Tuesday, May 31, 2016
May 31, 2016 - "Abstract (Summer)"
Yesterday (Memorial Day) marked the "Unofficial Start of Summer". So it's no surprise that today I've got all of the fans blowing and the air conditioner on.
I kinda wish we had a pool.
* * *
Monday, May 30, 2016
Sunday, May 29, 2016
May 29, 2016 - "Corpus Christi"
Today is the Solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ" or, more simply, "Corpus Christi".
After today's Mass I made my way into our Perpetual Adoration Chapel to serve my assigned weekly Holy Hour. When I first entered the chapel there were at least a half-dozen other people there, kneeling in prayer. I signed in... made my way to one of the pews... pulled down the kneeler, and began to pray.
Within about five minutes everyone else had left the chapel, and I was alone with the Blessed Sacrament for the remainder of the hour until the next adorer arrived to relieve me. It was quiet and beautiful. The only sounds were the ticking of the small clock at the back of the chapel... the clicking of my Rosary beads as I prayed... and to occasional sound of a car passing by the building.
An hour of quiet prayer with just the Blessed Sacrament and me...
... it truly was the most perfect way I could've celebrated Corpus Christi!
* * *
Saturday, May 28, 2016
Friday, May 27, 2016
May 27, 2016 - "Senior Prom"
Tonight is my daughter Caitlynn's Senior Prom.
One step closer to her high school graduation...
One step closer to her 18th birthday...
One step closer to the day she heads off to college.
(I'm so not ready for this!)
* * *
Thursday, May 26, 2016
May 26, 2016 - "Kind of Blue"
Today would have been the 90th birthday of one of my all-time favorite musicians, Miles Davis.
So, naturally, I'm listening to one of my all-time favorite Miles Davis albums - "Kind of Blue".
Happy Birthday, Miles!
* * *
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
May 25, 2016 - "Trying"
Most people who know me know that I am a devout Catholic. No big surprise there!
Few, however, understand "why"... especially because most of the people who know me know that I spent the majority of my life away from the Church. Even fewer understand just how deeply devout of a Catholic I am.
No... I do not go to Mass every single day of the week. I wish that I could though! Unfortunately the whole "Early-morning Mass time" vs "Transportation" situation doesn't allow for that... yet. Some day.
So what do I do then?
Everything I possibly can.
Sure, I attend Mass every single Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation, without exception. If some sort of family or other obligation prevents me from going on Sunday, I attend the Saturday evening Vigil Mass instead.
I spend at least one hour each week in Eucharistic Adoration at my church's Perpetual Adoration Chapel. I have an assigned hour that I commit to every Sunday... yet I also tend to find myself there at other times during the week as well.
I have special consecrations and devotions to both the "Sacred Heart of Jesus" and the "Immaculate Heart of Mary" - both of which I take extremely seriously.
I abstain from meat on ALL Fridays of the year, NOT just during Lent as some Catholics erroneously think the rule is.
I go to Confession an average of once a week. Sometimes two weeks will go by between Confessions, but that doesn't seem to happen much anymore.
I attend Mass on the first Saturday of each month as part of the "First Saturdays Devotion" to the Blessed Virgin Mary... and I am about to being attending on the first Friday of each month as part of the "First Fridays Devotion" to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
But those are just the "standard" sort of things. I also make it a point to focus on my faith each and every day of the year.
Each morning upon waking I kiss my Brown Scapular and spend at least five to ten minutes in prayer, making my "Morning Offering" and my daily "Consecration to Mary". Then I go about my morning, seeing the kids off to school. Once they're gone I sit and read the Mass Readings for the day... and take some time to meditate on them.
A little later in the morning comes a shortened version of the Morning Prayers from the Liturgy of the Hours.
A little later, at a Divine Mercy shrine in my kitchen, I pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet... and offer my prayer intentions for the day. At that same shrine I also have a perpetual light - which stays lit 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week - as a Memorial Light for those whom I have known and loved and lost. I take time to pray for each and every one of them each and every day.
The day continues and I go about my work and tasks... frequently finding myself praying in my mind as I do so.
Afternoon brings me to my main "Prayer Altar" - where I spend about 45-minutes in prayer... praying the Rosary and other prayers.
The day continues... and again I find myself praying in my mind from time-to-time. I make it a point to read several articles each day from Catholic websites and blogs. I regularly communicate with the Pastor of my parish, often exchanging e-mails asking questions or seeking guidance.
Evening comes and I prepare dinner. I make it a point to say Grace or offer some sort of Blessing and Prayer before the meal, at least to myself if not out loud as a family.
After dinner I tune in to the EWTN news... which, though a Catholic news source, actually gives a more in-depth and unbiased report of things than any other news program I have found. Sure, it comes from the Catholic perspective... but even when they are reporting on something that Catholics tend to feel strongly against, they do a very good job of covering both sides.
I spend time reading - usually some sort of faith-related book. Right now I'm reading several at once, actually: Saint Francis de Sales "Introduction to the Devout Life"... Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation "Amoris Laetitia"... as well as the book "Praying with Mother Angelica". In addition to these I spend at least fifteen minutes each day reading Scripture.
At the end of each day, just before I turn out the light to go to sleep, I offer Prayers of Thanksgiving, an Act of Contrition and one last kiss of my Brown Scapular before drifting off to sleep.
Of course theres much, MUCH more to my life as a Catholic than what I've stated above... and what I've stated above in no way makes me a "better" Catholic than someone who doesn't do those things... nor does it even make me a "good" Catholic for that matter. It just makes me "Catholic". Nothing more. Nothing less.
As Mother Angelica famously said: "Where most men work for degrees after their names, We work for one before our names: 'St.' - It's a much more difficult degree to attain. It takes a lifetime, and you don't get your diploma until you're dead."
I'm very far from being perfect. I'm a sinner who has done and said absolutely horrible things during my life. I'm a sinner in search of forgiveness. I'm a sinner trying hard to learn to forgive. Each and every day I wake up... look at the HUGE Crucifix hanging on my bedroom wall, and hear the words in my mind: "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again." - John 8:11
Yes, some days I fall... and some days I don't... but EVERY day I "try".
* * *
By-the-way: Today's photo is a closeup of a small portion of a beautiful statue of "Our Lady of Fatima" which I have on my main Prayer Altar.
* * *
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
May 24, 2016 - "Abstract (Washing It All Away)"
One sudden roll of thunder, and the skies have opened. The rain is coming down very hard and we have mini rivers flowing along the curbs and rolling into the storm drains.
So, naturally, I'm out here standing in the middle of it all with my camera.
Rain... It has always been a thing of beauty to me. It washes things away... and sort of consecrates the earth.
Rain is wonderful...
... and life is good!
* * *
Monday, May 23, 2016
May 23, 2016 - "Abstract (The Madrigals and The Doors)"
Tonight we're at Danbury High School for our daughter's final school concert with the Danbury High School Choir and The Madrigals.
I always find that it feels a bit weird to be in this building. I attended three different high schools in three different states. This was the third and final school for me... and, of the three, was by-far the worst. Being in this building always brings back a lot of memories... some good... some, well... "not-so-good". Actually, being in THIS room in particular brings back a lot of memories... some good... some, well... "not-so-good".
Still - very good things have happened for me here. In addition to a lot of wonderful performances that my daughter has been in, it was just outside of this very room that I first met my wife Holly... and if that moment had never happened, well... lets just say I probably wouldn't be here.
Other good things have happened in this room too. Way back on October 11, 1967 "The Doors" performed here. This building was only a couple of years old at the time... and legend has it that Jim Morrison banged the base of his microphone stand into the stage floor so hard that he actually left a big dent in the wood. No one has ever been able to prove that though... and now, almost 50 years later, there are so many dents in that stage that no one would ever be able to tell you which one it was anyway.
It doesn't matter though.
There are still more memories to be made in this room. Our son is just finishing his freshman year, so we'll still have reason to come here quite a few times over the next few years. For some reason though, tonight is a bit of a bittersweet moment. I don't know why... maybe it's just because it's yet another marker on the list that leads toward "letting go"...
... and I'm not quite sure if I'm ready for that.
* * *
Sunday, May 22, 2016
May 22, 2016 - "Abstract (Looking for Jesus)"
We're spending this morning with our wonderful friends Kristin and Lenny, wandering around The Elephant's Trunk Flea Market in New Milford, Connecticut.
My mission is to find "freaky religious stuff" to add to my collection. This is pretty much my standard mission at every flea market, thrift store, tag/garage/yard sale, etc. that I come across.
As it happens - within about the first 10 or 15 minutes of us being there - I find a vendor who has a wonderful selection of antique Catholic items - from saint statues to wall crucifixes to Blessed Virgin Mary outdoor grotto statues. I find what I'm REALLY looking for though - a beautiful two-foot-tall antique statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I had to buy it... and the vendors were a couple of wonderful ladies who seemed genuinely happy that I was so drawn to that particular statue. I ended up having a short chat with them about my special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary. It was if it was all "meant to be". They carefully wrapped up the statue and put it aside for me to pick up on my way out later.
We spent the rest of the morning visiting the food vendors and wandering around trying to find the ugliest objects we could possibly find... as well as trying to figure out who the baseball player was that had a candy bar named after him back in the 70s or 80s. Lenny finally figured it out - it was none other than "Mr. October" himself, Reggie Jackson.
Finding the Sacred Heart of Jesus statue was a wonderful thing - but what really made the day special was being able to spend it with people we care about very much... friends who aren't just "friends" - they truly have become family to us.
Well THAT and the abso-freakin'-lutely amazing fresh mini-donuts they sell there! Those made the day pretty damn special too!
* * *
P.S. - In case you're wondering what the heck today's photo has to do with any of this, it's a shot of the side of one of the food vendor booths at the flea market. I think this was an Italian Ice vendor.
* * *
Saturday, May 21, 2016
May 21, 2016 - "Abstract (Hometown Nostalgia)"
Today I'm in the town I grew up in back in the 70s and 80s.
It's a strange feeling. In some ways this place has completely changed... in other ways it hasn't changed at all. I look up at the sky and see pretty much the same exact scene I'd see outside the door of every house or apartment I ever lived in while I was growing up.
Some things never change...
... and some memories never go away.
* * *
Friday, May 20, 2016
May 20, 2016 - "Abstract (I Hate Mice)"
Two things that sum up today:
1) It's finally warm enough to completely shut off the heat.
2) I hate mice.
* * *
Thursday, May 19, 2016
May 19, 2016 - "Calling It Quits (For the Day)"
I decided I just couldn't "adult" today... so right after the kids left for school I went right back to bed. Except for one brief period in the afternoon when our neighbor started hammering something on her roof which sent my dog into a barking spree, I ended up sleeping through about 80% of the day. As much as it felt "low" and "awful" - it also felt "good" and "needed".
What will tomorrow bring? We'll see.
* * *
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
May 18, 2016 - "Teenage Daydreams"
Apparently being a high school freshman is exhausting.
For the record, so is being the parent of a high school freshman!
Even more exhausting is when you're the parent of both a freshman and a senior!
That's OK though... we only have a little over 1,100 days left before we can sell the house and move to Greenwich Village without having to give the kids the address!
(Just kidding... We'll give them the address. After all, they're going to have to help us with the move!)
* * *
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
May 17, 2016 - "Abstract (Tunnel Vision)"
I'm kind of out of it today. Very tired. Having a hard time focusing. I "should" be doing some work... and I've got everything I need in order to do it - except for the "oomph".
There's always tomorrow!
* * *
Monday, May 16, 2016
May 16, 2016 - "Abstract (Holy Water Bottle)"
Don't really feel like doing much photography today.
So this is all I've got.
I'm going to go to sleep now.
* * *
Sunday, May 15, 2016
May 15, 2016 - "Final Dance Recital (Time for College)"
After almost fifteen years of classes, competitions and end-of-year recitals, today was my daughter Caitlynn's final recital as a student of "Lori's Center Stage Dance Studio".
It was a tremendously wonderful and emotional day... and at the end she was given so many bouquets of flowers that our kitchen now looks like a showroom at a florist or something.
In the coming weeks she will be graduating high school and getting ready to head off to college to major in dance... getting one step closer to achieving her dreams of being a professional dancer and eventually opening her own dance studio.
It's a strange feeling... I remember her first dance recital as if it were yesterday. I remember my eyes tearing up as I watched that first performance. I've had tears in my eyes watching her dance many times over the last decade-and-a-half... and today was certainly no exception.
Caitlynn: You never cease to amaze me! I cannot believe how quickly the time has gone by... and I'm incredibly proud of the young woman you have become. I know, without a doubt, that you are going to go far... that you are going to achieve and surpass your dreams. As I've told you before, you truly are a radiant star. Keep your light shining bright... and don't let anyone or any thing ever cause it to dim, even for a moment. Your light is special... and it has the ability to spark the light in other people. So keep shining, little angel of mine! Never stop shining!
I love you!
* * *
Saturday, May 14, 2016
May 14, 2016 - "Abstract (Cooling Down)"
It's hot today.
Actually - it's not so bad outside... but inside it's like an oven. The windows are open... the fans are on... and it's time to pop open a nice cold drink to try to cool down.
* * *
Friday, May 13, 2016
May 13, 2016 - "Consecration Day"
Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima.
Today is also "Consecration Day". After thirty-three days of preparation and prayer, I fully consecrated myself to Our Most Holy Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Our church held a special Mass this evening for Consecration... however after the Mass was over I committed myself yet again, with my own Prayer of Consecration - a blend of my own words mixed with the Consecration Prayers of St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe and of Fr. Michael E. Gaitley from his book "33 Days to Morning Glory".
Here is my Prayer of Consecration in its entirety...
"I, Vincent, Confirmed in Christ as Joseph, stand before you on this day as a repentant sinner, to renew and ratify in your hands, O Immaculate Mother, the vows of my Baptism. I forever renounce Satan, and all of his works, his temptations and his empty promises. I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, and resolve to take up my cross and follow Him all the days of my life... and to be more faithful to Him than I have ever been before.
Most Holy Mother Mary, I cast myself at your feet humbly imploring you to take me with all that I am and all that I have, wholly to yourself. I deliver and consecrate to you my body and soul, my goods - both interior and exterior - and even the value of all my good actions, past, present and future; leaving to you the entire and full right of disposing of me, and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to your will, for the greater honor and glory of God in time and in eternity. Please make of me, of all my powers of soul and body, of my whole life, death, and eternity, whatever most pleases you.
Let me be a fit instrument in your immaculate and merciful hands for bringing the greatest possible glory to God. If I fall, please lead me back to Jesus. Wash me in the water and Most Precious Blood which flowed from His pierced side, and help me never to lose my trust in this fountain of love and mercy.
Blessed Virgin Mary, handmaid of the Lord, I give myself to you, that through your Immaculate Heart I might be united in perfect consecration with the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I give myself to you, that through you I might come closer to Our Lord and Savior, and be worthy of entering His heavenly kingdom. Amen."
* * *
Thursday, May 12, 2016
May 12, 2016 - "Abstract (Untier of Knots)"
May is a month traditionally devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary within the Catholic Church. One Marian Devotion which has gained popularity in recent years, especially since the election of Pope Francis in 2013, is "Mary, Untier of Knots". Pope Francis holds a particular connection with this particular devotion, and thus the image of "Mary, Untier of Knots" has become very much associated with his Papacy.
Tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima... and, after thirty-three days of preparation, I will be fully Consecrating myself to the Blessed Virgin Mary at Mass.
There are many knots in my life I hope to be able to "untie" in the coming years... yet even more than there are "knots", there are "tangles". These are the things I need to tackle first in an effort to get the cord of my life as usable as possible. My hope is that I will be able to do so through the Grace and Intercession of Our Lady.
* * *
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known, that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
* * *
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
May 11, 2016 - "Abstract (Yellow)"
Today my very dear friend Nancy came over for visit. She arrived with a vase full of beautiful flowers in one hand and a bag of Cannoli in the other. We spent a wonderful morning full of the Three C's - "Coffee", "Conversation" and "Cannoli"!
Since we ate the Cannoli and drank the coffee you'll just have to settle for a photo of one of the flowers instead!
A very big "THANK YOU!" to Nancy for a wonderful morning!
* * *
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
May 10, 2016 - "Watch Boxes"
I opened the armoire door and was almost killed by an avalanche of watch boxes.
Well... not really.
I did realize, however, that I have a hell of a lot of watch boxes... and when you factor in the fact that I own quite a few watches that no longer have their original boxes, well... lets just say: "Hi... My name is Vincent... and I am an addict."
* * *
Monday, May 9, 2016
Sunday, May 8, 2016
Saturday, May 7, 2016
May 07, 2016 - "St. Matthew Parish - Norwalk, CT"
Tonight we're at St. Matthew's Church in Norwalk for a Mass to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Catholic Charities of Fairfield County.
The Mass - led by Bishop Frank Caggiano - was absolutely beautiful! From the opening procession by the Knights of Columbus and the Order of Malta - to the Homily by Fr. Reggie Norman, which happened to be one of the most beautiful and inspirational Homilies I've ever heard - to the incredible music by the youth choir... every aspect of the Mass was wonderful!
Following the Mass there was a reception in the church hall with lots of delicious food and drink - and some great conversations with even greater people. All-in-all, it was a truly wonderful evening!
This photo was taken as we were walking through the church on our way back to the car after all of the celebrations were over. The church was empty and most of the lights were off. There was only the lights shining upon the altar and the soft glow of the candles in the votive stands. It was so peaceful and beautiful, I had to stop and take a photo.
The Catholic Charities of Fairfield County is an amazing organization which has done even more amazing work over the last 100 years. My hope is that it will enjoy an even more amazing second century!
For more information, visit www.ccfairfield.org
* * *
Friday, May 6, 2016
May 06, 2016 - "Relaxation"
It has been a very long day.
Actually - it has been a very long week, for that matter.
Time for my wife and I to enjoy a very-much-needed hour-long massage.
* * *
Thursday, May 5, 2016
May 05, 2016 - "Psalm 23"
The Divine Shepherd
A Psalm of David
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall
he makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil,
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
- Psalm 23
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace.
* * *
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
May 04, 2016 - "Prayers for GG"
I love to pray. I tend to spend at least an hour each day praying. Sometimes more. Sometimes much more.
As much as I love to pray, I never like having to pray certain prayers. I'm sure you know the types of prayers I mean... the types of prayers that are necessary for sad reasons.
Today I am praying such prayers. Actually, I've been praying them since Monday. Praying for an amazingly wonderful and beautiful person... Chrissy, the mother of my wife's step-mother, Eileen. Our kids call her "GG" - for "Great Grandma".
Chrissy turned 95 this past January - and even at that age is sharp as a tack and filled with the wonderful Irish "gift of the gab"! It is always a delight to spend time with her... to hear the stories of her life... of her immigrating to the United States from Ireland... and her views of life over the decades.
She is a very devout Catholic. We've attended Mass together quite a few times, and it amazes me how she knows and recites every single word of the Mass - without need of any Missal or prayer book.
She loves cheap Port Wine, which I'm not a fan of... but she also loves her Guinness - which I fully stand behind! In fact, her present to me this past Christmas was a six-pack of that wonderful dark elixir!
Sadly she took a fall the other day at her home in Florida... and has been in the hospital, unconscious, ever since.
I've been praying for her since I heard the news... and I ask for anyone who might be reading this to offer even just a simple prayer for Chrissy as well as for Eileen and her family.
* * *
O Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, virgin and mother, queen of heaven, chosen from all eternity to be the Mother of the Eternal Word and in virtue of this title preserved from original sin, we kneel before you as did little Bernadette at Lourdes and pray with childlike trust in you that as we contemplate your glorious appearance at Lourdes, you will look with mercy on our present petitions and secure for us a favorable answer to the requests for which we offer this prayer.
O Holy Mother, pray for our dear Chrissy. Be with her and her family, taking them into your loving arms to comfort them.
O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, our hope, our strength and our consolation. Amen.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.
St. Bernadette, pray for us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
* * *
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
May 03, 2016 - "Abstract (Inside the Light)"
It's a quiet and rainy day in my neck of the woods. I think it is going to be a "minimalist" sort of day. A day to rest and recover. A day to turn inward... to look inside... to look for the light within.
* * *
Monday, May 2, 2016
May 02, 2016 - "Abstract (Blue Bubbles)"
It has been a quiet day today... but I've been getting a lot done.
Now it's time to play around with my camera though.
* * *
Sunday, May 1, 2016
May 01, 2016 - "Abstract (Captured Colors)"
Another plastic water bottle...
Another photo of colors captured...
* * *