Yes, yes, I know I haven’t written for a long, long time. Mea maxima culpa.
Today I’ve been particularly introspective. One of my secret hopes in life was to have a close friend, with the sort of relationship where that person would name their child after me. It has always just seemed the height of close relationships. It hasn’t occurred quite that way…
When I was in my first assignment as a newly ordained priest, there was a family in the parish who were short term foster parents for newborns who were to be sent into adoption. They seemingly always had a baby with them, but you never knew for how long. One day they introduced me to a little baby boy, whom they had named Rodney. My eyes teared up. I couldn’t speak. I was overwhelmed at the gesture and at the same time completely at a loss. Here was a child that would bear my name, and yet I would have no part in his life because he would be sent away in just a few days to a new forever family. Even writing this I get choked up.
Today that child is approximately 11 years old. Rodney, wherever you are, today I have prayed for you.
I’ve often railed in private conversation against “Christian music.” Much of it, I’ve found to be just more of the blase Pop music you can find on the radio. I’ve always had difficulties with the mountain-top joyful music that is most often found on stations such a KLOVE or AIR1. Their byline for their channels focus on “Positive” music. That is well and good, but just doesn’t speak to me. I’ve argued that most Christian music could exchange the name of Jesus with “my boyfriend” and it would be more appropriate.
Then I met Rick Elias. You may not have heard of him, but he was a founding member of the Ragamuffin Band and his most known song is “My Deliverer” from the soundtrack of the Prince of Egypt which was written by his good friend Rich Mullins.
I met Rick at a parish performance in Midland and he sang a song that brought tears to my eyes and made a new fan all in one song.
The Prayers of the Saints
Here was a song of faith and dependence on God’s grace and the intercession of saints in both heaven and earth. Give him a listen and check out his kickstarter.
Since then I have made an effort to find not “Christian” music, but authentic Catholic music that speaks to me. So far I have found and enjoyed the music of Matt Maher, Ike Ndolo, Audrey Assad, Jackie Francois, Danielle Rose, and of course Rick Elias. I’m interested in finding more, but I am finding that encountering great Catholic music is much like the pearl of great price… it must be sought out and dug for. But rather than concealing it, I am sharing it’s discovery with all of you.
So, what Catholic music do you listen to?
So I visited a parish recently. As I entered the quiet of the church, I went as I often do to bless myself at the Holy Water font. I yanked my hand back in horror… in the font was a small cactus! Upon further examination I determined that it was in fact a fake cactus with fake thorns, but nonetheless I got a little hot under the collar. As I looked around I saw that the baptismal font was covered with a funeral pall! This foolishness of taking away Holy Water during the season of Lent is bad enough, but to replace it with something that at first glance seems harmful???
Why would you remove a sacramental from the Church? Why replace it with a CACTUS???
First and foremost it must be known that the Congregation for Divine Worship in a private reply (the text of which you can read here) has stated that the practice is NOT allowed.
While it is true that Lent is a time of fasting and repentence, it is not a time to “fast” from our baptism which we are calling to mind when we bless ourselves with Holy Water. Likewise we are not “fasting” from God’s blessings! Moreover I think of Luke 11:11-12 “What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?”
Who puts a (fake) cactus in your hand when you seek a blessing?
Head over to my good friend Pedalion’s blog here for a great post on the secrecy that is necessary as a cleric.
As has been noted by so many, His Holiness Benedict XVI renounced the Petrine Office effective February 28th. As a canonist this fills me with all sorts of curiosity. Every step that the Pope makes in the next two weeks are important because they will set a historical precedent for years and years to come. Canon law allows for the possibility of papal resignation but is completely silent about what happens after. Questions that will have to be answered:
How does one address the former Holy Father?
What role (if any) will Benedict play in the Conclave? In the affairs of the Church?
Will Benedict sequester himself away from the spotlight?
And on and on and on.
Let’s start praying now for our Church and for whomever God will be calling to serve in the Papacy!
Early this year, I determined that I needed to become less of a man… that is I desperately need to lose weight. So, I have taken up a new habit: swimming. I figured that swimming would be something a bit easier on Brother Body and it avoids me feeling sweaty, which I really abhor. To that end I signed up at the local YMCA and have been going semi-frequently for the past several weeks. In addition to this, I have been counting calories using the iPhone app MyFitnessPal.
I’m certainly not a fitness junkie. I wouldn’t have gotten to this weight if I were. Yet I find a certain joy at the thought of going and swimming laps. My joy comes not in the swimming of the laps, in the soreness of my body, or even in the chance to spent a few minutes in the hot tub to ease my aching muscles. My joy comes in the fact that for about an hour I am in a near complete solitude. There is rarely many other swimmers when I go. There is no blaring stereo. There is no ringing office phone. There is no one there critiquing my style, my weight, my work, or anything else.
It’s interesting that I don’t really think about much of anything while I’m in the pool. I’m too busy trying to remember what lap I’m on, trying to remember to take a breath on the right stroke, and telling myself “Just one more lap then we can quit.” My world condenses down to a strip of water 7 foot wide and 25 yards long. I often lose track of time, though thankfully the lifeguard is pretty good at reminding that I have to clear the pool at the end of my hour so that the little kids can have their swimming lessons.
I’ve seen advertisements for iPods that are waterproof. While there is a temptation to get a new gadget, ultimately I don’t think I want it. I don’t need something else cluttering up my time there. Though I may have to get a lap counter. LOL
I know people are concerned about my weight and ask if I’ve lost weight since I’ve started swimming and the answer is, yes, I have lost weight. I keep track of that now. And while the numbers on the infernal contraption (scale) have changed, I haven’t seen a difference in Brother Body just yet. Perhaps it’s “water weight.” Regardless, I am doing what needs be done. Without fancy pills, powders, shakes, or videos. I put these pounds on over a period of time, and it will take a long time for them to come off.
Today I broke another rosary. Now I didn’t pull an Incredible Hulk and tear it apart, no I took it out of its pouch and found the chain between the 5th Pater Noster and the 5th decade of Ave Marias was simply missing. It’s not the first nor sadly will it be the last.
So now I am in search of a new Rosary. Something manly. Something that’s not rose petals, crystal, or pretty… I want a weapon!!! Something that looks fierce and has an actual heft to it… Something that answers St. Padre Pio’s call, “Bring me my weapon!” I’m thinking stainless steel, titanium or brass beads that are large enough that I can actually worry them between these sausages that God gave me as fingers. Something with a real chain running through it and not made of segments of chain and bailing wire(the usual weak link). Something with a Crucifix that I can clutch in my grasp and not have to hold daintily between my fingers
Now don’t fret humble readers, I am not without means of praying! I have a box, yes a box, full of rosaries that have been gifted to me over the years.
So if you happen to see such a thing, let me know!
As a boy I spent many a weekend with my grandparents. I credit this fact to the survival of both myself and my brother beyond our formative years. Having two overly rambunctious boys surely put my mother to the test, and my grandparents God rest their souls were always happy to have us stay overnight (or so they said while in earshot!). When I was very young I remember my grandfather as going to sleep quite early and being off to work early on Saturday mornings. Thus we had to be a bit less rambunctious to let Grandpa sleep. After his retirement, Grandpa would stay up late. Now this was a treat! Grandma would wearily head off to bed and Grandpa would let us stay up and watch TV, play, or whatever until we were sleepy (which most nights was sometime after 11:30 when “Highlander: the Series” ended). I would be fighting sleep and Grandpa would ask if were time to hit the sack, which inevitably we would do. I remember Grandpa staying up much later than I ever did and waking much later than I ever did. It was something Grandma called “insomnia.”
I think of all this as I sit before my computer at 4:00am, the time where my brother canonist over at A Secular Priest has been known to awake each day (yes even on Saturdays)!
Now, I have no real reason to stay up. I’m not being productive, just not sleepy… or perhaps not exhausted. There is much research on the benefits of the old axiom “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, and wealthy, and wise. Either way, it seems I’m keeping up and old family tradition.
So, the next time you awake in the middle of the night for no good reason, won’t you consider offering a little prayer for those keeping the vampire hours?
Today a received a card from one of the young women I have had the pleasure to work with in youth ministry asking me to celebrate her quinceanera. I was so happy to see the formality with which she requested my participation in her special day.
My first thought was to hop onto Facebook and let her know I had received her card… and then I paused for a moment. Here’s a 14 year old girl with the presence of mind to write in her own hand a card that would take some 10 days to reach me, and here I was about to dedicate an entire 10 seconds to reply via the Facebook.
As a child, and truly even as an adult, I walk pass the mailbox with a sense of excitement. Will there be something there for me today? As a child, I was enamored of the idea of a pen pal. Someone far away with whom I could hold an extended conversation about various and sundry topics. But alas my every attempt to keep a penpal fizzled with a letter or two.
I think our culture has suffered greatly from the instant communication the electronic age permits. I can open a computer and have a face to face chat with people across the globe for free!
So I pulled out a piece of lined school paper and took the time to actually respond to the young lady’s missive. As I wrote, I found that I took much more time in word choice and sentence construction. I wrote far more than I had planned. I wrote about my expectations of her, of my excitement and honor at being included and I wrote a bit about vocations. I will drop it in the mail today or tomorrow and it will begin a long road back to San Angelo. Hopefully the young lady will have the same sense of wonder and joy at receiving a letter as I did this morning!
Perhaps it’s time to look into getting a penpal…
Sorry for the overly lengthy absence. I’ve spent the summer working in the Diocesan Tribunal and struggling through some epic changes in my life. A good priest and friend died on Father’s Day and I have spent most of the summer dealing with everything that came with Fr. Barry’s passing on to his reward.
First and foremost, I am now the Director of Vocations for the Diocese of San Angelo. This is a bit of a shift for me, as I thought that I would be returning to parish ministry and working in the tribunal on occasion. As it stands now, I will be full-time in the Chancery Office splitting my time between Vocations and Tribunal ministries. I am still processing on the thought of not being in a parish, even if only as a parochial vicar. There is the old yarn about making God laugh by telling Him your plans. I hold with the view of Padre Pio that the will of my superiors is God’s will for me. Perhaps this sounds simplistic, but hey, I’m a simple man… I think. LOL
To that end my geeky-canonical blog will now be picking up twinges of geeky-canonical-vocational goodness!