Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Keep It Real

Bonas Brothers find afterlife gigs not quite as fulfilling . . .

Monday, August 16, 2010

Feast of the Assumption

Good Shepherd Shelter

In His poem, Birches, Robert Frost wonders if it might be nice to leave the stress and labor of this life, this weary earth, and climb up a forest birch tree towards an uncertain heaven. But he builds in an escape clause. When the climber in the poem reaches the thin treetop, the tree dips, giving him a playful return back to the forest floor.

I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

Saint Paul spoke about being torn between his longing to be completely with God, and his passion to continue his ministry within the imperfect temporal world.
Life to me, of course, is Christ, but then death would be a positive gain. On the other hand again, if to be alive in the body gives me an opportunity for fruitful work, I do not know which I should choose. I am caught in this dilemma: I want to be gone and to be with Christ, and this is by far the stronger desire- and yet for your sake to stay alive in this body is a more urgent need. (Phillipians 1:22-24)
The Feast of the Assumption reminds us that we will, in a way, eventually get to have it both ways. Heaven does not wait for our soul alone, but for our physical body as well.
If the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished" (1 Cor. 15:13–18).
It is comforting to know, that no matter how inconceivably wonderful heaven will be, it will in fact be familiar. God will be familiar. We were made in His image for life with Him in heaven. When we at long last arrive on heavens shore, we will not be strangers there. We will be home.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hear Ted?

Saw this window while making a lunch time visit in Holy Spirit Church. Trying to figure out which Ted I should be hearing. Hmmmm. Quick - to Google.

Could this be a plug for Ted Nugent's appearance next week on Fox News Network's new show Money Rocks, or simply a shout out to the career and musical legacy of the loud rocker? I think not and not. Ted Haggard is still sorry, but otherwise seems to be moving on with his ministry/career. Ted Williams frozen head isn't saying anything. I'll put him in the not likely having anything new to "hear" column along with Roosevelt and Kennedy. Ted Turner? Well - this was a church window.

Then it occurred to me - Saint Theodore! Yeah, that's the ticket. I pointed my keyboard towards this mystery saint only to find out that there were quite a lot of Saint Theodore's. Monks, martyrs, bishops, martyrs, soldiers, and more martyrs. I read of Saint Theodore I and Saint Theodore II. Also Saints Theodore of Cantbury and Bologna, Cyrene, Egypt, Studites and Sykeon. And of course, Saint Theodore's of Tabenna, Tarsus, Pausilippus, Pavia, Stratelates, Antioch and Trichinas. Oh, and St. Theodore the Sacrist.

Holy, courageous, inspiring, often tragic, and yet ultimately victorious men. Still, I did not come upon any direct quotes from any of them to "hear." Then I found St. Theodore Guerin, the newest of the Sainted Theodore's, also known as Saint Mother Theodore Guerin. Yes - no Theodora, yet still a lady. Mother Theodore Guerin was beatified by John Paul II in 2008, and as it turns out, is very much quoted. What follows are a few of my favorites, and definitely worth "hearing." For more on this awesome Nun and Foundress, visit the internet home of the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary of the Woods.

Regarding the Eucharist:

“Send your heart a thousand times a day to adore our Lord really and truly present in the Holy Sacrament.”

Regarding the human quality and simplicity to Mother Theodore’s perception of God

[God] shares our miserable dwelling with us. He remains with us day and night. Yes, while you are peacefully sleeping Jesus is watching over you.” “The spirit of faith consists in doing our actions for God, in His presence, to look upon all events of life as directed by Him.”

Very cool indeed. I'm glad I decided to "Hear-Ted." Thanks window.

Friday, June 4, 2010

National Donut Day

It's National Donut Day! Time to string lights on the Donut Tree, sing Donut Carols, head outside to the yard to see if the Donut Bunny hid any Donut Holes, and check the news to see if Dunxsutawney Daryll saw his shadow when he climbed out of his pink box.

Rings, bars, filled, or simply the hole - get ye to a donut. There are a lot to choose from: Crullers, Vanities, Comfits, Fritters, Long Johns, Boston cream doughnuts, Potato doughnuts, Sour cream doughnuts, Simball, Olicook, Olykoecks, Bear claws, Elephant Ears, Yum Yums, Fasnachts, Frying Saucers, Bear sign (cowboy slang for ring doughnuts) and Johnnycakes. My personal favorite: the apple fritter. Bought my last one right down the street at Yum Yum Donuts. Nothing on their site regarding free donuts, but maybe your local one is celebrating the big day. FREE DONUTS are out there today - if you're reading this in real time. Friday, June 4, 2010. Check out Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts for more info on their observance of National Donut Day.

I have decided to honor National Donut Day by re-running my original blog post which kind of explains why I named this blog "Will There Be Donuts?" in the first place. Happy National Donut Day!


Will There Be Donuts?

I remember one Sunday morning a few years back, my wife and I were hurriedly buckling the kids into the minivan trying to beat the start time for the next Mass at St. Convenience's. St Convenience is any parish other than your usual parish that has a mass time which most closely fits an altered Sunday itinerary. You either slept in late because of a pretty good Saturday night, or you're going in early so that you can squeeze in an all day event immediately afterwards. Basically minimum requirement triaging. I don't remember the specific reason for that Sunday morning, but I do remember explaining the change in our schedule to our youngest as I buckled her into her carseat. She had only one question.

"Will there be doughnuts?"

"Oh no!" I thought, "The carrot has been taken from the stick - and she knows." I also remember making the attempt to ease her disappointment with a little preschool catechesis, and I think I remember not being very successful.

It wasn't her fault. She had a very good right to be disappointed, because it really wasn't about the donuts. This particular daughter usually orphaned her donut after a single bite and ran off to be busy with the real attraction of coffee hour. Being in the moment of community. Outside voices inside (with an outside option on most days.) Running, weaving through the maze of chairs and tables, giddy laughing, untethered. Finding friends, or making some. The happy buzz of dozens of voices speaking at once, as one.

At mass, we the collected, the unsorted assembly, are called to be one. We are called to communion. We are called to become one body. In the Eucharist, we become that one body. Even though we rush in from so many different points of view and states of grace, our God re images us into one harmonious people. Is it wrong then, to want to take this gift from the politeness of our pews and not immediately disperse it to the parking lot? Isn't it a good thing to commit twenty more minutes for a kind of second communion, to spend time actually in communion with the other human faces of our Lord's Eucharistic presence? I mean, most of the people we worship with and share the miracle with, never get past a hand shaking relationship with us. Head nods and smiles and parking lot waves.

We should let the kids run a bit. They've been (mostly) quiet for an hour. We could have a cup of coffee and maybe a refill. Find out how George's surgery went. Hear about Tom and Joy's vacation. Get an update on the Smith's kids, and their kid's kids. Welcome the stranger. Listen to the aged. Share stories. Plan plans. Dream dreams. Grow together.

Donuts can be a very good thing. Maple bars. Old fashioned. Jelly filled. Come on people. Let there be donuts.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Rumbly In My Tumbly

Here I come again, running to God like a kid with a handful of sweaty quarters and a sweet tooth. Hit the knees.

"Father, Son, Holy Spirit. God, I need a (FILL IN BLANK.)"

Quarter. Quarter. Quarter. F4.

My prayer life is often a little heavy on prayers of petition and a little light on the other forms of prayer: blessing, thanksgiving, intercession, and praise. It's not that I disregard the other forms, it's just that when I'm navigating a particularly tough stretch of road, some of the other forms don't spontaneously manifest themselves within the situation as naturally as a good desperate priority 1 petition. Driving in fog. In the dark. Low on fuel. Crisis tends to draw one away from theological considerations, and more towards the basic, "Get me there, Lord. Just get me there. Hail Mary, full of grace . . ."

A side note about that rough stretch of road - it's a long stretch. One thing that I've learned is that one crisis always seems to replace another. We are always in need, totally dependant on our God. The Catechism teaches us "that every need can become the object of petition." Our needs tend to get our attention, like the arm waving school kid who sits right in front of the teacher. They also tend to mess with our subconscious thoughts, like the posse flanked bully stealthily punching bellies in the hallway between classes.

Needs. Needs. Needs. Love. Health. Forgiveness. Stature. Victory. Safety. Less fog. Missing car keys. A Snickers Bar.

I'm sure that God understands that the noisy demands of any given moment heavily influence the time we spend with him, steering us more towards being a friend in need than a friend indeed.

Fear. Pain. Loneliness. Sorrow. Anger. Envy. These are the hungers that drive our spiritual appetite. Our indicators that we have a need. We get a rumbly in the tumbly and it's time for something sweet. This isn't just metaphorical, either. Stress or heartache can easily create the need for an actual Kit Kat bar or a cold pint of Ben & Jerry's. So off we go, quarters in hand, to visit God's Vending Machine.

"Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God." Phillipians 4:6

Paul's admonition to petition with confidence, with thanksgiving built into our asking, allows us to blend our asking prayer with a prayer of thanksgiving. Multitasking with a single prayer. Isn't God great? Hey. Now we're praising too.

Visualizing God's generous presence among us as a vending machine also gives image to a problem we can bring to our prayer requests. The rows of brightly wrapped candies illustrate our wants, not our needs. The object or condition we desire is our own personal answer to our problem, a definitive condition linked to our petition, telling God instead of asking. I believe that if God installed prayer petition snack machines in the back of our Churches, there would only be one button. It would read: A1 - Thy Will Be Done. God already knows what we need before we even press the button. (Matthew 6:8) We are experts at knowing THAT we need. Not always on WHAT we need.

Also, God's vending machine wouldn't require any quarters, and it would always be in perfect working order. If we push the button with chocolate on our mind and a carrot drops into the bin, we should count it all joy, and make like a hungry rabbit. If nothing were to drop, we shouldn't kick the machine, but thank God for the generous invitation to fast, or realize that the snack was delivered to someone even hungrier. Hey - now we're doing intercessory prayer!

Forgiveness. Joy. Healing. Conversion. Companionship. Love. Eternal life. Found keys. Clear roads. A Snickers Bar. Wow! There's some really nice stuff in that vending machine. Press the button.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I Got It!

" I got it!"


"Watch it!"

Three boys and one fly ball. A collision of intent. The result: a missed catch and grass stains on the Sunday pants. The problem wasn't in the fit of the gloves, or in the eyes of the catchers. The problem wasn't even the uncomfortable Sunday clothes. The problem was the intent. Instead of intending that the ball be caught, each boy intended passionately to be the one catching the ball. Great passion badly played.

How often do I find myself making this rookie error in my daily life? Doing things my way. Failing to communicate. Unwilling to yield my opinion. Measuring the big wins by personal gains. Wondering why everyone isn't on the same page - my page.

Luckily, our God is an awesome coach. I can hear Him calling patiently from the dugout, His arms pressed against the chain link. "Ok guys. Let's talk to each other out there."

Sometimes life puts us in right field to watch some other teammate suck up all the action and glory at shortstop. Other times we're in right field praying the big lefty will pull to left field. Accumulating personal gain and avoiding personal pain. Mine!

The gospel is a team sport. Every player counts. We're not all pitchers. We're not all big hitters. But we are all needed. Each one of us has a position to play that is vital to the team. Sometimes the season can seem endless. There are a lot of games to play, and each single game is critical. The whole season can be won or lost in an afternoon. But we are a great team and we do have an awesome coach. All He expects from us is that we show up dressed to play, keep our head in the game, our eyes on the ball, play the best game we can, and always play as a team.
Don't look now, but all those saints and angels in the bleachers just started doing the wave. Batter up.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Jupiter Has Gas

No. Really. It does. Jupiter is a gas giant. My third grader thinks that is hilarious. The word gas is stop-the-world funny at her age. For me, the word is more of a painful metaphor than a humorous one. Gas equals discomfort of the belly or the wallet, depending on whether I'm thinking of indigestion or the price of a fillup at the pump.

But when you're eight years old, or around that age, gas is comedy. And Jupiter being a gas giant can bring you to tears. I mean, really. Could you imagine bunking with Jupiter at camp?

Our youngest child recently had her long awaited turn with the third grade planet project. Basically, the teacher has the children draw planets from a hat, and then they skip home with the single sheet of instructions (rules) that will guide the child in discovering the wonders of our amazing solar system by building a desktop sized model of their chosen planet. This would be the third planet to be born on our dining room table in as many years. One of the pluses of having children in three consecutive grades is that you start to get good at parenting the projects. You become a veteran, you’ve had field experience. You’ve made some mistakes, but you’ve learned from them.

Planet number one at our house was basically a soccer sized Styrofoam ball smothered in a thick coat of paper glue to prevent the finishing coat of red paint from eating the planet. Polar ice caps were added with white Play-Doh. The planet sat upon a small black circular stand borrowed from a shelved astronomy kit. Planet number two the following year utilized the same stand, but substituted a friendlier brush-on paint that wouldn't consume the planet. The twist with this model was a light feature that my middle child dreamed up herself. The planet would glow with beautiful light, accomplished by placing a small battery powered LED light in the stand that would shine up and into the hollowed out Styrofoam ball. Have you ever hollowed out a soccer sized Styrofoam ball? Neither has my daughter. Dad got to empty the Styrofoam pumpkin, due to the requirement of sharp, steel and pointy things. Messy, messy, messy.

With the arrival of planet number three, Dad thought he pretty much had this down. Different name, different color, but basically a painted ball on a stand. I knew which store and which aisle to hit. I still had the stand. I was even prepared to talk down any suggested light features. But child number three dances to a different drummer. She was totally prepared to recreate the entire process, to switch up the media. It was a new day, a new planet, and a new vision was called for. So I let her imagination run with her spindly legs down row after row of that craft store. We considered new and wonderful options to the beloved Styrofoam. We looked at wood: blocks, dowels, and boards. We considered clay and clay-like products. Some which never hardened. Some which hardened overnight. Some which only hardened when you baked it like a tray of chocolate chip cookies. We browsed, touched, held, weighed, and even dropped a few things. After more than an hour of discussing, debating, dreaming, re-debating, and finally deciding, we left the store with a bagged Styrofoam ball, assorted colors of paint (Jupiter is striped) and a thick black poster board which would replace the old-school black circular stand of the previous two planets.

So, with minimal parental assistance, Jupiter came to be, red spots and all, completed by bedtime and set on a counter to dry. Jupiter, bolted into still life orbit over a poster board night of paint-dotted stars. Jupiter, the gas giant.

"Hey Jupiter. Did you enjoy those beans?"

"If Jupiter had a finger, would you pull it?"

It's true. Learning about the solar system can be fun and even funny, if you let your third grade sense of humor out for a long overdue play date. You should have heard the jokes last year when our middle child was talked into trading Venus away for Uranus. It really is a pretty planet. It’s also pretty funny.