Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Isn't Over Yet!!

Twice in the last couple of days, I've seen friends post as their Facebook status they they have taken down their Christmas decorations. My instant response was, "BUT CHRISTMAS ISN"T OVER YET!!" Isn't it ironic that we see Christmas decorations arrive in the department arrive as early as September in the department stores and many houses have them up around Thanksgiving but the presents have barely been opened and people are ready to take them down.

Yes, in modern day society the Christmas season starts on "Black Friday" and may last as long to December 26th, when everyone has the opportunity to exchange the presents they did not like. What a horrible, secular and commerical view point of Christmas.
But in the Catholic Church, the Christmas seasons starts on the evening before Christmas Day and lasts until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This is traditionally celebrated on the Sunday after the Feast of the Ephany (January 6th)
The four weeks prior to Christmas is the season of Advent. This is the time we were prepare for the coming of our Lord. It is a season of anticipation, of penence and preperation. Then during the Christmas season we celebrate the birth of Jesus.
If you have ever wondered where the "Twelve Days of Christmas" song came from it is from this period of Christmas starting Christmas day. It is said that each of the gifts symbolize a different Christian ideal. I found these at

A Partridge in a Pear Tree: Jesus Christ
Two Turtle Doves: The Old and New Testaments
Three French Hens: The Theological Virtues (Faith, Hope, and Charity)
Four Calling Birds: The Four Gospels / The Four Evangelists
Five Golden Rings: The first Five Books of the Old Testament, the “Pentateuch”
Six Geese a-Laying: The Six Days of Creation
Seven Swans a-Swimming: The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit or the Seven Sacraments
Eight Maids a-Milking: The Eight Beatituded
Nine Ladies Dancing: The Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
Ten Lords a-Leaping: The Ten Commandments
Eleven Pipers Piping: The Eleven FAithful Apostles
Twelve Drummers Drumming: The Twelve Points of Doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

The other seasons on the Church calendar are "Ordinary Time" which stretches from Epiphany to Ash Wednesday, "Lent" which last from Ash Wednesday to the Easter Vigil, Easter--which starts Easter Day and lasts until Pentacost and then another stretch of Ordinary Time which lasts from the Monday after Pentacost until Advent.

So don't get in a rush. There is no fire. Keep your Christmas tree up for another week, after all--Christmas only comes once a year.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Little Baby Jesus

During this period of Christmas most people's image of Jesus is of the Christ-child--the baby in the nativity. It is interesting that when we celebrate most people's birthdays, we celebrate their whole life and not recall the story of their birth. We think of them in the present, open presents, have cake and ice cream then maybe pop open a beer with them. We don't think back and ask their mom and dad to tell us stories about rushing to the hospital, did they use pain medication etc etc etc.

That being said, the birth of Jesus is what you would call "extraordinary." The virgin-birth, the angels speaking to Mary and Joseph, the travel to Bethlehem, birth in a manger are all things that are worth retelling. I think the most compelling reason to recall the story of Jesus' birth every year is to help us reinforce the fact that Jesus is fully human, as well as fully divine. Without this story, it might be easy to think that Jesus was just a man with great powers. It might be easy to think that God just took over some dude's body. By recalling the nativity, you realize that those are two heretical statements and you realize the enormity of what actually occurred.

Sit back and think, from the moment of conception, God--the creator became the created. God became flesh and went through everything that we go through in life. He was born. As an infant he had to be taken care of, nursed and changed. As a child, he had to be taught--how to eat, how to walk, how to dress. As a teen, you can picture Joseph teaching Jesus a trade--how to build things with wood.

God, the creator of the universe, became incarnate and went through all of that. Why?? Because he had a plan. A plan to reunite himself with us. A plan to be the ultimate sacrifice. Because of his love for us, God became the baby in the manger. We often think of Jesus death on the cross but there was even more to it than that. Jesus went through the same things we did, the hunger, the thirst, being tired, bumps, bruises, PUBERTY--all for us.

I think this idea is beautifully expressed in the Nativity Prayer of St Bernard of Clairvaux that I found at the Catholic Key Blog:

The Nativity Prayer of St Bernard of Clairvaux

Let Your goodness Lord appear to us, that we
made in your image, conform ourselves to it.
In our own strength
we cannot imitate Your majesty, power, and wonder
nor is it fitting for us to try.
But Your mercy reaches from the heavens
through the clouds to the earth below.
You have come to us as a small child,
but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts,
the gift of eternal love
Caress us with Your tiny hands,
embrace us with Your tiny arms
and pierce our hearts with Your soft, sweet cries.

Finally, as an aside--can't they make a nativity scene with a real infant? Why does the little Baby Jesus always have to be about 25 lbs??

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reactions to Female Body

I have to make an admission. I have a real appreciation for the female body. That's probably not a surprise and I don't expect that anything I'm going to say is going to come a as a shocker to many. In fact, I expect I would expect that if I said I didn't find women attractive people would think that something was wrong of me. What is sad is how normal and even encouraged a distorted appreciation for the female body is.

Let me preface this by saying that my thinking has changed over the years and still has a long way to go go. Growing up, the way I viewed women was probably the way the majority of boys in today's society view women. If I could get my hands on a Playboy or Victoria's Secret I was all over it. If there was a flash of a naked girl in a movie, the VCR was probably going to be paused so I could get a better view.

Unfortunately for me, and for thousands of boys growing up today, I was seeing that female body as a sexual object. I didn't see her as a sister or a daughter. I saw these women as objects to be used for my gratification. Fortunately, I had a healthy fear of my wife and avoided the pornography pitfall that many husbands and fathers fall into.

I have changed in my thinking although, I have to admit I'm a long way from where I want to be. A big step is when I started learning about the Theology of the Body--which, in a nutshell, is Pope John Paul II's teaching on sexuality. One thing I learned was that in the beginning it wasn't this way. Adam and Eve were naked and were not ashamed. It wasn't until the fall that they were naked and ashamed. They were ashamed because they saw feared that their bodies would be seen as objects to be used instead of someone made in the image and likeness of God.

A story I learned, and a favorite of mine, was the story of St. Pelagia the Penitent. According to which story you hear, Pelagia was either a stripper or a prostitute who became very wealthy because of her work. One day she was walking by the church in Antioch past a group of bishops. All of the bishops averted their eye so they would not succumb to temptation with the exception of Bishop Nonnus. Bishop Nonnus saw Pelegia's inner beauty as well as her outer beauty. He saw in her a sister in Christ and said to his fellow bishops, "Did not the sight of her great beauty delight you?" Pelegia saw Bishop Nonnus looking at her not with lust in his eyes as she was accustomed to but with the love of Christ came back later that day and heard him preach. She was so struck that she became baptised and led a saintly life.

I've come a ways because of this teaching. I actually used to subscribe to Playboy magazine and even after I had cancelled my subscription I kept all of the back issues. About a year and a half ago, I chucked them--tossed them in recycling. I admit that I thought about putting them on Ebay but realized that by selling them I could possible be encouraging others to sin.

That was a big step for me. I'm not going to pretend that I'm all pious and saintly. I still combat lust everyday and pray that God gives me the virtue to fight this sin. It's a change for me. There are still many days when I need to avert my eyes---and many days when I don't even do that (thank God for reconciliation) But occasionally, I can see a beautiful woman and appreciate her inner and outer beauty without lust taking over. It's a long journey---but by golly---I feel like I'm on my way.
I feel that the Theology of the Body is such an important teaching and would like to blog more about it. What does everyone else think?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Real Catholics

There was a television show on NBC from 1979 to 1984 called "Real People." It was based on a news show but went around the country profiling your average, run of the mill type people--although it centered around the quirky type people the most. "Real People" was a popular show and while I remember it poking fun at a lot of people I think it is important to look at everyone, even the one's who may be a little odd as just "real people." In a mass of humanity, it is very easy to forget that the other person you see is a child of God just like the rest of us.

I think, too often, we tend to make other people faceless people instead of people with cares and concerns, without joys and worries. One way we do that is by stereotypes. Heck, look at catholics and how we are stereotyped. People look at us as joyous, guilt filled type people who are trying to earn our way into heaven. I even wrote before how a "joyous catholic" isn't an oxymoron before. It goes further than that--we see nuns as these stern sisters with rulers who are going to yell at them. There is a horrible stereotype of priests out there due to the scandals. What do you imagine when you picture a catholic mom who stays at home to home school her eight kids?? Probably as some prude who wears "denim jumpers" and is boring as all get out.

I'm here to say that these stereotypes are not true. Catholics are some of the funniest people out there. And I'm talking about Catholics who LIVE their faith. Sure, sometimes it's hidden. Sometimes you have to spend time with the priests to see them laugh. Sometimes you have to see the nuns on their free time in order to see them playing soccer (and hiding the soccer ball under their habits.) Sometimes you have to get to know the Danielle Bean's and the Maggie Crawford's of the worlds to find out that the stay at home moms out there are anything but prudes!

As Catholics we have to live past the stereotypes--that's for sure. We should be happy, and goofy and joyous because we know that whatever struggles we face that we already know the ending. ;-) We also need to return the favor and look out and instead of seeing faceless drones we see those children of God---our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Visitation and Our Own Service--a Reflection on the 4th Sunday of Advent

I am currently in the application process for the diaconate formation process. Part of the application process is for Abby and myself to be interviewed by two separate deacon couples. We had one interview last week and another this week and they were really informal. Really, more of a conversation between ourselves and the other couple. It was really an enjoyable experience. It afforded me an opportunity to ask questions about the process and about the diaconate. The one question that I had for both couples was "why?"

I expect if you ask an average person what the role of a deacon is they would tell that it's to help the priest at mass. It is much, much more than that though. You see, one of the main roles of a deacon is to provide service. They are to take care of the poor, the ill, the sick, and the forgotten. They are there to provide service to their brother and sister.

So my question goes back to, "why?" Why become a deacon if they do what we are supposed to be doing anyway?? Why go through five years of discernment and become ordained to be a minister of charity and justice?? Aren't we all supposed to be ministers of charity and justice? Aren't we all supposed to be signs of Jesus in the world??

In this week-ends gospel reading, Mary is an example of service to another. Mary has just been told by the angel Gabriel that she will give birth to the Messiah. She is also told by the angel that her cousin Elizabeth is with child. Mary rushes off on a long and perilous journey of several days to help take care of her. This is another example of how we can try to follow Mary's example of taking care of one another. It's an example of selflessness.

I think Elizabeth makes a great point when she says, "And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" If our Blessed Mother---the Mother of God---is able to offer herself in service to Elizabeth then who are we to sit back and do nothing?? We need to step up and offer our assistance to those who need it.

As for my question as to "why?" I dunno. I mean, I have an idea, but I'm not sure. Good thing the discernment process is five years, huh??

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sex and Broken Glass

I find it interesting that one of the things that turns people away from the Catholic Church is it's teaching in regard to sexual topics. Two thousand years of tradition, history don't mean anything. A claim that it was instituted by Jesus means nothing. The sacraments, the saints, the Bible---none of that means a thing because people see the church's teaching about sex goes against their own beliefs. Heck, some people don't even think that the church should have teachings about sex saying to "keep your beliefs out of my bedroom."

It is very true that the church's teachings go contrary to popular thinking. The church's teachings on birth control, masturbation, divorce or homosexuality seems so archaic!! The church needs to catch up with the times, right?? The author Christopher West says that this type of thinking is like driving on flat tires. It is so ingrained into our thought process that we think it is normal. He says that the church's teaching about sex inflates those flat tires and after you understand it you will wonder why you spent all that time driving around on flat tires.

I would like describe it another way. I see each of the teachings like a broken colored piece of glass. The teaching of pre-marital sex may be a green shard in the shape of a triangle. The teaching on birth control may be a red square. The teaching on masturbation is a sharp golden shape with many sides. All of these teachings are different colors and different shapes.

Society has taken these broken pieces of glass and thrown them in an empty lot where they get partially buried. The shards sticking up through the ground. We then walk through this lot and cut our feet and society tells us that it's perfectly normal to cut our feet. So we see the sadness and hurt that comes from a mistaken view on sex as something that comes with the territory.

That isn't the way the Catholic Church sees these shards of glass though. The Catholic Church takes these pieces. She cleans them off and makes them shining and spectacular. She then lays them out and you will see that even though each piece is different they fit together like the pieces of a puzzle. The Church fits all of these pieces together and as you step back instead of a bunch of individual teachings that are difficult to understand separately, you will see a beautiful mosaic. You gasp and think to yourself, "wow!" You wonder why you didn't see it before.

The Church has done a poor job of telling people, "Step back!! Look at the big picture!" It's spent too much time saying, "if you do that you'll go blind!!!" It wasn't until Pope John Paul II started teaching about the Theology of the Body that people have started looking at this beautiful mosaic that the church has put together from a bunch of assumingly separate teachings. It is part of our responsibility to tell our friends and family to step back and look everything!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Incredible Hulk and Sin

In the comic, The Incredible Hulk, scientist Bruce Banner is exposed a gamma bomb. The exposure to the gamma rays causes Dr. Banner to involuntarily turn into the Incredible Hulk, a giant, green, humanoid monster whenever he gets angry. (Disclaimer: I am NOT a comic book geek so if I get any Incredible Hulk factoids wrong please do not persecute me). In the 2008 movie, The Incredible Hulk, they occasionally put on the screen, "DAYS SINCE LAST INCIDENT" followed by the applicable number.

I have to say, sometimes I feel like Bruce Banner in a constant battle to ward off those temptations and triggers that cause me to sin. I know very well what my faults are and when I fall to temptation and sin I feel like a giant green humanoid monster that makes people go screaming in the other direction. Am I the only one who feels like they have that sign following them around, "DAYS SINCE LAST INCIDENT" and feel the embarrassment when that sign says "zero." At least Bruce Banner only had one sin--that of wrath--that he seems to have to worry about. Sometimes I feel like I have done all of them. I feel like I could go into confession and tell the priest to put me down for a least one of everything. Envy? Yeah. Pride? Okay. Wrath? A few times. Lust? Whoa, Nelly--definitely lust.

Poor Bruce Banner does not seem to have any hope in sight though. He may try anger control techniques or breathing exercises but in the end he is left with only a pair of torn jeans on. (And just why DON'T his jeans rip off anyway?) On the other hand, we have God's grace to help us combat the sins that face us. Through the sacrament of reconciliation, God dusts us off, gives us a new set of clothes to wear and sends us off again. At that point, it doesn't matter if the number on that sign "DAYS SINCE LAST INCIDENT" says "zero" because I'm as clean and pure as the day of my baptism.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Our Lady of Guadalupe

As I drive through the West Side here in Kansas City, which has a large Hispanic community, it is not uncommon to see the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe everywhere--from the sides of buildings to the backs of pick-up trucks. What is this image all about?? Why is it important? I figure that since we are celebrating the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

On December 9, 1531, a man by the name of Juan Diego was walking to mass when the Virgin Mary appeared to him. She asked Juan Diego to go to the bishop and ask that a church be built in her name. Juan Diego did go to the bishop and tell of his vision but the bishop was skeptical and told Juan Diego to return another day.

That evening, Our Blessed Mother again appeared to Juan Diego and encouraged him to return the next day. He did so an again was rejected. The bishop asked Juan Diego to ask her for a sign.

On December 12th, Juan Diego's uncle became ill and he was in a rush to attend to his uncle so he avoided the spot where he first saw the apparition. It didn't matter--Our Lady appeared to him again. She asked Juan about her request for a church and Juan Diego spoke of his sick uncle. She told him that she had already attended to his uncle. As for the sign, she told Juan Diego to go to a nearby hill and pick several roses. It was not the season for roses but Juan Diego found several in full bloom. He filled his cloak with them and ran to the bishop's residence. Juan Diego opened his cloak to show Bishop Zumarraga the roses. A dozen red roses fell out and imprinted on Juan Diego's cloak was Mary's image.

Bishop Zumarraga built the church and dedicated it to Our Lady of Guadalupe and it's written that within ten years some 9 million Aztecs became Christians.

We celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe this second week of Advent, which is our preparation time for Christmas. Advent is the time of year that we not only prepare for the coming of Christ but show hope in times of desolation or despair. In this time of winter, when the trees around us have lost our leaves and everything is brown. Evening comes to us early in the evening and stays with us later in the morning. Certainly, there are no roses blooming. But Our Lady showed Juan Diego roses in bloom on this day and left her image--left it on a cheap cloth made from cactus fibers that should have deteriorated within several years. This isn't a time of despair. It's a time of hope, a time of excitement of preparation for the coming of our savior.

We need to take time out of this busy season and stop preparing for Christmas morning or Christmas day. This season isn't about shopping, or parties, or baking. It's a time when we need to step back and spiritually prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ. Maybe our prayer life has become stale. Maybe it's become non-existent and we need to rededicate ourselves. Maybe we need to bring our family together nightly to the family dinner table, surrounding the Advent wreath--light the appropriate candles, pray, and share our faith with our children.

Yes, in this season of Advent, Our Lady of Guadalupe shows us hope. From the death of winter, she shows us life and helps lead us to her son, Jesus Christ. Let us be reminded to take the time to prepare ourselves and our family spiritually for the coming of Jesus.

A couple of interesting side notes. Like I said, the cloak that the image was on is called a tilma. It's made out of cactus cloth and should have deteriorated after twenty years or so. But it can still be seen 470 some years later at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. In the 1920's a Freemason exploded a bomb near the image. Wrought iron and marble that was around the image was destroyed but the image was undamaged. Modern examinations of the image show no stenciling or drawing, no use of dye or paint. Also, images have been found in the eyes of Our Lady. For more information go to

Friday, December 11, 2009

What to Say When You Don't Know What to Say

I learned the other day that part of the aspirancy stage of the diaconate program is going to Research Hospital and learning how to minister to those who are sick and dying. I really think this would be good training for me because I stink when dealing with those who are facing troubles. I can be very empathetic but there is something there that makes it difficulty for me to convey that empathy.

It may be because of this defense that I have to put on when I go to work. I feel like at work the police have to be stoic--the ones who are being strong while everyone else can crumble around us. That's a reason that police officers develop such a dark sense of humor. When we are at scenes it seems better to crack a bad joke than to shed a tear.

That's not to say we don't offer sympathy. It's part of the job that comes with having sergeant stripes on your sleeves. I have to be the one that goes to the family members and says, "I'm sorry for your loss" and give a human touch. It seems fake to me sometimes though. Maybe it's the bullet proof vest I'm wearing or maybe it's this imaginary shield we put on when we put on the uniform.
It's a gap I want to get across though because I feel it creeping into times when I'm not on crime scenes or dealing with strangers. For example, Jackie Malena is the wife of one of the officers who works for me. She has been battling cancer since 2001 I believe?? Her husband, Joe, has worked for me since 2007. In the last two and a half years, they have traveled all over the country looking for treatment. This week it was decided that she needed to start chemo again and she will be traveling to Tulsa, OK every two weeks for the next six months for treatment.

Today, I was texting Joe and he said that he doesn't know what God's plan is. You know what---I knew every single cliche in the book to throw at him. "It's not our will--it's about God's will." or "God never gives us more than we can handle." I don't know---it just seemed cheesy and fake. I don't understand this phenomenon. All my life, I've been known as a good listener. I'm the guy to go to when you have personal problems so why do I seem so stiff when it comes to this??

I don't know. All I can say is, "Joe, you know I love you and Jackie and you guys are in my prayers." And all I can ask is for anyone reading this to offer the Malena family your prayers.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Seeing God

There is a service offered by the Kansas City Area Transit Authority called "Share-A-Fare." The service provides door-to-door service to those whose disabilities prevent them from using traditional bus service. The service has on all of their vehicles two hands holding a coin between them. Well, every time I see a Share-A-Fare car or bus driving next to me with that icon, I don't see two hands holding a coin. I see a priest holding the blessed sacrament up during the consecration.

I suppose there is nothing wrong with seeing God in unintended symbols such as a sign on the side of a bus. We often see God in sights in nature such as a beautiful mountain view or while looking up at the stars. We can even see God in man made structures such as in a cathedral or a piece of art.

The one place where we should see God and often don't is in each other. I'm not saying in anyway that we are God. But we are made in the image and likeness of God. We should see each others as brothers and sisters. We should see Jesus in the face of everyone. I realize I need to work on this because, well lets face it, people are stupid. People are annoying. It is difficult to see Jesus in that person from work who talks too much and is always gossiping. It's difficult to see Jesus in the cubical next to you who has a body odor problem. It's really difficult to see Jesus in the people that I deal with at work. It may be the crack addict who has been "robbed" once again or the drunk who has passed out in the middle of the road and soiled himself.

Jesus tells us that the two most important commandments is to love God above all others and to love others as we love ourselves. I think that's why the cross is a brilliant icon for the Christian faith. Yes, like the vertical beam of the cross, we are to love and praise God. But we also have the horizontal beam of the cross. Like that beam, our love is to go horizontal too. Our love is to go up to God and out to our neighbors.

If I can see an image of God in a bus sign, why is it difficult to see an image of God in the people who are riding that bus??

Monday, December 7, 2009

What Has God Done For Me??

The question was recently posed, "What has God done for me?" Do I have enough time to break it down?

  • He has given me my family. My family defines who I am. They are the reason I am the way I am (good or bad). My family loves me no matter what.

  • He has given me the property I have. I have a lot more things than some and a lot less than others. I have to appreciate that everything is from Him.

  • He has allowed me to suffer. It is through suffering that we become stronger.

  • He has given me a job I love. There are many out there who would like to have any type of job and I have one that I enjoy.

  • He has given me friends. They may come and go but they bring joy to my life.

  • He has given me health. I could be healthier--that is for sure but I know a lot of sick people and I am happy for the health I have.

  • He has given me nature. The stars, the skies, the oceans, the moutains, the valleys, the canyons. Do I really need to say more?

  • He has allowed me to make mistakes. As a loving Father, God knows that without making mistakes we will never become better.

  • He made me an American. I know that all of God's creation is wonderful but I have to say that I could have grown up in a lot worse places that the United States of America.

  • He gave me love. I may not always realize it. I may not always feel it or even accept it, but it is there.

  • He gave me mercy and forgiveness. Time after time God has forgiven me and I know his mercy is so deep that I could never use up all of His mercy. That is good for a screw up like me!

  • He gave me faith. He has revealed Himself to us so that we can get to know him. We can make a relationship with Him so that we can experience his love and his mercy.

  • He gave me existence. All of the physical things I have would mean nothing if He did not allow me to exist. I try to remind myself everyday that every breath, every heartbeat is a gift from God. I try to remind myself that He is always thinking of me and if he ever stopped thinking of me I would cease to exist.

Those are few things that God has done for me. I realize that He may have given some people more suffering or worse families. I know some people he didn't give as much property or not as good health. But I do know that no matter what He gives us love.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Now On Sale for $19.99!!!

My wife, Abby, and I have agreed that we just cannot have salesmen come over to our house any more. For some reason we always fall for their pitch. Twice in the last year we have succumbed and agreed to some unwise purchase. The first one was for water filtration system and the second was for new windows for our house (and that was after being told by my window salesman uncle that they were way overpriced!!) Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and I called them both the next day to forget about it. But I don't think we are the only ones. People fall for the fast talking salesman everyday. The late Billy Mays made a career out of it. I saw at some store they have a whole "As Seen on TV" section. People buy Sham-wows, Ginsu knives or those silly blankets with sleeves on them. (Which in reality is just a robe worn backwards!)

We buy things from these strangers who come into our homes either on television or in person and spend our money easily. Why are we so hesitant to believe the Church when she tells us what the truth is about faith and morals. We know that Jesus loved us so much that he started the Church. He put the people in place to lead it after he was gone saying whatever you say is valid here on Earth and in Heaven. Jesus said that he will be with the church until the end of times and it will never fail. Peter and the other apostles ensured that a line of succession was established for when they were gone.

Two thousand years later and the church remains. It has a lineage of popes and bishops that can be traced back to the twelve apostles. She has seen some tough times that is for sure. Many things have changed but the Catholic church has never changed any of her teachings on matter of faith and morals. Oh sure, plenty of things have changed in matters of discipline and some things have been been clarified but no teachings on faith and morals have changed.

"Just proof that the Church needs to get with the times," you might say. Society changes but truth does not. That's another reason to follow the church as opposed to the slick snake oil salesmen that try to sell us something that sounds too exciting to be true. Those salesman have another goal in mind besides our good. The churches goal is to save souls.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Remembering the Lakewood Police Officers

I've been a police officer for fourteen years now. I do not even have a clue as to how many police officers have been killed in the line of duty in that time period. Two from my own department, Thomas Meyers and Craig Shultz, have given their life in that span. Seldom does a police shooting shake you like the one that occurred in Lakewood, WA on Sunday November 29, 2009 when four officers were murdered in a coffee shop.

The officers were just starting their shift and had parked their cars in front of a coffee shop. They were inside, sitting at a table on their laptops completing paperwork to begin their shift. The suspect walks up to the counter, turns towards the officers and begins shooting. Two of the officers did not even have time to react. A third was able to stand but was not able to draw his weapon. The forth officer was apparently able to return fire and possible struck the suspect.

Any officer who has pinned on the badge knows it's a dangerous job. Heck, you have a gun on your hip and are wearing a bullet proof vest. It's no secret that people want to hurt you. You prepare for situations, both physically and mentally. You go through months of training to learn how to use physical force or how to use a gun. You constantly run mental scenarios through your head. "If scenario A happened, what would I do?" Have you ever gone to a restaurant with a bunch of cops?? Everyone rushes to sit down so they have their back towards the wall and able to keep an eye on the door because everyone has had the Lakewood scenario go through their minds.

But your defenses go down. You cannot constantly be in that red state that you are in when you walk up to a house on a disturbance or towards a car you just stopped. I'll bet they were sitting there talking about work, sports, their personal life--just like any group of co-workers sitting around having coffee. If it was my officers and me I can hear the chitter chatter--talking about the NFL games on tap for the day, complaining about some decision made by command staff, or what they did the night before. I wonder if they gave their kids a hug and a kiss before leaving for work or did they let them sleep? Did they leave for work arguing with their spouse about something silly? What are the emotions of any officers who had that day off? Are they wondering, "Why not me?"

I don't even want to into the emotions of how I feel towards the coward who didn't even give these officers a fighting chance. I would prefer to take time to remember the officers who were murdered.

Sgt Mark Renninger--39 years old, thirteen years law enforcement experience who leaves behind a wife and three kids

Officer Tina Griswold--40 years old, fourteen years law enforcement experience who leaves behind a husband and two children

Officer Ronald Owens--37 years old, twelve years law enforcement experience who is survived by his daughter

Officer Greg Richards--42 years old, eight years law enforcement experience who leaves behind a wife and three children

Please pray for the repose of the souls of these four officers and for the family and fellow officers that they left behind.
Those interested in supporting the families of the slain officers are welcome to make a donation through the Lakewood Police Independent Guild (LPIG) Benevolent Fund at PO Box 99579, Lakewood, WA 98499. Please visit their website for more information visit

Since the crime occurred just outside of Lakewood city limits, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department has jurisdiction. Those with information on the crime should call 866-977-2362.