Another Season!

This Thanksgiving I will be hosting a dinner for a few friends. I always get a little weepy before I jump into the holidays. Weepy because of the memories I have of those whom I have loved and have gone home to God. But I always snap out of it and try to cheer myself by putting on the holiday music, decorating the house, make cookies and send out the Christmas cards!

This holiday I am thinking of my dad and how he will eat dinner at the nursing home instead of being with his family. It is distressing because he is somewhat difficult to manage and I cannot lift him very easily. If he was able to walk I would haul him here every weekend. This past week another one of my dad’s longtime friends passed away. The weird thing is this: just about all of my dad’s friends are gone now and my dad has been sick the longest! He has outlived just about all his friends. When I look at my dad I think he looks better than all of us. But it still saddens me when I look at this man who was my tower of strength, my protector and provider diminished to being stuck in a wheelchair. I suppose at the age of 88 years old he is doing very well. But I know this can change in a heart beat, in the smallest amount of time.

I hope I can live long enough to enjoy some retirement years and travel extensively. I would love to be the Chaplain of a Cruise ship and just sail the seas. We’ll just have to see what God has in store for me.

Let’s Cook!

You may find this odd but I really am not that great of a fan of turkey. I wonder if Lobster had ever been discovered yet when the pilgrims roamed the earth, AND, if that would have changed our Thanksgiving fare! Butter and lemon dribbling down my chin as I sumptuously gobble up that delicious “chicken” of the sea!

But alas, we dine on the flesh of the dumbest bird on the earth. Let me move on to my favorite food for T-day! Pumpkin pie! Yes! I also make an awesome stuffing and a sweet potato casserole. This year I will be joined by the Dietrichs for the second year in a row. There may be others at the table as soon as it becomes clear as to who needs a place to celebrate.

This Thanksgiving will be one of great reflection for me. There are some things I need to work out and work on. Both in the parish and on a more personal level. I will be on retreat for two weeks in January and hopefully I can relax and decompress as the stress of working a large parish can take it’s toll. I worry more about my mental health. Not that I am going crazy, it is just that I need to refocus. Because of my humanity, the perfection factor does not exist, so, with that, I need to step back and take a good look at myself and ask God to help me be a better person and a better priest.

I am thankful for so many people whose lives I connect with every day. I am even grateful to my critics because I cannot internalize it as criticism but more as acts of love.

I am constantly being formed. Nothing is the same as yesterday. Please pray for me as I pray for you!

Almost over!

It’s a grey Sunday morning but things are looking up. For one thing I will be glad that the election will be over soon. I have never felt such an ugly divide in our country because of the persons we put in office to represent us. I mean it is “hate”! And I must admit I have been caught up in it also. I had to stop posting on my Facebook account because I was trudging through all the vitriol that was not even done in jest. I have unfriended and and been unfriended. Not that I equate who my REAL friends are by the number of friends I have on Facebook but this is ridiculous.

I will have to mend a few fences here and there but that’s okay. When I’m wrong, I’ll admit. But whenever I do that it means it is time to move on and make sure the lesson is learned. I cannot hold on to such silliness. it’s sort of like a whole new ball game with social media. Just like the writing of this blog is supposed to be therapeutic for me. But every now and then I’ll get someone who blasts me. If I know the person and they know me, thats different. But when people I don’t know accuse or threaten me then it changes things. This blog is NOT me. Get to know me and find out all the things we have in common.

Anyway…..I will vote and I hope you do too!

Respect Life!

We say it but do we know what it means? Do we know how to love it? Are you confused? Good, because so am I sometimes. When it comes to pro-life issues it can become such a hot button topic. People are passionate on both sides of the issue. As a priest I have had to sit in the confessional and listen to the stories and confessions of this terrible sin of abortion. Listening to stories of pain, guilt, misery, and wonderment are terribly sad and heartbreaking. The one thing I find as the common thread is the total lack of love that the person felt when they did this. We all need to love someone or something. If we don’t love ourselves first then how can we love others?

Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right. When I say “right” I speak of how the sin of abortion does not make the problem go away. It invites other problems.

Our society may have the legal right to abort their children but our society cannot control the pain of loss that comes from it. Abortion doesn’t make anyone powerful because it gives them control over their bodies, in fact, it is the furthest thing away from liberating anyone from giving birth to a new God given life.

Falling Over You!

I love the Autumn in the Midwest. There isn’t anything like it. The cool, crisp air, windows opened at night, fresh air, leaves turning colors, the smell of leaves, the Halloween decor and wearing all my sweaters. I never used to have sweaters just sweatshirts. I was too poor to own any and sweat shirts were more durable and practical. Each year I like to add a sweater or two to build up my collection. I think I have a dozen now. Of course, each year I take a few and hand them over to Goodwill or the local resale shop.

I think the most painful thing I have to do is put away the summer patio furniture and move all my plants inside. My vegetable garden did okay this year but once again an aggressive species of weeds invaded me in a three day period. Why can’t my veggies grow that fast? I think next year I will just plant flowers!

I noticed this year that that the forest surrounding the rectory has acorns. Last year there were no acorns which I thought was kind of strange. Yesterday I was sliding on them because they are so abundant. Someone told me that was a signal that winter was going to be harsh. Maybe so but I am always looking out for the wooly caterpillar. That is always a sure fire sign of a cold winter.

The parish is really gearing up for the change of seasons and some of the new changes I hope to implement this year. Of course, they are good changes. Finally I can say I have identified my leaders in the community. This is good because I have had to really look carefully for this type of transition. A transition that I hope will lighten my load.

God has been so good to me! Although I am tired and maybe even stressed out I can honestly say that all my needs are being met and I know there are many more blessings on their way.

One Door Closes and another Door Opens….

Today I learned of the passing of a young woman aged 35 years old. She was an extraordinary young woman too. She was a OBGyn doctor and a wonderful human being.  Dr. Melissa Mahoney was so deeply loved by so many people especially the other people who worked with her. She leaves behind her mother and her sister and now joins her dad in heaven. She was dedicated to helping the life’s and lives that she worked with. She was indeed, a gem. Her love for the born and unborn was a testament to her life. Sadly, some times we cannot foresee that Our Father in heaven had other plans for her. We can be grateful that she did not suffer or linger. She was gone in the blink of an eye. We often say that the good die young but having witnessed this same scene so many times before I begin to wonder if it’s really because her life was, indeed, fulfilled. It would take courage and faith to wrap this thought around our simple human minds. But I cannot think of no other  thought than this.

I’m sure her spirit conveys gratitude for the life she did have. She now joins the illustrious heavenly hosts. Eternal rest grant upon her O Lord!

WOW!

Today my webmaster called to tell me I got a strange note. Apparently the person who wrote thinks I’m nuts! I think most of my good friends and parish family members would tell you that is what they like the best about me. I like to have fun and I love to joke around with my flock. I’m told it makes me approachable. The complaint also said that my using a beer bottle to blast on my page is sending the wrong message to our youth. I hardly doubt that any kids read my blog. And, apparently, I don’t think my complainer sees Facebook and some of the stuff that I see posted.
His recommendation to me was to recharge myself by going back to reading the Early Church fathers. Hey, I already did!
Then he interpreted my blog as being pro-choice! I have never been pro-choice. I certainly do not have to prove that to anyone but God!
I love being a priest. I love my priesthood. For some unknown person to come forward and start blasting more……well, think again sir!

The Race Begins!

I can feel the tension building as the day of election is slowly coming to the end. In all my life I have never seen such mean-spirited reporting. I feel safe in saying that it gets more vicious and somewhat out of control each day. Instead of being educated about the issues I feel that it is turning more into a political-drama-reality show. And can you blame the pundits? Political fodder is spewing everywhere and even to the point of being ridiculous. I get more information from Jon Stewart than anyone else.

People are always complaining about FOX news but MSNBC is just as bad (or good). I admit that I love Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell. I may not agree with them on everything but I find them at least interesting. Even good old Al Sharpton is entertaining. Biased? You betcha he is! But his perspective is valuble in understanding the temperature of the African-American community.

There was a time when I was a staunch Republican. It was the Reagan days. Then there was a time when I was a staunch Democrat. I thought Jimmy Carter was a decent man. He just didn’t appear to have guts! So now I am a staunch Independent voter. I pledge no fidelity to any specific party. For me I will mix my vote between Democrat and Republican. Yes, I am one of those rare individuals who actually tries to study the candidates and the issues they strive to complete. This does not make me  the perfect voter by any means. What I am striving for is to try not to let others influence me no matter how mean, vicious or humorous they are. When you’re dealing with people’s livelihoods….it is a no joking matter!

The Chicken or the Egg!

I'm too young to die!

I have been watching with great interest this whole spectacle about whether or not to eat at Chik-Fil-A or not on August 1st, 2012. Both groups have turned this into a bonanza for the restaurant. It’s a win/win situation…..for the restaurant! I’m thinking of all the free advertising they are recieving: WIN!   I’m also looking at all the Lefty’s who plan on eating at the restaurant on that day as a show of solidarity and for standing up to the liberal agenda: again…a WIN for the restaurant! I’m sure I am missing many other twists and turn to this story but I really feel the restaurant CEO is either a genius or a madman or both.

Now, I have never eaten at Chik-Fil-A nor do I ever intend to. But it’s not because I agree or disagree with their philosophies but because I have a feeling I would really like it and the last thing I need to do is to become addicted to another fast food chain. In my neck of the woods there is only one Chik-Fil-A in this area and it is about 20 minutes away.

There was a time when White Castle Hamburgers were the thing to travel out of your way for. Those tiny little biscuit shaped hamburgers that were scrumtious bites of grease and dehydrated onions. I cannot tell you how many times as a young person I would jump in the car with the boys and we would make our “mecca” trip to Hammond to eat those tasty little treats. As we got older, I noticed that White Castle expanded and the distance between them was growing shorter. It is another right of passage when you turn drinking age to head to the “Porcelain Palace” (just another nickname for White Castle) and guzzle down a few dozen burgers to rest on that belly full of beer. What great stories of puking those square little beef pies in the parking lot after a night of Olympic drinking! Ah, yes the memories!

Okay, now back to the chicken thingy. Here’s my thought: On Wednesday, August 1st 2012, i am going to my butcher and buying a huge chicken to roast on my grill. I would advise you to do the same. I’m also going to invite friends over for dinner so that we can sit around a table without the clutter of people rushing in and out of a restaurant. I will avoid eating the processed chicken that has been placed on a mass produced bun. I will eat chicken that is one of ‘dem range chicken. You know….organic…no chemicals. I’m going to peel potatoes and make real mashed potatoes instead of deep fried sticks. I am going to delight my company by doing something we all have forgotten to do and that is to cook. I will not be talking about politics and hating someone else’s religious or other beliefs.

Instead I will be creating a long lasting memory spent with good friends and good food.

 

Celebrating Our Heritage!

My father is turning 88 years old on Friday July 27th. As I reflect on his life I can only say that he has been the most resilient of all his good friends. I say that because most of his good friends have now passed on. He has also outlived all his brothers. I say this not to brag but to just state the facts. My father’s mother lived to the great age of 93! I just wonder how long God will allow us to have him around. When people ask me how he’s doing, my first reaction is, “why don’t you go see him?” I would say it with a smile but it also has a cutting seriousness. As someone who goes to nursing homes I see the loneliness of so many people who have been storehoused. Out of sight, out of mind. Even I have to remember that he is there and it’s not going to kill me to pop in for a few minutes.

It’s just like I call my mother every day. sometimes twice a day. When I have told people this they say “WHY?” and I always reply, “because I can!”  The only redeeming fact I can rely on is that my dad gets excellent care by a hard working staff. That is a difficult vocation and if you do not love the elderly then maybe you shouldn’t work there. I always teasingly say that I speak “senior citizen.”  There is an honest truth to that. Sometimes our aged loved ones don’t always grasp concepts and it requires extra time and patience to reassure our beloved’s that all is well.

On Saturday I am having a birthday party for him. Sister Sue is driving down from Minneapolis to be here. I’ve invited dad’s sisters and have tried to get the word out to the cousins. It will be a simple celebration. I made some taco meat and fried some tostada shells. We’ll probably have the staples of beans and rice; the usual! Our simple ancestral foods that never cease to delight us. We will create a memory and it will give papa a chance to bust out of the home. It will be some simple down time. Time to smile, relax and be with one another while we are still here. There will be a day when even those present will only be a memory. Happy Birthday Papa! I love you!