Archive for the ‘Cats’ Tag

New Life II   Leave a comment

Above:  Leslie Catherine Taylor (2014-2015), January 1, 2015

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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For the Second Sunday of Advent, Year 2, according to the U.S. Presbyterian lectionary of 1966-1970

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O God, who didst prepare of old the minds and hearts of men for the coming of thy Son,

and whose Spirit ever worketh to illumine our darkened lives with the light of his gospel:

prepare now our minds and hearts, we beseech thee, that Christ may dwell within us,

and ever reign in our thoughts and affections as the King of love and the very Prince of peace.

Grant this, we pray thee, for his sake.  Amen.

The Book of Common Worship–Provisional Services (1966), 117

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Genesis 15:1-15

Romans 9:1-8

John 3:1-17

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New life is both literal and spiritual.

  1. It was literal in the cases of the offspring of Abraham and their descendants.
  2. It is spiritual in so far as we who are Christians are, in a sense, descendants of Abraham.
  3. It was spiritual for St. Paul the Apostle, formerly Saul of Tarsus.
  4. It was eventually spiritual for Nicodemus.
  5. It is spiritual for those of us born from above, though water and the Holy Spirit.

Not all of us can identify moments of dramatic conversion, but, if we live in God, we produce spiritual fruits.  Those are tangible.  They also benefit others as well as ourselves.

Sometimes the tangible in spiritual in ways a person not familiar with circumstances would expect.  My experience confirms this truth.

In 2014, while my father, suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease, was dying in the opposite corner of Georgia, a stray kitten (Leslie Catherine Taylor) moved in and adopted me.  She insisted on doing so.  Leslie, who had the upper paw in the relationship, was an energetic animal who was into everything.  The fur ball of energy comforted me with her new life as my father’s life faded away.  She helped me to cope.  Eventually she disappeared and presumably died, however.  But, while she shared my life, Leslie was a great blessing to me.

Advent is about, among other things, new life–new life in daily experiences, new life in Christ, new life in the fully realized Kingdom of God, and a baby unlike any other.

Happy Advent!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 6, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF FRANKLIN CLARK FRY, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA AND THE LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CLAUDE OF BESANÇON, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, ABBOT, MONK, AND BISHOP

THE FEAST OF HENRY JAMES BUCKOLL, AUTHOR AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM KETHE, PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

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A Prayer for Lost Pets and Their Humans   1 comment

Lelise April 4, 2015

Above:  Leslie Catherine Taylor, Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

I have not seen her since April 12.

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O God, who declared the created order to be good,

you have granted us the pleasure of animal companions

and the responsibility to care for them.

These relationships, when they are what they ought to be,

are reciprocal, improving the quality of life of all involved.

Sometimes, however, a pet disappears.

Keep lost pets safe, dear Lord, comfort them, and guide them home.

Likewise, I ask you to comfort the bereft humans

and guide them to take proper actions.

May family reunions occur in a timely manner

and such partings never happen again.

When, however, the separation is permanent,

may abundant grace bring healing for all who need it,

and may the lost pet be safe in your care.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 18, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF DONALD S. ARMENTROUT, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF CALVIN WEISS LAUFER, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMNODIST

THE FEAST OF ROGER WILLIAMS, FOUNDER OF RHODE ISLAND

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM PENNEFATHER, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HUMANITARIAN, AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS WIFE, CATHERINE KING PENNEFATHER, HUMANITARIAN AND HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

https://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2015/04/18/a-prayer-for-lost-pets-and-their-humans/

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Posted April 18, 2015 by neatnik2009 in Prayers on Various Topics

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Compassion for Feral Cats   Leave a comment

Snapshot_20140720

Above:  The Beginning of the Draft of This Post

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

–Luke 6:36, The New Revised Standard Version (1989)

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A few months ago I started feeding a feral cat family which had moved in close to my back door.  Crystal, the mother, and her kittens, Pat and Leslie, ate well.  Much of that time, of course, Crystal ate all of the food, for the kittens were still nursing.  So I fed them indirectly.  They did, however, reach the age at which they ate solid food.

Of the three cats only two remain, for Pat (a white cat with differently colored eyes, just like his mother), has left for parts unknown.  (At least I assume that Pat is male; I have never gotten close enough even to pet the creatures.)  Crystal roams the top of the hill where I live, and Leslie, an adorable tuxedo kitten, stays close to home.  Both mother and daughter (I assume that Leslie is female) dine near my back door, but Leslie seems to need the food more.  Crystal’s hunting skills are excellent; I have seen evidence of that.  But, to the best of my knowledge, Leslie does not hunt.  As my beloved has said, Leslie needs us.

These cats cannot reciprocate, for they have not become socialized to people.  Crystal has at least ceased to hiss at me, but she keeps a certain distance.  Leslie stares and meows at me, usually around mealtime.  Yet I notice that sometimes, after the child has consumed some cat food (especially her favorite, canned food), she comes to the back door, looks at me through the glass, and meows.  What is she saying?  I wonder.  I suppose that she spends some amount of time trying to understand me as best she can.  She observes me bringing her fresh food and water.  That much helps the relationship along.  And I have observed cats long enough to recognize when the proverbial wheels are turning inside a feline head.  Whatever Leslie does with regard to me, she does it from a distance.  She might never become a lap cat, but I adore her for who she is.  And I accept as sufficient Leslie’s mere proximity.

“Be merciful,” our Lord and Savior said.  Give without expectation of repayment, he continued.  After all, God has been merciful to us and nothing we can do in response will even approach the definition of repayment.  But we can, among other things, pass the grace along freely.  Each of us can do something of the sort.  I can do care actively for my feral feline neighbors, and I so so joyfully.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 20, 2014 COMMON ERA

PROPER 11:  THE SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL HANSON COX, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND ABOLITIONIST; AND HIS SON, ARTHUR CLEVELAND COXE, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF WESTERN NEW YORK, HYMN WRITER, AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANSEGIUS OF FONTANELLE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF ELIZABETH CADY STANTON, AMELIA BLOOMER, SOJOURNER TRUTH, AND HARRIET ROSS TUBMAN, WITNESSES TO CIVIL RIGHTS FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS AND WOMEN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS FLAVIAN II OF ANTIOCH AND ELIAS OF JERUSALEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCHS

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Some Related Posts:

Crystal, Pat and Leslie

Crystal and Leslie

Leslie

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Posted July 20, 2014 by neatnik2009 in Luke 6

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Cats as Ministers of Grace   Leave a comment

Snapshot_20131027

Above:  The Beginning of the Draft of This Post

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Bats, swallows and birds alight on their bodies and heads; and so do cats.

–Letter of Jeremiah 22, The New Revised Standard Version

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I have known many felines and had a strong dislike for only one.  There was a neighborhood cat who encroached on the territory of Duncan Gray Cat Taylor, a most mellow creature of God who had adopted me.  I sided with Duncan, of course.  (I had, by the way, named him after three Episcopal Bishops of Mississippi–Duncan Montgomery Gray Sr., Jr., and III.)

Cats are the finest creatures on four legs.  This I affirm, partially because, deep down in the core of my being, I wish that I could be more similar to them.  Their independence of spirit appeals to me.  But they have an advantage I lack:  furriness.  One can get away with much by being soft and furry.  Behaviors which would be maddening otherwise become endearing.  So, as an old saying tells us, kittens are constantly forgiven.  Then we humans, trained well by cats, continue to forgive our older feline companions.

I have spent much of my life to date being emotionally closer to certain cats than to people.  Felines do not meow platitudes at awkward moments.  They do not care about one’s past either.  No, cats who are habituated to humans are likely to warm up to anyone who will treat them kindly.  And cats are not selfish and lacking in affection for others.  They are simply not dogs.  I have read enough about feline behaviors to know when they are marking me as property and when they are being affectionate, so I recognize the latter easily.

I recall occasions when I felt rather badly and needed someone nearby.  I did not need or want words.  No, I required and desired presence.  And, much of the time, that presence has come in feline form.  Sometimes, when resting and ill, I have awoken to find a sleeping cat.  Then I have felt better immediately.  I cannot attest to the feline’s motivations yet know what the effects were.  That is enough.

Our companion animals are good for us.  May we be at least as good for them.  And may we thank God often for them, assuming that we belong to any.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 27, 2013 COMMON ERA

PROPER 25–THE TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF ARTHUR CAMPBELL AINGER, ENGLISH EDUCATOR, SCHOLAR, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT AEDESIUS, PRIEST AND MISSIONARY; AND SAINT FRUDENTIUS, FIRST BISHOP OF AXUM AND ABUNA OF THE ETHIOPIAN ORTHODOX TEWAHEDO CHURCH

THE FEAST OF THE VICTIMS OF THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS

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Below:  The End of the Draft of This Post

Snapshot_20131027_1

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Posted October 27, 2013 by neatnik2009 in Baruch

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Genesis and Mark, Part II: The Image of God   1 comment

 

fishing-on-the-sea-of-galilee

Above:  Fishing on the Sea of Galilee

Image Source = Library of Congress

(http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/ppmsca.05015/)

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Genesis 1:20-2:3

Psalm 38 (Morning)

Psalms 126 and 102 (Evening)

Mark 1:14-28

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Some Related Posts:

Genesis 1-2:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/week-of-5-epiphany-tuesday-year-1/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/devotion-for-november-27-in-advent-lcms-daily-lectionary/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/great-vigil-of-easter-year-a/

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2011/07/28/great-vigil-of-easter-year-b/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/trinity-sunday-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/18/proper-9-year-a/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/week-of-proper-28-monday-year-2/

Mark 1:

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/09/16/week-of-1-epiphany-monday-year-1/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/third-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-b/

http://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/fourth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-b/

Prayer:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/21/prayer-for-thursday-after-ash-wednesday/

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Certainly Jesus knew James and John, the sons of Zebedee, for Zebedee was our Lord’s uncle.  James and John were therefore first cousins of Jesus.  There was nothing inherently wrong with fishing; it was honest and socially useful work.  Yet our Lord had a higher purpose in mind for his cousins.

The concept of the image of God unites the readings from Genesis and Mark.  But what is the image of God?  It is not physical, for God is spirit.  Perhaps the best way to identify the image of God in human beings is to notice some contrasts with the rest of the Animal Kingdom.  We are almost genetically identical to chimpanzees, but they do not compose sonnets.  Elephants are quite intelligent and mourn their dead.  Who knows (other than God and whales) what whale songs mean?  I, along with some great Christian saints, assume that our fellow creatures of certain intelligence possess souls, but they members of these species have not forged civilizations as we know them.  Likewise, I adore cats.  Their bodies are perfectly evolved for their purposes in nature.  And I have no doubt that cats I have known well have had souls.  But I, as a human, have a spark which cats lack.

We humans have potential which other mammals lack.  And we ought to live up to higher standards.  We are animals biologically; evolutionary forces have shaped us physically.  But we are more than skin, meat, blood, and bones; we are souls who bear the image of God.

Thus we ought to act accordingly.  We should pursue our highest and greatest potential. We ought to help others pursue and achieve theirs.  We ought to love each other and ourselves as bearers of the divine image.  If we do this, we will cease to hate and kill one another.  We will cease to exploit each other and condone or turn a blind eye to exploitation.  We will cease to discriminate against each other.  We will do all this because we recognize the divine spark in each other and know that we are not so different from each other as we thought once.

I propose a Lenten discipline to continue afterward:  Looking for and finding the image of God in others then treating them with the great respect due a bearer of the divine image.  That is an excellent habit, one which will banish a host of bad ones.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 28, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE FIRST U.S. METHODIST BOOK OF WORSHIP, 1945

THE FEAST OF SAINT GUALFARDUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC HERMIT

THE FEAST OF SAINT PETER CHANEL, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

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Adapted from this post:

http://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/devotion-for-the-second-day-of-lent-lcms-daily-lectionary/

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Helping Those Who Cannot Reciprocate   Leave a comment

You received without payment; give without payment.

–Matthew 10:8b, New Revised Standard Version

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Recently two incidents from my past have been on my mind.

One weekend about twenty years ago, in Sumner, Georgia (in rural Worth County), Shadow, my mother’s cat, gave birth prematurely.  Only one kitten survived, however briefly.  I named that cat Sebastian.  (A cat deserves a good name, after all.)  Young Sebastian was doomed; even his mother refused to nurse him, consistent with her feline programming.  So we humans took over, doing our best to feed, hold, and sit with the little kitten.  Sadly, the inevitable death claimed Sebastian’s life on Sunday of that weekend.  I wrapped the kitten in a  hand towel, buried the little cat in the backyard, and spoke lines from the Latin Requiem Mass over the grave that evening.  Sebastian had been a creature of God; to God Sebastian had returned.

In June 2009 I met the woman who became the love of my life, at least until the present day.  Our relationship had its ups and downs; both of us were responsible at different times and occasionally the same times.  But she had her own problems which, hindsight tells me, were increasingly severe mental illness.  About this time this year I noticed that the fun and vibrant woman was almost gone and that a depressed female had taken her place.  She lost her job last December and spiraled deeper into mental illness.  Her birthday last January was a sad occasion despite my attempts to make it joyful.  And, one long night, I held her as she asked me to help her die.  I did this until I fell asleep out of exhaustion.

In February, in advance of a weekend with freezing temperatures, she stayed at my place.  The alternative would have been for her to spend those days in a house without a functional furnace.  Those three days–the first of thirty–shook me to my core, for I began to realize how devastated and delusional she was.  After a month I was emotionally exhausted.  My usual routine had ceased to exist as I attempted to cheer up someone whom it was almost impossible to keep cheerful.  There were some fun times, such as a Star Wars movie marathon, but those were few and far between.

Now she lives in a mental hospital; may she find what she needs and return to a healthy and functional state.

There is great value in helping or just trying to help those who cannot reciprocate; it changes one for the better.  Pure love does not require repayment.  No, it pours itself out to the point of self-sacrifice and in the face of certain futility.  And the exercise of pure love makes one a better person.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 31, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT WOLFGANG OF REGENSBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY BISHOP

ALL HALLOWS’ EVE

THE FEAST OF THE REFORMATION

THE VIGIL OF THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS

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Posted October 31, 2012 by neatnik2009 in Matthew 10

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Authentic Spirituality   1 comment

Above:  Bottle Feeding an Abandoned Kitten

http://lovemeow.com/2010/03/men-rescued-abandoned-new-born-kittens/

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 (The Jerusalem Bible):

You know yourselves, my brothers, that our visit to you has not proved ineffectual.

We had, as you know, been given rough treatment and been grossly insulted at Philippi, and it was our God who gave us the courage to proclaim his Good News to you in the face of great opposition.  We have not taken to preaching because we are deluded, or immoral, or trying to deceive anyone; it was God who decided that we were fit to be entrusted with the Good News, and when we are speaking, we are not trying to please men but God,who can read our inmost thoughts. You know very well, and we can swear it before God, that never at any time have our speeches been simply flattery, or a cover for trying to get money; nor have we ever looked for any special honour from men, either from you or anybody else, when we could have imposed ourselves on you with the full weight, as apostles of Christ.

Instead, we were unassuming.  Like a mother feeding and looking after her own children, we felt so devoted and protective towards you, and had come to love you so much, that we were eager to hand over to you not only the Good News but our whole lives as well.

Psalm 139:1-9 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

LORD, you have searched me out and known me;

you know my sitting down and my rising up;

you discern my thoughts from afar.

You trace my journeys and my resting-places

and are acquainted with all my ways.

3 Indeed, there is not a word on my lips,

but you, O LORD, know it altogether.

4 You press upon me behind and before

and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

it is so high that I cannot attain to it.

Where can I go then from your Spirit?

where can I flee from your presence?

If I climb up to heaven, you are there;

if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.

8 If I take the wings of the morning

and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

9 Even there your hand will lead me

and your right hand hold me fast.

Matthew 23:23-26 (The Jerusalem Bible):

[Jesus continued,]

Alas for you , scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You who pay tithe of mint and dill and cummin and have neglected the weightier matters of the Law–justice, mercy, good faith!  These you should have practised, without neglecting the others.  You blind guides!  Straining out gnats and swallowing camels!

Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You who clean the outside of cup and dish and leave the inside full of extortion and intemperance. Blind Pharisee!  Clean the inside of cup and dish first so that the outside may become clean as well.

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The Collect:

Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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What is the test of authentic spirituality?  Or, to phrase the question differently, what does God require of us?  We ought, when pondering this matter, realize that divinity exists in a realm beyond the limits of our ability to understand; God refuses to fit into our intellectual boxes.  So, as valuable as theology can be (which is to say, very), we need to avoid turning theological concepts into idols.

Karen Armstrong proposes the answer that makes the most sense to me.  Compassion, she says, is the test of authentic spirituality.  Compassion is at the heart of the reading from 1 Thessalonians.  Paul cared deeply for the people of Thessalonica, so he shared his life with them.  Compassion impelled Jesus, too.  This helps explain why he was so critical of those who, in the name of God, obsessed over small matters while neglecting what mattered most–that is, to love God with everything and each other as one self.

Compassion transcends species.  The most appropriate image I could find for this post is the one I have attached to it.  I have provided a link to its source, and the story is worth reading.  David Dixon and Paul Ortega, of Palm Springs, California, rescued four kittens from a trash bag in 2010.  Two survived.  Dixon and Ortega named the survivors Scooter and Dixie.  The men bottle fed the kittens until this was no longer necessary.  The kittens became well and the humans decided to keep them.

Admittedly I have a soft spot for cats, especially vulnerable kittens.  Felines are creatures of God and agents of grace, and human compassion ought to extend to all who are vulnerable, regardless of species.  Jesus would approve of what Dixon and Ortega have done for these cats.

In contrast I read about honor killings, sometimes by immigrants to the United States.  Those who perpetrate these crimes use religion to justify their actions.  But the God I worship does not approve of honor killings.  The God I worship teaches compassion, condemns honor killings, says to love my neighbor as I love myself, and adores kittens.  (Being part of creation, they fall under the description of “good.”) This God does not always agree me with me.  Indeed, I know that I am wrong about certain points, but remain unsure which ones those are.  But compassion matters more than fine points of theology.

May the hallmark of your faith life, O reader, be compassion.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 1, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MAXIMILIAN OF TREVESTE, ROMAN CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT DAVID OF WALES, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF MENEVIA

THE FEAST OF GIROLAMO FRESCOBALDI, COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT THEOPHANES THE CHRONICLER, DEFENDER OF ICONS

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/week-of-proper-16-tuesday-year-1/

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