Hi Everyone! I hope you are all enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday weekend (for those in the United States)! This post is a little update about my own life and travels.
I am in Minnesota for the holiday, a little over 5 hours from my home. I am spending the break with some good people outside of the Twin Cities. I left work on Tuesday and braved the oncoming snow storm, arriving at my destination around 8:30 p.m. with a 15 to 20-minute delay. The weather and a bad car wreck was the cause of the delay. It made me appreciate more so that I have been driving for so long in the South that it is important for me to get used to driving again in the North. Thankfully, I got new tires back in September that are made for this sort of weather.
Speaking of those tires, I have been meaning to tell a story about how I got them. For a while there was a funny noise coming from the front left tire. It needed to be checked, that and an oil change for in order. After both road trips (June and September), things were needing to be checked. I go to the mechanic on September 29 and while I was waiting, the mechanic brought me out to the auto-body area. The car was on the lift and my attention was drawn to the tires. You should have seen their condition!! They were frayed and cracking so bad that the attendant told me I would have to sign a waiver just to leave the property on those tires!
I took some photos after the tires were removed, but they don’t do justice to what I saw with the air still in the tires. It was horrible! Needless to say, I had to get new ones. If ever there was proof for the existence of Guardian Angels, I just saw it. How I ever made it up to Wisconsin on those tires is beyond me. Yes, they could have frayed after my arrival, but that would have been quite quick with a 16-day time window from my arrival to the tires being changed.
I attended Mass on Thanksgiving Day at St. Ann’s parish. A friend of mine will be getting married at this parish next year and I can see why. It was a beautiful parish with a rather reverent liturgy (Novus Ordo). Here is a picture of the sanctuary:
In other news, I have been thinking a lot about my friend Paul Coakley lately. I miss him, though I am sure not like his wife and children do. Every so often his wife posts on Facebook about some event in the family. The ones where she mentions the kids missing Paul wrench my gut. Others, however, give me a lot of hope. One of the kids made her pancakes for breakfast, went into her room and surprised her. She took a photo and shared it, the grin on the child’s face was sheer Paul all over. Paul lives on in his children and I thank God for this fact, and I tell people that as one of his boys continues to look just like him. The resemblance is truly uncanny.
I have also had cause recently to stop and reflect upon how loving Paul was. Between some personal things going on right now and my work on the Fátima book, I ask myself about the nature of love and can I live up to it? Paul set the standard so high that there is little doubt in my mind that there was a heroic character to it. As this pertains to all things Fátima, there is so much negativity with respect to the third part of its secret. So many accusations of a conspiratorial nature that drag down one’s spirit if caution is not taken. The Message of Fátima is more about loving God than it is these controversies. Yes, I understand why people engage in them, but I cannot help but wonder if there is more vitriol than valor in it.
I ask myself how Paul would have handled such things. Truly, he would not have cared about the controversies at all. He would have been more concerned about Fátima itself and simply praying the Rosary (most likely with friends or family). Keeping this fact before me helps me to “keep it real” as the expression goes, i.e. to stay focused on what matters. In this spirit, then, while I may disagree with some writers as to their understanding of the third part of the secret of Fátima, I do my best to hold charity in my heart. Polemics are going to get people nowhere and we are judged by our actions. Let us make them good ones, oriented to doing the Will of our Father in heaven (cf. Mt. 7:21; 12:50).
In some related news, the low carb “LCHF” diet is continuing on along. My weight stays around 210 pounds. I am about due for a good intermittent fasting period with all this turkey on the table. My friends here in MN are getting into LCHF-friendly cooking so the holiday went well diet-wise. I am reasonably happy with my continued progress. Maintenance-phase is the best and if anyone reading this is thinking of going low-carb, I promise that you will love not only the weight loss, but the maintenance as well. Yes, you make some sacrifices, but you gain a lot of other things as well, like the cheesy biscuit recipe (that I really happen to like), a picture of which is to the left.
Ok, weight loss sales pitch is over, I promise.
Yesterday I went out to Mass and then do a little shopping. Yes, it was Black Friday. I kept things light and bought a Christmas present for my friends down in Waco. I also took a little visit over to Loomes Theological Booksellers (LTB) in Stillwater.
This visit was my first to the company in person, though I have been working with them for some time now through phone orders. Now I knew the store was located on a farm, but I had not considered the possibility of free-roaming chickens and roosters cluttering the road. I am happy to report that we did not have chicken for dinner last night….
Meanwhile, if it is possible to experience something of heaven on this side of eternity, yesterday was proof. In truth, at first I did not get past the front desk where they had a nice selection of eye-candy, uh, I mean books. Eventually, I made my way through to other areas over the course of about 3 hours or so. Time has no meaning in that place as it passes by without notice or incidence. Before I got too into browsing the shelves, I got to meet Christopher Hagen, the owner of Loomes.
It was nice to meet him in person after all the phone orders and what-not. Loomes has been a tremendous help to my research—particularly with my Pope Leo XIII and the Prayer to St. Michael book. It has also been helpful with the work on Fátima (yes, I found some new books there yesterday as well), particularly with a book from Frère François last year.
I am happy to report that there are two hidden gems available at Loomes which are not readily known to the public. The first is that there are FREE BOOKS!!!!
Every so often, people will drop off their books at the store. Mr. Hagen will look at them and realize that he cannot sell them for some reason or another (usually a defect). The person does not want to take them back, so Mr. Hagen makes them available in the back room (the St. Anthony of Padua room, I think it was called) for people to peruse and grab what they want. I was shocked, shocked I tell you, that there were several volumes of an Old Testament lexicon (Greek) available. They are now awaiting the return home and a place on my shelf.
The second gem is that also in the back room are other books available, but for a minor cost. These are books that are lined up on bookshelves for easy perusing and cost about $3 per book. A deal option is available if you pick out more than $30 worth but can fit everything (and then some) into one box. The whole box will cost you $30, even if you have more than the 10 books (10 x $3) required!
These books are not catalogued, so the policy is walk-ins only. If you are Catholic and around Stillwater, MN—get to Loomes!!
Tomorrow I will be heading down to St. Agnes for Mass at 10 a.m. This trip promises to be good as I heard beautiful things about St. Agnes.
I think that is about it for this post. May you all enjoy the remainder of your Thanksgiving holiday!