Friday, October 16, 2020

Restraint of Tongue, Pen and Keyboard

 Practicing humility is just damn difficult for me.  

No, not because I think I am all that and a bag of chips.  

It is difficult to practice humility because my biggest character defect is Pride.

For instance, I have been struggling the past three days with a blog topic.  I struggle with it because I am pretty convinced I am right and I am measuring that against the fact that my topic could seriously burn some people I have watched recently and I just do not want to do that anymore.

I don't want to do it for reasons many people won't get.

My reasons are not wrapped up in the Popularity Race.  Unlike so many who loudly declare on their social media pages that they do NOT CARE what anyone thinks of them, I do care.  I want to have a good and solid reputation, to be considered a woman of grace and dignity and I want to be someone you think to call if you are struggling in some way.  That is my goal.  I want to be kind.  I want to be of service.  That is my pride speaking.  I want you to think well of me.  However, I also want my actions to earn that reputation.  

I  know that it is impossible to be a Catholic today and have everyone like me.  I get it and I understand that for some of you my wish to practice my Faith as well as I can bugs you.  I am willing to let you go but I still want you to understand that if you need someone to listen to you, someone to prove to you that you are not alone and forgotten you have me.  You are not alone.  You are not forgotten.  Unfortunately the person who has not forgotten you and is willing to sit and watch a movie with you happens to be a Lay Dominican who attends Mass every Sunday.  Sorry about that - hope you can accept that and just revel in the knowledge that someone on this planet thinks you are worth 'it'.

So I struggled with a topic because I don't want to burn people.  

I am keenly aware that most of them are uneducated when they scream they are PRE VATICAN II Catholics.  They have no idea what that means, they have never read the documents of Vatican II and they have no idea how sad their present lives would be if they had come of age as a Catholic in 1935.  It is okay.  Again, I get it.  They have discovered the traditional Latin Mass, they found the 1962 missal and they have listened to a podcast of some yahoo with a PhD who tells them Pope Francis is a heretic and they think they found the trouble and by golly they are going to scream their solution in your face.

I am older.  I came of age at a time when I had a foot in both worlds.  I saw changes that later I found out did not have to happen and I finally got the courage to learn about the Faith.  I read the actual documents produced by Vatican II.  It lead me to a deeper understanding of the role of the Holy Father and the Magisterium.  I am deeply grateful for the Church Jesus founded.

I learned to disagree with The Pope when appropriate and to do it without being disagreeable.  I learned to do that because I belong to an order over 800 years old, that has seen life through the eyes of Faith and has not waivered in its love for the Bishop of Rome, even when he didn't appear to care if he was loved or not.

I am so saddened as I watch good people stumble over themselves to screech their beliefs.  I realize how they are just responding to the ugly they perceive but man, oh man....being double ugly back is just not the answer.

Father Dominic, our Patriarch, firmly believed in knowing his audience.  In order to be an effective preacher, he got to know the people he was trying to reach.  He was better at that than I because some of these people I got to know scared the living hell out of me and I want nothing to do with them.  I don't want them near me or my family and especially my dog.  They are severely disturbed.  They are dangerous.  

However, I also know that those people are far fewer than what would appear if one reads the online postings of the far left.  They see the crazies under every rock.  I know too many good people who reject their nutty beliefs while still holding to solid conservative values.  It is sad they get painted with the same brush as people who would plot to kidnap a governor.  And few people will note that it was members INSIDE those militias that tipped off the FBI about the ones who are dangerous.

Being a Catholic should means being able to look at what is going on without going off the deep end into either pool.  It should mean being able to evaluate an argument or a statement without telling the person making the statement that they are going to hell.  It should mean not engaging (as much as possible) in hyperbole (he's the MOST PRO LIFE PRESIDENT IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE)  and it means trying to be brutally honest in one's evaluation of an issue.

It should also mean being able to state Church Doctrine in a calm and honest voice.  If I do not incite total acceptance I should try and foster mutual respect.  You may not like our stand on abortion or economics or how we view The Eucharist, but after hearing me share what that is I hope you think, "They need to be allowed to practice that Faith without government interference."

And yes, those teachings are going to affect my vote.  I have a right to have my conscience shaped by the Church founded by Jesus.  If you don't, we should duke it out at the ballot box.  But you should never tell me my relying upon those Teachings is somehow UnAmerican.  First of all you would be wrong.  Second of all?  well...after #1 there is nothing else to say....

I did not write about the topic I had chosen because I did not want to hurt anyone.  I write about this topic because I hope to explain a little more about me to you.  

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Grief and Birthdays

 My mother, who passed away on May 29th, would have celebrated her 99th birthday on October 9th of this month.  

Mom, the morning of her 98th Birthday in 2019.

For my brother John and I this has been a huge adjustment.  Mom's birthday always signified the beginning of the holiday season.  Starting with her party - no matter how big or small - we would start our inevitable march towards New Year's Eve and it meant stress and laughter and too much food and too much booze (for them - me?  I am the sober one, remember?) and spending way too much money and otherwise having a typical Italian American Holiday season.  But this year it is different and trying to find our new normal has been tough.

I have been hit pretty hard with all of this and to pretend that being a Faithful Catholic and a strong lay member of the Dominican Order means you don't sometimes feel overwhelmed would be a lie.  I have felt horribly disconnected from the world.  I have had to force myself to participate in everyday life with a smile and a nod.  I have had to be very conscious of the fact that other people have feelings too and do not need me to vomit my emotions all over them.  Everything is an effort but it is an effort that someone like me can put to good use.  

And I my Mom used to say, "Someone better be getting out of Purgatory over this or I will be pretty mad".

The good news is that my brother and his fiancé are now husband and wife.  Their wedding day was October 3 and we - the family - now have a really wonderful marker to begin our holiday celebrations every year.  By next year the pain of losing our Mom will have lessened, not disappeared, and we will be able to shout with joy about October 3rd.  I look forward to that, I really do.

My days get better most of the time.  I am not as hurt by the defection of certain people in my life because I recognize that God has pruned the branches.  I am so grateful for my family and friends who have stuck around.  They share their every day struggles and triumphs with me and it pulls me back into the mainstream of life, allows me to contribute even when I feel disinclined to do so and almost forces me to do the next right thing rather than binge eat M&Ms (peanut butter ones) and watch football and zombie movies.

The love that has poured over me this year is really quite astonishing.  If I ever needed proof that God exists I received that validation from the actions and behaviors of those humans that populate the world in which I live.  They are all quite remarkable.  Even the crazy ones...or maybe ESPECIALLY the crazy ones...because their crazy has matched mine stride for stride and made it fun.  Fun heals a lot of wounds.

Happy birthday, Mama.  I love you.  I miss you.  Your Niners need an anointing of the sick.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Once More, May We PLEASE use the gift of REASON

 The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg was not unexpected.  The woman had been fighting cancer for quite some time and, I suspect, the fight was an exhausting one.  I will pray for her soul.  Though she did not define freedom for women in the same way that I define it, she was to be admired for her intelligence, her wit, her dedication to education and her tenacity.  My hope is that she made peace with God before her death.

The reaction of both her detractors and her supporters is one to be expected today.  The memes done with babies in the womb or her face covered with the word evil were matched by the statements of fear and dread and OH MY GAWD THE SKY IS FALLING.  It's the way we do things today.  No one stops and thinks, we all react.  

I am committed to trying hard to eliminate my tendency to knee-jerk react to stuff that happens in the world.  Sometimes I am able to do it, sometimes I have to apologize and back peddle and admit I could have done a better job at pausing before my mouth opened and words spewed out.  I am getting better. 

How do I know?

I have not posted or social medial or spoken to anyone about the idea of a Supreme Court Nominee being put forward by Mr. Trump - until now.

The GOP famously blocked one of Mr. Obama's nominees, using the reasoning that it was too close to the election and that the next president should do the nominating.  Now, faced with the same situation, Mr. Trump and the Republican Controlled Senate is planning on making sure RBG's replacement is nominated and accepted before the election.

Do I think it is right to do so?  

I think, rather than right or wrong, it is an example of the corrupt politics practiced on both sides of the aisle and it does not surprise me at all.  It is another example of why I am now a member of the American Solidarity Party and why I chose that party - a party firmly rooted in the principles upheld by the teachings of my Faith Tradition.

The Democrats are in a tither about one of the possible nominees - Amy Coney Barrett.  Their worry?  Why abortion, of course, and the fact that she is not just a Catholic but a Catholic Out Loud - a mother of 8 who believes that The Church teaches Truth.  She does her best to live that Truth and of course that means the beloved issue of Abortion Without Restriction becomes the point in which the left begins to wail and gnash their teeth, rend their garments and otherwise flip their wigs.

Hey, the far right is no better.  They are convinced victory is within their grasp and Roe v. Wade will be overturned and peace will be restored to the land and all unborn babies will be saved from the moment Mrs. Barrett is sworn in (if she is sworn in) to take her place on the Highest Court of the Land.  

I would bet dollars to donuts that none of the people currently screaming on social media platforms have ever done one bit of research on Mrs. Barrett.  And I will further bet that Kamala Harris will try to insert a religious litmus test into the hearings for the sole reason of stirring up the fear of the left against the Catholic Church.  She is big on that - and she should be censored for it.

I did a little bit of research on Mrs. Barrett.  She clerked for such notable jurists as Laurence Silberman and Antonin Scalia.  The biggest objection the left has to her is a letter she wrote TO THE BISHOPS that expressed her personal views on same-sex marriage.  

Mrs. Barrett has expressed her view on Roe v. Wade as well - and her view will not make the far right happy.  Why?

Her view is that it is settled law - and her problem today is with late term abortion.

In other words, Mrs. Barrett's views on abortion are this: personally she abhors it (as do I) and  late term abortions should be eliminated whenever possible - a position that is currently held by 70% of the American people.


As our medical ability to save children in the womb advances, the need and excuses for a late term - read second trimester - medical abortion disappear.  THIS is where our medical efforts should be focused.  THIS is healthcare and reproductive rights.  Eliminate the chances of a child dying in the second trimester of its life, advance science to the point where a child can be saved from disease or 'disability' and make that type of treatment available to all women regardless of the wealth or status and you have a world that is more in line with the Will of its Creator.

I once had a self-proclaimed "super Catholic" try to tell me that a miscarriage is an abortion and so, try to muddy the political waters.  She is quite proud of being fully against Church Teachings on this point and could care less that it means she receives Our Lord in the Eucharist in an unworthy manner.

As a post-abortive woman who has had to heal from the horrible choices I made as well as a woman who lost a child to a miscarriage, I find her position sickening.  She knows that - and she knows she hurts women every time she utters her foolishness - but by golly she gets to keep her progressive liberal card current so she is gonna say it.

I once had a 'Conservative Catholic' tell me that I should never be a Catechist because of the sinful life I brought with me when I returned to the Church.  Apparently, to this guy, the Sacrament of Reconciliation only works for those people who stand for the National Anthem.  I thanked him for his time and his sharing and I keep him in prayer along with my friend, the Super Catholic.

My point is this - before either side begins to gather their weapons and rattle their shields, they need to take a breath.  They need to remember that what they WANT is not always what they are going to GET and that, if they ARE a believer, they need to demonstrate their trust in a power greater than themselves once in awhile.  They need to do some research, listen to something other than CNN or FOX and ask some questions.  

They need to remember that the people we elected work for US.  We need to DEMAND that they behave in a way that reflects the dignity of their office.

Most importantly, we who are believers have got to keep these people in our prayers.  We cannot give in to panic or fear or glee or other childish behavior.  We have to behave in a way that shows we are trying to align our wills with the Will of God.

I have no idea if Mrs. Barrett will be nominated.  What I do know is that, as an American citizen, I want her nomination and anyone else's to be considered with cool reason and not hysterics.  I want the US Constitution to be honored.  I want my representatives to behave with grace and dignity.

This is what my hope is and this is what I will pray for and I hope you, as a believer, will join me.

Monday, September 14, 2020

An Open Letter from a Presidential Candidate

I received this in my email this morning (9/13/2020) and I share it with you. God bless us all!

An Open Letter from Brian Carroll:

 The earliest sermon to which I remember having a deep response occurred when I was about twelve, in one of the Methodist churches we attended as my family moved around. Our minister was discussing Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor and theologian who opposed Hitler. For that, Bonhoeffer spent a year-and-half in prison. Then, as one of der Führer’s final acts before his own suicide, Hitler ordered Bonhoeffer hung. The question—not original to our minister—was asked, “If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” 

 My spirit refuted the implication. I remember thinking, “How horrible, to live your life as something and leave no proof of it!” I inwardly committed myself to supplying evidence enough to convict me. Spiritual growth is often two steps forward and one step back, and I did not actually put my faith in Jesus Christ until I was 22, but as a 12-year-old agnostic, I knew that if God existed, he would take seriously the inner promises of even a pre-teen. 

 We are perilously close to a Bonhoeffer moment. For many Christians in my generation, we are watching our children walk away from the faith because we have not offered enough evidence to convict us in their eyes that we are Christians. For the most part, however, we have been good Republicans. While the Democrats were openly opposing Christianity, the Republicans were co-opting us, seducing us with promised goodies and terrifying us with sometimes-accurate assessments of the Democrats. From Reagan to Romney, I voted Republican, but each year with less conviction. Conviction requires evidence, and I could no longer see it. That was even before the rise of Donald Trump. 

Trump presented me with a new dilemma. Any misguided President could embarrass the nation, but only a self-described Christian could embarrass the faith. As much as I love my country, when 2016 elevated two candidates who threatened the well-being of our country, I could not support my party’s nominee whom I feared would also discredit my faith community.

 Let me be clear on two things: First, I do not believe the United States should ever be a theocracy. One problem in the American Church, going back at least to when I first saw Dominionism in the 1970s, is a heresy that expects God’s rule on Earth to be accomplished through the reins of political power. The God I believe in and worship does not need to be elected to the White House. The God of the Bible does use individual leaders to accomplish His purposes, but not all the lessons of the Hebrew scriptures transfer automatically to 21st Century America. We are not a homogeneous people like the Hebrews. We were not brought together out of an Egyptian or Babylonian captivity. While God was fashioning Israel to be a unique people, cut off from their neighbors, God has worked to make the United States just the opposite, a nation composed out of every other nation on Earth. 

 Second, I am well aware of the dangers inherent in an electoral victory by the Democratic ticket. Kamala Harris, especially, has made a career of bullying people of faith. In Senate confirmation hearings over judicial nominees, she inferred that membership in the Knights of Columbus should disqualify a nominee. In the United States, this Catholic fraternal order has included such members as 1928 Democratic Presidential Nominee Al Smith, President John F. Kennedy, his brother Ted, and their brother-in-law and 1972 Vice Presidential nominee Sargent Shriver. On the GOP side, we see Justice Samuel Alito, House Speaker John Boehner, and Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Outside of politics, the list includes Vince Lombardi, Floyd Patterson, and Babe Ruth. Yet Sen. Harris operates as if such membership makes one both un-American and disqualified for office. Our Constitution states explicitly (Article VI, Clause 3) that, “…no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” This is just one blind spot in Harris’s understanding of the Constitution. 

 Even before her Senate career, Kamala Harris conspired with leaders of Planned Parenthood to persecute undercover journalists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt for the videos that document the extensive-but-illegal sale of fetal body-parts. The American notion of protection for journalists goes back to the 1735 case of John Peter Zenger, charged with defaming the reputation of New York’s governor. The jury took only ten minutes to decide that truth was a sufficient defense against charges of libel. Daleiden’s innocence against charges of damaging the reputation of Planned Parenthood must be based on the fact that the information in his expose is true. Thus, in the kangaroo trials that Harris set in motion as Attorney General of California, juries have not been allowed to see the videos that Daleiden produced. Our freedoms last only as long as our laws protect ordinary people from persecution by those in power, making Daleiden both the Zenger and Bonhoeffer of our day. In contrast, Sen. Harris has suggested she would expand the number of Supreme Court Justices so she could pack it with those who would support free-rein for her policies and persecutions. 

 So, Christian voters are again between a rock and a hard place. Neither duopoly ticket respects the U.S. Constitution. Our democracy is threatened by candidates on either side. Yet I do not believe that God has abandoned the United States. He is testing His people. I spent a year praying about whether or not to run this year as a candidate. The door was open, and I believe God directed me to pass through it. I do not know how far the open doors will lead. I do know this, believing Christians are on trial, and a watching jury is looking for evidence. What follows is an account of the similar spiritual journey of another believer, first written in 2017. It is worth reading prayerfully.

 In Solidarity, Brian Carroll ASP Candidate for President

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Aging in The Church

I fell in love with this article.  Written by Sister Jean Flannelly, SC, M.T.S., PhD., it gives some great orderly direction to those of us beginning the next stage of our lives - the "Invisible Stage".   I especially love the suggestion that, as we begin our transition to life as an Older Catholic, we can begin to "Pray Our Life History".   The idea of praying our personal, historical timeline and thanking God for His presence at every stage of our magnificent lives is not only a positive way to regard our new life status but also a way to humbly and thoroughly acknowledge that if it wasn't for Him, you'd be reading someone else's blog thoughts right now.

My history affects my present.  My present may not be what I would like but it is what I have NOW.   By praying my personal history, I have a chance to not only thank God for being with me at my darkest and most dangerous moments, times when my life continued 'by seconds and inches' as Norm used to say, but it allows me to see that I continue to grow.  I am still a wonder, a work in progress.  The work may be slower and there might be less 'Ah Ha!' moments but the pruning continues.  

Being an older member of the parish has its disadvantages and its advantages.  I do not have to get involved in anything that I know I cannot do.  That means less chance for frustration and less opportunity to end up in the Emergency Room.  No, I cannot build that booth.  Sorry, you need to get one of those 45 year olds who can still do push-ups on their knuckles to lift that 50 lb. water bottle.  However, the good news is that what I do choose to involve myself in for service can be just a rewarding AND allow me more of a chance to practice humility.  The chances are my work will be quieter, more behind the scenes.  Rarely will anyone ask me to give a repeat performance of my rendition of 'Roll With It, Baby' at the Parish Festival.  However, they will more than likely want to know if I will be there to hear their 8 year old play Row Row Row Your Boat on the cello.  You know why?  Because that little one asked, "Will Miss Leslie be there?".

I also have to come to an acceptance that people younger than me have a very dim view of history.  It will not be unusual to hear a 45 year old man, on fire for his faith, talk about how feminism ruined the family but have absolutely no historical memory of how feminism took root in our hearts.  I can remember saying to one such man, "It is very seldom that a free person feels the need to be liberated".  Yes, it can happen - lies can be believed - but lies rooted in some tiny little bit of truth are the most dangerous lies.  SO, in many areas of parish life I often choose to keep my mouth shut.  The kids don't want to hear it.  

That's okay - not all of them had the advantage I had of living with a parent who would say, "Yes, but Leslie let me tell you what we were going through during the war" whenever I had a thought about the present.  And I could listen to her, and get a sense of why the world ended up the way we are right now.  Her perspective gave ME perspective.  As a result, I wanted to listen - not to prove how much better everything was 'back in the good ol' days' but to understand better the whys of today.  

Praying my personal history allows me, also, to see more and more of my past through the eyes of Faith.  I can be grateful today for the mess that 1987 was because it lead directly to 1992 and eventually to 1994 and so on and so forth until I sit now, at a keyboard, and think,  "Ok.  Life is OK.  I am OK.  God is right here and I am doing exactly what I am supposed to do right this minute".

If you want a different perspective on aging as a Catholic, reach the article.   I am going to start praying my personal history.  

I have a lot to thank Him for - and I am going to get started.