Catholic Community Commentary

Archive for November, 2010

Oh, Eliza, Little Liza Jane

(Written on Wednesday, Nov. 17)

Hi to all you bloggers,

     I’m all excited about tonight’s activities for our teenagers:  square dancing.  I love to square dance.  I grew up with it as part of family weddings and physical education in school.  I also square-danced when I used to have a date or two (boy, has that been a while).  I still call them for different functions, and now we have this activity as part of our religious education program.

    You may ask, “How is square dancing related to religious education?”  First of all, my cousin, Fr. Mel Lochtefeld, taught square dancing years ago.  Much of our faith comes from tradition.  I’m just continuing the tradition.

     Next, our students are studying the Theology of the Body.  So much is made of what is inappropriate.  We thought of a way to teach what is appropriate.  Just because you dance with someone of the opposite sex doesn’t mean that you are dating them. 

    My nieces and nephews have been square dancing with each other at weddings for years.  They’ve been dancing since they’ve been in grade school. To be able to hold hands with boundaries and a purpose is a good thing.  So much of what we teach in regards to the physical person is taught in response to fear or suspicion.  Dancing gives an outlet for good fun and social appropriateness.  

     The Church says, in John Paul’s writings on The Theology of the Body, that the physical aspect of man is good.  I believe that our square dancing lessons will bring out the good in our students and respect for the physical person. 

     If you’ve ever seen our students in sports, you know how physical they can be.  Tonight, they can see how they can work together to dance with the stars.  We need a name for our class.  “Dancing with the Stars” is taken.  Maybe someone can come up with a good name.    

     I’m off to practice my Li’l Liza Jane.            

     Fr. Mark

Advertisements

You’re Such a Snob!

A friendly hello, with a smile.  That’s all it takes to brighten my day.  It’s a simple gesture with a powerful effect.  How many times do we walk by others during the day and fail to say hello?  We know the person walking by us, or maybe we don’t, but we put our head down or act like we’re busy doing something else.  

We’re all guilty of it, but why? 

When someone greets me by name, it’s the best!  When I walk into church and someone holds the door and says “Good Morning,” my day just got better.  I love those little moments of genuine goodness. 

What stops us from saying hello?  Maybe we’re afraid they won’t say hello back.  Maybe we think we’re not good enough or they don’t want to be bothered. Maybe we’re just having a bad day and don’t feel like talking.  These aren’t good excuses. 

The people we encounter don’t know WHY we’re not saying hello.  We’re just coming across as snobbish.  And who likes a snob?

So, here’s the challenge…say hello to everyone you meet today.  And if someone says hello to you, don’t respond as if it pains you.  Smile and call them by name if you can.  Don’t be selective with your friendliness…share it with EVERYONE!

Spread a little love….a little hello.  It says you care.  It feels good. 

You up for it?


Embrace the Person You Could Be

     How many times have you heard someone say, “I am what I am, too bad if you don’t like it.”  Challenges come every day, be they small, large or life-changing.  We can embrace those challenges or we can run from them. 

     Everything you experience today helps you become the person you will be tomorrow and helps you grow into the person you were meant to be. Personal growth, the hard way, comes to us through those life-changing situations.  We can take life as it comes and not really spend any time thinking that we need to grow or we can embrace the change, knowing it may not be easy, but we’ll never be the same. 

     Sometimes we can see where others need to grow, but never really think we need to grow.  What is the Bible verse about getting the log out of your own eye? “Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3. 

     Everything we experience helps us minister to others.  I have come to know that all our experiences make us who we are, so we can help minister to God’s people.  Happy or sad experiences, all of them, help us grow into who we were destined to become and help us relate to others…God’s plan for us. 

     What a great gift from God that is – to have our experiences and then that, in turn, helps us to “love one another” better.  Love is what it’s all about. Love is the bottom line.  Take some time and let those you love know it.  Thank those who have mentored you and find others who need love and share it. 

     When faced with a decision, always error on the side of love. Prioritize your lives and see what you can get rid of so you can love and have the time for what is important.  Who are you called to be?

– Connie


World’s Smartest Man Addresses Praying for the Deceased

     For years I have been known by my nieces and nephews by a particular title.  It’s not Father or Padre, but the “World’s Smartest Man.”  When we used to play Trivial Pursuit I would always make up great answers which sounded logical to small children.  I told them that the answer was correct because I was the world’s smartest man.  They were just too young to Google the right answer. 

     I do get asked some interesting questions, especially from children.  The question asked this week that caught my attention was, “Why do we pray and have Masses for people who have died?”  It makes us question the feast day last week, All Souls Day.

     Why do we celebrate, as a Church, the memories and lives of those who have died?  Do such celebrations have an effect on our loved ones in the afterlife?  These kids ask tough questions.  Maybe I’m not the world’s smartest man!

     I may not know how our prayers affect those who have died, but I do know that our prayers affirm our faith, hope and love.  We place our loved ones in the loving arms of our God.  We trust in faith the promises of our Savior.  We have hope that they are in peace and that one day we will join them as they behold our Heavenly Father’s face.  In our celebrations, we remember in love and pledge our love to last to eternity.  We come to the Almighty and everlasting to give an eternal reward of peace to our loved ones.  We may not know how our prayers affect those who have died, but we do know that our trust in the Lord is strengthened and nourished.  We celebrate the Communion of Saints and, by praying, come closer to the Communion of Saints, ourselves.  These celebrations and prayers have an effect in our lives.  We are comforted and brought to peace. 

     I may not be the world’s smartest man, but I sure feel better knowing and celebrating that my parents are with God today.    Fr. Mark


God is Love? But What’s Love?

            We often hear the statement that “God is love.” It appears in Scripture and in descriptions of God, and rightly so, for God truly is love; however, that idea does very little to help us understand God. I mean, we all appreciate the concept of love; but we usually associate love with a feeling of peace and contentment, happiness and joy. In reality, those are the after effects of love. Those are the feelings we receive from love. They are not love, itself.

            So what is love? Fortunately, St. Paul spoke to the Corinthians about love. He named love’s characteristics. He helped them, and us, to recognize love as it appears in the world. He shared the truth about love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

“Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

            Now we can look at the individual characteristics of love. We can see the truth about love – patience, kindness, no jealousy, no arrogance, no exaggeration, no rudeness, no self-centeredness, slow to anger, no brooding, no happiness about wrongs, happiness in truth, tolerant, faith-filled, hopeful, enduring. Those are things we can look for and recognize. Those are traits we can emulate. Those are the things we appreciate in others.

            When we focus on the characteristics of love to understand our God, we have a clearer picture of Him:

  • He is patient. He would never force Himself into our lives, but waits for our invitation.
  • He is kind, so no mean thing comes from Him. His plan was not to have illness, disasters, pain, or death. His plan was and still is paradise for all of us.
  • He is not jealous. He wants the best for us.
  • He is not arrogant. After all He is God, He could be demanding of our choice and behavior, but He is not.
  • He is truth. Even if the information is challenging, He shares what He knows we need.
  • He is not rude. He does not want us to fail or to be hurt or to be less than all we can be.
  • He is not self-centered. His desire is for our happiness.
  • He is slow to anger. Just imagine the number of times we would have done away with humankind if we were in charge.

The litany could go on and on.

            If we understand God in this light and if we choose to be more like our Father, we have a real path to follow. In Jesus, we have a clear picture of God and how to walk that path. We can be love for one another and love our God.

God is love. There is no greater choice than to be more like our Father.

– Jan