Blogger’s Note: This was meant as a parish bulletin column for next weekend, but it seems appropriate to post it now.
As coronavirus news reached a fever pitch this past week, a friend shared the reality of the threat for his wife, whose immune system is compromised. While he would never suggest that everyone change their behaviors to accommodate the needs of him and his wife, he urged people to understand that just because you might weather the virus with no lasting effect doesn’t mean your neighbor would.
Our world is flush with information; society is rampant with anxiety on the best of days; and we don’t like facing mortality or being blamed if we fail to act. All these things make us ripe for the Enemy’s picking. Who is the deceiver, the accuser, the divider? Who benefits from the disintegration caused by sickness and fear, quarantine and “social distancing”?
On the other hand, who inspired Cain’s infamous question (Genesis 4:9), “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Our thoughts, words and actions either contribute to the spread of this virus and the fear associated with it, or they diminish it. They either divide, or they unite. Continue reading
Not long ago, our pastor implemented the practice of having parishioners stand and greet those around them just before Mass begins. Predictably, the reaction was split: Some people like it as a small gesture of warmth, welcome and connection, while others think it’s unnecessary, corny or even disruptive to their preparations to worship God in the Divine Liturgy.
What struck me most among the reactions, however, was something I saw on social media: That standing and saying good morning to each other before Mass is fake in some sense and doesn’t make us more welcoming. This observation bothered me enough that I set out to determine why. Here’s what I discovered in my own heart.
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For several years now, Fr. Richards has challenged us to intentionally seek out and introduce ourselves to people we don’t know in the parish, especially people who appear to be new to the community or otherwise disconnected. I have never taken this challenge seriously. Instead, I have a list of rationalizations, excuses and cop-outs that will show up rather poorly when I have to explain them to Jesus. These are just a few: Continue reading
It is the first full week of Lent, and already I struggle. I must have chosen well which things to uproot from my life—my family and I are enjoying great sport pointing out my unconscious consumption and countless offhand comments, both of which I’m attempting to quit.
Additionally, each Lent we notice how little we focus specifically, consciously, on the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. During our morning prayers, Jodi and I shared today’s Gospel reading, Matthew 25:31-46, which includes these words of warning:
“‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ … ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
It’s sobering each time we hear it: another year flown by, and what did we do for the least of His brothers? Our brothers? Continue reading
Bruno at 15 weeks, with size 14 boots for scale
I took Bruno to the vet today for the last of his vaccinations. He will be 15 weeks old on Thursday, and in the past month, has gained exactly 11 pounds and (I’m guessing on this) about three or four inches in height. When he first came to us, he could scoot under the lowest cross-brace on our kitchen chairs or plunge beneath the futon almost without breaking stride. Now he belly-crawls beneath the futon and pushes between the chairs. At more than 27 wriggling pounds, he’s a lot to scoop up these days—like when he doesn’t want to get in the van or walk into the veterinary office. And he’s still got that puppy awkwardness, only magnified by his adolescent frame. He trips, stumbles, rolls, and keeps going.
The doc remembered him—she doesn’t see many Airedales—and voiced her approval of his growth. She checked him over and commented on how muscular he is for a puppy. On my way out, the lady with the mini (toy?) schnauzer said, “Look at those paws! He’s gonna be HUGE!”
I don’t know whether to be proud or scared.
Hello, hello/I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello.
— the Beatles, “Hello, Goodbye”
Yesterday Jodi spoke with our neighbors across the street, a friendly couple a bit younger than us, with two small children and a dog, and personalities that draw you in and make you want to smile and visit.
They are moving to Alexandria.
As they talked, the husband and father said something telling: “I’ve talked more to my neighbors since we sold our house than in the previous X years.”
This was not a reflection solely on the rest of us: several homes are for sale or have sold in recent years, and he admitted that he, too, spoke more to the outgoing neighbors than those who appeared to be staying. Continue reading