Wednesday, November 14, 2012

post-election musings part 3: moving forward

And so...moving forward (pun intended) what are we to do?  First we need to accept that we are where we are at this pointing time because Christians have fallen short -  that look in the mirror thing.  We have allowed our voices to be silent and have just gone along with the crowd.  In our values and morality, we have become indistinguishable from the rest of society.  We live together with out benefit of marriage.  We use artificial contraception.  We divorce.  We skip Mass when something better comes along, or it is too inconvenient.  We have been silent and we have tolerated evil.  Some of us even think that religion is something that we do at church on Sunday.  Many of us think that we are so virtuous we have no real need for the sacrament of reconciliation.

Someone posted on Facebook this past is true that things happen for a reason.  But sometimes the reason is that you are stupid and make bad choices.  Truer words may have never been spoken. 

But that still doesn't answer the "what now" question.  While it is true that we do not always follow God's will for our lives, it IS true that God continuously brings good from bad situations.  Writes straight with crooked lines, as it were.  One of the good things that should come from this is a return to prayer.  Honestly, I think most of us are prayer-slackers. 

We need to pray for (and with) our families and for the conversion of our country.  We have turned away from God, and there will be consequences for our actions.  One thing that I have come across recently is the Patriotic Rosary.   Pray a decade every night if a whole Rosary seems overwhelming. 

During this year of Faith, get to know your Catholic Faith.  Understand why we believe what we believe, even if you don't think you agree with it.  Make use of the sacraments!  Even (or maybe, especially) confession.  Invite a friend - to Mass, to confession, to pray.

Padre Giovanni Triglio suggested going a bit further in a recent post:
I suggest a modest program. Voluntary resumption of the ALL Friday abstinence (except on Solemnities) and voluntary fasting on all Wednesdays (or at least one day a week, except on Solemnities) in REPARATION for the sins of our age; DAILY rosary; MONTHLY confession; ANNUAL retreats; PERIODIC pilgrimages; and FREQUENT acts of piety and devotion. Simultaneously, we need to READ and LEARN more about our religion and be more assertive in SPREADING it, first by example and secondly by prudent and compassionate CATECHESIS.

The Roman Empire converted thanks to the blood of the martyrs but also because their faith became contagious. Lukewarm Catholics attract no one. Mediocrity is a cancer. PRAY for vocations AND pray for better politicians. Support those who defend LIFE and oppose those who promote death and perversity.
 There is much to be done, my friends!  Are you ready?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

post-election musings part 2: looking in the mirror

I went to Mass Wednesday morning feeling quite defeated.  My pastor, as he often does, knew just what to say.  After the readings, which he acknowledged could not have been more prophetic for the day, he hesitated a second and took a breath.  To begin with, he said, we should be eternally grateful that we live in a country that does not change leaders by military coup.  Next, we must not lose sight of the fact that we are first of all Citizens of Heaven, and secondly citizens of the United States.  If society is broken and sick, then it is because we as individuals are broken and sick.  We as Christians have often fallen short. If we want to effect a change, we need look no further than the mirror for a place to start.  We must allow the Lord and His gospel to work through us. The cost of discipleship is "take up your cross and follow me".  If we are serious about living in pursuit of justice and peace, there is always suffering involved.  The bottom line however, was uplifting....Be not afraid; the Lord is with us.

My BFF sent me a prayer later that afternoon. It was attributed to Max Lucado.

 Let others lose sleep over the election.  
 Let others grow bitter from party or petty rivalries. 
 Let others cast their hope with the people of the elephant or the donkey.  
Not followers of Jesus. 
 We place our trust in the work of God. 
How many kings has He seen come and go?  
How many nations has He seen stand and fall?  
He is above them all.  And He oversees them all. 
 So, while others get anxious, we don’t. 
 Here is what we do:  we pray. 
“First of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—
 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”  (1 Tim.2:1-4 NIV). 
It is time to take this job seriously.  
Over the next hours and days ahead, turn your heart toward heaven and ask God to:
         Unite our country
   Strengthen us

She acknowledged that God must know that we are trying, but I kind of feel like he is shaking his head at us in frustration.  Maybe echoing the closing words of Psalm 95...

    Forty years I endured that generation.
I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray
  and they do not know my ways.”
So I swore in my anger,
  “They shall not enter into my rest.”

Monday, November 12, 2012

post-election musings part 1: God's will

I think there is a wide-spread tendency to chalk up everything  -  especially unpleasant things -  that happens as part of "God's Plan" or "God's Will".  This has become especially clear to me in the wake of the presidential election, the results of which, were quite disappointing to me and mine. 

There is an "oh, that must be God's will" mentality that follows.  I submit that it is most assuredly NOT God's will for us to have a leader who promotes abortion, who is hell-bent on pushing contraception to the point of  requiring even those whose consciences dictate otherwise to pay for it, who advocates and approves of  gay marriage, etc.  We have the God-given gift of free will, and on November 6, 2012, more Americans than not, used their free will to vote in support of these things.  This was even more disappointing to me than the choice for President.  Ultimately God's Will is not determined by popular or electoral vote, but rather by the teachings of Jesus and His Church.  (And in the interest of being bi-partisan, I don't propose that Mr. Romney was God's Will, either.  Closer in many areas, but far from a perfect candidate.)

That we humans would screw it up should come as no huge shocker.  Man has been deviating from the will of God since the apple incident back near the beginnings of mankind.  His Chosen People, the Israelites, didn't get it right, either.  They were left to wander in the desert for 40 years as a result of their hard- heartedness, and then they still didn't get it right after that.  Hundreds of years later, they were sent into exile and some of the tribes were never to return.

My Facebook status that night, cognizant of the fact that I have friends and co-workers who cancelled my vote, borrowed from Deuteronomy. 

    ...oh that you would choose life.  Maybe next time, Lord.  Have mercy.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

those little things

Things that are probably not particularly meaningful to others besides me, but that I don't want to forget.

A week or so ago, we showed up at Catechism (CCD) only to have our priest drive up right beside us.  "Oh, no," one of my offspring groaned.  "Confessions?  Tonight?  I haven't even had time to make a list."  Usually towards the end of the fall catechism run, our priest comes to hear confessions from the kids enrolled, but there were still a few weeks left to go.  Due to a scheduling conflict,. I think this was a last minute alteration to the schedule.

As we were driving home that evening, my child remarked that the 20 minutes or so standing in line waiting really hadn't been enough time to think about what he wanted to say.  He must have conveyed this to the priest, though, because the priest told him not to worry - just to leave every thing else up to God.  He seemed to be at peace with that.  I noticed the peace.  As we continued on, he volunteered that he had just mentioned the two things that had been bothering him the most.

I have no clue as to what these might be, but I asked if he had gotten any advice.  He said about our priest's counsel, "He knew just the right thing to say."  I find this to be true about our pastor in my experience, as well.  He DOES know just what to say.  Surely as much as the Holy Spirit working through him as his own wisdom and experience.  I just think it is cool that one of my teenagers can see that, too.

Those are pictures taken of a sunrise one morning from school.  I think I am there too early, if I can see the sun rise.  To be fair, these were before we set the clocks back.

Above is a picture of my older son measuring things for his Eagle Scout Project.  Just documenting that small minute in time.

A couple of pictures from Tuesday's District Cross Country meet.  Neither did particularly well, but the weather was gorgeous, and it was a distraction for the afternoon.

Nothing earth-shattering.  Just some little things.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

memories of henry, hope for sandy

Last weekend, as "super storm" Sandy took aim at the northeastern part of our country, my boys ran in a cross country meet in the little known town (village?) of Henry, Louisiana.  I was eager for this meet, because it was the first time in several years that I had occasion to visit Henry, and I was anxious to see the progress that had been made.

As you can see, Henry is a little town not too very far from the Gulf Coast.  My first dealings with Henry were when I interviewed for a job there a little over 20 years ago.  At the time, I think they had a K-12 school, but it has since closed due to consolidation, and at this point, all that appears to remain is a gym.  I chose to wait for a job a little closer to home, and that was that.

Until about 4 years ago.  Hurricane Ike had rolled through, and my sons' Boy Scout troop had offered their services in helping with clean up.  We stopped first in Erath, where we wiped down walls and picked items strewn about in the cemetery, and then journeyed on to Henry.  The destruction there was just heartbreaking.  We concentrated our efforts on the Catholic Church.  A few weeks earlier, it had looked like this.

The church was already about 3 feet off of the ground, and the water left by the storm surge reaches to the door handles.

There we met Fr. Matthew, a priest from India.  The church had suffered a similar fate after Hurricane Rita, 3 years earlier, and they had just completed renovations.  He had moved back in to the rectory only a few months before Ike.  He was so proud of the new furnishings - real wood pews in the church, new furnishings in the rectory.  It was so sad to see the pews and the buckled wood floor in the sanctuary.  We wiped the film from the pews, and it came back as soon as we wiped it way...probably mold, rather than mud.  The rectory was being gutted that day.  Loads and loads of moldy, wet sheet rock carted out.  We did what we could (which wasn't much), but we left touched that day.  Sometimes when you attempt to give, you are the one who receives, and it was true that day.

Fr. Matthew has since returned to his native country, but he touched us all.  So appreciative, but seemingly in shock, as he carried a few more items that had been on the second floor to his car.

But Henry is a place that you don't happen upon, unless it is your destination, as it was for us this past Saturday.  The school was gone - demolished after Ike, except for the gym (which still smells faintly of mildew).  In the gym hang banners from championships and teams past.  Rather sad, as if time stopped in 1991 or so.

But what we most wanted to see was the church.....

It has been raised another six feet or so.  Unfortunately, it was locked (as most churches are today) and we could not see the inside.  The rectory is gone, moved to a house a few doors down.

And so there is hope. Things do get rebuilt.  Life does go on.  And in the chaos and in the sadness in the good that we do for others, God does work and touch hearts and lives.