Courting common sense

courtI doubt Barronelle Stutzman ever expected she would be appealing a case to the US Supreme Court.

Barronelle isn’t a terrorist, political activist or criminal.  She is a Christian and a florist. In Richland, Washington.

When I picture a Christian/florist, I can’t immediately think of a likely reason for such a person to wind up in front of the nation’s highest court.  But the crime of violating political correctness can pop up in the most innocent of places. Continue reading

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Missions: The Experience That Trumps the Idea

missionaryAs I packed my bags for Mexico, I was really proud of my theoretically oriented blog The Missionary Mentality. I honestly thought it would open some eyes and maybe even touch a heart or two. Maybe I missed that part. I received as many argumentative questions as affirmations or gracious responses as my time at the mission endured. Before I returned home, I even re-read the exhortation of ‘pre-missionary-life-Drew’ a few times and was baffled at how many just did not get it. Were my so-called ‘critics’ unwilling to leave their comfort zone? Or was I just plain wrong in some capacity to write a lengthy blog missing the entire point of the missionary life?

At first glance, I have to admit my time as a missionary does not resemble the proof of theory or ideology of my blog. It takes the shape of an adventurous, humbling, sometimes frustrating and always beautiful story that is now a chapter of my life. (How did I not see that coming?) I hope that a few of my defining moments can serve in a similar capacity for others. Continue reading

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Holiness

holyChrist today challenges us with perfection. To be perfect means to be Holy, as the first reading tells us, to be holy because God is Holy. The old law presents us with a whole list of things that make someone or something impure. There was only one thing that could make someone or something pure again, and that was contact with God. God makes us pure and holy because He touches us. He first touched us in Baptism and continues through the rest of the sacraments. We are Holy, because He has made us. At times, it seems that we lack holiness, and we try so hard to be holy. Yes, we lack it, but it isn’t something achieved, but rather we can block ourselves to God’s touch. We haven’t let God touch the parts of our lives that separate us from God. We hang out in the darkness, while God is eagerly waiting to shine His light on us. Let God enter into the dark parts of your life that even you are afraid of so that He can heal them and make you holy even there.

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Empty Nesting

nestWikipedia’s Definition of the Empty Nest Syndrome: The feeling of grief and loneliness parents feel when their children leave home for the first time, such as to live on their own or attend college or university. It is not a clinical condition.

 Since young adults moving out from their family’s house is generally a normal and healthy event, the symptoms of empty nest syndrome often go unrecognized. This can result in depression and a loss of purpose for parents, since the departure of their children from “the nest” leads to adjustments in parents’ lives. Empty nest syndrome is especially common in full-time Mothers.

“Empty Nesting” can and should be one of the most “fulfilling” and “satisfying” time in the life of a marriage! However, if the marriage is unhappy and unstable than the parents are more susceptible to “the empty nest syndrome” resulting in an identity crisis or loss of purpose in the absence of the children. This can lead to what we commonly call “a mid-life crisis”. Continue reading

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Christ was there…

christ     “And going on a little further he fell on his face and prayed. ‘My Father’, he said, ‘if it is possible, let this cup pass me by.  Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it.” — (Mt 26: 39)

Before ordination, we have the tradition of doing “month long” Spiritual Exercises.   During these long days of prayer, I experienced a batch of dryness and it was really difficult to pray.  I told Christ, “I am really struggling in my prayer right now.  In a year, I will be ordained a priest and I am starting to feel a little anxious…I really need you to be close right now.”  Christ told me in a very simple and direct way, “Br. Michael, I know this is hard for you.  But I need your help…I want to help many souls through your priesthood.  You do not have to continue, but I need your help…” It is hard to explain this moment in a simple email, but it was real and it was intense.  I felt the full force of Christ’s love and this gave me all the strength and motivation I needed to push forward.  When it gets tough, talk to Christ from the heart and listen to him!!

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Music versus music

musicThe Catholic Church inspires some of the world’s most beautiful music.

The Catholic Church inspires some of the world’s most banal music.

Yes, both of these statements are true.  And when I go to an unfamiliar parish, I never know whether I’ll encounter the beautiful or the banal – or a stumbling compromise between the two.

Last Sunday, we heard both extremes within the same Mass. Continue reading

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Ten tips on how to avoid raising entitled, spoiled children

  1. parentsBoth parents need to be on the same page; lots of communication and agreement on how to discipline and reward your children.
  2. Respect is huge. Dads need to give moms their backs and never allow any form of disrespect without severe consequences.
  3. Kids should make their own beds, clean their own rooms and have daily household chores which are age appropriate.
  4. Vary the diet and do not let them become too picky with their food…they need to try a little bit of everything.
  5. Buy them what they need, make them pay for what they want.  This example of self-control should be seen in their parents as well.
  6. Strongly encourage them to find a summer job starting in High School and continuing through college. They should have their own bank account and learn how to manage their personal spending from an early age.
  7. Bad actions have consequences.  Stick to your word; it has to “hurt” for behavior to change.
  8. Take them out of their own little worlds through mission trips, visits to soup kitchens, etc…  Hopefully the parents will reflect this spirit of selflessness and service in their own lives.  Help them learn to share their toys with other siblings and friends.
  9. Form responsibility by making them do their own work.  Resist the temptation to do their science projects, research papers and homework for them.
  10. Foster a strong prayer and Sacramental life; without God’s grace, all of this will be impossible. Again, the priorities of parents are absorbed by the children.  Is God truly first?
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The Thrill of Following Christ

christWe are confronted today, in the readings, with the commandments. The commandments are good. They are rules that we must follow, as the author of Sirach tells us, necessary to live well. Christ seems to raise the standard in his new interpretation of the commandments. He tells us it isn’t enough to fulfill the law but to look to do more. He shows us that the real commandment isn’t about a law to do or not do, but to enter into a relationship, where love is the standard. He has shown us that the real life that He came to share with us can only be lived out to the full when we don’t limit ourselves. That we love creatively. This is when following Christ and fulfilling the commandments become exciting. Life becomes a thrill when we look for new and better ways to love. This is the new standard that Christ sets for us today, that there is no limit to how much we can love. He has shown us that this is the best way to live and wants us to also share in the fullness of life.

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Chivalry lives!

wife    I am always edified by the deferential treatment of so many good men towards their wives here in NY and during my time in DC, in so many details.

  1. Holding the door or elevator, insisting that they go first, taking off and putting on their coats…
  2. Offering the seat with the best view in the restaurant, and holding their chair back before they sit down, standing up when their wife excuses herself from the table.
  3. Patiently and lovinglylistening to their wife’s perspective in a conversation without cutting them off.
  4. Offering to cook dinner, and standing up during the meal to pick up the plates and bring out the dessert.
  5. Making a real effort to arrive home on time so as to have dinner as a family.
  6. Publicly expressing gratitude to their wife for a great meal and a clean house, and for all the time and attention that she spends helping the kids.
  7. Privately praising their wife with their co-workers (and priests).
  8. For those who have stay at home moms, perhaps to say “There isn’t anything more valuable and more important that you do, than to raise our kids”
  9. Always having his wife’s back with both kids and friend alike.
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Beyond gone to the dogs

catsTraditional culture has encountered a few shocks in recent times.

First, we’ve had a huge debate over who can use which toilets.  When I grew up it was simple; girls used the girl’s toilet and boys used the boy’s toilet.  Today, regardless of the biology, the individual uses the toilet they most identify with, which could be different from what physical evidence might suggest.

Second, in the past few days the Boy Scouts have changed their membership requirements so someone joining doesn’t have to be a boy, but identify as a boy.  In other words, a girl who thinks of herself as a boy.  This should make for some interesting camping trips.  Frankly, I wasn’t much of a camper, which means I wasn’t terribly successful as a Boy Scout.  But in those ancient times I’m pretty sure we only had boys who were really boys in our tents. Continue reading

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