punchy line

...and he (Simon Peter) saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth ... not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. - Jn 20: 6-7
-Jn 20: 6-7

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dear Lord, I’ve Been Through Hell, Lately. Please Send Down Your Spirit to Save Me.

We Catholics love to party, don’t we?

Take this time of year, as a good example.   You can’t get more much more festive than two major feast days, Ascension and Pentecost, both occurring within the same week and a half of each other, one of which is Church’s birthday (and add to this all of those First Holy Communions presently taking place and you have a world-wide block party)!

So I say, party on, Holy Mother Church, party on, because the Lord knows we need it.  I need it. 

Personally, I’ve been through Hell, lately. And I know that I’m not alone.

All the eloquent words one can say about Pentecost and it comes down to this: “Lord send down you spirit and save me!”  And what better time to ask than now that we are supposed to be rejoicing in His Victory over death and sin, misery and despair. 

And so I implore you, Lord, send your Holy Spirit to save me:

"Anima Sola" by Sha Ongelungel

... when I am filled with sadness over many things, most recently, my miscarriage.  And for that mom whom I know who recently miscarried her unborn twins; to her, Lord, send your Holy Spirit, we pray.

…when my marriage hurts.  And for that family at church, the good people with young children, who are all reeling from a long separation, for them, Holy Spirit, we pray.

            …when I am ill. And for the physically and mentally ill; for the toll that our hardships take upon our health and spirits, dear Holy Spirit, save us, we pray.  And most especially I lift unto you that mother I heard of, whose child must undergo painful procedures due to his birth defects.  For that family, we pray especially.

            …when I sin, and for those suffering under sin’s weight.  Holy Spirit, when my regret is so deep, my loneliness so dense, when I’m not loveable and I hardly remember what charity looks like, pull me from my sin and help me to trust in the Lord.  And for my family member and all those who are still mired in their sinful lifestyle, but whose pride won’t permit them to come to you, for them we pray.

            …when I, when any Christian, feels so very downtrodden and discouraged.  Embolden and fortify us, Holy Spirit. For those tempted to throw off their crosses and run away from them.  For those who look in the mirror and struggle to see any Divine likeness in themselves: purify our hearts, and help us to know ourselves and the world as loved by You.  Fill us with confidence again, as well as the gifts of your Spirit, that we may partake in the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and live as authentically Christian witnesses.

For when life is just … raw.  When it all seems pointless, when following Christ is too hard and too full of earthly injustices, when the business of loving others becomes its own purgatory, Lord help me not run away, but jump right in, raw wounds and all.  As a soldier that runs into an army against which she or he cannot win, enkindle in me and all of us the fire of your passion, and strengthen us as we lay down our lives yet again.

And for families who are losing their homes, and 
for families that can’t afford their own.
For families beset by tragedy, and
For military personnel and their families.
For post abortive parents and all affected by abortion, and
For those that minister to them, and who are speaking up for the silent unborn.

And for those who are persevering, Lord, faithfully, until they reach your Heavenly banquet (the ultimate party, I hear!) and render unto them new hearts filled with your Holy Spirit.

Lord, send out your Spirit this day, this week and always, and renew the face of the earth!

Feast of St. Joan of Arc, 2012.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Housewives Desperate For Sanctification

The TV show series Desperate Housewives has ended and I can proudly say that I have never watched a single episode.

However, I’ll be the first to admit that society is onto us Catholic housewives. 

Really!  Yes, we stay-at-home moms truly are the desperate types, only not in the way that our sexually polluted culture wants you to believe. 

No, we pine for something far more grand and ambitious, for that which nothing worldly can satisfy: we want God and we burn for holiness both for ourselves and our families.

We are housewives desperate for sanctification.

Take that, society. Everything presented on that show (judging by its silly posters alone) is droll in comparison.

History provides us with examples of holy married women who embody this holy longing in their vocations. 

For St. Catherine of Genoa, Bl. Zelie Martin and St. Gianna Beretta Molla, nothing less than a profound desire for God and for Heaven motivated them to be lead “where [she] would rather not go.” And it is these housewives desperate for heaven that I intend to model myself after, not the other, fake kind.

St. Catherine of Genoa 1447-1510

Bl. John Paul II quoted these words of St. Catherine at the closing mass of World Youth day 2000: "If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze."

These are inspirational words from a woman for whom married life was far from blissful.   For anyone who has struggled with keeping God at the center of their marriages, St. Catherine shows us that with grace we can arrive at our true identity as children of God even in the midst of painful circumstances.  

Pope Benedict XVI remarked about her life, "St. Catherine's life teaches us that the more we love God and enter into intimate contact with Him through prayer, the more He makes Himself known and enflames our hearts with His love.”  Read more about her here.

Bl. Zelie Martin (1831-1877)

Bl. Zelie Martin raised five daughters, four of whom joined the Carmelites (one of which became a doctor of the Church) and one that joined the Visitation nuns. Not bad for a woman, who, at one time found herself distressed that her toddlers showed “no signs of piety.” 
The Martin family sought holiness in their daily life.  Even the children, practiced making pious sacrifices at the encouragement of their parents.  But they were also very ‘real.’  Zelie worked from home making lace and the children which she lost in miscarriage or early death were always considered active members of the family from Heaven’s side.

Zelie died of breast cancer when her youngest daughter, Therese. was only five years old. Both she and her husband Louis are beatified.  Read tips for effective mothering from Zelie here.

St. Gianna Beretta Molla (1922-1962)

Canonized in 2004, this wife, mother, physician and pro-life witness has been said to represent all mothers.   She sacrificed her life for that of her unborn child, but many have said that she had been preparing for it the whole of her life.   Here are some quotes from St. Gianna:

"The stillness of prayer is the most essential condition for fruitful action. Before all else, the disciple kneels down."

" We cannot love without suffering and we cannot suffer without love."

"Let us love the Cross and let us remember that we are not alone in carrying it. God is helping us. And in God who is comforting us, as St. Paul says, we can do anything."      

All of you holy women, desperate to transcend this world, to leave it behind and to instruct your family in ways of holiness, pray for us!  And a happy belated Mother’s Day to all mom readers!

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Decadent Green Blur in My Peripheral Vision

We’re a couple of months into the Dump Starbucks campaign.  How are you doing with that?

Are you still struggling to shun a once favorite haunt? Or, has the culturally infecting logo now become but a decadent green blur in your peripheral vision?
If so, then prepare for phase two, wherein, like the Pepsi boycott, we actually win this thing. 

How?  How is the National Organization for Marriage’s Dump Starbucks boycott going to succeed at getting the iconic coffee peddler to return to neutrality on the issue of gay marriage? By hitting them hard and where it hurts: money.

Presently, the media, Starbucks corporation and gay 'rights' advocates can hardly contain their derision for the boycott’s citing its apparent zero effect on profits. They’ve submitted that the significance of the 35,000 signed petitions amounts to little more than a piddly nuisance. Supporting gay marriage, they've claimed, is core to their identity.
So I guess ignoring the majority of Americans who hold marriage as a scared institution between a man and woman is core to Starbucks' beliefs (as well as the president's as we recently learned). 

I personally believe that we’re off to a great start.  But 35,000 signed petitions is not going to be enough. Maybe 350,000 or 3.5 million will get their attention.  We just need to turn the pressure up a notch and that requires realizing just how many corners of life they’ve infiltrated with their product.

Quite simply, they have made it easy, so very easy for individuals, schools, and businesses to acquire a quality product for cheap (for their drip coffee, at least).  Hence our current dependence. There is hardly a hotel lobby, event center or a college campus remaining that does not ‘proudly serve’ their coffee.   And what teacher, secretary or boss appreciation day would be complete without a flurry of Starbucks gift cards giving? 

Photo Credit:Nowpublic
I personally miss their free music and app store downloads (though I suppose I could still run in and pluck one off of the counter, sorry, the bar, without buying a drink if I wanted to). My kids miss their favorite juice drinks.  Withdrawals from Starbucks, for my family, at least, have been intense.

The fact that we’ve come to rely on them is a problem.

What we have to remember is that it’s just easy to get coffee elsewhere.  Here’s a list of practical suggestions to further the Dump Starbucks campaign and even win..

If it’s not a Starbucks blend, drink the coffee provided at work.   If your job only serves Starbucks brand, try bringing in a bag of grounds (most grocery stores have coffee grinders) from a different company to mix things up a bit.  When I worked, I would sometimes do this just for fun.Oh, and two words: Mystic Monk.  Do it.

Two words: drive-thru coffee.  Whatever you may say about fast food, the coffee is surprisingly good and (shhh) cheaper than Starbucks!  Don't believe me, try one...and hey, it's a drive-thru.  If it's convenience you are after, you can't get much more than convenient than never having to  leave your car.

Look up alternative coffee caterers near you.  I simply typed in ‘coffee catering SF Bay Area’ and I discovered a host of companies, some family-run, all providing event coffee services.  A little spreading of the word may help these courageous coffee vendors stay in business.  I realize that some may have contracts with Starbucks, but contracts eventually end.  If enough people make some noise, and you may incline others to try whatever else is out there.

If you work or study at a college or university that serves sbux, drop your campus catering a line. Ask them to try something new.  Suggest something local, and hey, if the school is all about social justice, remind them that they’d be helping the little guy out if they switched to something more grassroots.

Brew your own.  If people don’t drink it, companies won’t ask for it and Starbucks can’t sell it.

Oh, and for appreciation days, give and ask for gift cards to other coffee places.   When I taught, I only drank the decadent green coffee bean because I had gift cards.  If I had had the option of free coffee elsewhere, I would have drank that instead.

So that’s all I could come up with.  Do you have any other practical suggestions?  If so, then as NOM is asking us, use your voice and please leave a comment!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Down the Rabbit Hole with the LCWR, A Montage

The Leadership Conference for Women Religious recently proclaimed itself "stunned' by the eight page document released by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith asserting the need for the doctrinally problematic organization to reform.

Hm.  Stunned, eh? I don't know, considering some of the sisters' more seething reactions to the Vatican, it's is clear that tensions between the two groups has been brewing for a long time.

And yet, what troubles me more is the great disparity that emerges when you compare the LCWR's claims about its role in the world, and reality.  Things start to become a too 'down the rabbit hole' once you juxtapose a few LCWR sound bytes with factual information. 

I created this montage of quotes and pictures of from some of the LCWR power players to illustrate what I mean. 

"Our role is to live the gospel with those who live on the margins of society. That's all we do."-Sr. Simone Campbell, head of Network,
 As we can see, the very margins of society.
How much is Sr. Carol Keehan worth to the pro-Obamacare Catholic Health Association? Answer: $962,467 a year salary. (Source)

Sister Campbell suggested that her organization's vocal support for President Barack Obama's healthcare bill was behind the slap-down...
The Vatican "clearly got upset that we were effective at communicating our views politically," she said.

(a quick search for "Obama" in the doctrinal assessment issued by the CDF yields a result of: 0 and...

Sr. Campbell expressing confusion over the matter
George Weigel points out that if the Vatican was trying to oppose any sort of nationalized health care system in the United States, it would be "the first European-style welfare-state initiative to which 'the Vatican' has objected in living memory.")

"They haven't talked to us, " Sister Campbell (Watch video here).

Reality (and it's presented in more detail in the actual assessment form):  "the CDF appointed Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo, Ohio, as its delegate to conduct the assessment, which was carried out in 2009 and 2010... While investigating the CDF’s concerns, Bishop Blair engaged in correspondence with the LCWR and reviewed publications prepared by the group as well as by other related organizations." Source.

Most sisters spend their lives immersed in the deepest sufferings of our world. They don't just stop by the soup kitchen on Ash Wednesday for a photo op. Some actually live in shelters with homeless women, orphans or the addicted. -Jamie L. Manson, National 'Catholic' Reporter (source)
 Reality: No doubt, the above statement is very true in many cases.  Unfortunately, the following pictures reveal a concurrent, sinister reality having nothing to do with living in solidarity with the homeless, orphans or the addicted:

At the surface level, Religious are being threatened because they have been “upsetting the (patriarchal) order” of the Church as institution in which the hierarchy has its position of power. -Sr. Sarah Schneider who has written a five part mini-essay defending and defining religious life as a prophetic life, not necessarily having anything to do with the Catholic Church .  

Scratching your head, yet?

Reality: (From the Doctrinal Assessment. Again, source.) "Some speakers claim that dissent from the doctrine of the Church is justified as an exercise of the prophetic office. But this is based upon a mistaken understanding of the dynamic of prophecy in the Church....true prophecy is a grace which accompanies the exercise of the responsibilities of the Christian life and ministries within the Church,  regulated and verified by the Church’s faith and teaching office."

Finally, let's look at some images from the LCWR's website:
Exhibit A:
First of all, I'm pretty sure that those sweeping arm motions and dancing moves in the image are not really feasible for a demographic for whom there are more members over ninety years old that there are younger than sixty.

This seems more realistic:

Exhibit B:
 What is wrong with the traditional ideas of religious life?  Sydney Poitier learned a thing or two from it:

It's all about The Lilies of the Fields, people.
 And lastly, what sort of gospel values do you espouse when this is one of the speakers for your major conference?
Exhibit E=mc squared, an LCWR keynote speaker
Don't get me wrong, I hope they reform, because this rabbit hole is just too trippy for me!