• Reflections

    Voices In Dark Skies

    When I arrived at work this morning and stepped out of the car, a noise startled me. A female mallard was flying straight at me, and she rose just a bit and swooped only a few feet above my head. The parking lot lights illuminated her sleek shape as she flapped her way out of my sight. I stood still and listened to her call, the urgent and rhythmic quacking. Who is she calling? I wondered. Perhaps she was just calling out to be calling out, an instinctive expression of herself through her own voice. Perhaps she was warning some of her kin about the old man who had inserted…

  • Reflections

    April’s Begun

    I managed today to evade any attempts to ensnare me in April Fool’s shenanigans. When I look back at some of the jokes I played on people in the past, I am embarrassed. I am also grateful that I was never the victim of some of the more cruel jokes people play on this day. Some of the cruelty is unintentional, but it’s wise to remember that practical jokes can sometimes assume a life of their own, and once they do, it’s difficult to euthanize them. I’m thinking of a woman with whom I used to work. She made a point of telling everyone in the office, “Do not play…

  • Reflections

    The Fourth Sunday Of Lent

    All of the impetuous young folk who ran to the gardening centers and nurseries and loaded up on annuals and vegetable seedlings and then straightaway planted them in the March soil are ruing their decisions right now. A frigid system has brought wind and sub-freezing temperatures to the mountains, and the impatient gardeners will either have to cover & protect all their plants tonight, or they will lose them to the bitter bite of April’s beginnings. I walked the fields and woods tonight and looked again for the bull about whom I have worried and prayed. I didn’t see him, and so I will leave him to the One Who…

  • Reflections

    Coveting What I Do Not Have

    Latin liturgy,Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony,meat-less Fridays,fasting before Mass,the Rosary,the Baltimore Catechism,retreats,the novena (in 1938, seventy thousand people attended thirty-eight novena services at Our Lady of Sorrows in Chicago every week), kneelers, large families dressed in their “Sunday best,”mantillas and chapel caps,religious in habits,statues,large Gothic or baroque churches with dark,quiet places and side altars, elaborate priestly vestments,the smell of incense,the sound of bells at the Consecration,the feeling of awe at the miracle of Transubstantiation—these were all common features of the American Catholic world in the time of the Church’s fastest growth and greatest self-confidence. from America’s Bishop: The Life and Times of Fulton J. Sheen, by Thomas C. Reeves (2002, Encounter Books, p. 172) ~ S.K. Orr

  • Prayers,  Reflections

    Fragility Of Life

    I took a long, slow walk last evening, saying my Rosary as I strolled. Tiny spring flowers were peeking up through the mast, winking in the dimming light, reminding me that life returns, that certain promises are always kept.  While whispering the ancient prayers, I also kept an eye out for the bull over whose health I have been so concerned lately. I never saw him. I will continue to look for him, and in the meantime, I will continue to hope that he was healed as miraculously as our little dog Dixee was. I hope he is on a sunny slope this morning, cropping grass and eyeing the cows…

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  • Prayers,  Reflections

    The Tenacity Of Unbelief

    When I came home yesterday, I walked for a long time, looking for the sick bull. I never did find him. But my wife brought Dixee home from the vet. The little creature had been checked from stem to stern, ultrasound, lab work, pokings and proddings….and had been pronounced sound. No sign of anything amiss. “Perhaps it’s gas!” said the helpful vet. Our small dog clearly felt much better, ate a good supper, ran with speed and joy, and slept at our feet during the evening hours before bedtime. We talked much about her symptoms, the scare she’d given us, and the vet’s pronouncements. We decided that gas might be…

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  • Reflections

    Beasts Of Hearth And Field

    Yesterday I described a neighbor’s sick bull and asked for prayer for the bull. Tonight I want to ask anyone reading this blog to please pray for our little dog, who is very sick. Dixee is a rescue dog; in fact, all of our animals were rescued from various unpleasant situations. She came to us years ago when a construction worker brought him to my wife and told her that the scroungy, trembling little mutt had been hanging out at a construction site and had apparently been abandoned. She looked to be part poodle and part terrier of some sort, and she was hungry and frightened. My wife brought her…

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  • I Never Thought I'd Be In This Situation,  Reflections

    Sixes And Sevens

    If ever a day were designed to make a man want to be back in his cozy home with his wife and animals, today was that day. A Monday, a rainy Monday, a rainy Monday after insufficient sleep the night before, a rainy Monday after insufficient sleep the night before when one’s coworkers are bitter, gossipy, pessimistic, vulgar, and determined to draw one into their simmering cauldron. This was my Monday. The ability to focus so intently on one’s duties that one blocks out all distractions and temptations must indeed be a high spiritual gift. I aspire to lead a life so virtuous that one day before I retire (if…

  • Reflections

    The Art Of Saturday

    The sunrise looked as if it had been painted by Bob Ross. First, a deep crimson line was stroked across the horizon, behind the trees. By the time I had started the coffee, the unflappable old painter had taken a wide, dry brush and blended in some yellow and turned the eastern canvas into a benign lampshade glow. Ol’ Bob used to astound me with the rapidity with which he wielded a brush or knife to produce startling effects. And so it is with sunrise and sunset and clouds — by the time one fetches a camera with which to record the moment, the entire scene can shift. Each microsecond…

  • I Never Thought I'd Be In This Situation,  Memoirs,  Reflections

    Faith In Exile, Part III – Conclusion

    The Lenten season is upon us, and I am adrift. From what I understand, the majority of people who join the Catholic church are received into her arms during the Easter Vigil. Because of complications in my past life including divorce, along with complete uncertainty about which version of Catholicism I should be following, I have resigned myself to probably never being a real, official Catholic. Yet hope remains. I realized some time ago — gradually, like the sunrise, not an immediate clap of thunder — that I had come to believe the Catholic church is the one, true faith…that the Church truly is the pillar and bulwark of the…