What Ever Happened to Obedience?

If Saint Peter or Saint Paul came down from heaven and asked you to change something about your life would you do it? If they asked you to stop wearing makeup, or to dress in black, would you really mind? What if they asked you to do something really silly, like wear a pink tutu, would you do it?

I think the issue here is trust. Do you really have the trust in the apostles to know that they have your best interest at heart, even if it doesn’t make sense? Obviously, if they ask you to do something that is clearly immoral, that is an issue, but if it isn’t, wouldn’t you trust them? I mean, after all, they are apostles, the very leaders chosen by Christ right? Would you accept their leadership?

I think we often forget that we have apostles here, now. Christ has carefully appointed men to lead his flock, and they deserve the same amount of trust that the first apostles did. I’m not saying that they are perfect men, they are not. All of them have made mistakes, some of them very serious. But let’s be honest, so have you.

I fully realize that the clergy has been given a bad name in America. I know some of them made serious errors, and they should be held accountable for that. That is not however the norm, far from it. Nearly all of our bishops throughout the world are deeply faithful men committed to the well being of the People of God. Why would we not trust them?

There is one bishop I would especially point out. He is truly a great man, and has sacrificed his life for the Church. He has remained faithful through great hardships, even though he is constantly under fire from the media. His name is Benedict the XVI.

I am amazed at how many Catholics really just don’t pay attention to him at all. It truly frightens me. They seem to feel he is some kind of staunch, mean old man trying to tell them what to do. Here is a man totally dedicated to the health and well being of every person on earth, given the shoes of St. Peter for that very purpose, and people just want to ignore him like he is yesterday’s news.

I won’t lie, I just don’t understand it. From a non Catholic, I get it, they don’t really understand what is going on, but a Catholic should know better.

If the Pope says abortion is a bad idea, then how can any true Catholic pretend it’s great? If the Pope has made it clear that birth control is a bad idea, then why do women continue to pump their bodies full of chemicals? I get so confused over this. This is the Pope of “every man”, the pope that loves and cares for the poor, the Pope desperately trying to defend the world against the pervasive evils in our culture, and we treat him like old meat.

It’s madness.

And then there are our bishops. The men called by God to be our own personal Shepherd. It used to be that every good Catholic would have a picture of the Holy Father and their bishop in their home, right next to their family photos. Now we don’t even think of them unless our kids or grand kids are getting confirmed. Very few take the time to read his pastoral letters, few seem to care about his advice to the diocese that he is called to head.

My Most Excellent Shepherd

He is your bishop. How can he truly be of service if he is ignored? For God’s sake, pay a little attention. Even many clergy seem to refer to their ordinaries with indifference. I know they are just men, but they are your men. I just don’t get it.

If any bishops have graced my pages with your presence, know that there are many who love you and pray every day for the work you do. Do not be afraid to be bold and shepherd us ever closer to Christ. We want and respect bold men. Be the fathers that you are called to be, and know that even though the tide of culture may flow against you, that the faithful are proud to have at their helm a Catholic bishop.

Ellen

Every time I go to visit Ellen, it is like walking into a small Catholic oasis in the middle of the convalescent hospital. She has been there a while, and has collected many things, but the first thing you notice when you walk into her room is Catholic radio lightly playing in the background. I usually come around three, so it is usually the soft chanting of the rosary.

She is a light to all everyone there, and has almost become the matron of the facility. Many of the patients either do not have their full mental faculties anymore, or have reached such depression that they simply do not care to engage anyone at all. It makes me sad to be one of the few visitors to our forgotten elders, but I am always gladdened by their smiles and exceptional courage.

Ellen is usually in the recreation room when I get there, playing bingo, (She is always leaning over the table, helping everyone else find their numbers so intensely that she forgets to check her own) making cookies, playing cards, you name it. She keeps herself pretty busy.

If I can tell she is having a good time, I like to sneak in and let her continue. I know if she sees me, she’ll stop right away and rush off, deep with concern that she might inconvenience me by taking to long getting her wheelchair down the hall. Eventually she will see me and the girls, and away we go.

We bring all the Catholic patients into her room for our little service because it is simply the most welcoming place in the hospital. We have our little communion service while everyone tries to stay awake, but Ellen is eager. She is still learning the new responses and is always excited at the chance to use them. She hates being disconnected, but she really cannot safely leave.

After the service, my daughters slowly wheel everyone back to their rooms or where ever they want to go while I stay with Ellen to talk for a little. My favorite part of the visit is always the list.

The list is an epic adventure we go through every visit. All week long as she is reading the bible, listening to the radio and reading her devotionals, she comes up with questions and writes them on the list. “Why is Melchizedek so important? What is a signal grace? What does Jesus mean when he says you have to hate your father and mother?” They are not easy questions, and she wants real answers. It’s like my own little theology test every week.

Our prayers are most often the same, as she has deep concerns for her family. She really wants one of her granddaughters to become a nun, she prays that another will find her way back to the Church. She forgives the family that haven’t called in years.

She knows my wife’s name though she has never been able to come, so she can pray for our whole family. She remembered gifts for my children for Christmas. She asks for pamphlets and rosaries to help other folks in the hospital.

By the time I leave, she has had so much excitement that she needs to lie down and put back on her oxygen mask to take a nap.

Wow! That’s a Big Dog!

I get this all the time. It just goes with the territory. You see, I am the proud parent of a Great Dane.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those people who love their animals more then other people. I do love my dog, but my dog is still a dog, and people are still people. If, in proper science fiction movie fashion, some alien asked me if I would rather sacrifice my dog, or someone I didn’t know, I’d save the person every time.

At the same time, I do love my dog. She’s like an extension of myself, and as I have written every post, she has been lying right behind me on the floor. She does not sleep in my bed, there simply wouldn’t be room for my wife, and my wife is far more snugly than the dog. She does however have her bed right next to mine.

You might be wondering at this point if I am going to go into some great analogy, but I am not. I am really just going to post about my dog.

Having a really big dog is a very different experience than having any other kind of pet. Anything else this big would be regulated to the outdoors, but Danes are very much like people, and really need to be around their owners, lest they die of sadness. And let’s be honest, I’d have to dig a really big hole if she died, so inside she remains. (Remember, I hate yard work.)

This means my entire house has to be set in order for the dog. She is much like a train, in that she really can’t see her caboose, so if things are left on the edges of tables, or there are small statues around, she’ll knock them over and have no idea what happened. Poor St. Francis has lost his head so many times at this point that he looks like he has a weird crick in his neck from all the re-gluing.

But my favorite part of having Diana, (pronounced Dee-ahn-a, like the roman goddess) is the reaction from children. They are simply awed by her size, and cannot help but exclaim with delight the first time they see her, “Oh my gosh! That dog is HUGE!” It’s very cute, and though they are scared at first, they warm up real fast when they realize she is just as interested in them as they are in her. Her lips are huge too, so her expressions are very vivid. The kids often think she is smiling at them. I like to think so too.

I also think a dog of this size is much more useful than all the little dogs, and trust me, when you have a Dane, all dogs are little. (Dogs love me because I think they are all cute little miniatures, “Oh! what a cute little doberman! He can’t even weigh 100lbs! What a cute little thing.” They soon realize I have no fear of such a little creature, and respond with great sweetness.) Anyways, back to usefulness, I want to build a cart for my dog. If I ever get it made, I’ll never have to haul wood again, and my backpacking trips will get massive. I might start living in a tipi just because I can.

Once a week or so I take her to the beach, and it is then that I see her in her full glory. First she has to say hello to all the other dogs around, but eventually she will realize that I have jogged away down the beach and she will take off like a greyhound to catch me.

You have never seen such beauty in motion. She is like a gazelle, a cheetah, a doe leaping through the woods. She is both delicate and powerful at the same time. With the setting sun, she seems a force of nature, a part of the blinding light, and it is beautiful.

Until she decides to go to the bathroom, then the magic fades, and I’m carrying a bag of dog doo.

Roe vs. Wade

Today we mark the one of the darker days in history. I fully realize that this topic pisses a whole lot of people off, but it is what it is, and I suppose I should add my two cents.

First off, I should let you know I’m not really into politics. It’s just not really my thing. Yes, I realize it’s important, and I try to vote conscientiously, but it’s simply not in my everyday repertoire of discussion. I get that glossy eyed look, and have a tendency to faint from boredom.

It’s not that I’m not interested, I sincerely am. I care deeply about economics, rights, and taxes. Politics are the heart of how we relate to one another as a nation. It just that I’m a one issue voter, and until that issue is fixed, there really isn’t anything else I have to say. My vote is already decided, so there is just too little to comment about.

Now I know that many see this differently, but as I see it, life begins at conception. If conception has happened, then you have yourself a baby. It’s not really all that complicated. I know all the stories about raped women, incest, abuse, really, I do. My heart truly goes out to these women. But a baby is a baby is a baby.

If some jerk decided to hit a pregnant woman in the belly, any state in the union would call it manslaughter. I would just straight call it murder. If you left a baby in a trash can, I would say the same. A baby is a baby is a baby. I love babies, I can’t help it. They are way too cute, and smell very nice. Teens, well, you will have to let me think on that one, but babies? Easy to love.

So if you think that they are not babies when they are still in their mothers womb, so be it. I can respect that. But you have to respect that for me, and nearly every pregnant woman in the world, it’s a baby. Women grieve after a miscarriage. No one goes to an abortion clinic thinking that they are having a mole removed. This is not appendicitis. They know that they are going to have a baby. You have to admit that my view, even if it is not your own, is valid and reasonable.

So as I see it, we are in the middle of a Holocaust of epic proportions. Nazis killed Jews, we kill babies. Nazis killed 11-17 million people. These were some really bad guys. Stalin killed 20 million at his lowest estimates. Clearly he had an issue being nice to people. Since 1973, our conservative figures put us at around 50 million deaths to abortion, all babies. It’s a damn bloodbath.

I can’t help it. I’m a one issue voter. I will wear a sandwich board on any street corner that you ask. it’s just plain out and out evil. It sure as hell isn’t natural or “green”. Hmm, should I vote for economic independence, or should I vote to stop the killing of babies? Health care for the poor, or to stop the killing of babies? National park development or to stop the killing of babies? Against foreign oil, or to stop the killing of babies? More solar energy, or to stop the killing of babies?

Do you see why I don’t feel I really have a choice?

Ugggh Celery

I truly dislike celery. It’s really nasty stuff, all crunch and no taste. I hate how the stringy bits get caught in my teeth.

Every time I am at some party, they always have the little veggie platters out with the carrots and the bell peppers and the cute little radishes. I cringe when I see someone dip that zero carb stick of nastiness into a vat of ranch dressing or peanut butter. Eww.

Why not just reach for a carrot? They are so tasty, and they are crunchy too! Beautiful, bold color, perfect for dipping, you just can’t beat it. But celery? Gross.

There are a lot of people in my life that are a lot like celery. I just do not like them. I can’t help it. maybe it’s the way they laugh that hurts my ears, or some defect in their physical makeup that draws my attention in a way that I cannot avoid. There is this one woman who is a perfectly nice person, very helpful, very sweet. But she talks so dang loud. Really, really loud. I’m whispering, she’s yelling. It drives me crazy.

You know what, I don’t actually hate celery now that I really think about it. I love it when celery is in a soup for example. It gets all soft and yet retains it’s crispness. It soaks up all the flavors of all the vegetables and meats around it. Somehow, when you throw the celery into a pot with a bunch of different vegetables, the celery actually goes beyond palatable, and becomes good. It’s nearly miraculous.

I have found the same thing to be true with the celery people. (Did I just coin a phrase? Will “celery people” be our new code word?) Those same people that drive me crazy when I’m alone with them seem to fill out when brought into a diverse group of people. Their edges are worn down, the whining laughter is dulled by the noise, and the loud woman is finally talking at just the right volume. It’s nearly miraculous.

What I mean to say is, it’s okay not to like everyone you come in contact with. Yes you must love and respect them, but liking them is not mandatory. You may even find that the people who’s company you don’t enjoy are not so bad in the right situations, so seek them out there. You don’t have to take them out to coffee to be a friend to them.

So if you find celery, feel free to make soup.