Thoughts… feelings… self accusations

November 8, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chris @ 2:04 pm

Lately I have been watching ‘Jericho’ on DVD. I find myself yearning for a situation similar. A place where there is true community and all members are valued. When someone in the town dies, the town mourns a collective loss. This has made me realize a fear, that at one time was a desire. The fear is that nobody would remember me once I die. It is an odd thing to consider. In reality, it does not truly effect me if people remember me or not. I think the fear is that I will have had no legitimate positive impact on people—hence, nobody would remember me. I once heard a story from a friend who was a creative writing major at college. They were assigned an obituary to write—their own. The idea was to get past inner demons and conflicts and reveal the individuals true desires and aspirations. Once those are uncovered they would be able to better writ about the human condition and moving beyond our wounded-ness. In a personal effort to move beyond my own demons and get to my true aspirations I write two obituaries below: one represents my hope and the other my fear.

 

The small town of Sleepy Eye today mourns the loss of one of the great contributors to its township. Deacon John Doe died last night in his sleep, unexplainably his heart suddenly stopped. For the past 30 years John taught religion at St. Mary’s High School here in Sleepy Eye. Within Deacon Doe’s class were some grandchildren of a few of his first students. Aside from his long history of teaching and inspiring the generations in Sleepy Eye, John served on the local Parish Council as President , served the city as mayor and as a state representative; all of this was prior to Deacon Doe’s ordination 15 years ago. Most remember Deacon Doe’s fiery homilies on Catholic Doctrine and integration of Theology in one’s spiritual life. Deacon John Doe is survived by his wife Maggie, 4 children, and 5 grandchildren. As per John’s request the wake will begin at 6pm Thursday evening with the burial at day break (6 am) the following day. All services are to be held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church with long time friend Bishop Smith, whom John attended seminary with and officiated his wedding ceremony and deaconate ordination.

 

Tomorrow services will be held for Mr. John Doe. John has served his community as a teacher at the local Catholic High School. Mr. Doe is believed to have passed away in his home late Friday night from unexplained heart complications. Services will be held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church here in Sleepy Eye beginning at 10:30am on Wednesday.

So is it a sign of weakness that I want to be married? That I long to express love, not explicitly sexually but physically? That I want to serve a wife by cooking, cleaning, providing. My idealistic romantic screams its desire for the 2 story house, white picket fence, dog, 4 kids, 2 cars, etc. I want to play with my kids, watch my daughters grow up. Explain life management skills to my kids and be there to pick them up when they fall… How long must I wait? Is that the problem, that I wait. Instead of seizing the opportunities, I wait for them to happen… Perhaps that is it.

A friend mentions that I should meet his sister, I joke about it and mentally arrive at 30 reason why I shouldn’t. Suddenly I find multiple faults with my former best friend. Suddenly, if his sister were the perfect spouse for me, I would not even date her because I could no longer stand the idea that HE would be my brother-in-law. How eff-ed up is that?

I am a lost cause, I know. Carpe Diem.

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August 18, 2008

Saddleback Showdown

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chris @ 9:57 am

The Saddleback showdown, as it was delivered and hyped up, was a revealing moment for both candidates in my opinion. Certainly, without doubt McCain did better than Obama and now, as of this morning, evidently an NBC reporter hinted that the Obama camp might accuse McCain of cheating. Citing that he answered the questions in a manner suggesting for knowledge. I would suggest that McCain’s “straight talk express” and town hall meeting style simply gave him the ‘leg up’ in this format. Regardless, the answers themselves are what I am interested in. Lastly, as a preface to this entry; I am not pushing one candidate over another. I have my own views and opinions and will vote according to my own conscience and expect all other voters to do likewise; use the media only as a source of factual information, if it is opinion ignore it.

Personally I believe the BIGGEST issue facing our nation is the 40 million deaths that have resulted from the practice of Abortion. This is a huge festering sore on the moral integrity of America and something MUST be done about it. More people have died from the practice of Abortion this past year than the entirety of the Iraq war. Simply put, what is the most valuable thing in your opinion; that thing is the central issue for you. For me it is human life. Thus making Abortion the central issue. During the Saddleback Showdown the two candidates responded this way in reply to the question by Pastor Warren.

Warren: “At what point do babies have human rights?”

Obama: Not a straight answer. Not going to quote the long speech of how he is anti-abortion but pro-choice and wants to give women the choice. Essentially, to my mind this is like someone saying, “Well, I am anti-genocide but this is something that we need to let individuals choose.” He goes on to cite that Abortions have not decreased in the past four years (something that every pro-life group disagrees with) and that his focus is reducing the number of abortions rather than eliminating the procedure altogether. THIS MEANS CONTRACEPTIVES, most of which are abortifacive. That means they are a hormonal or chemical means of abortion usually prior to the implantation of the egg but after fertilization has taken place.

McCain: “Conception.”

Analysis – Complete agreement with McCain on this one. Short and sweet… probably going to go with McCain this election. Not JUST because of this issue, but this issue is a big one. One reason I believe Obama did this two-step answer is that his short voting history is a questionable one in regard to pro-life issues. He can say “I am anti-abortion” all he wants but it remains factual that as a State Senator in Illinois he was the ONLY one in his committee to stand up in opposition to a health care bill that would provide immediate medical attention to abortion survivors who are born alive. He stood in OPPOSITION to a bill that would grant NEWBORN BABIES the same rights as any hospital would give to ANY HUMAN PERSON who walked into their ER. By law, hospitals MUST give critical health care to ALL PERSONS regardless of their ability to pay. Evidently, in Illinois this does not apply to Newborn infants. Obama wants it to stay that way. So McCain’s vision of health care would begin with conception. If your unborn child is ill guess what, you can have it covered. Obama… evidently the child must be a few hours or days old before they are covered.

In General McCain was much for direct, although he did dance around some of the questions the most notable was Warren’s question “Define Rich.” McCain replied that he wants everyone’s income to increase and is not going to increase people’s income taxes. Obama on the other hand is looking to increase the $250k+ an a modest increase for the $150k earning. These increases undoubtably would go toward the public funded college education which no doubt would fail just as public schools are failing. A position that I also agree with McCain on. In response to a question on paying better teachers more McCain spouted a litany of programs that ensure competition with schools and teachers so that a competition market ensure that the profession does its best.

Not getting into an economics lesson but a competitive market is better than a non-competative market. Simply put, competition keeps prices low and encourages business/professionals to reinvest capital, expand, research, and continually explore new options and better ways to deliver their product… in this case, education. As someone who aspires to be a teacher (in less than 1 year hopefully) I hope to see programs like school vouchers, home schooling, private school tax cuts, and government funding for ALL education programs regardless of their creed, race, color, or profession. Equality in government sponsorship is that all money is equally made available, not that it goes to programs that give it equally.

Obama’s desire to reduce abortions is familiar ground with me. I had a conversation with someone regarding this pipe-dream. I simply asked what the causes for women to choose abortion are. I was told: poverty, low social status, and under education. I replied questions how many Affluent, Rich, College graduates have abortions; the answer, “Don’t know.” But they have them, which means something else is a cause or THE cause. My opinion, irresponsibility. Young people having sex when they should wait, extramarital affairs, or the inability to financially pay for a child in the house. In all these situations if the people involved would simply just wait, say no, or plan a little in advance they would not need an abortion. So you know, less than 1% of all rape cases result in pregnancy; most rapists use condoms, they don’t want to get caught.

While both candidates dances around some questions I have to agree with NBC, McCain certainly answered more directly and confidently more often. However, I look forward to responses and comments especially in regard to Obama being “anti-abortion.”

August 13, 2008

Update

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chris @ 9:56 am

So I just got back from visiting my sister and her soon to be husband (December 27th is the date). It was nice to get away from boiling hot South. We all looked at a few houses for them and weighed in our opinions when asked for them. But now I am back in the South and melting. Depraved from the internet once I got it back I decided to get out my conversations on Open Diary, a place I had sworn off and not check in months. What I found reminded me why I gave it up… namely, stupidity.

One guy who I considered a well meaning and open-minded Atheist was referring to the Eucharist as a ‘cracker.’ I sent him a message explaining that is choice of words were very insulting to me and proceeded to explain how central the Eucharist is to the Catholic faith. I was met with a reply I did not expect. “I was referring to what it is in reality.” WOW, I mean what audacity. Complete denial of the possibility of him being wrong. Beyond this though comes the real ignorance.

A fellow user who is a fundamental Christian (whom I often disagree with) was pushing a doctrine of relative truth. The problem is that truth CANNOT be relative or subject but only objective. For the sake of not typing it again… I won’t. If you feel so inclined to read it, check out Mechwarrior88’s comments at http://www.opendiary.com/entryview.asp?authorcode=A219369&entry=10594&mode=

Other than this news… my car is acting up, not good. It has been idling rough and I just noticed that my check engine light was on. Ook it to Advanced Auto Parts and had them plug it into the computer. 2 messages for my Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) valve and one for a Cylinder 4 misfire. Great, a cylinder misfire, that could be anything with ignition. So I replace plugs, wires, and airfilter. Fired it up… light still on. Drove it back to Advanced and check it again… same errors. Tried to clear them, they came back. So, since the car is still idling rough and the same codes are popping up I decided to call my mechanic uncle. Had a nice long chat with him and decided that it was the EGR valve, probably stuck in the open position. So today, this afternoon precisely, I am going to take it off and clean it… possibly replace it. Fun fun. Hey for a 1999 car with 85k miles… this is the first problem I have had… I’ll take it.

A Dios!

July 28, 2008

Mi Chica

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chris @ 8:03 pm

So I met her. I called her, I was way early. She informed me that she was not working today… okay, odd; she then gave me directions to her house… again, odd. Slightly out of character for her also. She use to be very guarded about her boundaries. So anyway, I show up to her house, talking to her on the phone confirming my actions and her directions. I arrive to an open door and a hug, very comforting granted. We talked a little bit, she showed me her house and her messy roommates bedrooms… I am sure they appreciated that, if they knew about it. So then we went to eat lunch, yeah a day date (Just Friends allusion). It took about 1.5 hours for us to eat and visit. Then I took her back to her house and went on my way. Nothing was really said about our relationship, a few things about keeping up our friendship as we met as adults, it is easier than our earlier friendships which have to endure the changes of maturity that we go through in college.

Trying not to read into the conversation, a few hints were dropped. Like, when she was coming back into the church after her running around she liked a guy who didn’t like her. She talked to someone and they told her to pray about it and wait. If God wanted him to be her spouse he would lead the man to realize it. It didn’t click until I was gone but that was around the time that I was a seminarian in her home parish and we both were working with the youth. I still think I might be reading into the conversation though. However, the fact remains that I like her as a friend first and would consider her as a spouse; granted there are few women whom I know that would not fall into that category. Women must exhibit some personality issue to me to be excluded from that group. Anyway, I am tried and was informed tonight that I have to be working at 6am tomorrow.

July 24, 2008

Walking On Sunshine

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chris @ 12:51 pm

So, I made my announcements and took my steps away from seminary. It was difficult and I still catch myself wondering if it was the right choice. However, I feel that I am doing what God wants me to. I am consistently confirmed in my decision and continue to move forward. In a related note I finally got in contact with a friend of mine from two years ago (while I was a seminarian). We are set to have lunch on Monday over her lunch break. I am excited to see her again and just hearing her voice did amazing things for my disposition. I don’t if I should tell her my interest in HER. It seems that she is not very interested in me as we played phone tag and it seemed that she took her time in returning my messages. Also, the fact that I will be living and working about 10 hours from her for awhile.

 

I think I will hold off pushing the relationship and just be friends for now. Close friends and maybe if I feel the same way after getting to know her better as a friend.

May 8, 2008

It is not you, it is me – God

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chris @ 12:24 pm

Today I had a conversation concerning liturgical music and how to correctly choose songs for parts of the Mass. A friend of mine was in opposition to what I said and continually cited examples of how it does not apply. All of these objections were made in an attempt to demonstrate the pastoral aspect of liturgy. However, what my friend did not consider (other than my superior intelligence, experience, education, and all around ‘better-ness’ than him) is that true pastoral motivations are based in the truth that everything proceeds from and towards the Eucharist (Catechism of the Catholic Church). Jesus must be the center of my life, of everything I do. Any Christian should agree to that. Christ is the center, everything flows from him.

So why then was my friend so concerned about the people’s feelings toward music? Why is it that so many Christians focus on their emotional reaction to liturgy or scripture. Because, if the devil has us looking within we cannot look at him, Christ. This is not to say that Christ does not dwell within us, truly he does. “Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” (John 14-21) What I am getting at here is that if I focus on how I feel then I will never come to know God. Did not Christ suffer on the cross? Did not Job feel sorrow and distress? What of Abraham, he was told to kill his only son as a sacrifice to God, did he feel joyous or happy in that? My point is not that Christians ought to be somber and downtrodden all the time, but that they should be human. People, all people, have good days and bad. Christians are no different.

Should ‘church’ or ‘services’ or ‘liturgy’ be an encounter with the divine, most certainly. Should I always walk away feeling uplifted or more in tune with God, most certainly not. As I said, people have good days and bad. There are days when I don’t want to get out of bed (today was one of them); I cannot rationally expect to attend Mass and suddenly be uplifted and realize my pentacostal mission to evangelize. I may stumble out of the pew and go home, back to my bed. What should take place in Mass is my encounter with the divine. I should realize the divine. I should transcend my experience for those few brief moments to greet God, more present in my life than usual in that singular moment. I should realize that it is not about how I feel. It is not about what I get out the service. It is about what I put into the service.

Saint Augustine wrote that prayer and Eucharist are not about God, they are about us. He goes on to explain that when we enter into prayer and embrace the divine in the Eucharist we transcend ourselves and stand before God. We better ourselves in this process. We don’t attain this better-ness through our power, rather (paradoxically) we attain it through the submission of our power. We attain it through placing ourselves at the mercy of God and the wisdom of tradition (scripture is part of tradition). When I realize that Mass is not about me and what I get out of it but rather that I contribute to the glory of God I realize my place in God’s plan. I take the first step towards being more like Christ who died on a cross (very unpleasant by the way) so that I might be able to see the divine.

As a closing thought, Jesus commanded us to love God first, then our neighbor as ourselves. When we step into a Church building and look forward to being uplifted through prayer, we are placing our needs over what is due to the Father. When we pray should we not use the structure of the perfect prayer, the Our Father? Jesus instructed us to address God (Our Father, who are in heaven) then glorify Him (Holy is your name). Next we are to seek his will (Your kingdom come [how?] your will be done [where?] on earth as it is [already] in heaven) THEN we ask for our needs to be met (give us this day our daily bread and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil).

April 6, 2008

Adoration Reflection

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chris @ 1:54 pm

I was asked to compose a reflection for adoration. Any topic I wished, below is that reflection. Enjoy.

 

    Brothers, how blest we are that our Lord comes to us through the Eucharist. That we, might be able to experience a tiny amount of the joy and spiritual ecstasy which his own mother experienced when the angel proclaimed to her, “Hail, full of grace.”

 

    I cannot help but see the parallel between the salvific incarnation, in which Mary so beautifully participated in, and our daily reception of the Eucharist, and even in this moment as we are present in adoration.

 

     For Mary, Christ humbled himself through the incarnation and became man. However, Christ again humbles himself through transubstantiation, entering into the form of bread so that we, his lowly servants, might be able to echo her words, ‘He has looked with favor on his lowly servant.’ Christ does this so that we will be daily strengthened in order to continually seek the Father’s will and one day enter into the eternal joy, that beatific vision which the saints experience, which this sacrament gives us but a glimpse of.

 

What love the Father has… what humility Christ displays… what obedience Mary replies with.

 

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,

My spirit rejoices in God my Savior

For he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

 

From this day all generations will call me blessed:

The Almighty has done great things for me,

And holy is his Name.

 

He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation

 

He has shown the strength of his arm,

He has scattered the proud in their conceit.

 

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,

And has lifted up the lowly.

 

He has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich he has sent away empty.

 

He has come to the help of his servant Israel

For he has remembered his promise of mercy,

The promise he made to our fathers,

To Abraham and his children for ever.”

 

Indeed brothers, we are blessed… For God has shown his favor to us, time and time again in this most holy and precious sacrament, how blest we are to merely be in the presence of God himself in this very room.

March 27, 2008

Sorrows never travel alone

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chris @ 8:15 am

So as I began to announce my departure from seminary I realized that many people are leaving. I wrote about the fact that my diocese (which began this academic year with 7 seminarians) will have 3 in formation next year, one in a parish as a deacon and 3 people no longer studying for the diocese or living in a parish. Then I find out that some 3 or 4 people who are 1 year behind me and another 2 or 3 ahead of me who are leaving. In short I know of roughly 8 people who are stepping out of formation this year. What is causing this exodus, it is normal? These are a few questions that I have as I am leaving. Also, what exactly I am going to be doing.

Something that troubles me deeply is my desire to just give up on my studies. Firstly, my classes are by and large worthless. They are full of busy work and do not inspire interest or insight. These are strong opinions I hold and it is not only I that hold them. Out of the 4 classes that I have 1 stands out as a good class. We are threatened with difficult tests by the professor but even with that we, that is my class, has openly said that we would gladly trade all of our busy work for difficult tests, provided that we got as much from those classes as we do from the 1 difficult class. *sigh* I am ready to move on. I am ready to be in a parish. I am excited to be working in a parish with the pastor. I am excited to bring my enthusiasm and knowledge to a school and parish. To renew the fire of God’s love in my life and the life of those whom I encounter.

I feel myself being pulled deeper into the mystery and love of God. I am spending less quantity but more quality in silence with God in the Chapel. I feel embarrassed because of the lack of time I spend in the chapel but am encouraged by the profound motivation I receive from the time I spend in mediation before our Lord. I think about leaving and feel sorrow as I am leaving my brothers. I feel joy at knowing I am doing God’s will. I feel like I cannot contain the love I have been granted for Liturgy and Parish life. In essence I am torn as to be happy or sad and so I am complicatedly both at the same time. When I consider if this is a good move, I know that it is the right move. This morning I considered staying. Reversing my decision and staying in seminary. I actually shuttered, the thought of living a life that I am not called to, it was so overwhelmingly false. I saw Christ frown and felt a millstone being tied around my neck.

Lately, I have been prompted to be very transparent. I informed the student leader (who is leaving also) of the Papal Trip to NY from our seminary that I would not be accompanying the group to NY. I told him that I had decided to leave and that I could not in good conscious attend the trip and it feels like a lie, it made me feel false and untrue. Pope Benedict is addressing seminarians, those who are discerning priesthood in a formation program, which I not… officially after this semester. I have made my decision and I will be leaving so realistically I am not discerning or a seminarian; however, technically I am. Legally, I am.

As I survey the room, I am excited to work with these men. I am excited to stand behind these men as they exercise the priestly office of Christ in the parish. I standing behind them, Emceeing the Liturgy, teaching religion, instructing the youth. I believe I have found my call. To be a friend to the priest and extend his reach into the parish. Bring people to him so that he can bring people to God. WOW, what an awesome gift.

March 23, 2008

My Sista’s Man

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chris @ 9:52 pm

So this weekend I met my sister’s boyfriend. Really nice guy. His brother is dating a friend of my sisters’ whom I also know. Sweet girl and he also is a nice guy. I know I just met these guys but they seem like good fellows and they seemed interested in me, shy but interested. I (with my limited knowledge) would not mind the relationship continuing or even progressing to engagement. Yeah, she has my okay. HAHA! Like she needs it. She is 6 years my elder.

Anyway. Seeing these two couples and even the couple that joined the Catholic Church last night together really solidified my decision to leave. I have been reaffirmed numerous times in conversations with my friends and vocation director, some went well and others did not. But the fact remains that I am leaving the seminary because I feel called to AND I will begin the pursuit of a call to marriage to see if that is what God is calling me towards. I hope it is because I am ready to begin living out my vocation.

I have a sobering thought. I live here with my parents, teach in the catholic High School 30 mins away. Join Pastoral Council, and take over training alter servers and assume the role of MC for the parish. The only problem is finding a wife. But something tells me that God has his plan and I just need to follow it.

Really, seriously… it is humbling and frightening. I submit this way to God will. I have this vision that I will be doing God’s will and some random day I will see her. I can almost envision her now. It would start as a friendship and then we will realize that we both are seeking more than that. *sigh* see, these are the things that I have to guard myself from. Because, as much as I may want to change it, I remain a seminarian for right now. I write this, not to say that I want a relationship, but that I want to live my vocation and I feel my vocation is to marriage. Which means, DATING.

All in due time and in God’s time.

March 12, 2008

Retreat Day 4

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chris @ 7:49 pm

Well, today I was reading a book in a common area when a friend motioned to me. He and another guy were going for a walk, odd I thought. Then it dawned on me. All three of us have the same retreat director, all three of us also share many of the same views concerning ‘liberal’ feminism. So I went with him, expecting a talk. A talk it was. About 2.5-3 hours we strolled around the cow pasture and chit chatted about why our school set us here for retreat and how this place is sucking the resources out of a struggling diocese. Then, we witnessed a calf being born. Interesting, my friend was worried about throwing up, while I and the other friend were taking pictures of the event. No, not the actual birth, but the cow cleaning the calf and eventually the calf standing up and staggering about. Amazing that the calf stood after only a few mins, seriously about 20-30 mins and he was standing, went straight for the tit also.

Anyway, tomorrow we have adoration after Mass. I signed up for 12:30-1:30. Tomorrow is the last day. One more meeting with her. I think I can make it. Gosh I hope you people don’t think I am a sexist pig. I don’t hate women, in fact I respect them greatly. When women discard the dignity God gave them, I begin to lose respect for them. Ah, the lie of ‘There is no difference between men and women.’

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