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Deadly venomous vapors are on the move and they are crafty, steadfast, stealth, and all-around bad for your health.  We are talking a kind of chemical warfare that is actually spiritual warfare.  It precedes the world’s oldest profession, and the only known cures are abstinence and confession.  The stench of this ancient toxin looms just as heavily today as it ever did.  It’s to be avoided like the plague, because it is a plague.  “Pleased to meet you.  Hope you guessed my name.”

It’s Mick Jagger.  And Mick Jagger is really Howard The Duck.  (How could you not see it?!)

Surely I’m just jesting Jagger.  What I’m really talking about is PALE GAS, an easy trick you can use to help you remember the Seven Deadly Sins.


Avarice (or greed)

I didn’t come up with this list myself, but have found it to be a useful mnemonic tool for a moronic tool like myself.  A wise man once said, “Know thy enemy”, and, if said wiseguy thought things through even further, he might have said: know thy enemy in the form of a clever acronym.  But, who knows, maybe smahty was in a hurry.

The number seven is considered to be of importance, because it is so frequently used throughout the Bible.  I mean, Three is obviously the Crown Prince of numbers, since we have the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, Holy Spirit; but numerology be calling me and leading me down all kinds of numerical paths.  (New miracle?)  Can it be that seven is God and man combined?

From the book “Biblical Mathematics” by Evangelist Ed F. Vallowe:

When man began to analyze and combine numbers, he developed other interesting symbols. He took the perfect world number FOUR and added to it the perfect divine number, THREE, and got SEVEN, the most sacred number to the Hebrews. It was earth crowned with heaven — the four-square earth plus the divine COMPLETENESS OF GOD. So we have SEVEN expressing COMPLETENESS through union of earth with heaven. This number is used more than all other numbers in the Word of God, save the number ONE.

In the Book of Revelation the number SEVEN is used throughout. There are SEVEN churches, SEVEN Spirits, SEVEN stars, SEVEN seals, SEVEN trumpets, SEVEN vials, SEVEN personages, SEVEN dooms, and SEVEN new things. SEVEN symbolizes Spiritual Perfection. All of life revolves around this number. SEVEN is used over 700 times in the Bible. It is used 54 times in the Book of Revelation.

The whole Word of God is founded upon the number SEVEN. It stands for the SEVENTH day of the Creation Week, and speaks of the Millennial Rest day. It denotes COMPLETENESS or PERFECTION.

In Leviticus 23:15-16, the number SEVEN and the Sabbath, which was the SEVENTH day, is connected with the word COMPLETE. The word COMPLETE follows after the words “SEVEN SABBATH” (Seventh day). The day following the SEVENTH sabbath there was something NEW that took place.

The word FINISHED is also connected with the number SEVEN. In Revelation 10:7 we read,

“In the days of the voice of the SEVENTH angel, when he shall begin to sound the mystery of God should be FINISHED.”

“It is DONE” is another expression found in connection with the number Seven.

“And the SEVENTH angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne saying, It is DONE.” (Revelation 16:17)

Yeah, and our Lord on the cross can be heard uttering “It is finished,” just prior to commending His spirit into the hands of the Father.  The deeper we go, the deeper it gets.  I love it!

In order to combat the deadly PALE GAS we have the Seven Sacraments (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, Matrimony); in addition to the the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, Fear of God); and Seven Virtues, which are a combination of the four Cardinal Virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance, and Courage (or Fortitude); along with the three Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love (or Charity).

We should utilize these seven heavenly gifts so often that we become virtual virtuosos of virtue.  In due time, anyway.  You know, patience is a virtue.  But if we don’t incorporate these graces into our daily lives we run the risk of Perdition by subtraction.  So, don’t fall victim to the PALE GAS; the silent killer.


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Dinosaur Losers

You missed the boat, boys.

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Several years ago, I was hanging around the house one day — gee, that’s unusual — and my mother called me in to see something she was watching on TV.  It was Oprah Winfrey interviewing a little boy in a wheelchair.  I think I must have made a face or something, because my mom said, “No, really, watch this.  This little boy is amazing.”

I’m sure I was skeptical, because it wasn’t uncommon to see a fellow four-wheeler as the centerpiece of some human interest story on daytime television, if they were short a foul-mouthed philandering hermaphrodite albino midget wrestler addicted to tanning salons.  (I was weary of gimpsloitation pieces, if you will.)

My skepticism was quickly washed away, however, as I watched this eloquent preteen with charm and charisma to spare.  He was gentle and sweet, yet passionate; speaking with all the enthusiasm his tiny frame and limited lung capacity could muster.

When the meek inherit the earth, Mattie J.T. Stepanek will be a king among kings.

He had muscular dystrophy, as do I, though, a different kind.  (His illness is called Dysautonomic Mitochondrial Myopathy.)  Mattie had far more use of his hands and upper body than I ever did, but he required a portable ventilator on his chair to help him breathe; which pulled at my heartstrings then, and even more so now that I’m older and my illness has progressed to where it will be necessary for me to have some kind of oxygen assisting apparatus soon.

Mattie was a New York Times best-selling author whose primary themes were/are Peace, Faith, Hope and Love.  Not new ingredients, but I promise you that there will never be a new recipe for mankind’s reason for being.  As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.  And a lot of people understand this only after living long lives filled with many shallow concerns, and eventually seeing through the trivial and vain things that they’d once felt were important.  But this precocious poet was able to see the big picture long before junior high.  (Yeah, so get your act together, slacker.)

He wrote a series of books entitled “Heartsongs”.  As you’ll see below, a Heartsong is an individual’s gift they’re here to share with the world, a person’s special calling, or their “reason for being” as Mattie put it.

In the “Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” category, you can’t talk about Mattie Stepanek without also mentioning his remarkable mother, Jeni Stapanek.  In fact, a mere mention shouldn’t suffice.  His Heartsong is inextricably linked to hers.  Behind every great man there’s a great mom.

You see, Jeni herself was afflicted with the same illness that she unknowingly passed on to all four of her children.  (She was diagnosed with the adult onset form of muscular dystrophy only after their births.)  She was eventually confined to a wheelchair herself, and though she was met with resistance early on from some who thought Mattie would receive better care elsewhere, she raised him to be the outstanding best-selling peace ambassador (and someday Saint) that he turned out to be.

And speaking of saints, a woman who has to bear the loss of all four of her biological children and is able, not only to maintain her sanity, but rise up from the experience with such dignity and grace, and become an inspiration to people all over the world by carrying on in the work that her little boy began, keeping Mattie’s legacy going through public speaking and serving as the Chair of the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation — Jeni Stepanek is the embodiment of what we’re all supposed to be trying to accomplish here.

She’s also a National Vice President for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and a Governor for the We Are Family Foundation.  And, in her spare time, she … doesn’t have any spare time.

Mattie and his mom left their mark in my heart and mind when I first saw them all those years ago.  I remember finding out that Mattie had passed away and it felt as though I had lost a friend.  It’s strange, because I know far more about him now than I did then.

When you’re a disabled person (well, speaking for myself anyway), you receive a lot of praise you don’t feel worthy of.  People say things like: “You’re courageous” and “you’re an inspiration to me,” and you feel like they’ve mistaken you for somebody else.  Well, after becoming aware of Mattie and Jeni Stepanek, I think I know the kind of people they had mistaken me for.

Below is Jeni’s interview with Raymond Arroyo from EWTN’s “The World Over” show.  I knew that if I ever had a blog, I would have to post this.  It’s well worth the time to watch.

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Quote of the Day

“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” asked Nathaniel, just prior to meeting … oh, I don’t know — GOD!

I’ll have more for you tomorrow.  Today I’m a lazy cheatah.

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Writing your first blog entry is like being on stage in front of a microphone in an empty auditorium. There’s no audience, nothing but the sound of your own voice echoing through infinity. And you’re hoping that a custodian or something happens to overhear your monologue and takes an interest. Then, before you know it, you’ve got a loyal following of … lazy janitors in a filthy auditorium.

If St. Augustine had an illegitimate son in the days prior to becoming a saint, and said offspring was raised by a pack of three-toed sloths, and fed a steady diet of paint chips, and was often kicked in the head by the bull he regularly tried to milk, you might end up with me. Actually, there’s no relation whatsoever between Augustine and I, I must confess. So there you have it, my first confession. Now Augustine and I have at least that much in common.

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“It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes.”
St. Thomas Aquinas

“How can we live in harmony? First we need to know we are all madly in love with the same God.”
St. Thomas Aquinas

“All the efforts of the human mind cannot exhaust the essence of a single fly.”
St. Thomas Aquinas

“Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder.”
St. Thomas Aquinas

“Better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.”
St. Thomas Aquinas

“Some say it is unreasonable to be courteous and gentle with a reckless person who insults you for no reason at all. I have made a pact with my tongue; not to speak when my heart is disturbed.”
St. Francis de Sales

“Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”
Saint Augustine

“God had one son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering.”
Saint Augustine

“He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent.”
Saint Augustine

“Above all the grace and the gifts that Christ gives to his beloved is that of overcoming self.”
Francis of Assisi

“I do not fear Satan half so much as I fear those who fear him.”
Saint Teresa of Avila

“Pain is never permanent.”
Saint Teresa of Avila

“We can only learn to know ourselves and do what we can – namely, surrender our will and fulfill God’s will in us.”
Saint Teresa of Avila

“I believe though I do not comprehend, and I hold by faith what I cannot grasp with the mind.”
Saint Bernard

“More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.”
Saint Teresa

“Our souls may lose their peace and even disturb other people’s, if we are always criticizing trivial actions – which often are not real defects at all, but we construe them wrongly through our ignorance of their motives.”
Saint Teresa

“If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”
Saint Augustine

“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.”
Saint Augustine

“Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature.”
Saint Augustine

“Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.”
Saint Augustine

“Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.”
Saint Augustine

“The desire is thy prayers; and if thy desire is without ceasing, thy prayer will also be without ceasing. The continuance of your longing is the continuance of your prayer.”
Saint Augustine

“We cannot pass our guardian angel’s bounds, resigned or sullen, he will hear our sighs.”
Saint Augustine

“There was never an angry man that thought his anger unjust.”
Saint Francis de Sales

“Those who love to be feared fear to be loved.”
Saint Francis de Sales

“True progress quietly and persistently moves along without notice.”
Saint Francis de Sales

“We must never undervalue any person. The workman loves not that his work should be despised in his presence. Now God is present everywhere, and every person is His work.”
Saint Francis de Sales

“Celebrate the feast of Christmas every day, even every moment in the interior temple of your spirit, remaining like a baby in the bosom of the heavenly Father, where you will be reborn each moment in the Divine Word, Jesus Christ.”
St. Paul of the Cross

“Nothing but self-will can separate us from God.”
St. Alphonsus Liguori

“Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be; even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church.”
Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D

“The measure of love is to love without measure.” St. Francis de Sales

“Before prayer, endeavor to realize whose Presence you are approaching, and to whom you are about to speak. We can never fully understand how we ought to behave towards God, before whom the angles tremble.”
— St. Teresa of Avila

“Christ said, “I am the Truth”; he did not say “I am the custom.” -St. Toribio

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling…”St. Paul

“A soul which exalts itself abases God; but a soul which abases itself exalts God.”
— St. Augustine

“Some torment themselves in seeking means to discover the art of loving God, and do not know – poor creatures – that there is no art or means of loving Him but to love those who love Him – that is, to begin to practice those thing which are pleasing to Him.”
— St. Francis de Sales

“Earthly life is a pilgrimage, and as such it is full of temptations. But our spiritual growth is worked out in temptation. By experiencing temptations, we know ourselves. By fighting them we have a chance to become winners. By overcoming them, we are crowned victors. Lord, you are our physician, healing the ills of all.” St. Augustine

“It’s impossible to lose your footing when you’re on your knees.” Bishop Fulton J. Sheen (not a saint – yet.)

“People who change their way of life and begin to think about spiritual progress also begin to suffer from the tongues of detractors. Whoever has not yet suffered this trial has not yet made progress, and whoever is not ready to suffer it does not even endeavor to progress.”
— St. Augustine

“If I should say anything that is not in conformity with what is held by the Holy Roman Catholic Church, it will be through ignorance and not through malice.” St. Teresa of Avila “The Interior Castle”

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