lessons from a difficult sister

Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
for myself, I have chosen your altars,
my King and my God.

Psalm 84:3


(Léonie Martin, known as Sister Françoise-Thérèse)

Since I was adopted as a baby I’ve never known whether I had a sister or not.
I did not have a sister in my adoptive family.
However, I do know what it means to have been a bit of a difficult child.

I was rather headstrong growing up.

I wouldn’t say I was difficult, but that label might need to be addressed by my mom and dad,
and since neither of them is here to add to or refute such a claim, we’ll just keep it as headstrong.

I was often willful, somewhat defiant and had a mind of my own.

I knew what I liked and what I wanted despite those wants and ideas not always being the
wisest of thoughts.

After reading the following story about a rather obscure woman and nun,
I found that I could actually relate to her story.

She is what I call a shadow dweller—a person who lives in the shadows of a more prominent sibling.
A girl who wrestled with her own standing in life and what hand she had been dealt.

That’s the thing…isn’t life just merely a matter of what we make of it…
or on the other hand, it’s what Life makes of us?

Either of which makes us, in turn, who we will become

Will we choose to rise above or will we simply succumb?

Will we allow all of the negative to swallow us whole or will we learn to stand up and out
of the negative, rising up to our true potential?

We can either give in and up or we can purposely and willfully fight our demons in order
to be who we are truly called to be.

And who we are called to be might just be a person who is content living in the shadow
of a more famous sibling…

“Léonie Martin is arguably the least known and admired member of her entire family,
but I doubt she minds.
She’s used to being in that position.”

I’ve written often about one of her sisters.
A now well know sister, who despite having lived a very short life, dying from TB at the age of 24,
made a tremendous impact on the world.

Her parents were just recently recognized by the Pope as exceptional.

All of her sisters sought the vocation of serving Christ.

One sister, however, had a more difficult path to walk than that of her siblings.

And the thing is that once she found her way…Grace prevailed over a lifetime of trial,
willfulness, and difficulty.

Here is the link to Léonie Martin’s story…the sister of The Little Flower.

What We Can Learn From the Forgotten Sister of St. Thérèse of Lisieux

silent no more…the absence of God

“If I were to remain silent,
I’d be guilty of complicity.”

Albert Einstein


(image courtesy the web)

If you haven’t noticed, we have a crisis in our Chruch.

And I’m using the capital C because when one denomination within the
Christian body ails we, the collective body ails.

The Catholic Church has found herself in a near death knell over the heinous revelations of
child predation.

A decades-old crime and yet the cover-ups, lies, the sweeping under of carpets, ad infinitum,
are so deep… it’s a wonder if we will ever uncover the real facts let alone the
actual truth.

A gross sin perpetrated by those whose very vocation has been to teach and preach against
the very sins they were committing.

The scope is inconceivable.
The pain and betrayal are unbearable.

And the sad fact is that we are slowly discovering the same sins within
other denominations…

This growing scandal of sin has only fueled the mistrust and disdain held by many believers
and nonbelievers alike for and of the Catholic Church.

Yet we must remember that before we pick up and prepare to throw our stones that
no denomination, no Christian, no Christian body is without sin and no church body
is exempt from sin, scandal or betrayal.

Being raised in the Episcopal /Anglican church fold, I hold a very close affinity for
the Catholic Church and my love of history draws me to a deep appreciation for our original
Christian roots found in that very Latin West Chruch.

The myriad of Christian denominations has only but one place to look for the original
congregant body—
back to the throne of Peter.

And so I was pleased to see that Pope Emeritus Benedict has broken his silence during his reclusion
in order to address this latest burden of the Chruch.

The breaking of the dam began at the beginning of his election as pope.

There has been a cataclysmic revelation ever since.

The article is linked here:
https://start.att.net/news/read/article/cnn-expope_benedict_xvi_breaks_silence_on_churchs_sex-cnn2/category/news+

So in case your holy indignation for all things Catholic remains at the high end of the Richter scale…
be reminded Catholic, in our religion means globally or the wide body of who we are…
‘Catholic derived via Late Latin Catholics, from the Greek adjective καθολικός (katholikos), meaning “universal’

Our dear friend and ever brave rogue former Anglican bishop addressed this very issue
with a post back in August of 2018—
in which I wrote a post based on the good Bishops teachings…
both links are found below.

Gay predators, telling the truth and spring-cleaning the Church.

https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2018/09/01/sin-and-confession/

My post began with the very notion of sin and our Church’s response:

Sin.

It’s a word that we take for granted yet it is a word whose actions are destroying us.
For we are its actions and we seem not to even care.

Our culture has opted to expunge the word from our vocabulary while blindly
embracing its very nuances.

And what of the Chruch?

She is either impotently silent or either she busies herself by embracing those
very nuances in order to appear more viable, more likable, more cultural.

Benedict who, as a cardinal, served as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,
the powerful Vatican department responsible for enforcing doctrinal orthodoxy,
and the successor to the Inquisition
…was known as God’s rottweiler.

“Part of the physiognomy of the Revolution of ’68,” he writes,
“was that pedophilia was then also diagnosed as allowed and appropriate.”

Benedict says that this mentality also affected bishops and Catholic seminaries and caused,
“the extensive collapse of the next generation of priests.”

“There were — not only in the United States of America —
individual bishops who rejected the Catholic tradition as a whole and sought to
bring about a kind of new, modern Catholicity,” he writes.

“In various seminaries, homosexual cliques were established,”
he writes, “which acted more or less openly and significantly changed the
climate in the seminaries.”

Benedict cites one bishop who showed seminarians pornographic films,
“allegedly with the intention of thus making them resistant to behavior
contrary to the faith.”

Benedict also reveals that the Vatican’s two investigations into US seminaries,
called Apostolic Visitations, were thwarted by cover-up.
Benedict also reveals a tug-of-war between the Vatican and
US bishops over zero-tolerance.

The Pope Emeritus says that Church lawyers in Rome
“had difficulty” with the US proposal for zero-tolerance and preferred that priests guilty
of sexual abuse of minors receive only a temporary suspension.

“This could not be accepted by the American bishops,” he writes,
“because the priests thus remained in the service of the bishop and thereby
could be taken to be still directly associated with him.”

As a result, the former Pope writes, a new code of Church criminal law was created
and cases of child sexual abuse were judged by the Vatican office of
the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, of which then-
Cardinal Ratzinger was the head.

But Benedict admits that the prospect of full criminal trials for sex abuse
was “overwhelming” for the Vatican.

“Because all of this actually went beyond the capacities of the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith and because delays arose which had to be prevented
owing to the nature of the matter,
Pope Francis has undertaken further reforms,” he writes.

And yet in the end…the bottom line, in a nutshell…

“Why did pedophilia reach such proportions?” he asks.
“Ultimately the reason is the absence of God.”

“God is dead” so proclaimed Nietzsche—and according to an article in the Big Think,
by Scotty Hendricks God is dead’: What Nietzsche really meant’
Nietzche was an atheist for his adult life and didn’t mean that there was a God who had
actually died, rather that our idea of one had.”

So perhaps it would behoove those of us who continue to cling to the faith that
Satan delights in the sin of man as we do his dirty work free of charge…

May we remain silent no more!

Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.
Ecclesiastes 7:20

Legacy, and the difference between a calling and a job

“For each one of us, there is only one thing necessary: to fulfill our own destiny, according to God’s will, to be what God wants us to be.”
Thomas Merton

“Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess. Vocation does not come from a voice out there calling me to be something I am not. It comes from a voice in here calling me to be the person I was born to be, to fulfill the original selfhood given me at birth by God.”
― Thomas Merton

DSCN3465

Vocation: a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation. From the latin vocare ‘to call.

Job: A task or piece of work, esp. one that is paid. Mid 16th century: of unknown origin

Legacy: Something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.
Middle English legacie office of a legate, bequest, from Anglo-French or Medieval Latin; Anglo-French, office of a legate, from Medieval Latin legatia, from Latin legatus
First Known Use: 15th century

I usually like listening to music while I spend my required time of morning servitude chained to my feeble attempts of exercise. This morning was no exception as I huffed and puffed my 5 mile pace on the elliptical. Today’s choice was the album Woven and Spun by Nichole Nordeman. Nichole is one of my favorite contemporary female Christian artists. Her words have always spoken deeply to my own heart and my often inadequate grasp or putting words to my feelings.

As the song Legacy began to play, with me more focused on how many more minutes I had to endure of the continued exertion of the up and down motion of lifting leg upon leg, I was suddenly aware of the words to the song which came flooding to my ears. . .
. . .How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

Naturally my mind drifted to that key word legacy with my thoughts then shifting to my very long career in the classroom. 31 years of high highs and equally low lows. How will they choose to remember me? Or in my case, how do they remember me? Did I choose to do and say the type of things that left the lasting positive marks of love, pointing to those things that I would hope others would help point my own child toward?

During such a lengthy career there will always be those who will answer yes, you did what was right and required. . .just as there will be those who will say no, you did not do those things. Such is the case with such a long time doing the same thing as so it is when working closely with people—as the old adage is certainly true, one simply cannot please all of the people all of the time.

If, however, the over-all feeling from those I served—from Superintendents to Principals–to my colleagues to the parents with the most important commodity being the students. . .if the majority was pleased then that’s pretty good I suppose. But as any teacher worth their salts would worry, it is to those who would answer no that I would feel as if I had not done my job adequately or sufficiently.

But today’s thoughts are not so much for my having done my job well or not, which captures my attention, but it is rather to those current as well as future educators which draws my concerns.

To teach is not merely a job in which one gets paid. It consists not of the typical 9 to 5 day but rather, in my case it was 6:45AM to 5 or 6PM or even later—which often spanned more than Monday through Friday.

Teaching is not a job.
Teaching, rather, is a vocation.
It is a calling.
— just as the priesthood is a calling.
It is a calling to serve.
It is a deep component within, which for most seems, hard wired since birth.
Not only is it a call to educate but it is a call to nurture, to care for, to tend to, to protect, to foster, to mould, to form, to shape, to respect. . .and it is a call to sacrifice.

The Bible is laced with claims that those who teach will be held to higher and stricter standards as the responsibility is just that great.

Kids spend more time at school, with their teachers, than they do with their parents. Many children seek a safe, warm, nourishing shelter in a school—taking many of them off the dangerous, bullet ridden, drug infested streets, as well as the frightening home scenarios which play out each day in the news. There is food for those who have little to none outside of the walls of the school. It is as place to feel a connection to a positive “community”–a place to hope and dream. A place to turn dreams into realities.

Society yearns to know why there is so much violence, death and destruction within our kids, yet they also tell the teachers, the caring adults in the lives of these children, not to care too much, not to offer too much wisdom or counsel, not to share that foundation of beliefs which have been the grounded basis for many of these particular adults.. .as it will conflict with the separation of Church and Sate, it will open one up for law suits, it counters the teaching of Evolution, it runs counter to the will of Society, it sends the wrong message, etc, etc, etc.

Those who currently desire to teach must know that with a vocation comes the sacrifice of self. That of time, personal desire, riches, fame, glamour. It is not intended for those who live two apparently different lives of one being that in the classroom and then that being of the one outside of the classroom. How many a FaceBook posting has ruined a teacher? It is not wise for a teacher to hang out in public places which may paint a poor light upon the teacher come Monday morning back at school. That is just the nature of this career choice. You must be who you are in the classroom as well as out of the classroom.

Teaching, akin to marriage, is not to be entered into lightly. It is a vocation of sacrifice. The sacrifice of time, the sacrifice of personal freedoms, the sacrifice often of one’s own personal safety.

This as I am mindful of the teachers during the past decade who have sheltered their children during the crisis of intruders or the crisis of catastrophic weather events- – – leading the students to shelter and safety and to those teachers who made the ultimate sacrifice for their “kids”—as that is simply what teachers do—they give all they have to their “kids”—for good or bad.

Suddenly my mind is riveted back to the pain now racing through my legs and lungs, as I am still in the midst of the grueling 30 minute regime, I am mindful however to end these thoughts today by leaving us all with two questions. . .
The first question is to be that of choice—the choice of seeking a vocation verses seeking a job–does the call to vocation lie in your heart?
The second question will be what type of Legacy will you leave behind.
All thoughts to ponder while enduring the grueling continuum of lifting leg upon leg. . .

Legacy
I don’t mind if you’ve got something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
You could take my picture and hang it in a gallery
Of all who’s who and so-n-so’s that used to be the best
At such’n’such … it wouldn’t matter much

I won’t lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights
We all need an ‘Atta boy’ or ‘Atta girl’
But in the end I’d like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

I don’t have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthly list of all that I enjoy
It’s an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such will soon enough destroy

Not well traveled, not well read, not well-to-do or well bred
Just want to hear instead, “Well Done” good and faithful one…