Saturday, August 22, 2015

Catholicism in comedy

I enjoyed this insightful article by King's College's Jonathan Malesic in America Magazine discusses the Catholic undertones in comedian Louis C.K.'s writing and comedy.  Malesic makes the connection between Louis C.K.'s humor and St. Augustine.  These Truths we know and love are instilled in us as little ones, aren't they, and as evidenced by the points Malesic makes about Louis C.K.'s implied understanding of morality (though, note, not his practicing of that morality).

For example:
In this way, the comedy of Louis C.K. plunges into moral depravity in order to discover its illogic. By contrast, George Carlin’s comedy understood sin only on a third-grade level, as an action that breaks the (to him, absurd) rules. In Louis C.K.’s comedy, sin is perverse desire. It is a profound Augustinian thread. Following it leads to some of Louis C.K.’s best insights but also to his darkest and most questionable material...

The whole part of the article that I wanted to share was too much for a pull quote, so you'll just have to read the article to understand the context. Overall, Malesic's points give this optimist hope for his and other baptized-Catholic celebrities' chances at True and public evangelism.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Photos from the journey

I doubt I would love this area if the country so much if I was here in February, but boy did God create a beautiful, peaceful place here!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Prayers for (I think) a monk

For some reason, either just memories of past blogging days, or a Holy Spirit prayer inspiration, Homeboy McCoy just came to mind. I am prompted to pray for him, for some reason and I invite anyone who remembers this former blogging monk to join me in praying for whatever survival intention he might have.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Whining for Fulfillment

The whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 
The Israelites said to them,
“Would that we had died at the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt,
as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread! 
But you had to lead us into this desert
to make the whole community die of famine!” -Exodus 16:3

 Yeah, yah jerk!

What a whiney group of cranky pants, right? Are you pleased to know you've never sounded anything like the Israelites before? No siree, we are scot-clear of that accusation...

The deacon at the parish we visited this weekend was exactly the voice God needed me to hear.  I've written about my journey with shaming myself about eating, which leads to binging (gluttony). Our country is addicted to this process and the process of deciding, "You know what, health experts, I do not care because I want to eat this right now."

I think so gar-dang much about eating, it's ridiculous. Not a road trip goes by without at least one packed snack. I constantly think about what I'm going to eat later so I can know how much I can indulge NOW. It's a daily example of worry and not relying on God. It's also a weakness of avoiding suffering, even on the tiniest scale. It also leads to a lot of overeating, which abuses God's gifts.

The deacon's homily began with a story of a busy day that ended with a fancy ice cream cone salve for the stress. He realized, as he was licking the marshmallow mocha madness, how often he associates food with coping and avoiding the challenging parts of life.  It has become acceptable to self-medicate this way. And then when the self-medication makes us even sicker and more distracted, we increase the dose.

To an extent, food is both a gift from God and fuel to drive us to the BIG MEAL: The Eucharist. The Eucharist has context because we know God's gift of pleasure through food. We have to ask ourselves, to where are we looking?

I want to desire the Eucharist and let God feed me there. I want to say, "Sir, give us this bread always!" and live for it. He will take care of the medicating details distracting me from Him.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Poem: Products of Darkness

We sow Precious Potential

in the darkness of the Earth.

We endure in desire, encouraging it
to keep

and feed its secret.

Impatience and yielding.

It is the sun
who could first see the secret,

and help the Earth raise the hope.

Unless the secret remains

within the darkness.

Unless its fruit dies and joins the sun

in healing the Earth for future secrets.

The fruit of the tomb.


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Monday, August 3, 2015

Question: Building the Church

Please help.

This weekend's and this week's readings open discussion about cravings. After last weekend's retreat driven by community atmosphere ahead of Sacramental gifts, my husband desired the Eucharist like a severe craving. He desired it to be in a reverent setting with kneelers, quiet reflection before Mass, genuflecting, and a tabernacle present behind the altar.

Full disclosure: I follow the
"be in unity with your congregation" policy
(credit: CatholicMemes)
Therefore, we participated in Mass at a parish in another part of town. Why? Because, frankly, we have not found those things at our parish.

Mass at the church we visited this weekend was so beautifully reverent, we both joyfully teared up prior to receiving the Eucharist. It felt like letting out a big bubble of air: the kind you kept taking in as little sips of breath over and over until there was no more room.

It's a point of struggle for me: stay at the parish where my parents attend, where I received all of my Sacraments (including matrimony), and where my husband and I involve ourselves in multiple ministries, or go to another parish.

We could be a part of bringing our current parish community closer to understanding the Eucharist and the fulfilling joy it brings. On the other hand, the parish was founded with a specifically community-focused atmosphere instead of one with a Sacramental emphasis (can you tell how hard I'm trying to word this?). There are many beautiful, joyful members of the parish who exude Love. However, there is a profound dip in attendance (you've heard that before) and I know attention to the Blessed Sacrament would help heal us.

Help me. I have been somewhat against church shopping, but I keep feeling a call to celebrate Mass in a more reverent setting. What do you think?

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Saturday, August 1, 2015

Plus One and Single

We're smack dab in the middle of wedding season, so the invitations are pouring into our house. I know those living the temporary vocation of singleness might be facing the plus one question: should I bring someone or celebrate the couple with my groovy self? This is for you ladies and gentlemen who have already decided to use that plus one, gar-gang-it, and you're going to use it right!

I never used my plus one to invite a male to a wedding; I've tussled with guilt over the years for having brought my sister to one wedding and a girl friend to another. The following is what I would have done if I could think of a quality guy with whom I wanted to spend time during one of the most funnorible events: weddings!

Good excuse to share a photo
from my 2013 wedding, yes?
(Photo: Jackie McCool)
All scenarios:

You don't have to know ahead of time if this is THE ONE, you just have to know them. No strangers.

Pick someone you know with whom you could enjoy spending potentially stressful time and who will be a team player that night.  "Can I get you a drink?" "Let's dance!" or "You don't want to dance? That's okay, let's grab some cake and people watch," should plausibly come out of his mouth.

Don't text or email this request. Let's be grown ups (clarified: let's be grown ups from the Greatest Generation, instead of the Generation That Cannot Handle Social Interaction).

Give the guy at least two weeks, but perhaps more, in order to ensure he can be there.

"I want to invite you" and "I would like to invite you" are tempting examples of how syntax and word magic take the pressure off of what you're really doing: inviting them to a wedding. PLEASE COMMENT below because I'd love to hear your thoughts. My armchair opinion is that the asker should just come out and use a more direct version: "Please join me."

You are in the wedding party:

If you have never been a bridesmaid or groomsmen before, know that you will spend little to no time with your date until about two hours into the reception. This person has to be able to fend for themselves or know someone else at the party to hang with until you are free. Chances are, if you're going to find value from this post, it's because you're not sure if you like-like this guy or if you do like-like this guy.

If the guy is your good friend, you won't have much trouble with the wording:

"Bro, I have a plus one for a wedding next month. I know you and I would have fun! Just know that I'm in the wedding party, so I won't be with you until after the first dance."

If the guy is someone you consider a friend, but you are wondering if God might be showing you that outcrop of rock

"I'm calling because I am inviting you to join me at my friend's wedding next month. I think we'd have fun!" -pause for normal human conversation effect- "I am a bridesmaid, so I will be with the bridal party for the first half of the wedding. We could get dinner with a few other friends of mine next week, so you can meet cool people to hang out with during the first half."

You are not in the wedding party:

If the guy is your good friend:

"Bro, I have a plus one for a wedding next month. I know you and I would have fun! Two questions: are you available? And chicken or beef?"

If the guy is someone you consider a friend, but you are wondering if God might be showing you that outcrop of rock

"Will you join me at my friend's wedding next month? I think we'd have fun!"

It would be a good idea to still grab dinner with a few friends who will be at the party so that this guy isn't walking in blind, but you will know if that feels appropriate.

For these fellas that we're wondering about, I suggest taking several deep breaths before making the ask. Ask the Holy Spirit to let you know how to proceed from there so that you lay the foundation for a fun evening!

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All Aboard or Hit the Trails

ATSF Route Map (from Wikipedia Commons)
In speaking with my younger, wise sister last night, I realized how much my advice is colored by my changed perspective as a woman who found and snatched up (oh, I got him!) the man of my dreams, the man God made for me.

At earlier points in my life, I saw my journey to my vocation as a 19th century train ride on the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe (Harvey Girls, anyone?).  I was on a train, coping with tunnel vision, knowing the train had certain stops along the way, with a marked the course and planned stops. If the train stalled, I quickly overanalyzed and shouted, "Oh my gosh, we're here, we're here!" and fell madly in crush with the train station in Dodge City or Winnemucon.

The ultimate destination in this scenario was a train station called Marriage and I was busy trying to make every train station the Marriage station so that I could finally say I had arrived. I didn't want to miss that stop!

"This could be it! I might have found him! Won't it be a beautiful story to tell!"

In those ATSF days, I would walk into a room and make an immediate evaluation of the men in the room: wedding rings, ages, height, face, perceived personality, style, and whether or not they were looking for their bride who just walked in the door...

My eyes and heart tired of the effort.

At a point about six months before I started officially dating my husband (we were friends at this point), I abandoned my train metaphor and realized that this journey to a married vocation is actually a hike.  Thank you, Holy Spirit!

I realized God would not let me walk by that outcrop of stone overlooking His beautiful creation. In time, I walked on the paths, through the woods, over the creeks, admiring the creation within the hike along the way, but His mightiness revealed itself to me without question.

BOOM! Look at that view! So much better than an over-analyzed train station that was never meant to fit.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Catholics: Experts on Eating

I have a history of struggling with food and body image, like many women in America.

I'm grateful that I recognize the joy I get from exercise and glorifying God with my body through running. However, I still go up and down with my relationship with food.

I've given up sugar ( to the extent where I checked ingredients lists), I've gone vegan for a little while (knowingly temporarily. Bacon.), I've done Weight Watchers, I've tracked every morsel I put into my mouth, I've deprived myself of one thing or another, and I usually end up exasperated and disappointed.

The most success that I've had came when I gave up sugar, and I think that had a lot to do with the fact that I was enjoying God's blessing of vegetables and fruits with a smiling heart. However, as soon as I got through (hmmm) Christmas this year I lost sight of why I was choosing foods the way I had been choosing them. I realized I didn't have the right mindset, and it really was all about me trying to control.

Yesterday I was listening to my free treat, a surprise Sirius XM subscription in my car (when there had not been one since we bought the car) and I heard part of Jen Fulwiler's radio show. She had Emily Stimpson on air with her, talking about her new blog The Catholic Table. They discussed how their relationship with food and eating changed for the better when they fully explored their Catholic faith.

That's why the Vatican is in Italy. Think about the way they treat food over there! Imagine if the Vatican was in Germany, or in England. The Italian culture stresses a total appreciation for every morsel, combined with an expression of love for those gathered by sitting down and savoring time at the table.

God provided the Eucharist for us commune with Him and His other children while we are on Earth. I need to go to Him more often and to try to control less often. I don't want to find myself using terms like "got through," as in: survived the dessert table, to discuss time with my family at Christmas ever again.

A nice intro post on Emily's blog: What is The Catholic Table?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Gesture of Peace

Here we go again. Couple in front of me, couple beside me, family behind me. Great. I picked my seat perfectly, AGAIN. Why can't some old widow sit next to me ONE of these days. Great. Here he goes, ready to spin everyone off into the arms of their spouses, girlfriends, fiances, moms/dads/people-who-love-them-enough-to-join-them-at-Mass. Great. Another reminder that I'm single and here alone. I love this.

This may or may not have been an inner dialogue of my own several years ago. Going to Mass by yourself can hurt. Often, it can hurt so much that you A) stop going to Mass all together, B) stop going to one parish and "church hop," therefore preventing yourself from becoming established in one place, or C) get mad at God for keeping you in this state of limbo.

My compassionate, wonderful husband has always made it his mission to include people. So many of his friends are those who he met because he was reaching out to them when they were the new kid or were in need of someone to reach out to them. It's one of my favorite things about my BFF/husband.

This holy husband of mine introduced me to this practice with which I'm about to challenge you: if you are lucky enough to go to Mass with someone (spouse, significant other, friend, family, anyone), don't offer them the gesture of peace until after you've offered it to all of those around you. There is bound to be someone near you who is dreading the gesture of peace because they know they'll have those 24 seconds alone, watching everyone else remind them that they came alone. 

We are a community. Build it and reach out to those who came to gather. Your Mass partner isn't going anywhere. This is one small way I believe we can strengthen the Church.
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