Three weddings and a whole lot of funerals

I've worked in parishes. For the most part, I enjoyed the work. I will tell you this: most people think that working in a church is quiet and peaceful and meditative and calm.

Not so much.

Weddings and funerals - as I'm sure most of you know - bring out the best and worst in people. For those working at a Catholic church, well...it's a whole bag of Skittles with a dash of crazy thrown in.

Brides want to know why they can't walk down the aisle to their favorite Broadway tune. Brides and grooms are upset to find out they can't write their own vows. And ever since that Irish priest burst out in song at a nuptial Mass...

And then there are funerals.

Actually, I loved planning funerals with families. It truly was an honor to be with them in their grief and sorrow, and to be able to offer prayer with them and support to them. But sometimes, people get a little bonkers.

I started thinking about this because of the news story about a church (not Catholic) in Denver that wouldn't show a video at a woman's funeral because she was a lesbian and the video showed her kissing her partner. Now, this was stupendously poor planning on the church's part: really, this didn't come up until folks were seated in the church and the funeral was literally minutes away??

My mom and dad went to a funeral (yes...sigh...in a Catholic church) where the closing "hymn" was "Goodnight Irene" because the decedent's name was Irene and it was "her" song.

I had to gently explain to a family that they couldn't play "Somewhere, Over the Rainbow" at a family member's funeral. I still don't think they are over it.

No, you can't have a eulogy.

Sorry, you can't read a poem during the Mass.

No, you can't use a CD of favorite music instead of having the organist play hymns.

It's hard to work with people when they are grieving, and you have to tell them "no." And yes, there is an enormous amount of ignorance about Catholic liturgy.

The next time you are tempted to think that your local parish staff has an easy job, sitting in church gazing at the crucifix in meditation all day long, remember that they are really busy fending off brides who want to bounce down the aisle to Beyonce's "Put A Ring On It" and a grieving family who wants to send off Dad in high style with "Oh, Danny Boy."

Prayer, blessings, tears: talk about human trafficking

My monograph on human trafficking is almost done. I know it's a small book, but it's a big deal to me and my family.

I gave a talk last night at my parish church - it meant so much to me to be able to have my first talk on my book take place in the warm, prayerful confines of that holy, simple place.

I spent time in prayer before I spoke. Meditating on the crucifix, it struck me that Christ on the cross is the perfect haven for trafficking victims. His body and spirit are broken, he is abandoned, frightened. The few loved one who remain cannot do a thing to help.

Yet, the Cross is our hope. It is our salvation. It is truth and life.

One of the women that came to the talk last night was clearly shaken by what I shared. She was in tears at the end, and said, "How can we be hopeful? This is all so sad and scary."

It is. It horrible and sinful and ugly and evil.

But there is hope. And that hope is Christ.

I'm not sure I was able to convey to her how important prayer is - sometimes it feels as if prayer is doing "nothing." You don't always see the fruit of prayer.

I'm also not sure I was able to convey to her that there is hope. There is salvation and redemption - for both survivors and traffickers.

I did encourage those who attended to not be among those who move from ignorance to willful apathy (a phrase I borrowed from Andy Soper). Now that you know, you MUST do something.

I've read the Bible and I know who wins this war. The only real question is, "Which side will you be on?" There are no spectators; choosing to do nothing is still a choice.

Which side will you be on?

Andrae Crouch: Eternal Rest, Grant Unto Him, O Lord

Andrae Crouch passed away. His presence here will be missed, but I'm betting the angels are happy to be rockin' out.

Clap along!


Monday Morning Musings

1. Had a guest priest yesterday - he gave a fabulous sermon. Nice to know he's pastor at the parish that serves a large university in our area.
2. My human trafficking monograph is chugging along - got the first proofs. Now, it's all proof-reading, checking for errors, etc. Oh, so close!
3. Winter is here with a vengeance! Last week we had an Alberta Clipper come through. It was a good time to hunker down with a warm blanket, tea and a book.
4. Speaking of reading, I just finished "The Invention of Wings" from Sue Monk Kidd. Terrific - fictionalized account of Angelina and Sarah Grimke', early abolitionists from a slave-owning South Carolina family.
5. Hubby and I are on an organization kick. Have to see if we can keep it up past January.
6. Using essential oils in my protein shakes. My two faves so far: lemon oil in blueberry smoothie, and peppermint in chocolate. Yummy!

Hey! You! Nurse! Come over here.....

The first thing you must know, nurse, is that I am the daughter of a nurse. And not just any nurse. An R.N. And not just any R.N. An R.N. who was schooled by Catholic sisters her entire life, including nursing school, who became a nurse during WWII, and served at Marine Hospital in Detroit.

A nurse who wore whites every day.

A nurse who starched her caps every Saturday.

A nurse who pinned her pins on her uniform, and checked to make sure they were straight.

Good heavens, I even saw her in her nursing cape once.

A NURSE.

So, this is why I want to speak with you. This past weekend, you had the duty and privilege of caring for my beautiful niece. Said niece has a seizure disorder, and the doctors were not able to control it and decided to admit her. On top of the seizures, she was having night terrors as her anxiety shot up regarding the seizures.

(I'm also just gonna throw this out there. You've heard of the HIPAA laws, right? Where we are all entitled to complete privacy? I have enough HIPAA booklets to paper my living room, so I'm assuming that you - a medical professional - are familiar with this. But perhaps I should not assume.)

Anyway, you and one of your fellow nurses decided to stand outside my beautiful niece's room and discuss her case. Where everyone (including my niece) could hear. And you decided to laugh over the fact that she wasn't "really sick," it was "all in her head," and wouldn't it be nice to fake being sick to get out of work.

Just a couple of thoughts for you. A nurse is a professional. Maybe you didn't get that part in nursing school. You do not, under any circumstances, discuss a case where others can hear you. And you certainly don't make fun of a patient when the patient is within earshot.

Even if my niece's health issue was "all in her head" (and since it's a seizure disorder, isn't it likely that it is in her head??) and she was suffering from mental illness, you still are obligated to be a professional. Even mental illness is illness - again, perhaps you didn't pick that up in nursing school.

My sister talked to your supervisor. She's going to report you.

You're lucky I wasn't there.

You are REALLY lucky my mom wasn't there. She is a NURSE.

Monday Morning Musings

1. Good to be back to routine!
2. Got a lot of stuff organized in the house, which felt good. It did not feel good to Curly-Haired Daughter. She just moved into a new apartment and I off-loaded all her stuff that's been lurking in our house for nearly 4 years.
3. Mass last night - Feast of the Epiphany. Our pastor once again knocked it out of the ballpark on the homily. Even better, I didn't have to cantor or lector or nothin'. I was just another civilian in the pews. Wonderful to be able to pray!
4. Spent three days with a friend near Chicago. It was supposed to be a relaxing, fun visit, but things unraveled. Her garbage disposal died (Dear Hubby took care of that). She is delicately dating nearly 2-1/2 years after losing her husband. Her adult kids are having a tough time, naturally, and things kind of...exploded.

We were happy to see her, but it sure was stressful!
5. Brought back a load of furniture from said friend's house to drop of with Curly-Haired daughter. The weather got really icky, and I was having back spasms, so it was a long trip home.
6. On top of that, my oldest sister was housesitting and hanging out with Dark-Haired Daughter, when she got a call that her youngest daughter was being taken to the hospital with seizures.

Overall, it was a lovely Christmas break, but boy: we blew this past weekend UP.

Going "All In" With Jesus

One of the joys of being Catholic is that there is always new stuff to learn. And if you do run out of new stuff, there are plenty of new ...