One – 2,000 years of writing
It’s been awhile since I’ve been through RCIA and I don’t remember a lot about how I felt during that time, but one thing I do remember is coming away thinking I had 2,000 years of reading to catch up on. I haven’t made much of a dent over the years, but l recently set of goal of spending 1/2 an hour a day reading encyclicals until I get through them all. I haven’t strictly met that goal, but I am reading more encyclicals than I used to, so kudos to me. I just finished Divini Redemptoris Encyclical of Pope Pius XI on Atheistic Communism. I sure like the fire in some of these popes, especially Pope Leo XIII. Next up on the encyclical reading list is Quaragésimo Anno another encyclical by Pius XI on Reconstruction of the Social Order. I’m not following any special order in these readings. I get my next reading from whatever encyclical was mentioned in the current encyclical. That will probably make tracking which ones I’ve read very confusing in the future, but for now it’s a fine system.
Two – What I’m reading
For a blog that is all about words, I noticed, up until now I wrote #1, I haven’t written anything about what I’m reading, so let’s catch you up. I recently finished Seeking Spiritual Direction: How to Grow the Divine Life Within by Thomas Dubay, S.M. If you have any questions about spiritual direction, then I highly recommend this book. It not only answers basic questions, but more advanced questions. To that end I’m going to hang onto it and try to read it again in a year and see if I won’t get more out of it. As helpful as it was I don’t believe that it lives up to its subtitle on How to Grow the Divine Live Within. He gives very little direction on how to self-direct other than suggesting some excellent readings. Of course, this may be all he can do as spiritual direction requires an expertise that the individual is probably lacking.
I’m currently reading Happy are you Poor, also by Fr. Dubay. There is a lot packed in there, so this is my first time through, then I plan on given it another read.
Benjamin Franklin wrote that women would spend their recreation in sewing parties. The ladies would get together with their sewing projects and a book, usually the Bible. One would read while the rest sewed. I’ve been entranced with that idea every since I first read about it. I’ve instituted it into my own life by listening to an audio book (trying to find women that sew/knit/crochet who want to sit around listening to the Bible or a spiritual book is practically impossible). I’m listening to one of the suggested readings that Fr. Dubay gave in the spiritual direction book mentioned above. It’s called Introduction to the Devout Life by Francis de Sales. I’m not very far into it, but what I have listened to I just love. For anyone who wants to move closer to God, but are feeling like they’ve been benched, then I highly recommend this book. [Note: I’m listening to the book through an app I found in the iTunes store called Audio Catholic Books.]
And lastly, for those times when I don’t want to have to think when I read, my fiction book is Golden Fool: The Tawny Man Trilogy Book 2 by Robin Hobb. Robin Hobb has written a few trilogies that I just love. If you haven’t read her before, then I suggest starting with the Farseer Trilogy. That’s my favorite by far.
Three – On meeting, or not, goals
I had to read Machiavelli’s The Prince in college. There was one quote that stuck with me: “He [men] should behave like those archers who, if they are skilful, when the target seems too distant, know the capabilities of their bow and aim a good deal higher than their objective, not in order to shoot so high but so that by aiming high they can reach the target.” Now I know that his advice runs counter to the current wisdom of setting realistic goals, but whether realistic or not, the fact of the matter is that many people have trouble achieving goals they’ve set for themselves. For those people it may be better to set a very sizable goal. That way even if they don’t achieve that goal they might achieve something putting them right where they wanted to be.
I’m trying to build up the virtue of discipline muscle, so I’ve set some goals and have been tracking them to see how I’m doing. I’m actually doing better with the read 2,000 years of encyclicals than I am with the one which I only allotted 5 min. a day. I wonder if I made the latter so small that it seems inconsequential? Perhaps I’ll change that to one to 2 hours a day to see if I notice any improvement.
Four – Made me laugh
I ran across a YouTube video for a Bible study system. Before I laugh at this person I have to say that his Bible study has to be intensive because the system was incredibly in depth. You could tell that he took it very serious. He had a 5-inch binder, completely full, for each book of the Bible.
Now, the video was one part explanatory and one part sales pitch. The part that made me laugh was the sales pitch. One of the reasons he gave for doing such serious study was the parable of talents. When it came time for him to meet his maker he wanted to show that he had made good use of the talents (the Bible) God had given him. He holds up this huge binder and says, “When I meet Jesus I’m gonna show him this.” Yup, he’s taking his binders with him.
Five – Maccabees: also made me laugh
Speaking of things that made me laugh. I was reading 2 Maccabees this morning and the portion I was reading was about a king that hears about all of the gold and silver kept in the Temple treasury. This king decides he wants that money, so he sends a regiment of soldiers to take it. The high priest and the inhabitants of Jerusalem learn of this and pray asking God to thwart this person. God answers their prayers by sending an angel to whip the officer when he shows up at the Temple to confiscate the treasure. The officer is on the point of death when his soldiers ask the high priest to pray for God to heal him. The priest does and God heals the officer. Another angel shows up and tells the officer to go back to his king and explain to him what happens when someone tries to loot God’s Temple.
The officer returns to his king and relates what happens. The king still wants the treasure, so asks the officer what he should do. The officer basically says, “Send one of your enemies because whoever you send is going to get his butt kicked.”
Six – Amazing kids and God’s grace
God must just pour graces out on little kids who are born with health problems. I have this one little neighbor who is 5 yrs. old. He was born with a defect that won’t allow him to eat. So every since he was diagnosed when he was a baby he has had tubes going in and coming out of him: one going in to feed him and one coming out to drain his intestines. He has a little backpack that he wears on his back that carries the machine that sends him the food and monitors the lines. He has other problems, too, so he is usually in and out of the hospital a couple of times a year. Many of his hospital stays involve some kind of surgery. This was what happened recently.
When I heard he was coming home I started thinking about him having to go through the recovery process. Then it occurred to me that he never really has a recovery process. When he comes out of the hospital he’s just his usual happy self and back up and running around again. Unlike us who would probably have to take it easy for some length of time and complain about the pain, this child is always happy. It’s simply remarkable and I’ve always been in a little of awe of him because I thought it was him.
Then I recently got a new neighbor who has twin daughters. They are about 1 1/2 years old. One cannot eat and has tubes coming in and out of her. Do you know which one of those twins is the happiest? It’s the one with the health problems. That’s why I say God must send them some special graces to handle their health issues so well.
Seven – Old ladies and hats
I’ve been having some interesting discussions with little old ladies recently. I call them discussions because I try very hard not to argue with little old ladies, especially when one of them is my mother. Perhaps, it would be better to say I’m failing miserably at trying to persuade some senior citizens to come to my way of thinking on fashion: specifically, winter hat styles.
What started all of this was my idea to crochet items I could donate. At first, I was thinking about baby items that I could give to pregnancy centers. Then I got talking to my mom and she told me I should also consider senior citizens. They are on fixed incomes and, in addition, tend to get cold easily. Great idea, I thought. I can make hats with wool yarn that will be warmer than acrylic and, perhaps, a little more stylish than the ski hat with the pop-pom that’s usually has too much fabric at the top. They’re fine when you’re outside in the cold, but sitting around the house I thought we could make something a little nicer. So I send mom a few pictures of different hats and she rejects all of them. She wants a ski hat. First battle lost.
While I’m waiting for the yarn to arrive I decide to use some yarn I have on hand, which isn’t my ideal yarn, and practice my hat making skills. Unfortunately, I opened my mouth before it was finished and asked one of my neighbors if she wanted it. I explained that if she didn’t like it my feelings wouldn’t be hurt. I would rather give it to someone who liked it and would wear it, than someone who didn’t and wouldn’t. She said she wanted it. Fine. The pattern ran larger than smaller (lesson learned: read the comments before starting a pattern) and I didn’t like the fit. I told her I was going to redo it so it’s a little smaller. “No,” she says. “I’ll take it the way it is and I’ll just roll it up, if it’s too big.” “No,” I say. “It’s not that type of hat.” And that’s pretty much how the discussion went. Another battle lost.
Who knew dealing with little old ladies would be so difficult.
The post image was generously donated by Onur Bahcivancilar @Unsplash.