About this blogger:
Ronda Chervin received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Fordham University and an MA in Religious Studies from Notre Dame Apostolic Institute. A widow, mother, and grandmother, she currently teaches philosophy at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut. Write to her at chervinronda@gmail.com.
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“The following few hints on the selection of voices may be useful: (1) Reject all boys who speak roughly, or sing coarsely; (2) Choose bright, intelligent-looking boys, provided they have a good ear; they will much more readily respond to the choirmaster’s efforts than boys who possess a voice and nothing more; therefore, (3) Reject dull, sulky, or scatter-brained boys, since it is hard to say which of the three has the most demoralizing effect on his more willing companions.”
— Sir Richard Runciman Terry (1912)

   Send an E-mail to Dr. Ronda Chervin, Ph.D.
Lots of thoughts from 2008 but some from 2013
published 27 April 2013 by Dr. Ronda Chervin

AM LEAVING FOR EWTN to do a series with Johnnette Benkovic on the book I wrote with Ruth and Richard Ballard called What the Saints Said about Heaven. So, there will be a little hiatus in these blogs and this one is especially long to make up for the hiatus. Smile.

I guess sitting and praying in front of the TV during the manhunt after the Boston Marathon massacre worked in my mind to bring up more general thoughts such as this one: In our personal lives, if we tend toward anger, are rage and threats a sort of emotional terrorism?

From 2008 one night when I was praying, I got a sense of the ocean’s waves carrying my twin and I out to sea. I sensed that death would be letting the waves carry us out into the ocean of God. All night I had a sense of my soul leaving my body. I thought of St. Teresa of Avila saying “death is ecstasy,” on being asked after her near-death experience in her twenties what death was like. “Letting go but staying bonded,” Fr. Ken emphasized in a talk about the way the liturgy for the dead is so much deeper than making it into a celebration of life. The liturgy is about bonding with the spiritual reality of the person who died.

On the topic “walking more intimately with Jesus,” Fr. Ken, giving a retreat for widows, referred us to the road to Emmaus and asked us to think about what prevented each of us from seeing Jesus. I thought “If I saw Him visually I could not do anything else and He wants me to do other things, at least so far.” I liked how Fr. Ken emphasized that the greatest intimacy with Jesus is not through imagination but in the Eucharist as they found out at Emmaus.

Still more from 2008: I finished reading a book by St. Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain. In the last chapters on delights of the spiritual life there are a few quotations that seem to fit very well with what some people in our times are experiencing in visions and locutions:

“The vision of the divine light and the divine beauty…is more sweet and more desirable than all the other attributes and perfections of God…The reason for this is the fact that as the physical light of the sun provides the brightness to the physical eyes and makes it possible for them to distinguish the visible creations in the physical world, so also is the spiritual light of the super-essential sun which grants illumination and clarity to the eyes of the soul the means by which they can discern through it all the blessed visions in the spiritual world and all the mysteries of the future age.”

On quite a different topic, from Abraham Low, founder of Recovery, Inc. (this fits me to a “t” about anxiety about tiny things now that I am doing so few “big” things)

“To (a perfectionist) every puny endeavor, each trivial enterprise is a challenge to prove and to maintain his exceptional stature. His life is a perennial test of his singularity and distinction. For him there are no trivialities, no routine performances. He is forever on trial, before his own inner seat of judgment, for his excellence and exceptional ability. He cannot achieve poise, relaxation, spontaneity. He cannot afford to have the COURAGE TO MAKE MISTAKES. A mistake might wipe out his pretense of being superior, important, exceptional. With no margin left for mistakes he is perpetually haunted by the fear of making them.”

From February, 2008 COMIC RELIEF?

Sadness a la Chili Pepper Chicken

From a letter I wrote to my daughter, Diana

Ah, to have the comic talents of Diana, creator of the recipe, to describe the horrible platter staring up at me from the counter tonight!

Ravenously eager to savor the same taste sensations I had enjoyed at Diana’s house and then at the visit I had with Diana at Aunt Carla’s house in Berkeley, I jumped on Alex having a cold and not wanting to go swimming to substitute his being the big shopper for the ingredients.

“Expect frustrations every five minutes you won’t be disappointed,” the slogan of Recovery, Inc. will be fleshed out chicken-chili style:

1. Couldn’t get diced chili peppers at the local gourmand emporium, so had to make a special trip to the fancier store only to find undiced chili peppers. Got only 4 ozs. figuring it was only a supper for 2 (me and my friend) not for a huge family gathering.

2. Decided that using thighs with bones and skin would cut some of the cost for all the other ingredients, only to discover that the whole blood-soppy plastic tray of thighs yielded about 1 cup of chicken after stripping away the bones. Never noticed this before when gnawingthe bones to the bone.

3. While waiting for the thighs to cook, made a mish-mash of all the other ingredients in a casserole dish, figuring to hide the chicken underneath afterwards.

4. Proudly put the dish in the oven the night before since today was a very busy day. Figured I could warm it up today. Figured I’d do ½ hour of cooking and then 1/4 hour of warm up today.

5. Started typing shorthand notes at the computer. TOTALLY FORGOT ABOUT THE CASSEROLE!

6. 2 hours later, smelled a pleasant odor emanating from the oven (just 2 feet from the computer by the by).

7. Oy veh! Ran to open the oven. Even though the shredded cheese had developed from a mirthful orange pattern on top to a dark brown moving toward black hard as a rock crust, it was late, so I just shoved the whole thing into the fridge hoping for the best.

8. Only good thing was my friend had terrible pain in her mouth due to ill-fitting dentures and told me even before seeing the gala casserole dish that she had to bow out of dinner tonight in favor of only eating cottage cheese and juice all day.

9. Heated up casserole dish with a little water on top so it could kind of steam to eat by my lonesome from time to time all day. I was brought up never, never to waste any food.

10. Not wanting to overcook it again, I only left it in the oven for 10 minutes.

11. The final expensive gourmet dish now consisted in:

a) a few small pieces of cold hard chicken b) swarms of watery canned cream soup c) huge wads of coagulated tortilla pieces bonded together for dear

life against the heat and the cold of their 18 hour life-span

d) chilis still strong enough to burn my mouth

12. Pangs trying to decide whether to toss it into the garbage (pronounce the French way) or gobble it down as a Lenten penance, or mash it in the food mill into a tortilla potage.

Never again! I will wait for the next family reunion to eat Diana’s confections.

For the book of meditations I didn’t finish:

Respectful vs. Ridiculing

“…whoever says ‘you fool’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matthew5:22)

For many years when I read or heard the above words of Jesus I would think to myself, “He’s gotta be kidding! Maybe the word that is translated “fool” is something much worse in Aramaic”? Surely yapping at someone, especially in the family, with a phrase such as “don’t be such an idiot,” couldn’t be a sin!

Spiritual masters claim that when we are free of mortal sin or even temptations to it, then the conscience begins to upbraid us for lesser sins. The analogy is often made to first washing the big stains off a window but then noticing smaller smears.

Right now think of people you would describe as respectful or reverent toward others. Isn’t it relaxing to be with family or friends who never ridicule others, especially not the all important ME. Our defense mechanisms can take a vacation, and we feel open to sharing problems we would never tell someone whose response to our narrative might be sarcastic blame.

Some psychologists analyze respect vs. ridicule and sarcasm in this challenging way. A person with good self-esteem and humble acceptance of his/her own limitations looks for the good in others and draws it out. A person who feels inferior and insecure likes to shift attention from his or her failings by pointing fingers at others. If others are fools then I am smart. If others are beneath contempt then I am on a pedestal. I may be unsuccessful in reaching many of my goals, but when I ridicule others I am admired for my witty remarks.

Try tracking impulses to ridicule and sarcasm and catching yourself before you sin in this way. Can you bring yourself to show respect for the virtues of others even when they are exhibiting their worst qualities? When her husband was making a fool of himself in public, a loving wife I knew used to take his hand. The love conveyed in this gentle touch would often change his mood for the better.

Jesus, since the Scriptures show You sometimes using sarcasm toward Your enemies we know that this can sometimes be right. But usually you are depicted as gentle, compassionate and respectful even to public sinners. Help us to know that we are worthy of respect as the sons and daughters of the Divine King. Basking in the glory of Your love, may be turn to others with true respect.