Friday, January 28, 2011

Bring On Lent

I have been OUT OF CONTROL diet-wise lately.

I think it's my deep-seated Catholicism that makes me go nuts this year- my gut knows that Lent should be around the corner so I naturally go a little crazy. You know, because Inspired Self-Control, for Spiritual Purposes, is coming right up.
I know, this is contrary to the whole idea of fasting, of sacrificing... I know that when I give up something for Lent, I should still be not doing it a year later... but that is not the kind of Catholic I am. I am the kind of Catholic who lives like a wicked sinna all year long and then pulls it together for Lent. On Easter? I go nuts.
All right, that is kind of an exaggeration. But when Lent comes I actually do look forward to a time of discipline and dedication and prayerful action. I am already dreaming of things to do for my Lenten promise, and have some good ideas. As a low-carber, most of the time (but not right now, see above picture) the nice thing about Lent is that I can beg out of people's offers of sweets, and can blame it on God. The rest of the year, people get annoyed or insulted when I turn down their brownies, or make nasty cracks about the low-carb lifestyle, etc... but during Lent suddenly everyone is sympathetic and supportive of my efforts!
I have some other ideas that I may add on or subtract to my life during Lent but I'm not set yet. A friend of ours writes Lenten Bumper Stickers with his youth group kids, and I've used that with my kids in the past, and it's surprisingly fun and helpful. The catchy slogan turns into a mantra somehow... mine in the past has been "He DIED for me, I'll DIET for Him." But maybe I'll work on something snazzier for this year. It's going to be a doozy, I can feel it. But it's still over a month away! How am I going to stop foraging before then???

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hello Kanata, Ontario!

Have you heard of keyword-search poetry? Well my counter program doesn't track keyword searches (oh how I wish it did!!) but it does have a button called "who's on?" which is how I saw that someone in Kanata, Ontario is looking at my blog RIGHT NOW! So hi Canada! It also tells me that someone always enters my blog via the "Who is your Unibrow Baby" page, which I think is funny.
On with the randomness!
It has been brought to my attention that I talk like an old lady. Born of my life as a Youth Minister/Role Model, I don't swear much (unless I feel like it's absolutely frickin' necessary) so I say things like "gosh" "darn" and "heck." Once, I was leading prayers with teenagers, and said "can you all move a little closer so that I don't have to hollar?" and a girl near me giggled and said "my Grandmother says 'hollar'." I sound a little bit like this guy:


It's a real old fashioned Winter here, and I am out of love with it. My winter spirit lasted way longer than usual, what with the pretty snow everywhere and all that, but now I am sick of wearing coats and my mittens are falling apart and just the thought of that crunching sound the snow makes when I walk on it makes my teeth hurt. My hair is like hay and that spot of dry skin on my elbow is bugging me and I have just had it. What is this, January? Crap.
Half of my friends on Facebook are complaining about the weather and the other half are complaining about people who complain about the weather. "HellOOOOo, this is New ENGland, it SNOWs here, get OVER it!!" I am staying out of the fray, but you know the truth, dear reader.
My mother and my cat are both experiencing the beginning stages of dementia. I don't see Mom much but I think of her every time my cat hisses at her daughter, for no good reason. I guess that's enough said about that.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The View from Here

I've been thinking about that last post since I wrote it. My head spins when I think about where we've come as a church. Today as I sat with a group of parish staff-type-people, we discussed the upcoming Catholics Come Home initiative, and one of them lamented "but what are we calling them home to?" I think the morale of Catholics in our area is worse right now than it was in the height of the scandal- worse, and different. Different because in the throes of things back then, we could cling on to hope that the challenges hitting the Church would cause change for the better. Now, several years later, things have not gotten better.
Now I don't know where to go with this post. I feel all gloomy- and that's not what I want this blog to read like- but anyone who knows anything about the state of our Archdiocese, who still cringes at the mention of the word "Catholic" in the news, who reads blogs that expose our local leadership as failing in a big way, must be finding it as hard as I am to feel hopeful. I think that part of my job as a pastoral minister is to expose people to the positive parts of our Church, to the faith, to the Truth it contains. But it's hard to ignore that we are in crisis.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

C'est La Vie?

I was intrigued when I heard the announcement that the CBC radio show "C'est la vie" would be broadcasting a show about a woman traveling to her "small town in Maine" for the closing of her French-American Catholic parish. I dialed up the show and listened to it online. It turns out that small town is Biddeford, a place with which I'm pretty familiar. I listened with interest as she described herself as having moved away from the town many years ago, and having left the Church altogether.
When she returned for the final Mass, though, she was moved to tears. She kept saying things like "They are taking our Church away from us" and "They are taking my culture." She mourned this Church which she admitted she had stopped supporting and stopped believing in (but fully expected to be buried from) years ago.
This is baffling to me.
Who, I wondered, does she think "They" are? Who is taking this Church away, and from whom? Now, I don't deny her feelings, and I'm sure they are deep and sincere- but, what do those feelings mean? Is this what the parish church has become, merely a monument to our childhood faith? Why do we think the buildings should be held open until we are done using them, and until we are ready to use them again? How has our association become so strong to a building and not to a God?
The narrator said that if she'd ever known that the church building would ever close, she would have done things differently- she would have sent her donation checks, even from far away in Canada. But... why? Why pay to keep one building open while she's surrounded by thousands of churches where she lives?
I don't think this generation, this postmodern world, is completely to be blamed for this disassociation- I think as a Church we are constantly reaping what we sow, especially in the form of repercussions for how we've (or how we've failed to) evangelized, served, and educated our people. So, how did we come to this place? Here in our Archdiocese, people sit in the cold, dark, empty church buildings of their closed parishes rather than go down the block to join another congregation of people who are just like them.
How did we get here?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Leadership 1Oprah1

I've been thinking about leadership lately, because it looks like a lot of my work this year will be around helping our volunteer leaders become better leaders. But Saturday I was not working at all- I was lazing around, pajama-clad, un-productive. We did very little that day, I'm half-proud and half-ashamed to say. One thing I did do was check out Oprah's new network.
I'm not an Oprah fan- I think she's dangerously powerful and so rich that she's way out of touch with reality. She lost me when she went to Costco for one of her shows, and the whole show was about what it was like for Oprah to experience Costco. She just couldn't believe it!!!
They were showing behind-the-scenes shows of her latest season, of her old show. They had comments from all her producers and staffers, and we got to watch them interact with Oprah. I was fascinated, because they were all nervous wrecks! They all dreaded meeting with their boss, worried that she would not be pleased or satisfied. When she did turn out to be happy with something they did, they literally were moved to tears.
I turned to Scott and said "she is a terrible leader!! Why does she give these people titles like 'producer' and 'writer' when she really doesn't allow them any control at all?" I hoped that now that her show is over, I hope that poor group of lovely, devoted, hard-working people find nice new jobs where they are valued and empowered to do what they can do. And I hope I never become an Oprah kind of leader.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Let's get ready to ruffllllllllllle!!!!!

We visited church tonight before the 4 because this weekend, we have REAL MAGI walking in our procession at each Mass, bringing gifts to place before the manger scene. We were on our way home from New Year's reveling and stopped in to take some pics for the parish blog and make sure everything went off okay.
I visited with a family I know who sits near the front, and the mother said to her son "do you want to tell her what your New Year's resolution is?" The little boy said "well, yeah. This year I'm going to be better."
"Oh," I said, "you mean, just better overall?" and he said "Yep!"
His mother prodded him for specifics, but I had to admit, the goal of being better is pretty good. I think I'll adopt it as my own resolution.
As for work, I can feel a resolution coming over me that I am a little nervous about, which is why I can tell it's what I should be doing. I think it's time we really revamped our volunteer ministry efforts, specifically by expanding and teaching our leaders to be inviting new people in. I think this is going to ruffle some long-standing ministry leaders' feathers, because they have grown content with doing everything themselves and remaining static. But I know things can't go on this way, and I know someone is going to have to ruffle some feathers to get things to change, and I know, g-dangit, that it's going to be me, that ruffler.
That is, if I'm not too busy being better.