3.20.2009

Cherry Blossoms and A Random Act of Kindness

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Hello dear friends in Christ,
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You know lately it seems that the local, state, national, and global news is simply just depressing. . . It's true, I'm a very sensitive person and when my boundaries are weak, I pick up on this negativity so much that it just drags me down . . . which is not my nature at all.
So tonight during my commute home from campus, I thought to myself, "Just think about the good things around you and anything nice that someone did for me lately that was a blessing!"
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Well of course, being the flower and gardening freak that I am, I first thought of all the precious, delicate cherry blossoms now in bloom in the Carolinas, right next to the powerful splash of purple in the Eastern Redbud trees. I even saw a few brilliant red tulips on campus today, which I cannot grow on the acreage because the deer eat them for treats.
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Well, those thoughts were certainly very effective in lifting my spirits, but then I thought of something else that I forgot to tell you about that happened one afternoon during my spring break visit to my parents in Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ.

One afternoon I stopped in one of the local/regional grocery stores for a few things and when I was checking out, the check-out lady asked me if I had a "Frye's card" (the name of the store). I said, "No, I don't have one because I am just visiting; we don't have a Frye's where I live". Very unexpectedly and totally out of the blue, a tiny, little elderly lady said, "Here, use mine", and handed her card to the check-out lady. I said to the kind lady, "Thank you, and I hope that the blessing you gave me is returned to you too." She smiled at me and said, "You know, I've heard of that happening"! And I said, "It really does!"
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This nice lady saved me $10.00 during that shopping transaction. It was so sweet and pure of an act of kindness. And that just makes me smile! Even more so than the beauty of earth's flowers in spring . . . because it was human beauty!
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There really are good people out there; many of them are you who I read your blogs and you who read mine. In these times, I think that it is just so important that we focus on these little, tiny, wonderful things to keep our smiles going . . . and hopefully it will be contagious and we will be the next blessing of human beauty to another person.
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Blessings,
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~ bella










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3.18.2009

Happy St. Joseph's Day - An Italian Traditional Tribute

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Hello my dear friends in Christ,

Well the fun and festivities around the globe for St. Patrick's Day have come and gone. And today a very little known feast day is observed among Italians and Italian-Americans. It is a quiet form of tribute, but is very meaningful. On this day Italians give thanks for prosperity, fulfilled promises and/or to simply share with those who are less fortunate. Here is a brief explanatory background of this feast day:

In Italy this day is known as "La Festa di San Giuseppe". St. Joseph is the Patron Saint of Sicily and in many American-Italian communities. On this day people show their gratitude to St. Joseph because back in the Middle Ages, there was a servere drought, so the people prayed to St. Joseph for rain with an oath to honor him with a large feast if their prayers were answered. The skies opened up with rain, a famine was prevented, and the people of Sicily kept their promise by preparing a massive banquet for St. Joseph. Everyone participated, including the needy.

The good news does not stop there. On this day, it is still tradition for Italians to give food to the poor and needy, in addition to placing fava beans (the crop that helped prevent starvation during the drought) on altars created for St. Joseph.


The altar is commonly 3 tiers high to represent the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and is covered with white linen fabric. Flowers, limes, wine, cakes, cookies, breads, candles, and a special Sicilian pastry called "Zeppole" are also placed on the altars. No meats or meat-filled dishes are allowed either on the altar and people are not allowed to eat meat during the dinner, because this feast takes place during Lent. Bread crumbs are commonly used in some of the recipes in order to represent saw dust, since St. Joseph was a carpenter. Many people will wear red.

A very special food made by Italians is called "Cuccadati" which beautiful bread loaves that are decorated in designs symbolic of a crown of thorns or other spiritual symbols of the Church. These cover latticework known as La Vastedde, along with lemons, limes, oranges, bay leaves, and myrtle branches.

In the United States, St. Joseph is honored in larger metropolitan cities where there is a high population of Italians. . . New Orleans, especially, because it is the port where many Sicilians entered America. Buffalo, NY, New York City, Chicago, and Kansas City also have public and private St. Joseph's altars constructed. A parade also takes place in New Orleans.
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an immense St. Joseph's Day altar in New Orleans, LA, USA
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Here is another beautiful explanation with photos of outstanding St. Joseph altars. In this web-site, the author explains in extreme details, the contents and their meanings of the food and wine items on the altars. It is highly recommended reading to understand the dedication to this Feast Day tradition: http://annachupa.com/StJo/index.html

and here is a link to a "Virtual St. Joseph's Altar": http://www.thankevann.com/stjoseph/

Buona Festa di San Giuseppee !!

Holy Card Image reprinted from Holy Cards for Your Inspiration blog http://thewindowshowsitall.blogspot.com

Blessings,

~ bella


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3.16.2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day Especially to All of My Irish Friends and Family Members

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Hello dear friends in Christ,
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As the grass becomes greener this spring time of year, many Catholics and non-Catholics remember St. Patrick today.

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Here's to all of you and to my Irish friends and family members:


HAPPY ST. PATRICK's DAY!

"Irish" blessings t'ya,

~ 0'bella

For a beautiful prayer from St. Patrick, I recommend reading the post from Esther on her Catholic Mom in Hawaii blog. It is quite beautiful and inspirational. Her blog link is posted in my sidebar on the right.


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Horses and Heaven

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Hello my dear friends in Christ,

It is nearly 3:00 in the morning and I just can't sleep. After the death of my most precious horse companion-friend, Ace, yesterday, I feel like a living zombie (if there even is such a thing). Today before he was buried, we clipped strands of his mane and tail to have a few bracelets tastefully braided.

I wrapped a blue rosary around his right front hoof and asked our Lady to watch over him. (Later I realized how perfect 'blue' was for Ace due to all of the blue ribbons he won when he was in Hunter/Jumper competitions before we adopted him). My husband said, "I didn't know that horses were Catholic (trying to cheer me up) . . . and I said, "Mine is." We'll plant a tree over him when the time is right.

I'd like to thank Esther, Reenie, Kathy, Sally, Janice, Adrienne, Maryann, and Danielle, my blogging friends, for their immediate sentiments of sympathy to me. My tears flooded with gratitude for their caring concern for me.

But I wanted to just talk about my prayers that I said tonight before (trying to get to) sleep:

I am feeling this emotion of sadness, Lord, and yet I feel so SELFISH because there are so many FAR WORSE situations and issues in this world that are taking place right now. I am so sorry, Lord, if I am being selfish.

Yet, on the other hand, Lord, I believe that you gave us our emotions to feel, and to love, and to mourn, and to feel joyful. So I think that if You gave me these emotions, that it must be OK to feel them.

Lord, I truly do believe that you gave Ace to me. You love me and all of Your children so much, that You would do anything for our happiness, including the sacrifice of Your son for our eternal life with You in Heaven.

You gave me a love for horses upon my conception or even before the human thought of my conception! You strengthened that love throughout my younger years. You instilled in me, my own special dream . . . the goal of living on a country acreage with horses someday. Dear Father, I KNOW that You gave Ace to me and my son. He was a gift from You. Because of Ace's need for pasture, we found this lovely acreage that we know he enjoyed in the last 5 years. Father, I thank You for him and the years that he had with us.

Once again, Father, please forgive me for my sins and please help all the souls here on earth who suffer from loss, whatever that may be.

~ bella

P.S. If you care to see photos and a poem (author unknown) for Ace and how it all came about, you can find it on the 2 posts on March 15th, on my "La Bella Vita" blog at http://bellavita-bellasblog.blogspot.com

Buona Notte' (Good Night)

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3.04.2009

Praying the Rosary During Lent: The Sorrowful Mysteries

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Hello dear friends in Christ,
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As we increase our prayer time during Lent, we are called to focus on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. Here is a gentle reminder of what those mysteries focus on:
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1. Jesus at Gethsemene: His agony in the garden.
2. The Scourging at the Pillar
3. The Crowning of Thorns
4. The Way of the Cross
5. The Death of Jesus on the Cross
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Blessings,
~ bella

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3.02.2009

Request to Join Me in a Good Deed for Lent

My Dear Friends in Christ,

I would like to ask you for some help regarding SOCIAL JUSTICE that the Catholic church is one of the strongest advocate for. Below is my post from today that I have on my other blog about Italian cuisine. It is in response to a negative ad campaign currently taking place on the part of Denny's restaurants here in the USA, in which Italians and Italian-Americans are depicted as mobsters.

It will only take a few seconds of your time to e-mail the company to pull the negative stereotypical advertisements. This would be a wonderful good deed to do for Lent to help stop the wrongful depiction of good people in this country.

Many thanks are extended to Janice T. Mancuso for granting permission to re-print this announcement excerpted in her e-newsletter "Tutto Italiano", here is her link:
http://www.jtmancuso.com/.

From my blog:

"Would Black African-Americans tolerate prejudice and negative stereotypes in advertisements? NO!!!!!!!!!!!!! An ad with that negative type of betrayal would be confronted IMMEDIATELY. So why should Italians and Italian-Americans have to continue to be mis-represented in the media ? WE SHOULD NOT!!!. . . . Please join me and others concerned about negative ethnic bashing of Italians and Italian-Americans by telling Denny's restaurants and other institutions that misrepresent people, that Italians are not mobsters. . . . . Italians and Italian-Americans are decent, educated, kind, and spiritual people who contribute positively to society and are sick and tired of the Godfather and Soprano humor and false drama that is out there!"

Please read on:


Italian Americans Protest Stereotypes in Denny's Ad Boycott Threatened If Commercial Is Not Pulled
WASHINGTON, DC - February 24, 2009
The Sons of Italy Commission for Social Justice (CSJ) is calling for a boycott of Denny's to protest the stereotyping of Italian Americans in the company's new national ad campaign, "Serious Breakfast." The CSJ isthe anti-defamation arm of the Order Sons of Italy in America, the nation's largest Italian American organization. Denny's is the largest family restaurant chain in the U.S. The CSJ has criticized one of the commercials in the series for its portrayal of three men who appear to be Italian American gangsters, discussing murdering "Benny" as they wait for their breakfast at a Denny's restaurant. The CSJ called for the commercial to be permanently removed from both television and the internet. In response to the CSJ's complaint, Nelson Marchioli, Denny's president and CEO, said the company had reviewed the commercial and found "no ethnic stereotyping, just fun and humor." "This is an unsatisfactory reply," says CSJ National President Anthony Baratta. "The Godfather movies and The Sopranos television series have helped make violence and criminality synonymous with Italian Americans," he says, "And the Denny commercial perpetuates this stereotype. That is not funny." If Denny's refuses to archive the commercial, Baratta says "Italian Americans can and will enjoy a 'serious breakfast' at a restaurant that does not insult them. Denny's should know that Italian Americans are the nation's fifth largest ethnic group, and to offend us will only hurt Denny's bottom line."
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Baratta urges all concerned to contact Nelson Marchioli at: Denny's Corporation, 203 East Main Street, Spartanburg, SC 29319; (800) 733-6697 or directly at (864) 597-7781
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The Sons of Italy CSJ is the anti-defamation arm of the Order Sons of Italy in America (OSIA), the largest and oldest national organization for people of Italian descent in the U.S.
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To learn more about the CSJ, visit us on the Web at http://www.osia.org/ or contact us via e-mail at csj@osia.org.
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Sons of Italy News Bureau Press Release
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Please pass this message on for social justice concerns.
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Grazie,
Blessings and Amore,
~ bella
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