear that he would become transparent to the man’s gaze.

 “Son, look at me.”

END OF PART 4; PART 5 BEGINS HERE

On the surface, the student was unwilling to comply; but, there was some deep part of him that, for some reason, was drawn to look at the man.

Then, the man called him by name.

But, he didn’t just call it. It seemed, more so, that the man breathed the boy’s name to him; and a sweet smell, like perfume or incense, filled his nostrils, and his ears rang with the sound of his name.

And then, he knew.

He knew he was no longer intoxicated. It was a new day amidst the same rainy night. He also knew that he was not hung-over either. All of his senses had returned to their fullest, and his mind was sober and clear. He wished to hide himself, or he would risk being seen in the naked state that he felt he was in.

But, the man placed a hand on his shoulder, and continued to look at him – to look into him.

“It’s time,” he said.

“Time… time for what?”

“It is time for you to leave. Your bus is here.”

The boy, even though his mind was clear, couldn’t understand – until he saw the bright lights of the bus drawing ever closer towards them. It pulled up alongside the curb near their bench, and the doors opened.

“Are you leaving soon,” the student asked the bus driver.

The bus driver, a middle-aged woman, looked at her watch and replied, “This rain has put me behind schedule, so I’m not going to sit here for too long.”

“Can you wait just two minutes, please?”

The bus driver looked at her watch again and told him firmly, “One minute.”

The boy could do nothing but look again at the man, but this time, he could actually see him – see him for who he really was.

“How… how do I know this is real,” he asked, befuddled.

“You just have to have a little faith.”

The man stretched out his hand, and the boy took it. And as the man let go, the boy realized the man had put something in his hand.

The man smiled and reassured him: “But, it’s nice to have some direction, too.”

“But, what am I supposed to do?”

Short Story: “Ecce Homo” (Part 4)

UPDATE ON “NOT IN INK”:

Dear readers, I need to take a break for a while. The pope’s election on Wednesday threw a monkey wrench into my planned posts for this week; and I seriously need to focus on some projects at work right now.

So, I am going to be taking a “spring break” from this blog for about the next 10 days. I still encourage you all to check the blog, because I am going to be posting some pre-written materials (like “Ecce Homo”) and some posts from guest authors! But, because of my need to focus on work and my travel schedule, I won’t be able to write a new musing each day (which is mostly what I have been doing).

So, this is my rough plan for the next 10 days or so:

  • Today, March 15 — “Ecce Homo” Part 4
  • Musing/Meditation on Sunday’s Gospel
  • Monday, March 18 — “Ecce Homo” Part 5
  • ~Friday, March 22 — A guest-author post on “Masculinity”
  • ~Saturday, March 23 — A complementary post on “Femininity”
  • Sunday, March 24 — Maybe a meditation on the Gospel (???)
  • Monday, March 25 — “Ecce Homo” Part 6
  • March 26 thru March 31 — HOLY WEEK MEDITATIONS/MUSINGS!! 😀

With all that being said, Thanks for reading the blog!!! 🙂

I have really enjoyed writing these musings, meditations, and misc. stuff for you all — and for My Most Important Reader (a.k.a. God).

Two things I’m asking you lovely readers to do:

  • Please pray for my mother, because she is trying to find a new job.
  • PLEASE share this blog with your friends and family… and anyone and everyone! It would be really awesome to come back from my “spring break” and see that I have like 300 new followers (Not going to happen, but a writer can dream…) So, again, please share.

I shall keep you all in my prayers, and I ask that you please keep me and my family in yours. Thanks and Blessed Lent!

Short Story: “Ecce Homo” (Part 4)

Author’s Note: This short story was written in 2010 or 2011, and is dedicated to my friend F.S.B. The story is titled “Ecce Homo: A Calling.” This is the fourth of six parts, which will be posted each Monday of Lent. The previously posted parts of the story are on this Word Document.

(From Part 3) “You know, son,” the man said, making eye-contact, “You really believe a lot for someone who doesn’t have much faith.”

That remark struck the boy down in his core. Yet, he still wouldn’t show it. He merely shrugged his shoulders and looked out at the street.

“Have you ever considered becoming a priest,” the man asked him.

END OF PART 3; PART 4 BEGINS HERE

Tsk, why would I want to become a priest?” the boy said. He was clearly offended by the question. It was almost worse than a punch in the face.

“That’s not what I asked,” the man responded in a voice that was calm, but firm. “I asked you did you ever consider becoming a priest, not if you wanted to.”

There was a long pause, until the boy finally said, “Not really. Maybe when I was younger, ‘cause I went to Catholic school, and they kinda drilled that into us, you know. ‘Become a nun! Become a priest!’ Not now, though. I just don’t want to. Plus, they probably wouldn’t take me. I mean, who’d want me to be a priest?”

“God,” the man said with a smile.

“I already told you, man: I don’t believe in God.”

“‘It doesn’t matter. He believes in you.’”

In the back of the boy’s mind he thought that sounded familiar—like it was from a movie or TV show he had seen once. But, he didn’t respond. He was still churning the man’s previous words over in his head, like an endless drying machine – his thoughts continued to cycle around and around.

“Perhaps it might benefit you to know this: ‘God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called.’”

“Jeez, what are you?” he asked, trying to deflect, “A priest or something?”

“Of a sort,” the man replied with a genuine grin. “I know a lot of them. It’s tough work, believe me, but it is – in and of itself – a very rewarding vocation. And I believe you look like someone who’s up to the challenge.”

The boy stood up. He freed himself from the constraints and the protection of the umbrella and its keeper. He stood in the rain and shouted at the man on the bench.

“Man, who do you think you are? You don’t know anything about me!”

He had been seen through, exposed. He was rebellious and independent by his nature, and now he had to defend himself against the pressure he was under. The whole time he was shouting at the man, the boy never looked at him directly – only in his general direction. He couldn’t bear to make eye-contact, for fear that he would become transparent to the man’s gaze.

“Son, look at me.”

Short Story: “Ecce Homo” (Part 3)

Author’s Note: This short story was written in 2010 or 2011, and is dedicated to my friend F.S.B. The story is titled “Ecce Homo: A Calling.” This is the third of six parts, which will be posted each Monday of Lent. The previously posted parts of the story are on this Word Document.

(from Part 2) The boy thought he was fooling him, but really, his inebriated state made it even easier to see right through him.

“Really,” the man asked. “Then why are you sitting out here with me, and not in there partying with your friends?”

PART 3 BEGINS HERE

This question changed the boy’s demeanor completely. All of a sudden, he had a very contrite and embarrassed look on his face. Then, he became conscious of himself, and his ego inflated again.

He shrugged the question off, and said, “They’re just a bunch of losers, that’s all. Just ‘cause I know how to enjoy myself more than they do.”

“What happened?”

The student was hesitant at first, but he wanted the man to understand his side of the story. He had to defend himself, even if to the stranger at a bus stop.

“Well, you know, I was having a good time, like I usually do,” the boy began, “And then this chick started coming onto me. I could tell she was pretty wasted, but she was looking good. So, you know, I started making out with her. Turns out though, she’s like the girlfriend of the guy who was throwing the party. My friends all said I was drunk, and some of the guys took my keys, and they were like, ‘Have fun! The bus stop’s out there!’”

“So, basically they kicked you out because you weren’t making the right decisions? Because you weren’t being prudent?”

For some reason, the man’s words had a sobering effect on the boy. He began to realize, for the first time, how much of a fool he had been. It seemed that the longer he sat next to the man, with his over-sized umbrella, the more he understood about his own life, his own decisions.

But, again, his ego overtook his conscience, and as he swelled up his chest, he exhaled in his liquored breath, “Yeah, but you know, I like going out and having fun. You only got one life to live, and I’m going to spend my time enjoying as much of it as I can.”

“But, what’s going to happen after you die? What do you plan on doing then?”

“Look, man,” the boy said looking directly at him. “I don’t believe in God. I believe in living and enjoying life. My parents are like Catholic or whatever, and they’re always preaching to me, ‘Go to church. Live your faith.’ Psh, whatever! I do what I want, and I want to enjoy myself. I don’t believe that anybody – priests, or nuns, or whatever – should tell me how to live my life!”

“You know, son,” the man said, making eye-contact, “You really believe a lot for someone who doesn’t have much faith.”

That remark struck the boy down in his core. Yet, he still wouldn’t show it. He merely shrugged his shoulders and looked out at the street.

“Have you ever considered becoming a priest,” the man asked him.

End of Part 3. Check back next Monday for Part 4. (Keep reading the blog in the meantime, though.)

Musing on Mother Seton

Author’s Note: This musing turned out longer than I had planned, so there will be no musing/meditation tomorrow. Sorry, but I feel like this one is two days’ worth of reading, anyway. Still, I hope you enjoy it!

A Musing on Mother Seton (and Why I Admire Her So Much)

Anyone can be a saint. A saint can be anyone from anywhere at any time in history. We are all called to holiness — to be a child of God who strives to preach the Gospel.But, when I say “think of a saint,” you probably think of an Apostle, early church martyr, or Doctor of the Church – odds are, they’re male, they’re European (or from the Holy Land), and they’re a religious or priest.

Saints can come from any walk of life, but the majority of the canonized saints — and the most well-known ones — are European (or Middle-Eastern) male religious/priests: Saints Peter and Paul, and any of the other Apostles; St. Benedict; St. Augustine; St. Francis of Assisi; St. Dominic; St. Thomas Aquinas; St. Ignatius of Loyola; St. John of the Cross and so on.

That is not to say that any of the aforementioned saints are not worth studying, imitating, etc. They are. They are awesome, and I want to imitate their love for Christ and His Church in every moment of my life.

However, I’ve found that sometimes it’s harder to relate to these saints. They were from another country, another time, another vocation, etc. But, in my own life, I have been blessed to spend time at parish named for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Mother Seton is awesome, as are all the saints – canonized or not. But, unlike many of the aforementioned saints, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton seems more ‘approachable’ to me — as a lay, American woman — for three very simple reasons:

She was an American woman.

The Church recognizes 17 canonized American saints, but only three of them were born in (what is now) the United States: Mother Seton and Saints Katherine Drexel and (newly canonized) Kateri Tekakwitha.

Mother Seton was born in the British colony New York in 1774 — so, the American Revolution took place during her childhood. During her lifetime, she would have experienced things like George Washington become the first U.S. President; Washington D.C. established as the nation’s capital; and the newborn United States fight with former mother-country Britain during the War of 1812.

Today, Mother Seton’s remains are enshrined at the National Shrine in Emmitsburg, Maryland. There is also a shrine to her near her former home in New York City.

Mother Seton is the patron saint of Maryland and American Catholic schools (as she founded the first free ones in America).

As a relatively new country, there aren’t very many canonized American saints yet.

But the ones that we do have truly embody many of those ideals and virtues that Americans and Catholics alike greatly value: courage, independence, a strong will, generosity, benevolence, kindness, and so on.

She was a wife and mother.

Tying into the above point, Mother Seton’s life attests that people from any vocation can become saints. Everyone is called to holiness, and people in all vocations and walks of life will have their trials to overcome.

Elizabeth Bayley was married to William Seton when she was 19. They had five children together, and – despite her busy life as wife and mother – she helped organize a lady’s charity group that would distribute food to the poor.

Her husband, whose shipping company had went bankrupt, was in poor health, and the family sailed to Italy for William’s health. He died on the way, and Elizabeth Seton landed in a foreign country as a widowed mother to her five children.

As a wife and mother, Mother Seton had her own struggles; but she was still able to live a noble and charitable life. We do not have to be a religious or a priest to do the same.

She was a convert.

Saints can come from any kind of initial religious background, and Mother Seton can attest to that. She grew up in a devout Episcopalian household. Her husband and children, too, were raised in the Episcopalian faith.

After her husband died en-route to Italy in 1803, Elizabeth stayed with the her late husband’s friends – the Filicci family, a prominent Italian Catholic family.

The Filiccis introduced Elizabeth to Catholicism, and when she returned to New York, she continued studying the Faith and finally converted in 1805.

After her friends and neighbors found about her conversion, she was shunned and avoided by many members of her community. Many parents withdrew their children from her school, which she had started to support her family.

In the years following, Mother Seton founded the first free Catholic school in America and started a religious order – the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph – in Emmitsburg. Her daughter Catherine was among the first sisters to join her.

In common with many saints, St. Elizabeth had a special devotion to the Eucharist and the Blessed Mother. Truly, her conversion was whole-hearted, and despite the social stigma of the time, she became an important figure in the Church’s history in the United States.

In Summary

I believe that we like to find people that we can relate with – someone who’s on “our level,” so to speak. Whether it is in life, literature, or anything else, we like encountering people who are like us in some aspect.

Our mindset is: “If she can do it, then I can do it, too.” If we are like them, in some aspect or other, whatever they achieve, we realize we can achieve, too.

So, why should our spiritual lives be any different? If the saints can share God’s Love and Joy in the world, despite all the adversities in their way – torture, loneliness, abandonment, persecution, alienation, and personal attachments – why can’t I do the same?

That’s why I admire St. Elizabeth Ann Seton so much: because, as a lay, American woman, she and I are alike. And, if she can become a saint, then I can become a saint, too.

We all have saints that we relate to because we have common ground with them – shared life experiences, trials, vocations, etc. We admire them because they are like us – and they are holy.

And that is why I love all the saints, including Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton! They all give me the hope that…

If they can do it, then I can do it, too.

Short Story: “Ecce Homo” (Part 2)

Ecce Homo: A Calling

Author’s Note: This short story was written in 2010 or 2011, and is dedicated to my friend F.S.B. The story is titled “Ecce Homo: A Calling.” This is the second of six parts, which will be posted each Monday of Lent. You can read the first part here.

(from Part 1) The student put his hands on his face and pulled them down his cheeks. He began swearing, but the man stopped him thus:

“Excuse me, son. Can I help you?”

PART 2 BEGINS HERE

The student rubbed the snot away from his nose, and replied, “Not unless you got some wheels.” He said this in a mean, sarcastic way as he looked the man up-and-down.

“So, you’re waiting for a bus, then,” the man asked him. “May I ask which one?”

“It’s like the Number-3 bus or something. Whichever one stops near 9th and Ohio. I can walk to my dorm from there.”

“That would be the Number-6 bus. It should be here in about ten minutes.”

“You sure,” the student asked.

The man nodded his head as he pulled out his umbrella. It was beginning to sprinkle, and while the weather had been nice earlier that the evening, the forecast had called for rain later that night. As the man unfurled and opened his umbrella, the rain picked up.

“You’re welcome to come and sit under the umbrella. It’s big enough for two.”

The man was right, as his umbrella was one of those that they use on golf courses. It probably would have been big enough for three.

The student was resolved he would do no such thing. He looked around for an awning, or some overhang he could stand under, but there was none nearby. The last thing he wanted to do was sit next to a man he didn’t know, even if he had an adequate shelter from the downpour. A few moments, it began to rain harder.

After a minute or so of persistent showering, the man insisted again. The boy finally swallowed his pride and ran to the other end of the bench. The man was perfectly dry under his umbrella, and the boy was reluctant to admit that he had been wrong to reject such an offer. Even though his pride could not overcome his sense of self-preservation, he felt humiliated sitting there.

This situation, awkward as it was for the college student, initiated a very interesting conversation that lasted the whole ten minutes or so until the Number-6 bus arrived. The conversation must be modified slightly as there was some cursing on the account of the college student, but was much to this effect:

“Why do these buses have to take so long,” the student said in a very impatient and frustrated manner.

“Will you please not talk so loud?”

“What? You got a problem with me,” he said.

“No,” the man said in a kind voice. “I said nothing of the kind. I merely have a problem with the smell of your breath,” as they were sitting unavoidably close to each other beneath the umbrella. “You had too much to drink.”

“You sound like my father.”

“Perhaps both he and I have your best interests at heart,” the man said.

“You don’t know anything about me!”

The man merely smiled and said, “I know that you like Jack Daniels.”

At this, the student began chuckling and told the man, “Yeah, man! Of course I do.” He smiled and nodded his head, as if to say, “Good times…Good times.”

“But, son, haven’t you ever wondered,” the man asked, “if you were making the wrong decision? Don’t you ever regret it?”

“No! This is the life, man. For sure.”

The boy thought he was fooling him, but really, his inebriated state made it even easier to see right through him.

“Really,” the man asked. “Then why are you sitting out here with me, and not in there partying with your friends?”

End of Part 2. Check back next Monday for Part 3. (Keep reading the blog in the meantime, though.)