January 2010


I thought that moving to the South would make me miss snow.  And while it has, I realized this morning I miss something more: northern drivers.

When snow or ice hits a southern city, the drivers act like maniacs.

#1 pet peeve of mine: people who don’t clear off their cars.

URRRGH!  Come on, guy-driving-down-the-road-with-only-his-front-windshield-clear!  Seriously!?  Not only can you not see out your back window, you’re also spraying snow all over the place — for the people behind you AND at your own windshield while you drive.

And the people that don’t clear off the tops of their cars.  Grr!  Lady, I know it’s hard to reach, and I know it’s a pain.  But you know what’s more of a pain?  The people behind you on the interstate getting into wrecks as they try to swerve to miss the giant sheets of icy-snow that shoot up in the air at 70 mph and land behind you in the road.  Real considerate, ma’m.

Or the punk in the pickup truck who thinks just because he’s sitting up higher than everyone, he can zoom past them on treacherous roads.  See you when you fishtail on black ice, buddy.

Can you tell I just finished driving out in the midst of craziness?

For the record, I will never criticize Southern school districts for closing before the snow even starts.  I will never laugh at schools down here who close for a mere 1/2 inch of powdery white stuff.  1) These drivers don’t know how to drive in it.  2) The cities aren’t equipped to deal with it.  It’s not this city’s fault that 7 inches of snow has crippled it for days — it just doesn’t have the plows, the salt, and the manpower to stay on top of it.  I’d much rather everyone stay off the roads for a few days — like the police told us Friday morning– to allow the city to clean up the roads.  It just makes more sense.

So all you Northerns can scoff and laugh.  But a few inches of snow down here is a lot more dangerous than it is up there.  If only because of the crazies driving out there.

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“God is the only treasure which ultimately people desire to find in a priest.”

Pope Benedict XVI

I was eating lunch with a group of friends the other day when one of the guys said excitedly, “Does everyone know what this year is!?”

There was some silence, until one guy suggested, “The Year for Priests?”

I love being Catholic.  The first young man was referring to the World Cup, so we got a good laugh out of the whole situation.

In preparation for the lessons I’ll be teaching this spring, I’ve had a lot of time to think about the Year for Priests, since my sacramental lesson will be focusing on Holy Orders.  I’ve been very, very blessed to know many incredible priests in my short life thus far.  I’ve known some men who have not lived up to the call, but I’ve known many who have — and am further blessed to know many amazing young men studying for the priesthood right now.

The Year for Priests is a wonderful reminder to all of us laity to pray daily for our priests.  We all know the tragedy that comes when the Devil succeeds in turning a man from his holy office.  And we know that, because of that tragedy, the Devil works overtime on these men.  They need our prayers.

I think that’s the focus many have taken after Benedict called this Year for Priests.  Let’s celebrate the priests, pray for them, thank God for them, and bake them cookies.

Yes, we’re thankful.  Extremely thankful.  But I don’t think that’s the main reason Pope Benedict called this Year for Priests.  Maybe I’m wrong — I know a lot of people will probably disagree with me.  But while I know this year is a good reminder to us how lucky we are to have good priests and the necessity to pray daily for them — I think he called the year to remind priests to be good priests.

“Precisely to encourage priests in this striving for spiritual perfection on which, above all, the effectiveness of their ministry depends, I have decided to establish a special “Year for Priests” that will begin on 19 June and last until 19 June 2010.”  Pope Benedict, Address Announcing Year for Priests

In looking at the special indulgences granted to priests and laity for this special year, it is clear that the focus is on the priest’s prayer life and his duties as priest.

If a priest isn’t praying daily, if he isn’t celebrating the sacraments for his people, if he isn’t offering himself as another Christ for the world, he’s not a good priest.

If a priest isn’t striving for spiritual perfection, if he doesn’t see himself as new man, a man set apart for the office “which the Lord Jesus inaugurated and which the Apostles made their own,” (Pope Benedict) he is not a good priest.

If a priest is too busy to pray his Office, to sit in the confessional, or to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, then he needs to take this Year and reexamine his priorities.

The priesthood isn’t a job.  It’s an office, instituted by Christ.  It is lived in order that the people in the pews may receive their Lord and Savior in the Eucharist and so participate in Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary.

So, sure, make your priest cookies.  But call him to something higher, too.  Is he living the life of another Christ?  Or does it seem that he is beginning to see the priesthood as a job- as a glorified administrator or a nice social director?

A better way to celebrate the Year for Priests would be for your priest to offer daily parish Masses (if your parish doesn’t already have daily Mass), to increase confession times, or for him to pray morning prayer or evening prayer with the parish in front of the Blessed Sacrament.  While he may like the cookies better than these options, which he may just see as “added work” … these are things will make him a better priest.

He’s a priest for Christ, and he’s a priest for you.

Pray for priests!!

Oh Priest, who are you?
Not through yourself, since you are from nothing
Not for yourself, since you are the mediator of men
Not to yourself, since you are the spouse of the Church
Not yours, since you are servant of all
Not yourself, since you are God
Who are you then?
You are nothing, and everything!
O Priest! Take care lest what was said to Christ on the cross be said to you:
‘He saved others, himself he cannot save!'”

–  St. Norbert


Another good piece about the March & the media’s blatant agenda.

The testimony beginning at 4:00 is especially moving.

I just returned from the March for Life in Washington, D.C., the largest demonstration that the nation’s capital witnesses each year.  It was a wonderful pilgrimage– a beautiful blend of prayer for our country & its leaders and good-old-fashioned American freedom of speech.  We’re not going to sit around while our country continues to tell women the only answer is abortion.

The crowds this year were the largest I’ve ever seen in my years attending the March — most estimates are around 300,000, although I wouldn’t be surprised to find out there were even more.  I was glad to have the opportunity to take some college students out there so they could stand up for life, pray for a culture change, and see that they weren’t alone in their convictions.

One thing that never fails to impress me is the age of the crowd.  It would be interesting to somehow find the average age of everyone present — if I had to guess, I’d put it around 23.  That’s why this Newsweek blog piece is so revolting: Who’s Missing at the ‘Roe v Wade’ Anniversary Demonstrations?  Young Women.

She actually says that the March route was shortened this year because the organizers are old.  Seriously?  Has this woman ever seen the March for Life?

There’s no excuse for such asinine journalism.  But you’ll find it everywhere — no one wants to acknowledge what happens in D.C. (and in San Francisco, Phoenix…) every January 22nd.  The media wants to tell you that pro-lifers are in the minority (which they aren’t) and that they’re all old men.

Luckily, there are people like Jack Cashill who are working to set the record straight:  How the Media Have Mangled the Pro-Life Story.

I didn’t see a single anti-life demonstrator on Friday.  (I usually see a handful of them at the March.)  NPR somehow found some, since three of the five pictures they had on their website were of anti-life demonstrators.  That’s a funny ratio — 3 of 5, when there were six of them and 300,000 of us.  Hm.

Asinine.  That’s all I can say.

[Check out Thine Eyes: A Witness to the March for Life.]

It’s been bothering me for some time — as I read more and more about femininity and the genius of woman, I grapple with my patroness.

I have a study group that’s reading John Paul II’s Letter to Women, and we’re discovering that being feminine doesn’t necessarily mean wearing skirts and pearls and spending the day cooking and cleaning.  But there is a large part of femininity that does mean embracing feminine roles and allowing men to embrace masculine ones.  An embrace of femininity means we accept that we’re not men and that’s okay.  In fact, it’s better than okay.  It’s right.

As my study group spoke about the dangers of translating “equality” to mean “identical,” I kept returning in my mind to Joan of Arc.  How could someone who led an army into battle wearing men’s clothing (highly scandalous at the time), be feminine?   I love St. Joan of Arc, don’t get me wrong.  But do I see her as feminine?

Sure, she was told by God to do what she did, including the wearing of men’s clothing.  So I’m not disagreeing with her actions by any means.  But it was hard to reconcile her with femininity.

Until I came across this in a book I’m reading, and everything clicked: “…the desires of a man’s heart and the desires of a woman’s heart [are] at least meant to fit beautifully together … A woman in the presence of a good man, a real man, loves being a woman.  His strength allows her feminine heart to flourish.  His pursuit draws out her beauty.  And a man in the presence of a real woman loves being a man.  Her beauty arouses him to play the man, it draws out his strength.  She inspires him to be a hero.  Would that we all were so fortunate.” (Captivating, emphasis mine)

Something in that paragraph made it all click for me.  Joan of Arc, like St. Catherine of Siena before her, was called by God to raise up a weak man.  In Joan of Arc’s case, the Dauphin failed.  But she, as a feminine woman, called him to the heights.  Her mission was to raise men to fight for truth and beauty.  Not in a seductive way, but in a holy, virtuous feminine way.  And while the Dauphin was a weak loser, you only have to read about the way her armies responded to her to know that she inspired men to be heroes.

So, ladies, now you know.  Raise your men up.  Help them to be men.

And if you’re ever shot in the chest with an arrow, pull it out yourself and leap back into the fray.  It’s the feminine thing to do.

😉

In the news coming out of Haiti, one of the things that keeps jumping out to me is the report that the Haitian people are not despairing.  One reporter relayed the story of the people shining their shoes in the morning, surrounded by rubble.  Another said he was shocked by the high spirits and the resilience of  people.  The papal nuncio told a moving story of sitting with a man who was trapped, only his head visible, the nuncio unable to do anything to free him — and the man asked him to pray with him.  He did not curse God, he did not despair — he prayed.

I think there’s an obvious answer to this phenomenon.  These people are Catholic.  No other religion has an answer to suffering.  No other religion understands that we must unite our sufferings to the sufferings of Christ on the cross and thus “work out our salvation in fear and trembling,” in the words of St. Paul.  Not that the sacrifice on Christ was not enough to save us; but that the sufferings in this life, our response to the evil and deficiencies of the world, can be united with the sufferings of our Savior, and thus make the sacrifice of the cross our sacrifice.

We aren’t masochists, and the destruction and sufferings in Haiti are truly horrendous.  But let us learn from their spirits, and unite our sufferings with theirs and with Christ’s.

They are in need of our help and our prayers.  One of the deacons from my parish is going down this week on a medical mission — he’s an R.N., so he’s going down to help the medical team, but he’s also going down to help with funerals.  So many are being buried without the funeral rites of the Church.

Pray!  And, if possible, support: http://crs.org/

I’ve been re-reading bits of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America over this Christmas break and thought I’d share this quote today.  I read it as we awaited the Christmas Eve passing of the Senate healthcare reform bill.   As the bill continues its march to President Obama’s desk, despite Americans’ disgust and disapproval, it’s a good quote to consider.

[de Tocqueville was a Frenchman who came to America in 1831 to observe and evaluate democracy in practice.  He remained in the United States for a mere 9 months, but his astute observations make his work one-of-a-kind.  You will probably hear me reference this work again in a future blog post.  On the whole, he liked the system and defended Americans — I especially like the chapter, “The Example of the Americans Does Not Prove That a Democratic People Can Have No Aptitude and No Taste for Science, Literature, or Art” … although I don’t know what he would say today.]

The quote of the day does not actually come for de Tocqueville himself, but from Thomas Jefferson, whom he quotes in his chapter on the danger of the tyranny of the majority and its consequences.

“The executive power in our government is not the only, perhaps not even the principal, object of my solicitude.  The tyranny of the legislature is really the danger most to be feared, and will continue to be so for many years to come.”

What would Mr. Jefferson say today?