Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Communal Sin

I was reading a book by Father Larry Richards the other day and stumbled on something good for my soul. He was writing about confession and how when each of us sins, it affects everyone in our Church.
I stopped to think about this, I knew that of course, but as you go along in every day things, we tend to forget things.
But he emphasized the fact that when we sin, we are sinning first again God of course, but also against each other especially when that sin involves other people.
For example: If I am having a bad day, sometimes I tend to shut down, not smile as much, not make much contact with my office mates, my family, people at the store. That can be a sin when you have taken the opportunity to show your Christianity and you don't.
We all have bad days, but the point he was making, at least I think, was that as  general rule, we are all in this world together. When we spoil someone else's day by our attitude it puts black spots on our souls and possibly others.
That sounds really weighty, but it's true how all these black spots can add up to overall ugliness.
Dump it out, get to confession!
Clean it out and say your are sorry to God and everyone!

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Different Vocation Crisis

I was reading a book by Cardinal Dolan today, entitled "Doers of the World".  It was chapter two that the Cardinal was discussing "A Different Vocation Crisis" meaning, marriage.

I have long thought that we, as Catholics, should not only pray for more vocations to the priesthood and religious life, but also to good sacramental marriages. And he says as much:

"To put it bluntly, fewer and fewer people are getting married at all. Researchers tell us that only 50 percent of Americans are getting married - Catholics included!
Clearly we have a vocation crisis in the sacrament of matrimony! When we pray for "an increase in vocations," we mean priest, sisters and brothers, but we had better start adding "for an increase in vocations to life long, life giving marriages."

What is behind the dropoff in marriages? The Cardinal cites researchers who claim a fear of commitment; apprehension about marriage because this generation has seen so many fail, a preference for a career and care for self rather than the selfless sacrifice marriage necessitates and the convenience of "living together" which gives couples all the bonus without the onus of marriage."
"We have a problem. A lack of vocations to matrimony is a disaster for our country, for our Church, for humanity!"
And we are already seeing plenty of that problem.

Civility Week 35 August 27,2012

This is short. I think people involved in sports need to go back and revisit the rules of Good Sportsmanship."

I wonder why they call it Good Sportsmanship when people involved in the sports don't show it often enough?

I was watching one of my favorite sports - NASCAR racing, yesterday and watched two men - they were NOT gentlemen - fight by hitting each other with their cars then when one of them was wrecked and could no longer race. This driver got out of his car and threw his helmet at the windshield of the other driver as he drove by.

Disgusting...

No More Potty Mouth!

Wow, my point to myself hit me today as I was scanning headlines. A television sports anchor accidently let a bad word slip as she was joking about a famous personality.  It was a totally innocent slip but goes to show you AND me how much we need to clean up our day to day language.

Being up front and honest, I've gotten so lazy in watching my own language I realized that this could happen to me too!

Arg!  Aeeeiii!!!

So, I'm beginning my own mouth police right now!! No more *&$ or *&% or anything else!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Go Julie, Go Julie! - The Happy Catholic Goes Conference!

The Happy Catholic will be giving a talk at the Catholic Bloggers Summit. You go girl!

http://happycatholic.blogspot.com/2012/05/ill-be-speaking-at-international.html

Civility Week 34, 2012 August 20, 2012


“As a quick aside, let me observe that in moments of high emotion....if the next thing you're going to say makes you feel better, then it's probably the wrong thing to say. This is one of the finer maxims that I've discovered in life. And you can have it, since it's been of no use to me.”
Amor Towles, Rules of Civility

In other words, watch what you say.  I used to be so very good at this. Watching what I say. But then, when I was younger I was much more shy. I didn’t talk much around people. I think it’s why I became a writer. I didn’t have to talk, just observe and then create characters who talked, who always knew the right things to say.

I was always a little jealous of my characters because of that. They knew exactly what to say. Me? I used to be one of those people who fifteen minutes after a conversation has ended thinks of a perfect comeback line.

But in all honestly as I look back know, maybe I had the right idea all along in my younger days. I mean if you are quiet and don’t feel the need to comment on everything everyone else is saying, you don’t err in saying the wrong thing. You are considered shy of course and sometimes that makes it hard to connect with people. But you don’t risk making enemies right out of the shoot either!

Being outspoken isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It can get you in trouble, or be embarrassing.  I have discovered that the personality people think I have, safe, nice and goody-goody, can quickly get out of whack when I make a smart alek comment or interrupt with a funny aside in the middle of a conversation. They don’t know how to take it. And honestly, I feel very conspicuous after making it, not comfortable in my own skin kind of thing.

So I’ve begun working on keeping more quiet, to not have a funny reply or a comment during every conversation I get involved in. I wanted to go back to the old way in part because as my kids are getting older.  They have comments they want to be heard and I need to sit back and let them talk. When they were little I was the main conversationalist, because they couldn’t talk I had to teach them things. But they don’t need that any more.  I probably could have quit that a long time ago for that matter, but it’s only recently come to light that I think I talk too much sometimes. My own observation, no body has actually said that to me!

Secondly I’ve discovered that even if some of the things I say are funny it was usually at someone’s expense. Ouch. No one likes to be made fun of.  So risking someone else getting angry at me for a few moments of laughter is not making me the kind of person I want to be.   I would much rather be deemed shy than hurt their feelings.  Then there is always that “calling attention to myself” issue. If I am busy making comments or thinking of funny things to say, am I really listening or am I more concerned with trying to become a good conversationalist?

So I look at this quote today as a lesson for myself. Keep your mouth closed, Lisa. Whatever funny thing comes to your mind can be saved for the next book character you write dialogue for. Somehow it’s always funnier coming from him or her than it is from me!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Civility Week 33, August 13, 2012


Respecting others’ opinions doesn’t mean being untrue to our own.” ~ P.M. Forni
   It was another ouch lesson this week in the civility field experiment. Ouch in that, just when you think you are learning something, or that just because you are with family you think you are safe… think again.

   My family, my siblings and I that is, have always been a tight knit clan. We back each other up, stand behind one another, never, ever, ever say an unkind word about each other to anybody outside of family.

   With that said, sometimes all that backing up can backfire on you.

   Along with being raised with “If you can’t say anything nice, you should not say anything at all” also came the unspoken rule, “You must never ever say anything negative or bad about another family member.”

   No matter how frustrated we were with one another, you didn’t speak it.

   While this is a good way to teach your kids not to tattle on each other, or get each other unnecessarily upset, it could backfire into sullen moods, going off alone to lick your wounds or just being depressed.

   My siblings and I planned a family celebration together. It was going to be great to all get together again and it was. The problem is, at the stage of life we’re all in, we’re all stressed to the max with things going on in our own little worlds and so by the time we staged this family surprise, each of us was totally wrecked, tired, stressed and worn out.  So tempers don’t flare in my family, they just smolder and that’s not a good thing. By the end of the evening everyone thought everyone else was mad at them and everyone went home not feeling so good. And that is an understatement.

   Why did this happen? Sometimes we mistake civility for keeping our mouths shut. But civility doesn’t mean you don’t ever say anything negative, but you must say it with love.  My family loves each other immensely, but sometimes that love doesn’t allow us to help each other out of a funk or negative thought because “we afraid to say the wrong thing.”  But keeping quiet just perpetuates the wrong thinking.

   While I don’t want to encourage people to yell at each other, (it’s just as disturbing to do this in your home as it is in traffic) we need to be able to be up front and say, “So what did you mean when you said this?”

   It tells me that this whole civility project is a lot bigger than I thought. It’s tons more than just being nice, or smiling or letting someone get in front of you at the store. It’s hard.

   It’s hard because there is no easy answer. There is no easy way to confront someone who thinks differently than you. And you know what? It’s even harder to talk to someone who DOES think like you, especially when both of you are stressed beyond all imaginings.

    I honestly was ready to give up on my civility project before I even began this week because I thought if I can’t even have an evening with my siblings without someone thinking the wrong thing I must really not be the person I thought I was.

   Our communication had broken down. Because we only get together a couple times a year, because we are all still dealing with the death of my dad and trying to help our mom get through that, we could not sit down together and have a good time. It just wasn’t happening.

   Our lack of communication for weeks at a time, because we are all busy with our own families and jobs, etc. added to the stress of not being able to say the right thing at the right time.  We came with expectations that everything was just as it used to be and nothing could be further from the truth.

   Those of you who have lost a family member and try to pick the pieces back up with the rest of the family already know this. My family did not. And it hurts to find out we didn’t have the communication skills to deal with this, even as close as we are as a family.

   So, while we try to pick up pieces and now mend our hearts and spirits, we are all back at our homes, dealing with the stress of normal lives and having to figure out how to deal with the stress that we all encountered this past weekend being together for what was supposed to be an awesome time.

   Just because you love people, doesn’t make it easy. I learned that lesson the hard way. Just because you are a grown up, doesn’t mean it’s easy to communicate with each other.  Learning a “new normal” is not easy.

   Many of you already know this. And now my family does too. I hope and pray we can get through these trying times and look back seeing how love did keep us together because I truly want to plan future parties, parties where we all come with a different thought in mind. Love, love, love, we have different ideas on some things…but we can voice those things. And maybe, sometimes, we just shouldn’t. Maybe we just need to play games and laugh and exhaust ourselves with something other than talking… so we don’t land up not talking.

Anyone for flag football?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Civility Week 32, August 6, 2012

Civility Week 32, August 6, 2012

As the drought drags on, you can almost see people dragging to and from the stores, wishing for rain to settle the dust, clear our heads and help things grow.  It’s enough to sap all the civility out of you!

Every time I head out the door to go somewhere or even just walk down the drive to get the mail, I wonder how people dealt with the heat and drought years before we had air conditioning?

It made me think of those cool fans churches used to hand out that had advertising all over them. Now we just use the church bulletin if the A/C isn’t set low enough in church!

How did people stay civil in the heat and drought back then?

Some thoughts:

1.  You just stayed home, sat on the front or back porch in the swing and fanned yourself?

2. Took extended vacations on “the farm” where there is always a slow running creek to sit and be cool

3. Slept outside on the porch at night, listening to crickets.

4. Houses had huge windows and breezeways.

5. If you worked on the farm, you took long lunch breaks, dinner breaks and didn’t do much planting.

6. If you worked in a town job you only worked early in the morning inside…there were longer lunch breaks, longer vacations?

7. You drank a lot of lemonade, tea, water.

8. You watched the dogs chase cats and they were all walking.

9. You only talked to your neighbors about the heat and the lack of rain.

10. You prayed more for rain!

11. Politicians didn’t hang out long in Washington to debate this or that. They went home to cool off!

12. We didn’t have international news that got everybody riled up about the world.

13. No body had “everything” and they were okay with that!

Civility Week 32, August 6, 2012

Civility Week 32, August 6, 2012

As the drought drags on, you can almost see people dragging to and from the stores, wishing for rain to settle the dust, clear our heads and help things grow.  It’s enough to sap all the civility out of you!

Every time I head out the door to go somewhere or even just walk down the drive to get the mail, I wonder how people dealt with the heat and drought years before we had air conditioning?

It made me think of those cool fans churches used to hand out that had advertising all over them. Now we just use the church bulletin if the A/C isn’t set low enough in church!

How did people stay civil in the heat and drought back then?

Some thoughts:

1.  You just stayed home, sat on the front or back porch in the swing and fanned yourself?

2. Took extended vacations on “the farm” where there is always a slow running creek to sit and be cool

3. Slept outside on the porch at night, listening to crickets.

4. Houses had huge windows and breezeways.

5. If you worked on the farm, you took long lunch breaks, dinner breaks and didn’t do much planting.

6. If you worked in a town job you only worked early in the morning inside…there were longer lunch breaks, longer vacations?

7. You drank a lot of lemonade, tea, water.

8. You watched the dogs chase cats and they were all walking.

9. You only talked to your neighbors about the heat and the lack of rain.

10. You prayed more for rain!

11. Politicians didn’t hang out long in Washington to debate this or that. They went home to cool off!

12. We didn’t have international news that got everybody riled up about the world.

13. No body had “everything” and they were okay with that!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Filled With Presence

   Part of my work as a sacristan at my parish is making sure everything is ready for daily Mass. The cruets are filled with water and wine, the servers show up and are dressed and we have a priest!
During the summer months, when our parish grade school is on vacation, I train new servers at these morning Masses because these weekday Masses aren't quite so busy as weekend Masses and the servers are less likely to be nervous.

   The unfortunate thing about this is I tend to be very busy minded, nervous myself, and very, very distracted during most of Mass hoping servers remember when to ring the bells, when to bring the book up to Father and how to pour the water from the pitcher over Father's hands without drowning him during the Offertory.

   I know, I know, I should not concern my spirit with trivial things during Mass. I've tried not to think about it, but when you work with the human side of our beloved priests who, God bless them, always point out to you, the Server Trainer, when someone messes up, doesn't do something they way he wants it done, (and each priest has their own way of doing things, even during the holy Mass,) it tends to make me a nervous nellie.

   Please don't think I'm complaining about my priests, I love them all and want to be there to help. It's just kind of hard sometimes, to mind read all of them!

   I also love my servers, new ones and experienced ones. There are ones I love to death because they are always prompt, know what to do, always help and are alert all during Mass.

   I also have what I call Zombie Servers, those precious children who nod their mute heads after you have explained everything to them, several times, walked them through what they do during Mass, given them booklets to memorize, test on and walk them through again, who will stand perfectly still during the entire Mass, not remembering where to go, when to go, or how to kneel.

   Anyway, this morning, just like all other mornings, I was getting everyone in their place, ready to process out and I took my place near the front.

   It was during the homily I suddenly felt the presence of my dad, who died two years ago, like he was patting me on the back telling me I was doing a good job, and suddenly I began remembering friends and family who had died whose presence I was feeling really strongly at Mass.
This continued all during the rest of Mass, individual names, popping up in my head, like they were turning around smiling at me from the altar.

   It was the most peaceful beautiful feeling. I know that at every Mass all of the angels are there taking our gifts and especially the gift of the Son to the Father. I also know all of our beloved dead are there celebrating with us. But this was a different time, and it is hard to explain. It wasn't my brain wandering, everything was totally focused on the sacrifice of the Mass. But to see all of those wonderful relatives and friends also sharing it with me moved me to tears.

   I thanked God for giving me that feeling this morning. It was a wonderful reminder of what I am there to celebrate even amidst the getting ready feeling. This huge feast we get ready for every day is the most awesome supper of our families and friends both here and having gone before us we have to celebrate.

Beautiful!