Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Stanley Francis Rother (March 27th 1935-1981), martyr



   On September 23rd 2017, (Rev.) Stanley Francis Rother will be beatified in Oklahoma City. Pope Francis formally recognized him as a martyr on December 2nd 2016. "Padre Apla's," the Tz'utujil translation of his middle name, Francis, had dedicated his priestly life to the indigenous Tz'utujil people of Santiago Atitlan in Guatemala. He was murdered at age 46 by three unknown assailants who broke into his parish rectory on July 28th, 1981.
   I had first read about his life when I was studying theology in the 1980's and was saddened about his death. An ordinary life of a devout and compassionate priest turned into an extra-ordinary example! Stanley had volunteered in 1964 to work in Guatemala and immediately fell in love with the people and place where he was stationed. He mastered Spanish and the Tz'utujul language to minister to his parishioners who responded to his care. He established a farmers' co-op, a nutrition center, a school, a hospital clinic and a small radio station which was used for catechesis. A 'farm boy' himself, he enjoyed the simplicity and integrity of the native peoples who worked hard to earn a livelihood. The civil war and anti-Church climate in Guatemala were escalating and many innocent people lost their lives in the ongoing conflict between an authoritarian government and leftist guerrillas. The American Father Stanley was caught in the middle. Returning briefly to Oklahoma, the devoted priest decided to return to his adopted people asking for the prayers and financial help of his own family and friends. He believed that "a shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger ..." He died for his convictions and love of the people he tried to protect. His martyrdom joyfully proclaimed God's love for the poor of Santiago Atitlan.
   Perhaps we may never understand such bravery; but, we can always admire and connect with his love of others in the midst of danger, especially widows and orphans for whom all of us are called to help. 
   May Blessed Stanley, (a.k.a Padre Apla's) be an inspiration to all of us. How grateful we are for his example!
   

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Forgiveness, Christian-style!

   Christian forgiveness can be described as the human reflection of God's forgiveness. The Book of Sirach, also known as The Church Book (not found in the Hebrew Bible nor in the Protestant canon) deals with a variety of subjects, among them, a warning against hateful things such as anger and wrath which are not good for anyone's spiritual health. If one does not forgive and harbors a vengeful spirit; he or she invites a similar reaction from Sirach's God (Yahweh). To nurture a spirit of hostility towards another, the author says, is to find Yahweh equally unforgiving. On the other hand, virtue too has its ripple effect. An attitude of goodness finds its echo in God's benevolence. And so, if forgiveness towards one's neighbor marks a person's character; then, that same God will show the same when he or she seeks pardon. Forgiving and a merciful spirit are the surest way to attain equal treatment from Yahweh. 
   When one of Jesus' disciples, Peter raised the question of forgiveness: "If my brother wrongs me; how many times should I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus wisely responds there should be no limit: "Seventy times seven!" In his lifetime, Jesus gives a remarkable insight into God's mercy through his parables on the lost coin, the lost sheep and the prodigal son. Pardon and forgiveness go beyond ourselves. In fact, they can be the first steps toward a restoration of Christian unity and even further afield to inter-religious dialogue, if we give forgiveness a chance!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Summer 2017 on the 'Rijecki Zaljev' (Bay of Rijeka) - a poetic essay

(Summer 2017 my photos of 'Rijecki Zalev' (Bay of Rijeka, Croatia)


 "I've written many a sad story with always another to come. Like seagulls constantly in flight for food, I gather crumbs from those whose sadness need a voice. On a relaxed day in Rijeka by the beach, I sit content with the blue of the sky reflecting on the ocean while up north in Barcelona and Cambrils, bells toll 14 dead, 100 injured from 34 countries. News ripple on the blue neither turning grey nor red. It is the same warm summer day while Hades' mouth is open wide, madness swoops and grumbles into a day of terror with cars rampaging into innocent tourists on Las Ramblas and Cambrils. Now a few minutes ago, that precious blue is tinted grey with a knife-stabbing Muslim screaming, Allahu Akbar in a Finnish town of Turku. More deaths follow an eerie silence as hotel guests continue their journey and I dive into the Rijecki Zalev, swimming alone."   (Diary, August 17th 2017)

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Buon Ferragosto - Happy Summer

   Ferragosto is the must have fun summer holiday in Italy. The country is virtually shut down during the days before and after the 15th August, the feast of the Assumption of Mary. In certain towns and cities across the country and in various parts of Europe where Catholics live, processions and solemn masses are held. Many go to the sea or visit the countryside and enjoy impressive fireworks. When I lived in Italy; I loved this annual 'scampagnata,' almost like a big picnic with friends and families. Everyone simply have fun. Enjoy these last weeks of summer with your families and friends. At the countryside or in the sea, we are in a masterpiece like a daily painting. Infinite signs of beauty surround us! Greetings from Don Ronaldo & Don Miho.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Wisdom sayings from Saint Benedict:

Benedict of Nursia is honored on July 11th. I have a great respect for this saint who was the founder of monasteries bearing his name and those who followed his Rule. I spent 12 years of my life as a Benedictine monk, perhaps some of my most fulfilling years. Here are some of Benedict's sayings that I like:

                           

Saturday, July 22, 2017

July 22nd, 40th anniversary of Chinese artist, Pan Yuliang's passing:

   In loving memory of Pan Yuliang who died on July 22nd 1977: I wrote about her life on July 22nd 2012 and 452 persons have read my reflection on her story. Thank you. Today is the 40th anniversary of her passing away from this world. Pan was totally dedicated to her art, ferocious in her love of life, the first Chinese female western painting artist who was invited to teach at the Shanghai Art School in 1929. Rejected so often, she returned to France where she lived for 40 years painting ceaselessly. She was almost penniless; but thanks to a friend, we know about her life and art. Her work and dedication are appreciated today. Here are glimpses of some of her paintings which capture her concept of infinite beauty
   May we see beauty through her eyes today.  

Monday, July 10, 2017

It's summer time: be happy!

My summer balcony plants on the Prairies where I live.
                "Be happy with what you have and are. 
                  Be generous with both and you would not have
                  to hunt for happiness." (W. Gladstone)