Thursday, December 09, 2010


suckity sucksucksucksucks suck.

My life is complicated and stressful right now. And in it I can see God's hand holding mine. I can see Him providing though the kindness of other people and I am grateful.

Just not cheerful.

I am beyond frustrated with certain people I am related to.

I am depressed.

I am angry.

I want normal again.

I want this sh!t to stop hitting the fan during the winter holidays (This isn't the first time it has all gone to hell right before Thanksgiving). I feel stressed right now because I can't do the things I want to do at this time of year. I don't feel adequately SPIRITUALLY prepared for Christmas.

I can't think any further ahead than the next 5 minutes. It's 12:13. I'm just trying to get to 1:00.

I feel like I'm in a constant state of prayer because otherwise I would have lost my mind.

Went to the OB yesterday. Unbelieveably, my blood pressure was normal: 110/70. That is a miracle because I spent the whole morning trying to wrangle 2 misbehaving children at Mass and listening to them bicker and tattle on each other ALL MORNING. ALL MORNING!

I feel like I go around the clock and am accomplishing nothing.

I know so many of you are praying for me. And I am so grateful for that. And I know that these problems I have, when taken with those of other people, are not a lot.

I'm just in the thick of it right now. And trying to get to 1:00.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Random randomness part 785

Hello, Internet. I know you missed me. My life has been cuckoo crazy lately. Here's a recap:
  1. both boys played flag football in a rec league this fall. This totally kicked my butt. They were in 2 different age groups, so they played on different days and had totally different practices and some of the older boy's games didn't even end until after 9. Monday-Thursday of every week was football in addition to the OT for one of the kids, two different cub scout dens, and CCD for me two nights a week.
  2. I am leading our younger son's cub scout den, which feels completely overwhelming, but probably because of the flag football experience as outlined above. I do enjoy it, but I feel I have have said yes to too much this year.
  3. Case in point: I allowed myself to be guilted into serving as a class mom again for my daughter's preschool class. I was told that they asked everyone else. I'm not sure that's the whole truth. It's fun, but this year can be a lot of work. The teacher already let me off the hook with the huge Thanksgiving breakfast they usually do (she's just coming back from maternity leave and I asked her if we can back off on it), but I still get to chair all of the class parties, field day, "beach" party, and graduation. Which all takes place in the beginning of June and should prove interesting because:
  4. Giglio baby #4 will likely be born that week (I'm emailing all of the parents next week to delegate all of that end-of-year stuff.). We are really excited because we've been trying (or not not trying) to get pregnant since January. Reaction was mixed when we announced it to our families at Thanksgiving dinner (Dinner deserves a post of its own that will never be written. Stressful. not unborn-child-related). Feeling queasy and tired all the time, even at the 12 week mark. Pretty sure it's a girl.
  5. My niece came to stay with last last Sunday. She'll be with us for a while. She needs our prayers. Please pray for us as well.
So, there is most of it, I think. Isn't that enough?

I have to say I'm super jazzed to be pregnant at the same time once again as my best girl, Aimee. We're both due within a month of each other again.

I know I owe you posts. God willing, my life will slow down some. Someday. The way my luck seems to be running, I'll get put on bedrest. The upside would be that I'd have nothing to do but blog. The downside would be that chaos would ensue.

Blessed Mother, pray for me!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Prayer request

My niece has come to stay with us for a time. Would appreciate you throwing a prayer to the Lord on her behalf, on behalf of her parents, and on behalf of our family as we all get used to having each other around!

Monday, November 08, 2010

For Veterans Day

I read this story about a Marine during WWII and St. Michael the Archangel a few years ago. It's beautiful. Thank a vet this week, won't you?

True story of a Soldier and the Intervention of St. Michael

What follows is a letter written by a young Marine to his mother while he was hospitalized after being wounded on a Korean battlefield in 1950. It came into the hands of a Navy Chaplain who read the letter before 5,000 Marines at a San Diego Naval Base in 1951.

The Navy Chaplain had talked to the young man, to his mother, and to the Sergeant in charge of the patrol. This Navy Chaplain, Father Walter Muldy, assured anyone who asked, that this was a true story. This letter was read once a year in the 1960's over a mid-western radio station at Christmas time. We present the letter and let it stand on its own merits.

Dear Mom,

I wouldn't dare write this letter to anyone but you because no one else would believe it. Maybe even you will find it hard, but I have to tell somebody.

First off, I am in a hospital. Now don't worry, you hear me, don't worry. I was wounded but I'm okay. The doctor says that I will be up and around in a month. But that is not what I want to tell you.

Remember when I joined the Marines last year; remember when I left, how you told me to say a prayer to St. Michael every day. You really didn't have to tell me that. Ever since I can remember you always told me to pray to St. Michael the Archangel. You even named me after him. Well I have always prayed to St. Michael. When I got to Korea, I prayed even harder. Remember the prayer that you taught me? "Michael, Michael of the morning, fresh corps of Heaven adorning…" You know the rest of it. Well, I said it every day, sometimes when I was marching or sometimes resting, but always before I went to sleep. I even got some of the other fellas to say it.

Well, one day I was with an advance detail way up over the front lines. We were scouting for the commies. I was plodding along in the bitter cold; my breath was like cigar smoke. I thought I knew every guy in the patrol, when along side of me comes another Marine I never met before. He was bigger than any other Marine I'd ever seen. He must have been over 6 feet 4 inches and built in proportion. It gave me a feeling of security to have such a body near me.

Anyway, there we were trudging along. The rest of the patrol spread out. Just to start a conversation I said, "Cold ain't it." And then I laughed. Here I was with a good chance of getting killed any minute and I am talking about the weather!

My companion seemed to understand. I heard him laugh softly.

I looked at him, "I've never seen you before. I thought I knew every man in the outfit."

"I just joined at the last minute," he replied, "the name is Michael."

"Is that so," I said surprised, "that's my name too."

"I know," he said, and then went on saying the prayer, "Michael, Michael of the morning..."

I was too amazed to say anything for a minute. How did he know my name, and a prayer that you had taught me? Then I smiled to myself, every guy in the outfit knew about me. Hadn't I taught the prayer to anybody who would listen? Why now and then, they even referred to me as St. Michael.

Neither of us spoke for a time, and then he broke the silence.

"We're going to have some trouble up ahead." He must have been in fine physical shape for he was breathing so lightly I couldn't see his breath. Mine poured out in great clouds. There was no smile on his face now. Trouble ahead, I thought to myself; well with the commies all around us, that's no great revelation.

Snow began to fall in thick great globs. In a brief moment the whole countryside was blotted out, and I was marching in a white fog of wet sticky particles. My companion disappeared.

"Michael!" I shouted in sudden alarm. I felt his hand on my arm, his voice was rich and strong, "This will stop shortly."

His prophecy proved to be correct. In a few minutes the snow stopped as abruptly as it had begun. The sun was a hard shining disc. I looked back for the rest of the patrol. There was no one in sight. We lost them in the heavy fall of snow. I looked ahead as we came over a little rise. Mom, my heart stopped. There were seven of them, seven commies in their padded pants and jackets and their funny hats. Only there wasn’t anything funny about them now. Seven rifles were aimed at us.

"Down Michael!" I screamed, and hit the frozen earth. I heard those rifles fire almost as one. I heard the bullets. There was Michael still standing.

Mom, those guys couldn't have missed, not at that range. I expected to see him literally blown to bits, but there he stood, making no effort to fire himself. He was paralyzed with fear. It happens sometimes, Mom, even to the bravest. He was like a bird fascinated by a snake. At least that's what I thought then. I jumped up to pull him down and that was when I got mine. I felt a sudden flame in my chest. I often wondered what it felt like to be hit. Now I know.

I remember feeling strong arms about me, arms that laid me ever so gently on a pillow of snow. I opened my eyes, for one last look. I thought I was dying. Maybe I was even dead. I remember thinking, “Well, this is not so bad.”

Maybe I was looking into the sun. Maybe I was in shock, but it seemed I saw Michael standing erect again, only this time his face was shining with a terrible splendor.

As I say, maybe it was the sun in my eyes, but he seemed to change as I watched him. He grew bigger, his arms stretched out wide, maybe it was the snow falling again but there was a brightness around him like the wings of an angel. In his hand was a sword. A sword that flashed with a million lights.

Well, that's the last thing I remember until the rest of the fellas came up and found me; I don't know how much time had passed. Now and then I had but a moment's rest from the pain and fever. I remember telling them of the enemy just ahead.

"Where's Michael?" I asked. I saw them look at one another. "Where's who?" asked one.

"Michael, that big Marine I was walking with just before the snow squall hit us."

"Kid," said the sergeant, "you weren't walking with anyone. I had my eyes on you the whole time. You were getting too far out. I was just going to call you in, when you disappeared in the snow."

He looked at me, curiously. "How did you do it, kid?"

"How did I do what?" I asked half angry, despite my wound. "This Marine named Michael and I were just..." "Son," said the sergeant kindly, "I picked this outfit myself and there just ain't another Michael in it. You are the only Mike in it."

He paused for a minute. "Just how did you do it, kid? We heard shots, yet there hasn't been a shot fired from your rifle, and there isn't a bit of lead in them seven bodies over the hill there."

I didn't say anything; what could I say? I could only look open-mouthed with amazement.

It was then, the sergeant spoke again. "Kid," he said gently, "every one of those seven commies was killed by a sword stroke."

That is all I can tell you, Mom. As I say, it may have been the sun in my eyes, it may have been the cold or the pain, but that is what happened.

Love, Michael


To St. Michael in Time of Peace Michael, Michael: Michael of the Morning, Michael of the Army of the Lord, Stiffen thou the hand upon the still sword, Michael, Folded and shut upon the sheathed sword, Michael, Under the fullness of the white robes falling, Gird us with the secret of the sword. When the world cracked because of a sneer in heaven, Leaving out for all time a scar upon the sky, Thou didst rise up against the Horror in the highest, Dragging down the highest that looked down on the Most High: Rending from the seventh heaven the hell of exaltation Down the seven heavens till the dark seas burn: Thou that in thunder threwest down the Dragon Knowest in what silence the Serpent can return. Down through the universe the vast night falling(Michael, Michael: Michael of the Morning!) Far down the universe the deep calms calling(Michael, Michael: Michael of the Sword!) Bid us not forget in the baths of all forgetfulness, In the sigh long drawn from the frenzy and the fretfulness In the huge holy sempiternal silence In the beginning was the Word. When from the deeps of dying God astoundedAngels and devils who do all but dieSeeing Him fallen where thou couldst not follow,Seeing Him mounted where thou couldst not fly,Hand on the hilt, thou hast halted all thy legionsWaiting the Tetelestai and the acclaim,Swords that salute Him dead and everlastingGod beyond God and greater than His Name. Round us and over us the cold thoughts creeping(Michael, Michael: Michael of the battle-cry!)Round us and under us the thronged world sleeping(Michael, Michael: Michael of the Charge!)Guard us the Word; the trysting and the trustingEdge upon the honour and the blade unrustingFine as the hair and tauter than the harpstringReady as when it rang upon the targe. He that giveth peace unto us; not as the world giveth:He that giveth law unto us; not as the scribes:Shallhe be softened for the softening of the citiesPatient in usury; delicate in bribes?They that come to quiet us, saying the sword is broken,Break man with famine, fetter them with gold,Sell them as sheep; and He shall know the sellingFor He was more than murdered. He was sold. Michael, Michael: Michael of the Mustering,Michael of the marching on the mountains of the Lord,Marshal the world and purge of rot and riotRule through the world till all the world be quiet:Only establish when the world is brokenWhat is unbroken is the word.

A Prayer for Angels
Lord, you are the Host of heaven, the King of glory, the head of all the armies
and angels. Please send out your angels and chariots of fire to hedge my son and
all of our troops in so that no weapon formed against them would prosper. Cover
him with the shelter of your wings and keep him as the apple of your eye.
Prepare the way before him and cause him and all our soldiers to be so
spiritually alert that they will hear a word behind them saying, “This is the
way; walk in it” when you guide them.

A Prayer from Isaiah 54
Lord, let no weapon that is formed against our servicemen and women prosper
(Isaiah 54:7). May every terrorist and insurgent be discovered and apprehended
before he brings destruction on others. Please protect the innocent Iraqi
civilians, especially the women and children, and strengthen the Iraqi people to
rise up against the insurgents who are killing their own people. Protect the
Iraqi police and soldiers, and strengthen them to defend their own country
against terrorists. May Your strong right hand hold and keep our soldiers
securely every day. In Christ’s name, amen.

A prayer from Ps. 17
Almighty Father, show our servicemen and women
Your unfailing love in wonderful ways.
Save them with Your strength…
Guard our troops as the apple of Your eye
And hide them in the shadow of Your wings.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Went to Ellis Island

There is an exhibit there right now called "Women and Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America." It was really great and showed how much religious sisters contributed to life in America from its very beginning. Did you know that religious sisters helped to found the Mayo Clinic? Did you know that an American sister died in the Civil War tending the injured soldiers? And at the beginning of the Civil War, sisters ran 30 hospitals to treat battle-wounded people, while the Union and Confederate Armies between them ran just 3?

It also had several habits that sisters had worn through their history there and passports, original baggage that the sisters brought to the USA and their naturalization papers. The exhibits profiled St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Katherine Drexel, and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini.

It was weird to see a wimple that one order of sisters had worn in a display case. It was similar to the one below (worn by St. Catherine Laboure), but it didn't come down in the back. The sisters wore it as part of their habit from 1684-1964. Imagine, the order wore basically the same habit for nearly 500 years, until 1964.

What happened in 1964? Oh yeah, this was going on. It was the '60's! Time to throw 500 years of tradition out the window and, like, totally engage the world, you know? Because when you wear a habit it's so hard to, like, be in the world, you know? Because people might, like, recognize you for being Catholic and have some expectations for you to totally represent Jesus in every way. Jesus was all about peace and love and social justice. He had long hair just like all the boys in the '60's. And He never, like, brought people down about following the rules and stuff. Oh, but wait. Didn't He say He didn't come to abolish the Old Covenant? And I think He was fairly clear about following the Law. (Mt. 5: 17-20) Jesus isn't a hippie.

I can't speak for every woman, but I am proud to be Scott's wife. I rarely leave take off my wedding ring and if it weren't totally tacky to wear a T-shirt all the time that says: "Scott's wife" I would.

Which is why, if Jesus selected ME to be His bride, and I said "yes," I would want to scream about it from the rooftops. Because, no offense to any men (especially not to MY man), but Jesus is the PERFECT spouse. I just don't understand why you wouldn't want to wear that habit all the time and show the world just by your clothes that you are honored and privileged to be the Bride of Christ.

I don't want to give a poor impression of the exhibit, put together by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (who haven't been really happy about the apostolic visitation that Pope Benedict has sent to investigate all orders of women religious). I hope that it helps all who see it understand the very real contributions that Catholic sisters brought and still bring to our country. It was a beautiful exhibit. Right up until the end.

That's when they got to modern times. It was awesome to see so many clergy and sisters marching on Selma, Alabama in support of Civil Rights. It was less awesome watch a sister advocating for women's ordination to Pope John Paul II when he came to the USA in 1979. I wonder what Mother Cabrini or Mother Seton or Mother Drexel would say to that?

The exhibit dead-ended at a wall right there at that video. As I write this I wonder if it wasn't fitting that the exhibit came to a dead end right there. Most of the orders in the LCWR are dying. Young women are not joining those orders the way that they are the orders that belong to the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious. A lot of these orders have a different kind of vocations crisis: not enough places to put all of the women who want to become postulants.

To exit the exhibit, I had to walk back through the entire thing, back to the beginnings of the sisters' history in the USA. As I remember this, it occurs to me that the problems facing us in regard to today's religious sisters aren't really that new. It seems that as long as there have been religious orders there have been those who thought the rule was, like, too haaaaard, you know? Look at good old St. Benedict. He comes up with his rule, and at first a whole bunch of guys think it's great. They follow him up Monte Cassino, and then there are so many of them that Benedict goes to found a new house. Except the guys in the new house think the rule is too hard to follow. So they try to kill him.

Then there's St. Teresa of Avila. She goes into the Carmelites and is a little surprised to find that instead of being cloistered, a lot of the nuns spend time chatting up rich donors. Teresa liked it for a while, but then she begins to think there should be something more, well, God-focused. So she reforms the Carmelites and gets in all kinds of trouble, not just with her sisters and superiors but with the clergy too.

Maybe right now the wheel is turning. This, too, shall pass. Maybe this is just what we have to go through to usher in a new golden age of the Church. Only the Lord knows which saints are in the making right now. Let's pray for them.

Friday, October 15, 2010

First and a half chronologically ordered recap from Giglio's European Vacation

So, this is a half post of the European vacation, because I just accidentally made the external hard drive that has all the pictures on it disappear from the desktop of my computer. And I don't know how to put them back. I select the pictures then I tell the story because it helps me remember stuff.

Here are some random impressions of England:

1. Chillier in July than I thought it would be. And less rainy than I expected. It was overcast a lot, especially at night. But the last night, we had a brilliant clear sky. We were one hour from London and I have never seen so many stars.

2. The people were generally wonderful, especially the folks who worked at the college. The people we encountered out and about were not overtly friendly. It seems that starting a conversation with a stranger in public is actually sort of rude.

3. Public transport was very quiet. Also, apparently quite rude to talk above a whisper on the tube.

4. The milk tastes better there. The skim milk is creamy like whole milk.

5. These people eat all the time. Seriously. Breakfast at 8, morning coffee and cookies at 11. Lunch at 1, Afternoon tea (with donuts) at 3, dinner at 7. I gained 5 pounds in 5 days.

6. It's probably because we were with a bunch of Americans most of the time, but I didn't really feel like we were in a foreign country, at least not as much as I did when we were in Italy. There were a lot of different accents around, but it was a lot like living in Metro NY. I know people who were born in different countries (the UK, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Colombia, Poland) who live right here in Linden, so when we were in England, it didn't feel different because we all spoke English.

7. Even though we were all speaking English, however, some of the folks we met with Home Countries accents were difficult for me to understand.

8. Can we talk about the highway signs? Instead of simple, one word directions, like "yield," they use, "give way." And it gets worse when you are on the major highways. We were looking at the signs on the M4 from London to Oxfordshire and they were paragraphs long. Really. By the time you finished reading the sign, you'd missed your exit!

9. They measured distance in miles, not kilometers. And they used miles per hour to measure speed. This confused me because everything else is metric.

10. It's kind of amazing how you can be in VERY urban London and then, just on the other side of the city limit, it's farmland (When we landed at Heathrow, we literally flew past cows grazing next to the landing strip.). The concept of a suburb doesn't seem to exist there.

11. My impression is that as a whole, and certainly there are exceptions, the country seems to be quite anti-religion. This could also be because we were hanging around with highly educated people (who seem to ridicule religion, no matter what side of the Atlantic you live on), but I definitely picked up a general disdain of organized religion while we were there, but particularly anti-Catholic feeling. I don't know if it was more overt than usual since the pope's visit was about a month away.

12. However, we had the privilege of attending Mass at a wonderful, tiny, little church right near campus. And the priest, about age 35, was fantastic. Here is a link to a picture of Marie and Phil (whoever they are, but they sure look happy) getting married there and the priest I am talking about is in the photo with them. God bless you, Marie and Phil!

More later on if I can get the photos off the external hard rive. Hope it's not to hard to find them...

Friday, September 24, 2010

I'm still not a rocket scientist....

So Newark's about to get $100 mil. from the CEO of Facebook. That's great. Really. I hope it helps more kids learn to read, to do math, and to stay away from the streets.

But I'm pretty sure he could give any failing school system a BILLION dollars and it would still do no good at all if those kids don't have stable homes and neighborhoods to return to after school. No amount of money will help if the kids don't have a parent or grandparent at home to take care of them and to make sure they stay on top of them.

Extending school hours is NOT the answer. Kids don't need to be brought up by the state. Kids need to be at home with mom or dad. Kids need to get outside and play and run around. Kids need to use their imaginations; to play ball in the street with their friends till the street lights come on. Kids need their dads not to be in prison. Kids need their moms not to have to work 3 jobs to keep food on the table.

Kids need the state to give their moms and dads their money back. That way, maybe mom or dad can stay home with them so they stay out of trouble. Kids need strong families so they don't feel like they have to turn to a gang to get the love and acceptance and discipline they crave.

Kids from stable homes do better in school. Throwing a billion dollars ($900 mil from NJ + Zuckerberg's $100 mil) into Newark's crappy schools won't fix this. Kids' families need fixing.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What I have learned from my clothesline

In August, just as I had gotten completely caught up with my laundry (really!), my dryer stopped working. It wouldn't turn on at all.

Scott is a can-do kind of guy. Why pay someone else to fix something when you can do it yourself? With the help of the amazing internet, Scott has fixed and installed loads of things around our place and in our cars, saving us untold hundreds of dollars in repair costs.

So, Scott took it apart. He cleaned all of the lint out of the inside of the dryer, the whole exhaust line, and any other place you can think of. We had cleaned out the line before, and I always empty the lint trap, but over 10 years lint gets EVERYWHERE!!!!!!! He thought we needed a new thermo-thing-whatever-it-is (a safety part that makes sure your dryer doesn't get too hot and set your house on fire). It's designed to fail as soon as the inside of the dryer by the motor gets too hot. It is not fixable, so it has to be replaced. Presumably, when replacing the thermo-thing, one would also notice all that lint and clean it out. Or, for normal people, your repairman would do that.

Scott ordered the part, replaced it, put the dryer back together and painted over the rusty spot of the top of the dryer where I had kept the laundry detergent. Wonderful! It worked!

For one load. Now the drum won't turn. He took it apart. Maybe the belt wasn't on properly. He re-laid the belt. He reassembled the dryer.

Nothing. We need a new motor.

The man just this week finished his master's degree. He was doing all of this while trying to get his papers written and go to work and all of the usual Dad stuff he does. As a result, our family of 5 has been without a dryer for a month. No one is wearing less clothes. In fact, there is more laundry now than there was in the summer because I am washing school uniforms as well.

I am not going to lie to you and say that I have been patient about all of this. I have tried (sometimes hard, sometimes not) to avoid nagging him about getting this thing done. I have tried to be cheerful in doing my wash even as certain people complain that they have no (name article of clothing here). I have tried.

This drying is trying. The weather's not as hot as it had been at the beginning of all of this, so the clothes aren't drying in a hour. And now with the kids in school and me working, I really don't have a lot of time to hang wash out.

I did manage to get some things on the line yesterday afternoon. Then we had a thunderstorm while I was at work. No one who was at home brought in the wash.

What this trying experience has taught me is that you can't always make things go the way you want them. Sometimes, your son will turn the hose on the dirt near your just-dried jeans and accidentally splash mud on them. You have do things when you have the chance. You have to plan how you will do it. You have to be patient.

What this trying experience has taught me is that you have to see how not only you are frustrated by the things out of your control. You have to see that your attitude as woman of the house will impact everyone else under your roof. You have to love them all through whatever life hands your way. You have to see that if the broken dryer and the splattered mud are the worst of it, you're very fortunate indeed.

If you can see these things, you will grow to appreciate the feel of the sun on your hair and your newly-acquired mosquito-swatting skills. You will realize that this may just be the Lord's way of getting you to slow down a bit and listen. Listen to Him speaking to you in the three minutes of quiet you'll get as you hang out your laundry.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Can this school be saved part 4: Mission Control

Below is the last installment of the story I wrote for Creative Minority Report about Seton Hall University. Comments are now open. I link to the newspaper articles I used for sources. Here are parts one, two, and three.

At the beginning of this series, I said that there seems to be a battle going on for the university’s soul: a battle between Catholic thought and values and those of the secular world. It’s human nature to want to draw clear lines and assign parts in this drama: “liberal” faculty forces vs. a “conservative” archbishop, or the money a Division 1 sports program can bring in vs. goodness and integrity. I’m not so sure that accurately depicts what’s going on here.

The university has a lot going for it in terms of “orthodoxy cred.” The Office of Mission and Ministry at the University seems to be trying to do a lot of good things, overseeing: The Catholic Center for Family Life and Spirituality, The G.K. Chesteron Institute for Faith and Culture, the Institute for Christian Spirituality, and others.

What I think we have at Seton Hall is a split-personality disorder. There seems to be a culture there that doesn’t recognize that to be intellectually honest and rigorous and truly Catholic are not mutually exclusive things. The Seminary and the Mission and Identity haven’t been successful in permeating the entire culture at Seton Hall.

What Seton Hall needs to do, and it is not too far gone to do, is to examine itself through the lens of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Pope John Paul II’s apostolic constitution on Catholic higher education (In its press packet, the Cardinal Newman Society has a good breakdown of the guidelines and analysis of what has happened at Catholic colleges in the United States in the 20 years since Ex Corde was published.). Seton Hall doesn’t seem to have truly embraced the following:

“A Catholic university, as Catholic, informs and carries out its research,
teaching, and all other activities with Catholic ideals, principles and
attitudes. …Catholic teaching and discipline are to influence all university
activities, while the freedom of conscience of each person is to be fully
respected. Any official action or commitment of the university is to be in
accord with its Catholic identity.”

Catholic ideals, principles, and attitudes are not being reflected across the board at Seton Hall. Catholic attitudes and principles were not on display during the coaching tenure of Bobby Gonzalez. Having a priest sit on your bench during games (like the team chaplain, Msgr. Liddy does) doesn’t mean that your coach and his or her players are living Catholic attitudes and principles, and it doesn’t make up for distinctly un-Christian behavior.

Can a course on gay marriage be offered at a Catholic university that is living up to Catholic ideals, principles, and actions? Can such a course be offered in a completely balanced way, showing how the Church teaches that people who self-identify as gay must be treated with dignity and respect and are called, just like every other human being, to live a chaste life within God’s ordered creation and that the Church teaches that gay marriage goes against the natural law? It’s hard to imagine that an openly gay professor who has advocated for the gay lifestyle would be able to accomplish this.

This struggle between the secular forces and Catholic mission forces is very evident in the failed search for a replacement for Msgr. Robert Sheeran this past year. Based on Msgr. Swetland’s background and his involvement with EWTN’s “Catholicism on Campus,” one might conclude that Msgr. Swetland might try to guide Seton Hall into a place where it resides more firmly within Ex Corde’s guidelines. Some have seen in Swetland’s candidacy the hand of Archbishop Myers trying to bring Seton Hall closer to Ex Corde.

What can the Archbishop do about Seton Hall University? The truth is, Archbishop Myers can do very little in an overt way, so there is no smackdown on the way. The Archdiocese does not own Seton Hall, even though it is a diocesan university. Archbishop Myers does sit on two very important boards, but he doesn’t have absolute control over them. He can advocate and he can preach, but he does not have direct control over the daily happenings at the University. That is the job of the President.

What can we, Jane and Joe Catholic sitting in the pews, do to save not just this Catholic university, but all Catholic colleges and universities in danger of losing their souls? First, we must pray. We must ask the intercession of the saints in whose names these schools were founded for the conversion of the campuses. We must pray for the clergy and religious who are running these schools. We must pray for those who are trying to effect positive change at these schools. We must pray for lukewarm souls to be set on fire for Christ once again.

If we are alumni of these Catholic colleges in trouble, we must make our feelings known and vote with our wallets. We need to show the people on the boards and the presidents of these colleges that following the guidelines of Ex Corde means something to us and that we will either give or withhold giving based on how well they do that.

We also need to understand what following the guidelines established by Ex Corde means. People tend to focus on the mandatum oath, whose theology professors have taken it and whose haven’t (From Ex Corde: Catholic theologians “are to be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church as the authentic interpreter of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.” Every professor of Catholic theology must have a “mandate” (mandatum) from the local bishop, as required in the 1983 Code of Canon Law.”). While the mandatum is crucial, it’s only one part of the guidelines and isn’t a guarantee of a holistically Catholic college. The National Catholic Register/Faith and Family Magazine College survey is an excellent resource which asks the colleges to self- report on all of the guidelines established by Ex Corde Ecclesiae. The Newman Guide is indispensable in helping Catholic families choose a Catholic College.

Finally, we need to support the bishops who are working to clean these colleges up. We need to encourage them with cards, letters and emails, and we especially need to pray for them. Our bishops need to know that we think that Catholic colleges and universities are important to all the faithful, to our country, and to the world. Our bishops need to know that we believe that the colleges and universities who would call themselves Catholic need to project a strong Catholic identity for the world to see.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Can this school be saved, part 3: failed presidential search

Below is the third installment of the story I wrote for Creative Minority Report about Seton Hall University. I will close comments until it has run in its entirety. I link to the newspaper articles I used for sources. Here are parts one and two.

In June 2009, Msgr. Robert Sheeran announced his intention to resign as the President of Seton Hall University, kicking off a year-long search for a replacement. By the spring of 2010, the committee had chosen two priests as finalists, Msgr. Stuart Swetland and Rev. Kevin Mackin, OFM. Fr. Mackin, currently the president of Mt. St. Mary College in Newburgh, NY, withdrew from consideration shortly after his name was announced, saying that he had decided to stay at Mt. St. Mary’s.

Msgr. Swetland, who was ordained for the diocese of Peoria IL in 1991 by Newark Archbishop John J. Myers (bishop of Peoria Diocese from 1990-2001), came to campus for a series of interviews in May 2010. Swetland is the host of EWTN’s Catholicism on Campus and a professor at Mt. St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, MD. Some at the university objected to Swetland’s candidacy, citing his lack of administrative experience. They also contended that he was being seriously considered a finalist only because of his friendship with Archbishop Myers.

Swetland was offered the job of president of Seton Hall. During the course of confidential contract negotiations, some university officials leaked specific details about the contract discussion, including a reported $300,000 annual salary. Sheeran earned about $31,000 per year. At the same time, the faculty senate, which represents each of the university’s colleges, circulated a statement urging the Board of Regents to reopen the search to seek candidates with more administrative experience and to laypeople. Citing his discernment that the Lord was calling him to stay at Mt. St. Mary’s (MD) and expressing his disappointment that the confidential contract discussion had been compromised, Swetland withdrew his candidacy.

While other New Jersey Catholic colleges in the area have gone from having priests and religious serving as president to laypeople, Seton Hall has not. The Board of Regents had limited its search to clergy for two reasons: the by-laws of the university require that the president is a priest and the Board’s feeling that a priest-president best serves the university’s mission.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Can this school be saved part 2: Questionable course offering

Below is the second installment of the story I wrote for Creative Minority Report about Seton Hall University. I will close comments until it has run in its entirety. I link to the newspaper articles I used for sources. Part one, Basketball Madness, is here.

On April 15, 2010, The Setonian, the Seton Hall University student newspaper, published a story about a new course to be offered in fall 2010 on the topic of gay marriage. The course will be taught by Dr. W. King Mott, an openly gay professor in the Women and Gender Studies Department. Mott told the Setonian that this course was not about advocacy, but would take an academic approach to the issue. “I hope my students gain an appreciation and respect for disinterested analysis that can be used to formulate an informed opinion,” Mott told The Setonian.

Upon learning about the course offering, Archbishop Myers asked the University’s Board of Trustees (of which Myers is Chair) and the Board of Regents (of which Myers is president), to review the course. At this time, no official decision has been made on whether or not the course will go forward. The Mission and Identity Committee was supposed to discuss it in June. However, in an article that appeared in the Star-Ledger on August 25, Mott has said that as far as he has been told, the course is still slated to begin in the first week of class and it has about 24 students registered. The University had no official comment to the Star Ledger.

This is not the first time Mott has clashed with the administration of the University. In October 2005, The Star Ledger printed a letter by Mott that criticized the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. Mott signed the letter as the Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences of Seton Hall University. As a result, Mott was removed from his duties as Associate Dean, but was retained as a tenured member of the faculty.

What's interesting about Mott is that his entire professional academic career has been at Catholic Universities. I wonder why that is, especially since he thinks the Church is homophobic:
"The bottom line is, you're talking about a homophobic institution," he said last night. "The Roman Catholic Church is prima facie homophobic. The Roman Catholic Church considers me to be inherently disordered. I don't know how much more homophobic one can be" (Star Ledger October 28, 2005). In this 2005 article, Mott had indicated that he would seek a faculty position elsewhere. Clearly, he is still teaching at Seton Hall.

When I worked at Seton Hall as an admissions counselor 10 years ago, the nursing students were put on rotations in which they would observe abortion procedures. The nursing school made it clear to us at the time that students could opt out of those rotations without penalty, but the question is: why was this part of the nursing curriculum at a Catholic University in the first place?

Catholic Colleges have a right and a grave responsibility to be CATHOLIC. Many parents send their children to, and pay good money for, Catholic universities for a Catholic education. And knowing that, there are many secular colleges and universities which would gladly hire well-qualified professors, like Mott, without caring about what they think about Church teaching.

Seton Hall is a diocesan university, meaning that it is not founded or tied to a particular religious order, but it was founded by the Bishop of Newark and is tied to the diocese in its bylaws. Immaculate Conception Seminary, the diocesan seminary, is located on the campus at SHU. The Archbishop of Newark, Most Rev. John J. Myers, is the chair of the Board of Trustees and is also the Chair of the Board of Regents. Other permanent seats on the Board of Regents are the bishops of the four other dioceses in New Jersey, and other clergy.

One subcommittee of the Board of Regents is the Mission and Identity Committee. “The Mission and Identity Committee shall consider matters referred to the Board of Regents by the Board of Trustees arising from the University’s Catholic mission and identity, giving due consideration to the identity of Catholic institutions of higher education that is described in Ex Corde Ecclesiae (1990). The Committee shall report its recommendations to the Board of Regents” (Seton Hall Univeristy By-laws, Section 2, e, 3).

Why did the Mission and Identity Committee fail to issue a judgment or recommendation on this course? A Catholic University ought to be an oasis for Catholic thought and ideas. Parents should not have to be worried about whether or not a particular Catholic university is really Catholic. Parents should expect that their children will not be put off on their faith by the actions of the university. People who are not Catholic should be attracted to a true Catholic University that by its nature would exude Christian love and freedom.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Can this school be saved? Part one: Basketball Madness

Below is the first installment of the story I wrote for Creative Minority Report about Seton Hall University. I will close comments until it has run in its entirety. I link to the newspaper articles I used for sources.

It seems there is a quiet battle going on behind the iron gates of Seton Hall University: a battle for the university’s soul. The Division 1 men’s basketball program has endured a very dark off-the-court stretch, a new class is being offered by a member of the faculty who operates clearly and loudly at odds with Church teaching, and a year-long search for a new president has turned out fruitless. All of these things are circling in the air over these 58 acres of South Orange, NJ. Is Seton Hall’s soul dead, or merely on life support?

Seton Hall University is the oldest and largest diocesan university in the United States. Founded in 1856, just three years after the founding of the Diocese of Newark, NJ, Bishop James Roosevelt Bayley, established Seton Hall University to fill the need for a Catholic university within the diocese. He named the university for his aunt, Elizabeth Ann Seton, a Catholic convert who established the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph in Emmitsburg, MD to care for and educate poor children. Mother Seton would be the first American-born saint, canonized in 1975.

What’s been going on at The Hall lately?

Basketball madness

In April, 2006, Seton Hall Univeristy announced that Bobby Gonzalez, a coach known for his passion and explosive temper, would lead its Divison I, Big East men’s basketball program. In the four years he was there, Gonzalez did bring the better connections with local high school coaches that the university was looking for (National High School basketball powerhouses St. Anthony’s and St. Patrick’s are within 12 miles of campus.), but he alienated those same coaches and he also brought in some questionable transfer students who had run-ins with the law while enrolled at SHU. One was arrested for drunk driving the wrong way on the Garden State Parkway. Another punched a player on the opposing team below the belt during a game. A third, after having been kicked off the team, duct taped 8 people, some of whom were former teammates, and robbed them. On March 17, 2010, Gonzalez was fired by SHU President Robert Sheeran, six months after having been granted a contract extension through 2014. Sheeran cited Gonzalez’s conduct and that of his players as cause for termination. Gonzalez sued Seton Hall for wrongful termination shortly after he was fired, and Seton Hall countersued. The cases were settled out of court on August 25, 2010. No details of the settlement were released.

Seton Hall’s men’s basketball team has been the big team at the University. When any college’s or university’s basketball team does well in the NCAA tournament, its national profile is higher and it typically sees a sizable jump in admissions applications, which can translate into more qualified students and more money for the university. But at what cost? Bobby Gonzalez was a questionable choice for Seton Hall from the start. He’s intense, but was his brand of intensity a good fit for a Catholic university? Don’t Catholic colleges and universities have to hold themselves and their employees and students to a higher standard of behavior, modeling themselves on Jesus Christ?

It seems that Seton Hall has learned a lesson from the Gonzalez experience. On March 28, 2010, Seton Hall hired Kevin Willard, a family man who turned around the basketball program at Iona College and who served as Rick Pitino’s assistant with the Boston Celtics and at the University of Louisville. In an interview published on August 24, Willard told ESPN’s Dana O’Neil “When I met with Seton Hall, we talked a lot about behavior, but we also talked about winning and losing. I think you can have both. You can have a program you can be proud of and also have success. That’s what our goal is.”

Is it possible for a Catholic college or university today to have it both ways: to be a national sports powerhouse that is also fully committed to its Catholic identity? Of the colleges and universities who answered the National Catholic Register/Faith and Family Magazine’s 2009 College survey (only 26 schools completed the survey out of about 240 Catholic colleges and universities across the country), none of them have Division I athletic programs.

To look at Division I powerhouse Notre Dame’s decisions over the last 15 years or so, one might be left to wonder if Catholic colleges and can their sports and be faithful, too. Certainly there are some members of the theology faculty who are solidly committed to the teaching authority of the Church, but there are others who are not. Notre Dame hosted the play The Vagina Monologues in 2008. And the fact that Notre Dame gave an honorary degree to President Obama in 2009, one of the most vocal proponents of abortion in our nation, and still refuses to drop charges against peaceful protesters might leave some to wonder if a Catholic college can really “have it all.” And if it’s worth having in the first place.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

First chronologically ordered recap from Giglio's European Vacation

Wherein Amy tries to set herself to the timeline and we learn about a British man and doughnuts.

Hello, friends! I figured I'd try to hook you up with some pictures from your vacation. This time, I'll start from the beginning.

We left for England on a Friday evening, after the last day of Vacation Bible School, where I try and channel my inner Christian pop star and lead kiddies in song. Hilarity ensues. Most of it scripted.
What happened this day was, VBS ended at noon, the children and I met Scott and my in-laws at the house, My FIL took the kids for lunch and then to his house where they would spend the next 2 weeks and my MIL took me and Scott to JFK to catch our flight to Heathrow. Now, while JFK is not the closest international airport to our house, it did have the cheapest flight. This meant my MIL VOLUNTEERED to drive us across Staten Island, Brooklyn, and into Queens and then she drove herself home which is half an hour west of our house. Yes, I do have the best MIL in the world. Why do you ask? We got to the airport in record time (Half an hour. No traffic. This never happens. My poor MIL was not so lucky on the way home. It took her 4 hours to get back). She dropped us off and we were on our grand adventure!

Here is me on my new iP0d T0uch, reading a book. Funny story about this terminal at JFK: It is about 14 miles long. We get through security near gate 30. We have to go to gate 8. We have a lot of time to kill, so we're chillin near gate 30 because, they, the plane doesn't leave for 3 hours. Then we start looking around and we're like, "It seems like the gates end here at gate 10. Where is gate 8?
So with 2 hours to go, we start looking for gate 8. It is literally half a mile away from the security checkpoint. It took us 20 minutes to walk there.

So then we get on the plane and we fly overnight for a really really long time till at 8:00 the next morning we wake up and we are in England! Yay!

I slept a little on the plane, but not a lot. And I have seemed to develop some sort of hip thing which has begun to plague me and I really need some ibuprofen. But I can't find any at the airport. So I have to buy Anadin, which I think is like Anacin. But I don't recognize the drug name. It says it's good for headaches and body aches so I take it and I can walk again.

We are met at the airport by an awesome guy who works for the university. His name is Trevor. Trevor, Scott, and I are waiting for the rest of the people from the university group to arrive because they are all coming in on a different flight. Trevor tells us he was to the USA once. While in the airport, he got hungry. Somehow, he got this idea in his head that our doughnuts are awesome and he wants to try one. So, he's looking around and he can't figure out where to go to get a doughnut. So he does what anyone would do if they were in a new place and he needed help. He asked a cop where could find a good doughnut. The cop glared at him and walked away. Trevor's like, "I don't understand why." Meanwhile, me and Scott and trying to pick our jaws up off the floor. Then we explain to him the thing in the US about cops and doughnuts and how very lucky he is that he didn't get arrested or punched.

So the rest of the group arrives and we shuttle off to our home for the next several days: Wroxton College.
Stay tuned for the next installment of our adventure!

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Soul of a University

I wrote up a piece about Seton Hall University and Matt and Pat Archbold of Creative Minority Report were gracious enough to give me copious space over there to run it. Please go look at it. I will probably start running it over here in a few days.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Novena to St. Monica

St. Monica's feast day is August 27. In case you don't know, St. Monica is the mother of St. Augustine. Augustine was the original enfant terrible who famously lapsed from the faith. He credits the intercessory prayers of his mother with bringing him back to the Church. Indeed everything we know about St. Monica was told to us by Augustine.

Today I'm starting a novena for the lapsed members of my family and yours. There are several novena prayers you can choose. Whatever prayer you choose will be OK. Pray for the members of your family who have lapsed from the faith.

Novena To Saint Monica

Exemplary Mother of the Great Augustine,
You perseveringly pursued your wayward son
Not with wild threats
But with prayerful cries to heaven.

Intercede for all mothers in our day
So that they may learn
To draw their children to God.

Teach them how to remain
Close to their children,
Even the prodigal sons and daughters
Who have sadly gone astray.

Dear St Monica, troubled wife and mother,
Many sorrows pierced your heart
During your lifetime.
Yet you never despaired or lost faith.
With confidence, persistence and profound faith,
You prayed daily for the conversion
Of your beloved husband, Patricius
And your beloved son, Augustine.

Grant me that same fortitude,
Patience and trust in the Lord.
Intercede for me, dear St. Monica,
That God may favorably hear my plea

(mention your petition here)

And grant me the grace
To accept his will in all things,
Through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
In the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God forever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Warming up!

Get your lists, ready, ladies and gentlemen, the Novena to St. Monica starts on Thursday. As many of you know, through the intercession of St. Monica, the Lord brought my mother back to the faith after many years in the wilderness. Take the next couple of days to pray about who the Lord wants you to pray for, write their names down and get ready to start your novena on August 19.

You can definitely do this novena anytime you want, but it's especially appropriate in the 9 days leading up to her feast.

See you back here Thursday!!

Monday, August 02, 2010

First random recap from Giglio's European Vacation

One of the places we got to visit in Vatican City is the pope's garage. Well, maybe not it's not technically his garage since it is more like a museum than a garage. But nonetheless, it does have papal vehicles dating back a few hundred years.

It's what all the papal horses were wearing in the fall of 1756.

They were pulling this stylish gold carriage, given to His Holiness by the people of Venice, I believe.

Sometimes you just don't want to go through the trouble of getting the Horses dressed and hooked up just to run out to the VII-XI for some gum and a quart of milk, so you just have a couple of the Swiss Guard carry you around in this simple vehicle (Holy Spirit as a dove embroidered on the ceiling inside. So not kidding.).

There are also a couple of white Popemobiles. Yes, Scott actually did lean on the bumper.

This one is my favorite. It's Pius XII's limousine. I don't think you can tell in this picture, but it's got an armchair in the back. Because the bench seat is just not going to cut it. Maybe it is a really low seat in the back. Scott used to have an Oldsmobile 88 and when you sat in the back, it was like sitting in a hole. Adults could only just see over the window frame. So, maybe the pope needed a booster seat. You know, so he can bless you as he's rolling by. (Parents: Now you can tell your kids that even the pope has a booster seat, so just get buckled in already!)

This limo and its armchair in the back got me thinking that EWTN needs a new show: "Pope my Ride." Instead of Xzibit hosting, you get Fr. Stan Fortuna to take your car to Dr. Denis MacNamara to trick out your car. The Last Judgment from the Sistine chapel on the hood and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel embroidered on your ceiling. And in addition to the gas meter on your dashboard, you could have a dial that shows you when you need to go Confession. Maybe instead of a trip meter, you can get a Rosary Counter so you never lose track of how many Hail Marys you have left to say in the 5th glorious Mystery. It's hard to hold the beads and drive at the same time. There is the obligatory sound system and TV in the trunk (with wood carving covered in gold leaf), but it is hooked up to play the Te Deum and reruns of "Mother Angelica Live." Painted across the back bumper is "Jesus is My Homeboy."

And while I'm lifting ideas from MTV, EWTN can air its counter programming to "Jersey Shore:" "Summit NJ," where we follow the nuns of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary around for the summer. Instead of drunkenness and bar fights, we can watch young women pray, study, pick vegetables, and make soap.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Time flies...

So, it's been a while.

Scott and I were on a trip. Overseas. First time ever for each of us, so it was pretty cool. We were gone for 2 weeks and at the end, I really was glad to be coming home. I truly could have kissed the border guard who said, "Welcome Home" when he was done checking us in. More on the trip later.

My wonderful Mother in law brought Curly Sue with her when she picked us up at the airport and I cried because I was so happy to see her.

I am amazed at how much bigger they all seemed when we saw them again. And I am consistently humbled by the fact that each time I look at Primo he seems more mature-looking. He's at the delightful age of almost 1o. Every once in a while, as I'm looking at him, I'll get a flash of what I think he'll look like at 18. Today, his jaw is wider, his forehead slightly more broad, and the little boy I knew is all but disappeared. He is a big kid now. *sigh*

I do promise to write about the trip later this week. ttfn...

Sunday, July 04, 2010

America, our America!
Hold to the vision of Mary,
Mary Immaculate.
Her glory fills the earth,
She is of our race,
Its "solitary boast."
She, alone without sin,
Keeps the doom of wrath from thee,
Who art defending her glory.
She, Conqueror of evil,
Conquers evil for thee,
Who art resisting evil.

America, our America!
Pray always to Mary,
Mary Immaculate.
She, the Mother to nations--
She, the Mother of Christ,
The Lord of all nations.
She guards them and guides,
Subduing their hates,
Inspiring their spirits.
She mourns for the prodigals,
As childless mothers mourn,
Torn by their treasons.

America, our America!
Give thy heart to Mary,
Mary Immaculate.
Join Her prayer of praise,
All Heaven attending,
For our land that is free.
Sing thou, her song of joy,
All nations listening,
Giving thanks to God.
Sing thou the song of souls,
The Magnificat of Mary,
The Magnificat of America.

-Cardinal Francis Joseph Spellman

Monday, May 31, 2010

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

an elephant in my blog

I have an elephant in my blog. Something in real life that I can't blog about. Something that impacts a member of my extended family that this person has asked me not to share, but that has started consuming my life.

I have considered starting an anonymous blog to write about it, but there are so many sites out there about this type of elephant that I'm not sure what else I can contribute.

I don't think that this elephant is bad for this person. I think it's a good thing. This person simply doesn't see it that way. Yet. But since this elephant came to stay, I have noticed that we get along better, that we understand each other a little more. I am grateful for the elephant.

Sometimes, when you get to know a person or a thing well, you see things you didn't see before. You can call these things flaws, or imperfections, or you can choose to appreciate the nuances in the Lord's creation.

Psalm 139: 1-17

O LORD, you have probed me, you know me:
you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar.
My travels and my rest you mark; with all my ways you are familiar.
Even before a word is on my tongue, LORD, you know it all.
Behind and before you encircle me and rest your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is beyond me, far too lofty for me to reach.

Where can I hide from your spirit? From your presence, where can I flee?
If I ascend to the heavens, you are there; if I lie down in Sheol, you are there too.
If I fly with the wings of dawn and alight beyond the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand hold me fast.

If I say, "Surely darkness shall hide me, and night shall be my light" -
Darkness is not dark for you, and night shines as the day. Darkness and light are but one.
You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb.
I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works!

My very self you knew; my bones were not hidden from you, When I was being made in secret, fashioned as in the depths of the earth,
Your eyes foresaw my actions; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be.
How precious to me are your designs, O God; how vast the sum of them!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

calling it like it is

We had a fight last week. Let us make no mistake: I was 100% wrong for being as thoughtless as I was. I was glad he told me about it because I need to know when I do things that hurt him so I can avoid it in the future.

My feelings were hurt in the exchange and I nursed this hurt that night and the next morning. It was hard for me to keep remembering that I was wrong. "He shouldn't have said it that way. He's restricting my freedom. I should be able to do and say what I want. He's being unreasonable." My conscience kept prodding me: "Remember that YOU were wrong. And you hurt him badly."

And as I drove in the car that morning, late to somewhere I really didn't want to be, the Lord blessed me with this realization: "This grudge that you so tenderly nurse is the evil one at work: undermining your relationship with your husband, your marriage, and your family. Your energy is misplaced."

With that, immediately, I said, "Get behind me, Satan. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I command you to leave me alone," and the hurt I had taken care of so well for those past 12 hours evaporated.

I praise God for the grace to see the trickery of the devil for what it is. The temptation to nurse that grudge came back over the course of the day, but the temptation and the grudge were not as strong and with the same prayer the Lord dismissed them quickly.

When you have a grudge you're taking such good care of, or anger that flares within you, be quick to ask yourself where it comes from. Is it building up love? Is it advancing the Kingdom of God on earth, as all of us baptized Christians are called to do? If it is not, then call upon the Lord to deliver you from the evil one, who is tempting you.

Make no mistake, the root of your grudge, your anger, is the evil one calling you away from your work. Recognize him and call upon the Lord to put him right back in his place.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

It's not easy to hear someone say: "I feel hurt because of X thing you did." It's hard to hear that and to see your fault plainly. It's humiliating to know that you hurt someone. It's humiliating to know that you're not perfect.

In that humilation, we can do one of two things. We can become defensive. "Well, you started it!" "I did that but you did this to me!" "Why are you yelling at me?!" Defensiveness is selfish. Defensiveness doesn't heal. Defensiveness makes it worse.

Or, we can recognize the humiliation for the good it can do: in this moment, with God's help, we have the power to change, the power to heal the relationship, the person whom we have hurt, and ourselves. We can say, "I'm sorry I did that. I am sorry I hurt you. I will do better next time." No excuses. We must acknowledge our weaknesses and resolve to do better in the future.

So very difficult to acknowledge one's humanity, yet so necessary.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Everyone likes a smackdown

"What made you do this? You are flowers who shed no perfume, but stench that makes the whole world reek." St. Catherine of Siena, writing to three Italian cardinals who supported the anti-pope during the Great Western Schism.

Ah, St. Catherine of Siena. I love her. She knew when to let people have it, even the pope. And they asked for it. The pope and bishops of her time asked her for her advice and she didn't sugar-coat it. She just told you. Sometimes she told them, even when they didn't ask. She made change happen. She got the pope to come back to Rome after fleeing for France (of course, after she died, he left again. I guess he needed her to keep kicking him in the pants.)

I think of how I'd like to tell some bishops off. Especially with all of the horrible crimes that some priests and bishops have committed that are all over the press now. The temptation is to vent all of one's justified anger toward these weak, weak men in an email and to just hit "send."

The main difference between Catherine and me is this: she understood that she wasn't equal to God. She understood humility. She understood that she wasn't better than those foul-smelling Italian bishops to whom that quote above is addressed.

I don't understand humility. Other people's mistakes make me feel, even for a second, better than they are. Don't you try to say that you never feel the same way. "If I were a priest, this would never have happened. If I were a bishop, I would have defrocked that priest instead of covering the abuse up! If I were that child's mother, I would have just called the cops; the bishop would have found out from the DA, not from me!"

I try to give myself a pass, thinking, maybe Catherine understood it better because she had visions and personal, face-to-face conversations with God. I think to myself, if God showed up in my room when I was praying, I'd get it too.

Catherine recorded that in one of her visions God told her: "I am who am; you are she who is not."

"I am who am; you are she who is not."

I am she who is not.

Y'know, Lord, that really kind of takes the fun out of the whole righteous indignation thing. You're really busting my flow.

See, thing is, it's all over the Bible how we're supposed to behave, how we're supposed to treat one another and how we dare not play God. I don't get a pass because Jesus isn't tapping me on the shoulder, reminding me to be humble as He is. I have the Scriptures to do that, I have good preaching to remind me. I have Jesus in the Eucharist to remind me how I am supposed to be.

And I have the writings of St. Catherine of Siena to prick my conscience when it needs it, when I need to be reminded.

I am she who is not.


In my reading, I have noticed that saints are full of humility. Also, obviously, is Jesus. He truly humbled Himself, becoming human to save us from sin through His suffering, death, and resurrection.

Also in my reading, I am reminded over and over again that in order to become closer to God, one must humble oneself. So I prayed, "Humble me, Lord. Make me humble so I can be more like you." I promptly forgot about this prayer and got on with my life.

Have you ever been in a place in your professional or personal life where the allegorical buck must stop with you? Where you have had to make a hard, unpopular decision? The comments and communications about those difficult decisions that make everything more difficult to bear. We are left with several choices as to how to respond: meekness, compassion, gentleness. Then there is the more attractive (to my fallen nature) option: nasty yet witty email back, cutting remarks, gossip, and rage.

I try to take the high ground. Try to be meek, gentle, compassionate. Then I brood. I endlessly chatter on to others about how I was wronged, how unjustified so-and-so's behavior was, etc., boring to tears anyone who will listen for more than 5 minutes and in this way, feeding the unrest within my soul. I lose sleep over it. It was effects my family. I become ill at ease and unbearably cranky.

And one night, as I couldn't go to sleep, I had to write down my heart's conversation with God. And in it, He reminded me that I wanted to be humbled. He told me that in order to do this, He must put me in situations where I get to exercise the humility I am trying to strengthen. He also reminded me that these situations will be painful. I may not be called upon to endure what He endured, or even what St. Gerard Majella had to endure (falsely accused of rape, Gerard did not defend himself because the rule in the Redemptorist order is not to defend yourself when accused by making excuses-his accuser recanted after several months where Gerard was forbidden to leave the house or to take Communion), but that I would need to endure and I would need to start rejoicing in these small humiliations because they give me the chance to practice humility.

Then in the morning, as if to underline what He told my heart the night before, when I went to comment on a friend's blog, the comment verification word was "humbl."

So, I struggle, I try, and I have been schooled with a lesson I won't forget (at least until next week).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

off her game

"off balance" by Dean Farrell

I go through these periods of time in my life every so often where I am off-kilter: I don't seem to be communicating properly, I get behind at home and at work; just out of whack. It doesn't happen regularly, but when it does, it can last for 4-6 weeks.

Now is my really busy time at work: First Communions, Confirmations, Easter (not necessarily in that order), baseball, end-of-school stuff with the kids. I am in this off-kilter place right now (started 2 weeks ago) and it's not really good timing. I just can't afford to be a beat behind and feeling like all of my nerves are exposed at this time of year.

What also happens when I am here in Sideways Land (need to come up with a better name for that) is that I have a much lower tolerance for foolishness and for other people in general. From those I work with to my children, I am much more peevish and prone to snapping, like an irritated turtle.

Where I feel it most is in my daily conversations with my husband. I tend to take things extra personally when I am in this place and I wonder, "What did he mean by that? What's he REALLY saying?" When, of course, Scott, like most other men, doesn't have an alternate meaning behind his words. He says what he means and he means what he says. Not much more than that.

So, what's a girl to do?

This girl is going to get back to the nationally-known weight loss program she was on. I've gained about 15 pounds since Christmas. I have had 4 cycles, and each time thought I was pregnant so I haven't been back. I've decided that even though we're not-not-trying to get pregnant anymore that it's just not as easy for me to conceive as it used to be. Maybe it just gets like that when you hit your mid 30's. And it's harder to take the weight off at my age anyways, so I'm getting back on that horse.

This girl is also going to start exercising daily again. I feel better when I'm moving around. I'm also going to get more sleep. I really need 8 hours and I've only been getting about 6. I'm also going to pray more regularly and truly make time for the Lord in my life.

And maybe I'll finally make that overdue appointment to get the stuff under the hood checked out.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Divine Mercy Sunday

Divine Mercy Novena Day 9

"Today bring to Me the Souls who have become Lukewarm, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: 'Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.' For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy."

Most compassionate Jesus, You are Compassion Itself. I bring lukewarm souls into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart. In this fire of Your pure love, let these tepid souls who, like corpses, filled You with such deep loathing, be once again set aflame. O Most Compassionate Jesus, exercise the omnipotence of Your mercy and draw them into the very ardor of Your love, and bestow upon them the gift of holy love, for nothing is beyond Your power.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon lukewarm souls who are nonetheless enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Father of Mercy, I beg You by the bitter Passion of Your Son and by His three-hour agony on the Cross: Let them, too, glorify the abyss of Your mercy. Amen.

Then pray the chaplet:

1. Begin with 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and The Apostles Creed.
2. Then on the Our Father Beads say the following:Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
3. On the 10 Hail Mary Beads say the following:For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
(Repeat step 2 and 3 for all five decades).
4. Conclude with (three times):Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Divine Mercy Novena Day 8

"Today bring to Me the Souls who are in the prison of Purgatory, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. Let the torrents of My Blood cool down their scorching flames. All these souls are greatly loved by Me. They are making retribution to My justice. It is in your power to bring them relief. Draw all the indulgences from the treasury of My Church and offer them on their behalf. Oh, if you only knew the torments they suffer, you would continually offer for them the alms of the spirit and pay off their debt to My justice."

Most Merciful Jesus, You Yourself have said that You desire mercy; so I bring into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls in Purgatory, souls who are very dear to You, and yet, who must make retribution to Your justice. May the streams of Blood and Water which gushed forth from Your Heart put out the flames of Purgatory, that there, too, the power of Your mercy may be celebrated.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls suffering in Purgatory, who are enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. I beg You, by the sorrowful Passion of Jesus Your Son, and by all the bitterness with which His most sacred Soul was flooded: Manifest Your mercy to the souls who are under Your just scrutiny. Look upon them in no other way but only through the Wounds of Jesus, Your dearly beloved Son; for we firmly believe that there is no limit to Your goodness and compassion. Amen.

Then Pray the Chaplet:

1. Begin with 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and The Apostles Creed.
2. Then on the Our Father Beads say the following:Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
3. On the 10 Hail Mary Beads say the following:For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
(Repeat step 2 and 3 for all five decades).
4. Conclude with (three times):Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Divine Mercy Novena Day 7

"Today bring to Me the Souls who especially venerate and glorify My Mercy, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls sorrowed most over my Passion and entered most deeply into My spirit. They are living images of My Compassionate Heart. These souls will shine with a special brightness in the next life. Not one of them will go into the fire of hell. I shall particularly defend each one of them at the hour of death."

Most Merciful Jesus, whose Heart is Love Itself, receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who particularly extol and venerate the greatness of Your mercy. These souls are mighty with the very power of God Himself. In the midst of all afflictions and adversities they go forward, confident of Your mercy; and united to You, O Jesus, they carry all mankind on their shoulders. These souls will not be judged severely, but Your mercy will embrace them as they depart from this life.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls who glorify and venerate Your greatest attribute, that of Your fathomless mercy, and who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls are a living Gospel; their hands are full of deeds of mercy, and their hearts, overflowing with joy, sing a canticle of mercy to You, O Most High! I beg You O God: Show them Your mercy according to the hope and trust they have placed in You. Let there be accomplished in them the promise of Jesus, who said to them that during their life, but especially at the hour of death, the souls who will venerate this fathomless mercy of His, He, Himself, will defend as His glory. Amen.

Then Pray the Chaplet:
1. Begin with 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and The Apostles Creed.
2. Then on the Our Father Beads say the following:Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
3. On the 10 Hail Mary Beads say the following:For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
(Repeat step 2 and 3 for all five decades).
4. Conclude with (three times):Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.