It takes a village . . .

I’ve heard that it takes a village to raise a child.  It’s a nice idea, I liked it for a long time. I imagined an encouraging community supporting parents in bringing up healthy, well adjusted young people.  But in truth the village is failing.

It takes mothers and fathers to raise a child, despite the village. The mothers and fathers need to be vigilant.

There are all levels in which this is happening, but I want to point out just one, perhaps a small one, that I notice within the scope of my own observation.  I think it is significant.  I see a lot of children’s books, as an illustrator, and as a worker in a public library.  Many of the books are beautiful, but some are rather startling.  I have heard it argued that people have a right to publish what they want, say what they want to anybody, and read what they want. It is the job of parents to make sure that what their children read is suitable, if they have any objections to what is published.

Most parents are very careful about what their preschool and elementary age children read, but begin to step back and allow tweens and teens more freedom to chose what they find interesting (often relieved that their kids continue to read for pleasure at all.)  They might even assume that a title wouldn’t be in the library, in the children’s or young adult section, if it were not wholesome and good for the children’s wellbeing.  You know, the village thing.  Don’t count on it.

I want to highlight just a couple of widely read books that I randomly, casually spotted in my local library.  They were not even in the young adult section, but in the Children’s Center, a section roughly aimed at kids age 5 to 10.

Pictures are worth a thousand words.  They have a profound impact on our subconscious.   I wonder if parents really want their boys or girls to absorb the messages presented here.  These particular books happen to be manga books, created in Japan, and they are wildly popular.   Have a look at the covers and some of the inside pages, and see what you think. I see insinuations of rape, pedophilia, encouragement of sexual experience,  sexualizing of young children, etc.

Remember, these are marketed to kids kindergarten through 5th grade . . . and often looked at by 3 and 4 year olds as they choose their comic books . . .

manga6-cover

Above is the front cover of just one book.  Following are inside pages from several books, including a repeat of this cover illustration.  I was disgusted by all of them, because of the young age of the intended viewers, and the lifestyle that is encouraged and promulgated.

manga5-inside-version-of-covermanga4manga3-lickitungmanga2

 

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When is an Icon Not an Icon?

Above are two Russian portraits painted on wooden panels, with the distinctive “recess” creating a raised border seen in many icons. One is painted in the 16th century and the other in the early 17th century. Both contain similar stylized depictions of the subjects features, hair and foreheads. Both have inscriptions along the top (although […]

via When is an Icon not an Icon? | Russian Parsuna — A Reader’s Guide to Orthodox Icons

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Please Pray “THIS PRAYER” With Me Today For This Nation

a beautiful prayer

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House of Prayer

 

 

 

It’s Sunday.  I went first to the place that we, human beings, built for God.  He graciously comes to us there, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and in the gift of the Eucharist.

 

And then I went, for the rest of the day, to one of the places that God created for us, to live in, praise Him in, and to lovingly care for.

 

 

 

 

It was quiet there, sitting on the smooth gray rocks.  The forest was dappled with sunlight, and the creek was clean and clear.

I was seeking solitude, and I found it, with only birdsong, gurgling water, and a brilliant red crayfish to share it with.  A good place for pondering, reflecting, and long conversation with our God.

I left with my heart quiet and at peace.

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A Prayer for the Strayed

Inspiration can come from all sorts of places. Years ago I found a beautiful prayer for unbelievers inside a novel by Jan Karon.  The words expressed my sentiments perfectly, and I copied it out for my own use.  I have adapted and said it for my own fallen-away family members often.  I would like to share it with you,  as I complete my icon for those who have turned away from faith.  It has been part of my prayer process.

Abba,

Bless Your child (—) with the reality of Your presence.  By the power of Your Holy Spirit, so move in (his/her) heart and life that (he/she) cannot ignore or turn away from Your love for (him/her).

Go, Lord, into that darkness where no belief dwells, where no candle burns, where no solace can be found, and kindle Your love in (him/her) in a deep and powerful way.

Pour out Your love upon (her/him), Lord, with such tenderness that (he/she) cannot turn away.  Pour out Your love, Lord, with such mercy that (he/she) cannot deny Your grace.  Fill (his/her) heart with certainty–the confidence and certainty that You made (him/her) for Yourself, that You might take delight in (her/his) service.

Thank you, Lord, for the good (she/he) has already done for Your kingdom, no matter the reasons (he/she) may have had.  Thank you, Father, for this time in Your presence–for holding all of us in the circle of Your love and grace.  With all of my heart, I ask you to turn (—) back to You.  Call (her/him) to repent and become Yours for all eternity.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Used with permission.  Adapted from In This Mountain by Jan Karon, published by Putnam, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2002 by Jan Karon.

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Praying with St. Therese for the lost sheep

St.Therese bsThe 5th figure on my icon of prayers for the lost sheep of Jesus is St.  Therese.

St. Therese of Lisieux, called the Little Flower, and noted for her “little way”,  wanted to be a missionary and bring souls to Jesus.  Her health prevented that rigorous life, but she supported other missionaries with letters and prayers.  Her dream was to spend her time in heaven helping those on earth find the light of Christ, saying “I will return.  My heaven will be spent on earth.”

Even as a child, she prayed for those who had separated themselves from God.  There is a story of her praying for a condemned and widely hated murderer, who suddenly grabbed and kissed a crucifix in the moment before he was executed, after refusing all prayer and comfort up to that point.  St. Therese believed that her prayers had softened his heart enough to repent and turn back to God.

St. Therese, you once said “There is only one thing to do here below: to love Jesus, to win souls for Him so that He may be loved.”  Pray with us now, that the hearts of our loved ones might be softened and return to Christ.

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A joyous blessing

First Day 21My life has been greatly blessed this past week.  A baby grandson was born just a few days ago.  He is my one, and possibly only, grandchild.  I love him to pieces!  His name is Elliott.  I was curious about the origin of that name.  I looked it up, and most of the sources credit it as an old English/Welsh/Scotch version of the Hebrew name Elijah.

Elijah means “One with God” or “The Lord is my God“.

Interestingly enough,  I once painted an icon for37-elijah-004 Elliott’s dad–ages ago. I chose the image myself, and designed the composition to incorporate a biblical story that had meaning to him.

The image I chose way back then, out of all the possibilities in Christian and biblical history, was the Prophet Elijah.

Most of the daily readings at Mass these past 2 weeks have been about Elijah, too!

Holy Prophet Elijah, pray for little Elliott. Pray for all of his family, that they might be blessed with good health, kept safe, and live lives showered with the grace and goodness of God.

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Pentecost.

Locked in an upper room. Winds howling, angry mobs clamoring below. Fearful agony, and that room becomes a tomb. The winds shift and then enters a Holy Spirit, the Spirit of promise. Their fear is …

Source: Pentecost.

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Disillusionment Straight From the Heart

I mentioned in my last post that I might be a “slow learner”.  Perhaps in more than one category.  Now I look at my patriotic ideals, and my naivete is exposed.

I watch at least a little of the election news nearly every night–reluctantly, but of course one needs to be informed.  I had faith that the collective wisdom of our educated population would prevail.  And then I look at the 2 likely nominees, the front runners.  Really people? is this the best we can do?  What is wrong with you all?  Are you thinking, remembering, listening to these two?

I am astonished and appalled.  If these are to be the choices, perhaps it time to consider an ex-pat community in Costa Rica.

And even further, I am seeing what a farce it is to have believed that my vote counted. By the people, for the people?  I don’t think so.

I say this because:  in one party, at one point early on in the primary elections, one candidate had beaten the other  in half the states, and barely–BARELY–lost in the rest of them.  They were running neck and neck in the vote of the people.  And yet, at that time, the delegate count for each candidate was in the neighborhood of 300 delegates to 5.  This in no way reflected the will of the people who belonged to this party.

The other party is not any better.  One candidate defeated a dozen others, state by state, emerging on top.  But this one is not supported by the party leadership, so there was talk about having to “broker” the convention and put someone else on the ballot instead. Then there was a stated refusal by many party leaders to support him when his victory became obvious.  Again, the will of the people who belong to this party is being worked against.

My country is becoming something I never hope for, worked towards.  It is not the country that my father fought for all those years ago.  It is not the one I learned about in school history and civics classes.  How can this be allowed by us, by the people?  The United States was a country so richly blessed, and with such promise for the future.  And now, all I can do it throw up my hands in prayer and in hope, for the sake of the few good persons in America.

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A “well, duh” moment

Now many of you will probably say “well, duh” when you read this, but even though I have been praying for people all of my life, I am evidently a slow learner.

Twice in the last year, I have volunteered to be a prayer partner for someone who is going through a program of faith formation.  I have never met these people, don’t know what they look like, who they are, or what their needs or circumstances are.  I just have a name.

I found it difficult to do, to pray for somebody that was faceless and unknown to me.  My prayers felt short, trite, dry as I cast about for something to say about them to the Lord, some concrete need that I could ask Him for.

Then I had the moment of insight that I needed:  just let go.  God knows what they need.   I don’t need to know.

I realized that I had been trying to control things, to tell God what to do.  What’s more:  I do that as well in my intercessory prayer for myself, for my family, for my friends and all loved ones.  I do it when I pray for “the world” and the Christian refugees in the Middle East–assuming that I know what is best and practically preparing a list for God so that He would know what to do.

None of that is necessary.  It is enough to hold each of these dear people for a moment in my heart and mind, lifting them lovingly up to the Lord and asking Him to bless them and fill them with grace.

 

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