Wednesday, September 28, 2011

All Clear - Good Sailing Ahead

The biopsy came back negative - much to my relief.

The 40 Days kickoff was a success - and I (and they) made it through my inflicting music on them.

So now, school work.

But I do have the Rochester Chesterton conference to look forward to this Saturday, and the Transitus on Monday.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, September 25, 2011

They asked for a song

I was asked to play some music for the 40 Days for Life kickoff this coming Tuesday. I agreed (ulp) then surveyed the scene when it comes to pro-life songs.

There are some nice pieces out there, but I didn't find a lot that were suited to my voice or my style.

So ...

I decided to start off with "Open the Eyes of My Heart" - explaining that so many people on both sides of the issue need to have their hearts and minds opened to God's loving touch.

For my closing song, I hearkened back to the civil rights movement. Since the pro-life movement IS a civil rights movement, I adapted "We shall overcome" with lines like "We'll pray side by side" and We shall stand for life."

In between, I wrote an original song.

I've been calling it "Just a Choice," though that may not stick.

Here are the words:

3 a.m.
Another night
She’s haunted by
A baby’s cry

In the night
No way to hide
From the emptiness
She feels inside

And all those things
she’d believed
she senses now
she’d been deceived

With a choice
she’s now a mother
who will never
hold her child.

He turns the page
He turns away
The words get lost
In what he can’t say

He’d shown support
He’d gone along
Despite a feeling
That it was wrong

He resents the loss
And that on that day
Society said he
really had no say

Without a choice
He’s now a father
Who will never
Hold his child

Interlude –

We were too young
We were afraid
We were too poor
The time was wrong
It was just a choice
It wasn’t human
It was just cells
It wasn’t alive
It couldn’t feel

It was just a choice
It was just a choice
It was just a choice

Safe within
His mother’s womb
But when she chose
It spelled his doom

He tried to flee
When death came near
He tried to scream
No one could hear

Now he rests
In God’s love
He’s forgiven but
Laments from above

Because of choice
They’re now parents
Who will never
Hold their child

Interlude ….

He wasn’t a choice
He was a child
Who now will never
Be held.

(Now if only the cold I have holds off enough for me to have any voice left!)

Pax et bonum

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Franciscan Mirror

A couple of days ago I received the fall issue of the Franciscan Mirror, the newsletter of the Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Region (Upstate New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania) of the Secular Franciscan Order.

It's mailed to all SFOs in the region. It's the first issue I've received since professing July 9. In fact, news of the Rochester profession is in the issue, along with a picture of me and the six other people in our area who professed this summer.

It may sound silly, but it made me smile when I found it in the mail. It's another sign that I'm officially an SFO!

I was unable to make it to our fraternity meeting Friday - a bad cold I did not want to share with others - so the newsletter helped me to connect. And when I went to get a haircut today I was able to share about being a Franciscan with the barber. We were talking about deacons, and he said I seemed like someone who could be a deacon and asked if I'd considered it. I said that I'm actually quite happy to be a Franciscan. He asked what I meant and I told him a bit of history about the Secular Franciscan Order and what we do.

It felt good to witness. Thank you, Lord, for giving me that opportunity.

Pax et bonum

Monday, September 19, 2011

It Really Was a Franciscan Mass

I didn't go to the St. Padre Pio Chapel Mass on Sunday to mark the Feast of the holy Franciscan. But my wife did.

It sounds like it was quite a spiritual adventure!

During the Mass, the deacon prepared some incense. He came out of the sacristy, clouds of scented smoke drifting up.

That's when the smoke detectors went off. The Chapel is also equipped with a sound system that bellows "Fire" when something is detected.


It took a while before anyone could figure out how to turn it off. Meanwhile, one poor woman, cowering behind the life-sized statue of St. Francis, started it wobbling, raising fears that it might fall.

Alarms off, the Mass continued. It's at that point that the gathered faithful heard the sounds of approaching sirens. Moments later, fully-equipped fire fighters hustled into the Chapel and up to the altar. A priest, a deacon, a choir, a large number of worshipers, and firefighters all mixed together.

I can't help but think Saints Pio and Francis were having a good laugh.

Pax et bonum

Slice and Burn

Yes, it sounds gross. But that's what the dermatologist did.

First, she cut off the offending growth on my face, keeping it for the biopsy. Then she cauterized the spot.

Hate that smell.

So tonight I have a little pain - not bad, really - and a bandage on my face. The site will have to be kept under bandage, with a dab of petroleum jelly, for four days or so as it heals. The biopsy results are due in about two weeks.

But the dermatologist said that the growth did not look like a typical cancer-type growth - though, of course, she couldn't say for sure. Still, that's encouraging.

If it's not cancer, I'm done. If it is cancerous, I have to go back for further excavating.

It is amazing the skill doctors have. I'm lucky to live in a place where I can get something disfiguring removed so easily. (I know, as a Franciscan, perhaps I shouldn't be so vain!)

Pax et bonum

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A weekend of work

One of the joys of being a teacher is that when the bell rings for dismissal, your work continues!

I have four class sets of exams to grade this weekend - about 8 hours worth. And lessons to plan, worksheets to create, a sub plan for the class I miss Monday while I get my biopsy, and an essay to prep for my writing class.

In between, I have to go to Church tonight to set up for Mass tomorrow and to rehearse the music - about two hours, and tomorrow I will play at Mass, then remove all the equipment before the next Mass.

I also have to practice the songs I'm doing for the 40 Days Kick-off Rally (I'm in the process of writing an original song as part of the set!). I also have to send out some news releases about the 40 Days campaign.

Meanwhile, the biopsy is on my mind.

But ... I'm happy!

I got to go to Mass this morning. I got to join fellow pro-lifers in praying outside Planned Parenthood. I got to catch up on some e-mail while getting focused for the work ahead. I Ate a lunch full of veggies from our own garden. I have a job I like. I have some wonderful students and co-workers.

Life is good.

Today is Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis. He rejoiced in his suffering - in his sharing of Christ's suffering. My little distractions and concerns pale in comparison. I offer them up.

And I focus on the joys of this day.

Amen the Amen!

Pax et bonum

Sunday, September 11, 2011

It may be nothing, but ...

A couple of weeks ago a bump on my face started to grow. It's now about four/five times the size it was, and noticeable. Just the thing for the beginning of the school year.

I called my doctor and got an appointment for last Friday.

The physician assistant examined the lesion, and checked my lymph nodes. She referred me to a dermatologist for a biopsy. I got the impression she thought I should schedule it soon.

The dermatologist's office was closed by the time I could call, so I'll have to call on Monday to set up an appointment.

It may be nothing. But I would be lying if I didn't admit I am uneasy.

I could use a few prayers!

Pax et bonum

Monday, September 5, 2011

Back in the classroom again

Tomorrow we have a faculty retreat and preparation time. On Wednesday the students arrive.

I'm back in the classroom again.

Of course, this marks the 11th year in a row now that I've been "back" in the classroom and my 17th first day overall (interrupted by a dozen years as a print journalist).

I am excited, nervous, ready, but not ready.

The last couple of days I've been planning what I would do in each class for the first couple of days, creating some worksheets and puzzles. I also went in to the school to decorate my homeroom. I still have to find a nice image of St. Francis to put up. Or maybe a San Damiano Cross.

In the last couple of days I've also seen in some conservative Catholic websites and blogs reports of a new study that's critical of Catholic schools.

The two-year study from an organization called Cardus - I plead ignorance of who or what that organization is - apparently does not paint a pretty picture of Catholic schools.

According to the study, students who attend Catholic schools, when compared with Catholics who attend public schools, are less likely to believe in moral absolutes, to respect the authority of the Catholic Church, to believe in the infallibility of Scripture, or to condemn premarital sex.

Of course, it's led to my more traditional brothers and sisters lamenting the state of Catholic education, the presence of non-Catholic teachers and students in the schools, and so on and so on.

I'm not trying to challenge or argue with them and their conclusions here. I have no data to counter or respond to their theories and conclusions.

On a positive note, I can say that my school is starting the year with that staff retreat, starts every day with a prayer over the P.A., suggests all teachers start each class with a prayer, has weekly prayer services and Communion services, is developing a program to require all students to be involved is social ministry projects, and much more. My department head and I were talking the other day about trying to get more Bible into the classroom.

As for the non-Catholic students, as one school official said, their parents knew what school they were sending their children to and the Catholic environment there. It's part of the package.

I know that my faith and my Franciscanism will not be hidden. I won't club my students over the head, certainly. I will be sensitive to the beliefs of students of other faiths, and I won't arbitrarily bring faith into class discussions. But I will no longer feel the need to hide my own beliefs - as I had to do at my previous school.

I'm looking forward to that.

Pax et bonum