I haven’t blogged in awhile. Not because I’ve given it up for Lent or anything, but out of necessity. I just have had zero time during these past few weeks…and baseball season for my two boys hasn’t even begun yet! So here is my attempt to “catch up” in ten parts. True, these should have all been stand alone pieces, but as you’ll see I’m pressed for time right now. And as soon as I post this I have to catch up on my reading of some of my favorite blogs.
1 – Lenten Series
The bulk of my time for three weeks (and by “bulk” I mean 4-6 hours per NIGHT every night) has been putting together the Lenten Series program for our parish this year that starts the day after tomorrow. For five Wednesdays I’ll be helping to facilitate an introduction to Lectio Divina, or “divine reading”. The reason for my crash course in putting together the talks is that I was asked not quite a month ago by our pastor to put it together. I’ve used this prayer technique for a little over a year myself, especially since my retreat last fall, and Father J knew I wanted to present it to others. And so over the weekend I finished transferring what had become a 32 page outline packed with information into a PowerPoint/media presentation of 150 slides, including handouts, worksheets, etc. I’m pretty jazzed about it and so far it looks like we’ll have a good group in attendance. Pray that I am able to do this subject justice and help others.
2 – Crow’s ears and Karma Light nuns
I’ve resisted the urge to write about the news of Pope Benedict’s abdication because, well…see the above paragraph. Also because others have done a good job of doing so. Except the media. My God…our media. What eye-roll inducing fools these people are! Do they even teach journalism anymore or is it purely leftist activism as the core curriculum these days? It’s beyond laughable what passes for an article or story about this event, and the whole scale ignorance on display is amazing. Do these people have any idea how stupid and inane they sound while trying to fit the Church into the only frame of reference they seem to know or care about: American politics.
I guess I should expect much out of a group capable of this sort of “reporting”. Who can forget this classic from the funeral of Pope John Paul II:
The Vatican is known for its complex rituals, rich in ancient symbols and mysterious details. Take, for example, the funeral of Pope John Paul II, as described by the International Herald Tribune.
“The 84-year-old John Paul was laid out in Clementine Hall, dressed in white and red vestments, his head covered with a white bishop’s miter and propped up on three dark gold pillows,” wrote Ian Fisher of the New York Times. “Tucked under his left arm was the silver staff, called the crow’s ear, that he had carried in public.”
Get the joke?
You see, that ornate silver shepherd’s crook is actually called a crosier (or “crozier”), not a “crow’s ear.”
I also enjoyed the time a BBC producer wrote a subtitle that said “Karma Light” nuns were mourning the passing of Pope JPII. Ummm…that would be Carmelites. Google is your friend.
Journalism is dead. Ok, so that wasn’t very charitable. But c’mon…do these people even try anymore? Don’t answer that.
Bishop Fulton Sheen famously said “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”
To all of you who dislike the Church based upon what you read in the media, I would invite you to look again, but please look through a different prism.
Bonus video: How to speak Catholicese
3 – Two Reactions
In 2005 I saw this graphic (and have since forgotten the source. Sorry.). I pray for similar images next month after a successor to the Chair of Peter is announced and strongly suspect we’ll see them. Of course the media will grasp for any cracks they can find to spin it, but time will tell.
The really sad thing about the media and those they influence is this: they slandered a great man in Cardinal Ratzinger as being “God’s Rottweiler” and all that noise after he became pope. And all he did for eight years was talk about, preach about, write about and demonstrate through action the simple act of love. Love and humility. And in the end he demonstrated the greatest act of humility in a world sorely needing a lesson by giving up arguably the most powerful position in the world.
Did I mention the media is a joke? (National and international media, not local media. I’ve good friends who work in local media and to lump them in with the buffoons who work in the national press would be grossly unfair.)
4 – Bifocals and pipes and fedoras, oh my!
For the first time in four years I have new glasses and my eyes are still adjusting to the new prescription. While I didn’t need them (yet) I went ahead and purchased bifocals. Now I really want to get that fedora, bow tie and pipe. But no tweed jacket with elbow patches.
5 – Around the house
I also haven’t had time to write because of well…just being a husband and a dad. On Saturday I spent a few hours installing a long-promised shelf in our laundry room and a new light fixture on our kitchen ceiling. My daughter turned six and we had a swimming party for her and 10 of her girl classmates. I take my third grader to his indoor baseball practices on Saturday nights, and my junior’s prep baseball season will begin in just four weeks.
While I worked on my outline and presentation for the Lectio series, my daughter would hang around and write on an old whiteboard we keep around. While there are times I require silence and quiet while working, at other times I really appreciate their presence. Keeps me grounded.
6 – College Planning
Last Wednesday we met with my eldest son’s high school guidance counselor to map out the next 12-14 months in preparation for his post-high school plans. Along with a few local colleges/universities and a possibility of joining the Marine Corps, I’m encouraging him to take a good look at Wyoming Catholic College. True, it’s small, but that’s not a bad thing. True, it’s very new and they do not have a permanent campus built yet, but so what? And yeah, no intercollegiate athletics means no chance at scholarship funds for playing ball but I think he’s good with that and as long as he’s got funding coming academically I’m ok with that, although at WCC we’d have to find some alternative scholarships. But what an upside! I’ll put it this way: after looking through the curriculum and the books used I wish I was able to sign up to attend. As his counselor said, one goes there if they plan on getting a Master’s Degree elsewhere. It makes you a more complete individual, with the ability to think and adapt. In this day and age I can think of no greater skills to have.
7 – The Cantata of Love
In the midst of all this I began reading a fantastic book: The Cantata of Love: A Verse by Verse Reading of the Song of Songs, by Fr. Blaise Arminjon. Originally published in 1988 (Amazon link) Ignatius Press published a second edition of this 373 page work in 2005 (which is now on sale for $3.50 on the Ignatius website…a steal!), I couldn’t put the book down once I finally began to read it. I purchased it several months ago when I found it on sale and it has slowly worked its way up my “book waiting list”. The Song of Songs, or Song of Solomon, contains only 117 verses and (I believe) approximately 1500+ words.
In spite of only having one reference to God in it, Song of Songs has often been interpreted as a parable of the relationship of God and Israel, or for Christians, Christ and the Church or Christ and the human soul, as husband and wife.
… According to Ashkenazi Jewish tradition, it is read in its entirety on Shabbat that falls during the intermediate days of Passover, or on the seventh or eighth day if it happens to be Shabbat. In the Sephardi community these verses are recited every Friday night.
Perhaps it is due to my immersion in contemplation since my retreat and again during the creation of my series outline, but I find for the first time that I am open to really delving in to this often overlooked and misunderstood book of the Bible. Last night I read 4-5 pages of commentary on the the second line in Chapter 1 of the Song and learned more than I’d ever dreamed it could be about.
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! (Song of Songs 1:2)
Hint: if you dig deeper, it’s not what you think it’s about.
Which means of course that our modern media wouldn’t have a clue. (Sorry, I really must work on my snark during this season of Lent.)
8 – Greek or Hebrew?
One more thing on my plate for consideration this year: Greek or Hebrew? When I attended a Saturday morning course a few weeks ago at the MIQRA Institute I learned that they offer courses that begin each fall in learning Greek and Hebrew. A friend of mine and I are seriously considering this and talked again Sunday about which one we wanted to pursue. We’re leaning towards Greek first, and then Hebrew the following year or so. Watching people that morning read from books filled with pages written in Hebrew was pretty cool. The instructor explained to us that Greek was the language of the New Testament and Hebrew of the Old Testament. We’ve decided to begin with the New…at least as of Sunday.
9 – Fr. Barron’s next project
Last year during Lent I facilitated the DVD Series Catholicism at St. John’s, and this year we’re watching it each Sunday night with our 3rd grader. It looks like Fr. Barron is continuing to build upon his landmark work and if Catholicism: The New Evangelization (scheduled for release in 2013) is half as good as its predecessor it will be amazing.
“People want mystery. They want art. They want culture. They don’t just want to understand, they want to feel.”
And here’s where I think back to my experience on retreat, with contemplatio during Lectio Divina, and in the Song of Songs, and am in 100% total agreement with that statement.
“We’re not going to retreat to the mountain. … We’re in it for the long haul.”
Indeed we are. Despite the efforts of the current administration in the United States and its sycophants in the media and elsewhere, we are galvanized and will not be marginalized.
10 – Party!
The other night I received a call from my friend Jim. “Kim and I would like to invite you and your wife to a retirement party next Friday for Pope Benedict. We’ll be serving German beer and good German wine. No, Pope Benedict will not be there.”
Jim went on to say that they were thinking of doing this anyhow but as Friday is the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter it seemed especially appropriate. And since Catholics have more feasts and celebrations thrown into their calendar than almost anyone, why not celebrate? What a great idea!
This feast has been celebrated in Rome since at least the fourth century. It signifies the unity of the Church founded upon the Apostles.
And with this I’ll bring this installment of “Wow I’m busy!” to a close. I’ve got a series to launch in two days and a party to prep for on Friday.