Saturday, October 31, 2015

Funeral: Some possible wake photos for when I go home

The funeral this morning got me to thinking of my own end some day.

No, I'm not morbid!

It's just that at so many wakes these days they have these slide shows from the life of the person. I began to wonder what photos of me and my family I'd want in such a show. I don't have a lot of photos of myself - I'm usually the person behind the camera. And I also wanted to have a say in what photos get shown - I've seen some pretty awful ones at other people's wakes.

Of course, I'd rather just have them run some Three Stooges shorts or clips from The Marx Brothers, but the family will probably want some sort of photo display.

Here's a few I have in my computer. I need to scan in more - wedding and family. Then maybe I'll gather them all in a flash drive so the work will be done for the family. One less thing for them to worry about.

How to get rid of all my books will be enough of a problem for them!


Pax et bonum

A funeral

This morning I'm attending a funeral of a woman I never met.

She was the mother of a man my wife worked with for several years. She, the man, and the man's wife, are friends. I am the attached husband - they are nice people, but to me only acquaintances. They did come to show support when my father died.

I don't object to going to the funeral. They are good people, and I'm happy to support them and my wife.

As for the deceased, she was by all accounts a good woman who lived a full life. Perhaps now she is a saint in heaven.

Pray for us all, please.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, October 24, 2015

First they came for the tambourine players ...

Ran across this news item about an over-zealous tambourine player at a church ending up getting tased. The poor woman may have been overmedicated, or certainly suffering from some irrational state. But I do wonder if it was really necessary to pepper spray and tase her. I wasn't there, so I can't say.

I was reminded, though, of people who have complained about my band at church - Rock music! Too Loud! Could we be subject to orders by legal authorities to desist? And if we refuse, face the spray or the Taser?

And then I recalled that poem about the authorities coming after one group, then another, and finally my group. I modified it to fit this situation:

First they came for the tambourine players, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a tambourine player.

Then they came for the ukulele players, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a ukulele player.

Then they came for the bagpipers, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a bagpiper.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to play for me.

Who's next? Hmmmmmmmmm

Pax et bonum

Friday, October 23, 2015

About the Synod

I've been asked what I think about various stories coming out of the Synod on the Family.

I've declined to comment.

My silence is due in part to my ongoing effort to avoid getting caught up in pointless debates that get me worked up and unFranciscan-like.

But even more it's because we really don't know what is happening at the Synod. We don't know what was actually said and in what context. We don't have published final reports yet. We don't know what the Pope will ultimately say.

Folks on social media can argue, predict, doom-and-gloom endlessly if they wish, but there is nothing firm at this point and I don't want to get caught up in it all.

Maybe later. When we have facts to deal with rather than predictions and speculations.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Them's Fighting Words

We held a wonderful Franciscan Day of Reflection for our two local Secular Franciscan fraternities yesterday. Conducted by two members of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, the focus was on Father Benedict Groeschel, the founder of their order who passed away one year ago (on October 3).

Amid the talks - the anecdotes - a Mass - a Holy Hour - a Rosary and a Chaplet of Divine Mercy - Confessions - and socializing with fellow Franciscan - I got a chance to talk with one of the Friars about my Franciscan struggles with anger, and with arguing.

After listening to me talk about how often I get caught up in arguing with other people over political and social issues - and my often using aggressive/provocative/confrontational/sarcastic language - he pointed out that that approach was indeed not very Franciscan, and that while some people can engage in such debates without crossing the line, not everyone can or is ready to.

A gentle way of suggesting I currently am not one of those people who can disagree like a Franciscan.

His suggestion was simple, but made sense: Avoid getting in to such disputes by avoiding the things that get me caught up in them. For me, that would mean avoiding situations such as online debates, responding to others comments or posts, getting caught up in reading about politics and the like. It's one thing to peacefully pray in front of Planned Parenthood during the 40 Days for Life campaign, for example, but it's another to respond and challenge and argue with people online about prolife issues or posting provocative comments and articles.

He said that the model given us by St. Francis is to act in loving ways, to be positive and supportive and gentle, not to be constantly critical and negative, or to confront and engage in disputes. That doesn't mean not standing up for what is right or taking action, but it does mean going about it in a different way and not becoming verbally violent.

So ... I'm trying to be more careful about what I post. I'm trying not to respond in an argumentative way. I'm trying not to react in a challenging way to what others say or post. I'm trying to avoid watching the political shows that get me so worked up. I'm trying to avoid the sharp or sarcastic or judgmental comments I'm so prone to in talking and writing. 

Maybe down the road I will be able to debate is a more Franciscan way, but I'm not spiritually strong enough to do so now.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, October 17, 2015

An Election - Franciscan Style

Last night my Fraternity held its officer elections.

As I had mentioned previously, when nominations were initially made over the summer, I had been nominated by various people for almost every office - Minster, Vice Minister, Treasurer, Secretary, and Councilor. When contacted by the election committee, I said I didn't  desire any office, but I would be willing to consider serving as a Council member again - after all, I'm the person with the key to our meeting site and I had to be there anyway for the Council meetings.

I like being the doorman. Like Venerable Solanus Casey.

The election committee contacted me again, and said many people wanted me to run for Vice Minister. I again declined. I had many reasons. But at this point I began to wonder if I was doing this out of ego - by turning it down I had control, and it was drawing attention to my "humility." And I wondered if by saying no I was denying a call, and rejecting the opportunity to be a servant to the Fraternity. So I began to pray and decided that if people approached me again I would let my name be on the ballot and leave it up to the fraternity and the Holy Spirit. Sure enough, at a Fraternity meeting three people approached me. I said my name could be on the ballot.

To the elections.

The Minister was reelected almost unanimously. No surprise.

Then came the vote for Vice Minister. There were two candidates, a long-time fraternity member - a woman I considered a fine candidate - and myself.

First vote - a tie!

Second vote - still tied.

At this point, the woman running the election looked up the Franciscan rules. If at the end of a third ballot there was still a tie, the office would go to the candidate who had been professed the longest. In this case, it would be my worthy opponent.

Third vote, someone apparently changed votes ... and my opponent won.

Alleluia. I didn't get an office I really didn't want.

I think the Holy Spirit was messing with me by dragging it out this way, though.

A side note. My wife, who is in formation and so had no vote in the election, had been asked to record the votes on a whiteboard for all to see. She was standing near the woman who was running against me. My wife noted the woman was sweating, closing her eyes, sighing, muttering, seemingly praying as the votes were taking place. My wife's reading of it was the woman really, really wanted to be elected.

If so, I'm glad she got her wish.

Ah, but there was more.

The elections for Secretary and Treasurer went as expected. Then we came to Formation Director. The man who had been the Formation Director was running for reelection and was expected to win easily, but he was not at the meeting because he was on retreat. Under Franciscan election rules, if he is elected he has to either be there to say he accepts or be reachable by phone to say he accepts, or he had to have submitted a letter prior to the night to say he would accept. He had not submitted a letter, and he could not be reached by phone - likely his phone had to be turned off  during retreat sessions. So ... he was disqualified, and the woman who had been helping him with formation was elected Formation Director. An upset!

But there's even more.

Last up was the election of Councilors - as noted earlier, I was currently one, and had indicated from the start that I would be willing to continue in that role (that whole key thing!).

There were four candidates: a current Councilor, a married couple, and myself. Prior to last night, the Fraternity had two Councilors. But then someone asked if all four candidates could be named Councilors. The woman from the region who was running the election said no, according to the rules, a Fraternity could have a maximum of three Councilors. The Fraternity voted to raise the number of Councilors to three.

But ... one of the candidates, the wife of the couple, was not there. Unlike the former Formation Director, she could be reached by phone, and she agreed to serve if elected.

So we voted. I finished first. The husband of the couple finished second. The woman who had been a Council member finished third. We three were elected. Asked if we were willing to serve, I said yes, the woman said yes, the husband said ... no.

It seems he and his wife do everything together, and since she was not elected he was not willing to serve without her. So we ended up with two Councilors anyway.

In the end, I continue in the office I'd been willing to serve in in the first place, and we now have three new people in offices. Interestingly, the officers for our Fraternity consists of six woman and me. Once again, I'm one of the token males, or in this case, THE token male!

Just call me the doorman.


Pax et bonum

Saturday, October 10, 2015

40 Days for Life - two haiku

I spent an hour in prayer today in front of Planned Parenthood as part of 40 Days for Life.

Being a less social sort, and an early morning riser, I tend to go very early - today at 7 a.m. (there's an 8:30 Mass I can get to after, so the timing is great).

Today I got inspired to write two haiku:

as I stand praying
a man gives me the finger -
40 Days for Life

police officer
nods and waves as he drive by -
40 Days for Life

I have been fortunate to get few of the former reactions. The man in question was a young man; I prayed for him as he's a victim of our pro-abortion culture. And it could have been worse. I've had foul language screamed at me before - by people in the safety of passing cars, of course. Two of my fellow local 40 Days compatriots were egged one year. In other cities, signs have been stolen or destroyed, and pro-lifers have been threatened and even assaulted. So a finger is not that bad.

I have gotten far more of the latter - from police, fire fighters, bus drivers, taxi drivers, and just regular people going by.

If even one person is led to rethink his/her support for abortion, then we'll move one step closer to ending the slaughter, and my few hours of prayer -  with an occasional hostile gesture - will be well worth it.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Hating Kim Davis

The news that Pope Francis met with Kim Davis - the clerk who was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples - resulted in hissy fits among the secular media and the Catholic left.

Davis had been a constant target of vitriol and venom since she acted on her conservative Christian beliefs - how dare she! Some more moderate voices noted that as a public official she had to follow what is currently the "law" of the land - I don't agree with this view, but it makes sense and I respect it. Others, though, trotted out the imposing her beliefs argument (I counter that all laws are someone's beliefs being "imposed' on others). And still others went after her personally, because of multiple marriages (neglecting to mention that those took place before she found faith and reformed her life), and some even for her appearance (she stopped wearing makeup as part of her faith-based rejection of vanity).

And then there was Pope Francis, a darling of the left because of more pastoral remarks that were consistently being spun and misrepresented to fit their agenda on homosexuality, divorce, sacraments, the environment, etc. He was  gentle and measured in his words while here, allowing the left to ignore what he was really saying on issues like abortion and conscience rights. To be fair, some Francis-bashing conservative Catholics also went after him for, for example, NOT BLATANTLY SAYING THE WORD ABORTION AND DAMNING OBAMA AND PROABORTION CATHOLIC POLITICIANS TO HELL.


Anyway, this is about the Kim Davis haters.

They may say they don't hate her per se, just what she stands for, but their words and tone and attitude too often say otherwise.

All was well with them - gushy articles spinning and spinning and avoiding his messages. (Gee, why did he have to meet with the Sisters on whom the Obama administration was trying to force contraception? Oh well, he did it quietly behind closed doors. We'll overlook that.).

Then the reports came out that he met with Davis.

I don't care how that meeting came about, who arranged it, who else was there, and so on. The left went apoplectic. They tried to argue every which way they could to downplay it. It was with a group of people. Her lawyer is exploiting it. The Pope didn't really know who she was or all the details behind why she's in the news. He was being nice and wasn't endorsing what she did. The Vatican is hedging and backtracking. Oh, phew, he met a homosexual couple too in a more official way.

I've been staying out of the fray thus far because I've gotten tired of how everything the Pope does these days gets distorted and misrepresented, and the Davis issue was not one that caught fire with me (the butchery at Planned Parenthood has been more on my mind).

But I've been wondering why so many on the Catholic left have gotten their undergarments in a twist over this.

There are many on the Catholic left who do want to see Church teaching change on issue like homosexual marriage and birth control and abortion and divorced Catholics, and had been hoping the Pope would make such changes. Never mind that he's consistently cited Church teachings - he doesn't yell or obsess and he smiles and is pastoral, and, well, he's not Pope Benedict. But when there was a chance he might actually support or be sympathetic to what Davis did - You mean he actually might have meant those remarks about conscience rights and religious liberty? - they simply couldn't accept it. They had to show how the reports were somehow wrong.

Otherwise, these member of the left might have to admit they are themselves wrong, or they are not going to get the church they want.

Then there are others who know the teachings will likely not change, and may even agree with many of the teachings, but are uncomfortable with being public about it because they might be attacked, or less popular, or people will make fun of them. Davis was a threat and a challenge - she actually publicly stood up for her beliefs.

Please don't ask us to stand up in a public way like she did.

I'm sure there are other reasons, but those two seem to be the most common among agitated left.

And I also recognize that there are people who are genuinely struggling with these moral issues - but they are not the one running to the media to spout about what the Pope did or didn't do.

As for me, I'm more interested in trying to follow what the Church teaches and changing myself as needed to be a better Catholic who acts on those teachings - no matter what the consequences - rather than trying to change the Church to fit my personal - and admittedly flawed - vision, or even hiding my beliefs under a bushel basket until it's safe to let them out.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Transitus of St. Francis

Tonight our two local Fraternities will join Franciscans around the world as we celebrate the Transitus - the passing of St. Francis from this life. (We celebrate the Feast of St. Francis on the 4th because he died after sunset on the 3rd, so it is counted as the 4th even though technically it was on the 3rd).

We will have a Mass and a celebratory gathering after.

I am looking forward to the celebration. Four years after my profession I'm beginning to feel a little like a Franciscan. I find myself changing my behavior and even thinking in light of the Franciscan influence. I'm not there yet - too much of myself, too much anger and ambition and sarcasm and spiritual laziness. But I''ve notice a little bit of change. I argue less. I try to moderate what I say when I do dispute. I pray more.


Still a long way to go. Maybe by the time I get called home I'll begin to be a true Franciscan.

May it be a blessed night for all.

Pax et bonum