Broken Halleljuah

From The Afters

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Saint Perfect: the saint who doesn't exist

I've seen a number of blog posts and news articles this week dissing on JPII (like this one at The Week.) The basic argument of these is that John Paul II presided over the Church during the horrific sex scandal of the late 1980s and early 1990s, and thus should not be canonized.

There is no doubt that JP II could have and probably should have done more during this time. There is evidence both that he was insulated from the full scale of the situation, and evidence that he was aware of the depth of the problem and was not fully-equipped to deal with it.

Here's the thing about sainthood: it's not about being perfect. There is not ONE canonized saint, not one unrecognized saint, not one fully human person in Heaven that is with out sin except for Our Blessed Mother.

The first pope was a terrible Apostle. He had complete lack of faith, got called Satan by Jesus, turned tail and ran when the going got tough. But still: St. Peter.

One scholar of the Church was known for his horrifying temper and general grumpiness. However, we owe our translation of the Bible mostly to him. St. Jerome.

A Doctor of the Church, a man of epic faith and teaching...also a party boy, fornicator, father out-of-wedlock. St.Augustine.

A woman who was an atheist, a scholar with a Ph.D. in philosophy, stuck teaching in a girls' school, a disappointment to her mother and then a rather quiet failure at being a Carmelite nun since she had absolutely no idea how to cook, clean or do the necessary chores of a monastery. St. Edith Stein.

I could go on. FOREVER. Every single saint is also a sinner, because we all struggle with concupiscence. Sin looks shiny and pretty and good and we reach out for it, and fall right down in the slimy muck. We all do it. Even someone like John Paul II.

If there is no hope for him, there is none for the rest of us. And we all have hope: in Christ Jesus and Him Alone.

This seems appropriate for Friday....

Getting chased by the Devil...don't worry: I'm running faster

Anyone who knows me knows I do not run. Ever. I joke that I studied martial arts for 15 years so I didn't have to run; I could stand and fight. Running is painful and hard and hard and hard and unpleasant.

Yet, here I am running. Satan is chasing me. And I'm running.

Dark-haired daughter has been really sick for the past week and needed a lot of attention. Of course, Eldest Son was diagnosed with a mental illness and that took much of my time and energy. Easter was celebrated (gratefully!) but there was a lot of prep for that.

Then yesterday, a woman I do not know wrote me a letter at work. She had attended a lecture I gave two weeks ago. She wrote to tell me that the dress I wore was inappropriate, two sizes too small, and detracted from my talk.


I wholeheartedly admit I am often prideful about my appearance. I love clothes. I had chosen a new dress for that talk. It wasn't quite what I expected (I ordered it online), but I showed it to Curly-haired Daughter and my niece (both of whom will be brutally honest if necessary) and they gave it the thumbs up.

It didn't pass someone else's test, apparently.

When I woke up this morning, I found a friend had responded to this story by saying, "Did you tell her, 'Get thee behind me, Satan!'?" It struck me that this was exactly what was going on. I'm trying my hardest to get closer and closer to God, and Satan is trying to chase me in the other direction. So, I am running.

I have laced up my running shoes, I have stretched and warmed-up, I am running. I will win this race. I will wear the crown. And that crown will fit just fine.

Yet another reason I love my daughter

Dark-haired daughter has been pretty sick the past few days, and I finally decided it wasn't just a cold, so we headed to the med center this morning.

A short, bald, middle-aged white man walked into the examining room, and announced, "Hi! I'm Dr. Perry."

My daughter, with no guile whatsoever, said, "Are you related to Tyler Perry?" (whom she adores!)

He laughed and said, "No, but my first name is Steve. Do you know the band Journey?"

She shook her head no. We all laughed.

Then she got a whole bunch of meds for bronchitis and an ear infection.

"Look at the Crucifix. That is Love."

Easter Morning - artist He Qi
I wasn't really "in the mood" for Easter. It's been a tough week. Eldest Son is still in the psych hospital, being diagnosed with schizophrenia. He'll be released soon, and we're not very hopeful that he'll stay on his meds and do his follow-up care, but...

I ended up (of course!) getting sick on Thursday - broke out in a rash, sore throat, fatigue. I'm sure my body was just saying "uncle!" and was telling me to rest, which I did, but I also missed the Tridiium liturgies. I was just snuggled in my recliner, drinking lots of liquids and praying.

It took an enormous amount of energy to get to Easter Sunday Mass with the Franciscans, but the liturgy was so beautiful. The priest gave such an amazing homily - I wished I could have recorded it.

Two things that really stuck in my mind. First, he said one of the great things about Catholic morality is that it is very clear: Is this action good? Is this action bad? Does it lead me (or the other) closer to holiness, or lead one of us further away from God? Does it produce life, or does it say no to life?

The other thing he said was that we need to look at the crucifix A LOT - we should have one in every room in our home (Dear Husband and I are working on this!). Why? Because whenever we doubt love, whenever we need to be reminded of love, all we need to do is contemplate the crucifix. That is Love.

It was a good Easter.

Walking With Christ Through Holy Week

In His great goodness, God decided to put a cross on my back and on my husband's and is allowing us to walk through Holy Week with His Son.

Eldest Son has not been doing well mentally. There were a number of us concerned about him, and we were talking about doing sort of an intervention to see if we could get him to agree to see a counselor.

And things just fell off a cliff.

Eldest Son started talking about stuff that didn't make any sense, bought a machete, was extremely paranoid....right off the cliff.

So I spent Monday getting a court order to put him on a 72 hour psych hold and then spent 7 hours in the ER with him until he could be evaluated and get a bed at the psych hospital.

When he wasn't spewing venom at me, he was saying completely nutty stuff. He is seriously mentally ill.

On top of this, we have Dark Haired Daughter, who is bipolar. She's doing fine, but there is always something to deal with.

Youngest Son is seriously depressed and in a ton of trouble with school, with the law, etc.

I'm dragging my cross, puny and light as it is, right behind Christ. I just keep praying that I'll be able to experience an Easter this year.

Palm Sunday: Poetry

The Donkey
When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.
With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.
- G. K. Chesterton

Pope Francis: The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit also makes the Christian "wise". This is, however , not in the sense that he or she has an answer for everything, or knows everything, but in the sense that he or she "knows" of God, how God acts, they know when something is of God and when it is not. They know this, they have this wisdom that God gives our heart. The heart of the wise man has this taste of God. It is so important that our communities have Christians such as these! Everything about them speaks of God and becomes a beautiful and vital sign of His presence and His love. And it is something we cannot improvise, something we cannot obtain by our own merits: it is a gift that God gives to those who are docile to His Holy Spirit. We have the Holy Spirit in our hearts we can listen to him or not. If we listen to him he teaches us this path of wisdom, he gifts us wisdom which is seeing with God’s eyes, listening with God’s ears, loving with God’s heart, judging things with Gods’ judgment. These are the things that Holy Spirit gifts us and we can all have this. We just have to ask the Holy Spirit.
Think of a mother at home with her children. One does something and the other thinks otherwise and the poor mother is torn between the two with the children’s problems; when the mother is tired and she shouts at her children, is that wisdom? I ask you is that wisdom – what do you say? No! Instead when the mother takes her child to one side and gently rebukes him, and explains this is God’s wisdom! Yes! And this is what the Holy Spirit gives us in life.
- General Audience, 4.9.14, Vatican Radio

Living the Catholic Life: Radio Interview

Here's my radio interview with Grand Rapids' Holy Family Radio. The show is "Living the Catholic Life" and I'm speaking on the REAL War on Women.


To heck with random acts of kindness: let's be intentional

I like the idea of random acts of kindness: a gift card left under a stranger's windshield wiper, paying the toll for the guy behind you. The reason these are good is that there is generally no "pay-back" -  you don't even get a "thank you" out of it. We should be kind just for the sake of kindness.

But "random"? No. Let's start being intentional. Let's be intentionally, consciously, kind to everyone we meet. Smile. Hold a conversation. Ask how the person's day is going. Give a genuine compliment. Wash the dishes even when it's not your "turn." Wash the dirty clothes instead of waiting for your spouse to notice that it needs to be done.

Congratulate your co-worker on a job well done. Take your boss out to lunch and thank him/her for being great to work for.

Send a card. In the mail. With a stamp.

Make something for someone you love....just because.

Let's start being very intentional with our kindness - to our friends, family, co-workers, strangers. Let's treat the world as if we really believe what we say when we say, "I am a Christian, a follower of Christ." Let's make Christianity look admirable, good, open, loving. Let's not be random about it.

Monday Morning Art Jam

Raising of Lazarus - artist John Reilly

Dragged down in Lent

Can you feel it? That dragging feeling? That feeling you get about this time in Lent when it seems as if you're no closer to Easter than when you had those ashes smeared on your forehead? That sleepy-tired-can't-handle-no-mo' feeling?

Me, too.

There is a cure. It's not very popular. It's not even all that much fun. Most of the time, we choose not to do it.


Pray more. Pray more than you want to or intended to. Pray for endurance and patience and strength and fortitude and grace.


We'll get to Easter.

Who matters? And what does that say about you?

And hurray for Mass Mutual!

When was the last time you gave a gift?

I went to our diocesan women's retreat on Saturday. It focused on Mary. One thing the speaker focused on in the morning was how "surprise" and "gift" work together (we were reflecting on the Joyful Mysteries.)

Our speaker (the delightful Sr. Mary Timothy Prokes, FSE) said we've lost the power of "gift." We say to our family, "What do you want for your birthday?" rather than observing what that person might want or need and then surprising them. We make sure we get a gift receipt, so the trinket we picked up can be easily returned. We bury our children in gifts at holidays and birthdays, but rarely choose with great care. We are not thoughtful or observant in our gifts. We favor being expedient.

When was the last time you gave a true gift to someone? Who can you gift today? Who in  your life do you need to pay attention to? What gift is the best, the truest, the most honest expression of who you are, who they are, and what your relationship is?

The Best Laid Plans...

About 20 years or so ago, I stopped giving up things for Lent. It's not that I didn't find it a worthy practice; I did. It's ...