When it's been a rough morning and you're in the car with the whole family taking him to his parents' house from whence he shall go golfing, and you are justthisclose to tears, he puts the Dixie Chicks, whom he cannot stand, on the CD player just because he knows you like it.
Bl. Miguel Pro is my favorite Blessed. His feast day was yesterday. He was a Jesuit priest during the Mexican Revolution who was martyred. He was sickly his whole life and didn't get to see his family again after his ordination and his life was generally difficult, but he always kept his sense of humor and joy. You can read about him at the link.
When he was executed by firing squad, the government took photos of the entire thing. The idea was to show all of the Catholics what they could expect if they dared to practice their faith. As it generally happens when someone is made a martyr, photos didn't discourage that many people. They inspired many to deeper faith. It was illegal to attend his funeral, but thousands of people lined the streets to pay their respects as his casket went past.
I am profoundly grateful for my family and for my friends and for the privilege Our Lord has given me by calling me His daughter.
I have also decided that the time is now to tell those whom we love just how much they mean to us. Is there an aunt you don't get to see all that often who was extraordinaritly kind to you as a child? Now is the time to tell her that her presence in your life has been of immeasureable value. Track down that coach who helped challenge you and make you who you are today and thank him or her for everything they did for you and your teammates. Shoot them a quick email, or even better, write a quick note. Then offer a prayer to the Lord thanking him for blessing you with that person.
It is time to live without regretting all of the kind words you never shared. None of us knows when those who were so important to us will not be with us any longer.
Original Photo Caption: Rob Hoffman / THE SETONIAN - The “remember” words on the Boland Hall Memorial Garden stone are faintly visible through the snow Wednesday, which marked the fifth anniversary of the fatal fire that killed three students. A visitor had left flowers on the memorial.
Some of you may know, if you've been reading a while, that I used to work as an Admissions Counselor at Seton Hall University. I was an employee of the University when the tragic fire killed 3 students and injured others in January 2000. The two young men who were arrested in the case took a plea bargain that will guarantee that they will be in jail for 16 months, possibly as long as 5 years.
The time after the fire was a little weird, as you can imagine. I found out about it when I turned on the news as I was getting ready for work that day. Campus was open to us employees, but we had to show picture ID getting onto campus--our parking passes weren't good enough. They were trying to keep reporters off the campus.
Now I know these TV and newspaper people were just trying to do their jobs, but I was pretty disgusted. There were rumors of them climbing over the iron fence that surrounded the campus, posing as students to get "exclusive interviews," etc.
They were allowed on campus the next day, when we had a special Mass in the chapel for the students. The building that I worked in was right next to the chapel and had to walk past it to get to the parking deck. The chapel was so full that there were people there for Mass who had to stand outside on the steps. And there were TV people everywhere. They were like lice, just throughout the campus, feeding on the sadness and loss that everyone on campus was feeling. I remember making eye contact with some woman from Channel 7 in New York and giving her this disgusted look. Couldn't they let these poor kids mourn their classmates in peace, I thought, Can't they just go away and leave us alone?
Getting back "on the road" for spring recruiting that spring was bittersweet. There were many who offered condolences. Some parents steered their kids away from my table. Others marched their high schoolers right up to us saying, "After what happened there, this will be the safest school in the counrty for you to attend."
Then the Pirates Men's Basketball team went to the Sweet 16 that March. We went to that game in Syracuse and watched as the Pirates were outmatched by Oklahoma. But it's funny how this basketball team's success gave such a lift to the campus. Kids were still "dorming" in a local motel, but the fire in some ways, though it will never go completely away from the school, was pushed back a little further in everyone's minds and we could all think about moving on.
And that's what this plea bargain will allow for many. Knowing that these boys, who made the stupidest mistake of their lives and tried to hide from it, will face some jail time will allow some to move on.
I just can't help but think how differently things would have been for all of us who were involved with Seton Hall that year if they had simply come forward in the days after the fire. If they had the fortitude to come forward and admit their prank had gone horribly astray and asked forgiveness. Would they have even faced jail time if this was truly a horrible accident? How many of us would have felt sorry for these stupid kids? And how much sooner would the healing have begun for the surviving victims and the families of Aaron, John, and Frank if they had stepped up immediately?
I can't change those boys' actions, and their parents' apparent attempts to help them cover up their involvement, but I can impress upon my children that it is always better to tell the truth right away and to take responsibility for your mistakes. No one ever gets away with anything. If the law doesn't get you here, you still have to face Judgment. I'd rather have them face a judge here than The Just Judge up there.
I was at the doctor's office for my post-partum checkup several weeks ago. Now I have to explain about this doctor. He is super nice (OK and Super Cute) and really looks like an English Professor (little glasses and blond floppy hair included). He's a bit of a philosopher also. He was admiring my baby (really, she is cute) and she smiled at him and he asked me, "Why do you think the first thing a baby does is smile? I mean, why smiling?" I said something like, "Because God knows that by the time a baby is 4-6 weeks old, the mother needs some positive reinforcement to keep her from putting the child out on the street." "OK," he says, "but why a smile?"
So he then asked me how I was doing, and I had to tell him that this was the easiest recovery I have ever had. After 3 C-sections, reason would dictate that this ought to have been the hardest recovery, but it really wasn't. I told him that between all the people (you guys) praying for me, being truly happy with the OB group that he is in (I wasn't crazy about the other group), and the hospital being so great (a much better experince than the previous two births) it was the best birth I've had.
He then spoke about there being a "vibe" about the hospital, a Catholic hospital, and that a lot of people coment how caring a place it is. Now, to me this has a pretty no-brain explanation. It's because it is a Catholic hospital with Jesus ion the premises. The Eucharist is there 24/7. I had someone offer me the sacrament every day. Mass was on the TV in my room every day. Sorry, doc. It's not a "vibe." It's Jesus.
I know that sickness and death entered the world because of sin, but hell cooked up an extra good cold which has socked the Giglio family hard. It may have been the flu. I didn't get off the couch for 2 days. Primo hasn't been to school since Thursday. Bubba has a double ear infection and La Bebe has a runny nose and a cough. Yea, hell hath no fury like this bug.
In his address on Saturday, titled, "Language in the Latin Rite Liturgy: Latin and Vernacular," Arinze said the Roman church used Greek in its early years, but was "Latinized" in the fourth century. "The Roman rite has Latin as its official language," he said. The great religions of the world all "hold on" to their founding languages — Judaism to Hebrew and Aramaic, Islam to Arabic, Hindu to Sanskrit and Buddhism to Pali.
"Is it a small matter," he asked, for priests or bishops from around the world to be able to speak to each other in universal language of the church? Or for "a million students" who gather for World Youth Day every few years "to be able to say parts of the Mass in Latin?"
In an hourlong, often humorous, address that received several standing ovations, Arinze suggested that, in order to give Catholics options, large parishes offer the Mass in Latin at least once a week, and in smaller, rural parishes, at least once a month. (Homilies, he said, should always be in the faithful's native language.) Latin "suits a church that is universal. It has a stability modern languages don't have," he said.
stained glass window by Frank Schoonover As much as I complain about being back at work, being the DRE at my parish has been a huge blessing to me and to my family in many ways. Being in this ministry has deepend my faith so much and the Lord has seen fit to bless me with meeting people in our parish whom I would never otherwise interact with.
Especially beautiful to me are the times when the Lord sees fit to use me as an instrument of His Grace by my interactions with parents and students at Sacrament times. The Lord has softened many parents' hearts at the times when their children receive sacraments and it is such a privilege for me to be a small part of their return to the sacraments after a long absence.
Especially rewarding for me was the chance I had last winter of becoming involved with a family in our parish who had adopted 3 brothers (ages 13, 11, and 2) out of our state's foster care system. The elder boys decided that they wanted to become Catholic and their father contacted me about getting them ready to be received into the Church. We met once a week and the depth of their faith impressed me. The older son is wise beyond his years and has a great love for Christ and His Church. The younger son was an 11 year old through and through, but he took our time of preparation very seriously, as seriously as one can expect an 11 year old to do.
All 3 of the boys were baptized today, but the older two, the ones I had the honor to work with, were also Confirmed and received the Eucharist for the first time today. It was a beautiful Mass and I was so proud of them. They truly seemed different when Mass was over. Their parents have done a superb job of instilling in them a love of Christ, and it was obvious how happy they were to finally be able to recieve Our Lord in the Eucharist with their parents.
Please join me in praying for Sean and Xavier (their Confrmation names), and for their little brother Thomas (new Baptismal name) and for their parents and godparents as they celebrate the boys' intiation into Christ's Church. St. Thomas, St. John and St. Francis Xavier please pray for them!
"Whisper" Cartoon by Matt Myers of Virginia Wesleyan College, 2002
I decided last year that we would add a little Latin to our curriculum. The 4th graders are learning the Signum Crucis and the Pater Noster and the 5th graders are learning the Gloria Patri and the Ave Maria. I would really have liked to have the kids learn them at a younger age, but I figured they really ought to work on the prayers in English in 1st grade and 2nd grade is First Reconciliation and first Communion, so there is already enough there. Third grade's curriculum focuses on the Apostle's Creed , so they learn that prayer in 3rd grade. 4th and 5th grades didn't have any specific prayers attached to the curriculum, so I put them there. I think it's going well so far.
Why, you may ask, are we teaching the kids their basic formal prayers in Latin? Well, a. Latin is the official language of the Catholic Church and b. Pope Benedict asked all of us to learn these basic Latin prayers so that people from all over the world can gather and pray in the same language (see World Youth Day). Bonus: learning some words in Latin will help them in their secular lives as well, especially in their languages classes (as long as they elect to study a Romance language) and when it comes time to take standardized tests (since so many English words have their roots in Latin or in Romance languages). My hope is that some of the kids who have an affinity for languages will become interested in Latin and learn it so that all of the people who can read and speak this dead language don't die off and then it's a REALLY dead language. (Side note: I think it's shameful that most American diocesan seminaries don't require that the men in formation learn Latin. my$.02)
You should HEAR some of the stuff that's going around the parish about this one. Our pastor got a phone call from someone who wanted to know why the kids had to learn Latin prayers before they could make their First Holy Communion (?!). Only better than that is what my mom heard at the hairdresser's 3 weeks ago. The pastor that hired me retired in June (passing away in July). So, we got a new pastor in July. The rumor around Curl Up and Dye (a real beauty salon name, but not the name of the one mom goes to-isn't that a great name?) is that Fr. Bob is trying to get rid of all of the priests at our parish and that our extremely popular 40 year old parochial vicar is being forced to retire (remember all of the above is UNTRUE-except about Curl Up and Dye being a real salon name. THAT's true).
It's like the gossip spread by the game "Whisper Down the Lane." 2 weeks ago I had Confirmation Parent Meetings and stuff I said there is coming back to me totally twisted up. The person who fell asleep in my meeting is going around repeating the half sentence they heard. And that half sentence taken completely out of the context of the rest of the sentence can be considered pretty inflammatory (RE: candidates' Mass attendance, I said, "It's not like we're going to say, Three misses and you're out." I heard that I said "three misses and you're out." oy vey!)
And all I can do is shake my head and laugh sometimes. People are going to get mad at me no matter what I do in my job. All I can do is my best to work joyfully for the Lord and pray hard.
As my URL indicates, I am a DRE (director of religious Education) at my parish. I started this blog intending to write more about work, but it didn't really evolve that way, but that explains the URL.
Anyway, tonight I am going to post about work because I have to admit I'm a little mystified about something and maybe some of you good folks can help me. This post is 100% snark-free. I genuinely can't understand this.
Last year, a few weeks before First Communion, two of our five First Communion Catechists told me the kids weren't going to church and as a result didn't know the responses during Mass. Nor did most of them remember the basic prayers of our faith that they learned in the first grade. So, it being six weeks before First Communion, we instituted a policy where all of the First Communicants would have to go to Mass and have a bulletin signed by the presiding priest each week before First Communion. Parental grumbling happened, but, no big surprise here, the kids really improved overall in their knowledge of what happens at Mass and they could remember their prayers.
Since, from our point of view, this experiment was such a huge success we made it a year long thing for both the First Communicants and the Confirmation candidates. At first we were going to require that the bulletins get signed, but then our priests pointed out that they would be signing bulletins for half an hour after each Mass since we hve 250 kids who would have to do this. So, early in the year, we required only that the kids turn in a bulletin as proof that they attended Mass.
Here is where I am genuinely mystified: Both times, I heard from a few parents who were very angry and insulted at having to get these bulletins signed. These parents who contacted me are regular churchgoers who said that they didn't feel like they had to prove anything to us as a parish about Mass attendance. I had one mom this past summer say that she wanted to pull her kids out of our religious ed program (that they've been in for 8 years) because she was so insulted. She said that this was a policy that made the parish very unwelcoming to her.
I just don't understand it. I thought that the people who would be the most upset would be those who weren't going to Mass regularly. I wasn't asking that much more of those who were there anyway, just that they stop by and see Father before they went home. I just can't understand how they could have been insulted by this. I hope some of you can explain this to me becuase I really do WANT to understand where they're coming from. The lady who threatened to leave didn't leave, btw, but I haven't spoken to her about it since she emailed me in August while I was on maternity leave and I read her email on All Saints' Day. Another thing, now that I have read her email, should I reply, even though it is more than 2 months later? I'd like to apologize for insulting her, but I'm not sure if I should leave well enough alone in this case.