Category: Family

Good Shepherding

Christ the Good ShepherdYesterday my family and I went to a parish in the area that we had not been to yet. We have been living in our new city for 2.5 months now, and wanted to settle into a parish and establish “roots”, or something like them, as soon as possible. We have basically settled on a parish/community that celebrates Mass in the extraordinary form. Yet, because we have never had the opportunity to attend a parish with the Extraordinary form exclusively there are some “adjusts” and “growing pains” we are learning to deal with.

Fortunately, through our community and good networking fortune, we have tapped into a social circle fairly quickly. In doing so, we started asking some of the friends that don’t attend the extraordinary form Mass where they go. Because of the layout of the area, it makes sense that not everyone in the social circle attends the same place. Yet, one parish kept getting named as the Church that, “if I don’t go to…, we go here.” People didn’t relegate it to second place, more so it was an elevation to “I wish it were closer/had been that way when we moved/etc…” So we decided to check out what all the talk was about.

Instantly you could tell what folks were talking about. The Church itself wasn’t anything special, in fact it was… well, boring. But, what that did was lend itself to being a perfect canvass for the Sacred. What I mean is that the first thing my 3yo pointed out to me is that there were “tall candles like at Easter at the one Mass in the small church.” What she meant was that for Easter Mass in the Extraordinary Form, we had just acquired a full set of beautiful candlesticks. Six tall candles on the Altar, and who notices it? My 3yo.

From there things got better, a scola, altar boys in cassocks and surplices – nothing fancy, vestments that clearly spoke to those in attendance that the priest took his role seriously1 It was clear that there was an intentional decision on behalf of the pastor to do all of these things. There was purpose to everything.

The entire Mass things popped into my head, it drew me in to what we were all really there for.. the Holy Sacrifice.

As all of this was coming together in my mind, the homily is what really pushed me over the edge. He spoke of shepherds. He talked about how if men are never told to think about the priesthood, then few will become priests. He also said that if we knew of good men, good boys, that would make excellent husbands and excellent fathers – they then should be told to consider the priesthood. Because if they would not make good husbands or fathers – they should not then be priests. He did not say that if they are called, but that we, the people around them, see these traits in them and discern that.

While some may have arguments against this, I agree 100%. I do believe that priests and fathers/husbands are teachers, leaders and shepherds. We are working hard to shepherd our families to God, and hopefully towards heaven. In the end, I realized that he was right because of what I experienced at Mass. It was an intentional encounter, carefully prepared by a loving leader, hoping to guide and instruct us all towards Christ. It inspired me as a Catholic… but even more so as a father.

 

  1. that is not to say that they were extravagant, but simply befitting the rest of the Liturgy. []

Alaska Readers & Lovers of Catholic Education – A Family Needs Your Kindness

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I saw this on a friends Facebook page, and I hope I am not overstepping any bounds, but I figured since I can’t responsibly do much on the financial end the least I could do was spread the word.

A Catholic family in Alaska needs your help. Here is the story from the donation page set up by some friends:

Valerie Shaut and her husband Richard are beloved teachers at Holy Rosary Academy in Anchorage, Alaska. Valerie teaches kindergarten and Richard teaches fifth grade. Richard also works part time at Home Depot. They have lived this way for the past 11 years, very frugally, the two of them along with their now 18 year old son Christian in a small, 550 square foot apartment at the school. 
Over the years, they have engaged in street ministry in Anchorage, feeding and clothing the homeless. They have spent time in Nicaragua at an orphanage there, as well as helping to raise funds for that mission while in Anchorage. They are ardent fundraisers for Bean’s Cafe, a local service provider for the homeless, encouraging their students to see the needs around them and to be more caring and service-oriented. 

Recently, a sudden and unexpected illness placed Richard Shaut in the hospital for 22 days and 8 surgeries–with a total bill of $172,000 after his insurance capped out. 

The Shauts are currently in the process of adopting two children from Nicaragua (seen in picture above). Just last year, they purchased a fixer-upper in Anchorage because of this incredible opportunity. Unfortunately, the financial situation resulting from the illness has placed this adoption at risk.

Valerie has since gotten a second job and is working 7 days a week. Richard is back to teaching and doing as much as he is able, although he is still weakened from the surgeries. 

Those of us who are blessed to know this giving and selfless family hope to do what we can to alleviate these expenses. Not only will the Shauts benefit from the assistance, but the two children waiting for their beloved “forever home” with the Shauts will have a more secure chance of reaching that dream.

Please help as much as you can.

While I don’t know this family, I do know many members of Holy Rosary Academy. I can tell you that it is one of the most devout communities and schools I have ever come across. Knowing the person that posted this message, it signals that this family and this cause is worthy.

Please do what you can, and spread the word. I don’t have a donate page here for the very purpose of being able to “go to the well” when I have to. If you have ever thought of “donating” here or “tipping” instead do this. If everyone that has read this blog today donated just $5, we could double what has already been pledged.

If nothing else… please pray for them. This appears to be a family that has given so much, it is time we live up to our calling and give freely.

The Silence of Snow

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As an admittedly lapsed blogger, the hardest part to blogging again is getting back into the swing of things with regularity. Compounding that with the fact that I have changed my blog (from what it once was) into something that has yet to really carve out a niche – I find myself at a loss for the first post or two. Then, add to all this the hustle and bustle associated with Pope Benedict’s decision to abdicate the Papacy and there is a lot that I want to write about but don’t feel the slightest bit “prepared” to do so.

There was a time when I would read or skim over hundreds of Catholic blog posts a day. I was very much in the thick of the blogging world. As my life has changed quite dramatically over the last year, that has become less of a priority, and less of a possibility. Like many of us we slip in an out of patterns and habits as the ebb and flow of life changes.

Yet, I received a message the other day from a dear blogging friend that has been with me since the start, and really helped to thrust me into the role I once played in a land far away. The encouragement was enough to make me discern why it is I still bother to blog, or to struggle to possible do so. This all came on a day where we received a rather unexpected snowfall of rather significant amounts. Being a fan of winter and such weather, it put me in a rather positive and contemplative mood.

The thing about winter is the silence it brings. It muffles the world and captures within the bazillions1 of snowflakes all the noise and chaos of the world. Often the reprieve from loudness is short and sweet, but it definitely has a strong effect when it first happens.

I have always lived in the north, and yet some places embrace the cold and snow, while others do not. Michigan is famous for its complaints about the weather, which is odd for a state so culturally connected to snow. Yet entire newscasts have been produced about impending snowfall, or frigid cold snaps. To me, it is odd. Yet, I try not to let it affect me, and my affinity for the white stuff.

For me, this blog has always been about furthering my faith. Now, at a time where I am trying to rekindle my faith life, blogging once again appears to be an avenue for practice and exercise. It is an intellectual pursuit, or maybe better said – an exercise. It is a chance for me to express and think “out loud” about my faith.

My faith life isn’t struggling, that isn’t how I would explain it, but it is going through a period of change. I guess it is like the way a city is during that “silence” that comes shortly after the snowfall. Everything is still the same, but there is a quietness and a stillness that seems to be brimming with anticipation and possibility. For some this period might be the start of misery and frustration; the silence signals the onset of sloppy roads, cold, and unpleasant days to come. For me, a lover of the winter, I see it as the time to breathe deep, prepare, and go looking for adventure.

My family just moved2 to a new diocese, a new part of the state, and into the next adventure, I realize that my faith life will go through a transition. I can view it two ways – with optimism, excitement, and anticipation or I can look on it with dread, frustration, and dismay. It doesn’t make sense to do the latter, and the former is so much more fun.

So as I drove along the snow covered streets, and as I think about the rest of Lent, the coming Conclave, and the excitement of Easter – I stop a moment to enjoy the silence of the snow that has fallen on my soul. To me, it isnt a bad thing at all, but the creative mystery of God placing opportunity and adventure in our path.

 

 

  1. How many zeros is that? []
  2. which I will explain further in another post []

St. Thomas Aquinas – visually portrayed & an update

For those that don’t realize it, this blog was re-done in very minimal theme, but intentionally done in the black and white of the Dominican Order. A lot of my connection to Dominican spiritually is rooted in my appreciation for Thomistic thought and the Angelic Doctor himself.

The shield/sigil/logo I have was created by R. León over at Errantem Animum. The same is true for the Aquinas clip art down on the bottom right portion of my blog.

Recently, he created another depiction of St. Aquinas that I just love and wanted to share it with you:

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You really should go check out his blog.

Update:

Also, a little update on the blog. I was just starting to post more frequently when my life took another fork in the road. I took a new position and within a week of that decision my family and I moved to a new city and diocese. We are still in Michigan, but we are no longer in our “hometown” area or diocese.

The job itself is a great opportunity for me, and while it is a modest position for me in some aspects, in others it will be quite exciting and rewarding. I feel blessed for the opportunity and my family and I are quite excited about or new adventure. We dont know the area at all, and only know a few folks that live around here. We really want to find a parish to settle into, find a group of friends, and dive back into the Church head-first. With Lent approaching, I am praying that we can do just that. Most of all I want a support network for my wife, and a group of people like we had in Alaska that spiritually lift us up.

I don’t know how this will impact my blogging, but I hope that it energizes it in a new way and gives me material to write about that is efficacious and helpful. Hopefully I will be able to regularly update, and that blogging once again becomes an exercise that gives me spiritual vitality.

A note about Masses and parishes: There is a local parish that has a Sunday E.F. Mass. Our first weekend here we didn’t know the parishes or schedule and went to the closest Church to our vicinity. This week we had to attend the Vigil Mass because of a family event tomorrow. So hopefully in the next week or two we will be able to get to it.

There will definitely be challenges along the way, both in our spiritual journey as well as secular one. Please keep us in your prayers if you could.

Crisis Magazine: ‘Some Bishops Want Your Guns’

Nicholas Hahn had a very interesting piece in Crisis Magazine yesterday entitled: “Some CrisisBishops Want Your Guns.” The article stemmed from recent comments made by Bishops regarding the tragic events at Newton and President Obama’s recent remarks concerning “Gun Control.”

Hahn explains that while Bishops have a peacemaking role, some seem to be overstepping their roles and Catholic teaching by “signing on” to some of the recent actions being taken against gun rights in the United States.

The heart of his post though is an argument he makes about the rights of Catholics, under Church teaching, for self-defense. As he writes:

Fr. Lombardi isn’t the only one to take aim at your guns. In fact, the U.S. Bishops have been calling for handgun “elimination” as early as 1990. In 2006 the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace suggested that States ought to “impose a strict control on the sale of handguns and small arms. Limiting the purchase of such arms would certainly not infringe upon the rights of anyone.” The Council may not recognize your right to a legitimate defense, but the Catechism of the Catholic Church does. It is “legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow.” And if “he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful.”

Is a gun moderate? Ask a rape victim. Or a child.

The Catechism goes on to affirm defense as “a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm.” In the light of the Catechism, the National Rifle Association’s brave suggestion that teachers (who are “responsible for the lives of others”) be armed doesn’t seem so crazy after all.

So then, do we have a ‘right’ as much as Hahn asserts that we do, to “bear arms” and defend ourselves and our families? Does this defensive right come into play in a gun rights discussion because of proportionality or “equality”?NunsWithGuns1

For Catholics, the idea of a ‘right to bear arms’ is a very complicated set of ideas. If for no other reason than cultural, we do not carry weapons around with us publicly, the way we used to a hundred or two-hundred years ago. Yet it would seem that the philosophical reasons behind a right to defense would still exist today. How guns, gun rights, and technology come into all of that is another question.

Unfortunately, I believe we are at a point where philosophy, pragmatism, and reality are smashing headlong into one another. Depending on which ship you sail most often, you see this problem – the one of violence and tragedy, differently from others. As for me, what animates my beliefs are the sentiment that Hahn writes in his piece:

The Catechism goes on to affirm defense as “a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm.”

As a father, and as someone that views myself naturally as a ‘protector,’ this is what I struggle with everyday. How to reconcile the Catechism, my patriotic beliefs, and my Catholic virtues. That is why I believe my best weapons are the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet.

Guns and the Problem of Misinformation

121218045837-us-guns-handgun-smith-and-wesson-story-topThe “Gun Rights Issue” is once again a top-3 hot-button issue in American politics. The massacre and tragedy in Newtown placed it back into the spotlight for obvious reason, and yet the discussion that has been occurring is so blurred with emotion, misinformation, and faulty reasoning that I honestly dont know if we have moved the ball forward or backwards.1

The issue has so many facets, that when we talk about guns in general, and the laws surrounding them, it hardly even happens where everyone is on the same page. In fact, two pundits can be on the same tv or radio program, and be talking so far past one another that the average listener gets nothing out of it but for the points (regardless of their factual accuracy) they choose to listen to and remember.  Continue reading

  1. Here I only mean to say in finding a solution to preventing and limiting further tragedies. []

Lens of Faith

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The Christmas season has in recent years been a time of deep introspection. Some years, this one especially, I find myself searching internally (spiritually) for direction as I head into a new liturgical and calendar year. As we await Christmas, and then the “New Year”, I find that I have begun to take stock in where I am, and who I am as a person of faith. This has steadily increased, in terms of intensity, since my “(con)re-version” to the faith.

While I have always been a fairly “spiritual” person, and have found myself on the more conservative end of the social and political spectrum, my faith hasn’t always ranked high on the priority list. Actually, better said, my faith hasn’t always directed my priorities. What I mean is this, I haven’t always viewed life through the lens of my faith, and therefore what is important to me or the importance of my decisions have often been far removed from the virtues and values of my faith life, or spiritual belief. Continue reading