Sunday, November 27, 2016

12 Ways to be More Mindful This Advent

So we have 28 days to prepare for Christmas.
I’ve written at other times on the spiritual gift of silence and the blessed waiting we’re supposed to cultivate during this season of Advent. However, it is so easy — when we consider all we have to do in the coming weeks — to become consumed by the to-do list.

So I created this reminder to help me be mindful, to be more like a candle burning than a blinking LED light.

(Ironically it takes the shape of a to-do list, but it’s more of a “how to be” list).

Friday, November 25, 2016

Wednesday On Strike!

Breaking News:

Sources here at Chocolate For Your Brain learned today in an annonymous Tweet, that Wednesday, formerly Wodan's Day or Odin's Day, has taken the next week off.   When asked why, she admitted it's been building for a while, but between Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Fat Tuesday and Holy Thursday, and the weekends themselves, Wednesday is feeling discouraged.  "Hump day?  Seriously?   That's the best we can do?"

Pointing out Ash Wednesday didn't brighten her spirits.

"I want a holiday, one with I don't know, fancy drinks, an earworm song, maybe a traditional activity like making chili or running a 5K, flash mob dancing the moves to Thriller and releasing paper lanterns into the sky."

When pressed as to why, she explained, "There's nothing that sets me apart from the rest of the week.  Even Monday has all those Garfield cartoons,  and those songs by Foriegner, the Bangles and the Mommas and the Pappas,  Saturday has Elton John and the Bay City Rollers, plus no one ever gets sad it's the weekend.   Friday has a chain of restaurants and a tone of movies with his name in the title, not to mention a book where he's the secondary lead."

"You forgot Dragnet."
"Exactly! ....wait, whose side are you on?"
"No one's. Just remembering other associations for other days.  Thursday doesn't seem to have too many references out there."

"He's got a whole comic book character named after him who's an Avenger. Even two solo movies for Thor.  He's also still coasting from the years when he dominated TV, with Cheers, and now an early jump on weekend Football."  

"Tuesday doesn't..."

"She has a restaurant, a holiday and a Beatles song.   Don't get me started on her.  She sends me a Halloween card every year. Do you know what it is?"

"I have her most recent"

Happy Halloween Wednesday,  Too bad it fell on a Monday this time.  But in two years, it will be your turn.   Love, T.
"How did you know it was Tuesday?  It says "Love, T."
"Thurs always signs "The TH!"  I think he thinks it's cool."

"What will you do with your day off?"
"Are you trying to be funny?"
"No!  You're taking your day out of the week, what are going to do with it?"

"Well, I did discover when I opted out, it became very hard to book an appointment, since no one knew when the appointments would actually happen so I plan on going to my favorite spa as a walk in, and maybe hitting the book store, followed by lunch at a local restaurant, maybe a glass of wine with dinner and a movie."

"Got a date with anyone special?"
"As a matter of fact yes, I have a date with February 29th.  He was very cute about it when I asked if he'd join me for sushi.  He said he'd have to check his calendar."  


Saturday, November 19, 2016

We Are Always a Broken People But We're Called to be Better

I  hoped the election, (whichever way it went), once over, would allow people to go back to being able to speak to each other online and in reality the way we would want to be spoken to; with civility, a presumption of good faith, humor and mindfulness.  If the past week is any indicator, things will get progressively harder.  

On Mondays, I visit with Mark Shea on his podcast radio program.  I've spent part of the morning reading the horrid comments thrown his way for daring to point out, that Alt Right as a group, is a sickness which all people of good will, and all people who call themselves Christians, let alone Catholics, must oppose.  After reading it, and seeing so many broken souls pound their brokeness as truth, my first thought was, "I should have spent the morning exercising," it would have been healthier and more pleasant, however much I don't like doing it.

But what I didn't like, was the reality I kept hearing, "Bring us Barabbas!" and "We have no king but Caesar," and the conviction, I did too.

Since I tend to vote Republican, I know I must stand and say, "I'm sorry.  This is not what I stand for, or want to have in this country or in this world.  The bigotry and racism and anti-semetic thinking I've seen in the Comment box from Alt Right, and articulated by those who pretend it isn't there allowing other people to do the same, this is always, everytime and everywhere and in every soul, wrong."  I'm sorry such thinking exists.  I know Archbishop Sheen said it is a scandal to be scadalized by sin.  I guess I'm not shocked, but deeply saddened to discover yet again, we hold hearts of darkness, we are so very broken, we so deserve the crucifixion we've not been given.  I can change that word we to I, and know it still holds.

I cannot speak for anyone other than myself, but I failed, because I did not let myself think this was anything more than a fringe, and I also know, I couldn't have voted for the alternative.  What I should have done, was somehow spoken sooner, spoken louder, only, I didn't honestly think he'd win. So I didn't think it would matter. However a sharpness has pierced my heart ever since the election.  I know I did not willingly peer into everything,  and because I could see some evil, I did not want to see other evils. I thought, this is not a fight I want, so I didn't enter deeply.  But the Gospel this week kept convicting me.  "You are lukewarm, so I spit you out of my mouth."  I always find those words of Jesus to grate.   They convict me of wanting to be liked more than to speak truth, of wanting not to make waves, of wanting not to speak up because who wants that pain?

So I'm here to day, to begin again and to invite all people who are of good hearts, who want a world that echoes more clearly, the kingdom to come, to do the same.  Alt Right, supporters of Alt Right, I stand with and claim kinship with whosoever you've decided shouldn't have protection, and I will fight for, whosoever you've decided shouldn't have protection, even if I disagree as a person, with said people I'm going to fight for.

I can't fix what's happened.  I can only go forward saying from now until I die and beyond, we are one race with many creeds and opinions.  We are always and everywhere and in all things, our brother's keeper.    It seems stupid to have to say, because it seems obvious, but since some do not believe that the infinite value of each human (because they are human) supercedes nationality, capacity and everything else, I will say it here.

 Even though I've voted Republican, even though I'm a pro-lifer, those things are components and not the whole of who I am, though if I stay silent, they will become so.  As a Catholic, I cannot stand by while people's dignity and rights are trampled, or families are destroyed and stay what I hope when I die, defines me.  I am a person who seeks, who hopes, one day she'll make the right choice when given the option, and say, I want Jesus, rather than Barabbas.

They, whoever the they is that you don't like, like you, are my brothers and sisters, and I want each of you at the wedding feast.  I want all ten of my children to come for Thanksgiving even though they can't, and I want that all the more in the life to come.   I know we will be judged by how we treat each and all, and when we cut off one, the one we've cut off, is ourselves.   I also know, just as I don't always get along with my own family, so also I do not always get along with my extended family, but all are still all, my family.  I love and need them all including you.   So Alt Right, while I am a small time blogger with a small time platform and only a teaching assistant, I will tell you, you, like all of us, are a broken people, and you need to see, that you are hurting yourselves by your hatred.

Hate always warps the person who hates, not the people hated.

So I would invite you to do better, and challenge myself to do the same; to stop picking and trumpeting Barabbas.   Today, instead of posting that outrage, pick a friend in your list with whom, you do not see eye to eye, and invite them for coffee or pizza or whathave you if you're nearby, to visit, and if not, look to see something they hold which you too, can hold dear, and be a bridge to greater deeper truer friendships on Facebook and in the world.    If you do this, you will no longer be Alt Right, you will be alright, and becoming truly right, would help right what is broken and wrong in this world.

The alternative, is death and no place at the wedding feast and all who make it to the feast, would wish it otherwise.

I know...I know...I'm behind my own times...

Okay...I feel like I'm repeating last week's post.   On Monday, I talked with Mark Shea on Connecting the Dots. On Tuesday, I found out a piece ran on Aleteia regarding family lore in November.

Add in Small Success Thursday and my poor blog had no love this week.  Will I do better next week?  I'll try.

I promise, I'll try.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Catching Up

I'm playing clean up to myself.  On Monday, Mark Shea and I discussed Fr. Pavone's decision to place an aborted child's naked body on what looked like an altar, to prove the evil of abortion.  You can listen to our discussion here, but I understand as a follow up, the Bishop of Amarillo has begun an investigation to address the matter.  Pray for his discernment, and for Fr. Pavone, and for all injured by this decision and the subsequent two videos.

On Thursday, I wrote aSmall Success post as usual, but the day ran so long, I didn't get to link up to it until today, but it's good counsel for if you find yourself discourged by anything.  "Keep Calm and Kindness On..."  It's the best cure for whatever is dark in your life.  I know, I've never regretted when I've followed it, only when I haven't.

Lastly, I woke this morning to a lovely surprise.  I have a piece in Aleteia.  It's a reflection on what happened when I took my kiddos to a quieter earlier mass.  I hope you enjoy it.

Have a lovely weekend, I will write more I hope tomorrow.  

Monday, November 7, 2016

Through the Looking Glass to See No Evil

I have been told I am wrong to be upset with Fr. Pavone by no less than the internet; that there is no difference whatsoever between we display on a crucifix, and Fr. Pavone's altar.

Arguing that Sacred art depicts realities, even ugly ones that God made redemptive like the martyring of Stephen, the Pieta and every image of the crucified Christ whereas displaying the naked crushed body of an infant to prove Abortion is ugly is to shock, I was told, this was a minor difference.

The difference between stone and flesh is easy to see unless one wills one's self to have a stony heart. However, I don't believe that anyone really thinks there isn't a difference between sacred art and an actual dead body.  

We would be horrified and rightly so, if someone took dead bodies to depict a scene from scripture and called it art.  We would be horrified and rightly so, if someone profaned sacred art.

Using the body of a child to make a political point, ignores the moral reality of what we are called to do as Catholics for the dead, and what he was called to do as a priest when entrusted with this child in particular's, body.  He gave a 45 minute lecture on abortion with a baby's remains exposed on what looks to be an altar. It is meant to look like an altar, even if it is not an altar.  Oddly enough, it is a warped version of what horrified everyone when Dr. Gosnell was arrested.  Displaying rather than properly caring for the remains, is inappropriate.

Someone said, "Well, what about open caskets and wakes?" Those incidents are grieving processes for those who mourn the loss of a loved one.  They aren't done as a stage for a political/moral platform.  They aren't done for a youtube video to stump for a candidate or a political position the day before an election and I won't defend it even if I agree, and I do, abortion takes a life, it is always wrong.

But again, I don't for a moment think people don't recognize a difference, I think people want to defend a priest they love, and a position they hold dear.

This child was discarded by his or her mother as thing, destroyed by an abortionist as a thing, and then (however temporarily), used by the priest, as an illustration of abortion.  People are NEVER things, and we can NEVER use them as such, without committing great harm to our own souls and those who find themselves agreeing, the end justifies the means.

What about relics? I've seen Saint Anthony's tongue.  I asked and did research, "Relics and incorruptible bodies are testaments to the saints." He was buried, and when they cannonized him, they dug him up (30 years after death), they found his tongue incorruptible.  This sign of santification, of holiness, led to the veneration of his tongue.  We need the relics of the saints, because we are physical beings.  We need to know the saints were flesh and blood, real, not esoteric philosophical constructs created by imaginative manipulative scribes or poets.  Pieces of the true cross, the Shroud of Turin, the Tilma, hairs of Saint Maximiliam Kolbe, these things bring us into touching distance with Our God, with the Blessed Mother, with saints.

I've already seen the next layer of the argument, "Some of these were not saints before they were made into relics."

I do not feel I must fend every argument to still state, this was not a good act.

This baby was to be buried.  The baby should have been treated as one would any other baby brought for Catholic burial.  In not treating this infant like any other infant one would bury, this was forgetting the moral underpinning of the Pro-life position, which is to treat every child, all children, regardless of age, developmental status or capacity, with absolute dignity.  Exposing any other child naked and deceased to the internet, would be unthinkable.   This child deserved the same dignity afforded any other child one would mourn.  Love this baby first, and let that be your testimony.

When we hate something, we sometimes get so zealous, we can become a parody of the very thing we hate.  In reference to Fr Pavone's wrong decision to place a child on the altar so as to highlight the evil of abortion, you cannot justify a bad action (which this was) to bring about a good (end of abortion).  This was an inappropriate witness as a priest and as a person who professes to be pro-life because it did not put the actual child's dignity first.

Far more compelling a witness to the dignity of life would be to give that child a name, to dress him or her, drape in a blanket, and give a mass for the child.  Open casket if he likes, and invite all to pray for the souls of this child's family.   There is a temptation, when we seek a political solution for a moral issue, to put the movement before individuals. It is an understandable temptation, when people feel frustrated or powerless, but that is a secondary failing of despair because things are not happening according to a fast enough schedule.

So please, pray for Fr. Pavone and for his Bishop who must counsel him and for all who might want to not see how this act is wrong and fails to properly witness to the world, all humans are made in God's image, and all should be treated at all stages of development, with dignity.

November 7th, 2016

Every day I find the internet getting, less willing to extend the benefit of the doubt to neighbors on matters where the Church has in its wisdom, indicated, there can be room for disagreement amongst people of good faith.  Every day I see people pounding the drums, “I’m Catholic! I’m Catholic!  I’m Catholic so I can’t vote for Trump or I’m enabling men to objectify women! He’s an evil incompetent bigoted narcissist!” and “I’m Catholic so anyone who votes for Hillary is collaborating with Planned Parenthood and ensuring there will be no respite from the encroachment on Religious liberties.  She’s a corrupt manipulative lying power hungry robot!”
Serious accusations.  Serious subjects, being discussed in a most unserious manner.    
We are busy being cheerleaders for teams we don’t love, but faking it with greater intensity than ever before.  The stakes remain unspeakably high, and they shouldn’t be.   Be less than rapturous about Trump?  You want Hillary to win! Dare not to spend all your energy hating Trump? You MUST LOVE HIM!  Anything less than correct fealty, renders an excommunication.   
I won’t say it’s the worst ever, for if I scroll back to each political season, I see pieces by good thinking, moral people discussing how politics demand we presume all those not in our camp, are either ignorant or not acting in good faith.  Like moral kudzu, the sin of presumption about both where all who aren’t with us will end up after death, and the virtue of our own decisions with respect to eternal consequences runs rampant every four years.    If we would be a united people or a people of hope or even better, both and, we have to stop doing the if you…then you must be a…game. Neither of these candidates nor parties should hold so much sway given their track records, to hold greater loyalty than friendship or family. 
The Catechism hasn’t changed, ergo discernment about which party to vote for, or which candidate still remains a question of trying to become informed, pray, and act.   One can weigh all the priests and bishops on both sides of the discussion and still come up with the reality, we each have to live with whatever decision each of us makes, and face the consequences of whatever moral reasoning we employ.    Voting Trump or Hillary or not voting Trump or Hillary remains not a question of settled moral doctrine. 

The reality is, we have two candidates named Barabbas, and they are always Barabbas, and our whole nation is engaged in the measuring not of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but how much evil we’re willing to overlook in order to not let the other side win.  When Catholics are discussing how much they can ignore, or what morals don’t matter, they aren’t being Catholic, they’re being political animals.   It’s easy to get caught up in the crowd, it’s happened before, it happens all the time.  Jesus even tells us, that there are a lot of us with beams in our eyes, pointing out each other’s splinters.  We know it in Holy Week, when we all say “Crucify him!”  and we know it at every mass when we say, “Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” 

I don’t know about anyone else, but I look at this election and think, “I need a shower,” mentally, morally and physically.   The phrase, “Put not your trust in princes.” rings over and over again in my head I’d love to say I’m above it but my blood runs as hot as anyone else’s.  When all’s said and done, what we don’t want at the end of any day, regardless of the outcome, is for people to see our discussions, online and in person and think, “Look how they hate each other.  They cannot be Christian.”  

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Game Seven 2016

I wrote this while watching the final game of the 2016 World Series.  It took until now to post it on my blog because I wanted to tweak it.  I don't trust the meter of my inner ear at 12:45 a.m.  Yay Cubbies!

Game Seven 2016
For seven innings, they were beautiful.
For seven innings, they ruled the game.
For seven innings the cubs whistled "What Curse?"
and Go Cubs Go, they sang...
For seven innings the Cubs played
and silenced the whole Tribe
The Eighth inning however,
things got clever. It had a different vibe.
Batters came, the Indians rallied
and now the score was tied.
It even started raining...
Surely God was on Chicago's side.
They held on through the ninth
and all the nation held its breath
would this be a moment of almost pure joy?
Would this be the curse's death?
But the tarp is on the field
and the game will be delayed.
The fans standing in the streets of Chicago,
like their counters in Cleveland,
Ignored the weather. They stayed.
Everyone who loves baseball
knows the game can break your heart.
Loving something means being willing to suffer.
So we'll wait, but we want the game to restart.
At 12:12 they restarted.
And Shaw looked shaky at first
Would 2016 be the greatest season for the Cubs?
Or would it be the worst?
Davis caught a long fly ball,
but the runner did advance.
The Pitcher set with Rizzo at bat
and a meeting before the dance.
A walk to face Zorbrist
who was 0 for 4
and Cub fans bit their nails.
They couldn't endure much more.
Two men on and only one out.
Would pitcher or batter prevail?
The pitch led to a sacrifice but
Zorbrist didn't fail.
One out, two runs and bases loaded,
A pitching change at hand.
Who would take the title after 179 games,
The Cubbies or Cleveland?
Heyward struck out not quite swinging
Baez fell behind in the count.
With three bases filled,they could pad the lead
if the second baseman hadn't popped out.
Edwards Jr. took the mound
for the bottom of the tenth
Three outs to glory or goatville
baseball at its zenith.
The first man down, Ramirez tried to crush it,
and would be marked a 6-3.
If you were scoring at home, you had one out to go
to watch a moment of perfect beauty.
But the Cubbies always make it interesting,
and Jr. fell behind in the count.
The catcher walked out to settle him.
Don't think about the game, just the out.
A walk brought the tieing run to the plate
and Guyer they gave second without a fight.
Davis hit and a run scored
and the game went on deeper in the night.
And just like that, from third to first,
The final out was made.
Cubs Win Cubs Win Cubs Win Cubs Win
and 2016 as a year, was saved!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

All Souls' Day

Today, we remember those who died.  Today we remember all those we love whose faces, we can't see except in photos or our own memories.  I have two All Souls Day in my life.  One is November 2nd, when I try to make sure I say a rosary, and on each bead, recall someone I've lost, either physically through death, emotionally through distance, or spiritually for whatever reason and those I do and don't know, but for whom I should pray.   It's a good exercise, I recommend it to anyone as a way of both remembering we should be in the business of praying for our family, for our friends, for those not our friends, and for the souls we encounter or remember.

I used Come Pray the Rosary as a guide, and while I love the pictures of the holy land, I think they say it too quickly, and I need more time to get through a Hail Mary and be mindful.

Sign of the Cross: For the Pope.
Apostles's Creed: For those persecuted for the faith
Our Father:  My Dad
Hail Mary: For my Mom
Hail Mary: For my Mother-in-law
Hail Mary: For my Father-in-law

Glory Be: For my Husband
First Glorious Mystery
Our Father: For my siblings
Hail Mary: For their spouses
Hail Mary: For their children
Hail Mary: For Aunt Linda
Hail Mary: For Aunt Marylou
Hail Mary: For Uncle Pat
Hail Mary: For Uncle Tommy
Hail Mary: For Kate
Hail Mary: For Kylee
Hail Mary: For Uncle Bobby
Hail Mary: Jen P.

Glory Be: Gina R.
Fatima Prayer: For all the souls in Purgatory

Second Glorious Mystery
Our Father: Our Priests
Hail Mary: Dan N.
Hail Mary: Bridget S.
Hail Mary: Mother of a friend
Hail Mary: Father of a friend
Hail Mary: Aunt Tag
Hail Mary: Coco
Hail Mary: Grandmother Green
Hail Mary: Granddaddy Green
Hail Mary: Ben Hebert
Hail Mary: Bishop Ganter
Glory Be: Bonnie and Jimmie C
Fatima Prayer: For all the souls here.

Third Glorious Mystery
Our Father: Papal Intentions
Hail Mary: Those in politics.
Hail Mary: Those not in politics.
Hail Mary: My students.
Hail Mary: My colleagues.
Hail Mary: All those who work with my children, at all of their schools.
Hail Mary: All those I've hurt.
Hail Mary: All those I've ignored.
Hail Mary: All those I've angered.
Hail Mary: my writing group.
Hail Mary: My friends in the internet
Glory Be: Andrew and Patrick
Fatima Prayer:  John C

Fourth Glorious Mystery
Our Faither: For our nation
Hail Mary: For my friends
Hail Mary: For those not my friends.
Hail Mary: For those who are alone.
Hail Mary: For those who cannot pray.
Hail Mary: For those who are sick and dying.
Hail Mary: For those who care for the sick and dying.
Hail Mary: For those who care for the unborn.
Hail Mary: for the mothers
Hail Mary: for the fathers
Hail Mary: For the mentally ill.
Glory Be: For the physically sick.
Fatima Prayer: Russell M

Fifth Glorious Mystery
Our Father: For everyone.
Hail Mary: For Will
Hail Mary: For Bon
Hail Mary: For Marta
Hail Mary: For Peter
Hail Mary: For Faith
Hail Mary: For John
Hail Mary: For Rita
Hail Mary: For Regina
Hail Mary: For Paul
Hail Mary: For Anna
Glory Be: in Praise of the Trinity
Fatima Prayer: Jean and Bob R

Hail Holy Queen: For anyone who felt left out by this list.

Honestly, between the madness of any given day in the news and the election, I don't think there's a better thing we can do for this nation or everyone, than pray.   Pray for all hearts to be turned, all hearts to be conquered, all souls to be healed.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Connecting the Dots Podcast is Up

If you missed yesterday's podcast over at Mark Shea's very cool corner of the internet because you were out trick-or-treating, not to worry, like Halloween candy, the podcast is just as fun and good the next day.  

So have a listen while you drive, work out, make dinner or whathave you, as Mark and I talk Halloween, favorite costumes, favorite memories and in preparation for today, Favorite Saints, all from a Catholic perpsective.

Connecting the Dots with Mark Shea Monday!  <--but all="" and="" be="" because="" br="" cannonized="" disorganized="" ever="" friends="" get="" if="" it="" nbsp="" of="" patron="" people="" re="" s="" she="" sherry="" special="" tardy="" the="" today.="" who="" will="" you="">

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!