July 4, 2017 § 1 Comment
I somewhat hesitated sharing this video. Watch it first, if you are interested and want to avoid “spoilers”.
So you watched it?
Are you sure you don’t care about spoilers?
Ok – you have only yourself to blame at this point.
I loved this video. From the lady using confession to gossip about her snotty neighbor the the anguish of the priest when he realized that the penitent before him was the man who killed his father. And I get that he was lifting a burden by lying. But he was lying. I don’t think it was necessary for the story and there were other ways that it could have been dealt with.
When I considered sharing the video I hesitated. Do I really want to share this with such a problematic bit in the ending? It is human nature to pick these sorts of things apart and blow them up far past what the deserve. But in the end this video has several qualities that I think make it worthwhile.
First: the priest is just a guy — who at that moment is acting as God’s active conduit of mercy and love. It is a struggle for him, he does it (arguably) badly, but he does it. I think it is valuable for us to keep in mind that our priests are men, men who love and hate and weep and laugh. Media has a tendency to often either idolize priests or debase them. This video does neither.
Second: the penitent really needs confession and illustrates the need for confession. It is one of those common “Ask a Catholic Questions”: “Why do I need to confess to a priest, I can just confess to God.” Sure you can, but when you are heart torn and painfully aware of the magnitude of your sin, when you question the very possibility of redemption then you need to hear in the physical world the comfort of absolution. The penitent could have prayed for forgiveness a thousand times, but until he heard the words he would never be able to start letting go of the sin and the despair that accompanies it. One of Satan’s most successful lies is the idea that you don’t need to speak your sin to anyone but God. I chains us in despair and prevents us from acting forward in mercy and forgiveness.
Now for the problematic part.
We can look at the idea of lying to the penitent in a few ways. One rather artistic idea from the comments on the video was that our sins are washed away in confession to the point that in the eyes of God they never happen – so in a certain sense the priest’s father wasn’t killed by the penitent. But that is really an Obi Wan “certain point of view” moment and not really satisfactory.
We could also attempt to view it as just an act of Mercy. The priest lied to comfort a dying man There is no denying that the man who is relieved of this burden feels immense joy, but the joy was based on a lie. At the very end the priest even postulates that it might be worse that he lied as a priest. In the end if the priest had maintained honesty, forgiven the penitent both in the sacramental and in his own heart and had communicated that to the penitent we could have had a very powerful ending. Not the joy that the penitent shows, but a something based on reality and truth.
So in the end I decided to share this, not because it is perfect, but because its imperfections make me think and make for a good conversation. Is a lie ever worthwhile? If this is not such a case what would have been better and what would have looked like? How would Christ have approached this differently?
January 13, 2010 § 1 Comment
This is really worth sharing.
My most recent interaction with the priesthood outside of mass was knowing that at almost midnight a priest came to the hospital to give last rites to my grandmother and another patient in the hospital. 24 hour job.
I also love the idea of asking “Lord, what do you want me to do?”. When I was working with the youth in my parish I told them to pray every morning “What do you want for me to do today?” and if they would be bold enough to listen and act on God’s will they would live extraordinary lives of purpose and joy in Christ. I really believe this, though I forget all too often to do it myself.
October 29, 2009 § Leave a comment
June 22, 2009 § 2 Comments
So, yesterday at mass was one of those minor disasters.
We had Rachel with us overnight and everything was going well.
She was a little agitated when Mass started. I am not sure why exactly. But right as Father stepped to the ambo to read the Word Rachel lost it. Completely. So badly that I had to take her out. I couldn’t even control her by myself and Kyle had to help. Ashley stayed in mass with the younger children and we drove Rachel back to her group home, and came back. This is the first time Rachel hasn’t stayed through mass since we started attending Holy Rosary and for at least a year before that.
Once we got Rachel out of the church we sat with her on the steps to give her a chance to calm down. She would alternate between being just sad (which is fine) and being out of control (which means mom or dad get pinched) and then we just gave up on the idea of getting her to come back to mass and decided to drive her back to her house. We got Rachel to the car and she was really, really not happy to be leaving. We decided that it would be safer for everyone if we both went in the car with Rachel. She has “lost it” in the car before and attacked the driver. So having one of us to help control Rachel if she got out of control was important.
I went inside to tell Ashley that we would be gone for a little bit and to just hang out with the little ones at coffee and donuts if we didn’t get back before the end of mass. I am so thankful to have such wonderful children. Josh whispered to me that he would be good and to remember the movie in Rachel’s bag. Rachel had put a movie that we had checked out from the library in her bag on the way out of the house and we had asked the children to help us remember that it was there so she wouldn’t get it back to her house without us noticing. Sarah and Hannah took the whole thing in stride. Ashley reported later that Josh and Sarah were a little rambunctious right after we left, but once she sat between them they were fine.
Rachel was ok in the car. She started saying “Bad… bad! bad!” and crying. Real tears were running down her cheeks. She knows when she has crossed the line, but she doesn’t know how to stop herself before she gets there. Total lack of impulse control in action. When we got to her house she rang the doorbell and asked for a kiss. She wasn’t happy with herself at that point. We weren’t particularly happy with her either – a few more bruises, a scratch and a couple bites later – but Rachel is Rachel and we love her. She got her kisses and hugs and then ran to her room. At least everyone was safe.
We got back just as mass was ending – just in time to join the children for coffee and donuts. Everyone at mass pretty much saw the whole event. I got several hugs and sympathetic inquiries, which makes me all the more thankful for our parish and our friends. Our priest came up and let us know that he had seen everything and had been praying for us. This means a lot. I know that Father Anthony values a reverent mass and for him to come to us and express his understanding was touching. I really hate when Rachel’s behavior affects the mass experience of others. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does it is distressing. I know how much having a “good mass” can mean to me if I am struggling with something and how comforting a peaceful mass can be. I would hope that Rachel’s behavior wouldn’t ever intrude on that for others, but I know that it would be impossible when she creates such a disturbance for it to not. Which makes me all the more thankful for the prayers and understanding of others who were there.
I know she love mass, and I could see how sad it made her that she had to leave. Hopefully Rachel will be able to participate in the mass next time. She will just be the young lady with the golden curls who makes the occasional non sequitor noise. Thank you to anyone who was there and prayed for Rachel and us. Thank you for your understanding and support.
Of course writing this I realize I never really fulfilled my Sunday obligation. : -/
March 18, 2009 § 5 Comments
Last fall I was called and interviewed by U.S. Catholic for on an article they were working on about autism. It was really a fun experience. I also wrote a small companion piece for the article. Both the article and my little piece are up at U.S. Catholic’s website.
We have also gotten to the official “announcement stage” of our newest little one. We will be having a baby in late October. As you can imagine the children are all overjoyed. I am still feeling that slightly dreamy ‘overwhelmed’, but am I overwhelmed by how wonderful it is to be adding a new life to our home and all the little things that bringing a new baby into the world mean.
I think my brother-in-law said it best yesterday. “I know your kids mean everything to you guys”. And they do. There is nothing we give up, nothing we “miss out on” that could possibly matter more than our houseful of laughing, crying, dancing, playing, occasionally fighting and always loving and beloved brood.
February 11, 2009 § 12 Comments
Last year I did a rather crazy thing. I ditched 40 kitchen trash bags (or the equivalent) of stuff out of our house. 40 – yes, really. It is amazing how much stuff was lurking in the backs of cupboards and closets and how many “extra” things I had. Too many towels, sheets, coats, shoes, books, small kitchen appliances… the list goes on and on.
This was started as a housekeeping exercise. Something I did because my home needed a good dejunking. It had been years since I had really decluttered and letting go was so liberating. By the end I starting thinking about the processes of letting go of “stuff” as a spiritual exercise. Sometime last summer Fr Kyle contacted me and asked about the idea of using the 40 trash bag challenge as a part of his Lenten program. This delighted me to no end and it got me thinking again about the whole project; what worked best and what didn’t.
40 bags. One thing I know caused some people pause was the picture of the big overstuffed black bag. “No way could I fill forty of those bags.” I don’t know that I could fill 40 lawn and yard bags. My home is under 3000 sq feet.
But then again I could. When I look at what others have, what my ancestors considered wealth, what the crazy woman with all her worldly possessions in a grocery cart have and then compare it to my well appointed 3000 sq feet I could fill up 40 huge bags. But if I was single and living in a dorm, no – I couldn’t. But the size of “bag” is really immaterial. It is the consistency of everyday shedding off some of our material goods. A grocery bag would be a better measure for some — I suppose if I was very wealthy and had multiple homes maybe something more on the lines of a truck bed full a day would work better. The point is not the size of the bag, box or bundle, it is the act of letting go of the “stuff” a bit each day.
It should hurt a little – not a lot, but a bit. There should be some small sense of having to sacrifice or maybe some small bit of contrition at how much we hold onto things when we could give that time and energy to God. If you struggle as I do with organization then I am sure you have read about the theories of hording and attachment to the “stuff”. Our environments began to posses us instead of serving us. If you don’t deal with that particular mental vice then there is still the beauty of the words of Christ ”
24 “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat (or drink), or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
26 Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?
27 Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
28 Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin.
29 But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them.
30 If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
31 So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’
32 All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
33 But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.
34 Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.
These words were said to people, many of whom could proabably put everything they personally owned in one of my closets.
Lent – This year I am going to be doing the trash bag challenge again, but a little differently as well. One thing I am going to do is involve the children more. I also want to tie the days into a scripture lessons for the children. Talking about service or giving – having a theme for our “decluttering” days.
Lent begins on February 25, two weeks from today. Next week I will put up the plan and maybe I will figure out the Mr Linky thing too 🙂
February 10, 2009 § 9 Comments
When Rachel was preparing for her First Communion I created a couple tools to help her prepare. The first tool we created was “Rachel’s Jesus Book” and the second was a social story about attending mass and receiving Communion.
Since Rachel was born she has attended religious services. First in the LDS Church and then when she was about three we started attending Catholic Mass. By the time Rachel was 9 we had been attending weekly mass in the same parish for about three years. Mass wasn’t something new to Rachel. The Jesus book was created to help her more fully understand the imagery in mass.
The social story was more a practical guild to receiving the Eucharist. The order of the mass, how we receive and what it means. I want to think that having the two separate books helped Rachel pin-point the Eucharist as the pinnacle of the mass. Attending worship services as a community, the prayer of the mass, the divine liturgy are all very important, but they are nothing without the Body and Blood of Christ. « Read the rest of this entry »