Saturday, September 30, 2017

Catch Up Saturday

Hello everyone,

I know, it's becoming a routine.  I write a piece, I link to it two or three days after it runs. This time, I have an excused absence.  On Thursday, I took a train to Southbend, Indiana.  No wi-fi.  Friday, I spent with family and friends, no time on the computer.  So today, Saturday, I'm finally slowing down enough to be able to write...and here we are. 

So if you want your SST fix, the link to's piece is here. It's called, "Begin again."

I also have a piece over at the National Catholic Register, Love Drives Out the Fear of Life. It stemmed from a conversation online, where people puzzled about why people want abortions.  To me, the reasons seemed to be as diverse as the people who have them, but the question shouldn't be why do people have them, but how do we minister to people so they won't need them or desire them.

Talking about this topic is always touchy, and the goal was to engender compassion toward the person considering the abortion. It's not perfect. It's not comprehensive.  I'm praying people recognize the goal, and don't take me to the woodshed for venturing onto the subject. But, the title reminds me love drives out fear, and so it's here for all to read. 

I hope you have a wonderful Saturday.  More writing to come.  Enjoying my trip.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Unspoken Battle

There is a great war within the general population of the Catholic church over the nature of what it means to be faithful.  It stems from a sincere desire to be "right with God."  (Proof even our loftiest desires, those we think most holy, can be the means of our failure to be faithful disciples).

With the sending of the Filial Appeal, signed by the people here, I remember Pope Benedict's prediction that the Church would grow smaller.  I suspect it is so, for the same reason many after hearing Jesus say to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.  For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him, many went away sad.  The first words of the Filial Appeal are, "It is with profound grief..." 

" Jesus even asked his apostles, "Will you go away too?"  And I wonder, where will these people go?  Will they realize they are leaving?  Will they realize, they should come back?  Do they know what they're walking away from?  Do they know what they are risking losing?  I believe they fear it, or they would not be grieved.   I suspect many are people who want the truth, but like all of us, see through a glass darkly, but think they see better than others.   How do we square God hating sin and loving us who sin?  How do we reconcile the very real reality that we want to sin, with we want to be in Heaven?   We cannot. Herein is where we get to the apex of our declaration of faith.  Do we Trust the Trinity who is God and his servant the Church, or do we trust ourselves and our judgment.  I know how poor my own judgment is...If I forget, my children can give me a litany of reminders on demand. 

However, God in His infinite mercy and love, offers us the impossible.  That is the crux of our faith and it is not secret, rather it is explosive.  God pouring ever expansive grace and mercy over the world, and seeking to gather all who would allow themselves to love God back and pulling every bit of beauty and love out into the open He can to pierce our hearts and be invited in. 

This past two weeks, I've embarked on a great experiment which tests everything. I'm teaching CCD.  Understanding and loving and reading, and learning about the faith is one thing.  Attempting to convey it in a systemic meaningful manner that doesn't get either too technical or too airy, is another. So if in my little kingdom of a classroom, it is a challenge, how much moreso for the Pope, who must deal with not merely those who do not know, and those who do not care, but those who think they know, and those who think they care more.  Whatever we present, it is inadequate, and we have to trust that grace will make up for what is lacking, but work like anything, to make sure we don't deliberately omit what is necessary. 

The experience concentrates my own understanding of Catholicism, of reducing the excess as one would refine a sauce on a stove.   Where I love the narrative Gospels, I find myself drawn to the Gospel of John when attempting to get deeper into explaining not merely our faith, but the function of our faith.  (To draw ever nearer to Christ). 

So when I reflect upon what the Catechism teaches, what our faith asks of us, it does not seem rules, it is a relationship.  In any relationship of love, be it fraternal, romantic, or intellectual, the desire is for a deeper and greater, truer and more self revealing connection.  We want to be at ease with whoseover it is with whom we seek this relationship. We want that other to know us and know us well enough to read our moods, and to know when to give us what we need, and when it should challenge us on what we want. We want it to be like breathing, where we can stay in each other's presence and not be doing anything in particular, and the time itself becomes precious for the presence. 

God is love. 
Our job, to reflect God's presence to everyone else. 
How?  By loving them as well as possible. 
How?  By seeking to be always a source of spiritual and corporeal mercy to others, by learning how to be less selfish, angry, petty, small, irked, irritated, anxious, indulgent, and demanding ourselves while at the same time, seeking to help others learn how to love and thus serve. 

It's a tall order for anyone...almost impossible...except we are talking about God being in the equation, and thus it is not only possible, it is necessary.  However, as a good friend said to me during a recent crisis, the goal is not to be "right" by God, that is to have proven your merit and value by words and deeds (see Older Brother if you need a perfect example), but to "Be" with God and delight in His presence.  (See Saint Mary at the feet of Jesus, Saint Mary Magdalene seeking to be even simply at his tomb Easter Morning, see Saint John the Baptist's first response to Jesus from the womb).   These examples were not of people doing their duty or obligations or following rules, these were people displaying without any pretense, love for Christ.  If we sit with Christ, if we sit at His feet, we will find our place, and others will as well.  It is when we will our own path that we get lost.  It is the constant unspoken battle inside of every soul, whether we know it or not. It is a battle already won, if only we surrender.

Today I'm talking about...

the second Luminous mystery, the wedding feast at Cana. Come join me at the National Catholic Register, and help further the discussion on the mysteries of the Rosary.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

It's the End of the World...or Not

Every few years some person no one has ever heard of, gains national attention with the age old prediction, "The world ends tomorrow." It's funny how people can work the numbers, roll the bones, or read the stars to discern, the end is near and yet, never in the math, the dice or the heavens do these same souls receive instructions like, "The world will keep going. Carry on. Carry on...."

It's almost like none of these folks whistling past the Earth's graveyard really commit to their own predictions. They aren't engaged in either extreme hedonism as a last hurrah, nor are they submitting themselves to final purification. It's just another day at the office which begs the question, what are they really selling and why is anyone buying?

I also fault the reporters who likewise, don't take this story they're pumping out into the internet seriously. They're in it for the shock. If they wanted to make real news though, they'd commit to the concept...Dr. Falsity, what can we do? I've got my survival gear, my bunker and enough MRE's for three generations. We'll be finishing the broadcast from inside our sealed cavern. The lock is time shut, so we won't be seen for twenty-five years. We're happy to have you as one of our few honored guests...." and watch the man try to figure a way out of being locked in for two and a half decades.

Alternatively, I dream of some newscaster asking some serious analytical questions of these not even right twice a day broken doomsday clock watchers. Something like: "So if this is true, why aren't you spending the last night on this planet with your family, enjoying a fine meal, exhausting every last reserve you have on your 401K since it won't matter tomorrow?" or "Why aren't you on your knees in penance if you think this is the reckoning?" Pulitzer would go to the daring journalist who asks, "Why are you working the news cycle and asking people to buy your book? It's not like they'll have time to read it, even if they pay for expedited shipping and handling." and demands a full refund for failure to produce promised product by the end of the business day.

I'd love to see the next rapturous predictor of Armageddon hit with "We've got two professors from MIT here, and an astrophysicist from NASA. They'd like to check your data, your math and your findings." and drop in a little public service announcement. "We here at channel whatever it is, we investigate fraud. Deceiving the public and creating a panic or riot on the public airways is punishable by state, local and federal laws, in some cases with fines and jail time of up to five years. I'm sure you Sir have nothing to worry about." and crank up the R.E.M. as you fade out to commercial break.

But to prove I'm fair and show I do take their concerns somewhat seriously, I've eaten all the emergency chocolate.  After all, I'd hate to see it go unconsumed.  That would be a waste. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Call Me Maybe?

The other day, my daughter texted me while I had four of my kiddos at a special event.   MOM!  All caps made me concerned.   "MOM!"  Why wouldn't she explain why she did that?  Why did she feel the need to spell it twice?  "What's going on?" I typed.   The response came after a few minutes.

"My stomach hurts."

I typed back..."Have some ginger ale.  Put on comfortable clothes. Rest."

She sent back, "Please get ginger ale."
I didn't answer.
"Are you going to get ginger ale?"

"Yes. Go lie down."  I brought home ginger ale.  She'd fallen asleep and felt fine when I got home.

On following day, a different child chose to use the wonders of modern technology to let me know of all the wrong doing she felt another child had done which had gone unreported, complete with emojii's about a circumstance which took place a week prior.

I wrote back, there's a sell by date for tattling, and for all of the reported offenses, that date expired.  I don't think she appreciated my Solomonistic ruling.

Techology designed to make life easier has made it easier for my kids to let me know, "How may I serve."  However, the connection is a little too good. I may want a less effective network for peace o f mind or peace from mine.  I may need to switch from my carrier to a carrier pidgeon.

My older son mastered the art of texting a grocery list to me in little bits, while I'm at the store.
"Are you at the store?"

"Good.  Can you get...
Protein shakes?

Got it. Got it. Got it. Got it. Got it.  No.
"Why not?"
"It's yucky."
"It's healthy."
"This is not a wish list of what you want to eat for the next week."

Chocolate milk?
"Why not?  It's yummy.  Or I'll take kale."

I typed back, this is a five items or less request line.  I thought myself clever until the others gamed the system..

So I got a new text message from a different child.

Salt and Vinegar chips?
French bread?
Cookies and Cream Ice Cream?
Cinnamon Toast Crunch...she stopped at five.

They handed the phone to the youngest.

Apple juice?

They're working the room, she used please in a text.

From a third party in the car, who just remembered what she needs in terms of school supplies...
Three types of high lighters, graph paper, a pocket folder and don't forget to get bottled water.

I get a message from  home from the oldest who heard I'm at the store and did a quick survey to see what we might need.

"Dear Mom,

Don't forget, we need Pull ups and napkins.
We're out of cascade and down to our last roll.
of paper towels.  And what's for dinner? If you get ground beef, I'll grill burgers."

At this point, I'm reduced to text messaging, and send back "K" without even giving a period.

He types back, "It's wierd when you don't use a full sentence."

I'd gone to the store for bananas, diet coke and foil.  The text messages distract me into remembering, we should get butter too.  But my grocery list which was a mere 3-4, is now clocking out at twenty-seven.

Standing in line to check out, I get a text from a child unaware of all the prior messages.  "How much longer until you come home? I'm hungry."

Yesterday and Today

It's becoming a running gag, that I don't get to Small Success Thursday until Friday.  Still, it's not Saturday, so I'll consider that a small success for next week.  

Also, I have a piece over at the National Catholic Register. It's the beginning of a series meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary.  I'm working on the next one, but these I hope will allow people to delve deeper into each mystery.  They're not in order....yet.    They're as I go meditations, based on whatever one keeps presenting itself in front of me.  

One last thing:  Last week, I wrote about a woman who only needed a dollar fifty-five, discussing how when we encounter need, we should act.  It's very easy these days, to discover need.  One would have to be willfully blind to not see.  If your heart is stirred, pray, then act accordingly.  If we all give even the widow's mite, we can together be one of the drops in an ocean of God's mercy for someone...and that's the goal, to be a drop.  

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Small Success Thursday on Thursday!!!

I know, I know....shocker.

I'm grateful for my family.  They've been solid as we got through three of the four open houses we must attend.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Blocking Writing

Every once in a while, I get an undisclosed melancholy which accompanies acute writers' block.

My writing coach doesn't believe such a thing as writers' block exists.  He cajoles, "Write about what a jerk I am for saying otherwise if nothing else." in fewer words.

I can, but the goal of writing isn't to merely be clever, the point is to discover something within the uncarved marble of the mind, which when fully chiseled out, is beautiful and solid and worth preserving.  So I sat musing, why do I want to find these beautiful words, what's the point of it?

Is it glory for me?  Well, I'll admit, it really was and used to just be...because part of me, a part I'm not overly proud of, felt myself somehow trivial.  It's not a nice thought, that I belittled my own vocation in my own eyes.  I wonder if I did so to my children too.

Being published was something of a rush, still is, but like any addiction, it satisfies less with each hit, because I find myself scrambling to carve out the next piece.  Good poems are never finished, only abandoned.  Good columns, well, I find they all look like prom pictures.  In the moment, they are beautiful, cool, and I want to share them with everyone.  In the glare of the next day, under the gaze of time and judgment, I find them less lovely, more awkward and indicative of all the ways in which I don't know myself or my own faults than anything else.   Do I still want to write columns? Yes.  I'd just like them to be more thoughtful, less rushed.  Not sure how to do that...

I do know why I began.  It began as an escape.  Everyone else goes to school or work and I was here, decade after decade, folding socks, doing dishes, working out at the gym sometimes and wondering, where is the more?  What is the more?  Why can't I do more?  God laughed at my feeling insignificant and gave me more...and more...and more...until I stopped thinking, I want to do more and started saying, "I want to do something different."  God gave me more...and it was different.  So I stopped saying "I want."  

I started working at a high school and found myself wishing for the minutes at home, not because I didn't like the work or the people or the job, but because I now couldn't pour out the minutes like water on my family.  I couldn't justify holing up with the computer to write when I'd been away all week, but when I'd get to the weekend, I didn't want to pour out the minutes like water, I felt somehow, shouldn't I keep them?

 Reminded of Bilbo and the ring, I horded minutes, when that was precisely what I should not do.  At which point, I understood my own weaknesses.  A child cannot comprehend why they cannot eat all the candy.   They just know, they want it.  So I'm praying, God, be merciful and do not give me what I want, but what you want.  Otherwise, please please please, don't listen to me.  Ignore me.    

So what is the point of all of this? Why do you write Sherry?

So I can learn what I'm supposed to be doing, why, and how to go about doing it. I told my writing coach.  He said, "I could have fixed it much faster if you'd just written about what a jerk I am."

Next time.

Your Irony Supplement for the Day

For those who don't know, I started up work this week.  I'd say this explains the tardiness in posting links to publications but I was tardy in posting links to publications all summer, so that can't be the reason.    The topic of my most recent piece over at the National Catholic Register only adds to the irony of being late. Enjoy. 

And we'll just call this the "Small Success Thursday not-posted on Thursday link."  Since the title of that one is "Thank God for the Mess." I'll consider this blog an additional opportunity to be both ironic and thankful.   See?  My whole life is in service to your entertainment.  When I'm not writing these pieces up, I'm living in such a manner as to give them additional context.  The things I do for you people....

On a more sober note, please pray for all those recovering from Hurricanes, and those in their path now.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Friday, September 1, 2017

Two-Fer Friday

Yes, I know, I didn't link up to Small Success Thursday yesterday.  I admit, I was preoccupied by the news. My hometown of Beaumont, Texas has been on all the channels lately, owing to Hurricane Harvey.  I'd writtten my friend Mark Shea to ask him to pray.  He did me one better, he took my worries and fears and asked all his readers to pray too. 

At the time, I honestly felt very fearful for Beaumont.  This storm has already broken so many records and destroyed so many homes, and when they lost water, I wondered if we'd lost Beaumont. I admit, I went to adoration and my heart howled.  The words floated into my heart, Jesus is in the boat. You knew, there would be storms.  You also know, He's in the boat with you.

The howls went away, and the news from Beaumont brightened.  They still have a long way to go to even sort of get to normal, but I was reminded once again, of the steel in the bones of these people, and the gold of their hearts.

I'll brag as an older sister, that my siblings and their families in Texas are busy finding people to help, and calling others to do the same.   They live out what I'd written about in the aftermath of that time in adoration:  In Great Storms and Little Struggles, Be Christ to One Another.  Have a great weekend! Pray for all those recovering from the storm, and help out if you can, any way that you can.

Thank you.

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If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!