God blessed me and mine with the best Christmas in over five years. My mother and I were invited guests to my brother's home and we had a lovely, lovely time. The food was excellent, the company fantastic. We laughed, we ate, we celebrated the day. Though my brother remains far from Holy Mother Church we know that our prayers and petitions are being answered and both of us continue to trust that God will touch his heart. The fires of his Baptism and Confirmation will be rekindled. He will return in God's time, of that I am sure.
Our birthday (yes, he and I share a birthday) was just a blast! We went out to dinner with cousins to Surla's in Modesto. The chef (chef extraordinaire, in my humble opinion) has put my Grandmother Crocco's meat sauce on the menu. It is properly prepared. The mere smell transported me back to her kitchen at The Ranch. All that was missing were her ravioli (the ones he served with them were ok but not enough filling. I love my ravioli and I want them fat like Grandma used to make). The evening was so fun. Surrounded by family, we toasted our birthdays and made plans for me to party DOWN when my next one rolls around - 60 is something to celebrate, I think. 59 seems just old and tired...but 60? Shoot, for someone with my past reaching that age and still be able to dress myself and walk properly is a real accomplishment.
My only complaint? I could not get in to see the movie Unbroken. Every theater was sold out!
I also received an odd email. I have a feeling it was not meant for me but was sent in error. It reads as follows:
I think it's stupid that some members of (the 12th Step Program to which I belong) want to define our friendship as one in which I was a so-called "victim" of Catholicism and it's teachings. How incredibly insulting. To all those who know Leslie and who know about our differences, she never, ever, tried to "convert" me to Catholicism. I inquired about the Catholic faith. She never, ever tried to "convert" me to the Catholic faith tradition. What an insult to me and to her. I have a mind of my own and I can think on my own.
While I am very grateful that the person who sent this to me does not see me as victimizing them with either Catholic Teaching or my love for Holy Mother Church, I question why anyone in the 12th Step Program to which I belong would think this way. In fact, the only people I can think of that would think like this are people who do not know me, are incredible bigots (we do have a lot of those around, even today) or are not sober.
If you had shown this to me ten years ago, it would have really upset me. I would have demanded to know who was saying these things. I would have confronted them, telling them exactly what I think of their bigoted, nasty mind set and then bombarding them with my incredible knowledge of Catholic Doctrine to prove what horrible people they are - but that was then.
This is now.
Today, my first thought is, "Really? People in our 12 step program who profess to believe in Love and Tolerance as a code, have spoken to you like this?". My second thought is, "Those poor souls. How broken and sad they are to treat the Truth in that matter". And finally, my third thought is, "I wonder if the Niners will promote Vic Fangio or Tom Tomsula to Head Coach now that Harbaugh is gone or if they will go outside the organization and grab Mike Holmgren or Jon Gruden?".
Every day someone hates the Catholic Church. Our beloved Archbishop Fulton Sheen maintained that they really hated what they think the Catholic Church is and not the Church Herself and I tend to agree with him. Since any organization, even one as wonderful as the 12 Step Program that brought me to sobriety, reflects the society at large this same kind of misguided hatred will be a part of the fellowship. It is not my job to eradicate it; rather, it is my job to just love the lost, walk with dignity and grace and hope that someday these sad little people will get the pot smoke out of their eyes long enough to see how sad and ugly they are behaving if and when they do what this person is accusing them of doing.
Every day I am reminded that the Catholic Church is the Church Jesus founded and so, if I want to be a true Christian, this is the Church to which I should belong. I believe this and I live this but if you don't, that's up to you.
As we approach the coming year, my prayer is for the lost and the lonely and those who have been so broken by today's world. Know that you are valued and loved but that Jesus believes, with His Grace, that you are called to greatness and you can achieve it.
Have a FANTASTIC day!