Praying the Divine Mercy Novena on Holy Saturday

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Belgapixels https://www.flickr.com/photos/belgapixels/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Belgapixels https://www.flickr.com/photos/belgapixels/

Our Passover Lamb lies in the grave.

The stone rolls over the entrance and settles with a hollow thunk. The seal is placed over it and the guards take up their watch.

Inside the tomb, Jesus’ body lies broken, dirty and cold in the silent nothingness of death. Blood congeals on the corpse’ forehead, back, wrists, ankles and chest. The limbs stiffen and this dead thing that once was a man becomes a figment of a living person. It is matter now, with no life inside it; a hard, silent piece of dead meat. Decomposition and rot begin.

This is death; raw, unyielding, and seemingly forever. It is the end of every living thing.

Death brings our dreams and accomplishments to dust. It puts a period at the end of our adventures and hopes and tosses them on the waste bin of what doesn’t matter any more. Death conquers all.

Or so it seems.

I am the Way. Jesus told his disciples. I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. 

Today, humanity’s Passover Lamb lies in the grave. The perfect and complete sacrifice, the true lamb without blemish, has shed His blood for us. His shed blood is the blood of the lamb on the lintel posts of the doors to our lives.

If we wear the blood of the Passover Lamb, the angel of unending death will pass us by. If we are not marked with the blood of the Lamb, the angel of death will mow us down with his eternal scythe.

Jesus lies in the tomb today. In our place.

On this second day of the Divine Mercy Novena, He asks us to “bring me the souls of priests and religious.”

No matter when Jesus comes again, we are all in the last days of our own lives. In these last days of our lives, when, as Yeats said, “the center does not hold,” we need leadership from our priests and religious.

“Without vision, the people perish,” the Bible says. Fearful functionaries and self-congratulators cannot lead us in these times. Our priests and religious need the Divine Mercy of Our Lord.

As do we all.

Please take time to pray the Divine Mercy Novena with us. Pray that God will send us holy priests and religious.

Second Day


Today bring to Me the Souls of Priests and Religious,

and immerse them in My unfathomable mercy. It was they who gave me strength to endure My bitter Passion. Through them as through channels My mercy flows out upon mankind.”

Most Merciful Jesus, from whom comes all that is good, increase Your grace in men and women consecrated to Your service,* that they may perform worthy works of mercy; and that all who see them may glorify the Father of Mercy who is in heaven.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the company of chosen ones in Your vineyard — upon the souls of priests and religious; and endow them with the strength of Your blessing. For the love of the Heart of Your Son in which they are enfolded, impart to them Your power and light, that they may be able to guide others in the way of salvation and with one voice sing praise to Your boundless mercy for ages without end. Amen.

 

* In the original text, Saint Faustina uses the pronoun “us” since she was offering this prayer as a consecrated religious sister. The wording adapted here is intended to make the prayer suitable for universal use. 


Praying the Divine Mercy Novena in a Time of Christian Persecution

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

I am not going to write about this week’s events until after Easter. But I do want to make one small point.

The nasty reaction to an Indiana law that would provide religious freedom underscores that we live in a post Christian America. That fact should not frighten us. It is an opportunity for us to serve the Lord in meaningful ways. We can stand for Jesus in these times and actually suffer for having done it. That is not a curse. It is a gift.

This situation fits the meaning and the purpose of the Divine Mercy Novena extremely well. Jesus gave the Divine Mercy Novena to Saint Faustina in the years before World War II. St Faustina was an unknown Polish nun.

The point of the Divine Mercy is that Jesus’ mercy towards us knows no bounds. It is Him, reaching out to us through this humble nun to try to tell us that He is always ready to forgive us, that His mercy is available to anyone who will accept it.

The Divine Mercy chaplet, Divine Mercy novena and Divine Mercy Sunday are all manifestations of that plea from our blessed Lord to accept His mercy before it is too late. Biblical prophecies are coming true at fast clip these days, beginning with the founding of the State of Israel. I am not equipped to comment on end times prophecies. In truth, I don’t think it matters. We are each of us hurtling toward our own end of days every moment we live.

Christ Jesus offers us mercy in the face of our depravations. That is the meaning of Holy Week. Christ’s Passion, his death on the cross, which we remember today, are an expression of the depth of His love for us, and His mercy towards us.

As we ponder the horrible events on Calvary, we must always remember that this is the price God paid for our salvation. This is how much He loves us.

The Divine Mercy is another gift of love to us. It is a way of underscoring once again that we, like the thief of the cross, can find salvation and eternal life at any time, in any extremity, no matter what we have done. The eleventh hour and 59 minutes is not too late to accept Christ’s mercy. The last moments of life are not too late.

But what a waste of good living and happiness — not to mention the danger of not doing it, ever — it would be to play brinksmanship with our eternal lives. My pastor said in a homily that when we die, someone will say to us: You belong to me. We get to chose who that will be. When you die, will you meet Jesus and have Him say, “You belong to me?” Or, will it be satan? The choice is yours, and you make it now, in this life.

The Divine Mercy novena is a series of prayers in which we take those who need His mercy before the throne of God in prayer.

Today is the first day of the Novena. We pray on this day for all of suffering humankind. The world is dying for lack of Christ. The satan in people’s hearts manifests itself in attacking Christians the world over. We are no longer safe from discrimination and even violent persecution for our faith here in America.

Our world bleeds on this Good Friday. It is dripping away its life blood from a thousand self-inflicted cuts. There is one answer for this, one Way out of the abyss of hatred and violence. It is the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the blood of the Lamb of God, guarding our hearts against that day when we will stand on the threshold of eternity and someone says to us “You belong to me.”

Please pray the Divine Mercy Novena today. Pray for the whole human race, which is dying for lack of His love.

First Day
Today bring to Me all mankind, especially all sinners,

and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. In this way you will console Me in the bitter grief into which the loss of souls plunges Me.”

Most Merciful Jesus, whose very nature it is to have compassion on us and to forgive us, do not look upon our sins but upon our trust which we place in Your infinite goodness. Receive us all into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart, and never let us escape from It. We beg this of You by Your love which unites You to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon all mankind and especially upon poor sinners, all enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion show us Your mercy, that we may praise the omnipotence of Your mercy for ever and ever. Amen.

 

 

5 Ways to Do Holy Thursday for Shut Ins and Shut Outs

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Go to mass tonight if you can. You will be blessed.

If you’re sick or you have to work or for some other reason you cannot go, try to take a moment to think on Jesus. You may be so busy or in such a problem that finding time for worship or contemplation of any sort is difficult. On the other hand, you may be flat on your back with nothing but time, dripping slowly by.

Here are 5 ways you can do Holy Thursday if you are shut in from illness or shut out because of other imperatives.

1. Pray. 

For those with time, pray the Rosary. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. If you are sick, offer up your pains for conversions.

If you are pushing through a day with no rest stops, pray the Jesus Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Or, pray a Hail Mary.

Or, just stop for a moment and think about Gethsemane and say “Thank you Jesus.”

If you are in your own, personal, Gethsemane today, ponder what He faced there and remember that God understands what you are going through. He knows with the knowing of having been there Himself.

2. Read the Bible. Read the transfiguration (Mark, chapter 9) or the Last Supper (Mark 14) or the story of Gethsemane (Mark 14.) Read Psalm 22.

Better yet, read them all.

When you read, ponder for a moment the power of this story. I could write many thousands of words discussing these Scripture readings and never touch their full meaning. This is the promise of our redemption, the New Covenant which fulfills that of the Old Testament, and the all-too-human suffering of abandonment and The Alone.

Read it and pray over it. Put yourself there, in the disciples’ sandals, with Jesus as He prayed to let this cup pass from Him. Let God show you the understanding of it that you need for today.

3. Watch something edifying on tv. So much of what we see in the media at this time of year is a thinly-disguised attack on the faith through bogus scholarship presented as an “investigation” into the “real Jesus” or “what really happened.”

The simple fact is that these are deconstructions of Scripture based on little more than the fantasies of the “scholars” who put them forward. Most of the time, if you backcheck these “experts” you will find that they are people with an agenda, usually having to do with their dislike of the Church’s stand on things such as gay marriage and abortion.

They are attacking Christianity because Christianity poses a barrier to the universal acceptance of their viewpoints. However, they are not doing this in a forthright and honest way. They are using phony “scholarship” and an anti-Christian media to unfairly and inaccurately bash Christianity in hopes of weakening its ability to oppose them in the marketplace of ideas.

I had all but given up on tv.

Then, I found some edifying videos on Amazon Prime; lives of the saints, Church history, inspiring stories of faithful Christian witness. I suggest you seek them out and watch them. I’ve looked for similar things on Netflix and couldn’t find them. If you find good ones in other venues, please share them here.

4. Sing or play music. I’ve been under the weather for the past three weeks, and I haven’t felt up to playing my piano. That’s a huge deprivation for me. I’m going to change that today, at least for a while, and tap out a hymn or two. I have lots of Christian music of all genres on my iPhone. I play that and sing along in my rusty voice.

Music is worship with wings, especially, playing the piano. If you pick the guitar or bow the fiddle or pound the ivories, make a joyful noise to the Lord. If you don’t play an instrument, or don’t have access to one, sing a hymn, and if all else fails, just listen to Christian music for a while in your car or at your house.

5. Talk about Jesus with your Christian friends. I don’t mean making a speech or trying to convert someone. I mean just talking about the events of this week 2,000 years ago with a fellow Christian.

Don’t try to be profound. Just fellowship by talking about Our Lord with another Christian.

I know there are many other ways to “do” Holy Thursday if you can’t get to mass. I also know that even if you do go to mass, these are also important things to do.

A Christian can never engage in too much prayer, Scripture, and private worship in the guise of watching good Christian entertainment, making a joyful noise unto the Lord and talking about Him with other people who love Him.

Build yourself up in Christ today, step by step, brick by brick.

This is Holy Thursday. No matter your circumstance, you can find a moment and a means to love Him today. It will be your blessing if you do.

Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law and Holy Week

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Lord https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Lord https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Indiana’s governor is at the center of a firestorm because he signed a religious freedom law.

I am aware that any Catholic blogger, especially a Catholic blogger who writes about politics, should be all over this.

But I’m not going to do it. Not this week.

This is Holy Week, and I need the time with Christ. I think a lot of other people do, too. Sad to say, this issue, and its many ramifications, is not going to go away. Religious freedom is under attack in this country.

I could easily write a strong post about this, as well as the outrageous attempt at intrusion into Church governance that is occurring in San Francisco.

However, this is Holy Week.

I write this blog for one reason: To contribute to the work of equipping Christians to stand for Christ at the intersection of public life and faith. However, I understand something that I’ve seen a lot of Christian culture warriors forget: This is not about changing the culture to our viewpoint. It is about faithfulness to Christ.

We must take time to be with Jesus. That means, among other things, deep prayer on a daily basis, reading the Scriptures every day, and mass as often as you can get there. It also means relaxing a bit and trusting Him.

I’ll say this again: This is Holy Week.

This is the week when God showed all the world for all time the depth, width and breadth of His love for us.

We are in a serious struggle to retain religious freedom in this country. The reason we are in this struggle is not because we have failed at power politics — although by every objective criteria, we have failed.

We are in the situation of fighting for religious freedom in a culture that engages in Christian bashing because we have failed in our mission to be the light. While we were blasting away at our enemies with the full-tilt ugliness of power politics, we forgot that our first call is to bring people to Christ.

Redemption is not won at the ballot box. Redemption was won once and for all by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ at the cross.

This is Holy Week, when each of us should be thinking on that Cross. We should consider, for at least one week, the miracle of our salvation. We need to ponder and appreciate the unfathomable mercy of a God who poured out His life’s blood in an agony of public shame, humiliation and torture that we might be washed clean by that blood and given eternal life.

It is no accident that this final Passover on Calvary took place at the time of year when the first Passover is celebrated. In Egypt, the Israelites slaughtered a perfect lamb and then marked their doorways with the blood of the lamb so that the angel of death might pass them by. Scripture tells us that it was “the Lord’s Passover.”

When Jesus approached John the Baptist at the Jordan, John announced Him by saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” This was a clear prophecy of Jesus’ Passion. It was also a public testimony that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God.

Jesus is our Passover from death to life. He is the perfect lamb whose blood redeems all humanity with one perfect atoning sacrifice. If we are marked with His blood, the angel of death will pass us by.

Jesus died that we might have eternal life. That is how much He loves us. It demonstrates as nothing else can the depth of His mercy towards us.

This is Holy Week. We need to think on these things, to take time apart from the yelling and carrying on of political fighting and pray for guidance and strength in how we proceed in the days ahead. Because we are not called to leadership in the broader world. We can called to followership in the Kingdom of God.

We need to go to the cross and kneel there in the dirt and blood of our own sinfulness and be converted to an ever deepening life of following Him, wherever that leads, whatever it costs.

We are going to be called to much more than ballot box Christianity. We have a harder task before us than political activism. We must convert the culture for Christ, and we must do it one person at a time.

This is Holy Week.

Take time to worship, pray, meditate and recommit to the fight ahead. Consider the viciousness of the attacks the Governor of Indiana is suffering and understand who is behind them. You are not part of that dark army. Turn your back on replying with equal viciousness.

Go to the cross and fit yourself for this battle by believing that this Jesus who is dying there is Lord of all creation. Understand that even though He is God, the God, He will not force us to follow Him. We, like Mary when the Angel Gabriel stood before her, must give our fiat to His grace and His dominion over our lives.

Give Him your will. Decide to do what He wants from now on instead of following your own understanding. Do the holy thing, even when it’s not the smart thing as the world reckons smartness. Enlist in the Lord’s army for real.

We need to be far more holy than any of us have been up to now. We need to become true disciples.

We can only do that if we follow Him without question. Trust and obey, the old hymns says. There is only one way to be happy in Jesus, and that is to trust and obey.

Scripture tells us that if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us.

Draw near to God this week. Therein is our strength and our power. We will not win this fight if we battle for our own selves and our goals. Forty years of political fighting that has left us with dust and ashes is proof of that.

We will only succeed in our call to convert the culture if we yield up ourselves and become part of that great army of the cross. Our message is salvation paid for by the incomprehensible price of the death of God.

That is our faith. It is who we are. It is who we must be if we are to be pleasing to Him. Before we convert the culture, we must first be converted ourselves.

Still Sick and It’s Holy Week. To the Point Blogging Ahead.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Chauncey Davis https://www.flickr.com/photos/chaunceydavis/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Chauncey Davis https://www.flickr.com/photos/chaunceydavis/

My asthma and what for everyone else would be an obnoxious cold have conspired against me. I’m still sick and need to focus on recuperating for the next few days.

It’s nothing a round of antibiotics and steroids won’t cure. But I’ve enjoyed this garbage as much as I can stand. I’m going to cooperate with the medications and take care of myself.

What that means is that my blogging this week will be short and to the point. Unless something grips me beyond all restraint, I will focus mainly on the business at hand, which is our walk down the via dolorous with Our Lord.

This is the week that we were purchased from satan’s hand. If you doubt the value of every human being — including both you and the person who annoys you the most — consider the price that God paid to redeem us.

I hope that every one who has the health and the freedom to do so will attend the Triduum services this week. I know it’s long, but the Vigil Mass on Saturday is a wonderful experience, too.

The Divine Mercy Novena begins on Good Friday. I’ll post the prayers for that, even if I don’t do anything else. I’m praying that you will choose to pray this Novena and then avail yourself of the great gift of the feast of Our Lord’s mercy on Divine Mercy Sunday.

Be well my friends, and love Jesus. The events of this week are why we are here together, In His Name.

Palm Sunday: Jesus’ Popularity was Going Viral

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Denise Krebs https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrsdkrebs/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Denise Krebs https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrsdkrebs/

The Skit Guys explain Palm Sunday.

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Was Lazarus a Zombie?

Photo Source: Flicker Creative Commons by Sharon Mellerus https://www.flickr.com/photos/clairity/

Photo Source: Flicker Creative Commons by Sharon Mellerus https://www.flickr.com/photos/clairity/

The Skit Guys explain Jesus raising Lazarus.

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OU President Boren: Racist Chant was Taught to Students at National Fraternity Leadership Training

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by Phil Constantin, open source

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by Phil Constantin, open source

University of Oklahoma President David Boren announced at a press conference today that the racist chant members of the SAE fraternity were singing in a video that was released earlier this month was taught to local fraternity members during a leadership cruise sponsored by the national organization four years ago.

The chant had become a standard part of the pledge recruitment and initiation process. It was routinely taught to new members. The report said that the chant was part of the “institutional culture” of the fraternity.

Levi Pettit, one of two students who were expelled for singing the chant on the video, participated in a press conference with state Senator Anastasia Pittman and leaders in the Oklahoma City black community, including several prominent black pastors. He apologized for his participation in the chant and expressed deep remorse because of what he had done. Representative Mike Shelton addressed the House of Representatives about the video soon after it first aired.

Hopefully the national leadership of this fraternity will be held accountable at some point.

You can read the complete report here.

From News9.com:

NORMAN, Oklahoma -University of Oklahoma President David Boren has announced the findings of an investigation into a fraternity after members were caught on video engaging in a racist chant.

President Boren held a news conference at noon on Friday. According to the University, the origin of the chant was that it was learned by local chapter members on a national leadership cruise sponsored by the national organization of SAE four years ago. Overtime, the chant was formalized in the local SAE chapter and was taught to pledges as part of the formal and informal pledgeship process.

According to the University, prior to the chapter’s annual Chapter’s Founder’s Day event on March 7, there was alcohol available at the fraternity house, and there is evidence that a significant number of members were consuming alcohol prior to boarding the bus on which the chant was sung.

Jill Stanek: “I Expect that From the Democrats.”

Jill Stanek Photo Source: Flicker Creative Commons by Pro-Life Unity https://www.flickr.com/photos/24711181@N05/

Jill Stanek Photo Source: Flicker Creative Commons by Pro-Life Unity https://www.flickr.com/photos/24711181@N05/

We have two goals today. First of all, in our own way we want to pressure the GOP leadership in the House to present the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act for a vote.

From various sources on Capitol Hill, I have heard that we have already had an impact. There really wasn’t any particular rush felt on this issue, and now there is.

The other goal is to reorient this discussion back to the babies, who are literally being drawn and quartered on a daily basis. People don’t seem to have any sense of urgency about making that stop.  Jill Stanek

Jill Stanek is pro life.

Her pro life convictions were acquired the hard way: From being forced to do the dirt of abortion’s toughest kind of killing.

Infants born alive from abortions are often killed, usually from neglect. I’ve talked to nurses in Oklahoma hospitals who were ordered, as Jill Stanek was, to let babies that are born alive during abortions die slowly and unloved.

That was the inspiration for the bill that brought me within 50 votes of being censured by the statewide Oklahoma Democratic Party. It was the motivation behind the bill that drove a wedge between me and my Democratic colleagues that made the rest of my time in the legislature a kind of purgatory. It was why I could never attend another Oklahoma Democratic Party function again, even though I was the state party’s longest running elected official.

Ms Stanek was a nurse, working in a hospital who had to let a baby die. Unlike the doctors who gave the orders and walked away, she was a witness to these deaths. I heard stories from nurses about what happened here in Oklahoma when babies survived abortions in our state hospitals. I heard the same stories from clergy who worked as chaplains in these hospitals.

These situations drove some of the nurses who were forced to do these deeds to a moral crisis. Most of them just did what they were ordered to do and went on. I don’t know if it hardened them into a deformed version of themselves that was indifferent to killing, or if they suffer deep grief in silence.

I do know that a few nurses were not able to go on with it. Both here in Oklahoma and in Illinois, they stepped out. That is how Jill Stanek became pro life. She held a dying baby in her hands and it changed her. Then, she got involved in seeking a political end to this killing, and that changed her again.

She met President Barack Obama when he was Senator Obama. She lobbied him to pass the law that would allow infants born alive in abortions to receive medical treatment. What she got instead was a dose of what legislators do when they want to kill bills by sleight of hand. The guy who took the hit for the whole pro abortion movement in Illinois was Senator Obama, chair of the committee where the bill died.

The fight for this bill went on for years. When it finally came to a vote, Senator Obama continued to fight it on the floor.

Then, presidential candidate Obama lied about having done this.

Jill Stanek was well-schooled in the ways of politics. But she harbored illusions. She thought that this behavior was a Democratic failing. She evidently honestly believed that Republicans were different.

If she had asked me, I would have told her the truth. But I doubt that she would have believed me. Because this is a hard truth, that people detest. It rips away illusions that make things easy and simple. The pretend that there is a moral safe house in politics simplifies and comforts. The truth, not so much.

When the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives withdrew the bill that would have stopped abortions after 20 weeks off the agenda, a good number of pro life organizations rushed to defend him. That’s the way it works, you know.

Some of these pro life organizations have become Republican organizations first and pro life second. Many of them receive substantial funding from the Republican Party. Others, including most big name Republican-backing clergy, enjoy the backslapping and the “access” to people in power so much that they will not jeopardize it by publicly calling powerful politicians out when they betray the pro life cause.

They have deified a political party, and, no matter what they say to the contrary, that political party is where they bend their knee.

Not so Jill Stanek. She didn’t come to the pro life cause through theological reasoning or political allegiance. She held a dying child in her hands. She was the unwilling participant in the murder of innocents.

Her pro life convictions, unlike that of these other folks, is why she’s involved in all this. She’s there because of the babies, not the political goodies on the periphery of elective office.

She had seen Democrats use legislative ruse to kill pro life bills. But she evidently did not believe that Republicans, once they were in power, would do the same thing.

She didn’t understand the core truth of party politics. I repeat this truth like a mantra. Here it is again: The political parties are about getting power and keeping power. Everything else they say is a lie.

I’m not saying that there are no differences between the Rs and the Ds. What I am saying is that  those differences are not as meaningful as the similarities. At their core, the Rs and the Ds are the same. Both of them are about gaining and holding political power.

So, Jill Stanek joined together with people from the Christian Defense Coalition and Operation Rescue to hold a prayer vigil in front of Speaker Boehner’s office. Ms Stanek said she was there to put the emphasis back on the babies. She ended up getting arrested, along with other pro life leaders.

I am going to add that in this, at least, the Rs and the Ds are different. The Ds treat their allies better than the Rs. I saw it in the Oklahoma legislature and I see it again in this arrest. The Ds don’t have Planned Parenthood people arrested. In all my years in office, I never saw the Democratic leadership disrespect liberal clergy the way I saw the Republican leadership tell pro life clergy to sit down and shut up.

Pro abortion advocates do not grovel before pro abortion Democrats. They work together with them as a team. That’s a huge part of why they’ve seen so successful at keeping abortion legal these past 40 plus years.

The Ds treat their allies on social issues better than the Rs do theirs. And that’s a fact.

According to Ms Stanek, the actions that she and her allies have taken have put the bill to end abortions after 20 weeks back on the legislative map.

Hopefully, she is right.

From Charisma News:

Since the U.S. House of Representatives pulled the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act from consideration on Jan. 21—the evening before March for Life 2015—pro-life blogger Jill Stanek has been relentless in calling for the bill to come back to the House floor for a vote.

With the bill yet to be reintroduced two months later, Stanek felt the voice of pro-life activists was not being heard.

When she teamed up with Rev. Pat Mahoney of Christian Defense Coalition and Troy Newman of Operation Rescue to announce a Sit-in/Pray-in at Speaker John Boehner’s Congressional office, within days the Speaker of the House responded.

Before the protest, Stanek agreed to an interview as her team met at Pete’s Diner on Capitol Hill—a location they knew was one of Speaker Boehner’s favorite spots for breakfast.

Within two hours, she was handcuffed and arrested by Capitol Police outside the Congressional office of Speaker Boehner along with seven other pro-life activists.

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Tornadoes in Oklahoma and Lucky Me, I was There

Cell phones change everything, including the experience of taking shelter during a tornado.

Last night, while we sat in our storm shelter in Oklahoma City, my husband exchanged texts with his best friend who was a hundred miles away in Sand Springs. His friend was also in a storm shelter.

Okies.

We know tornadoes.

A wave of storms swept through the state yesterday, sending a lot of us into shelters. These weren’t the huge killer tornadoes that come down and stay down for long periods of time, taking out whole communities. They were the hop, skip and jump tornadoes that happen any number of times in this state every single year.

I underestimated these storms from the start. Yesterday was the first day in almost two weeks  that I felt well enough to go out to eat. We went to our fav Mexican food place, where we go every Wednesday. They know us so well that they don’t bother to bring us menus. The waiter already knows what we want.

One of the waiters was twitchy about the incoming storms. He and I had both been watching them on radar on our phones. “I think Tulsa is going to get it,” I told him, “but we’ll be alright.”

So much for me as a weather prophet.

My husband decided to put gas in his car, so, on the way home, he pulled into a gas station around the block from our house. We’d been watching the clouds on the drive home. As we pulled to a stop, I noticed a change. I watched as one of the clouds started to turn; to, as the weather guys say, “rotate.”

“That thing’s starting to spin,” I said.

I think my husband’s view was blocked by a post in front of our car. He glanced up, saw nothing and got out to get the gas.

His view must’ve changed when he was standing beside the car, because a moment later he got back in and started the engine. “I can get gas tomorrow. We need to get home.”

It was a short drive to our house, literally around the corner. But as we turned into the drive, the wind hit, bending over the pear tree in the front yard. That tree had been a poofy cloud of white blossoms. As  we drove into the garage, the wind stripped those blooms, blowing the petals into the garage ahead of us, littering the concrete floor with white.

We got in the shelter, and the rest, as they say, is rock and roll.

This particular tornado hit about six blocks from our house. The damage it did can be repaired and no one was killed. There was another small tornado — or maybe this same one, touching down again, a bit further south of us that tossed around vehicles and shaved off the roofs of houses.

The people of Sand Springs and Tulsa got hit with a stronger tornado that did heavier damage and killed one person.

Tornadoes like these happen several times a year, every year, in Oklahoma. They’re different from the huge tornadoes that come along less often. They certainly can and do kill people. A direct hit from a small tornado will destroy your home and kill you. But their killing power is limited to smaller areas and tends to be somewhat capricious.

These little tornadoes go up and down. They are unpredictable. They can form in minutes and vanish in a second.

That is what we were dealing with last night. The warning on a big tornado can give you enough time to get into shelter. But these smaller tornadoes happen fast.

The weather reports had predicted storms, and we could track the overall storm pattern on radar. But the only specific warning we had last night was when I looked up at that cloud and saw it start to turn. If I hadn’t spent a lifetime looking at these things, I wouldn’t have known what I was seeing.

That’s what makes smaller tornadoes dicey. The local weather people, even with all their tornado spotters and radar, mostly tell you about small tornados shortly after they’ve hit. A small tornado can dip down, flatten your house and go back up, leaving the house across the street covered in debris from your house, with the car that was in the drive tossed aside, but otherwise untouched. Then it can come back down and flatten a whole block two streets down.

The irony here is that the thing can kill you just as dead as one of the big ones like the tornado of May 3, 1999. Thanks to our excellent tornado alert system, I watched on tv as what we call “the May third tornado” formed in Apache Oklahoma. I watched it as it stayed down and plowed 100 miles across the prairie to my neighborhood.

I didn’t watch as it continued on through Del City and back out across the prairie to Stroud. I was too busy ducking.

Big tornadoes usually give more warning than little ones. In fact, little tornadoes don’t give warning at all. They are more survivable, and they do not usually cause the total destruction of whole communities. But they can spin up and drop down in a minute. I mean that literally.

I found a spider in the storm shelter last night, which means it needs de-bugging, and not in the computer sense. I also realized that we need to buy flashlights and put them in there. Also bottled water. And maybe a horn or something we can use to get help if the worst happens and we get trapped because our house has fallen on top the shelter.

After the storm passed, I went into an exhausted, totally washed out mode. It was like the experience sucked all the life out of me.

I didn’t realize it, but I’m still not over the big tornado from two years ago. That one killed a lot of people, destroyed a whole community, took out a hospital and flattened two schools. It killed 8 school children in the process.

The rebuilding hasn’t been completely finished from that tornado. I see foundations with no houses when I drive my Mama around in the afternoons. The hospital will be rebuilt, but it hasn’t been yet. The grieving for lost loved ones is on-going.

I guess that’s why this experience last night left me so tired and dispirited. Also, I’m still not entirely well from this cold/flu thing I’ve had. That may have made it worse. All I know is that I usually take these things matter of factly, but last night I reacted with exhaustion, that, and I’m glad we have that shelter.

Mama was prattling to me later in the evening, and I realized that she had forgotten the entire thing. She had no idea there had even been a storm, much less a tornado. Her dementia had wiped it away.

There are times when forgetting is a blessing.

 


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