Boneheaded Questions While Trying to Manage A Life

Comedian Bill Engvall has built a career of joking about dumb people. And to be honest, we all are dumb once in awhile:

"I was driving around in Texas and got a flat tire. I managed to pull into a gas station. The attendant came out and said, "Tire go flat on ya?"

I couldn't resist. "Nope, I was just driving around when those other three swelled up on me. Damnedest thing...." And here's your sign.

A couple of weeks ago, the Gospel of Luke has Jesus, post-Resurrection, visiting the bewildered Apostles. Jesus, "Why are you so troubled?"

I don't mean to be flippant, but ..... Really, Jesus?? Really??

The Messiah has come to his people. He is their salvation. Turns out, he's a carpenter from a backwater town. Now, he's been executed. He was buried, but now his body is missing. Mary Magdalen has told the Apostles that Christ is Risen, just as he promised.

But still....

That whole dead-and-coming-back-to-life thing? We are still a bit ... taken aback. Shocked.  Troubled. You know: just the way you'd feel if your best friend had been killed, buried, and was now back to life.

Is it ok to say to Jesus, "Here's your sign?"

Or should I just swallow hard, and calmly say, "Jesus, I have to be honest. I'm troubled about a lot - I mean, A LOT - of things. How much time do you have?"

Right now, I'm thinking about keeping my pain under-control, continuing to make progress on taming the beast of PTSD every single day, planning a vacation, juggling the needs of young adult kids with the ever-growing list of medical concerns for me and Dear Husband. Oh, and filing for disability. Yep, that's fun.

So, forgive me, dear Jesus: your question "Why are you so troubled?" kinda deserves a sign. The question is a bit disingenuous, in fact. Why am I so troubled?

Oh, Lord. I think the question should be, "Why do you still believe - in spite everything??"

Let's talk about love


Ah, love. Since it's spring, young men's fancies (what???) are turning to thoughts of love. It's nearly as thick in the air as pollen.

We use the word "love" liberally. We "love" our mom's mac & cheese; we "love" our new car. Of course, many of us take the time to tell friends and family that we love them.

In the immortal words of Tina Turner: What's love got to do, got to do with it? What's love but a second hand emotion?

All props to Tina (I hope I look half as good at her age!) but that song got many, many things wrong.

Everyone say it together now: "Love is NOT an emotion." Nope, it's not the butterflies in the stomach when that really cute 8th grade boy makes his way across the gym floor to ask you to dance. Love is not about coveting a designer handbag. It's not our affection for our car, our cat or any other possession.

Love, dear reader, is an action.

That's right: love is what you do, not what you say.

Take for example, the abusive husband. He comes home drunk and angry, and beats up his wife. After words, he is remorseful, showering her with reassurances of his love for her.

What should we pay attention to: the words or the actions?

This past Sunday, we heard what is likely the most powerful three word phrase in all of Christianity and possibly the world: God is love.

In the Gospel, Jesus assures his followers that he loves them. They in turn, must love one another. Further, this love moves us past a teacher-student relationship or a master-servant one. Indeed, we are now friends. Jesus says, "I love you." The Apostles and his other followers will soon see the depth of that love, as Christ enters his passion and death.

We are capable of love because God, our Father and Creator, is love. Love can only create love. We are made in God's image so we reflect his love to others by the charitable acts that we do.

Now don't think you need to join a religious order and travel to the far reaches of the globe to really commit these acts of love. In fact, that would probably be far easier than what God has planned for most of us.

You want to love as God loves? Then tell your spouse how thankful you are for the food he/she prepared. (Don't mention that you don't really like chicken four times a week, and you certainly don't like Brussel sprouts.) Just say "thank you."

You want to love as God loves? Spend time with him in prayer and meditation. Walk in the woods. Walk down the sidewalk. Walk through an airport. God is there, in every single person. Find yourself in awe of God creative power.

You want to love as God loves? Reach out to the kid in the lunchroom who always eats alone. Reach out to that young woman in accounting whom everyone says is an idiot.

You want to love as God loves? Listen to someone's story. Don't ask questions. Don't interrupt. Listen. Listen for the places of love in that story.

God is love. So are we. Now get to work. It's that simple.

Credo or Credon't?

My Friend, artist Helen Thomas Robson 
Quick Latin refresher: credo means "I believe.")

We've been baptizing babies left and right at our parish. Our pastor, Fr. L., is amazing and joyful. He also loves baptizing babies. 

Last week, the little doll that got baptized thought Fr. L was nothing short of magnificent. The babe stared up at him as the baptismal waters were dumped on her precious head (Fr. L believes in liberal amounts of holy water.) When Father anointed her, she cooed and smiled. It was picture perfect.

Yesterday, Father didn't have the mojo, at least for this baby girl. From the moment Father stepped in front of her to trace the cross on her forehead, she starting wailing. Not just a tear - nope, full-on terror. By the time Father baptized her, she was wailing so hard, she was red in the face.

Father's homily yesterday focused on our friendship with Christ, and read a lovely section from Pope Emeritus on this topic. However, Father had to acknowledge that Jesus was a friend to the little one about to be baptized, but he (Fr. L) didn't think he was going to be considered her friend.

Just prior to the baptism, Father invited all of us to stand and renew our baptismal vows. For those who are not familiar with this, the priest (who is impressing upon on that not only are we all responsible for these as we journey through life, but also that we must set a good example for the newly baptized) asks the congregation a series of questions, which are answered with, "I do."

The questions aren't tricky. They start with, "Do you reject Satan and all his works?" Presumably, if you are sitting in church on a glorious spring day, you are probably going to answer in the affirmative.
Dear Husband and I had a family sitting behind us. The parents have four beautiful tween and teen girls, and a 4 year old son. We sit by them almost every Sunday, and this guy is doing a great job of behaving at Mass. (Not that he has any choice between Mom, Dad and four sisters who both adore and are annoyed by a brother.)

Little Brody was behind me as we were taking in the baptism ritual. We stood to  express our creed, with Father asking the questions and eliciting, "I do" from all the baptized.

But not Brody. By the time we were all fairly shouting "I do" in response to Satan's evil ways, Brody needed to put in his two cents, "Well, I don't!" he said in a ringing voice.

His mother quickly clamped a hand over his mouth, horrified. I was greatly amused (but only because it wasn't my kidand was clamping a hand over my own mouth, but I managed to catch Mom's eye, which got her giggling. And of course, then we had the "church giggles."

Yes, it was a fine day to baptize a baby! Hopefully, Brody got some sort of explanation as to why Mom found it necessary to nearly gag him at Mass, and the angel that got baptized will not grow up with a fear of priests.

It was joyful. It was funny. Jesus was there, welcoming all of us into friendship, and we responded. A blessed day.

Off In the Weeds No More

As promised, I said I'd address why I hadn't been posting much. Part of me wants to say I have nothing to write, but that is the ...