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Monday, January 29, 2007

I don't spend that much time thinking about homosexual issues. I've read only a very few things on it. Today I ran across this article, titled The Homosexual Condition. Maybe it's just me, but I keep expecting to see a conclusion but not seeing it. Reading these things leave me feeling like I've only been given half a breath and I'm still waiting for the other half. Again, maybe it's just me, I was required to take remedial reading classes after all.

I mean, I get it that I don't condemn or else disrespect anyone just because they're "gay." But how do I manage to communicate acceptance and at the same time say "you need fixing, something is broken." Hey, I'd be the first to admit that I need fixing ... I sure ain't perfect. But I don't have the general population singling me out for some fixing. How can I communicate that it's not that I'm better than you, it's not that I pity you; how can I communicate without seeming self-righteous or holier-than-thou? I can say, "Dude, you have a knife in your side. You might want to see about getting it removed" and there probably won't be too much repercussion. But if I say, "Man, you are gay. You might want to look at options for not living the gay lifestyle," I'd probably not survive to tell of it.

Speaking of trauma ... I remember when I had a joint that needed surgery. That surgery didn't come until weeks later. If I understand correctly, the doctor is not fixing the joint until the body has gotten over its trauma. (Ah, then surgery is another whopper of a trauma.) So if our gay friends continue to be traumatized by society, it's going to be mighty difficult to heal.

Maybe these commentaries don't have a conclusion because the conclusion has to be individualized. Sometimes we just need a hug, a laugh, not a prod, not instruction. Sometimes those things just can't be talked about until we can understand each other at a level deeper than words. Then when we talk about things that hurt, we won't have to wrestle with motives; we can move past suspicion and can focus instead on the ideas.
And lest I be misunderstood: I do stand by the Church and I agree that sexual acts outside of marriage is immoral and that marriage is between one man and one woman and therefore by logic, all homosexual intercourse is immoral.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

I remember a story which illustrates how the time of praise may interact with the time of the clock, the time of modernity. When one of my brethren was a child at school, a dentist came to give lessons in dental hygiene to the children. He asked the class when they must clean their teeth. There was absolute silence. He said, `Come on, you know when you must clean your teeth. In the morning and in the evening ... ' This touched a button in the minds of these good Catholic children who knew their catechism. And they all carried on `before and after meals'. `Excellent,' said the dentist. `In times of temptation and in the hour of our death'. Well, if we always cleaned our teeth in the hours of temptation, we might avoid many sins!
The Bear and the Nun : What is the Sense of Religious Life Today!
An address to the Major Religious Superiors of France, October, 1998
Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, OP


Saturday, January 27, 2007

I had attended one of Fr. Cedric Pisegna's talk some time ago. I remember his analogy of the Dead Sea: that unless we give to others, we have no life. The Dead Sea does not feed another body of water. OK.

But this relative of ours, with the mental illness which robs the memory, laments in moments of lucidness, "I am useless to anyone." This is utilitarian. This is the logic of "If I am unproductive and useless, then I am worthless." So I ask you, where will your head be if you find yourself unable to contribute to society? Do you define yourself by what you can do?

I, myself, think that I exist so that I may be of help to someone--I know not who, but it is my special task to help at least this one specific person. That sort of thinking leads me to conclude that I would become useless as soon as I am unable to be of help to others. So then the question is: "Is it ever possible to be of no help to others?" I concluded, "No."

Couldn't I somehow, should I cease to be able to care and think for myself, be of inspiration for others? Couldn't God speak to others through my state of senselessness? In caring for me, couldn't my caregivers turn hearts and minds to God, to grow in love and service and gratitude for what IS in contrast to what isn't?

We do have the responsibility to help ourselves and others as we are able. But if we are unable, that doesn't make us worthless.

Will what is made say to its maker, "Why have you created me so?" Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for a noble purpose and another for an ignoble one? (Rm 9:20-21)

May our very existence glorify God.


But if community is what draws the young to religious life, it is the difficulty of community life that makes so many give up. We aspire to communion and yet it is so painful to live. When I meet young Dominicans in formation, I often ask what they find best and worst about religious life, and they usually give the same answer to both questions: living in community. That is because we are all the children of this age, moulded by its perception of the modern self. We are not wolves in sheep's clothing. We are bears in nuns' habits!

Perhaps one could say that in religious life we live the mirror image of the crisis of the modern self. The modern self aspires to an autonomy, a freedom, a detachment that is impossible to sustain, because no one can be human alone. We need to belong to communities to be human at all, whatever we may think. But we religious live the mirror image of this drama. We enter religious life aspiring for community, longing to be truly brothers and sisters of each other, and yet we are products of modernity, marked by its individualism, its fear of commitment, its hunger for independence. Most of us are born into families with 1.5 children and it is hard to live with the crowd. And so the modern self and the religious life are alternative aspects of the same tension. The modern selfdreams of an impossible autonomy, and we religious aspire to a community which is hard to sustain.
The Bear and the Nun : What is the Sense of Religious Life Today!
An address to the Major Religious Superiors of France, October, 1998
Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, OP


I may disagree with Sr. JC at times, but I do admit that she communicates stuff that is of considerable value to us all.

Excerpts taken (without permission) from THE FIRE IN THESE ASHES,
by Joan Chittister, OSB

On the other hand, Mother Sylvester, my first prioress, made two trips to our novitiate yearly. In both of them, she came to ask us only one question. Patience was her hallmark; she tutored us with measured steps. In fact, she viewed with great benignity the fact that most novices failed the test rather routinely at the time of her first visit. At the same time, she was anything but complacent if we failed it at the time of her second one. "Why have you come to religious life?" she asked each of us in turn, arms folded under her scapular, head tilted down to scrutinize us over her glasses as she scanned us around the table. At first blush, we made up wonderful answers: "To give our lives to the church," the pious said; "To save our souls," the cautious said; "To convert the world," the zealots said. But no, no, no, she signaled with a shake of the head. Not that. Not that. Not that. "You come to religious life, dear sisters," she said sadly, "only to seek God."

Only to seek God. The answer stuns in its simplicity. In its ubiquitousness. In its universality. In its demands. The awful truth of the answer changes everything. For the person who cannot find God here, staying here is a mistake. For the person who does not seek God here, leaving here is an imperative. For the person who can find God better someplace else, leaving here is a grace.
and unfortunately no, I don't own the book and have not read the book ... God bless the Sisters who sent me this (it's a longer excerp than this) for reflection


Friday, January 26, 2007

I've been to a few discernment events. My personal experience is that you never leave those events empty-handed. You might get literature, pens, rosaries, prayer cards, magnets, cookies, or such. I got a candle from the Benedictines. I also got a candle from the Dominicans (and a wall cross, Dominican magnet, generic notepad, generic pen, generic pencil, Domican notecards, Dominican postcards, and a Dominican bookmark made by one of my favorite Dominicans).

The Dominican weekend discernment retreat started today, so I lit my Dominican candle tonight. And I will do so tomorrow night as well. This is the candle from the very same retreat that I attended last year. We each lit our candle on the first night and they stayed on until we blew them out and took them home with us on Sunday. I have the candle in my room so that I don't forget to put it out before going to bed, I won't be leaving it on unattended. But what was cool was that I brought my lit candle into the room without turning on the light. I was amazed at how much light the candle gave, how much darkness was dispelled. It kinda cheered me up.

Then I turned on the lights because it makes the computer glare less glaring.

Discernment Invite (top posted)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

You are warmly invited
to spend a discernment weekend
with the Dominican Sisters,
January 26-28, 2007
in San Antonio, Texas

begins at 6p.m. on Friday with dinner
ends on Sunday after morning prayer and sending forth

Sr. Geri Kline, OP
San Antonio

Sr. Pat Casey, OP

Sr. Helen Marie Raycraft, OP

Open to women ages 18-40
$35 is requested to defer meal costs

Come, join us! You'll be glad you did.
Hey, they're expecting about 9 discerners already! It's not too late, won't you come too?


I met with my spiritual director today. We did something a little different. We tried tapping into my subconscious; a little art approach. I never said what my profession is, but you can safely rule out "artist." I did my best to cooperate, following directions to draw lines and colors in association with various emotion words. I was left alone to tackle these tasks, first the lines, then the colors. I, who live in my head almost all the time, who spend minimal time discussing my emotions, and who have never had any affinity for abstract art, was at a loss but did put something down on paper. Each time my SD left the room then returned, I was finished with the task at hand. No point in prolonging; I'm not going to have any better insight in 40 minutes than in 2 minutes. I don't know if anything came out of it, but I agreed to try to "think outside the box" for a while. I'll make an effort to think colors each day, something like "I feel bengal-tiger-striped black and orange today" or "bannana yellow and almost white" or "overdue bill pink" ... you get the idea

Christina Aguilera

Monday, January 22, 2007

Gumby wanted the Christina Aguilera Back to Basics CD. So I got last week. Gumby has been raving over it. Well last night I heard CD2 of the set and am absolutely blown away by:

Have Mercy on Me
Save Me from Myself
The Right Man

I could listen to those over and over. Just ... Wow.

some goodness

Sunday, January 21, 2007

On the battlefront: some people would die (figuratively speaking) to have the job I have, and yet I am still struggling to be appreciative of my job. If nothing else, it helps me to identify with those who struggle with gratitude, who struggle to realize the blessings they've been given ... it is one thing to "understand cognitively" and quite another to "take to heart."

Some good things...
An old friend and former co-worker came in from New York and some of us got together over lunch last week. My original workgroup scattered over the years but we haven't totally lost contact with each other. Four of us got together for lunch and I popped in late (meetings all day) and visited a little. We hadn't seen each other in over a year; it was nice.

Saturday I was able to attend mass with the Dominicans. As one of the Sisters described it: typically it's "not the most life-giving mass," but I enjoy being with them. As it turned out, one of my favorite Dominicans gave the homily. And yes, it was good. It was an impromptu thing and I wasn't in the best of shape (i.e. I, uh, probably could've use a shower), so I hope my ragged appearance didn't challenge them too much.

Sunday I did my parish volunteer thing then ran off to buy dinner. I delivered two to some folks and the other two I took home. Then off I went to see Father Mitch Pacwa, another favorite. He's in town from Alabama. I couldn't do the fundraising dinner the day before, but this talk is free. You know, we do hear voices in our heads. They're voices of people we love. It might be your mom or dad, for example. Father Mitch's voice is one of those for me, as is my pastor's. It didn't matter what the subject was, whatever Father Mitch is talking about, I wanted to go see him. So I did. It was good to see some familiar faces too, faces from "Catholic circles" like from my own parish, from daily mass (it's at another parish), some of the Sisters from across town, a choir director I hadn't seen in a while, and a priest I hadn't seen since the last similar activity.

Tonto was at evening mass elsewhere while I attended the talk. Tonto came back all on fire; it was a wonderful mass with much good news and great motivation. Now Tonto has finished eating and is on edge over the football game between Indiana and New England. :)

This evening is one of quiet joy.

A-Z meme

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Seen at Natty's blog and Sr. Sandy, CSJP's blog ...

[A is for apparitions - your favorite]: St. Faustina, on several of her travels, was accompanied by an angel. But on one such occasion, she also saw and angel over each church. I like that: an angel guards each of our parishes.
[B is for Bible - the one you read most often]: New American Bible
[C is for Charism - the one you would most like to have]: I would like to be able to bring Jesus to people, that when they see me, they see not me but Him.
[D is for Doctor of the Church - your favorite]: I don't know them. I've only read St. Augustine of Hippo's "Confessions," so St. Augustine it is
[E is for Essential Prayer - What’s yours?]: Hail Mary
[F is for Favorite Hymn]: so many ... Lord When You Came to the Seashore
[G is for Gospel - your favorite author?]: St. John
[H is for Holy Communion - How would you describe it, using one word?]: Sacrament
[I is for Inspiration - When do you feel most inspired by God?]: unfortunately, I don't have an answer

[J is for Jesus - When did you first meet Him?]: I was very little (haven't started school yet, I don't think). Some strangers came to our house. After they left I asked my mother who they were. She told me they came to tell her of some man who was nailed to a cross through his hands a feet. I was very sad to hear of it, and sad every time I thought of it. Looking back, I'm sure they were referring to Jesus.
[K is for Kindness - Which saint or person has most inspired you by their kindness?]: The famed St. Francis of Assisi and the legend of him inspiring a wayward priest to repent.

[L is for liturgical year - your favorite time in the liturgical cycle?]: Holy Week
[M is for Mary, the Mother of God - Your favorite term of endearment for her]: Queen of Heaven

[N is for New Testament - Your favorite passage]: the paraphrase "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
[O is for Old Testament - Your favorite Book here]: both books of Samuel (technically it's one isn't it?)
[P is for Psalms - your favorite]: Psalm 27
[Q is for quote - saint quote]: St. Augustine: My heart is restless until it rests in You. (again, from my very limited exposure)
[R is for rosary - your favorite mysteries]: uh...don't have one ... I'll pick the Glorious Mysteries
[S is for Saint - the one you turn to in time of need - not including the Blessed Virgin Mary]: uh..I .don't do that much ... I'll pick St. Francis of Assisi
[T is for Tradition - your favorite Catholic tradition]: all male, educated, celibate priesthood
[U is for university - Which Catholic University have you attended or are currently attending?]: none
[V is for Virtue - the one you wish you had]: kindness, compassion
[W is for Way of the Cross - Which station can you most relate to?]: dunno...Jesus falls the first time ... then after that I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have the strength to keep getting up
[X is for Xaverian Brothers - Do you know who they are?]: no
[Y is for your favorite Catholic musician]: I don't know of any. Roderick Bell? Rawn Harbor?
[Z is for Zeal for the faith]: Jesus!

what I am to know

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I tried to quiet my thoughts. I tried to leave room for Jesus to speak to me. I tried to listen. I asked Jesus, there during exposition, what it is that I should know, what does He want me to know.

And it could be my imagination ...

His reply:
"I love you."

that odd feeling

Monday, January 15, 2007

It's kinda awkward. We're civil to each other. We, in fact, are generally friendly. But it's superficial. I get odd feelings sometimes that the friendliness isn't genuine. That puts me on edge. Yet each time we do meet, it's all hunky-dory. But outside of that, I pick up on something that leaves me unsure, something that I can't put my finger on. So then I have to decide whether it matters or not. When is it a sign to read and heed, and when is it a mere distraction?

nest egg

Sunday, January 14, 2007

We have a box in the garage where we collect paper for recycling. I don't usually read the paper. It's Tonto who usually goes through the paper. Anyhow I was standing in the garage waiting for Tonto for whatever reason and happened to spot a title on the paper for an article on the Roth IRA. Here's a really quick run down based on the article.

Contributions to a 401K is usually through the company with whom you are employed and are made with pre-tax dollars. There is a limit on how much you can contribute and you are required to start withdrawing at age 59 1/2 years old. You are taxed on the money you withdraw; which says that the money in the 401K is not all yours. You can borrow from yourself, usually up to 50% of what you have in your 401K. You pay yourself interest when you pay your loan back into the 401K. The interestesting thing is that even though you pay back with taxed dollars, you are still going to be taxed when you withdraw from the 401K.

Contributions to a Roth IRA is made with taxed dollars, which means that when you go to withdraw, you're not taxed. You are not required to withdraw at a certain age, meaning that you can leave it as a legacy to whomever. And I'm not sure, but I don't think there is a limit to how much you can put into a Roth IRA.

Given that tax rates are likely to go up as years go by, it makes more sense to go ahead and pay your taxes now (i.e. Roth IRA). The 401K makes sense if your company matches your contributions -- make the contributions required to get your company's match.

I'm not money savvy, but that's the understanding I got from the article. I've not cross referenced it to other views; you're welcomed to do so. I just wanted to share this tidbit in case it may be of help to others.


We have a relative who has that disease that affects the memory. It is not yet so advanced that she has no recognition of people. It may take a few seconds or minutes, but eventually she comes through with the recognition.

She can ask a question and within 10 minutes forget that she had asked the question. She spent the latter half of the day with us, and yet she will have no memory of it. In fact, by the time we brought her back home, she had no memory of ever eating dinner. We gave her another piece of the same pie she had hours before, and she has no memory of having ever eaten that pie. So literally, this is a person who lives only in the present moment.

The mystery for me is that if you cannot remember what happened 10 minutes ago, how do you piece together your day? Is every day the same? When you think back to your morning, is it the same "morning memory" that gets played? When you think back to an hour ago, is it the same picture for that particular time of day?

It seems to me that if you are diagnosed with this disease, then it's time to make happy memories. It's time to let go of petty things, time to help strangers so that you might remember that you make a difference without the expectation of seeing them again, time to gather with other people so that you don't "remember" that your days were spent in loneliness, time to plan your days so that you look forward to an enjoyable activity, so that if you're stuck in a moment in time it'd be a pleasant moment.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

It seems that we are now the only ones on our street with our Christmas lights still lit every night. Gumby wants them down on the 7th.

We'll see. I have retreat this weekend, starting Friday night. (Please pray for our retreatants. Thanks.) Whether I take those lights down on Sunday depends on the weather and on how I feel upon returning from the retreat.

this is a bit early, but I won't have time to post later:

Happy Birthday to Natty!

daily reflection

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have daily reflections in Realplayer, Windows Media, and Podcast formats. The reflections are done by clergy from around the USA.

our calendar

Monday, January 01, 2007

We follow the Gregorian calendar. It turns out that it wasn't some guy name Gregory who came up with the scheme. Rather, Pope Gregory XIII declared the scheme proposed by Aloysius Lilius as the official calendar for the Church. The Church needed some consistent way to set a date for Easter. Even with our calendar, Easter is no easy thing like a specific date or day every year. Instead, Easter is set as the first Sunday after the first full moon of Spring.

Our calendar year is the average time between "vernal equinoxes" -- the moment when the sun is at earth equator in its passing from south to north in March. At this time, the day and night are approximately of equal length. The calendar is an imperfect predictor because the earth's orbit is not mechanically exact. What our calendar gives us is an approximation and every so many years, we adjust it with an extra day in February--the extra day being February 24 with the month having 29 days.

You can read all about it and have your own headache at Webexhibits