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Living a fruitful Catholic Life

Heat and Light

November 21, 2014

We knew the cold front was coming and as insane as it sounds, we were excited.

Wyoming enjoys beautiful fall weather. It is fun, there are fall days after the school begins that makes you feel like you have the best of both worlds. You still still have the leisure of summer but with the constant threat of change – exhilarating!

The nice weather had persisted, oddly almost beyond its welcome. The green grass seemed peculiar and although hard to admit; it was time for cold. The prediction was daunting, temperatures -9. The pumpkins on the front step could be thrown away now or frozen solid. The later option chanced gross orange globs that result from freezing followed by a thaw. Preemptive measures won and we carried them to the dumpster.

When the cold front hit ,we were ready; if ready means coats and boots out but hats and mittens waiting to be pulled from every location. I was ready, ready to frantically search the pile of various sizes and colored mittens for a match. Whew! With that accomplished, I planned to make matches and be more prepared for tomorrow. (Never happened.)

The storm was more severe than anticipated, the temperature dropped to -22 and towels were placed by the front door to prevent a draft. This was serious business! Day two showed no signs of improvement and it was time for more dramatic action – starting the pellet stove. We have two pellet stoves. The stove on the main floor heats the main floor and upstairs like a dream. The warm air flows upstairs like the flame of a candle. Only persistent freezing weather results in the starting of the basement stove.

This effort brings out the survivalist in me. Excited for the battle, I start downstairs. The stove is fully manual and it is somewhat unpredictable. At times, pushing the “on button” results in . . . silence. Sometimes it starts only to stop for no reason. I broke up the fire starter, squares of fiber soaked in lighter fluid. I form a nest of the fiber and add a few pellets to aid the process. Wood pellets are actually very difficult to start on fire. What is required is a bed of hot coals and then an air draw to feed the fire and sustain itself. I am always excited to start it, but never confident.

The fiber nest started perfectly, I turned on the stove to create the draw and add the flow of pellets. No go. I stepped back and watched the nest of fire already suffocating. I closed my eyes and consecrated the day. I pushed the button again, nothing. I plugged and unplugged the unit, reminding myself it hadn’t been used in months. Perhaps its issues were fatal. I sighed and pressed the on button again, nothing. Then . . . yes. Yes, it roared to life. The fire burst taking a deep breath. Thank you God!

This process always brings out the deepest concerns of my heart. What if survival depended on this fire? My surroundings remind me that this is not dire situation; but as I adjust the flow of pellets, the damper, the fan - I feel like it does. I lose myself in the thought that many mothers in the world live dramatic lives. Lives that hinge between life and death. Oh, for those mothers I pray as I watch the pellets fight to ignite, slow, and then reemerge.

Dear Lord, bless the hands which pray for a fire to warm their children, heat their food, and protect them.

Please, Lord.

This is the reason I love my pellet stove. How blessed I am! How I pray for the safety and security of families as I watch the fire:

May I be fully grateful and fully recognize that my life

is easy because of where and when I was born.

May I confirm my allegiance with those born in the

atmosphere of poverty, injustice, and war.

May my faith increase as if my very life depends on it.

The need for change causes pain –

Forgive me Lord, for my ingratitude. Amen.

Heat and Light!

Part two –

Yes, still about the pellet stove . . .

Watching the pellets catch on fire is mesmerizing.

The coals ignite new pellets but never as I expect. One would think that the coals in the nest would create an equal opportunity for the dropping pellets to ignite and the fire would rage – Never. The heat required to spark a pellet is high. Even after the fire is established there are dangers: the pellets build up and suffocate the base - the fire dies. The pellets disturb the base of coals - the fire dies. The new pellets do not fall on the hot coals - the fire dies. I watch in concern as the fire fights one obstacle after another to either survive and grow, or suffer and die.

If you read part one, you would understand that watching a fire grow for me is personal; but on this freezing day it was more so. I stood amazed as the fire grew and danced on the one side of the basket. The other side of the basket remained still and unaffected. The pellets fall to land by chance to the right and to the left and I am left to watch. That is the way it is with pellet stoves; one cannot intervene. I knew if the hot pellets were not fed, that part of the fire would die and I would be left to scoop out the uncooked portion. Result - a big waste of time and effort.

Why doesn't the fire move from one side to the other? Simply because the “cold” pellets form a wall from the heat. I kept thinking of Jesus’ words. Words about the danger of being lukewarm, he told us to be hot. We are to bring Light to the world.

Watching the dancing hot pellets made me think of St. Francis and his cousin Claire. Would or could St. Claire have stolen away into the night to pledge her life for Christ without Francis and his example? Would she have cut off all her hair and forsaken her parents and their plans to enter into that fire that consumed Francis? As he lit the world on fire, she was in close proximity. She was close enough to catch on fire! Ablaze, she affected others and the Church and the world was changed one person at a time.

When you see others full of joy, do you move closer or farther away? Do we dance with them in God’s presence or do we form the wall that allows their blaze to die out? When we experience God’s love in a deep and profound way, do we share that experience? Are we afraid to be vulnerable and neglect sharing the reason for “the Hope that lives in me".

In this, the week before Advent, I encourage you to burst into flame in an act of spiritual spontaneous combustion! Move closer to people filled of the fire of the Holy Spirit and dance! Stay away from cold walls that divide. Afire, be a part of Christ’s Love, inspire others, and change people and the world!

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!


The First of Octember

November 1, 2014

Beautiful Saint Lucy and Pope Pius X.

It just doesn't get any better!

The First of Octember is a favorite phrase of my husband who reads the Dr. Seus classic frequently to the kids. I have never read it; but as a literature major, referencing an unread book doesn’t bother me a bit. So much for scruples …

What does October mean to a Catholic Mother? The month devoted to Mary, the Feast of the Holy Rosary, a month meant to pull us closer to Our Mother is also the month when every visit to the grocery store is like entering a haunted house. How do we avoid the sensational and diabolical nature of this display and does it cause us to abandon popular Halloween?

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Is it possible to use the constant sight of the secular to draw us closer to God? Is it possible that Halloween is the reality of our secular world and ways, unveiled without sugar coating, a Terror for all to see? Commercialism unbridled? I don’t know; but I do know it is hard to watch the country poised to celebrate the debasement of values on the Eve of All Saint’s Day, All Hallowed Eve.

There is an antidote even if comes in November, November 1st to be precise.

All Saint’s Day is marvelous! It is extraordinary in a real religious sense. It is the day we all sing out, “Oh when the Saints, come marching in! Oh when the Saints come marching in …” Did you sing that song today? I did. I sang it out loud with 35 children in costume as we paraded around the church property. We told stories of great people, our heroes, but this day is not about famous people. It is a Feast for all the people we love, people who have died and who see the face of God right now! These people have names who dot our evening prayers, they who created our family traditions, and taught us our favorite recipes. These are OUR people. So when you see the Christmas decorations replace the Halloween stuff remember, it is All Soul’s Day and its Octave. Those are OUR people too and it is time to celebrate and sacrifice for them. During All Soul’s Day, The Church is her wisdom grants us an amazing gift - a plenary indulgence. A gift of the remediation of sins for those we love, some we don’t, and those who really need prayer. Don’t leave anyone out!

Visit a Church, a cemetery, and attend Mass to offer these gifts for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Visit the devotions page to learn more about these gifts of The Church and move past the phantom of October 31st and burst into the blessings of November!

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