Into the world

Back into the world

Back into the world

    The hardest part of any religious retreat is when you leave the protection of the cloistered environment and must return to the real world.  This weekend Father Jack presented a talk on living your faith in the real world, and not turning a faith community into a faith ghetto.  He said this at the beginning of the retreat.  It gave us each plenty of time to meditate, pray and plan for the afternoon exit.

    For Catholics practicing the magisterium, we face many challenges in the current political and economic climate.  In just a single keystroke any one of us can, and eventually will, experience a portion of the sufferings of Christ for our faith.  If we are lucky we will not face the physical harm being put on christians around the world, but this is also not guaranteed even inside the once secure United States.  The daily newscast is enough to prove these two problems a dozen fold.

    Despite these threats, traditional Catholics and christians cannot retreat from society.  We must continue demonstrating, even to those who hate us, we respect the image of God embodied in each person.  We hope and pray one day, all will celebrate in full communion with our faith as children of God.  We must in word and deed demonstrate the faith Christ taught us through the apostles.  This is the daily witness of the faith required by all, and the most effective means to evangelize one person and moment at a time.

    As a father I often find myself challenged when faced with worldly threats and my calling as a Catholic man.  Instinctively I possess a built in desire to protect my family from all evil.  I also have a desire to remove threats at their origin.   (I've had St Michael the Archangel as my working patron for 25 years, so yes I do mean protect from and root out all evil! )  Despite this, I am a practical man.  I recognize one day my number will get called, and I'll be walking with St. Joseph towards Jesus for a little talk.  If I do not prepare my children to assume the mantle of defense of the faith and evangelization, I failed my grandchildren's grandchildren a hundred fold.  

    The solution is easier to conceive than walk.  We must maintain the protection of children and families to permit evangelization of our successors in some type of safe environment.  As adults we must continue to engage the world as Christ-bearers everyday, no matter the cost to ourselves.  This is our cross to bear as we evangelize in word and deed.  As the generals of our households, we also must do what all great combat generals do.  Be willing to sacrifice the things we love most in this spiritual war.  This means slowly introducing our children into the conflict.  As their intellect and faith allow, our children must replace our tired bodies standing watch at the gates of the city of God.

    In the spiritual war, can we offer no surrender and no retreat.  For this is simply how it is in the real world.






Pink Springs In

20140411-083049.jpg Spring is barreling its way into Roswell, Georgia. Those of us with hay fever are also remembering why Atlanta Metro is known as the friendliest city to trees in the entire Untied States. The pollen count went well over 2000 for trees this week. Lovely time of year, the weather is great...but your cars are yellow...and don't touch your eyes!

We had a crazy week around my house, and a zany week to come with all sorts of fun and Holy Week to wrap it all up!

This year I found myself able to take off the last three days of Holy Week. SoI grabbed it. It is my favorite time of the liturgical year. I love the opportunity to contemplate on the fact that Jesus, God Incarnate, dies for me and everyone so we may be free. It brings me hope and peace.

The photo today reflects that thought as well. The tree went to sleep in fall, shedding its outer layer of leaves to survive the winter. Now with the light and warmth of spring new flowers arise. In them we see a mere prelude to the glory and beauty that is the love of God in our lives.


Something a little different

20140329-212511.jpg Today was two days in one, so please forgive me if this is a confusing.

We had one of those days around the house which makes you appreciate each person in your family and close friend circle a little more than when you woke up.

We had the little boy praying for his favorite pastor, now in heaven, the night before surprise me with the things he learned about faith, hope, love of God, and respect for authority this year in Blue Knights (and his catechism!).

We had a friend race over to help us and another storm heaven with prayers, as Mom and Dad had to make an unexpected trip...and we saw how deeply we love the lives of our children...and the new one on the way...before any saw the first light of day.

I had two big kids step up and grow up just a little more when faced with a challenge. I love them lots. Much more than words or photos could ever show (well no one really gets photos of me with my kids since I'm the photog!)

And then my youngest daughter fell asleep on my shoulder in church tonight while two boys sang in the children's choir (of course now at almost 10PM she just wants to party!).

This photo I played with seemed to fit the day's adventures. A lovely red blossoming flower surrounded by by busy texture. That was unfolding surrounded by the texture of confusion, noise, friends sustainment, and warmth.

All in all it was a day when we could say God is good to us in ways we could not fathom at the first light of dawn. A day reminding me to say thank you to God for all he did in so many little ways and lives to sustain us. A day which makes me say thank you for having one more day tomorrow to recover and praise his name again.


Some Contrasts in NYC

I just wanted to share two photos taken minutes apart in NYC, not even a block apart from the other.


The first photo is a Saturday night picture of traffic at about 6:15PM...It shows the towers of steel, the light, the motion of the city. People were hustling through Hell's Kitchen to grab dinner, or go see a show down the street a fe blocks in the Theater District. A few blocks to the east thousands of people streamed into Times Square using the warm weather to enjoy Super Bowl Boulevard on its last night.

Then there was this I took a few minutes earlier after the Saturday Vigil Mass at St. Micheal the Archangel...


The noise in the church was minimal, the congregation small (like 20 max in a church for 600-800 people) and the priest busy with four people talking about getting more involved at the parish....

Over my stay here this was what was so hard for me to comprehend, but easy to appreciate. On one floor you find a party, on the next a serenity, in one building complex business activities, and the adjoining one an abandoned hulk of glory long past.

There is so much crammed into this little piece of real estate! I would need to cross counties for in Georgia to experience some of these juxtapositions you get inside a city block here in New York City. It is not totally bad, it is not totally is what is. It is something one must be constantly aware of in this you should in any major city I've visited (like Tokyo, Seoul, Mexico City, Los Angeles, Berlin...I guess I've been a few places in my life).

By being aware of these many different possibilities in such a tiny area, one can both begin to appreciate what they have before them AND properly shift mindsets to handle the environment to your best advantage. And that was my lesson to self for the day I can take anywhere at anytime.


PS Fujifilm X-E1 with 35mm for the street photo, and the 14mm for the altar photo. Came out alright on both accounts I think.

Through the Looking Glass

20131203-200744.jpg Full day of travel and meetings...and this is what I see from my window. If I was not so tired I'd be walking with the tripod snagging a few shots. Instead I'm going to crash!

Besides I've been reading a lot about the Theology of the Body and I have a lot to pray provides so much to learn and apply in my family life that my head is bursting from that as well!


P.S. X-E! from the hotel room with a couple tweeks in Snapseed.