A House Divided

Y’all, I’m literally to the point of feeling sick over this election.

Like, I’m reading things that are posted by family and friends (and even strangers) and I feel physically ill.  I can’t take the arguing, the “fact-checking” back and forth, the he-said-she-said, the “who’s a worse person”, the “the Church says this, not that” and “the Church DOESN’T say this, it says that”, quoting from questionable sources, blogs, & opinions.  Etc, etc, etc. picard-facepalm-who-voting-for

I’m over all the arm-chair politicians and moralists and theologians and philosophers of social media.

I’m tired of reading things and being surprised and saddened and shocked at what the people who I know and love are spewing that seem so out of character for them; that seem inconsistent with how I’ve seen them live and speak;  that are just not well-thought-out before being spoken.

But, as my dear, fellow author recently posted on her Facebook, it’s basically like this every four years, with every election.
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Checked Out & Distracted

This weekend, I was one of many, many Catholics we find in the pews at Mass: Distracted and Checked Out.

Some of it was because I am the mother of three kids who takes her kids to Mass.  This means that during various points of the Mass you may find me:

  • writing my three year old’s name for him over and over on the back of the worship aid just to keep him quiet.
  • shushing the 6 year old who keeps up a constant stream of chatter no matter the time or location (she even talks in her sleep).
  • elbowing my 8 year old and pointedly gesturing to the worship aid when he isn’t engaging in “full, active, conscious participation.”

Screaming-3-year-oldThis week, before communion, as I was trying to pray to prepare myself to receive the Eucharist, the 3 year old slipped off the kneeler and smacked his head on the pew and meditative prayer quickly took a back seat to kissing the injury and active pleading to God that he would quiet down so we wouldn’t have to sneak out the side door (He did and we didn’t).

As much as I’d like to blame it all on the kids – it’s not just their fault.  At various points during Mass, I caught my mind wandering in ways totally unrelated to their distratctions:

  • Did my husband take the fish we were planning to have for dinner out of the freezer to thaw?
  • Is it going to be warm enough to go out on the boat or to the pool?
  • I should talk to Father about how he could easily Tweet this homily.  Maybe I’ll just get him to give me a copy and I’ll Tweet it.
  • on and on and on….

After Mass I realized that there are a lot of times (not just during Mass) that I’m checked out of and distracted from my faith.

Today, I took some time to pray through the readings for today’s Liturgy of the Hours and found both comfort and challenge. (If you don’t know what Liturgy of the Hours is, that’s okay – I didn’t until a few years ago either!)

Today is the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist, and in reading through the story of his birth, I realized that even some of the holiest, most church-going people in Scriptures shared in the struggle to pray well, to have faith, and to truly engage in that faith.

John the Baptist’s father Zechariah was a priest who knew the promises of Scripture inside and out.  While I’m sure he had faith, he also had moments of doubt, moments where he didn’t really believe with his whole heart.

Read his story in Luke 1:5-25, 57-80

Zechariah was like many of us – good people who occasionally check out and end up just going through the motions – so much so that he missed the miracle before him.  Zechariah learned to trust God the hard way – nine months of being deaf and dumb. But Zechariah’s 9-month “incarceration” in a prison of silence served a greater purpose: he was able to meditate deeply on Scriptures, and then filled with the Holy Spirit, to proclaim the beautiful canticle that shows what it means to truly believe with all of his heart, soul, mind and strength. B_US

I take comfort in knowing that even a faithful old priest like Zechariah could lose a little bit of his faith, become distracted, and check out.  I’m also challenged to make sure it doesn’t take an angel rendering me deaf and dumb for nine months to refocus my heart and bring me back to the joy of a relationship with a living, loving God who fulfills his promises.

The Canticle of Zechariah has been a reminder for me that while God’s faithfulness is not dependent upon my ability to see it, my own faith is.  Even if the words don’t always ring true, I pray them with hope that they’ll open my eyes so that I can remain checked in and focused on the victories – large and small – He has won, is winning, and will win for me.

The Anti-Swaying Movement

I’ve been a youth minister for nearly 7 years and before that I attended a fairly well-known, extremely Catholic university.  Consequently, I’ve attended quite a few retreats, rallies, conferences, Christian concerts, etc.  So, it is not out of ignorance or pure opinion that I will make the following statement…I make it based on experience, observations, and, well, okay, some personal opinion.

Swaying is ridiculous.

What is it about people being together in shared faith, singing a song with a slower beat and meaningful words that makes them feel the need to throw their arms around another person’s shoulders and move ridiculously from side to side?  I feel pretty confident when I say that the vast majority of people DO NOT ENJOY THIS.

From my observations, the starting point of a sway is somewhere in the middle of a group, when a person is either inspired to share a moment with a nearby friend or they feel some sort of unexplainable outside pressure to begin this ritual.  And, others in the near vicinity feel it is their duty to participate.  Seriously, have you ever tried to be a non-swayer in the middle of a sway-line?  It’s nearly impossible.

I have also noticed that the person on the end of the sway is really in the most awkward position.  What are they supposed to do with their outside arm?  Just let it hang there?  Raise it in the air?  Put it in their pocket?

Swaying does nothing but distract people from the song that they are trying to sing wholeheartedly or words they are trying to pray along with.  And, if we’re really honest about it, we all think it’s pretty dumb.

So, will you join us as we wrap our arms around one another, lean from left to right, and fight for a world free of that awkward moment when the sway starts?

(Disclaimer: This anti-swaying sentiment does not include the swaying that is necessary for parents to calm a child at Mass or one of the earlier mentioned events.  Obviously, that is a necessity.)

And, don’t EVEN get me started on the dreaded Cross-Clap.

What is a Catholic Realist?

“Well, actually, there’s a 100% chance we’ll ALL die.”



I made this statement the other day after someone was commenting on the prognosis of another person who is fighting cancer.  Needless to say, I was met with raised eyebrows and sideways glances.  And, you’re doing it right now, too.  I can just feel it.

What?  It’s a true fact.  We’re ALL…GOING…TO….DIE!  There’s a 100% chance of it.  That person fighting cancer just has a better idea of when it’s going to happen than you or I do.

But, this blog isn’t about death…

Some people would read that statement above and say, “Wow, she’s a negative person.”  In fact, people have said it to my face on many occasions.  But, I find this really weird because I’m not being negative.  I’m being factual.  I’m stating a REAL truth.  The fact that all of us, someday, WILL die is not a negative thing.  In fact, the sooner we grasp this reality, come to terms with it, and understand that death is actually a marvelous thing (hello, HEAVEN is on the other side!), the sooner will enjoy and appreciate our life in a more meaningful way.

Again, this blog isn’t about death…

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