Friday, July 31, 2015

Bad Catholic

In my church, today is the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola.  He founded the Jesuits.  I went to Fordham, a Jesuit college.  In spite of everyone's best efforts, I became a bad Catholic.  When I was little I knew my Latin, and catechism answers, was a good altar boy, but I guess I had leanings toward perdition.  I got to like all the people who were on that road to perdition: loose women, Protestants, Jews, and sundry non-baptized persons of whatever or no spiritual path, alcoholics, and homosexuals. I was taught that only good Catholics with the catechism answers got to heaven.  My sister Maureen said I was meant to burn, and it looked like she was right.  God had other plans.  I did not just turn around and be good.  Would that it were so.  God just never let go despite my best efforts to return to being bad.  I think love overcomes all.  "Where sin abounds, love abounds more."  That is in the bible.  One of my discoveries was that none of my old friends were on the road to perdition.  There was goodness in us all.  This is why I am very reluctant to put anyone down, or say someone is less than, or going to hell, or God does not like them.  God has a plan for all of us.  We may be all different in some ways but we are all made in the same image and likeness of the One God.  I hope heaven is not like a gated community where everyone seems the same.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Late To The Altar

People sometimes wonder why Irish men here or in Ireland waited so long to get married.  The Famine.  Before the famine the Irish peasants got married quite young.  Then they had lots of kids.  When the famine came there was lots of death especially among the children.  A response to this was that the Irish male would wait until he had a job, steady income and a home for a wife and then children.  My Dad was 24 when he got married, but was going to wait longer because he had his mother to take care of.  He already wanted to marry my Mom.  Grandma  knew that my Mom was a blessing  for her son, so she said that she wanted him to marry and not worry about her (Grandma).  If my Dad had waited longer, my sister Maureen (the oldest) might not have been born, and I would have been the oldest, the boss and spoiled.  I wish my Grandma had kept quiet.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Roman Catholic Irish

When I was a boy, growing up in the Bronx,  Irish Catholicism was quite conservative.  Whatever the pope said or Rome did, we went along.  We memorized, rather than theologized, which would have meant some thinking for ourselves.  Why was this.  The Irish Potato Famine.  My people came from County Mayo which is the western part of Ireland.  It has few if any roads. The British had destroyed any kind of possible fishing industry though there were great quantities of fish off the western shores. The Irish were to grow food and pay rents to support the landlords and the British stomach.  Travel not necessary.   The Church pretty much neglected this part of the world as well.  Gaelic was spoken and schools were few.  How would one get there anyway?  Then the famine.  Then the Protestant Evangelicals came along with their soup kitchens and aid, if you "souped up," that is joined their church.  This got the attention of the Catholic hierarchy and they started paying more attention to Mayo and other neglected western counties of Ireland.  Rome sent in a bishop who was very Roman.  He was "ultra-montane."  He brought Roman ways over the mountains of the Alps to western Ireland.  Just do what Rome says.  Forget the Bible.  That is for the Prods.  Devotions, novenas that were popular in Rome became the Irish staple.  So it was in the Bronx in the 1950s.  I think that my big sister, Maureen, might have read the bible and done some thinking for herself.  That would have been very Protestant, and we good Roman Irish Catholics know that road led to perdition.  I kept my brain unsullied by not using it much in theologizing.  I was a very good memorizer.  I knew the altar boy Latin prayers by heart.  My sister never had that chance.  We were Roman.  Altar Girls?  Be still my heart.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Gratitude

Read David Brooks in the NYT today, on the opinion, editorial page.  It is excellent.  He is a compassionate conservative.  He is able to point out the shortcomings of our capitalistic way of seeing things.  I for one will try to be more grateful today.

Money Idolatry

Part of the reason for the Irish potato Famine of 1845 and beyond, is that the The British Aristocracy and some rich Irish thought that the peasants were morally inferior because the Irish potato farmer was poor.  They were considered weak and indolent. So why give them "free food?" Money and its accumulation was a sign of virtue in that world.  See the Protestant Reformation for more.  To be poor was a sin.  Money becomes an idol when it measures the worth of a person.  In the gospel, riches seem to be more of an impediment to salvation.  Easier for a camel to fit through a pin hole than the rich to be saved.  Moreover, a main purpose of colonialism, and Ireland was really treated as a colony of Britain, is for the colony to supply stuff, raw materials or goods, for the colonizer.  The prosperity of the worker in the colony was of no interest to the power.  The Irish were to provide cheap food to feed the Brits.  The American colonies rebelled.  The southern colonies were a bit tepid about rebellion, as they had slaves to pick the raw product, but no factories to manufacture much of anything.  It was another use of the poor to supply the wealth of the rich.  British food and livestock were on Irish soil.  Our oil is under Arab sand.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Hunger

We all get hungry physically for food, or at least I do.  If I don't eat at certain intervals, I get hungry.  I think of food.  I want food.  I eat my main meal in the middle of the day.  At night I have to go to bed by a certain time depending on how little I ate that evening.  If I wait too long to go to bed and ate too little for supper I am hungry when I go to bed.  I get up to eat.  I have pretty much figured this out.  But we have spiritual hungers too.  Unlike my stomach, my soul does not complain so much initially.  The result is that I can go a whole day and not even pray!  Yikes.  Not good, especially for a priest.  I will say, "Later," but later never comes.  I have to discipline myself for prayer times to satisfy the hunger of my soul.  Otherwise, after a day, my soul will complain in the form of moods, irritability, and just general unpleasantness such as whining and crankiness.  Now the hunger of my soul is for silence and stillness.  It is that need for us all I think.  The will has a hunger too, but when the will directs prayer I tend to ask for things with lots of words.  Mass is supposed to have some of both, but my experience is that in a parish the silence gets short shift.  Each day I try to make time for silence and stillness whether I think I "need" it or not.  "Be still and know that I am God." God said that...more than once.

Civil Servant

In the Catholic marriage sacrament, it is the couple who make the sacrament.  The priest merely presides.  This is the only sacrament made by the laity.  But in this country, the priest is authorized to act for the state in the execution of the marriage contract.  He functions then as a civil magistrate in this instance.  As such, can he refuse to marry any two persons who meet the civil requirements for marriage? I think that the priest will be safe on this, but I like the idea of what is done in some places in Latin America and Europe.  Divest the clergy of this civil office.  Thus the couple present themselves to a civil magistrate to be married civilly, legally.  After this the couple can come to their church community to ask for a blessing and prayers from that community for their marriage, and to celebrate their marriage as a sacrament in that church where they or one of them worships.  This of course will lead to even more destination weddings for those who can afford it.  They want the big splash that a county court house does not give.  They want to gather not with their church community of which they do not belong, but rather with their friends many of whom pray not nor attend any church, or believe in much of the transcendent.  Rather such a wedding community is taken up more with how the bride and groom look compared to their wedding or planned wedding.  To me this would make sense for the church, for those couples who have a church community of worship and for those who have none.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Focus

Here at the monastery the focus is on Christ, this is, what has my thinking or actions got to do with Christ, being one with Christ, being in union with Christ.  You say this has nothing to do with your life?  Think again.  What is important to you?  Your marriage? Family? Business? Sobriety?  Whatever it is, you then might ask yourself what your thinking at any one moment has to do with whatever you say is important in your life.  What has this activity or thought to do with my marriage? My sobriety? My family? Even the betterment of the world/environment?  When our thinking and actions have nothing to do with any of this, we often call it selfishness, being all about me.  It is usually exhibited as whining, self-centeredness to the max, complaining, resentment, wasting money on the unnecessary and unneeded, rampant consumerism, and so on.  If your find your marriage, family, soul, sobriety to be falling apart or fading, it began with your thinking.  The mind leads the way to disaster or peace.  Thoughts matter.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Original Goodness

Organized religion seems to act as if we  come into this world rotten, Original Sin, and need to get some virtues or goodness from God, else you burn.  The righteous believe that they got the good stuff through hard work and discipline.  Recovering drunks believe just the opposite.  We come into this world good and then we get rotten by bad behavior from active addictions.  This is much more biblical, and AA isn't even a religion.  In Genesis, God makes us in God's image and likeness.  Look at Step Six and Seven of the Twelve Steps of AA.  Step Six asks to have defects of character, the rotten stuff, removed.  The step does not ask to get some good stuff.  The recovering drunk believes the good stuff is already within us.  They just need to get rid of the bad for today.  Step Seven says as much.  The Righteous are trying to avoid hell.  The Recovering Drunk has already been there.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Lesbian Dismissal

Seems that a Catholic Academy fired a woman for being a lesbian.  She was living with a partner.  I guess that did her in.  If she was teaching something like math, but happened to be a lesbian, she might have survived.  She was not teaching about her lifestyle.  The reason given for the firing is that the church has clear teaching about lesbian unions.  You don't say.  Well, we have a lot of clear teachings and some of them rub one off of another.  Don't judge.  Welcome all.  Sexuality is supposed to be for the forming of a community of two, a domestic Church, if you will.  We teach this.  So what did the lesbian do wrong?  She did not desecrate a sacrament.  She has a legal right to her relationship.  The Supreme Court just said so.  Is a lesbian supposed to be celibate, remain single, simply because she is a lesbian?  Suppose she said to her students that it is OK to be a lesbian, that a lesbian has value and is loved by God?  Unless she proposed that all become lesbians, I am left in the dark about her firing.  But then if you are a bigot, everything is clear.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Planned Parenthood

Seems that a video might have caught someone at Planned Parenthood, dealing with a research outfit interested in baby parts for research.  So does this mean that a fetus is not worth being born, but is yet  valuable for body parts once dead?  PP says it is not making any money off of this.  Well, that makes us all feel better!

Veracity

Yesterday, in response to my blog about my sister Maureen, her daughter, my niece Kathy, posted a beautiful picture of my sister on Facebook.  There were lots of positive comments about how lovely, and beautiful Maureen looked.  This of course put my veracity into doubt, since I said my sister was a witch.  Now I am a Catholic priest, and veracity is quite important in my field.  Without veracity what am I?  Just another pretty face!  Come to think of it, my niece Kathy is quite lovely too.  Hmmm.   The fruit does not fall far from the tree.  I believe her husband and children think she at times does become a witch.  But back to defense of my veracity.  You see, witches have the power to disguise themselves as beautiful young women.  That is how witches get husbands, or so I hear from men several years after the wedding.  What do I know.  Celibacy saved me from witches, though I might work with a few in the office.  I have my suspicions.  Anyway, that is how my big sister Maureen can look beautiful and still be a witch.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Maureen

My big sister, Maureen, would have been 76 today had she lived.  She died eleven years ago this past April.  If she went straight to heaven, it would prove that miracles are possible, and who does not want to believe in miracles.  I hope she is in heaven, but I wonder.  If she is in heaven, she must be good, and if good, then she must be praying for me to finally become a good boy.  That was always her wish for me.  But I am not yet a good boy.  I am bad.  So maybe she is not in heaven yet, and cannot pray for my conversion?  So pray she gets out of purgatory and can pray for me.  I cannot seem to make it on my own.  Who can?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Doing The Same Thing

One of the Presidential candidates said that we, whoever we is, have to raise the pay of the vast majority of workers.  You do the same job, but get more money for doing it.  Unions functioned that way.  For a while, that worked.  Then we discovered the rest of the world had an emerging labor force.  So jobs left the country.  Neighborhoods fell apart and so on.  Steel is still being made but not much of it is made in USA.  In my world of spirituality, you cannot keep doing the same thing and expect better or different results.  Recovery programs know this as well.  You have to change what you do or how you do what you do.  Education, job skills, soft learning skills, is where the time and effort ought to go.  My teaching on the mystics tries to broaden/expand peoples' horizons so they can better pursue the spiritual life.  The book, "Our Kids" by Robert Putnam is quite good in explaining why a lot of people have low skills and little education.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Chosen Ones

So if you have to pay say $750 to play on the football team, some will not have to pay.  They will get a waiver.  Will they get a waver because they are poor?  No.  They will get a waver because they are big, fast and agile.  The little guy who would like to expand his horizons by playing at football, will have to pony up the $750.  Good chance he does not get to play football.  The big guy realizes "I am special."  From now on, if he has special athletic ability in his sport, he will be taken care of all along the way.  If he does not do well in school, someone will move him along.  Do you know how many professional athletes go bankrupt within five years after their sport career is over?  A lot.  Maybe the special guy did not learn about money management or a lot of other things outside of his sport.  Sad.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Pay To Play

I just read where a kid has to pay a fee or "donation" to play a sport or after school activity.  I am agin' it.  It means that poor kids will less likely enter into these programs.  I aways wondered why cross country is dominated by white kids.  Now I know.  The more affluent can afford this.  The less affluent cannot.  Plus, this puts more pressure on the participant.  If someone put up the money for you to compete or play, that makes for pressure.  What happened to fun in school?  We used to charge "pew fees" to go to my church when I was a boy.  I heard where the poor could go for free but had to sit in the poor section.  We got rid of that.  Seems schools are going in the other direction.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Legal Marriage

Many church groups are upset about the Kennedy Supreme Court decision of the legality of same sex couple unions, now called marriage in legal circles.  Judge Roberts also disagrees, but it is on legal grounds, i.e. what grounds does the Supreme Court have to make this decision since marriage is not in the constitution.  Again, this is all in the area of legality.  None of this seeks to change what a church thinks is the sacrament of marriage.  The church is about sacraments. The government is about legal issues of marriage, which was the prerogative of the individual states until Kennedy's decision came along.  The Church says what makes the sacrament of marriage.  It is a man and a woman, consenting to a contract, open to having children through sexual intercourse.  The Church can only say what is a sacrament.  It has no jurisdiction on what is legal.  For that matter, the only reason that our sacramental marriage ceremony makes a couple legally married, is because the government says so.  Priests have permission from the state to make things legal by our wedding ceremony.  The state is not telling the church that it has to do anything one way or the other with same sex couples.  The state is saying that there will be no discrimination in the legal field against same sex couples.  They get all the legal rights of marriage.  The Catholic Church used to be able to tell the government of kings and queens what to do in the legal world.  No separation of church and state.  That horse left the barn a long time ago.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Gas

When the Nazis were gassing the Jews in WWII, there were some others thrown into the oven.  Priests and nuns, Roma called gypsies, and another group, homosexuals.  If you were a homosexual, be it a blue-eyed, blond hair German, you got the gas.  Ever since the war many people have defended and supported Judaism and worked against anti-semitism discrimination.  So why are many of these same people so upset about any decisions that try and erase discrimination against the homosexual?  Ponder that one.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

One Good Deed

I have an example of the coming nuclear winter.  It is early July.  Last night it snowed in the mountain above our monastery here in Colorado.  I have never seen snow in July.  I have been coming here for twelve summers.  Nuclear winter is with us.  Then a monk said that he had seen snow in July some time ago, before I began coming here.  Oh.  Last night's snow is an isolated instance, not a trend.  One snow does not make nuclear winter.  Nor does one good deed make a good person.  My sister, Maureen, used to say that I was no good.  So I would do a good deed and say, "See, Maureen, I am good."  "No," she would say.  "One good deed does not make you a good boy.  You are still a rotten kid."  I countered, "But, one good deed is a start."  "Hmm," she replied.  So do a good deed today, especially if you are not feeling so good about yourself.  It could turn around your day, pick up your spirits.  Oh.  Don't wait for a compliment from anyone.  Those around you might be in a somewhat permanent nuclear winter mood.  "Hmm!"

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ashes

My church generally thinks in theological or juridical terms, that is doctrine and rules.  But the lay people think in practical terms, that is, what works for their needs.  Take the case of ashes, as in cremation.  The church says that ashes must be kept together and buried or interred in a columbarium.  But this is a big country and people tend to have lived in various different places.  Sometimes, the relatives/friends of the deceased want to bury ashes in one place and then in another, because both places were important to the deceased.  The deceased may have a favorite part of the country that had a lot of meaning for them, but the surviving relative/spouse/partner might not live in that place, but wants some ashes to be buried nearer to where they live now.  And so it goes.  Many priests simply look the other way, or as the Jews say, "Wink an eye."  What can you do.  Some call it the pastoral approach.  Whatever, theology does not always line up with praxis in daily life, or death, for that matter.

A Sign

Not many people looking at my blog lately.  This could be a sign from God that I am supposed to become a hermit, go live deep in the woods, no internet, and keep silent from then on.  Take a bow and arrow and live the life of "The Hunger Games" Katniss.  I would have a garden and grow veggies.  I would do fly fishing and get some fish protein.  Come to think of it, I don't know how to fly fish or do archery.  Could my sudden demise as a wisdom figure mean something else beside become a hermit?  I don't know why God's will is so mysterious to figure out.  So I will just shut up.  Not type or make a peep.  Silent meditation in place of homily.  I know people who never said much at all and were thought to be great wisdom figures, sages even.  That's it.  I talk too much.  I am exposed as a dummy.  Off to the woods.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What Endures

I find that many families pass on to their children, in time and expense, things that will not endure beyond childhood.  How many adults are doing ballet, baseball, basketball, volleyball, and soccer? These time consuming passing things replace family dinner, family conversation, reading beyond school test subjects, and the use of leisure to make things up, play family games like cards, explore your inner world and maybe even pray, but that might be a leap too much.  For that matter, adults who do sports, seem to run, bike, play golf and tennis.  These are things you can do over the long haul.  So is a spiritual life for the long haul, but this requires some quiet, leisure, inactivity.  Parents seem to fear that if their child isn't "busy" something is missing, or is wrong.  A lot of sports do little for the imagination, except when we grow out of them, we tend to still fantasize.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Change

I was going to talk about change in my Sunday homily in Basalt.  I was all for telling people that we, meaning them, must be open to changes in the church and society that affect our church.  We cannot be judgmental of people.  Learn acceptance, tolerance and openness.  And so on.  I get to the Basalt. Colorado church.  I had not been there since last summer.  I walked up to the altar before mass to check something.  I was startled by the changes.  The pulpit had been moved to the other side of the altar.  My chair had been moved.  The prayer book I use on the altar had been moved.  An outrage!  Who did all these changes?  Things were fine as they had been last year.  Turns out the laity had changed things around.  Catholic laity have no power.  This must be a Protestant church now.  Suddenly, I realized that I was all for change as long as it was in someone else's life.  Don't change mine.  Supreme Court decisions are fine.  They don't affect my little world.  Grace came and revealed me to be a hypocrite.  I changed my homily.  People loved it.  They like when the priest 'fesses up about his own mess.  Seems they can relate to my trudging the long road to perfection.  I will settle for sanity today.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Corporate Gay

One of the benefits to the gay and lesbian community from the recent Supreme Court decision is that big institutions, such as corporate structures, are now trying to be more open and supportive to gay employees.  It would seem incongruous that a corporation that is trying to sell something to "everyone" would at the same time discriminate against some of the same people inside the corporate structure.  But I guess this has been so.  Even my church, a few bishops, are trying to be more open to welcoming gay and lesbian people, no matter their domestic life.  For that matter, my church has not turned away from married couples who have sex but don't want to have children.  The church may not approve, but neither does it publicly condemn.  There is room for all.  That is why we call ourselves, "Catholic."  Sometimes we forget.  It seems to be taking the secular Supreme Court to nudge us along.  These open and inviting bishops would not have written the pastoral statements that are coming out, if the Court had ruled in Judge Robert's favor.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Bright Lights

One of the first things I noticed when it got dark my first day back at the monastery, is the electric lights inside the monastery.  They are much brighter than in years past.  Why?  Then monks are aging.  Eyes grow weaker.  Those dark cloister halls are not so dark anymore.  Because of at the aging of the community we might not cut hay this year.  Surgery and recovery prevented one monk from getting the tractors ready for haying.  There is a lot of winter maintenance necessary before you hay.  Plus, the market for hay is not very good now.  Drought has devastated the herds.  No cows.  Hay stays in barn.  Change happens.  Some things, like eyesight, you adjust.  Some things like surgery and bad hay markets, you endure.  We need to keep this in mind when changes happen in our own lives.  Some things we survive.  Not everything is solved by technology.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Meaning of Marriage

The meaning of marriage or what defines marriage has expanded over the centuries.  There was quite a long time when marriage was arranged by families, kings and princes, fathers.  Consent of the couple was not even in the picture.  Then along came a fellow named Gratian who tried to organize all the canon laws of the church to get some clarity.  He added that "consent" is what makes a marriage.  You could arrange whatever you want but if the couple do not give their sincere consent, then you don't have a marriage.  I don't think he was very popular with kings or any other patriarchal personage.  However, consent eventually became part of what the church teaches as making a marriage.  Change happens.  Those who say, "Marriage has always been about,"  ought to read a bit of history.  Or read a bit more.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Being Nice

I remember being in love with a young lady once.  I tried to be nice on a regular basis, writing poetry and love letters, when not together.  She dumped me.  It was a bit puzzling to figure it all out.  Be nice.  Get dumped.  We were bad sometimes too.  This is easy for two Catholics who are in love but not married.  Our church does not cut much slack.  So I thought that I might change.  Try not to be bad, but also not to be too nice.  But I had no models to follow.  I did not know guys who practiced both those behaviors at the same time.  Women are confusing.  Do they not like nice?  I was young and could not fathom the feminine.  I thought that God was easier to understand and God is supposed to be "Unknowable."  I mean, God loves me unconditionally and never abandons me.  That is easy to understand and like.  But come to think of it, I know this, but I abandon God on a regular basis!  God is nice and I dump God.  I will blame my old girlfriend for teaching me this!  

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Length Of Time

The length of time you are a member of something or practice something is never more important than the present day.  You might be a Baptized Christian or Bar Mitzvah Jew for many years, but if you are not trying to live that out today, you are going backwards.  Good habits can get us to today, but the habit does not guarantee power over your "will."  You must decide each day to live out your path. Yesterday's meditation, or sobriety, or kindness does not guarantee you will do as well today.  All paths are a daily practice.  Buddhism does not call itself a religion, but it does call itself a "practice."  The emphasis is not on a ritual whereby you are now an official Buddhist.  It is more of a daily practice of meditation that will lead to right ethical behavior.  I know of people who had been sober for many years.  Then they got drunk!  They had stopped the practice that got them sober in the first place.  Nor does a lifetime of bad behavior guarantee bad behavior today.  The "Good Thief" on the cross had only a few breaths to make a change.  He did.  I hear tell he is in Paradise.  To ignore daily practice is a slippery slope down.  To begin a practice of growth is a hard daily climb.  It is hard to be good.  Maureen said I was made for "bad."  Is she is Paradise with that good thief?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Supreme Court

The majority decision of the court favored marriage for all. It will be a tough sell and some of the reasons for this is in the minority opinion.  I found the dissenting response to be a much more interesting read.  Judge Roberts and Scalia were not really against marriage for gays.  They were more into the process of the decision, what a judge can or cannot do, how the constitution functions and how a democracy works.  I used to read Supreme Court cases in theology school when I was studying Canon Law.  I learned a lot about our country, how it comes to a decision in a democracy, and how one side reveals the weakness of the other side's arguments.  If you are already in favor of marriage for all, you can breeze through the Kennedy majority decision.  You will find it quite compassionate and supportive, as it expands the meaning of marriage.  But I think you will learn a lot  about how our country comes to consensus, its unique way of governing itself, if you read Judge Roberts.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Rear View Mirror

I try not to drive forward while looking through my rear view mirror.  I don't mean a glance to see what is there.  I mean the actual focus on something behind me, all the while ignoring what is in front of me.  Silly, and dangerous, right?  But how many of us ignore what is in front of us while dwelling on the past, whatever the past might be.  We are then living or reliving the past while missing reality.  Just as you might ride off a highway, you ride off the path of your life by not living in the now.  Fantasy, resentment, remorse, wishful thinking, remaking past mistakes into actions that benefit and show us as wonderful are just some of the things we can do to avoid the now.  My spiritual life is in the now.  My mind may revisit a past, real or imagined.  If it would help me to live a better now, that would be good.  But most often it is just escape...for me.  Memories can be beneficial things when we can take time to chew on them, alone or with help.  They cannot be the main course of my day.  I will starve if that is the only food for my soul.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Kissing

When I started college I was supposed to be entering upon the intellectually uplifting world of a Jesuit Renaissance Education.  We had a very good library with several levels stacked with books down long corridors.  I spent time among those stacks in my freshman year.  I was kissing my girlfriend there in the afternoons after she finished her high school day and came down to Fordham with my roommate's girlfriend.  I was in one aisle stacked with books,  with my girlfriend, and he was in another aisle.  I was in love and love was more important than learning.  I think that I was better at kissing than learning.  I was not particularly bright and did not get stellar grades in college.  I was average.  But the queen of my junior prom and senior prom were my dates who I was dating and kissing.  Sometimes I wonder if God really wanted me to be a priest.  I mean why would I have one singular talent, and then become a priest, and not a very holy one at that.  I went back to Fordham recently, fifty years after graduation.  They had tried to erase my time and place of lust and love.  They had removed the stacks from the old library and made it into some meeting rooms.  They cannot erase the memories.  Some things are timeless.   Do you think I will at least make it to purgatory?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Self-absorbed

While at the Botanical Gardens I went into a science building and was looking at a video about platlet movement.  I had pressed some buttons to get what I wanted and had a narrator explaining it to me on a tape.  Along comes a boy and asks what this is.  He looks at all the buttons and starts to press them.  Narration and picture gone.  Me seemingly invisible.  I refrained from telling the boy he is a jerk.  When he is older, if he is lucky he will realize that he is only the center of his delusional universe.  He may be the last to know he is a jerk.  I hope not, but I suspect he will pay many times over in personal misery for the slight he gave me that day.  He is a grace in my life.  He reminds me a bit of myself...there but for the grace of God.  
 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Degree of Difficulty

Having conquered my fear and inertia at taking a bus from Boulder to Denver, I decided to up the degree of difficulty and go to the Denver Botanical Gardens.  This is the now familiar bus to Denver,  the free downtown tram for several stops and then a bus to the Gardens.  It was not a hassle at all.  It just took time, but lessened my carbon footprint.  I got to see some of Denver along the way and saw how I could get to the Cathedral without driving.  No parking there anyway.  When I left the museum, the adventure got more interesting.  I went to the corner where the bus was supposed to pick me up to go back downtown.  No signage.  What corner is the bus going to be on?  I have learned to ask questions.  I saw a fellow on a porch of a corner home.  I asked him and he pointed to a bench that was partially hidden by shrubbery.  Sure enough, there was a bus pole and sign, hidden by tree vines. Ask questions.  Be patient.  Say "Hail Mary's."  It all works.  I do not want the degree of travel difficulty beat me down into driving when the public system is just fine.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Free Enterprise

My church got caught up in supporting free enterprise, which developed into Corporate America or big business.  Two things led to this.  One was the fall of the monarchies.  My church used to support the monarchies of Europe.  The monarchy in turn protected the church.  The monarchies began to disappear, French revolution, or turn against the church, nineteenth century German Kaiser.  The second thing to come along was communism, which had no use for religion at all.  Free enterprise, capitalism, was against communism.  The twentieth century church was big on business in the non-communist world.  Be against communism and you are OK with my church.  Business was about making money, which more and more came to be about getting people to consume all that is made.  Then along comes Francis I.  He is not in love with any one economic system.  He is focused on selfishness, the secular religion of "more," and profits at any cost to the human condition.  Many people wish that he would have just stayed with sex issues, and church rules.  The corporate world has the power to do a lot of good in the environmental world.  David Brooks thinks so.  But will they?  Greed is not a good thing.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Dreadful

For eleven years I did not play golf.  I have clubs.  I like golf.  I guess I have no golf friends.  Who knows.  Anyway, recently I played an 18 hole round, the full course.  I was dreadful.  I lost several balls.  Well, more than several.  At the end of the round, I learned one new thing.  My right forearm hurt way down to the wrist.  This is unusual if you play golf properly.  The right forearm only guides the club for a right-handed hitter like me.  The left forearm is where the power of the swing comes into play.  The whole left side drives through the ball in the swing.  I had it backwards.  I was using the wrong arm to try and swing the club.  I was using the arm incorrectly, so it got sore from a movement not natural to it.  I have all the body parts to play golf.  I just need to use the parts correctly.  A message for living life.  I have all I need for a spiritual life.  I just don't know how to use the parts.  God really isn't all that demanding.  I just find it so because I have the parts all wrong.