Book resolution

booksI made a resolution today.  Really, it was just a minute ago.  I have a huge library of books.  All kinds of topics, you’d be amazed.  My resolution is that I’m going to read a book, then give it away.  My town recently introduced the “Little Free Library” and I’m going to donate them there, so others in town can enjoy them.  I am going to do this over and over again, until my library is the right size.  How long will that take?  Hard to say.  I know one thing, when I was in Virginia, I never watched television.  Being “back home again in Indiana” has been a different story. There are different dynamics when I’m with the family than when I was away.  My “must see TV” shows now consist of Doctor Who and Fear the Living Dead.  I can make excuses to waste time watching the tiny house revolution shows, the treehouse shows, COPS, and any flavor of doing really cool off-the-grid stuff in Alaska shows, but I have to stop that.  I read more in Virginia, and I have to return to that.

That, and I’ve also become a for-the-most-part convert to eBooks, primarily read on my Kindle Paperwhite.  When I hike the Appalachian Trail or do a cross-country bike ride, I’ll take the Paperwhite.  But anyhow…

The books will be read and dispatched.  Want any of them?  Check the “what I’m reading” section of my webpage/blog and tell me you want a certain title.  I’ll send it to you, Media Mail.

Hey Fifty

flowerbugBecoming an antique causes reflection – a sort of after action review (AAR) of the first half of one’s life.  One of the big conclusions I arrived at (and this may reveal aspects of my character to you) is that I have failed to do two things.  I’ve failed to ride my bike across the U.S., and I’ve failed to hike the Appalachian Trail.

It’s okay, I have the second half of my life to do both, but I feel that my chances are slimmer now because I had fifty years in which to do those things and chose not to.  Will I also choose not to during the second fifty?  Keeping in mind, of course, that I’m not guaranteed fifty more.

What I do hope to accomplish is to become more faithful.  I also want to revel in the experience of being human, the good and the bad.  I believe that life should be lived as a good Tolkien adventure. Since we only live once, I want to live out every day of every year as we march through the seasons.  The first tender blossomings of spring, the heat of summer, the cool decay of fall, and the death of winter.  I’ll best accomplish this through each day by following the Church calendar and a modified monastic schedule.

It is going to be difficult, I know, but this is something I have to do.  What choice do I have?  I’ve already burned fifty years.

Sacre Coeur

sic-deus-dilexit-mundum1For as the heavens are high above the earth, so strong is his love for those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our sins. – Ps 103

Dietrich von Hildebrand once wrote that liturgy, properly done, clearly reveals the face of Christ.  It is one of the most important ways we know Him.  It was done extremely well in properly conducted Masses of the usus antiquior, more commonly known as the Tridentine Mass.  I know first hand because I have experienced it myself on more than one occasion.  I don’t get that from Mass in the ordinary form.  And it isn’t because they aren’t capable of achieving that.  Instead, we have priests who have been trained to say Mass a certain way.

A way that often leaves me cold instead of warm.

And that is what brought the thought to my mind on this feast of St. Eudes, that we live in a time of little consolation.  That, I’m quite sure, is because we’re all about comfort and selfishness.  “Make no mistake, it’s all about me” is the modern mantra.  That so flies in the face of the Gospel.  The thought I had was that St. Terese, the Little Flower, I believe lived out her short life with no spiritual consolations.  Mother Theresa was the same way.

And yet they loved.  It shows how different true love is compared to what we now call love.  And I would imagine, though I don’t know, that there is a void in the consolation of Christ on the cross because of our generation.  We don’t know how to love, and He suffers the more for it.

I want Him to teach me how to love.

Life in you

Bread_of_Life_SeriesIf you do not eat of the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you. –Jesus

We’re winding up five Sundays in a row focused on the Bread of Life discourse from John’s gospel.  When I returned to the Catholic Church twenty years ago after more than a dozen years away, this passage…  You’d have had to have been there.  This passage is deep beyond words, and to this day it confirms for me the singluar reason why I will never be anything besides Catholic.  Even if I’m a bad Catholic, which I am.

G. K. Chesterton once said that anything worth doing is worth doing badly.  I doubt he had me in mind, but it holds true for me.  Someone else once said that everyone was born for a reason, and some were born to serve as a warning to others.  I may well be that person, too.  But yet a third person, and I’ve quoted this person for years in my FB profile page, has said that it is never too late to start doing the right thing.

That is what keeps driving me when I have bad days.  It is really the heart and soul of the message of the Resurrection, and the hope the Church holds out for us in Baptism and Confession.  The grace bought for us on Calvary, which animates and enlivens us through the Sacraments, tells us that in simple and deeply loving words:  “My Jesus, Mercy” are the only three words spoken from the heart needed to turn the gaze of God upon us.  He will pour out mercy upon us.  He anticipated the need and made it available to us before the first of us had need to ask.  That mercy confers complete forgiveness, so much so that the man or woman retreating from the confessional bears a soul as bright and spotless as a newly baptized infant.

It is never too late to start doing the right thing.

Return yourself to the state of grace.  If you’re already there, stay there.  Eat His flesh, drink His blood, and with a loving heart, adore with me and sing “Alleluia.”

Our crying sister

No chemicals were sprayed on these berries, and yet they are still growing

No chemicals were sprayed on these berries, and yet they are still growing

Here is something that I am convinced of, and I will tell you why it is a problem.  The past four popes, at least, have been telling us something that has been dismissed out of hand by conservative pundits and turned into something akin to goddess worship by liberals.

Liberalism and conservatism, by the way, have absolutely nothing to do with being Catholic.  If your Catholicism isn’t tempering your liberalism or your conservatism and shaping those ideologies so that they fall in line with what the Church teaches, something is off kilter.

At the end of the day, it shouldn’t matter much if you are liberal or conservative, because if you’re a faithful Catholic and a liberal, or a faithful Catholic and a conservative, you’re going to reject whatever exists in either of those camps that contradicts your faith.

Liberals who call themselves Catholic and yet also think aborting babies at any point after conception is a good idea are having a rough time in the press right now.  Good, they should be having a rough time.  They should be going to confession, amending their lives, and doing penance.

Conservatives who call themselves Catholic and yet also think that raping the planet for corporate profit and “progress” is a good thing, and have been throwing mud at Pope Francis since the publication of his encyclical Laudato Si’.  Whenever economics and the environment are discussed by the popes, or any other stripe of our clergy for that matter, the conservatively entrenched Catholics begin rending their garments and screaming “Marxism! Marxism!”  If G. K. Chesterton were alive today, he would be having a ball with them, but I’m no Gilbert.  I only have one thing to say. They should be going to confession, amending their lives, and doing penance.

And this has been stated clearly by the last three popes, at one or more times during their pontificates:  Rampant consumerism is a serious sin.  Let me ask you this.  If all of the babies saved from abortion, were Roe v. Wade overturned, were born on a planet many of whose ecosystems were on the verge of collapse because of the human activities required to support rampant consumerism, and died horrible deaths from chemical poisoning, flash floods, droughts, from being chained to the factory machinery of production in developing countries and third world countries alike, would their deaths be less atrocious?

We are never going to live in a world where prosperity saves the soul.

In the opening paragraphs of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis says that our Sister, the earth, is crying out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.

Irresponsible use, he says, because maybe we simply didn’t know or suspect we were inflicting damage.

Abuse, he says, because those who do know, don’t care.

I find it interesting that Francis couched the argument in the theological language of soteriology.  The act itself is evil, and culpability is only lessened by ignorance.  The act itself remains evil, even if I don’t know I’m doing evil.

It is evil.

Back home again in Indiana


Downtown Shelbyville

The past couple of days have been jarring.  I spent Saturday at my last of five 12 hour shift with Homeland Security, and jumped into the already loaded van to head back to Indiana.  It was a nine hour drive, at the end of which I fell into my own bed with my head on my own pillow and sank into blissful sleep for six hours.  Woke up and went to Mass at St. Joe’s across the street from my house in Shelbyville.  I’m home, I’m home, I’m home.

The sermon  at Mass was by the St. Meinrad’s seminarian, a transitional deacon on his way to ordination as a priest, and he focused on the Eucharistic message of the gospel reading.  It was a great sermon.  Afterward, we spend the day relaxing.  I mowed the yard.  I has a smoothie for lunch and we ate dinner at Fazoli’s.  Tawnya got back on a bicycle again for the first time since her knee surgery almost eleven weeks ago, and we rode for a couple of miles.

I start orientation for my new job on Wednesday in Indianapolis.

The view, again, will be different than it was in D.C. just like when we came back from there in 2010.  I’m trading monuments, population density and awesome bike infrastructure for corn, tractors, and wide open spaces.

I am happy to be back.