Archive | July, 2015

When the End Begins…

28 Jul

We are fast approaching the point where people are now fully aware of the large price a human baby can command if cut into it’s components by a Planned Parenthood butcher. Once those people start demanding compensation to murder their children and sign over the parts instead of paying for abortions – you will see a society so wicked that pregnancies are created on purpose for financial gain and wicked “liberated” women and men will lead so very many to join them in growing babies as a cash crop for Planned Parenthood’s customers.

That my friends, is Where the End Begins….

How to do an Inexpensive and Wholesome Family Vacation

27 Jul

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I know, you’re the dad. They expect great things from you when it comes to vacations. If you are like me then Disney World in Florida with a deluxe meal plan, park hopper passes for all, and an upscale resort in the park is the “Gold Standard”. I call it that because it will seriously deplete your supply of Gold for other things the family desperately needs, and though the fun and the memories are great, there are better options – ones that are extremely attractive from a cost perspective, and because they involve family activities and lots of very educational fun that will inspire everyone and still leave you the hero. I’m going to detail one for you now (This one we’ve done more than once on the cheap).

Full disclosure is in order here. We discussed when and where to go – once we decided on where, the question became WHEN? My lovely wife planned our whole vacation on a ridiculously short timeline. All I really did was battle to get the time off work, and use some of those hotel points earned working away from home long stretches to get us nice free rooms on our 2 day drive each way there and back! It was a team effort. As I was fresh off my latest work trip before we went, I did what I could.

Take them to North Arkansas/Southern Missouri. No, I’m not kidding. In fact Branson, MO, has a very nice Airport if you’re the flying kind. It’s a place where they still deeply respect veterans, everyone calls you “Sir” and not just because you clearly not a young man – but because it’s the respectful thing to do. Where people hold doors and elevators for ladies. It’s a place where the local Sheriffs put “In God We Trust” on their cars, and the police are wearing real uniforms and very helpful – not looking like some post apocalyptic para-military outfit. This is a place where there are lots of radio stations playing christian music, virtually no rap with it’s destructive anti-social messages, and of course people still openly embrace their guns and religion.

Now – I’ll grant you it’s not mostly Catholics, but you won’t be seeing LGBT Pride days celebrated at Silver Dollar City. There will however, be a heavenly Gospel Choir group singing at one of their free shows in the park if your lucky. What you will find in Branson is shows, activities, museums, etc… Think of it as Vegas without all the bars and casinos, a family friendly place to go. Check out what Trip Advisor says about what there is to do in Branson!

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($-$$ Depending on Discounts and Military Status)
Silver Dollar City is actually one of the top 10 Theme parks in the nation, I put the link to the park in above so you can check it out. While they have thrill rides that will curl your toes – they also have enough family and kids rides to keep everyone busy. You cannot see it all in one day no matter how determined you are to do so. The ride lines are much shorter than Disney and the rides are on-par with Disney’s in both character and quality – with some significantly better like THUNDERATION (Click the name for Video of the ride: Note that in the summer, the trees have leaves and the entire park is lush and shaded!)

The Costumes are wonderful – the food is much cheaper and plentiful than you would expect – so it is not worth eating outside the park. As if that weren’t enough, they have a sister water park right nearby and you can buy a pass for both, so you can splash off there and come back. I didn’t feel a need to do so this last time because so many of the rides in the park will leave you thrilled, laughing, and “Bathtub Wet”! Being damp sounds awful, until you realize how much cooler you feel in the summer with a damp shirt in the shade with a breeze.

*** Note – the Veterans Discounts and Deals at Silver Dollar City meant that the kids under 12 got free passes, I paid for the older child as an adult, and on the tickets I bought I bought one day passes and got the second day free. Saved a bundle. If you’re a veteran – bring proof (My VA ID Worked just fine), and ask about the discounts at the ticket window or call first! We spent 2 days at the Park for the whole family for the price of our condo rental for 1 night – AWESOME!

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($$$)
As I have young children that often excitedly accompany me to the train station to see me off or pick me up for one of my cross country work adventures (every trip is an adventure waiting to happen). They have longed to go on a train with me. A “Real Train”. In Branson, they got to do just that! There is a train in Branson called the “Branson Scenic Railway” it does a 40 mile trip on a real train with some vintage cars – and some cars clearly from Amtrak whom I travel with often. The children were thrilled, the views awesome, and the expression on their faces was priceless. Not terribly cheap, but this one was about fulfilling a child’s dreams and turning them into a real experience. On the plus side for this one, they get you with the ticket pretty good – instead of by charging exorbitant prices at the snack bar. I highly recommend their coffee – and as I roast my own beans, I am picky about that. Theirs is fantastic and cheap.

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(FREE)
The Stone Hill Winery is also right there in Branson and does a kid friendly tour that also includes letting the kids taste the most amazing Concord Grape Juice you have ever had. Their tour starts with engaging and hilariously funny hosts, a movie about the Missouri Wine Industry (before Prohibition the largest in America), and it’s resurrection in the late 1960’s – present. The wine tasting covers about 20 of their wines. If you are going to try every one, even just a sip – don’t plan on driving for awhile. I’m not usually a big wine person. I am picky about the wines I like, as is my wife. We don’t always agree on what we can both enjoy wine wise. By the end of the wine tour we both thought several wines were the “schnizzel”, and we ended up doing some shopping for things we knew we both liked while there – including smoked cheeses from their refrigerator, and several bottles of wine at amazing prices as well as some of the concord gape juice for the kids at their insistence. We also noted many people stopping in, skipping the tour and just buying buying entire cases of certain wines. I can’t blame them.

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($)
You killed 2 or three days you you likely have 2 or 3 more you can afford to spend – don’t miss the best part. Take you kids out to see real nature, as God created it. There is no cell service and I still haven’t located a wifi hotspot out at the Buffalo River in northern Arkansas about 2 hours south of Branson. Rent yourself a Cabin, and book some Canoes for a day of floating down the Buffalo River. Watch the wildlife on the banks, gaze at the monster trout winning under your canoe as you count the stones on the rocky bottom through the crystal clear, cool water. See a nice pool, or beach? Pull over – have a sandwich, splash, play, stay hydrated – then go down the river 10 minutes and find yet another interesting spot to stop. Make a whole day of it and do it at your own pace. When you get to the end, beach the canoes and walk up to your car. Wild Bill’s does this best they pick you up at the point you come out of the water and drive you upriver to put you in with your canoes. We had a lovely Englishman expatriate, who has made a new home in rural Arkansas sure he discovered heaven on earth, handle our canoes and transportation this last time. I’ve used Wild Bill’s multiple times and they always do right by us. The key to a good trip is a good outfitter who can make sure you are prepared – because unless you go to the outdoors often, you likely aren’t. They also have one of the few places when you can get the key items you forgot, from a waterproof phone case to sunscreen and towels for the kids.

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(FREE)
Turn at Wild Bill’s (You can only turn one way) and there is a swimming beach beach down the way in the Buffalo Point State Park (that is a picture of the swimming beach on below!). This swimming hole is absolutely free and has good parking, changing rooms and public restroom fascilities. You can also camp here as they have a campground and be in close proximity to all the local attractions without the expense of renting a cabin! Highly recommend it – kids choose this over Disney hands down every year, and yes – we did Disney a few years back.

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($)
Now show off your manly mettle by taking a tour of Blanchard Caverns (North Arkansas). I’ve done both trails and I’m a “Gipper”, needing at minimum a cane to walk – so I’ll be totally honest – the Discovery trail at Blanchard Springs Caverns is totally awesome! But, it’s 2 hours of solid walking up and down stairs and through some dark spaces. I made it, but it hurt so bad I was laid up the next 2 days until the swelling came down. On the flip side it was totally worth it. The “Dripstone trail” is much more beauty concentrated in one place, and easy enough do even in a wheelchair – shorter too. The Park Rangers are helpful and awesome, having patience when I just cannot move as fast as everyone else no matter who hard I try. The dripstone also has something critical with kids in tow – seating spots and lots of stops to explain what you’re seeing in front of you. ***Note: The “White Nose” fungus infecting the bats has not caused the closure of these caves, unlike many others across the nation, but you will be sanitizing your shoes as you leave the cave in a Woolite solution. The rangers explain all about it.
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($$-$$$$ Cabin rentals vary widely – this one was $130 a night log cabin way back in the woods near the river – very comfortable, and slept 6)
Go back to your cabin – tired, hungry, excited. You can’t talk on the phone, you can’t play on the internet or check Facebook. Your phone is still a great camera though! Most of the cabin rentals we’ve done have a selection of board games and a few decks of cards. Bring some books. Play games, cook together, eats some meals together, read stories aloud, play so hard the kids are asleep exhausted by 7 pm, make S’Mores that would infuriate Michelle Obama with real Chocolate and Marshmallows. Buy some of the fine beers or wines available locally and after the kids are asleep, collapse outside on the front porch with a glass in your hand, put your arm around your wife and count the fireflies together until the snoring starts in the cabin. Take the time to just admire and enjoy creation without distractions.

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It’s not perfect – but it’s as close as it gets for us. I hope you too have the opportunity for a very inexpensive, very educational, and very exciting vacation with your family.

PS: In the interests of the fullest possible disclosure, I have no business or financial interest in any of the above named places. These are all pictures I personally took while there, and I have been in no way compensated for any endorsements of products, goods, or services. The ones I mentioned are just so great that I thought everybody should know about some of the best kept secrets in middle America! 

God Bless your family,

Colin

Beyond – Chapters 1 & 2

16 Jul

Below are the next two chapters, please like, share widely, and comment if you wish to continue reading more – this is only the very beginning. The working title for the Book is “Beyond”…

The entirety of this work as published in this blog is Copyrighted by myself and may not be republished or distributed without my permission (You may link to this page and share a paragraph or two as a lead in).

The Experience of Death and Sermons

When people who knew what had happened would ask me about my experiences, the first question was invariably “What do you remember?”. Of course I suspect they were expecting a detailed description of my observations and perceptions about my immediate surroundings after discorperation, but in truth – what I remembered most strongly were the collections of truths that I recounted to myself over and over that I might not forget them – as my memories of that time faded away like a dream begins to do in the moments following awakening.

To that end I have divided this book into two parts, the first of which will address to the best of my ability the more physical aspects of the death experience and I will endeavor to provide as accurate a description as my language and memory allow. The second part of this book is dedicated to the many truths I was forced to condense to short phrases and simply memorize.

Though my understanding of the truths is no longer complete, I am all too aware that I remembered these specific ones because they were key to my salvation – not necessarily yours or anyone else’s. I was also aware that I would not recall the reasons why they were important and thus would have to take on faith that I remembered them because they were truly that important and accept them at face value whether or not my human mind could even begin to grasp their true importance.

I’m afraid that there will be some overlap, as the two items are so very intertwined and I beg the readers indulgence for those times when I may seemingly go afield from the intended path.

As for the “Sermons”, though I make no pretense that they are centered on me and my life, I am still confident that much can be gleaned from that part of my experience by anyone who is so inclined. Therefore, I have included those things I committed to memory, and what understanding I have remaining of many philosophical questions.

The Moment of Death – and Beyond

“Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit…”

I believe with all my heart that what happened to me, is not something that is intended for everyone. However, it seems that morbid curiosity prevents people from not asking questions about it. In many ways I suspect it was a most unusual situation in that there was no tunnel, no light, no relatives waiting to greet me. I remember briefly a short moment of lucidity before the actual event, like the engine on a small model plane revving up into high warble as the last vapors of its fuel enter the carburetor. I came aware with a start – but I was unable to communicate effectively, so the moment of forewarning was useless. I had no idea that this was to be the moment, either–that realization came only later.

I was in the operating room undergoing a pituitary resection surgery.  I became aware momentarily of the voices of the surgeons and nurses talking around me. I could hear their conversations and hear the gentle thrumming of the soft-rock music playing in the background. The was a moment of apparent panic in around me and many different people started shouting all at once so quickly I couldn’t understand or keep up with that they were saying.

I could feel my body being repositioned and I could feel horrific pain in my chest and my left side. A driving thirst filled me, and I wanted nothing more than to wet my lips and mouth, I would have given anything for a swallow of water. My whole face felt strangely like my teeth do when I would let them dry in the cold winter air as a child and then suck my breath over them. There was a sensation like being kicked while lying prone on the ground, followed by a sensation I can only describe as drowning in a sea of sand while being bound and dragged behind a fast moving vehicle.

Then I felt the sensation of being squeezed and compressed into a little ball. It was a sensation that was both cold and hot, with a gripping paralysis and a prickling pain, which accompanied it. This prickling was less like your foot going to sleep after sitting too long and much more like falling asleep on a golf course and having a soused greens keeper trowel you under with the aerator attachment on his tractor.

This continued until I was sure I could stand it no more and then increased. I wondered why I did not loose consciousness – and realized that I wanted more than anything for the pain to stop. Then began a throbbing pain, and I felt so tightly bound that I couldn’t decide if I was about to burst outwards or implode. My chest was so tightly bound that I could not breathe in or out and the throbbing had become a pounding thumping. My heart was beating so hard that I was sure it would leap from my chest at any moment, as though shot from a 9 pound cannon.

Just as the agony reached a lilting crescendo, a feeling much like a sharp blow struck me about the crown of my head and I felt myself separated from my flesh in much the same way as a nail might feel if it was driven completely through the wood and not simply into it. The body was gone and yet I remained.

Darkness surrounds me, and if I was floating or falling I could not tell, nor had I any inkling of the amount of time that might have passed. I was thinking, even ruminating on my current situation, wondering if the power at the hospital had gone out or thinking that this was just some horrible nightmare from which my current level of sedation prevented me from waking. The soundless void threatened me with imminent madness and I struggled mightily to grasp for any sensation that might provide a frame of reference.

Everything was black – any inky darkness into which I was unable to peer. I assumed I had appendages and attempted to move them but I could not even make contact with my own body, at least not at the location I was sure my body should be. I was neither hot nor cold, and I was sure I was not breathing – but wondered at my own lack of distress about that fact. In spite of the lack of distress, my whole being was filled with a feeling of abject panic. I could feel the sensation of tears welling up which simply would not come. I could feel my heart rending, but was unable to detect it beating. The longer this persisted the more agitated I became. My thirst was still present but greatly muted, and a sensation of weightlessness enveloped me as though I was falling into a deep chasm on a moonless and starless night; without even the wind to blow against me and provide some sensory input. No up, no down, spinning or still – disoriented and unable to focus on anything.

My mind was still blank at this point and much too focused on simply regaining my equilibrium to worry about anything else. I was aware that I existed and that I was disoriented and no more. At this point I wanted nothing more than to come to rest and take a physical inventory of myself. I was also peering intently, squinting as if i had eyes and as if it would have helped if I had – to discern anything about my surroundings which could provide me a frame of reference.

This state persisted for some time. I might have been there only minutes or it could have been days – my sense of time was simply not up to the task of quantifying any questions of “when” for me at the moment. I recall waving my arms and kicking my legs but feeling no wind, or resistance to their motion of any kind, when suddenly emotions washed over me like breakers pounding into a narrow inlet.

My life decisions did not play before me so to speak, but were all brought to mind. Like a slideshow, playing in a round theater I could not look away or close my eyes as every emotionally significant event in my life was reviewed for my benefit. These were the memories and moments that shaped my current existence. All of my experiences bonding together in a streaming whole and creating a mold for my character, and in doing so – my immortal soul.

Sadness, regret, and fear, all plagued me at once in an intoxicating smother. It reminded me of the run-in I had had with a bottle of mescal tequila in my youth that had turned me away from alcohol in general, and tequila in all forms. The world began to spin madly and I twirled in a seeming vacuum for an indeterminate length of time, with hot salty tears flying from my cheeks as fast as they could be produced. My heart felt rent from my chest, and the regret weighed on me like the weight of the world.

Only the happy and the sad truly stuck out, and I am not proud to say that the sad outweighed the happy by many times. Many of my happy memories centered around common themes and people, especially one person. Memorable experiences played as well – moments of wonder and awe, beauty and inspiration, and excitement and exhilaration all wove themselves into the tapestry and every so often I would feel myself sucked into one of the moments playing, reliving it as a third party watching from the sidelines. In doing so I would re-experience the emotional flood that I had felt at that moment and then emerge again, stolid from the moment I disengaged, feeling the emotions drain away like water flowing down a shower drain.

For so many I felt shame, sadness, and regret continuing on until all I did was hope that soon I would stop remembering. I furtively tried to peer out into the darkness, searching for any change in the contrast of inky blackness that might give some clue as to my location, but nothing–nothing at all was visible to comfort me.

I thought for a brief moment of Alice who briefly feared she would not stop shrinking, and much like Alice at that moment, I cheered at the thought that I might wink out of existence. And then as suddenly as it had started, it stopped. In an instant I was standing on firm ground – still surrounded by a congealed and inky blackness nothing could penetrate. I could feel legs beneath me, air blowing past the hairs on my arms as I waved them, and gravity. I knew which way was up. Not only that, I knew so much more, so very much more than I have the language to describe, or even now have the capacity to imagine, all in an instant. It seemed as though an understanding beyond my earthly capacity flooded into my mind overwhelming it. I felt like my head would explode and I reached to my head with my hands and touched nothing. It took an indeterminate period of time for the headache to subside, and I could feel knowledge beyond my capability to comprehend swimming through my thoughts and coloring my perceptions. I was changing, my understanding of all things was changing, and the realizations which emerged gnawed like rats at the core of my very being. It was at this moment that I began to realize this wasn’t a bad dream, and I wasn’t going to wake up safe in the hospital ICU.

I fell to one knee in shame and horror – a life totally wasted, a seeming comedy of errors. My only purpose to that point was to serve as a bad example. The little in my life I felt pride in, my lovely wife, my beautiful children – they deserved so much better. In the same instant I knew I was dead, and hoped they realized how much better off they were without me. The feelings of inadequacy and smallness were overwhelming me. I felt as though I were drowning, the expansion of my understanding was not a painless process, and i felt as if my skull had burst at the seams and my brain had extruded itself through the cracks – and then just kept expanding. The sensation of pressure was intense and almost unbearable. I cried out in pain and anguish and as suddenly as it had started it stopped. I felt a soothing presence nearby which I could not directly discern. It’s effect was calming and reassuring, and I could not help but begin to feel better about everything and I quickly ceased to focus on the pain, and instead began to focus on myself.

In truth if you would have asked me before all this happened I would have been reasonably sure I was going right to Heaven. I was absolutely for sure I was doing so much better than the next person that there was basically “no contest”. I knew I wasn’t perfect, but I was closer than 99.999% of the rest of the world… Or so I thought, I so very arrogantly thought.

The mind of Man is not the Mind of God – and what God and Man find pleasing differ. Always be mindful of this, I chanted this to myself as an eternal reminder to be obedient to his will regardless of what I thought he would want. It’s always better to listen, wait for instructions if you are unsure. He has ways of communicating with you that you cannot truly appreciate until you sit and listen. I have found that the local Eucharistic Adoration Chapel at my Parish provides me the best environment possible for him to communicate with me, which is why I am so often silent in his presence. But now to continue…

I had fallen to my knees, barely noticing that I had done so without any of the arthritic discomfort or jarring pain that always accompanied such motions before. My despair only grew with the certain knowledge that I had failed my creator in every way possible and I suspected in some ways that had managed to surprise even him. I was truly so very sorry – and not for fear of punishment, but because I had disappointed. I had been given such opportunity and potential – yet this life was my accounting of his gifts to me, and it was a pitiful accounting; which left a balance far in arrears.

I was suddenly trapped in the terror of the certain understanding that I was now immortal, and that I would now have to endure eternity in this state. Adam and Eve’s nakedness had nothing on me. My body heaved, as it was racked with sobs that pulled so hard as to try to rip me apart. If I could have winked out of existence on my own, I would have.

In my anguish I cried out to the Lord, meaning to beg him to have mercy and extinguish this derelict flame; but I was only able to utter a guttural noise that sounded like the wind whipping past a piece of loose rubber trim on an old car – traveling down the interstate highway far to quickly. The presence moved closer, I could feel him but not see him.

I collapsed in agony, unwilling to live, and unable to die. I buried my face into my crossed arms and before I could do anything more I was enveloped by two strong arms, which gently lifted me upright, set my feet on the ground, and then proceeded to wipe the tears from my eyes. Through all this I could not discern his form, though I tried and tried I was unable to gain even a glimpse of him. I could sense him and feel him but I could not see him, or touch him when I reached out. He, however, seemed to be able to touch me at will.

The tears disappeared, and with them the emotions that spawned them. He held me there for some time until I was well enough comforted to be objective and reasonable again, if such was possible. And though I never saw him, I felt his presence so very directly and tangibly that there was no question in my mind that my creator himself had taken a moment from eternity to comfort me.

About the Experience that brought me back to the Church

16 Jul

As some of you know I had a direct experience with death that brought me back to the Catholic Church about 10 years ago. What most of you likely do not know is that I wrote the whole thing down as soon as I could to record everything while it was still fresh in my mind, and shortly after the physical therapy got my hands working well enough to type again.

It’s more than a bit on the personal side, and as complete as I can make it. I am thinking to serialize some or all of it here in oder to determine if it is a story of interest to you. Remember to click like or leave comments if you want me to keep publishing after the first chapter or two. If not I will have no choice but to assume that it is not of interest. If you like it – please tweet this link, share it on Facebook, and share it on other social media.

The entirety of this work as published in this blog is Copyrighted by myself and may not be republished or distributed without my permission (You may link to this page and share a paragraph or two as a lead in).

In order to get the preliminaries out of the way I will put the foreword here:

Foreword and Introduction

It is with some degree of reluctance that I pen this narrative in an attempt to record my experiences. I am not of the belief that the things I experienced were intended for a wider audience, and more importantly I fear the possible misinterpretation of my words by Sophists who would use them to lead people astray, an issue I will address right now.

Due to a combination of the amount and types of medications I have required for some time, as well as to organic brain damage, and both long-term and intermittent hypoxia – I am simply not in a position to have a detailed accurate recollection which will stand up to a Sophist style scrutiny. If it is your intent to try to pick apart every word seeking inconsistencies then please do not bother to read further, you will find them – and because of your mindset I fear the contents of this book will only do you more harm than good. For the sake of your immortal soul, and mine, I implore you to move on and seek the fulfillment of your curiosity elsewhere.

I’m sure there are those that are looking for complicated answers – assuming a complex universe requires complicated explanation. I assure you it does not, but all you have are my assurances. It is not my goal or mission to convince you, nor is it my concern so long as you do not use my words as a vehicle for the promotion of heresy. Through diligent effort I was able to retain just mere fragments of what was revealed to me at the moment of death, and those fragments I retained were the ones I clung to because I felt them to be the ones that would be most essential to my personal salvation.

I find myself drawn to the quote from Philippians which says, “..work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you..”. Maybe simple answers are best because they permit us the joy of wonder. This quote speaks to me not about the kind of fear one feels when confronted with evil, but the respectful trepidation one feels when facing the unknown. It speaks to me about courage – when we tremble in awe, and yet we step forward in an act of nobility. Our capacity to act with nobility being one of our more endearing features, yet it is one exercised so infrequently. Courage and nobility are seemingly different faces of the same coin.

Letting the chips fall where they may, if an explanation is short on detail it is only because I do not have it to impart. I have not left anything out on purpose, nor have I added anything extraneous. I hope that you will read this not as a sophist, but with an open heart and an open mind.

(Continued in Next Post…)

Colin

7 Jul

Adrift in a mad world
Seduced by demons and the pleasure of every imaginable sin,
I am reduced to nothing.
I am but a tender sapling,
Easily blown by the passing winds
Uprooted and trampled into dust.
Alone I cannot stand.
Without you I am but a desolation,
Empty and dry
As dead leaves blowing along across scorched asphalt,
Or parched earth, cracked and hardened where nothing may grow.
Pour your life and strength into me, my Lord.
In You is my only hope.
I thirst for You.
I hunger for Your strength.
I need Your perfect wisdom and just counsel.
Your Precious Blood is water to my burning soul.
Consume me completely in the fires of Your love.
Do with me whatever You will;
Make me entirely Your own.
Only grant me the strength to endure Your just chastisements,
The resolve to offer my life as penance,
And grace to remain in obedience to You.
Grant me the courage to defend your tenets;
Arm and strengthen me for the battle.
And keep me always broken and humble before You
That I may be faithful to the end.

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