Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mountaintop Experiences

"it is good that we are here"
There are so many times in our lives when we are somewhere or encounter someone and we say to ourselves at that time or maybe ever later, "Man! I'm glad I was there!" Today we experience Peter in the Gospel having just that experience, that mountaintop experience.
I've been blessed with many such experiences in my life. The literal ones that come to mind are standing at the cross on top of the mountain in Medjugorje, standing on top of the Basilica in Lourdes in the Pyranees and climbing the hill to walk the Stations there. But, excluding the literal peaks, there are the births of each of my children, my wedding day, Baptisms, First Communions and Confirmations, shaking hands with Pope John Paul II, my encounter at Santarem, Portugal with the Eucharistic Miracle, etc. etc. etc. So, I was thinking that I would love to hear the Mountaintop experiences of others. Is there a time when you encountered someone, or something or were somewhere and you simply said, "It is good I was here"? Some days for me, it's a simple encounter at the bookstore and some years, it's a visit to the outdoor Chapel in Fatima.
For example, one night after the Ordination of one of our priests, I was strolling through the Cathedral late and the priest was walking toward the back with a recent convert. I stopped and spoke to both and the priest started to introduce us. The convert interrupted and told the priest that he knew me and spent many hours in our bookstore and that the store had played a large role in his conversion. Not me, I know. But, mountaintop. I teared up. Confirmation of that place, that space, that store my mother worked so hard to build up. It was good that I was there.
Someday I'll learn how to make another section to my blog and I'll share stories. Some from the bookstore are very entertaining, but for now, I'll just post bit by bit. Please share with us any mountaintop experiences.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

One Big Surprise Party

"For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?"
Now I realize that today's reading is about loving our enemies and doing good to those who hate us but I have to say, it is so much easier just to hang around those who love us. I don't like confrontation. Don't like to deal with those who do not care for me or my beliefs. Although, I know I would gain far more graces by embracing those who cannot stand to be around me, I'd rather just avoid the situation.
Last night I went to a surprise 50th birthday party for a friend. I have known her since I was five or six and our families matched up almost perfectly kid for kid. It was a wonderful reunion and we talked and laughed and enjoyed each other; every single person in the room. It was my kind of night. I didn't want to leave. Now I know there were no points made toward Heaven last night but I'd like to admit that I would prefer every day to be just like last night. A group of friends, old and new, celebrating and enjoying their children and their lives. Why can't the world be one big old neighborhood? Remembering, loving, sharing and happy. No confrontations. Sounds like Heaven to me.
The world does get in our way and I know there's much work for us to do but dang I'd still prefer just to have one big surprise party every day.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Reconcile

I have lost my grandparents, my mother-in-law, my uncle and my aunt, my brother, my brother-in-law, my nephew, a good friend and two best friends to death. Whether surprised by death or given time, each have taught me something about the importance of "leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother". Life is truly short. Time is truly precious. Jesus Christ wants us just to get along. He wants us to stop all the pettiness and the jealousy and the anger and He wants us to love one another. Truth be told, my biggest sin is that I talk about others and the root to my gossip is usually either something really petty or I'm jealous or I'm angry. Jesus tells us today, "Grow up", "Get over it", "Life is too short", "Be the bigger person before the chance is gone". He knows because He hung around these twelve guys who argued about who He liked more and who was better and He had to tell them more than once to get over themselves. Relationships are tough. No doubt. But today, Jesus tells us that they are important. Learn from those who have gone before us and leave it all at the altar. Reconcile.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

ASK

Well, I'm a little slow obviously. I attended a mini retreat on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and amidst all the other clever little info, the leader informed us that this passage today where Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" is the ASK passage. Clearly the first three letters of Ask, Seek, Knock are ASK. Now, isn't our God clever? Who knew? Probably everyone except me until this retreat. But, that's why we attend, that's why we read, that's why we want to know more because our God is clever and within His words, His teachings there is soooo much more. Today, I remember that I can never stop reading, stop learning. Ask, seek, knock. All the answers are in there, in His words, in His message, in His messengers. ASK

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

No Further Sign

Can't you just hear the conversations from above, "I told them no further sign will be given so I can't go back down yet. You go down." "I'll go as often as it takes." Just like in our own homes. "You go up and tell the kids to calm down 'cause if I go, I've already threatened to spank them."
Today, Jesus tells us that we've been given all the signs and it's time to straighten up and live according to His laws. He's sent Jonah and He came Himself and there's nothing else He can do to convince us. Well, He has sent signs in other ways and He has sent His Mother several times since then because He really does not want us to suffer. He's way all for us. How many times does He have to send the same message. Pray, fast, repent.
I heard my 8 year old say over the phone yesterday, "My teacher said that if you've already slipped with your Lenten promises, you can just start over tomorrow."
Jesus sends the word that there will be no more signs. If we've slipped, start over today. Pray, fast, repent.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Our Father

“He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins for we too forgive all who do us wrong; and subject us not to the trial.” Luke 11:2-4

John asked Jesus to teach them to pray and He started immediately with Father. What Father wouldn’t give us what we need as long as it is right for us? The Father is there for us not just for daily nourishment but to provide and to forgive and to protect and to open himself to accept us as we are. All we have to do is call upon the Father and He is here.
My first day of grade school found me in the middle of a class filled with children, most of whom knew each other from attending a different school’s kindergarten the previous year. Although I didn’t go to kindergarten, I was excited about going to the same school as my five siblings and wearing my sister’s uniform but nervous to find my best friend Maureen in the class across the hall with a different teacher. She had Ms. Elsie, one of the favorite teachers in the school while I encountered my first Dominican Sister, Sister Christine. I guessed I would get a sister because my mom was tight with the principal, Sr. Jane Dominic. I could picture them discussing the importance of me being around the good sisters as often as possible. My mom hoping that some of that pure white would rub off on me and somehow save me.
As the very first bell rang and announcements were made and prayers said over the intercom, we were asked to take our seats. We then went from row to row saying our names out loud. The first order of business from there was to learn to pray as Jesus had taught us to pray. As Sr. Christine began the Our Father, she no sooner got the word Father out of her mouth then I burst into tears. Very simply, I missed my dad and wanted to go home. Instead, Sister sent one of the other students to the second grade classroom for my sister Donna who was able to calm me down enough to get me up to the office. Inside Sr. Jane Dominic’s office, we ate ice cream and she talked about my mom and grandmother. She made me feel comfortable enough to go back to class but Sr. Christine passing on the Our Father would have to wait a few months.

Lord, teach me to pray. Teach me to call upon You for my daily bread; that which nourishes the body and that which nourishes the soul, just as the rains nourish the earth. Help me to trust in You in all my uncertainties. Forgive me of my doubts and my selfishness and teach me to forgive and to let go of the pettiness I hold against others. Open my heart that I may love others and come to You with all my needs.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day of Rest

Yesterday was project day for me. I worked on my tax return then worked with my children on school projects. My daughter had to write a song, a speech and an autobiography. My son had to make a poster and write a chapter summary. By the time
9 o'clock rolled around, I was exhausted. Besides the fact that when I'm sitting around the house I eat too much so I was miserable. And, this morning I am tired. What a way to start my week! This is why God specifically gave me Sunday. Oh I spent it with my family but it was no day of rest. I will have to choose another day this week to rest so as not to blow the entire 7 days. God has written in stone the importance of resting for one day out of seven and following that stone is all He asks of me for my own good. He knows how exhausting six days are in this world. He teaches from experience. Follow the list. Stay on task. Make the seventh day a day of rest. God knows we need it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Healing

Today in the Gospel of Luke Jesus refers to himself as a physician. In Isaiah we see that if we are faithful to the Lord "He will renew our strength, and we shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails." And, there's more with the Feast Day of Blessed Jacinta and Francisco Marto, two young shepherds at Fatima who followed the requests of Our Lady and as pilgrims flock to the site year after year, we hear their healing stories. Jesus heals. People line up at Fatima to touch the holy places, to pray the rosary. Just like at Lourdes, where they bathe in the springs that never fail and drink the water. It's all about believing in the physician; the one who can heal us.
I have to share at this point that yesterday I received a call from my father's first cousin, Agnes, who was looking for my parents to see if they happen to know what happened to Grandma Dalton's "Book of Recipes". She was well known for making sauve that could heal "most anything". Neighbors would line up outside her house with their empty Ponds jars and get refills of Grandma's sauve, for free of course. People believed in that pungent smelling, resin filled ointment and consequently, it healed their ailments. How connected that story is for me today!
Today, Jesus calls us to follow Him because He is the one who can heal us. Today we are reminded of healing stories. And as we are healed, as we line up with our empty jars each day for a free refill, as we venture to the most remote places, He will renew our strength and we shall become like that spring whose water never fails. Today, Jesus, the physician, heals.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Works of Mercy

Today we see in the reading from Isaiah that God would rather see us perform works of mercy as a form of fasting instead of denying ourselves food and rest and wind up being cranky with our neighbor because we are tired and hungry. These Forty Days are more acceptable to Him as days of doing than as days of denying. Those of us who are action sort of people should love this challenge from God. We do not have to go far. We can find works of mercy right in our own family and in our own community. We can help serve at coffee and donuts at Church, be a Eucharistic Minister, make your children a snack without acting like they've asked for a miracle, visit a friend and take time to talk, shovel snow from someone's walk, or serve in a soup kitchen, go get breakfast for the "will work for food" guy, take clothes to a shelter, visit a nursing home etc. etc. etc. We can do something right in our own surroundings or we can go out but the request is to do. There is no ranking of quantity or quality. There is, however, mention of attitude, so with a grateful and sincere heart, I ask God to help me make this day acceptable to Him and in my actions help others to know Him.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Crosses

"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."
I have one cross right this minute that's just weighing me down. Has been for months. Actually, I can feel the splinters from the wood so to speak. I'm losing sleep over it and sitting here this morning in this very spot I understand that it weighs heavy on me because I think that I can handle it. Today for the first time I read each of Jesus' desires for me. Not just to take up my cross daily and not just to follow Him but to deny myself. These crosses that we have in our lives are not about how much we can handle. These crosses often come to see how much we trust. Jesus tells me today that I have to deny the fact that I can bear the weight alone. I am not Him and I am not expected to work miracles. Today I deny myself. I cannot do this alone. Now if I can just really let go and believe, I could sleep and I could again enjoy the spaces this cross encompasses. Jesus I trust in You.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

"As you listen to the passage at Mass today (from the Sermon on the Mount), or if you find time to read the whole sermon, imagine being a part of the crowd, eagerly waiting for a message that will change you, help you to be a better parent and spouse, a more faith-filled person. Imagine sitting there with those you love, holding your children close, hoping for a word from Jesus that will make a difference in their lives and keep them safe and on the right path. Jesus speaks so tenderly to his disciples...to you and those you love. Feel the love. It's from this sermon that we are given the three elements of a good Lenten practice: giving to the poor, fasting and prayer."
Paige Byrne Shortal, God Loves Us no matter what
Today as I reflect on this first day, I pray for my family to persevere for these Forty Days. I pray for kindness and for mercy. I pray for love.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mardi Gras

My three grade school children left the house this morning sporting their Mardi Gras beads brought to them from my daughter who attends Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL. She went to a parade last weekend and collected the beads for her siblings because she knows that every year we scurry around on Fat Tuesday morning looking for beads from past years. I left them with the idea of thinking about what they were going to do for the next Forty Days which made me think about the tune "These Forty Days" which brought to mind this meditation I wrote about fish.

“Jesus said to them, ‘Come after me; I will make you fishers of me.” Mark 1:17

Faith begins in our families. As a family of faith, we are invited by Jesus to follow Him and to be examples to those we meet along our way. We pass along the faith and bring others to Christ by our prayer and our example and our support. He asks us to come after Him so He can use our physical selves to teach His truth.
My earliest memory of fish as a Catholic was the fish on Friday ritual during these forty days of Lent oh Lord with Thee we fast and pray. As time passed, memory of fish became three chances at the state fair to throw ping pong balls into tiny bowls filled with colored water and goldfish. If a ball dropped in a bowl, we won a gold fish in a plastic bag. We learned early in our state fair years not to play the game until it was almost time to leave so we wouldn’t have to carry the bagged fish on all the rides. My uncles Joe and Billy were big fishermen, having fish fries once a year for all our families and entertaining us kids with wild tales of hunting and fishing. Seemed it was never as much about the big catch as it was about the time spent with one another and their children.
Fish for my parents was strictly about being fishers of men. They were and are truly into the whole discipleship thing and bringing others, especially their own family, to Christ. By no means were they blatant or obnoxious about their fishing, as some fishermen can be, but they were persistent and they whole-heartedly believed that it all began at home. They knew that if they could get through to us at young ages then we could go out and do the same. Heck, all I wanted was to win a gold fish at the fair but they wanted me to constantly focus on bigger goals. Together, we fished.
As we begin this Lenten Season, may we all cast our nets into the deep and do a little fishing, focusing on something bigger. Happy Mardis Gras!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Perseverance

"Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." James 1:2,3
My favorite example of perseverance is Juan Diego. In my little prayer book, Bless My Child, I pray for our children to be obedient and persistent and to persevere.

"Dear Lady of Guadalupe,
as Juan Diego was so obedient and persistent in Your name,
Make our children persistent and obedient in the Lord.
Mother of the Americas, help our children to
build a shrine in their hearts in Your honor so that you will give them Your love,
compassion, help and protection as You gave Juan Diego.
Merciful Mother, help our children to seek you and to have confidence in you.
You chose Juan Diego, one of the least, to carry your message to the world.
Help our children to carry and to live your message.
Give them perseverance in their faith and help them to obey your requests. Amen"
(Bless My Child, Ave Maria Press)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Small Community, Large World

Saturday at the bookstore reminded me how fortunate I am to work in this community in a small family Christian business near downtown Nashville. The State Swimming Tournament was here this weekend and with hotels on both sides of us, we were fortunate to have quite a flow of traffic. People from all over the state who do not regularly have access to four floors of Christian/Catholic merchandise. We see it in their faces and hear it in their voices. Appreciation for each and every floor. They breathe in the book sections and linger through the gifts. Spending time. Browsing. Enjoying. Talking and most of all, sharing a part of their beliefs and their needs and in some cases, their families. We are so fortunate to have this small community in this large world where all are welcome and most feel comfortable. Not every day is busy and not every day is perfect but when we are and when it is, my day is made. Like the girls who worked with me yesterday said, "My you're in a good mood", I had to say, "Of course I am." I was not just happy about the business, but about the sharing in the love of the work we all do in the name of Jesus. Of course it makes us happy. Open to all, appreciated, loved in a small community, in a large world.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Multiplication of the Loaves

In todays reading from Mark, we see Jesus feed a group of about four thousand with seven loaves of bread and two fish. He blessed and He broke and He gave thanks. This reminds me of my father and my mother and many like them who attend daily Mass, who give thanks for all they have and in turn give it to those in need. And, the more they give away, the more they seem to have. Not necessarily only in the physical sense of have but also in the spiritual sense. When we use what we have to feed the multitudes, God seems to provide not just what we need but enough for leftover. We've all seen people in this world who seem to be blessed with more than they need and in the case of my parents, after all these years, I realize that it's because God knows that they will give the proper portions to those in need. It's amazing to witness today and looking back it's worth remembering. People coming to the house, coming to the table, whether just to talk and have them listen or to receive monetarily. God multipies and they distribute and there is more than enough left over.

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Mouth

Todays New Testament reading about Jesus curing the deaf man with the speech impediment and the Saint for the day, Apollonia, patron of toothaches, both lead me to think about my big mouth. Wow can that instrument which can be used to bring about peace and good will get me in tons of trouble. My mouth can in the very same day teach a child more about God's Commandments, help a customer find just the right book to help their spiritual growth, pray the rosary, receive Jesus in Holy Communion and damage another's reputation. How can this be? At work, we all know and discuss this problem of my mouth. We all know that if I ever talk about another I have to think of something nice to say in return. And, we all know that my mouth speaks before I think. It's a good thing that Lent's coming and for 40 days I can work diligently on my mouth and pick up a few more good habits that hopefully remain after Easter. I hope Jesus doesn't have to actually spit on my tongue to cure this impediment, this problem that keeps me from loving Him and others more. I also hope I don't have to jump into the fire to prove my dying love for Jesus. Lord, help me to obey the constant words of my mother, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all!"

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Our Lady of Lourdes

On February 11, 1858, the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, Mary the Mother of God appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in a remote grotto at the French foothills of the Pyranees. On June 25, 1984, on my first trip to Lourdes, I stood on top of the Basilica as thousands of people prayed and sang together, each in their own language. The rosary was prayed in about six different languages. Everyone raised their torches up during certain parts. Small children went by in wheelchairs and strollers, as well as the young and the old. The number of volunteers was unreal, especially girls no older than me. Somehow, standing on top of the Basilica, watching the amazing faith of all those thousands of people, changed me. I could never explain how or why, but I was "one of those present when the power of God shines forth where His Mother is honored and venerated." Catholic Weekly 1958
We are challenged today to go to the most remote places in our own hearts and in the hearts of others and to spread the love of Christ, to show compassion, to show kindness, to show forgiveness, to show acceptance, to show hospitality. John Paul II said, "It is through women that this world will find true peace - it is our duty to continue Mary's messages." Mary comes to the most remote places - a simple stable, a small village, a tiny convent chapel, a kitchen table. She comes on our behalf to teach us unconditional love and we are in turn challenged to pass on those teachings, to lead others back to Jesus, to pray, to sacrifice, to repent and to simply love.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sign Language

This morning at the all school Mass where my grade school children attend I looked down the pew and there sat a friend of mine with whom I went to grade school (this same grade school as a matter of fact). It was the anniversary of her mother's death and the Mass was being said for her. I was even more happy to attend. I loved her mother. Never just called me Julie, always Julie Dortch and now her daughters do the same. Still with my maiden name.
Before Mass started I walked over to her and said, "For some reason, I feel the urge to speak to you through sign language." It was the way in grade school to talk during Mass and not get in trouble. This got me thinking about how God would go to any length to get His message through to us. Today Parables, some days a visit from His Mother, other days a priest with the stigmata, a wall coming down, a church being built, a conversion story, etc. etc. etc. All sign language. Isn't it awesome when we can read the signs? When we pay close attention? When we recognize the message? I lucked into a moment with an old friend and realized that God sometimes just wants me to remember to pay attention. Listen not only to what is said, but also to the unspoken sign.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lip Service

"This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me"
Wow do I know this feeling. I have one young person who works with us and no matter how many times I ask him not to get on the internet at the cash register, he responds, "Ok. I'll never do it again" and the next day he works he's right back on. We've had two virus problems since he's been there but all I really get are empty promises known to us today as lip service. I know what this is because my children are well versed in the art. "Yes ma'am" "Never again" "Right on it" All this makes me feel like I'm going to get some action but it's really just a feeling. Their hearts are not into the response or the request and I know it.
Today we are reminded that if we really love God, our hearts would be in His work. We would honor Him by following Him with all that we have and not just our words. Do we really love our neighbor? Do we really honor our parents or those we should? Or, do we provide lip service? Do we give all the right answers to quiet the crowd? Do we just talk the talk and not walk the walk? Today God wants more. He wants our hearts.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Hem of His Cloak

"and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed"
So many times my children can leave me amazed and speechless. Last week was Catholic Schools week in Nashville and on Friday my children's school had a Faith Rally with Benediction at the end of the day. During this time the gym has in its center a burning bush with the Monstrance at the top and hundred of candles tiered down around Him. Children kneel on small pads on the gym floor as Fr. Mike processes around with the Monstrance and the children touch and kiss the cloak that is wrapped around Jesus.
Last week was also the week my father sat in a hospital in Naples FL with a team of specialists trying to understand why he had an infection in his foot that returned every 3 to 4 weeks for 3 months despite large doses of antibiotics. They did find the problem in his gall bladder and although it was enlarged and extremely infected, they were able to surgically remove it and find the strand of virus that was causing the infection. He is finally on the mend although he has to stay in the hospital to treat the infection in the blood stream. Not the typical easy gall bladder removal. By Friday I could honestly tell my children that their grandfather was on his way to being healed. My 4th grade son said, "I knew it." "What?" "When I touched the cloak that passed by me during Benediction and kissed it, I prayed for my grandfathers. I knew it would work." "Yes, son. It worked." From our young people comes great wisdom and faith. "only the tassel of His cloak."

Sunday, February 7, 2010

V8

“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”
Driving to work yesterday I had a V8 moment. Ever get those? Where you've been doing something for years or searching for something and all the sudden the Holy Spirit hits you right between the eyes and you pop yourself on the forehead.
I've been feeling lax in my "close personal relationship with God." Wanting something more for years. Waking earlier, making visits, attending retreats, daily Mass, reading, writing, praying, etc. etc. etc. AND, yesterday as I was driving to work I had a flash of all the attempts in my life to do something more and all the regrets I've had that I didn't. The easiest example is my regret over not playing college basketball. I was asked to play at a small local college and I actually showed up at a couple of practices at another university after a full Freshman year of too much drinking and too much eating. I used to joke that if they could just wagon me down the court, I could sink a shot from anywhere they needed. I had all the right desires and all the right dreams but none of the complete work ethic. Everyone has something they really want in life but how many of us truly and honestly go out to the deep and cast our nets where Jesus tells us. To the deep. He doesn't just ask us to want something more, but He does ask us to work for something more. I give up too quickly because I get no instant gratification. Pop me in the head. It's been like this with my entire life. My high school performances, my college choices, my marriage, my kids and my spiritual life. I want and I dream and I see others I wish I were like but my efforts fall short. Today I begin again and each day I will begin again to go to the deep. God does not want part of what I have to give and if I want a close personal relationship, I'll have to give Him my all every day and in all I do. I shoulda had a V8 years ago, but today I begin again.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Goliaths

More reminders today of David's defeat of Goliath reminds me of all the larger than life enemies that people have to face each day. Yesterday I spoke to a friend I grew up with and found out that her father has cancer and they have found that it is already in the bone. His first treatment to relieve some of the pain knocked him flat. A huge opponent, I know he will have to allow others to help him in this battle. When we were young, my friend Maureen and I were somewhat afraid to go to our friend's house. Her father could not understand why we never wore socks and shoes and we could never understand why his daughter always had to have on white socks and tennis shoes. Just one more thing to take off to get in the creek! He was from the north and coming to Nashville had to be a feat in itself. Things are done a little different down here. But they made this their home and he still lives in our hood and now faces a huge challenge. I agreed to bring him Communion and help with the grandkids at St. Henry whenever needed. As much as I hate to watch this guy suffer, I'm honored to be a part of the fight. Today and everyday, we pray for the cure.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Happy Anniversary

On my parent's 50th anniversary we put together a video of the past and my two brothers put to music and sang a song I wrote. In celebration of their day today, I'd like to share some of the words from that tune.

In '53 they were joined as one
Made a promise of love and a vow of fun
A dozen kids and a Cadillac
Was all he wanted, no turning back

They promised love of God and neighbor and family

Visitors always at the kitchen table
Mom buying Avon and Swipe when she's able
Example shown of giving to the church
Or friends in need of money or work

Damned ol' chickens and BB guns
The yellow chair and turtles on the run
A basement to clean and plays to act
A boy on his bed paints the zodiac

Coaching the team or watching us play
They're always there if there is a way
Sewing clothes, mending hand-me-downs
Leaving books, driving kids all over town

Well done biscuits and Brussel sprouts
West End Krystal for eating out
Drive-in movies, card houses and games
The O'Rourkes, friendships that still remain

They taught us love of God and neighbor and family

It is plain to see they have worked as three
Built two businesses, a life and a family
Fifty years have passed, few regrets looking back
They have more than a dozen and a Cadillac

They taught us love of God and neighbor and family
And they live love of God and neighbor and family

Happy 57th Anniversary Mom and Dad! We love you.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Catholic Schools Week

As part of Catholic Schools week, many of the schools celebrate by having speakers come in, allowing students to come out of uniform, inviting grandparents to visit, playing faculty vs students sports and enjoying faith rallies. Each day usually brings a different specialty event to the schools. I was fortunate to be invited to Pope John Paul II High School yesterday to set up a couple of tables of Catholic product for sale. This was mainly to make the students and faculty aware of the availability of books and other items that may enhance their faith. I watched the typical High School reactions to the presence of religious "stuff" around teenagers. Most of them wanted to check out what was on the tables. I heard comments like "I want to look at the t-shirts" and "I want to see those saint bracelets." However, not many of the students even approached. They stood back and strained their necks worried that some of their peers may think it uncool to shop at the holy store. We have a retreat here in Nashville called "Search" and kids who have attended can be identified by the cross they wear. Almost every one of the teens who did approach were wearing that cross or coming to buy a new one. Secure in their faith, they approached not worried of what others thought or would say. Truth is, no one ever really says anything negative. Kids think they will but in reality 9 out of 10 really want to come to the table and if one in the group breaks through, the others follow. Teens are funny. I know that I could go back each year and little by little draw them all a bit closer. It takes time and consistency. This is what we need more of with our kids I think. The more they are exposed to what is available in the faith, the more comfortable they become and the closer they will get to the table.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

God's Plan

Well if anyone wanted to read yesterdays post it's under 9/11/09. I looked at my lists of posts and noticed that scripture verse was saved on that date but that I had never written anything with the verse so I edited that day and forgot to change the date. Oh well. It's in archives for anyone interested entitled Ambition.

On Saturday, Nashville was pretty well shut down due to the icy road conditions. Allen and I ventured to open the bookstore around 10:30 or 11:00 and answered a few phone calls and waited on a handful of customers. Our first "sale" was an exchange which started our day -3.28 and we had to laugh at the irony of our "loss of business day." A man came for a Baptismal candle he needed for Sunday so he was glad to see that we braved the storm to be open for a few hours. But the real reason God sent us to open for those few hours came in a little after noon. A young mom and dad and two young boys, maybe 4 and 6, came in and walked straight up to the counter. The young father said, "Let me ask you. We have a son in intensive care and I heard a story about a little boy being critical and getting well and telling his parents that he was going to miss the little boy who brought him back. What saint would that be? Would that be St. Christopher?" This brought about story after story of different saints who his story could have been about and different saints who protect and defend and about archangels and miracles. The couple never moved from the front counter as Allen and I went up and down the stairs for inexpensive medals and coins and holy cards. I was so glad that I had spent hours and hours researching and writing the mini bio cards of saints so that I could not just show this couple the cards but tell them a little about the saints and angels. The two young brothers stood there good as gold waiting for us to give their daddy something to make their brother come back home. They left with a little bag of a few medals and cards but what they really held was a little hope. We were just meant to be there that day if only for a few hours. This young couple and their boys just needed to be in the quiet atmosphere of the store and amid God's peace. Allen and I had nothing to do with helping these people or their seriously injured nine year old son in intensive care. All we did was show up and for that moment, it was enough. May God hold them in the palm of His hand.