Archives for November 2011

Thanksgiving

I have been thinking about this for awhile now, since Halloween actually, but couldn’t find exactly what I wanted to say about it.

While shopping for my daughter’s Halloween costume (ran out of things in the house to use as a costume), a week before Halloween, I was shocked when I had to walk past the Christmas trees and baubles to get to the Halloween costumes. In a Jerry Seinfeld voice I couldn’t help myself, I said “what’s up with that?”.

The stores have had their product ordered more than a year ago and the stuff couldn’t wait just three more weeks to be displayed? Why is it that we complain about stuff like this but how many do anything about it? You could call, email or even hand-write a letter and I’m sorry to say it wouldn’t do much good. Really the only way to get retailers to allow one holiday to pass or even get close, before getting ready to “sell” the next one is to effect their “bottom line”.

Can you just imagine what would happen if the stock sat on the floor unsold for three weeks? Do you think there would be massive price reductions? Each year that we as consumers allow the season to start earlier is more incentive for retailers to begin “selling” it to us earlier.

I, myself REFUSE to buy a single Christmas present or listen to a single Christmas jingle UNTIL Thanksgiving. I do enjoy listening to Christmas music ON Thanksgiving.

We are now a 24/7/365 society. This can’t be good for us. Have you ever really missed out on anything really important because you didn’t get it early or first? I have found some of the best gifts shopping on Christmas Eve. Actually when you think about it you can shop for next Christmas, the day after Christmas this year which could cause retailers to consider display “Christmas” year round? I know, I know, there’s the Christmas Tree Shoppe. I thought on-line shopping was going to be the solution to this? You can shop on Black Friday in your pajamas so why go out at 5am.

I know this sounds all bah-hum-bug but really it’s not. I would love everybody to stop, relax and enjoy each and every holiday that we have each year. I just don’t see anyone relaxing much anymore. I just want to shout “Stop I want to get off” this crazy train.

Don’t you remember the wisdom of “stop and smell the roses”? It’s important that we not pass-by the opportunities we have to spend time with loved ones, share stories, laugh and sometimes even cry because we didn’t have the time.

My Thanksgiving wish is that this very special holiday for our nation will bring comfort, peace and a true feeling of thanksgiving to all.

God Bless,
Erin

New Priest Coming to a Church Near You

Do you belong to a Church or parish that has had the same priest for years? Up until about the year 2000 my parish had the same priest for many years. The pastor who was then retiriing had been there since 1975. Since then, I have to tell you, we’ve have had three different pastors. In addition to this we’ve had three Parochial Vicars that have come and gone. This folks has not been easy on our Congregation. We have a vibrant Parish, two schools, several active Ministries and a varied age group of parishoners. That’s not an easy job for any priest to take on.

Some of the priests that have come to our Church were very reverent, great homilists and good stewards while others have not exactly “jelled” with the people. You know the saying “you can’t please everybody”. That’s never been so true as when describing the role of pastor in an active parish.

What occured most recently at my Church is that our pastor was moved to fill the needs of the Diocese which resulted from the retirement of another priest. Do you see the “Domino Effect” we have because of the reduction in the number of new priests? I guess it’s like our loss is someone else’s gain. Hopefully it will be the gain of our entire Diocese.

Some would say it’s important that a “good priest” is shared with many. I suppose that this is true but I also think it’s sad that a parish would have a new pastor every five years. The days of having your parish priest become a kind of family member is not really possible. It’s not likely that the Priest that baptizes you might also marry you and even be around to baptize your children. Maybe that’s the storybook version and I’ll have to let it go. I can dream can’t I?

Have you felt the loss of a beloved priest/pastor that was moved from your Church? Do you have a priest that maybe you’d like moved? I guess I should be thankful that we’ve never gotten a pastor that we prayed would move on. Of course I am not speaking for everyone hear. There could be lots of people within my own Church that could feel differently than I. Let me know if anything like this has happened to you.

Blessings,
Erin

George Washington’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving 1789

Thanksgiving Proclamation

[New York, 3 October 1789]

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

The Collection Basket

Just this morning a co-worker of mine brought up a letter that had been sitting on his desk for three weeks. It turns out I received the same but I responded immediately (as I do often) and he decided to think it over a bit first.

The letter was from the new Pastor of our Church (just so happens we attend the same Church). I’m sure the task of sending this letter was planned before his arrival to our parish. Call it bad timing that while new to our Church he needed to sign an annual letter about the “Increased Offertory Program”.

The jist of the letter is a suggestion that maybe “you” which is me, could consider increasing the offering in the collection basket. I must say form letters in general bother me. The sender is bound to upset or offend someone because you can’t generalize when it comes to most groups.

Of course there is a bit of a disclaimer in the beginning of the letter that says “if our records are acurate”. Not a big fan of relying on your records when we’re talking about people. Our current fiscal environment makes sending this letter necessary but I wish the sender (my church) would have considered how the receiving of such a letter, in these hard economic times, would be received.

The letter suggests that we prayerfully consider giving between $250 – $1000 as an annual offertory commitment. My annual contribution hovers near 75% of the top number. My children have also attended the parishes Catholic Grammar School for the past 12 years with at least 6 more years to go. (Do the math I have five children).

My family also attends Mass every Sunday, every Holy Day and as many daily Masses as we can. So my question is “Did I really need to receive this letter”? I must also add that I am a very active member of several Ministries in our Parish. Don’t misread this as thinking I’m anything special. I am always concious of my inability to give financially and try to make up for it with the giving of my time. Sometimes I think time is more valuable to some Ministries than money. Maybe I was just sensitive the day I received it but now three weeks later my co-worker made me think about it again.

I did respond with a letter to the Pastor about how I felt insulted by the letter and have not yet received a response. I don’t think I’ll get one and that’s ok.

I love my Church and the people I see so often throughout the Parish and I wouldn’t let this letter have any effect on how I feel about the Catholic Church. I don’t subscribe to the comments that “all the Church cares about is money”. I know that’s not true. There’s no hiding that the Church has bills to pay just like I do. Not every function of the Church can be done with charity or volunteerism. That’s just the facts.

Maybe I just wasn’t feeling the love so to speak when I got that letter. The story of the poor widow in the Bible comes to mind, Matthew 12:42-44 which says;

A poor widow came and put in two small coins, the equivalent of a penny.

Then he called his disciples and said to them, ‘In truth I tell you, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury;

for they have all put in money they could spare, but she in her poverty has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.’

I’m feeling a bit like the poor widow. We are giving as much as we can and I know that I will continue to give long after the current drain on our income (tuition) comes to an end. I’m praying I live that long. I’ve been told “it’s just not my season” and I find comfort in that. Times are hard and money isn’t as available as we’d like but I wouldn’t change the blessings that I have that have nothing to do with money for any amount of cash.

Have you ever received a letter from your Church or group that made you feel like you weren’t supposed to receive this letter. Did you say “there must be some mistake”? I’d love to hear you stories.

Blessings,

Erin

Carpe Diem

“Carpe Diem” is one of my favorite sayings. The translation from Latin is said to mean “seize the day”. I read today that carpe in Latin literally means “to pick, pluck, pluck off, cull, crop, gather” but that doesn’t sound as appropriate as seize so I guess we just changed the translation as needed. Oh my, what a can of worms that could be. Imagine if whenever you needed to translate something YOU just picked (Carped) any word you wanted. Maybe this is really why a new translation of the Roman Missal was needed.

The saying “Carpe Diem” was made popular by Robin Williams character, John Keating in the movie Dead Poets Society. He says, “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” The saying is also a song the rock band Green Day. Unfortunately some have taken the meaning of this statement to do whatever they want each day. As if nothing matters and who knows how long we have on this earth. That scares me a little. Shouldn’t our last days on earth (however soon that may be) be of seizing the day to provide and receive love every minute possible. At least that’s how I’d like to imagine it.

Each day is a gift and we should always be aware that we do not know the day nor the hour that our Lord will call us home or that He will return with judgement.

So “Carpe Diem” and do that best that you can to live as God wants us too.

Blessings,
Erin

Bil Keane – Rest in Peace

Cartoonist Bil Keane, creator of “Family Circus” passed away on Tuesday November 8th, 2011 at the ripe old age of eighty-nine. Born in 1922 in Philadelphia, Keane taught himself to draw in high school and was an inspiration to so many that followed.

In an Associated Press interview back 1995 Bil suggested the cartoon endured because of its consistency and simplicity.

“It’s reassuring, I think, to the American public to see the same family,” he said.

I have such fond memories of reading this cartoon in the Sunday paper along with my grandmother. She too got a big kick out of the antics of PJ, Billy, Dolly and Jeffy. I always found the “not me” ghost kind of character so funny. It was to be expected of course it’s kids. I have especially loved that Bil’s cartoon showed a truly loving, faithful and real family. He did not try to “shock” with his strip or “push the envelope” so to speak for ratings. He showed family issues about truth, faith and mostly the kind of things that kids really do ask about and the trouble they can and do get in to.

Although the cartoon strips were shown in what’s called the “Funny Papers”, Bil never intended for them to be comical. His idea for the strip was: “I would rather have the readers react with a warm smile, a tug at the heart or a lump in the throat as they recall doing the same things in their own families”.

Well Bil, you succeeded in touching the hearts of so many and you did it with class and for that I would like to say “Thank you Bil”.

To quote little Jeffy in your cartoon as he was leaving Mass, “G’Bye God. Thank you, I had a nice time”. Now you can say “Hello God, I’m happy to be home”.

Blessings,
Erin

Thoughts on the New Missal

Reminder: The Roman Missal will be implemented in the United States of America on the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011. Yes, that’s only three Sunday’s from now.

According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

The entire Church in the United States has been blessed with this opportunity to deepen its understanding of the Sacred Liturgy, and to appreciate its meaning and importance in our lives.

In my previous post about the upcoming changes I talked about not being worthy to receive Christ. The wording changes at Communion are very powerful and come directly from the words spoken to Jesus. We will now respond “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

Yesterday at Mass, our deacon was giving a brief explanation as to why parts of the Mass are being changed. He thought that if we could understand why there’s a change, we might better accept the changes. I agree. In what our Deacon thought may have been haste after Vatican II to translate some of our current prayers, the changes were needed to truly reflect the words intended in Scripture.

What is also important and a purpose for the revisions is to bring back, if you will, the reverence required at Mass. I got a chuckle when the Deacon said it’s kind of like at the dinner table, should you say “hey you, gimme the salt” or “dear, please pass the salt, thank you”? I’m all for “please and thank you”, especially at Mass.

Here again is the link from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops which provides a look at the parts of the Mass being changed. Please look it over, welcome it and look forward to using it November 27th. Don’t worry about going to Mass and not being sure of what is going on. Remember how it felt to be a child in Mass and you didn’t know anything? Well, you’re ahead of the game.

Let me know what you think of the changes. Are you ready and willing? I am, willing that is, ready not so much.

Blessings,
Erin

Saint Edith Stein

I have to admit until a few days ago I had never heard of Saint Edith Stein. At least I don’t recall ever hearing her name before.

My church had a viewing this week of Word on Fire’s Catholicism Series Episode VIII “A VAST COMPANY OF WITNESSES: THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS”. The film is so well done and I learned so much about Saints and why they matter in our Catholic Faith.

Well known saints such as Mother Theresa of Calcutta and St. Therese of Lisieux are featured in the video but what I enjoyed most was learning about Saint Edith Stein.

My first thought was “Stein, that sounds like a Jewish name, it will be interesting to learn how she became a Saint”. Well sadly it is because she was Jewish and became a Catholic later that she was persecuted by the Nazi’s in World War II.

Edith Stein was born in Poland on October 12, 1891. It was while visiting a widowed friend that she was touched by the power of the Cross. She was baptized at the Cathedral Church in Cologne, Germany in 1922. Edith later joined the Carmelite convent in Cologne and was later known as Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

She wrote “”Things were in God’s plan which I had not planned at all. I am coming to the living faith and conviction that – from God’s point of view – there is no chance and that the whole of my life, down to every detail, has been mapped out in God’s divine providence and makes complete and perfect sense in God’s all-seeing eyes.”

When the Nazis conquered Holland, Edith was arrested, along with her sister Rose, was sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz. Edith died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz in 1942 at the age of fifty-one.

In 1987, she was beatified in the Cologne cathedral by Pope John Paul II. It was from the unspeakable human suffering caused by the Nazis during the 1930’s and 1940’s where blossomed the beautiful life of dedication, consecration, prayer, fasting, and penance of Saint Teresa. She was canonized on October 11, 1998.

I’m so thankful that I was able to attend the viewing of this movie and plan to see more if not all of them over the next few months. See the film has inspired me to learn more about the Saints which in turn helps me to learn more, so much more about our rich Catholic faith.

Have you seen the “Catholicism Project”? Let me know what you thought of it. Do you have a favorite Saint? I’d love to hear your story.

Blessings,

Erin