Sunday, February 24, 2013

Catholicism Through My Eyes: The Church, Her Priests and Pedophilia

Okay...I will let you in on a little secret. When I write a blog....usually it is spur of the moment, meaning that I don't do a lot of pre-planning or pro and con thinking on it. I usually get the idea and then run with it. Since I have started doing my Catholicism Through My Eyes blogs though....I try to plan ahead and pick topics which I think will be both interesting and subjects that I myself have been asked about. Today's blog took a little more thinking as I wanted to be sure that I did the subject justice. Many have asked me about my thoughts on priests and pedophilia in the church and I decided perhaps now was the time to discuss it. I hope this blog helps to clear up any misconceptions and also helps to educate at least a little on this subject.

Before I begin....I would like to reiterate what I have said from the beginning. These blogs are how "I" see my faith and the issues surrounding it. Unless otherwise notated...what I write is strictly my thoughts and my opinions and are to be viewed as such.

Being Catholic my entire life, I have had the honor of knowing some extraordinary priests. I have also known some passable priests, one priest whom I am not sure the priesthood was his true calling and another priest whom I can say hands down was the saintliest person I have ever known. As Catholics...priests are a part of our lives. They are our spiritual guides and are there when our spiritual life here on earth begins at baptism and again when it ends when we are anointed for our final journey home. In between life and death their job is to prepare us, guide us, counsel us and do whatever possible to keep us strong in our faith.

Growing up I was a product of both Catholic and public school. Where public school was laid back and informal....Catholic school was far different. You had teachers, you had nuns, you had some nuns as teachers, you had a principal and then you had the priest. At every Catholic school I attended (3 in all) if the priest walked in the classroom, lunch room, etc....everyone stopped what they were doing and stood. We remained standing until Father either left the room or took a seat himself. It may sound like a lot of pomp and circumstance for just one person....but the reality was that it taught us that priests were called to serve God and they held a very special place in the eyes of the Church and the school and therefore they deserved reverence and respect. It took me years after leaving Catholic school not to stand at attention when a priest entered a room.

In my life priests have been wonderful people who have worked hard to help others, guide others and keep their parish families faithful in the ways of the church. This is truly the only kind of priest I have ever known....(except for the one and he is another story for another time). Nearly my entire life my mother always included prayers for priests in all our family prayers. Once I asked her why we always prayed for priests and she said that since Jesus made Peter the first pope....the church had been at war with satan. Satan would love nothing more than to destroy the Catholic church and the best way to destroy anything is from within. So it was because of this that we prayed that our priests stayed strong, faithful and worked according to God's will and not their own. As a kid this didn't really make a lot of sense to me as somehow I felt that if you were a priest you were above sin. It wasn't until I was older that I realized that priest are holy men....but they are all human with human frailties and if a man becomes a priest without a true calling or with bad intentions....he can become a cancer on the church.

It used to be that every Catholic mother had one fervent prayer for her children. She always prayed that at least one would be called to a religious life in service to Our Lord.  When there was a calling in the family it was a time of great joy and happiness and of course the family felt it was very blessed to have a religious person in their number. A calling though had to be a true desire to give up all worldly goods and to be willing to spend the rest of your life serving Christ. With a true calling there is never a doubt although there are those that have thought they had a calling only to find that while going through the first stages of studying for the priesthood that perhaps they were meant to serve God in other ways. There is no shame in realizing such a human mistake as God calls us all in one way or another. To be called to the priesthood means that you give up any life outside the church. You give up money for you will only have what it takes to feed and clothe you. You give up you seldom see the family you came from and you give up a future family (wife and kids) as God and those you serve become your only family. You also give up roots as you can be transferred from parish to parish as the Bishop deems necessary or you can even be transferred to other parts of the world. When you are called....the desire to serve God is more important than any worldly or physical desire or need and all is easily given up. However...if the calling is not truly there...then giving these things up is no longer done with joy and humility and the desire to serve God can become a frustration causing human frailty and human desires to take over. It can be a road to disaster. There is also the very real knowledge that men with no calling at all but rather a desire to destroy both the church and the faithful also enter the priesthood. As my mother used to say "satan walks the earth in all forms for his own greater glory and to destroy the Catholic Church is his one true desire," and if you have picked up a newspaper in the last decade or is quiet evident that he has darkened the doors of more than one Catholic church in the guise of a priest. He is working very hard to try and destroy us from within.

The facts are that according to a quick look at wiki....currently in the world, there are somewhere around about a half a million priests. Of those half million about 3,000 have been accused of pedophilia. As you can see....the number of good and faithful priests far outweighs the number of priests who have entered the priesthood with bad intentions or those who have fallen to human wickedness. When the first cases of pedophilia came out...the media latched onto them and ran. The headlines not only tried and convicted the priest in question but they cast such a vast and dark net that suddenly the entire Catholic church was tried and convicted in the press......and it seemed that all priest everywhere had to watch their backs as they were viewed as deviant and dangerous in the public eye. As time went on....more and more stories of young boys who had been molested by their parish priests were surfacing. Bishops and Cardinals were trying to calm the waters and reassure both Catholics and non-Catholics that these incidents were best case scenario false...worst case fairly isolated....but the media would have none of it and soon the Catholic Church was the butt of every late night comedians joke and the headline of every newspaper and broadcast news report around the world. It was horrific, embarrassing and although not a true representation of the Church or her was the view that the world now had of the Church and her priests. The Church then did the worst thing it could do. It tried to deny and to some extent cover up and if I remember correctly there was even talk of victims being paid off. It was a horrendous situation made even worse by a Church who simply either didn't know how or couldn't face the fact that there were those among them who were not men of God but men who used their position to gain trust and then take advantage of those whom they were suppose to be protecting both physically and spiritually.

After a time, the Church realized that they couldn't run from this. The men.....priests or not, who had committed these crimes were in fact criminals and should in fact have to suffer the same consequences as any other criminal charged with the same crimes. It took awhile but eventually some of the Bishops and Cardinals over the churches where these crimes were committed did publicly speak out and apologize to the victims for these tragic and life altering acts, and the Pope too apologized for the unspeakable crimes committed by these priests. Some saw this as too little too late and for the was.

Pedophilia amongst priests though must be put into perspective. Not ignored, white washed or excused.....but put into a perspective that shows the reality of the church, priests and pedophilia. Out of half a million priests....approximately three thousand were accused of this criminal act. Were all guilty? There is a great possibility that a percentage accused were not, but I don't have any facts to back that up. However...those three thousand suddenly became the face of all Catholic priests. There were no headlines about the priests who quietly said daily Mass, headed up their parishes and worked in their communities to make them better places. We never heard about the priests who worked tirelessly to help those in need, who sat by the beds of the dying, fed those who needed fed, helped find housing and necessities for those who had lost jobs or were down on their luck. No....we didn't hear about the majority of those who gave their lives to God and lived their faith daily. We only heard about the few. The few who had no real faith and who had left God behind in favor of their own sick desires. It hardly seems fair.

A little further perspective? There are pedophiles in every walk of life. There are teachers who not unlike these priest gain the trust of kids and then use that trust to lure them into sex acts and molestation. I would guess that if the number of good teachers in the world were compared to the number of teachers who have taken advantage of their students that the percentages wouldn't be a lot different than that of the priests. However....I have never heard anyone openly accuse all teachers of being dangerous pedophiles because of the few. While those teachers who have committed these criminal acts do make parents take a step back and assess their own kids teacher a little closer.....there has been no mad dash to pull kids from school because there are those teachers who use their jobs as a means to a sick end.

What about police officers, firemen, rabbi's, ministers, youth group advisers, scout leaders, politicians, neighbors and family members? There have been cases in all of these sectors of pedophilia. It really doesn't matter if a child is molested by a priest or a scout leader, the fact is someone they trusted used that trust against them and in the end they will never be the same. Funny just don't hear the damaging headlines about policemen, rabbi's or scout leaders like you do about priests. In no other group is the whole held accountable for the few.

My take on all of this? Any time a child is harmed in such a matter who does it, it is a crime. Those kids will have to live not only with the molestation but also with the knowledge that someone they trusted took advantage of that trust in order to cause them harm. I feel that the priests who committed these crimes should have been treated the same as any other criminal who committed a crime of this nature. The Bishops and Cardinals should have taken an honest and open stand on priests and pedophilia from the get go and they should have taken the power from the media where the Church is concerned by facing the allegations head on. I also believe that the Pope should have spoken out immediately on the allegations apologizing to the victims and their families and assuring them that the Church would not stand for this type of behavior among its priests....thus giving the offending priests no place to hide and showing support and protection for the multitude of good priests.  Much pain and suffering could have been alleviated with swift and straight forward action, but then again...hine sight is always 20/20.

Looking forward.....I would like to think that both Catholics and non-Catholics alike would be able to see the big picture. There are those in every group whose actions have the ability to damage the whole. The Catholic church is no different. It is obvious that the main stream media has little love for the Church and will take any chance it gets to tarnish, defame or annihilate her anyway they can. And now.....Mom's words ring true with a crystal clear meaning that only in the last few years have I fully understood. We pray for our priests because they are the heart and soul of our Church. We pray for those priests who live their lives daily for God and hold their vows deep within their hearts. We pray that they stay strong and faithful even in the face of those who wish them harm either physically or spiritually.  If these last few years have taught us nothing else....the point has been dramatically brought home that the Catholic Church is under siege and the battle lines have been drawn among her priests. Yes satan continues to walk the earth in all forms for his own greater glory, but his efforts to destroy the Catholic Church continue to fail for as long as there is continued prayer and love for God, His Holy Church and our beloved priests.....satan will never stand a chance. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

MeTV and Maude

If you are a child of the 70's, then you might remember that the early 70's were a time of great change in the world of television viewing. It was a time when many new sitcoms such as The Jeffersons, Good Times and All in the Family became staples of the airwaves. Times were becoming political and writer/producer Norman Lear was cashing in big with his sitcoms which had a decidedly liberal edge. Thanks to Lear and a few others like him....many shows were off limits in my house. limits for me as I was just a young child and these shows were considered way too mature for kids. My mother however did watch many of least for awhile. The three shows that I remember Mom watching but being completely taboo for me were Maude, Soap and Mary Hartman Mary Hartman. Since we only had one tv and Mom held all the power in the house....I had no idea what I was missing all I knew was if I couldn't watch must be good!

With the channels now like TVLand, Antenna TV and least some of these shows are getting new life breathed into them. New generations are getting to see a birds eye view of what the world was like through the eyes of Lear and others. TV was quickly changing from squeaky clean Ward and June Cleaver on Leave it to Beaver and heading straight into a raunchier and somewhat edgier Archie and Edith Bunker on All in the Family. 

What I have learned from watching these shows as an adult is.....for that time these shows were ground breaking. They were a mix of edgy bordering on blue humor along with a lot of political and social statements. The thing most of these shows had in common were that they were superbly acted by stars such as Carroll O'Connor, Bea Aurthur, Sherman Hemsley and Billy Crystal. In a conservative climate...these shows were shaking up the airwaves, causing some to turn off their tv's and in some cases causing even more to turn them on (albeit ushering their children from the room) to see what Archie and Maude were going to do this week.

The three as I said that we never were allowed to watch were considered the more risque' and shocking of the new order of sitcoms. Soap was one that went at every social taboo of the time from infidelity to homosexuality and hit them head on. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman to this day as an adult I am not sure what it was about. It was filmed as an old time soap opera with a modern (1970's) comedic twist. As I recall it was another one that broke ground, threw out everything everyone had ever known about soaps and comedy and wasn't afraid to offend. I have seen several episodes as an adult and quite frankly....I wasn't that impressed, maybe because I found it ridiculous....but back in the day, it was a guilty pleasure for many. Finally.....there was Maude. My mother (a very conservative lady) watched Maude until Maude did the unthinkable and had an abortion. My mother refused to watch it after that. Well for awhile anyway.

Other than knowing that Maude had an abortion....I really knew very little about Maude until recently. Yes....I am still kid enough to think that if Mom forbade it....then I just had to know why. Thanks to MeTV......I have been able to find out. For the early 1970's Maude had to have been culture shock. The premise is a four times married liberal woman who constantly feels the need to prove her liberalism while putting up with her neighbors/best friends who are far more conservative than she. The show dealt with the ERA (equal rights amendment), civil rights, homosexuality, divorce and yes...abortion. All of these were hot buttons of the 70's and some had never before been discussed on tv. To think of going from Lucy and Ricky having to have separate beds to Maude discussing premarital sex had to have caused the vapors in more than one household.

Looking at Maude now though....I have to laugh. First, let me say that Bea Arthur and Rue McClanahan were just as funny in the 70's on Maude as they were in the 80's in the Golden Girls. Arthur had a stage presence and a way with physical comedy that few other actresses of her day or any other for that matter.....had or have. Her facial expressions alone could keep an audience laughing well into the next scene. By today's standards Maude is mild mannered and pretty non-offensive (sans the abortion episodes), but the humor remains timeless.

What I find most interesting though..... is that in so many ways....Maude's liberalness was more of a persona she wanted rather than who she really was. Examples of this are Maudes stand on free love. In the 70's free love was the new hot button. Sex was becoming casual and couples were having sex outside of marriage and even living together. Maude was all for it....except when it came to her grown daughter. Just the thought of her adult and divorced daughter Carol having sex in her house sent Maude into a melodramatic frenzy. Her liberal views on sex also did not trickle down to her teenage grandson who was not allowed to be alone in the house with his young girl friend. Maude also went overboard with her civil rights views when hiring a black maid. Rather than hire a white maid (yes....they still called them maids even in the enlightened 70's) she actively sought out a black maid to prove how socially progressive she was. Then in her guilt over hiring the black maid....rather than let her work, Maude was treating her to three martini lunches and telling her how supportive of black issues she was....all the while racially insulting both the maid (Florida) and blacks in general far more than any racist ever could. Even when it came to her abortion....Maude believed other women could have abortions but for her it was inherently wrong. If not for the urging of her daughter....the Maude character likely would not have had the abortion because even in her self proclaimed liberal ideology....right was right and wrong was wrong.

What I see in Maude is much what I see in a lot of the liberals of our current generation. So many liberals wish to be seen as forward thinking, accepting of all views and both civilly and socially conscience to the extent that right or wrong they tend to support any liberal agenda. Thus when you try to get to the center stone of why they feel or believe a certain way....they can't really tell you, because they really don't know. They simply want to be viewed as liberals and all that implies....even if they aren't sure what all that implies. Maude is very much this way in the respect that often she tries to support what she thinks any good liberal would, but when push comes to becomes almost ridiculous because her core belief is simply not there. She also learns that like it or not.....she does have prejudices and even some conservative values that she just can't get beyond. I think Lear got it right with this character. Just as he did with Archie Bunker the polar opposite of Maude. Bunker's hard core conservatism didn't always bid well for him and as the character grew both Bunker and the audience found that underneath the racist, hard nosed extreme conservative exterior lay a man who didn't really hate anyone who wasn't white and even grew to tolerate his liberal son in law.

I think Lear tried to show us that in every liberal there are some conservative values and in every conservative lies a little social liberalism. Possibly this was modeled after his own experiences. Lear was a decorated WWII soldier who fought proudly for his country. His politics and social views were and I assume even at 90 something still are, liberal but when he felt the Carter administration was a failure and not a good fit for the country he fought for.... he was not afraid to vote against the democratic party. Many of his characters also show this same strong but not unbendable stance which in my opinion makes them both human and likable regardless of your own politics or beliefs.

Yes...I have to say that watching Maude of late has made me laugh to the point of tears at times. I love the contradictions in Maude and can sort of understand how my ultra conservative mom was drawn into the show all those years ago. Although Mom was the antithesis of Maude, to her I am sure this new sitcom was like a train wreck. You just couldn't not watch. I think aside from the pure humor that Maude creates with every episode....I also appreciate both the writing and the acting of this show. Arthur, McClanahan, Conrad Bain, Bill Macy and Adrienne Barbeau were a cast that was hard to beat....although Arthur, McClanahan and Bain are by far my favorites on the show and sadly....they are all gone now. 

So it is Saturday morning....snow is on the ground, we didn't get to go to St. Louis and I have obviously been watching too much tv. Two 4 day weekends in a row is just a little too much tv time. However...if you are like me  and are really tired of all the reality shows, the blood and guts crime shows and some of the current sitcoms that have a whole lot more "sit" going on than "com"....I encourage you to take a walk down memory lane. Check out Maude or if Maude is not your cup of tea....MeTV has everything from My Three Sons to Emergency. All the shows we grew up with and even those that some of us were not allowed to watch. ;)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Breaking Point and Limits

So....we've all been there. Even the nicest, calmest most easy going individual has done it. What am I referring to? Being pushed to your limit. Some people are non-confrontational, some have a knack of letting things just slide off their back.....and myself, get to an age where they/me....simply learn to pick which battles are worth busting a kidney over and which ones are not. doesn't matter who you are or how generous of spirit, kind or even tempered you are.....we all have our breaking point and when pushed far enough....we are left with no choice but to stand up and fight.

I have talked in the recent past about what I have seen on facebook (fb) lately. A lot of people who have spent literally years on fb talking about their day to day lives, showing pictures of their families and sharing recipes.....have suddenly become hyper political. Daily their wall is filled with pictures, quotes and news stories of what is going on in the political arena and none of it is good. In fact it is down right depressing to the point of bringing others down so low that they are deleting long time friends and family. It isn't even about disagreeing with these posts for many. Some totally agree....they just simply feel they can do nothing about it and therefore they can't deal with every time they look at fb all they see is more of the same negativity. So why are these once mild mannered fbers suddenly spending literally hours of their days watching news reports and combing the web for political information and then filling their fb page with it? Because they have been pushed to their limit!

What has happened in this country since 9/11 is astonishing. If you sit back and really look at the big can't help but be amazed (and not necessarily in a good way) at how we as a country and a people have changed. Before that day in 2001...we were a country that wasn't particularly political as a whole. Yes we had our two main parties...democrats and republicans...most politically affiliated because that's just the way our parents had always voted....and we had the occasional independent or other rogue party, but that was it. No one much thought about politics unless it was an election year and even then we were living in such an apathetic world that even the presidential elections were pretty lack luster at the polls. We had lived in a world where our freedoms were in tact, war was far removed from us and we were the greatest nation in the world in all areas where it counted. Other countries either feared us or wanted to be us and our enemies were held at bay with the knowledge that we could crush them without even breaking a sweat. We were smug in our belief that this was forever how the world would be....and we let our guard down.

On September 11, 2001...our apathy was blown apart and fell to ashes with the Twin Towers. The bubble of safety, security and superiority was burst with the crashing of the first plane. We as a country and a people were changed forever. Instead of deflating though and tucking our tails and running....we did what Americans do. We regained our footing, stood tall and fought! We had been pushed to our limit as we watched workers remove rubble and the body count climbed higher each and every day. We weren't defined as any one political party...we were all Americans and as Americans....we were going to handle this together. The enlistment lines were blocks long, flags were flying and people teared up and filled with emotion each time we heard our National Anthem. We were a people united and no terrorist or group of terrorist was going to destroy what our forefathers had fought so hard to create.

In hindsight....the war was not what anyone (including the president) thought it would be. We had the image of ourselves striking fast, striking deadly and returning home victorious and that all those lives lost that day would be avenged. The reality though is that all these years later we still have soldiers deploying and although two very dangerous enemies to our country are gone....we still know that many more are out there just biding their time to once again strike and try to destroy us. At the time of 9/11....the president...George W. Bush was reading a story to a group of school children. When he got word about the first plane hitting the Twin Towers...rather than jump up and run out in a frenzy....he opted to finish the story he was reading and then head out, thus not alarming a roomful of school children. Should he have done that? Many jumped on him for that and said it showed he didn't care. For years that was brought up in the media and he was taken to task over and over again for this one act. Did those few extra minutes really matter that much? Could he have really stopped anything or made it any better? Would any fewer lives have been lost? It was Bush's Benghazi...and the beginning of the end for Bush in the media's eye and from that point on....he was the butt of every late night talk show host's joke and the villain of CNN and MSNBC. However...even with the negative press he was getting....when fighting fire with fire was on the table, the majority of American's regardless of political affiliation along with most of Congress voted for and supported us going to war. We had been pushed beyond our limits and we were not going to just stand idly by while we were attacked. We were going to fight!

The first few years of the war this country stayed strong and united. We believed in what we were doing and if ever there was doubt all we needed to do was look at the crater left by the Twin Towers or think about all the families who had lost someone that day. By 2007 though, the war was still going strong. Every day more troops were being deployed and every day the American body count was rising. Our quick in and out war was turning into something much bigger and much uglier than anything we had ever dreamed and American's were losing hope. We were tired of watching our soldiers coming home in body bags and seeing families being torn apart by this unwinable war. It felt as if we were just sending our young men and women to a country where the people were incapable of taking care of themselves and in an effort to protect and defend these people...our people were dropping like flies. Once again....we were being pushed to our limits, so when "hope" and "change" became the battle cry of a man from ChiTown.....people listened.

It didn't hurt that this man was black and that he spoke with a charm and ease that could sell ice to Eskimo's. The war suddenly was the fault of one person and one person alone.....George W. Bush (forget all the Congressmen and American's behind him when it started) and this was the beginning of the what I like to call Operation Scapegoat. Suddenly everything from Bird flu to Global Warming was Bush's fault and the media ran with it. The American people heard absolutely nothing good about Bush during the entire campaign and election process of 2008, BUT suddenly this little known ChiTown ice salesman was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Barrack Obama was not a name I knew. I cared nothing about his color....but his charisma was something that could not be denied. Every time he spoke...the words "hope" and "change" flowed from his tongue like honey. He was making promises of an end to the war, more jobs and an end to the recession. We also heard murmurings of "free" healthcare for one and all. The picture was bright and suddenly everyone put on their rose colored glasses and rushed to the polls. People were sick of war, sick of funerals and sick of thinking about 9/11 and terrorism. People wanted hope and change and they rushed to the polls to make it happen. Once again Americans had been pushed and they took a stand. Was it the right one?

During this time....there were those who didn't quite buy into the charm exuding from Obama's lips. It had nothing to do with race and everything to do with research. There were questions about his birth origin (which he himself and his wife helped put into question in past interviews....when she called him Kenyan born and he called himself a foreign exchange student when he was going to school in this country). When these discrepancies were pointed out.....the media began an immediate and steady character assassination of any person or group who should even question this new president. Rather than immediately show a birth certificate that would have undoubtedly relieved many minds and gone miles towards uniting Americans after a political split during an election year.....Obama chose to remain indignant and refused to relieve anyone's mind. Many of us who had just left the Bush years where he was bashed for days on end by the media if he smiled wrong, were amazed that there was not more outrage at even the possibility that we might have a nonAmerican born president. We all knew that if it was Bush people would have been yelling for impeachment on speculation alone. Instead...Obama supporters ignored it and conservatives suddenly became the new American terrorists in the media.

Then came the Healthcare Act or Obamacare as it is casually known. Many were against this act...Americans and Congressmen alike. There were too many unknowns and we as a country were asked to support something that we really knew little about. The word "free" (much like hope and change) were bandied about daily and people who had not been able to afford healthcare or those that had never had healthcare were sold. It was at this point that many Americans really started to question not only this administration....but also the mindset of some of their fellow Americans. Common sense was being thrown out the door. We seemed to have forgotten that you don't sign an agreement before you read it through and you know exactly what it is in it. AND you get what you pay for. Free is never free! We were told that we would know what was in the bill when it was passed. REALLY???? There was a whole group of highly intelligent Americans who didn't even flinch when this comment was made by Nancy Pelosi. They apparently only heard the word "free" and were sold. Forget that we had no idea what we were getting....and that it was a big bunch of unsubstantiated promises that we were not allow to know details on. All anyone seemed to care about was it's supposed price the eleventh hour of signing this bill....Obama told the American people that it would be signed regardless and miraculously....those Congressmen that had either been on the fence or against the bill....were suddenly on board with it. And how about the fact that the president, his family and no one in Congress or their families will have to participate in Obamacare? Yes...people will say that their insurance was grandfathered in therefore they are exempt. My thinking...if the Healthcare Act is good enough for the American citizenship then why not as a show of support for this act as well as a good faith gesture.....did Obama and Congress not include themselves? Again...this could have done a lot of damage control and done some uniting of the division. Instead the divide grew deeper. Was all of this not a red flag? Apparently not for many. It was simply becoming business as usual.

As his first term continued on...."it's Bush's fault," became Obama's battle cry. When unemployment rose, gas prices became astronomical and our soldiers were still being deployed, his excuse was always Bush. Forget that he had promised that he would see unemployment decrease, prices go down and he would bring all our soldiers home within the year. Perhaps he was seeing that as president your best intentions are not always possible or maybe......this was actually the "change" he had intended all along.

It became more and more evident that rather than giving American's hope...Obama was causing more despair. Our national debt was rising at an unfathomable rate. More people than ever before were out of work and turning to welfare. Welfare was being run dry because of all the generational recipients receiving benefits and then add to that all the new out of work recipients and we had a mess. We were also dealing with weekly and even daily price jumps at the gas pump, food and necessities going up and small businesses going under at an alarming rate and we were in the midst of a recipe for disaster. When we got to the point where Congress couldn't even pass a budget....we started to see something new going on with Obama. I call it the presidential tantrum. This is threats he makes when things or Congress don't go his way. He will threaten soldiers pay, medicare and social security OR he will threaten to circumvent both the Constitution and Congress if he doesn't get what he wants. He has openly done this on numerous occasions something that I must point out once again.....Bush would have been crucified for....and yet his supporters don't flinch. What is going on????

When the 2012 election came around....those of us who had lost hope for any good change.....once again saw a glimmer. The common sense thought that if something is broke you must fix it, seemed to be more prevalent. Obama's leadership was not working and the numbers don't lie. Between prices going up, the job market failing and the inability for the president to reign in spending and unite Congress long enough to accomplish even a budget was time for real change. Not just the kind of change promised long enough to sway the voting masses...but then never delivered on....but REAL change. 

Prior to this election....Americans were killed in Benghazi and neither the president nor Hillary Clinton, both privy to what happened lifted a finger to help. They watched as Americans died and the media swept it under the rug. Try as people might....Obama and his supporters refused to discuss Benghazi. For any other president at any other time.....Americans would have demanded that he be held accountable. It would have been an outrage to every American in this country, but instead there was silence. It was as if those lives lost meant nothing. At this time there were also many rumors some substantiated and some not about the presidents past, his ties to Muslim extremists and his real agenda where the United States was concerned. It all fell on deaf ears as he was re-elected once again.

Since November, we have heard Hillary Clinton say "What difference does it make" in regards to Benghazi (a total disregard for American lives lost). We have seen a huge increase in censorship and major line crossing in our 1st Amendment rights. What was a right to free speech during Bush's presidency (disrespectful cartoons, outbursts from the other side during speaking engagements and social media posts that disagree with the president) are suddenly being censored and those speaking out are being viewed as American terrorists. One of the worst things though has been this presidency using tragedies such as the Sandy Hill school shootings as a way to manipulate the public and try to enforce gun control which is blatantly illegal according to the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. Once again common sense has been thrown to the wolves and mass hysteria is being used to convince the public that ANYONE with a gun is dangerous. People seem to overlook the fact that if you disarm law abiding citizens....then the only ones with guns will be the ones getting them illegally. And how about the fact that the president and his family are protected by guns...but he doesn't feel that the American people should have the same right? We have now gone past the red flag warning stage....we are now in the sinking ship stage. We sent a loud message when Obama was re-elected. It said that we don't care about our country, our Constitution, our rights, what our forefathers fought for, or most of all.....what our children will have to live with and clean up after. By re-electing him he knew he had won and that he had free reign with this country and we as Americans didn't have the moxy nor the patriotism to stop him. And this....pushed many of us to our limit.

Maybe when you see all of those posts of negativity you ought to read a few. Maybe if it raises a red should head the warning and do some research. Maybe you should quit letting the mainstream media lead you. Maybe you should ask yourself if you are really any better right now than you were before he took office the first time. Will you be when more comes out of your check to fund his healthcare act? How about when you realize that free isn't free and you have to pay for your healthcare or get fined for not having insurance? What about when your employer cuts your hours in order to not have to insure you and you are making less money and STILL have to pay for insurance? What happens when you can't voice your opinion on this because you are either deemed racist or a terrorist? The list of things to question goes on and on and some of us have been questioning it for a very long time. Those posts aren't made by people who want to drag you down, hate the president or even want to see him fail (for if he fails....the country fails). Those posts are made by people who care passionately about this country and about the future of our kids. They are made so that information besides what the mainstream media wants you to hear is put out there. They are made so that you can ask yourself.....if this was Bush or any other president....would I disregard it, accept it or fight it? 

Yes...we all have our breaking point....our limit if you will and I hope Americans....ALL Americans come to theirs soon. I hope that we are able to take the blinders off and stop listening to what we want to hear and start hearing what is really being said. We are given common sense for a reason and red flags should never be ignored. Obama is not the greatest president ever. He is not even a great man. He is a man in a job that he is not capable of carrying out. He works for us....and in any other setting....if a man was hired on promises and after five years had nearly bankrupted the company...took lavish vacations on the company dime.....carried out almost none of his promises....constantly worked on dividing the company.....and whenever was asked for accountability..... blamed his predecessor, he would have been out the door long before now. So have you come to your limit yet? Ready to stand up and fight? If not, you will be soon enough I'm afraid. I just hope by the time you's not too late for us all.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Catholicism Through My Eyes: The Rosary

You is funny that things you grow up with that seem perfectly normal to you....can be completely foreign to someone else. Many aspects of the Catholic religion are like that for non-Catholics. What is sad though is....sometimes even cradle Catholics don't have proper knowledge of certain aspects of their faith. One thing that jumps quickly to mind when I think about this is the rosary.

Growing up....the rosary was common place in my life. We said it as a family daily and always before every car trip of any length or during any time of fear or stress. Tornado season was always good for many extra decades. What I learned over time though.....was many of my Catholic friends did not know how to say a rosary. I remember teaching several how to say it and then making them say it with me. To me it was just crazy that being Catholic all their lives that they had no idea how to pray the rosary.

As an adult....later in my life, I quickly learned that when you deal with people outside the Catholic faith, that many find anything Catholics do as suspect. As I said before...I have been told by Protestants that as a Catholic I was not a Christian; that I would not go to heaven; and that I was a practicing cultist. The fact that I say set prayers, that we view the Mass as one long prayer, that our churches have statutes and that we light candles for special intentions can literally send some straight into a frenzy of misconceptions and misinformation. Thus....I have spent a great deal of my adult life not defending...for I feel my faith needs no defense.....but often explaining my religion and trying to correct some of the misinformation out there about it. Sometimes I am semi successful at my venture and sometimes not so much.....but I do continue to make the effort.

Recently I was posting something about the rosary on facebook with a picture of the rosary attached. One of my friends thanked me and said that they were not Catholic and had always wondered about the rosary. It dawned on me that there were probably many out there who either had little or no knowledge of the rosary or those that came up with their own ideas of what they believed us Catholics were actually doing holding those beads. So here...for your information is what I know about the rosary.

According to Wiki....The rosary (from Latin rosarium, meaning "Crown of Roses"[1] or "garland of roses"[2]) is a Roman Catholic sacramental and Marian devotion to prayer and the commemoration of Jesus and events of his life. The term "Rosary" is used to describe both a sequence of prayers and a string of prayer beads used to count the prayers. While this definition covers the really doesn't give much detail. As a sacramental.....a rosary is NOT jewelry. I was brought up that wearing a blessed rosary as jewelry was considered sacrilegious and was never to be done. It is strictly to be used in prayer, being held in the hands.

A rosary is a set of beads divided into five equal parts known as decades. Each part contains one bead (often a larger bead) set apart and followed by ten beads (sometimes smaller)of equal distance apart. The larger or singular set apart bead is an Our Father (or Lord's Prayer) which starts each new decade. The ten smaller or equally spaced beads are each Hail Mary's. Following the final Hail Mary or tenth bead of each decade...a Glory Be is recited. Then the next decade is begun with the starting of another Our Father. To begin a start at the crucifix (a cross with the figure of Jesus nailed to it representing the Crucifixion) with the Apostles Creed. This is followed by a singular or large bead (the Our Father) and then three evenly spaced or smaller beads (Hail Mary's), then a Glory Be which takes you to the center or centerpiece which then starts and ends the five decades. The centerpiece is often a picture of Jesus or His Blessed Mother or sometimes one side holds a picture of Jesus and the other side a blessed relic of some sort. On completion of the final decade of the rosary following the Glory Be.....either the Hail Holy Queen or the Memorare is recited to finish out the rosary.

So now that you know the technical workings....what does it all mean? Well the rosary actually has four parts, known as Mysteries....representing the four parts of Jesus life, death and resurrection....with each part having five separate sub parts or the five decades. The different Mysteries are said on different days and sometimes at different times of the year. When reciting the Mysteries....we meditate on the life of Jesus and focus on what each part of His life teaches us. The Mysteries of the rosary are:
Joyful Mysteries
  1. The Annunciation. The angel Gabriel appearing to Mary and letting her know that she has been chosen to be the mother of God's only Son. We focus on her humility at learning this news.
  2. The Visitation. Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth who was also with child and needed Mary's help. We focus on the love of neighbors.
  3. The Nativity. The birth of Our Lord. We meditate on poverty (poor in spirit), and a detachment from the things of the world.
  4. The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. Mary and Joseph presenting Jesus to the church elders. We think of purity and obedience.
  5. The Finding of Jesus in the Temple. Jesus straying from His parents to go back to the Temple and teach the elders. We meditate on wisdom, conversion, piety and the joy of Mary and Joseph finding Jesus.
Luminous Mysteries
  1. The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. Jesus baptism by John. We meditate on openness to the Holy Spirit.
  2. The Wedding at Cana. Jesus turning water into wine. A miracle by any standard. We think of the understanding of the ability to manifest-through faith.
  3. Jesus' Proclamation of the Kingdom of God. Jesus proclaiming His kingdom. We focus on trust in God and the call of conversion to God.
  4. The Transfiguration. The illumination of Christ on the mount. We meditate on a desire for Holiness.
  5. The Institution of the Eucharist. Jesus at the Last Supper giving us His precious body and blood. We focus on adoration of our Lord.
Sorrowful Mysteries
  1. The Agony in the Garden. Jesus agony at knowing that soon He must suffer and die. We think of sorrow for Sin and a uniformity with the will of God.
  2. The Scourging at the Pillar. Jesus being whipped and humiliated. We focus on mortification and purity.
  3. The Crowning with Thorns. The crown of dogwood thorns that was forced upon Our Lord's head. We think of contempt of the world and the courage of Jesus.
  4. The Carrying of the Cross. Jesus being forced to carry the heavy cross to His own Crucifixion. We meditate on patience.
  5. The Crucifixion. The death of Jesus upon the cross. We focus on salvation and forgiveness.
Glorious Mysteries
  1. The Resurrection. Jesus rising from the dead. We meditate on faith.
  2. The Ascension. Jesus ascension into heaven. We think of hope and desire for ascension to Heaven.
  3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit. Jesus coming back and appearing to His apostles. We focus on Holy Wisdom to know the truth, Divine Charity, and worship of the Holy Spirit.
  4. The Assumption of Mary. Jesus bodily taking up His mother into heaven at the end of her life. We meditate on the grace of a happy and holy death and a true devotion to Mary just as Jesus Himself had.
  5. The Coronation of the Virgin. The crowning of Mary the mother of Jesus as Queen of Heaven. We think of perseverance and the desire for one day having our own crown of glory....and a deep abiding trust in Mary's intercession to her Son.
Because the rosary is such a powerful prayer and means of meditation on Our Lord, we as Catholics have been implored to say the rosary daily. On Sundays and Wednesdays we recite the Glorious Mysteries. Mondays and Saturdays the Joyful Mysteries. Tuesdays and Fridays the Sorrowful Mysteries....and Thursday the Luminous Mysteries. The only exceptions to this are during Advent (the four weeks prior to Christmas) we say the Joyful Mysteries daily.....and during Lent (the six weeks between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday) we say the Sorrowful Mysteries daily. 

The rosary is very important. Throughout history and even in modern times.....Jesus has sent His mother Mary to warn the world of evil and sin and the dangers this sin can cause our world, our bodies and most importantly our eternal souls. She has appeared at Lourdes, France to the young Bernadette Soubirous and again in Fatima, Portugal to the three children Lucia Santos and Jacinta and Francisco Marto. One thing she always implores is for us to pray the rosary daily. Such a small thing to ask and yet as I said.....many Catholics don't even own a rosary....let alone know how to say it.

To me....the rosary has always given me an inner peace. It has often given me the ability to do something (pray) when all other options were out of my hands. When my youngest was in the neonatal care unit and we lived day to day not knowing if it would be his last or not....I literally prayed hundreds of rosaries. Then the day came that he was septic and we had been told he would not make it through the day. He was dying before our eyes. The only hope was to give him a drug that "might" destroy the infection but he was so fragile and his veins were undetectable. One doctor told us that they had done all they could for he was in God's hands. Then he turned around and said....."but what better hands could he possibly be go pray." Immediately I began praying the rosary. Suddenly a nurse came on duty and she walked to my sons bedside and she said...."If he has even one good vein....I will find it." Though she was not Catholic....she knew I was and she asked me to say a Hail Mary. Within seconds my son's cubicle was filled with nurses, doctors and the parents of other NICU babies. Catholic or not....everyone was praying the Hail Mary out loud. With one stick....the nurse was able to find a good vein and start the IV....a miracle in itself. Within an hour my son was on the road to recovery. Coincidence? No! My son was grey and we could visibly see the life leaving his tiny body. I have no doubt that the Hail Mary said with great reverence and great need by all in that room (non-Catholic and Catholic alike) and my many many rosaries were what saved my sons life. After all....nothing makes Jesus happier than us showing such reverence for His mother and that day He saw it a hundred fold. Almost thirteen years later....I have never forgotten that moment, that day and all those who prayed for my son in that cubicle. I know the power of prayer and most especially the power of the rosary. 

Today....I still pray the rosary daily. My children have been brought up praying the rosary and they know its importance in both our physical and spiritual lives. Of late the world has given us much to pray about and I stress to them the importance of prayer for our soldiers, our country, our president, world leaders, church leaders and as of last week.....a smooth transition of Popes in the coming weeks.

For those who aren't Catholic....the rosary still maybe as clear as mud to you and its importance still not fully understood.....however...the importance and significance must not be lost on Catholics. The rosary not only has the power to stop wars, bring peace and save lives and souls....but it also answers Mary's request of us in her earthly appearances. And like my mother always used to say...."Nothing terrifies satan more, than a Catholic saying a rosary!"

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Dance, Laugh and Share Jello Shots

Last night I went out and celebrated Thiry's birthday with Berty and sister friends. (Sister friends: friends who know way too much about you so you have to consider them family). When I got home I started thinking about friendships. Mine to be precise. In friendships....I am truly blessed. I have many friends who are true friends. They come from all facets of my life and they all mean something special to me. Some of these friendships are many decades old and some are not, but the thing they all have in common is 1) they all put up with me and 2) they are all low maintenance friendship....meaning that we don't have to see each other or even talk to each other everyday, every week or even every month and yet when we do meet up or is like no time has passed and we pick up right were we left off. I love my friends and cannot imagine my life without them. However.....I have no idea how I became so blessed as to have all these friends nor do I have any idea how I learned to be a friend. It certainly wasn't something my parents taught me.

No...that was not a cheap shot at my was simply a fact. My father has always been somewhat of an opportunistic friend, meaning that his friendships were based on whatever was going on in his life at the time. Usually his friendships were cultivated through business deals or his job. When one of those ended....then the friendship usually was not far behind. Only in the last decade has my dad realized that he who dies with friends dies much richer than he who dies with money. He has since tried to recultivate some of the friendships that it is not too late to recultivate.

Mom on the other hand was never big on close friendships. She was an acquaintance type of person. She was possibly more comfortable in this type of "friendship" as this is what she knew early on. Growing up as a farm kid in a small rural town....her friendships were school related and when school or school activities weren't present....then neither were her friends. There was no such thing as play dates or parents carting their kids to friends houses back then.....especially if you were a farm kid and your friends were town kids. Mom always maintained fond memories of her school friends, but never did she have a desire to reunite or correspond with them. This became her pattern until my brother and I were grown.

My mother always had a unique way of viewing her life. To her, life was not one long adventure, but more it was a lifetime cut into pieces.....chapters. Each chapter held new experiences, places and people....but the people were most always held at arms length and although a cordial relationship might develop.....she never allowed them to be more than acquaintances. Looking back.....I am sure Mom used this as a way to protect herself and also to keep her privacy. Mom was an intensely private person. When a chapter ended and she moved on....then the place, the experiences and the people were all left behind. She never looked back and she never tried to reunite with anyone. Looking was strange but at the was just Mom.

Not until my brother and I had graduated and started our own lives and Mom went back to work did she start cultivating friends. Perhaps it was because she worked daily with people that shared her passion (she was a psych nurse) or maybe people wouldn't allow her to be just mere acquaintances, but soon Mom had friends.....good friends. The last chapter in Mom's life was full of people who loved my mother and whom my mother loved in return. This was quite evident at her funeral as person after person came to me and told me what a wonderful friend my mother had been to them. It was one of those smiling through the tears moments as I knew my mother had left this earth rich with friends.

Myself....I have always had friends. It took me a lot of years to learn to be a friend.....because that was a lesson I had never been taught, but there were those that overlooked my lack of friend etiquette and accepted me for who I was. It probably didn't hurt that my first true friend was my cousin and since we only saw each other on lack of friend know-how could be more easily accepted.

As time went on and I began to learn the give and take of friendship (i.e. you have to be one to have one) my circle of friends began to grow. As a kid....I was usually close to one in particular and the friendship (at least in my head) was somewhat exclusive. It wasn't until I was in junior high that I learned the art of group friendships or "cliques" if you will. There were five or six of us and we traveled in a heard for lack of a better word. This clique lasted for about three years and then as happens when you grow up and start growing apart.....the clique disbanded and while we still were friendly....our friendships traveled in different directions.

It was high school when the notion of truly best friends became a part of my world. It was here that I started cultivating friendships that still remain strong and in tact today. Perhaps my mother realized that she had missed a lot not having close friends during her life, so when it came to my friends....Mom basically had an open door policy. She was also usually available to drive us (pre-drivers ed) to the skating rink, the movies and the mall. Looking back.....Mom was a pretty awesome mom and at times I think my mom was as big a draw to my friends as being friends with me was.

As time has passed, I have maintained many of my high school friendships and added to them along the way. Like anyone....some friends are more prevalent in your life at different times and of course, people and friendships do tend to change. Luckily (through no fault of my own) I have managed to hold onto and continue to make many wonderful friends throughout the years. Granted though....I have friendship maintaining opportunities that Mom didn't have. Social networking is very much responsible for the rekindling of many of my  friendships of years passed and it has brought me closer to many others. Facebook alone has managed to transcend distance and time and put me in touch with my third grade bestie and helped me to get to know those that I didn't really get the chance to know in high school. Perhaps if Mom had such at tool at her fingertips....she too might have rekindled the past....but then again....maybe not.

So as I was drifting off last night....counting my blessings, thinking about how short life is (especially when you are looking at it from my vantage point) and thinking of all the friends I have but don't see and enjoy nearly enough....I couldn't help but think how this really needs to change. Perhaps there needs to be more dinners out, game nights or even some road trips to keep the friendship fires burning. In this busy world we live in.....these things won't happen if not purposefully gone after and organized and maybe I need to be the one to set the plans in motion.

This morning my head is full of delicious possibilities....adventures....and fun. We are never too old to have fun....RIGHT?! So my friends...and know who you are.....don't be surprised if you hear from me in the near future. Life is too short not to dance, laugh and share jello shots with your friends. So be prepared....cause you just might be hearing from me.....very soon!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

No Facebook for Lent

Well today begins Lent. It is a time when many in the Christian world give up and offer up as a sign of penance. It is six weeks without meat on Fridays, fasting and abstaining in preparation for Easter. As a Catholic I have always given something up this time a year and avoided meat on Ash Wednesday (the start of Lent) and all Fridays during Lent. It is meant to remind us of the sacrifice God made while giving up His only Son and the sacrifice Jesus made giving up His life for our sins. In the big scheme of things....six weeks really isn't all that much considering what was done for us.

If done appropriately....Lent is a time for us to clear our minds and focus on Their sacrifice and on our spiritual lives. Sometimes that is difficult in the world we live in. It seems that we are constantly inundated with so much information of all kinds....that it is hard to simply focus on the simple things. The important things. Sadly....this year, it wasn't until last night that I even had a clear picture of what I was going to give up. Then, as the president was making his State of the Union speech and I was not watching it but instead relying on facebook for my information.....I suddenly realized that I was spending much too much time on fb and it was contributing to my information overload. It wasn't hard to figure out that six weeks without fb might not be a bad thing for my mind, body or soul! So without giving myself even a millisecond to back out....I promptly posted my Lenten intention on fb and bid everyone a Happy Lent. It was nice to know that some will miss me and then I am sure there are others that won't feel quite as sad. And of course there will be others that even after six weeks won't realize I was ever even gone. Sigh!!!!

So yesterday was Fat Tuesday....the last hurrah before Lent. It is a day to "enjoy" that which will be given up for the next six weeks. Well.....I did my duty as a good mother and a good Catholic and I ate all the junk food in the house and drank the last of the soda so that there would be no temptations to derail anyone's Lenten sacrifices come this morning. Imagine my shock to find out that no one had given up junk food or soda this year. Oops. Looks like some of my Lenten sacrifice will need to be spent at the gym.

Just so you know....I will continue to blog and I will be putting my blogs on fb (a couple of people did ask) but other than that fb and I will be estranged until after Easter. Until then my fb friends....Don't forget me! Don't unfriend me! And for goodness sakes....don't say anything interesting until I get back! Have a good Lenten season everyone!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Catholicism Through My Eyes: Confession

So if you live in the Wichita area....if you haven't gone in and at least peaked at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (or St. Mary's Cathedral as many of us old timers know it) since they renovated it....then you really should. has only been reopened for regular services since Monday....but it is well worth the view. I happened to be downtown this last week and decided to stop in before the noon time mass and go to confession. I was simply amazed at how beautiful it was.

If you have been in the Cathedral pre-reno then you know it was a huge traditional church with domes and much wood. The space was dark and the feeling was of walking into an early to mid century church. The renovation has kept much of the old "feel" but added some more modern elements that mesh well. One of the most beautiful additions is the infinity edged baptismal font. It is nothing you would expect and yet it seems as if it was made for the space. The new life size statues, one of the crucifixtion and one of Joseph and a pregnant Mary are bronzed and amazing. They have managed to light the space in a way that takes away the heaviness of all the redone wood and makes the church feel warm and inviting not cold and dark. As I said...if you get the chance....go see it for yourself. My words do not do it justice. I promised some weekly views on Catholicism through my eyes. So speaking of going to confession....I thought that this week I would talk about "confession." Confession is one of the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church and as a practicing Catholic you are sure to cover most of these sacraments during your life. Confession or the more modern terminology (The Act of Reconciliation) is the second sacrament you will usually receive in your life. It follows Baptism and precedes your First Holy Communion. It is also one of the most misunderstood acts a Catholic does to the non-Catholic world.

To clear up some Catholics don't go to Confession to just a man. No...Catholics don't use Confession so that they can sin again. No....Catholics don't think they are better than anyone else because they go to Confession. Does that answer some of your questions?

To fully understand confession you must first understand the next sacrament which is Communion. Many churches have their version of communion which is usually grape juice (sometimes wine) and bread. In the Catholic faith though.....Communion is not simply an act of the Last Supper. Catholics use blessed wine and blessed unlevened bread. During the Mass the bread and wine are consecrated and when we receive Communion...we are receiving the Body and Blood of Christ....just as the apostles did. In order to receive this great gift....our souls must be as pure as possible. This means as sin free as possible and this is the purpose of confession.

Yes...many churches have their versions of confession. Most entail confessing sins to the congregation or a select group of people. Catholics in turn are often scoffed at for their belief that the priest can absolve them from their sins. The fact is that the priest is merely a stand in for God but given special graces by God. The sins told in a confessional can never be told by the priest outside the confessional for any reason. Through history there have been a few less than "holy" priests who have tried....and they have always failed. The confessional is sacred.

Confession is a holy act. In the can either speak face to face with the priest or as I like to do it....with a confessional wall between you. By doing this, I am able to more easily concentrate on both the face of Our Lord and my sins. Unlike some other churches....the confessional is private. It is between us and God....not us and the congregation. Just as sin is my way of should be confession.  There should only be one judge and jury on your sins and on your soul....and that is God. The confessional is a place of great distress for many and also of great peace. Once your sins have been are given a penance, whether it is prayer and meditation or an act of charity..... it is designed as a way for you to not only repent your sins but also to think about your sins and how they might have affected others. Once absolved....there is always peace for me.

I know that many both outside the faith and some even inside....feel it appears that some use confession as if the confessional door was revolving. Confession is not so that you can sin, confess, go to Communion and then commit the same sin or sins over the next day. The confessional is a checks and balances of our own soul. It keeps us accountable and aware of the condition of our soul. It also makes sure that when we receive Communion...that we are receiving the Body and Blood of Christ with the purest of mind, body and spirit we can be. As humans....we will ALWAYS sin. Sometimes the sins will be small and sometimes they will be very large but always they will be soul harming and Confession is what purifies us....not so that we can sin again, but so that we can have a starting point to put past sins behind us and do our best to live our lives with fewer sins. After all....we are all works in progress.

I had already decided last week that this was what I would blog about this week but last night at Mass....just as if Father knew what I would be blogging about....he helped to write this. He talked about Confession as a way of humbling us. He was talking about the way Catholics should and do humble themselves before the Lord and Confession was a big one. There is nothing more humbling than to have to kneel before your Creator and tell Him that after all He has given have chosen to offend Him. Now THAT is as humbling as it gets. It is also something that causes Catholics to lapse.

As Catholics....especially if we are cradle Catholics, right and wrong are drilled in our heads. Often it is more fun and easier to live on the wrong side where sin is disregarded and our own will and desire call the shots. When this happens.....knowing what we of two things can happen to a person. 1) They know that they can't go to Confession without being truly sorry for their sins and making the effort to never commit them again. If they know that they likely will commit them again....there is something innately in them that will not allow them to go to Confession and without Confession....the other sacraments cannot be received. So slowly....they just leave. Or 2) They commit a sin that they simply cannot bare to confess. Usually they lose sight of the fact that sins like that are a one time thing and if confessed because of the weight they have put on themselves....they would likely never sin like that again. However, they are ashamed and embarrassed and rather than humble themselves and anger grows inside them towards the Church, the Sacraments and even God. Somewhere along the line....they forget that the real anger is at themselves for committing the sin in the first place. In the end though.....the results are the same and a soul can be lost sometimes for awhile....and sometimes forever. The historic battle of mans will over Gods. Blessedly though, with time, age, experience and eventually the knowledge that without God we are nothing.....we/they/them often come back stronger in their faith.

So you see, most aspects of the Catholic Church has a beauty all its own. There are things that are very difficult in the church....such as Confession, but if it were easy...what would we gain? It is the difficult things that make us stronger and in the case of is our sins...the sins we willingly commit that give us the need for the confessional. It is however, through those sins and the ability to humble ourselves to God knowing that we have both sinned and that He will forgive those sins, that make us stronger in both our lives and our faith. 

Okay...I have told you what Confession is but little of my view. So here it is. Confession is one of the hardest parts of being a Catholic for me. It is also one of the best parts. There have been times that confessing certain sins has been very difficult for me. It has taken me months at times to make myself go to Confession over certain things. It was my pride and my embarrassment that kept me from Confession and ultimately God. Perhaps in some sins were not that great, but in mine....they were debilitating. When finally I realized that I was not doing God the favor by confessing, but doing myself and my soul the favor.....I gladly humbled myself. You cannot imagine the feeling of peace that you come away with knowing that you are right with yourself and most importantly you are right with God. Sin is a soul killing disease and Confession can bleach your soul clean. It can also give you as I said earlier....a fresh perspective and a new starting point....and after all isn't that something we can all use from time to time?

Friday, February 8, 2013

My Lessons of the Year

I think when we are young....we get the misguided idea that at some point we are going to know it all and the act of learning will eventually cease. Contrare! The act of learning never ceases. Every day I learn new things and my mind is opened to thoughts and ideas that in some cases....I never even knew existed. In fact....I am of the mind, that the older you get....the more you learn. Perhaps that is why they say....with age comes wisdom!

This morning this was a recurring theme in my thoughts. Even in the last year...I have learned more than I ever dreamed was possible. Maybe it was just that my mind was more receptive or possibly it was the many new ideas, issues and adventures thrown my way this year. Whatever the education has been vast and you know me....I just have to share my wisdom in my blog. So here goes....My Lessons of the Year:

I have learned that true friends will travel many miles just to hold your hand through a crisis.
Kind people who have never before laid eyes on you and who have their own personal issues going on, will drop everything for a stranger in need.
Time does not stop for anyone. Not even parents whose children are growing up too fast.
Friends can come from the most unlikely of places.
Charisma can trump facts.
Generation gaps can be bridged at a STYX concert.
My dog Spud is a very resourceful dog.
A pitbulls attitude is not about the breed but about the owner.
We all eventually grow up.
Sometimes I don't actually know it all!
Some people are simply takers.
There are some who will always hold onto the past and refuse to see the present.
You cannot change a closed mind. 
Forgiveness is a gift that not everyone has to give.
Sometimes our friends can be more family to us than our own family....and that is okay.
Not all kids know love.
Some people give for others....and some give for themselves.
No number on the scale is permanent.
Age truly is just a number.
Free isn't free!
Politics is a blood sport.
There are people who will dislike you for having a different opinion than them and there is simply nothing you can do about it.
People don't passionately fight about something if they don't care.
Speaking of God can be grounds for a lawsuit while speaking of Allah is not.
There is no truth, morality or ethical conduct in the media.
The older you are....the sicker the flu can make you.
A clean an organized house is possible....if you Pinterest.
And finally...the most import thing that I learned:
Cheesecake can pretty much cure all things that ail if you bake it....they will buy it!

So you has been a very educational year!

Thursday, February 7, 2013


A while back...I posted a blog My Crazy Life.....Literally. It was about weird things that had happened to myself or my family. Most of it has been human in nature....likely aimed at a single mom with kids who looked like an easy target. There have been though....a few things that make me wonder about the non-human world.

I have been thinking a lot recently about some of the things that have happened of the non-human sort and wonder. After my experience in the tub and the black shadow...I was terrified of the dark for years. Even in my late teens and early twenties....I didn't like being home alone. As I have gotten older and have kids of my own those old fears were put to rest long ago....along with the nightmares and apparently screaming night terrors that I used to put my mother through. Little of a supernatural type scares me anymore. My biggest fears now reside in Washington....not in the supernatural world. But I digress....

As a Catholic we are taught to avoid clairvoyants and fortune tellers and yet in our modern world they seem to abound. We also are warned against witchcraft, Ouija boards and all things of a mystical nature. As a kid I thought it was because as Catholics we were not to believe in that sort of thing. As an adult I have come to the conclusion that it is because we do believe in this sort of thing that we stay clear. I think God and satan and heaven and hell are in daily battle both in the real world and quite possibly in the supernatural world too.

My mother was the seventh daughter of the seventh daughter. While she never broadcast it....the woman flat out knew things that there was no way she should have. She would get "feelings" about things and if she got a feeling...I learned early on to listen. It went far beyond motherly instinct and more than once her feelings kept me from being in situations that could have hurt or even potentially killed me. Her mother too had a sense. After her mother had suffered a stroke and was in the mother was staying with her over night. When they were grandmother told my mother in detail what the next few years of her life would be like. She told her that she would suffer more strokes (she gave her the exact number), she told her that one of the strokes they would think she wouldn't come out of....but eventually she would and she told her how and approximately when she would die. Soon after telling my mother all of this....she suffered another stroke (which she had predicted) and apparently lost all memory of this conversation. When my mother told her father and sister about this....neither believed her and chastised her for "making up" such lies. My grandmothers words came true to the very letter. Later after my grandmother was gone and this was brought up to both my grandfather and my aunt....neither seemed to have any recollection of the incident. If they couldn't explain it....then they simply denied it ever happened.

My mother fought hard against her "feelings." She would get terribly upset when she would get one of them and she always said..."I wish it would just go away." This was never something she sought out nor was it something she wanted. She felt the weight of the world on her shoulders when she had these feelings. It was obviously God given and as I said...more than once it saved me....but in Mom's view, it was simply too much information. Later in her either did go away or she simply quit talking about it.

Another case of strangeness happened to another aunt. At a time when she was struggling through a tough time in her life, she woke from a nap to see a young girl standing in her doorway. She assumed the girl was a friend of her kids as they were in another room with friends over. The little girl struck her as odd because she was somewhat dirty with long blonde hair that needed combed and she was dressed rather old fashioned. I cannot remember whether my aunt actually conversed with her or whether the little girl just stood there and then left. When my aunt got up and walked in where the kids were....she didn't see the little girl and asked about her. None of them had a clue who she was talking about. My aunt shrugged it off and literally forgot about the little girl until one time when she went back to the home in Oklahoma where she grew up. Going through some old pictures with some other family members...she was caught up short when she happened upon a picture of the exact little girl who had stood in her room. The picture showed her  bathed and with her hair combed....but definitely the same little girl. On the back was written Grace Etier age 6. My aunt was dumbfounded. It was her own mother as a child that had visited her. Maybe she was there to let her know all would be alright (as her troubled time had resolved itself shortly after seeing the little girl). Whatever the case....too much had happened not to have realized that my grandmother had made that appearance...strange as it was.

I do believe in these things. I don't see them as anything sinister or frightening. On the contrary....I see them as God given. After all....God has allowed visions of saints, angels, Mary and even Himself....when groups or individuals needed them, so why not family members and friends? I believe each contains a message and each comes at a time when very much needed in the lives of the ones they touch. I also believe that some are given information like the info my grandmother gave my mother for a purpose. It had a direct effect on my mothers life and quite possibly on anyone elses life my mother told.

I also believe that the shadow I saw in the bathroom that time was something. I believe it was something bad and I think it had more to do with the house than with nothing like that has ever happened since. At the time....I think I was just an easy target. I was small and knew nothing of spirits or shadows full of energy. But there was definitely something there and it effected me for years. Just as there are good and God given spirits....I believe just as strongly that there is evil and it can show itself....perhaps as a shadow or something more sinister.

I think that the line between our world and the next may quite possibly be very thin. While prayer can keep us in the light.......Ouija boards, witchcraft and seances can take us to the dark. When we pray we call on God and if He feels we need the contact of heaven then we may be visited by an angel or a family member  or even given information to help us. However....witchcraft, seances and the such are not fact they are often summoning something dark whether we realize it or not. These actions have been documented in many cases of hauntings and even possessions. Perhaps it is our realization that just as good can be then can evil....that we are cautioned to avoid anything that can call upon anything or anyone but God. Thus I guess is my reasoning for feeling that far from not is actually our belief and acknowledgement of the fact that evil does exist in all forms that we should do our best to steer clear of it. Hmmmm.....

Okay...okay! I know....very strange blog today. Well what do you expect on a rainy day? So welcome to the strange dwelling place that sometimes is my mind. Oh come on...we all have a little strangeness in our families...right? No! Just me! Perhaps then, I should just go back to blogging about politics! :)

So....any strange incidents in your life? Care to share? That's what the comments are for!

Monday, February 4, 2013

So You Think You Know Me.......

Okay....first of all before I begin, I would like to give a huge shout out to last nights Superbowl. To be honest I wasn't invested in either team, so before the game I did a mental coin toss and decided I would be a Raven's fan. During the first half....I was rather disappointed in the game as the Raven's were scoring every chance they got while the 49ers weren't. After a less than impressive half time performance (not a big Beyonce fan) and a power outage which held up the game for a good half hour (or maybe it just seemed that long).....the 49ers hit their stride. By the end of the 3rd quarter, it looked as if there was an actual football game going on. In the end, the Raven's won it....but the 2nd quarter game was actually one of the better games I have seen of late. I must say too that I wasn't a huge fan of the commercials this year although the Clydesdales and the Dodge Ram commercials did touch me. The others though..... are just minutes of my life that I can never get back.

To be honest...there are those out there that are surprised I like football. The fact is....I am too! As a kid I would watch it with my dad just to get his attention. Somewhere along the line though....I actually began to like it. It used to drive my brother to distraction as he can't stand the game. Guess that was the added bonus to watching it. Truth is..if I allowed myself to, I could be a die hard football fan and be glued to my tv from preseason to post season. Since my life doesn't really allow for that....I catch a few games during the season and usually try to watch the Superbowl. In this day and age though...just about as many women like football as I am really not that much of an anomaly any more. Still I guess to some...I just don't seem the type to be a hard core football fan. Apparently like an onion....I have more layers than most expect. Oh..and I probably cause a few tears too!

Speaking of people not really knowing me, I was talking to someone that I have known for awhile. Awhile as in years.....and she told me that she knew me like the back of her hand. It wasn't too long after she made that statement that she then said that everything wasn't all about me. I knew then and there that she really didn't know me at all, for if she did....she would never have made such a ridiculous statement. She is not the only person of late who has claimed to know me so well that they can practically read my mind. Apparently I have become "readable". The problem is....they really don't know me and when they begin to talk as if they do...they are always off base. I may at times be predictable.....but I really don't think that I am that easily read, especially when I don't even really know me.

Over the last couple of years....I have changed. I have definitely gotten much more out spoken (and not just in my blog) and the things I thought I wanted have become more of a gray area. I have begun to think of life more in the short term than the long. It is much easier to create and carry out several short term goals than it is to carry out one long term goal. I even have begun to view my children differently. Perhaps though...that is just me preparing to let go as they continue to grow up and begin lives of their own.

The person who told me that life wasn't all about me (silly woman) also told me that I needed someone to help me through the tough times in life and that I shouldn't give up looking. I cringed as it was very reminiscent of what people were saying to me a couple of years ago when I quit listening to me and started listening to them. Them being everyone who felt that I must need someone to fulfill my life.  That led me down a path I do not care to revisit. I decided then and there that I really needed no one. Life has made me stand on my own for years and although I may not always do it right.....I always do it to the best of my abilities. I have come to know certain things about myself and one is that I don't need someone to complete me, make me feel good about me or take care of me. God gave me the skills to do that all by myself. Now having someone to compliment who I am, have fun with and share life.....that could be another story. Up till now has not been my story. That is not saying that it won't come in time. As my mom always used to say....."Never wish your life away....for the best is yet to come." I think though...all these people who think they know me...might be very surprised as to who I am compared to who they think I am.

So you think you know me. Well lets see. Did you know that I am a woman who still likes pink? I like to laugh and I love my friends. Sometimes I hide away from the world and sometimes I try to be the world. I am quiet until I am not and then there will be no question as to my thoughts. I really worry very little about how people view I always try to be the best version of me I can be. I see no sense in being rude or hateful....even to those who possibly deserve it as it really serves no purpose in life. Sometimes I worry and stew over things I cannot change and then I remember to pray. I miss my mom and still try to find the one thing that will finally gain me praise in my fathers eyes. I am a pushover when it comes to animals....especially my animals, but I don't always see humans with the same eyes.....possibly because animals have pure intentions and humans seldom do. I help people whenever I see or hear of a need....but they seldom know it's me. I was taught that generosity should come from a desire to help....not a desire for accolades. There are days when I want to feel the wind in my face and the freedom of youth. I want to kiss the cute boy and feel my heart skip a beat and I want to laugh and party as if I have not a care in the world. Then there are other times....the majority of times when I look at my kids and I know that they were a gift given to me and that it is my responsibility to be the best mom I can be. I have to be the mom they deserve and not just the mom they are stuck with. I can be fierce and defiant when pushed and I have a razor sharp tongue when thusly provoked...but that is a side I seldom like to show. I am complicated and shallow...sometimes both at the same time. I wear very little make-up and think nothing of going out in public with nothing more than eyeliner....but I won't leave the house without having polish on my toes (even if I am wearing shoes). I think my best feature is my toes (if they are painted) and I will never divulge what I feel is my worst. Why give someone fuel to use against you? I am one to keep friendships for years...but I am cautious to add new ones. I pray for everyone I know daily and I am not afraid to ask for the same in return. All in all I am a lot some of the time and a little a lot of the time. I have a surface me and a me that goes to the depth of my soul. Some who have known me for years have never seen below the surface. Only a select few have had that privilege. If I am quite know me is not always to love me. Sometimes it is not even to like me...and most are not that invested anyway. So no...I don't think those that think they know me....know me at all. What they think they are reading maybe a momentary flash of a surface thought, but nothing that is really who I am.

Are you surprised? Am I who you thought I was or am I someone you just thought you knew? Whatever the case...I am me and I don't see that changing....any time soon. And I can think of no better way to end this than to quote one of my favorite authors...Dr. Seuss. "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."