Friday, October 21, 2011

How to Treat Others

Several years ago, I was driving home from visiting my mom.  I was driving down I-29 on a bright, sunny, September afternoon.  I popped over a hill top and a Missouri Highway Patrolman was sitting in the median running radar.  Evidently, I was going a too fast because I got pulled over.  I think I was going 12 over.  Not horrible but good enough to get stopped.

I pulled as far to the right as I could, even putting my right wheels off of the road.  I rolled down my window, got out my driver's license, proof of insurance and police id.  Like it or not, most cops don't write other cops tickets so I was identifying myself as law enforcement.   The sergeant asked me where I worked and I told him and then he proceeded to start chewing me out.  He said he is a sergeant just like me and why would I disrespect him like that?    Seriously?  I never tried to disrespect him.  I accidentally went over the speed limit.  If the roles were reversed I would have simply told him to have a nice day.   But he seemed to take my speeding on his highway as a personal affront.

He went back to his car and did whatever he did and came back and gave me a warning but he treated me a like a jerk the whole time and left a bad taste in my mouth.  Let me start off by saying, I have a lot of respect for troopers.  Sure, I poke fun maybe--saying they are just tail light chasers and wear funny hats.  But in reality, the reason I got into law enforcement was to be a trooper and they do a dangerous job all alone for the most part.   As I drove off, I was upset at the way I had been treated even though I didn't get a ticket.  I would have preferred a ticket to being the way I was treated.

I try to teach my officers to treat everyone they come into contact with like they would want their wife or parents to be treated.   Treat people the way they would like to be treated.   This is easier sometimes than others.  Sometimes cops have bad days.  Sometimes we get burnt out dealing with the same stuff day in and day out.  Sometimes people just push the right buttons.  Sometimes, well, sometimes officers are just jerks.  That's who they are.  But that is what I expect--for officers to treat people the way the would want to be treated.   Sometimes the way they would expect to be treated--after all, sometimes you can't always be nice.  Some people need to be taken to the ground.

I think they do a really good job at it.  Several times a week, I try to ask citizens who they were treated on a scale of 1-10.  Most often they give a 10 or above--even if they are being taken away in a paddy wagon.  Sometimes they even say thank you after they've been given a ticket.

I think this is an important quality to have in life wherever you are---to treat everyone the way you'd like to be treated.  I would say, it's even a sin not to.  After all, Jesus tells us in this weekend's gospel that the second greatest commandment is to "love your neighbor as yourself."   That's a big challenge if you think about it.  I love myself a whole lot.  I feed myself. I clean myself. I put a roof over my head.   That's how we are to love our neighbor.  We are to do what we can do to help our our neighbor to heaven.   Not easy at all.

And that is the easier of the two commandments I think.  For the first is to love God with our whole heart, our whole mind and our whole soul.  Lord, give me the grace to do that because I really want to love you with my whole heart mind and soul.  But I'll be honest, I can't get passed the whole loving myself thing much less to love my neighbor the same way or to love you with everything I have and am.

Those are two qualities we are all supposed to have.  They aren't "goals."   Imagine a world where everyone loved God with everything they had and also loved their neighbors as themselves.   I think if we did that I might be out of a job.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sinner! by Lino Rulli

I think I should point out before you get too far into this review that I am a huge fan of Lino Rulli, host of The Catholic Guy Show on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio.  I even pre-ordered his back several months before it was due out.   That being said, I think anyone who is a fan of Lino doesn't have a problem cracking on him if the need arises or the opportunity presents itself.  So, I think you can trust my opinion about his book, Sinner.

"Sinner" is an autobiography about Lino's life growing up in Minnesota.  It doesn't always present Lino in a positive light, which may surprise anyone who has not heard his show and expects The Catholic Guy's autobiography to me the next Story of a Soul.   That is the reason for the title and what he is trying to convey through out the book.  He is a sinner.  He is trying his best to be pleasing to God but he is human and has human faults.  He tries.  He fails.  But he doesn't quit.  He gets back on the horse and tries again.

One of the things that I enjoyed about the book is the tendency to tell a story and then comment on it in regard to the spiritual life.  He does this on the show quiet regularly and I always enjoy it when he does.   After all, we aren't just physical beings and everything we do in this life has a spiritual side to it too.   We don't think like that necessarily, but most of our physical acts we do every day has some sort of spiritual connection or repercussion even.

If you are looking for some deep, confusing, theological book then this probably isn't the one for you.  But if you are looking for something light, but that makes you think about your own spiritual life and how you are a sinner too then this is the one for you.

Sinner can be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble or most Catholic book stores.  .

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Occupy Greed

Occupy Wall Street is entering it's second month and has spread not only throughout the country but throughout the world.   If you go back to the beginning of the movement, the basic complaints, from what I can tell, are that they believe that 1% of the population--the richest--is at fault for the problems of the other 99% (put very simply) and that Washington should not be in bed with corporate America and bailing them out (irony point---that is one of the main complaints of the Tea Party--which has been vilified by the people of Occupy Wall Street (OWS).

I think that there is a major problem in America.  That problem is with greed.   And that problem stretches more than just the 1% of the wealthiest Americans.  I think it stretches to us all.   And that is one of the issues I have problems with OWS.    I understand the anger at companies worth billions of dollars being bailed out with tax payer money while the CEO's of said companies live in splendor.   People should be angry at that idea.  They should also be angry with the politicians in Washington for GAVE them those bail outs.  What I have issues with are those of the 99% who want their own bailouts of Washing.  The idea of "Oh, I made bad financial decisions---the government should bail me out" is bad for the rich as well as for the rest of us.

Don't get me wrong--I believe that there should be welfare programs for those who fall into hard times so that they can get back on their feet.  My family was on welfare for awhile growing up.  I believe that there should be programs out there to help people better themselves---the whole, "tis better to teach a man to fish for a lifetime than it is to give him a fish for a day" philosophy.

I do see a problem with greed up and down Wall Street but not just in the sky scrapers or in the corporate board rooms but in the protesters in the park.  America is one of the wealthiest countries in the world.   Even our poor have it pretty good considering that the majority of the those defined as poor by the government have cars, air conditioning, televisions and even video game systems.   Our problem is that we are driven by greed for those luxuries that we live on credit because we don't want to have to save our money.  We want STUFF and we want it NOW.

The problems with American boil down to greed.  We aren't used to being told "no."  Imagine if we showed restraint.  Imagine if we lived a life like God wants us to live where we weren't driven by material needs or physical pleasures.   Imagine if we lived within our needs.   Imagine what greatness could be done if the 99% put aside our greed and took care of our brothers and sisters.  Imagine if those Occupying different places took time out and went to the soup kitchens or the homeless shelters.  I think we would be living the life God intended us to live if it weren't for greed.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Comparisons Between Bishop Finn and Me

It has been several days so I'm pretty sure that the news about Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of the Kansas City-St. Joseph was charged in Jackson County court on Friday for not releasing information about a priest being in possession of child pornography on his computer to the police.  

This whole incident has bothered my from the time I first found out about and blogged about it here back in May and then finding out Friday that Bishop Finn was charged really troubled me.  The question of whether or not I think he should have been charged is murky in my mind.  On the face, yes, if Bishop Finn failed to come forward I think he should be charged.   I just can't keep from thinking there it was a political statement from the Jackson County prosecutor.  Part of it may be from seeing time and time again Jackson County prosecutors not filing charges and seeing people get away with murder---literally.  Part of it is finding out that the prosecutor, Jean Peters Bakeer, is very pro-abortion. I can't help to think about where her rationale really lays.  But, politics aside, the bishop failed to do what he was supposed to do.  He tried to protect someone who should not have been protected.  He lacked leadership.  It reminds me of an incident having to do with me.  

Back in the spring, my captain seemed to be on my case about many things.  One of them was several of the  people who work for me always being late, a couple in particular.   One night, the captain came in and sure enough, one of the officers was a few minutes late.  I thought I heard the door and he told me to check to see if it was the officer.  I went out and they were not there.  I called the officer and they said they were a couple of blocks away.  I decided to cover for the officer so I went back into the room and told the captain, in front of other officers, that the late officer was out in the parking lot getting the car loaded up and that they were not late.   The captain did not believe me and went out to the parking lot and caught me in my lie and saw the officer pulling into the parking lot.

I tried to cover for the officer for a couple of reasons.  I didn't want the officer to get in trouble.  I wanted to deal with it in my own way.  And, I didn't want to face the heat myself for not having taken dealt with the officer being late in the past.   

I compare it to Bishop Finn dealing with Fr. Rattigan.  Perhaps--and I'm just guessing--Bishop Finn did not want Fr. Rattigan to get in trouble.  Perhaps Bishop Finn wanted to deal with it in his own way.  And perhaps, Bishop Finn did not want to face the heat for another pedophile priest.   I did the same thing Bishop Finn did---I failed to do what I was supposed to do.  I tried to protect someone who should not have been protected.  And, I lacked leadership.

I got in trouble for the incident.   I had to face the piper and take my lumps.  But I learned from the incident. Interestingly enough, talking with my captain several months later, he told that instead of not trusting me that he probably trusts me more than anyone else because he doesn't think I'm dumb enough to do that again.   I think the same goes for Bishop Finn.  I think we can trust Bishop Finn because he isn't dumb enough to do that again.  He has put steps in place to ensure it doesn't happen again.

Should be be charged.  Yeah, maybe he needs to face his lumps like I did.  I don't know.  What I do know is that we should pray for Bishop Finn--he is a good man.  We should pray for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph--it has a difficult time ahead of it.  And we should continue to pray for the families of St. Patrick's parish.  May God heal their pain and suffering.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bishop Finn Charged

From the Kansas City Star:

Bishop Finn, diocese, indicted

 The Jackson County prosecutor's office announced a misdemeanor charges Friday afternoon against Bishop Robert Finn and the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.
The Jackson County prosecutor's office announced a misdemeanor charges Friday afternoon against Bishop Robert Finn and the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

 Bishop Robert Finn, leader of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.
A Jackson County grand jury has indicted Bishop Robert Finn and the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph on misdemeanor charges of failure to report child abuse.
The charges, announced at a news conference today, make Finn — leader of the 134,000-member diocese — the highest-ranking Catholic official in the nation to face criminal prosecution in a child sexual abuse case.
The charges stemmed from the long-simmering controversy surrounding the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, who is facing child pornography charges in Clay County and federal court.
“This is a significant charge,” said Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. “To my knowledge, a charge like this has not been leveled before.”
In a statement, the diocese said its lawyers entered a plea of not guilty for the diocese. According to Gerald Handley and J.R. Hobbs, lawyers for Bishop Finn, the bishop also entered a plea of not guilty.

Read more:

Holding Hands

Since I'm on a tirade on things that bother me---let me move on to something that does not occur at that small little parish where I grew up and that I had never seen until I came to "the big city."  That would be the holding of hands during the Lord's Prayer.

The priest says, "Let us pray in the words our Savior taught us"  (or something along those lines) and suddenly everyone seems inclined to grab the hands of the person next to them and hold them while reciting the Lord's Prayer.   It surely looks kind of comical in some ways.  You have people stretching out to connect lines.  People's arms are stretched to the limits.  Some people are all contorted as they reach backwards to hold the hands of the person behind them or in front of them.  And then it gets worse and they lift their arms up at the end.

I know I may be sounding like an old curmudgeon.   Surely there are people saying, "But Jamie, it's a sign of unity.  It's a beautiful thing."  Poppy cock.  And while you are at it.  Get off my lawn!!

The first reason I don't like it is for the same reason I talked about when I was complaining about with the sign of peace.  I really don't want to hold the hands of the kid who has chocolate all over his hands because his mother, in her infinite wisdom gave her kid sugar during mass and for the last twenty minutes he has been ramming his Matchbox car into the side of my shoe.  (oooppps, were those your fingers I accidentally stepped on, little boy--I'm sorry)   I really don't want to hold his hands.  Especially after seeing him digging for bugers and wiping them underneith the pew!  Not to mention that guy who evidently hasn't seen the doctor for the plague since last week gauging by the continued hacking.  Hasn't he ever learned about the vampire coughing method?

But now, instead of just having to shake their hand, I am forced to hold on to it.  How am I expected to pray when all I can think of is the clammy hand I'm holding.  Or worse, if I'm holding hands of an attractive lady--what will she think of my clammy hands??   Not that I have to worry about that now that I'm married.  Moving on. . .

Don't even get me started on the whole, "how far do I raise my hands for the last part" question.  I mean seriously---how high do I raise them?  Am I supposed to be lifting the kid off the ground?

The next reason I don't like it is because I don't have to do it yet I'm still expected to do it.   No where in the  liturgy does it say, "congregation hold hands while praying the our father."   But have you ever tried to ignore the person next to you?  They can be kind of persistent.  So you clasp your hands together.  They don't take the hint and start shaking their hand around.  Next you put your head down so they can see you are in prayer so they start waving their hands in front of you.  Finally you close your eyes and they have the audacity to start poking you!!  I tell you what.  My wife can be stubborn.

Seriously, can we stop with the silliness?  If you want to put your hands out in prayer then fine.  But don't make me abide by your made up liturgy shenanigans!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sign of Peace

I like my mom's priest.  Why?  Because he just skips right over the part of mass where we offer the "sign of peace."  Heck, the first few times I didn't even notice it.  Finally, I leaned over to my wife and pointed out that we didn't do it.  My mom later pointed out that he never does it.  Hmmmmm, so much for my police observation skills.

I like not doing it.   I didn't use to have a problem with it but now I do.   Evidently, I take after my Uncle Dave, who, back in the early days after Vatican II would fold his arms up as opposed to go shaking hands.

Now before you go off shaking your head and starting to wonder about me just hear me out.  I have two reasons I don't like it.   The first is, and I'll  be the first to point out that I'm not a theologian by any means, but I think it's in the wrong part of the mass.  Think about it, we are at the end of the consecration.  We are about to receive Jesus in the Eucharist.  All of our attention is supposed to be on Him.  Suddenly, Father calls a time out and we have to start shaking hands with our neighbor--put on a little phony smile and say a dozen times, "Peace be with you."  Now your hands are all sticky because the kid behind you was eating Raisenettes and I'm pretty sure I'm pretty sure I guy in front of me has the plague the way he has been coughing and hacking into the very hand I just shook.  He just couldn't settle for a wave or a fist bump could he?   Now, my attention is on anything but Jesus.  Although, I'm probably going to meet Jesus soon because of the aforementioned plague that I now have festering on my hand.

The second reason I don't like is because everyone seems to think it's social hour.   People can't just be happy shaking the hands of those around them.  No.  They have to go all the way to the other side of the church to shake hands of friends and family members.  Seriously?  Mass will be over in about ten minutes.  Can' you wait a minute?  Heck, it hasn't been an hour since you talked last.  I know, because I heard you laughing all the way over here while I was trying to pray before mass!  It takes away some of the reverence at mass--something that I complained about here.

I think it would be more appropriate to have the sign of peace, if you are going to do them at all, in the opening rites.  Smack dab right there at the beginning.   It's like you are greeting those around you.   I don't think people will feel they need to say hi to their friend who they just left a moment ago.  And most importantly---you can keep your eyes on Jesus.

Do you know of theological reasons for having the sign of peace where it is?  What do you think about it?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Lack of Reverence

I grew up in a small parish in Northwest Missouri.  St. Paul's the Apostle is a simple little brick church.  Simple wooden pews. A simple altar.  A crucifix.  A statue of Our Blessed Mother on the right of the sanctuary and a statue of St. Joseph on the left.   Around the nave there are simple pictures of the Stations of the Cross.  When I was growing up they didn't even have stained glass windows, although they do now.   But when you walked into the church there was a sense of reverence to the place.  The place could be packed for midnight mass(and by packed, I mean maybe 100 people?) but it was quiet.  You felt comfortable kneeling down in prayer. You felt the presence of God.  I think this sense of reverence is missing in a lot of larger churches.

I'm not sure how to get this sense of reverence back.   I think you should be able to walk into a church and feel like you are in a church--that you are in the presence of God and not feel like you are in a school auditorium waiting for the fall play to begin.   Maybe, in order to find a solution you need to look at possible causes so you can address them.

I think one reason is the design of the churches.  Have you ever noticed in older churches your attention is drawn towards the sanctuary.  Your attention is drawn forward and up.  You attention is drawn immediately to the sanctuary and then as you look around you see images of saints or of Jesus.  In modern churches you look around and you see. . . your friend Bill.  "Hey Bill, what's going on??"

Which brings us to what I think a second reason for the loss of reverence, and one that I am guilty of.  People not acting reverent.    Now, I realize that I am listing one of the reasons that people don't act reverent is . . . people not acting reverent.  But, I think we affect each other.  If we go in someplace we tend to reflect how everyone else is acting.  If I'm chit chatting then you are more likely to chit chat.  If I don't genuflect towards the tabernacle then you are less likely to.  If I grab Jesus and run after communion, you are more likely to do the same.

I believe my parish is a good example of design affecting how people act and I think the cause can go back to the beginning of the parish in the mid-80's.  When it was built, there was the main worship space, a small gathering area and offices down stairs.  Since there were no class rooms, it was designed with no pews.  Instead they had stackable chairs (with no kneelers)  that could be moved around between masses in order to makes small class room areas for Sunday school or whatever type of meeting they were having.  So I think people became accustomed to the worship space being a meeting space.

 Since then, they've built classrooms, painted the ceiling sky blue, put in stained glass windows and now have a large crucifix.  The problem is, the parish has grown so big that they had to knock out the wall between the worship space and the gathering space so it is in essence a combination gathering space/worship space.  Have you ever tried praying by sitting down while people all around you are chit chatting about their week?

I'm am glad we stayed.  I love the people.  It is a great family parish and we are trying to build a new church that hopefully will remedy some of the aesthetic problems I'm talking about and bring about more reverence.In the mean time---I guess it begins with me.  I am, after all, the only person I can really control.  I guess I need to help by setting an example instead of talking with Bill.

What about you---does your parish have problems with people talking before mass or showing a lack of reverence?  Has your parish had this issue and what did they do to correct it?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Faithful Friends

In a few months, I am going to traveling to the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis with a bunch of high school teens from my parish.  The kids designed a parish t-shirt to wear as a group on one of the days of the conference.   They are bright florescent green shirts.  On the back is a cross and the writing, "NCYC 2011 . . . And remember I am with you always to the end of the age.  Matthew 28:20."  On the front they say, "Faithful friends are beyond price; no amount can balance their worth."  

I saw a couple of the teens wearing them at our parish picnic a couple weeks ago and thought about the phrase on the front.  "Faithful friends are beyond price."  My first thoughts were that of course it is good to have friends who are faithful and loyal to you.  No one wants to have a friend that they can't trust or who will talk about them behind their back.  No.  You want a friend who is going to be there when you are in need.  You want a friend who you can talk to.  A friend who has your back.

And then it struck me--faithful friends who are beyond price goes way beyond someone who isn't going to tell your deepest darkest secrets.  Faithful friends are friends with faith.   Once I realized this the second part of the phrase, "no amount can balance their worth" made even more sense.   A friend with faith is someone who is going to be more loyal to God than to you.   This means that they are going to have your best interest at heart because they will want to see you in Heaven along side of them.  They are going to have the fortitude to tell you that you are doing something wrong.

The image of the men who carried their friend, the paralytic to Jesus and lowered him through the hole in the ceiling is what I always have in mind.   That is the type of friend I want to be--someone who will carry my friends to Jesus no matter how difficult.  And that's the type of friends I want to have.   Someone who is a good model for me and who is willing to tear a roof in a ceiling and go through whatever difficulty they may face to get me to Jesus.

This doesn't mean that you can only be friends with the best Christians.   You can still be friends with atheists.  You can still be friends with people of different faiths.  Heck, you can even be friends with protestants.  ;-)  You may just have to be more careful with friends who do not share your faith in God.  They may be great people who live in ways that are pleasing to God.  On the other hand, they may profess to be Christian and not living in a way that is pleasing to God.  You just have to be careful with friends who are more faithful to themselves or even more faithful to you than they are to God.  You may be put in an awkward situation where you have to tell your friend that you can't do something with them or that their behavior is not something that you approve of.

There is a saying that a good friend will bond you out of jail.  A fantastic friend will be sitting next to you in jail cell saying, "that was awesome!"   Well, I say that a true, fantastic, faithful friend is one what will be sitting next to you in Heaven saying, "isn't this awesome?"

Monday, October 3, 2011

Changes are Not Coming

Last week, Facebook made some changes that cause quite the uproar. People were crazy and upset. Some said they were leaving for Google + and others were just leaving social networking all together. I kind of chuckled. After playing around with the changes for a little bit, I came to the conclusion that they were not that awful. I also thought it was funny because it seems to be a cycle. Facebook makes changes periodically and it seems like every six to eight months they make a change makes everyone angry. They want Facebook to go back to the way it was. They form groups and start petitions. They never seem to realize that they Facebook they want back is the same one they were ranting and railing about six months ago after the last changes.

Things change. Especially in today's technology driven world. When I joined the police department in 1998 all you needed to do to get into service at the begining of your shift was grab the car keys and a radio. Now, you need no less than 8 log-ins/passwords and it takes about thirty minutes to get in service at the beginning of the night and about ten minutes to log off of everything at the end of your shift.

Even things in the Church changes. In a couple of months, we are going to see lots of changes in the mass. The words of prayers will changes. Songs will change.  What we say in response will change. There is a lot of time and effort getting people ready for these changes. But, what I love about the Catholic Church is that while, yes, some things do change, the basic fundamentals of the church do not change and have not changed in two thousand years.

When it comes to facts about faith and morals the Church does not change her stance because these are truths given to us by God and truths do not change. What was wrong in the times of the apostles is still wrong today. This is very important in today's world where society is always changing.

Other religions do change what they believe based on what society tells them. There are some things that most protestant religions taught were wrong eighty years ago but today they say is perfectly okay. On a practical basis, this does not make sense. How can something be wrong today but okay tomorrow? Society makes changes on what it wants to do, on what is easy and what "feels good." God never promised that things would be easy. In fact, He repeatedly says that things will be difficult.

So, Facebook may change your news feed and add time lines. Technology may making things more difficult instead of easy. But the Church does not change truth---it cannot change truth--just because society tells her she should. Reason #13,682 why I love the Roman Catholic Church.