View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Novel update

With all the turmoil of the past two months, not only were my sleep and prayer life disrupted, so was work on my novel.

Today is the first day's I've felt reasonably rested in a long time. I had a decent night's sleep. I made it to morning Mass and visited the chapel to say a rosary.

And I worked on the novel.

It's up to about 37,000 words.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Jalapenos - the hotter the better

The Good-Looking-One was watching one of those cable channels that runs all sorts of odd programs. Last night, they had one on hot peppers(!).

I like hot, spicy food. Even though I'm a vegetarian, I enjoy it when my food fights back.

So I put hot sauce, chile powder, curry, and hot peppers on everything.

The show sparked a desire for something toxic. Today after Mass I stopped at the local supermarket and bought some fresh jalapeno peppers. For lunch I had two of them, partly cooked and with some cheese melted in them.

Mmm. My lips are still tingling.

Planned Parenthood President Praises Sisters

In a column in the Huffington Post, the President of Planned Parenthood - the billion-dollar abortion business - praised some Roman Catholic Sisters for their help in getting health care reform passed, even though the Bishops and many pro-life groups pointed out that the bill as approved will help fund abortion.

Cecile Richards wrote in her 3/24 piece:

And in the final days before the bill was passed, it was the Roman Catholic nuns who most importantly broke with the bishops and the Vatican to announce their support for health care reform. This brave and important move, demonstrating that they cared as much about the health care of families in America as they did about church hierarchy, was a critical demonstration of support.

She got that right. They broke with the bishops and the Vatican. How sad.

I have consistently supported health care reform, particularly reform that would help the poor, but not the bills that found ways to sneak abortion funding in (as this one does).

And as Governor Mike Huckabee pointed out, President Obama's executive order (a former governor, he knows how they work) is meaningless as a law supersedes an order, and the Hyde Amendment keeping federal funding from paying for abortions will not apply to all the programs this health care bill will fund. We will be paying for abortions.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

March on Planned Parenthood

We held our March to Planned Parenthood on this chilly Saturday.

We processed through downtown Rochester, then said a rosary and other prayers at Planned Parenthood.

A low-key event, with numbers small (cold?). But wherever two or more are gathered in God's name, the Lord is there.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Slowly getting back to normal

I am gradually getting beyond the upheavals of the last month - including Dad's death - though there is still much to do with his estate and bills.

My prayer life is beginning to become more like it was, though I am still not there. It did seem counterproductive that when I needed prayer most, I was too tired, too distracted, too lazy, to do what I really needed to do. (Guess that shows I'm not a saint!)

I've even restarted my Secular Franciscan readings. I will make it to the meeting this week.

One tidbit in passing.

While reading a biography of Pope John XXIII, I came across a brief mention of his becoming a Secular Franciscan back on March 1, 1896. Years later in an address he said, "Allow us to add a special word from the heart about how many of those here present belong to the peace-loving army of St. Francis. `I am Joseph, your brother.' With tenderness we love to tell you so."

With the deaths of so many in my family, it's nice to have spiritual brothers like Pope John and my fellow Secular Franciscans.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Showing Reverence for the Eucharist

At Mass a couple of weeks back, Father Steve preached about reverence for the Eucharist. He suggested that everyone receiving the Body and Blood of Christ show a sign of that reverence before receiving, such as bowing one's head.

I haven't heard a priest preach about that in a long time. Amen.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Reminder: Upcoming Pro-life Marches

I've been so tied up with Dad's illness and funeral -and a few other upheavals in my life - in recent weeks that I haven't said much about the upcoming peaceful pro-life march next Saturday (other than announcing it).

I've been so distracted I didn't even remember the day, and feared that with Dad's funeral yesterday I had missed it.

If you are a reader of this blog and you are in the Rochester area consider joining us. As we near a vote on the health care bill, we need to keep up the pressure to make sure that abortion is removed or kept out (I don't know which version of it may finally get approved tonight).

If our politicians think that we don't care, they will force what we don't want on us.

And then join us on Good Friday at McQuaid Jesuit High School for a prayer service and a pro-life Stations of the Cross.

I keep praying that our bishop will join us at one of both of these events. Imagine how much attention that would help to draw to the issue.

Haiku: Dad's funeral

Bugler blows taps
at father's funeral -
squirrel stops to stare


Goodbye Dad

We buried Dad yesterday.

I think he would have appreciated the viewing on Friday, and yesterday's funeral.

For the viewing, daughters Clare and Bridget put together some wonderful collages celebrating Dad's life. They also did the readings at the funeral. My lovely wife took charge of the flowers and arranging for food of the gathering after the funeral, and did a great job. (I'm also grateful to the folks of the Stephen Ministry at at St. Columba's Church for setting up for the gathering, making coffee, and making sure the food got served.)

Some good friends of Dad came to send him off. Meanwhile, some of my friends, fellow Secular Franciscans, and my wife's coworkers came to lend their support. Uncle Jack and Linda made it in from Arizona. (Chris Brennan gets a special nod: He flew in from New Jersey to be with us.)

Deacon David delivered a heartfelt homily.

At the grave, two Navy representatives played taps - I teared up at that point - and conducted a flag ceremony for Dad, a Korean War veteran.

It was sad losing Dad. But he was not happy at the end, he was suffering, and he missed Mom terribly, so now I can take comfort that he passed away in his sleep and is now at peace. And I can remember our last moments together (just a few hours before he died) in a positive way, with him enjoying a strawberry milkshake I'd brought him, a little conversation, and even a couple of smiles from him.

Goodbye Dad. I will miss our Sunday visits and card games.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

People mentioned in passing in the Gospels

I'm currently reading a novelized account of Joseph of Arimathea's life in England. It got me to thinking: What happened to some of the people mentioned in passing in the Gospels - some with names, others anonymous? The people cured of blindness, possession, paralysis, leprosy? The little girl brought back to life? The centurion? The rich young man?

I know there are legends about some of the better known figures (Lazarus, who supposedly went to France and became the first Bishop of Marseilles, for example). But what of the others?

I wonder if there are any collections out there compiling tales of these people.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

St. Joseph of Cupertino - the flying saint

My wife and I own this fictionalized account of St. Joseph of Cupertino, a simple "slow" man who would go into ecstasies and levitate. We've enjoyed it, and Friday, when brain dead and unable to go to my Secular Franciscan meeting, we watched part of it again.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A rough month

The last month has been a tough one.

Dad went into the hospital a month ago with pneumonia, spent about a week there, was released, was out for a week or so, then had to go back. He was finally released to hospice care and died March 7.

His death has meant a lot of calling (pension people, his insurance company, Social Security, relatives and his friends), and arranging for the funeral. My wife took charge of flowers and the food, and daughters 1 and 2 are putting together the picture collages for the funeral home. Thank God for them and their help!

At work, the trustees let two teachers go - including the man who basically helped me get the school off the ground six years ago and was a friend. I had to prepare lessons for all of his classes for a week and arrange for substitutes until we finally were able to find more permanent solutions. As it is, I had to pick up one of his classes, so I'm now teaching six classes on top of being the principal.

On February 27, my car was rear ended when I was a stopped at a red light. It was my late mother's old car, which I owned free and clear and had kept in good shape; it only had 75,000 miles on it. My insurance company dithered even though I reported it immediately. The company of the woman who hit me took ten days to get someone to look at my car, then totaled it and gave me five days to get a new car. I made many calls back and forth with the repair shop and the two insurance companies to try to get this all straightened out. My company finally got around to arranging for someone to look at the car - after I'd already started buying a new car and was out of time. I now face car payments again - ones I hadn't planned on for another few years. Oh, my company did call last night to apologize. Thanks.

Back at school, the trustees decided that although I had done a good job as principal, since we are seeking accreditation, and I'm not a certified administrator, I will cease to be the principal as of next year - if they can get another one hired. A relief in some ways, but also a tweak to my pride. Let's see, I started at the school six years ago as the acting principal, they hired a principal after a few years, fired him, asked me to become the official principal, and now I'm the interim principal running things on a day-to-day basis and getting the school ready for next year (schedules, book orders, etc.) until they find someone else. When that will be, who knows? Maybe this summer? Still, I could be interim principal for another year for all I know, always with the uncertainty of knowing when it would stop. That's what I need in my life right now: More uncertainty.

Musically, all the running around has interfered with practices. On Monday, I surprised the Rock of Faith folks by showing up - but I knew there were two new songs and we're supposed to play Sunday. I've been sneaking in practicing the songs in between running around. I still don't know them well, and I haven't played them with the full group, so I feel woefully unprepared. I hate not feeling prepared - especially when it comes to something as important as Mass.

Speaking of spiritual matters, I haven't had a full-night's sleep in a month, so I'm perpetually tired. Last night, I was too tired to even go to my Secular Franciscan meeting. I have not been able to make it to morning Mass regularly, and my prayer life has gotten erratic. That's my fault: I need prayers right now, and should make time (instead of writing blog entries, eh?).

My schedule this weekend: Mass, then to the car dealership to pick up my new car, turning in the rental car, calling the lawyer because I'm the executor of Dad's estate, a couple of hours at the nursing home to begin packing up dad's stuff, then off to church to set up and rehearse with Rock of Faith. Tomorrow, Mass with Rock of Faith, back to the home to finish packing, then home to grade papers and prepare lessons for Monday.

Grumble, grouse, whine. Maybe I should plan a pity party for after the funeral! Bring your violins!!

Well, I have been praying for opportunities for spiritual growth.

God does have a sense of humor.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Everett L. Strong: 1932-2010

Now he's with Mom, where he wanted to be.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Dad: Update

The nurse called from the nursing home last night to say Dad has worsened since he returned there on Friday. She asked about sending him back to the hospital.

I reminded her that Dad returned to the home under hospice protocols.

The protocols call for giving him what he needs to make him as comfortable as possible, but no more returns to the hospital.

That's basically what we agreed to at the hospital. He made his wishes known at that time (as best he could).

Still, I hesitated. Should I say send him back to the hospital? But what good would that do? The only other option for him at this time is to put him on tube feeding, something he does not want, something that might not work anyway. It might only delay things. He made it clear he wants to keep eating and drinking normally, even though with his aspirating that likely will lead to his death sooner.

I told her no to the hospital.

She said she would call the doctor about what medication to give.

I feel so conflicted.

St. Francis - Rule of 1223: Quarreling and judging

"Indeed, I counsel, warn and exhort my friars in the Lord Jesus Christ, that when they go about through the world, they are not to quarrel nor contend in words, nor are they to judge others, but they are to be meek, peaceable and modest, meek and humble, speaking uprightly to all, as is fitting." - III

As part of my Secular Franciscan Order formation readings, I came across that passage yesterday. It jumped out at me.

I fail to follow that rule too many times. I am too ready to judge, too ready to quarrel and contend. Forgive me, Lord.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

I always sympathized with Godzilla

Peaceful pro-life march - March 27

Rochester area pro-lifers are invited to take part in a peaceful silent pro-life march to Planned Parenthood Saturday March 27.

The march will start at 1 p.m. in the parking lot of Our Lady of Victory Church, 210 Pleasant St. (Catholics can show up early and attend Mass there!)

The march will proceed through downtown Rochester to Planned Parenthood, 114 University Ave.

This march will take place a week before the annual Good Friday Stations of the Cross March from McQuaid Jesuit High School to an office where abortions are performed. More on that one later.

Why does this remind me of Congress?

Or the New York State Legislature?

Friday, March 05, 2010

Massa - pro-choice Catholic - to resign

Congressman Eric Massa - a pro-choice Catholic - has announced he will resign effective Monday.

One reason is apparently a recurrence of cancer. That is terrible. I hope he can beat it.

Initially, he said just that he would not run for reelection. But now he's suddenly announcing that he is resigning - as news of an ethics probe has emerged. He has admitted that he made mistakes and said some inappropriate things - though at this point just what he did or said is not specified (some news sources report it involves allegations of some kind of sexual harassment).

I remember interviewing him back when I was a reporter and he was making his first run for Congress. There was something about him that made me uneasy. I did not vote for him either time that he ran.

Now this.

Interestingly, another of my pro-choice Catholic public officials, New York Governor David Paterson, is also facing ethics charges and may have to resign office.

Pro-choice Catholics who have betrayed their faith - lack of ethics: A link? Hmm.

If those two go, I'll just be left with one pro-choice Catholic public official representing me - New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. She hasn't been linked to ethics charges so far (though Paterson did appoint her). We'll just have to wait until the fall election to remove her from office, and hopefully give her time to consider the state of her soul.

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Dad: Back at the home

They have moved Dad back to the nursing home rather than into the official hospice. They will be following hospice protocols at the home. The idea is that at least he would be in more familiar surroundings.

I went to see him. He did not know where he was - though he did know me. He talked about being able to walk - something he has not been able to do for a couple of years now. He wanted his television on - he does not have one of his own in his room.

He is on oxygen. He is down to 134 pounds. In the navy, he'd been the fleet heavyweight boxing champion.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Dad: Considering Hospice

The Doctor called today. Dad has been doing poorly, and they are suggesting that we consider hospice.

I visited with him for a while after school. He's in and out, and even when he does speak it's hard to understand what he wants.