Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Man Down

I left work yesterday, taking my usual route from the office to the expressway. As I turned a corner, I saw a man lying in the street, with another man standing over him. The one in the street did not appear hurt. I think he was either drunk, tired or both and just decided he'd had enough. So there he was, lying in the street.

Well, that won't do, I thought. I pulled over, put my flashers on and was getting ready to call 911. The man who was standing was urging the man down to get up, and just as I started to punch in the numbers, a police officer happened by.

The man lying in the street, with no enthusiasm whatsoever, crawled to the sidewalk, out of the street.

There are a lot of ways to look at this scene. One would be: "Damn old drunk. Deserves to get hit by a car."

Another might be: "The city really needs to do something about the homeless population. We simply can't have this."

I prefer the whole Jesus thing. Not the "what would Jesus do" idea (although that has merit), but rather "that is Jesus in His most distressing disguise" as Mother Teresa famously described the people she worked with.

I hope that I always see Christ in the people I encounter, even if its a drunk, elderly homeless man lying in the street. I hope my first and only intention is to help, granting the other dignity. I know I'll fail at this - time and again - but it is my intention.

Man Down! Jesus needs you!

“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me." (Mt. 10:40)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Monday Morning Musings

[I made it by 9 minutes.]

1. Spent a fabulous 5 days in and around Chicago. Had a work event that was beautiful and engaging. Got to share my monograph with some folks. It was terrific. Then, I had a couple of R&R days with a dear friend. We didn't do anything exciting, but we had the best time.

2. The theme of the weekend seemed to be "The Kindness of Strangers." When my friend and I were shopping, I wanted to see how a sweater looked on me, but there was no mirror to be found. A lady near us said, "No problem! I was a Girl Scout and we are resourceful!" She whipped out her camera, took a couple of pics of me, and showed them to me. The sweater looked great, it was on clearance, and I got it.

3. I took the Metra back from the 'burbs into Chicago Sunday, and I was dragging my ridiculously heavy suitcase. (How have I not learned how to pack light by this point in my life???) A young man graciously offered to get it off the train for me, keeping me from either simply tossing the damn thing down the stairs and likely taking out another passenger or breaking my back trying to lug the thing down.

4. I bought some lunch at Union Station. (Like most other large transportation hubs, there are a lot of beggars and panhandlers about.) A women came up to me with a few dollars in her hand, and said she was trying to get enough to feed her kids. Now, I very rarely give anyone money. But something about her seemed very genuine. I said, "Would you like to share my sandwich?" and she gratefully accepted it. She really was hungry.

5. The Catholic church near my friend's house is one I have attended a handful of times. This time, I went to the Saturday evening Mass. That affirmed for me what I had experienced there before: everyone in attendance, including the priest, seemed to want to get this thing over as quickly as possible. I would say a good 1/3 of the congregation left immediately after Communion. There was not one bit of reverence that I could see anywhere around me. It made me very thankful for my home parish.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Monday Morning Musings

1. It was First Communion at our parish yesterday, as it was in many parishes. Our pastor reminded us, in his sermon that Christ is truly present - Body, Blood, Soul & Divinity - in the Eucharist. He also spoke to the children, reminding them that it was an important day, but it was the beginning of a life-long relationship with Christ in a new and special way.

2. Dark-haired daughter had her prom on Saturday. She looked lovely, and had an "awesome" time. This year, the "Best Prom Ever" (for teens and adults with disabilities) had almost 900 attendees. That also means a boatload of volunteers and generous donors. What a blessing!

3. I was wholly selfish yesterday. Dear husband was gone for his godson's First Communion.  Dark-haired daughter was not feeling good (too much excitement and food at the prom, I'm thinking), so after Mass, I hunkered down. She slept most of the day. I read, finished a few chores, watch TV I never, ever get to watch, read, and generally did whatever the heck I wanted in a very quiet house. Aaaaahhhhh, introvert bliss!

4. The dress that Dark-haired daughter was given for the prom needed some alterations. We have a friend who is, among other things, an amazing seamstress. She nipped and tucked and hemmed and made it a bit more modest. Everyone needs someone like this in their lives and we so appreciate this friend! As Dark-haired daughter said to her, "You rock!"

Friday, April 17, 2015

Dancing at the bus stop

I woke up in pain this morning. That's pretty typical, but this morning, it seemed a heavier burden. "Why? Oh, God, why?" is not how I like to start my day.

I'm struggling with one of my kids right now; we just seem to be totally unable to communicate. It's like one is speaking English and the other Klingon, and the sub-titles are not working.

Dear Husband is going to be gone for three days, to visit a godson for his First Communion. I'm glad he is taking the opportunity to go, but having him gone is always hard. Plus, we are in the midst of soccer season, and we are not seeing a whole lot of each other anyway.

Dark-Haired Daughter has her prom this weekend, and that means a lot of prep. If you've ever gotten a teenager ready for prom, then you know it's at least a day-long affair.

This all adds up to one long weekend, which really won't be a weekend.

On my way to work this morning, a lady in a minivan cut me off, and then flipped me the bird for taking up part of "her" lane. Okay, whatever. I flashed her a big smile and the peace sign, and prayed for her through gritted teeth.

As I was getting close to work, I saw a teenage boy and girl, clearly in love, waiting at a bus stop. They were cuddling, teasing, pushing, laughing. Suddenly, the girl started dancing - pure abandon. I couldn't help but smile. She saw me and smiled back, then waved. I waved back.

That's the image I want in my head this weekend. Even if you have to wait for the bus in the early morning cold, you can dance.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Is Easter Still In Your Heart?


The chocolate bunnies are long gone. Maybe there is still a stash of jelly beans somewhere. The white patent leather shoes are on the top shelf of the closet, set aside for Sunday dress. The Easter ham has been eaten, leftovers are gone.

Jesus is Risen! Alleluia! Or have you forgotten?

The Church gives us a long Easter season, and we should use it! We are an Easter people. Death no longer has a hold on us. Our lives are redeemed, we are truly blessed.

But a week and a half out from Easter, we are all probably just going about our business. We've left behind the grace of the Easter Vigil, the heartfelt singing of "Jesus Christ Is Risen Today," and we're back to "normal."

The thing is: Christians aren't "normal." We belong to Christ, and Him crucified, dead and resurrected. There is nothing "normal" about that.

Pope Francis:

Where is your sin? Your sin is there on the cross. Go and look for it there, in the wounds of the Lord, and your sins shall be healed, your wounds shall be healed, your sins shall be forgiven. God's forgiveness is not a matter of canceling a debt we have with him. God Forgives us n the wounds of his Son lifted up on the cross.

Christ is Risen! He is Truly Risen! Alleluia! Now go out and be a person of Easter.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Faith & Family

Our diocesan magazine did a little story about our family. You can read the online version here:
http://faithdigital.org/grandrapids/GR0415/

Monday Morning Musings

My heart is so full! We enjoyed my mom's 90th birthday this weekend with family and friends. I don't think it could have been better!

I had five of my six kids there (with one kid engaged I now have a bonus son!), my sisters, and my foster sister. She flew in from NY City, and I don't think we could have laughed and cried and hugged any more. What a blessing!

The party was a typical family party for us: a thousand (give or take) kids running around, my nephews making me laugh, food, laughter, drink, laughter.

My wonderful cousin Kathy (who is the family historian) brought a huge bag full of photos and documents and family memorabilia - my mom enjoyed that so much! What a treasure, and my cousin is so wonderful to keep such great care of family history.

We had the foresight to hire a photographer, and even though family snapped a lot of pics, it is great knowing we will have professional photos to remember the day. Our photographer was fantastic, patient, good-spirited and wonderful to work with.

God is good. We treasure every day we have with Mom, and the party yesterday will yield memories for many years.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Monday Morning Musings

My beautiful dark-haired daughter and me on Easter
1. First, Easter Vigil was incredible. Our priest is so reverent, so joyful - he makes every liturgy  such a prayerful experience. Plus, we had about 15 people join the Church.

2. Our Easter was lovely. We spent it with the Franciscan Sisters, the Apprentices and their families. First, Mass and then a Polish brunch. Way too much good food!

3. At the brunch, we always take time to share Miracles that have happened over the past year - big and small. One of mine was that one of the Franciscan Sisters who had been in Lowell, MI and then had moved away is now "home!" I was so thrilled to see her!! I didn't know she was back until she walked into Mass. What a joy!

4. This coming weekend, our family will be gathering to celebrate my mom's 90th birthday. Cannot wait to see family and friends, and enjoy the celebration.

5. Spring is tentatively making its way into West Michigan. A bud here, greening grass there, people heading out with only a jacket on...I know Michigan will probably throw one last blast of winter at us, but for now, we remain hopeful.

Friday, April 3, 2015

I serve at my King's good pleasure

I have an uncanny knack for getting sick during Holy Week. I'm done with some stomach virus this year. In some ways this is a great disappointment: I've been practicing music for weeks, it's the holiest time of year and the greatest time to worship in communion with the whole Church, and the Triduum liturgies are incredibly special.

But I serve at my King's good pleasure. Should He want me home, sick, then that is where I shall serve.

I have a warm, safe home in which to live. I have every medication for my ailments readily at hand. I can go to any church in my area and safely worship.

In many parts of the world, none of this exists for our fellow Christians. They are murdered and martyred, displaced, refugees, torn from their families, their homes, their churches. They have lost their homes, their fathers, their mothers, their pastors. And still, the name of "Jesus" remains on their lips.

As I sit in my office, praying the Stations and gazing on Christ Crucified, the puniest thing I can do is offer up my suffering in union with that of Christ, and remember the great sufferings of so many of our fellow Christians this Easter.

I serve at my King's good pleasure. Should that be in sickness, then that is where I serve.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving: Almsgiving


Monday Morning Musings: Holy Week

1. If you're Catholic, you know Holy Week is a marathon. This goes double for priests, deacons, parish workers and choir members. Pray for them! (Really - pray for us. The choir has no idea what we're doing.)

2. If' you wake up forty minutes before your alarm is going to go off, and you're wide awake, that's Jesus saying, "Go pray your Rosary."

3. Took Dark-Haired daughter to get a prom dress yesterday. A nearby bridal shop has offered to outfit (for FREE!) young ladies going to the prom for special needs high schoolers and adults. Warehouse full of dresses. Could NOT find one that fit her. (And why do all the plus size dresses look like clothing for the ugly stepsister?? Not cool, designers; not cool at all.) Daughter was ready to quit, and one saleslady said, "I have a dress that I PROMISE will fit." I told her: you better be damn sure, or you are gonna break my daughter's heart.

It fit! My daughter says she looks like Elsa from "Frozen." Which, I guess, is a good thing.

4. Been beating back depression a bit lately. Hate that monster - won't allow him out of his cave again. Eat rights, sleep right, exercise, get out and do stuff. Seems simple, huh?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Read this: Matt Maher


If you're not a Matt Maher fan (or you don't even know who he is),  read this anyway. He's got a new album out, and his reflections here about the saints is sound Lenten reading.

(Then go get the album. Or at least listen to it. But you should probably just buy it.)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Lent is always predictable

Via Dolorosa
My Lenten seasons are always predictable. God makes sure that I am given the opportunity to share in Christ's suffering. I can - of course - refuse to enter into the experience, but I try my best to muddle through. Wimpy, struggling, hard: but I try.

I have to get spinal shots for arthritis in my neck and shoulder every three months or so. It sounds horrible, but it's actually not a big deal.

Since our car accident in January, I've developed pain in my back and leg. Not just pain, but numbness, which is a whee bit frightening. So, the doctor has ordered a "nerve panel" to determine exactly what's going on, and then proceeded to tell me he'd give me the same type of shots in my back and hip that I get for my neck. Okay...

Except it was 12 shots. I'm not a wimp when it comes to needles, but 12 shots?? Are you freakin' kidding me?? All at once - sure. Why not?

I never have after-effects from the neck shots. Well, the back and hip ones - feels like someone punched me. And then, the day after the shots, I was in the shower and the world started to whirl around. That was not so good.

I spent yesterday in a nice, safe, immobile chair. I was diffusing frankincense and peppermint to help with the dizziness, and by about late afternoon I was feeling stable. My hip still hurts, but the world has stopped whirling around.

So, Lent. Thank you, Father, for always making sure that I get the point of Lent. Thank you for the opportunities to share in the Passion of our Beloved Savior, even if I do a completely horrible, miserable, sad and puny job of it.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Lent: Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving

"Faithful Family" - artist Larry "Poncho" Brown

Monday Morning Musings

1. Gotta get to confession. It's Lent. We all need the grace. We all have sin. Gotta get to confession.

2. Spent Saturday with Dark-haired Daughter and Eldest Sister. Went to a lovely concert in downtown Grand Rapids, and then hung out at the Downtown Market. We scoured for food, tasted ice cream, found baked goodies. One of us settled on sushi, one on crepes, one on gourmet grilled cheese and washed it all down with hard cider (well, Daughter didn't).

3. Met my grand-dog. Curly-haired Daughter now has a lovely goldendoodle named Cosmo. He is beautiful - gorgeous eyes and a wonderful, happy personality. My daughter said it didn't feel like home without a dog.

4. Health issues continue to plague Dear Husband and me. Neither one of us has been sleeping well, and we're also thinking it's time for a new mattress. Which is about as much fun as buying a car. Which is about as much fun as a root canal.

5. The Gospel yesterday was one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture:

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.
John 3: 14-21

Far too many prefer the dark. We must be the light.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Hey, Democrats! Shame on you for turning your back on trafficking victims

Yeah, some Democrats have decided that funding abortions trumps helping human trafficking victims. If your organizations doesn't offer abortions, then you don't get $$.

Now, I am all for private organizations cutting all government purse strings. That way, you don't have to dance their dance. However, there are a LOT of organizations that right NOW are doing terrific work - much needed work - desperately needed work - with human trafficking victims.

But they can't get government money because they don't offer abortions.

Never mind that abortions are about as easy to get as a stray cat. Never mind that half of human trafficking victims are male. Never mind that female human trafficking victims don't need yet one more trauma added to their lives.

Shame on you, Democrats. Playing politics while victims suffer. Shame on you.

Monday, March 9, 2015

FREE! Really! Free Book!

My monograph on human trafficking will be a free e-book download, beginning tonight at midnight through Thursday midnight.

If you'd like a free copy of the book - ebook version only - go to this link, beginning tonight at midnight.