Psalm 115, Verse 11-13
11 Those who fear the LORD trust in the LORD, who is their help and shield. 12 The LORD remembers us and will bless us, will bless the house of Israel, will bless the house of Aaron, 13 Will bless those who fear the LORD, small and great alike.
Psalm 115 is a response to the enemy taunt, “Where is your God?” This hymn to the glory of Israel’s God ridicules the lifeless idols of the nations, expresses in a litany the trust of the various classes of the people in God, invokes God’s blessing on them as they invoke the divine name, and concludes as it began with praise of God.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Like a Drop of Water as It Falls into the Ocean
The month of November opens with two Feast Days lived intensely by the Liturgy and by popular piety: All Saints and All Souls. These two feasts give depth to the month traditionally dedicated to praying for those who have crossed the threshold of hope. When we pray for the faithful departed, or better, for those living in the Next World, we are reminded of the ultimate realities of human existence. Authentic Christians are ever more keenly aware of this dimension as they pray for the souls in Purgatory, who are unable to help themselves and rely on our prayers.
· Thinking of human freedom there comes to mind what Jesus said: “many are called but few are chosen” (Mt 22, 14). God calls everyone to holiness, but few heed the invitation to a banquet of intimate communion with Jesus, the banquet of eternal life which starts here on earth. We are too distracted by many things, like the guests in Gospel who make excuses with the host saying: “I have bought a piece of land and must go and see it. Please accept my apologies." Another said, "I have bought five yoke of oxen and am on my way to try them out. Please accept my apologies." Yet another said, "I have just got married and so am unable to come." (Lk 14, 18-20).
· We may feel we are entitled to live life without entrusting it day after day to the one who created and redeemed us, without spending it entirely for the Kingdom of God, because there are so many other important things on which apparently it can be spent: success, profit, so-called “well-being”, a career, power… in general anything which favors affirmation of self, among the wide range of opportunities presented by the world today.
· And so, life is full of concerns which suffocate loving attention for our Lord and God, and interest for him disappears. The believer is tempted to put off prayer until 'after' his radical conversion: when I have more time I will pray, when I have less concerns I will give more thought to others, when I feel like it I will go more often to church…The life which the saints lived was not about waiting until tomorrow simply because tomorrow does not belong to us. Ours is only the present moment and it is today that we must convert our hearts, refusing compromise with sin, which is the real enemy of happiness, earthly and heavenly. Grave sin stops supernatural life and, consequently, holiness, that is growth in Jesus Christ.
· On life's horizon, the believer and every person, has to look at death. Certainly, we celebrate earthly birth, surrounding it with much attention, but not to be forgotten either, is the “birth” prelude to the great birth to Heaven! For the believer in Christ, life on earth runs towards eternal Life in God. The saints knew this and their funerals were celebrations, because their death was lived as their “birth” to Heaven.
· Life on earth is like a drop of water as it falls down into the ocean waiting to embrace it. It falls in a very short time. What a wonderful, consoling truth for the believer, awareness, certainty that comes from faith, of the promises of the Risen Lord, life does not fall into nothingness, it is joined forever with the infinite love of God, plunged into the boundless sea of His Divine mercy! As the Holy Father Benedict XVI, said with these luminous words: “Today we confirm our hope in eternal life founded on the death and resurrection of Christ. ‘I am risen and will be with you forever, says the Lord, and my hand will support you. Whenever you fall, you will fall into my hands and I will be there even at the door of death. Where no one can accompany you and where you can take nothing with you. There I will be waiting to change the darkness into light” (Benedict XVI, Angelus, 2 November 2008).
Things to Do:
- Today would be a good time to meditate on our own last end. Maybe pick up the Imitation of Christ and read Book 1 Chapter 24.
- Make sure you have your Advent wreath ready, candles and all. Decide what ceremony and prayers you will use with your family.
- If you are going to make or use an Advent calendar or the Jesse tree gather everything you need today.
- If you plan to stir-up plum pudding on Sunday be sure you have all the ingredients.
World Toilet Day
World Toilet Day aims to raise awareness of sanitation and hygiene issues around the world. Poor sanitation and hygiene refer to lack of access to clean drinking water, toilets and showers. Poor sanitation drastically increases the risk of disease and malnutrition, especially for women and children. Today, 2.6 billion people, about one-third of the population on the planet, do not have access to proper sanitation, a problem that kills nearly 1 million young children every year. World Toilet Day was designated by the United Nations in July 2013. It is celebrated annually on November 19 as people all over the world take action and support the basic human right of access to clean water and sanitation.
World Toilet Day Facts & Quotes
· 1 in 8 people in the world practices open defecation, meaning that the person must relieve him/herself without cover or shelter from other people. (Pray for the homeless/druggies in our cities like San Francisco)
· The average person spends one hour and 42 minutes a week on the toilet, or nearly 92 days over his/her lifetime.
· Diarrhea is the second leading cause of deaths in children under age 5 in developing countries. Diarrhea is primarily due to poor hygiene and sanitation
· The 2030 Agenda calls on us to renew our efforts in providing access to adequate sanitation worldwide. We must continue to educate and protect communities at risk, and to change cultural perceptions and long-standing practices that hinder the quest for dignity. – Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations.
World Toilet Day Top Events and Things to Do
· Watch a movie about toilets and the importance of sanitation. Some suggestions are: Guts For Change (2015), A New Culture of Water (2004) and A Thirsty World (2012).
· Spread awareness by using the hashtag #WorldToiletDay, #WeCantWait and #ToiletAccessIsARight.
· Tour a local sanitation plant. Sanitation plants throughout the US exist to recycle and clean water while properly disposing of human excrement and other waste.
· Donate to the World Toilet Organization. All proceeds are used by the organization to help break the taboo around the toilet and sanitation crisis. They help lobby governments, public and private sector stakeholders to prioritize sanitation on the agenda.
· Read a book about toilets and the importance of sanitation. Some suggestions are: Sanitation & Water Supply in Low-Income Countries, Sitting Pretty An Uninhibited History of the Toilet and The Big Necessity.
· Check out Earthship technology.
San Francisco and Chicago America’s Privies
Love and bathrooms should never be in short supply. But with only 24 public toilets across San Francisco (none of which are open 8pm to 7am), our 7,500 houseless neighbors are being forced to use the sidewalk as a bathroom. That’s a toilet-to-person ratio far less than what the United Nations mandates for refugee camps. To raise awareness about the lack of access to hygiene and inspire positive change in San Francisco and beyond, artist Anna Sergeeva is organizing a public performance in partnership with Lava Mae on World Toilet Day, Monday November 19th.
If you have a free hour that day, please register here to join a group of volunteers as we post removable vinyl stickers that say "you are loved" in publicly accessible restrooms across San Francisco. Volunteers will meet at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts the morning of November 19 to pick up supplies and a thank you from Lava Mae including Aesop goodies - please save this event in your calendar and look for an email with more information soon! If you can't join as a volunteer, we'd still love for you to spread the word at your office, gym, favorite coffee shop or community center. Please download a free "you are loved" poster here: lovesticks.org
More about the problem:
Providing access to bathrooms for people to maintain their dignity, health and well-being is an act of love that everyone deserves. If people lack access to toilets and showers, their health and the health of the community at large is negatively impacted. Moreover, one of the main complaints of San Francisco residents is unclean streets littered with human feces and other waste. According to a recent investigation by the San Francisco Chronicle, “our city spends more than four times as much as Chicago does to keep streets clean, and Chicago, at 227 square miles, is almost five times larger than San Francisco. San Francisco also spends three times as much as Los Angeles — whose population is more than four times greater. Do the math, and San Francisco’s fecal 2016-17 spending total of $35 million worked out to more than $40 per resident to clean its streets.” Instead of spending taxpayer money only dealing with the side effects of this problem, let's urge the City to get to the root cause and provide safe and convenient 24/7 access to toilets and showers across San Francisco! Learn more & take part in the solution here.
To Squat or Not That is the Question
Enter the Squatty Potty
One time, I took a dump in my backyard because the toilet had been broken for two weeks (blame our absentee slumlord). My best friend never let me live it down, but you know what? I didn't care, because on that crisp fall day in 2007, when the gas station whose toilets I had been relying on was unexpectedly closed, I learned something. Specifically, I learned that pooping outside is… kind of pleasant. But it wasn't until the advent of the Squatty Potty that I really started to analyze why that was. Basically, if you use a Western toilet on the reg, you're fighting against your body's anatomy. But now, there's a way to poop optimally that doesn't involve squatting behind the shrubs and hoping a neighbor won't walk by (though I do recommend everyone try that at least once). Here it is.
You don't know squat. The Squatty Potty is a small footstool designed to fit a toilet's curves. The idea is to elevate your feet and knees, so your body is closer to a squatting angle -- a natural pooping position -- than the upright position imposed on it by a porcelain throne. This isn't just hippie BS, either. There's actual science as to why a squat is the way to go when moving your bowels. "Defecating is actually really complicated, and involves a lot of nerves and muscles relaxing and moving," says Dr. Michelle Cohen, a gastroenterologist at Mount Sinai. "When you sit, the puborectalis muscle is pulled in around the colon to create an angle, so the stool can't drop out."
Think of a kinked hose and you might be able to picture what's happening in your colon as the puborectalis muscle stays tight around it. In some cases, particularly in people with constipation or dyssynergic defecation (when your muscles fail to relax, making pooping more difficult), sitting with your thighs perpendicular to the ground can make it much harder to poop. Enter the Squatty Potty
The Squatty Potty was born in 2010 because of this exact scenario. "They say necessity is the mother of invention," says Bobby Edwards, CEO and co-creator of the defecation device. "My mother was constipated. It was definitely out of need." Edwards says his mother's physical therapist explained that constipation is, in many cases, "an anatomical thing," and that if she elevated her feet while eliminating, it would change the angle of the colon and make the whole process work smoothly, the way nature intended. She propped her feet up on a stool and loved the results, but the process wasn't ideal. "She couldn't quite get comfortable with a regular stool, and it was in the way in the bathroom," Edwards says. "I was taking design classes, and she asked if I could design a stool for the toilet, with the height and width to simulate a natural squat."
Boy, could he. Edwards made five prototypes before hitting on the perfect model. Delighted, his mother gave proto-Squatty Potties to constipated friends for Christmas gifts. "She thought everybody needed to be squatting," Edwards says. Word of mouth spread, and in 2012, Edwards launched the website. A media blitz ensued, and the rest is history.
Putting the potty to the test. I was pretty intrigued by the "squatting is better" maxim, so much so that I tried literally squatting on my toilet. Surprisingly (or not?), a militant vegan has uploaded a YouTube video about how to do exactly that. It was a little weird, and there was some serious splashback when shit hit the water, but I could tell stuff was rearranging itself in my colon -- that's the medical terminology, right? It felt good and correct, and I understood why my cats wear such serene, noble expressions when they poop.
Not only is that method impractical, it's probably dangerous for older folks, people with physical challenges or injuries, and, well, everyone, honestly. I needed to try the real deal. The Squatty Potty was delivered to my office in a freaking huge (but mercifully unmarked) brown cardboard box. I sneaked it out to my car, hoping to dodge co-workers and the inevitable, "Ooh, what's that?" The box contained the white plastic stool, a Burger King-like crown with the hashtag #pooplikeroyalty, and a button that read "I Pooped Today!" (Though Squatty Potty entreats its Twitter followers to "share your Poop Like Royalty pics! #pooplikeroyalty," only one brave soul had risen to the challenge as of press time.)