My Thoughts Exactly


“G. K. Chesterton reminds us in Orthodoxy, God may indeed be “strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. This may be our most holy calling: to persist with our daily obligations and routines, and even to enjoy the ordinariness of life. As an Episcopal bishop, Frank Wade, has said: “I am certain that God must love the ordinary, because he made so much of it.”          -Kathleen Norris


Resurrection Life?

First things first – my tumor marker number is exactly where it was in March, which is exactly where it should be. Hallelujah!!

The feeling of relief feels like butterscotch glowing out from my heart. It feels like the first bite of a oreo mud pie. It feels better than finding true treasure at Goodwill. You get the idea.

Last night we went to RCIA (Catholic school for adults). The presenter talked about what it means to take part in the crucifixion and to “live a resurrection life”.

Lord, I really get irritated when Christians use abstract poetic language like that. Someone writes something in a popular book and then the Dearly Beloved begin endlessly repeating phrases like “living a resurrection life” and “we want to love on you.”

Love ON me? Um….enough said.

Ms. Cranky is digressing….what was I…oh, right…resurrection and love. Okay.

Anyhoo, when one is interested in learning more practical things about what it means to live life with a focus on God day-by-day and down in the trenches, it can be frustrating with all the new language. I usually just tune out or start pointing out things I think are funny to my husband to make sure he isn’t getting anything valuable out of whatever is happening either since we’re “one flesh.”

A wall chart and diagram were used last night, as well as some visualization and “laying on of hands” which wasn’t as creepy as it sounds. The diagram was an illustration of the speakers day which showed how once something negative happened in the morning, the whole darn day continued to go south. UNTIL…something good happened.

No, that’s not the epiphany moment…bear with me, please. The teacher then explained that at the low point of the day, there was a choice available to her. The same kind of choice that is available to the depressed person who is considering suicide. It’s the choice to choose life (another catch phrase, but one I like and can understand).

I think what she was getting at is that the same impetus that affirms we can check out at any moment physically/permanently is the instinct behind the smaller decision we make when we just decide an entire day is screwed and go to bed with some food. She said when we choose to keep looking upwards and forwards, that’s resurrection life.

Seems kind of an undramatic way to participate in something considered to be the greatest blessing and miracle of the holy redeemer of all people. But sometimes practical and heroic also equals undramatic. I’m considering. What do you think? I would really love to know…

She’s No Saint: Dorothy Day

“Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed so easily.”

November 8, 1897 – November 29, 1980

“The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?”

“Life itself is a haphazard, untidy, messy affair.”

“Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.”

““What we would like to do is change the world–make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended them to do. And, by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, the poor, of the destitute–the rights of the worthy and the unworthy poor, in other words–we can, to a certain extent, change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever widening circle will reach around the world. We repeat, there is nothing we can do but love, and, dear God, please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor, to love our enemy as our friend.”

Click for Dorothy Day Mini Documentary “Don’t Call Me a Saint”

Why are you Catholic, anyway?

A friend asked me this question yesterday while we were sitting in those freaky massage chairs having pedicures – not something I usually do. So perhaps I’ll be forgiven for giving her a pretty lame answer about my family history and that I love the spells and bells. Why couldn’t she have asked me right after Mass when I was really feeling the Spirit? I’ve been thinking it was a pretty disingenuous answer that deserves more attention.

Part of my lack of a good answer is really because I have a real fear of sounding like I am proselytizing. I don’t want to be that person at work that talks about her faith all the time. That’s creepy. I want to be the one that just lives it. Faith is personal and profound and for me it happens in the quiet places in our hearts and is not always connected with words. So I worry about someone being as put off by my talk about being a Catholic as I am put off by protestant evangelicals with fake smiles saying things about how God is moving in a powerful way through ‘Skate Camp for Jesus’. It may be true, but that’s not me.

Christians have given people who love Jesus such a bad reputation that it’s a cliché now – Lord, save me from your followers. Indeed.

But this was a friend who asked me as a friend and being sincere. She wasn’t asking me to “show her the way” or explain a couple thousand years of Church Doctrine and History! She was just curious about why someone would become a Catholic. So I want to try to answer that here, without going into my entire philosophy or conversion story. That’s not what she asked. Thanks be to God.

So, as far as I can put it into words, I’m a Catholic because the rich traditions make me feel a part of something bigger than myself; the Church reaches back to Christ who is the reason I’m a Christian in the first place and that makes it feel more authentic to me as a religion; I like that Catholics stay in touch with the other Saints who have gone before…not worshipping them, but seeing them as family members and friends; there are so many amazingly varied devotions and sacred rituals that anyone could spend a lifetime exploring new ways to be closer to Christ; the Eucharist is a sacrament that touches my heart in an unexplainable way every time I’m blessed to take part; I love the idea that on any day, Catholics in every country are praying the same prayers at the same time through the Mass or the Liturgy of Hours; the fact that social activism and community involvement are so important for Catholics resonates with me, and their politics (for the most part) align with my own.

I know that people have done unspeakably evil things in the name of religion and sanctioned by the Catholic church. But people have also done amazing and heroic things…the Church is made up of humans, so it seems natural that both wickedness and righteousness would come from it. It’s simply beyond both my interest and capacity to make a defense for an institution as complicated as the Church, so I won’t try. There is no perfect religion…because humans construct religion, and we are not perfect. But as for the Truth, I think the Catholics have a pretty good handle on that, for the most part – human rights, non-violence, the sanctity of life…these are all ideals that I believe in, even if the people in the Church don’t always hit the mark.

I find new things I like about being a Catholic all the time….the art, the incense, the legends and history…but the most important reason for me is that being a Catholic has made me feel like I am home.

Thanks for asking.

Blessing of the Animals

The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, The Grotto | Events | Blessing of the Animals.

I’m looking forward to next Sunday more than Mr. Chuck Norris looks forward to a workout on his Total Gym. In memory of that crazy guy, St. Francis, there will be a local blessing of the animals in Portland along with hundreds of others across the this great nation… yea, many thousands across the world, perhaps. One of the neatest things about being a member of the Catholic club is that no matter what is being prayed, sung, adored, venerated, partaken of or abstained from at any given moment, you can bet your britches that countless of your fish-eating brothers and sisters around the world are doing the exact same thing. I love that kind of solidarity! Powerful stuff.  

We Catholics love our pets. No…we ell oh vee eee LOVE our pets. We make them our friends, our comforters, children, entertainment, and in my case, food disposals as well. Kinda makes me wonder about idolatry and lost opportunities for a second as I confess this but…okay, now my friend the television is on and I feel better immediately. Anyhoo…

Yes, we’ll be there with the girls, Uno and Susie, two very well-behaved and perfectly trained Boston terriers. And I hear great things about the event. I’ve never been before, being a newly-minted Catholic and all. So many new experiences and things to learn. Like: that if you are completely nuts for our Lord, you can become canonized and inspire wonderful events like a blessing of the animals. I digress.

It’s been said that the animals at one of these blessings are all on their best behavior because that they recognize that something sacred is afoot. Parrots quiet down, cats don’t shred the faces of their owners, etc.

I guess this means the dogs won’t pee on the nice brown robes of the Franciscans. One can only hope. They are a forgiving lot either way, right?

I’ll report back on any shows of extra piety from the girls or miraculous changes in behavior after they are officially blessed by a professional represenative of our Almighty Father here on earth…not that there are behavioral changes needed, you understand. Our dogs are complete angels. Aren’t they angels!? Oh yes they are…yes they are…

Don’t even ask me about taking the cats. They don’t know how blessed they are that I even keep feeding them.

“Blessed are you, Lord God, maker of all living creatures. You called
forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired
St. Francis to call all of them his brothers and sisters. We ask you to bless
this pet. By the power of your love, enable it to live according to your plan.
May we always praise you for all your beauty in creation. Blessed are you, Lord
our God, in all your creatures! Amen.”