Sunday, December 4, 2011


It will be 75 degrees today, and is sunny now, though rain is forecast later.  The Saints play Detroit at the Super Dome and folks are hopeful of another win.  Roses bloom in our yard  around the statue of the Blessed Mother erected in memory of a pastor 100 years ago.  Roses in December are but one contrast.  This is a city of sharp contrasts.

This Sunday, December 04, 2011 the Times Picayune had an article, [with lots of pictures] by Nell Nolan on debutantes!  There are still debutantes and it is serious business.  MAKING THEIR CURTSIES, on the front page of the Living Section, chronicled the event in detail:

“As the members processed, they did so to different favorite songs as played by the Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra. Each one carried a round bouquet of anna roses, pink majolica spray roses, and pink wax flowers. Their fathers had boutonnieres of single white akito roses.

Almost immediately after the presentation, the ballroom became a dance floor. In the flanking rooms, tables had been set up for the families of the debutantes and their guests. Compliments were duly accorded to the parents of the presentees on the grace and loveliness of their daughters by the formally clad assembly.” 

On the same day, the front page of the Metro Section had an article: MAN SHOT DEAD IN 9TH WARD IDENTIFIED.  In an article on the editorial page on November 27, Jarvis DeBerry had noted:

The murder rate in New Orleans is 10 times the national rate, and it's been that way for years. So we measure quite poorly against everybody else.  . . . But that's not all. New Orleans also measures poorly against itself. Leave aside 1999, the best year of Richard Pennington's Police Department, when our much larger city recorded 158 homicides; we're measuring poorly against the New Orleans of 2010. There were 175 homicides in New Orleans last year, and this year we had 175 before Thanksgiving.  

WDSU News on December 4 noted:
The murder rate in New Orleans sits at 183 for 2011 -- already more cases than last year's total of 175.

This calls to mind a quote of John Heagle in A CONTEMPORARY MEDITATION ON HOPE: "In an age which offers a variety of escapes from the human condition, Christians are more than ever a sign of contradiction.  They continue to believe that the search for God must begin with the acceptance of the human.  They believe this because it is in the stable of humanity that God has come in search of us.”

"The Long Loneliness" Fritz Eichenberg
Here at 4219 Constance we had a good first week of Advent.  John visited schools: the Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans, St. Charles Catholic in LaPlace, Pope John Paul II in Slidell and Holy Cross in New Orleans as part of his coaching work with the Center for School Leadership, Charles was at Lantern Light [with more than 200 guests seeking lunch at times] and Bob at Operation Helping Hands. 
Br. Bob and Sr. Renee Rose at the reception after Taize prayer.
On Wednesday evening, we had thirty or so guests for Taize prayer and a reception followed.  

On Thursday, John was at Smilie’s Restaurant in Harahan for the annual Parkinson’s Holiday Dinner.  The group includes people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers—usually spouses.  They meet every other month to exchange information and to hear speakers on topics related to the disease.  This being New Orleans, they have to have a party, too!  Sr. Mary Daniel, OP who facilitated the Brothers living arrangements in the autumn of 2007 for the months before they could move into 4219, introduced John to the meetings since she also has Parkinson’s.

Saturday the kitchen sink got a new faucet due to Bob’s skills, and John put Christmas lights on the balcony.  Charles got to a simulcast of an opera—a baroque Handel work: “Rodelinda”.  The preview read: “And you thought your family was dysfunctional!”  

This week we have a dinner here Wednesday for the Presentation Sisters who Charles ministers with and on Saturday we will host the “Newcomers” group of religious who gather every few months—we are all folks who came here after Katrina.  These gatherings help us “network” as we continue to research opportunities for volunteers to give service.

The front gate to the Blessed Pauline Center with a plaque commemorating the 100 years of the Sisters  of Christian Charity at this site.  Blessed Pauline von Mallinckrodt, their founder, stayed here twice.
 During this week we will celebrate St. Nicholas on the 6th, the Immaculate Conception on December 8th and the memory of Thomas Merton on December 10th.   The homilist at Merton’s funeral noted: “When a monk enters a monastery, what is asked of him is ‘Are you truly seeking God?’  The question isn’t ‘Have you found God?’  The question is: ‘Is he seeking God?’  …It’s not philosophical—it’s existential. …Contemplation isn’t satisfaction—it’s search.”  God bless you on your search this Advent! 

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