Thursday, December 13, 2018

Small Success Thursday at Home...

I stopped the Small Success Thursday because it became too repetitive in message, but I do miss giving myself a weekly what did you do this past week Sherry gut check.   So here's my homespun Small Success Thursday:  

1) Five of my kids were in A Christmas Carol at the high school where I work, and it was loads of fun, even if everyone felt very tired afterwards. 


2) Working on trying to write tighter prose, in a workshop.  Editing two different types of writing, my brain is melting in the process.  

3) Youngest daughter received first reconciliation this week.  

4) Fifth visited a college for the first time, and is in indoor track and signed up for an SAT.   

5) Third got a job for the summer lined up.  Second got a job for second semester and applied for a summer program.  

6) We did Breakfast with Santa. 

7) The tree is up.  

8) Finished reading a book.  

9) Seventh was in a band concert.  

10) Third and Second will finish exams this week, fourth next.   Everyone will be home by next week.  

11) 1st is hitting the gym each day. (Very proud of him). 

12) Got in a date night and a dinner night out with a friend.   

Lots of little things, all lovely that made for a great two weeks (I put the past two weeks together).  Will try to do this each week, just here. Hope your week is filled with Small Successes.    



Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Over at the Register Again...

I have a piece over at the National Catholic Register, How to Reclaim Advent from the Tinsel.  I'll be over here, addressing a Christmas card.  It takes more discipline than I thought...but it does mean, it's not a stress like it was. 

Friday, December 7, 2018

At the Register

I wrote this piece a while ago, and lo and behold, today it saw print. It was a surprise to me to be sure. 

What Jesus Wants of Us,

Monday, December 3, 2018

Happy Birthday!

Over the years, I've written lots of stories...about my kids, about myself, about life, but there's one person I usually tell my stories to, long before they're written; my mom.   She calls me when there's a typo. 

Mom's my first friend after my husband.  She often hears all my heart holds.   What she should hear more often from me, is thank you. 

What she should hear more often from me is; Thank you for joining that book of the week club back when I was a kid.  I read those stories to my kids and they love them as much as I did.

Thank you for telling me to read the books I didn't want to read, because they were really good books once I let myself read them.

Thank you for telling me to get a hair cut, go to the gym, giving me a subscription to Magnificat and introducing me to some of the better chocolates out there.

Thank you for taking me shopping when I couldn't or wouldn't find the time. 

Thank you for asking past the ordinary, "How are things?" when you knew for whatever reason, I wasn't talking.

Thank you for telling me when you didn't like something.

Thank you for coming to visit and spending whole days talking about whatever it was.

Thank you for my faith, and for growing it even when I didn't know it needed growing.

Thank you for coming to the rescue of your family, again and again and again and again and again. 

Thank you for witnessing to your children, "Yes." even when yes meant something hard. 

Thank you for witnessing with Dad with your marriage.

Thank you for my two brothers and one sister.

Thank you for putting up with the stupid fights my brothers and I got into whenever we'd be left unchecked. 

Thank you for putting me in dancing and piano and everything else I wanted to try.

Thank you for telling me sometimes, it was okay to not sign up for things even if it took me a while to believe it.

Thank you for demanding I do more than the minimum in academics. 

Thank you for telling me when you think I'm doing too much.

Thank you for telling me when you think we need to give someone a little push of encouragement.

Thank you.  Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you for being Mom.

Oh and...Happy Birthday!  Love you.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Letter I've Sent...

Dear Bishops of the United States, 
(I've sent it to my archdiocese)

I am writing to you about the humanitarian crisis already in progress at the Southern border of our country and asking you to consider inviting each diocese, to be a witness to all the powers and principalities that currently ignore the sufferings of those caught in the crossfire, who can neither flee, nor find safety, shelter and peace, of an alternative to both war and ignoring their suffering. 

At the border of Texas, there is a tent city full of children, and there are many stories in the news, about caravans of refugees seeking to come here, seeking asylum.   We need to recognize that these people are pawns in a political game and opt not to be drawn into the trap of ignoring the good we could do, as a price for gaining some other good.  Spiritually, we must remember, we cannot bring about a good end, by an evil means, or a just outcome, via sin.   We must not ignore suffering, and/or willfully cause or enable it by policy or neglect of enforcement of said policy.  
If we remember, back when war with Syria seemed inevitable in 2013, Pope Francis asked the Church to pray and fast for peace.  Somehow, the war which seemed unavoidable, evaporated...overnight. Perhaps it is time to make that request again, and this time, add alms giving in the form of each parish taking on a family.  


Perhaps the Pope could ask all of the Church to do the same, and then our fellow Christians and Muslim and Jewish brothers and sisters to each take on a family at each church, each mosque, each temple. Collectively, we would be able to whittle that picture of endless despair down, and perhaps help prove there is another way to address "such relentless hate." Indifference, like hate, can be countered by "riding out to meet them."  Problems aren't intractable just because they're difficult to resolve. Problems remain intactable because people refuse to be moved or to move.
We don't have to solve all, but we could start by each parish adopting a family, and bringing them here, and giving them refuge, room in the inn. It would be a sign to the world of how we can do something other than nothing and better than imprisonment/indefinite detainment and impotent violence.  It would require of each of us, both as individuals and as a Church in each diocese, is embracing the cross.

 Somehow, we have to know, if we are Catholic, everything always requires sacrifice.  Part of why the church struggles now, is it keeps trying to preach the Gospel without the cost, without suffering, without willful sacrifice. We all know, the only way to the resurrection, is through the cross. The Gospel is a story of sacrifice, of love, and we cannot preach a Gospel of love if it requires nothing of us.  Love always requires everything of us.   That's why (given our fallen nature), it's difficult. 

Somehow, we have to know, peace isn't the merely absence of conflict.  Anyone who ever had a silent fight knows how a house feels when two people aren't getting along.  On a global scale, we can't know peace when we wilfully ignore suffering so as to "get along."
What we keep forgetting, as individuals and whole peoples, is when we ignore a problem because it is hard, it gets bigger.  It's true with weight. It's true with debt.  It's true with education. It's true with politics. It’s true with sin, it’s true with scandal.  It's true with everything that matters in life.  When we ignore problems because they are difficult, we eventually wind up ignoring people.   

Right now, some diocese are coordinating aid to help some, but we need to speak with one voice, to remind the world we can be a potent source of warmth, light, hope and love, and that we’re more than we’ve allowed ourselves to become. The Church, acting as one, despite being many, could do this.

Risk is always involved when we reach out to a stranger, to an other, whenever we offer love but to do otherwise, is indifference (which is the simplest path and what we've done as a world whenever we thought we could).  We've tried indifference. It has lead to where we are now, with countless people including children searching for room in the inn of the world. It’s time to lead the world and remind them, we are called to be far better, and we can with God’s grace, make the world ache less.

So please Bishops, imitate what you want done, and beg us to follow.  Ramp up your prayers, fasting and alms giving, storming Heaven, asking for the peace the world cannot give. If we show we are not living as this world would have us, but as the next, perhaps we can have better pictures and better stories to tell.
I know, there are many who view any opposition to the existing political leaders as reflexive, and I hope you can sway their hearts that we're not supposed to be unflinchingly loyal to anyone or any party but Christ. 

I also know it may seem unreasonable to pray for peace when we are at present, such a conflicted country. How could it possibly happen? That's okay. God loves unreasonably. We can be unreasonable with God in our prayers, and God wants true peace for all of us, even more than we do. It may seem crazy to give alms when there are so many in need. How could our little be sufficient?  That's okay. Give what you can. God will do the multiplying. He's done it before.   It may even seem scary to take on caring for people of a different faith, people we don't know, and to invite them into our lives. It is. Again, that's okay. 

Love is always unreasonable, generous and courageous.  I believe, we are called to be an unreasonably generous and courageous loving people to this large crowd of people, all bearing Christ’s face in distressing disguise.  Please.  Lead. 

Sincerely,

Sherry Antonetti

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Overstuffed...

Today, there are three boxes of ornaments on the couch, the game is on, five kids played cards while two are on the computer, one went to the movies with friends and two are napping.  Everyone rotates through the kitchen scrounging for a steady stream of turkey sandwiches, stuffing, apple date cake and blueberry pie.   There is a stack of recycling, three milk cartons, two OJ, three diet cokes, two root beers, five waters and a sprite, not to mention Saturday's paper, five cardboard boxes from packages and a three inch thick stack of Christmas catalogs from Friday which needs to be taken out.  A barbie and fifteen teddy bears grace the couch and giant Jenga blocks in a Stonehenge formation adorned with dinosaurs create a walking hazard in the dining room. 

I've not ventured up or downstairs, for fear of finding out more.   I have two loads of laundry to fold and sixteen shoes I see which need to be put away so I retreat to my bedroom to the computer. No one is seeing anything.  Everyone is content and full.  Real life will start up again soon, but for now,  the Christmas carol station competes with Spotify disco, and books, games, movies and balloon dances trump homework, housework and schedules.   

I am overstuffed with joy, all of them are home.  There have been dances and paper books created, jokes and pranks, impromptu song fests and dancing, balloon cheerleaders and emergency runs for milk, bread, pie crusts and apples. Someone is making homemade mac and cheese. Another kid is experimenting with hot chocolate. They're also going for track practice runs, signing cards and decorating for Christmas.

It is a necessary rest in between the ordinary and the more that is to come, what with Christmas, exams and other things.   Every minute feels both wonderfully endless and fragile.   I polled the kids about going to evening mass and they opted for Sunday at nine, to let today continue to spool out uninterrupted by going out.  The weather echoed the idea, with huge soaking cold rain from four o'clock on.   So we played more cards, moved along a wash and emptied a laundry basket, looked for dresses online and started new games. My daughter set up the Nativity set for Christmas, and we watched the football and quizzed me on baby animal names.  I learned a baby oyster is called a spat, and a baby platypus is called a puggle. I read a book. 

Such a day...overstuffed with peace.  It's a great day to be here, to enjoy all of it, to be present, and to allow time to spill out like water.  It is a grace and a gift. 


Thursday, November 22, 2018

We Are Beyond Blessed

I have a new piece over at the National Catholic Register,  I hope you enjoy it as you begin the preparations for the day. 

Happy Thanksgiving, We Are Beyond Blessed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Culinary Free Radical

If consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, my brain is officially gremlin free. At least, it is with respect to all things in the kitchen when Thanksgiving rolls around. 

Sometime back in my formative years, it got stuck in my psyche that making a dish the same way twice was some sort of cheat on the cooking experience, both for the eater and the chef. Like tracing a picture or violating copyright laws, repeating a meal was a less worthy, less creative endeavor than inventing a new one. I’d make a cake from scratch. People would say, “Hey, that’s delicious.” And I’d never make it again. Even if someone requested a specific recipe, I’d have to add a little something, so it would never be exactly the same. For example, after the first time of making pumpkin pie and getting rave reviews, the next time I added a touch of apple slices, just to make it different. That didn’t work very well. 

Thus, as an adult, it has been a source of vexation to have to serve the same meal day in and day out to meet the demands of multiple palates with a minimum of refusal. My children would be happy with bagels with butter for breakfast, peanut butter for lunch, and pasta and carrot sticks for dinner six days out of seven. So when the fall High Eating Holiday season begins, (Thanksgiving to January 1st), I set my cooking muse free. She starts with the basics: turkey, cranberries, potatoes, green beans. Then, the tweaking gets serious. Unfortunately, with only two months to express herself, my inner artistic chef does not handle her newfound freedom responsibly. 

First, the stuffing needed mushrooms, sautéed in butter and maybe a touch of wine. She added all the other ingredients, onions, peppers, celery and thought, you know, we could chop a bit of other vegetables and emptied my veggie drawer in the process. What about a little garlic or ooh, chicken broth in those potatoes? Yeah! Now we’re talking. You know, we could boil those green beans but what about braising them with a touch of balsamic vinegar? Then they’d be special! No dish can go untouched and multiple trips to the gourmet grocery store ensue. 

The problem with trying to out Martha Stewart the Food Network is two-fold. 1) No one can afford my foodie cooking habit, and 2) No one eats it. One time, I found a cranberry dish I thought was cool and made it, but everyone looked at it and an emergency run was made to the grocery store for those round shivery red discs instead. Over the years, I’ve submitted cooked pumpkin slices with onions, cornbread stuffing and all manner of pie to make each Thanksgiving “just a little different.” I even flirted with ordering a fried turkey. 

Each year, the response has been about the same, the kids take their slices of turkey plain, their boiled potatoes mashed, their green beans with a dash of butter, pop-n-fresh rolls and disc of cranberry Jell-O. I’ve pointed out we could get the exact same meal at the local hospital. I saw hopeful eyes glancing towards the car. 

To cope with my need to experiment, each of the children plus my husband have taken ownership of a different dish at Thanksgiving to ensure that nothing remotely resembling the caramelized carrots with parboiled brussel sprouts in a reduced vinaigrette ever makes its way to the table ever again. They’ve put me in charge of dessert, where I’m allowed to make one outlandish item provided real pumpkin and real apple (not merged) pie remains on the menu. 

This arrangement worked last year. 

“This pumpkin chocolate chip bread is awesome Mom.” 
They love it. There’s not a crumb left. 
“Wow!” 

Don’t ever expect to see it on my table again. Maybe if we add cranberries, chopped dates, toasted pecans…then it would be special.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Over at the Register Again Today

I know, it's been a while.  Here's today's piece over at the Register:

Joy and Grace Go Together.

I'll try to get better at posting. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Over at the Register

It's been a while, but here's a humor piece I did because sometimes, the world just needs a little lightness, a dessert if you will, in the midst of a desert of unpleasantness.   It's why I started writing humor in the first place. 

I hope you enjoy it. 

The Evil Parenting League of Evil Taking Applicants.

In other news, I tried my hand at Editorial Cartoons this week, and one was accepted. The other, at a different market, is still pending. 

If you're wondering, where in heck is Small Success Thursday, the answer is, I've taken a break for the time being, as there's just too much going on in our house to do it justice on a regular weekly basis.  (I've got five kids in a play after Thanksgiving).    It doesn't mean I'm not counting my blessings, just I'm not writing up a set up every week. 

I am still writing. I'm still reading. I'm still editing. I'm still working at a school, and yes, still trying to manage all these people's lives.  I'm just trying to streamline what I do and when I do it, so that I'm not quite as overwhelmed.   Trying to squeeze in some exercising, reading, practicing music, writing letters, and the ordinary stuff like making dinners, reading to my kids, cheering at their sports/activities, and getting an occasional night out.   

--Love to you all, thanks for stopping by. 

Friday, November 9, 2018

For Posterity

Having written this blog fitfully but faithfully since 2007, I can safely say, much of the chaos of childhood for many of my children, has been recorded here for posterity.  They will know the reality of their growing up, even if they do not remember it as such. 

One thing blogging does for a person, is give a sense of perspective. I can look back and determine, "Haven't we done this before," and trust to my own testimony over my own memory. 

So when my youngest lamented over the apparent uselessness of math, I could show her, a long line of brothers and sisters who complained before her, survived second grade and went on to handle even more complex mathematical equations.  She took the news harder than one might have hoped, seeing the past performance of her siblings as proof her complaints would be noted, logged and ignored.  (She's not wrong). Math would indeed, go on being assigned despite her displeasure. 

"Some day." she warned, "I'm going to write  a blog, and prove to the world that no one needs math." 

The problem with having nine older siblings is, at least one of them at any given point in time, longs to prove you wrong, and has the psuedo data to do it. Sure enough, three siblings immediately launched into a vigorous defense of all things math, sternly warning her of the need to become proficient in basic facts.  They touted their own experience, all the times they did well on tests, and as an added gesture of sibling kindness, offered to tutor her for the next test. 

I've helped enough of these kiddos with math enough to know, if someone else wanted the job, I'd be just fine.   What the helpful brothers and sisters don't realize is, she doesn't want the info necessarily. I know she can do all this math with her eyes shut.  She wants to be the author of a revolution, to eradicate the field of study.  Her older brothers and sisters are far too invested in the status quo to mollify her temper in this matter.   They enjoy the satisfaction of telling her, there is no third option.

They have not reckoned with Anna-Maria's fierce spirit. 

My money's on the revolutionary.   

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

It's Election Day and...

My children are discussing how soon it's legitimate to put on the all Christmas carols radio station. While the 24-7 Christmas cheese please music enjoys almost unhealthy popularity in my home, there are some who feel (quite strongly), it must wait until the day after Thanksgiving at the very least.  Normally, I side with the people with Christmas in their hearts, but Christmas creep has begun to weary even my spirit. Commercialism being the devouring beast that it is, determined this year's kick off on the local radio is November 17th. 

Some of my kids have access to Spotify, and thus the Whos start singing whenever the muse of Mariah Carey inspires. We've already had several impromptu concerts.  It's okay for a small shot, like an occasional ginger snap or hot cocoa before it's really cold, but the steady diet channels my inner curmudgeon and you know, if you complain or protest, it's almost seen as  a challenge...a dare...can I do this seemingly innocent/innocuous thing to the point of driving older siblings and my parents insane?

Answer...yes.  You can. You have. 

However, I promise you, if it is to be war between us, I shall win.  I have years of Christmas tradition to draw upon...to that end, I'm thinking...

1) matching Christmas sweaters with a mandatory photo, which I'll share on social media on their pages, twitter accounts...etc.

2) Technology is my friend...so I'm going to close out all but Christmas movies, paging Hallmark for an extra serving of sap and heart fluff from the cable package.   All their avatars shall be icons from classic films.  I'm doing it by pure randomness...so someone will get the Grinch, another Kris Kringle, another Herbie, and another Rudolph and Frosty. I'll also fix the ring tones. 

3) Christmas cleaning...because we have to make room in the inn, so everybody needs to clear things out... and I'll blast out the classical versions, the stuff that doesn't make it on the radio/hand selected play list...we shall out cheese them by singing along.   

4) Creating Christmas projects.  Yes, I'll ask the musical ones in my family to practice songs for performance purposes, to give to relatives.  They'll love it.  I'll ask the bakers to make cookies.  I'll make them peppermint and pumpkin everything until they beg for springtime fare like hot dogs and sugar cookies. 

5) Eggnog and fruitcake...and Christmas movies...I'm going to Thomas Kinkade the daylights out of these premature Christmas carolers in my home...until they cry uncle,

or at the very least,  want to go cold turkey. 

Happy Holidays! from the Christmas hearted not entirely evil genius parent they constantly underestimate.   Love, Mom. 

Saturday, November 3, 2018

How Do We Soften the World? 100 Ways to Make Life Lighter

100) Smile and compliment the people you encounter as you encounter them.
99) Give someone else the premium parking spot.
98) Write more letters.
97) Read a book to a child.
96) Put on beautiful music.  Kids right now into jazz, pretending the house is a night club, complete with flashlights acting as spotlights. 
95) Exercise (I know, but taking care of you counts too). 
94) Spend some time in prayer for someone you know needs it.  (It can be you). 
93) Plan a date. 
92) Clean a room. 
91) Recycle more than you planned.
90) Clean out a garden, so it's ready for winter. 
89) Give food to the local pantry.
88) Offer to carpool for someone who normally takes on the task. 
87) Vote.
86) Eat in, as a family.
85) Decorate for the holiday, will yourself into the right mood. 
84) Play a game. 
83) Find out what you can do to get involved in the local level about something of import. 
82) Comfort the mourning --by visiting a graveyard, calling on a widow, or sitting with someone who is facing a hard trial and just being there.
81) Volunteer at a school or a nursing home or hospital, make it a regular habit. 
80) Read the news, stay informed, push beyond your own bubble of understanding or preference. 
79) Turn off the screens when you go out with people. 
78) Turn off the screens when you stay in with people. 
77) Go to a museum.
76) Build a fire, spend the evening beside it. 
75) Purge your closet, donate what doesn't fit. 
74) Sit in adoration.
73) Invite someone out for lunch. 
72) Put cut flowers on the table. 
71) Wrap and mail a birthday present, instead of pushing the buttons through Amazon. 
70) Draw. 
69) Dance.
68) Take a family photo, get it developed and framed. 
67) Write family tree.
66) Write family history.
65) Institute family game night.
64) Have a monthly date night with each of your kids (I know, for me this would take up 1/3 of the month).  
63) Call your siblings. 
62) Call friends you haven't reached out to in a while. 
61) introduce your kid to a classic movie.
60) Vote.
59) Organize a drawer.
58) Tuck in your kids at bed time. Kiss them goodnight. 
57) Clean someone else's room.
56) Sign up for a clean up along a park.
55) Bake cookies for someone.
54) Visit a historical site. 
53) Listen to a free concert.
52) Text your kids, "I love you." They'll secretly love it.
51) Sing something from the radio, with everything you've got.
50) Plan a trip.
49) Spend some time out looking at the stars, finding constellations.
48) Bake breakfast, make it something special.
47) Pray a rosary for someone.  Send them a note letting them know.
46) Tip well.
45) fast for someone. 
44) Invite someone over to give them a feast.  (Maybe the same person).
43) fix something that needs fixing that you've been fixing to...
42) Support a local business.
41) Make a donation to a charity.
40) Plant bulbs for the spring.
39) Take a family photo. 
38) Plan a neighborhood pot-luck to meet your neighbors.
37) Be a good sport.
36) Practice listening, and asking questions, rather than jumping in...(I so need to work on this).
35) Do an examination of conscience, really look at where you fall down.
34) Be unafraid to speak. 
33) Call your folks.
32) Thank a teacher of your kids.
31) Plan as a family to spend a week with no take-out or fast food, donate what you didn't spend.
30) try something new.
29) Make a bucket list of your hopes/dreams/goals.
28) Make a list of the things that keep you from #29.
27) Compliment your spouse. 
26) Give someone a foot rub.
25) Do the dishes/chore whatever it is, without being asked, and without pointing it out. 
24) Make a list of gifts you hope to give.
23) Find out where the local shelter is for crisis pregnancies.  Call and ask what they need.
22) Write a letter to your representative/senator about an issue.
21) Apologize to someone.
20) Defend someone.
19) Remember all behavior is communication, so ask when something is wrong, angry, upset, loud or cruel, the why/reason behind the harshness...meet harsh with kind/clear, meet wrong with gentle correction, angry with kindness, upset with sympathy, and loud with quiet...it will melt more of what is wrong than anything else.
18) Take some time to rest.
17) laugh more.
16) reconnect with a friend you've lost touch with...
15) read a book to yourself.
14) write something for your children to read later.
13) practice music if you play an instrument, for fifteen minutes a day.
12) Make a list of your to do's you've been putting off. Pick one and do it.
11) Hug your children often.
10) Teach your kiddos how to cook something you learned that is a family tradition.
9) Be more generous than you planned when the opportunity presents itself. (With time, treasure and talent).
8) Be kind in real life.
7) Be kind online.
6) Be kind in what you say.
5) Be kind in what you don't say.
4) Be kind in thoughts.
3) Be kind in what you do.
2) Be kind in what you do not do.
1) Above all, in all things, to everyone, in every situation, be kind. 

Catching Up Again

Part of the problem of posting articles linking them to the blog, is writing when you've submitted a piece. You don't want to walk over what you already wrote, or to lose out to pieces but I have to remember, there's always more and trust that the more will reveal itself.  So, here's a link to my most recent piece over at the Register, on the Lessons from the Lives of the Saints (suitable for November 1st). 

I'll also take this moment to remind people to vote on Tuesday, and to consider when you cast your vote, the hard reality of this time we live in, which requires we stand up more than we'd prefer, speak up more than would be comfortable.  We don't get to sit in our hobbit homes and worry about doilies.  We must go out and have an adventure...and when we do, we will be changed.   So vote.  Win, lose or draw, hold the people given the reigns of power accountable.   Call them when you read about something that troubles you. Ask them to act.  Ask them to look into it. 

Read what people are doing, even if it frustrates you to read it.   Write to them. Write to the paper.  Changing the culture, the political climate of the culture will require more than righteous wrath, political fire, or emotional appeals. It will require logos, pathos and ethos, in addition to witness.  We cannot presume outcomes, nor should we presume all acts will be in good faith.  We must scrutinize the newsmakers and the news, the laws and the lawmakers, and weigh all of them with are they true, are they good, are they necessary. 

Irrespective of outcome, we must not despair of either the capacity of our country to do good, to be good, nor of our ability to affect the world.  Begin today with whatever moves your heart.  Share your five loaves and fishes and trust, God will do the multiplying. 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Catching up....

So I have a piece over at the Register, The World is Starving for Love.  It's been a busy week, with county Cross Country, Homecoming, preparing for Halloween, dealing with the ordinary business of life, and so writing took it on the chin this week.   I will try to get back in the saddle.  Here's last week's SST if you missed it.  Small Success Thursday: The Grace of Ordinariness. Thanks as always for sharing my work, and I hope to write more soon. 

Friday, October 19, 2018

Ella's Ashes .

Exercise on using tenses...from the workshop...
It would have been a lovely evening if all she had hoped had happened. The dress would have been beautiful and full. The shoes would not have ached or slipped off. The band would have played beautiful music. He would have been gallant, handsome and made her laugh. The crowds would have whispered, “Who is she?” and the King might have looked on and wondered if she might be the one his son would have chosen for a bride. Everyone would have fallen in love with the loveliness of it all; the perfect story of a perfect love. Discovering one another in a gradual fashion, after much suffering and many trials, would have revealed her worthiness to be rewarded with such grand happiness. If only she had been willing to put up with any of their crap in the first place, all of this might have then happened. Would she have been the belle of the ball, the queen of his heart? Would she have been gifted with rare and beautiful magic from a godmother she’d never yet been introduced to in her life? Yes, she knew what would have been, might have been lovely as she sat stroking her beautiful white cat and sipping perfectly hot lemon tea in a china cup in a house all her own. However, she reasoned, if she had been what all that story would have required, she would have been reduced to a sap and a slave and a puppet of fate, and the moral of that story would have been a terrible lesson for anyone else to take away from her life that wasn't.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

So, I've been part of a writing group...

and we're doing these exercises.  Since I've been sort of shy on time and writing, I figure, I'll share the results of those lessons here. 

This past week, we tackled humor.  We were to write an ad for one of several undesirable animals, and I chose the badger.  Here is is with some tweaks...

Wild Badger Free to a good home, or even a bad one if they're willing.
You might be wondering, why would I want a wild badger, and even if I give you good reasons for treasuring such a feral vicious beast in your home, why if they're so awesome, I'd be willing to part with mine. So here are my ten reasons YOU should own my badger.
10) Did you go to Wisconsin? This is all the reason you need.
9) My wild badger willingly maims cyclists, pedestrians and automobiles traveling at ten miles lower than the posted speed limit. Handy if you're in a rush to get somewhere, like say the hospital from attempting to pet said badger.
8) They are excellent excavators, so if you have some trees you want uprooted, they're perfect for the job. Warning: Make sure no electrical, water or cable lines are proximate, as the utilities and cable companies will hold you liable for damages.
7) Badger chow is cheap, but wild badgers will eat earthworms, insects, grubs, and eggs. They also eat small mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds, as well as roots and fruit. Good bye annoying yappy dogs next door.
6) They make a sound like a rattle snake which is useful. Just post a sign saying, "Warning, Pet Rattle Snake" and have the phone video ready to capture the fun when someone knocks anyway.   
5) Nothing gives the sense of being an environmental warrior, friend of nature and at the same time, daring like a badger on your dating website. It gets you a second look even if your profile wouldn't.. (Lock up the badger and whatever you do, don't let her talk you into letting her pet it). See reason #10
4)Will create both permanent memories and scars, and scarred memories.
3) Bad badgers make for good fences. No visits from the in-laws, outlaws or the law since I got her.
2) On the bucket list somewhere in your adventure starved heart is "own an exotic pet," and this one fits the bill.
1). I'm getting rid of the badger because I saw this terrific ad for a pet rattle snake and thought, it's time to be truthful about the matter.  

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 Catholicmom.com.   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

Surprise...at 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 Catholicmom.com 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 bread...no 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 fishes...it 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 so...it'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 Catholicmom.com!

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.  

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!