“God writes straight with crooked lines…”

If I were worthy of such a favor from my God,
I would ask that he grant me this one miracle:
that by His grace He would make of me a good man.

Saint Ansgar

What a marvelous desire—simply that God would make me good.

And oh what a miracle that would be.

For in this wish, is the knowledge that said goodness will not come by my own hands nor
by my own works…
but rather, only by the hand of God’s Grace and God’s Grace alone…
and thus a miracle beyond my mortal bounds

That such a goal should be my sole aim, my sole prayer…in this life…
that God would work to make me good…

Nothing grand, nothing special, nothing newsworthy, nothing glamorous…
neither rich, nor beautiful, nor thin, nor even particularly healthy…
nor powerful, nor smart, nor gifted…
but simply…good.

For the past couple of days, a few of the saints from day’s gone by,
have crossed my 21st-century path.
The other day it was St Boniface, today it’s St Ansgar.

And not that any of those brave men and women,
those who helped to forge our faith into what it is today,
are ever very far from me— my thoughts, my observations or my recollections…
it’s just that when God throws a few of those stalwart souls before the steps of my path,
that obviously, I must stop and pay attention…
for with God, there are no accidents.

Saints, mind you, are not individuals who would have ever claimed, nor claim today,
themselves to be such…
More realistically they were, as the familiar expression goes, ordinary people,
doing extraordinary things…

Many were actually sickly and feeble of body, others, such as our dear St Peter, had moments
that were less than stellar, in fact, moments that screamed of deep character flaws.

But whoever said God wasn’t able to make those silk purses from the ears of swine?

He’s good that way…and I am most grateful!

For it seems that there are days, that I am more often than not,
content to spend my time lounging in the pigstye.

Yet this loving Father continues reaching into that nasty pit in order to pull me from the
odious mud, working to clean me off as He nudges me forward…

Only to watch me, bewildered I would imagine, time and time again running back to
the comfort of the mudstye…as I readily put off once again His agenda at hand.

But I don’t think God is ever bewildered as He already knows my choices and my decisions…
just as He persistently continues cleaning and nudging.

So today I must confess that St Boniface is much more recognizable to me than St Ansgar.

In fact, I had never heard of St Ansgar before today.
But it seems that he is known as “the apostle of the North”
North being Scandinavia.

He is also known as the patron saint of Denmark.

Now when I think of Scandinavia, I think of Vikings…and if we know anything about Vikings,
it’s that they were not the most peace-filled, warm and fuzzy, full embracing sort of individuals
one would want to actually encounter.

Theirs was a deeply rich and entrenched culture immersed in the notion of the Norse gods
and Valhalla.
The raging sea and the cold of their lands.
Throw in some plundering, pillaging and raping and you had the warrior clans of the North.

I can only imagine the trepidation about having to head into their territory to spread the Gospel
of the One Omnipotent God and the saving Grace found in His resurrected Son.

There were language barriers, cultural barriers, a climate barrier, a customs barrier,
a physical appearance barrier, and most importantly, an end-goal barrier—as in a Viking’s
end goal in life was not that of a Chrisitan missionary’s end goal.

Mongering and surviving vs converting.

Ansgar (801-865) who lived about 200 years following St Boniface, was much like Boniface
in that neither man lived long enough to see the fruits of their labors come to fruition.

Neither of the groups of soul’s hearts who they had been instructed to go forth and turn,
had their hearts turned during the lifetime of either of these Godly men.

Oh, there were the brief time periods of peace, hope and redemption…but nothing
permanent and long lasting…not until others followed in the footsteps of
these determined men many years later. Along a path that these men had bravely cut.

Yet neither man saw their life’s work as a waste of time.
The key was that they were doing what God had sent them to do.
God did not tell either man there would be success and glory in the end…
they each simply prayed that God would lead and they, in turn, would follow.

They had prayed to do God’s will…not their will, not their desires, but rather God’s…
and so they lived their lives doing just that.
One being martyred at the hands of those he wished to turn and the other dying after
seeing his life’s work destroyed by the very souls he yearned to turn.

History records what people do, rather than what they are.
Yet the courage and perseverance of men and women like Ansgar can only come from a
solid base of union with the original courageous and persevering Missionary.
Ansgar’s life is another reminder that God writes straight with crooked lines.
Christ takes care of the effects of the apostolate in his own way;
he is first concerned about the purity of the apostles themselves.

(excerpt from https://vitaesanctorum.wordpress.com/2018/02/01/saint-ansgar/ )

So we are reminded that no matter what He has to work with, God will always write straight…by that which will never seem straight in the eyes of the world— and it is there inwhich lies our prayer…that
by His Grace, He may make us good…

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live,
but Christ who lives in me.
And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

Narcissus and the selfie obsession

“For the most part people are not curious except about themselves.”
John Steinbeck

Narcissus,-c.1597-99-large
(Narcissus by Caravaggio 1597-99 / Galleria Nazionale D’Arte Antica, Rome, Italy)

I just don’t get it.

Were we not taking pictures, those of ourselves, long before the word selfie came into being the most recent phenomenon cultural obsession?
Those good ol days of the Kodak instamatic, with its four part flash cube, clicking away at the important moments of our lives. . .

Excitedly we’d pop out the film role, being careful not to expose it to light, racing it off to the nearest camera shop as we could barely contain our excitement over our soon to be developed pictures.
Only to joyfully retrieve the prints after several days of anxious waiting, marveling at the double exposures, red eyes, and blurry images as being careful not to get sticky fingerprints on the new glossy picture prints.
Were we a bit more cautious as to what we were taking pictures of as we knew that there was a person at the camera shop who would be developing said pictures and we certainly didn’t want him or her to see us in any poor choice of situation—perhaps with the developer acting as both filter and conscience. . .Hummmmmm. . .

But I suppose yes, we have come a long way. . .I just don’t know if its been a very good journey.

And social media, I don’t much get that either. . .

This whole FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram. . .”insta” this and that obsession in this obsessive connect every dot, unabashedly sharing of everything, and sadly I mean everything, with everyone and anyone world of ours. . .
Keeping up with the Joneses has now met the 21st century way.
A virtual brag sheet of trips and activities with the sharing of our intimate and private moments. . .with not only friends and family, but everyone!

Maybe it’s the latest national, no actually global, obsession, of everyone wanting their 15 minutes of fame—with, as we again sadly see, that fame often leading to instant demise. . .

I know what you’re thinking. . .you’re thinking I’m really showing my age, my ignorance, my uber unclooness. . .
Well I prefer hoping that maybe I just might be simply on a quest for wisdom.

I’ve stated before that I’ve never joined in with the whole FaceBook phenomenon.
I don’t tweet, pin, post, chat and whatever it is that most folks are now doing on this communicative world stage of ours.
Oh I understand the whole “it’s how I stay connected with my family who live so far away” mentality. . .I get that.
I get you want to see pictures of the grandkids. . .share what the kids are up to with a traveling spouse. . .share those treasured family moments with literally the world, I get it. . .I’m just wondering if we haven’t also turned into a culture of. . . what’s the word??. . .oh yeah, creepers or maybe just plain ol voyeurists–as we fill our time by pouring over ours and our neighbor’s, those known and unknown, virtual worlds.

Moms following their kids around cyberly making certain all is on the up and up until the kids “unfriend” them (which is good and all, but maybe policing their allowance of usage with technology would be better serving. . .I know, you’ve got an argument for that. . . as I’m obviously far off the grid here)
And what of the old high school and college flames reconnecting, never mind one or the other may still be married. . . or maybe you’re just trying to rekindle that whole “what was” business only to discover “what was” in now 40 years in the future and we and it has all been changed by time. . .

And yes I get the whole raise the awareness of current issues and crises. . .the promoting of businesses, the whole global drawing attention to the growing list of the lost and hopefully soon to be found. . .yet I fear our obsession is going too far—

And what’s up with this whole “sexting” business?
Where folks sashay out into the world of casual sex in a way that oddly is rationalized off as safe, as in no body is touching anybody and therefore there is really no sex, no potential disease, no true infidelity or premarital sex, so it’s all harmless—no biggie that you’re posting pics of your intimate areas as it were, looking for love or affirmation or whatever it is you’re looking for in all those wrong kind of places. . .only to see those private images go suddenly viral. . .now there’s a sticky wicket—and then that leads us to the growing sickness with cyber porn, child predators as we open an entire world of technology darkness. . .lets not even talk about cyber stealing. . .

Maybe you’re just feeling really good about yourself these days and you want the cyber world to know it as you upload selfie, after selfie, after selfie. . . .is there not more to your world than you?
And who exactly is it who is seeing these images. . . and just when you may have second thoughts about having posted those pics, hitting delete later doesn’t delete you from cyber space where you and that image remain until the end of time. . . .looking hot and good for ages to come. . .Hummmmmm

We’ve seen the selfie of the young lady, all grins as she snaps a picture of herself while on that special European trip, standing at the gates of Auschwitz—-a big ol happy smile with that cold dark gate standing behind her as the sign of “welcome” still remains. . .maybe she didn’t get that whole history of where she was standing thing. . .

What of the other young American tourists scratching their names into the side of the Colosseum there in Rome then snapping pictures in order to post to FB of their “kilroy was here moment”. . .never mind defacing a National historic treasure of Italy or the arrest, or of the fine. . .
or of the stupidity. . .

What of the tourists mugging for the camera with the bodies of the calcified remains of the victims of Pompeii—maybe it’s just me but that just seems a bit awkward—everyone pull in tight as we snap the pic of us with our arms around the case containing the remains of a human being who met a tragic end. . .everybody smile. . .

Are we so caught up in the moment of snapping that picture that we forget where we are,
what we’re doing. . .too busy to take it all in because we’d much rather get the perfect picture of us with “it”— and not merely of “it”, wherever and whatever it may be—as in look at me, here I am with “it”, at it, on it, under it, in it. . . but I’M here, ME, WE. . . forget it. . .

Oh sure there are the shots of the adrenaline rush moments with the GoPro taking us places most of us will never be or of things we will never see or of perspectives that are not our own. . . of the parachuters, the whitewater rafters, the free fall divers, the skiers, the surfers, the sharks, the rhinos, the birds, our dogs. . .

Yes there is certainly coolness and there is good. . .yet there is sad and there is dark as well. . .

I fear that our focus has become more about us, as in. . . see us, see we, see me. . .
all of this self obsession as a world continues spiraling out of control, as its troubles keep growing- – -yet we keep on smiling and sharing. . .


I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20