My mother is slipping away.
Last week, she asked me, “Are we sisters, or cousins, or what?”
The week before, she looked at me vaguely and said, “What are you to me? Are we related?”
Last night, she decided to “cook” a frozen dinner in the microwave and evidently set it for a lllloooonnnnggggg time. It “cooked” until it caught fire.
I was up with her all night long one night last week. We have a doctor’s appointment today, for which her doctor is graciously sacrificing her lunch time to work Mama into her schedule. The purpose? To see if sleeping pills, which I’ve avoided, or anti-depressants, or something will help her sleep through the night so that I can sleep, as well.
Every time I write a post about Mama, a few sick souls comment that situations like this are a fine argument for euthanasia. I almost always delete these things, but they trouble me, just the same.
What is wrong with someone that they could look at a frail elderly person and their first thought is to kill them?
I start stammering when I try to formulate a response to this. Kill my mother? That’s their advice?
Everyday it seems that I am hit with another proof that certain segments of our population are lost souls. Nothing convinces me of this more than these offensive comments about my mother.
We live in a world where the first solution that we offer to human problems is increasingly becoming a demand that we kill the person who is being a problem. We even label one entire group of humans — the unborn — a “problem pregnancy” rather than a human being, and then use this designation as a justification for killing them at will.
The same thing is happening to anyone who has an illness that makes them a ‘burden.” We are moving toward a world where the only people who will have a legal right to life are those who have sufficient wits, energy and means to defend their right to be alive in a court of law.
The Terry Shiavo case demonstrated quite clearly that it is not enough to have people who will advocate for your life in a court of law. The person doing the advocating must be the correct one. Killing someone by taking away their water and food and then letting them die of thirst and starvation could hardly be called “merciful.”
My mother is slipping away. Caring for her is hard. But it is also — and I never hear about this aspect of it — a blessing. Seeing Mama home is a privilege. This long goodbye has a sweetness to it that I never knew existed until I began walking this walk with her.
As for those poor loveless folks who think that the solution to human suffering is to kill the suffering human, I pray for you. Because you are in far worse shape than my Mama will ever be.
I’m a member of a group that meets on a regular basis to pray for vocations to the priesthood.
Aside from the fact that this is a small indication that I want our Church to have more holy priests (which is what we pray for) what does this mean?
It means that I have this oddball idea that vocations of all sorts, including to the priesthood, come from God.
I say that this notion is oddball because that’s the impression I’ve gotten from a recent debate which has been happening both here on Public Catholic and on Facebook about the red-hot, all-consuming question: Is the priest shortage due to altar girls, and is bad liturgy due to the “feminization” of the Church?
Let’s consider, for a moment, why we have altar girls in the first place. The reason we have them is because the Church allows them.
Let me repeat that: The Catholic Church has altar girls because the Catholic Church allows altar girls.
The point I’m making by emphasizing that is simply that believing that what the Catholic Church allows is indeed allowable is consistent with being a faithful Catholic. In other, more direct words, If I say that I think altar girls do not harm vocations, I am not being a bad Catholic and I am not attacking the Church. I am saying that I agree with what the Church is already doing.
Now, to the larger question: Where do vocations come from? Do they come from a boys’ club mentality within the Church? Do they come from social/economic situations? Do they come from solemn liturgy? Where do they come from?
The fact that I join with other Catholics to pray for vocations should tip you off to what my answer to those questions is going to be. I think that vocations — of all sorts — come from God. I think that the reason we haven’t had as many vocations to the priesthood as we want these past decades is that God hasn’t been calling young men to the priesthood.
That’s what I believe.
Now, why would God do that?
I can’t and I won’t speak for God except to say that, based on my many dealings with the Almighty, I do not believe it is because the Church has failed to keep its womenfolk in their place.
There are a few other, extremely serious, lapses such the the clergy sex abuse scandal (remember what Jesus said about those who harm “these little ones?”) the in-your-face heterodoxy in parts of Catholic education (witness the walkouts from Catholic high schools over gay marriage, the kissing of Ceasar’s ring via the HHS Mandate by Notre Dame, the banning of the Knights of Columbus, which was later overturned, from Gonzaga’s campus, etc) and other serious problems that might be where the blame lies. If you want to look and play the blame game, that is.
In my opinion, all these examples and the many more I could name are not the problem. They are evidence of the problem. And that is something that seems to be opaque to most people who get into these discussion. It’s what I call mission drift.
A symptom of it is the propensity for Catholic parishes to sit down and write out “mission statements” for themselves. These things usually end up being a paragraph or two of blah-blah-blah committee-speak that nobody reads and no one, no matter how clever, would be able to figure out how to apply to an individual walk with Christ. More to the point, the fact that these parishes think they need a mission statement speaks to a deep ignorance of Scripture and who they are as Catholic Christians.
These mission statements are a clear indication that the parish has forgotten that it already has a mission statement and that this mission statement was given to it by The Boss.
Here’s the Christian mission statement, in Jesus’ own words:
Everything in heaven and on Earth is under my authority. Go and make disciples of all nations, preaching the Gospel, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And I will be with you until the end of the world.
I believe that the reason we haven’t had as many vocations as we’d like — and I include vocations in front of the altar to family and childrearing as well as vocations to stand behind it — is that we haven’t been following the mission that Jesus Christ gave us, and our Church is wasting far too much of its energy dithering over itself instead of getting out there and bringing people to Christ.
The Catholic Church is a highway to heaven. It was not created for priests. Priests were created for it. And the purpose of both the Church and the priesthood is to be a certain, readily accessible conduit of healing grace and faithful teaching that will convert the world. The Church, along with all the rest of us, is the light of the world. But it is hiding its light under the bushel of concerns about such things as are the womenfolk getting out of hand and is the liturgy just so and if it’s not just so, how do we put the womenfolk in their place so it will be just so.
The Church spends entirely too much time worrying about the Church and not enough time worrying about how to bring Christ to the world. When princes of the Church can seriously try to say that what they think of as bad liturgy and the lack of vocations to the priesthood is due to “feminization” in a Church that is wholly and absolutely governed by men, and when they can then go on to try to pin this on a few little girls, things are waaayyyyyy out of kilter in the curia.
The Church needs to stop gazing at its own navel and look outward to a world that is dying for lack of the Gospel. From pole to pole, dateline to dateline, people are perishing for lack of a minister who will bring them the Word of life.
And what is our Church leadership doing about it? Haggling with one another over how to water down the Gospels concerning marriage so that they can be comfortable with a culture that has lapsed into apostasy while they watched, and debating whether or not altar girls and whatever it is that bugs them about the liturgy is due to an excessive input from people with double X chromosomes.
I have to be honest here. I am sooo disgusted with the lack of leadership concerning the conversion of the world. I am sooo tired of hearing men who absolutely should know better trying to act out their inner sexist by blaming the troubles of the Church on altar girls and “feminization” which, I guess, means letting women have any say at all in the work of the Kingdom.
These guys need to look at themselves. Their job — their vocation — is to preach Christ. If they would do that, the vocations would sprout up like a field of wheat, ready for the harvest.
Preach Christ and Him crucified. Bring Him to lost people in the slums, the snow, the jungles and the desert sands. Bring Him to the deeply lost and sneering souls at the intellectual gatherings and the universities and the oh-so-perfect social gatherings they are trying to redefine Church teachings to please.
My message to the men who run our Church is a simple one: Preach Christ and Him crucified.
If you want vocations, Preach Christ.
If you want to convert the world, Preach Christ.
If you want to do the job God has called you to do, Preach Christ.
And while you’re at it, stop blaming the womenfolk for your failings.
Take time off for the Sabbath boys and girls. I started doing that a few months ago because I became convicted about ignoring one of the Commandments. It has been a blessing on my life.
Here’s Pope Francis’ tweet for today:
Sunday is the Lord’s Day. Let us find time to be with him.
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Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All rights reserved.
The difference between writing and legislating is, to put it in Okie parlance, writing don’t matter.
I’ve heard the old canard “The pen is mightier than the sword” all my life. Sounds great, doesn’t it? After all, Marx and Hitler both wrote books that laid waste much of the 20th century and whose insidious damage not only lingers, but is still active, like occult cancer cells in the social bloodstream that just won’t die.
It appears that some people are willing to kill just about anybody and everybody based on what they think is written in the Koran. And other people are willing to die for what is written in the Bible, and still other people (get ready for this) are ready to tear down the structure of society based on what is written by Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, et al.
The pen, is, or a least it can be, mighty. But I can tell you as a former sword holder that there’s nothing like brandishing the bludgeon of law around to scare the you-know-what out of people, including yourself.
The difference between writing as I do it and legislating as I did it is that writing don’t matter.
I can write a different blog post after I finish this one commanding everyone who reads it to go find a bridge and jump off of it. But, it won’t matter if I do.
In the first place, nobody has to read what I write. There’s zero penalty for just taking a pass on reading my words. In the second place, such a command, coming in a blog post, is far more likely to inspire laughter than obedience, because nobody — and I mean nobody — has to do what it says. In the third place, anything I write, whether its drivel or genius, will be forgotten in about 36 hours, max.
Writers are a lot more sensitive and emotional than legislators, and I include myself in that category. I’ve done a couple of things as a writer that I would not have dreamed of doing as a legislator. The reason?
It don’t matter.
The anger of a writer is more like a child, throwing their toys around in a pique. When a lawmaker gets angry, people get scared. Because the anger of a lawmaker can have huge consequences. By the same token, and appearances aside, lawmakers don’t take off after each other in public all the time, again for one simple reason. Such behavior can have consequences.
I know that sounds untrue, given the verbal fisticuffs that lawmakers engage in 24/7, but believe me, there are rules; things you don’t say, things you don’t do and confidences you don’t violate. The consequences are too high.
I went through a long period where I was hated and despised by my colleagues because of the fact that I would run right over them if I had to in order to pass pro life laws. The weakness in all their nasty that they heaped on my head was that I might have been hated and despised, but I was also Representative Hated and Despised. They could — and did — break my heart. But they had to be careful about taking it past the capitol doors, because there could be — would be — consequences.
There’s a saying in politics: Forgive and remember.
Nobody wants to get on the business end of that saying. It’s just stupid to put yourself there.
And it is also what I love most about not being a legislator. I can write whatever I want as a blogger and not get all in a snit about it because It. Don’t. Matter.
Lawmakers can kill people by putting a comma in the wrong place. Not only that, but bad laws don’t go away. They have a shelf life that runs into generations. Make a mistake with a law, and you can ruin people’s lives, even end people’s lives, for decades into the future.
Not only that, but lawmaking is always an exercise in who to hurt. Just about every vote I cast in my 18 years in office was at some level a decision as to who to hurt.
The pressures, the responsibility and the inevitability of making mistakes that will do harm were like living in a pressure cooker with the heat cranked up. Add to that the responsibility for thousands of constituents, and you’ve got a whole mountain on top you.
Nobody calls a blogger at three in the morning because their son was just murdered in the jail. When it rains, I don’t worry if Brock Creek will flood and drown people. The other day when I was taking Mama to the doc, I saw a cloud of smoke in the general area of my district. I looked at it, said a prayer for those involved, and felt grateful with the gratitude of someone who does not have to deal with it and try to make it right.
If a tornado wipes out your neighborhood, you’ve got to rebuild, but you don’t have to put on your boots and hard hat and go out, walking from one smashed home to another, making a list of things that people are needing that you have to figure out how to get for them. Of course, helping them is the good part. Having them cling to you like wounded children is what humbles and drains you to the depths.
I no longer have to convince gangs to stop killing people and work to keep the police and the people on the same congenial page. I look at things like Ferguson and I know that somewhere in all this there were lawmakers who weren’t doing their jobs, who didn’t get these things worked out and taken care of before they got to this pass.
Because legislating isn’t all or even mostly lawmaking. It’s taking care of thousands upon thousands of people. It’s protecting and building community. It’s loving and caring and using yourself up in the service of others.
Writing a blog, on the other hand, is mostly a kind of thinking out loud. A blog has a wide, wide sweep. It gets into the thinking of almost limitless numbers of people all over the globe. It can engage them and give them an opportunity to express their own thoughts and feelings. It can, at its best, help them to develop those thoughts and think things through.
Blogging is a form of teaching and a kind of entertainment.
But it does not — ever — reach the point where it really matters all that much.
Because if I made a law telling people to jump off a bridge, they would have to do it or pay fines, go to prison or find the scratch and spit to take on the government in court. But if I write a blog post telling people to jump off a bridge, they can — and will — laugh at me and turn the page.
On the other hand, if I write a blog post that gets people all worked up and wanting to lynch me, I can shut down the computer and go to a movie. They can’t do anything more than hiss and spit and disagree.
Blogging is fun precisely because It. Don’t. Matter.
It’s taken me a while to “get” that. In fact, I’m working on it still. I have to learn and know and believe what I’m saying to you here does not have the gravitas and will never be as deadly as law. The only consequence it has is what you, of your own free will, chose to give it.
I can help you think. I can provoke you to take ideas and noodle with them, disagree with them, support them, or dissect them. But I can do this only if you chose to do it. The contract between you and me, writer to reader, is our mutual freedom.
That’s the essence of what I’m trying to learn about my new life. I am slowly coming to grips with the sudden and as yet incomprehensible degree of freedom that is mine. I’ve traded a straightjacket for wings. I’ve cashed in my blazer with the target on it for a computer that turns off and an office door that shuts.
Because, in the final analysis and at the end of the day when the rubber meets the road and we get to the bottom line all in a collision of cliches and final thoughts, It. Don’t. Matter.
Ladies and gentlemen, put on your reading glasses, fasten your seatbelts and get ready to roll.
I am free.
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons
I’ve written about this before.
There was a reason why I entered my anti-God period. It had a lot to do with violence against women and the indifference of the church — meaning the whole of Christianity — to that violence.
I spent 17 years, wandering in the spiritual wilderness over this. When Jesus basically reached out and scooped me back into His arms, I was confounded. The unconditional, ecstatic love that He showered on me was a complete contradiction of Who I had thought He was.
Still, I was faced with a conundrum. If the men who claimed so stridently that they, and they alone, spoke for God, were telling the truth of things, then what place did I, a female person who actually felt that I was a full human being and not some smidge of what’s left of a human being after the preachers got done limiting me and my life down to what they thought was acceptable, what place did I have in any church that bore the name of Christ?
The Jesus I met seemed to me at that time to have very little to do with the mean-spirited, woman-despising message I had been given by His spokesmen. I loved this Jesus I encountered, and, right from the first, I trusted Him. But that other Jesus — the one who supported the double standard and thought women and girls should live their lives in the circumscribed margins of life that these men of God set out for us, who basically wanted us pushed aside, that Jesus I had been told about and bashed with, I mistrusted and feared to my core.
I was so confused that I prayed and asked God directly if He hated women. This wasn’t a test. It wasn’t an argument. It wasn’t even much of a prayer. It was a plea and a question from the bottom of my shattered heart.
I don’t always or even often get direct, immediate and discernible answers to my prayers, but God answered me then. I’ve been walking my walk with Christ on rock-solid certainty of that answer ever since.
I realize that the Church does not recognize personal revelation except in very rare and well verified circumstances, and that even then these personal revelations are not binding as a matter of faith on the people of God. I think that’s a sound practice.
I also think that this position on personal revelation makes Cardinal Burke and me just about even so far as this woman question is concerned. I had a personal revelation that God loves the female half of the human race and that He’s not so happy with His preachers who say otherwise. The good Cardinal evidently has had a personal revelation of some sort that the many and manifold problems of the Church are due to those of us who have two X chromosomes.
In the Gospel according to him, the priest shortage is due to the existence of altar girls. His explanation for this is that boys don’t like to be around girls. Even aside from the fact that we are talking about adolescent boys, a good many of whom seem to rather like adolescent girls, that is absolute nonsense.
There are a number of factors that have contributed to the priest shortage; the cultural upheavals — the sexual revolution, dissolution of the family, the priest sex abuse scandal, birth control — of the last 50 years chief among them. In addition to the huge changes in society, a major reason for the priest shortage is due to the 800 pound gorilla in the room that nobody will talk about.
As most Catholics over the age of 12 have probably observed, a good many of our priests are gay. Homosexuals are a much smaller pool of potential applicants than straight men. Also — get ready for this Cardinal Burke — straight adolescent boys don’t really want to spend their time with gay men. They just don’t. Call it homophobic. Call it adolescent sexual insecurity. Call it whatever you want, but there is one thing for sure about it: It’s not due to altar girls.
In another report, I read that Cardinal Burke is decrying the “feminization” of the Church. In his view, men don’t go to church because there are too many women there.
Men just hate being around women. I’ve noticed that all my life. They don’t like the way we smell. They don’t like our soft hands or higher voices. And they really can’t stand the way we look.
I guess that Oklahoma parishes are just unduly macho — or maybe that’s sissified, I can’t figure it out exactly — but we’ve got a lot of men sitting in the pews every week. And quite a few of them are sitting beside their wives, daughters, mothers and, yes, even their girlfriends.
I’m not sure how Cardinal Burke plans to run his Church if he and those who think like him manage to turn it into a Spanky and Our Gang Woman Haters Club House, but my personal opinion is that if they succeed in chasing off the women, they might think about closing up shop.
Jesus did not found a boys club. He founded a universal Church that welcomes everyone. When Our Lord walked this earth, He went out of His way to treat women with honor and dignity that men of that place and time found scandalizing.
God sent me to the Catholic Church and since the One Who owns the whole deal told me to be here, I’m staying. But I’m not going to listen to anybody, no matter what kind of hat they wear, who says things like altar girls are the cause of the priest shortage and that this Church with its all-male priesthood which makes all the decisions is too “feminized.”
Frankly, between this kind of thing coming from American cardinals, and the doh-si-doh about marriage coming from Germany and Belgium, I’m beginning to wish somebody would pull the plug on these guy’s mikes.
I’ve struggled with this all my life and I can tell you that ramblings like those from Cardinal Burke were a big part of what kept me walled up in what I thought was self-protective armor against a God I believed hated me.
You’ve gotta be careful, you men of God, telling half the human race that God thinks less of them than He does the other half. Aside from the enormous harm you do to the souls of the people you are supposed to be shepherding — and this little dance with misogyny is massively damaging to both men and women — you are defaming the Lord.
Because God doesn’t hate women and He doesn’t want us at the back of the bus.
I asked Him.
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons
And Jesus said
I AM the way.
I AM the bread of life.
I AM the light of the world.
I AM the good shepherd.
I AM the door.
I AM the way, the truth and the life.
I AM the true vine.
I AM the resurrection and the life.
Before Abraham was, I AM.
What do you think He meant?
Book cover photo from Amazon
Some days, the news speaks for itself.
This is a roundup of stories about and reactions to the terrorist attack on the Paris newspaper Charlie Hebdo yesterday.
‘Islamophobic’ Michel Houellebecq book featured by charlie Hebdo published today. I don’t speak or read French, but I’m ordering the book, anyway; in support of free speech.