Metamorphosis


The Feast of the transfiguration.
Mt 17:1-9

In this Sunday's reading, we find Jesus leading his top three disciples up a high mountain. It is fitting that Moses and Elijah appear with the Lord at this time, representing the Old Testament law and prophets, whose predictions Jesus fulfilled in his lifetime. Jesus is the new Moses and reflected the glory of the father as Moses to head on Mount Sinai. The disciples were blown away by the vision and the voice of God proclaiming His love for his son and advising us to listen carefully to him.

I find the symbolism of the high mountain intriguing. Many important things happened for the Israelites on high mountains including the giving of the law. Jesus himself would be sacrificed on Calvary, another hill. The Israelites on pilgrimage to Jerusalem talked about going up to Jerusalem. Heaven obviously feels closer to those on the top of a mountain. When I gave my life to the Lord and received on inflowing of the Holy Spirit, I recallfeeling like I was at the top of the world and everything else receded the way down below. It was a great feeling, because it gave me a sense not only of happiness but of the glory of God. Even when I don't feel quite as elated God is still in His heaven and deserves my praise.

Word of the day
μετεμορφώθη – metemorphōthē, he was transfigured. This compound word is made up of two components, meta- change and morpho meaning form. So many of us may recall sophomore English and having to read Kafka's short story "Metamorphosis," but Jesus' change of form was one which gave hope not despair. The disciples whose faith would soon be sorely tested at the Passion of Jesus. By showing the disciples more about his true identity, he gives them some strength to endure the hardships to come. We also can draw strength from the truth that Jesus is God, God is love, and God loves us.

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Solemn Joy

Solemnity of the Mother of God

Luke 2:16-21 mary-mother

The Solemnity of the Mother of God (Theotokos, Bearer of God, in Greek) has been celebrated on the Octave (8th day) of Christmas since 1974, but the recognition of the role of Mary as the bearer of Jesus has been with us a lot longer, and the more formal acknowledgement could be traced to the Council of Ephesus in 431.  

It mattered then, it matters now to know that we have a spiritual mother. Sometimes our earthly mothers have things they’re working on to become even more perfect, but Mary started out that way, through the miracle of the Immaculate Conception. While the rest of us are saved after sinning, she is saved before sinning.  Pretty important to have a clean vessel for bearing God Himself into the world.

So what is going on in Luke 2:16-21? The shepherds obeyed the directions of the angels (more accurate than Google Maps) to head toward Bethlehem to locate a stable with a baby wrapped up and lying in the manger.  (As a person interested in languages, I find it cool that the word “manger” is from the French verb for “to eat,” fitting for the Son of God who gives Himself to us for spiritual food in the Eucharist.) The shepherds didn’t just meander down to town from the hills, they went “in haste.” I would like to think that when the Lord speaks to me and tells me what to do, I would obey with the same alacrity. The simplicity of the shepherds would possibly enable them to be open and ready to listen to the messengers from God.  They would be hard to ignore in this case, but the Pharisees had no trouble ignoring the resurrection of Lazarus and Jesus Himself, not to mention numerous miracles and healings that He performed.  

One of the gifts we can ask from Mary is that “readiness of faith” that she displayed in the Annunciation.  It was an informed faith, as ours too should be, even though the acquisition of knowledge as an end in itself is not the same as the feeding of our faith with the output of both science and theology.  Mary “kept all these things” that she heard from the Shepherds about the role of her Son. The Greek mentions her “treasuring” and “pondering” the things she heard in her heart.  Looking inwardly is a skill that is tricky to balance, with some of us lacking the ability of deeper thinking and others being overly introverted, but regardless, what Mary demonstrates is the value she places on the truths that she thinks about extensively. These truths reside in her heart, not just her mind, and the heart is (and was) considered the place of decision-making, the will. What a great model for us is this young virgin mother, in that she kept herself pure, was open to God’s request, thought about it as far as wanting to understand and then simply said, “Yes.”

The rest of creation simply says, “Whew! Or Thank God!” that she accepted her role as the greatest mother of all time.

Note that after hearing and obeying the angels, then reporting what they heard from them to Mary and Joseph, the shepherds didn’t just hang about the stable, but they returned to their work, glorifying and praising God for what they had seen and heard.  Again, I take a lesson from these characters – glorify and praise God as I go to work. Treasure and ponder. What a joyful time to be alive – we have a great mother and the fruit of her womb, Jesus!

Be glad and rejoice!

Word for us

Συμβάλλουσα – Symballousa – pondering – (a fun looking word) knowing how important it is to think deeply on God’s themes for us as Mary did. It struck me that part of her remaining sinless was this pondering. We can do the same by praying the mysteries of the Rosary, in that it is pretty hard to rationalize sinful behavior while recalling Jesus’ Passion, just for instance.

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Mind Bender: Ten Dimensions

Thanks for the explanation. You make it as easy to understand as a discussion of dimensions 5 through 10 can be.

How Mystewious!

If you were to ask just any person, “How many dimensions are there?” They’ll probably say three, or if they are a little bit more educated, four. But what if I told you that there is a way to explain ten distinct dimensions? Well, there is.

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White Paper – Spreadsheet Controls

Help me review my white paper on Excel spreadsheet risks and controls. Here’s the file:

Just let me know what you think might improve it or give your feedback in reply.White Paper Excel Risks and Controls

Hint – modular design, diagnostic software, and other goodies.

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Thrilled – Spreadsheet Controls!

The thrill comes from seeing more action in the spreadsheet controls arena. The tingle up my spine came from seeing (and registering for) a webcast promoted by Compliance Week, that respected publication chock-full of articles on regulation, compliance, governance and other related topics. The SEC, the PCAOB, FCPA, and many other agencies’ actions are well-covered.

When the PCAOB started reviewing (and criticizing) audit quality in the work of large accounting firms, I contacted the office of the Chief Auditor, Marty Baumann, to inquire as to the role of spreadsheet risk and controls in the poor quality of audits. The somewhat startled secretary agreed to pass along my concern to Mr. Baumann, who was tied up in hearings.  Think about it – how can parties ostensibly fascinated with the veracity of financial reports not ask very pointed questions about the controls over key, critical, or otherwise high-risk Excel workbooks central to the reporting supply chain?

For those interested, here is a link to Compliance Week’s webcast on Dec 16, 2014 entitled Spreadsheet Governance – Incorporating Spreadsheet with Enterprise GRC: http://www.complianceweek.com/webcasts

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Really Young Pre-Professional

The acceleration of the pace of technology change is impressing me as I observe the fearless plunge by my son, Michael, into the media applications offered to us. Some background – Michael is a bona fide nerd from way back. When he was five years old (he’s 14 now), he approached me with this request: Is there a program on the Internet that you can download that designs printed circuit boards?
Dazed silence…I guess…Yes, here is one, “PCB123.com.” I downloaded it and he “played” with it, creating what looked more like a work of art (the program works in a way similar to Visio), then printed it out and brought it to me with a further request: Can you fix this design so it will work with a robot I want to build?
“No. Engineering, Accounting, Not the same thing.” Needless to say, I discouraged him from hitting the “Place your order now” button which would supposedly fulfill an order for however many pieces of the circuit board designed on the application, for “only $14.95 each.” If the UPS truck pulls up with a COD order for $1500, he would be in big trouble!”
So, inspired by his older sister’s blog narrating amusing anecdotes from her religious education class of 7-year-olds, he decided (last night at 11 p.m.) to create his own blog. The purpose is to recount interesting scientific phenomena from a variety of fields. His first posting was intended to cover “numbers stations” that are probably related to some kind of spycraft on the radio, but it ended up being more about cryptology, Fibonacci series, and the like. We will encourage him to write because it does help him improve both his knowledge of science and engineering and his ability to communicate said knowledge. Plus it’s interesting!

Once it develops a bit more, I’ll ask him if he wants to share it beyond his immediate family and circle of like-minded nerd friends.

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“The Word”

Read more!

Admission – I am a serial reader. I don’t mean I pick up something to read, start at the beginning and continue to the end (except maybe Lee Child novels), but that I pick up, read a few pages, and put down numerous written pieces from various sources all day (and part of the night) long.

Sample day:

  • Catholic Commentary on 1st Corinthians, along with the
  • Word Study Greek-English New Testament (so I took 1 semester of Greek at Univ of Mich)
  • For lunch: A Sudoku puzzle, preferably Medium Hard to Difficult, and an online crossword puzzle
  • A Lee Child novel
  • SQL for Dummies
  • Compliance Week
  • Online News: Foxnews, CNN, Mlive.com
  • Witness to America (Stephen Ambrose & Douglas Brinkley) – Okay, this is bathroom reading
  • Rapid Math Tricks
  • The Art of Critical Decision-Making by Michael Roberto (Audio Books are great!)

Not to mention all the online articles, blog postings, Tweets from friends and acquaintances…”Squirrel!”

I have to resist joining business book clubs, although I have used Business Source in the past and Audible.com now. You never know where that next big (or medium) idea will come from. What’s the point of all this blather? We can leverage both our own thoughts better but also OPT (like Other People’s Money, Other People’s Thoughts).

Example: As I waited for my ride to the IMA Global Board of Director’s meeting in Montvale, NJ, last month, I had some time to use for improvement, so opened my tablet to Brain Boosters  http://www.amazon.com/Brain-Boosters-Minutes-Powerful-Intelligence/dp/B00OH7AXZ4/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1415811928&sr=1-1&keywords=brain+booster+win+wenger and learned about the power of describing my observations in great detail (notice more!) and capturing the ideas that flow through my head every day. If we could remember half the material that we have tucked away in the recesses of our brains, we’d seem to be geniuses, or at least do our jobs well.

Fair warning – reflections on my reading may be inflicted on unwary readers.

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