Archive for January, 2011

January 29, 2011 – More Internet Stuff

January 29, 2011

Ahhhh …. after a week of battling a cold and more of winter’s dreary weather, what a treat it is to see the sunshine and feel the above normal temperatures.  Of course next week sounds like we’re going back to the ugly, dreary weather, so enjoy the temporary reprieve.

OK, so what to write about today?  As usual there’s some heavy-duty stuff going on around the world, but I feel like I need a break from the “heavy-duty” stuff,  so I think I’ll shift the focus back to one of my favorite activities.  Let’s see, I could certainly talk about food, but there’s only so much you can say about skim milk and shredded wheat (the PLAIN shredded wheat mind you, not even the frosted kind).  I could talk about football, but I think I’ll save my prediction for the Super Bowl until next week.  By the way, did you notice that I called both games right last week?  I should be on one of those pre-game shows.  I can give analysis on par with some of those talking heads.  But alas, it only remains a dream.

So what else is there to talk about?  What else has been occupying my time?  The internet?  Ding, ding, ding!  Actually, it was an article on the Catholic News Service that led me to talk again about the internet.  What you have read to this point is what us “professional” bloggers refer to as filler, or in other words, B.S. that I can fill the page with while I think of some more to say.

This past week Pope Benedict XVI issued a message on World Communications Day once again encouraging Christians to use the internet to spread the Gospel.  In particular he invited Christians to join the social media such as Facebook, saying that this new model of information sharing was something that the church could and should work with.  He did caution, however, that those who utilize the internet should use it in a responsible way and should be respectful when in contact with others.  He also said that this increasing “virtual interaction” should not be a replacement for real-life contact with other people.

The Vatican continues to offer more information and programming via the internet.  There is now a website for young people in which they can acquire information about the Vatican and the Pope and even send greetings to the Holy Father.  Here is the link to it:

www.pope2you.net

If you come across an interesting link, let me know and I’ll be happy to post it and tell folks about it.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks back, our church website, www.maryhoc.org, continues to thrive, or at least it continues to sputter along.  I thought I would share with you a few statistics just to show you how much it is being used.  I have data from the last 6 months which shows the number of pages viewed on the website for each month.  Here are the numbers:

August – 704, September – 466, October – 678, November – 499, December – 581, January (through today) – 805.  These numbers do not include visits to the blog, which is on a different server.  Now of course the most popular websites will have millions of hits, but for a little church website in a little corner of the world, I think these are nice numbers, and I thank you so much for your continued use of the website and for encouraging others to use it.

One of the pages on the website that I would like to do more with is the military page.  This is a small way that we can honor and pray for those from our parish who are either currently serving in the military or are a military veteran (either living or deceased).  Just send me some brief information about the person and perhaps a photo and I will post it on our page.  E-mail me at webmaster@maryhoc.org or just provide the information in the collection or to the parish office.  And of course I’m happy to post any other items you have – calendar dates, pictures, events,  jokes, whimsical observations, Cubs putdowns, etc.

I should not fail to mention that many parishes have great websites now that have a lot of information.  You can go to our links page for neighboring parish websites or go to the diocesan website, www.diobelle.org, and click on the parish directory.  And don’t pay any attention to how great the other websites look compared to ours (or at least don’t tell me if you do).

This week we celebrate Catholic Schools week, and I want to once again recognize everyone who works so hard to make our school a wonderful place to learn and mature.  Our teachers and staff have dedicated themselves to the cause of Catholic education despite having more lucrative opportunities elsewhere.  Those who give of their time, talent and treasure to our school are vital to its continued growth and viability.  And of course our parents and students give our school a unique personality that only a Catholic school can boast.  God Bless all of you!

Well hopefully this time next week our backyards won’t look like hockey rinks.  Have a good and safe week.  Peace.

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January 21, 2011 – Just My Opinion

January 21, 2011

First of all I would like to relay a message to all of the weather pundits who had said that January was going to be warmer than normal and to all of those global warming drum-beaters: if you had any sense of pride, if you had any sense of decency, you would donate every cent of your next paychecks to a charity that helps people with their heating bills, and you should be forced to give the coats off your backs to the same charity and as you are freezing your buns off, deliver a public apology for being so WRONG!  There, I feel better now.

Since the terrible tragedy in Tuscon, AZ a couple of weeks ago, there have been a lot of discussions on the news/talk shows about the rhetoric that is lobbed back and forth between the two political parties and whether this may have contributed to the gunman’s actions on that day.  I have been giving this some thought and wanted to share my opinions with you.  normally I try not to get too opinionated in these blogs, but I thought this was one issue that deserved to be addressed.  Do I think that the bickering that occurs on talk shows, or the heated exchanges that occur during sessions of Congress, or other political advertising that sinks to a personal level directly contributed to this person’s actions?  No I don’t.  The more we learn about the individual, the more I think it is clear that this person was unstable and deranged and in desperate need of treatment.  Does this mean, however, that these personal attacks and bickering are harmless and are just a part of the democratic process?  No, not in my opinion.

People who know me are aware that I’m not the most vocal person in the world.  Even in meetings I attend I generally am more of a listener than a vocal participant.  I tend to be more of an information gatherer – take all of the information that I can get my hands on and from there, form an opinion.  In doing this I realize that there very well may be other people who will take the same information and form a completely different opinion from mine.  Does this make me respect that person any less?  No.  Do I have the right to disagree with what that person thinks?  Absolutely.  I have that right as a citizen in a free society and as a human being.  And there are opinions that I may compromise on, but there are some that I will definitely not.

We this weekend mark the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in our country.  As a Catholic I strongly oppose abortions.  I feel that life begins at conception, and that we do not have the right to pick and choose which of God’s creations should be prematurely destroyed.  No matter what information is presented to me by the pro-choice side, my opinion on this will not change.  That being said, I absolutely do not endorse anyone who shows their opposition to abortion via means of violence and destruction of property.  These people have as little respect for life as anyone on the extreme side of pro-choice.  Now if someone comes to me and presents a pro-choice argument in a respectful way, I have every right to disagree with them and present my side of the argument, but as a courtesy I should still respect them as a person and not treat them as someone “lesser” than me.

I think herein lies why I tend not to be as vocal as some others, and also why I think people are fed up with the bickering we see from our elected officials.  Too many people when arguing their points will do one or more of three things:  1) they feel they will win the argument if their voice is the loudest; 2) they cannot argue without resorting to personal attacks; and 3) they argue even though they know that they do not have the proper information or they take rumors and pre-conceived notions and accept them as fact even though they have not checked the information for themselves.  A perfect example of this was when our school was struggling in the early 2000’s and enrollment dropped sharply.  I think looking back part of why this occurred was because there were rumors and misinformation that some people (certainly not all, but some) took as gospel truth and ran with.  In retrospect I wish I would have been more vocal and made my opinions more clear.  Would it have made a difference?  Chances are it wouldn’t have, but you never know.

In modeling our lives after Jesus, we look of course to his messages and we try to live as He told us.  But He also set an example for us with His courage in spreading a message of tolerance and generosity toward others, even in the face of ridicule by the highest ranking officials at the time and eventually in the face of His ultimate physical demise.  Because He remained courageous and stout-hearted, His message still lives on today.  We can also follow Jesus’ example by expanding our respect life stance by not just applying it to our stance on abortion, but by showing more common respect to those around us.  We will always have some differences of opinion.  We are human and we all look at things from our own unique perspective.  But how we debate and work through these differences of opinion is in our control, and we can set an example for future generations by being more civil toward our fellow human beings.

Just a couple of notes to finish off.  Our website continues to thrive with traffic.  As of the 20th, the number of hits in January already have surpassed the total amount of hits in the entire month of December.  Thank you again for visiting and encouraging others to use it.  If you havent checked out the YouTube video on the homepage, it is a slideshow that I think you will find very touching, especially on this weekend when we particularly focus on respect for life.

Finally, this Sunday is one of my favorite days of the year – the conference championships on football!!  I look forward to this Sunday even more than the Super Bowl – no 5 hour pregame show, no other fluff, just a solid 7 hours of football.  My predictions: Packers over Bears 27-16, and Steelers over Jets 20-13, so count on a Bears vs. Jets Super Bowl.

Again, pray for greater respect for life and for those traveling to Washington, D.C. to march for life.  Peace.

January 15, 2011 – What A Week Can Bring

January 15, 2011

When I last wrote this past Friday, after finishing I remember thinking about what in the world I was going to write about this week.  It appeared that it was going to be a quiet week, not much on my calendar, not much planned.  Little did I know that there would be 2 events occur that wouldn’t necessarily directly affect me personally, but that would be equally senseless.  The first of course was the terrible tragedy of the shootings in Arizona.  I could only imagine the scene … people going about their normal business of shopping, running errands and some getting the opportunity to meet with their representative, only to see 6 people killed, twice as many injured and countless lives turned upside-down.  Any other things that I was going to do that day were pushed aside as I could not tear myself away from the news reports.  I think I was not just curious about finding out more information, but I was also thinking about how something like this could happen in our free country, and that if it could happen at a shopping center in Tuscon, it could happen practically anywhere.

Then another tragedy occurred on Wednesday that hit a little closer to home, when I received a call from Fr. Gene that Shannon Waller, a 23-year old member of our parish and a former religion student of mine, had passed away.  Another terribly shocking event.  Like the events of a few days before, I not only felt immediate sorrow for those who were close to Shannon, but I also spent part of the night thinking about why something like this had to happen – a good person in the very prime of her life being taken away from us.

Being 41 years old now, you would think that I would have seen enough happen and experienced enough tragic events to make sense of them, but  that is part of the challenge of life, to put ourselves and our experiences in God’s hands even though we may never have all of the answers, at least until we see God after our time is done here on earth.  When I visited the funeral home last night, I wondered what I could say or do that would bring an instant sense of comfort, or that would help provide an answer as to why something like this would occur.  Frustratingly at times there just aren’t words that suffice, but God gives us hope that one day we will have the answers and it will all make sense.

Of course part of what helps us through is the stories that underly the tragedies.  After the initial shock of what happened in Arizona the stories of heroism and support started coming forth, from those who tended to the victims immediately afterwards, to those who tackled the gunman and kept him at bay, to the amazing work of the doctors and medical personnel who have been treating the victims.  It shows that the senseless acts of one person, no matter the magnitude of what he did, will not kill the spirit of the many, many people who have good intentions in their hearts.

And though we dread the process of grieving and going through the rites of a funeral, seeing the support of family and hearing the word of God gives comfort to us and helps us begin to turn our attention to how our lives were enriched by having those loved ones here with us, though they may not have been with us nearly for the time that we wanted them to be.

So after a week of wondering and asking why, the questions I have turn to myself.  Am I the one who is missing the answers?  Is my faith as strong as it needs to be?  Should I just accept tragedy as a part of life and not let it overcome me so much?  Does a real Christian allow himself to become so full of doubt?  I of course, deep in my heart know the answers to these questions.  In fact I tell my students that there is absolutely nothing wrong with having feelings of doubt.  Doubt causes us to ask questions, and asking questions brings us closer to the answers that we look for.  It is the person who thinks that they have it all figured out, the person who thinks that they have all of the answers, that really needs to take a second look at how they are living, and whether their faith is true.

I think those who cease practicing their faith fall into the trap of the tone that society has taken.  We want instant gratification.  We want to press a few keys on our computer and find an instant answer.  We don’t want to put our faith in a God that we can’t reach out and touch or talk to on a cell phone.  We don’t want to have to go through the steps to earn God’s love; we feel it should automatically be given to us.  Anything that we pray for should appear right in front of us.  I know that many of our parents gave us advice that we appreciate things more when we work for them and earn them instead of having them just given to us, and I think the same is true with God’s love.  It means so much more when we pray, when we take time to read the Bible and learn more about His message, when we turn to Him even in the difficult times.  And if the answers we seek have to wait a little longer, so be it.

I always appreciate the compliments and comments I receive about my blogs, but the truth is that I receive just as much benefit from them.  It gives me a great form of release, a way to share my thoughts with many folks at one time.  One of Gabrielle Giffords’ last acts before being injured in the shootings was to read the first amendment of the constitution before Congress, which talks about free speech.  I thank God always for the ability to say what is on my mind without worrying about the consequences.  And even if writing about Catholic Christian subjects isn’t the most popular thing, it doesn’t mean that it’s not the right thing. 

Thanks again so much for reading.  I appreciate each and every one of you.  Peace.

January 7, 2011 – Back In the Old Routine

January 8, 2011

Well for the first blog of the year I’m back to my normal schedule, and having survived the holidays and getting back into the regular routine, it seemed like a good time to just touch on some random things.  In other words, Brian’s mind is still functioning in overdrive and it doesn’t know what else to talk about, but that’s just between us!?!?

My New Year’s weekend went so well until Sunday night when my Rams came out looking like a pee-wee league team instead on an NFL team and couldn’t secure a playoff spot.  But they still had an exciting year and should be even better next year.  But Rams or not, I’ll be enjoying a lot of playoff football over the next few weeks.  People have asked me what I miss the most since I’ve been trying to eat healthier, and I think the thing I miss the most is having that big bag of Doritos and perhaps a Dagwood-sized sandwich by my side while watching the games.  But I still enjoy the games and the competition, especially now with the winter weather and everything on the line.  THAT”S FOOTBALL BABY!  Ummm, well, moving on…

There has been an unbelievable amount of traffic on the website over the past week.  Since New Year’s Eve there have been 280 pages viewed.  Fantastic!  Did folks make a New Year’s resolution to get on the internet more?  I hope so!  Anyway, thank you and if you didn’t notice yet, I put some new video on the website, including the Rosary Rally from last October and the school Christmas program from last month.  Just go to the homepage at www.maryhoc.org and you’ll find links to them.  As always, if you have any photos or any information you’d like to see published on the website, let me know and I’ll be happy to do it.

There was an item on the news this past week that gave me pause.  The report said that a newly-revised version of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is going to be published.  The revisions included replacing the “N” word with the word slave, so as not to offend readers of the novel.  Political correctness is something that continues to become more and more prominent.  I try to be understanding of folks who take these things to heart.  I tell myself that I’m not as adept a student of history as they are, and I don’t appreciate the offensive nature of some names as others do.  But when you want to revise a work by one of the greatest novelists of all time, it seems to me that things have gotten out of hand.  Normally I don’t use the blog for “deep” issues such as this, but after hearing this report I couldn’t help but think to myself at what point will this come to an end?  Is there really that many people out there who are offended by a sports team that calls itself the Indians or Redskins?  Is there really that many people with such a thin skin?  In college when I would burn the midnight oil I many times would listen to Jim White’s show on KMOX radio, and one of his frequent guest was a psychiatrist named Bill Little.  No matter what they were talking about, at some point he would remind the listeners that we shouldn’t take ourselves so seriously, that we shouldn’t be afraid to laugh at ourselves.  In grade school and even high school I was probably one of the most picked-on kids, and at times it would get the best of me.  I wish now that I would have just laughed off the taunts and the teasing, and I wish people who spend every waking hour trying to find something that a few people might find offensive would take the same attitude.

Last week when I listed out the things that I was going to try to work on in the New Year, one of those was to try to not be as judgemental of people and to try not to rely on my first impression, especially with people I don’t know.  I’m sure that when people in Ohio saw Ted Williams standing on the street corner all they saw was a homeless guy and a beggar.  I know that they did not realize that they were seeing someone who has one of the richest voices you will ever hear.  Thanks to the willingness of a newspaper reporter to share this man’s story, he is now a national celebrity and sharing his voice with radio, commercials and for the Cleveland Cavaliers.  As we approach the anniversary of the decision in the Roe v. Wade case, let us not only remember and pray for the unborn who did not have the opportunity to experience life here on earth, but let us also remember those who are here among us but who have been ignored by society.  Who knows what we are missing if we don’t?

I’m happy to report that my doctor’s visit today was a positive one.  My recent lab work, etc. all looked pretty good, so like it or not, the blog will live on for at least a while longer.  I look forward to what 2011 will bring and I look forward to sharing my thoughts about it.  Thanks again for reading.  Peace.