I Used to Sit Next to you – A Reply, of Sorts

Anillos[1]A few weeks ago I read this article entitled I Used to Sit Next to You, By Emily Reis. The Article is from September 24th, 2012, but I only got around to reading it in the last few weeks.

When I read this article I thought, man that has been my life. I can remember the days before and right after we got married and how we used to sit in Mass and hold hands. Now, over the last 15 (Updated: 21) years, the space between us has just gotten further and further apart. Believe me the space between us has grown but every inch has been worth it.

Now, I love little kids. Usually if you see me at a function with families, you can tell it’s me because I have a little one in my arms. But one thing about little kids is that they just don’t get going to Mass. In my experience there is nothing you can do for a 2 year old that will help them understand that going to Mass is the greatest part of the week. You can tell a 3 year old over and over again, there up on the Altar, is God. You have to be quiet now. They won’t believe you, and will continue making truck noises. The 4 year old might begin to grasp the concept that they should be quiet but, to them an hour feels like forever. The 5 year old who has finally managed to stay quiet through the Homily, will be over joyed by the fact that you are getting up and moving toward the end of the pew, only to be utterly disappointed when it turns out you’re just going up for communion. All these things are true, and there is nothing you can do about it. So you might as well get used to it.

Though I love them dearly, they have all driven me crazy during Mass.20130325-212904.jpg
From the time when we only had one of them until now (and we now have 9)(update: 13 now), we have always had trouble with the kids during Mass. For those of you shaking your head and thinking, “man I can’t handle 2 in Mass how do they handle 9,” we are not super heroes. Well I am not a super hero. I think my wife might be, as she has been known to take all the kids to Mass by herself, when I am traveling. But super hero or no, it is really just about prospective. We had just as much trouble with two as you probably are.

Over the years we have had to deal with sitting further and further apart on the pew. Heck, there were times when I saw my wife at the beginning of Mass, again during communion as one or the other of us passed by the pew from the back of Church, and again after the last hymn. But it is not all bad news, it does get better.

As I said it does get better. We have two or three older kids now who can help us during Mass. They can hold the baby (2 now) and sit next to the 4 or 5 year old and usually help to keep them quiet. It does not always work and my wife and I still spend a fair amount of time holding, shushing, threatening, soothing and taking little ones out of Mass. But it is getting better.

In the last year the number of times we have been able to sit next to each other has gotten big enough that I need my fingers and toes to count. And I can now remember those times when we were younger and we were the ones watching the families wondering when we were going to be at that point.

The problem is that it is bitter sweet.DSC01734
My oldest four sons are Altar servers. When I see them up on the Altar before Mass in just the black Cassock as they set things up or light the candles, I see the men that they are rapidly becoming. When I watch them serve the Mass and kneeling before God, I know that they know how important the Mass is. I see my eldest daughter and her brother who are finally tall enough that I don’t have to stand right behind them in the Communion line to tell the priest “Yes, they can receive.” I know that they are all growing up. I am a sentimental sap, I know.

Having said that, I do like being able to sit next to my wife again. It is nice to be able to share a look during a reading or a quick squeeze of the hand when the Homily strikes home. Heck, the fact that we can hold hands again is pretty darn amazing. But, you ask how did we make it through? How did we keep going to Mass when we felt like we needed to go to confession every time we went to Mass? You are probably not going to like the answer, because it is not all puppies and rainbows.

Strong faith is probably not going to be enough.100_0634
Again, I can only speak from my experiences here. You can have incredible faith and still feel like a failure. You can feel like you are letting everyone else in Mass (including the priest) down by not managing to keep your kids quiet, or preventing them from grinding Cheerios into the carpet. You can feel like you should not be there when the guy in front of you turns around and not so politely asks you if you can keep the kids quiet. You can wonder why you even came to Mass when the older lady from the back of the church reminds you that they do have a cry room. You might wonder what the point is as you sit in the cry room (full of toys) and can’t quite hear the readings over the tiny cracked speaker. Why even leave the house when it is a struggle to get the two year old’s shoes on and by the time you get to Mass you have already told the older kids, “No we will not be staying for doughnuts after Mass because you didn’t behave.” Strong faith may not be enough to get you through these times. You are going to need help.

I would love to tell you that all priests are understanding and that all the old ladies in church will be like grandmothers and all other parents will understand. The truth is that none of these are true. The good news, I mean other than The Good News, is that there are good priests who understand, and there are grandmothers in church who will help, and there are parents in church who understand. The trick is finding them. The trick is finding a support group, and a good parish, and to spend time talking to your priest.

Great Priests will understand that kids are the future of the Church, and will some times even make it a point to tell other people the same thing. I truly believe that most priests are great priests, but some times they forget. A gentle reminder is sometimes in order. This is true for all of us. Most important, (and this one is sometimes hard to remember when you are sitting on opposite ends of the pew feeling guilty for even being there) remember that you and your wife are a team, working toward the same goal. Heaven, and of course that spot in the center of the pew where you can sit close enough to hold hands. One of our old priests (a really great priest by the way) used to say that we did a great job juggling the kids during Mass. I was never sure if that was good or bad. And I always had images of kids being tossed in the air when he said it.

So you might ask what works?
Again, these are things that have helped us. My wife and I are pretty darn independent, and we have discovered that we will do things that other people just won’t. So these might not work for you. Also we don’t have any family that live around us that can help, so we have learned to do things mostly on our own.

  • Obviously spliting the kids up will have some effect, but if you have more than three kids this is not always effective.
  • If the kids will behave better for someone else ask a friend to take one of the kids. This only works if the kids will be better with someone else, if they are just going to misbehave with someone else then there is no point.
  • Going to Mass together. This is not intuitive because you might think splitting up might be a good idea, but going together shows the kids that you and mom are a united front. They are not going to get out of going to Mass by misbehaving.
  • Split the kids up. (But you said that already. Well I am saying it again.) if you have older kids (even as young as 8 or 9) have the 4 / 5 year old sit with them in the pew right in front of or right behind you. Sometimes getting to sit away from you (even just a little) will get the kids to behave. This was my wife’s idea and the priest who first saw her do it said it was brilliant. (See, I told you she was a super hero.)
  • Don’t sit on top of each other. (I make this mistake all the time.) As a large family it can be hard to find a pew that will seat all of us. Don’t be tempted to squeeze into a pew that would not normally fit you all. Sometimes too much family togetherness really is, too much family togetherness and you will all be on each others nerves before the Homily even starts.
  • Don’t bring toys to Mass. Empty the pew of books, prayer guides and especially those little pencils. Again, this might not sound like it makes sense, but those are distractions. They will distract the kids, the older and the younger ones and will in turn distract you and those around you.
  • Don’t use the cry room unless you actually have a crying kid. It might be tempting to start Mass in there and just camp out. But, especially when you are talking about a 4 / 5 / 6 Year old, it should be like time out, a place where you go when they are misbehaving, until you have it under control then head back to your pew.

I really don’t like to make lists like this because it makes people think that I really know what I am talking about. I don’t! Far from it. We have felt our way along, we have failed miserably in some places and in a few cases even succeeded. I think.

There is a bright ray of sunshine for all of you who can commiserate with the “I Used to Sit Next to You” article. Your kids will grow, they will learn to behave during Mass. It might not be easy to hear that from where you are right now. Just knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel might not be enough. You might fear that light is an oncoming train. But there is a light, and there are other people who understand. Don’t be afraid to reach out.

For those of you saying, “been there, done that.” Remember next time you are in Mass and the kids behind you are squirming too much, remember that you have been there, and you have done that. When you see the mother or father trying to hold three kids, don’t frown and wonder what they were thinking, or question the way they are trying to handle the little one. instead quietly ask if you can help, and don’t be pushy if they say no. If you see the priest frowning at the parents with the kids who are grinding Cheerios into the carpet, remind the priest that without that kid, the Church has no future, and don’t be afraid to ask him where the vacuum is.

Oh and one last thing. Always bring extra tissues to Mass with you. I always forget (I think most dads do) and at least one of the kids usually needs one. Trust me, I will always welcome the proffered tissue. And if I forget to say it then, Thank you.

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Palm Sunday – Thoughts on a Homily that didn’t Happen.

Palm_SundayHoly week is on us once again. The beginning of this week is always one of those bitter sweet moments. You are excited for lent to be over, excited for the promise of Easter, but you also know that before you can get there you have to get past good Friday. You have to live through the Holy Thursday, the Passion and death of Jesus to get there. Over the last few years, that has gotten harder and harder for me.

A few years ago I attended an Ash Wednesday at a Parish that was not my own. It was one of those, well I need to go so I will go at this Church down the Street during lunch. For me it really was one of those, get in do what I need to do and get out type of moments. That was until I heard the priest’s Homily. I don’t remember his name, I don’t even remember what he looked like, but I remember one thing he said. And I am going to paraphrase here because it has been 6/7/8 years now.

I don’t understand when I look out over the congregation during holy week and there is not one person in the crowd weeping. How can you hear these things, and not be sad. This should be about one of your best friends, about a horrible death that they endured. Sure you know the ending. You know that He rises from the dead, but right now, This week, He is suffering, and will be put to death before the week is out. If that does not make you sad…

That has stuck with me, and I guess it is me getting older, but every year going through Holy week gets harder. And I think that is as it should be.

Having said that, yesterday was Palm Sunday, and I always look forward to the Homily.

This year we went to Mass at Our Lady of Mercy. Not our normal Parish but a good one and one that has a Sunday Evening Mass that works out really well when I or one of the older boys has to work over the weekend, which my eldest son did this weekend. The kids were all being relatively well behaved, I was actually sitting next to my wife, (more on that later this week) and I was really kind of excited that I would be able to sit still and listen to a homily.

Here is where we get to the title of the post. I learned something this weekend. Apparently a couple of times during the year the priest gets a choice, to either give a homily or just have silence. I have never been to a Mass where a priest chose the silence. Well last night he did.

I will admit, at first I was disappointed. Well in truth, at first I was nervous. The littlest one was sleeping on the pew, her next older brother, as also mostly asleep, but the next one up was pretending to sleep and mostly bothering his order brothers. During a moment of silence is not the time to have one of the kids start giggling, or one of the little ones really wake so I grabbed the one who was awake and held him on my lap to keep him quiet and this mostly work. But then I was back to being kind of disappointed. I had really been looking forward to hearing something really good. Instead, I felt like the priest had kind of wimped out.

However, as I sat there, holding my son in my lap, glad that this was keeping him quiet, a thought occurred me. This is the thing that I had been working on. This is the thing that I have been struggling with. Sitting quietly and listening for what God wants to tell me. I mean I don’t think that I am going to hear the word of God in any special message or anything, but just listening, hearing what He has said to me thought out the day. And if you can sit quietly and just think about the Gospel reading for a few minutes a just listen to Gods words replaying in your head, that might be the best Homily of all. Better yet, this Gospel reading, the Passion. Understanding the pain and suffering that is about to happen it our Lord. Spending time reflecting on that…

So that was the Homily and that did and didn’t happen. The priest did say one thing before he asked us to be silent, “Reflect on the idea that when Jesus was in the garden praying, He was really suffering. Why? Because the evil one with with Him, and showing Him a century when we are so self centered that most of us will completely miss what is happening this week.” That was one of those things that you know, but don’t really know and it was a great point to focus on.

So, while I was a little disappointed that there was not a spoken Homily. It was a pretty great way to start holy week. And if you are like me and really look forward to a great Homily and feel like you still really want one you can always listen to Father Robert Barron who did do a wonderful Homily this weekend.

Wow What a Week

100_4386Obviously this has been a strange and incredible week. It really has been one of those kind of bridge weeks, moving from the old to the new. It started with my web site being down, transferring everything over here, (more on that later) I picked up some addition duties at my day job that have me doing both audio and video work. It looks like there is enough of that to keep me busy for some time to come so I am pretty excited about that. It gives me a chance to do something I do out the outside and now get paid for it so that is really very cool. And then yesterday, oh my goodness yesterday, we got a new Pope.

His Holiness Pope Francis Image credit: Zenit News Agency
His Holiness Pope Francis Image credit: Zenit News Agency
I am not going to spend a lot of time talking about the new Pope. If you want information about who he is and where he is from I really am not the right person to ask. There are lots of great articles about him, and what he has done and so forth at other sites so I am not going to try to repeat any of that here. (Just a few of the sites you might try The Vatican website, Vatican News, Catholic Mom, The Word on Fire, SQPN, Father M. N.’s Blog, and there are literally hundreds of others but these are the ones I like and follow)

What I do what to talk about that relates to this topic and sort of relates to the Living in the future post from Tuesday. I had been listening to Father Roderick of SQPN for the last couple of days. He said early yesterday that he thought yesterday would be the day (It turned out he was right) so I was watching all the social media channels pretty closely. 20130314-142954.jpg I had my phone sitting on my desk waiting for Pope Alarm to send me a text, and it was still my wife that got to me first. I got an IM from her saying that there was white smoke. Then I saw the literally thousands of people saying the same thing on social Media. Pope Alarm was about 6 minutes late, but I did get a text message from them in time to see the white smoke still billowing out of the chimney. In all Fairness Pope Alarm did say that they were totally overwhelmed by the response they got.

As cool as all the technology was, what I found great about it was the number of ways that were would experience the moment. When my wife IM-ed me she turned on EWTN, my eldest son was streaming it to his laptop (I don’t know what stream he was watching probably the same one as his mother and the younger kids but being that he is 15 he has to try to be a little different.) As soon as I heard about it, I found a link to the Vatican’s live feed on YouTube and watched it there, and I know that I could have streamed it though any of the major media outlets. This morning I downloaded Father Roderick’s podcast version. He was in the square and had been watching the smoke each and every time it went up, and just continued to record all through the whole thing. I will be honest, when I listened to this on my way in to work this morning I got all choked up listening to people completely jubilant at the news and announcement. And there were tons of other options of watching it live or hearing the reactions from the crowd and just in general all day long and even today there is new stuff coming out. I suspect that it will still be coming out several days from now. I just find the whole thing totally amazing. I will say it again, I love living in the future.

So on with the other news of the week. I don’t talk about my day job a lot. Part of it is because it really is not all that interesting, and part of it is because I don’t really want to mix what I do outside work and what I do inside work. That might start to change, at least some. I work as an IT guy by day. How many times have I said that. For years now it really has not been the truth. I have not worked in the official IT department for over 10 years now. I to work in technology, but the description of my job is so complicate that I usually just say the IT group so that I don’t have to spend ten minutes explaining what it is that I do. RecordFor a while now I have been trying to get away from the work that I was actually hired to do and into more of a training / out reach / social media type role. I have been so close in a couple of times in the last few years that I could almost taste it only to have the rug pulled out from underneath me. I am not really holding my breath but, they have given me space to work on audio and video production, I actually have the software loaded on my machine and a clear goal ahead of me. On top of all that my boss said the other day, Wow you know there is enough here to make a full time job. (I have been saying that for years.) So I am pretty excited about it. I just hope it lasts.

Last, let’s talk about the website move. I still have some issues to work out. If you have scrolled down through some of my older posts you will notice that, there is a big gap between March and January. Those posts are only on my other site. I am working on recovering them but the other host is still down. You might also notice that some of the images are missing from those older posts. cropped-cropped-tinyfeet.jpgThat is because while I was posting things I was kind of lazy. I was linking the images from one site to the other. This is really a bad practice, don’t do it. Why? well when one site goes down your back up site looks silly with a lot of the images missing. I am still hopeful that the other site will be recoverable. Or at least that I can get some of the data from it. If however, it gets to this time next week and things have not returned to normal over there, I will give it up as a lost cause and just repost the pictures from my archives here.

This has been an incredible week. It is not over yet, but even if it was I would have to call it a success. All I can say now, it hang on. If this week was like this, wait until next week.

Living in the Future – The Pope Addition

Picture from Father Roderick Vonhögen
Picture from Father Roderick Vonhögen

Just a couple of quick thoughts about the election of the new Pope.  Obviously I am old enough to remember the election of the last Pope. I am even old enough to have at least been alive for the election of John Paul II, though I was too young to understand it at that point. I remember the not knowing.  I remember waiting for NPR to announce that the white smoke had been spotted.  (Yes, I do listen to NPR.)  

 

What amazes me most is how much things have changed in just barely 8 years.  8 years ago, I waited for one of the major media outlets to let me know that the new Pope had been elected.  Today, I signed up for a service that will e-mail me and Text me when they spot the white smoke.  I am following several people who either are there them self (Father Roderick Vonhögen) or who know someone there, (Lisa Hendey,) and I could be watching any of the various live video streams of the Sistine Chapel chimney, none of these would be considered major media outlets.  If I wanted to avoid the talking heads totally I could, and really never feel out of the loop.  

Considering my dislike of most of the major media outlets I have to say, this is a step in the right direction.

I love living in the future.

How I meet Their Mother – A Date with my Wife

Picture 37I don’t get out a lot. Wait, that didn’t come out right. I don’t get to go out on dates with my wife a lot. It has become a lot easier in the last couple of years . A lot of that has to do with our wonderful oldest son, who at 15 does a pretty good job watching his younger siblings while his parents sneak out of the house for a while.

So on Sunday we went to an evening Mass at one of our local Parishes. (As a side note I am very happy this Mass exists since it gave us a chance to go to Mass together, even though I had to work this week. Thank you to the folks at Our Lady of Mercy for giving us this option.) After which we went out to dinner at Red Lobster with a gift card I got from my employer.

Normally I would not mention the restaurant but it plays an important part in this story. On the ride between Mass and dinner my lovely bride and I had the discussion, of where we would like to go. The gift card we were given was for the parent company of Red Lobster, Olive Garden and a few others, so we had some choices. We finally came to a conclusion when she said, “let’s do Red Lobster, it has been a long time since we have been there.” we rode a long in the relative quiet of the car for a little while as decision made we headed toward dinner.

The silence was broken when I said,

“You know, I think the last time we when to Red Lobster you threw up in my car.” A moment of thoughtful silence
“Wow, that date was before child #1, and I have thrown up so many time since then that I had forgotten about that.”
“Well I am glad we are now measuring time in numbers of times you have thrown up.”

Our conversation continued in the silliness for a while, but eventually lead us to a discussion of how we met and our feelings around that time.

Back when I looked like this,—->piza<—– and yes I am in this picture but I am not going to tell you which one, I met my wife. Techically this picture was taken after I met her but more on that in a few moments. Needless to say, it was a long time ago and very far away.

We got to talking about how we felt about each other in the time between when we met and when we actually started dating. It was a unique time in my life. We had lived in Germany for a number of years and knew that this was likely the last year we would be there so we were trying to cram as much as we could into it as possible, doing as many of the exciting things as we could. Clouded by time when I think back to when we lived there much of what I remember was that year.

That year was also the year that my wife moved to town. I have always maintained that the moment I met her I knew I wanted to be with her. And that really is mostly true, but as we talked about it, I discovered something a little bit different. Slightly Paraphrased:

Me: In October Andy suggest that we should maybe date.
My Wife: I wasn’t ready then.
Me: I know neither was I.
MW: You should not date someone unless you can see yourself married to them, and I could not see that in you yet.
Me: Right. By November though, I was pretty sure.
MW: [smile remembering it]
Me: and by The Christmas concert [smiling remembering the cookie that she had given me that I never ate because could eat it and have it too.] I knew for sure and I was just trying to figure out how to reconcile it with the rest of my life. And by the time I went to Italy I realized I wished I had brought you instead of my other friends
MW: That probably would not have gone over well with my Dad.

The point is that looking back on it, I remember thinking that I knew as soon as I met her, but really it wasn’t until later that I really understood what spending the rest of my life with her really meant. Now (22+ years from that Christmas concert) I can honestly say that I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but it was the best misunderstood decision that I ever made.

Visiting The Magi

100_3839-1024x768When I was much younger than I am today, I had the wonderful opportunity to live in Germany. At the time I didn’t realize how lucky was. I mean how many times can you bee dragged down to the Rhine river and look at castles. At least that is what I thought at the time. When I look back on it now I can’t imagine that I felt that way.

As I said I got to see a great many wonderful things. Among those was the Cathedral in Koln. As a child I only saw it once. I have since been back there and seen it again, but it did not change the way that I saw it. You know that feeling when you see something big as a child and then see it again when you are older and it does not look so big? That was not the case with this Cathedral, if anything it looked bigger and more impressive to me. And made me feel smaller.100_3468

Since the Lutheran Movement took hold in Germany, many of the large Cathedrals are not Catholic, this does not by any mean lessen their impressiveness, But it does change the way I see them. the Koln Cathedral is one of the largest in the world. It is also the seat of the Catholic Church in Germany. And as I said very impressive. Beyond being impressive for it’s size, it is impressive for something else. 100_3839-1024x768

100_3845-1024x768
In that gold case in the center of the Altar are the relics of the three Magi. I know the pictures are terrible, the camera I was using was old, and always managed to focus on the wrong things. Oh well. The point is that they are here, and I wanted to share them with you.

Laudate – A Tech Review

Laudate_Image

Updated

Laudate

Developed by Ayckasoft

Is a Free Mobile App for Android Devices and iPhone / iPod Touch

This is not really a new application, but I wanted to share it and give you a quick review.

Before I found this app, I had a half dozen other apps on my iPod that did various different things including gave me all the common prayers, readings for the day, the Catechism, and reflections from various sources on the gospel readings. This App bring them all together into one place. This is even more so the case now.  They have added a lot of new prayers, and other helpful things.  One of my new favorites has been the Latin prayers and the Search for prayers.  That was is really useful if only know a few words of the prayer and don’t know the name. The other new feature is the ability to bookmark. (I think this is new, or maybe It is just that I didn’t know about it before) this is invaluable when you are working with some of the longer works like, the three versions of the bible that are included, the Catechism or the Code of Cannon Law.

It is a great little app that I use more and more as I get into it. It seems to have just about everything that I need as far as resources on the go. The prayers, the readings, the reflections, as well as things like a guide for confession and a full copy of the New American Bible are in there.

since I originally wrote this post, they have fixed the one problem that I had with it. The close button for the prayers was way up high next to the start over button for the Rosary. They have moved it down and made it bigger, so you can easily hit it while praying, and don’t have to stop praying to move to the next prayer.
If there is one thing that I rather dislike about the app, and a reason that I would give it less that 5 stars, it is the rosary feature.

When I found that this has a virtual rosary I was pretty excited. I am terrible about carrying a rosary with me. I almost always have a lot in my pockets and with a Rosary in there it tends to get destroyed (which I always feel really bad about,) or it will get tangled up in everything else in my pocket. The Rosary feature, (as shown below) shows you a picture of the rosary and each bead changes color as you click on it. When you click on the beads, the screen changes and shows you the prayer. That is all well and good but to get back to the screen with the beads you have to click the little X. The problem is that the little X and restart Rosary button are so close that very frequently I have clicked on the wrong one in the middle and had to find my way back to where I was to continue. It is annoying enough that I don’t use that feature unless I really have to. If I forget the words to one of the prayers withing the Rosary I go to the prayers section and look it up and just count the Rosary on my fingers. But I have to say this is about the only feature that I don’t like.

I will say this again, I am really happy with this app. It is free app but I would honestly be willing to pay for it. (Which considering hoe cheap I am normally, that is saying a lot.) The App is not prefect but it is pretty incredible. I really like having all my resources in one place and being able to get to things quickly, Laudate certainly fits the bill for that.

As these screen shots show everything you need is on one easy to use menu. The sub menus and small apps within are easy to follow and allow you easy access to the resources.

Bible

cannon law

daily readings

mainpage

rosary

stations of the cross

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Download For:

Iphone – Ipod touch

Android device

From Amazon

Screenshots are from the the Google Play Shop

Finding Spiritual Direction – A Homily and More

logo[1]This weekend our priest gave a great Homily. It really hit home with couple things that I have been dealing with lately, confession and finding some direction in terms of my faith. If you reading my site before it crashed and I started over you might have seen a post about “Struggling with confession,” so you probably already knew about that one. What I didn’t discuss in that one was the struggle I have been having with spiritual direction. The Homily this weekend kind of crystallized what it was that I have been thinking about, even though I really didn’t even know it.

Ok, I will go ahead and say it, since we have been going to Mass with Father N.M. we I can’t remember a bad homily. That is a pretty good track record. We have be going to Mass with him for just about a year now and I think there was one time when I looked at my wife after Mass and said, something like “that homily was not up to his standards.” Don’t get me wrong, it was still good, but it didn’t move me the way most of his do. That was not the case this week.

So what did he say that hit so close to home? If you don’t know about the tragedy that happened in Connecticut this week, you have probably been living in a hole somewhere, because even I, and I do my very best to avoid news like that, knew about it. So the Homily did have some notes about that. Following that he talked about returning to God in two very important ways. The first way was through confession. I am going to paraphrase him.

We live in a society where we think we know better.

In other words we are all Cafeteria Catholics. I could write an entire post about that term and how much I dislike it, but that would get me off subject here. When I heard this, my first thought was really? Do we really think that we know better than God? The only answer that I can come up with is, yes we do. That really scares me. More and more and a society we seem to be turning our backs to God. More and more we seem to think that we know better and we really only need to follow the rules that we think are important.

So what do we do? Father N.M. had this to say about that. Again I am paraphrasing him.

The way back is through confession.

As this is something I am struggling with, I can say, yes I know he is right. But yes, I will admit that this is one of the hardest things, at least for me, to do. I have taken steps to make sure that I fix this but it is still hard. There is still a lot of fear, but I am working on it.

He is right here, of course. The first step toward making things right is finding that peace with God through reconciling yourself with Him, and obviously, there is a Sacrament for that. Father M.N. said one other thing during his Homily that I is related to this and this one leads me back to the title of this post.

If we want to start fixing the problem, we can’t look to someone in an office hundreds of miles away, or even the people around us. We have to begin with ourselves. Like the song says “let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.”

I have to admit that I didn’t understand that line in the song until this weekend. I never really saw it from that angle. Not give me peace first, but let me find peace and then give it to others. Without that peace within ourselves we have no hope, and the same is true for everyone around you. It is funny that I only now understand the lyrics of this song despite having read something long these lines in a book by Cardinal Dolan earlier this year.

So what does this have do with finding spiritual direction? In this case the answer is very personal. I have, for a number of years now, felt called to do more. I didn’t know what that more was, or even how I would accomplish it, or even it was really a calling or just kind of wishful thinking. I have had a couple of conversations on this topic lately and I think that I am starting to develop at the least and idea of what in need to do next. It begin with confession and continues down that road toward finding that peace.

One of the councils that I got about helping to figure this out was that I needed to write every day about what I was thinking on the subject so that I was positively focused on it. (No pressure to write every day or anything right?) I don’t know that I will post those thoughts here, but I might highlight them here, because I figure maybe, just maybe I am not the only person out there feeling like this. I am still looking for that spiritual leadership but at least for the moment I think I have an idea about where to start.

Our Newest Saint

tinyfeet

This is a repost from my wife’s site. At one point I had my own version of these posts, but some how it got lost. I am not going to wait for the recovery of the old site to repost them, and I just don’t have the heart to rewrite them so here you go

Isabel Rose, Our Newest Saint
For the folks who did not hear some where else, I just wanted to share that our littlest angel was born and died on Tuesday. Hard to say, harder to imagine. We are doing ok here with family and friends helping to take care of the house, cooking, and kids. I will say there is something slightly surreal about watching your husband doing cpr on your own child. We don’t know exactly what went wrong and we have decided not to pursue invasive measures to find out. We’ll have a funeral next week sometime. Please pray for our other children. The littlest ones obviously don’t notice a difference but it it hitting some of the other ones rather hard.

Isabel Rose

Born November 6th 2012
Died November 6th 2012

There will be a funeral Mass Held at St. Mary’s Parish In Holley NY
11 am Tuesday November 13th 2012
with internment to follow.

In lieu of flowers please donate to National Right Life or Birthright International

Thank you

A visit to a Priest and some thoughts from another one

Today I took my oldest son to talk with our former parish priest. Why? Not because he was in any kind of trouble or anything, but because he has expressed some interest in becoming a priest himself. And while I want to encourage him in his the best person to talk to about it is, well a priest.

We have known father M. M. since we moved her 6 and a half years ago, and I have to say that he is one of the greatest priests that I have ever known. In case you are reading thing father M. N. you two are in a very close tie. We trust him to be honest about what needs to happen while at the same time being encouraging. This is a rather interesting balancing game we are playing here. We do want to encourage him, if this is his calling we want him to know we support him and are proud of him. When know that a calling from God can often be a tiny whisper in a world that is always shouting at you. At the same time this is a huge commitment. We understand that, and at the age of 15 I am not sure that he understands that, and we want to make sure that he is not just making the choice because he feels some pressure from us. As Father M. M. said to today, In the end what it boils down to is that a calling like this is between you and God, and I think that is the best thing that he could have said.

That brings me to my other topic. For years, really since I have been married, I have struggled with prayer. When I am not using a prayer I have memorized or one that I am reading, I don’t really know what to say, or what to do. I am not saying that there are not enough prayers out there that I could use. I mean really there are saints and prayers for just about any situation that you could immagine. It is not that at all. But when you go to Adoration, or you kneel in front of the Tabernacle for an hour, some times prayers don’t really feel right.

When that happens I often start getting figety or start feeling rather lost. I am not sure what to do, and I usually fall back on saying the Rosary several times. If I don’t do that, my mind usually wanders something like, I really should be doing something. I have already said the Rosary and the Devine Mercy Chaplet, now what. At that point other things start to creep in, usually problems of the day or thing that I have been working on. Sometimes the stories that I am working start playing out in my mind. And while there is nothing really wrong with thinking about those things, I really am there to spend time with God.

So as I said, I have struggled with this. I have never really been able to come up with a good solution. And yet the simplest thing, the most obvious answer was sitting right there in front of me. During his Homily a week or two ago, Father M. N. said that his relationship with God for the last (some number of years that I forgot) has been silent. When he said that, I thought wow! That is an amazing thought. He had another point and it was a really good one, but what stuck with me was that when he is there with God, he does not say anything.

One of the pillars of a good relationship is communication. As someone who has been married to a woman who I have been friends with since our freshmen year of high school I can tell you that communication is key. However, being able to sit and be silent with that same person, just being together and not saying anything, can be amazing. The same thing can be said for my relationship with God. Sometimes I need to communicate what I am feeling or, to say thank you for something in particular, but there are times when all I need to do is sit and be quiet. Knowing that I don’t really have to say anything, that I can just let my mind go blank and not really be doing anything but be with Him, is amazing. I feel like I must have known this was possible, that it was ok to do, on some level, but It felt like I had been given permission when I heard him say it. It was like having some weight lifted off my shoulders.