Friday, October 12, 2018

Small Success Thursday

We survived the great internet famine of 2018, two days sans cable, phone or wi-fi.   Here's yesterday's posting over at   Kids are busy catching up on all the binge screen watching they didn't get for 48 hours.    Reclaiming Sunday.

On a side note, I loved it.  Thinking, there may be trees that fall in the future for another 24-48 hours. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

At the Register

with a story about the Fellowship of the Prayers We See.  It segways with another story I'm working on, which reminds me, we can bear almost anything when we do not shoulder it alone.  Go check it out, and please share via twitter, facebook, email, etc.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

One More!

After a dry spell, three in a row.  Here's my latest over at the Register, Today, Tithe Your Time.   I hope you like it and share it, and I'll get back to writing more...

Friday, September 28, 2018 the Register Again

I submitted this piece a while ago, but tinkered with it after the fact which frustrates me from a writing stand point.  That being said, you can see the original over at the National Catholic Register...and please share if you liked it. 

Pray Thy Will Be Done and Mean it.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Small Success Thursday

I realized I've been writing this thing since some time in 2009 I think...but it's Thursday so you get the link to and Small Success Thursday.  Sometimes I think I'm just repeating myself, but other times, I remember, I'm writing these so that I can look back at some point (and I should) and know, there were blessings every day, every week, and they weren't just little things, they mattered. 

They mattered because all of life is made up of those little moments, of little memories where you had the opportunity, and you didn't opt for the wrong thing.  I usually remember this reality after I'm correcting life because I did the wrong thing. 

This Thursday, I was running late.  I get up at 5:45 and somehow, by 8:40, I'd fallen behind.  Handing my son a piece of bread and a fist full of washed grapes, I felt like the ultimate slumming mom.  I couldn't even toast the butter...just bread. Walking down the hill, I watched as my grateful (Grateful) son munched down on his not toast.   We sat on the driveway waiting for the bus. 
He took one of the grapes and made me say prayers.   Grace over meals...over grapes...and bread.   He offered me a grape.  I tried to refuse.  He wouldn't let me. 

 ate the grape and he patted my shoulder and gave me a smile.  He'd given me one of his two loaves and five was more than I deserved...and it filled my heart.   He didn't want the food in particular, he wanted presence.   I know this.  I forget this.  I forget it in mass.  I forget it in the evening, when I'm tired or stressed.  He gave me another grape.  The bus came and he gave me a happy, "Bye Mom." and I walked back up the hill, munching on the gift of the second grape, grateful for a son who could see, his mother needed to be fed.   

It made the rest of the day better, but I resolved, tomorrow, I'm making him a better breakfast as a thank you. 

Monday, September 24, 2018

This is a Good Start?

The Administrative Committee of the USSCB released a statement outlining steps the Administrative Committee has taken to address the crisis.

Boy I feel better. Don't you?

Everybody got that?  Remain calm.  

The Bishops have released a policy and procedure paper. 

If only we’d had a statement outlining the steps of how to handle when someone behaves in an illegal and/or immoral way.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m fairly certain the criminal abuse of minors and cynical abuse of power with respect to seminarians and others of age, wasn’t the consequence of a lack of policy.   

But wait, there's more.  As a bonus feature, we’ve been told how powerless this governing body is, to do much beyond the four steps they outline.  

If that's the case then what exactly does the outline establish which holds weight? Where is the weight?

Here are the four points the USCCB held out as signs of progress:   
1) Establishing a third party reporting system, where laity can go to report misconduct by a bishop so that it will be directed to the appropriate ecclesiastical authority. 

No.  I’m sorry, that’s saying, “Trust us. We got this.”  No. That’s how we got to the point of having this seventy years of cover up from the grand jury of Pennsylvania.    (There already is one, it’s called the police).   It’s one and done now, because there should be no difference between how we handle reporting an abuser in the laity, and in the clergy.   As optics go, it looks like “we’ve drafted a policy so we can keep this in house.”  

2) Instructions to develop proposals for addressing restrictions on bishops who were removed or resigned because of allegations. 

Could we sound more mealy-mouthed? Instructions to develop proposals?  What in heaven’s name does that mean?   How about, specific policy regarding the consequences for bishops removed because of allegations?  

How about naming the consequences, in duration and type, so it’s clear, this is a severe breach of moral leadership, of moral behavior, it’s wrong, it’s always wrong, and it carries the gravest of consequences for those convicted.    

It’s not that I think the bishops have bad hearts, but is this seriously the best they can do in light of the crisis? 

Do I hope not? Do I hope so?  I'm at a loss. 

3) Develop a code of conduct for Bishops…I had to stop, I couldn't quite give this recommendation because I think it is silly. 
We don't need to develop a code of conduct. That already exists.  It’s what each and every person who received the sacrament of Holy Orders agreed to live out.

Theoretically, if you're a bishop, you've lived this, you know this...or should.  One would hope no one goes into the priesthood or holy orders looking for the loop hole of how they can hoodwink God and obey the letter of the law.  Well, that's the code for priests...but not Bishops's above/below my pay grade.      

This scandal is about breaching that code of conduct, whether by commission or omission, ignoring the lost sheep for the benefits of comfort or promotions, and ignoring the devouring of the flock because facing the wolves would be hard.   The code is be men of courage, men of faith, shepherds who lay down their lives for the flock. 

What is lacking in these proposals is a unified voice of courage declaring what will be done. 

How about, you propose a public form of penance to be conducted by each and every bishop and perhaps also by the priests, in reparation for the grave injustices done, and as a reminder to all that for one sin, we lost Eden, and for these sort of sins, we’ll damn ourselves if we don’t repent.

4) The USCCB declares it supports a full investigation…here we agree, but not just of former Cardinal McCarrick. This isn't just about one man abusing his position. 

You believe in a full investigation.  Great. Lay bare the bones of the institution.  Be unafraid to look at the wounds, to recognize them for what they are in each and every occurrence, nails in Christ’s body.  

That you fled the problem up to now, it's understandable in a way.  The apostles fled at His Crucifixion. The full investigation is beyond a single man, it’s the collective result of a bureaucratic organizational structure which sought to protect the reputation of the Church, at the expense of a few souls being damaged. If you really want to show the laity how sorrowful you are for the corruption and abuse and cover up, support a full investigation to root out all who sold everything for Wales.

Reform must happen, but for it to take hold, the Bishops need to stop hiding in committees that draft policies and stand as men of faith, as true shepherds who will seek out every lost sheep and fight off every wolf.

Personal Note:

I don't want to stay mad, but we can't let this go or be swept past by the comforting reassurances of a position paper, committee or future policies. This is the Church, these our our brothers and sisters in Christ. 

We don't want to lose any Bishops or priests or seminarians or laity to sin, by omission or commission.  So we will keep bringing this up, until they recognize, we need a better response than this...

So I'm praying.  Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your love.   

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Sherry's Musings on a Day Off about...Knowing and Not Knowing...

The internet is great for finding out just about anything about anyone provided you don't mind whether or not what you find out is true, only that someone found it.   

In the midst of everything in the news, about the Supreme Court nominee, about the Church, about the President, about Congress, the raging debate is about what should be believed, and why and how one goes about establishing truth.  What one believes about any of the hot button topics depends largely upon what camp one wants to support or upend.  We're mad as hell about X, you're associated with X, ergo, we're mad at you.  We've gone from "trust but verify" to "No trust and  no verification is sufficient if I doubt, and no verification is necessary if I believe."  

It's like we're stuck in the first line of the Iliad.  RAGE: Sing, Goddess, Achilles' rage, Black and murderous, that cost the Greeks Incalculable pain, pitched countless souls Of heroes into Hades' dark, And left their bodies to rot as feasts For dogs and birds, as Zeus' will was done.  

The spirit of the age, is rage.  It's an all consuming type of hunger which doesn't lead to changes in behavior, heart, or even a lessening of the need for more outbursts or anger within the individuals proclaiming their outrage.  Fire consumes and turns all into itself until there is nothing left but ashes. We'll have yelled and screamed and demanded a pound of flesh, a fist full of dollars, and change, but will it bring justice, or merely be the next part of a vicious cycle.

How do we break it or at least, put the breaks on this perpetual trench warfare of relativism and epistemological nihilism to get at knowing reality and being able to do something with that knowledge?

1) Take off the lenses.  My professor on policy spoke with great caution about how the political, rational and ideological lenses we wear if we use them exclusively, necessarily cut us off from thinking about the multi-faceted nature of issues, and from seeing the legitimacy of arguments not our own.  Life is, truth is more than what we can confirm by our biases, and bigger than any side we champion, and it does not need me or anyone else to minimize it or shave part of it away to make it bearable. 

2) Quest for truth first.  What is known? What can be known? Don't just apply Occam's razor to the news, to one's experience.  Truth is not always simply that which requires the least assumptions and is easiest to discern.    Truth is simple but Truth is hard.  Truth is knowable.  Truth is also usually more complex than one side or the other would allow or admit.  
Don't make assumptions, only draw conclusions from known facts.  

3) Ask the unpleasant questions that go against one's own preferences or outcome.  Ask the unpleasant questions that reveal bad acting.  Ask and ask and ask again.   If no one else is asking the question, start asking.  We suffer in this age from a wealth of capacity for information and investigation and a dearth of curiosity.  Part of that lack of inquisitiveness is an effort to protect one's own side in whatever argument is being advanced.   We don't want to have to handle the truth; it's not that we can't, but as a people, we are slothful.   We don't want to have to stomach it, so we opt not to eat.   

The problem with sloth in the mind, is it leads to sloth in action.  All summer we've seen what being unwilling to look squarely at reality leads to, a bigger wound.  What we don't treat, infects.  If we continue to pretend we can know nothing, understand nothing and believe nothing, we will eventually convince ourselves and the reality of a world in which nothing can be known, understood or believed. The subsequent world we'd live in, is a hellish world without end, where all that would be left, is ashes.   

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Reworking the Blog, Getting Back to Work

It's a funny thing.  When you volunteer to do something, it makes you rethink what you're doing and have done up to now. 

Having done freelance writing for the past fourteen years...I realized how much time has passed, and how many errors I've made, and how most of what I learned, I learned via trial and error. 

Things like: Don't bug the editor.

Why?  Because if you bug them, you don't get work.

Things like: Revise and edit before you hit send.

Why?  Because if you don't, you won't get published.

Things like: Don't double send.

Why? You'll lose both markets. 

I've also learned over time, to make concept pitches --like a series on sacred places, a series on the mysteries of the rosary, on the Doctors of the Church.  These sort of scope based projects can get you steady work.   No one taught me, but I wanted more steady work, and discovered, this helps. 

In the Catholic Writers Conference Online today, I heard a good talk about marketing, and thought, it's been a while since I added to my blog, cleaned it up, or reworked.   So you're getting a new look.  I hope you like it.

After I typed up my notes for the Conference, I thought, you know, you need to pitch a big scope again, to give yourself focus, so you're not just addressing current events.  There are plenty of people discussing and parsing current events.  Now I'm thinking...what event?   So I'm thinking, I'm going to take on the psalms.  It would give me 150 to examine. 

The question is...what order to address it in? 1-150, or as I find them.  I didn't do the rosary in order. I waited for the mysteries to find me.  As I sat pondering the pitch for such a series, my husband called.  He suggested the less known books of the bible, because as Catholics unless we're doing the liturgy of the hours or engaged in a concentrated bible study, we only get whatever snatches we find via the daily Scripture, or the Sunday mass.   I'm no expert, but I also knew, that's why it would be a good place to study.

Which meant thumbing through the bible, and I decided to examine the seven books which define a Catholic bible as Catholic, as versus any other bible, meaning Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, 1st and 2nd Macabees and Baruch.  Now I'm a Catholic. I've been a Catholic all my life.  I went to Catholic school for most of my education.  I've been a Catholic educator.  I'm also someone who actively seeks to grow my faith.

I'd never heard of the book of Baruch.  He's a prophet.  The Old Testament reveals the New.   If we don't know the Old, we might miss some of what is in the New.  I knew...this is where to go.  This is where I should plunge in deeper.   I scanned the Wikipedia site and found this: 

Justice is with the Lord, our God; and we today are flushed with shame, we men of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem, that we, with our kings and rulers and priests and prophets, and with our fathers, have sinned in the Lord's sight and disobeyed him. ... And the Lord fulfilled the warning he had uttered against us.... Lord Almighty, ... Hear... and have mercy on us, who have sinned against you... (Baruch 1:15–18; 2:1; 3:1–2)
St. Augustine's reflection, which is paired with this reading, on this occasion speaks of prayer: "[S]ince this [that we pray for] is that peace that surpasses all understanding, even when we ask for it in prayer we do not know how to pray for what is right..."; from there he explains what it means that the Holy Spirit pleads for the saints.

This lesser prophet's writings is part of Holy Saturday as well.   I thought about current events and knew...perhaps if we'd paid more attention to prophets. 

We need to know more.  Here was an opportunity to learn more.

So my other bit of advice as a freelancer, is discover what you don't know, and go investigate, find out, so that you cease being ignorant about something. Be curious and be fearless.  Pray. Ask questions, find the answers, write and begin again.  It's work. It's always work.  But it's work we need to do. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Small Success, Catholic Writer's Guild and More

Okay, this week, we had 4, count them, 4 Back to School Nights over the course of three days, so my brain is officially fried.   

However I did write the weekly feature, Small Success Thursday.

I also am part of a panel this weekend over at the Catholic Writers Conference Online.  (We'll be discussing freelancing).   If you'd like to know more, check them out over here.

Lastly, big news!   I submitted a non-fiction book in August to a Catholic publishing company.  Yesterday, they sent me a contract.  The book is slated to be see print in late spring, early summer. 

It's going to take a while to come down from the stunned look on my face.   

Sunday, September 9, 2018

What We Wish You'd Say...

I've read a lot  of proposals, a lot of suggestions, a lot of apologies from Bishops/priests and a lot of commentary on the scandals of this past summer.  For a time, I thought, there isn't an apology big enough, but I realized, what I really want, is for the religious of this Church, the ordained to take ownership, and to lead by their decisions and words, rather than proclaim what we should do.  I want to know they tremble not at the dangers and threats the world and the states might bring down upon them with the force of law and investigation, but from the bigger reality, souls are being lost by the failure to act, and by the unwillingness to be shepherds in this time of trial. 

So I thought I'd help everyone out by writing what I'd hope to hear from those who have chosen first and foremost to serve the Lord. 

Dear Everyone,

I am so very sorry this happened on my watch. I'm supposed to safeguard all of you. I'm responsible for your faith and your family's faith life and to the extent I've failed to send you good shepherds, to the extent I've failed to help separate those with a vocation from those seeking a way to cloak their desires, to the extent I've not heeded concerns or warning signs that caused great suffering, destruction of innocence, and sin in addition to crimes, I'm sorry.

Being a priest, it's with no small amount of fear and trembling that I recognize, every soul is my brother's, and I am my brother's keeper, and thus, this scandal, both the evil acts of it and the cover up are by my either not seeing it, stopping it, taking it seriously, believing it or investigating it, my fault.  My fault. My most grievous fault.  Even if I did everything I could, it wasn't enough.  Because there are victims, more than have been identified, and thus I know, if the wolves came and devoured some of my sheep, it was because I the shepherd either fled or slept. 

I should have stayed awake.  I should have been more vigilant.  I should have loved my fellow priests and seminarians better, protected their souls better.  I should have seen.  I should have heard. I should have spoken. I should have acted.   I am sorry. I am sorry. I am sorry. I am sorry. 

There is no cure for what has been done.  There isn't a way to magic away pain or suffering or loss.  There's only what I can do from today.   I must fast.  I must pray.  I must sublimate myself and sacrifice myself, for the good of all of you, and for the good of the whole church, and for my fellow priests, most especially those who suffer because I failed to stop those who should not have been priests, and those who hid what should have been laid bare. 

To that end, from this point forward, the books shall be open.
To that end, from this point forward, we invite investigation. 
To that end, we will provide counseling for any who are injured by past injustices permitted via the veil of secrecy. 
To that end, we will spend the rest of our lives, praying for the healing of each and everyone hurt by this scandal, and fasting in reparation for the injuries done by people of the Church to the people in the Church.   We'll ask you to all join with us on Fridays in particular, but the five other days of the week that are not Sunday, we will be foregoing some of the ordinary delights of life, as a reminder to ourselves of what indulgences of the body do to the strength of the spirit. 

We will host confessions all day Friday except during mass time and rosary time, and have the blessed sacrament out for adoration for all during those hours. 

This is not a call for mercy on me by the world, but a call to the world to pray with me and the Church, and for me and the Church, that we may become more wakeful, more faithful servants. I'm asking all the priests of this diocese, all the parishes to do the same, so that we grow in faith, we grow as communities, and we can make to Our Lord a more perfect sacrifice of our lives.  Once again, for all I did and all I failed to do, which hurt Our Lord's Body, the Church, I am sorry. I am sorry.  I am sorry.  It was my fault.  My fault.  My most grievous fault. 

Your Obedient Servant in all things,

Priest's or Bishop's or Cardinal's name here....

Friday, September 7, 2018

Small Success Thursday Link Up

Here's yesterday's Small Success Thursday link up.  Sorry it's a day late and almost two for that matter, but with school back in session, everything just take a little longer to get to in the course of a day. 

Small Success Thursday over at!

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Lifting the Veil

A friend lamented how wrong everything feels, how hard it seems to be both online and in real life, to create genuine community, to make it last.  It was reasonable, there’d been a real rift, and then a death.  Everything hurt.  

When everything hurts, one of the first cries of the heart is why?  Why does it have to hurt?  Why does it have to be this way?   The desire for the good (any good) to last forever, is a hint of our desire for Heaven and communion with God. We don’t want the good book to end, the good lazy afternoon, the good meal.   We don’t want friendships to end, either by separation, fights or death.   We don’t want true endings of anything. Even our happy endings of stories indicate a longing for the infinite.  They lived happily ever after, which doesn’t imply they ever stopped living or ever stopped being happy.  

However, part of what makes this life good, is the knowledge that as good as life here is, and it is good, part of why it is good, is people do the hard work of making it so. Buses run on schedule, and the drivers look for the regulars, giving a smile.   People say, “Good morning.” on their walks with their dogs.  People ask for volunteers for whatever it is, and other people hear the call and say “yes.”   

Much of the every day fills with the not so great like bills and errands, commutes and housework, check-ups, and dishes and laundry.  We muddle through the unpleasant like leaks and trash cans, dirty diapers and arguments and extra pounds, but there’s also all the unhappy of the everyday to manage, like world news, disease, grave suffering, grave evil and death.  What makes all of the bad category of life both big and small bearable, is grace. 

Grace is how we live through ordinary time, making it something more than mere minutes watching the clothes go round, or seconds sitting through a Spotify ad.   It’s when we sing with the radio with our children, and when we apologize. It’s when we make their favorite meal, and when we do the dishes without grumbling.  Grace is rearranging the day to visit the sick, to go to adoration, or to help a person get their papers in order for school.   Grace is the sublimation of the self, for the good of another, by service, or by words, or by simple presence when things are hard, or things are important to someone. 

Grace is like the air.  We don’t see it, but it’s as necessary for life.  It makes life life, as opposed to mere existence.  All we need do, is walk down any street.  Smile at everyone, and someone’s face will lift, because someone smiled.  When we move to a new home, it feels alien and strange and continues to feel like an unbroken in shoe that pinches and hurts until we know some faces, until someone unbidden, sees us in the midst of the ordinary, and says, “Hi…and our name.”  It means we are no longer unknown, no longer alone, no longer in danger of not being noticed by the world around us.  Someone knows who we are, and genuinely enough to remember something of who we are, in remembering our name.   

This society needs to rediscover the joy of being a society, which involves being present, and interacting with each other for the pleasure of each other’s company.  It’s the quickest path to peace. It’s the quickest path to making all the unpleasantness we face every day, more bearable.  Grace is revealing God’s love by our everyday actions and words.  It is carrying the Eucharist by how we carry ourselves, to all who are hungry, all who thirst, all who ache, all who mourn, all who suffer, all who hurt.   We need to be deliberate friends with those online and in the real world, to be salt –making everything taste better, and light, chasing away the darkness, by merely being present.   A friend online wrote, “Grace is dark matter.”

Explaining that it makes up most of the universe, but is unseen.  Grace is veiled, until we cooperate with it.   We should spend our whole lives, doing all we can to lift the veil.   

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Over at the Register Today

I have a piece over at the National Catholic Register, called "An Ounce of Prevention, A Pound of Cure."  Talking to my mom, I lamented, there is just so much that keeps happening, it's hard to write, edit, and let the piece rest before having to hit send. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Thank God for Errands and Ordinary Time

The news hit hard this week.  Fortunately, as much as my brain wanted to sit with the stories and consume article after article, sifting through the various perspectives to discern what's what, school starts tomorrow, and we still need hair cuts, lunch boxes, to put finishing touches on projects, and all the ordinary things of every day like laundry and oil changes and dinner.

Saints understood that even in the midst of crisis, the ordinary needed tending. By responding to the ordinary with grace, those ordinary moments became sanctified. Love will keep us sane.  It preserved the martyrs of the church as they went to their death. It preserved Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) such that she could step onto the cattle car train to Auschwitz and allowed Blessed Mother Teresa to carry on her work with the sick and the dying.   We the faithful know this to be true from Doctor of the Church, Saint Teresa of Lisieux.

"Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word, always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love."  Doing little things with great love, allow us to do greater things with even greater love. 

Right now, the internet and the world needs a lot of little things, like little words, little smiles, little gestures, little helps. Why?  Because only by beginning to work at the little acts of kindness, can we begin to repair the aches and wounds of the world.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

1,300 Embraced Splinters

Over and over again, in everyday stuff and online, I find faces of despair.  People have much to be angry over, and they're hurt they have to wrestle with this pain when there's so much that needs tending too.  This great mess called life keeps getting somehow messier, and it's frustrating to people of good conscience, of good will, of good faith, to find themselves overwhelmed with the levels of stupidity, cruelty, indifference, clericalism, protectionism and self-indulgence and self delusion we're bombarded with on a daily basis. 

In the Church, people are taking their children from schools, and themselves from the pews, because the leaders/princes of the Church have shown themselves to be poor shepherds in one of the most primary of roles, and as such, it is legitimate to question, how good they are at shepherding in any of their other functions.  It seems, to the laity, the leadership of the Catholic Church does not yet grasp in its totality, how much damage they've created by their slow plodding approach to things in this situation. 

I'm reminded of this scene.

The faithful are the hasty hobbits.  They've said they'll address this in November.  It' rather like Treebeard's telling Merry, "We've just finished saying Good Morning." and Merry's terse response, "But it's nighttime already! You can't take forever." 

Elizabeth Scalia says as much in her very fine article here.  I second all she recommends.

People do feel put upon by the public calls for prayers and fasting when it does not seem those who perpetuated or aided and abetted or ignored these crimes/sins are doing much at all other than publicly wringing their hands.  However, what we are asked to do is still of great merit, not merely for their souls, but for our own. 

I would love for Bishop after Bishop, even those who are good ones, to say, I renounce, I resign, I will serve at the lowest position, and for them to do it.  We need to see something from the Bishops akin to this: 

Even if they've earned a spot on the team by their efforts, talents and service.   

They know the ways of the saints.  Saint Maximilian Kolbe said "Take me instead."  in the concentration camps.  If he could surrender a place of no comfort for a place of certain death for love of Christ, for love of the other, a father who cried out, how is it no bishops, no cardinals feel this same push of the Holy Spirit?  If they cannot see it, then what about us who can?

Well, if they don't, then, we who feel the pain of the fathers and mothers over their crushed children, and of the children who were so violated, we must say, "Take me instead." and that's why it's not wrong for the laity to pray and fast and offer penance.   We need to take on something, something which will cost us, something public and I do not know what it is, but since we see the pain, and we know the depth of it, it's not enough to howl "Do something."  If they don't get it, then it must be us who act. 

I go back to the report, there are over 1,000 victims.  There are over 300 priests.  So there should be a 1,300 day penance, if only to give some hint of action on the part of the laity and yes, we will do penance for the guilty, and penance in reparation for the damage done to the innocent. 

Yes.  But what do we do?   

1) Begin.  Write on your calendar today, Victim 1.  Writing it down, since we don't have the names, is a way of beginning.  
2) Offer a sacrifice of today, of something today for victim 1.   
3) Tomorrow, begin again, for victim 2. 
4) If you forget, begin again anyway. 
5) If you mess up, offer your foolish forgetfulness. 
6) Keep at it.  

For those who question, what good does sacrificial offerings do to the sufferings of the past, or of today, for the victims of the sufferings? 

Answer, more than we can understand. 
1) It acknowledges the reality of the injury done (something kept hidden for far too long).  
2) Spiritually, you become united with Christ by your sacrifice/atonement.  Christ suffered and died for each of us, we're not even doing much more than offering a splinter, but we can unite with Christ with that splinter.   
3) It might prompt you individually to more, because the Holy Spirit always starts with mustard seeds. 

The number of victims posted would take from today to Friday, May 21, 2021.  May 21st is a feast day in the Catholic Church, the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, instituted this year by Pope Francis. I didn't know that until I googled it, it seems providential, to pray for each of these little ones harmed by the church, to the Mother who birthed Christ, who loves the Church as none of us do, and who wants all of us home at the altar.   

7) When you get to day 1000, begin work on the alms giving and prayers for those who did or hid these acts.   Here, 
8) Give something away each day for 300 days. It can be time, it can be things, it can be money, but surrender something.   
9) Why?  

          a) Because these acts occurred over time, and so time is something that must be given in response. 

          b) Because the only way we won't be driven from the life of the Church even as we cling to the faith of it, is by willful obedience, and this is a discipline which will allow us to lead by example. 

          c) Because these priests, who did these things, they also held the Eucharist, they were consecrated to Our Lord, and God does not want any of his sheep lost, and they were/are lost.  We must be like the good shepherds to these lost shepherds with our prayers.  The prayers will not be wasted, (but I did put them after the victims because yes, I'm still annoyed and flawed and know we all need time to beat that down. Our prayers will be like the Lord's invitation to their souls, to respond to the feast.  We cannot save them, but we can participate in their salvation by our prayers.   We can imitate Christ's mercy on the cross which came before anyone asked or acknowledged what they'd done.   

It won't be a Year of Mercy or a Year of Humility, because it will take three years, six months and three weeks plus a day to embrace the  1,300 splinters, by the people of the Church for the Church, out of love of Christ, and all those injured by this grievous wound, this great thorn.. 

That day will be March 17, 2022, the feast of Saint Patrick's, and a feast day marking the chasing out of the snakes from Ireland. I didn't know that either when I googled it.  So to me, feasting for the victims with the promise of Mary whose foot crushes the serpent, and with Saint Patrick, who chases the snakes away, is the proper response.  For me, it is too wonderful and too perfect a timing not to begin.

So let us begin.  

Thursday, August 23, 2018

It's Thursday...

And I forgot to write a Small Success Thursday this week so there is no linky-love to this week.  We did launch three kids to Graduate School, College One and College 2 this week, so there's that, but we didn't get to writing about it. 

I do have a column over at the National Catholic Register if you'd like to take a look-see.  Thanks as always for stopping by, and see you next Thursday for Small Success Thursday. 

Here's the Link: Reflections on What Chastity Means and What it Doesn't, and What it Demands.  I admit, I wish I'd written a little more, it feels like there's so much more to discuss than what can be crammed into less than 800 words. 

Ugly Questions Unanswered

The deeper one reads, the harder it gets.

 There have been some who sought to soften the impact or influence of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report, by disputing whether rape took place, pointing out media bias, and blasting the fact that this report includes some material inadmissible in court, and without the opportunity of those accused within the report, to dispute it.   However, the sheer weight and cost to the lives of those who testified, and those who testify by their deaths, cannot be sponged away. 

The Catholic Church and her princes are supposed to stand for something better, bigger, more universal.  That so many have been found, that there are so many hidden reports, memos, documents revealing this problem, indicates somehow, those in power felt comfortable with how things were. They could live with themselves and with others, content to justify continuing as is. 

I can't.

Here are the hard questions already formed. I know there are more.  

Why were virtually none of these incidents reported to the police? 

Why were none of these cases and reports investigated beyond the initial moment? 

Why did the process of dealing with complaints become merely a filing procedure?  Not just when first reported by also later *After 2002.

Who saw the notes? 

Who decided to do nothing or to stop investigating at some point and why? 

Who filed the notes away?  Who knew where the notes were? 

Even when cases were investigated, and checks written because of prosecution, did no one within the diocese stop to wonder, if there were others that might be doing the same sort of damage?

Personal note: It is right and just when an injury is done, for the person/institution causing the injury to make restitution. 

However, where did the money come from to pay for counseling, to cover the checks written to victims?  Someone signed off on those checks, so someone knew. 

Those putting into the collection basket each week, did not.  Catholic laity gave in good faith, and would pay for those injured, but we ought to not have continued to support those who broke the faith, those who did the injury, those who perpetuated the silence and the crimes/sins, and who proved themselves over and over and over again, to be unable to restrain themselves from one of the most basic and fundamental acts of abuse/evil known to the Christian and Non-Christian world alike. 

No matter who you are, you do not harm the innocent.   The innocent were harmed.  Their childhoods were aborted, sometimes leading to self-destructive behavior like drug and alcohol abuse and lives of destitution or death. While the victims suffered the aftershocks of the injury, the perpetrators collected pensions, monthly stipends, and treatment for their maladies.  

Our collective ignorance was an additional injury, because we merrily kept on giving and supporting those doing the harm, and thinking ourselves good for giving.   

In the report, why was a priest paid to maintain his silence? 

Why when the scandals broke in 2002, were these incidents not revealed?

Is it because none of us want to look? 

Is it because we naively hoped with policies in place, the problems revealed by the grand jury report, would go away? 

Did people know and just not tell? 

How do we make sure silence doesn’t cover injuries in the future? 

How can we trust the stewards of the Church, if they were unfaithful in large matters, vital matters, matters of the soul, how can we know if were they trustworthy in smaller ones? 

How can we know that those who don’t have these problems revealed by a grand jury, simply don’t have their problems revealed? 

What else is hidden? 

These are ugly questions, which if we’re serious about cleaning and clearing out the mess from our Church, we must ask them and answer them.

I don’t like ugly questions, because they usually involve ugly answers as well.  This report scourges the soul, because it reveals and reminds us, all of us, each of us, how capable we are of sin.   We willingly sin when we perpetuate it, deny it, when we fall asleep in its presence, when we think we can buy off our conscience with thirty pieces of silver, when we disbelieve its existence, or run away from it. 

For those who don't want to see, who don't want to believe, who don't want to know, I urge you, we must read it. We must embrace this cross, with all its ugliness, with all its splinters, with all its thorns, or we will find ourselves nailed to it by the world.   We must be willing to look and do a collective examination of conscience, if we are to do justice to the victims, and begin the process of being the Bride of Christ we’re called to be and save as many souls as possible.

Page 995.   Three-hundred sixty-one pages to go.  

Saturday, August 18, 2018

This week's link up

I forgot to link up to SST, in part because what's going on in the Church, and the ordinary stuff of real life, took over too much time to sit and write even a link in sentence.  Here's this week's offering, which I can't spend a lot of time on this morning because I have to take her to cross country practice.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

We're Going to Have to Wrestle With This...

Lots of people say, "I'm spiritual, not religious." and it is because they fail to see the connection between the physical actions (in the sacraments and ceremony) and the deeper reality these physical signs, symbols, gestures and prayers, reveal.  Faith without works is dead, as Saint James said. In the case of the Pennsylvania report detailing accusations, assaults, actual documentations and testimony covering several decades, involving 300 priests and over 1,000 children, we have case after case after case, of works without faith. 

That seems like it might be an overstatement, but the business of the Church seemed to triumph over the spiritual reality of the Church. There will be some who read the report, and because many of these documented abuses took place decades ago, clamor for everyone to move on.   However, these sins, and they were sins, and these crimes, and they were crimes, demand we wrestle with the reality, we are never free from the temptation to cut ourselves off from God, even when where we work, what we do, and all that surrounds us, even the words we must say, call out to God.   We can have everything and forfeit it for a want we can't have.  We can be living out our vocation, and fail the moment things become difficult.  We can fail by looking away, by pretending whatever we see, isn't that bad, or by pretending what we do in this circumstance, doesn't matter. 

We're part of the defense against the Gates of Hell because we are the Church.  Ergo, we must not be asleep in our spiritual lives.  To have acted and preyed upon so many, (1000 known), spiritual deadness must have abounded.   By what we do and what we fail to do, we will find ourselves saying, "Lord, Lord! When did we see you suffering?" and find ourselves spit out for our lukewarmness.   There's a lot of millstones to go around, for neglect, for institutional protectionism, and for actual assaults and failure to report, and profound indifference to the subsequent suffering. 

The error for each of us, is to will only to move forward, as if we can somehow discard sin like a skin.  It's an error of worldly thinking to think we could ever purge sin from our hearts.  Only God's grace can burn away our hardness of hearts, and forge the soft points that should be steel.   We cannot ever taste even a little of sin, for it's like we're all alcoholics, it's just the flavor of the liquor we're debating.    

The whole of the Church will have to perform a penance.  I propose a Year of Humility, both public and private, where we pray, fast and do reparations and alms giving.  We offer masses and shun feasts other than the Eucharist. We hold confessions every Friday from sun-up to sun-down and try to have 24-7 adoration staffed so every parishioner, every family performs a holy hour during the year, as part of the whole Church response to storm Heaven begging for grace, for healing for the victims, and yes, even for the perpetrators.   

As an institution and organization, there's a desire to move on, but we need to wrestle with this pain and it's going to be messy. It's going to hurt.   To begin to heal, we must first allow ourselves to examine this wound and be willing to enter into it.   

The one comfort I can give, is our faith is not based on the faith lives of men but from Christ.  He's with us, he's on the cross for us.  He invites us to enter into his suffering for the Church and we should.  If you want to read what else I've written about this subject, it's over at the National Catholic Register: The Wake Up Call We Need, and if you have a suggestion for further discussion on this matter, leave it in the com box.  

The Grand Jury's report is here. Read it. Weep. Pray. Fast, and weep again.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Have a piece at Aleteia

Hey everyone, I have a piece over at Aleteia on Adoration.  I hope you enjoy it. 

August is my adoration month, where I try to go every day. I don't always make it, but I try.   For those unfamiliar with the practice, this piece might help introduce you to the way to enter into this form of prayer.   I'm hoping it makes it hard to find a seat at the local 24-7 chapel. 

How to Spend an Hour in Adoration.

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Worth of It

How do you do it? 
Anywhere someone discovers we have ten kids, the question comes up.  I understand.  It's unusual. 

My flippant answer is "Some days, I don't." and that can mean house work, reading, exercise or getting a shower.   

I'm fairly certain the "it" they wonder about, is the work. It's true.  There's always more to do, and as far as I know, I've never been finished.    To do "it" would imply it got done.  My understanding of this life is, "it's never done, until we are," and so I'm not done with "it."  I don't spend a lot of time with angst over how to do it.  Angst doesn't help.

Some days I don't exercise. Some days I don't read. Some days I don't write. Some days, I don't get it all done, and some days, that doesn't bother me.  It isn't a celebration of sloth, it's a recognition, this won't all happen, it won't all be perfect, and it won't all get done no matter what I do.  So just do what you can, and tomorrow, do it again. 

 Instead, I spend a lot of time asking, "What's next?' 

Summer today ended without prior notice, as one child has practice every day at seven o'clock in the morning.   I shouldn't have asked.   Still, the how do you do it question isn't an expression of awe, but a question of where do you get the will? Because I get, parenting is an act of the will every day.

Today, in the kitchen, I discovered the remains of someone's cooking project, recycling which needed to be taken out, and that I forgot to start the dishwasher last night.  Upstairs in the hallway, is apparently the nesting grounds for all towels in the household, and a quick survey indicated I needed to bus the rooms for evening drink of water cups. 

The real question, "How do you do it?" was "How do you do it without losing your mind?" 
My joke felt a little sharper to me.  Maybe I wouldn't use that one anymore. 

Which is why the answer remains, some days, I don't because of whatever the what's next turns out to be.  I also spend time in my head telling myself, "Never ask that." 

Yesterday, I'd been at the park with the youngest four, listening to two different women.  Each spoke wistfully about only having two, and feeling trapped by economics, by decisions they'd made earlier, by life itself, into staying stuck with less than their hearts longed for.  They both drifted off from me in the park, but watched the interplay of theirs and my children with hungry eyes.  They each told me, they feared even as they wanted, "Just one more."

Having just met, I couldn't whisper to them, "It's worth it."  even with the towel marshaling grounds and filled trash bags, endless errands and paperwork and dishes though I did say, "You couldn't imagine how much you'd love your first, and then you thought your heart would burst with the second.  That same thing happens with every one of them." to one of the women.  I would have said more, but she ran off with her phone, though she told me, she was going to tell her husband that. 

I wanted explain somehow, that desire to love more, that's God talking to your soul, inviting you into the infinite unknown.  The "It" I don't do, but live with every day, is beyond my capacity to "do," because love is never finished.   It's just my will that doesn't always want to do much beyond bark at those I love, "Clean this mess up!"  Most of learning how to do "it" is learning to say yes when you are asked, to ignore your own desire to say, "No!" or bark.   It is climbing the stairs, fixing the lunch, taking the trip to the park, and making sure the meal has vegetables.   It is tying the shoes and finding matched socks.  It is never done because there's always need, there's always more.   Fortunately, love is infinite, so love also is always a reward if you let yourself surrender.  I also know, it isn't numbers, it's how you love, and one can be an infinite lover with one, like Mary, or a flawed lover of the infinite, like me. 

My twelve year old came into my room.  She asked me yesterday to climb the stairs to look at her room. I'd not found the time.  She came in, "Mom...I'm bored."  I reminded her I'd yet to see her room.  She lit up like a Christmas tree. "Hurry, come see it!" and I told her, she helped me finish this story.   The "it" involves a lot of sacrifice, sometimes just stopping what you want to do and climbing the stairs, but if you surrender, you discover a lot of joy you'd otherwise miss. 

We played a game of Extreme Twister afterwards, with five of my kids.  I won twice before retiring, with both a slight head rush from the blood and bragging rights.  I wanted to whisper to those two women's hearts, "It's worth it." 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Today, I'm at Aleteia

The goal for this year was to hit six pieces a month.  Last month fell short, and this month started slow.   However, today, I have a piece over at Aleteia.
I called it, "One Thousand Second Days" but that seems obscure if you don't already know what the piece is about so it's titled, "Seven Spiritual Lessons to Learn With Your Sneakers On.

For those interested, I've been working out with since July 4th, with twelve days where I didn't meet or exceed my step goal.   So of the thirty-five days since I started this thing, I made a solid effort on twenty-three of the days, with my longest streak of strong effort being 13 days long. Now on day 7 of my next string (hopefully) of two weeks of effort. 

P.S. If you share the piece, you can enter in a pilgrimage.  It also helps me so...thanks!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Over at the Register today

What I wrote the other day, the National Catholic Register picked up for publication.  I'm very touched. 

On another note, I do want to remind everyone, you can watch Bishop Barron's series, Catholicism for free at the link embedded. It's a reminder to all of us, why we stay, because being Catholic is so much more than the exercises and prayers and obligations, it is all of that as manifestations of what we believe, and in who we believe, not the belief itself. 

Sometimes We All Need Reminders

Woke up in the middle of the night feeling like I'd somehow flunked a quiz.  Writing/publishing's been slow. Weight's remained steady despite exercise (Consistently) since July 4th.  In short, life felt rather like a dog day of summer.  I'd fallen asleep after rereading "A Horse and His Boy," by C.S. Lewis, and in that early hour of the morning, the chastening of Bree, the War Horse struck home.

Aslan appears.  "Now, Bree," he said, "you poor, proud, frightened Horse, draw near. Nearer still, my son.  Do not dare not to dare.  Touch me. Smell me. Here are my paws. Here is my tail. These are my whiskers.  I am a true Beast."

"Aslan," said Bree in a shaken voice, "I'm afraid I must be rather a fool."
"Happy the Horse who knows that while he is still young. Or the Human either."

Bree needed to learn what the hermit told him, but resisted until Aslan appeared.  "My good horse," said the Hermit, who approached them unnoticed because his bare feet made so little noise on that sweet, dewy grass. "My good Horse, you've lost nothing but your self-conceit. No, no, cousin. Don't put back your ears and shake your mane at me. If you are really humbled as you sounded a minute ago, you must listen to sense. You're not quite the great horse you'd come to think."  I thought about my frustration with not getting published or the job I wanted, and the wise words of a friend, about being willing to trust the right position would be there, and not wanting to surrender that bit of the ego.  To which God simply asks, "Why not?"

Sometimes, my self worth gets tied up in my weight, my accomplishments, or even asserting having ten children.  None of these are in any way related to anything other than what I've done or not done.  They have only so much merit as facts about me, for the having and the doing and the weighing are not where the worth lies, however often I misjudge myself.

I thought of our kids.  I love our children not for their ability to run a 5K or grades or even their obedience (when it happens).  I love them because they are.  Just so, my husband loved me long before any of this part of our lives happened and I him, and my parents, before I could do squat.  Love doesn't require us to do, but to be.  God loves us and we can do quite literally nothing without Him, and nothing "for" Him, but to love Him back.  We can only respond to God's love with our own imitation of His generosity and selflessness, with all that we allow ourselves to surrender. 

This morning, in my Facebook feed, a friend posted a quote, "Be so good, they can't ignore you." by Steve Martin.  I thought about that quote and while it's true that one must persist and keep honing one's craft no matter what, it is a calling to be good so as to be noticed and I believed in that moment, that's exactly what in some cases (not always and not all), I'd done.   At which point, the words of the Hermit to Bree hit home once more, after acknowledging he's braver and cleverer than the non-talking horses he's lived with; "It doesn't follow that you'll be anyone very special in Narnia. But, as long as you know you're nobody very special, you'll be a very decent sort of Horse."  and Bree still struggles before making it to Narnia with whether horses who talk, do horsey things like roll in the grass.  For him, pride is a constant thorn, because he wants to be special and he's used to thinking of himself that way.   He's used to valuing himself for how he is viewed, and for what he's done.

He rolls in the grass before he gets there, just to make sure he gets one last chance to enjoy himself before getting to Narnia.  While C.S. Lewis doesn't mention it, as he's wrapping up the story, we can know, in Narnia, Bree probably rolled with abandon, because he's finally surrendered that self-conceit. 

I'd made my list of things to do for the day.  I added confession.  Why?  Because that's how I roll. 

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Reason to Stay

“Lord, to whom would we go?”  It is the reason I stay.  I've read enough of the reports and the findings to feel beyond sad.  I read it because it's important to know, even as it hurts.

If the Church were merely a worldly institution, a club with rules and regulations, I’d be demanding all the money I’ve given, all the time, all the work paid back with interest for the abject failure of so many over so many years, to recognize evil must be opposed.  I’d be screaming and suing to run the whole thing to the ground leaving not even dirt alone, for holding the laity to a standard they ignored themselves.  People who followed the church and gave willingly, lovingly, earnestly of their time and treasure, who obeyed the rules to the letter and beyond, if this were merely a worldly thing, are the greatest suckers in a sad long history of suckers.  

Except we know the Church is a hospital for sinners, we just didn’t know, or rather, we forgot, the assistants to the physician, they too are sick.  We are sick.  I am sick.  We are all sick.  I know I’m sick at heart, sick of trying, sick of hearing about reform, sick of hearing how good everyone normally is, because I don’t see it anymore.   I can’t trust what I see.   I can’t trust what I hear.  I can't trust what I read once.  I can’t trust what I used to know or rather, believe.   We need more than policy and procedure.  We need action, we need more than the usual, it’s just a few bad actors, and ordinary letters and interviews and tweets saying “we’re all saddened and angry.” 

No.  You are not yet.  You are no where near as sad or as angry as you need to be about this, because you still know, if we want the Eucharist, we can go no where else.  We’re stuck knowing the sacraments are here, knowing Jesus is here, and knowing, everything else is also still here.  

Howling at God seems stupid. Howling about how these people pretended they weren’t sinning, even as they created rules and rubrics and made us get finger printed and hear lessons about proper behavior, is infuriating.  We weren’t the source of the problem. I don't howl at God because I'm fairly certain God didn’t like this state of affairs either.  

However, you will hear me howl. “A Wizard should know better!”  Going to war seems like a viable option, even feeling as I do, like a very little hobbit with a very tiny rock.   I admit, I want to throw my rock.

This sin needs to stop.    The cleansing and clearing of the temple is a severe mercy, because it will require removing people from positions, even though they might be gifted at what they do.  A priest is first and foremost, a servant to God, and to the face of God in all others.  If the priests cannot serve without being slaves to grave sin, (either of omission or commission) they cannot stay.  They will have to walk a more humble path, stumbling with the rest of us, wanting always the Eucharist, and not always being able to partake.  God wants all of us in Heaven, but we cannot get there clinging to sins or pretending we don’t sin, or pretending the sins we commit aren’t serious.

We see from this horrid scandal, from this bitter fruit, how little some of the shepherds of our Church have valued this gift, or the dignity of others or themselves or the sacrifices good priests and good laity made in trying to live it.  This hurt hurts, because the Church isn’t just a club, it isn’t an organization of the world.  It is the Bride of Christ.  It is the Body of Christ, and we have wounded it grievously, by what we have done and what we have failed to do, and many will feel tempted to wound the Body of Christ still more, out of wrath, revenge, and a sense of righteousness.   We will be wrong because it will be very difficult not to get caught up in the dark joy of rage.   We won’t be able to stop, and we will hurt the Church and good servants within it in the process.  

So I’m putting down my rock, because I know I’m not without sin, because I must stay, and because throwing the rock would not remove one smidgen of the wrong, it would only add.   However the charge remains, the Church needs to act to make sure this does not continue, not one more day, not one more moment. This cannot continue.  I pray for some of my children to one day follow a calling from God, but now I have to fear, some predator will use the position of authority to abuse my child, now I have to wonder at every act of kindness, every connection and I resent the hell out of feeling I must exercise necessary wariness.  

Please, be priests of courage.  Please, even if you've stumbled up to now, because you are men who loved God, who still love God, who want to serve God, act now.  Root it out.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Small Success Thursday, maybe don't climb every mountain

Went on vacation this past week, so blogging has been lighter than usual.   However while on vacation, we hiked up a mountain.  The guide said the trail could be described as "Moderate."  Moderate sounds so reasonable.  Surely we who are not totally unfit can handle a "Moderate" trail.  Moderate sounds urbane, rational, modern, smooth. 

Moderate is a relative term. 

A 1.9 tenths of a mile trail all uphill, with the fording of a bog and a dried but muddy creek bed, scrabbling across rocks holding onto nearby saplings, I submit is not moderate unless your family tree includes antlers, or at the very least, hooves. 

Even the dog dutifully marching up the seemingly endless "stairs" looked more than happy to sit by a rock while the humans recovered.  Every person we met on the trail groused about how "moderate" the path seemed to be. 

At at least three points going up, each of us considered quitting.  We goaded each other on, saying, "We'd feel bad if we gave up." "We needed to prove we could."  and "We'd be disappointed."

Two and a half hours of sweat later, we arrived at the apex, and were told by a local attempting to craft actual stairs out of rock into the path, if we wanted a good view, we'd have to go another 300 yards.   We sat and ate our fruit and granola bars and nutella and rued we'd not brought more food.  The view of sitting seemed pretty magnificent to me.

The trek back took considerably less time, but introduced us to reverse muscle pain, as the hind muscles felt over taxed the same way brakes overheat when going down hill too much.   We'd been hiking a moderate trail for what ultimately turned out to be five hours.   Getting back to our cabin, we collapsed for what we'd hoped would be two, but turned out to be four hours.   I'd say we felt moderately tired, if moderate means what it meant when we experienced the moderate trail. 

After the nap/recovery, we joked, "It's a good thing we persisted, or we might feel bad."  and, "Wow, this hurts, but at least we're not disappointed with ourselves."  It hurt to laugh.  After considering, maybe every mountain doesn't need climbing and conquering, we declared ourselves wisened by experience and called it a day.

Happy Small Success Thursday.  Next week, I'm taking on molehills.  Much more manageable.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Have a piece over at the Register Today

I know blogging has been light, however, I do have a piece over at the National Catholic Register.

Please share this book review so that more people discover this saint's wonderful writings as translated by Victoria Schneider.  I have a link to Scepter Press if you'd like to purchase the book, The Bishop of the Abandoned Tabernacle, Saint Manuel Gonzalez Garcia.  I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Because the Schedule is Driving Me Batty

Today, we had summer school I, summer school II, pick up from Summer School 1, Pick up from Summer School II, drop off for Driver's Ed.  Drop off for Conditioning.  Pick up from Driver's Ed.  Pick up from Conditioning. Drop child off at the Metro.  Drop kid off at the gym (note, not me), and later, pick up kid from gym, and later still, pick up kid from metro.   My youngest son's favorite movie?  Cars, Cars 2 and Cars 3.  The kids' favorite video game?  Mario Kart.  For someone who doesn't Uber, I spend a lot of time playing Taxi. 

This mind you, does not exclude the time at home spent folding laundry, sweeping, organizing paperwork, cleaning the kitchen, cooking meals and loading and unloading the dishwasher.

I also spent a load of time putting away books like a mousy librarian. 

I decided, this won't do.

So tomorrow, I'm taking a different tack.   I'm wearing all black. I'm going insist other people drive and cook and clean.  I'm only going to work at night.



I'm posting a note for them tomorrow on the fridge. 

Dear Children,

If you are in crisis. If there's a need.  You should wait until nightfall and go out with a flashlight and construction paper and signal this:

 Before signalling, understand BatMom will handle things differently than ordinary mom. 

For example: 

If you take your sister's cookie, I will make you return said cookie, or if it has been consumed, BatMom will make you clean  your sister's room and take her out for ice cream.  The difference between Mom and Batmom? Batmom will talk in a low gravely voice and wear a cape.   It makes being a Mom cool. 

If you fight with your brother over the television/Wii/DS/Switch/whatever it is, Mom would separate you and take away the electronics.   Batmom will separate you, take away the electronics, and tell you no electronics until you read a book and give you both three chapter books to choose from.   Why?  Because I'm Batmom. 

If you turn on the electronics after Batmom declares otherwise, Batmom will using a Batmom voice, challenge you to a waterballon fight outside.   Batmom knows, you don't mix electronics with water, so it will get you away from the stupid inducing machines.    Batmom is also a better shot than regular Mom. 

I still have to do the horrendous schedule.  But I bet if I slap a few bats on the outside of the car, and it won't be quite so boring. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Fruit We Should Be Serving...

Early in his papacy, Pope Francis proclaimed the Year of Mercy from December 8th, 2015 to November 16,2016.  I’m wondering if he’d consider a Year of Mercy Part Two, because I’m not sure the first one took.

First, a confession.  I am a terrible sport in games.  I struggle with getting irritated when I play poorly, which makes me play even more poorly.  I get rattled, and I forget in those moments, I'm playing to play, not to win.  It is a source of constant frustration to me even if I'm swallowing it, because it robs me of the pleasure I sought from spending time with my family playing. I've prayed, confessed, wrestled with this most of my adult life.  I've read articles, I've tried to remain detached, and I've considered simply not playing to avoid temptation.  Instead, I've opted to have my family remind me over and over again when that particular demon flares up, "You're playing to play."  in one way or another.  Sometimes it involves stepping on my foot under the table.  I consider such steps, a good corrective mercy by them, which I deserve. 

So back to the issue that's bugging me today. 

Why hasn’t the New Evangelization worked?  

There’s loads of energy being spent on radio, online, newspapers, television, on evangelization and what isn’t being seen, is the building of community.  There are lots (Thank God) of individual conversions taking place, giving witness, but there isn’t a sense of a community being formed by all this work.  Our nation feels fractured and broken as never before, both inside and outside of the Church, which left me with a nagging question.

Why hasn’t the New Evangelization worked?  

People are writing. People are reading. People are praying. There are email chains of novenas and podcasts on scripture, blogs, videos, great lectures on the catechism, all at our fingertips. Where is the fruit? 

People are doing all these things and while there are moments, there is not a collective weight, a visible sign to the outside world of this internal reality of being the Body of Christ. In the same way, we all know there’s all this energy directed at serving the poor, providing for material needs in countless places, through soup kitchens and pantry programs, through shelters and job training and all the very good good things provided through the Church and her charities because people believe in the teachings of the Church, however, there is not a joy manifested to the world, only more need.   

In the same way, there are thousands of Catholic schools that provide education in both the academic and spiritual realm.  The community, on both a macro and micro level which should be the Body of Christ however, remains somehow, not fully engaged. 

Online, it's easy to stumble into places where people fight over what the Pope says, what the Pope means, and whether to follow him or fight him is the correct manifestation of living the faith.  Those same people cry out for the excommunication of those who disagree. 

There are fiefdoms within parishes, cliques, serious schisms between those who favor one ministry over another, and out and out hostility over issues both discreet (what type of music is played) and profound, (actual arguments about doctrine) which keep all of us from being Brothers and Sisters in Christ.  The fights in the parishes, online, and throughout the nation seem to go on without end, and with all the time, a dark joy from their perpetual spitting and spinning. The spirit of the age is distrust, deny, dismiss, and destroy, the very opposite of what Christ calls all of us to as individuals and as His body.  

My thoughts I thought perhaps too dark, so I turned to the scripture for the mass of the day.  On July 23, 2018 and the readings involved Micah, Chapter 6, Psalm 50 and from the Gospel, Matthew Chapter 12, versus 38-42 where Jesus says to the scribes and Pharisees, “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the Prophet….”  

That didn’t help.
We know what doesn’t work; excessive focus on doctrine, excessive focus on service, excessive focus on art work, group projects, group prayer, individual prayer, one way, a thousand ways, ground up, top down, systemic scaffolding of instruction, everything we’ve tried. Despite all wanting theoretically to achieve the same thing through different means, we keep stepping on each other's toes. 

The only answer to the angry spirit of the age, is to be asking each other, to please step on our toes when we take too much of a lead.  The answer to my problem, humility. The answer to the bigger problem, is the same thing.  Offer Mercy.  Ask Forgiveness.  No quid pro quo.   Offer mercy everywhere there is anger.  Ask for forgiveness whether it is given or not.  These are the salves that will lead us to salvation.  They are the fruit we should be offering if we want the coming age to be one of something other than a nation of angry islands, all screaming for someone else to be punished.   

Elizabeth Scalia wrote at Word on Fire about The Anti-Christ Arriving in a World Without Mercy," and showed a picture of a wolf.  If we want a world not peopled by wolves, we must fight the Anti-Christ with the one thing the Devil cannot abide, love; love manifested in acts of mercy, and sublimation of ourselves.  

The early prophets all preached essentially the same thing, (however unwillingly at times), as the early apostles.  “Repent and believe.”   We must do the same thing.   It’s both a universal and individual call. 
Christ tells us, over and over again He is the way, the truth and the light. Come to Him ourselves, and invite others.

The question I think for many, is how do we do this?  How do we know we are doing it?  How do we know if we are engaged in true acts of service, true acts of generosity, truly doing little things with great love? 

Answer: If we stop trying to win.  If we stop trying to take credit.  If we stop trying to prove we’re right, or better, or more worthy or smarter or more informed or more whatever, and simply serve. Or, as I told my children to remind me, play to play. 

Put God first, trust God.  Put Christ first.  Trust Christ. Spend time with Christ, and Christ will order each of our souls so that eventually willingly, we will put ourselves last, so more people can encounter Christ.

I'm going to go ask my kids if they want to play a game with me.      

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