Help!  I LOVE Sister Wives!

Help! I LOVE Sister Wives!

I am a recovering reality TV producer. There, I said it. Actually, despite what you might think, I, as a Catholic school theology teacher and aspiring administrator, am quite proud of my background in the field.  Believe it or not, it was really quite easy to transition from one career to the other.  I’ll never forget the president of my first high school informing me that the thing that caught his eye on my resume was a line that read “Second Unit Assistant Director, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy“.  OK, so maybe that show wasn’t my finest moment.  I have other credits too.  I loved the work I did writing segments for a local morning news show in New York. But that’s all been way behind me now for almost ten years. I have found that my vocation as a teacher has been well-served by my experience as a producer.  For instance, what I do now is really no different from a planning and execution standpoint.  The content is vastly different, to be sure.  But when I plan out a 90 minute lesson that gets played out in my classroom five separate times over two days I am pulling together visual elements, writing a script, and editing what does not absolutely fit the “story”.  And timing is everything since I don’t get a commercial break. In addition to having produced some reality shows I am also a fan.  Hey, I wouldn’t have gone into the field if there wasn’t something attractive about it to me.  And it is one of these shows in particular (or at least my fondness...
Missing Mediation in Exodus: God and Kings

Missing Mediation in Exodus: God and Kings

Last week, my husband and I got out to the movies to see Hollywood’s latest adaption of the Exodus story, Exodus: God and Kings, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as Ramses II. The movie was full of striking imagery, and the music was reminiscent of the 1998 soundtrack of the Prince of Egypt. It followed the basic plotline of the Exodus story, while taking artistic license in the interpretation of the story. The director, Scott focused largely on the brotherly rivalry between Moses and Ramses, starting the movie off with a battle against the Hittites in which Moses is a hero. Their relationship plays a key role in the progression of the movie. When Ramses discovers Moses’ true origin he banishes Moses to the wilderness. In the wilderness Moses meets Jethro and his family, and eventually marries one of Jethro’s daughters, Zipporah. Through his relationship with Zipporah, we learn about Moses’ lack of faith in any god. When Moses encounters the burning bush, it is unclear to him whether it was a dream or whether God is really asking him to do something. Through further subtle urging, Moses decides to go back to Egypt and see about freeing his people. He believes that God wants him to be a military leader. Throughout the rest of the movie, Moses spends a lot of time trying to figure out what God wants him to do and acting according to his own judgment. It seems that God has left Moses to free the Israelites through guerilla warfare. Only when Moses attempts fail, does God...
What We Can Learn from the Benedictines

What We Can Learn from the Benedictines

It was a mild December night in Minnesota as a hundred Catholic adults converged upon the beautiful house of a lovely young couple in order to meet a monk. They entered the house and, having been welcomed with a smile, dove right into the fudge and wine and entered into conversation with the other like-minded acquaintances present. After and hour of socializing, the monk, Fr. Cassion Folsom, O.S.B., the founder and Prior of a new community of Benedictines, began to speak. He told us about his order, which established themselves in a monastery in Norcia, Italy, the birth place of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica, in 2000. Benedictines had been in Norcia for hundreds of years until they were suppressed by Napoleon in 1810. This group of monks has been growing well and is nearing 20 monks. It is not a coincidence that the Benedictines are drawing new vocations. The work in which St. Benedict engaged, preserving the Church, community life, knowledge, and virtue, is a work that is again of immense importance today. Fr. Folsom shared this quotation from Alasdair Macintyre, from a book published in 1981, which is still relevant today: “It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age in Europe and North America and the epoch in which the Roman empire declined into the Dark Ages. Nonetheless certain parallels there are. A crucial turning point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the...
Why I Bring My Kids to Funerals

Why I Bring My Kids to Funerals

On Monday morning, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary,  my family and I were at Mass.  This is not unusual, as it was holy day of obligation.  What is unusual, to some at least, is that we were not only at Mass but at a funeral Mass for a man I barely knew, and who my children knew even less.  Why then were we there?  Because he was a member of our parish and because it was the right place for us to be, kids and all. I grew up in a family where death was a very real thing. Yes, I know. Death is a real thing, but to many people, to those who have never experienced the loss of a close relative, it can tend to be more abstract than the concrete reality it is.  Not so in my family. We lost people. We lost young people. We lost our brothers and sister, our children.  We felt the sting of death, and we also felt the comfort that came from the presence of those who cared enough to attend the wakes and funerals, even the ones we didn’t know. Oh, there were many friends, relatives, and neighbors who attended, but there were also people who came from neighboring towns, and people who had heard about it on the news.  That a stranger would come to the funeral of a child he didn’t know personally meant so much to us.  Dealing with the death of a child is hard enough.  Willingly dealing with the death of a child you didn’t know when you...
Overcoming the Advent Grumpies

Overcoming the Advent Grumpies

My favorite Advent was the year my second was born. She was due the second week of December and I decided to do all of my shopping and card writing in November so that I could just rest and not worry about the physical Christmas preparations. The Saturday after Thanksgiving, I decided that we had to finish everything for the baby even though we were still 12 days before the due date; I had a hunch. And sure enough, I woke up in labor at 4 am on the First Sunday of Advent. My daughter was born before dinnertime, and because I had been so well prepared, I spent all of Advent not worrying about the physical Christmas preparations and just contemplating Our Lady waiting for her newborn baby. There was something nice about not being apart of the busyness normally associated with Advent. I sat on the couch, nursed my baby, read to my toddler, napped all the time, watched it snow almost everyday that December in Buffalo, NY, and was readying my heart for Christmas day. I was free from the pre-Christmas craziness. Without a due date to motivate myself to do things early, I am not usually done by Advent, but I do get most of the shopping and card writing done by the first week of Advent. I do not see it as getting caught up in Christmas early, but preparing for Christmas in all the many ways that we have to. We also have a number of family Advent traditions, such as the Jesse Tree, an Advent Wreath, an Advent calendar, and not decorating...
Literally Loving The One You’re With

Literally Loving The One You’re With

I know plenty of people complain about the prevalence of cell phones. We all know how annoying it is when you’re having a meal with someone and their neck is bent the entire time, “talking” to someone else via their cell phone. It’s rude, it’s shallow, and it’s obviously uncalled for. They make it seem like they’d rather be with whoever their texting with, instead of you. Lately, however, I’ve realized that it’s just so much easier to love friends and families when they’re hundreds of miles away. People tell me they miss me and then, when we’re together in person, it still seems like they’d rather be elsewhere. They’re missing someone else and loving someone else who only needs a text, not an actual conversation. The thing is, people can just be hard to be around, especially when it’s family, and especially when it’s around the holidays. It’s easy to put the phone down when you don’t feel like texting or ignoring something you just don’t want to read. But, is this the point we’ve gotten to as human beings? When someone annoys us, we just choose to avoid the situation? Loving as God loves means loving the entire person, quirks and all. It means loving them 24/7, even when you can’t. freakin’. stand. them anymore. I write this mostly as a reminder to myself that, loving someone via my phone is ridiculously easy and not at all what Christ calls us to.  Hugging someone when we don’t feel like being friendly, saying something rational and courteous when we feel like saying something snarky and sarcastic, and choosing charity over selfishness no matter how...