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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Well, here it is Christmas morning. I am in Aiken, North Carolina where some of the family (my brother John and his wife Donna, and their three daughters, Ann ( a doctor, GP, and her husband Dave), Barbara (an electrical engineer and her friend, Hans, a doctor, alsoGP, from Germany), Karla (who teaches Biology as the university of Santa Barbara in California), Katrina, the daughter of Ann, and me (the happy wanderer).
     Ann is busy cooking some bacon and Barbara is helping her. Donna is taking a break from wrapping Christmas presents. Katrina is playing with her computer. John is up and about and the others are all in various stages of activity. It is about 8:30am and I am surprised that everyone is already up. I am the early bird and by 5:30am I  have showered, dressed, made the bed and am checking the emails and news from around the world (after saying my morning prayers, of course).
     I have been out for a long walk to wear off some of the fat that I have been accumulating over the past 6 months. I have also checked a site called "Deacon Greg" who has some excellent thoughts for sermons and will use some of his thoughts this morning.
     We will have a family home Mass to celebrate Christmas properly after breakfast and before the Christmas feast (at the table that is!)
      It is soooo nice to be with the family as it is rare that in these past 46 yrs. since I left that I have had a chance to celebrate Christmas with my family (maybe 3 times in all those years). But I am also preparing for the departure in a few days to go back to what has been " home " for me for these past 46 yrs. I am caught in between.
      I think of the Vinny that I talked about earlier and of all the hurts and burdens that my family and friends carry into the new year. Some have very heavy burdens and they really weigh down heavily. Everyone has something to deal with. And, maybe the good news is that famous word " Emmanuel"  God is with us. We are not alone. We don't walk alone or carry our burdens alone. Incarnation. Becoming one with us, as brothers and sisters of one Father / Mother (God).  Perhaps, last year, we wondered how we would ever be able to carry our burden but, here we are, the old year is almost gone and the new year is just around the corner, and we did it. Yes, God is still with us. I hope that we can all listen to that reminder this Christmas. By sending us God's Son, God was saying, loud and clear, I love you and walk with you so don't be afraid of whatever! I am here.
     So, there you have it. Soon I will be back in South Africa and jumping back into the fray there. Our friendship and love continues into the new year, perhaps even deepened by the experiences of this almost past year 2012. May God continue to love and bless you now and throughout all of 2013.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

There is lots I would like to share with you today, but I want to concentrate on one thing in particular. I was introduced to a new friend by an old friend today. I was visiting my old friend, Teddy, in Winston-Salem North Carolina. She helps out at a hospital and had told me about one of her young friends who is 9 yrs. old and who has been fighting serious cancer for some time now. It is just a matter of time but Vinny is made of tough stuff and is fighting, although his maybe 30 pounds isn't much to fight with. I really wanted to talk to him today but he just came back from two very exhausting procedures when we were there and he really wasn't in shape to talk or listen, so I am using this Blog to give him my message, e.g. what I wanted to tell him.

     Dear Vinny,
         Your good friend, Teddy, told me about you some time ago and I have been keeping you in my prayers and have asked a lot of my friends to join in supporting you in your battle against that mean cancer with all of our prayers.
     You know, Vinny, you may find it hard to believe but you are very very special in God's eyes. You are one of his really special children. Our loving God sent you here among us for a very special reason, for a job that no one else could do. Since you have come here to be with us, you have touched so many people's lives and have showed them what real courage is, and have taught them to stop thinking so much of themselves and to think of others. Your mom, because of you, and because of her love for you, and because of what you have taught her, has done marvelous things in reaching out to other people which, I am sure, she would never have thought of doing if God had not given you to her as one of his very special children.
    I know that it is very hard and painful sometimes, like Jesus, God's son whom he sent to us for a very special job too. But, Holy Moses, all the good things that have come because of you, and all the people that you have touched, in such a short time, is really amazing.
     I am so happy that I at least had a chance to shake your hand as a new friend. I thank God for giving us the gift of your presence among us ever though you are very young.  When God calls you to go back home with God, we will really miss you, but we will never forget you and we will never forget how special you were for us and how much we learned from you being with us. We thank God for borrowing you to us and promise that even when you go back to be with your God, we will continue to  live all that you have taught us, especially, how to love and appreciate the gift of life that is so fragile and that can go away, also, very quickly before you even know it.
    So, thank you, Vinny, even for those few minutes that we had a chance to spend together and thanks too to your mom who loves you so much and let me share those few minutes with you.
     When we celebrate Christmas this year, we will not only remember the great gift that God gave us when he sent us his Son Jesus, the greatest gift of all, but we will also remember that along with the gift of Jesus, he also sent us you as his very special gift to be with us and share a few years with us.
Many blessings on you this Christmas and on your family and friends. Your new friend, Father Cas, from Africa.

     And for the rest of you, I was really touched by this lovely story that was told at the funeral of Sr. Bridget in Reading Pennsylvania. There was this beautiful sailing ship, with tall masts and huge sails. Some of our friends were on the ship to take a trip and we were on the dock waving goodbye. The ship pushed off and went out into the sea and we watched and watched and watched and the ship got smaller and smaller and smaller until is was just a dot on the horizon and finally, even the dot disappeared. Then we all said, " Well, they're gone now!"
      But, on the other side of the horizon, there were people who were watching the horizon and they saw this little speck way out there on the horizon. Little by little the speck grew and grew and grew until it was a beautiful sailing ship. And the people on the shore were jumping up and down with joy saying " Here they come. WELCOME HOME!"
       The one who told the story reminded us that horizons have limits. So you have to see horizons from both sides. But life is forever.
      Have a very blessed Christmas, more than just a happy holiday, as the saying goes. May you be richly blessed by the re-entrance on the one who is gift, life, love, into your hearts again this Christmas to get you ready for the challenges that are going to confront each of you this year, and me too. Love and Peace, your brother Cas.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Well, folks, I finally got my Christmas letter off. I left Chicago last Monday and have been busy ever since I got back to Detroit. A doctor's appointment (dermatologist--dry skin getting rough like sandpaper), getting ready to send books and lots of other things by post--very expensive.
     I still have the mixed feelings, of delight at having had the chance to spend considerable time with so many friends and family, and the thought of having to leave them, once again, with a gap, probably, of another 4 yrs. I will be 81, if I should live so long, before I come back again and then we shall see what I look and act like by that time.
    I have a long list of those I would like to touch just once more before I head for "home". Yes, home. They too are asking " when are you coming back???" I also miss them, my surrogate family, home away from home.
     Regarding the Christmas letter there were many that were returned because the email address was no longer valid or for some other reason. If you know of anyone who expected the " annual" and didn't get it, please share it with them.
    And, once again., when Jesus comes back to our world in 2012, he will find a world still full of  challenges, expecting us to use the gifts he gives us to try to meet at least some of those challenges. The world is certainly not the same this year, 2012, as is was last year, 2011, and neither are we. It is a new Christ coming to a different us. But bringing the same hope to our world as he brought to the world of his time, but not in the way his people expected (a saviour), and maybe we too, not the way we might expect. We have to do some discerning.
     But that is enough for now. I am tired and want to get to bed. Have a great day, evening, whatever Cas.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Just a quick word. My uncle John passed away yesterday, Tuesday, Dec. 4th, 2012. He had been fading and hadn't been eating for over a week, or so I heard. The quality of life was gone and he was just physically (what little there was left of his shrinking body) there. No communication.
     He was one of our icons. He was a good man, hard working, honest as the day is long, generous to everyone who was in need, always ready to help. 92 yrs. old. That whole generation set a standard for us of the next couple of generations that we will have to struggle to live up to. There are only two more from his family who are left on this earth: Rose, who is going on 95 in a short time and is bright and alive but is now the proud owner of her very own pacemaker; and Casey, who is 86, dealing with macular degeneration, but still drives, at least for now. His wife, Rose, has other problems that keep him and her both busy and mostly at home as health problems keep them from doing a lot of traveling. She is also a lovely lady and it was my pleasure and privilege to stay with them for almost a week when I tried to visit all the cousins in the Milwaukee area. I got my name from Casey. He was my favorite, probably because he was closest to me in age (there were 14 kids in his family--not a loser in the bunch) and is 9 yrs. older than I am. He had the task of being the court appointed executor of Uncle John's affairs and had to do a lot of work in that connection. Now Rose's sister also passed away as well as the father-in-law of his daughter Suzie, so they are really stressed now with three funerals to be part of. John will be buried tomorrow, Thursday, Dec. 6th at 2pm. I am happy that I am here to lead the service. I haven't had a chance to do that for almost half a century now.
    I will leave this page for now. We are having a closing Mass and cocktail party and then going out for a final dinner (the last supper for our sabbatical group. We have been together since August 22nd and tomorrow everyone scatters to his or her destination.). It is a say moment at the end of an incredibly beautiful and fruitful time. But, let me leave it at that for now. I am running out of time. Cas.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Someone sent this to me and I thought you (especially you retirees) might enjoy it. Life can be so dull just sitting around the house all day with nothing exciting happening. Try something! Love and Peace, Cas


Yesterday I was at my local Kroger buying a large bag of Purina dog
chow for my loyal pet, Jake, the Wonder Dog and was in the check-out
line when a woman behind me asked if I had a dog.

What did she think I had an elephant?

So because I'm retired and have little to do, on impulse I told her
that no, I didn't have a dog, I was starting the Purina Diet again. I
added that I probably shouldn't, because I ended up in the hospital
last time, but that I'd lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an
intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and
IVs in both arms.

I told her that it was essentially a Perfect Diet and that the way
that it works is, to load your pants pockets with Purina Nuggets and
simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The food is
nutritionally complete so it works well and I was going to try it
again. (I have to mention here that practically everyone in line was
now enthralled with my story.)

Horrified, she asked if I ended up in intensive care, because the dog
food poisoned me. I told her no, I stopped to Pee on a Fire Hydrant
and a car hit me.

I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was
Laughing so hard.

Kroger won't let me shop there anymore. Better watch what you ask
retired people. They have all the time in the World to think of crazy
things to say

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I guess that you could say that this is the latest.
I haven't written for a long time. I was shown how to open a blog so I have tried to use this once in a while. I will be leaving here next Thursday. School closes and we all get out next week on the 6th of Dec. I will pay my last respects to my family here in Chicago till the 10th when I will head for Detroit. From there I will go to North Carolina to be with my brother till about the 22nd. Then down to my niece where we will celebrate Christmas together with my 3 nieces, my brothers 3 daughters, Ann, who is the eldest and who is a medical doctor, Barbara who is a top notch Electrical Engineer working for Siemens in Germany and who will come special to join us, and Karla who visited twice in Africa and who is teaching biology at Santa Barbara University in California. On the 26th, I will move over to Atlanta and visit more cousins and on the 28th, I will be on the plane for London to the 29th and from there to Joburg where I will arrive on the on the 30th. I am hoping that a couple will meet me there and will help me to store some of my stuff as I will leave later in the afternoon for Lusaka where I will try to spend a week and renew my old connections. On the 6th I will come back to Joburg and will stay for the weekend with the Selema family (Kabelo and I were colleagues in J&P, where he still works, and his wife works for a pharmaceutical firm but is off at that time. I haven't seen the family for many years now and the kids are pretty well grown up now. Then, on the 8th, I will fly into Mthatha on the morning plane. Wow! what a story.
    Today was my birthday ( I turned 39 and was told not to open the closet door!)
We had a class today to start winding down called "transitions". We had to interview each other and then explain to the whole gang what we learned. I was the beginning of winding down our time together. We became like a family and it will be hard to say goodbye, but then, that is life. It was a beautiful time and I am grateful for those who made it possible for me. As I keep saying over and over again, life is relationships.
     One of the high points has been the chance to reconnect with family. Up till now it has always been hit and run and now I have had a chance to sit for the whole evening and really get into the family affairs so that I feel much closer now and their lives have gotten entangled with mine, which is the way, as I see it, that it should be.
     It's getting late now so I think I will leave it at that for now but keep tuned in for the next exciting episode. Love and Peace, Cas

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving day and I am thinking along these lines. Life is relationships. I have been blessed with a family and friends that have made me who I am, except for the bad parts that I have to take responsibility for myself. They have loved me, and cared for me and cried with me and laughed with me and scolded me and encouraged me and have walked with me along some pretty difficult paths. And, tomorrow, when I give thanks, it will be for the gift that they all (all of you)have been to me in my not-so-short life. A friend of long ago, the one who composed '" Easy come, easy go..." also composed another song, one whose verses was " strangers are but friends each day we seek to meet." There are probably some of your out there whom I haven't met (yet). I include you too in my blessings just because you are fellow human being, an as yet un-met brother or sister who also has his/her ups and downs, joys and sorrows, good times and bad times. We are all traveling along together on the same road and when the opportunity arises, hopefully, we will be there to support one another when support is needed.
     I also thank the Lord for the gift of faith. I believe that it is the core, that drives and energizes me. I didn't work for it. I don't deserve it. But, the older I get, the more I appreciate it. Yes, thanks to the many who showed me, in practical ways, the way the cared and helped and were concerned about the hurts and injustices and hypocrisies that went on around them and tried, and continue to try, to make a dent, to plant a seed, to wipe a tear, to do something that is meaningful and a practical application of that faith. That, perhaps, most of all, is what convinced me that I was on the right path. It was a faith that was alive and helped me to come alive too. I am soooo grateful.

     At the same time, I think of the serious sins of this great and marvelous country of ours. Let's now forget to ask forgiveness and resolve not to repeat the sins of selfishness, greed, apathy, arrogance, racist (still) thinking, etc. that have besmirched our otherwise beautiful country. Both our home policy and foreign policy have so often been anti-life. When we give thanks tomorrow, Thanksgiving day, let' not forget to include a plea for forgiveness and a dose of the Spirit commit ourselves to the values of Jesus that will help us to avoid falling into these traps again.
    We remember, in a particular way, all those who are caught in the clutches of drugs or alcoholism, sex slavery, persistent hunger, depression (marriage going down the tubes, can't find a job, total loss of self worth, can't see the light at the end of the tunnel,...) anxiety, fear, whatever, and maybe, especially, loneliness--no one who loves, who cares, no family or friends. I think of my family in Africa and their many hopes and dreams and needs and the very small chance that they will ever be fulfilled. I pray for them and I thank them for showing me, who can opt out at any time, that there is always reason for hope, especially when I see only dark and want to throw in the towel. The don't. They haven't. So, who am I to betray them or let them down when I have so much more going for me. I guess that these are some of the things I think of and will remember when I celebrate Mass tomorrow, a real Mass of thanksgiving. I am awed by the love and blessings that I have been deluged in and I promise you and the Lord that I will try to pass that on to as many others as possible in as many ways as I find open to me. Yes, thanks to you all, and thanks to the Lord, and the Spirit, the giver of life and of love. Cas

Monday, November 19, 2012

You all know how I love eggs. Well a tried and true friend found this on some ecclesiastical website yesterday. Read and enjoy! Cas.

As we become familiar with the new translation of the Roman Missal, those who have responsibility for these matters have obviously decided that the translation has been such a great success that other Catholic literature is also to be re-translated.

I have been lucky enough to see a preview of one of these changes to the Catholic Cookbook:

Graciously pour thine unctuous oil into a singular and worthy vessel until the fullness of heat without smoke-filled aroma ascends to the heavens; and with thy worthy and venerable hands take one egg and gently and delicately break into the warmed fruit of the olive, being careful that the yoke and albumin do not become consubstantial; when, in the fullness of time, this product which you have already begun to make has fulfilled its purpose, ensure that this produce, this spotless produce, this delightful produce, this tasty produce, has become acceptable in God's sight, pleasingly remove it from the pan, sprinkle condiments on it like the dewfall, that it may make manifest his goodness that is vouchsafed to it; may it be found acceptable in his sight and be borne to a place of refreshment at thy table where it may nourish thy spirit; for extra manifestations, please use prevenient oil.

And because it is good to compare with the 1970's translation:

Heat oil in a pan.   Break an egg into the oil.   Fry until cooked.   Remove the egg from the pan and serve.

I am sure you'll agree that the new translation is much better than the old!!!!???

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I took my aunt Rose (94 yrs. young) up to see her young (92yrs. young) brother who has been in the hospital with a blood clot in the lung and showing blood in his urine. He was not really up to snuff but he and Rose had a long chat and I also promised, if I can find another suitcase big enough, to take him back to Africa with me. He was cheerful but weak and was happy that the priest had come and given him communion and " the last rites". Kind of scary, that.
    but here is the email I got from my cousin who lives close enough to the assisted living home to see him more often than others.

Hi Cas,

I spent 45 minutes with John this morning.  He is improved.  The nurse said he ate about half of his breakfast.  I brought him some small mints, and he ate one. Where yesterday he seemed very cold, today he was comfortable, covered only by a sheet.  He said yesterday he had a lot of stomach pain but that the nurse brought him something for it.  Today, he said he feels no stomach pain.

He didn't complain or talk about going back to his flat.   He talked about talking to God and that it seemed to make him feel better.  And then he said he spent a lot of time thinking about how it happens and concluded that God must be in some kind of radio wave that connects to everything, typical of some of his mental ruminations that he's told me about over the months that I've gotten to know him.  He relates to the machinery of the world like the engineer he was.  He talked about his dad, our grandfather as a source of inspiration for him, and of himself and my dad as maybe the beneficiaries of Grandpa's ceaseless prayers!  Those boys must have required a lot of prayer space!

For now, he seems at peace but not at death's door.  That's a good trick for anybody to pull off!

I'll probably go see him again on Monday.

Take care .


   Uncle John says thanks for all of your prayers. Love and Peace Cas/