Saturday, December 30, 2006

Top 10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1 Friends!

So tomorrow is New Year's Eve, and that means it's time for me to sit down and get my list together. I think I said in my earlier post that it's pretty easy to rate everyone, but I'm remembering now that this is not the case. What's tricky is, there are as many types of friendships as there are friends. Some are old friends, who I don't get to see or talk to as often as I used to. Some friendships are web-based; that is, we didn't meet on the web, but chat daily or nearly as often on AIM... or, at the least, we IM much more often than we see each other in person. And then there are the married couples. One couple I know (you know who you are!) actually compete over their rankings, and when one ranks higher than the other (get ready you two!) they laugh and point and say "HA!!!" in a very unsportsmanlike manner. What about the person who did one, reaaly reeeeealllyyy nice thing for me in a year's time? How does that effect their ranking? I want to recognise the gesture... but maybe a thank-you card is more in order. This year I feel pulled to put my work friends on the list, but it would be breaking my own "weekend friends" rule. Maybe I should do a seperate work list. THAT one would be easy...
Well anyway, my list is done for this year, printed up and ready to be read at midnight tomorrow at our friends' annual NYE fiesta. Pre-congratulations, friends!! And for those 11+es, there's always next year!

wrongful death?

When John Geoghan was killed in prison a few years ago (remember, he was the defrocked priest who abused so many young children over many years), I was having lunch with a good friend who isn't Catholic- she said she was glad it had happened to him. The murder of this man was brutal- a fellow inmate stomped him to death, while guards, for whatever reason, didn't intervene. I remember nodding along, saying "yeah, I know what you mean" but something didn't feel right.
Last night when I crawled into bed and turned on the tv, I was surprised to hear that Saddam Hussein had been hanged to death. I guess this is a good ethical question to chew over. Is it right to kill a person, because they've killed others?
After I gave my conversation about Geoghan some thought I realized that I don't know what's right, what's just, what's fair, but what I do know is this: I don't want to be a person who thinks murder is ever justified.
I'm sorry that Hussein ever came to power like he did, I'm horrified by the terrible things he did while in power, I hope and pray for the souls of those he killed, and I pray for his soul too. It's the only way I can feel right about situations like this.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

See? It CAN be about the toys! No, no no... we know that, as my favorite key chain says, "Jesus is the reason season!"

Merry Christmas to all 11 of my loyal readers. Many blessings!!

Saturday, December 23, 2006


Merry Christmas Eve-Eve! We're done with our shopping (except we haven't sent out our by-mail gifts... we're taking advantage of that whole "12 days" concept to allow us not to be late, but rather, Liturgically Correct.
Everything's wrapped, we dined on chinese food, my back is killing me... tomorrow it's last-minute laundry and grocery shopping, finding something to wear, and the craziness begins. My Mass is at 4, Scott's is at 6... then we rush back here, pack up, and head north to Maine: the Way Life Should Be.
I hope you're feeling peaceful and joyful and ready. Bless you and bless your Christmas!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Let's get started!

It's time to start Christmas Shopping. What's that you say? I'm supposed to be done now? Okay, here's the thing. Timing and rent and credit card bills have rendered us broke for a week or so now. Like, cash in your change broke. Cheez-its for lunch broke. Pray the checks will clear broke. Wait till payday to do Christmas shopping broke.
Now, I'm not complaining, because we get to spend our temporary broke-ness in a lovely warm apartment cooking up frozen meals and all sorts of good things. I have no basis for complaints.
I have tried to remember, during this broke-ness time, that there are so many people out there who REALLY are broke, and who are much more stressed about buying gifts than I am, because they are Santa for their kids. You know? Talk about pressure- hope and belief rests in them not only being able to buy gifts, but buy the exactly right gift. Now that's responsibility. That's stress!
So today's payday, and that means tomorrow we hit the stores. I'm hoping to keep a modicum of Christmas spirit through the day. Christmas shopping makes me so hateful. Oh, and it's time to pay the rent again...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Hello McLean Virginia!

So, with the counter that I have installed on this page, I can see the locations of people who are reading my page. It's VERY cool! I get hits from local places (like Billerica, North Reading, Saco (hi Saco!) plus we have our usuals, like Wasilla Alaska (hey Sandi!) and Kansas City, Kansas (our ILFF friends!) and then there are some real stunners, like "Trk, Burdur" (Turkey!) and Taoyan, Taiwan, and once, one from Iraq! But I was stumped to see numerous hits from McLean, Virginia.
I mean, NUMEROUS. Every time I posted, there was a corresponding hit from McLean, Virginia.
Well it turns out I AM MCLEAN VIRGINIA. I don't know why my computer shows up that way, but there you go. Mystery solved, I AM my own biggest fan!

It's neglecting to look a lot like Christmas

Here we are, December 20, home-stretch, and it's weirdly warm here in the Northeast. My summer pansies are still in bloom!

Everyone around me at work is in high gear, juggling their own family Christmas preparations with as well as trying to get two weeks' worth of work done so they can relax next week. Then there's the myriad Masses! With the mini 4th "weeklet" of Advent, our poor parishes are doing their regular Sunday morning Masses, then doing a quick turnaround for Christmas Eve Masses the same day! For our megachurch, that means 4 morning Masses, plus 7 more packed-to-the-rafters Masses to follow. Yowza.
I for one have really kinda liked the mini-Advent. I know, all the stress, shopping, service, planning, etc. etc. has been crammed into one less week than usual, but for me, it has been the equivalent of ripping off a bandaid. Quick and dirty. Get your shopping done, sing your songs, and hang on! Christmas is right around the corner! Let's go!!!

Monday, December 18, 2006

I get my ipod!

So, I got a free ipod nano back in the Summer with my laptop. In some kind of stockroom-clearing plan from apple, they were giving away the ipods, along with copier/printer/scanners for free when one bought a computer. I didn't necessarily want an ipod. I couldn't see myself sitting around with earphones in my ears, listening to music. And, I don't jog.
But I get it now!! I LOVE my ipod! I found PODCASTS....
Okay, I'm not completely oblivious, I knew about podcasts. But here's the thing: all my favorite NPR shows are available via podcast. That means I can download all the ones I don't get to listen to over the weekend (when all the good shows are) and listen to them Saturday, while I'm doing yardwork and/or laundry (I used to carry around a little transistor radio so I could hear my shows) and Sundays at work (I used to have to listen to New Hampshire Public Radio, including cartalk for the 4th time each weekend, and the Splendid Table)and my ipod sits in a very cool case with a carabeener that hooks it onto my beltloop.
Tonight I listened to Radiolab, a VERY fascinating show about the language of music. You can hear it too, at Very cool on an ipod.

hold on loosely

Last week I was driving to Maine up route 95 in a gusty wind storm. Generally I like to hold onto my steering wheel with one hand, usually just to the left or right of the bottom section of the wheel. Sometimes I hold on at the bottom but find there's not much control there. I noticed that when the wind began to gust and my car was being tossed a bit, I reflexively (is that a word?) moved my hands to good old 10:00 and 2:00. Driver's ed was not wasted on me! You really do get more control of the car with your hands there.
I noticed, too, that the car designers had made a move to encourage drivers to hold on to the wheel at those spots. On my steering wheel, those spots are thicker, with little contoured finger bumps that my hands fit into very comfortably. So, even though I grip the wheel in different spots, at different times, I do know that if I want to be doing it right, if I want to be in control, if I need to feel safer, I go back to the 10 and 2 grips.
It made me think about Church, and faith formation (natch). There is finally a lot of talk out there about the idea that Sacraments are not rewards to be earned but rather gifts, freely given. D Scott Miller, on his blog
( look for "a mandatory rant"),
mentions that there is a big pow-wow going on with Bishops about how to remove the idea of "mandatory" from the Confirmation process. D Scott himself says that "Relying on the power of 'mandatory' is lazy ministry and not within the style of the One who washed the feet of his disciples." Amen, brother!
It's taken American Churches a long time to realize this truth (and we're not even close to seeing it really embraced by parish RE programs), but it's SUCH good news to see it even mentioned and noticed by Bishops. Hurray!
Maybe we, as Church, can take a tip from those car designers- instead of shackling the hands of our drivers, why don't we show them the comfort and benefit of coming home to 10 and 2? Let's let them experience the joy of Church, and know that it can be good enough to make them stay... rather than lock-stepping them through hoops and having no trust that what we have to offer is GOOD?
Andrew Greeley's phrase, that every program we offer should be "optional and excellent" rings through my head every day at work. You can't JUST make it optional, without making it excellent.
Who's ready? Let's go for a drive!!

Friday, December 15, 2006

gather the elders

Last night was our first meeting for a brand new Youth Ministry committee. Our theme was from Numbers 11, or more specifically from The Godbearing Life, the BEST book about ministry ever... it's a story of Moses on the verge of burnout during his trek across the desert with his grumbling charges.
In the scripture, the Jews are complaining because the manna that is being dropped from heaven for them is not cutting it. They want MEAT and are whining about how much meat they used to have in Egypt, back in the good old days. Moses turns to God and complains,
"Why do you treat your servant so badly?" Moses asked the LORD. "Why are you so displeased with me that you burden me with all this people? Was it I who conceived all this people? or was it I who gave them birth, that you tell me to carry them at my bosom, like a foster father carrying an infant, to the land you have promised under oath to their fathers? Where can I get meat to give to all this people? For they are crying to me, 'Give us meat for our food.' I cannot carry all this people by myself, for they are too heavy for me. If this is the way you will deal with me, then please do me the favor of killing me at once, so that I need no longer face this distress."
(How many of us have reached this point in ministry? 'Send me help, or kill me now!')
Anyhoo, God answers him:
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Assemble for me seventy of the elders of Israel, men you know for true elders and authorities among the people, and bring them to the meeting tent. When they are in place beside you, I will come down and speak with you there. I will also take some of the spirit that is on you and will bestow it on them, that they may share the burden of the people with you. You will then not have to bear it by yourself.
He doesn't tell Moses to run out and find the first 50 or so people he can, whatever warm bodies show up, but rather to gather the elders- those respected in his community, the people others already turn to for wisdom, and God will spread the mantle of responsibility onto them, to share it with Moses. Good plan!
So, taking a cue from the Godbearing Life lesson, I started the first committee meeting with a meal under a tent.

My hostessing style: beg/borrow/steal/smoke/mirrors... razzle dazzle!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

by heart and by head

Last night we welcomed 25 or so new Peer Ministers, which was very exciting! One of the PM leaders asked everyone to tell their names, their favorite ice cream flavor, and why they want to join Peer Ministry. Over and over again, the newbies said "I loved the retreat, and I wanted to do what the peer ministers on my retreat got to do. I want to make the retreat great for the next class."
Many years ago, I was trying to figure out where we were going wrong in our catechetical efforts. I thought to myself "what works?" and the answer was, at least in part, retreats. So what was it about retreats that work, where catechetical programming doesn't (or didn't, for us)?
It's the Big Question for high school catechesis; Heart? or Head? Or... both? The NDC talks about learning by heart and by head, and recommends we aim for both. The Big Problem with catechetical curricula that you buy from publishers (textbook series) is that they can only do by-head learning, and you can't have one without the other, and think that you're preparing disciples for life in the Church. So where does the heart come from? The people. The catechists, the sponsors, the Youth Ministers, the mentors who lead them in service and justice activities.
Waaaaay back in the 70's our Bishops told us that catechesis is only one component of many needed to serve young people in the Church. It's a concept we're still struggling with. But 30-some-odd years later, it's no less true.

Monday, December 11, 2006

locked away

Yesterday on my way to work, I was listening to an author being interviewed on NPR. The interviewer asked her what book had been most significant in effecting her own writing, and her interest in literature. She said that as a child, her father had kept the book "Arabian Nights" under lock and key, and told her that it was too erotic for a child to read. Of course, she figured out how to unlock that cabinet and would read the book in a closet with a flashlight whenever her father was busy.
I thought to myself, "Brilliant!" If this is a good technique on how to interest kids in things, (a little reverse psychology, if you will), then how could we use it to help kids in their faith? Should we lock the Bible away (in plain sight)? Should we forbid them to go to Mass? It's an interesting thought.
I met with a group of parents the other night who expressed to me real worry and concern that their kids' faith is suffering- that they are feeling unable to communicate their own beliefs to their kids, and are worried that the kids feel some level of faith, in something, but not much connection to the church. It's everyone's fear right now, the questions "Will our children have faith? Will our faith have children?"
I'm thinking of offering a book club for parents, using a book my sister gave me about adolescent faith development called Lost and Found Faith. I want to reassure parents that what they are doing is not wasted time or effort. Knowing that "developmental faith stages" has really helped me relax about what degree of urgency there really is in adolescence, as far as teaching dogma, and I bet parents would be heartened to hear the bigger picture too.

Friday, December 08, 2006

I elfed myself!!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

God Is

One thing I realized this weekend was how so many of my most intimate moments with God have happened in crowds. There is something about a crowd of people reciting the words of a prayer together, 2500+ people this weekend who not only knew the prayers by heart, but meant them by heart- that makes me just quiver. You know that anything in unison effects me somehow, that marching bands and people clapping make me cry. But singing with a crowd of people, songs that praise God and connect with Him, really sends me.
This weekend I went looking to reconnect with God, longing for that feeling of being loved and chosen and supported and known by God. Of all the private prayer that I have participated in, it was the music and being little me just one of a couple thousand people that helped me find that feeling. There is real comfort in being around "my people", knowing that we all get the same inside jokes and share the same frustrations and challenges, along with "getting" why we all do what we do, a common sharing of a vision. But somehow I can feel and know that through the songs, the speakers, the images, that God is speaking directly into my ear. I feel recognized by Him, sought out by Him, like He is shining a spotlight on me.

The song that has been God's telegram to me over the past several years has been Danielle Rose's "God Is". The lyrics are:

You want to know Me- You want to see My face-
I do not age with time; I do not fit into a space
I transcend the capacity of your eye, so who am I?
It is the question of the moment;
It is the question for all time
I am you, and you are mine

I am the beginning and the end
I am the faith in your believing
I am the color of truth
I am the dreamer of your dreams
I am the falling in your love
I am the words of a prayer
I am the silence in the music
I am the music in the silence

I am your father; I am your mother
I am the man who cannot cry
I am the story in your eyes
I am the orphan of war
I am the leper begging on the corner
I am the black slave in chains
I am the Muslim bride who cannot show her face
I'm the cross you carry again

I am the beginning and the end
I am the faith in your believing
I am the color of truth
I am the dreamer of your dreams
I am the falling in your love
I am the words of a prayer
I am the silence in the music
I am the music in the silence

I'm all you have forgotten
I am all that you have not been
I am in you - all of this in within you
Let the journey begin, Amen
I am in you, Amen

I am the beginning and the end
I am the faith in your believing
I am the color of truth
I am the dreamer of your dreams
I am the falling in your love
I am the words of a prayer
I am the silence in the music
I am the music in the silence

The song is beautiful, cut and paste this link into your browser to hear a sample of it:

The chorus is kind of a chant, and her voice is beautiful, and I hear God telling me "stop questioning me. I am in charge. I know what I am doing. I am everything you need."
It was with this song that God reached my little walnut heart 4 years ago at the Denver conference, and I almost gasped when I heard it again this year- ahhhhhhh right. That's right.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

jet lag and new beginnings

We landed exactly on time yesterday, at around 7:48 am. Traffic held up our ride just long enough so we could get a Starbucks and our bags, and then we hit the road homeward. The cats gave us a little stand-off routine at first, but then came out to greet us when we fell into bed, which was about 8 minutes after we walked in the door. We slept until 2, and then got up for bagels and then spent the evening in the living room catching up on all the tv shows we'd missed while we were gone. (Office- soooo funny).
I tried to stay awake as long as I could, and finally gave up the fight at around 11:00. I got 9 hours of sleep last night and expected to wake up refreshed and back in the swing of things, but I still feel sort of drunk and dumb, like I should not be operating heavy machinery. Yes, that's it! I feel like I've taken Benadryl.
But today is a new day, my first day back at work after the conference, and changes are in store. Today I go back on normal food, today I dig through all the stuff I bought and got and try to assemble a new game plan. Today my attitude at work changes from that of doom and frustration to hope and acceptance. Today I go back to focusing on the Caller, and that should help me deal with the Call.
I started by not turning on the tv this morning. Instead I listened to a podcast of today's readings and read a short sermon on them too. I read up on all my Catholic blogs, and let Ellen Degeneres take a back seat. I kept thinking of doing this all weekend, at the conference: giving my mornings to God. I don't know how long I'll be able to keep it up but hey, one day! Go God!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Here’s the news...

Here’s the news from the Director of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry (NFCYM), Bob McCarty, as delivered during the opening gathering of our conference this year. I’m rewriting it from Scott’s notes from that session, with my own comments.

He says that there have been three significant shifts in youth ministry in the 25 years that the Federation has been in existence.

1. The shift from “A Vision of Youth Ministry” to “Renewing The Vision”; these are the documents produced by the US Catholic Bishops in the late 70’s and then the 1990’s. The image that was central to the Vision document was Emmaus, Christ’s walk with his disciples, the presence of Christ in the body of a human who was a stranger to them. In Renewing, the central image was less of ministering to kids and more about leading them and preparing them to take on their own role of discipleship.
2. The shift in methodology from Youth Groups to many groupings of and for youth. It’s a change from one-size-fits-all ministry to comprehensive ministry for every young person in a parish community, even if they never darken the door of the Church. EVERY kid, even those who wouldn’t be caught dead at a youth group meeting.
3. The shift in emphasis. Central to youth ministry in the past was “creating a sense of community”- a process of bringing in. Today’s youth ministers know that only a small fraction of our ministry can happen in the church building, because only a fraction of a young person’s time is spent in church. Creating one more community in amongst kids lives, already full of temporary and permanent communities like teams, clubs, and organizations is not the goal anymore. Instead, our focus has shifted to that of evangelization and catechesis, and an emphasis on service and justice. Instead of bringing in, our goal is sending out.

He also reminded us of three challenges that currently face our ministries and professions:

1. We must shift our efforts from considering ourselves missionaries to youth, and instead realize the call to be advocates for youth in our parishes, church, and society.
2. The comprehensive approach to Youth Ministry is a model we have not quite figured out how to do yet- the challenge is still with us to “do church right for kids”. The focus we were charged with was to present a catechesis of head, hand, and heart, rooted and anchored in a spiritual home.
3. The renewal of parish life is a challenge in our ministries. No longer are we “youth ministers”, but we must consider ourselves pastoral ministers to all generations, because we know that adolescents do not thrive, nor live, in a generational vacuum. Parish life has taken a “hit” from the rocky path set before us at Vatican Two. Again, the vision for renewal at the parish level is on the horizon- we see how it might look, but it remains far off, and something to be worked toward.

There is good good news, and there are challenges and hard work to be done. The most encouraging news of all is this Youth Ministry community, over 2500 strong at this convention. Work and study and teaching are being done and they will change the future for our ministries, our parishes, and our Church. Youth Ministry is doing a lot of things well. The future is bright.


I've responded to some of the comments you've left me, in the comment boxes. Just a couple, but I'm just sayin'.

oooookayyyyy (off-topic)

So I figured out that I only get emails alerting me of comments IF the comments are from non-members. (Blogger members that is.) So that's why only anonymous comments show up in my inbox, and I have to go looking for the others. MAN oh man I am a slow learner! So I've just approved a slew of comments from October on. If you're at all interested in what anyone things about anything I've written, then just scroll through the past entries and click where you see comments present. Sorry readers/writers, and thanks for your comments!

Friday, December 01, 2006

what, no comment?

I am in my room, but briefly, for the first time today. I couldn't wait to get back and see all the great comments you readers had left me, raving abour my amazing writing skills and the frank sharing of my feelings, but there's nuthin'. Maybe you're all stunned. Let's go with that.
Anyhoo, we're done with business for the day, with two workshops and two keynotes under our belts. The first keynote was less than titillating, but the important takeaway was this: the Catholic Church is becoming Hispanic, and we'd better get on board with that.

Our "Best Practices" Adolescent Catechesis workshop was really not great. We were bummed out, because we were expecting something more advanced, and the first presenter used up his time reminding us of such creative gems as "you've got to love your kids".
The afternoon large group session was a reminder of how MAD I am that our youth-centered Bishop has been moved away from us. Again, I didn't so much learn anything new, but I loved his closing message, which he delivered in the last 12 seconds, practically as he was being led off-stage Academy-Awards style, which was this: the last scenes of Flashdance, when the welder-ballerina-wannabe's boyfriend says
something like "If you let your dream die, You die!!"
A great day-closing keynote reminded us of joy and urged us to remember that our calling is from GOD, not our church or our parish or our office or even our kids. God, see?

Tonight we're hitting PF Chang's at the Alladin and seeing some of the sights. Shower time and off we go again!

Three new posts

So, as I said, $10.00 for 24 hours of wifi. But for you, gentle readers, it's me from Vegas, and the NCCYM. (That's the National Catholic Conference for Catholic Youth Ministry)...
So far, so good... really good. I haven't seen or experienced much of the riches Vegas has to offer, but conferencing has begun. This is an amazing operation, with a huge stage, high tech stuff, amazing speakers, and of course you know great workshops ahead of us. Today was "pre-conference" stuff, and already it's a bit of an emotional roller-coaster for me. We had breakfast, visited the resources fair (an overwhelming amount of great things to buy and carry around and charge to the parish!) and Scott and I went to a workshop for married couples in ministry, and then to a great presentation by OCP musicians- and it was there that I started feeling God go to work on my heart.
I have been expecting this, of course, but it is a surprise to start feeling faith and goodness and excitement and God's love again, after having it all seem like a distant experience of my childhood. Long lost.
But I have been living and longing for this trip, to meet up with God and that feeling again, and here I am. I feel like a kid on the playground who has run off to find a place to hide and cry in peace. As much of a stranger-in-a-strange-land as I feel at work these days, I feel at home here. I am always encouraged and affirmed to hear again that I'm not just making all this up, it's really true, Youth Ministry can exist in the way I envision it, but then again, I'm disheartened to leave this happy place and go back to a world where I am constantly fighting for respect of my vision. When will I get to LIVE in happy land, rather than just visit it every two years?
Geesh, I'm not even sure I'm making sense here. Jetlag plus Jesus is wreaking havoc on my emotions. Anyway, now we're heading out to relax and grab a bite.
More tomorrow.

From the Plane!

(okay, not really- REALLY I'm posting this from the hotel room, which charges an outrageous $10.00 a day for wifi. Free the Internet!! But I did write this entry (except for this part, ya) on the plane.

Hello from mid-air! The little screen in the center seat shows our plane at over Wisconsin, at 444 miles per hour at an altitude of 31,311 feet. I am a HUGE JetBlue fan as of today (if I weren’t already since they hired my brother). They have been nothing but kind and helpful since we entered Logan Airport. Just now the nicest flight attendants I ever have encountered (Robin and Mark) chatted with us while we waited for the bathroom, and gave us free beers!! (This may be a big secret, I don’t know if I’m supposed to tell. Let’s just say we have been treated very well.) They were so funny, and friendly, and asked about my brother, and what kind of plane he flies… I know I am supposed to know that. I don’t, though. I told them to keep an eye out for him, and told them that he’s very nice and handsome, and they both seemed like they were looking forward to running into him. Also, the plane is completely bitchen, with those famous leather seats and little tv’s in the seatbacks! We just finished watching Little Miss Sunshine (you swipe your debit card in the seatback to watch!! Five bucks!) and now we’re watching tv (that’s free). Really, very cool.

There’s a bit of turbulence right now, but honestly I feel very safe. (what other choice do I have, right? But I do.) I just pick up my beer every time it gets bumpy until things calm down. Ooh! We’re crossing into Minnesota! The Weather Channel ((ch. 11 on the plane) says there’s a giant storm here! Maybe that explains the turbulence.

Airport Report

We are in the airport in Boston- got here almost 3 hours early… anxious to get going? YES! We heard from Jim and Paula today and they gave us some great travel tips which will get us to the Church on time, if you will, safe and sound. We just had a reasonably okay (but grossly overpriced!) burger at Johnny Rocket’s in the airport, and I splurged on a 5.00 beer! Now we’re in a row of seats a few gates down from ours- (there’s still an hour and a half to go) plugged in to the outlet and considering a Starbuck’s. Already I feel a little disconnected with the world-in airports I lose all sense of time- and I’m so anxious to get on the plan and settle in. We got seats at the desk, so no worries about getting on board, unless, as the gate person told us, three football teams suddenly come in to buy tickets for our flight.

Scott is watching Office space on his laptop and listening though earphones, and laughing out loud. Loud!

Okay, that’s it, I can wait no more- I’m off to starbuck’s. Hey, will you watch my bag? JUST KIDDING! Never leave your bag with a stranger!!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

plane mortality

As rarely as I fly, each time I do it becomes a little bit of a glimpse into my own mortality. I know, I know, every time I get in the car it could be my last time, and the person who sneezed on me today could have been giving me Typhoid. Who knows? But the thing is, you know, flying is a big deal, full of nerves for a lot of people (it's not just me, ya know) and if things DO go wrong up there, it's a long way down.
So before we take off, I'll make sure the cats are in order and all is set here, which is necessary since we'll be away for a while, but a bonus if we never get back.

I think, too, about God's apparent love of ironic headlines- "Catholic Youth Ministers killed in fiery wreck!" and of how whenever you hear about the unfortunate death of people in situations like this, people are quoted in the paper "she was SO excited about this trip. She said it was going to restore her faith!" I mean, really, it's a tearjerker article in the making. Very little editing needed there to make it a heart-string tugger. And now a blog entry! "the woman's last words on her blog detailed her foresight about her own demise..."

I know, I sound gloomy! But like I say, travel like this is rare and significant for me. I don't really expect the worst, and won't even really be that nervous, I bet, but still, it gives one pause. The good news is, if anything does happen, I'll be with Scott, and he's a ringer- heavenbound, if anyone is... and I'll just hold on to his hand so tight they'll have to take me too.

Monday, November 27, 2006


Okay, first, I want to say that I did not choose the location, nor should I be punished for the location, of this national professional conference. I went when it was in Pittsburgh, (and I was pregnant, so I couldn't even eat/drink the fun stuff that everyone else was eating/drinking, so I get double credit!) and just because it's in Vegas, doesn't mean that I'm going to par-tay. Okay?
That said, I'm PSYCHED to go to VEGAS!!! I've never been there before, and I think the fact that I am not a gambler will make it even better. No sitting in a dark corner yanking handles on slot machines for me. (Also, I think they don't even have handles anymore, do they?) I am psyched to just see the sights, and eat at the buffets, and hang out with great people.
I am thrilled at the workshops I can choose from, and don't know how I'll decide! At this point, I'm thinking these:
Round A:
A-3: Developing Youth Inclusive Liturgies OR A-15: Best Methods in Adolescent Catechesis: Faith Theme: "Jesus" OR A-16: Best Models in Adolescent Catechesis: Parish/School

Round B/D:
B-4: The Changing Reality of Youth Ministry (Friday) OR B-5: They Will Know Us By Our Actions: Issues Facing the Professional Minister in the Contemporary Church (Friday) OR B-6: New Directions in Adolescent Catechesis

Round C:
C-5: Creating a Parish Culture for Youth Ministry Through Faith Assets™ OR C-10: Tools for the Vineyard: Empowering Lay Leaders for Ministry in the Fields OR C-11: The Sacrament of Confirmation: Exploring the Ritual and the Journey of Faith OR C-15: Best Methods in Adolescent Catechesis: Faith Theme: "Sacraments"

Round E:
E-3: Pray Who You Are: Creating Innovative Liturgical Prayer Experiences Using Traditional Sources OR E-9: Short Order Cooks, Jugglers, and Hawkeye Pierce: The Great Youth Ministry Balancing Act OR E-11: Will Our Faith Have Children? A Closer Look at the Impact of the National Study of Youth and Religion OR E-12: Inquiring Minds Want to Know -- Sharing Faith with Young Adolescents OR E-16: Rethinking Adolescent Catechesis…A Facilitated Dialogue

Okay, if you read through all those items, I'm impressed! I am totally titillated by them, and will have a hard time dealing with the fact that I can only be in one workshop at a time. We'll be taking the laptop along, so if I get a minute, I'll be able to blog from there, and fill all 6 of you loyal readers in on our doings.

Two more sleeps till we hit the runway!!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

end times

So in two days I leave for a great trip!! I'm so excited, so looking forward to it. The fact that this trip to this great place looms in my future has its effects on all the "departments" of my life. Suddenly, some things are not so important, and some other things have a new urgency.
All the daily drudgery things that annoy me usually, the things that cast a pall over my day and my mood, well, this week, they don't matter so much. I can take two days of the usual because the neon lights are at the end of this short tunnel!
But there's so much, too, to square away. Must pay the bills before we go, cash our spending money checks, do laundry, pack, get the tickets in order, make sure the cats are set.
The weekly Mass readings lately have been talking about end times, which is not an easy idea to wrap my head around. But this week, I kind of get it... I bet with the end nearing, so many things would become unimportant, while others would become important. When the big boom hit last week, Scott said that he thought about all these "end-time" warnings, and wondered "would I be ready?" What would we feel okay about leaving behind? What would we be so sad to lose touch with? (okay, yes, it would be my cats! is that so bad?)
I love the wisdom of the Liturgical year- they make you think about the "what ifs" and yearn for the "if onlys" and then remind you that the "if onlys" already exist for us, in the birth, life, death and resurrection of our Christ.

I heard the great last part of the sermon from Marsh Chapel at BU this morning. I can't vouch for the whole thing, but I loved the final message; The End Is Not Near.
At this posting, the sermon from 11/26 isn't up yet, but do check back:

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I dreamed last night...

... that my pastor was going around telling people that he didn't think I was doing a very good job. His housekeeper pulled me aside and told me that he had said the same to her. I was pretty upset because I had just put together a big LIFT-like evening with a crowd of cheering kids and great music and whatnot. Fortunately, the housekeeper was on my side, and told me that she had asserted to the pastor that building a YM takes time. In the parking lot on the way home I saw my supervisor. I said to her, "I need you to fight for me" and she wavered. "Wellllll...." she said. I felt the axe swinging my way, and thought I'd better get looking for a new job.
Think I'm stressed about work? Maybe?
I am so looking forward to the NCCYM. I am seeing it as a restart, a reboot for my ministry, and for my faith. I am so excited to come away from there with new energy, new optimism, and a new direction in which to plunge. I'm dying to get there, to spend time among colleagues, to feel so far away from here, to sing along with 2000 other youth ministers from around the US. It is my happy place right now!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


I heard it, and Scott's voice at the same time, saying my name, with fear in his voice. We sat there in bed, listening to it and feeling the house and ground vibrate. It seemed like it lasted several seconds, and it was shocking. We asked each other, "what the hell was that??" I got up to peek out the windows, and we turned the tv on to see if any news was reporting on it, but there was nothing but "TV Diner" on NECN. We thought it might have been a tremor, but it felt different- more of a vibration than a shake. We turned over and went back to sleep, wondering what had happened.
This morning, the cell phones started ringing early, and so I got up to check the news and saw the pictures of the huge chemical plant explosion here in town. It looks like no one was killed, that only a few people were even injured, but that a hundred homes were damaged, anywhere from a blown-out window screen to total annihilation. Scott has a deep theological reaction to this all, maybe he'll gues-post here about it in the days to come.
But the good news is we're fine, all safe and set. Onward we march!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Workshop Accomplished

Well we made it through, and no one threw anything at us. I felt really good all through the workshop and it was a lovely, (large) affirming group who gave us lots of nodding heads and yes-yeses. Scott led the opening prayer, then I kind of presented the theories, then Scott took up the questions and comments at the end.
The DRE's balked a little at my poo-pooing of service hours (and Scott did too, the rascal!) and some (okay, really just one) thought I was saying Mass was optional- and wondered if I agreed that parents should make their kids go to Mass.... (yes, I sure do). But mostly people were pretty agreeable with what we said.
At one point I asked them to imagine an Adolescent Faith Formation program if Confirmation didn't exist... and a huge crowd of them shouted back to me "NOBODY WOULD COME!!!" Sad, huh? And for the most part, most churches, of course that's true. When people named their "challenges" in the beginning of the workshop, they placed most of the blame on kids, families, sports, etc... but nobody said "my program's so boring that none of the kids are getting anything out of it". We told them Jim Rayburn's quote (he "invented" Young Life)- "It's a sin to bore a kid with the Gospel."
I talked too long, and didn't leave enough time for questions and answers. I wish we'd had more time to give concrete answers to their questions, but we didn't. Scott gave the best answer of the day- a woman raised her hand and said "Okay, so how do we talk to kids?" (which I thought was such a wild question! How do you talk to kids? Are there really people leading programs and classes and being perplexed on this level as to what they're doing?) I was kind of stumped, and looked at Scott... who gave the best answer or the day, I thought. He said "You start by listening to kids. Get to know them, show them that you're interested and care about them, and EARN the right to be heard by them." We wrapped by reminding them of the missionary analogy. It fit together pretty nicely!
I found out after the workshop that a Diocesan staffer had been in there with us the whole time- it was someone I had heard of but didn't know. Apparently she had planned to just watch the beginning but decided to stay for the whole thing. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, although when I walked past her later she didn't leap up to shake my hand. I felt a little worried after the workshop that I'd been too rebellious/radical, but maybe that's just a reflection of the fact that I've been in trouble for what I've said so often lately...
So there it is. Next on the horizon is Thanksgiving, and then NCCYM just a week and a half away. I can't WAIT!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Ad Cat

Tomorrow we're presenting at the Catechetical Congress down in Randolph. Our topic is "Adolescent Catechesis- Our Mission Field". Here's the outline of what we'll be presenting:

** If you were traveling to Namibia to teach Catholicism, to “form faith”, how would you start?
(Learn about their culture- learn to speak their language or at least to communicate in a way that works for both sides of the conversation. (maybe it’s symbols! Maybe it’s songs, ritual actions, etc…) Find out what their needs are, and show how faith in God can address those needs…)

** Adolescents are a culture all to their own, and it is helpful to consider serving their population as missionary work.

** The effect on the change in support systems that surround kids today is drastic- and creates the culture that our adolescents live in, and which defines their “personality” as a group.

** Have you ever seen an American meet up with someone who doesn’t speak English? After a little bit of trying to converse, what happens? They start to YELL! This is one technique that is often used in catechetical methods, and just like the actual language barrier this technique echoes, it doesn’t do much good. Yelling at someone in a language they don’t understand is a waste of time.

** Curricula are designed nowadays to reinforce what kids are learning at home and in Mass.

** We can move toward empowering one or more of their support systems to take their job back, in supporting and building and reinforcing their faith and learning, (ie Whole Comm. Catechesis) AND we can start taking into consideration the culture we’re serving, set some appropriate goals, and learn new ways to communicate with them.

** We're going to take a look at Confirmation- the history and theology of the Sacrament, what it is and what it isn't... and talk about this theory: Your Youth Ministry should look very much like it would if Confirmation didn't exist.

We think DRE's should set goals, with committees and staff, for the formation of their young people, and then design curricula to reflect and achieve those goals. This is in stark contrast to the pervasive model of buying a textbook series and teaching from them.

Then we'll open it up for Questions and comments, and rounds and rounds of applause.
We'll be available after the talk to sign autographs and pose for photos.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Okay, so I only blog on Fridays.

Tonight I went to a Pampered Chef party in the town where I had my first Youth Ministry job. As I've probably said before here, leaving there was infinitely painful- like a sad, bitter divorce. I now see that it was time, and right, for me to leave there, but I still miss the feeling of being at-home that I really felt there, and the families I was so invested in back there and then.
So tonight at the party, I was startled to see a young lady walk in who had been through "my" Confirmation program back then, almost 8 years ago. Introductions were made and Scott, who was there with me, asked her "oh did you go to St. Paul's? Did you know Margo?" and she said "Margo was a big part of my life back then." She said it really off-handedly, no big deal, but my heart jumped. I couldn't remember her last name- what a nice thing to hear that she felt I'd made an impression on her so long ago. Such a nice, unexpected blessing.
I think one of the hardest things to come to grips with as a YM is how very few are the young people whom one can really effect- in the group of 34 kids per grade level that I had there, I only ever really felt like I got a chance to know very few of them, very well. I don't know how it's possible that I might have made an impact in this young woman's life, but it's nice to think I did.
Then we stopped at the local House O'Pizza to pick up lunch for Scott, who's away at a ropes course tomorrow and will be brown-bagging it. The guy at the counter said "Hey, I remember you, it's been a long time, you used to come in with the kids!" I felt like a minor celebrity. I know, it means nothing, but I really was touched to be recognized by a town guy... in the town I'd left behind. It was a little like coming home again.
Today's been full of blessings, gentle "random" nudges that I might not be wasting my time in this vocation. I'm thankful for that.

Comments! (also, several new posts)

So I was just thinking yesterday that no one seems to be commenting on my blog anymore. How sad! Then just now, SB said "are you not adding comments to your blogs?" and it HIT ME! I never changed over to my new email address on blogger. So now I'm all in order again, and will receive your comments, if you make 'em. Sorry about that!
I've missed you!

So, I have this very groovy neighbor.

He's wonderful- 43 years old, single, wears flannel and brown shoes, has friends with dreadlocks who drive cars that run on french fry grease. Last year he quit his job after his mom miraculously recovered from a health crisis, and decided to live his life in a whole new way.
Today I pulled down the scraggly morning glory vines from the back hedge and harvested the seeds. I was sitting on the front porch step in my pajamas pulling the seeds out of their papery brown pods and putting them into our lovely chrystal glass when my neighbor pulled in. He came over to see what I was up to, and told me about his latest endeavors.
He told me he's been involved in Chrystal Healing, and it's been going very well. I don't know what chrystal healing is, but I smiled and nodded and listened. He said he feels so good to be where he is in life right now- "walking amongst life" is how he described it. He told me about great mentors and inspiring teachers who surround him now. And he told me that he wanted to share this with me because he knew that I'm a spiritual person.
I told him that my relationship with God is mostly adversarial. (Why was I telling him that? The guy just got me to share, that's all, no shame in sharing...) And then, in sort of an odd segue, he said this to me:
One of the symbols of (something nepal-ish that I can't remember) is the peacock, and that is because of this story- in the woods there is a bush with beautiful berries, and every animal in the forest tries to eat them- but when they do, they get sick and fall down. But the peacock eats the berries and says "these are the most delicious berries I've ever eaten". The others ask him how he can eat them and he just spreads his feathers and shows his beautiful plumage. My neighbor said "some people can take the most poisonous things and create beauty."

Invalid Marriage

A few weeks ago I stood at the back of my church and listened as my pastor, in his homily, told the congregation that my marriage is invalid, because I don't want to have kids. Okay, he didn't mention me specifically... but it felt pretty awkward to me, just the same. I know the Church feels that procreation is pretty darned important, and I'm in no means against it. I am pro-baby, and I approve of people having them. I just don't think it's in the Plans for me.
I am the youngest of many, and never was around babies very much- I very rarely babysat (and when I did I was fairly ineffective) so I don't know nothin' about birthin' no babies. We can't afford to have babies, in our current and forever situation of living very close to the financial bone. We are not savers... barely have a plan for ourselves past next week. We live in a one-bedroom apartment full of non-baby-proof stuff... our schedules are ridiculous for child-rearing- we work from around noon to around 8:00pm, and are gone on weekends quite often, doing overnights and trips, etc. It just wouldn't all fit together nicely with a nap schedule and whatnot. Day care costs almost as much as I make.
But ultimately, I feel very clearly called to ministry, (even if the way that works out is less than easy) and very clearly not called to motherhood. Does that mean that I should not have gotten married? I guess, in the eyes of the Church, that this is true, because I've created a non-creative marriage. But I can't believe that God's calling me to ministry means that I couldn't marry my true love... it just doesn't seem like something the God I know would want for me.
So on I go. But as sure as I feel, and surely directed by God, it stings to hear the pastor who hired me declare my marriage invalid because I'm not a mother.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

2 New Posts; or, This Is PMS

I have cried tonight to Grey's Anatomy, and to Desperate Housewives. And picked out most of the M&M's from the Gorp that Sue and Don brought to Friends' Thanksgiving last week.
Now we're watching The Office, and if I cry at that, I will just pack it in for the night.

Have I said this before?

I think God gives us near-misses and brushes with disaster to learn empathy. Going through the pain of losing someone who's not sooo close to me gives me an inkling of the pain that people go through when they lose someone very close. Being pregnant, however briefly, gave me insight into what pregnancy feels like- I can commiserate with the sickness, the exhaustion, the worry, the advice. Losing the baby after only 3 months, (and then again after only a month) makes my heart break for people who lose theirs after carrying them full-term, or at delivery... I understand addiction, and compulsion, at least to some degree, because of my own
In every Lifetime movie, someone says to someone else "I know how you feel", and then the other person screams "HOW DARE YOU SAY YOU KNOW HOW I FEEL?? UNLESS YOU'VE BEEN THROUGH WHAT I'VE BEEN THROUGH YOU CAN'T UNDERSTAND!!" I don't believe that's true- I believe that pain is pain. Even if we haven't been in the same situations, we can relate to each others' pain, because we know pain.
Which makes my first point kind of moot, now that I read back. The point is, empathy.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


today I was stopped at a light behind a car with a sticker on its back window, which read "Happiness is being Swedish". I thought to myself, that doesn't seem fair...

To have your happiness pre-set by just being born into an ethnic heritage. How easy!
Lately I've been thinking a lot about happiness. I think of myself as a happy person overall, but I struggle so much at work, and I have for so long. I know I can feel happiness, because I do at home, I do with my husband, I do with my friends, my family, my cats. So why do I struggle so much when I'm at work, doing God's work for crying out loud? Why can't I feel contentment in my vocation? Is it that I'm in the wrong place? Is it that I'm in the wrong church? Is it that I don't really understand what my vocation is? Am I doing things just so wrong? Is it that I just don't like to be told what to do? (I don't.)
I want to be happy, in all areas of my life. Maybe that's just not reality- maybe my discomfort in my work is fair trade for the bliss I feel at home. Maybe that's fair. Maybe I just haven't found the perfect fit yet. Maybe it's just that I'm not swedish...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day

Well it's finally, almost, over. The giant sucking sound we hear now is the new absence of political ads from the airwaves. I have to admit that really, the opinions I've formed about the candidates here have been almost purely from their ads. That can't be good, I know. But looking back over the past months, I really can't remember any other influences. I do listen constantly to NPR, but the coverage I have heard about the races has been mostly about the ads- this one is attacking and negative, that one is offensive... I did see bits of the debates, and heard the highlights from them, and those were significant too in the formation of my opinions.
I am due to vote in about an hour, and I still have not made up my mind about the alcohol in grocery stores one. I am honestly torn. I was worried about small liquor store owners (the stores are small, not the owners) and what effect it might have on them, but I actually spoke to one and he said they weren't worried about that. And as I said I'm annoyed with the scare tactic ads, and since I'm from Maine, where you can buy alcohol in grocery stores already, I just don't see it as such a huge deal. Hmm, maybe I have made up my mind!
Anyway, I'm praying today that elections go well, and in the direction I want them to... just kidding. not really.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Friends' Thanksgiving

Five years ago, our friend Ann-Marie suggested that we have a party for all our Youth Ministry friends. She had heard of this idea; it's based on the fact that you never get to celebrate Thanksgiving with your friends, since everyone is with their family on that day. The deal was, the hostess makes a turkey, and everyone else is responsible for another dish; veggies, potatoes, salad, rolls, cranberry sauce. Friends' Thanksgiving was born, and became a beloved (at least by us hosts!) tradition.
I was thinking last night about how the memories from each year's FT marked our progress and changes as a group of friends. Our first year was in Beverly, just newly married, and our friends were at various points in their relationships.There were friends there who have moved away or moved on.
Two years ago, We were unexpectedly (and freaked-out-ingly) pregnant, and laced our apartment with clues to the news- we even stuck the pregnancy tests with their two pink lines up in various places around the house. It was the beginning of a brand new world for us, and for our friends Pete and Keri, who also announced their same exciting news. A year later we were in yet another new apartment, with no baby, me in another new job, and things getting pretty much back to normal. New friends were with us, and some of the friends who had been dating in years past were broken up, and some were married to each other.
This year there was yet another new baby announcement (not from us!) and new love, old friends and new additions to the crowd. We're in a happy apartment, with happy cats, doing pretty well overall. I'm thankful for our good friends, and our life, and the blessing of sharing in our friends' lives.

Two Great Band Names

1. Both Dakotas
2. Various Nefarious

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

All Saints

I went to the noon Mass today for All Saints'Day. I got there about 10 minutes early and decided to take it in as a "civillian". Usually I check in at the Sacristy and volunteer to be a Eucharistic Minister, or stand by the doors and greet, sit near the back, or busy myself with some other kind of whatnot.
So I knelt to pray and found myself sort of scrambling for something to say to God. I am not a good pray-er. I chat with God all day long, but when it comes to praying with (as Dave Dumaine urges) my whole heart, mind and soul, I can really only remember doing that a long time ago.
When I was in high school, I was blessed to belong to a parish that took on the great experiment of youth ministry, as it was transitioning from CYO to the Vision of Youth Ministry in all its comprehensiveness. Great things happened to me through my membership in that church. The greatest things that happened, though, didn't happen there. The best thing my parish did for me was to put someone in charge of finding great conversion opportunities for me, and my peers. They connected me with retreats like Search and Gift- similar to the "TEC" retreats that still run here in Massachusetts. The leaders on those retreats told me great things about myself, believed that I already was the great person I hoped to be. They saw gifts in me that I had never heard about before, and encouraged me to trust my heart, because it was good. My parish connected me with CLI, then ACLI, through which God called me to Youth Ministry. And the rest, as they say...
So today when I knelt in the mega-mega church that is the home of my current ministry, surrounded mostly by strangers, older people with grey hair, feeling a bit like a stranger in a strange land, I thanked God for the Saints He'd sent my way. St. Joseph, under whose care Scott and I placed our marriage, our family; St. Theresa, who prayed and guided me through loss in her little way, St. Anthony who helps me find various and sundry things that I lose... (I try not to ask him unless I'm really desperate), St. Jude, to whom my team has turned for help for our Youth Ministry. But also, for Michelle, who told me to trust my heart, for Jim, who shared his joyful faith with me, for Bad Father Brad, for John Roberto and Brian Reynolds. And for the people at St. Charles, whose names I forget... who connected me with these wonderful people. Saints, all.

it's funny 'cause it's true!

Monday, October 30, 2006

2 new posts

Last night the lesson for our 10th graders was "the Perfect Church". They're given free reign and asked to dream big about what the perfect Catholic Church would look like. What would the Church be doing for children? Teenagers? Families? Elderly? People with disabilities? Sinners? Doubters? What would the music be like? What would the homilies be like? What would the building look like?
Without fail, every time I've used this lesson, the kids suggest such things as La-Z-Boy chairs in the sanctuary, famous rock bands for the Mass music, blabityblah. Then they get down to the nitty-gritty. They suggest providing rides and Mass buddies for the elderly. They talk about child care, they talk about food pantries, they talk about great speakers giving the homilies, messages that really connect with people's lives, more young people involved in the activities there. They dream up a beautiful community that thinks and cares for the least of its members. They envision worshipful, communal liturgies.
Then they get the WHAMMO!! The teachers say "Wow!! What great ideas!!! Now. Who is going to make this happen?" They show them that their dreams reflect their values- their ideas reveal ideas that they think are important. And if that's true, then their behavior should reflect those values. You want better music? What are you willing to do to make that happen? You want someone to help the elderly? How are you willing to help? You think the sanctuary needs improvement? How much will you donate toward those improvements? Will you sit on a committee to plan those changes?
There's a saying that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Maybe it should be the squeaky wheel gets put to work!

Random Thoughts.

I'm watching Oprah- she's showing footage of a two-legged dog who learned to walk on her two back legs. Wow.

I don't think I ever learned to play Yahtzee. I did however just learn to play mancala, which seems like the kind of game that you just play the same moves over and over. But maybe that's just me.

I think the most promising career for young people today is going to be Chiropractic. The kids who come to our middle school program directly from school have bags that weigh a ridiculous amount. And the fashion, it seems, is to wear your backpack way down on your back, so that the only part of it to contact your body is the straps and the bottom of the pack, which hits across the rear end. They will be bent in half by the time they're in college.

Also, whatever kind of doctor does carpal-tunnel treatment and repetitive use injuries for the hands, since all kids do all day is type with their thumbs.

My face is drying up and peeling off, suddenly, with the change of seasons. It happens a little more significantly every year older I get. Unfortunately, though, menopause remains tauntingly out of reach.

I can't decide about the liquor in grocery stores bill. I tend to vote against whatever a big corporation is going for, on G.P. But all I've seen from the opposition is scare tactic-type ads, and those just make me mad. I know neither of these are good reasons or basis for choosing how to vote, but there you go.

I am sure that I'm voting for the Levar Burton guy. I loved him on Reading Rainbow.

My Bible Study group just finished studying the book of Esther, from the Old Testament. What a great story! Lots of good stuff there, especially for women I think. And it's a short one.

Knowing, as I do, that I have the best marriage in the world, it was funny to hear that my friend Bob thinks that he does. Huh.

Monday, October 23, 2006

prudence vs. paranoia

Our former Deacon (now Priest) was in town yesterday and came to visit me in the lovely YM center building. He had been a huge hit on one of our sophomore retreats last year, and he's an absolutely great guy. Now he's at a relatively tiny parish in another state, as Parochial Vicar. He has found himself to be the Youth Minister for the parish. I asked him how it was different, in a different diocese, insofar as the "child safety" paranoia.
He said it was really different. He said things were much more relaxed, and essentially that people weren't as on-edge there as they are here. They're not lax, they follow the common-sense guidelines of keeping doors open, they CORI teachers (but not every Tom/Dick/Harry that might pass by them in the church hallway). Where he is, they are fingerprinted, digitally (no pun intended), which means no re-doing it every year because they stay on record permanently.
The way he described things, it doesn't sound like much is different, technically- except the "feel" of it. He described a place that was safe, but not completely paranoid- concerned, but not hysterically afraid all the time. It sounded wonderful.
I keep waiting for things to calm down here, to return to a place of normalcy, for reason and logic to come back into the world around me. But it just seems to get worse and worse- more fear, more paranoia, more "the lawyers say"...
I believe in prudence, but I also believe that paranoia does more damage than good.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Here's what I did today.

Ellen. The View. Project Runway finale (congrats Jeffrey!), Gilmore Girls (I don't know if it's to be Christopher or Luke, but I do know I hate Luke's new hat), Ugly Betty, That's So Raven (I know, I know. I love that girl though!), Good Eats. Tonight's plans?
New Adventures of Old Christine (one night I said "I love her!" and Scott said "you ARE her!") Two and a half men, How I met your Mother, OR we may scrap the dvr'd sitcoms and go for The Uninvited, a 1944 ghost story. MMMM I love those black and white movies!
Did I say this blog was going to be about Youth Ministry?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Strike one against the plastic bag!!

I did it! One small step for (a) woman, one giant leap for conservation. Today I remembered to bring a bag with me to the grocery store, and bagged up my own groceries in it instead of using paper OR plastic! The nice woman at the ring-it-up-yourself lanes said some people do that, bring their own bags, and didn't look at me like a freak or anything. I felt very proud to be carrying my purchases (all in one bag) out to the car in my free-from-a-conference Harcourt Religion Publishers bag!!!
Now if I can remember to put it back in the car to use next time I go to the grocery store!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Boldness in Ministry

Several years ago, I went to a workshop at a national Youth Ministry conference. The speaker was great- she hit many nails on their heads in that workshop. One thing she said was ther she had become unafraid to be bold in her ministry, that is, in standing up for herself and her ministry- in speaking the truth and having confidence in herself, her skills, her calling.
All these years, I've been called a rebel and a trouble-maker. I've been... outspoken. But, I think, I've been really holding back. I've been afraid to stand up, all the way up, when I know I'm right. I was worried that I'd lose my job, that I'd ruin my chances at being hired again at another parish, that I'd stand myself up out of my vocation.
But, I'm tired of playing it safe. I am tired of holding back. I don't plan to go nuts, I am not embarking on a professional suicide mission, but I know this; I have been put into this life, this role, this job, for a reason. I am confident in my abilities and skills, and trust my calling. I'm going to pray first, then speak, and be bold.

Monday, October 16, 2006

I hate Halloween

The other day, some of the kids in my office said "what are you going to be for Halloween?" I said, "I hate Halloween." They said "WHAT??"
I really do hate Halloween. I've never been a huge fan, even from childhood, but over the years the minuses have outweighed the pluses by far.
When I was young, we didn't Trick-or-Treat, except maybe a stop at the neighbors' house - they were fundamentalist Baptists and could be trusted not to put anything unsavory in our bags. We went, always, to the elementary school Halloween party and played the games there, including the one where you'd fish over a wall and some prize would come back attached to your hook, and the one where you'd stick your hand through a hole and feel eyeballs (aka grapes). There was always a costume contest. I always worked hard to come up with a good costume, and gathered the props, etc... my brother would wait until the last minute, have no ideas, and then Mom would come up with something MUCH more creative than I had, and he would win the contest. Harumph. One year, I was Mary (of little lamb fame) and my brother was an octopus. My Mom stuffed four pairs of nylons with something, and strung them around his waist as octopus legs. Brilliant!
I told the kids that probably the reason I hate Halloween is that I lived in Salem for a while, and every year around this time, people would flock there to celebrate Halloween. These poor people looked so sad to me, all dressed in black and gloomy looking and they seemed to be searching for something. It was like the underside of religion, the anti-version of a church full of bright-eyed people dressed in white searching for something. But in Salem there was nothing to find but tourist traps and plastic souveniers. So sad!
And the traffic was ridiculous!!!
So, when Halloween comes around, I buy a bag of candy and go hide somewhere. It's not a big deal, I have some negative memories around Halloween time too, but I don't spiral into a depression or anything, I just ride it out. Next stop, Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

3 new posts

I have completely wasted this day. It is 3:52pm and I am still in my pajamas. Since it's a long weekend, I don't have to go in until the 6:00 Mass, so I have been (as my dad always said) "donking around" all day. I did take some nice photos, including this one which I think makes a nifty computer wallpaper:

but outside of that foray into the gorgeous weather out there, I have watched the movie Superstar (aka the Mary Catherine Gallager story. SO funny.) and now I'm watching an episode of Project Runway. I know! No nutritional value here at all. I was supposed to go grocery shopping with this extra time, I was supposed to go get cat food before the stores closed, I have a work project to work on... but instead I'm inside, in my pajamas, watching junk tv.
(How does that guy have tattoos all over this throat?? That must have KILLED!!)
But I am consoling (aka justifying) myself with the fact that now it's too late to get all that stuff done, so I may as well sit tight for the next episode of PR. (it's a marathon!!)
And, look, I've done 3 new blog entries! That's something, isn't it?

Oh No it IS NOT!

Yes, yes it is! It's a plastic shopping bag entwined in my poor, fruitless pumpkin plant. Now that's adding insult to injury!!

Friday, October 06, 2006


Today I was listening to NPR, a show that was reviewing the week's news, and someone called in to say how we should all be noting and learning from the Amish's amazing behavior in light of the tragedy there. He noted that they are not on CNN raging and crying and calling for justice, they're not on websites asking for disaster relief... they are simply grieving, forgiving, and coping as a community. He said these were qualities that all Christians were taught, but rarely use.
I immediately thought of the families of those who died in the tragic Station Night Club fire. They constantly appear on television and call for "justice" and when the owners of the club weren't put in jail for life, they wailed that they wanted the owners to be punished, that they didn't think they had been punished enough for their mistake, and that until they spend their lives in jail, they won't feel like they've gotten justice for the deaths of their family members and friends.
Just recently when the owners were given their sentences, there was a lot of outrage, but I just felt sad. These men are not killers, and the fire was a horrible, tragic, accident. I don't see how going away to prison would help any of the victims' family members feel better, or mourn less. Does any sane person say, in their grief and loss, "well at least someone went to prison"? I don't see how making someone else suffer- justice. Where did we lose touch with what justice means? Who has taught us that it means equal pain?
When I'm home during the day I see ads for local lawyers that horrify me. They show people saying "My life was ruined because of someone's mistake. Now they're getting what they deserve". I think that's about the saddest thing I've ever heard.
I've been truly blessed in my life to not have been touched by close, personal tragedy, so maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. But my prayer is that when it does happen, on whichever end, (whether it's something that happens to me, or some mistake I make-)that true justice will be found in forgiveness and charity, not revenge or spite.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


As I write this, the season premiere of LOST is mere minutes away!!! Now that we know what the numbers mean, how will they play into the action? What are they going to do with our hostages?? Is Desmond dead?? Ecko?? WHAT DOES IT ALL MEANNNNN????
I can't WAIT!

Friday, September 29, 2006

My pumpkin plant is homosexual.

It's true! There are supposed to be male flowers and female flowers, but all this plant has is males. Tons of them, in flamboyant orange. Not that there's anything wrong with that, except that it means NO PUMPKINS!
Well, maybe this week I'll go buy a store-bought pumpkin, and save some of the seeds for the back yard. We'll see what happens.

The List.

Once upon a time I heard a comedian tell about having a top ten friends list, that he updated every year. I thought it was a great idea, and started doing it myself. My list was just that, a top ten friends list, and I would start working on it in November or Dcember. The first few years of the list, I would email the results out to the top tenners, or call with the good news. But then, our friends starting hosting New Year's Eve parties every year, and since most of the top tenners were there in person, I started announcing them at midnight. It was always fun to see them react to their places on the list, and comparing their ranks from year to year.
It was never hard to write the list, that is, never hard to come up with ten names of people who should "make it". Ranking them could be difficult sometimes. I had a few rules, like no family members on the list, (including husbands) and the friends who made it had to be "weekend friends"- that is, work friends could make the list but only if they'd become friends outside of work, too.
One of the best parts of having the list was telling new friends that I had it, or hearing other friends tell new people about it. Their reactions usually fell within these categories: "I don't want to be on your list!"(denial), or "can I buy you a coke?"(ambition). One friend used to call me in early December every year to check in and make sure that I was saving him a spot.
Last year, I didn't make the list. I just didn't feel like it. At midnight, at the party, everyone turned to look at me, and I said "I didn't make one". I thought there would be some kind of horrific reaction, some wailing and gnashing of teeth, but there was barely a whimper.
But I think I'll bring it back this year. I've got great friends and I like being able to let them know. Maybe I'll make it an even bigger deal, sponsor some wagering or have a dinner party for the top five. Maybe some prizes. Get busy friends!!

but seriously.

AM I the only one who has war dreams?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Paper or plastic?

I have this thing about plastic grocery bags. I hate them. They don't hold my groceries together in the back of the car, allowing everything to roll all over the place when I take corners. Stores use WAY too many of them. But the worst thing about all those bags is how many of them I see every day tied up in some tree somewhere. I cringe when I see a grocery bag entwined in a tree limb, flapping in the breeze.

I remember when they started the changeover from paper to plastic. There was a lot of debate, and every store made an effort to ask their customers, "paper or plastic?" Remember those powdery-feeling biodegradable bags? What ever happened to those? (I remember reading that they weren't that much better than the regular ones. I dunno though.)
So, I try to avoid getting plastic bags at the store, and when I see them in trees and bushes and whatnot, I pick them up. I save the bags we do get, and bring them back to the store to recycle. I try to bag my own groceries, because when I ask the bagger kid to do it, they sigh at me.
Today, I went to Market Basket, and bought groceries for our dinner tonight. I asked for paper bags. The kid put two items in a paper bag, and then, I swear, put the other items into plastic bags, and put them into the paper bag. He individually wrapped, in plastic, the eggs, the milk, the chicken (ok, raw chicken, I can see that) and the bottle of hand soap. I worked at a grocery store once, and I was told that soaps are separately bagged so as not to contaminate the food. But seriously, how much contamination can happen in a ten minute car trip? How often do plastic bottles of hand soap burst open in the back of our cars?
So after I checked out, I pulled out of the register area, pulled over my cart, and rebagged my bags, grabbing a bag from a nearby register. Now I have four bags that have been used for two seconds, but they're wet and rumpled. They can't use them again, so I sadly hand them to the manager to put them in the bag recycling bin.
Join me, America. Boycott plastic grocery bags. Pick 'em up when you see them. Endure the hateful stares from bag boys while saving the planet.

Joe, you're too low! Pull up!! Pull up!!!!!

In a weird confluence of several of my most irrational fears, the little airport behind our house is hosting several WWII-era planes, and flying them out over my driveway (which is an unusual flight path for the airport). And they're LOW. You can count the freckles on the noses of the pilots).
All of you, my myriad readers, may remember that my post 9/11 fears of planes crashing on my house live on. (I don't always duck...) The other fear featured here, even more bizarre, is a war thing. What's weird here is that whenever I have dreams about war, (not often, I swear- don't go taking up a collection for my therapy) it's WWII that is the scene I picture. I know, I was born umpty-nine years after that war, but somehow, as wars go, it is the most significant and clear frame of reference for me. I blame the old movies and Time-Life books.
So imagine, if you will, heading out to work (on your day off) for a stressful meeting, and in the driveway, flying directly over your head (and did I mention LOW) is a WWII-type war plane. Oh, and you're me. Very Twilight Zone, no?
And, am I the only one who has war dreams?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

prayer request

I got this email from one of my kids from a former parish. I have taken out his town and last name, even though his father wants his story told as stated at the end of the email, ya know, just for safety or privacy's sake. But this young man needs your prayers, so if you could put him on your list I'm much appreciative.
I know this young man. He's a great guy, and it's so awful, after all he's already been through, that this is happening to him again. Please help me pray for him.

Hello family and friends,
I am writing you to ask you all to pray for a 17 year old student with brain cancer. He received a clean bill of health 5 years ago and learned in May of this year that the cancer has returned and is now in 6 areas of his brain. He is not a candidate for chemotherapy or radiation at this point. His only hope is an alternative treatment which his father is administering at home, through IV. The treatment causes a high fever of 105 degrees and makes the young man very ill. The hope is that the toxins that are injected will kill the tumors. Brain damage is now occurring; either due to the tumors or the toxins.
Please pray for the father and mother who are trying relentlessly to save their son; the son who is experiencing this pain and suffering and the rest of the family who include 4 siblings. The father, who I spoke to today, wants prayers and believes it is the only hope. He also wants his son's name to not be anonymous. His name is David. Thank you for including him in your prayers.

Thanks all.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Veterans' Day

When I was a fairly new Youth Minister, I was dating a Veteran Youth Minister, and lucked into attending a "Veteran Youth Ministers" meeting at the OYM. I tried to stay quiet, since I had essentially gained entrance on my boyfriend's coattails, but my ears were wide open. I learned so much from these people. They already knew and understood the things that I was struggling to figure out. They were confident, educated, strong- they'd tried and failed, and tried and succeeded. I wondered what my life would be like when I achieved veteran status.
Well I'm officially in! This week we're gathering again the veterans and I'm one of them. I've been doing YouthMinistry professionally for 10 years now, and working with adolescents for almost 15 years, in various other (secular) capacities.I'm at the point where those vets were so long ago, who I admired so much.
I do feel like a veteran, I have definitely seen and learned and tried a lot of things. I have developed a significant sense of cynicism, experience serious burnout, cried and laughed at the amazing things I've seen happen at kids, felt and known the presence of the Holy Spirit, learned a LOT about this Church and its workings... I've read and read and read as much about Youth Ministry as I have been able to. I've been inspired and enraged. I feel like a veteran-complete with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder!
I can't wait to hear what these veterans have to say. I'm wondering how many of us are in serious burnout mode. I'm curious to hear the differences between the stories of the males and the females. I wonder what people will be saying about the state of YM in the Archdiocese.
I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

too much to say

For as far back as I can remember, I've loved to write- not just loved to, I have needed to write. In college, when times were hard and I was struggling, and my heart was being broken by some fella, I had two remedies. I bought Symphony bars (we called them "sympathy" bars) and if things were really bad, I'd by myself a nice, new, black pen. Nothing fancy, just something that would write my feelings out in a lovely, serious, black black ink. My notebooks in college were full of brain-drippings, funnelled through my nice black pens.
Since college, I've filled plenty of journals- at times I would write every day, on and on, but at other points, you might see weeks or even months between entries in my journals. But still, and probably forever, whenever I hit crisis and struggle, it's like a physical need- I've got to write. It's almost as if I need to start writing to see what comes out. As that old quote goes, "How do I know what I think until I see what I say?"
So, now comes blogging, and suddenly everything is public and friends keep sending me articles about bloggers who've been drummed out of society for what they've written and now have to live on the river's edge wearing sackcloth. It's hard for me not to let my brain drip onto my keyboard, and out into cyberspace but I do know that it's important to be careful. So, the opposite situation happens- now, when I struggle the most, I step away from the blog because it's too risky to be truthful, too public a place to be private on.
Which is to say, if you don't see me posting much (like lately), it's probably because I have too much to say.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

on 9/11

On 9/11, (THE nine-eleven) I had just gotten up and was pouring myself an iced coffee, when the phone rang. I hadn't turned on the tv yet (I was that freshly awake). PJ was calling from work, where he couldn't get on the internet and had no tv access- he asked me what was happening, but I didn't know. I turned on the tv while I had him on the phone, and we watched things unfold. It was stunning- that is, I remember really feeling stunned, and it took me a while to really grasp what was going on.
I went in to where Scott was blissfully asleep, and woke him up. How do I wake him? What do I tell him? I woke him and said "something bad has happened" and we turned on the little tv in the bedroom and watched together, holding onto each other on our bed.
That day, we had lunch together and then went to our own parishes to get to work on how we could serve through this horror. It was that day that we decided to buy a cell phone, so we could more easily reach each other in times of crisis.
Just last week I realized how I'm still affected by this all. I was in the shower and heard a really really loud noise overhead. We live next to a small airport, and I thought maybe the Hood blimp was right over the house, but that really doesn't happen- then I thought it might be a plane about to fall onto our house. (that doesn't happen either, so far) I literally ducked in the shower. (I am great in a crisis) then I realized what it was- a lawnmower going by the bathroom window.
Before 9/11 I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have confused a lawnmower with a plane crashing on my house.
I have long noticed that God has put some near-misses with tragedy in my life, and I think it's been to teach me empathy. If I freak out at lawnmowers I can get a bit of a glimpse, however mild, of what the real victims of this tragedy must be feeling.
Although I won't be able to watch much of the tv 9/11-palooza that will be on tomorrow, I will be praying for all of us to heal and feel peace again.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Keeping Children Safe...........

Well I spent the last two days at a "training" for implimenting the new "Keeping Children Safe" program, which is essentially "Talking about Touching" for middle school grades. Although I don't feel as though I can really tell, here, what I thought of the training, due to the fact that I'm sure to be already on some list of sympathizers at the chancery after the bit of noise I dared to make at the session, I will tell you this little story.
Somewhere around the middle of the second day of the training, a refridgerator started to hum loudly in the kitchen which adjoined the meeting room. Between us and the fridge were a door, and next to that a really large, gaping wide window with no covering and no ability to shut. When the humming started, one of the leaders of the training jumped up to address the situation. She walked over to the kitchen, and closed that door. Didn't do much at all, with the gaping wide open window there to let all the noise flow through. But I guess she thought the action of closing that tiny, ineffective door was worth the action.
And that's the end of my story.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

sacred space

Ohhh yeah, when I got to work today I had 34 messages on my machine, and the light was blinking "FULL"...."FULL"...."FULL"...."FULL"....
The phone rang pretty much constantly as soon as I set foot in the office- in fact, every time I tried to get the messages off the machine and into my notebook, someone would call and that would turn off the machine mid-message, and I'd have to start over again.
In the midst of it all were tons of kids visiting, the maintenance guys ripping up carpet in the dining room, parents coming by to pick up or drop off paperwork, and a 400 piece mailing. Oh and also two meetings.
About midday, I got a message from my dear, sweet friend who has just taken a job in the West region, who lovingly told me she has a whopping 84 kids from grades 8-10. Total.
I thought about putting my head down on my desk, but instead I dialed up Sacred Space ( and tried to focus. Sacred Space is a website run by the Jesuits in Ireland (which explains the .ie domain on the web site address) and it's a great place to turn in just such a state as I was in today. You click, and it helps you ease into prayer, and then you click and it gently guides you to open your heart to God. There's scripture, and help reflecting, and also at the bottom of every page there's little places you can click for even more help, if you're stuck.
Today Sacred Space helped me get grounded again, and reassured me that God's power can overcome my powerlessness, which was a message I sorely needed to be reminded of. Ahhhhh......

Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day Freakout

Shhhhhh....Remain calm. DON'T think about the fact that tomorrow the proverbial poop hits the rhetorical fan. I KNOW every sign points to Summer being over but we don't have to talk about that. I KNOW every commercial on tv has a math book in it and every store has spiral notebooks on sale. I know. But, let's not focus on that. We don't have to. Let's focus on the good things. Let's go to our happy place.

Nooooo, no. Not there. Go deeeeeper. Breathe deep. There you go.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

I made it!

Okay, attendance-takers out there, take ease. I did go to Mass. I split the difference and went to an evening Mass at a parish between here and His. His would be, it really would be, too much like work, too much like home, and sometimes I really do love the feeling of being one of the crowd at Mass. I didn't have to get up once, I didn't have to worry that the lector might forget to step forward for the POTF, I didn't have to help with the collection, I didn't have to be uber-friendly (although I was pretty friendly!) It was very nice.
I know Mass is communal prayer, but I have to admit, I like the feeling, every once in a while, of being a little anonymous. I did the whole bit, I kneeled/stood/sat when everyone else did, I sang out with all the songs, and followed along with the readings. I smiled and said "peace be with you" to everyone, and all that stuff. But I felt alone in the crowd, and I liked it.
There. I said it.

however, I have to admit...

... it wouldn't take tooooooo much convincing to get me out of the house to, say, go get Supreme Roast Beef. I may be a terrible Catholic but I'm a VERY good eater.

a body at rest...

So I don't have to go to work today- it being Labor day weekend and thus attendance at the 6 will be light- and since I have about 55 hours of "comp time" to take back in response to my overworking lately- and I am faced with an interesting quandary. What to do about Mass? I've been invited to Scott's parish for the 5, which is always nice but today feels like it would be just what I'm trying to avoid. Also, there's something childish in me that keeps count of how many times I've slogged down there to "his" Mass versus how many times he's come to "mine".
So, if it's not there, and it's not my parish, then where? Well, I woke up too late to go to any normal morning Masses in our town, which would have been at 9 or ten. So I'll have to find another evening Mass. I know there's one at both of my former parishes, but can't go there!
The thing is, it would be so easy to just skip. Just stay at home and watch Fail Safe, which is saved on our dvr box. I could stay in my pajamas, eat brownies, play on my new computer, and did I mention it's raining out? Hard! It makes me realize that without working at/for the Church, it would be very easy for me to let my religious duties slip away. I wonder how Catholic I would be if I weren't a minister? I wonder what impels non-Church-employed Catholics to keep it up, especially when it's so darn cold and rainy outside?

Friday, September 01, 2006

fever dreams

At just around this time last year, as I was preparing to take on my new (current) job, I started feeling stress like I really never had before. I've been known as the kind of person who is laid back and doesn't get stressed out-I was once described as "walking valium"- so this came as kind of a shock. I started to have dreams that I could only really compare to the kind of dreams I've had when I'm sick with a high fever. The odd thing was, something would be stuck in my head and every dream I had would be centered on that, all night, and I just couldn't shake it. For several nights it was a particular Christina Aguilera song (I can't remember which one now) and it would be in my dreams and would continue to run in my head every time I woke up, which was several times during the night. It was awful- and not only because it was a pretty bad song.
I guess I have a high threshhold for stress- and maybe that makes it even harder to deal with it once it actually comes.
Now, a year later, I'm having those feverish dreams again- two nights ago it was a Beastie Boys song (great song- love it. But...). Everyone in every dream was rapping those song lyrics to me. No, they're not meaningful lyrics (ex: "just gliding in the glade... like Lorne Greene you know I get paid!")- just one of the last songs I had in my head before I went to sleep. Last night my dreams were all about the last days of Anchorage, the group home I used to work for and which is now actually closing down. There was lots to do, lots of running around and making sure everything was packed and taken care of.
I know why I'm stressed again this year- it's the same reason I was last year- the schedule and expectations that loom ahead of me are massive and intimidating, and I don't feel like I have much control over them. That's not a feeling I'm used to, and not one (clearly) that I'm comfortable with.
Tonight, as I write this, I'm away from home, on the Cape (or near it, I'm not exactly sure) with some of my dearest friends. We spent the evening laughing hard and I'm good and tired. I pray for peaceful sleep and that my emotional clock will be reset by the distance, fresh air and laughter.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Youth Masses

Tonight I met with my Youth Mass committee. Our parish has a 6:00 Mass, and we plan all the high school faith formation classes to abut that Mass, and we have this group of adults who are interested in making it "youth-friendly". We trained a buncha kids last year to be lectors and Eucharistic ministers and greeters, and we have meetings to plan things like helpful homily ideas and decorations and whatnot. But there is only so much we can do, because three weeks of each month there is a "contemporary music group" who play their guitars and flute and sing.
But I'm not going to complain about the youth-Mass-ness of the youth Mass. What I want to talk about it LifeTeen.
Last year at this time I was just getting started at this parish, and this very group of people came to talk about instituting Life Teen Masses and Life Nights at our parish. I shared with them my views on the subject, which I think they mostly disagreed with, but let it go in hopes of pursuing it later.
And here are my views:
* I have a problem with putting a brand name on the Mass. I cringe when I ask kids where they go to church and they say "I belong to such and such Lifeteen". Wha?
* I hate how kids at Lifeteen Masses sit separately from their parents and the rest of the congregation. Okay, maybe it's just at the several parishes whose LT Masses I've visited.
*I think it's GREAT, but only for a small part of the community- not just that it's only great for teenagers, it's only great for a portion of the teenagers in a parish. When a hundred kids show up and do the hand motions to the songs at a Mass every week, it sure looks like great ministry is happening- and it is- but only for a small portion of the population. I think putting all our effort into one model in that way creates walls that do damage in a parish community.
* I think the Liturgy is enough, if done well, to reach young people. It doesn't need to have skits and jokes and silliness to reach kids and I think the theatrics of a Lifeteen Mass set up kids for serious disappointment when they graduate to the real world and Mass isn't as entertaining as it was in Lifeteen.
Sooooo, there it is. The arguments I've heard against my opinions mostly fall into the kids need Mass to be that way, for them< and >the Lifeteen organization doesn't really want parishes to do it that way, they just abuse the idea.<
I will grant ya that Lifeteen puts out some great resources for the Mass. BUT, you can't just buy what you need, you have to pay upwards of 600.00 to get a box every few months with a Liturgical planning guide (this is all I really want), Life Night planning guides (even if you don't do lifenights) a few cd's (nice, but not necessary) a couple of random books, and some silly thing like a blow-up-something-or-other, or a toy or a tchotchke. If I could, I'd buy the Lit. Planning guides at every opportunity, happily pay 20 bucks for the book, and let the rest go at a savings of around $520.00 or so.
I DO believe Masses should be youth- and youth-family friendly, but I think it takes only some effort on the part of the music group to make the music singable, some effort on the part of the ministers to create a friendly (to everyone) environment, and effort on the part of the presider to at least acknowledge the existence of young people. After that, God's got it covered.
But hey, that's just my opinion(s).