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April 22nd, 2013


The shroud of Turin is probably my favorite artifact and I’ve written about it repeatedly.  Also my favorite “picture” of Jesus is that of the face seen on the shroud.

Ever since I can remember, the Shroud of Turin—speculated to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ—has been a great source of mystery, inspiration and controversy.



The same is still true, as the Shroud has once again been in the news—a research team, last week, using carbon dating found that it actually did date back to a period that includes the time Jesus walked this earth.

According to the Christian Postreport, the team from Padua University said the cloth dated back to sometime between 280 BC and 220 AD.

In light of the finding, newly installed Pope Francis commented on the Shroud of Turin, saying, “This image, impressed upon the cloth, speaks to our heart.”

The Pontiff added that the “disfigured face resembles all those faces of men and women marred by a life which does not respect their dignity, by war and violence which afflict the weakest… And yet, at the same time, the face in the Shroud conveys a great peace; this tortured body expresses a sovereign majesty.”

Giulio Fanti, one of those testing the ancient cloth, and an associate professor of mechanical and thermal measurement at Padua University, told CNN, “We carried out three alternative dating tests on the shroud, two chemical and one mechanical, and they all gave the same result and they all traced back to the date of Jesus, with a possible margin of error of 250 years.”

Of course, it is still not known for certain whether the image impressed on the Shroud is actually that of the Lord Jesus, and frankly, I’m not sure how one could ever go about proving that.

Still, it IS fascinating to consider.

And the rest of the time, “blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed.”

Source: Stoyan Zaimov – Christian Post


April 21st, 2013


For a lighthearted, factual, somewhat humorous, somewhat ghoulish approach to the subject of DEATH we are blessed to have available a series of YouTube presentations, Ask a Mortician, by Caitlin Doughty, licensed mortician and University of Chicago alumnus.  It was the April issue of The University of Chicago Magazine that introduced me to  Caitlin and all the things you wanted to know about death but were afraid to ask.  Since my family is asking what I desire in the way of “final arrangements,” I thought I’d better get up to speed.

Below is episode one of Ask a Mortician in which Caitlin explains rigor mortis which lasts from 2-3 days after death.   With her dark clothes, black hair and bangs, and sometimes sepulchral voice she is rather creepy and reminds me of Morticia in the Addams family. Later she  tells us that decomposition of the body only takes about two months. She finds the whole process rather beautiful, reminiscent of the biblical “ashes to ashes and dust to dust,” or the “back to the earth from which he sprung” of Sir Walter Scott.  I  found no hint in any of the videos which I viewed that Caitlin believed in a hereafter.

As for the “ashes” or the “cremains” given to the famiIy after cremation, Caitlin explains that the fleshy part of the corpse is vaporized when cremated and only the bones remain.  It is these bones, obligingly ground into ashes, that the family receives.

Here Caitlin talks about discussing death with children.

All these things considered, what would I prefer for MY final arrangements? First of all, if the wake and mass could take place quickly, I think I would rather not be embalmed. I will be “fresh enough” for a couple of days. However, permission is granted for embalming with good reason. Secondly, I have two sons who could make a lovely wooden casket if they were so inclined, but, otherwise, the cheapest casket will do. (I see nothing wrong with the idea of a “family casket” which could be used over and over!) Thirdly, I would prefer a grave to cremation. The church permits cremation nowadays and I do not worry that God will not be able to gather my scattered parts together in the hereafter. I expect my “hereafter” body will be quite different. Mary thought the risen Christ was the gardener and the apostles only recognized Him in the “breaking of the bread.” With surprise they exclaimed, “It is the Lord!” On top of which, God has shown he could handle even a fiery furnace if he wanted to.

By all means, I’d like a mass for a send off, and I’ll write about such arrangements elsewhere. There you have it. Whatever my children eventually decide is all right with me. I am hopeful that I’ll have better things to do than fret over what happens to this old body.


Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the one who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. — Matthew 10:28




April 18th, 2013


I was well into my sixties before I ever gave even a passing thought to prophecy. Why would I? It was nothing that came up in every day conversation. Sure, I knew the word. It reminded me of the Delphic oracle and prophets in the Bible, people of long ago, akin to Greek gods or Socrates, maybe real, maybe not, who cares?   I knew that the Creed in the mass said that God “spoke through the prophets.”  That, too, meant little to me.  All the stuff in the Old Testament was just prelude to the New Testament when God actually appeared on earth and gave us the low down.

Once I got into a prayer group in the 1970s I soon became acquainted with the chapter in Joel in which God promises to send his Spirit:

“Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit -“

This promise is repeated in Acts 2:17.  I wouldn’t have paid much attention to this, either, except some people in the prayer group started getting prophecies.  They would speak, as God, in the first person.  We weren’t supposed to accept it as “from God” unless it agreed with what the Bible said and was confirmed by someone or something else.

It was Father Joe’s idea that we gather as small groups in people’s homes.  There were four in my group, Betty, MaryEllen, (both now deceased), and I’m vague about the fourth.  It was all new to us, this gathering and praying stuff, but we gave it a try.   We were not to chat until after the hour of prayer.  With a little soft music in the background, we tried to center on God.  It was during one of the earliest of such gatherings that MaryEllen shook a little and came out with something that God had to say about “oil.”  It was just a couple of sentences but it turned out to be the first of many prophecies that she was to receive. Nobody wrote it down.

I took it all with a grain of salt.  During that time period, however, one morning in my bedroom I heard a male voice which said, “My people, I love you, do not be afraid.”   Well, of course it agreed with scripture.  God says practically nothing else.  Nobody was impressed when I reported this message at a prayer meeting.  Soon after that came my second (and last) prophecy.  No voice this time; words just dropped into my head.  They were:  “Repent.  The Lord is nigh.” When I went to mass that morning the lector read, “Reform your lives. The kingdom of God is at hand.”   Mind you, that was thirty years ago!  I considered it confirmed then but I’m still waiting for His coming.

The thing about believing in prophecy is that I knew the people who were prophesying. It just didn’t seem likely that they were making these messages up out of whole cloth. Eventually MaryEllen came up with a prophecy I’ve written about before which resulted in a vigil held every night in someone’s home to seek the Lord. I have a loose-leaf book full of prophecies received in those meetings. The day came just a couple of years ago when MaryEllen was in the nursing home and I brought her a copy of her 1982 prophecy. Her only comment after we read it aloud was, “Where did the words come from?”

I’ve asked a few people who have said “The Lord told me…..” whether they actually heard a voice. Usually the response is that the thought just came to them and they thought the thought was from God.

At this point in my life I have heard so many testimonies, read so many books, heard about so many saints that I have no doubt that God is involved in our day to day life and can and does communicate with us when he so pleases.   Just read about how God commissioned Saint Faustina to produce a painting depicting his Divine Mercy. Read about Juan Diego and how the tilma showing of Our Lady of Guadalupe came about.  Read the story of Padre Pio and his stigmata.

Compared with such marvelous events, it seems a small thing that God might now and then say a word to us ordinary mortals.  He has said, has he not, that those who seek the Lord will find him? He will not leave us orphans.


April 18th, 2013


91-year-old Olivia Turner of Christchurch NZ surprises judges with her rendition of I Could Have Danced All Night.


April 15th, 2013


Just a few months ago my favorite word was “cherished.” Today it’s “welcome.” Please feel welcome to my blog. I pretty much let it all hang out.

God seems to be about relationships, as evidenced by that “love one another” thing. The Trinity might be considered the “family” of God, with an interrelationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Throughout the Class Mammalia (which includes us) we note that it requires a relationship between a male and a female for a species to continue. Once a female becomes pregnant, it seems that she is hard-wired to care for her young. In more primitive times, the young would have surely died were she not equipped with mammary glands to produce milk. The power of the mothering instinct was brought home to me when our Cocker Spaniel, Josephine, was locked out of the house one day, leaving her puppies inside. Josephine really made a wreck of the wooden screen door, apparently clawing at it or biting at it, in her frantic effort to reach her puppies. I did not replace or repair the door, keeping it as evidence of the strength of mothering instinct. (I did paint over the bare wood resulting from her efforts, but what a testimony!)

Nature and nature’s God have arranged it that we come into the world as part of a family unit. We belong somewhere, with someone. God could have dropped us, full-grown, into the midst of strangers. But, no, children arrive so cute and helpless and needy that caring arises in us and the next thing you know we have the basic unit of society, the family. We begin life being connected and grow up amid people we have always known. Home, it has been said, is the place where when you go there, they have to let you in. There is nothing, nothing, nothing as good for a child’s soul as knowing he is accepted and welcomed. All the research shows that children do best when they are raised with a mother and a father in the basic natural unit, the family.

Things happen. Sometimes things do not go according to “the plan.”  Some children are not raised with the ideal mother, father, and stable home.   Still we never outgrow the need to be welcomed somewhere, by someone. “Please love me” is the cry of every heart.  It seems to me that until we find ourselves welcomed, until we find the acceptance, the approval, the welcome that we all need, until we find a “home,” a place, a purpose, and a plan for ourselves, that we are not really free to welcome others.  We are too busy looking inward,  trying to fill the void in ourselves, to spend much time looking outward.

There comes a day when we realize that families may fail, people will disappoint, but we still have a place, a plan and a purpose.  The place is where we are at the moment, the plan is to be loving to the person at hand, and the purpose is to seek the will of God.  We then find that we do have a family.  “Our Father” is our father.  Jesus is our brother.  Jesus’ mother is our mother.  We look about and find members of  our family everywhere.  They all follow (pretty much) the same moral code.  Brotherhood abounds.

We realize we are just passing through, and our final home awaits us.  We look about and recognize fellow travelers.  They, like us, are still “works in progress,” but they are family and somewhat worthy of trust.  We are finally welcomed and are welcoming.

Years ago when I was afflicted by agoraphobia I knew that something had gone dreadfully wrong; the feeling that I might literally “disintegrate” was uncomfortable (to put it mildly) and I knew I needed help of some sort. The thought that made it easier for me to go to a doctor was the knowledge that he was a Christian and he “had to” love me, even if I was crazy! To this day, that doctor remains for me the paradigm of Christian love. (Click “about me” at the top of the right hand column for that story.)

Hi, welcome to my blog.  And welcome to the family of God.

Pope Francis talks about the church as the Family of God on the feast of Corpus Christi, 2013.