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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

For what am I grateful for today?
I am grateful for the chance to right wrongs and make amends, to ask for forgiveness and to give it. I am grateful for those who have not given up on me and I understand those who have - and I miss you and love you. 
I am grateful for my life today which is second to none. 

I am grateful I am not the only one who thinks Jed York is a big dummy , right Niner Faithful?

I am grateful that I got to see Daniel at Mass this morning - he came back! - and I am grateful that I am not going to put up Christmas lights until tomorrow which I am pretty sure is in the Bible or at least in the the Catechism, right Faithful Catholics?

 I am grateful that I have a place to go today and I am grateful that God brought another four legged manifestation of my Guardian Angel into my life - thank you, Stockton Animal Shelter. I am grateful I no longer have to worry about being overserved at a bar and showing up naked in the middle of winter on someone's front porch - right members of my 12 Step program? 

 I am very, very grateful for Jesus Christ and His Church, which welcomed me home and said, "Come on in here with the rest of us sinners....there is always room for one more.".

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Living those Darn Beatitudes - NOT FUN

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Gospel of St. Matthew 5:3-10
I hurt a friend yesterday with my blog post. 
I expressed an opinion about a statement made on FaceBook. 
No, wait - I did not express an opinion - I stood up for Truth.  I referenced a posting the person had made and I disputed it.  I spoke to the struggles with sin that I share with the woman and how I know how difficult it is to accept God's Authority.
Apparently, that was humiliating for her and for that I am sorry.
What I am not sorry for, however, is standing up for Jesus Christ.
People can - and have and continue to - say that I am a horrible person because of that blog post.  I am not a true Christian because I was mean, I 'subtweeted' rather than tried to shadow an identity. 
I showed my writing to my mentor, my spiritual director and my writing mentor.  The writer shared an interesting story with me.
During the financial meltdown of the mid 2000's, a bunch of his friends mortgaged their homes to purchase other ones in an effort to get rich in Real Estate.  Many of them lost their shirts (literally, in some cases) when the economy went south and the bubble burst.  One of them shared with him the intimate details of his financial debacle and my friend used that experience as a foundation for a series of articles he wrote for a national magazine. 
Like me, he spoke in specifics but he never mentioned the person's name or the area of the country in which they lived.
The series of articles won an award and cost him a friendship.  The guy was convinced EVERYONE knew he was the subject of the article.
"Leslie", My professor told me, "if you think the phrase 'self-absorbed' applies only to drunks you are sadly mistaken".
I stand by what I wrote yesterday.  I hope the person who is so angry with me right now finds peace and comes to the realization that, when the chips were down, it was me stood by them when others did not.
But if that does not happen, and our friendship is over, I must take comfort in knowing that I stood up for Jesus and Truth.
He said that I would be persecuted, hated and vilified for doing so and by golly...He was right.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Who Do You Say that I Am?

Yesterday I saw a post on Facebook that encapsulated thirty years of really bad catechesis. 

The woman posted that Jesus, Muhammad and The Buddha did not found religions; rather, they all preached Love.

It made me sick. 

Now, I am not casting aspersions on the woman who posted; she is a well-intentioned person struggling with the concept of a Higher Power.  She especially struggles (in my humble opinion) with the idea that there is a God who is specific about behaviors - what is right and what is wrong - and that some of what God deems as wrong feels really, really good when done by His creatures.  So, like so many of my generation, she is at odds with the whole "But how could this be a sin if it feels so right and it is all about love?'.

I get it.  I absolutely understand her struggle.  Her struggle is my struggle because, as a human being who is essentially selfish, self-centered and pleasure driven, I want anything I do that feels good to be something ordained as A-Okay by my Creator.  My immaturity in this area is well-documented and the fact that I made a deliberate and intentional decision many years ago to forgo that belief in favor of trusting The Church and receiving Jesus in the Eucharist does not make me a saint.  In fact, I believe it makes me a sinner who is taking advantage of the long term care offered by the hospital founded by The Divine Physician Himself - The Catholic Church.

However, that is not why the post made my stomach turn.  I got sick because I knew, as a Dominican and as a Catholic Out Loud, I was going to have to put my money where my mouth is (so to speak) and answer that post.  I was going to have to dispute her assertion.  I was going to have to say, "Uh, no...this is wrong and it is not a matter of me simply disagreeing with you, my friend.  It is wrong because of how you have characterized the Lord of the Universe.".

And I hate having to do that - you know why?

Oh hell, you know why - we all do.

I know that, as soon as I post my response I run the risk of not being the Belle of the Ball of Social Media.  Everyone will be mad at me...I won't be the most popular girl in the insane asylum that is FaceBook and no one will come to my birthday party or send me a Christmas card because I am a hater and a bigot and somehow forcing my personal brand of Christianity down their throat.

I hate not being liked.  It is one of my biggest weaknesses.  I want to be loved and admired and while I absolutely understand that is far from possible I want it anyway.

So, why did I answer her?

Two reasons:

First of all, to equate Jesus Christ with the Buddha and with Muhammad misses the entire challenge of The Gospel.  Jesus did not speak like the Buddha or like Muhammad.  He spoke in a particular way that signaled to any believer within earshot that He was not just another prophet.  And while some may have misheard or resisted, those who gave themselves to Him knew the right answer to the question, "Who do you Say that I am?".

Bishop Robert Baron teaches that part of our problem with the catechesis of the past 30 or 40 years is that we watered down Christianity until Jesus became just one more really cool guy who said some really nice stuff about loving your neighbor.  Jesus' Teachings are now on par with the ever-so-groovy teachings of other mystics or philosophers the world has produced. 

What this does, of course, is it completed negates the entire revolutionary reality of God stepping into time and space in order to found a Church, a Church that is designed to facilitate our entry into heaven.  Jesus did not say, "You are Peter, and upon this Rock I will build a tri-level condominium".  Jesus not only founded a Church, He gave that Church authority to bind and loose that which is acceptable and that which is worthy of us - His creatures.

So often I miss the entire purpose of obedience to the Teachings because I get bound up on the childish and whiny ways my concupiscence expresses itself.  But WHY do I have to go to Mass every Sunday when I am tired and I really want to stay in bed?  But WHY do I have to watch how I behave when I find it much more comfortable to speak like a drunken sailor on leave, be sexually promiscuous or masturbate or watch porn or just take that stuff that is lying out in the open or flat out lie to people about who and what I am?

My Second Reason:  I took on this responsibility as soon as I was Baptized.

Obedience to His Church is a choice - I know that - but it is a choice that is made viable and possible through the Grace provided by the Sacraments available from His Church.  It is not just Jesus and me.  It is a relationship with the Triune God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - that allows me to walk this earth with some semblance of dignity.

Did Jesus Christ, Lord and Creator of the Universe, The Lamb of God, teach Love?  Yes, of course He did - but He taught much, much more than that and to reduce Him to just one of three highly visible guys that happen to be associated with religion is to overlook Who He said that He IS....

Today, men and women and children are being murdered because they will not reduce the Truth to a pithy statement that embroiders well on a pillow or seems like the right thing to say in a 12 Step meeting.  Today, in solidarity with them I can take the chance that I will not be the most popular girl at the lunch room table in the insane asylum.  Today, when the question is asked of me I can answer like St Peter did:  You are the Christ.  The Son of the Living God.

Today, I can be Catholic Out Loud.

Monday, November 16, 2015

An Amazing Thing Happened on Friday the 13th

On Friday, November 13, 2015 an amazing thing happened.

No, not that....

I am not referring to the horrible attacks in Paris launched by Islamic Jihadists.  I am not referring to the ongoing war against Western Culture and Judeo-Christian Civilization from people who think the proper way to honor God and evangelize is at the edge of a sword.

Something else happened that night, and it happened in my home town.

It happened in my parish.

A young man received the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Probably doesn't seem like much to you.  It pales in newsworthy importance next to the carnage wreaked by a group of people who want to cut my head off. 

However, I think it is worth noting because the child in question is not considered 'viable' in today's world.

Matthew has Cerebral Palsy.

He cannot speak, he cannot walk and he drools.  He has to strapped into his wheelchair for safety and he has to concentrate very hard to keep his head and neck erect.

Matthew, born into a Catholic family and raised in my parish, has grown up in public.  We have all seen him every Sunday, at every event, every festival and pot luck dinner.  He has grown from a beautiful little boy into a handsome teenager with a smile that will melt the heart of anyone other than a member of ISIL.  He has gorgeous blue eyes, clear skin, and a steady gaze that is friendly and sweet and full of joy.

Matthew is my hero.

I have the privilege, as a Catechist, of walking people through their initial Faith journey when they come to us for Full Communion with The Church.  I have met some really interesting people - some of them have been a handful, let me tell you.  I have met people who struggle so much against giving their lives to The Church because of how the world will perceive them.  Believe me, I understand.  Us Catholics are not popular despite (or maybe because of) the overwhelming popularity of our current Pontiff.  Scratch any WASP conservative OR liberal and you will find a very active an unashamed anti-Catholic.  Don't believe me?  Ask Ann Coulter.  Ask Hilary Clinton.

Unlike the adults that come to us for teaching, Matthew is like me;  a cradle Catholic brought up in the fullness of the Faith and given all the riches of the Gospel from the moment the Sacrament of Baptism is received.  Unlike me, he has been surrounded by two parents who trust Jesus Christ and His Church.  I had one sane parent - Matthew has two.  It makes a difference, believe me, though it took me years to acknowledge that the prayers of my mother were what brought me home to Rome.

I sat in the Church Friday night, watching as Bishop Blaire confirmed our newest members of The Church Militant.  I watched as Matthew's sponsor pushed his wheelchair to the Bishop and I saw Matthew's eyes light up as the chrism oil touched his forehead. 

Across the ocean, on another continent, violence reigned and people died because my life, and my world is hated so much.  But in that moment on Friday night I felt myself fully in the Presence of God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - and I knew that despite the threats to my way of life, despite the people who hate us, despite those who think we are something we are not and are determined to destroy us by law or by violence, all is right with the world.

God is either all or God is nothing.

I chose today to believe He is all - and I pray for Paris.

I pray for peace.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Aw, Thanks for thinking of us, Seahawks Fan!

Dear One of the 12,

You have no idea how touched we were by your letter!  All this time we thought you hated us, and to find out that, like a pesky but adorable little brother, you really care?  Well, we have to say - you made our day.

Listen, I understand your concern.  Benching CK7 for Blaine was sure not our idea.  Oh sure, we were getting frustrated with him but believe me our frustration had been building for a long, long time.  In fact, between you, me and the goal post, the frustration has been building ever since the sorry excuse for a front office sacked Steve Mariucci.

Let me explain.

QB controversy is nothing new for The Faithful.  Those of us who have been around longer than Candlestick remember what it was like when John Brodie came on board, the tension between Steve and Joe, and the catcalls against Alex Smith when Dave Carr (now with that OTHER organization from the Bay Area, and doing really well, I might add) was the back up QB.  The Faithful have lived through QB problems, we have watched the give and take like our favorite soap opera, but always knew that, in the end, the owners cared about The Team as much as we do. 

Until 'That Day'.

Every Faithful knows about That Day - it is the Day that lives in infamy in our hearts.  It is the day when the greatest owner on the planet asked his sister to watch his franchise for him while he cleared up that pesky gambling issue in another state.  From That Day until now, The Faithful have watched the once proud and mighty franchise that defines their lives for months at a time spiral out of control.

We had hope for awhile.  The man from Michigan seemed to be exactly what we needed to get ourselves back on track.  To see him drummed out of the area without a thought for the future caused us all to die a little inside.

But still we rise.  Every Sunday, we rise.

We don't know what is going to happen.  We don't know if the FO and 'Those People' are going to follow their usual pattern and make it their duty to demoralize and destroy the confidence of a potential elite athlete in favor of the Almighty Dollar or if the 'Coach' we have will show some backbone and get the Offensive Line right and let that kid play.  We have no idea if we will win another game this year or not.

And while we appreciate you wanting a real rivalry, let me remind you that for us - The Faithful - our real rivalry will always be the Dallas Cowboys.  I mean, you guys are fun and all - especially with your Bay Area Boyz talking (or not talking ) up a storm before, during and after a game - but nothing will ever equal the real feeling of accomplishment every true Faithful feels even now when we beat the Cowboys.

So thank you for caring, one of the 12.  Your attempt to reach out and make us feel better means a lot to us.  I know its been a pretty shocking year for you too - and I am sure that Superbowl thing still makes you cringe.  I know our Superbowl thing is still rough on us, so I feel your pain.  Granted, we have only lost one....but I still feel your pain.

So see you in two weeks, Little Brother.  Tell Ricardo Lockette he is in our prayers. Let's have a good game, okay?

Oh and you are welcome....for what?

For Pete Carroll.