“I absolve you of your sins, in the name of The Father and The Son and The Holy Spirit”
On December 24th 2001 sometime near midnight, Father Valentine Handwerker welcomed me back to full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. It was something that had been brewing inside of me for a while, inspired by both conversations with other catholics and to certain degree 9/11. In the end I’m sure all the credit goes to The Holy Spirit, since there had been for two or three years, obstacles to me ignoring the work of The Church in the world around me as I had done for so long.
So on that day, when my friend (and later best man at my wedding) asked me if I wanted to attend Midnight Mass with him and his mother at the cathedral in Memphis, I jumped at the chance. I decided I would insist the first priest I saw hear my confession. Left to divine providence, the first priest I saw was Father Val. Father Val had been pastor where I went to grade school. So it was the last priest I had known from childhood who welcomed my back to the church as an adult.
So that was my Christmas Eve of ten years ago. That means this year was an anniversary of sorts for me. My heart was full or love for God, His Church and the many people who have helped make the faith filled (but certainly still imperfect) Catholic I am today.
I just found Kevin Pollak’s (@kevinpollak) twitter feed through Adam Baldwin (@adamsbaldwin), whose tweets I love to read. I’m really glad I did. He is hilarious! While I’ve admire a lot of the roles he’s played including The Usual Suspects, I have a certain synchronicity involving him that is one of the more amusing experiences I have in my life. It seems that anytime the film She’s All That is on TV, I happen to be channel surfing and land on it at the exact point int he movie where his character is watching Jeopardy and answering all the questions (in the form of a question of course) wrong. I typically laugh until my belly hurts. I’m not really sure why either. It’s not that funny a scene, especially if you’ve already seen it. I guess it’s simply the surreal nature of the whole experience. I’ll probably never know for sure.
None of that really matters though. What matters is that your life is incomplete if you’re not following either one of these guys. So make your life complete…NOW!
So I’ve had the iPad for a few weeks now and I love it. Suzette and I just got back from a trip to Europe. This little prize came in real handy. I had also ordered the camera connection kits. Let me explain a little of what went on.
We went to London for a week and Paris for a week. For the first week in London, my mom tagged along with us. It really nice, since visiting London was on her bucket list. We all three had cameras of course. Suzette and I both brought our Macbook Pros and I brought the handy iPad. The problem was that mom’s camera had a mini-USB connector on it. We didn’t have the cable for that. What her camera also had though was an SD card for memory. All I had to do was stick the SD card in the camera connection for the iPad and then sync the iPad with my MBP. All of the sudden, mom could post all the pics she had taken on Facebook with no problem.
Of course that’s not all I found useful about having the iPad with me in Europe. I used he MLB at Bat app to keep up with the Braves games. This app is excellent and well worth it on the iPad if you’re a baseball fan. Using the Universalis app meant not going over the 50 pound weight limit on my luggage by packing my LOTH books. I also watched some TV on the plane with it. It was also a serious conversation starter. Keep in mind that the international release of the iPad was while we were in Paris, so few people over there had so much as seen one before. On the train ride from London to Paris, I made a new friend from Australia who wanted to know all about.
So here I am now typing in this new blog post much later than I wanted to, but finally getting it done. Aside from the MLB app, there are a few I don’t my iPad would be complete without. I’m using the Blogpress app right now. This will be the first post I’ve done with it, so the verdict is still out. I love the Netflix app. There’s nothing like being able to sit on the couch and watch a movie on Netflix. You don’t have to put a disc in the PS3 and you can plug in the headphones if someone is being disturbed by your entertainment. The Twitterific app for the iPad is hands down the best Twitter client around. I love being able to view twitpics in a popout. If you get one for these devices, be sure to check out The Weather Channel MAX+ app too. I just checked it myself to see if it’s going to rain on Saturday, since I’m playing in a golf tournament.
All in all, I am very happy with the device. I’m glad I got it. You know, I wasn’t going to get one at first. I was pretty determined to wait for the second generation iPad. But, I had an intervention. A friend of mine bought one while visiting here in the US. He’s from Canada and it was not yet released there. More on that later. Anyway, he is not what you would call an “Apple enthusiast”. But he picked one up in the Apple and could not put it down. After hearing him rave about it, I have to see one. Since there’s a Sephora at the same mall as the Apple Store here in Nashville, I never have no trouble talking Suzette into going there. I have to admit that I could not put it down either. Unfortunately, I had to. They were sold out and it was closing time. The next day I ordered mine from the website.
Now I said I’d mention some more about my friend. He had a little trouble with his. It wasn’t so much a technical difficulty as a silly difficulty. Since the iPad hadn’t been released in Canada, he couldn’t buy apps for it on iTunes. He also couldn’t buy the camera connection kit online. In the first paragraph of this post, you might have seen what at first looks a typo. I mentioned “camera kits”, plural. I ordered two of them and sent one up to him as a gift. I’m such a rebel.
I’ve never read a book by Dr. Scoot Hahn I didn’t like and Signs of Life is no exception.
While this was listed in my lenten reading list, I will admit I cheated a little. I actually started this book the Monday before Ash Wednesday. I couldn’t help it though. It was sitting there just calling out “Marc, Marc! Read me now!”.
The full name of this book is “Signs of Life: 40 Catholic customs and their Biblical roots” To me the title says it all. It goes into detail about those 40 customs that range from Sacraments like Ordination and Marriage to sacramentals like the Rosary and Holy Water all the way to prayer traditions like grace before meals and the morning offering. What I really like about reading this book though were the Biblical references. I managed to learn a lot new things about my Catholic faith and how our traditions are rooted in the Sacred Scripture.
Signs of Life was an easy and enjoyable read, but yet it was packed with interesting facts. Some things were news to me, while others were things that I needed reminding of. It’s one of those books you have read, and read again later after you’ve let the information slip your mind. It also makes a good reference work for apologists, since it references Scripture for all 40 items.
Overall, I would highly recommend Signs of Life to general audiences. It wouldn’t be a problem for young adults learning about their faith or an adult who is curious about why they have done “those things” all their lives.
What am I giving up for Lent? Well, technically nothing.
My answer is this senator, nothing.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist that since one of the cable channels was running the first two Godfather movies back to back a week or so ago. While I was channel surfing as I often do, I landed in the middle of that scene. It’s been running through my head as I considered this blog post.
Lent is the time of year that Catholics prepare for Good Friday and Easter. It’s not what you find in you belly button when you’ve been wearing a new white t-shirt all day. It’s also not what I did when I let you borrow my lawn mower. I want my mower back BTW. It’s partially based on Our Lord spending forty days in the desert fasting and praying. It’s also a time for
Jesus’ temptation reveals the way in which the Son of God is Messiah, contrary to the way Satan proposes to him and the way men wish to attribute to him. This is why Christ vanquished the Tempter for us: “For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sinning.” By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert. CCC #540
There’s also a tradition of “giving something up” for Lent. Some folks give up sweets, others television and yet others beer or coffee. No matter what it is, it’s usually something that people enjoy. They give it up to take a share in the redemptive suffering of Christ, by voluntarily missing out on something they enjoy.
Well, this year I’ve decided to do something a little different. Instead of a “to-don’t” list, I’ve come up with somewhat of a “to-do” list. I’ve picked out ten books that I will work hard to get read during these forty days.
Here’s the list of books I’ve put together for Lent. They’re books I already have in my stack of “to read”, and not necessarily titles that are “Lent related”. There’s no particular order here either.
I know this is a bold plan, but I don’t mind being bold for my faith. The last three titles make this especially so. There are forty days in Lent (not including Sundays), so I basically have four days for each book. Some of these will go faster than that. We’re four days in and I’ve already made a huge dent in Signs of Life. I plan to finish it tomorrow and get a long way with Church Fathers, so I am off to a good start. As I finish these, I’ll try to do a writeup on each one here on WT while the book is still fresh on my mind.
So, am I a loser for not picking out a few things to give up for Lent? Well, when you consider that I don’t have exactly the best in reading comprehension skills and some of these books are pretty deep, I do have a tough row to hoe. I won’t be able to keep up with my normal leisurely activities. Less television, no video games and a shortage of time for online actives all constitute a sacrifice to me. Better yet, its all going to better myself in a number of ways as well. Plus I won’t have those lines from all those movies floating through my head, since I won’t be doing any channel surfing.
I am hoping that by the time I get to the real meaty books at the end, I will have gotten into a groove that will push me to the end of the list. With that hopefulness in mind (we should always be full of hope), I also have a few C. S. Lewis books that I’d like to read if I finish early. Like I said, I’m being bold.
Well, I guess I should finish this writing stuff and get to reading!
I’d like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and leave you with a quote from the president that instituted the holiday.
“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” – Abraham Lincoln
This is a message for anyone in the Galatin area with preschool age kids. There are openings in the pre-k class at the school for my church. This pre-k program, while sounding expensive at first, is actually cheaper than daycare when you add it up. Plus the kids there are actually learning something. Give the school a call and check it out. Here’s the link the for the school.
Something really caught my attention in may pastor’s homily this past weekend. He started off by talking about the storm that recently came through the area. He mentioned how amazing it was how many branches there were on the ground and immediately compared them with the branches our Blessed Lord mentions in the gospel. Here’s the scripture (John 15:1-8):
Jesus said to his disciples:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me
will be thrown out like a branch and wither;
people will gather them and throw them into a fire
and they will be burned.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.
By this is my Father glorified,
that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”
His comparison got me to thinking. We often think that when God touches us in our lives, it is a “touchy feely” comfortable experience. But often times when He gives us a helping of His grace, it’s like we’re branches and there’s a storm trying to shake us loose from the tree. Our own concupiscent natures make us want to resist this infusion of grace. That’s because that change goes against that nature, our nature. Such a change is not something that comes easy. It’s a hard thing to go through, but it’s also a process that takes time. We have to work on it constantly and never let our guard down. One slip and we could undo untold amounts of time hanging on.
We have to weather the storm, no matter how hard it is to hang on.
The other day I was made aware of this conversation that went on between two co-workers. One tells the other what he’s giving up for for Lent. I’m pretty sure it was something work related. The other replies that he didn’t know Baptists observed Lent. Well, I guess anyone will observe Lent if it suits their purpose. But it got me to thinking that a lot folks out there might not understand what Lent is, why Catholic don’t eat meat on Fridays in Lent or why we get our foreheads dirty on Ash Wednesday. This idea was reinforced by a private message I got form someone who was curious about abstaining from meat on Fridays. A lot of people just don’t know what it’s all about.
So here I am, wanting to get back in the swing on blogging. I’m thinking that a post on Lent is great idea. I can explain it all! The problem is that I’d still be writing after Lent is over. Besides, why should I take on this task when Jimmy Akin (a man whose job it is to explain the Catholic faith) has already put together a page full of links explaining the observance of Lent. So if you’re curious, check out Jimmy’s page “Welcome to Lent”.