Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How'd You Get In Here?

Those were the exact words said to me.
Just a few minutes ago, in fact.

I happened to be walking down the hallway of the parish office/chapel complex (where I work part time).  I just put out some flyers for an upcoming Medjugorje Pilgrimage and finished tidying up a meeting space from last evening's youth ministry party.

I noticed a lady and man with their hands full of bags struggling to open the doors and come inside.  I did just a normal thing and opened the doors for them.
She said, "How'd you get in here?"
"I work here."

It was an unusual thing to say to someone unfamiliar.  I could see if someone you knew was joking, like "Boy, they let anyone in here now!"  or something like that...

I think the person may work in the parish mission clothing outlet.
In other words, this person gives out clothes to the less fortunate and down and out.
Clearly she thought that I was one of the day's clients and that I had somehow managed to get in the building before the other client's were allowed to enter.

"How'd YOU get in HERE?"
I must need to comb my beard and what little hair I have.

In one of my past lives I was a chauffeur for a funeral home (it was a difficult time I just left (was fired) from my job as a rector of a protestant congregation (of which my attempted resignation wasn't accepted---long story).  Anyways I had to pick up some people at a hotel.  They complained about everything, I was apparently late, I was supposed to come into the lobby to 'help' them to the car, I was even called, "driver".
I was clearly of the 'servant class'.  It didn't matter that I was a father or husband or son.  It didn't matter that I was ordained or held a graduate degree or was a rector or held different positions on boards and committees.
Finally I couldn't take the snobbery anymore--I let it slip that my wife was a physician.
Oh how the tune changed.

Sometimes I am on the other side of the equation.  Once while walking with my lovely wife and son along the inner harbor in Baltimore--a man approached us and said something to me.
I was in protective mode.
"No!"  I firmly replied.
My wife and son laughed.  "Why'd you say 'No'?"
"I didn't want to give him any money."
They shook their heads "He wasn't asking for money.  He said to you 'Nice shirt.' "
So I replied to a compliment with. "No."

Oh well.  May we all learn to see Christ a little more.
Come Lord Jesus.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Stages of Life

(Prior to the post "DON'T Worry" (see below)  I was writing this post.  I planned on working on it later in the day.  I never finished it....but find it interesting where it was headed considering the horrible evil event of the school shooting...)

For years my family and I have been frequenting the Dobbin House Tavern in Gettysburg, Pa.  Just a few weeks ago, in the midst of a family road trip to a Healing of the family tree Mass--we took a detour and found ourselves once again sitting on a worn bench next to a stone foundation and fireplace.  The ice cold brew, family, and food was great.  We laughed and laughed and laughed.
Part of my tavern tradition (more out of necessity) is to use the facilities, where, hanging on the wall is a certain colonial print describing the stages in a man's life.
I have stood and looked at the print for close to 35 some years.
And it is pretty much spot on.
Now I am at the stage where I am considered learned and wise---having moved on from the rebel and romancer.
So here is my learned and wise commentary for the day...

The world is in moral decay.  You can't even do a search on the internet.  Moral relativism is in charge--not God.  Anything goes and if you don't like it--tough.
Evil is actively sought, engaged, and allowed.
If you take a stand--you are out of touch or an old fart.  Teachers are afraid to teach or simply don't know how.
Why even take a stand?  I mean life is wonderful.  No sin right?
How many times a day do you encounter God being ignored?--even in the church!?......

Don't worry...

Many years ago--I recall people who were concerned about violence in video games.  I didn't give it much thought since I was a kid and I didn't see anything wrong with space invaders or asteroids.
But apparently today the invaders and asteroids have taken on new forms--human forms with blood and gore and sex and graphic warnings.  (Don't worry though there is a warning label on them and they never make it into kids hands).

I remember hearing concerns over violence on television--but that was addressed-- they put the shows on late at night.  (Don't worry, all young impressionable minds went to bed by 8pm)  Today such shows can't be accessed by any young eyes. (Don't worry the ads and enticements are just a click away and kids never go to those websites or channels ).

I remember when all the signals of a culture of death--like death metal and body mutilation and goth--were simply not tolerated. (Again, don't worry while this is tolerated and even allowed in schools it never affects the day to day life of students or teachers, cause the lyrics and lifestyle mean nothing)

Look where we are people.
The chains of satan have been loosed and with the passing of each day--getting worse and worse.

Get on your knees.
Fast--yes fast
What more needs to happen?

Join me, won't you?......

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.  Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  Rebuke him we humbly pray and cast into hell, satan and all the other evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Friday, December 7, 2012


--The study of Advent??

I thought a lot about Advent yesterday.
In fact most of my better thinking occurs when I'm in the stream fishing.
It's hunting season where I live.  This translates to empty streams. I lack the 'mammal hunting' part of the male DNA thus, the woods are full and the waterways are sparsely populated.

It all began with an 'Advent Gift' my lovely wife gave me this past Sunday--a fishing license for 2012.  While her intention was to give me a new fishing license for 2013 she accidentally clicked the wrong year.  So I have 20 some days left to hook some steelhead.  Begrudgingly I put on the waders and vest and ventured into the beautiful clear, crisp stream..ha.

I firmly believe that a signal transits through the water the very moment my wader hits the stream.  A radius extends out from my being keeping all marine life at bay.
Nonetheless I made my way to my favorite spot.
Only to be laughed at (I swear as time went on and I tried fly after fly--I saw a fish laugh at me).

"Why do I keep casting again and again when they're not taking anything?  I've been doing this for years!"
Again, again, and again.  The repetitive movement dulled my senses.

That's what God does to the soul.
Again--He offers love
Again--He offers hope
Again--He offers forgiveness.
Again and again and again.

The whole liturgical season is really about God's time with us--again and again and again.
Am I any deeper in union with God since last year?  Have I taken the hook?
Do I pray and give thanks to Him, again and again and again?  Have I taken the hook?
Do I confess and fast, again and again and again?  Have I taken the hook?
In other words---Where am I compared to last year at this time?  AM I GROWING DEEPER IN LOVE WITH GOD?

Eventually I was blessed with a steelhead on the other end--up and down the stream we went--finally he had enough jumped (laughed) and spit the fly back.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Confession Time (or maybe not)

Here is a public confession (just a note there are even more 'confessions' in the book-- A Lost Shepherd available at Amazon, local bookstores, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, Nook, and New Hope Press to name a few -- this was an unpaid commercial one for your priest friend, your husband, wife, anybody who is angry at the church, divorced, remarried, ex-priest, convert, hopeless, helpless or feeling trapped and lost....end of commercial--ha)

Anyways..this public confession is rather boring.

We are decorated for Christmas.

Actually we were decorated way before Thanksgiving.

I remember years back when parish and diocesan, at least in the United States, wanted no Christmas parties for the parishes or rectories.  In fact when pushed--their reason was to have the 'liturgically correct parties' during the Octave of Christmas.  In an ideal world--maybe.
Here's an idea while I'm soapboxing--the recent Thanksgiving stir with black friday starting on thursday--why not offer an early morning Mass for the people of God?  Really.  They used to have them for hunters at 3 AM--so why not shoppers?  Come on--let's work with the challenges and create new opportunities.  Simply preaching against the phenomena hasn't worked and will not work.  It is time to adapt.  This isn't giving in.  It is allowing the Gospel to permeate the marketplace.

Maybe you recall the push to move the color of Advent from purple to blue? (I confess, I had a blue chasuble).
What can screw up a one car funeral.

Well, in our household (thanks to my wife's never ending Christmas Spirit) we are decorated, full bore.
Oh, there is an Advent tree and a wreath.  But the rest is out, a train, a caboose, some bells, some trees with twinkling lights.  Outside is a simple nativity scene my father made years ago.  Alone in the dark with a star above, old white plastic figures of the Virgin and her Spouse beckon us to look at the empty crib made by my son.
Alone in the dark it reminds us, calls us, beckons us to anticipate.

May your season of anticipation awake your soul's desire for God.
Because in the end--it has nothing to do with purple, blue, red, or green, a tree or a light or even a gift.
It has to do with your soul and the soul's under your charge.