Dear Jesus, You’re My Favorite Safety Net

Dear Jesus, You’re My Favorite Safety Net

Dearest Jesus, I know it has been so long since I’ve written, but I know you understand, since you have a lot going on, too. Today has been so uneventful and quiet that, in funny way, I felt compelled to make a little contact. It’s perfect because you’ve always been a great listener when I’ve prayed in the past! A few weeks ago, a friend told a joke and I was reminded of how you have always been there for me. There were those seemingly endless months where my kid would scream ear piercingly everyday without end – my wife and I searched the internet, read books, took him to the doctor, changed parenting styles and when none of it worked, we prayed and you were there to temper his temper. We’ve had relative peace ever since! And that time when the internet went down and the kids were watching the TV – I thought that I’d have to watch paint dry, but I saw my Bible on the shelf and realized that, like the most reliable friend, you were there for me. It always brings warmth to my heart knowing that I’ll never be at a loss for something to do since I can pray when all else fails. One of my favorite things is that you are so unassuming! Whenever I do pray, you listen to all of my frustrations and problems – even the occasional ‘thank you’ – and never ask anything of me in return. It’s so good to have someone that will just let me vent without telling me to take responsibility. I get...
Why Contraception and Homosexuality Need Migratory Birds

Why Contraception and Homosexuality Need Migratory Birds

Without getting into the weeds of heavy theology, sin is an offense against the love of God, Who has established eternal law to govern all of existence.  Incidentally, eternal law defines what is in conformity with human nature and what is not.  Therefore, a sin, while an act against God and eternal law, can also be seen as an act against our own human nature.  There are a few reasons why I bring this up. As I am sure many of you read, in those magical days between the retirement of Pope Benedict and the election of Pope Francis, the mainstream media were abuzz with anybody with an opinion, Catholic or not.  This wall-to-wall coverage of the Church moving as fast as it could and as slow as it needed gave many liberals a chance to surface in order to spout their “the Church needs to get with the times” message, publicly wondering if the new pope would “ease the restrictions” on homosexuality and contraception (among many other moral issues).  Though these religious pundits might have done some excessive hyperventilating, those Catholics who have a clue about how Church authority functions yawned and went to bed. But what if the Pope did approve the practices of homosexuality and contraception in at least some instances?  Catholicism and general Christianity would come coming crashing down because of a sudden and jarring negation of papal infallibility.  But aside from that?  Nothing.  The pope’s infallible teaching authority rests within the limits of faith and morals.  ‘Aren’t homosexuality and contraception moral issues?‘ one may ask.  Of course they are, but these things (as well...
The Church, Unoriginality, and My Failure to Communicate

The Church, Unoriginality, and My Failure to Communicate

One of Christianity’s many charms is its history of assimilating pagan cultural practices and recalibrating the character into something more pleasing to the palate of the faithful. Like the Borg (face it, “Keep calm and Catholic on” is a religious rendition of “resistance is futile”). Be it wedding rings, Christmas trees or pipe organs, we outfit our lives and worship with highly religious tackle that used to serve as divorce repellent or entertainment during gladiator events. Perhaps, in a subconscious attempt to flatter Mother Church, I have adapted this method of culture recycling in my own life through the use of quips and complements sprung from the minds of those more creative than I: screenwriters. I am a thief who, to his own detriment, wants to be caught, as what is more valuable than a comment is the sharing of uncommon knowledge. Most people don’t think it to be more valuable. Like the time that Katie (my wife and copy-editor) and I were dating long-distance, talking on the phone for hours at a time, growing more and more in love with each other’s minds. The context of the conversation is a little hazy, but at some point I found myself explaining why I was drawn to her. I had laid an honest foundation about her fervor for daily Mass and passion for the Blessed Mother, but was blanking on lighter compliments. I took a deep breath and started to speak, “You’re very generous. You’re kind to strangers and children, and when you stand in the snow you look like an angel.” Silence. “That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever...
5 Ways to Shush the Church Chatter

5 Ways to Shush the Church Chatter

We’ve all been there before; churchgoers in a nearby pew chatting it up during Mass.  Their conversation can be heard by all those around unless they whisper, which we all know rarely happens.  Regardless, on the off-chance they speak in low-tones, rest assured that they’re doing it just to annoy you. What is a Catholic to do?  I’ve seen priests glare down parishioners and say, suspending their own homily, “Yoo-hoo! [yes, he said ‘yoo-hoo’]  Hello?  Yes, you.  It’s my turn to talk.”  I’ve heard them work a correction into a homily (… it’s fair to suppose the Judas was the only Apostle to interrupt Jesus while he spoke…), hurling lightning bolts of public guilt toward anyone who dared steal the attention from the clergy.  The rest of us were silently fist-pumping in our pews. Of course, there are a few lay methods of correction. The Polite Smile When to use: The Opening Prayer – Employed mainly by old ladies and really sarcastic people, this method is rather ineffective at saying, “I wish you were a Trappist.” Unintended effect: The talkers think you’re a nice person and begin to ask your opinion on whatever it is they shouldn’t be talking about. The Big Sigh When to use: The Psalm – Still remaining passive, the big sigh takes hold of that Catholic guilt and emits it as a cloud to anyone who may be doing something annoying. It says to those around you, “I am helplessly and quietly suffering because of you. Ease my pain.” The natural response of someone who hears the sigh is usually, “That man must be going...

7 Church Seasons You May Not Be Aware Of…

It’s finally over! As of this afternoon, my wife is done coordinating the annual Sacramental Reception Season! In a few short weeks, it’ll be summer, and the stress that is mid-Spring in our family will be complete! Don’t know what I’m talking about? Let me explain. As Catholics, we’re used to the ins-and-outs of the liturgical calendar, with Advent and Lent as times of preparation, Christmas and Easter celebration, and Ordinary Time devoted to … being … ordinary? Growing up with this distinctly Catholic perspective of time, I never appreciated how it appears to those on the other side of the parish secretary desk.  Now that I’ve had a few years under my belt in parish and school catechesis, I have a very different outlook on things.  Add to that that my wife also is a Parish Receptionist and Assistant Director of Religious Education and you get a unique perspective.  Those of us involved in the pastoral work of the Church very often have a different calendar in our minds.  Here are a few season you may not be aware of: Christmas Party Season, a.k.a. Advent – This one, the first event on the universal pastoral calendar, boils the blood of liturgical purists everywhere. I’ll admit, I’m not terribly comfortable with it, either. We’ve become accustomed to spending Christmas vacation with family, many of us traveling, so when do we celebrate Christmas with our friends? Why, of course, that must be what that pesky Advent Season is for! Huzzah! Artery-clogging treats for everyone! It’s not “O Come, O come” so much as it is “Going, going…” By the time...