Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Civility Week 44, October 29, 2012

Civility Week 44, October 29, 2012

Drago: I'm sorry Katherine - that Katie just slipped out from when Iremember you as being nice people...
Katherine McClintock: Are you going to stand there with that stupid look on your face while the hired help insults your wife?
George Washington McLintock: He can't help it - he's just ignorant. He doesn't know any better than to tell the truth. And I can't help this stupid look. I started acquiring it as you gained in social prominence!

From the movie, “McClintock”


One of my all time favorite movies was McClintock, though when I watch it now, I flinch at the end when McClintock’s wife, Katie, gets her comeuppance. I realize how many times in my marriage it would have been possible for my easy going hubs to want to take a coal shovel to my backside. He would never do that, I assure you, we would just duke it out on the sparring floor if we needed to!  You see, I have one of the most patient, understanding husbands in the world. While other people’s wives are gentle, kind and affectionate, I have been hardheaded, stubborn and while other women engaged in more womanly pursuits such as shopping, decorating, I would rather get in the boxing ring, sparring floor or play tackle football.


So it goes right along with my personality quirks that I needed this year of civility to become more civilized in my approach with people I disagree with.  So far, it’s been 44 weeks and it still hasn’t become the habit I hoped it would be; still working on it, not giving up, but wondering will this wish to be more civil become a habit?


But with any new habit, comes old temptations, the ones which seem to increase and multiply whenever you are trying to do a good thing!  So it goes, and the good Lord did tell us that would happen but we must keep trying.


This whole civility experiment is winding up about the time of our nation’s elections which I find amusing since it was political ads that drove me to think about how much our society has lost its civility. I have completely quit watching television because of the number of nasty advertisements; I don’t take political phone calls which are always robot calls these days anyway.  I am trying to temper my attitude about what is going to happen after the election, no matter which candidates win with the, “life will continue to go on” after the elections because it has for thousands of years no matter which human thought they were in charge. I know that is silly because only God is in charge. In fact, just today I found comfort while writing my teen newsletter about why we worship God.  We worship God almighty for the greater part because He is so immense and wonderful, created everything and all things, but we also worship Him because in giving Him our love and respect, we circumvent any human who thinks they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Even if we are slaves, if we are under martial law, or have no freedom at all, we are given the opportunity to worship someone who loves us for no other reason than because He made us.


I feel much better knowing this going into uncertainties of the future.  People have always felt better because of this belief.  So in other words, we need God.  We as a nation, a human race, a universe, we need God,  who is all loving, all giving and the ONLY one who always treats us as “nice people!”



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Civility Week 43, October 22, 2012

“Don’t discount the power of your words. The thought that they might cause unnecessary hurt or discomfort should inform every conversation.” ~ P.M. Forni

    Once again this week I was reminded of how just a few simple words can come out the wrong way, if spoken in exasperation or negativity. And oh how hard it to un-speak those things said when we realize what we’ve done.  While I realize we cannot control what other people think of us or say about us, being civil with each other means we are careful even when we are tired, worn out or exasperated with a situation.  I forgot that last week and let my lack of patience show through in an situation and landed up hurting the feelings of a colleague. I knew it when it happened too, it was totally unintentional but that didn’t take back the  impatience I had aimed her way.  A day later, apologies given, everything was fine with us, but it reminded me how vigilant I need to be on the civility thing!

  Sometimes I think it’s just too much work. Then I remember how sometimes everything in life is too much work, dressing up for Church, dressing professionally for a job, putting on makeup when I’m just going to be schlepping around my house, keeping my home clean even when no one is visiting, cooking a meal when eating out or grabbing fast food would be easier and faster…the list goes on.

  So what does civility matter? A little faux pax here, a little fist pump there, next thing you know we have celebrities throwing cuss words out on television interviews. At this point I’m surprise the presidential debates haven’t’ gotten physical.

   That is just wrong. Hence the whole reason for this blog for the last year. So, civility does count, we do need to be aware that we make a difference in the world by being civil with each other.

   I made her cookies along with my apology by the way! Hey, it didn’t hurt to go a little extra!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Revisiting Aha Moments - by Laura

   One of my daughters, gave a talk at a retreat several years ago that I thought was so wonderful, I wanted to share it again with you. She had an awesome way of looking at the things in life that reminds me to look at things good and bad in a different way and to not take your faith for granted. Here she is talking to her peers about that very thing:

I’ve always had a pretty strong faith life and have loved having this solid base and direction for my life and decision-making. Until not too long ago, though, I really thought I was missing something or doing something wrong. See, I had never had that one big “Aha!” moment. You know, that huge experience that suddenly puts everything in your life into perspective and completely recreates you?

Well, one sunny day, I was lounging outside between my college classes with my Cherry Coke. It was one of those rare moments when I felt like the absolute only thing I had to do right then was to be right there under the gorgeous blue sky. It was like God had reached down His hand and scooped up all my worries and stress, and there was no way He was going to let me ruin that beautiful day with any black clouds of my own. It was right then I had this sudden realization, a baby, Aha, you could say, that everyone’s faith is different, and unique and I’m not doing anything wrong just because I hadn’t had a giant Aha moment. I DO experience Aha moments, in mostly smaller, daily ways, like sitting on a bench, enjoying the sun. So as I sat there, I slowly started remembering other little Aha moments in my life:

I’m 3 years old and get my finger stuck in Mom’s sewing machine trying to see how close I can get the needle to my skin: Aha, listen when Mom warns you!

I’m 12, looking forward to a new baby cousin when my aunt has a miscarriage: Aha, WE do not always have perfect plans.

I’m 14 and in the 8th grade when one of my best friends and her entire family dies in a plane crash, causing my classmates and me a nauseating, disbelieving, confusing pain we’ve never felt before: Aha, I will not always understand.

That same year, my grandma has a series of paralyzing strokes leaving her confined to a wheelchair, her right side paralyzed: Aha, I do not always have total control.

I’m 15, learning to drive and back into a storm drain during my first driving lesson: Aha, I can pick myself up after mistakes and move on AND, curbs are a good thing!

I’m 17 when my Dad gets downsized from his job and I instantly dislike the person in charge of personnel: Aha, hate solves nothing!

I hesitantly experience a TEC retreat for the first time and leave on an excited, refreshed high: Aha, God loves surprises!

This summer I became a Eucharistic Minister at church: Aha, God is SO present He gives me shivers.

The guy I want to continue dating gives up his partying lifestyle so he can be with me: Aha, people CAN change and I am worth that change!

August 29, my Aunt gives birth to a perfect baby girl, four months prematurely: Aha, life is a beautiful struggle.

Not long ago, one of the most truly amazing men I have ever been blessed to know suddenly dies of a stroke, only halfway through his life: Aha, I cannot take a single person or moment for granted.

Don’t ever be afraid or feel inadequate for never having a single, gigantic moment in your life where your faith is perfectly, permanently connected, because faith is the constant journey of us becoming better, always learning and God always teaching. The experiences, both joyful and painful, that we go through shape us and show us how God is molding us more than one Aha moment ever could. All we have to do is let Him scoop those worries and troubles into His hand and realize He helps us through even through toughest times if we just let Him. He wants us to let Him be in control so we can see all those little Aha’s!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Civility Week 42, October 15, 2012

Princess Bride:  Man in Black: “All right. Where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you decide and we both drink, and find out who is right... and who is dead.”


Living your life with civility is a battle of wits. All the time, every day, all day long; keep your wits about you and you might make it through the day. The Free Dictionary by  Farlex on the Internet defines the word wits as this:  “The natural ability to perceive and understand; intelligence”

But I like the second definition even better:

  “the ability to perceive and express in an ingeniously humorous manner the relationship between seemingly incongruous or disparate things.”


Hmm..sounds  like how my week is beginning; trying to remain, and keep my wits.  While I am wishing I had the first definition of wits – the intelligent part, I feel I will much more need the second definition where I am needing to perceive and express, hopefully in a humorous and not impatient or angry manner, incongruous and disparate things such as what happens when lightning hits the church steeple and blows out a multitude of unconnected equipment and makes for one headache of a time.


Civility in our day to day life is just plain not easy. I’ve come to learn that over these past 42 weeks. I hear of an injustice that makes me mad and wonder if I can do anything about it without loosing my cool or hurting anybody!  Have these weeks taught me anything?  The guy that cuts me off in traffic now barely gets a roll of the eyes. Ha! Okay, got that, but worldly injustices still make me want to take arms and wreck holy you-know-what on terrorists who shoot young girls and decide she must no longer live because she does not share their beliefs.


But, you know, Civility does not mean we don’t defend or protect ourselves. God made our bodies as temples of the Spirit and must protect that temple. He also gave us Righteous Indignation, Fraternal Correction and so on. We are charged with instructing the ignorant not only just feeding the poor.


So maybe this lesson in Civility has helped temper my temper. It has made me look over those areas of my life I get upset about and say, “Is this worth my time to be mad?” If not I need to move on to bigger and more important things. And that has worked for me. It has calmed me down, made me look at the bigger picture on lots of things.


There is hope yet! And only 10 weeks left!!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Catholic Mother's Companion To Pregnancy

I just finished reading a copy of Sarah Reinhard’s book, A Catholic Mother's Companion to Pregnancy

First of all, you don’t have to be Catholic to read it! Sarah finds a marvelous way of combining all our womanly fears, worries, concerns not only about pregnancy and mothering but all about being a God fearing Christian woman into one book!  She breaks down each week of your pregnancy including what is happening with the baby, you, what you may be feeling and especially how to ask the Lord and his Blessed Mother for help  in getting through it. It’s not preachy, or long, just direct, funny at times and to the point!

As a mom myself it’s a relief to read that other women have had those nagging, guilty feelings about mothering, or how pregnancy is affecting us. Sarah lets us know she’s not perfect, but she keep trying.  Just like Jesus did for us by falling three times on His way to the Cross!

Her delightful commentary on each week of pregnancy, with total compassion and understanding towards pregnancies that might end in miscarriage or stillborn birth or even towards those women who are spiritual mothers and not physical ones, offers insight to every woman’s soul as she urges you to walk the way with Mama Mary.

I love the way she urges you to take Mary’s hand when you are scared or tired and ask her help along the way of not only your pregnancy but as a wife and mom too. Sarah shares insights into her life and personality that help reassure you your feelings are shared by other woman.

The other thing I love about Sarah’s book is you don’t have to be pregnant to read it!  As a mother of three, the youngest who is 20, reading Sarah’s anecdotes, advice and prayers reminded me that as mom you never stop worrying about your kids no matter their age. It brought back memories of my pregnancies, the joys, the worries, the wonderings, the times I just kept asking Mary for help to get through a day.

I can’t wait to hand on this book to my daughter who just got married, to prepare her for becoming a mom some day. As a pregnant woman I could never get my hands on enough reading material to prepare me for delivery day and mothering.  I wish there had been a book like Sarah’s when I was going through pregnancies, something to tie in the spiritual and scripture and knowing what was going on inside my body. This book touches on all those areas. It’s not meant to be an in-depth look at pregnancy or spiritual life, but that is what makes it so enjoyable.  You don’t have to have a degree in Theology or in obstetrics to enjoy it, yet it gives you enough meat to keep you reading.



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Civility Week 41, October 8, 2012

You are under arrest for pride!
“The very essence of politeness seems to be to take care that by our words and actions we make other people pleased with us as well as with themselves.” ~ Jean De La Bruyere

   Wow, I scared myself this week when I looked at the dates on my blog and realized that last week I had skipped a week ahead to October 8 instead of the first!  Too much stuff in my brain: It was my daughter’s wedding anniversary and I was trying to get her card in the mail, I was ironing bugs out of our new parish website, coming off a crazy weekend and the beginning of the week, trying to educate the kids at school that I do Communion Services and not Community Service.  Apparently too much politeness can become a point of pride itself which can be a bad thing.  Ouch!

  I  have been laboring under the assumption that I was trying to be a better person by helping out our pastor when he was ill or out of town and couldn’t say Mass by studying how to become a Eucharistic Minister, sacristan and holding a Communion Service. A Communion Service, for those of you who either are not Catholic or whose parish is never without an actual priest, is a type of prayer service held in Church where we read the Holy Scriptures and then receive Holy Communion, already consecrated Hosts of our Lord. We do not have the Consecration because only a priest can consecrate the Bread and Wine into the Body and Blood of our Lord. This is hardly ever done on a Sunday when a priest from somewhere will come help fill in for an ill or out-of-town pastor. It’s usually done during the week when it’s harder to find a substitute priest.  But in order to bless our day and still receive the Lord, the priest will consecrate extra Hosts so we can have a Communion Service when he is unavailable for Mass.

  If you are wondering how I’m getting to my Civility lesson of the week, especially the quote above, here you go.  Because we have a parish school and the school kids come to Mass several times a week, sometimes if Father is ill we will have a Communion Service with the students present.  I am privileged enough to be asked to hold these services.  But lest I ever think I am rising above my station in life to have this opportunity to serve the Lord, in other words, to keep my pride from getting too prideful, the Lord loves inserting a reminder to me every once in a while to keep me in check.  Case in point: One of the first graders in the school is also in my family’s martial arts school and one day after holding a Communion Service that morning, I walked into our martial arts school and saw said first grader in class. Very loudly, so no parent that was sitting in the waiting room could possibly miss what he was saying he announced that he saw me that morning, at his school, doing Community Service!

   Now, in our close knit neighborhood, if you are performing Community Service somewhere it usually means that you have been convicted of a crime, not something like murder, but usually some kind of misdemeanor and instead of jail time, you spend several hours doing some kind of service in the community, working at a food pantry or serving meals; hence the name Community Service .  So of course every parent in that waiting area looks at me with a questioning look. Here is their child’s martial arts instructor, teaching their child how to physically defend him or herself and she’s in trouble with the law?

    And prideful me turned beet red, laughed nervously and replied, “Oh, you mean Communion Service, AT CHURCH!” My red face did nothing to help my situation.

  My husband and youngest daughter, who were teaching the class at the time tried hard not to laugh. I quickly escaped into the office.

  But, God doesn’t let you off so easily sometimes and the next week I saw this same first grader in class, and he repeated his accusation, only this time right in front of his own parents and of course several other parents. I tried to laughingly explain he meant Communion Service, but I have a feeling they were more than just a little confused since most people haven’t attended a Communion Service if they only go to Church on Sundays and so aren’t familiar with this type of thing.

   So right there, wham! I had an instantly blow to my pride, which is forever trying to ferret its way into my heart and make me not very civil.  In this lesson I became aware that what God was trying to tell me was I should quit worrying about what other people think of me and just keep doing His work. My lesson in civility was in my own pride always getting in my way. Instead of doing good, I’m forever worrying about what people think – do I say the right words, do I do the right actions? Why am I so narcissistic?  Ack!!!

   Darn old pride! It’s forever tripping up my civility – pointing out other people’s faults: their bad driving, their inconsiderate actions, how they say the wrong things at the wrong times.  Could being more civil mean accepting my own faults as well as other people’s faults? It seems I miss THAT point constantly.  God is civil with us; I mean we’re not struck by lightening every time we say something awful or unkind, He gives us beautiful sunny days, gorgeous flowers. He is ALWAYS civil. Never does the wind blow whispering all of our faults. Do the trees accuse us of wrong doings? God’s world is pretty much a civil place.  Why can’t I be the same?

   Ugg! So here I go again off during the week working on NOT thinking of myself first…kindly or otherwise and just trying to concentrate on helping people for the sake of helping and being polite because it’s just the right thing to do, not so people don’t talk bad about you!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

There's No Need To Fear!

   Uggg. I am so tired of all the news: Terrorists Threaten! Disease! War Is Upon Us! Our Country Is Going To Hell In A Hand Basket!

   Well, first of all, turn off your news from ALL sources, tv, internet, newspaper, pick up the Bible and a book on history. First of all, notice the quiet...cricket...cricket...isn't it nice?  Who needs the silly news on? All it does is cause us to:
a. be miserable  
b. run and hide
c. think the world is coming to an end
d. worry, cry, work on our ulcers and other nervous conditions.

Next, the Bible, the book of Holy Scripture we hear every Sunday, and during the weekdays too. Have you ever noticed, if you read more than just the last half, otherwise known as the New Testament. There's a reason you have to read the New Testament - it's called the beginning, or Why God had to send His Son in the first place - reading. The Old Testament. If there was every a sordid, PG-13 rated novel out there to watch out for, it's Old Testament!  There are wars, infidelities, affairs, murder, stealing inheritances, just to name a few.  Gosh, it makes our news today seem small and not so bad. Hmmmm...

Now for the History Book. History is full of heroes and bad guys/gals. Go ahead, look at the wars, poverty. It all goes back for thousands of years...why do we think today's world is going to be so perfect? How could we possibly be totally free from all those same trials and tribulations?

Okay, now before you get depressed about the world always being horrible, sad, depressing...look at all of the good stories in all of those places, yes, even the news. Wow, someone came to the aid of someone else, someone fed the poor, saved a life, helped a little old lady across the street, saved a marriage, got married, had kids who laugh and bring joy, became a politician who REALLY wants to help people, became a teacher, social worker, someone who answers a phone with a cheerful voice, wrote a book about good things.

Whoa, did you read the Bible about God's rainbow? the Red Sea parting to save Israel? Jesus being born, helping sick, feeding hungry, saving our souls?

History shows us great adventures, discoveries, moon landings, planet and underwater exploration, that dolphins like to talk to us as so our dogs!

When you change your perspective, it changes everything. When you put God and Love into the mix of all of these things, we find the world is really not so horrible, the Bible has salvation written all throughout it, and History had some really nice people and events sprinkled about. And our world today is not so different, if we remember how to look at it all: Through God's eyes, through love's eyes; and give of ourselves!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Favorite Quotes...Again...

From Simcha Fisher, a blogger for the National Catholic Register on humor and parenting says in the Book, "Style, Sex and Substance:  "The Offense: It's the feast of St. Francis and the kids are all giggling their way through Mass. You realize that they have been singing, "Make Me a Panel of Your Cheese," which they learned from you."

Oops. glad I'm not the only one who hears those things coming from their children. With mine it was "Holy Lasagne"

I notice a food thing going on here!

Civility Week 40, Oct. 1, 2012 & Archangels Feast

   This is one of my most fave depictions of St. Michael the Archangel whose feast we celebrated last Saturday, September 29th along with the other two Archangels, Raphael and Gabriel.

   All three of them were busy protecting my family and I as we traveled into north Missouri to watch two of our kids compete in a 5 K Warrior Dash - appropriately named for the Feast Day!!!

   But the angels were not only along for the 5K Dash either, they were busy protecting us on the road when as we were going into heavy traffic in St. Louis, everyone came to a very sudden stop in front of us and we landed up just inches from the guy in front of us and the guy behind us barely stopped too. Later that day as we were leaving the event on a two lane road, a truck pulled out in front of us less than two car lengths away and I don't know how my husband was able to pull off the road and not let us slam into this guy or keep the guy from behind us from plowing into us too, but he did. Then there was antoher guy later down the same two lane that crossed the center line and swerved back in time before hitting us.

   So we had all three Archangels taking care of us that day. Yikes. I now have more gray hair and less nerves. Our poor Guardian Angels are always busy, but the Archangels stepped up to bat with them that day!

  My family's patron saint is St. Michael. Since we teach martial arts to kids to help them stay safe, we've always asked St. Michael to be our patron. Our prayer includes an intercession to him for his protection for us as well as all of our students, past and present. He has always come through.  In fact the design above comes from one of our class T-shirts.

   My husband's name is Michael, and when he converted to the Catholic faith he took Michael the Archangel as his Confirmation name. It's quite fitting as he is committed to keeping children safe and that is our family mission.

   What does all this have to do with this week's lesson in Civility?  Well, for one thing, when each of these "almost accidents" happened, it would be my normal reaction to scream and yell not so nice things at the other drivers.  This time while I got upset, I calmed myself down without the usual ranting and raving about the lunatics on the road. The second thing I did was thank the Lord for protecting us. The third was to suddenly realize that all this happened on the Feast Day of our family patron saints.

   While I cannot say practicing Civility all this year has made me into an instantly not so crazy person who never yells at other drivers,  who looses her temper or goes off on a tirade, those things have become less often. And yes, you can ask my family, I think they would agree.

   So tonight, my youngest is driving again and I'm worried about the road, other drivers, and the weather. Will I make it through without losing my happiness? I guess we'll see. I can't predict if I can remain calm through every storm or worry in my life. All I can do is keep trying to practice civility. I've learned that some of my civility is closely tied to trust in the Lord. I lose my civility when I am worried about my family. When I try to calmly trust in the Lord I am more civil. Trust...there's another year's worth of blogging!