Archive for July, 2010

July 31, 2010 – Not All The Good Ones Are Gone

July 31, 2010

Well as I get back to writing more blogs again it means trying to come up with more things to write about.  My mom asked me this past week how I come up with a subject to write about in the blog.  Well, I thought about this for a while and I came to this dramatic conclusion: Geez, I dont know.  It reminded me of a professor I had in college – it was a commodities futures class, and the first thing the professor said on the first day of class was “If you are here to learn about how to make money on the futures market, my answer to you is I have no idea!  If I knew do you think I’d be here?  I’d be on my houseboat in the Carribean somewhere!”  OK, point taken.  Anyway, generally I just try to keep my eyes and ears open for something that peaks my interest that hopefully I can draw some inspiration from.  And if that doesn’t work, well, let’s not even go there.

Everyone who knows me knows of my love of sports, and my admiration of the athletes who play them.  Nowadays, however, it seems like the sports reports read more like arrest reports.  There are always athletes getting in to some type of trouble and using bad judgement.  However, I think this is like many other things we see on the news or on other reports – the focus is on dramatizing the seemingly more interesting “bad boy” attitude, and not devoting time to the folks who are doing so much good and are setting good examples.  I just wanted to mention a few examples of these people – my own little way of recognizing them:

Kurt Warner – most of us are familiar with the Kurt Warner story – a one year starter at Northern Iowa, then grocery bagger, to arena football player, and finally NFL superstar.  I certainly admired him as a player – he did bring my Rams their only Super Bowl victory, but I really admire him for the courage he shows as a Christian.  He is never afraid to share his faith with others, no matter what the situation.  Even when he autographs items, he will put a cross or some type of religious reference by his name.  And he still does community work in all of the cities in which he has lived and played.  Surely the Rams could find something for him to do in their organization, don’t you think?

Aeneas Williams – he was one of the best defensive backs in the NFL.  He started with the Cardinals in 1991, and played for the Rams from 2001-2004. he played in 8 Pro Bowls and should be a sure Hall of Famer.   He is now a pastor and has now started his own church in St. Louis.  He was not quite as vocal as Kurt Warner was in spreading his faith, but he certainly is a true example of Christianity now.

Jeff Suppan – he has been a major league pitcher since 1995, and is currently pitching for the Cardinals for the second time in his career.  He is struggling this year, but he pitched well for the Cardinals in 2004 and 2006, especially in the post-season.  He is also a proud Catholic, and has appeared in many Catholic related spots and videis, including a public service announcement defending the rights of the unborn and making the case against embryonic stem cell research.

Brett Favre – say what you want about him and his continued “on again, off again” retirement tease, but he is also an outspoken Catholic, and attributes his career to his faith.  His wife is a breast cancer survivor, and he also has talked about how their faith got them through that tough time.  He is also a pro-life advocate.

Stan Musial – I can’t wrap this up without talking about Stan the Man, a hero to many in this area.  His playing career speaks for itself – 1815 hits on the road, 1815 hits at home.  Top 5 or top 10 in many offensive categories all-time.  But what really sets him apart is the way he conducted his life on and off the field.  He was never thrown out of a game in all his years of playing.  During the time in which blacks were first being introduced into the major leagues, Stan the Man was a supporter of this movement.  Jackie Robinson acknowledged his appreciation of Stan’s attitude and his acceptance of him.  Even now, he keeps a bucket of balls by the door of his house.  No matter who ccomes to his house, whether it is a guest or the furnace repairman, they all get a signed baseball.

These are just a few examples – there are many more, and it is up to us to show folks, especially our young people, that there are true role models out there to look up to, even when guys like LeBron are dominating the news.  Here is a link to see other Christian athletes:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/374487-the-godsend-taking-a-look-at-some-of-the-best-roman-catholic-athletes#page/8

I’m still playing around with our website and trying new things.  This past week I placed a video on the homepage to try it out and see if folks like it.  Keep checking back!

Well 4 people have already checked the blog today, so I better get this posted.  It’s going to be another hot week, so take care of yourself and each other.  Thanks again for reading.

Peace.

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July 24, 2010 – I’m Hungry!

July 24, 2010

I hope that somehow, someway you are staying cool during our heat wave.  While I have been battling health problems I got out of my regular blogging routine, so this is the first time in many months that I have managed to crank out a blog in consecutive weeks.  Hopefully as I continue to improve you will once again get a regular dose of useless information, random drivel and backward observations.

Even though I haven’t been blogging regularly, it is still a struggle to find worthy subject matter to talk about.  I have written 90 something blogs now and inspiration seems to become more and more elusive.  But this week I have to thank my cousin for a couple of reasons.  Number one, he was kind enough to invite me to his house last night to enjoy delicious fried blue gill that his son caught, and number two, little did he know that he would provide the inspiration for this week’s blog.  In my humble opinion there are few better food items than well prepared fried fish, especially when you haven”t had it for a while.  I think this is true of a lot of food items – they taste even better when you haven’t had them for a while and you have a real hunger for them.

Hunger is a very powerful sensation.  I have experienced hunger as I have tried to eat a better diet the last few months.  I have found that there are some things that I have not missed so much, but other things that I still have a powerful hunger for no matter how much time goes by.  For instance, I have not missed eating sweets or McDonald’s hamburgers.  But no matter how hard I try, or what kind of substitutes I try, I still have a deep hunger for Doritos.  Oh sure, there are the baked ones, but they are nothing like the true crunch and zip of the real thing.  When I go to the grocery store, I alert the personnel after I go down the chip aisle so they can mop up the druel.

Obviously my hunger does not compare to the hunger experienced by many in our world.  The farmers who produce our food provide enough to feed our world population twice over, yet there are millions and millions who do not get basic nutrition.  Even in our own country, the land of plenty, there are almost 40 million people living in poverty.  Even in our own community, the Chester Area Christian Food Pantry usually helps over 500 people per month.  Hunger is everywhere and is a problem that despite the best efforts of many people, continues to be a crisis.

The hunger for food is of course only one type of hunger.  We can hunger for many things.  Jesus realized this numerous times.  For instance, when He gave us the 8 beatitudes, one of them was “blessed are they who hunger for justice, for they shall have their fill.”  We are a people who hunger not only physically but also spiritually.  It is fitting then that when we come to Mass the focal point is the Eucharist, the sharing of a meal, the ultimate means to satisfy our physical and spiritual hunger.

I can remember hearing 2 interesting perspectives on the Eucharist.  One person in a small faith group that I participated in years ago said that she didn’t feel worthy to receive the Eucharist when she was experiencing doubts about God or didn’t feel that she had been living true to God’s word.  My view is that it is in times as these that we need the Eucharist more than ever.  In fact, just prior to receiving Jesus’ body and blood, we recite the words “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”  I continually turn to the example of the Last Supper, when even though Jesus knew that his betrayer was in his midst, he still allowed Judas to participate in the meal.  This is why I take some exception when some bishops say that they would refuse Communion to politicians who take stances that go against the church’s wishes, such as those who are pro-choice.  I do not agree with their stance, but if they truly believe that what they are receiving is Jesus’ body and blood, and if they truly hunger for it, couldn’t this perhaps provide the impetus to help them realize the sacredness of all life?

As I think about the empty spots in the pews at our Masses and all of the people that I know who could be filling them, I wonder if they do not have a strong spiritual hunger or if they simply aren’t realizing that this hunger is present.  How can we make them realize that this hunger can be satisfied?  A priest told me one time that maybe we shouldn’t offer the Eucharist on a daily or even a weekly basis.  If it were offered  less frequently, perhaps people would hunger for it more.  As I though about this, I had to disagree because hunger is not an on again/offagain type of feeling.  It is something we struggle with constantly if it is not satisfied.  At the height of my illness when I was unable to attend church, I certainly felt that something was missing, a feeling that something was not being satisfied, and I’m sure it was the inability to receive the Eucharist that was such a constant in my life to that point.

We had a successful mission last September in part due to the fact that we made a concerted effort to invite people.  If we continue to invite people to Mass, especially those who have not participated for a while, maybe they would realize the hunger within them that is not being satisfied, and take that step back to the table of plenty.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m hungry!  Time for a snack (a fat-free one of course).  Peace.

Saturday, July 17, 2010 – Just Wondering

July 17, 2010

In this booming technological age that we are living in, one of the new words or phrases that has emerged is “multi-tasking” – the ability to do 2 or more tasks at one time.  So in the spirit of trying to keep up with all things new, I have decided that I can muster enough concentration to write a blog entry and watch golf at the same time.  Oh the sacrifices I make for my clamoring audience!

I continue to be amazed that folks keep checking regularly for a new blog entry and are disappointed when they don’t find one.  When I went to the KC for lunch this past Monday (which by the way was yummy as usual), the first question  I was asked was not “how are you today Brian?” or “did you like your chicken Brian?”, but it was “did you get around to blogging last weekend?”.  I am convinced that you don’t love me for me, you only love me for my blogs (ha, ha).  Seriously, thank you for your continued compliments and support of our website.

There hasn’t been a whole lot going on in my little corner of the world, so I just had a few thoughts to share.  I’m sure you are familiar with Andy Rooney who has been providing commentary on the 60 minutes TV program for about 203 years.  Many times his comments will begin with a phrase like “did you ever wonder why….?”, such as “did you ever wonder why they call it a hamburger when there is no ham in it?”, or” did you ever wonder why they call a building where people live close together an apart-ment building?”.  Anyway, over the last couple of weeks there were a few of these types of thoughts that came to my mind:

– One of the places where you know there will be family members that you haven’t seen in a long time is at a wedding.  So I was just wondering why the music has to be so loud that you can’t hear the person talking 2 inches away from you.  Does music really have to be that loud in order to do the duck walk or the macarena?

– Did you ever wonder why so many of our conversations begin with a discussion of the weather – “Sure is hot out there today,” or “looks like we might get some rain”.  We were both just outside!  Wouldn’t it be more interesting to talk about a news event or something that someone may not have heard about?

– Did you ever wonder if people are really telling the truth when they say “gee, this salad is really delicious!”, especially when you consider the fact that you can get a huge salad for like $4.95, but a teeny cut of a prime steak costs like $40 – $50.  Besides, have you ever heard anyone describe a salad as being “suculent” or “melt in your mouth.”  And if salad is so good, why do we need 4 or 5 packs of crackers and spoonfuls of dressing to compliment it?

– Did you ever wonder why when we are on the sidewalk by the main entrance of church we are standing in front of the church, but when we take the first step into the door we are immediately in the back of the church.

– Did you ever wonder why in this day and age when people are busy running around here and there and are looking for a break in the madness, that they don’t take advantage of the hour or so respite and spiritual revival that is to be gained by going to Mass once a week.

– Did you ever wonder if the webmaster has WAY too much time on his hands.

A note about our website: when you go to the homepage, www.maryhoc.org, you will see a new feature – we now have a webpoll where you can place your vote on a question.  The first question is whether you would be interested in having a way to make your contributions to church or school online.  Some parishes offer this now, and if there are enough people interested in this, it may be worth pursuing.  Go to our homepage and cast your vote!

Finally, I heard of a website this past week called www.iwritelike.com.  On this website you can submit a sample of your writing and it will tell you which famous author your writing style is most similar to – whether it be Shakespeare or Hemmingway, etc.  I have not tried it yet – mine will probably be someone like Dr. Seuss (without the rhymes).

All for now.  Peace.

July 3, 2010 – Odds ‘n Ends

July 3, 2010

Welcome to a holiday weekend edition of the blog.  I thought all week about doing a blog before the weekend rolled around, but my usual procrastinating self waited until today.  Why waste a perfectly good weeknight when there is baseball to be watched, right?  Of course the way the Cardinals have been playing lately, my time may be better served in church-related activities.  Anyway, it feels like one of those times to just touch on a few things that have been rolling around in my mind.

So what constitutes a true moment of bliss?  Hopping into a new car for the first time and getting a whiff of that new car smell?  Stepping out of the door in the morning and feeling a cool breeze?  Getting a really sweet orange from the grocery store (trust me, it doesn’t happen that often).  Well last week I experienced a true moment of bliss – when my doctor walked in to the exam room and uttered these words – “I have absolutely nothing but good news for you today!”  BLISS!  I’m happy to report that all of my recent bloodwork was fine, blood pressure was fine, and I’m down 36 lbs. in 9 months.  I have learned a lot of life lessons over the last year, and one of them certainly is that good health should never be taken for granted, and that our bodies should be treated as a gift from God.  I still have some problems with headaches, but not as severe as before.  Thanks again for all of your prayers and expressions of concern.

So what is a typical summer project?  Working on the house, cleaning up the yard, waxing the cars?  Well, for a Catholic Church webmaster, it is going through an online seminar on Catholic Church websites.  I haven’t gone through the whole thing yet, but I wanted to share a few statistics with you from a study done by Princeton University last year:

– 74% of all adults use the internet (this includes adults of all ages and races)

– 60% of all adults have a high-speed internet connection at home

– 70% of adults in rural areas go online

When I first started our website, I wondered whether anyone would use it, and whether it would be worth the effort.  But part of ministry is to reach people where they are, and as you can see more and more people are on the internet, and a church website is becoming not just a luxury, but an essential tool.  We’ll see what sort of new ideas I come up with when I finish the course (hold on to your laptops!).  And of course as always, your suggestions are welcome and appreciated.

Our prayers go out to those priests who will be moving on to new assignments this month.  We especially pray for those newly ordained and for Fr. Ben Stern, who will be assuming the administration of one of our cluster parishes – St. Boniface in Evansville.  I guess we’re still stuck with Fr. Gene (ha, ha).  You always tease the ones you love.

Back to the website, I touched on it in my last blog and since then I have put some references on the homepage of the website about the newly revised version of the Roman Missal, which will result in many changes in the way we resopnd during Mass.  On the website you can link to the USCCB website, to Bishop Braxton’s letter concerning this, and also to a summary of the changes that will be taking place.  This will require us to change habits that we have had for years and will require catechesis on the part of the parish staff.  One of the slogans for this revision is “a deeper meaning, but the same Mass”.  I have come up with a few slogans of my own for this change:

“The revised Roman Missal -as if priests weren’t busy enough!”

“Hang on to your missalettes for dear life!”

“The new Roman Missal – we needed more committees anyway.”

“Let’s just switch back to Latin and get it over with!”

Seriously, you’ll be getting much more information as time goes on.

Our Vacation Bible School begins on July 12.  Please pray for its success.  Thank you so much to Cheryl Gross who puts in so much time and effort to organize this, and to the many wonderful volunteers who take time out of their summer activities for this.  God Bless you all.

Finally, I wish you a happy and safe 4th of July weekend.  Let us all take time this weekend to thank God for how fortunate we are to live in a land of freedom, and also of course we keep in mind our military men and women who preserve that freedom for us.  I take for granted that I can sit here and type whatever I feel like without having to fear any consequences, a privilege that many in this world do not enjoy.  I am fortunate indeed.

Thanks again for reading.  Peace.