Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Sound of Silence

Sorry for the "dead air" lately. I have been wanting to post something positive and uplifting and I am finding that hard to do when I seem to get myself worked up almost daily on something I see or hear on the news. I want to add my voice to these things, but I am tired of fighting in some ways. So I am considering this stuff my penance for Lent and I am hoping that I am passing on the Truth to my Adult Confirmation class so that we can have more Church Militant to fight the good fight.

I just don't want to be that person who wages Facebook flame wars with the Liberal Ladies Who Lunch. Correction: I WANT to be that person, but I don't have the heart at the moment.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

On Sin, Statistics and Catholicism

Okay you guys, if I hear one more time that 98% of all women who identify themselves as Catholic (except when some of those women were baptized Catholic and are now actually Unitarian) use contraceptives, I think I am going to scream. Not kidding. I think I am going to go all ballistic and start pulling out my hair. And I rather like my hair so this is something I would like to avoid.

Let me just send a little message in all love and Christian charity: Sin is Sin. The consequence of sin is separation from God. Separation from God, if not corrected and continued willfully is a mortal sin. Mortal sins, if not corrected, will lead to Hell. Sorry for that, but that is the Truth. It doesn’t matter whether you particularly like a certain sin or whether you even agree that sin really exists. The truth is the truth whether you agree with it or not.

Being Catholic starts with baptism. But it doesn’t end with it. It is a journey and a constant battle, every single day. Believe me, there were times when I knew it would be easier to not be Catholic. I had that very thought the other day at the grocery store as I was passing the table of Girl Scouts selling their delicious wares (that fund Planned Parenthood). So it’s not a walk in the park and a yummy Samoa. But to me, it’s worth it in order to live my life aligned with the Truth. And I have been happier every day for it, even when I thought I was miserable in the moment (like when I had to wake up at 4am on my Hawaiian vacation to take my temperature). And being Catholic is something active. It involves things, very basic things, like going to Mass, availing yourself of the sacraments, and living the life that the Church in Her 2000 years of wisdom proscribes for us.

So here’s my main argument about that 98% statistic. If you don’t attend Mass and you don’t accept the rules that are being given to us (especially when not accepting them puts you in a state of mortal sin), then you are.not.Catholic. Even if some years back, your mother and father brought you into the Church in a beautiful little white dress and promised to raise you in the faith. Even if you attended Catholic school all your life until college and then had an “epiphany” that a “bunch of old guys in Rome have no idea what real life is like.” Even if you want to take birth control. The Church is not a democracy and your opinion doesn’t really count. You either are Catholic by actively being a Catholic or you’re not. This 98% squarely puts themselves in the “not Catholic” camp.  

I am so tired of being someone living the Catholic life to the best of my ability, and being the one ignored. Why are they measuring us by those who aren’t of us? I know this is media spin, and I know we have made strides, but really? There are plenty mass-going, NFP using self-identified Catholics and we never even pop up on the radar.

So what do we do? How do we make ourselves heard? What do we have to do to in order to prove that those of us who are actually Catholics truly live our faith and that it’s not really open to discussion?

If they can say “don’t like abortion, don’t have one,” can we all just say “don’t like Catholicism, don’t call yourself one”?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Now What Indeed.

There are so many things I could blog about. I could blog about HHS (ugh, don't even want to get started). I could blog about Nicki Minaj (why bother? She's like a somehow less talented Lady Gaga and she's dug her own gave.) I could blog about St. Valentine (because martyrdom= way cooler than pink paper hearts.)

But instead, I want to blog about a billboard I saw on my way to work today. It features a girl looking at a guy and smiling with the words "I've fallen for him. Now what?" and the address beforeplay.org. I was intrigued, so I went to the site. It's run by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Initiative to Reduce Unintended Pregnancy. And it's allllll about your choices in birth control! Yay!!! Finally, something that will tell me about birth control! Lord knows there is just not enough information out there.

One of the things that irritated me the most was this about us:
"Beforeplay.org is the hub for a Colorado statewide effort to reduce unintended pregnancy and help “normalize” conversation around sexual health and well being. About 40% of Colorado pregnancies are unintended, and the rate is even higher among young adults in their twenties. Poor knowledge about effective contraception or how to use it, jobs without health insurance, and ambivalence toward starting a family—If it happens, it happens—all contribute to this situation."

Um. What? I don't really think that "if it happens, it happens" is ambivalence. I mean, in my daily life, I call that "being open to life." But maybe I need to go to confession, I don't know. And I also don't think that a pregnancy that occurs when you have that attitude would really be "unintended" now would it? But then maybe I just have poor knowledge about contraception.

I feel unsettled by this and I think the Holy Spirit is prompting it. I mean, come on, they list FAM as "less effective" right up there with the withdrawl method. Really? Should they even list that as a method?? Because that's less of a method than a superstition. I did write them an email, but maybe we can "spam" them.

Small miracle there's not a bunch of information about how awesome abortions are.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Whose Idea Was This, Anyway?

Apparently, I am teaching an adult confirmation class.

I got an email from the Adult Education Coordinator at my parish, asking me if I wanted to, and of course I said yes! So now instead of just being a discussion leader and team teacher for the RCIA class my husband is in, I'm actually teaching my very own class! There are supposedly 12 people signed up, but on Monday night there were 7 people there and 3 of them are actually supposed to be in RCIA. So, who knows?

It's sort of ironic that, after spending all 4 years of my bachelor's program insisting that I did NOT want to teach (I double majored in history and religious studies), all I really want to to do is teach about the faith.

Did any of you go through this process yourselves? I'm looking for a way to really teach the faith without being overbearing or preachy, but I also want to be honest and authentic without being touchy-feely. I went through it last year and the woman who taught it is so great, but I want it to be "me." Any tips would be so, so, appreciated. And prayers of course.

Monday's lesson is "how to participate in the Mass." 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

He Put A New Song In My Mouth

This was the second week of having to sing "Here I Am, Lord" at Mass. This wouldn't trouble me so much aside from the fact that last week, for some reason totally unbeknownst to me, we  got a new Holy, Holy, Holy, a new Lamb of God and a new Great Amen. All with a tune that sounds like something from a Disney movie new arrangement.

I highly, HIGHLY dislike these new arrangements. We also got the new Gloria. No, not that new Gloria, a NEW new Gloria, with a new arrangement as well. I like the Gloria Simplex because it fits the new translation of the Mass. It sounds sort of like a chant and the simplicity of it works better than the cramming of the new words into the tune we were singing to before, so you can focus on what you're saying and not the odd phrasing with the arrangement. (Aside: When I was a kid, even at The Other Catholic Church in town, the Holy, Holy, Holy and Lamb of God were sort of chanted and I find myself longing for these older arrangements. My big beef with the Holy Holy Holy that we were doing before the new translation and are now doing again is phrasing. What is the need to repeat the "your glory" and "who comes"? Why can't we just put it into a normal phrasing? If you are repeating things in order to make them fit the melody, methinks you ought to re-write your melody, especially if your lyrics are coming from Scripture.) These new arrangements of these very important liturgical songs do NOT fit the elevated status of the new mass. They sort of jar me out of where I am. When the pianist started playing the tune for the Lamb of God, I actually got confused. I actually thought to myself  "why are they playing a song, we're not supposed to be playing a song here," and, based on how long it took people to catch on, I wasn't the only one. Here's my question: what's wrong with the Agnus Dei? I'm not saying that to be flippant, I am totally serious. Why can't we just sing the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei? Why all this kumbaya hand holdy stuff now, NOW that we have finally gotten rid of the kumbaya hand holdy translation?!

In any event, when I looked at these songs in our hymnal, I realized that they were all arranged by the same composer. I will not name him, mainly because the thread on his music on the Catholic Answers Forums was closed because people were being uncharitable. Now, I won't say anything about him personally (because I didn't even Wikipedia him to find out anything about him personally), I just don't like his "hymns." One because they are trite and contrived lyrically, two because they all sound like something from a Disney movie the same. But the last two weeks, with the exception of the Gloria Simplex and our recessional hymn this week ("How Can I Keep From Singing" which is a Protestant hymn, by the way), ALL of the songs we sang in mass were written by this good gentleman. It was like a This Dude love fest and not a Catholic mass at all.

Catholicism. You're Doing it Wrong. 
What does one do about something like this? I finally left The Other Catholic Church after putting my foot down over a horrendous rendition of Alleluia in which we clapped. Yes, you read that right. I am not a RadTrad, I'm really only a regular trad and this stuff really, really, REALLY bothers me. Can I ask my Pastor to put a moratorium on all the David Haas, Marty Haugen, Dan Schutte stuff? Can I respectfully request that we have a Catholic mass for the reals, or have the pew-sitting Catholics gotten so into their "let's sing the Our Father, use the orans posture, and clap through the Alleluia" mentality that people would actually be upset at the Catholicization of the mass? I know my personal preference should not dictate things and I know there are people out there who are very emotionally attached to these songs, but some of us are emotionally attached to the MASS as it should be and would like to at LEAST hear the liturgical prayers sung respectfully. I would trade one awful hymn a week for two good ones. Heck, at this point, I would trade two David Haas debacles for one Panis Angelicus. With so many beautiful, relevant, traditional Catholic hymns, do we really need to subject parishioners to this stuff?

Ugh, and now I have "Here I Am, Lord" in my head.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Teb-Over It: Why I Dislike Tim Tebow

Here in Colorado, we are known for several things:
1. Mountains
2. Hippies
3. Snow
4. Skiing
5. Having a large KKK community in the 1920's
6. Rabid Bronco fans
(Okay, so some of these things we might not be known for, but they are all true nonetheless.)

So, there's this guy, this football player and maybe you've heard of him. He does this particular thing whenever he scores. It's commonly called Tebowing. We Catholics call it praying and we typically don't do it in front of thousands of people in person and God knows how many on TV. 

Quintessential Colorado. Only this guy is not a hippy. That I know of
The Evangelical world just loooooves him. I can't tell you how many people on my Facebook just get all choked up at the thought of this man "witnessing his love for Jesus.” Nevermind that, at his vocation, he has been medicore at best (save a few “miraculous” come backs). They say completely inane and obnoxious things about how he passed a total of 316 yards in his miraculous comeback last night. 316, you guys! Like John 3:16! Like "God so loved the world..."! God is on our side. God wants us to win football games. 

The secular world tends to dislike Tebow. I attribute this precisely to the praying-in-the-endzone thing, the constant talk about being blessed and Christianity in general, and I'm sure the pro-life ad featuring him and his mother didn't really help his cause. The average everyday Joe just wants to sit back, relax, have a beer, watch the game and not have to think about Church and those pesky God and Jesus fellows.

But a lot of Catholics really, really like Tebow. A quick search on the Catholic Answers Forums brings up posts about how he is living his faith, and helping to evangelize. He could be bringing people to God, we want to live next door to him and he “seems like a really humble and great guy.” (I don’t like giving him so much attention as a Catholic considering that he was raised Baptist, his father is a pastor and both of his parents are missionaries. He was born in the Philippines. Now, why would a Baptist missionary family be in the Philippines, when 90% of the population is Christian? Maybe because 80% of them are Catholic.) There’s also a double-standard that is exercised with Tebow. Catholics paising him on the forums for being a good Christian example are the same ones in other threads who attack the Duggars for having a TV show because it’s “materialistic.” I guess being a football star really does have its perks. No one seems to be talking about how awesome Philip Rivers is, though, and he’s a Catholic football star who is a chastity speaker.

I have no doubt that God loves Tim Tebow. I have no doubt that God loves anyone. I just have beef with something that looks to me like showboating. We are supposed to be a good example to others in the life that we live. We are not supposed to fall on our knees in prayer in front of millions of people (Matthew 6:5). I honestly believe that Tebow is coming from a sincere place and that he really wants to glorify God in his way and bring attention to Him. But I feel like people are starting to glorify Tebow instead. I feel like attention is being paid to the fact that Tebow is a Christian without much conversation going on about Christ. I cringe every single Sunday morning when I see the families go up to receive Communion in their Tebow jerseys. They have made Church just a stop before watching Tebow run the ball. Idol worship is idol worship, even if that idol is Christian. This brings to mind what happened last spring with Father John Corapi. So many people really looked to him and followed him and when he fell, people were upset and their faith was shaken. They had put their faith in the man and not what he was preaching. Tebow is young, he is in the national spotlight, he is making a lot of money. He is also human. He will likely fall and then the media wolves will be all over it. People who were once inspired by him may be disappointed and turn away. Even if he doesn’t fall, what happens when the Broncos don’t go to the Super Bowl? Or if they do and they don’t win? If God’s favor is evidenced by the wins, is it lost when His team loses? I know God sees and is involved in everything, but being involved in who wins which football championship reduces Him to a level that almost makes my stomach turn.

I want the world to stop talking about Tim Tebow. When we do talk about him, I want it to be about football. If he plays well, then he plays well. If he doesn’t, then I want them to say so. I don’t want to hear any more talk about anything other than his playing skills. If he’s a nice kid, great. I’m glad. I’m just as tired hearing about sports stars shooting or stabbing people, robbing people or raping people. But let’s focus on his actions in football, and hope his life off the field is a good witness.

Besides, I have a pretty good feeling that God is a Saints fan, anyway. 
St. Jeanne d'Arc in New Orleans, hoisting a Saints banner

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Keep It Classy, Colorado

Just another example of why I believe abortion is a SYMPTOM and not the disease in this society. What gets me is that the girl's mother is upset about it too. Why did she allow the picture to be taken in the first place?

Colorado Student Banned From Yearbook