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Showing posts from January, 2013

Can gays and straights be friends in the Christian realm?

I have a friend. He's been my friend for a really long time - decades. We went to college together. I love his laugh. One summer we lived on campus, the whole world to ourselves it seemed. We shared ramen noodles, peanut butter and a love of Scripture. We decided to read through the whole Bible that summer. I don't remember if we did it, but it was fun.

Oh, we had our differences. He was and is totally Baptist, and completely wary of me as a Catholic. But we both love Jesus, and that helped us overcome a lot.

He moved to the Left Coast and got married, has a son. He went to seminary, got ordained. He had some real health scares, but is doing well, and we converse quite a bit on Facebook.

He's gay.

There was this story about the president of Chik-Fil-A and the founder of Campus Pride. Yep, that's right: the symbol of "gay hatred" and a gay guy: friends.
Through all this, Dan and I shared respectful, enduring communication and built trust. His demeanor has alwa…

Three Good Things Thursday

1. I gotta job where I can to read, do research and write. Geek heaven!

2. Payday!

3. My friend lent me money yesterday so I could buy chocolate. What a good friend to have.

What are three good things in your life today?

My big fail for the Year of Faith

It's the Year of Faith, as proclaimed by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI....and thus far, I've failed.

I keep telling myself I'll read that book on spirituality that I started and put down...or that I'll get to Fr. Barron's videos. Maybe spend a bit more time in prayer, especially at night. The Catechism is coming into my inbox every day in readable chunks; as of yet, I've not opened those emails.

So, yeah. Pretty much a fail.

It's like getting halfway through Lent and realizing you've been munching on chocolate every day. Or it's Christmas morning and none of the windows on your Advent calendar ever got opened.

It's not like I NEVER pray. Or that I don't spend time reading a lot of spiritual stuff, but most of that is for work, and I don't think that counts. I teach religious ed., but that's for the kids I teach, not for me. I know that I have not made a concerted effort to really dig into my spiritual life, and that's a fail.

Total Rip-off Tuesday: faith, hope & love

Wherein I "rip-off" another writer. Not taking credit, just sharing good stuff. Doesn't get any better than this, friends: Fr. Robert Barron on faith, hope and love.

In the wake of an event such as the Newtown tragedy or the Christmas tsunami of 2004, many will wonder how Christians can possibly exercise the virtue of hope. The deaths of innocents at the hand of a madman or of hundreds of thousands through natural disaster would seem to preclude the possibility of hoping in a loving God who actively cares for the world that he has made. But hope, as G.K. Chesterton pointed out, has little to do with conventional optimism. The person of authentic hope is not compelled to hold that suffering, tragedy, conflict, and the deaths of innocent people will simply disappear through the intervention of God.  Take a good hard look at the Bible. Every page of the Scriptures was written by someone who believed passionately in God, yet the Bible is filled with accounts o…

Expose it. End it.

Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary

Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker
are all the more necessary,
and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable
we surround with greater honor,
and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety,
whereas our more presentable parts do not need this.
But God has so constructed the body
as to give greater honor to a part that is without it,
so that there may be no division in the body,
but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.
If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it;
if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.
Last week, I had to deal with an issue regarding two of my kids and a person in authority (APIA) in our parish. Now, both these kids have what we'd politely call "issues": major depression, bipolar, cognitive impairments. APIA seems to view them as somehow "less than", disrespectful, unworthy. APIA told one of these kids to leave the church during Mass because of APIA's perceptions o…

Monday Morning Art Jam

Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle

When I came to you, brothers, proclaiming the mystery of God, I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. I came to you in weaknessand fear and much trembling,and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive (words of) wisdom, but with a demonstration of spirit and power,so that your faith might rest no on human wisdom but on the power of God. 1 Cor. 2:1-5


Freakin' Friday Fun

In honor of my mother getting her cat, Barney:


A little bragging about work

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Jan. 24, 2013)—The University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program ranked the Acton Institute among the top social policy and top U.S. think tanks with the release of its 2012 Global Go-To Think Tanks Report. In addition, Acton was cited for having one of the best advocacy campaigns.

The Acton Institute was ranked 13th in the “Top 50 Social Policy Think Tanks” (down one place from 2011), 34th in the “Top 55 Think Tanks in the United States” (up from 39th in 2011), and 19th out of 75 under “Best Advocacy Campaign,” a new category in 2012. The advocacy ranking includes organizations such as Amnesty International (#1), the Heritage Foundation (#15), and the One Campaign (#20).  The Acton Institute was singled out for its work on religious liberty and economic freedom, including the PovertyCure initiative. Endorsed by more than 180 partners, PovertyCure released a documentary-style, six-episode DVD series in December that discusses aid, …

Three Good Things Thursday

1. Snow and cold! I know some people hate it, but I love winter. When we were driving this morning, Youngest Son and I were both marveling at the shiny snow crystals on the smooth snowy surfaces.

2. Moving! I can't believe I just said that but...Our office is moving. We bought and have renovated a historical building in our city and we're supposed to be moving in about a month. Exciting!

3. Moxie. Had to lay down some of my inner Irish on some one yesterday regarding a painful situation. I prayed to the Holy Spirit to give me the words to say, and then thought about my mom...and did it. Moxie.

What are three good things in your life today?

You don't know what you don't know

I've had a revelatory week. One revelation concerned a family member, and one concerned me.

I spent a lot of time in my youth and young adult years standing in judgement of a particular family member. I thought the choices this person made were incredibly stupid, and they seemed to be the same choices over and over. I couldn't believe how dumb this person seemed to be, how misguided, how utterly inept at running a life. I *knew* I knew better.

Then I had a good long chat with this person.

I discovered that not only did I not know what I thought I knew about this family member, but that this person deserved a lot more respect that I ever would have thought. Yes, there were poor choices made, but now I know youth, fear, poverty, and lack of self-esteem all played a role. And I came close to making stupendously poor choices myself.

I didn't know. And yet I stood in judgement.

This family member deserves far more credit than I ever gave, and far more respect for making it thr…

The Paradoxical Journey of Faith

From Pope Benedict XVI:

Faith leads Abraham to on a paradoxical journey. He will be blessed, but without the visible signs of blessing: he is promised he will become a great nation, but with a life marked by the barrenness of Sarah his wife; he is brought to a new home but will have to live there as a foreigner, and the only possession of the land that he will be allowed will be that of a piece of land in which to bury Sarah (cf. Gen 23.1 to 20). Abraham was blessed because, in faith, he was able to discern the divine blessing going beyond appearances, trusting in God's presence even when His ways appear mysterious to him.What does this mean for us? When we say, "I believe in God," we say, like Abraham: "I trust you, I entrust myself to You, Lord," but not as Someone to run to only in times of difficulty or to whom to dedicate a few moments of the day or of the week. Saying "I believe in God" means grounding my life in Him, letting His Wor…

Young people ain't got no religion, part 2

You've now had time to read my Total Rip-off post for the day. (You haven't? Well, read it now. Go ahead. I'll wait.)

Good; all caught up? Here's my take on why at least some young people "don't got no religion". Their religion, seemingly, doesn't want them.

Oh, yes, we have youth groups. And we have mission trips. There's always a need for altar servers. But what about that kid who doesn't quite fit in any of those places? What if he's got questions nobody seems to have good answers to? What if he sits in the back of church, week after week, wondering what it all means, and no one ever bothers to ask him what he's thinking?

What if, and I wish I were being hypothetical here, a person in authority in the parish tells that kid he can't sit in the back of church? He "HAS TO" sit with his parents - even though his parents are perfectly fine with him sitting in the back of church? What if that person in authority tells him h…

Total Rip-off Tuesday: Young people ain't got no religion

Wherein I "rip-off" another writer on the web. Not taking credit, just sharing good stuff. Today, an article from a Christian writer, Jim Denison, on why young people are leaving the church. This is not about the Catholic Church, but some of this is relevant. I'll have more to say on this later.

A third of young adults in America say they don't belong to any religion.  Why?

NPR did a fascinating story on this phenomenon, interviewing six young adults in Washington, D.C.  They came from Jewish, Muslim, and Christian traditions.  One was raised Jewish; she still loves going to synagogue but describes herself as having an "agnostic bent."  She goes to be quiet with her thoughts, but states, "I don't think I need to answer that question [about God] in order to participate in the traditions I was brought up with."

The Muslim considers the account of Abraham offering his son to be "crazy" and became an atheist because he couldn't …

Monday Moaning from the Catechetical Front

My catechetical adventures continue. We are halfway through our year, and I'm not sure I've made much of a dent.

We are studying the sacraments now, despite the fact I'm not sure most of them can tell you who Jesus is. (Yes, we've been over it.) Last night we spent a lot of time looking up things in the Bible and they did fairly well with that. At least most of them are getting the hang of the "chapter and verse" thing, if not where books in the Bible are. ("Is Luke at the front of the Bible?")

Our next class falls on Super Bowl Sunday, so instead of meeting in the evening, we are having class in the early afternoon. Still, a number of students told me they won't be attending; they have parties to go to.

We talked about which sacraments leave an indelible mark on one's soul (to which one girl exclaimed, "Like a scar! A good scar!" - Yeah, that's right.) Another question, "Can priests date?" was asked very innocently.

Modern Art Monday

Stars in my eyes and laughing so hard stuff comes out my nose

If you're old, do you remember that "Brady Bunch" episode where Marcia is totally over the moon about Davey Jones, and gets him to play at a school dance?

Yeah, that's how I felt when I got to meet John Zmirak last summer. He's the author of the "Bad Catholic" books (Bad Catholics Guide to Good Living, Seven Deadly Sins, Catechism....)

Well, besides the new book, he's got a ridiculous website to explore. (You'll know you in the right place because of the bingo hall, the mom with a dozen kids and a beagle hanging off of her, and Fulton Sheen reading off the Bingo numbers.) Where else are you going to get advice on how to train your gargoyle? Plus, I bet you never knew about the Vatican space program.....





Freakin' Funny Friday

Three Good Things Thursday

1. My baby turns 16 today. Sweet memories!

2. Dark-Haired Daughter made student council - chosen by staff to work with them on making decisions. So proud of her!

3. Despite a big payout, my car is now back in perfect running condition. Having a local mechanic you can trust is SO much better than gambling on some chain store. Grateful for him and for reliable transportation!

What are three good things in your life today?

Total Rip-off Tuesday: Magdalen

Wherein I "rip-off" another writer. Not taking credit, just sharing good stuff. Today's choice is Madeleine L'Engle and her poem, "Magdalen". I wonder how many women can identify with this.


I sold that which is forever and unspeakably priceless.
I was paid for that which can only be given away.
Asked for my reasons I stood, strangely struck voiceless.
A cloud unexpectedly darkened the brilliant day.

I turned from the cushions, the perfumes, the endless lying.
Hunger meant nothing; I was replete at last.
I think I was born, yet I know that this is dying.
I eat of the feast as I turn away for the fast.

In fear, in joy, I lose myself in the finding.
The lusts of the body are shriven, the flesh is new.
Fresh grave clothes are all my selfish self is binding.
Lord! This is my body which I would give for you.

“I will never give in. Viva Cristo Rey!"

I was sick yesterday, and decided not to spread my germs around at Mass during a horrid flu season here in Michigan, and thus stayed home. I put that bit of extra time to good use by watching "For Greater Glory". While it's not the greatest movie I've ever seen, it did do one thing a good movie should make you do: want to learn more.

I was especially impressed by the performance of Mauricio Kuri, who plays young Jose', the teen who runs off to join the Cristeros. Jose Sanchez del Rio was a real young man, who left home at the age of 13 to do what he could (water horses, cook beans) for the cause of religious freedom. He was martyred for his efforts, but never seemed to waver in his faith in God and in justice.

At 11 p.m., the hour of martyrdom arrived. Believing that torture would change the mind of the boy, the government soldiers flayed the skin from the soles of his feet, thinking that José would weaken and cry out for mercy. But they were wrong. As the sh…

Body confusion and alphabet soup

Do you know what "LGBTQIA" means? It's a cumbersome new term meant to include every form of sexual identity questioning (although, hold on, more may be coming!). According to the New York Times: "'Q' can mean 'questioning' or 'queer,' an umbrella term itself, formerly derogatory before it was appropriated by gay activists in the 1990s. 'I' is for 'intersex,' someone whose anatomy is not exclusively male or female. And 'A' stands for 'ally' (a friend of the cause) or 'asexual,' characterized by the absence of sexual attraction."

It's apparently becoming popular on college campuses, where of course, young minds are eager to show how open they are to such things. George Neumayr at Real Clear Religion:
Some students, for example, find "transgender" too limiting and speak instead of "bi-gender." On Monday, they may wish to be male. By Tuesday, they may change their mind …

Modern Art Monday: Baptism of the Lord

Three Good Things Thursday

1. My pain management is FINALLY going well. Seems like things have calmed down for me, and the doctor I'm working with is terrific.

2. Zac Brown Band's new album: awesome!

3. Got to go to Orlando in the middle of a Michigan winter, with my daughter, for a really terrific Catholic conference. Cha-ching!

What are three good things in your life today?

Apparently, the Irish have a problem with biased media as well...

Catholic culture: Black Nazarene

I love this sort of stuff: cultural Catholicism, you might call it. Today is the day of traslación or transfer for the Black Nazarene in the Philippines. It's estimated that nine million people took part in the procession in this Catholic country.

The Black Nazarene, a wooden statue of Christ holding the cross, has a somewhat weird history. Fascinating stuff!

There's also a traditional hymn:

Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno, (Our Father Jesus Nazarene,)
Sinasamba Ka namin (We worship Thee)
Pinipintuho Ka namin (We admire Thee)
Aral Mo ang aming buhay (For Thy teachings are our life)
at Kaligtasan. (and Salvation.)
Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno (Our Father Jesus Nazarene,)
Iligtas Mo kami sa Kasalanan (Deliver us from Sin)
Ang Krus Mong Kinamatayan ay (For the Cross Thou died on is)
Sagisag ng aming Kaligtasan. (The Emblem of our Salvation)

Chorus:
Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno, (Our Father Jesus Nazarene,)
Dinarangal Ka namin! (We honour Thee!)
Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno, (Our Father Jesus N…

"I'm losing my balance!"

Today seems indicative of my life: get one kid to school, one kid home sick. Work. Catching up after being out of office for a week. Fielding phone calls from sick kid. Texts from friend in need. Checking emails for news on sick family member. Writing, blogging, researching. Oh, eat lunch! Tweet, FB, read, check, double-check. Update the calendar, call the vet, download an app.

And on and on.

I feel like I'm getting pulled in a million different directions. Teens, elderly parent, career, health, home, marriage, friends: everything needs attention right NOW and everyone needs something. How can I find any balance when I keep getting pulled off the balance beam??

I was so tired after a four-day conference on Sunday that I was totally anti-social at the airport and on the planes: put on the headphones and gave the world a complete "leave me alone" vibe.

It's no secret to any of you that we live in a hurry-up world, and all the things that are supposed to make our lives…

Total Rip-off Tuesday: Notre Dame

Wherein I "rip-off" another writer from the web. Not taking credit, just sharing good stuff. I figured I owed the Notre Dame fans a little something, so here is Joseph Lindsley, Jr.:


 Below the Dome, is a statue of Jesus amid sidewalks that form a heart, in the shadow of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, bearing the inscription in Latin: “Come to me, everyone.” His arms are outstretched, facing the Dome with Mary atop it, and so the statue has acquired the nickname, “Jump, Ma, I’ll catch.” It might sound irreverent, but it’s theologically sound. Trust in God and you’ll be fine. That’s what Mary did when she took quite a big jump by telling the Archangel Gabriel that, sure, she’d consent to the power of the Holy Spirit overshadowing her so she could bear the Son of God in her womb.

G.K. Chesteron was also captivated by this scene. After a visit to Notre Dame, he wrote:

I have seen, where a strange country
Opened its secret plains about me,
One great golden dome stand lon…

Back and Ready to Rock-n-Roll

Spent the last week at the FOCUS Seek Conference in Orlando with about 6000 of my closest friends. It's a conference for Catholic college students, and I went for work. What an amazing event: college students by the thousands attending daily Mass, standing in line for an hour to go to confession, attending Adoration around the clock....I could go on.

What also impressed me was the huge number of priests and religious there. What a powerful witness they are in their collars and habits: Christ is so present in them!

What a gift to spend those days with such faithful young people seeking Christ. The Church is in very good hands!

Modern Art Monday: Magi