Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Gifts for Those who Really Need Them


Catholic Charities U.S.A. - Poverty in America

 "Together we are dedicated to creating a life of opportunity and self-sufficiency for each of the 46 million of our brothers and sisters who live in poverty."

This is the page for donations, by credit card, cash or check.

Donate to Catholic Charities USA today and help improve the lives of 45 million Americans living in poverty.
Call to Give:
Mail a Check:
Catholic Charities USA
P.O. Box 17066
Baltimore, MD

This page is for donating in other ways:  Stocks, bonds, corporate matches, vehicles and so forth. . .


Catholic Relief Services

Use this page to donate $30 for a mom's complete prenatal care throughout. 

Here is a link to an article in Consumer Reports, about evaluating charities before donating.

 Food for the Poor

"Food For The Poor, named by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, feeds millions of hungry people throughout the countries we serve."

This page begins the list of the lowest-cost donations.

By donating even $14.60 to Food for the Poor, you can feed a family for a month.

For even less ($10) you can donate:

  • A soccer ball for kids in an orphanage; 
  • An avocado, mango or breadfruit tree; 
  • A pair of agricultural work boots.

  • ~~~~~~~~~~~~
 "Soccer breaks down barriers and gives children a healthy outlet. Your gift of a soccer ball will ensure orphaned children can play, have fun and get plenty of exercise."
Paradise Grove Avocados
"Your gift of fruit-bearing trees will provide hungry families with a nutritious and sustainable source of food and additional income. Avocado, breadfruit and mango trees not only provide healthy food; these trees also offer welcome shade, help combat deforestation and yield fruit which may be sold in the village." 

"By supplying a set of agricultural work boots, you help a farmer in his trade and
provide the necessary protective footwear. Your gift to help a hardworking farmer will help produce a healthy harvest."


Almost anybody (even some homeless people) can afford to give $10.

And, they have free (e or 3D) cards that you can use to present to the recipients in whose name you have donated.


Oops! Not to forget our beloved non-human companions:

My personal favorite is Alley Cat Allies, which has a wonderful Trap - Neuter - Release program.

"To transform and develop communities to protect and improve the lives of cats. Alley Cat Allies is an advocacy group that is dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of all cats, including feral cats which they help out through their innovative Trap-Neuter-Release program."

But, here is a page with many other pet charities.


And Now, a Few Words from an Old London Friend

~*~ "A great many back-payments are included in it, I assure you." ~*~ 

^*~*~* ~*^*~*  *~ + ~* *~*~*~`~*~*~*`*~`~* ~*  ~* *~*~ *~ ^*^

``I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!'' Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. ``The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. Oh Jacob Marley! Heaven, and the Christmas Time be praised for this! I say it on my knees, old Jacob; on my knees!''

. . . 

He had not gone far, when coming on towards him he beheld the portly gentleman, who had walked into his counting-house the day before, and said, ``Scrooge and Marley's, I believe?'' It sent a pang across his heart to think how this old gentleman would look upon him when they met; but he knew what path lay straight before him, and he took it.

``My dear sir,'' said Scrooge, quickening his pace, and taking the old gentleman by both his hands. ``How do you do? I hope you succeeded yesterday. It was very kind of you. A merry Christmas to you, sir!''

``Mr Scrooge?''

``Yes,'' said Scrooge. ``That is my name, and I fear it may not be pleasant to you. Allow me to ask your pardon. And will you have the goodness --'' here Scrooge whispered in his ear.

``Lord bless me!'' cried the gentleman, as if his breath were gone. ``My dear Mr Scrooge, are you serious?''

``If you please,'' said Scrooge. ``Not a farthing less. A great many back-payments are included in it, I assure you. Will you do me that favour?''

``My dear sir,'' said the other, shaking hands with him. ``I don't know what to say to such munificence‐''

``don't say anything, please,'' retorted Scrooge. ``Come and see me. Will you come and see me?''

. . .

Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him. 

* ^ ~*~*~*~~*~*

Here is a little article I wrote about how I first "met" Ebenezer.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Do Not Forget Father Gordon Macrae, Falsely Imprisoned for Nineteen Years

Today is Gaudete Sunday, December 14, 2014.

Father Macrae celebrates Mass in his prison cell every Sunday evening, beginning at 11:20 p.m., eastern, which is 10:20 central.

I've always wondered if Father Macrae is related to the singer and actor with the same name, the star of Oklahoma! and Carousel, as well as some other plays and movies??

You can donate via a link on the website, to help pay for Father's legal representatives.

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Bus Ride on The Feast of 

Our Lady of Guadalupe

This morning on the bus --- after morning rush and before lunchtime --- I heard one guy saying loudly, "My people were tending corn, beans and squash on this continent at least five thousand years before Jesus was born, but all I have to say to anyone is, 'Peace to you, brother.'"

A second guy  --- a white guy from Tennessee --- said, "Peace to you also, brother, that's all I have to say also. But, Jesus us Lord of all, and he is the one who made the corn and the beans and the squash."

I don't see a quarrel there, but they were talking loudly and somewhat belligerently. I'm not sure why. Maybe something that had happened before I got on.

They went another couple of friendly rounds, before the first guy, a Ho Chunk man, disembarked from the bus.

He said, to all on the bus, "Jesus is coming soon."

Corn, beans and squash were called the "three sisters" by the Native Americans, or First Nations. Here is an article from Mother Earth News, about The Three Sisters.

Here is an article in the Farmers Almanac about growing the Sisters.
New York State Museum

The guy from Tennessee stayed on for a while. Another guy stood up to check his location. I asked where he wanted to go. He told me he was going to a veterinary office to get a special feline Rx diet for his cat. I knew where it was, only a few blocks.

He said he had lost his place because he was so fascinated by the conversation.

I said, "Yes, that was an awesome conversation."

I said my cat also needed to eat a special Rx diet.

Meanwhile, another guy with sandals and no socks got on and said Hi to the guy from Tennessee. They sat together and talked for a while. I was about to ask if his "pigs" weren't cold, but figured I should leave them alone.

It is always nice to be on the bus when it's not crowded. The passengers are older (like me!) and there can be some great conversations starting up, sometimes true golden moments.

Click here for more information about Our Lady of Guadalupe, at Queen of the Americas Guild.

Here is a link to a Rosary in honor of St. Katerina Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint, made of "reconstituted turquoise which is a term describing stones made of small chips, powder and ground up low-grade stones bound together with an epoxy. The mix is then compressed into beads, inlays and pendants. "

All I can say is peace to you, my readers,  on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is the patroness of all the Americas.

December 12th is also the birthday of my younger daughter.

She was born during those decades when I was absent from Holy Mother Church. I did not even realize that the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe was on December 12th until she was in her teens.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Father Anthony G. Bosco, Bishop, Greensburg
St. Patrick's, Canonsburg, Pa.

Remembering Bishop Bosco

My First Meeting with Father Bosco, in 1963.

He was born in 1927, like my mom. He grew up on the North Side, like my stepdad and me.

He was our retreat master in 1963, at St. John the Baptist High School, on Liberty Avenue, in Pittsburgh. He was a very great orator.

This retreat was during school hours only, in our magnificent church. One lecture was in the rectory
I would like to find some pix
of Father when he was younger, as
when I knew him
 when he was only 35, no grey.
For this lecture in the rectory, we had to stand up in a circle. I don't know why. Perhaps the regular
parish priest was saying a funeral Mass or something like that.

I did not really know what a retreat was, but it sounded pretty good if it could get us out of regular classes. My parents were not Catholic, and there was no religion in my home at all.

My mom and dad had been forced to be Catholic, but abandoned the Faith as soon as possible, as I explained on my intro page. My stepdad was vaguely Protestant --- Lutheran, in particular, but never really practiced.

A Brief Background


When my brother committed suicide, my stepdad developed a strong relationship with a Lutheran community in Spring Garden, the church where my brother's funeral service had been, in 1982, even though nobody had any connection with that church, or parish. (Do Protestants call themselves a "parish?")

My brother's funeral service was in the evening. It was dark outside, and the stained glass windows were lighted from the inside. I remember an elderly lady standing outside, looking at the light shining through the windows, saying, "What's going on in church tonight?"

I wanted to punch her in the face and say, "Give my brother back to me, you old bat." (Not that she had him or anything. Grief makes you kind of insane.)

Either that, or tell her that it was the funeral for my little brother who had committed suicide at age twenty, and ask for her prayers. I could not decide which, so I asked Our Lord to decide for me.

I did not do or say anything.


More About that Retreat in 1963.

I asked one of my classmates what a retreat was. She said, "Sittin' in church, prayin' your life away."

H m .m.m.m.  Sounded great!

Perhaps I should have asked another classmate, but that first girl probably would be offended that I didn't believe her or something like that?

One of the major problems with this retreat was that we would be leaving our purses upstairs, which was the school, as I've explained in another post.

Another wonderful thing that happened at St. John's:  

Our literature book had a poem by Archy the Cockroach. It was not in our list of required readings, but I read it and liked it anyway. (Don't the non-assigned readings seem better? Forbidden fruit or something?)
The particular poem was the one where Freddy the Rat dies, killed by a tarantula who was raised in a bottle of Tabasco sauce. I found it quite captivating, witty and rhythmically haunting. I had to find out more about Archy and his "boss" ---- Don Marquis, a reporter at the New York Sun in the '30's.

Here is a small part of  that poem I loved so much:
you want any of my game i was
raised on red pepper and blood i am
so hot if you scratch me i will light
like a match you better
dodge me when i m feeling mean and
i don t feel any other way i was nursed
on a tabasco bottle if i was to slap
your wrist in kindness you
would boil over like job and heaven
help you if i get angry give me
room i feel a wicked spell coming on
 . . . .
throw a late edition on the floor i want to
keep up with china we dropped freddy
off the fire escape into the alley with
military honors


If you're wondering why there are no caps and no punctuation, you'll have a great time finding out. Any search engine will do.
This page claims to have HTML for the webmaster, but it hasn't been working for me. Here is the link to the website anyway. I hope to display that adorable sketch of Archy when I get this tech problem straightened out.


But, we kept our cigarettes in our purses --- at least those of us who were foolish enough to smoke . . . like me. So, now what? We had to find a way of smuggling cigarettes into church in case we had a chance to sneak away from Sr. for a quick one. We devised a way to sneak packs of cigarettes into the bodices of our jumpers, so that Sr. would never suspect.

Father Bosco was a smoker, also. Maybe that's why he only lived to be eighty five, like my mom who died of lung cancer in 2012, at the age of eighty four. But, I digress.

I remember especially one of Father's homilies was about love. Father said that one teenage boy had asked sneeringly, "What do you know about love?"

I was not so glad that kid had said that, because I knew the boy was talking about lust, not love. Yet, perhaps I was a little glad, in a way, because I was also fifteen myself, and sometimes it was not so easy to remember the difference.

Father discussed the sacrifices that priests and nuns make when caring for the sick or imprisoned and sitting in the chapel praying or saying the Rosary, or some of the many other things that religious do every day.

He also talked about the sacrifices that moms and dads make for their kids, or that soldiers make for the country.

Then he said that this kid liked to sit in a car smooching with a girl because "it feels good."

Therefore, Father implied --- this kid should not be sneering, as the kid had no reason to feel that he really knows what real love really is.

Parallel Construction

Father was using the rhetorical device I know now is "parallel construction" --- as Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King (two other great orators) had. I think it's from Shakespeare.

So, each time he mentioned one of these groups --- the parents, the soldiers, the priests and nuns --- he would say what they did to show their true, selfless love, and then he would contrast it with this kid sitting in a car smooching with his girlfriend --- "because it feels good," he ended each time.

Real love is the love of Our Lord, who died on the Cross for us, so that our sins maybe forgiven.

But no chocolate.

When I first went to Mass with Father Bosco, I realized he reminded me of that guy on the commercial for Chunky candy bars, who said,  "What a chunk o' chocolate."

I did not think that was a flattering resemblance, so I didn't say much about it. Then, my classmates all started noticing it as well. "He reminds us of the 'What a chunk o' chocolate,' guy in the commercials," whose name I know now (because I just looked it up on YouTube) is Arnold Stang.

Well, Father Bosco certainly did not sound like that guy.

Not really so funny, after all.

When I went to Confession during that retreat, it turned out that my sins were somewhat similar to the sins of that sneering kid. Except I did not sneer. Sadly, though, I also did not give any indication that I had a true desire to give up my sins.

Father Bosco was very witty. I don't remember what he said that was so funny, but my classmate said I was laughing out loud in the Confession booth, and everyone in church --- including our principal, a nun --- could hear me. She said that our principal got down on her knees. (But, who knows? Maybe that was for another reason? I hope.)

Then, Father Bosco said I should meet him at the office in the rectory.

I said, "But that would be breaking the Seal?"

He said, "No, it wouldn't because this isn't Confession."

I said, "But, this IS Confession, . . .  What do you mean?"

He said, "No, it isn't, because I'm not giving you absolution."

Ouch. That was a new one. Yet, of course, it was exactly correct.

The Lost Sheep

After that, I used to go to Father Bosco's office at Mercy Hospital, where he was the chaplain, on many Saturday afternoons, for catechesis. I asked him many questions that nobody else could or would answer for me.

I did not attend Mass regularly, and he tried to convince me to do so. I also had a strange addiction to bad relationships with men, especially men on drugs and/or alcohol. I did not really have any family or role models who encouraged me to do good or avoid evil.

I used to ask him about definitions of many different words. He gave me the dictionary that he had had with him through seminary. He frequently used this dictionary to look things up for me. The bookplate said, "Anthony G. Bosco."

(I used to wonder if this dictionary would become highly valuable if or when he became Pope. I guess that shows how "holy" I was ---- NOT.)

One day, he told me I was going to Hell.

I knew it was exactly correct again, of course.

Yet . . . No need to be so blunt, I thought.

But, I stayed away from Holy Mother Church for a solid ten years. I realize now that I should have continued to attend Mass, at least. I never could figure out if I was just angry with him for saying that? Maybe that was the only thing that kept me from Mass?

Or, maybe I would have been tempted to receive the *B*O*D*Y* of *C*H*R*I*S*T* unworthily had I attended Mass without Confession?

Those were the ten years when many weird things happened, 1964 until 1974. I tried to return to Holy Mother Church in 1975, as I say on the intro page, but that's a story for another day.


2014:   Recently, Father Robert Barron --- of Word on Fire --- pointed out in a Daily Advent Meditation that sheep get lost if they look away. They can lose their places on the path very quickly. 

Missionary of the Air

In the '60's, Father Bosco had a radio show, where people would call in to ask questions. I think it was on KDKA.

One time a guy called to ask how much he should give to people who come up to him on the street, to ask for money.

"I mean, is a quarter enough? Or can I just give them a dime?" This guy was disgusted and repelled by how these people smelled, not to mention their looks.

Father said, "No, that's not enough. You should take them home with you."

He continued explaining that we should remember Our Lord, and how He must have smelled and looked when He carried the Cross to Calvary.

Another time Father hit it exactly correctly.

Back to the '60's

My son was born in 1965, and I gave him up for adoption. My mom and grandma went to visit Fr. Bosco. I don't know what this visit was even for. Neither my mom nor my grandma was actively Catholic at the time. I guess it was all about me.

I had committed the ultimate horror during the era of segregation. I mean, what bigots would consider the ultimate horror.

My son's dad was African-American. (I'm not.)

The only thing my mom reported to me about the meeting was, "Father Bosco said, 'Diana thinks I'm intelligent. That is the only reason she listens to what I say.'"

I don't know what he meant by that. I wasn't there, but, even if I had been, I probably still would not know what he meant. (Well, not sure. Maybe I would have figured it out by the context.)

I also don't know why my mother told it to me.

Once I was highly distraught about a movie I had seen, and I could not understand what this movie meant. I called Father Bosco on the telephone.

"This is Diana."

He said, "Ah, Diana of the Ephesians."

I asked who that was. He told me about the temple to her and the connection with St. Paul's Letters to the Ephesians.

I said, "Well, this is Diana G."

He said, "Oh, so it's not Diana of the Ephesians?"

See? I told you he was witty.

I have since figured out that this movie was an indirect reference to ritual abuse, which is unfortunately often referred to as "Satanic ritual abuse." But, it can be any religion. It's not just Satanic.

A Last Meeting --- Much Too Soon

The last time I ever saw Father Bosco on this earth was on Stanwix Street, outside of Saint Mary of Mercy --- St. Mary's at the Point. I think he was on the way from St. Mary's, actually. It was during one of those two and a half years (i.e., 1981 through 1983) that we lived in North View Heights.

I passed him up at first. Then did a double-take.

"Father Bosco?"

I though he was just pretending to remember me, but he said, "Your father is a writer. . .  your mom and grandma came to talk to me at my office. . . in 1965. . .  "?

Then he asked me what I was doing at the time. I told him about my kids, and school.

He said, "Well, what do you do between 2 pm and 2:10 pm each day?"

{See? I told you he was funny.}

All of these years, I have been meaning to get back in touch with him. Once, I finally had the chance to try that, but I wrote a letter, and he did not remember me by name. That was around 2003. I always meant to write back with an old picture of myself, to jog his memory, but never had the chance, --- or the picture, printer or stamp.

Father (Bishop) Bosco died last year, July, 2013.

One year later than my mom, who was also born in the same year as Father.

Perhaps you wonder why I'm not writing, "Requiescat in Pacem." 

I really don't know. Maybe I'm still in shock and denial.

Or, maybe I'm upset that he did not acknowledge receipt of that letter in 2003. I do not know if he ever quit smoking?