Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It's ALWAYS about LIFE

I live in Wisconsin, where, since last spring, we have been engaged in a bitter war over...well, let's face it...it's about money and power. I repeat. The war is over money and power, and for the last few months, I've watched as normally sane people have engaged in animal-like behavior at the thought of having less money and power. Some actually seem possessed, maybe not in a literal demonic way, but they have become possessed by possessions. I think that the attachment to possessions can become so powerful sometimes that it makes us crazy. We lose the ability to think clearly or reason, and eventually we are able to communicate only in vulgar words of rage. Attachment to anything but God achieves this goal that delights the enemy. It is the ultimate distraction from goodness.

So forgive me for being bold, but I must say that in knowing how God is completely devoted his precious creation of human life, I would have to reason that voting for a candidate who favors giving more money and power to people over the protection of sacred human life is completely abominable.

Some would say that our recall elections are about the rights of the workers. I would say, what better way to be distracted from what really matters? Is life sacred or not? As Blessed Mother Teresa said, "It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." For those of us who live in a region that has been bullied into a recall election, we have to consider the grave responsibility of our votes. Most, if not all, of the pro-union candidates have horrific records when it comes to voting for the protection of unborn life. Don't be fooled by side issues. It's always about life.

I'm voting for LIFE on August 9 where I live.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

On trusting

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

It is this passage from proverbs that I woke up remembering this morning. Proverbs 3:5-6. It is my husband’s favorite. We have all our children memorize it.

So what is trust? More precisely, what do we do when we trust? Primarily, we love. We have to love in order to trust. Secondly, we enter into a reliance upon this love. Thirdly, there seems to be an element of uncertainty on the part of the one who trusts. This would require faith and hope.

The theological virtues, then, compel us to trust first in God and then in those whom God has chosen to lead us to Him. Therefore, we must trust in our fellow humans, all the while knowing that only God’s love is perfect, and that humans are capable of choosing to reject it.

Is it scandalous to say, then, that God trusts? God loves. Love is creative. God’s greatest creation is man, who was created to love freely. There is uncertainty in creatures with free will. However, God is also omniscient, so he knows exactly what will happen. Therefore, might we say that God has a sort of transcendent trust...a trust that is so great that despite having the knowledge of every evil thing that has happened, is happening or will happen, that allowing the world to play out in time cannot conquer the glory that is to come?

So if God who knows and loves most perfectly is willing to keep us going in all the messiness of life for His greater glory, the least I can do is to keep trusting. Will my heart be broken again by someone I love? Almost certainly, but He knows what He is doing.

“Therefore, I will trust Him...He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.” – Blessed John Henry Newman

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A letter of anger and hurt

Be forewarned: The following letter is an exercise at coming to terms with my own anger. It is not intended to offend anyone, so please read with caution.


Dear Sheepdog,

I am angry. I guess I feel fooled and hurt...and sad for those whose faith was damaged by an arrogant opportunist. It’s one thing to fail. It’s quite another to unabashedly persist in defying the moral code you continue to preach, and to repeatedly attempt to cover up your sins with the money you have earned by these good people who trusted you, because of your mask of fidelity.

Now the truth comes out.

First a trickle of disobedient rhetoric, a slight clue that should have revealed your dark intentions especially when juxtaposed against the light of our Lord, who died for us, and all those who were doing their best to keep your corruption from hurting us.

As more stones fell from your fortress of lies, you continually held that you were unjustly persecuted, even to the point of disgustingly likening yourself to Christ Himself during His passion.

And then today, the final crack in the dam broke, revealing you to be who you are, a snake-oil salesman who just happened to be selling the real thing.

Though my anger at your hypocrisy still remains, I do not wish the wrath of judgment upon you. I pray that you spend the rest of your life repenting in solitude, speaking no word to anyone but God. And I know that God will be merciful to you, if you only ask.

Your once inspired listener,


I realize that maybe it's too much to ask for charitable comments after calling you-know-who a snake-oil salesman, but I still welcome your thoughts about my anger.

I am praying for holiness. We all could use some more.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The legacy of a good pastor

Our beloved former pastor on the feast of Corpus Christi
This past Sunday, on the feast of Corpus Christi, we said goodbye to our beloved pastor. After sixteen years of serving our parish, he has been called to shepherd another flock. All of us in the parish have known that this change was inevitable. Pastors don’t normally get to be in one location for such an extended time. Yet so many of us have become attached to him as we would a family member. The sadness I am feeling did not hit me until I realized this evening that he would not be there this coming Sunday. It gives me great comfort and joy to share some reflections about his last Sunday Mass as pastor of our parish.

As he walked up, I became overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude, having been blessed to be a part of this small inner-city parish for the past eight years. Some of the faces in the congregation were parishioners who had come and gone and had made the special effort to travel to this Mass to give Father their best wishes and to thank him for being a part of their lives. Many of the people in attendance were parishioners who had attended the same 10 o’clock Mass every Sunday that I had seen throughout the years. It was an entire community of people whose lives had been profoundly augmented by the grace of a good pastor.

Directly in front of me sat a man whose struggle for the past few years has been simply making it to Mass. I have observed the slow deterioration of his body each week that seems to correspond with an increasing joy of being at peace with Christ in His suffering. Another elderly gentleman will often extend his hand to this dear man in friendship upon returning from Communion. This gesture of kindness always makes me smile and consider the hospitality that our pastor had always striven to foster within our parish.

A few pews back, I could hear the sounds of toddlers whose parents had been formed by Father’s excellent instruction about marriage and family life. He always took the time to meet with a young couple and ensure that their marriage would be built on the firm foundation of Christ’s vision for spousal union. Many young families have been drawn to our parish because of Father’s dedication to speaking the truth in love.

While I watched my son serving at this Mass, I recalled the vocations cultivated within our parish, undoubtedly inspired by our pastor’s own commitment to serving Christ and His Church. It has been a tradition at our parish that altar servers are male, while the girls are trained as “handmaids” in charge of preparing the altar before Mass. Father’s wisdom in allowing this organic development of tradition to continue has had the effect of building the confidence in both boys and girls in pursuing their vocations.

Yet for all these accomplishments and countless others achieved by our pastor’s tireless cooperation with the grace of the Holy Spirit, I would have only my own memory to rely upon. Our magnificent pastor, in his last homily, only spoke of the good works of others and most humbly said that his proudest accomplishment during his years at our parish was providing a noble liturgy that is performed according to the mind and heart of the Church.

He told us that Christ, whose presence he had the honor of bringing to us through the Mass, blessing us with in Benediction, and providing us with in Adoration, is the One who binds us together in such a way that his absence would be only in body, but not in spirit. This feast of Corpus Christi, he said, was a most appropriate way to conclude his time with us as our pastor. Christ has been at the center of his ministry from the very beginning, and now our parish has the opportunity to share the bright light of our faithful servant with another community.

I’ll never forget how he concluded his homily. His final parting words were “I love you.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard a pastor say that to his parishioners. It’s so bold, but I have no doubt that the love of our pastor was such that he would have walked through fire for any one of us. Now THAT is “In Persona Christi”!

Thank you, God, for the gift of having such a great pastor. Thank you for the bittersweetness of life in which we are privileged to experience your love most profoundly, in the departure of a strong and caring shepherd who tends his flock as You would, with a firm and loving hand.