December 4, 2010 – Starting Blank

I will be the first to admit that I am no expert on artwork.  I can look at a piece of art that is greatly admired by many and not have an idea of what the allure is.  But I do admire artists for being able to start with a blank canvas or a ball of clay and turn it into something creative and expressive.  In no way am I comparing myself to these talented people, but in a sort of way I can understand what they go through when trying to think about what to create on that canvas or potter’s wheel.  I begin with a blank computer screen and I think about how I can express myself today.  And as I think about it I realize something – it’s a good thing that I don’t depend on this to make a living, or I would be a starving blogger.  So anyway, it feels like that time again to just throw out some random thoughts and see what happens.

The season of Advent brings a natural culture clash.  The secular world holds its celebrations of Christmas before Christmas.  We have our parties, we put up our decorations for all to see, we listen to Christmas music, etc.  I see a lot of slogans such as “Jesus is the reason for the season” and “Keep CHRIST in CHRISTmas” that tell us the birth of Jesus should be remembered and celebrated.  Perhaps we should revise the slogans a little bit to say something like “Keep CHRIST in CHRISTmas and beyond.”  The secular world seems to insist that at 12:01AM on December 26 Christmas is over – time to tear down the lights and decorations and kill the Christmas music.  The church, however, provides a very different message.  The event of Jesus’ birth is one that should be celebrated even after Christmas Day, which makes sense because the promise of a Savior was something that people waited on for many, many years, so why wouldn’t we celebrate after the event has occurred?  So as Catholic christians our challenge is to indeed keep “CHRIST” in CHRISTmas, and also to give Jesus’ birth the proper celebration it deserves, and to keep the lights and decorations up a little longer.

Of course the holiday season brings about mass quantities of food, which for someone who is trying to watch his weight means that the willpower meter has to be cranked up a little higher.  I’ve done pretty good so far, though I need to remember that even if the box says “reduced fat”, it’s still not an excuse to eat the whole thing.  So if I turn down your Christmas cookies or candy, it’s not because it wouldn’t be a lucious, satisfying treat (druel).  By the way, does carrot cake count as a health food?  Just asking.

We had a good Parish Council meeting the other night.  One of the things I am thankful for this holiday season is for all the folks who continue to give of themselves and their spare time to support our parish, including those who have to sit through those evening meetings, those who give of their time to maintain our buildings and grounds, those who work with our kids in PSR, athletics and other extra-curricular activities, and the list goes on and on.  In this day and age time seems to be a more precious commodity, and those of us on the Parish Council get to hear about those who give so much of their time to our parish.  Thank you all!

This weekend our 2nd graders will be celebrating their First Reconciliation.  I have to admit that my memories of my First Confession are pretty vague.  I do remember afterwards that we were comparing what our individual penances were, as if it were some type of a badge of honor if you had the highest Our Father and Hail Mary count.  I also remember throughout school that confession day was a day that most people dreaded – “What do I tell Father?”, “What is Father going to tell me?”, “Is he going to tell my parents what I said?”.  Perhaps it is this attitude that we carry into our adulthood that keeps more and more people out of the confessional.  I tell my kids in PSR that reconciliation is not a sacrament of punishment, but rather it is a sacrament of healing.  It is our chance to admit to the barriers that we have placed between ourselves and God, and to tear down those barriers.  I know that I always feel better after I have received the sacrament.  It feels like I am getting a fresh start, a building block to improve my one-on-one relationship with God.  Our Advent penance service is Friday, December 17 at 7:00PM.  I plan to attend, and hope to see you there.

Finally, as you know I’m always perusing the internet for ideas.  Believe it or not, this is not the only Catholic blog that is out there.  As a matter of fact it is estimated that there are over 2000 active Catholic blogs.  In my research I encountered a website that listed the top 200 most popular Catholic blogs.  Unfortunately, the webmaster’s blog didn’t quite make the cut.  Maybe next year.  Anyway, here is the link to this list:

www.ericsammons.com/topcatholicblogs.html

If you see a blog on this list or another blog that you particularly enjoy, let me know about it so I can steal their ideas (ha, ha).  Seriously, if you find something interesting, I would love to share it with everyone.

Stay warm this coming week.  It already looks a lot like Christmas, and its also starting to feel like Christmas.  Take care.  Peace.

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