Post 314
For True Sisters

Tell Me

Oh, Cinderella!
Tell me about that evening
How the moon shone upon the lake
How your carriage flew as if on wings
Your heart was full
You felt you could not be happier
You could want for nothing more

Oh, Cinderella!
Tell me about your dress
Covered in Slavic roses
Velvet and ribbons and embroidery
Embroidery and embroidery
Lace and layers
You smiled as you twirled, delighted

Oh, Cinderella!
Tell me about your slippers
Were they completely of glass?
Some say they were actually kierpce
Reminiscent of distant mountains
Is it true that the shoes were left until last?
Is it true that you almost had none?

Oh, Cinderella!
Tell me about your victory
How you went to the ball
Against the schemes of false sisters
How astounded they were
To see you radiant, lovely and sweet
Graceful, beautiful, unique

Oh, Cinderella!
Tell me about the dancing
How did it feel to step so lightly, so quickly
To twirl?
They all saw how happy you were
Music filled the evening air
You felt you could dance forever

Oh, Cinderella!
Tell me about the promise
What did the Prince
Whisper in your ear?
Did he speak of the future?
Is it true that he said he would never forget you?
That he would always be with you?

Oh, Cinderella!
Tell me, finally, about your secret ally
Who knew how to gather pieces of this and pieces of that
Your godmother, no less
What did it cost her to give you this dress?
Is magic the word, or shall we speak
Of sacrifice, determination, patience, and love?

 

 

Post 313
(A guest post by Miriam C.)

December 20, 2017

My daughter, I love you. The time is near when your Saviour shall come again. Rejoice, for now a time of victory is coming, a time of peace, a new era. Prepare for your Saviour.

[“How?”]

By praying and going to confession. Change your cold hearts, change your cruel ways; repent, for your Father is waiting for you to come back to him. You are his child; he made you and knew you before left your mother’s womb. I loved you when you were an innocent child. I loved you and cared for you when you turned against me, I love you still, and care for you and protect you even when you hurt me and even when you hurt what is good. Come home to where your Father waits for you and loves you unconditionally. You will be rewarded, and given the grace to do what is good. I am your Shepherd. I will give you the grace to know to follow and to follow.

My children, you do not know what awaits you, you do not know how (well) I know what you want. There will be new forests where the trees were cut down. No one will need to worry about paper; the trees will be plentiful and flourish with fruit. The grass will become green, and artificial grass will be removed. Weeds will not reproduce so vigorously, but one will still be able to blow the white fluff from dandelions. The spray-paint on buildings and tunnels shall all be gone, and (even what seemed) permanent will go. Tattoos and piercings will all vanish. Food shall be plentiful and new varieties of fish and birds will come. There will no longer be strange animals of the sea; sting rays, sea snakes, crocodiles and all that is ugly will be gone. The land animals that are ugly and dangerous will also go — the snakes and the insects, the lizards and toads. For these were signs; as the lamb and the wolf are signs, so were the ugly creatures. But now is a new era, and now I want to show you something else. I want to show you new horses, butterflies like rainbows, birds in new colours, new dolphins that can leap through the oceans. Everyone who wants to return to their homeland will be able to, and nothing will stop them. It will not be so expensive to fly, so that the children of poor families will be able to travel to see the creations of God.

Disneyland and artificial beauty will be changed into useable space. Homes will not be gigantic, they shall be built (according to) what you need for your family. For if you took one big house and changed it to match the personal size that the owners need, you could fit many pretty houses, for many families.

People will come to understand the Catholic faith in a deeper way. I love my people and I know what they wanted when they were little children.

I am glad you told those in FTR my message. I have many plans for all who will accept them. I have plans for their jobs, for their homes, for a family or religious life. Some of these plans they know, and some I will reveal later. I have plans for their families as well. I have FTR as part of the plan, a plan that will affect the world now and in the future. They are my children, whom I love and care for. I have loved them and watched them through their childhood to adulthood. I loved them even when they chose wrongly. I know what they want and what they care about. I know what is best for them and I will show them the way. Those who chose to follow (in FTR) will have a special purpose and role in my plan for when I come again . . .

Rejoice, for your Saviour and Shepherd will return, with many gifts for the world.

Post 312
(A guest post by Miriam C.)

December 19, 2017

My daughter, do not be afraid to believe. Do not worry; all of your dreams will come true; all that I have promised will happen. I will not let you believe and be disappointed. Do not think about it (the promises) not happening, because it will.

Those who accept the promises of God are rewarded and never deceived or disappointed. For I promised your fathers of old many gifts, and those who believed and accepted received them. I have gifts for everyone; I have plans for everyone and those who want my gifts can have them. For the Father wants his children to be happy and rejoice, for he gave his people his only Son, whom they put to death. Your Father knows what you long for; He knows what is most precious to you and what you fear most. I know what you want when you are unsure. Trust and follow me, for I will lead you. If you follow, I will give you what you want and deserve. For you will be rewarded. Those who follow Him are blessed and exalted, but those who refuse to touch his gifts and take his hand will not receive these gifts. They are still my children, whom I love, and I still give them another chance to take my hand and follow me.

For you must forget about your worldly possessions and follow me. You must trust me and leave your home and pick up your staff and follow your Lord and Shepherd. For when your Shepherd wants to take his sheep to new rich pastures, will you leave your old fields and home and trust your Shepherd or will you refuse to follow and remain? When your Master comes, who will follow him, and who will be unfaithful to him? For this is a test. It is I, your Master, and I am ready to take you to my best pastures, I want to lead you to your home of eternal happiness. Come, follow me, and I will take you home.

Post 311
(A guest post by Miriam C.)

December 17, 2017

My daughter, I love you. You are my daughter, my child.

The father’s love is so great, beyond imagination. He loves his children more than many know. Many do not know the love of God; many underestimate what he wants for his people. Many do not realize how much he loves them, even if they hurt him. His love is unconditional; his mercy is unimaginable. He loves his children like no other. Those who are sorry for their actions but afraid to come to their Father do not understand his love. His mercy is a gift that he wants to share with all. He wants to pour down graces on all. How it pains the Father to see his children disregard his gifts. He knows what they want; I know what you want. Do not hesitate to repent, for those who come back are forgiven and rewarded. Do not be ashamed to come to him, and never assume your sin is unforgivable. Many do (great) evil and never repent. Many are not sorry. Those who return shall be blessed, and those who do not repent will not be ready. For the time is near, when your Saviour will return.

[What about FTR?]

Those in it will have a special role. They will be blessed for accepting this gift. I have (many) plans for those in it. It is part of my plan which I knew of before they came in. It is a gift, something special which will become known. Those who accept this gift will be rewarded, and those who (in the end) rejected it will know what they rejected. They will know what it is and they will know it was real. It is not only a social group; it is a group I have plans for. And those who accept these plans will receive them.

. . .

Do not be afraid; do not worry, for you are in my care, my arms, and no other’s. Always come to me when you are sad or distressed and always come to me when you are lonely. I am your guide and your shepherd, your Father and your brother. I am the giver of life, for those who eat my body and drink my blood will live.

[Dentists]

. . . I gave you teeth not to worry about but to enjoy food, my gift. I inspired dentists to fix teeth and improve them, not to tell lies about them. Do not worry; they do not know. They do not know about God and His ways. Do not let them feed you falsehoods . . . There will be dentists, but not all who are currently dentists will be later. For some are not doing what they should be; they are scaring (people) and telling lies, which is not pleasing to me. I inspire dentists and some are good and do help.

But after I return, things will be very different. When I come again, the earth will change. No longer will people need to worry about natural disasters, no longer will injustice and evil reign. Everything will become straight, and everything will become as (it) should be. And those who accepted my promises will be rewarded.

Constitutions will be changed, and the law will be just and right(eous). Countries struggling for independence — the issues will be resolved. The war zones throughout the earth will become peaceful and flourish and the villages will be restored . . . There is no place on earth where there is not one innocent person who loves their home . . . After I come again, the earth shall be cleansed; volcanoes and tornadoes will be gone. Swords and spears, guns and bombs will no longer be used and will be discarded, for a time of peace is coming; lay down your swords. No longer do you need to defend your country. For war shall cease and families will return home.

 

 

 

 

Post 310

Orest

Have you ever found something in an old book? I think it’s kind of interesting to think that right now, there are many objects quietly tucked away into many books in many libraries around the world, still undiscovered.

How many times have we slipped things into books and then forgotten them? I once tucked my passport into my travel book, and promptly forgot that I had done that. It wasn’t until I had travelled to the capital (Belgrade), gotten a new passport issued from the Canadian embassy, and went through too many things that I found it. It hadn’t been stolen, and I hadn’t lost it forever. It was with me the whole time.

On February 22, 1961, Oрест Барабаш typed up his Ukrainian-language homework. He put his address on it: Едмонтон, 8919-88 вул.

This document was typed up very carefully, on a typewriter that had the ability to type in red, but no special way to correct mistakes. With the early typewriters, when you made an error, it could be a big deal. If you didn’t want to start all over again, you could do nothing better than type upper-case Xs on top of your typo. Some of the later typewriters had a lift-off ribbon that could remove characters that you didn’t want. Such a convenience! I know because over the course of my life, I have spent many, many hours at a typewriter, mainly typing out essays. I have always counted my typing class as the most useful course that I took in high school.

Anyway, this document has been graded. The instructor gave him 95% on one section, and 94% on another.

I was curious when I found it. Where was Orest now? How old was he? Wouldn’t it be funny if he still lived at the same address, and what would he think if you showed up with this document at his doorstep, 58 years later? I wasn’t even born when he typed it.

And in case you’re not keeping track, I’m 49 now. I am the same age as my dog, if you do that thing where you multiply the dog’s age by 7. My birthday landed on Easter Sunday this year, and that had never happened in my life. It will happen again in 2030 though, so I’m looking forward to that. My brother sent me a happy birthday email. Brothers are good that way.

So, being curious, I did what a person would do nowadays, and ran an online search of Orest’s name.

Orest came from Ukraine with his parents when he was about a year old. His brothers, Bohdan and Volodymyr, would have been born in Canada, but his mother must have died when Orest was quite young. His father, Harry, was a photographer, and named his photography studio after his son, calling it Orest Photography Studio and Cameras Ltd. I found out a little bit about Orest’s stepmother online too.

Orest attended St. Joseph’s Catholic high school, and received a silver medal for his high marks.

By the time he was 16, he was attending the University of Alberta, as an honours math student. He was part of two university clubs, both with Ukrainian names: Zarevo and Obnova. Off campus, he participated in a group called Plast, which is the Ukrainian Boy Scouts group, and he was a camping instructor for the Cubs. He also competed in tennis. And you could sometimes find him на лижах (on skiis) in Jasper or Banff. He competed in downhill skiing. In short, Orest was the kind of person who did his best at everything that he could, the kind of person who would easily collect all the scholarships that are always offered for people like him.

I am not sure what kind of illness Orest had, but the article in the February 18, 1966 Edmonton Journal says that he had a long-term illness, and died at the General Hospital while in third-year university. He was 18.

A funeral was held for him at St. George’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, and he is buried at St. Michael’s Cemetary.

His date of death was February 16, 1966, almost exactly 5 years after he typed out his Ukrainian language homework, got it marked, and tucked it away in a book and forgot about it. He would have been 13.

But now this document has been found, and with it, we can remember its author.

Привіт, Orest! Як справи?

When you were alive on earth, there was no such thing as a blog. But now — surprise! — you’re in it, and so is your homework!

: D

 

IMG_6194

 

 

Post 309
(A guest post by Miriam C.)

December 16, 2017

My daughter, you have worked with a full effort, and that is what will be rewarded. Do not worry any longer . . . Now you can rest and enjoy what you have waited for . . . It is the effort that matters, and if you try your hardest, you shall be rewarded . . . Do not let the earthly trials and hardships disappoint you, for grades are valuable here but in the kingdom of God, they are not. Your efforts are blessed and rewarded, and if you try your hardest to learn a subject, you will be given what you want (that subject). On earth, your transcript is ‘honoured’ and of great value; one wants it to look impressive and admirable, but this is merely a document. Much of one’s earthly identity/status is shown and proven through this, however, it is your actions and intentions that are creating your real transcript, your official record. Your good actions are much higher than A’s, and your righteous intentions are much higher than 100%’s, for in the kingdom of God they are of great value.

[How will heaven be better/different?]

Heaven is much greater than earth; do not worry or doubt that heaven could be better than earth, for in heaven no one dies and there is no sadness; there are all of the worldly gifts, as well as the heavenly. There is more than one could want in heaven, and its beauty is beyond compare.

The day your Saviour comes will change humanity like never before. No longer will school and work have such unjust hierarchies, and no longer will there be unjust rulers leading countries. Food and water will be free for all. Cloth and fabric will be cleansed, and clothes shall be improved. Fashions will change, and it will an embarrassment to wear immodest clothing. The holy day of Saints will be only to honour saints, and symbols of death shall vanish. Countries’ symbols and wrong shapes will change and the idols will be destroyed . . . The Church shall reign and be above all. She will be respected. Cultures, skin colours, and nationalities will be equal . . .

New plants will bear fresh fruit, and the soil will be nourished. The stars will always shine, and the deserted deserts will be rich. Houses will be built, and apartments will (mostly) be destroyed. There will be enough land for all (and houses), for the large (useless) buildings and stores will be removed. The world will no longer be divided. And new plants will come to the earth with new flowers and fruit. There will also be new animals; there will be new birds, new fish, new horses . . . The snows will melt, and Greenland will be green. Everything will change, and peace will come.

Post 308
(A guest post by Miriam C.)

December 15, 2017

My daughter, I am glad you came.

Do not worry . . . it is not your writing; it is mine. Do not worry — the punctuation can change; it is the same voice.

Do not worry about the future, for the future is filled with happiness; many things will change. The sky will become clear and blue, the air will be fresh, the sun shall be yellow (in all areas of the world) and one will be able to look at it without pain. Snow and cold will not be so cold and will not kill, and neither will heat. Remember my promises, and do not ever doubt what I say, for you have believed . . .

I love you, my daughter. I will take care of you through thick and thin. I am always there, no matter where you are, whether in the fields or the forest, the plains or the mountains,  the desert or the ocean — I am with you always. When you are alone and distressed, I am with you. You can always put your trust in me.

[Regarding instructors and grades]

. . . those who are reluctant to give good marks, when deserved, are ignoring their conscience and not being honest, and this is not pleasing to God.

[What about FTR?]

They have been chosen from around the world for a special purpose. It (FTR) will also show what you believed even on the other side, for there will be books, which I will supply, of the events that happened. It (FTR) is something that is also part of my plan. There will still be more (members) to go and come, and the time is coming. I will show you who is supposed to stay and who is supposed to go. They also will be blessed for believing. Those who rejected this gift of God as ‘too strange’ or ‘dreaming’ will see it was real. Those in it will see each other for the first time . . . And afterwards, many will rejoice, for their Saviour has returned.

Post 307
(A guest post by Miriam C.)

December 14, 2017

My daughter, trust in what I have said and you shall be blessed. Those who disbelieve and tell you that you are wrong shall be revealed and their words of wrong guidance shall be destroyed but not forgotten. I will show them what you said was true and all shall see how they disbelieved the future.

You, my daughter, will spread the word of God and will bring people closer. You will speak to the children and the adults; you will speak of what you know the love and mercy of God is. You will speak in various languages.

Once I come again, people will still have to be guided and shown the way, for there are many things people do not understand, about the gentleness of their Father, about the tenderness of his mercy or about his understanding of people. Your Father knows you through and through; he knows what you desire and need; he knows your future.

Post 306

Eulogy

Those of us who knew and loved this man have many memories.

However, our memories are mysterious, even to us, because until you understand the man, you cannot understand the meaning of everything that he said, and everything that he did.

So let us take a moment to delve into the mystery of who this man was. This is an appropriate time, and I am well-qualified to speak on it, being the one who loved him most during his time on earth.

This man had a wife and three children: a daughter, and two sons.

God gave him a tenderness for his own children, and he loved to hold them — a good beginning.

However, something went wrong here where everything should have gone right.

The key word in his life story is the word “prefer.”

I will explain. Very early on, the man conceived in his heart the idea that his daughter should prefer him. It was an idea almost without clear lines, at first. It was more of a vague sentiment, at first.

In some ways, it was a game. The funny thing was that it was a game that was so easy to win. There was not really any competition, for the daughter’s mother counted the girl as nothing, or as worse than nothing.

(The man didn’t mind, entirely, when his wife raged at him, or at the girl. It only strengthened his case. It only proved that he was, well, better. The girl saw clearly that he was the martyr.)

And besides, a little bit of attention went a very long way. Passing the time listening to the girl prattle on about what she thought about everything was the main thing. She had a lot of questions, and he had the answers. She took his answers on all matters as very authoritative. His input was important. He saw that he could lift her up, by telling her that eventually her teeth would straighten out, or he could cast her down, by telling her that she must keep her hair short because it was too thin to wear long, and that she needs to wear bangs because her forehead was too big. His approval was essential to her, and that was very gratifying. It was not impossible to give his approval either, for she sometimes had some impressive results. Mind you, he was careful to be sparing in his praise.

Years passed, and although the man had braced himself for the day when the girl would have a boyfriend, it did come as a bit of a nasty shock when the first interloper appeared. The man certainly did not express support for him, and was glad when he was finally gone. When the second appeared, he took the same approach; mild, quiet disapproval seemed to be the best style.

Eventually, the girl found a husband, and he initially took the stance of cautious approval. After all, there did not seem to be much to gain with quiet disapproval; it hadn’t worked in this case. And besides, he was happy at the arrival of grandchildren. To hold them was wonderful, and he relished the time he could spend with them.

However, as her marriage continued, he grew increasingly discontent, and he nurtured his sourness. It became obvious. Social events grew awkward. When questioned about his negativity, he gave no answers. And indeed, he would not have been able to adequately identify what he was doing and what he wanted. He was just tossing a match, to see what would burn.

But you could not say that he was unhappy during this time. He was the same as always. And the new arrangements which were made to accommodate him were quite satisfactory. He was no longer expected to attend any birthdays or other special occasions, but still saw his grandchildren almost every weekend. And actually, what he had now was even better than before: he had the girl and her children all to himself. He counted himself as victorious.

Later, however, the girl changed her approach, and would return to her husband during the weekend grandparent-grandchild visits. This was not quite as satisfactory. It felt like a snub.

And here, sadly, a plan which had always hovered overhead finally landed in his heart. The word was ‘prefer.’

A bond could be built, from grandfather to grandchild, and from grandchild to grandfather, which was bigger, better, stronger than the one from child to mother. (The bond from child to father was not even competition, he surmised.)

A new game.

Now the grandchildren became his sole focus — his friends. They could have a special code, and special rituals. And, most interestingly, he was able to use his wife as his ally. Together, they could study the girl’s family, and critique and scorn all that was so very, very wrong.

And so it continued.

The great misstep occurred one evening at the home of the girl. You see, his wife had her own games, and one was about power. When one young grandchild politely declined to obey her, the grandmother placed her hands on this grandchild’s face, and hissed that the child must obey. Always, always, Obey the Grandmother! The rage was frightening, and the child ran away.

Things changed after that, and the grandchildren were far more difficult to reach. Opportunities were fewer, and the man knew that the culprit was the girl. But you could not say that he was entirely unhappy. He was the same.

He was able to create new opportunities. He could innocently offer to walk the girl’s dog. Surely, nobody would mind if he walked the dog, and maybe he would stay for a while. The dog was always thrilled to see him. Indeed, the dog probably preferred him.

But then he got a new idea, in imitation of the attacks of another.

He mounted a campaign. It was a terribly fun game. He chose new allies from what he viewed as her inner circle.

Ah, it was like nothing he had ever done — delightful, thrilling.

He soberly presented the facts about the girl, the very sad facts. Who would disbelieve a father?

Answer: Anyone who loved her would have disbelieved, but these did not love her either, and were only too happy to hear all about her fall from grace. Tell me more, they said.

Yet the girl was fine. It was her new rules that had enraged and horrified those who were accustomed to doing as they pleased.

And God, being good, willed it that the words would soon be discovered. The girl saw the words written about her.

The words revealed that her father lied many times and in many ways to many people. The lies were meant to divide and defame.

The words revealed that the inner circle was only too happy to cluck and to scorn, and to exult over the sad tale told about her. They felt united against her, and the man felt, once again, that he was preferred, and that he was important, to share such news.

The words revealed that she had not known the man. The love that she felt was real, but it was the love of the Father, and not the love of the man.

And so now you know more about the man who lies here. No more will he fool anyone. No more will anyone be deceived into thinking that his kind words and actions stemmed from a heart that was gentle and loving.

Post 305

Spanish Proverbs:
Reflections on Fourteen Favourites

Luis Iscla Rovira wrote Spanish Proverbs: A Survey of Spanish Culture and Civilization (In 2850 Proverbs). Mr. Rovira was born in 1917. I don’t know if he’s still alive. If he is, please tell him I said hello.

I enjoyed his book. I went through the proverbs, and I especially liked certain ones.

Why do we like certain proverbs? We like them because we find them to be true. It’s fun to find that your experience matches a proverb that someone once made and which others remembered. And the reason the funny ones are funny is because they capture something true. And the poignant ones express truth too, just in a different way.

What do you think of this one?

Al establecerse en una isla, el primer edificio que levanta el espańol es una iglesia; el francés un fuerte; el holandés una factorIa, y el inglés una taberna.
(After taking up residence on an island, the first building a Spaniard raises is a church; the French a fort; the Dutch a commercial agency, and the British a pub.)

Or how about this one?

“En la peleteria de Burgos, nos veremos,” dijo una zorra al despedirse de otra.
(“In the fur shop of Burgos we shall meet again,” said one fox while bidding goodbye to another.)

So I have been meaning, for quite a while, to share my favorites with you. This is how you count to fourteen in Spanish: uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez, once, doce, trece, catorce.

Uno
Quien poco sabe, presto lo reza.
The more one knows, the less one boasts of his knowledge.

And I want to say:
Boasting is an interesting phenomenon, because people already are very selective about what they reveal about themselves. They already tend to reveal the good stuff and hide the bad. And there are so many variations on this. Some of the clever ones reveal some of the bad so that you think they’re revealing all the bad. Others exaggerate the bad so that you will contradict them, and tell them how good they are. Some of them hide the good so that they will fit in better with others.

I think two things matter when we think about boasting.

First, context matters. Someone recently sent me, out of the blue, an email entitled, “Thirty years later,” intending to remind me (and a few others) that it had been thirty years since he received a certain award. He had already told me about this award, and I had already expressed my admiration in person a few years ago. You would think that would have been enough, but I guess it’s not.

Maybe I’ll get another such email in 2029, and 2039.

Or maybe it’s a five year kind of thing: 2024, 2029, 2034 . . .

Sometimes revealing something good about yourself fits with a larger point that is worth making. You are putting such-and-such a fact into service. That’s context. You might tell someone about your successes because you want to encourage them to succeed in the same way, for example. What is not acceptable is for you to seize on any noun, verb or adjective in the conversation, and pretend that now you have the context to boast. Did someone say airplane? That reminds me of the time I was on an airplane and I spoke to someone famous! Did someone say theatre? That reminds me of the time I directed my own show! Did someone say Europe? Let me remind you about the time I travelled! That’s not context. That’s just boasting at any opportunity. And trying to talk about something which is so unconnected to the lives of your listeners, and so long ago (yes, I know it feels like yesterday), is a sign that you are currently not doing what you’re supposed to be doing. How is it that you’re so absorbed with what you did so long ago? Look, while you boast about what has been, the successful are thinking about what they plan to do next — fix the screen door, make gazpacho, write some lyrics, finish the errands, start a novena, weed the garden.

And as a homage to St. Josemaria Escriva on this Spanish-themed post, let me say again that doing good and wholesome things pays dividends beyond the obvious. For one thing, skill builds on skill. As a housewife makes one good meal after the next, she becomes more knowledgeable. By the time she’s middle-aged, you’ll be only too happy to sit at her table. For another, honest deeds done with good intentions are pleasing to God, and God may use work in one area (what is considered “small”) as preparation for work in another (what is considered “great”).

Second, truth is an issue when we address the issue of boasting. I won’t discuss false boasts — that is just another form of lying. What I will say is that people often overestimate their ability and their achievements, because they are familiar with their own, but unfamiliar with those of other people. But are you really more intelligent than others? Are you really more skilled than others? Are you really a better whatever than others? I remember how I used to notice that in the announcement section of newspapers, the biggest look-at-what-my-daughter-did photographs and descriptions were from those families where the daughter finished an education degree or a nursing degree. You rarely saw such notices for the families where the daughter had finished medical school, for instance. Now don’t get me wrong. Some people were meant to be nurses, and some people were meant to be teachers — that part is okay, but the boasting suggested to me that perhaps these families weren’t used to having someone on their family tree earn a degree. It was a novelty.

The Spanish quotation shows that part of knowing a lot is knowing that there are so many people who have accomplished so much more than you have. I think it happens far too often (I saw it frequently) that while one person in a room boasts about what she has done and seen and been, another person, who has accomplished and seen and been so much more, does not boast at all. Which person would you rather be?

Dos
Mirados desde el tendido, todos los toros son chicos.
Viewed from the stands, all bulls are small.

And I want to say:
The biggest battles are spiritual. There is nothing more difficult than doing what is right when everything goes against it. And when I say “everything,” I mean both external and internal forces. After all, the greatest opposition to doing what is right is so often within your own mind, heart, and soul. There can be, indeed, agony involved in fighting the natural impulse to flee, to hide, or in some way — any way — to avoid what is difficult. Who can stand his ground when the bull charges? And this is how we can understand the biblical idea that the way to heaven is narrow. Often, doing the right thing leaves only one or two options, and both feel excruciatingly difficult. Doing the wrong thing appears easier in the moment, and how many ways there are to do the wrong thing! There are a wide variety of ways to avoid doing right. The road to hell is wide.

Yet, as with battles of all kinds, how true it is that those who rarely require themselves to fight the spiritual battles have a mistaken idea of how it feels. These cowards do not know what it is to fight, but they also do not know how it feels to triumph.

Tres
Más te ama quien te hace bueno que quien te agrada.
A person who helps you to be good loves you more than a person whose only concern is to please you.

And I want to say:
Trying to please another person can be a good thing or a bad thing. It depends on your motive. What are you trying to do? Do you actually care about this person? Or do you hope to continue receiving some benefits from him/her, or hope to receive a future benefit? Or are you just wanting to avoid uncomfortable feelings or awkward social situations? Or are you behaving in a way that suits your view of yourself?

The truth is that sooner or later, every close relationship will be put to the test, and you will have to decide between saying what is true and saying what is “nice.” Now, if I want you to be good — which I do — I might have to tell you what is true. Will that please you?

Cuatro
Si mal me quiere, peor me querrá a quien dijere la verdad.
He who does not like me now will like me even less for telling the truth about him.

And I want to say:
I saw sayings to the effect that you can destroy a friendship with the truth, and to the effect that ‘my friends do not like me because I tell the truth,’ but they are not quite right. A good friendship has a solid foundation, and it is, in fact, strengthened by the truth, not weakened. The stem of a flower becomes stronger as the breezes and winds blow. It can be difficult to hear unpleasant truths, but a true friend understands your intentions. Your intention is not to wound, but to say what is true, in order to have an honest exchange of ideas, thoughts, and emotions, and to ultimately grow closer. That’s what friendship is about. Over time, your friend will trust you above all other companions who say only what they believe your friend wants to hear. And as for you, it is your false friends who will fall away when you speak the truths that they don’t want to hear. They will leave because they didn’t actually like you in the first place, as the quotation states. They were there only for the benefits.

Cinco
La envidia sigue al mérito, como la sombra al cuerpo.
Envy follows worth as a shadow follows a body.

Seis
Si los envidioso volaran, siempre estariamos a la sombra.
If the envious could fly, we would always be in the shade.

And I want to say:
These quotations are wise. They show how common envy is. I did not perceive the prevalence of envy, and I was unfamiliar with its manifestations. I did not know how it lurked in so many hearts, and dominated them. I knew that where you find two female friends growing up almost as sisters, you will most likely find competition and envy, and I knew that sisters-in-law and cousins are frequently competitive, but I did not perceive the extent to which envy exists within families. I did not know that many grandmothers envy their granddaughters. I did not know that many men envy their sons. I did not know that a father could envy his daughter. Oh, envy! Poison for humanity, fuel for so many actions!

Do you know why I did not understand how common envy was? I will tell you. It is because when I found envy in my own heart, I loathed it, and argued with it until I subdued it. I found a way to be at peace with someone else having something nice (an object, a relationship, a talent, etc) that I didn’t have. I could argue with myself like this: a) she is a good person, and it is good that she has this; b) she has suffered so much in other ways, so it is good that she has this; c) I don’t want this; d) I don’t need this; e) her accomplishment is praiseworthy, and I can feel fortunate to know such a person; f) God has given her this special talent — who am I to challenge that? g) she has earned it by making sacrifices that I wouldn’t be willing to make; h) perhaps later I will have such a thing or something similar; i) perhaps God knows it wouldn’t be good for me to have such a thing; j) such things are fleeting; k) I have other things instead; l) maybe there are hidden disadvantages or burdens associated with having it; m) even though I can’t have it all to myself, I can enjoy seeing it from time to time; n) even though I can’t have it all to myself, I can be glad that such a thing exists/has been done.

So I can say that envy was not, and is not, a part of my life. Instead, I am able to be genuinely happy for what other people have (with the exception of cases where they have stolen it). I don’t have to own or personally have things in order to enjoy them.

Siete
De almas bien templadas es no tener envidia de nadie.
The privilege of self-restrained and generous people is not to envy anyone.

And I want to say:
I like this proverb, of course. I don’t think you would normally make a connection between “self-control” and freedom from envy, but, as I have discussed, envy can be subdued, if not eradicated altogether (it will, of course, attempt to arise all the time, like all temptations), with examination and control of one’s thoughts.

Ocho
Más vale guerra abierta que paz fingida.
An open war is preferable to a sham peace.

And I want to say:
Canadians, in particular, live in a world of false peace. We sacrifice truth in order to appear ‘polite,’ and ‘nice.’ I have spoken about this before. In the context of relationships, which is what this comment is about, I would rather know that my enemies are my enemies than be fooled by the appearance of friendship. The worst damage is always done by those who pretend to love you.

Nueve
Quien no te ama, en la plaza te difama.
He who does not love you, discredits you in public.

And I want to say:
Let’s make a distinction here, based on both truth and motive. One speaker tells the truth in order warn the innocent, and in order to spur evil-doers to reconsider and reform their ways. Another speaker invents what is false in order to make the innocent look bad. The first speaker is motivated by love for the sinner, the innocent, and the truth. The second speaker loves neither the innocent person nor the truth.

Diez
Donde hay hijos, ni parientes ni amigos.
Relatives and friends are not welcome when parents want to enjoy the company of their children.

And I want to say:
It is a sad but general rule that a parent will feel self-conscious and on guard when there are observers nearby, in the form of relatives and friends (or strangers). Thinking about what others will think causes the parents to experience some level of stress, and they often cannot properly enjoy their own children.

Likewise, children notice that relatives and the friends of their parents introduce a new atmosphere, new standards, and new methods of interacting which are usually unfamiliar, often odd, and sometimes unpleasant. Yet at the same time, the child also notices that his parents and these others appear to have a warm relationship, and he does not know where he fits in the arrangement. If the parents emphasize the importance of these guests (“We have to clean up! Auntie is coming!” “Remember to speak nicely to Grandpa!” “Make sure you share all your toys with your cousins!”) and imply that the child’s wishes and needs must take second place to the wishes and needs of these relatives and friends, then the child will not fully communicate with his own parents when issues arise, believing that his own parents will take the side of their friends, their friends’ children, or the relatives. Further, the child may believe that these relatives and family friends are a permanent part of family life, and that speaking up about difficulties or issues or preferences will change nothing. All of this is unfortunate. The lines of communication should always be open. Every child should know that he is a priority for the parents. Every child should understand that his views about these outsiders (for that is what they are) is always welcome. A child should know that changes can be made to the patterns of family life to better take care of the child, who is, after all, the vulnerable one.

Once
El galán que no hiere firme, despedirle.
Get rid of a suitor who does not try hard enough.

And I want to say:
I worry for the women whose boyfriends do not appreciate and cherish them. It’s never good when the man is lazy, lukewarm, or apathetic towards the one who is supposed to be the love of his life. If he doesn’t have enthusiasm, energy and action at the beginning, when will he have it? Nowadays women do not value themselves sufficiently; they accept very poor treatment from men in the hopes that it will all work out in the end, but the standards are best set at the outset of a relationship. Show him that you will not compromise your morals, and that you are worth his best efforts. Why waste time with or settle for a man who believes himself to be entitled to so much for so little?

Doce
La que se casa con un viudo, rival tiene en el otro mundo.
The woman who marries a widower has a rival in the other world.

And I want to say:
This is an interesting thought. It is true that a man would remember his first wife, and make comparisons frequently.

But the situation nowadays, in the age of divorce, is far worse. Nowadays, rivals are alive and well, as people marry other people’s husbands and wives regularly.

Trece
Más vale quien Dios ayuda que quien mucho madruga.
He whom God helps does more than he who rises early.

And I want to say:
We sometimes think of God as remote. We imagine humanity on earth, doing its own thing. We sometimes imagine that there are two types. On the one side are the hard workers who wake up early, eat all the right foods, and live punctual, righteous lives. On the other side are the indulgent slackers, who are unfocused, inefficient and suffer the consequences of their poor choices.

This proverb reminds us that God is active. He watches, and he knows. He knows that things are not how they seem. He knows that some of those hard workers are thinking only of themselves, and that they are overly careful about their routines and are stingy with their time for others and for God. He knows that some of those who don’t rise early are busy with his work, and busy doing things that are pleasing to him.

So what are you doing? If what you do is pleasing to God, then God will help you with it, and you will be doing more than those who rise early. Human standards of efficiency and productivity — can these even be compared to the activities of the Creator, who made everything and who keeps everything alive and in motion? He directs the course of our spinning earth on its rocket ride around the sun. Can he not help those who do his work?

Catorce
La que por mí se desvela, esa es mi madre y mi abuela.
The woman who watches over me carefully is my true mother and grandmother.

And I want to say:
This proverb speaks about intention. Who is a mother? A woman who carefully watches over someone acts as a mother, and can be called the true mother and grandmother. The implication is that a woman who does not care about her child is not the true mother or grandmother of that child.

Who is your mother?

You have the same mother that I have. Remember what Jesus said? As he died, Jesus said, “Behold your mother.” With these words, Jesus made Mary the mother of all of us. She watches over you and me carefully. She is our true mother.