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January 25, 2010

The Weepy Madonna


By Harley

Last weekend I drove my kids to a Catholic mission my 4th grader’s researching for a school report. For me, it became a spiritual pilgrimage: the mission had a gift shop.

Here’s my dirty little secret: I love religious merchandise, whether New Age (tarot cards! runes!), Judaism (menorahs, mezuzahs, Star of David cake molds), Wiccan (it goes without saying), or Catholicism, with its dizzying number of saints—ten thousand, give or take—from Adalbert to Zita.

I adore patron saints. There are the defensive ones, protecting us against attacks by dogs, earaches, enemy plots, dumbness, dying alone, mice, moles, losing one’s keys, oversleeping and scabs. And proactive ones, in charge of advertising, animals with horns, boxers, bailiffs, bald people, champagne bottlers, butlers, comediennes, chimney sweeps, jugglers, knife sharpeners, kidney stones, librarians, lumbago, lunatics, pigs, sleepwalkers, second marriages, television writers, upholsterers and wolves.

Of course, only the majors have merchandise—like Christopher, patron of travelers. He got dropped from the official calendar of Saints in 1969, but Mr. Christopher dashboard statuettes still sell well. Equally popular are St. Anthony (Lost Things) and St. Joseph (Selling Houses).

While my kids collected mission junk, I bought holy cards: two Teresa of Avilas, an Agatha and a Jude. Images  The St. Jude, patron saint of Hopeless Causes is for my best friend Mindy, saddened by the demise of her romance with Roy. (This the Dark Side of Match.com.)

Forget Valentine, Raphael, or Dwynwen, patron saints of Lovers—St. Jude’s the heavy hitter. The Blessed Virgin Mary ranks higher, but Mindy and I have already had the ultimate Mary experience.

In 1988, I heard of a traveling portrait of the Madonna rumored to be the best thing since Our Lady of Guadalupe. I called Mindy. We’re both cradle Catholics, with memories of fish-stick Fridays and fainting during Stations of the Cross. Mindy once went to Turkey (the nation, not the poultry) on a Mary pilgrimage, so a 25-mile drive was nothing. Also, we were lovelorn at the time, in the mood for miracles.

The Madonna portrait was appearing at a hotel in Chatsworth. 30-40 attendees came. At the front of the conference room were a man, a woman, and an easel. The easel, facing the wall, was draped with a bed sheet.

The woman, Tammy, told us how she woke one morning to a Voice telling her to paint a portrait of Mary. “I’m not religious,” Tammy said. “Or artistic.” Nevertheless, Tammy bought supplies and started painting.

“When I finished, I was dumbstruck,” Tammy continued. “The portrait was magnificent—that’s not bragging, because I didn’t paint it. God did. And the next morning, the Madonna was weeping! The paint on her cheeks was wet.”

“And that’s when I knew,” she said, “I was to share her with the world.”

At this point, Tammy’s consort took contributions, then lined us up to approach the holy portrait, which was undraped and redraped for each viewer, for maximum effect. Mindy and I tried to read the faces of the people ahead of us as they exited via the back of the room, the way you do outside a movie theatre. One woman did appear to be weeping.

My turn came. I faced the easel.

The bedsheet was lifted.

The portrait—I’m not making this up—was on black velvet. Now, Mindy says velvet is harder to paint on than you’d think. Maybe. But the only way you’d’ve been dumbstruck by that portrait was if your Cocker Spaniel painted it. Tammy pointed out where the tears had fallen on Mary’s cheeks, and I fought to control my own emotions.

I avoided Mindy’s eye, as she stepped up behind me for her viewing.

The Weepy Madonna did work miracles. She made us laugh all the way back to Hollywood. 22 years later, we’ve forgotten which guys broke our hearts that night, but we’ve never forgotten the Weepy Madonna.

Got any religious experiences of your own? Please share. It’s Cheer Up Mindy Monday.



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Francis de Sales is the Patron Saint of Writers.
Michael is the Patron Saint of Police Officers.
Dismas is the Patron Saint of Rogues and Rascals.

Add in St. Jude, we have now covered my entire knowledge of such things.

In terms of an actual religious experience? Well, there was this woman in Manhattan once who.... But this is a Family Friendly Blog, so we shan't discuss it....

I will not ask why your children are researching religious stuff for school. But I will say that Madonna on black velvet is priceless - exactly how much did you shell out BTW? Also, I'm beginning to love Mindy.

That said, I DO have my own icon experience. It was when I was a reporter in Cleveland and a painting of the Madonna had begun to weep. People lined up for blocks, but as a newspaper reporter I got to cut in line (after I'd interviewed a bunch, of course) to see what al the ruckus was about. The painting was under glass and, indeed, she was weeping. Very bizarre.

Wait, wait---There's a patron saint for advertising? Can s/he help me promote my new book?

I have had no religious experiences myself that I can remember. Except my mother once explained her theory about the Virgin Birth.--She thinks Mary had a nocturnal orgasm, which convinced her God had visited. Which is more sacrilegious (I had to look up the spelling--who knew the "i" and "e" were reversed?) than anything, so don't tell Mindy if you think she would be offended. I seem to be in the business of offending Catholics these days. (OUR LADY OF IMMACULATE DECEPTION has already received hate mail. So maybe the saint of advertising won't be too happy about helping me with the promo.)

Nancy, you've already gotten hate mail? That's pretty interesting..I hope you'll tell us more. And I think it was you who told me about St. Anthony. For which I am forever grateful. And I invoke him only in the most dire of circumstances.

John Lescroat (we are not worthy! love
him..) named his main character Dismas--I always loved that. And I'm not sure I knoew he was the patron saint of rogues and rescals.

And am I right in remembering that St. Cecelia is the patron of Television? That's always confused me a bit. I mean, how do they know?

Sarah, I hasten to reassure you: All California 4th graders study the California missions, which played a big part in California history (don't ask me what part because I went to 4th grade in Nebraska so I only know about buffalo, etc.)

You saw a real true Weepy Madonna? I am so jealous.

I am not emotional when it comes to religious experiences, since it is the work of God, I expect miracles. For years I have been on a path that feels righteous and I sleep good at night.

When I was 17, I attended a Reggie Vinson concert with two friends who "found Jesus." I did not know Jesus was lost, I always thought he was near by. By the end of the the concert, my friends were on their knees and sobbing. I felt that I was the AntiChrist because I was not on the floor with gnashing teeth.

As I drove my friends home, my two friends committed to make their lives better, I felt excluded. Within the next couple of weeks, I got accepted to Florida State and landed a much needed job to pay for my car insurance. My friend's lives remained status quo and the two returned to the drug scene. Since I did not do drugs, I was excluded from that activity also.

Having the courage of your convictions can be a lonely journey, I felt it then. Later during my lonely summer before college, I read about Jesus in the Garden. The people who were supposed to guard Jesus, slept. Jesus was alone on the eve of his death.

When I made the connection that even Jesus felt alone, I no longer held the monopoly for feeling lonely. Since that time, I have never felt lonely. I've always felt that somebody was cheering me on in my darkest moments and enjoyed my triumphs when I have earned them.

When I think back to my friends reaction to the Reggie Vinson concert, I am reminded that the experiences of God is not a pep rally. Perhaps the God experience is more like the Eagles song, "Peacful, easy feeling."

Thanks, Cinema Dave.

Nancy, are you really getting hate mail? Because of your title? This disturbs me.

Nancy, stay away from Southern Illinois. The State purchased a high school from the Archdioceses. It is now a prison. It is referred to by almost everyone as "Our Lady of Incarceration."

Two stories from my summer in Israel in 1979. I saw the Jordan river. In St. Louis, the Mississippi is almost 1/2 mile wide and barges of grain roll by. That is a river. The Jordan was about 20' across. Along the Jordan are tourist stands selling slivers of olive wood and "Water from the River Jordan". Everyone in our group wanted to tell the Christian tourists lining up for the water that they had showered in "Water from the River Jordan" that morning in their hotel.

Easily the most religious experience I've had started as a pre-dawn hike from sea level up 8400' to the top of what is known in Arabic as Jabba Musa or in English, Mt. Sinai. At dawn, we started the tradition Jewish prayers for the morning and then read from Exodus, 20:2-17, "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;..."

Harley - have fun when you get to the part of the curriculum that involves making a model of the chosen mission without using the pre-cut styrofoam kits available at Michael's. Let me just suggest that Crayola Model Magic looks very much like plastered adobe walls. You can even roll it out and cut it into the wall shapes you need then glue them together -- almost like styrofoam. And I say "you", because even the teachers know that the 4th graders aren't the ones making the models.

Dave, I think that's what Christ is for, to cheer you on in your darkest moments. And to put the gun away, right?

Meanwhile, have you considered the priesthood? They're looking, I understand.

Alan, you gave me a laugh on an otherwise stressful Monday morning. Our Lady of Incarceration!--Ha!

And yes, I'm getting hate mail already. But obviously not from Pittsburgh Catholics who understand the "immaculate deception" insider-ism. Since we consider the Immaculate Reception a religious event, I guess we have a skewed view. It's not an effort to make Mary rediculous, but instead further humanizes her--makes her more user-friendly somehow.

Cathy's suggestion for using Crayola Model Magic comes about ten years too late. Using that product for various junior high models could have saved our family a whole lot of emotional agony!

It was almost 19 years ago, my husband, mother-in-law, and I were in Poland to adopt our daughter. We had some time between the court hearing and the issuing of the visa for her to enter the US, so my MIL thought it would be nice to visit the Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa. The Monastery is the resting place of "Our Lady" also known as the "Black Madonna"

A little back story here -- our new daughter had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, which was one of the reasons she was still waiting for a family at 27 months of age.

We were at the Monestary and were waiting for the unveiling of "Our Lady" -- she's kept behind iron bars and a curtain most of the time. The day also happened to be one where there was a convention (for lack of a better word) of priests.

The chapel was beautiful -- it is decorated with all sorts of offerings for the healing that "Our Lady" has done. Ropes of amber and coral; rows of canes and crutches that were no longer needed; and the frame that surrounds the portrait is encrusted with priceless jewels of all shapes, colors, and sizes. Our Lady and Jesus are also clothed in jewels, in fact the only portion of the original painting that is shown is both of their faces.

The daily prayers were about to begin and my MIL took our daughter and wiggled her way to the front of the church. This was standard operating procedure -- there weren't any seats, except at the very front for the priests. My MIL got to the front holding our daughter, husband was in the crowd, and I stayed in back with the stroller and belongings. A very nice priest allowed MIL to sit in an empty chair, which she gratefully accepted. Even at only 20 pounds, she was dead weight because she'd fallen asleep.

During one of the prayers after "Our Lady" was unveiled, my MIL said that our child took in a really deep breath and then shuddered and was bathed in a warm glow.

We finished our visit and returned to the USA and proceeded to become a family. While we were in Poland we lived in a convent, which was interesting to say the least. One of the first things we did was have a complete physical exam, which included a chest x-ray. They put toddlers into a contraption that holds their arms up and is strapped around them -- not pleasant to say the least. The x-ray was normal.

Then we did a skin CF test -- which takes awhile -- it's been 19 years, so those details are a bit fuzzy. The CF results were also negative!

My daughter was healed by "Our Lady of Czestochowa". She hasn't had any lung issues other than normal colds and viruses since then. She isn't perfect (what almost 21 year old is) and she struggles with learning disorders, but she graduated from high school, is working two jobs and has been taking college classes.

That's my Religious Miracle.

Debbrasue, that is simply beautiful. The whole story.

Holy mackerel, Debrasue. That's some miracle. What a great story - and what a great family!

Oh, and Cathy, thanks for the heads up on the mission model. I did buy the cardboard Instant Mission from Michael's, but my 4th grader gave it the thumbs' down, as she wanted to make it "from scratch." So we tried chicken wire, which is not easy to work with. For the moment we are on hold.

We have a lot of extra chicken wire, if anyone needs some.

My mother-in-law believes a candle I lit for her in a tiny Italian church in 1997 saved her life. Her doctor had given her the "put your affairs in order" talk, having run out of options after a 4 year fight with melanoma. Two weeks after I lit the candle, no trace of her cancer remained, nor has it recurred.

Now, why kids study Catholic missions in public school: there are 21 between San Diego and San Francisco, and most major California cities sprung up around them. They were situated so that a person could walk from one to the next in a day. It's why most cities in CA have names that start San or Santa. And, yeah, there were build by Chumash slaves.

A couple of days after my dad died, he came to see me. He was with another man who stood beside him. The feeling I had, being there with him, was unlike anything I've ever felt, and the words I have to describe it simply don't. It was complete peace and rest, energy and love; it was a physical sensation as much as an emotional or intellectual one. My husband thinks I was dreaming, but I wasn't. I was with my dad.

Oh darn, I went to elementary school in Downey, California. We studied the California Missions and even went on a field trip to San Juan Capistrano (I'd been there before with my family and to various other missions) but I missed the model making experience. When did the California elementary schools start making models of the missions? I think I had to do a drawing only. It wasn't very good because my PARENTS WOULD NOT HELP us do our homework. Of course, the kids whose parents did the work go the A's and their drawings would win prizes. What's with parents doing their kids homework? Is that a common practice today?
Yes, that's my family - learning how to do things for ourselves.

Soooo....I'm Lutheran so no Saints except the one you mentioned Harley...The Virgin of Guadelupe.
It was my first Sacred Dance Guild Festival in Claremont California and I had been sent as a spy by my company to check them out and also receive access to their mailing list.
It was an amazing experience.
People from all religions just dancing for the Lord and I'm not talking about the swaying and clapping kind of stuff. There were classes taught by professional members from the Dunham, Graham and Lewitzski (my person favorite technique since FSU) companies. And all kinds of other Indian (native american & India) cultures. Flamenco from Spain, Napal. It was just too wonderful!
One evening at the closing we had a guest group from the Ballet Pacifico perform for us. They did incredible Mexican dances in gorgeous white lace dresses and colorful headpieces. All authentic I am sure.
Then they did a ballet about the Virgin of Guadelupe. The costumes and the choreography and the performers were not to be believed. I was truly moved.
And I'm Lutheran.
The next day I was in the artifacts shop in town. You know the ones that have hammered silver mirrors and trinkets and crosses and I bought a little statue.
She sits on my dashboard with her gold rays streaming out reminding me of the ballet. Dance for me has always been spiritual. I don't see her in bird poop or toast but I know she is there for me.
I'm checking out that Model Magic. It sounds like something I can use for costumes!
Just praying.

There is a patron saint regarding mice? Does the saint help people who might have seen a mouse in the house? I'm asking for a friend, of course.

Amy: Wow. You know what you need to do? (sorry Mystery Lovers, et al) Run right over to Amazon and look up Anne Rice's page. Not her books, her reviews. She is way into NDEs and, a self-admitted recluse who has suffered the loss of a young son and then her husband, is searching for stories like this. She seems very, very sweet and in need.

But was this during the day or night?

I will say that after my brother died, I saw, felt nothing (except for the fact that the lights went out in my house and in my other brother's house 1,000 miles away at the moment of his passing - light's out, get it!)

BUT, three or four years later I had the most amazing dream. I was in Good Will Hunting's bar in Cambridge (one of my brother's favorite hangouts) and everyone was excited that he was coming. I asked a couple of suits, broker types, and they had no idea, went back to drinking their beers. But then...he arrived. And it WAS him and, no, no words were said except that I knew, at last, that he was happy and at peace and ready to move on. It was such a relief, like finding that a kid you put on a flight had been picked up at the airport and was safe and sound.

Later, I found that this "announcement" stuff is a quality of these dreams and that the feeling is what counts. I woke up crying and my husband worried. But they were tears of joy.

Never heard from him again.

My mother on the other hand, when she died, whoo boy! Suddenly, she popped up in my dreams wearing mini skirts and high heeled boots, her hair long blond and flowing. Ten years of therapy probably won't solve that one.

Sarah and Amy, thank you -- I love these stories, the visitations people make on their way out of this world and into the next. Is there a more concise word for them? And that includes the little "lights out!" phenomenon you and your other brother experienced, Sarah.

The Weepy Virgin wasn't the miracle I'd hoped for, but I'm a believer. So's Mindy. We'd still drive miles for a miracle, or even the possibility of one.

Oh! And Bea? I think that's a yes on the mice.

I can't tell you how much I love TLC.

I have nothing to add; I wish I did. Fascinating reading today.

I believe there are miracles everywhere. We just need to have open hearts and minds to recognize them. My son grows right before my eyes, but still kisses me good night. My daughter can take a little box of crayons and turn a butcher paper table cloth cover into a masterpiece. There is laughter in every situation if you let it seep through pain and sorrow. Or maybe that's just me.

I was with my Nana when she died. I can tell you that her spirit left her body in triumph hours before her human shell finally stopped breathing.

So, Margie called me and told me I HAD to read todays blog, being that I'm an ex-nun and all that.
All I have to say is that Richard Chamberlain should totally be made an honorary saint. The Patron Saint of Nuns Everywhere would be an appropriate title, I think.
Also, St. Anthony is overrated. He still hasn't found my underpants.
Just saying.


Rosie: have you checked the dresser drawers at the convent?

Being in a state of always expecting a miracle I am immersed in all things prayerful. St Jude is my lifeline at all times.
When I was a child we were constantly endowed with scapular medals. They were made of cloth and had iconic pictures of Our Lord or the Blessed Virgin Mary and were attached to a cloth necklace. I would run home and announce to my mother "Look, ma, I got a new scapular medal" and she would say "Don't get it wet!"
My scapular medal then became a trusted burden to me. I would wear it under my undershirt, which no kid today would be caught dead in..T-shirts only. Washing up could be disastrous if I forget to take off my medal.
Sometimes I would break the rule and flaunt my medal on the outer part of blouse or dress. The most fearsome part is when I had to go to bed and decide if I would wear the medal to bed or put in on my side table. If I wore it I ran the risk of being strangled by the cord which would defeat the purpose of the medal protecting me. Losing the scapular would never do.
Mission building was accomplished with a lot of spiral spaghetti simulating tile roofs. My brother-in-law snatched this project from his daughter and since he was a architecural model builder sent her to school with the finest mission model in the class.

Amy, yesterday at Barnes & Noble I was looking through a book by a hospice doctor. It was about all the spiritual experiences he witnessed (talking to dead relatives, angels, etc.) as people were preparing to die. It included vignettes from relatives similar to yours. I can't remember the name of the book, but I've read lots of other books, usually in the New Age section, with similar stories. When my father died, one of my sisters and I (in separate cities) woke up at the same time, about 3:00 am. I got up and started packing for home before anyone told me Daddy had died.

Harley, I'd always wanted to go to a mission church in CA and finally got my chance when we visited my husband's aunt in Pebble Beach two summers ago. We got to tour the restored Carmel Mission. Pretty amazing.

BTW, when my son had to build a pyramid in the 6th grade and show what his would look like inside and out, I think we bought the thin styrofoam-type stuff to construct the walls. Then he used the crafter's clay at Michael's for all the items inside the structure.

Ah, Marie, my 4th grader is at a severe disadvantage then. I'm architecturally challenged.

I remember scapulars. Loved them.

I recently noticed I've combined Catholicism with Feng Shui, artfully hanging a red rosary in my Romance Corner, to the right of my kitchen sink. I'll probably fall in love with an Asian priest.

Becky, I'd love the name of that book. That's a phenomenon that fascinates me no end. I too woke up in the middle of the night when my grandmother died. I was 9 years old, and she had raised me and having experienced that, I have never doubted that visitations are real.

While in Japan, Charlie had a dream his great aunt (a renowned Wordsworth scholar at Bryn Mawr) had died suddenly. Woke up to find it was true.

Hey, gravity's invisible, intangible and largely unbelievable and it's one of the strongest forces on earth.

Thanks, Harley. I'll tell my friend right away.

Harley, I also fall into the architectually challenged group. Oh, how I dreaded spray painting those macaronic swirls on the mission roofs. At least the teacher didn't accuse my daughter of graffiti evidence on the side of my mission walls.
Marrying an Asian Priest could open up a whole new mixed-marriage dialogue and set up new understandings in this complicated world in which we live.

Harley, I don't know what the world is coming to. I thought EVERYONE knew that the proper architectural material for mission models is sugar cubes. At least, it was when I was in fourth grade and living in the Bay Area. I was totally bummed that my parents refused to let me use sugar cubes for my model of San Luis Obispo; instead, they labored in the garage with shoe boxes, egg cartons, and left-over stucco from our house to create "my" project. I was humiliated, of course; in retrospect, it was probably the most original model in school.

My strongest "formal" religious experiences have come just from being present in powerful churches and cathedrals. The shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico; St. John the Divine in New York; Santiago de Compostela in Spain. I love the feeling of being bathed in the aura created by all those prayers.

But for the most part, my truly religious experiences have been those transcendent moments when I'm able to be one with nature. Whether it's been a desert sunrise or a misty redwood grove or a quiet beach or mountain meadow -- those are the moments thatconnect me to something greater than myself.

Harley, how about gingerbread? Houses are made with it every winter!

I wonder what happens to the multitude of crap school projects that are forced upon American children every year? Just think of how we could reduce the landfills around the country if teachers would stop assigning parents these jobs. The kids don't do them, anyway.

Boo, hiss to those who've sent you hate mail, Nancy. The very nerve, especially since they couldn't possibly have read the book yet. Some people insist on being offended, no matter what.

I'm also a cradle Catholic, and had a vision when I was in about fifth grade. It was of the Holy Family, but it looked more like a loose version of a pointillistic painting (or a Lite Brite of the threesome) than anything else. At the time I was voraciously reading any lives of the Saints I could find, and I've often wondered if it was just religious hysteria.

When my grandmother died, with 13 family members surrounding her bed, I knew the precise moment she died, because I could sense her speaking to me. Her message was to not be afraid, that all was well, and it was such a powerful peace-giving experience that I no longer have a fear of my own death, nor that of loved ones. And she's come to me with other messages. I'm sure she inspired my toast at my mother's third, highly controversial marriage. Out of a large family I was nearly alone in cheering her on, and the morning of the wedding I woke up with a perfect speech, including a quote by my grandmother.

I love Mindy, too. Is she the inspiration for Fredreeq or Jody, perhaps?

Gosh, I was reading this when a friend called and we began talking about miracles and such. I totally believe in miracles and as fellow cradle Catholic (who attended Our Lady of Victory through the sixth grade) I am also into the various forms of spiritual experience. What I've learned is that prayer is powerful primarily when it's directed to help others and a great way to lower blood pressure.

Let's see: Mindy was one of my inspirations for my main character Wollie -- a natural blonde with, uh (forgive me, Mindy) Large Breasts. Mindy, if I haven't mentioned it, is beautiful.

Gingerbread: no, no, no. I nearly had a nervous breakdown at Christmas, attempting gingerbread houses with my 3 kids and Mindy's 2.

Sugarcubes: no. My 4th grader's twin siblings would eat the Mission. They strongly identify with Hansel and Gretel.

Keep those suggestions coming, though. I'm good with yarn. Could I knit a Mission?

1/2 thick foam core -- although the 3/8" is easier to cut. Good solid form to start on before 'plastering' with modeling paste.

Since religion was low on my mother's list of Parenting Priorities and not anywhere on my father's list, I can't say I've ever had a religious experience, altho there was that UCSD coed...

Anyway, I have always been fascinated by some people's ability to see Jesus on tortillas, in stains on a wall, in paint spills, in peeling wallpaper, on potato chips, on slices of toast, in patterns on linoleum and on the sides of Holstein cattle. And if it's not Jesus, it's the Virgin Mary. All I can figure is that Jesus and his mom REALLY like tortillas and botched home decorating.

I'm also amazed by all of the people (if I might use that word to describe televangelists) who have stood toe to toe with Satan and backed him down. I'd have thought Satan was tougher than that and you'd at least have to kick him in the nads or sucker punch him.

And Harley, I can remember studying the Missions in about 4th or 5th grade. It's good to know that nearly 50 years later, some things never change.

Doc, I don't know about Jesus or the Virgin, but I once found a truly amazing crucifix (body included) modeled in the wood on the inside of a burned-out cedar tree. Definitely not something I was looking for, but fascinated to find.

Does Satan *have* nads???

My 7-year old found half a Valentine in a cloud over the weekend. I think this may be the secular version of this phenomenon, Doc.

As long as there are missions in California and 4th graders . . . plus ça change, plus c'est le meme chose . . .

And ah, yes . . . welcome to TLC, where we attempt to answer that all-important question, Does Satan Have Genitalia?

Hank asked, "St. Cecelia is the patron of Television? That's always confused me a bit. I mean, how do they know?"

'Celia was slow getting out of the room when St. Pete came looking for a volunteer. Hey, it was on the cover of The Inquirer!

Stylish Francis de Sales, that patron saint of writers? Why did no one tell Bukowski?

As for building techniques, foam core is good and coroplast is handy. 'Wall-paper' the adobe and tiles onto the structure by using some good graphics scrounging and your inkjet printer. It's something your young scholar can do by herself, too.

Author Kage Baker is in sore need of a hefty health miracle right now. If you have any prayers to spare, this is a good time.

Harley, re Genitalia: As the Church Lady from Saturday Night Live fame would say, "No, no, not going to go there..wouldn't be prudent!"

Harley, there is a wonderful poster of hearts found in nature, with the title "Love is where you find it". I asked for, and received--wonder of wonders--one for Christmas a few years ago, and I just noticed a smaller version of it at my doctor's office this morning:


And here's one of clouds:


Tell your seven-year old to look sharp, and keep a camera at hand. ;-)

Karen, you know what's curious about that? My 4th grader, whose middle name is Valentine, has a birthmark on her back in the shape of a heart. It's not a true birthmark, but something colloquially known as a strawberry. Anyhow, it's quite wonderful. She could probably be on that poster.

Hmmm...if Satan doesn't have genitals, it would go a long way towards explaining why he's so cranky.

Cranky? I think of Satan as a party guy . . .

I love that, Harley! Valentine is a beautiful name, too.

Dave, I think that's what Christ is for, to cheer you on in your darkest moments. And to put the gun away, right?

Alice Cooper wrote an album titled, "Dada." He wrote it under an alcoholic blackout and he has no memory of writing it. He and his wife almost divorced, be he agreed to go to rehab. As of 9/28/1983, Alice has been alcohol free. Part of his healing was to get involved with his church. Alice and Cheryl have established "Solid Rock," a teen center in Arizona.

So what does this have to do with Sarah's question? (And to put the gun away, right?), the last song on "Dada" was titled,
"Pass The Gun Around." Which may have been a sympton of how dark Alice must have felt at that stage of his life.

Meanwhile, have you considered the priesthood? They're looking, I understand.

At one time I did, but I love women too much, Then my experiences at Cardinal Newman High School ended any speculation about the priesthood, you can read it in my book,
"The Adventures of Cinema Dave"
which should be published by summertime.

Cranky? I think of Satan as a party guy . . .

Actually, I think of Satan as a hangover guy.

You have a book coming out? Really? Cool.
As long as you put the gun away, Dave, I don't care.
But I still think the black and white color scheme is flattering on you.

Harley, you cracked me up with the Feng Shui/Catholicism comment! The only reasonable place (in my small, many-windowed apartment) for my overloaded bookshelf is in my love/romance corner: I wonder whether that is why many more books come in the door than men.

I've had several experiences of waking in the middle of the night with knowledge or with informing visions, when a loved one has passed away. When I was in elementary school, I doubled over in pain like I'd never experienced at about 2:30 in the afternoon, but it passed after a few moments. When I arrived home, the news was that my aunt had had her baby at 2:30. One day fifteen years ago, walking towards the linen cabinet in my tiny apartment hallway, my right knee gave out, and I limped for the rest of the evening--my brother had just shattered his knee while skiing several states away. Whether humans have remarkable connections and perceptions has ceased to be a point of debate for me.

Sarah wrote;
You have a book coming out? Really? Cool.

The Adventure of the Romantic Times Convention at Saint Augustine in 2006 will be included. I wish I had better pictures.

As a teacher, I love your hands on approach to helping A. with her project. You're such a great mom. Loved your personal recount of the day. St Anthony, and St Jude have been personal favorite's of mine at school!?!

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