May 30, 2011

Endless Summer!

Gentle Reader: Today, in the U.S., is Memorial Day-the traditional start of summer. Also, it is a day to remember those who gave their lives for our country. It is also a time to remember other loved ones and decorate their graves. I was at Fort Snelling National Cemetary today decorating the graves of my mother and brother.

I know I've been scarce lately but I've been extremely busy. Honestly, I don't know how some bloggers do it-Red Bull? Speed? Cloning?

That said, I'm taking a hiatus from the blog for the summer. I've had no inspiration to write anything for a while. Also, I'm trying to landscape my back yard and, as the weather in St. Paul has stunk so far this Spring, I've only been able to get about 3 hours of work in on the landscaping project and I need to get it done before the snow flies (which around here could be next week).

Have a great summer!

May 24, 2011

Denied The Rapture

I want to set the record straight. I could've been Raptured a few days ago. I saw THE light! But, I was ashamed of what I was wearing. Good grief, you want me to go before the Lord wearing this off-the-rack rag?! Wait, let me get my semi-formal from Saks on! Then, I heard a voice saying I would be Raptured naked and that made me panic even more. Dude, at least let me get in some gym time!

It is true that you will not know the hour...buy that outfit! Hire that personal trainer!

But, seriously, in all the lame jokes (including mine) what if you did die today? Forget about what you are wearing. What does your soul look like? Got mortal sin? Get thee to a Confessional. Don't wait. Don't EVER wait.

May 23, 2011

The Good(?) Old Days

For Mitchell

Many Catholics among us look back with longing to a day when all Catholics knew and practiced their faith, all the Masses were solid and reverent, and all the priests were good looking and above average!

It was not St. Woebegone; but it sure seems like it. I was born in the Dark Days after the Empire, uh, in the post-Vatican II era. I don’t remember a day when every Mass was mostly in Latin and Introits were chanted (heck, what was an Introit if not an Opening Hymn?) and women more mantillas to Mass and priests scared the hell out of you with the Homily.

I’ve spoken to my Dad and other older relatives about what they recall abou the Mass back in what was supposedly the good old days (pre-Vatican II in this present age seems to be the dividing line between pre-historic and the modern era) and as most of them are from small towns, they report they never had chant scholas, yes, only boys were altar servers, Mass was said ad orientem and women had mantillas but they rarely knew what was going on or why, they couldn’t understand Latin so they read along in a Missalette (if they could afford one-my Dad’s family never could). They may have memorized the Baltimore Catechism but they didn’t get as much education on the whys and wherefores of the Liturgy. If you were an altar server, you may learn slightly more about the Mass than other kids.

I don’t think that a reclamation of the 1962 Mass (EF Mass) means the Church will gradually shift back to a rose-colored age. I don’t think such an age ever existed as more than a never-lived dream. I do think that we know more about Liturgy in this day and age than we ever did back in the “golden” age. We have the opportunity to apply what we have learned AND deepening our interior spiritual life thru the partcipation in Holy Mass. Is THIS not the golden age?

May 15, 2011

A New Week; A New Start

One of the glories of being alive is you can always start over; you can always start fresh. Last week was tough; my Dad was hospitalized (he’s out now) and I was in a car accident last Sunday on my way to Mass (I made it to Mass and no one was hurt but my car door had to be replaced)

If you screw up, you can start again. If you fail in your efforts to quit smoking or drinking, you can always start again by forgiving yourself and moving on. Sin is the same way, you can sin and though Confession, repent, receive absolution and start anew with the resolve to amend you life the second you walk out of the Confessional.

Catholicism lends itself to starting over. It isn’t a Faith that is intuitive for wallowing. You can wallow and many do, but if you seek a fresh start, the Catholic Church excels at offering it!

May 12, 2011

Pale Rider

..Or, it's Hell raising parents these days!

Gentle Reader: Some day you will ache like I ache There is nothing like illness and hospitalization to reveal the family and friend fault lines. I had a big argument with my Dad during his recent, and ongoing, spell of illness and hospitalization about calling a priest to bring him Communion and Anoint him. My Dad, and I know he's not alone in this, believes if you see a priest standing over you then you are near death. The people that believe this, also believe that if you remove the priest from your view, you will make a miraculous recovery! I know.

There is a fine line between doing what you think is best for someone and letting them do what they want. I could sit here and fight with my Dad all day about his continued smoking, or I could just hide the pack, or I can say nothing and give him a pained puppy look and let his conscience wear on him.

I think I have pretty close to the same options encouraging receipt of the Sacraments with him.

My Dad was well catechized in his youth. He's been a Catholic all his life. He married a Catholic. He tried to raise his children in the Faith. But, he has been seriously afflicted by the "whatever" and "anything is valid if done with heart" culture of our times.

We had another big argument that I'm counting as a mild victory for myself (I'd say "our side" but I'm selfish when I count coup) where he said it was enough that a pastor friend of his from a non-denominational church a few dozen miles away came to the hospital and prayed over him. I said it was nice that his friend did that but that is not the same as a priest administering the Sacraments. I kid you not when he said "What's the difference?" I'd like to say I responded calmly. I responded with a tirade, mercifully free of profanity, along the lines "If you are going to act like a Protestant, why bother even pretending to be Catholic?" I'm not sure that the "strength" of my argument had impact or if it was my anger, in any case he fell silent.

I have no definitive answers on how to handle this "situation". I'm sure many of you have been in a similar situation with aging or ill family members. How do you explain with charity and calm, in a situation that is often challenged to find either, that being close to the Sacraments all the time is important, but even more so when there is serious need?

May 10, 2011

Carrying the Load

My boss called today. She left an urgent message on my cell phone. Some of you probably know that I had to take this week off due to family emergency. The time off was unexpected, but, gosh, it happens.

I've been cranky lately because I'm starting to think I'm the jackass carrying the load and the load is my boss. I've figured out lately that she doesn't know much of anything about our job, our business or jack. In fact, in the last couple of weeks, I challenged myself to come up with one work product that she'd actually produced and couldn't think of anything that I had not done for her or that she had not farmed out to someoene else.

She told me today this situation (meaning me at Dad's house keeping an eye on him after his hospitalization) is one that I can (should?) be able to work thru. I was not happy to hear this. I have limited access to the systems at work when I work remotely like this and in any case her statement goes to my ongoing suspicion (that I've tried to pin her down on before but she denied) that any time off I try to take that is more than a couple of days is not going to work. I'm either going to have the time off denied or I'll be expected to "work" during my vacation by checking in and solving the crises that my boss can't-which in essence is most of them.

Many at work have told me I should have her job.I wish I did because then I'd be paid more. I should be getting at least twice what I made now since I'm doing all the work and I'm making the majority of our product decisions because she can't.

I don't know...what brand of beer did that Jet Blue stew grab again?

Even though it's the Easter Season, I've been praying the 4th Sorrowful Mystery a lot lately. I should just open a restaurant in a one donkey town with my aunt. She's been asking me to do that with her for years.

Today, at my Dad's house a finch crashed into his glass living room window. The poor little guy was stunned but survived it. I feel like that was my life in a nutshell. Flying along, everything looks great and wide open and then boom! and you are lying stunned on the ground trying to pick yourself back up.

May 08, 2011

I Should Have Bought a Chevy

Gentle Reader: Hey, what's your good news? I don't have much so if you read this blog for light and happy escapist fare, don't read this post!!!!

I warned you.

Some of you know part of what has been happening if you follow my Twitter, Plurk or Facebook feeds. Also, Ray and Laura spread the word to their not insubstantial prayer lists. I am truly grateful for all the prayers. I could feel them and they sustained me.

It was not a good week. Even before the weekend, when it totally fell apart for me, the work week was extremely stressful. I was a raging b-yatch most of the week and had a brutally honest conversation with my boss. I'm not sure, in retrospect, it was brutal honesty or an issuance of an ultimatum along the lines of that old country song by Johnny Paycheck.

In any case, I was REALLY looking forward to the weekend as the work week came to a miserable halt.

I was engaged in a critically important act Friday evening (ordering at the McDonald's drive thru window) when my cell phone rang. I glanced at it and noted it was a prefix from the area my Dad resides in about 5 hours north of the Twin Cities and I wondered if I should answer. It was not a number programmed in my phone as the name of the person would've popped up. But, I rarely let anything keep me from food so I ordered and ignored it. After I got thru the line my Angel compelled me to listen to the message. It was from a ER attending at the IHS hospital in my Dad's town stating he was treating my Dad and stabilizing him to be moved to a hospital about 18 miles away.

My Dad has had very severe and serious cardiac issues for most of his life. Honestly, it's a miracle he's even still alive. If it were not for modern advances in cardiology he would've died decades ago. It made sense to me that he could not be treated at the IHS hospital, they don't have the capability to treat him.

So, racing up north over 6 hours later-got to the hospital at 10. I was actually pretty sanguine. It's not the first time my Dad has been rushed to an ER. But, when I saw him he looked so bad. His color was grey, he was on oxygen, he could barely catch enough breathe to speak, he looked completely wiped out. It occurred to me this could be the visit I've always dreaded-the time he doesn't leave the hospital after a few hours of observation. I pondered calling his priest; but something stopped me-maybe stupidity. I don't know. Or, I was so dang tired I couldn't think straight. I'd been up for about 17 hours at that point.

So, began 2 1/2 days of running back and forth from Dad's house to the hospital. Calling people. Interceeding on Dad's behalf so he gets decent care (read: kicking nurses in the ass who ignore his IV stopping for 10 minutes). Keeping busy when I'm not at the hospital by cleaning Dad's house. Those of you who've been thru this kind of thing know why-I don't want to sit down long enough to let the panic and terror that my last family member is going to die and I'm going to be all alone overwhelm me.

His neighbors and the town have been REALLY kind and good to me. They are the people that got him to the hospital and sat with him until I could get there and told the doctor about the symptoms they'd been seeing. God bless them.

Dad got out of the hospital today. Actually, he insisted on leaving and they can't force you to stay so I got the call to go get him and I did. He's on medication for his upper respiratory infection and he now, officially, has COPD (on top of his already existing CHF) so now he has 3 different inhalers for different situations that he gets to take. Did I also mention my Dad has a defibrillator implanted in his heart? He's had that for years as well. Also, he's a heavy smoker and never has been able to quit. As soon as I left to go get his meds he had a cigarette. Like most smokers, they think you can't tell if they light up on the bathroom with the window open. People tell me to take his cigarettes away. I say: what the hell is the point of that? I know addiction. He'll just go get some on his own. He needs to want to quit for himself. He knows he should.

I had already planned to stay until I knew he'd be ok on his own before heading back home. Swissmiss is looking in on Kaylen and Sodak while I'm gone. However, I'll be here longer than I thought as I was involved in an extremely bizarre accident on my way to Mass this morning. I don't know what to make of it-Satan trying to stop me from getting to the Church or what (but I went to Mass anyway so to hell with him). In any event my driver's side door is bent off the frame and will not close. My window was down and is now stuck, if not broke, in the bent up door and will not go up. I don't know if I can get it fixed up here as I'm probably going to need a new door and I drive an import. Today, it's a tad easier to find shops in rural areas that can repair a foreign car but that's the ENGINE, not the body. I doubt the guy who does body work out of his home shop a few miles outside of town is going to have a door for my car lying outside in the shed. So, he'll have to order it and I'll have to wait. Either that or I have to drive 5 hours home holding the door shut with one hand and praying it doesn't rain and I don't get pulled over! Heck, if Ray can do it why can't I? ROFL

In any event, it occurs to me that even though the week sucked and I felt like someone didn't get the memo that Lent ended a couple weeks ago, I'm alive, I have my health, my Dad is still here and I'm extremely blessed to know so many fine people. Amen.

Oh, and boss is cool about me having to take emergency time off this week!

Did I mention yesterday was my birthday? It was not a happy one.

Gotta go see a man about a horse...

May 05, 2011

To Offend



I woke up this morning and this photo was in my email. Just the photo. No message. It was from someone whose email address I don't recognize. Somehow it got thru my spam filter.

What is the point of this photo? Several possibilities came to mind

A) Someone is proud of being a fan of "The Birdcage"
B) Breakfast at Ray's!
C) Creative brainstorming session for LarryD's 2011 Christmas card
D) Reminder that Pentecost is only a few weeks away

A while ago, I posted a photo of a man without a shirt and a commenter got on my case saying it was inappropriate for a, supposedly, Catholic blog to post such a thing. Honestly, most men without shirts offend me because most of them SHOULD be wearing a shirt, you dig? For God's sake PLEASE wear a shirt. I'm afraid to walk around Lake Harriet anymore. My sensibilities are not offended by nudity but, rather, if you are going to be nude you better look like David.

This public service announcement has been funded by the Cover That Sh-t Up Foundation

May 02, 2011

Gone With the Wind

Let the post Easter Octave, post Divine Mercy Octave, post John Paul II beatification, post Rome blognic, crash begin. Now what? Where shall I go? What shall I do? What is there that matters?



Note: No cigarettes were harmed in the composition of this post.

May 01, 2011

Incredulous



Today, is one of my favorite days in the entire liturgical calender. This is a day that is truly Catholic (big C). In no other church is an entire day and Octave just preceeding it devoted to a reminder of the Divine Mercy of Our Lord. Give thanks to God it is so. I know I do. I am as incredulous as Thomas upon seeing the wounds of the Risen Lord at the realization that the opportunity to obtain the Lord's Mercy is as limitless and bottomless as my seeming capacity to keep screwing up.

Be incredulous and amazed that Our Lord is Risen as He said!

Be also, as the Lord told St. Faustina, not afraid. The Lord will guide you. He will give you the tools you need if you only listen to His Sacred Heart. Not coincidentally, "Be Not Afraid" was a theme of Blessed John Paul II pontificate. Today, in Rome, Pope John Paul II was beatified.

As someone whose maternal grandparents immigrated from Poland it was not a small thing when a Polish Cardinal was elevated to the See of Peter in 1978. I was 10 years old but I remember it well. I remember it because my maternal Grandfather could hardly believe it. Like Thomas he needed to see it to believe it. Unfortunately, 1978 may seem like the stone age to those of us today who are used to internet feeds and satellite TV and EWTN. He had to watch one minute snippets of the news on the evening network TV and see the stories in the daily paper. He still could hardly believe it. Then, one day he heard the Holy Father speaking Polish on the radio and he heard his heavily Pole-accented English and, then, he believed.

It was still not enough to bring him back to Mass or the Sacraments on a regular basis. The changes to the Mass in the years following the Second Vatican Council were too much for him. He couldn't stand the folk guitars, the lousy vestments, the English (he was a Latinist at heart; until the day he died he could recite the Mass in Latin), the women running around in the Sanctuary. He went back to Church for his own funeral.

He did not live to see the changes implemented by the Polish Pope or his sucessor the current Holy Father. He, also, did not live to see his granddaughter rediscover the Faith. I'm sure he had pretty much written me off. On his deathbed, his last words to me were (I'm not kidding): If you have any mistakes, don't name them after me.

The day Blessed John Paul II died was the day I went back to Confession for the first time in 15 years. It was a turning point in a journey back that was making its first tentative steps for about a year. Blessed John Paul II's passing impacted me in ways I can't even explain.

If you think Blessed John Paul II didn't matter, look around. I know in this Archdiocese we owe the existance of more than a couple of our fine priests to the inspiration they received by his pontificate. If the Church survives at all, and it may be reaching for me to say it, it is due in no small way to two Polish people: St. Faustina and Blessed Pope John Paul II, letting the Divine Mercy of Jesus work thru them for the conversion of peoples.

I know I owe my existance and current state in life to a couple Poles as well! :-)

Boże, coś Polskę
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