Theotokos!

Theotokos.  The very word conjures up a fiery, terrifying Galadriel-like image that exudes power.  Not the humble, Middle-Eastern peasant maiden, lying on the hard barn floor, next to a manger in which she has just lain her swaddled newborn, that she may have a few moments rest from the labors of childbirth.

Theotokos, Greek for “God-bearer”, is one of the titles we Catholics give to Jesus’ Mother.  The one we celebrate on January 1st.  Though my own image of Mary is far more human.  

There is a theory that Mary did not experience labor pains, but that Jesus issued forth from her womb painlessly, closing it back up behind Him, angels attending them, while Joseph was off doing something foster-fatherly.  I have a problem with that.  I have far more respect for a Mary who experienced all the physical, emotional and hormonal difficulties that we women do, yet, in her perfection, was able to master her responses and act in a holy fashion.  The Mary who stood in agony at the foot of the cross, dying inside as her son died physically.  The Mary who “pondered these things in her heart” for 3 days and was the first to rejoice in the resurrection.  The Mary whose only goal has ever been to lead us to her Son, not to garner worship and praise for herself.  This is the woman I can call to when I am suffering.  The woman whose life I can meditate on when I need direction in my own.  The queen whom I follow.

My Theotokos.

Happy New Year!!

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Form and Substance

Outdoor altar at the Memorial to the Unborn, St. Germaine’s Catholic Church, Prescott Valley, AZ

There is a lot of contention these days about the particular form of things.  What words should be used in the prayers of the Mass.  What gestures should be made.  How we should place the furniture (ie., altar, tabernacle, pews, etc.).  These are all superficialities.  I would gladly attend Mass out in a parking lot, with a tailgate for an altar, and the priest wearing makeshift vestments.  I am more concerned about the substance of my faith. The Holy Eucharist.  The Word of God.  The Homily that touches my heart and gives me new insight, inspiration, or at least food for thought.

The only things I want to concern myself with are – am I ready to receive Jesus into my heart?  Am I trying to live the kind of life He would have me live?  Am I too attached to property, prestige and power in my life? Just give me the Mass, Holy Communion and the Word.  I hate having my faith chopped up by fellow believers who want to nitpick over fluff and stuff.  Who buy into slanders against and focus on the imperfections of our leaders.  Who want to feel superior because they use a certain form of practice which will get them into heaven, while the rest of us roast, simply because we do not subscribe to their “form”.  I could well be wrong, but I believe that God will judge on more of what is in our hearts and how we treat others.

I certainly don’t mean that form is not at all important.  I am simply of the opinion that there is a committee of guys in red hats who get paid the big bucks to worry about all that stuff.  Whatever they decide for the moment on format, is not going to impact whether I stay or leave the church.  The substance of our faith is, has and always will be the Word of God, and the Body and Blood of Christ.  As long as that continues, we’re good.  Don’t get distracted by the side show.

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The Price of Truth – Review

 

How do solving mysteries and restoring vintage quilts go together?  Like needles and thread!  Kidding aside, when Guideposts Books puts together a series, you can bet it will be uplifting, inspirational and always interesting.  Sarah Hart is a vintage quilt restoration expert, and an avid quilter herself, who tends to get tangled up in one mystery after another.  In “The Price of Truth”, Sarah’s in Boston with her daughter-in-law, Maggie, an antique dealer, for an antique auction.  The Maple Hill Historical Society has asked Sarah to bid on a quilt they believe was owned by one of the town’s founders.  But there’s something fishy going on with the quilts at this auction.  Sarah has to find out if the desired quilt is even authentic, then discover why other quilts are selling for way above their value, before it goes up for bid.  Meanwhile, an elusive stranger keeps having secret meetings with the auction manager and Maggie’s best friend is having marital problems.  Read on as Sarah uncovers the mysteries of the quilts, helps Maggie’s friend rethink her divorce plans and saves an auction house’s reputation.

The Price of Truth is #20 in the Patchwork Mysteries Series from Guideposts Books.

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The Homekeeper’s Journal – 2/23/11

Here’s something new I found, thought I’d try it, hope you enjoy it;) If you would like to participate, go to christianhomekeeper.org.

Gentleness

“Behold your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted on a donkey” (Matt. 21:5; cf. Zech. 9:9)

Gentleness is one of the Fruit of the Spirit. We’re commanded to be gentle with others. In the Bible the word Meekness means Gentleness. Most women don’t have too hard a time being gentle or meek. The problem women sometimes have with gentleness is in thinking that gentleness equals weakness.

In my kitchen this week ….. spaghetti with meat sauce, lentil chili and cornbread, pizza bread…

On my mind this week … my mom has leukemia, my grandson is wonderful, my goat is giving fresh milk.

Gentleness is one of the Fruit of the Spirit so as a Christian ….. I want to strive to temper my words to family with gentle understanding. Especially when they are being rude and inconsiderate, and I am feeling tired and vulnerable.

When the Bible says that Moses was the meekest of all men (Numbers 12:3), it reminds me that …. great leaders lead by example, not by force, or threats, or complaining.

The gentle person has died to self, so when I am gentle in situations that cause others to be angry and violent (Proverbs 16:32; 25:28) …..I can be grateful to be sowing peace, and contributing to the solution, not the problem.

Knowing that gentleness is not cowardice or lack of conviction (1 Peter 22-23), I am encouraged to …. beg my Lord for help in staying gentle when it is difficult to do so.

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Zenyatta – Inspiration from the Queen of the Racetrack

There are few things I enjoy more than an afternoon of watching horses.  Maybe a day in Yosemite or Kings Canyon.  To watch a herd of horses frolic on the open range, or thunder around a track, to me, is a thrill.  To see a great horse honored is an immense joy.  I am not an advocate of gambling and I don’t support practices that demean principles of good stewardship of God’s creatures.  I do enjoy seeing the results of a horse being brought to it’s full potential, and a rider who respects and admires that horse in a way that the team reaches a greater success than either would individually.  Such are the examples of Mike Smith and Zenyatta, Ron Turcotte and Secretariat, Red Pollard and Sea Bisquit, to mention a few.

I do not follow horse racing, but my daughter does.  She was born to the saddle.  At the age of 2, I turned my back on her for five minutes and found her across the street with her older brother, trying to climb a fence into the paddock of the boarding stables, to pet the horses.  At a big boned five-eleven, she never had a hope of becoming a jockey, though she did quite well at gymkhana.  She is currently working towards her bachelor’s degree in equine studies.  She has a scrapbook – more like a database – on Zenyatta.  She has studied her and followed her for the horse’s entire career.  Her excitement at being able to meet and talk with Mike Smith and John Sheriffs (Zenyatta’s trainer) was contagious.  To have her share her passion with me is an honor and a priviledge.  To know that she finds inspiration and motivation to pursue her life’s dream, even when her own horses are so far away from her for the time being, makes me glad.

For myself, I enjoy watching and interacting with horses.  Ever since humans became aware that the horse was good for more than just the dinner table, there has been a mystical dynamic between horse and rider.  A good rider can communicate to his horse with the slightest pressure, the softest sound.  An intelligent and cooperative horse will respond to his rider almost intuitively.  How often in history has a story been told of a horse finding his way home, his rider unconcious in the saddle?  How often have I gone out to the paddock in distress and received a comforting nuzzle, an understanding companionship with my horses?

Truly the Creator put us here to find our way back to Him, and help our fellows to do so.  But even when humankind fails us, God gave us a back-up, our animals.  Cats, dogs, horses, all take their turn in our lives, comforting, entertaining, annoying and accompanying us back home.

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