My Own Ocean Avenue

July 26, 2011 § 3 Comments

Longport's beach on a cold, gray day.

 
 Jittery excitement.  A childlike ‘bouncing up and down’ feeling.  The simple joy of knowing you’re going somewhere different.  I have always loved road trips.  It may stem from the love of driving that my parents had and instilled in me.  When I was little, they’d bundle me and my siblings into the old Buick Roadmaster and we’d end up trekking out into the country.  My dad seemed to have an endless source of scenic stops: rushing creeks and forested trails, or state parks and big lakes, hills and meadows with just enough shade.  They were remote but not enough that it was impossible to push a stroller over the terrain.  (Hint to new readers: if I refer to happenings in my childhood, there are strollers involved!  There were always strollers.)  I always wondered how Dad knew where all these places were.  To a child, a forty minute car ride is a long time and I thought my father must have traveled far and wide to know the location of every lake and park in Pennsylvania.  (Now that I’m at the jaded and ripe old age of 25 and have driven to Michigan more than once, I realize how vast Pennsylvania really is.)

Suffice it to say, I love driving.  And now I get to drive down to the beach for five days this weekend! 

Lucy the Elephant watches over my summer vacation.

To me, Longport is the consummate beach town.  I like to wake up early when I’m there and make a pot of coffee.  I can bring it out onto the front porch and cradle it in my hands while sniffing the salty breeze.  The beach is about outdoor showers and soft towels.  Padding on sandy feet down a gritty neighborhood street.  A book in my hand wherever I am.  Vacation to me is synonymous with ‘reading as much as I can’.  At home, there’s always a place I need to be or something I have to do.  When I’m at the beach though, the heat of the sun and quiet susurration of the waves lulls me into relaxation, and there’s nothing I prefer more than reading when I’m relaxing.  Last year while lolling about on a beach chair with my toes in the water, I discovered the Temeraire series.   What a good find that turned out to be!  Recommendations for what to read this year are greatly appreciated!  Leave them in the comments! 

PS- I’ve blogged about the beach in Longport a couple of times before.

A Visit to the Shrine of the North American Martyrs

July 25, 2011 § 2 Comments

Callie and I made a road trip to the Shrine of the North American Martyrs last Sunday.  It’s the second time I’ve been up to Auriesville, New York, to visit there and it was as peaceful and pretty as I’d remembered.

The Shrine Entrance

The Shrine is dedicated to St. Isaac Jogues, St. Rene Goupil, and St. John Lalande.  The first two were Jesuit priests and the third a lay missionary, all of whom came to minister to the Iroquois tribes back around the 1640s.  All three of them were killed by the Iroquois, martyred for their faith. 

 

The Shrine is located right by the Mohawk River, on the very land where St. Rene Goupil was killed.  It is also where Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha was born, about a decade later.  Bl. Kateri had her feast day celebrated on Wednesday, July 17th, hence the reason for our visit right in the middle of the summer.  

    

The Shrine is, frankly, in the middle of nowhere New York.  It’s not too far from the New York Thru-way, but there aren’t any cities close to it.  (Callie and I even saw a horse and buggy on the road at one point.  The horse neighed at us.  It may have been the highlight of my day.)  We walked down to the Ravine and visited the meadow where St. Isaac Jogues buried St. Rene Goupil.  The exact burial spot is unknown but from passages in his diary, they know the rough area.  There are some statues and a little grotto set up down there, along with plaques containing quotes from St. Isaac’s diary.  These quotes tell his memories of St. Rene’s death. 

In the Ravine

Back up at the top of the grounds, we walked around to the various statues and memorials set up on the land.  They have carvings of the Stations of the Cross and mosaics of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady. 

Mosiac of the First Sorrow of Mary

Callie mentioned to me that she’d never made the Stations of the Cross and so we made a Way of the Cross, following the painted carvings as they spread across the ground.  Over the past 9 months or so, it’s been so amazing and humbling at times to hang out with Callie because her spiritual journey was so different from mine.  I have a bad tendency to forget that not everyone had the catechism lessons that I had, and sometimes I think I might come across as a snob.  I don’t ever really mean to, but when you grow up knowing and learning about something since childhood, it’s sometimes easy to forget not everyone had the same experience.  Having the perspective of someone relatively new to the faith can enlighten me in many different areas. 

After the Stations, we went inside the church to go to Confession and Mass (and escape the overbearing heat).  The altar inside the church there is gorgeous. 

I would recommend a trip to this Shrine for anyone who is looking for a quiet place to pray and reflect.  At three hours away (from NEPA, that is), it may be a bit of a drive but it’s well worth it.  I’d love to return in October when the leaves are changing and the autumn wind is sweeping through the Ravine trees.  

It was such a restful, serene day.  We spent much of the time in silence or quiet contemplation of what had taken place there so many years ago.  It’s a sobering reminder of how much freedom I really have to practice my faith.  Lately, I’ve fallen into the bad habit of complaining when I read or hear of people mocking Catholicism or claiming it should be left to the privacy of my personal life.  The Shrine reminded me that I need to stop that.  Stop complaining, stop whining.  Start praying and ask the intercession of those heroic men who died to do what I can do every day in peace: make the Sign of the Cross.

-All credit for these pictures goes to Callie!

Never a Dull Moment

July 19, 2011 § 2 Comments

I left work yesterday with no thoughts other than the usual 5 o’clock happiness.  Normally, I stroll to my car with one or two of the guys from the office but yesterday I was by myself.  Since I hate to walk alone on Public Square and the surrounding streets, I was moving at a rather brisk pace.   

The windows of Boscovs flashed by me and the sun shone down.  There were no men lurking around the benches like there sometimes are and that made me happy.  Just the other day, some pig had said “I’d like to tap that!” as I walked by him.  I’d almost Maced his eyeballs but then heroically resisted the urge.  But that was the other day and today no one was standing around waiting to enrage me with their linguistic crudities. 

I walked past Mulligans and, as I came around the edge of the building, a man on a bicycle was speeding straight at me. 

“Aih!”  I screeched and jumped to the side. 

“Ah!”  He yelled in unison with me and slammed on his brakes.  The tires squealed on the pavement as the front wheel locked. 

As if it was in slow motion, I watched the man take a nose-dive over his handlebars.  I felt like I was frozen in time, unable to stop this horrible accident from occurring.  He landed in a thump on the sidewalk and time started again with a lurch.

“Oh my gosh, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”  I exclaimed as I helped him to his feet.  He brushed himself off and pulled his bike back upright.

“It’s okay, I just hit the wrong brakes.  I didn’t want to hit you.” 

“Are you okay?”  I felt helpless as I rushed around picking up the things he’d dropped in the fall.  I handed him his bicycle lock and he nodded. 

“I’m fine, honestly.”

“I’m sorry.”  I said again pathetically.  “Um.  Have a nice day.”

I fled the scene, hopelessly embarrassed.

Who Can You Trust These Days?

July 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

“This is twice. There comes a point where you say, ‘This is wrong,”‘ said Lombardi, who recently said he “would have rather invested my money in Bernie Madoff than invest in Edmonton’s word.”

Dean Lombardi, GM of the LA Kings, after Edmonton twice tried to trade him injured players. 

I don’t know why that made me laugh so much.  Maybe it’s because I’m dying for hockey.

With My Hands

July 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

With my hands, I am a food maker: drink taster, bread baker
With my hands, I am a bone mender: wound healer, hurt tender
With my words, I am a dream weaver: bell ringer, heart cleaver
With my words, I am a spell binder: web spinner, gilt liner
With my heart, I am a failure: too much fear, too much anger
With my heart, I am a hidden sorrow: a burning brand, broken arrow

Hands and words and heart, I tried to hold you but I hurt you
Heart and hands and words, I want to warm you but I wound you.

When I’m lying, darkness creeping, in my bed, missing sleeping
My hands are clenching, memory unfolding: it’s your heart that I am holding.
And your eyes hurting, seeking, want the answers I’m not keeping.
If I could by speaking, knowing, keep that hurt from ever showing
Would I be at rest and dreaming, rather than this ceaseless weeping?
But your tears, tortured, haunting, are a torment, a sad taunting
Of the feelings I am quelling, masking.  I hear everything you aren’t asking.

You are tempting, so appealing, offering me such quick healing
That I am gasping, bending, feeling in my heart its utmost rending.
Is it wrong, this great yearning, to see your smile, beloved, returning?
And if I’m saving, mending, with my love your broken ending,
Won’t I now, your share receiving, be thus finished with my grieving?
Oh! I can’t be forcing, prying, into doubts there’s no use denying!
At last I sleep, tossing, turning, and in my dreams at last I’m learning
It’s for your lost innocence I’m crying, and it may last until I’m dying.

“The Beauty of Truth”

July 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Young people — and those not so young — who in August will invade the streets of Madrid want something other than the monotonous message of ideologues of the moment, who say there is no good or evil: only a dense fog that envelops actions and persons in moral relativism,” the lawyer said. “The Pope, perhaps, will say exactly the opposite: in the face of ethical subjectivism, he will speak of objective truths; in the face of hedonist consumerism, he will insist on solidarity and temperance; in the face of a cultural horizon colored with pessimism, he will stress the beauty of truth.”

From this article at Zenit.

Quick Update

July 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

Sorry I haven’t blogged lately.  I’ve been going non-stop.  Summertime is supposed to be about relaxation, isn’t it?  I don’t mean to complain though.  I’ve been having fun.  🙂 

Here, read this lovely little story about Sidney Crosby.  It’s very touching.  Also, I like the Penguins’ signing of Steve Sullivan.  He always caught my eye on the Preds.  Veteran.  Can put up points if he stays healthy.  Hard-working, gritty, just like the rest of the team.  But will he stay healthy??   

Here is a good article about the face-lift received by the Florida Panthers this off-season.  Will these signings make me actually remember a Panthers game more than 5 seconds after one ends?  Stay tuned…

Longer post coming up soon!

UPDATE:

Oh, why not have a (turned into mainly Catholic) linkfest??  Cheers!

For all my friends attending World Youth Day!  Over 1 million people are expected to attend the closing Mass.  So cool.  And they apparently will be using the famous Monstrance of Arfe for Eucharistic Adoration!  It is almost 9 feet tall, made of gold and silver, and dates from the 15th century.  Video of the monstrance:

Pope Benedict talks about art: “Never separate artistic creativity from truth and charity; never seek beauty far from truth and charity, but with the richness of your genius, of your creative impulse, be always courageous seekers of truth and witnesses of charity.”

I found a post with which I agree very much, on Fr. Dwight’s blog: “Stop and consider that the real saints are hidden. They follow the little way. If you were to tell them they were a saint they would laugh and tell you to keep searching. If you even had the sense and discernment to see the saint next to you–the ordinary person who perseveres–the little person who serves others–the plain Jane who takes life easily and simply loves people, then you would learn again what true holiness really is. If we only had eyes to see the simplicity of the saints, the extraordinary ordinariness of holiness, the practical good humor and humility of the truly grace filled ones.”

New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan has some interesting and inspiring afterthoughts: “…the Church neither has nor wants political “clout.”   As Cardinal John O’Connor commented, “The only ‘clout’ the Church really has is God’s Truth, the assurance of His grace, and the simple yet sincere conviction of our people.”  Blessed John Paul II again reminds us that “The Church never imposes, she only proposes.”  And as our current Holy Father has often observed, all the Church wants is its freedom to serve humanity by bringing the light of the gospel to the world.  But… we do worry indeed about this freedom of religion.  Editorials already call for the removal of guarantees of religious liberty, with crusaders calling for people of faith to be coerced to acceptance of this redefinition.”

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