Wednesday, October 27, 2004

My Husband, My Strength

A long time ago, when I was a very little girl I watched my mom and dad sitting together in the kitchen having a last cup of coffee before starting their busy days. They had been married for at least 20 years by this time, and they seemed so content to be together. They weren't really talking about anything of substance, it certainly couldn't have been considered exciting to be talking about storm windows and loan payments. I could tell that they really cared about being together, even in those few short minutes that they got to spend together before life would take them in different directions for the rest of the day. I remember hoping one day that I would have that kind of relationship.

It occurred to me the other day, as Mr Angelmeg and I were sitting down over the Sunday paper that I do have what my parents had. We both have busy busy lives, and we are pulled in many directions, but when we are together we really savor the time we have to spend together, even if it is just sitting together in the same room.

I have been joking with my friends that recently Mr Angelmeg and I are only in the same room together when either one or both of us is asleep. That isn't too far from the truth. We both are taking Masters Courses, and He is working overtime and I am very busy with my job. Add in taking the kids to all of their activities, and general housework and there really isn't a lot of time left.

I guess I am one of the blessed ones: not only did I have a great example of how to live in a happy, long term, committed relationship, but I also am living in one myself. I hope my children can have what I have. I guess I just needed to let someone know how much it means to me that I am in a relationship that I know will last.


Saturday, October 23, 2004

Joan Watch

I really enjoyed this week's episode. I found the idea of "my way, no matter who I have to hurt" to be such a relevent message to bring out during this election campaign where both sides are doing less substantive campaigning and more "Look how Wrong my opponent is".

It again shows just how much Joan is growing in her understanding of doing God's will and that it doesn't always mean things end up the way you want them to. This has been almost a running theme this year, the outcome of her task is negative but the ripples are positive.

I wish I could remember a good line, if anyone can think of one please post it in the comments.

I think it is awesome that Friedman is memorizing Hamlet for Judith. I have known a guy or two who would be willing to go to that length. Too Funny!!!


A House Divided

We are a very happy family this week. Mr. Angelmeg's favorite baseball team since he was a little boy; the Saint Louis Cardinals is in the World Series. If I do say so myself they have just about held a clinic all year on how to play heads-up baseball. Each win has shown how to defeat the opponent by playing to their weaknesses.

Our oldest Daughter has an affinity to the Boston Red Sox, that is part her love of Seth Myers from Saturday Night Live, and part something she brought back with her from when we stayed in Boston for a year when she was very little (I think it is in the water there).

Needless to say, we are all about the World Series this week. See you after the game.

Go Cards!!!


Thursday, October 21, 2004

A Little Perspective on an Insane Situation

Thanks to the recent death of Superman (Christopher Reeve) fetal stem cell research is back in the news in a big way. Now we have his grieving widow all over television saying it is so compassionate that we should "harvest these little proto-humans so that men like her husband might be able to walk again someday. She says they need that kind of hope.

The only hope any of us needs is a hope in the Life to come. Nothing on this world should hold us here, even the hope of a longer life. Messing around with DNA to prolong a life given by God doesn't seem to me to be any way to show our Creator that we think he knows what he is doing in the constant act of creating the world we live in.

Up until now, stem cell research has yet to cure any current disease or condition. There has been the argument that the abortion industry creates hundreds of thousands of fetuses which could be put to use in harvesting stem cells for this research. As if that will justify or give some higher purpose to the act of killing these innocent children. I have had two miscarriages, one, was eleven weeks gestational age and I actually held in my palm. This was no mass of undifferentiated tissue, this was a child; my child. To think that children of this same gestational age will become medical research material is so ghoulish to me.

What this whole debate comes down to is that people are afraid of death and will grasp at any straw they can find to hold on to this life. I think people are so afraid of death because they don't know what life is all about. They don't have the real life that only comes from loving God completely and wanting his will. Even if God's will means watching someone you love die.

I have only had one person very close to me die, my father died when I was 13. Now my mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and she is slowly dying right in front of my eyes. I really hate that this has happened to her, but I do know that I would never be able to take knowing that either of their lives were spared because thousands of tiny helpless victims were sacrificed to the God of scientific discovery.

We get so excited that we can do something that we never seem to stop and think whether we should be doing it.

Only Jesus conquered death; and to do that he had to die. Our true hope is in Him and the life after this one we are promised. Nothing on this world should hold us so tightly. My father's life was in God's hands, and so now is my mother's.

I have said my piece, and now I am going to bed.


Monday, October 18, 2004

Scripture is a Place of Windows and Mirrors and Elephants Swimming

NOTE: this is an assingment submission for my Foundational Theology course. I am not sure I will get a good grade but I must admit it is one of my favorite I have written this semester. Enjoy:

Our first entry point into scripture is the completely literal sense of the story being told. From our earliest days we wade into Scripture as we hear the stories of Adam (Gen 2) and Noah (Gen 6-9) and Miriam (Num. 12), and Esther (Es). We begin to “see” the bible come alive, as if we are looking into a window on the world “back then. We can see how these people lived, and were governed, and we can grow in our understanding of how God worked in their world.

But something else happens as we learn these stories; the messages meant for the protagonists in the stories can also be related to our own lives. From Noah we learn that doing God’s will doesn’t always make sense in the eyes of other people (Gen 6). From Esther we learn that we can control our destiny even when we have no political power (Es 5). From Joshua we learn that obedience to God can bring great triumph (Jos 6). We begin to see the scripture stories as a mirror, reflecting the light of truth on our own lives.

As we grow in faith and knowledge, we begin to realize that this window/mirror debate isn’t an either/or proposition, but a both/and banquet. Without understanding the dynamics of the jealousy among Jacob’s sons, we cannot begin to understand how they could have sold off their brother and told their father he had died (Gen 37:33). When we see how Joseph’s being steadfast in faith during great suffering brought him through to better times (Gen 41:41), we can relate that to our own lives. When we see that God can use the jealous rage of the brothers, to His purpose: sending Joseph where he could best serve, we can see how God can write straight with crooked lines in our own circumstances.

We learn that simply to read the story, without trying to understand the “window message” of what the author intended for the people of that time and place we lose meaning, because times and words change. If we only see the story as some historical record of a time gone by we lose the “mirror message” insight into our present day world that may be revealed through deeper reflection.

As our faith matures we yearn for the fuller meaning (sensus plenior) of scripture. We are no longer content with only the surface story, or the inner truth, but we want it all. We want to understand exactly why the human author chose that structure to the story. We want to understand how some parable might relate to contemporary social justice issues that hadn’t even been imagined at the time it was written. This fuels our journey into bible study and from there to hermeneutics, exegesis, theology, philosophy, semantics, and even Hebrew Latin and Greek.

All of these tools are God’s way of drawing the intrepid deeper into the revealed truth contained in the sacred scripture. As we gain insight and experience using the diverse methods of biblical exegesis in our study of scripture we begin to see that there are so many layers of meaning to the stories in scripture. And we can imagine scripture as the place where children can wade and elephants can swim. And we are glad that we have been chosen to be like the elephants, happily swimming, and learning, and growing, and falling in love with the God of truth, light and love.


Sunday, October 17, 2004

Joan Watch

My favorite line from Friday's show had to be

God: (to Joan concerning a group of wild cats) If no one adopts them they will be put to sleep.

Joan: They look like they could use the sleep.

My other favorite reference was "Cats Gone Wild" on Adam's art project.


Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Would You Believe . . .

I heard it on MTV?

Last night I couldn't sleep so I was channel surfing in the middle of the night when I came across a show in MTV about casual sexual relationships called "I am a friend with benefits". I am not sure what I expected from the show, but what I found was a total indictment of the casual sexual relationship. There were two couples on the show; in both cases one partner wanted the casual aspect while the other wanted a deeper relationship. In both cases there was pain and anguish.

When will people learn?

What finally struck me was something one of the girl's friends told her and I am going to try to put it here exactly the way she said it:

Don't settle for the one you can live with, hold out for the one you can't live without.

I have been pondering that statement all day long. This has been a lectio divina that has given me great insight into how God is working in my life.

That statement can refer to so many aspects of our life from partners to jobs to purchases.

So, I just want to thank God for dragging me out of bed, making me channel surf, and allowing me to hear that statement and contemplate its meaning. He really does work in mysterious ways


Monday, October 11, 2004

Is This My Day or God's?

I woke up this morning and didn't want to get out of bed. My arthritis has been bad lately, and I had a very late night last night trying to keep up with my reading for my classes as well as getting work done and taking care of family. I was just too tired to move this morning.

Had I considered this day to be my day, I might have just stayed in bed. A few years ago I offered my life to God. Each day I say a prayer that says:

Heavenly Father,
I offer you this day
please help me to
do what You need me to do,
Go where You need me to go,
say what You need me to say.
Please help me to see when
I am doing my will and not Your's,
for Doing Your will is my
greatest blessing.

I would love to say that I am really good at doing God's will, and not my own, but the spirit is willing, and the flesh is weak.

Today though, knowing I was going to say that prayer, and knowing that there were people who were counting on me to do what needs to be done, I was able to get up from my nice warm bed and meet the challenges of this day in service to God.

Because God only wants what we are willing to give Him freely, I will say that prayer, and have that choice again tomorrow. With His help and grace I will get up again.


Friday, October 08, 2004

Joan Watch

My absolute most favorite show in television in the past few years has to be Joan of Arcadia , the story of a high school girl who talks to God.

The writing is creative and insightful, the characters are fully developed and quirky enough to be interesting, and the show's producers haven't given in to the demand from society to be more of the world.

My absolute favorite thing about Joan is that she says to God many of the things I wish I could say. I find in nearly every episode something I wish I had thought of.

My other favorite thing about the show is that it doesn't make a mockery of the Catholic Church. Helen, Joan's mom, is a lapsed Catholic who seeks out the Church to help her deal with struggles and uncertainty in her life. Can we not all relate to that? The priest she meets is so refreshingly human, not a caricature, or holier than thou, just a man doing a job well. I am really glad that they have chosen to follow this story line out.

So I suggest that you watch an episode. It is nice to see something on television that isn't driven by sex jokes or potty humor.

Each week I will include as part of my blog my favorite line from that week's episode as a teaser.

Today’s favorite line was:

Joan (speaking to God) People pray to see you . . . if they only knew.

Writing like that deserves awards.


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

But I Just Don't Have Time!

Have you ever said I would just love to read the bible, I just don't have the time? That used to be my excuse. Until I realized that every day at Mass the Word of God is proclaimed. The Catholic Lectionary Cycle gives us the bible in short manageable pieces. So if I went to daily Mass I would get a good sampling of bible readings every day. If one were to go to daily Mass, in just two short years one would have heard most of the bible proclaimed. Even if one only attends Sunday Liturgies, it only takes three years to be exposed to almost all of the scriptures.

But what if you just don't have time to go to Mass every day? What if the closest Mass is too far from home or work? Then I would suggest that you can still read the daily Mass readings every day, in fact there are ways that you can either get them on line, or emailed directly to your inbox every day. One of these email programs is called the Daily E-pistle. If you are interested in trying this all you have to do is click the link below and send an email directly to them and you will be registered to receive the daily Mass readings.

Click Here To Subscribe!

There are other resources out there to receive the daily readings. The USCCB(United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) has them posted on their website.

Oneof my absolute favorite sites though, has to be the Daily Reflection on the Mass Readings done by the professors and administrators of Creighton University and presented by Creighton University Online Ministries .

I hope one of these links will help you to consider offering ten short minutes a day to read the Word of God.


Monday, October 04, 2004

Seeking Direction

This summer I spent five amazing days at Jesuit Retreat House in Cleveland, Ohio. It was one of the best retreats I have ever been on in my long history of retreat experiences. My time at Jrh directly led to my starting this blog.

I went on this specific retreat as an act of obedience. I am in a Graduate School Program at Saint Meinrad School of Theology . As part of our spiritual formation we are compelled to take a retreat every year. As I was discerning which retreat I should take, I got the strong sense that I should take a Jesuit retreat, and further a silent, individual directed retreat. Those of you, who know me well, know that it must have been an act of supreme obedience for me to go anywhere to be silent for more than one hour. Silence for five days took a huge leap of faith on my part.

The grounds of Jrh are just amazing. 59 acres of the most beautiful woods and meadows, complete with deer and foxes and other forms of wildlife. The grounds are set up with a series of pathways for one to explore. Some paved, others trails through the woods.

I found that when I stayed on the paved pathways, and on the trails that were clearly marked I was fine, but when I ventured onto the more obscure pathways (even the ones on the map) I found myself lost more than once. Lucky for me, the entire grounds were surrounded by chain link fence. Whenever I reached fence I knew that I had strayed from the path and began to work my way back toward the center where the retreat house was located.

The point to my explaining all of this is that I am a person who needs good directions to find my way. When I hike I need a very detailed map and a compass or confident guide in order to feel secure that I won’t get lost. This analogy is true of my spiritual life as well.

In my spiritual life I have found that I can get really lost when left to my own navigational ineptitude. I have found that even with a pretty good map I can still lose my way. That is why for the last 8 years I have been receiving Spiritual Direction.

Spiritual Direction is a process by which a person seeks the help of someone else in their spiritual life. I meet once a month with my current director. These meetings aren’t pep rally sessions, or psychoanalysis. What they are is a chance for me to have an objective viewpoint on my struggles and successes.

My Director keeps me honest about where I am in my spiritual journey, she affirms my right choices and helps me to see where I am not living up to my potential as a child of God. She also challenges me to step out of my comfort zone and take risks when it means that I will be doing God’s will.

In the last ten years I have had three wonderful guides on my spiritual life. The first was a gentleman I had the privilege of being in a small faith community with. He and I never had an official director/directed relationship, but he did so much to help me to see where I was headed and what I needed to do in my life to change direction and move toward God that I count him as my first director.

My second director was a priest in a neighboring parish. I met with him every six to eight weeks and he really helped me to begin to grow in faith. He challenged me to read books I never would have picked up, and he helped me to define my prayer life and explore forms of prayer that I never would have tried without his guidance. Unfortunately, circumstances in both our lives made it very difficult for me to continue to see him on a regular basis, so our time together ended.

My current director is a woman who is a member of the parish where I work. About six months after I had stopped going to Father for direction, I was beginning to see that I really had come to depend on the objectivity of a Spiritual director, and needed that objectivity in my struggles in my job in the parish. I told God in prayer that I really needed direction again, and he would have to lead me to the right director. Through a series of discernments on both our parts, I was led to ask, and she was called to agree, and we have been together for going on two years now.

If the Catechism is my map, then my Spiritual Director is my compass. She keeps me pointed in the desired direction, and she helps me to see the clearly marked path ahead of me. When the path isn’t so clearly marked, she helps me to carefully pick my way through the underbrush until I can get my bearings again. I still stumble, and I still get lost, but I am never alone or lost for long because she is there to help me.

I don’t even want to know what my life would be like without Spiritual Direction. I can’t imagine ever going without it again. It is a powerful tool in ones spiritual life and I highly recommend that you all go out and find a spiritual director if you don’t already have one. Unless you like being lost in the spiritual wilderness, I guess.