Friday, April 22, 2005

Just the facts, ma'am.

I have truly been amazed at the reactions I have gotten from other people about the election of Pope Benedict XVI. It just goes to show that the cliche is true: "A little learning is a dangerous thing."

I was talking to a very nice lady about this the other day. She said that one of her co-workers told her that the pope was a Nazi. Not true, I said. He was compelled by law to join the Hitler Youth movement and the army when he was old enough, but he in fact deserted the Nazi Army, putting his life at risk (likely his family's lives as well) because he disagreed with the war and with what the party was doing. He was intercepted on the road home, by another group of troops, who should have shot him for deserting, but because they were also against the war and he was wounded (arm injury) they let him go home. His father picked up their family from the town where the Holy Father was born because there were many many Nazi sympathizers there and his father, a police officer, strongly opposed the Nazi party. The nice lady I corrected said, "Really? I didn't know that." I can only pray that she has the courage to correct her colleague after she received the facts.

It makes you think about how many bits of "information" all of us pass along on a daily basis without knowing all of the facts. I know I do it myself.

I love my husband. We laugh all the time about his quest for information. For our entire relationship, he has asked me questions about things he didn't know-and he knows an awful lot (Why did Chirac get elected?). Many times, I know the answer, but (yes, it happens) often I don't know the answer. (Me: How would I know? DH: You took French, you know more about France than me. Is it unreasonable for me to ask you?) The thing with my DH (dear husband)was that he couldn't take "I don't know" for an answer. So he would press me for an explanation of anything he didn't know. Under intense interrogation, I would hypothesize an answer. During our courtship, I prefaced my hypothesis with, "Well, I'm not sure, but, ..." and this was still not satisfying to him because I was not sure. So I learned to stop telling him when I was hypothesizing and when I actually knew the answer. The poor man came to think that everything I told him in these exchanges was fact.

My guessing came back to bite me. DH asked me about something once and I gave him the guessed answer like I always did. Then a few weeks later, he was telling me about a conversation he had with someone at work and he used my misinformation. I had found out the correct answer by then and I said something like, "Where did you hear that?" To which he replied, "You told me." "I did?" "Yes." "Well, that's not really true." "What?" "I was guessing because you wanted an answer." "But I told someone that it was true!" I have learned to tell him now when I'm guessing, and he has learned to ask me if it was a guess or not.

How much better things would be if we all decided to pass along information only after knowing the facts. Imagine how much quieter it would be! Then, of course, the talking heads of the world would have a lot less to talk about-but would we be any worse for our punditry discussing FACT rather than opinion disguised as fact?

God bless Pope Benedict XVI!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Habeamus Papam

Yesterday, when Pope Benedict XVI was elected was a bittersweet day for me. I have nothing against our new pope. I think that Cardinal Ratzinger did remarkably brave work for the Church while serving as the prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. He was tireless in defending the truth which the Church teaches and he will be an excellent pope. He also seems a little less hard than I though he would be, which is somehting the secular media here in the USA did not seem to want to address. I watched a couple of broadcasts last night (6:30 and 11:00) and every station said he was old and conservative. I don't think that is the measure of this man.

But what is weird for me is that someone besides John Paul II could even be pope. You see, I'm 29 years old. I was almost 3 when JP2 was elected, so he was truly the only pope I ever knew.
All of this is rather like my grandfather dying, mourning him for 9 days, and then having my uncles elect a new grandfather for my family. All my life, I've been praying for God's servant, John Paul, so when I go to Mass next, to pray for His servant Benedict will be very strange.

I have to also say that I was surprised at how few votes it took to elect Benedict. I thought it would take a little longer and that the man emerging from behind the red curtain would be African or Latin.

None of this is to take away from Pope Benedict. I believe that God knows what he is doing and that Joseph Ratzinger was the best man for the job. Now we have to pray for him, becaus ehe just got the toughest job in the world. Viva il papa!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Holier than thou

Doing the seating chart for the First Holy Communion Masses here at our parish is worse than doing the seating chart for my wedding reception.

I had a mom call me yesterday to ask me to make sure that she was sitting near the front of the church because she and her family actually attend Mass every weekend. She couldn't bear the idea of being seated at the back of the church when people who "don't care about religion" got to sit near the front.

I was pretty stunned. I had never had someone call me up to demand such a thing before . I tried to make the point that I pull the names randomly and that perhaps seeing their child make their First Communion might bring some of these families back to the Church. She was not hearing it. She said, "I'm not putting you in an awkward position." Well, yes, actually, you are, ma'am. So,I told her I'd see what I could do.

But as I gave it some more thought, I got more angry about the whole exchange and how I handled it. I remembered how I heard on a local talk radio station at Christmastime a few years ago about a Catholic pastor who was giving tickets to the Christmas Masses to his active parishioners to make sure that they had somewhere to sit at the very crowded Christmas Masses.

Sounds good on paper, yes? It's only fair, we say. We contribute to the collection every week. We deserve a place to sit over those C and E (Christmas and Easter) and A and P (Ashes and Palms) Catholics. And they're not really Catholic, are they, if they don't go every week? We take our religion seriously. We deserve a pew near the front. (Some might argue that real Catholics sit in the back anyway, but that's a topic for another entry;) )

Well, what would Christ say to this woman, to the parishioners who came up with the tickets for Christmas Mass idea, and to the pastor who implemented it? He would say, "Get over yourself. Yes the Church is crowded. Yes, I know you are here every Sunday, but are you listening to anything I am saying to you in the Scripture readings? Obviously you are not paying much attention while you are here. You should be as glad as I am that these brothers and sisters of yours are even in the church and that their children are in religious education. No, they are not perfect. Then again, neither are you. You don't deserve to be closer to the altar than anyone else. You don't deserve a seat in the church more than anyone else. I love all of you the same."

Doesn't Our Lord tell us in the scripture that the last shall be first and the first shall be last? Doesn't He tell us in the parable of the prodigal son that Our Heavenly Father rejoices with all of the angels in heaven when the child who was dead returns? Doesn't the Good Shepherd leave His flock in search of the lamb who has gone astray, and when He finds it, He places it on His shoulders and carries it back into the fold and rejoices? Did he not lay down his life for His sheep?

Why the nitpicking over where you're sitting in the Church? Isn't the most important thing about the day that your child will receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist for the first time? And that your child is now admitted to the Lord's Banquet? This is a deeper level of his or her relationship with Christ, and if you're so religious you would get that and it would not matter.

It's time for me to take a walk over to the Rectory to let our pastor know that he can expect an angry phone call on Monday. Because I am leaving this lady exactly where chance had me pull her name: square in the middle.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Theology of the Body

This is what I'm talking about in the previous post, to a degree. Here is an interview with an expert on the Theology of the Body, Christopher West. Understanding the Theology of the Body will change your relationship with your spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend forever:

There is also some good Catholic stuff on

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Women priests: why?

All I hear about now that JP2 is gone is: "Maybe the next guy will ease up on the whole women priest thing and the whole birth control thing while he's at it. It's time to bring the Church into the modern world."

Well, if they start ordaining women, I'm leaving.

Yes, that's right. I'm an American woman under 30. I am married and we practice Natural Family Planning. I was a virgin when I married. I run a CCD Program. MAybe I'm an anomaly, but I don't think so.

There was a reason, maybe only to be understood completely by Christ himself, that he never chose women to be Apostles. I read a great article written by a woman who was a Lutheran minister who converted to Catholicism. She spoke of Catholic anthropology and it was wonderful. I'll post the entire thing here if I ever get the time.

Jesus was totally countercultural and ahead of His time (2000 years ago) in regard to women and the way he interacted with and treated them. And he did not call one of them to be an apostle. That is why there are no women priests and there will never be any women priests.

Jesus did not call His mother, Mary to be an Apostle, and she was His greatest follower. She said "yes" to be His mother as a girl of just 14. She was sinless from conception. She was at the foot of the cross when He died and was in the upper room when He sent the Holy Spirit. And she was not an Apostle. She followed Him better than anyone did and she was not an Apostle.

Why is it that western women find it necessary to be the same as a man to be equal to a man? God, in His wisdom, created men and women differently. We are made to do different things. A man cannot carry a child. A woman cannot carry a child without a man to make her pregnant.

Catholic anthropology sees men and women created to do different things: Men to give love (eg: he gives a woman his seed to fertilize her egg) and women to receive love (physically, a woman's body receives a man's and that is how a child is conceived) and to give love in return (birthing and caring for a child).

Christ chose to come to Earth as a man, not a woman. Christ gives His love to the Church. That is why we refer to Christ (and in Scriptures He referred to himself) as the bridegroom and His Church, His people, His bride. We refer to the Catholic Church as "Holy Mother the Church."

Priests serve Christ's people in His place, in persona Christi. Priests, in a sense, when they receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders, marry Holy Mother the Church. They give their love, their lives, to the Bride of Christ, the Church. Men marry women. The masculine joins the feminine, and that is why men are ordained, not women.

Why do women see sameness as men as something to be acheived? Why can't we embrace our femininity? Why can't we see that our differences are from God? Why can't we understand that just because we can't be ordained that we are not below men? That God does not see us as less, but as commissioned with a different vocation? Whay can't we see that our interaction with men is a reflection of the relationship of the three persons of the Holy Trinity?

Consider the Blessed Mother. She was not an apostle, not a priest. But she was assumed into Heaven, body and soul and was given a place of Honor in her Son's kingdom. Name a priest who was given that. Is she less worthy or lovable because she is not eligible to be ordained? NO!

I pray that my sisters in Christ who press for ordination will put their pride aside and let the Holy Spirit speak to them. That they will humble themsleves so that they can hear the Truth of what the Church teaches. That they will humble themselves so that they can see what a marvelous gift being born a woman is and embrace it and all that comes with it.

National Treasure-gone.

The city in which I live has a large immigrant Polish population. I am thinking right now about two families who live nearby: Pete (or Piotr) and Kascia next door and Marzin and Evelyn across the street. Both of them have Polish flags with a black ribbon tied to the top flying outside of their homes.

My neighbors' flags remind me that our Holy Father was not just the extremely charismatic Bishop of Rome, but he was a national treasure in Poland. No matter how deeply I feel the loss of our Holy Father, my neighbors feel it more. It is also so much more personal to them because , while they are close to my age and were teens when the Berlin Wall fell and the Solidarity movement in Poland began, they grew up under Communist oppression and they value him more than I can as an American, who, truly, has taken her freedom for granted.

John Paul the Great was not just their pope, but he is the one who brokered an end to communist rule without there having to be a nuclear war. He encouraged the Solidarity movement in its infancy, during his electric first visit back to Poland after his election as supreme pontiff. He is a hero to them spiritually and politically. With no John Paul, they may not even have been able to come to America.

Thank you, Lord, for our Holy Father. Thank you, Pete, Kascia, Marzin, and Evelyn, for your flags; for reminding me that I have to be grateful for more than John Paul, but for being born an American. And thank you, John Paul, for reminding us all that as Americans we are greatly blessed, but that we are also endowed with great responsibility to share more and to do more.

Theology of the Body

This is what I'm talking about in the previous post, to a degree. Here is an interview with an expert on the Theology of the Body, Christopher West. Understanding the Theology of the Body will change your relationship with your spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend forever:

There is also some good Catholic stuff on

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Eternal rest grant unto him

Pope John Paul II returned to the Lord this afternoon. I really miss him. I sang, as usual with the guitar group at the 7:00 Mass tonight and every time his name came up I started to cry a little.

The worst part was when we prayed the Eucharistic Prayer, and for the first time I can remember in my life, we did not pray for Pope John Paul II right before we prayed for our archbishop. The priest said simply, "we pray for our Archbishop, John Joseph." His name has been deleted from the Mass.

I came home from Mass and cried on my husband's shoulder. I wish JP2 was still with us here on earth. But it occured to me as I dried my tears that he can do so much more for our Church now that he is with Jesus and Our Blessed Mother than he could have done on earth. He is now in heaven to intecede for us.

I am about to go to sleep, but before I do, I will ask Karol Wojtyla to pray for me and for my family, but especially for the 18 month old boy alseep in the next room, whom we named for our hero.

It's time for night-nights John Paul.