Monday, February 28, 2005

My Little Trumpet Playing Angel

The Angelbaby has been taking trumpet lessons from a wonderful teacher. He is a grad student at the University and his teaching style is so great. He has moved her along quite smoothly so that now when she picks up the trumpet she actually makes notes every time she blows into it.

She just loves her teacher. She is so proud of herself when she can copy his sound. His praise is immediate, which helps her grow in confidence and strength as she tackles each new challenge he puts before her.

Watching them in her lesson today it struck me that there is something very spiritual about the care he takes in his teaching. It is easy to see that not only does he feel called to music, but he loves performing and teaching. He is passing on his love for what he does to the Angelbaby.

I asked the Angelbaby today if she still liked playing the trumpet, and practicing every day. "Duh mom." she replied "You said I had to take it for a whole year. It hasn't even been a year yet and I know I love it." She wants to take it into school so that she can show her class what she has learned already. Won't that be fun for the other second graders? Maybe I should talk to her teacher first!


Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Prodigal Older Sibling

Today's Gospel is the Prodigal Son story. This is one of those parables that has so many layers and messages and intentions that one can read it every year, and each time because of where one is at the time get a different message.

For me this year I am resonating with the Older Brother. Here my younger brother had to go practically to the gate of hell to understand what is important and I am begrudging my father's joy at his return. I have felt this in my own life. I have seen people who wasted half of their lives searching for whatever, and then seen them be transformed and blessed when they finally see the truth. Rather than rejoice, I feel almost envious, why are they farther along than I am? Why do they deserve what I have been faithful to all these years? Looking at it from the context of this story I can see that what I was doing was devaluing everything that was mine all these years.

I think the greatest help to me in learning this lesson has been my work in Christian Initiation ministry. When I help someone along in their journey to full communion with the Catholic faith I get to share with them all of the riches that have blessed my life and kept me faithful and fulfilled. I get to watch as they grow in faith, as they come to love what I love, and as they come to know the peace of being a child of the King. When I see someone to whom I have ministerd attending daily Mass, or at Eucharistic Adoration, or receiving the grace of Reconciliation it really brings tears to my eyes. How can I be selfish with the gifts God has lavished upon me?

So for today I choose to rejoice when anyone comes to know the truth of God's promise of inheritance of eternal life.


Thursday, February 24, 2005

Please Join me in Prayer

I have been listening to reports from Rome that Our Holy Father Pope John Paul II is back in the hospital. He has so courageously shown us how to live with adversity, and now he is showing us how to die with dignity.

Pray with me that the Lord will comfort him in this time of illness and distress and if it be God's will, that he be healed and remain with us here on earth because we love him and need his guidance.

Just Tuesday we celebrated the Feast of the Chair of Peter, at which we commemorate that God in His infinite wisdom gave us a human leader to be the final authority about issues of faith and morals. Our present Pope has said many things in his time that would not make the more liberal minded people of this world very happy. It isn't the Pope's job to make people happy it is his job to keep them safe from falling into sin and wrong thinking.

I read once that John Paul II spends two hours each morning in private prayer for the church and all its members, and for all people in the world. Can't we offer him some prayer in return?


Monday, February 21, 2005

A Death Sentence

The Florida Court System is poised to hand down a death sentence upon a woman whose only crime is that she is an inconvenience to her husband. You might know the story of Terry Schiavo, the woman who has been in a handicapped state and is being kept alive by feeding tubes because she can no longer swallow for herself. Her parents have pleaded with her husband to allow them to take care of her, but he refuses saying that she wants to die.

The media has depicted her as a woman who has no brain function, but I have personally seen video of her laughing and smiling at her parents when they come to visit. The media says that extraordinary means are being used to keep her alive. Since when have food and water been considered extraordinary? She doesn't need a ventilator; she doesn't need a heart/lung machine. She just needs to be fed.

This is such a horrendous crime for the Court to be even considering. Death by starvation would be considered cruel and unusual if it were tried on a death row inmate, yet it may be the fate of an innocent woman.

I think this entire ordeal has been deplorable. If she is made to die because she is an inconvenience who will be next?

Perhaps we should all go on a hunger strike if they force her to do so. How many voices will it take for her to be heard?


Sunday, February 20, 2005


Today at Mass we heard the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus. In fact each year on the second Sunday of Lent we hear this story of Peter James and John experiencing Jesus in his transcendent glory.

I remember having my own transfiguration moment in my faith life. It is so vivid to me that I can almost tell you the exact day that it happened. (Well it was the year I turned 30 I do know that).

I was in a bible study that was reading Matthew’s Gospel. I was really having a terrible time with the parables. I found them to be most of the time totally unjust in human terms, and the rest of the time just too darned confusing.

Then one day I was meditating on the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20: 1-16) I was really struggling with the injustice of the owner paying the same wage to the workers who had been in the field all day and those who had only worked an hour.

Jesus taught with parables in order to shake people up and make them see things from a new and different point of view. Somehow in my meditation I was granted the insight to let the story slip off the human axis I had seen it from and I began to see it not about how much work each person had done, but how much love the owner had to give.

This parable wasn’t about fair wages it was about eternal rewards. God offers each and every one of us the same reward. It doesn’t matter to God how long we have done His will. His love is lavishly heaped upon us; there is no human measure that can contain it.

I had struggled before because I was trying to keep God within the human boundaries that govern how humans can act. The celestial jolt of insight reminded me that God isn’t human, and can love anyone as much as anyone else because the rules about those things just don’t apply. My understanding of God took a quantum leap radically outward that day.

I began to see just how this Covenant love worked. God would always be faithful no matter how messed up we got on our journey toward heaven, and when we were ready to straighten out our lives and turn again toward what was true and right, God would be there with open arms to welcome us back and offer us the same reward offered to everyone who puts God first. For that shining moment God was revealed to me as the bright white being that Peter, James and John experienced. And, like Peter, James and John my life would never quite be the same.

Every time we hear this story in church I am reminded of my own transfiguration experience, and how humbling it was to finally realize how much love God had to offer the world, if only people were willing to reach out to him and receive it.


Saturday, February 19, 2005

Update on the Discernment

After much prayer and conversations with Mrangelmeg, I have decided what I should do about the previous situation. I am going to stay put. I got such a sense of relief when the decisions was finally made that I know for me, for right now, this is what I need to do.

Change is good, and sometimes change is necessary. Changing just because it is an option is another thing. There is something to be said for being on familiar ground. This feels familiar and right, wtih the promise of big things to come.

Thanks to everyone who helped me to decide what I should do. I know that your prayers helped me in ways you will never be able to understand.

The future lies before me, brighter than the past and beconing me into a new way of being me. I know one thing for sure, whatever happens it will be an adventure.


Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Steamy Love Notes

I don't think this essay will be about what you think it will be about. I couldn't resist the title though.

Mrangelmeg and I have been sending each other rather steamy love notes the past few months by way of the Bathroom Mirror. If you write with your finger on the glass then when you take a shower, the steam fogs up the mirror everywhere except where the oil from your finger is left behind.

Sometimes the notes are sweet or cute and very easy to read. Sometimes you really have to do some translating to try to figure out what the writer intended. If you don't clean the glass very well you can get some interesting combinations of two or three sayings overlapping. Yesterday I was sure the note read: "I loves kisses just as more today than forever." That one really made me scratch my head for a while before I realized that about every other word the handwriting changed.

It is just another of those cute sentimental tricks we use to communicate with each other when we are both so busy that we really don't have any meaningful time to spend together. It's all part of that Marriage Maintenance Agreement that we struck with each other. If we both work on the relationship it can't possibly fall apart.

Marriage is very hard work, but ultimately it is so worth the effort that we put into it. I think perhaps it is time to get out the windex and really clean the glass on the mirror though, so we can communicate more clearly.


Sunday, February 13, 2005


How do you know the difference between your will and God's? I am having a hard time with this at the moment. There is a situation in my life that has been a struggle for a few years now, and I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and things are really looking up. At the same time I am also looking at a chance to change the situation by moving in another direction. Both options, staying in the place where change is happening and moving in another direction, each have thier own appeal and plusses and minuses to consider. Realistically, I am not sure even what I want in all of this.

This is like having to choose between two awesome chocolate deserts. I really don't have a sense that one is a better choice than the other. The only thing I do know is that I can only make one choice.

How does one do that?

I suppose that I should leave it up to God. St. Ingatius taught rules for discernement, and I guess I will be working through those over the next few weeks in prayer. How do I determine which choice is God's will?

prayer and discernment, duh!

Guess I had better get back to those prayers.


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

That was Unexpected!

Today I was called upon to preside at the Communion Service for Ash Wednesday. I expected maybe 50 people would be there, so my first shock was stand by as nearly 200 people filed into church.

Then a few things went wrong with the service, beginning with horrible feedback from the sound system so no one could hear anything and we had to turn it off.

But when all was said and done, and people were filing out of church with the little ashen crosses on their foreheads it occurred to me that Liturgy is beautiful. No matter how many technical difficulties and how many mistakes are made we come together to share our common faith. We stand and pray together, we listen to the Word of God, We sing, we file up to receive ashes and Communion (at two different times) and for that short amount of time we are One. We are the body of Christ, and nothing as irrelivent as the sound system or a forgotten prayer will ever take that away from us.

All those people who were there in church tonight know what is important. Most of them came up to me after Mass to let me know that everything was fine.

I am really glad that it is over. The first time is always hardest, and now that my first time is over I am sure next time -- which will hopefully be in five or ten years -- will go much more smoothly.


What am I Giving Up This Lent?

This year I have decided to give up being in control of my life. I am going to humble myself in the sight of the Transcendent, and allow God to be in control. And I promise, no back seat driving.

This year I am going to give up trying to be perfect. I tend to feel very defensive when someone points out a mistake I made. I would bet that if you did research on the subject, some of the most useful and creative things we have in our world were invented or created by mistake. From now on I am going to admit my failure, embrace them actually and learn from them and move on. I am not perfect, and trying to be perfect is exhausting.

And lastly, this year I am going to give up excuses. I make excuses for everything. It has become laughable how easily I can explain away everything that is not right in my life. I am not in shape because of the arthritis pain, which makes it hard to exercise. I am behind in my reading for class because I am so busy at work. I am so overwhelmed at work because of the transition. No excuse is good enough. I am going to be like the NIKE ad “Just do it!” No more explaining why I can't be better, or do enough.

Whew, I am exhausted just looking at this list, but if I can make it through lent having given up these three things I think I will be that much closer to the authentic person that God intended me to be in this world.

I hope you all have a joy filled Lent.