Tuesday, December 30, 2014


As a follow-up to my earlier post on Fear and Despair, I was grateful to be part of the St. Vincent de Paul food bank in Crystal Beach this December. Through the generosity of countless goodwill donations we were able to bring Christmas joy to almost 200 families-in-need by sharing with them Christmas Baskets chock full of turkey/ham, potatoes, carrots, canned fruit and vegetables, stuffing, candies/chocolates, toiletteries, and yes, TOYS... everything needed for sharing a home-cooked meal with friends and loved ones.

We had a joy-filled day meeting up with old and new clients, everyone coming together to help and share God's bounty.

Once again I witnessed our multi-faith community united in the sharing and distribution of this amazing multiplication of gifts!

St. Vincent de Paul Christmas Baskets
Merry Chistmas, and a blessed, happy New Year!

~ JT ~

Monday, December 29, 2014

Review: Thomas Merton: Faithful Visionary

Thomas Merton: Faithful Visionary
Thomas Merton: Faithful Visionary by Michael W. Higgins

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a well-written, seemingly well-researched book on Thomas Merton.

Although this short biography presents a sympathetic view of the famous monk's life, work and influences, surprisingly, I came away with a very bad taste in my mouth.

From the first instance of Merton's hearing God's call to enter the Our Lady of Gethsemany Trappist Monastery soon after being conscripted for service in 1941, to his constant bickering with the Abbott in charge of the monestary, to his willfulness in continuing to be a celebrity writer while supposedly being a sequestered monk, to his secretely falling in love with a young nurse, I felt Merton's responses to all of these events and situations quite insincere.

What Higgins ultimately presents the reader with is a picture of Merton as a brilliant literary man yearning to be many things, to be the voice of anti-nuclear/pacifism for his generation, to experience a monk's solitary life of devotion to the Church, etc., but only on his own terms. Ultimately he wanted, and always remained, a writer, from his days as a student at Columbia to the questionable circumstances of his death as suicide/accidental death/assination in Japan, Merton wrote.

It seems that everything else in his life only served as material for his writings.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Inspiration strikes! New Release of St. Nicholas

St. Nicholas by JT Therrien
Yes, inspiration struck some time around December 6, the Feast Day of St. Nicholas in the Catholic Church. When I read up on his incredible achievements, inspiration directed me to share some of my new-found knowledge.

So, between stints at the local food bank, I researched and wrote a short story on Bishop Nicholas of Myra. There was so much material to write about, but I chose to limit the scope of my interest to his preserving the virtues of three young girls on the cusp of womanhood. This also seemed like a natural way to further explore St. Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body.

In retelling this sweet story, I also alluded to some of the bishop's other (miraculous) works and I added some historical tidbits as well. I found him to be an endearing, sharp-witted fellow with a big heart filled with compassion, grace, conviction and faith.

Obviously, the most significant aspects of Nicholas' life were the actions that have come down through history which have shaped our modern-day version of Santa Claus.

You can find St. Nicholas at all the usual e-book retailers, including AmazonSmashwords, iBooks, and Kobo.

God bless you. Merry Christmas.


Thursday, December 04, 2014

Advent is Here!

Finally, the Christmas season is underway: Sunday November 30 is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent consists of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. Then we (Catholics) celebrate the Octave of Christmas, which consists of the eight days following December 25.

Advent wreath
I love the season of Advent for the simple reason that it prepares us spiritually for Christmas and the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. For the first two Sundays we witness the lighting of royalty-purple candles at Mass (and at home). The pink candle is lit on the third Sunday of Advent. The last Sunday before Christmas the last purple candle is lit.

Why a Wreath?

From Catholic.org:

The wreath's symbolism of the advent (coming) of Light into the world is clear. The gradual lighting of the four candles, one on each Sunday of the Advent season, combined with the liturgical colors of the candles (purple is the penitential color used during Advent and Lent; rose is a liturgical color used only on Gaudete Sunday in Advent and Laetare Sunday in Lent) help to symbolize not only our expectation and hope in Our Savior's first coming into the world, but also in his Second Coming as Judge at the end of the world.

The wreath itself is also symbolic. The circle of evergreen in which the candles are placed represents everlasting life. The seedpods, nuts and cones used to decorate the wreath are symbolic of resurrection, and fruits represent the nourishing fruitfulness of the Christian life.

Purple, Pink. What's in A Color?

From Catholicculture.org 
The rose or pink candle is lit for the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as Gaudete (rejoice) Sunday. The name is taken from the entrance antiphon or Introit "Rejoice (gaudete) in the Lord always, again I say, rejoice." It is reminding us that the end of Advent is almost here, and we can hardly contain our joy.

Blessings for this Season of Advent. I hope that you will find it to be a time of deep contemplation and renewal of faith.

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