Saturday, April 30, 2016

366 Project - Day 121 - "A Day With Mary"


April 30, 2016 - "A Day With Mary"

Today I attended the "A Day With Mary" retreat - held at Sacred Heart Church in my hometown of Danbury, CT. This is my second time attending the day-long retreat... and will not be my last.

The day consists of a procession of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima into the church... several Marian talks given by Franciscan priests... praying of the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross... Eucharistic Procession and Adoration... Consecration to Our Lady... Conferring the Brown Scapular and Miraculous Medal upon those who have not already done so... Holy Mass in honor of the Immaculate Heart of Mary... and finally a procession of the statue of Our Lady out of the church, as they entire parish waves white cloth handkerchiefs in the air and sings "Immaculate Mary".

It truly is a beautiful way to spend the day - and one that I highly recommend! For those who are interested, visit www.DayWithMaryWest.org for more information.

I'll end this with the Act of Consecration to the Immaculate - written by St. Maximilian Kolbe

O Immaculate, Queen of Heaven and earth, Refuge of sinners and our most loving Mother, God has willed to entrust the entire order of mercy to you. I, an unworthy sinner, cast myself at your feet, humbly imploring you to take me with all that I am and have, wholly to yourself as your possession and property. Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death and eternity, whatever pleases you. If it pleases you, use all that I am and have without reserve, wholly to accomplish what has been said of you: "She will crush your head," and "You alone have destroyed all heresies in the whole world."

Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and most merciful hands for introducing and increasing your glory to the maximum in all the many strayed and indifferent souls, and thus help extend as far as possible the blessed kingdom of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. For wherever you enter, you obtain the grace of conversion and sanctification, since it is through your hands that all graces come to us from the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Allow me to praise you, O most holy Virgin.

Give me strength against your enemies.

Amen.

*   *   *

Friday, April 29, 2016

366 Project - Day 120 - "Abstract (Water Bottle)"


April 29, 2016 - "Abstract (Water Bottle)"

It has been a long day.

Time to grab a bottle of water and my camera and get this over with so I can go nap.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Thursday, April 28, 2016

366 Project - Day 119 - "Abstract (Morning Sun Cross)"


April 28, 2016 - "Abstract (Morning Sun Cross)"

The sunlight coming through the windows this morning was particularly bright and golden. It doesn't usually wake me up... but today it was so bright and golden that, even with the blinds still closed, it found its way in and brightened the entire room.

When I opened the bathroom door this is what I saw as the sunlight burst its way through the privacy film we have on the window. I grabbed my camera and manually focused to soften and capture a scene that was closer to what my eyes were actually seeing without my glasses on or contacts in.

It was an incredibly beautiful morning vision which no camera could properly capture... no photo could faithfully duplicate!

So I went back into the bedroom and open the blinds... and with the bright sun filling the room I made my Morning Offering prayers.

"I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." - John 8:12

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

366 Project - Day 118 - "Abstract (Waiting and Waiting and Waiting)"


April 27, 2016 - "Abstract (Waiting and Waiting and Waiting)"

Sitting outside staring at the pattern of the doormat while holding a remote waiting to be "buzzed" for the appointment that was supposed to have started over half-an-hour ago.

Waiting and waiting and waiting to get buzzed.

That doesn't quite mean what it meant to me two decades ago!

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

366 Project - Day 117 - "Presidential Primaries (Definitely not "Feeling the Bern")"


April 26, 2016 - "Presidential Primaries (Definitely not "Feeling the Bern")"

Today is "Primary Day" here in Connecticut... so I cast my ballot.

The thing is, I cannot, in good conscience, bring myself to vote for any of the candidates who are currently seeking the presidency.

I do not support Secretary Clinton...

I do not support Senator Cruz...

I do not support Governor Kasich...

I do not support Senator Sanders...

... and I most certainly do NOT support Mr. Trump!

I've never had this happen before. Usually there is at least one candidate I can rally behind - but not this year.

Being a registered Democrat, I cannot do anything in regards to the Cruz/Kasich/Trump fight to be the GOP nominee... I only get a say in Clinton vs. Sanders. Those were my choices.

Sort of.

There was a third candidate on the ballot here in Connecticut: Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente, a businessman from California.

A brief vision of us having a president named "Rocky" flashed through my mind. I could see him running up the steps of the Capitol on Inauguration Day - raising his fists high above his head, bouncing up and down as he took the Presidential Oath.

Like I said... the vision was only a brief one. A very brief one.

Clinton vs Sanders vs "Rocky"

Faced with those choices I was forced to vote for  ________

*   *   *




Monday, April 25, 2016

366 Project - Day 116 - "Abstract (Spring Cleaning)"


April 25, 2016 - "Abstract (Spring Cleaning)"

I'm spending today doing some "Spring Cleaning". That's it. That's all I've got for today. The end.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Sunday, April 24, 2016

366 Project - Day 115 - "Rosaries"


April 24, 2016 - "Rosaries"

I have around a dozen sets of Rosary beads and Chaplets. Some have been in the family for decades... some were gifts... some I just bought because I liked them. Though I have one "favorite" set of beads that I use to pray the Rosary every day - all of the Rosaries and Chaplets I own get used regularly. None of them just sit around for the sake of being there.

Today I took all of my Rosaries and Chaplets... as well as some Brown Scapulars, Crucifix pendants and Miraculous Medals... and two Bibles to have them all blessed prior to Mass. There's something about a blessed set of Rosary beads that just feels special and comforting.

Anyway... that's all I've got for today!

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Saturday, April 23, 2016

366 Project - Day 114 - "Blessed Virgin Mary"


April 23, 2016 - "Blessed Virgin Mary"

A vintage statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary my wonderful wife Holly bought for me from a nice little thrift shop we found this morning. It's made of porcelain - and has an electric light bulb inside that gives a nice soft glow when it's turned on.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Friday, April 22, 2016

366 Project - Day 113 - "Abstract (Empty Pews)"


April 22, 2016 - "Abstract (Empty Pews)"

I love my parish.

I love my church.

I love being here for Mass, when these pews are filled with the faithful...

... and I also love being here at times like this... when the pews are empty and I'm the only one here.

There's a certain sense of "quiet" here at such times - which cannot be found anyplace else. It's a "sacred" silence... and it's extremely comforting!

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Thursday, April 21, 2016

366 Project - Day 112 - "Abstract (Softness)"


April 21, 2016 - "Abstract (Softness)"

I don't really feel like shooting today.

Actually, to be completely honest, I don't really feel like doing much of anything at all. I just want to curl up in bed and pass out for a while.

So it's another "one quick and simple shot" kind of day - a photo of one of the flowers in a bouquet my wife was given yesterday.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

366 Project - Day 111 - "Here It Comes (Chicken Noodle Soup)"


April 20, 2016 - "Here It Comes (Chicken Noodle Soup)"

I can feel it coming on.

Throat is fuzzy.

Head is starting to ache.

One minute I'm feeling overheated, only to feel a cold chill a minute later.

(I really don't like feeling sick!)

*   *   *

International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima


International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima

Hosted by St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Roman Catholic Church - Brookfield, CT - April 18-19, 2016


This world-famous International Pilgrim Virgin Statue (IPVS) of Our Lady of Fatima was sculpted in 1947 by José Thedim, according to the description of Sister Lucia who desired that the pilgrim image represent Our Lady's position when she revealed herself as the Immaculate Heart to the three shepherd children at Fatima in 1917. It was blessed by the Bishop of Fatima on October 13, 1947 in the presence of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and comissioned to serve as the Pilgrim Virgin who would carry the blessings of Fatima throughout the world. It has traveled continuously around the world many times, and has visited more than 100 countries, including Russia and China, bringing the great message of salvation and hope, "the peace plan from Heaven," to countless millions of people.


Many miracles and single graces have been reported wherever the statue has traveled. In 1951 Pope Pius XII remarked, "In 1946, I crowned Our Lady of Fatima as Queen of the World and the next year, through Her Pilgrim Statue, she set forth as though to claim her dominion, and the favors she performs along the way are such that we can hardly believe what we are seeing with our eyes."


It's custody and mission are under the auspice of the World Apostolate of Fatima USA - Our Lady's Blue Army.


The Peace Plan from Heaven is a call for prayer and penance offered in reparation for sin. At Fatima, Our Lady asked for the Communions of Reparation on the First Saturday of each month, and that each and every day:


1. We offer up our sufferings in reparation for sins and the conversion of sinners.
2. We pray a 5-decade Rosary
3. We be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart and wear the brown scapular as a sign of this consecration.


For more information about the current tour of the IPVS - visit: www.fatimatourforpeace.com

* * *

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

366 Project - Day 110 - "Abstract (Blank)"


April 19, 2016 - "Abstract (Blank)"

Just one very quick, very simple shot today: A freshly opened pack of copy paper for my computer's printer.

It's a stack of "blankness"...

It's a stack of possibilities!

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Monday, April 18, 2016

366 Project - Day 109 - "Our Lady of Fatima"


April 18, 2016 - "Our Lady of Fatima"

Tonight my parish - St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Roman Catholic Church in Brookfield, CT - is hosting the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima - as part of the "Fatima Centennial U.S. Tour for Peace". The statue arrived at 6:00PM and will be at our church until 5:00AM tomorrow morning.

The Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima has been associated with miraculous healing and conversions - and has also been found to cry tears which have been analyzed to be human tears. It has been on a constant pilgrimage since it was carved almost 70 years ago - to the specifications of Sister Lucia, who was one of the three children who witnessed the Appearance of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal in May of 1917.

Hosting this statue is a tremendous honor for our parish. Our church was packed with a standing-room-only crowd... which was larger even than the most recent Christmas and Easter masses I attended. Tonight we celebrated Mass... prayed the Rosary... and then spent time in Eucharistic Adoration - as well as veneration of Our Lady.

I spent almost four hours with Our Lady. I took many photos - and this is far from being the best of them - yet it seemed to be a "special" one for me. This was taken as I knelt at the base of the statue in prayer. You can see the Monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament on the altar, to the left of Our Lady. Her shadow was cast upon the ceiling - where there is an image of the dove of the Holy Spirit, which her shadow enveloped.

Tonight was one of the most beautiful and spiritually powerful moments of my entire life. I cannot even begin to tell you what I experienced tonight. All I can say is:

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee;
Blessed art thou among women,
and Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy...
Our life, Our sweetness and Our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us...
and after this - our exile - show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus...
O clement! O loving! O sweet Virgin Mary!

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God,
that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Amen.

*   *   *

For more information about the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima - visit www.pilgrimvirginstatue.com

*   *   *

Sunday, April 17, 2016

366 Project - Day 108 - "Abstract (Rainbowls)"


April 17, 2016 - "Abstract (Rainbowls)"

A colorful set of six mixing bowls I bought from a thrift store yesterday.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Saturday, April 16, 2016

366 Project - Day 107 - "At the Water's Edge"


April 16, 2016 - "At the Water's Edge"

Where can "happy-ness" be found?

At the water's edge.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Friday, April 15, 2016

366 Project - Day 106 - "Abstract (Craft Store)"


April 15, 2016 - "Abstract (Craft Store)"

Just one very quick shot today...

While roaming through the aisles of our local Michael's craft store in search of beads to make a set of "Jesus Beads" for prayer, this colorful stack of plastic pails caught my eye.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *


Thursday, April 14, 2016

366 Project - Day 105 - "Abstract (Aunt Pat)"


April 14, 2016 - "Abstract (Aunt Pat)"

Today would have been my Aunt Pat's 67th birthday... and this weekend will mark twenty years since her passing. (She died two days after her 47th birthday)

Of all of my relatives, Aunt Pat was the one I was closest to. She was one of the most loving, giving and, well, "funniest" people you could ever hope to meet. She never married... never had children of her own - yet she was always the one who took care of everybody else. Most of her life was spent taking care of other people... often at the expense of her own dreams.

When I was in my late teens I would spend many weekends at her house. She and I would sit up until three or four in the morning... just sitting at the kitchen table, talking and drinking coffee while playing cards or a dice game called "10,000". The conversations we'd have were among the most important conversations I've ever had in my life. We'd talk about the basics, of course - family, relationships, and sometimes religion - but often the conversations went much, much deeper. We'd talk about life... about our dreams... about our emotions.

There... that's it. That's the key thing: We'd talk about our "emotions".

Aunt Pat was the only person I ever could truly open up to. She was the only one I could really talk to about my emotions... and about what was "really going on" in my life. I told her things that I never told anyone else... and she'd do the same in return. I can honestly say that on more than one occasion she literally saved my life with a late-night conversation and some coffee.

Not too many people knew it - but she was a writer... as was I. She'd read me her poetry, and I'd read her mine. She'd let me read chapters of a book she was writing that was based on her life... and she'd talk about how she wanted to have something published someday.

We shared our dreams. I remember one night she said to me "Vinny, I'm (mumbles-while-wiping-her-hand-across-her-mouth) years old and I've never seen the Statue of Liberty! I've lived an hour away from it my entire life and I've never seen it!"

She had seen it from the highway... seen it from a distance - but that's about it. So, we promised that we'd go together. It was never able to happen.

She'd tell me how someday - when she no longer had to worry about taking care of anyone - she was going to buy an Airstream travel trailer and just start going to see all of the places she had always wanted to see... and how she would write about it along the way. That's it. That was her big goal in life - to get an Airstream and be able to travel and see things and write. Well, that's what she'd say it was, anyway. In the early morning hours while flipping cards on the table, it easily became obvious that what she was really saying was that her dream was "to finally be free".

I inherited a lot from my Aunt Pat. I'm not talking about money or objects or anything like that... I'm talking about aspects of who I have become as a person. She inspired me in many ways.

Some ways are quite obvious and visible, like my need to collect things. She was big collector of everything from music boxes to Ron Lee clown figurines. That's where today's photo fits in... it's an abstract shot of one of the metal flowers on one of the hundred or so music boxes she owned.

Other ways that she has inspired and shaped who I am might not be so obvious, like how I tend to feel and express things. She had a certain way of feeling things and dealing with things that was so different from anyone else I ever knew. She helped me learn how to deal with my own feelings... and how to express them. In a way, it's because of her that I write what I write and express what I express. If it hadn't been for her encouragement over two decades ago, I'd probably still keep everything bundled inside for fear of being rejected and ridiculed.

Now, here I am about to be (mumbles-while-wiping-his-hand-across-his-mouth) years old... and I still haven't been to see the Statue of Liberty. I think it's time to change that.

Aunt Pat - you don't know how many nights I sit up wishing you were here, sitting across from me, talking me through things. You don't know how often I find myself needing you. Then again... perhaps you do know. I like to think that you're watching... as you fly above, finally free.

Happy Birthday, Aunt Pat!

I love you!

*   *  *










Wednesday, April 13, 2016

366 Project - Day 104 - "Abstract (Oil and Vinegar)"


April 13, 2016 - "Abstract (Oil and Vinegar)"

If you break things down, life is really just moments of "oil" and moments of "vinegar".

Now, we can choose to focus on the beautiful, golden oil moments - always floating at the top of things...

Or we can choose to focus on the dark, sour and acidic vinegar moments - allowing ourselves to dwell in the depths.

We tend to do that in life, don't we? Most often we choose to focus on those "vinegar moments", because they sting so bad that the very memory and thought of them tends to be sharper. Then again, some people choose to only focus on those "oil moments", blind to the vinegar in the world around them... including the vinegar in their own lives.

There's a danger to both sides, of course. We can dwell in the vinegar moments for so long that they become sweet to us, and all that we ever know... or we can dwell in the oil moments for so long that they become too comfortable and ordinary to us that we take them for granted. We risk feeling as if we are "safe", completely forgetting that oil is a flammable substance.

So what are we to do then?

I say that we need to take all of life's moments - be they "vinegar" or "oil" - and recognize their significance and importance to who we are. We need to throw ourselves right smack into the middle of them. We need to add our own seasoning to the mix via the choices we make and actions we take - and allow it all to be shaken up by the great big unseen hand that holds the container of life.

We need to allow life to become "Salad Dressing". Only then will we learn to appreciate every layer that flavors who we are and what life brings us.

Plus... if we don't eat our salads, we can't move on to the main course!

Yep. That's it. Let your life become Salad Dressing... and keep moving through the courses until you're able to enjoy the sweet dessert which awaits us all.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

366 Project - Day 103 - "Springtime Softness"


April 12, 2016 - "Springtime Softness"

Enjoying the soft glow of sunlight coming through the kitchen window.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Monday, April 11, 2016

366 Project - Day 102 - "Artwork (But Not Today)"


April 11, 2016 - "Artwork (But Not Today)"

Yesterday I was given a large amount of my brother's artwork. I started to go through it a few minutes ago... but I had to stop.

I saw a few key drawings in the pile... drawings he did back in the very early 1980s... drawings I used to look at over and over and over again, swearing that one day I'd be able to draw as good as Peter was able to. Drawings of Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix... as well as drawings of artwork from Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden and others.

Then I came across the tiny pad of watercolor paper... including one of his paintings from the day he and I sat in the middle of the Housatonic River, sketching and painting the Covered Bridge. It is a day I've referred to on more than one occasion as having been one of the happiest days of my life. It was at that point that I had to stop.

At some point I will go through it all... but not not today.

*   *   *

Sunday, April 10, 2016

366 Project - Day 101 - "Confirmation"


April 10, 2016 - "Confirmation"

Today I was blessed and honored to serve as Sponsor as my niece Jessica made her Confirmation into the Catholic Church. It was a truly wonderful day... a day full of smiles - and smiles are ALWAYS a blessing!

Life truly IS good!

(L-R: My niece Frannie, my sister-in-law Angel, my youngest niece Liliana and my niece Jessica) 

*   *   *

Saturday, April 9, 2016

366 Project - Day 100 - "Abstract (At the Register)"


April 09, 2016 - "Abstract (At the Register)"

Standing at the register in our friendly neighborhood wholesale club... waiting for the milk and half-and-half to start rolling down towards me so I can get them into the cart and get out of here...

... but first, a photo.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Friday, April 8, 2016

366 Project - Day 99 - "Abstract (Tulip)"


April 08, 2016 - "Abstract (Tulip)"

Today my camera's lens returns to the tulips...

... because it can.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Thursday, April 7, 2016

366 Project - Day 98 - "Bruised, Derided, Cursed, Defiled"


April 07, 2016 - "Bruised, Derided, Cursed, Defiled"

This VERY large antique Crucifix hangs above the home altar where I kneel and pray for about an hour each day. It is quite old... and has seen much better days. There are chips on the face and extremities of the Corpus... yet when I look at it I cannot help but feel as if those chips, those cracks, those damages - are "meant" to be there.

When I look upon the face of this particular Corpus Christi the words of the "Sixth Station" of St. Alphonsus Liguori's "The Way of the Cross" come to mind...

THE SIXTH STATION - VERONICA OFFERS HER VEIL TO JESUS

PRIEST: We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You.

(Genuflect)

PEOPLE: Because, by Your holy cross, You have redeemed the world.

(Rise)

PRIEST: Consider the compassion of the holy woman, Veronica. Seeing Jesus in such distress, His face bathed in sweat and blood, she presented Him with her veil. Jesus wiped His face, and left upon the cloth the image of His sacred countenance.

(Kneel)

PEOPLE: My beloved Jesus, Your face was beautiful before You began this journey; but, now, it no longer appears beautiful and is disfigured with wounds and blood. Alas, my soul also was once beautiful when it received Your grace in Baptism; but I have since then disfigured it with my sins. You alone, my Redeemer, can restore it to its former beauty. Do this by the merits of Your passion; and then do with me as You will.

(Recite one "Our Father", "Hail Mary" and "Glory be".)

CHANT: Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled... She beheld her tender Child... All with bloody scourges rent.

*   *   *

"The Eulogy and the Last Goodbye"


"The Eulogy and the Last Goodbye"

It was one year ago today. One year since I last looked upon the body of my brother. One year since I stood there watching his casket be sealed. One year since we carried him into St. Matthew's church for the final time. One year since I stood in front of the altar and gave the eulogy which I shall include after these notes.

One year.

Last night I was in the very same church, having a Confirmation rehearsal for my niece - Peter's middle daughter, Jessica. This Sunday I will be in the very same church with my hand on her shoulder, standing as her Sponsor while the Bishop anoints her and Confirms her in Christ - just like her father did for me at my own Confirmation.

One year. It is so incredibly hard to believe that it has been one year. In some ways it feels as if it happened only yesterday. In other ways it feels as if it has been years upon years of dealing with the pain of his loss.

One year ago today I posted this photo of the flower arrangement my brothers Kenneth, Xavier and I ordered for Peter's wake and funeral. That's Peter's actual Mets jersey... surrounded by a picture frame of flowers in the Mets colors.

And one year ago today I wrote the following to go with this photo... and will share it one last time...


April 07, 2015 - "Eulogy"

Today I gave the Eulogy at my brother's Funeral Mass. Here it is in it's entirety:

Twenty years ago I stood in this very spot to give a speech following an Emmaus retreat. I never thought in a million years I would be standing here again, for a reason like this.

As I sat down to write my brother’s Eulogy, all I could do was stare at the blank screen in front of me for a long, long time. How do I fit all that Peter was in such a short speech? How do I let the world know just how wonderful of a man he was? 

Peter truly was the best of us. He was first and foremost a loving husband and father, who thought the world of his family and was so incredibly proud of his daughters. He was a son, a brother, an uncle, a nephew, a cousin, a friend… he was the Best Man at our weddings and the Godfather of our children - and he filled each and every one of those roles better than anyone else ever could. 

In the words of his amazing wife Angel: “He used to tell me all the time how he knew he would have nothing without me but really how it went was that he gave me everything I ever wanted and dreamed of my whole life. He gave me three beautiful girls to nurture and love and he was to them the father I had always wished for myself. He gave me the family life I never had but always wanted. He let me know every day how much he loved me with a touch, a squeeze, a note in my lunch, a phone call, a lovingly prepared cup of coffee delivered to me upstairs, and so many other ways that always made me feel special and so completely loved. He was my every dream come true and always will be.”

Peter was a very hard-working man who would always do whatever he needed to do to support and take care of his family. He was a very talented man… an amazing artist himself, he loved artwork of all kinds… he loved his job as a picture framer and, in my experience as a framer myself, I can say that Peter was the absolute best at his job. No one was more creative, no one was more talented than Peter was in his line of work. Last year he achieved his dream of owning his own Frame Shop, something he had talked to me about wanting to do for over 20 years. He was proud of his business… almost as much as we were proud of him for achieving that goal.

Peter was a religious man… but then again, he was also a Mets fan - and as a Mets fan you’re sort of forced to do a lot of praying. He had very strong beliefs and was constantly encouraging me to attend church. He loved the community here at St. Matthews… and always spoke so highly of the people of this parish and all that they had done for him and his family over the years.

Peter was an amazing cook. I just wanted to get that in there, because Peter truly was good at it… he made the best chicken wings and was the only person who could make liver and onions not taste like, well… liver and onions. 

Peter loved life and lived it to the fullest. He enjoyed every single minute that he spent with Angel and the girls. He cherished those moments and memories… the family trips and vacations… the birthdays and other special moments… and he would frequently share with me how much they meant to him, how wonderful they were and how much he hoped for the future. He and I talked about the future quite often. We had so many plans together and, well…

My brother was my hero. From the time I was very young I always wanted to be like Peter. I tried to dress like him. I listened to the same music as him. I became and artist like him. I became a picture framer like him. I became a cook like him. I even returned to the church because of him. I wanted to be like him in every possible way. Why? Because my brother was the very best person I knew. He was the rock that held the world together. No one will ever be able to fill his shoes… but I will continue to try to walk in his footsteps.

We will never know the answers. We will never know “why?” this has happened. Our family has endured too many losses… too many tragedies - and we’re always left wondering “Why?”. I’ve been pondering this constantly over the past week and, well, I do not have the answers. I don’t know “Why?” we have to experience such heartbreak. But here’s what I do know. I know that Peter had the biggest heart in the world. I know that he loved each and every one of us… and I know that we loved him just as much in return. I know that he will be missed… I know that there is a hole that can never be filled. But I also know for a fact that Peter will always be with us. He will always be watching over us… and someday we will meet again.

There is a Psalm verse that I love and I often shared with Peter when times were tough for him. It is from Psalm 30…

“Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger is but for a moment,
and his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may last for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.”

May we all trust in the Lord. May we find comfort in him. May we all continue to remember Peter and cherish and share the many wonderful memories we have of him. May we shed our tears… knowing that, maybe not as soon as we would like, but someday, joy will come with the morning.

On behalf of my brothers Xavier and Kenny… we love you Peter. We will miss you more than you could ever possibly know… until we meet again.

* * *

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

366 Project - Day 97 - "Abstract (Green Leaves)"


April 06, 2016 - "Abstract (Green Leaves)"

It's another simple, "one shot" kind of day today...

... and it's another "flower-related photo" kind of day as well.

So here's my one quick and simple shot - of the stems and leaves of a bouquet of tulips we have in front of our kitchen window.

(lifeisgood!)

*   *   *

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

366 Project - Day 96 - "Friendship and Flowers"


April 05, 2016 - "Friendship and Flowers"

Just a quick shot today... of one of the flowers from the bouquet my dear friend Brooke sent me this past weekend, knowing how tough of a weekend it was going to be for me emotionally. The bouquet definitely brought a very much needed smile!

Brooke and I have been friends for almost a quarter-century now. Our friendship began during our junior year of high school - and has continued through the many years and many moves (we met in Florida... she now lives in Georgia... I live in Connecticut).

Despite her love of the music of Barry Manilow... Despite her love of Starbucks coffee... Despite the fact that she actually likes Thomas Kinkade's paintings... and - perhaps the biggest of them all - Despite the fact that she kinda likes Morrissey - ours is a friendship that will never end!

I love you, my friend!

((Tug-Tug))

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Monday, April 4, 2016

366 Project - Day 95 - "April Snow"


April 04, 2016 - "April Snow"

It's April.

The flowers are blooming.

It's snowing.

Yep.

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Sunday, April 3, 2016

366 Project - Day 94 - "Abstract (Looking Up During Mass)"


April 03, 2016 - "Abstract (Looking Up During Mass)"

On this beautiful Divine Mercy Sunday I'm sitting in St. Matthew's Church in Norwalk celebrating Mass, which is being held for the intentions of the soul of my brother Peter.

I thought I was going to be able to get through this one without crying - and I did manage to get through most of it. Once I received Communion and knelt down to pray, the tears began flowing.

I'll never really understand the reasons "why" things happen the way that they do. We're just not meant to know such things. What I do know, however, is that I have faith. Strong faith. One day we will be united again. Of that I am sure... and that is enough for me.

As Catholics, we believe that God calls us to become nothing less than saints. That is our goal during our worldly life: To willingly pick up the crosses we are given, and walk with them for as long as the journey is meant to last... To live a life in accordance to His holy will... To await His call and, we hope, to be worthy of His promise of eternal life in the glory of heaven - surrounded by His love.

I pray that I may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Amen.

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Saturday, April 2, 2016

366 Project - Day 93 - "Abstract (Nothing)"


April 02, 2016 - "Abstract (Nothing)"

Today

I

do

not

feel

like

taking

any

pictures.

So

here's

the

only

one

I'll

take.

A

sheet

of

paper

on

my

glass

desktop.

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Friday, April 1, 2016

366 Project - Day 92 - "One Year (Alone)"


April 01, 2016 - "One Year (Alone)"

It's about 7:30 in the morning on the first anniversary of the death of my brother... and I'm all alone in the church, lying prostrate before the altar... before the Tabernacle... before the Blessed Sacrament... before God.

Lying face down with my forehead resting on my hands, which clutch the Rosary my brother gave to me when he stood as my Confirmation Sponsor at this very spot...

Lying face down... offering myself... all that I am... all that I have... all that I ever will be - to the Lord...

Lying face down... crying as I pray: "Grant that I may love You always, and then do with me as You will. For you lived and died for love of me... May I live and die for love of You."...

Lying face down... alone with the Lord... offering up my tears and my emotions and all of the pains of the last year as sacrifice...

Lying face down... praying for the intentions of my brother Peter... and for his wife and children - my sister-in-law and my nieces.

Lying face down... until it's time to rise... go to Confession... then attend Morning Mass and Prayers in the Adoration Chapel.

But for now - it's just me lying here, face down... placing myself in front of the Lord... asking to be shown the way... asking for the strength I need - that I might continue to carry the cross I have been given... and help alleviate the weight of the crosses my family has had to bear.

*   *   *

Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You.

Stay with me Lord, because I am weak, and I need Your strength, so that I may not fall so often.

Stay with me Lord, for You are my life, and without You, I am without fervor.

Stay with me Lord, for You are my light, and without You, I am in darkness.

Stay with me Lord, to show me Your will.

Stay with me Lord, so that I hear Your voice and follow You.

Stay with me Lord, for I desire to love you very much, and always be in Your company.

Stay with me Lord, for as poor as my soul is, I want it to be a place of consolation for You...

... a nest of Love.

Amen.

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